Pathfinder Companion: Sargava, the Lost Colony (PFRPG)

***½( ) (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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***½( ) (based on 3 ratings)

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Passable, but not Exciting

***( )( )

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....

****( )

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

****( )

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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Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

I've got a Sargavan PFS character at the moment, so I'm really excited to see this one!


Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

Wow. Talk about your linked products.

Dark Archive

I have been wanting to know more about the area. Now I will get a bunch of products about it all at once. Just a pity I have to wait so long for it.


I'm already eager to see what they show us with Sargava.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hmmm ... could this be the Golarion version of Sasserine? :)

At just a glance, it looks as though the start of the Savage Tide adventure path could easily fit this location.

Grand Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Bellona wrote:

Hmmm ... could this be the Golarion version of Sasserine? :)

At just a glance, it looks as though the start of the Savage Tide adventure path could easily fit this location.

This is where I'm currently running my Savage Tide campaign. I think James recommended Eleder as a replacement Sasserine.

Curse you future product I want now.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Hopefully we'll learn more about Walkena the Child God. I noticed some of his followers in the NPC Guide, and would like to know more about the faith.

Contributor

Generic Villain wrote:
Hopefully we'll learn more about Walkena the Child God. I noticed some of his followers in the NPC Guide, and would like to know more about the faith.

While Walkena is a big problem in Sargava (especially out in Kalabuto), Mzali is actually part of the Mwangi Expanse, so he's covered in more detail in Heart of the Jungle, our guide to that region.


James Sutter wrote:
Generic Villain wrote:
Hopefully we'll learn more about Walkena the Child God. I noticed some of his followers in the NPC Guide, and would like to know more about the faith.
While Walkena is a big problem in Sargava (especially out in Kalabuto), Mzali is actually part of the Mwangi Expanse, so he's covered in more detail in Heart of the Jungle, our guide to that region.

What about Shimye-Magalla? I've wanted more info on him/her since reading the first (and only) reference in the Campaign Setting all those years ago.

Silver Crusade

yoda8myhead wrote:


What about Shimye-Magalla? I've wanted more info on him/her since reading the first (and only) reference in the Campaign Setting all those years ago.

Wow, put me down as interested in this too. I love it when the gods get all blurry and complicated.


Now that cover looks FUN!!!

Grand Lodge

this looks friggin' awesome.


Awsome cover!!


So very Kewl, I can't wait to see it.!

Dark Archive

A stunning cover! Wow!

Dark Archive

Wow, Harsk has a teapot!

That's something I don't think I've ever seen on a character sheet...

(Unless a genie came out of it, anyway!)

Sovereign Court

Dinosaurs!

Please get Mark Witton to do some dinosaur art for you guys! In either this, or the Serpent's Skull AP, or a Bestiary, or SOMETHING!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Set wrote:

Wow, Harsk has a teapot!

That's something I don't think I've ever seen on a character sheet...

(Unless a genie came out of it, anyway!)

Heh... yup! It's been on Harsk's character sheet from the start, ever since Wayne gave him a tea pot in his first picture. :-)

Liberty's Edge

Harsk has my respect...
a man should know when you need tea... its an important time of the day... ask the British :)


Now I know where Harsk stands on the Tea Party movement.

<scribbles down some notes into his conspiracy journal...>


That's a cool cover!

I remember reading that Harsk drinks tea so not to dull his senses...

But what type of tea does he drink?

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Leaf the Nymph wrote:

That's a cool cover!

I remember reading that Harsk drinks tea so not to dull his senses...

But what type of tea does he drink?

I'd bet he favors a monkey-picked ti kuan yin every now and again. Because everything's better with monkeys.


Vic Wertz wrote:
Because everything's better with monkeys.

Everything?

Sovereign Court

yoda8myhead wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
Because everything's better with monkeys.
Everything?

Everything.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

cappadocius wrote:
yoda8myhead wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
Because everything's better with monkeys.
Everything?
Everything.

Even your avatar picture? PROVE IT, I SAY!

The Exchange

....and of course, The Dinosaur! The Dinosaaaauur! Everyone get on the floor, everyone do the dinosaur.


...not sure if the T-Rex wants to be the receiving end of this, sir.

Silver Crusade

Urizen wrote:
...not sure if the T-Rex wants to be the receiving end of this, sir.

Triceratops beats T-Rex. ALWAYS.

drew way too many triceratopses goring T-rexes as a child on the rationale that those carnosaurs had it coming

may have drawn more pachycephalosauruses pulling a Zinedine Zidane on deinonychuses as well

and still thinks Archaeopteryx are the best familiar options ever

Sovereign Court

James Jacobs wrote:
cappadocius wrote:
yoda8myhead wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
Because everything's better with monkeys.
Everything?
Everything.
Even your avatar picture? PROVE IT, I SAY!

This would've been easier with custom avatars, but...

As I said, everything.


Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

I almost answered Cappa as if he were Patrick, heh.

You guys should really go buy fezzes from Fez-o-Rama if you love monkeys so much. Also get Paizo to license official fezzes from them.


Monkeys are awesome! Paizo is awesome! Paizo monkeys are awesome!

