Pathfinder Companion: Sargava, the Lost Colony (PFRPG)

3.70/5 (based on 3 ratings)
Pathfinder Companion: Sargava, the Lost Colony (PFRPG)
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Edge of the Empire

On the distant shores of an unexplored tropical continent, brave colonists strive to break with their devil-haunted past and make new lives for themselves in a land of plenty. Yet in fleeing tyranny, these colonists have also imposed their own, and the land’s indigenous peoples have greeted the imperialistic settlers with open arms and leveled spears. This is Sargava: a nation on the brink of disaster, surrounded on all sides by pirates, hostile natives, and trackless jungles full of howling beasts and ancient ruins. Through its ports flood ancient treasures beyond imagination, brought forth from the wilderness by the blood and sweat of intrepid explorers. But can the colonists maintain their delicate balance, or will greed and their own deals with the devil see them swept into the sea?

    This Pathfinder Companion includes:
  • A complete overview of the colony of Sargava, from its pirate-aided break with Cheliax to the various native peoples, tropical hazards, and daring adventuring companies that influence daily life.
  • Details on the nation’s major settlements, including ruined Kalabuto and the staunchly traditional port of Eleder.
  • Adventure sites such as Barkskin Lake, Smuggler’s Shiv, and the infamous magical prison known as the Stasis Fields.
  • An overview of religion in Sargava, and how the colonists’ faith interacts with that of local tribes.
  • New spells designed to make life in Sargava easier on poorly adapted colonists, as well as combat feats drawn straight from the fighting styles of tribal warriors.
  • New traits to help customize Sargavan characters, both native and colonial.

This player-friendly Pathfinder Companion works best with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game or the 3.5 version of the world’s oldest fantasy roleplaying game. Although easily incorporated into any fantasy world, it is optimized for the Pathfinder Chronicles campaign setting.

Written by JD Wiker with additional design by Sean K Reynolds

Each bimonthly 32-page Pathfinder Companion contains several player-focused articles exploring the volume’s theme as well as short articles with innovative new rules for social, magic, religious, and combat-focused characters, as well as traits to better anchor the player to the campaign.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-255-5

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Player Companion Subscription.

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3.70/5 (based on 3 ratings)

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Passable, but not Exciting

3/5

Sargava, a former Chelish-built colony on the shores of the Mwangi Expanse, is an area of the fictional world of Golarion that, in lesser hands, could have gone horribly wrong. The colonialism, racism, and exploitation of Africa, South America, India, and so many other places by imperial powers in the real world could have found strong echoes in a setting about a vast, unexplored jungle continent full of technologically-primitive dark-skinned tribespeople. Fortunately, Paizo recognized the dangers of the "explore the dark continent" trope and was careful to ensure it would receive a far more intelligent expression in Pathfinder. Although the themes of colonialism, invasion, and corporate exploitation remain, the PCs are definitely not expected to follow in the footsteps of real-world colonialists, nor are they necessarily expected to play outsiders at all: extensive information is given about the indigenous peoples of the Mwangi Expanse, so that alternative themes of resistance and cultural integrity can be experienced. And lest this all seem to heavy, this is a Pathfinder game so groups who want to focus on being chased by huge dinosaurs and ancient demons can do that too!

Sargava, the Lost Colony is a 32-page book in the Player Companion line. I think the front cover is great, showing one of those aforementioned dinosaurs chasing after the Iconic ranger, Harsk. The inside back-cover reproduces the artwork sans logos, while the inside front-cover is a map of Sargava showing the perfect amount of detail for PCs to understand what's around them without giving away too much detail. The interior is divided into eight sections.

