Pathfinder Player Companion: Inner Sea Primer (PFRPG)

****½ (based on 7 ratings)
Pathfinder Player Companion: Inner Sea Primer (PFRPG)
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Introduction to adventure!

The Inner Sea is the heart of the Pathfinder campaign setting. From devil-worshiping Cheliax to cosmopolitan Absalom, the savage and frozen Lands of the Linnorm Kings to the steaming jungles of the Mwangi Expanse, there’s a place for any character or adventure your imagination can come up with. Yet while a Game Master or player might know all the secrets of the setting, courtesy of the Pathfinder Campaign Setting World Guide: The Inner Sea, what does a character know about his or her world? With the Inner Sea Primer, Game Masters can quickly and easily introduce their players to the Pathfinder campaign setting, and experienced players can customize their characters with new, setting-specific tricks and traits.

    Inside this Pathfinder Player Companion, you’ll find:
  • Player-friendly overviews of every nation of the Inner Sea Region, telling characters what they need to know about their homelands—or those of their enemies.
  • New character traits for every country and region, helping to flesh out characters and tie their backgrounds and mechanics into the setting.
  • New archetypes for three Inner Sea sword fighting styles: the Aldori swordlord, the Qadiran dervish, and the Taldan rondelero duelist.
  • A complete overview of the major gods in the region, and what every resident should know about them.
  • Three new arcane schools: the item crafters of the Arcanamirium, Egorian’s infernal binders, and the stealthy illusionists of Osirion’s mages of the veil.
  • Overviews of the most common races of the region, from elves to half-orcs, as well as the most common human ethnicities.

Written by Colin McComb

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: 978-1-60125-277-7

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

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****½ (based on 7 ratings)

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Perfect for New Players During Character Creation

*****

It's hard to get into a new campaign setting once it's been around a while: the sheer amount of information can be overwhelming once one adds in all the "world lore" from dozens or hundreds of books over a period of years. The official Pathfinder campaign setting of Golarion is no different, but perhaps has the added difficulty that idle reading on various Wikis can lead to major spoilers for modules and adventure paths. For GMs, the best resource on Golarion is the Inner Sea World Guide--but that's a massive hardcover book that provides *too* much information for a casual newcomer. The obvious solution is something like the Inner Sea Primer. Clocking in at 32 full-colour pages, the purpose of this book is give a new Pathfinder player a concise overview of the various countries in the Inner Sea region of Golarion so they can give their character a background that is better tied to the setting.

The inside front cover is a map showing each country and its capital city. Obviously, fitting an entire (half-) world map on a single page means there isn't going to be a ton of detail, but it's still enough to give readers an idea of where countries are in relation to each other. The inside back cover is a reproduction of the cover (a very figurative representation of a memorable scene from Rise of the Runelords). The inside is divided into 5 sections (one long one and four very short ones).

Section 1 (22 pages) is titled "The Inner Sea." After a very brief introduction to Golarion, an historical timeline of Golarion is provided. The bulk of the section is a gazetteer of the countries of the Inner Sea, and each one receives a half-page write up. An introduction block for each country includes a drawing of its official flag, a brief one-line description (for example, Andoran is "Birthplace of Freedom" and Cheliax is "Diabolic Empire in Decline"), a general alignment, a listing of its capital, major races present there, major religions existing there, and common languages spoken there. There are then three to five paragraphs summarizing the country, and this must have been extremely challenging for the writers to figure out what to keep and what to leave--imagine summarizing the United States or Russia in a few paragraphs! I thought a pretty good job was done hitting the highlights, and a player skimming the pages to see where their character should be from would be able to get a rough sense of what each country is about. I especially appreciated that the write-ups don't reveal what, for most GMs, are "open secrets" about certain countries that players (and characters from those countries) perhaps shouldn't know. For each country, two regional traits are provided. The benefits provided are rather modest and many of them are of the fairly boring "you gain a +1 bonus on this skill and this skill is always a class skill for you" type, but there are a few that are more creative and, if nothing else, the traits do seem well-tied to the country in terms of flavour. The section concludes with a one-page overview of some other distinguishing features of the setting, such as the Darklands (Golarion's Underdark), the Worldwound, and some of the lands beyond the Inner Sea, the most prominent of which is Tian Xia.

Section 2 (2 pages) is "Combat: Sword Styles of the Inner Sea". This section introduces three new archetypes tied to the fighting styles of particular countries: there's the Aldori Swordlords of Brevoy (lightly armored duelists), the Dawnflower Dervishes of Qadira (whirling scimitar fighters), and the Rondelero Duelists of Taldor (buckler-and-falcata fighters). All three seem reasonable to me. I appreciated that the section contains a very clear explanation of what an archetype is and how it works to modify regular class features.

