The Mwangi Expanse

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Since we first revealed the map of the Age of Lost Omens campaign setting, with its ten meta-regions and updated names for existing locations, fans have been asking for more information about the Mwangi Expanse. Well today I'm happy to be able to grant that wish, with a brief overview of how the setting's iconic jungle has evolved between editions!

Lush green landscape with a few slim, leafy trees in the front right foreground. In the distance, a number of geometric buildings are seen at the foot of a background of mountains.  A flock of birds are flying by.

Illustration by Roman Roland Kuteynikov

One of the key differences between the Mwangi Expanse and other regions of the Age of Lost Omens campaign setting is that it (mostly) lacks nation-states with capitals and well-established borders, instead offering a number of city-states spread throughout a vast wilderness of adventure-filled jungles, savannahs, swamps, and mountains. Whether it's Nantambu, with its ancient magic academy, the Magaambya; Mzali, ruled by the mummified child-god Walkena; or the mercantile pirate port of Bloodcove; each of these political entities is presented with the same level of detail as the nations on the Inner Sea. We took special care to ensure that each one is described from the perspective of a native rather than from the eyes of outlanders coming into the region to explore and research the “lost” civilizations within, and longtime fans of the Mwangi Expanse should appreciate the new point of view for the variety of stories it can inspire in players and GMs alike.

Jaha. A vast walled city with a large palace-like structure in the center. One area of the wall has an inset with a large statue depicting a seated person, praying. A number of smaller buildings are in front of the wall near the statue. With the walls, a building with a different large statue of a seated person flanks the palace on the left.

Illustration by Mirco Paganessi

On the Expanse's western coast lie the Sodden Lands—a collective name for the flooded nations of Lirgen and Yamassa, which were destroyed with the Eye of Abendego formed off their shores. No centralized government rules these waterlogged lands, and what antediluvian settlements survive are now mostly ruined spectres of their former glory, overtaken by cannibals, cultists, and monsters. Many Lirgeni refugees and lizardfolk resettled in the Mwangi city of Jaha, and unlike the city's vanished former inhabitants, open the city to visitors who hope to learn from the famed astrologers and work with them to find a way to end the raging hurricane and reclaim their homeland.

A group studies a many-pointed star engraved into the stone ground near a brick building. Five are lizard people, wearing decorative belts and armguards. One carries a horned staff.  They are accompanied by a woman with long dark hair tied back in a braid. She wears long white robes, sandals,  and a circlet on her head.

Illustration by Roberto Pitturru

South of the Sodden Lands, the former nation of Sargava has undergone incredible change in the last few years. A revolution mounted by the nation's native population overthrew the Chelish colonial government that had ruled for centuries, establishing the new land of Vidrian in Sargava's place. As with all new nations, Vidrian has a long road to stability ahead of it, but its people are hopeful that self-rule will bring about an era of prosperity and innovation. Under the leadership of heroes of the revolution, the ruling council of Anthusis (what used to be Eleder) hopes to establish new trade and military alliances with nations both abroad and in the Expanse, and prevent colonization efforts like that of Sargava from occurring again elsewhere in the Mwangi.

Flag with a light blue background. A bird with red wings, an orange beak, and teal tail feathers is shown from the top down, its wings outspread. It is outlined in a firey yellow.

Illustration by Rogier van de Beek

Humans are not the only inhabitants of the Mwangi Expanse, however, and rich societies of elves and orcs are also present. The elves of the Mualijae nations—the Ekujae, Kallijae, and Alijae—occupy most of the Expanse to one degree or another, and though no longer part of a unified nation as they once were, the elves nevertheless exert incredible influence over the entire region. The orcs of Lake Ocata, for their part, have a much more localized reach, but their influence is no less important. In the wake of the Gorilla King's death and the fall of Usaro, it has been these jungle orc tribes who have led the efforts to re-stabilize the region and retake their homeland from the demon-tainted forces that once ruled.