EEE! EEEE! EEEEEEE!

Owner - House of Books and Games LLC

Hungry! Hungry!

Hungry-hungry-hungry-hungry-hungry!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Mikaze wrote:
Urizen wrote:
...not sure if the T-Rex wants to be the receiving end of this, sir.

Triceratops beats T-Rex. ALWAYS.

drew way too many triceratopses goring T-rexes as a child on the rationale that those carnosaurs had it coming

may have drawn more pachycephalosauruses pulling a Zinedine Zidane on deinonychuses as well

and still thinks Archaeopteryx are the best familiar options ever

The strange perception of the public that the triceratops is the "good guy" is nothing more than a misconception, likely propagated by the projection that the triceratops, with its skull crest and horns, evokes imagery of a jousting knight riding off to save the princess. When in fact the triceratops is more analogous to a carrion-eating deformed rhinoceros. A DELICIOUS one, at that.


Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

I blame it on a generation that grew up watching bad animated films.


It's the underdog mentality. Triceratops is frequently depicted as the defender against scary tyrannosaurus's attacks. While siding with the oppressor is cool for some, others prefer the herbivore.

Silver Crusade

James Jacobs wrote:
When in fact the triceratops is more analogous to a carrion-eating deformed rhinoceros. A DELICIOUS one, at that.

I would dismiss this as lies and balderdash, but I'm busy pondering how such slander was typed with such teeny, tiny, amusingly small little arms.

Don't get rolled by any duck-bills now!

Seriously though, that Christopher Reeve-hosted documentary was @#$%ing ACE back in the 80's. T-Rex jobbing commences at around 8:41! ;)

(to be fair and honest, I did rage when I found out what happened to the T-Rex in Jurassic Park 3. I mean come on...)

Sovereign Court

yoda8myhead wrote:
While siding with the oppressor is cool for some, others prefer the herbivore.

The odds are pretty good that Ceratopsids, and specifically Triceratops, were about as herbivorous, lovable, and "good" as your basic wild pig. And just as likely to trample you and eat your broken carcass. Look at a Triceratops skull and teeth - that is not the muscular attachment and dentition of a dedicated plant eater.

Of course, anyone who's ever watched a bloat of hippos murder a crocodile (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article6918747.ece), or gotten on the wrong side of a water buffalo (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/article-1181571/Four-injured-wat er-buffalo-goes-rampage-religious-festival.html) know better than to equate herbivore with peaceful. Big herbivores are, for the most part, psychotic.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Bellona wrote:

Hmmm ... could this be the Golarion version of Sasserine? :)

At just a glance, it looks as though the start of the Savage Tide adventure path could easily fit this location.

That's exactly what I was thinking! I can't wait to convert my Savage Tide game to Pathfinder and translate all the locales to Golarion.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

I've updated the description to match the finished product. (We updated the cover image earlier this week.)


Vic Wertz wrote:
I've updated the description to match the finished product. (We updated the cover image earlier this week.)

Authors?

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

yoda8myhead wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
I've updated the description to match the finished product. (We updated the cover image earlier this week.)
Authors?

Added.

(I am disappointed by your 20-minute response time. Give a guy a contributor tag, and suddenly he's got better things to do.)


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Vic Wertz wrote:
(I am disappointed by your 20-minute response time. Give a guy a contributor tag, and suddenly he's got better things to do.)

Weird, I see no tag at all on yoda's post.

Dark Archive

Zaister wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
(I am disappointed by your 20-minute response time. Give a guy a contributor tag, and suddenly he's got better things to do.)
Weird, I see no tag at all on yoda's post.

He has it on his main tag, not his alt tag though.

Paizo Employee Franchise Manager

Zaister wrote:
Vic Wertz wrote:
(I am disappointed by your 20-minute response time. Give a guy a contributor tag, and suddenly he's got better things to do.)
Weird, I see no tag at all on yoda's post.

Can you see it now?

Sovereign Court

I see no mention of it, but does this book let me have an Archaeopteryx or Compsognathus familiar, or a Masiakasaurus or Anchisaurus animal companion?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

cappadocius wrote:
I see no mention of it, but does this book let me have an Archaeopteryx or Compsognathus familiar, or a Masiakasaurus or Anchisaurus animal companion?

I don't believe it does at all.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Mark Moreland wrote:
Can you see it now?

Yep!


Why does this remind me of Avatar, let alone the "Isle of Dread?"

Then again, my creative writing teacher told me there no truly original story…


I like this more than the gnome book we're getting in may.

Silver Crusade

Okay, the preview in the Gnomes of Golarion book has me very curious about this bit:

This book is going to show us how Erastil, Gozreh, Abadar, and Iomedae are percieved and worshipped by the native cultures, right? Man, I really want to see how Iomedae is handled. I hadn't even thought of her as even having a presense of note amongst the Mwangi cultures, owing to her relative late arrival and how concentrated her faith is up in Avistan.

I'm really eager to see the Mwangi take on her and the other gods. (Erastil = antelope-headed god? I can see it for the veldt, but isn't Sargava mostly jungle on top of jungle?)

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