The first section (11 pages) is an overview of Sargava. It covers the interesting history of the area as a colony founded by the Chelish empire, the bloody battle for independence (aided by a problematic deal with a pirate fleet), and the situation today, wherein Sargava has to try to delicately navigate relations with the native inhabitants of the area and find allies overseas. All in all, it's an interesting political situation with plenty of room for PCs to become involved in all sorts of intrigue and adventures that could influence the state of things. A detailed timeline of Sargava is provided, which is probably more detail than is needed for a Player Companion. As we'll see, this is one of the problem areas for the book: an inability to differentiate between player needs and GM needs. The section provides an overview of the various Mwangi tribes that exist near Sargava, and I appreciate how it takes pains to establish that a) they're not all the same; b) they don't necessarily get along with each other; and c) there is a vast degree of complexity and sub-groups within each tribe. This helps avoid the "all natives are the same" problem of historic colonial fiction. The section contains large sidebars on private organizations that have a major influence in Sargava, including corporate mining companies, trade guilds, and the Pathfinder Society. There's about a page on "Classes in Sargava", but each class (core-only) receives just a single sentence or two about their common role in the area. As this would be one of the most important thing for players in a Sargava-focussed campaign, it would have been helpful to elaborate on this much further.

The second section (7 pages) provides more detail on particular settlements in Sargava. First up is Eleder, the only city built by the original Chelish colonists. The sense I get is that it's a lot like how the colonial British acted in India as seen in a novel like A Passage to India: deeply concerned with maintaining the social decorum and expectations of the "Old World." Although the local Mwangi have roles within the city, it's also clear they face discrimination and subordination. Apart from these issues, there wasn't a lot that stood out to me about Eleder--it seemed like a pretty average "D&D" city. But perhaps that helps to emphasize the mysterious dangers that await outsiders if they venture too far into the jungle . . . The second settlement discussed is Kalabuto, a city with a really interesting history (a bit too involved for me to cover here) that today consists of a partially-assimilated Mwangi tribe and some descendents of the colonists. Because it is frequently attacked and often overrun by hostile Mwangi, Kalabuto is a much more dangerous (and exciting) place for PCs to visit. Five other settlements, much smaller than Eleder and Kalbuto, receive about two paragraphs of description each: Crown's End, Fort Bandu, Freehold, Port Freedom, and Stark Point. Overall, I would say the writing in this section is about average--not as original and exciting as some Pathfinder products I've read, but serviceable.

Section three is "Adventuring in Sargava" (six pages). The first few pages talk about different locations in the area where adventurers are commonly hired, and what tasks they might be asked to perform. It's not exactly "adventure hooks" in the conventional sense, but more like "reasons why a PC might be in a general location." One of the topics on a subsequent page is interesting: buying nobility. A chart lists the quite modest cost to buy 100 acres of land of various terrains from the colony's leader, and says that titles of nobility can be purchased as well (though no prices are given for the latter, which seems like an oversight). The most important page for players is the collection of new traits. There are four combat traits, each of which makes fighting in a particular terrain (hill, jungle, river, and savanna) a little bit easier. There's one magic trait which is actually a pretty good one: the ability to take one zero-level spell from another class' spell list and add it to your own. Next, there are eight race traits, but the "race" prerequisite doesn't refer to things like the "core rulebook races" but instead specific tribes in the Mwangi Expanse, being Mwangi in general, or being a colonist. On the whole, I don't imagine they're taken very often: they are quite specific and most come with a drawback along with a benefit (like a bonus on Intimidate checks vs. Mwangi but an equal penalty on Diplomacy checks against them). The three regional traits are pretty bland and narrow in scope. Of the two religion traits, one is interesting from a flavour-perspective ("Faithful Arodenite"--a worshipper of the dead god Aroden), but both are lacking when it comes to game effect. As a whole, I wasn't impressed with this section. The first part is too vague and, for the most parts, the traits are forgettable.

Section four, "Sargavan Fighting Styles" (two pages), introduces several new combat feats, each with an animal theme, like "Monkey Lunge" (no AC penalty for using Lunge) and "Rhino Charge" (allowing a character to use the Ready action for a charge attack). The feats are actually quite useful for certain melee builds. There's also a new "Equipment Trick" (a concept first introduced in the Adventurer's Armory Player Companion). This one focuses on Kava Musk, an adhesive chemical with a powerful odor. It's a creative idea of something to base an Equipment Trick around.