Two dark-skinned elves in tribal gear. One is female, the other male. They both wear capes. The female, on the left, has a belt with a pouch and is carrying a staff. The top of the staff resembles a coiled snake. The man has a colorful bird sitting in the palm of his outstretched left hand.

Illustration by Andrea Tentori Montalto

Player characters from or familiar with the Mwangi Expanse can select from eight new backgrounds, such as Bonuwat wavetouched, Bright Lion, and Shory seeker, or acquire a blessed tattoo from the Mwangi orcs. Modern heroes who hope to emulate the powers and traditions of the Ten Magic Warriors and Old-Mage Jatembe may also take the magic warrior archetype.

A dark skinned magic warrior clothed in dark purple robes with gold trim. He has symbols painted in white on his face and carries a curved knife in his right hand.  His left hand is red up to his mid-forearm.

Illustration by Klaher Baklaher

Be on the lookout for the third and final piece of flash fiction from Pathfinder Tales author Tim Pratt later this week in the Tales of Lost Omens series. Next week, we'll travel back to southern Avistan to the meta-region of Old Cheliax with new fiction from Liane Merciel!

Mark Moreland
Franchise Manager

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Well, for a change of topics, I note the “Magic Warrior” archetype. Do we think this will replace Magus class, or at least push back the need for one for several books?


AnimatedPaper wrote:
Well, for a change of topics, I note the “Magic Warrior” archetype. Do we think this will replace Magus class, or at least push back the need for one for several books?

Well, in 1e, the magic warriors were specialized wizards who wore stylized animal masks in honour of the Ten Magic Warriors of Old Mage Jatembe. They weren't really martial based, but more wizards who blended arcane, druidic, and goodly magic, with a special focus on utilizing the spell mastery feat. Making them just mwangi magi would get rid of one of the more unique and interesting kinds of character archetypes. That and the fact the magic warrior art in the blog post isn't wearing s mask makes me sad. :(


The Norv wrote:

Boy, this thread went south fast.

In an attempt to get things to settle down a bit, allow me to observe that Sargava has existed for roughly six centuries in canon, and the distinction between "native" and "colonist" populations is almost certainly more a legal fiction than a lived reality for most people. Particularly among the lower classes people are gonna mingle, marry, and combine traditions. The people for whom it's not a legal fiction - the colonial masters - are the ones responsible for the mess in the first place and the most exploitative. No need to get anxious about "white genocide" when the people presumably being kicked out are the ones perpetuating racist systems to keep them in power.

Definitely agree here


Joana wrote:
Doktor Weasel wrote:
Darth Game Master wrote:
I feel like there was a Pathfinder Society adventure at some point that dealt with the Gorilla King, but I have never actually played in PFS so I don't know for sure
Yeah, I've never done PFS either, and do get the impression that some of the setting movement that I'm unfamiliar with does come from PFS scenarios. But I know a lot of PFS players do post here, so I'd have expected one of them to chime in and say it was a PFS thing.
James Jacobs addressed the Gorilla King question in his thread.

Wait, so it's canon that the SS PCs killed him? Where does that put his death at Tarzan's hands in Worldscape?

Liberty's Edge

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Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Ancestries ;-)


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One major difference in decolonization on Golarion, is that "whiteness" plausibly does not exist as a concept in a world where you can literally systematically oppress people for being a different species, without having to invoke specious pseudoscience as a pretense. Like, no matter how evil you are there's no reason to go so far as "people from this side of the Mediterranean are in the club, but not the people from that other side" when halflings are literally 3 feet tall and there are lizard people running around.

I figure there's no reason that those descended from Sargavan colonists might not see more of a common cause with other countries that were former parts of Cheliax (like Andoran, Nirmathas, or even Galt) than they would their former diabolist masters. I mean, Sargava was established prior to the Chelish civil war to begin with.

A plausible justification for social change here is just "the old guard dies off and is replaced by people who just don't see the value in emulating distant diabolists in order to create a less free and more unequal society." Like "the old guard refuses to yield power to those who are going to outlive them" is a pretty good way to radicalize entire generations.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Troodos wrote:
Joana wrote:
Doktor Weasel wrote:
Darth Game Master wrote:
I feel like there was a Pathfinder Society adventure at some point that dealt with the Gorilla King, but I have never actually played in PFS so I don't know for sure
Yeah, I've never done PFS either, and do get the impression that some of the setting movement that I'm unfamiliar with does come from PFS scenarios. But I know a lot of PFS players do post here, so I'd have expected one of them to chime in and say it was a PFS thing.
James Jacobs addressed the Gorilla King question in his thread.
Wait, so it's canon that the SS PCs killed him? Where does that put his death at Tarzan's hands in Worldscape?

There are plenty of Gorilla Kings...


PossibleCabbage wrote:

One major difference in decolonization on Golarion, is that "whiteness" plausibly does not exist as a concept in a world where you can literally systematically oppress people for being a different species, without having to invoke specious pseudoscience as a pretense. Like, no matter how evil you are there's no reason to go so far as "people from this side of the Mediterranean are in the club, but not the people from that other side" when halflings are literally 3 feet tall and there are lizard people running around.

I figure there's no reason that those descended from Sargavan colonists might not see more of a common cause with other countries that were former parts of Cheliax (like Andoran, Nirmathas, or even Galt) than they would their former diabolist masters. I mean, Sargava was established prior to the Chelish civil war to begin with.

A plausible justification for social change here is just "the old guard dies off and is replaced by people who just don't see the value in emulating distant diabolists in order to create a less free and more unequal society." Like "the old guard refuses to yield power to those who are going to outlive them" is a pretty good way to radicalize entire generations.

To me, Sargava seemed more like the 'real' Cheliax, or at least all that was left of it, then that abomination that Thrune's cobbled together out of oppression, fear, and blind arrogance. Not everything equated with Chelish ideals were negative. Organization and perseverance can be used for good, or at least, uh, less bad. It's joked in at least in one book that while other peoples form angry mobs, Cheliaxians organize a disapproving que. Most of Cheliax's 'imperalism phase' was during the Ever-War, under the very aptly named King Haliad the Mad, so I don't necessarily think racism was central to their culture.

As for the 'Old Guard' of Sargava, old is the operative word. Lady Madrona Daugastana controls pretty much everything in Eleder, and probably by extension, Sargava, but she's also described as the oldest living colonial. She's one nasty piece of work, like a leathery Marie Antoinette wrapped in a burnt piece of bacon that vaguely resembles Joseph Stalin. I'm guessing that the 'Old Guard dying out' would just be her passing on when sheer spite can no longer stave off the cold embrace of the grave, and then everyone, Chelish and Mwangi alike, can heave a sigh of collective relief and chuck the whole colonial oppression thing in the dust bin of history now that all of Sargava is out of her wrinkly, varicosed grip.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Cole Deschain wrote:
Troodos wrote:
Joana wrote:
Doktor Weasel wrote:
Darth Game Master wrote:
I feel like there was a Pathfinder Society adventure at some point that dealt with the Gorilla King, but I have never actually played in PFS so I don't know for sure
Yeah, I've never done PFS either, and do get the impression that some of the setting movement that I'm unfamiliar with does come from PFS scenarios. But I know a lot of PFS players do post here, so I'd have expected one of them to chime in and say it was a PFS thing.
James Jacobs addressed the Gorilla King question in his thread.
Wait, so it's canon that the SS PCs killed him? Where does that put his death at Tarzan's hands in Worldscape?
There are plenty of Gorilla Kings...

Yeah that's a different Gorilla king... and also a different world and a different reality as well.

Paizo Employee Customer Service Representative

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Removed some posts and the replies to them. Many of the posts in this thread have gone way off topic. Additionally this is not the thread to discuss real world politics (and in fact the Paizo.com forums have a standing moratorium on political threads).


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Diego Valdez wrote:
Removed some posts and the replies to them. Many of the posts in this thread have gone way off topic. Additionally this is not the thread to discuss real world politics (and in fact the Paizo.com forums have a standing moratorium on political threads).