The fifth section (two pages) is on religion in Sargava and talks generally about the Mwangi attitude toward religion, the efforts of some colonists to convert them to "mainstream" religion, and how some of the "Core 20" deities (like Shelyn, Abadar, and Iomedae) are viewed in the area. This section is all "flavour" with no "crunch."

Magic is the topic for the sixth section (two pages), and it contains three new spells (all for druids, rangers, and/or wizard/sorcerers) and six new magic items. All of the spells and items are jungle themed, and seem reasonably interesting and useful.

The last section (two pages) is "Local Hazards", and it contains descriptions of various jungle dangers (like heat, mosquitos, getting lost, wild animals etc.). It's all pretty broad, and I would think such stuff would be more for a GM than a player.

Sargava, the Lost Colony is clearly from the period when Paizo was still figuring out what a Player Companion should be like. Readers expecting it to be like a modern Companion that's chock full of dozens of feats, archetypes, spells, etc., will be disappointed by the relative sparsity of PC options. The book serves as a solid introduction and overview to Sargava, and could be useful to both players and GMs who intend to use it for that purpose. But although Sargava is potentially quite interesting, this book probably doesn't do the area justice. I would recommend this one only for a campaign specifically set in the area, and even then, I wouldn't say it's a "must buy."


Enter the Heart of Darkness....

4/5

I remember my very first Jungle adventure, far too many years ago; suddenly everything old about Advanced Dungeons and Dragons was new again. Couple this with Heart of the Jungle, and you have the basis for a winning campaign. Check my full review: Sargava The Lost Colony


Preliminary Review - strong, but has a pet peeve

4/5

This is preliminary, since I have read the book but not had the opportunity to use it in play.

Good: The setting is very strong. Excellent variety of locations and background on society and integrates well with Heart of the Jungle, I think.

Suggestion: a place to find some stat'd up NPCs outside the modules.

Pet peeve: It just had to be the case that what pretty much seems to be an emerging bad-actor group is the Ivory Cross, right?


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Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

Ninjas! shakes fist


Ninja!

Where?... did, did I just lose?


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

You did it better -- you actually named the supplement that I merely alluded to.


I hope this question belongs here, but has there every been anything official from Paizo on just what sort of difficulties and rewards are involved in that foot race they hold in Sargava? I forget the proper name of it right now, but it's the one that runs from one end of the country to the other. I always wondered if we were ever going to see it in a module.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

That would be the Sargava Chalice. I thought that an adventure about this race had been published by Paizo, but all I can find are some fairly detailed on-line scenarios that you should be able to find on these message boards.


David knott 242 wrote:

That would be the Sargava Chalice. I thought that an adventure about this race had been published by Paizo, but all I can find are some fairly detailed on-line scenarios that you should be able to find on these message boards.

Thanks.


DSumner wrote:

As much as I hate to say it, I'm really not that impressed with this one. I was hoping to get a book detailing some really cool analogs to the various African pantheons and highlighting their mythologies, but that's not the case. While the other cultures presented, up to this point, have gotten some really cool back stories, and fun settings, the one setting that happens to be set in an area that would be predominately populated black, gets, to put it mildly, the short end of the stick.

The native black tribes are predominately portrayed as servants, slaves, or man eating savages, and that irritates me to no end. There are plenty of African cultures and myths that the writers could have used as the basis for this setting, but instead they chose to go with the native black tribes playing second fiddle to what are basically analogs to White European settlers, and I'm not happy about it. I'm not sure why the creative staff chose to go this route, but next time they might want to do a little research on African mythology, and not base everything on stories about Allan Quatermain.

I'm sorry if this comes off sounding a bit bitter, a just wish they'd done their homework on this one, as I think this would have been a great setting.

Sargava is a colony, so it should have that feel. However, what you are looking for may be the Mwangi Expanse...just a case of mistaken expectations, I guess?

Grand Lodge

Gark the Goblin wrote:
Does anyone know what city is pictured on page 17? I had assume it was Eleder but can't wrap my head around the geography. Maybe Crown's End?

See James Sutter's post further up in the thread

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