I would like to apologize. I did not realize when I originally spoke out that it would lead to such inflammatory back-and-forths. At certain points I lost my cool, and I am sorry.


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Quote:
The orcs of Lake Ocata, for their part, have a much more localized reach, but their influence is no less important. In the wake of the Gorilla King's death and the fall of Usaro, it has been these jungle orc tribes who have led the efforts to re-stabilize the region and retake their homeland from the demon-tainted forces that once ruled.

I missed this blog post when it came out, and now that I've seen it I feel obligated to say how happy I am with this bit. I have been one of the more... open critics of Paizo's descriptions of orc cultures in Golarion, so a stronger commitment to detail the major non-evil orc society is definitely encouraging.

I do wonder who they worship, though. Do these orcs have their own local gods that differ from the wholly non-good deities of Belkzen?


Arachnofiend wrote:
Quote:
The orcs of Lake Ocata, for their part, have a much more localized reach, but their influence is no less important. In the wake of the Gorilla King's death and the fall of Usaro, it has been these jungle orc tribes who have led the efforts to re-stabilize the region and retake their homeland from the demon-tainted forces that once ruled.

I missed this blog post when it came out, and now that I've seen it I feel obligated to say how happy I am with this bit. I have been one of the more... open critics of Paizo's descriptions of orc cultures in Golarion, so a stronger commitment to detail the major non-evil orc society is definitely encouraging.

I do wonder who they worship, though. Do these orcs have their own local gods that differ from the wholly non-good deities of Belkzen?

Maybe just the same gods that Mwangi humans/halflings etc. do? I have to admit I’ve always been a bit weirded out by the “species deities” mode of a lot of DnD myth. Except for super isolated groups, I assume there’s some cross-currents.

Allow me to also apologize for my part in the weekend fracas. I get particularly steamed by some of the habits I thought I was seeing.


A new Orc pantheon would be pretty awesome.


I mean, the PF1 Orc deities are pretty much "great orcs who died and rose their way up through the ranks of the plane they became petitioners on" right?

I don't see why the same pattern can't happen on planes which are not the Abyss.


I didn't even know there was that significant a presence of Orcs around the Mwangi. How cool. And yeah it would be cool if they were portrayed somewhat differently that than the archetypical Orc.

I would also echo the sentiment about new deities for them. As well as one for wild elves too. Given that they never left Golarion during the Earthfall, it makes perfect sense for them to have a distinct religion from the "returned" elves, perhaps something that protected them during that era.

Contributor

PossibleCabbage wrote:
I mean, the PF1 Orc deities are pretty much "great orcs who died and rose their way up through the ranks of the plane they became petitioners on" right?

Mythic history says the orc gods created/uplifted the orcs in much the same way the dwarf god created/uplifted the dwarves (except with the opposite alignment).

(I admit I'm biased on the orc gods, but I don't think you need non-evil orc gods for there to be non-evil orcs. There are no evil specifically elf gods, but there are plenty of evil elves, for example.)


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David Schwartz wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
I mean, the PF1 Orc deities are pretty much "great orcs who died and rose their way up through the ranks of the plane they became petitioners on" right?

Mythic history says the orc gods created/uplifted the orcs in much the same way the dwarf god created/uplifted the dwarves (except with the opposite alignment).

(I admit I'm biased on the orc gods, but I don't think you need non-evil orc gods for there to be non-evil orcs. There are no evil specifically elf gods, but there are plenty of evil elves, for example.)

Having only evil orc deities is a bit different from having only good elf deities; it goes back to my issue with the one "Good" orc tribe in Belkzen being devoted to Sarenrae, and Gorum being retconned to no longer accept Chaotic Good worshipers. Not having any good orc gods means that a good orc's religious practices are just going to be adopted from human cultures. It'd work well enough if Mwangi orcs have always shared a cultural heritage with their non-orc neighbors, but making it so they have to be "saved" by a human deity to be good comes with a whole host of problems.

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