Section 3 (2 pages) is "Faith: Gods of the Inner Sea," featuring two to three sentence introductions to each of the "Core 20" deities of the setting. There's also very brief mentions of some other important religious figures, like Aroden, Razmir, the Empyreal Lords, etc. Again, it's hard to do much when there's so much information to present in so little space, but from a "okay, you're playing a cleric, which god are you going to worship?" perspective, it's enough to at least narrow down the choices.

Section 4 (2 pages) is "Magic: Arcane Schools of the Inner Sea." The section is interesting because it doesn't contain archetypes per se for wizards, but presents options that functionally do the same thing: modifying class features. Three magical schools are discussed (the Arcanamirium of Absalom, Egorian Academy in Cheliax, and the Mages of the Veil of Qadira) and a wizard PC who wants to be a graduate of one of the schools swaps out the powers of their arcane school (universal, conjuration, and illusion, respectively) for new powers. For example, the conjurors of Egorian Academy lose their normal acid dart and dimensional step powers and instead get a power to try to take control over other's summoned creatures and the ability to get an imp as a familiar. I really like the concept, as it nicely ties in flavour, background, and mechanics. It should be noted that there's no mention of the much more involved "Magical Academies" rules subset from Inner Sea Magic, however.

Section 5 (2 pages) is "Social: Races of the Inner Sea." Here we have one-paragraph summaries of how the various core races and human ethnicities are viewed in the Inner Sea. It's serviceable, but not exactly compelling.

The Inner Sea Primer is the sort of book easily overlooked by those who have been playing in Golarion for a long time, but it's the perfect thing to have on hand during character creation with new players. When you have to help one player pick out spells for their wizard, hand the guy running a fighter this book and tell him to decide where he's from. As a nice, concise overview of the setting, it's definitely worth the price.


Great introduction into the campaign setting

*****

This little book (36 pages, 30 of them actual content) is basically the Inner Sea World Guide in a very compressed, player friendly way. History is condensed to a single page, while all the 40 different countries get 20 pages altogether. Faiths, magic and races (including some human cultures) are dealt with in 2 pages each. I feel it's pretty the perfect amount of information to let a new player build the background for their character. On top of that this book contains 3 exclusive archetypes for both fighter and wizard. They read nice, at least - I'm tempted to try one or two.

Personally, I like the artwork. The cover is amazing, the map is useful, the 40 (!) flags are creative and the 4 character images are solid to good. I find Kyra's posture a bit weird and repeating the cover at the end seems off, but overall it's great art - as usual.

Back to the content though: If you enjoy reading long texts and are content with PDFs, Inner Sea World Guide is the better choice. For another 2$ you get roughly 10 times the content. But I feel most groups can profit from having at least one physical copy of the thinner book, especially when introducing new players.


Excellent quick intro to Golarion

*****

It has been awhile since I actually bought this, but another thread brought this product to mind again.

The Primer is an excellent starting point for any player who wants to join in the adventure in Golarion. It gives a nice 1/2 page snippet of each of the countries of the Inner Sea, along with some discussion of the religions and magic schools found around the area.

There are 3 fighter and 3 wizard archetypes that fit well into the backstory of the realm, and are well put together as well. The Aldori Swordlord is still one of my favorite fighter archetypes (mixes well with the newer Aldori Swordlord prestige class from Paths of Prestige).

Shortly after this book came out, I ended up buying extra copies so that I could give them as Christmas gifts to my gaming group who was going through Rise of the Runelords at the time.




You get what you pay for

****( )

It's hard not to echo what previous reviewers have stated, but maybe it's important for the publishers to get the general feeling of the praises and gripes about their products.

The book does a great job of introducing people to the Inner Sea. I have had some difficulty adventuring in the area and reading the fiction and not having a map in front of me to help me figure out, "Where the heck are we, anyway?" :) Further reading in the book also helps understand both of the aforementioned as the nations are detailed well-enough.

The lack of artwork was, like a previous poster said, kinda' glaring. For a $10.99 product I know we can't expect Rembrandt, but to use the inside back cover to repeat the front cover artwork is a little weak. How about a picture of the Starstone Cathedral or something equally as epic?

Still, I recommend the book to anyone who adventures in The Inner Sea. Very helpful.


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Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Ganzir wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Why not reprint them? Because they're 3.5 books with some rules material we'd like to remove or update to the Pathfinder RPG.

OK that is a quite irrefutable reason, which raises another question:

There are a lot of Campaign Setting Volumes and Companion Volumes based on 3.5 - will you update all of them to match the Pathfinder rules?

If so I have to rethink my subscription policy, since I personally have no reason to spend money on a remake of i.e. "Into the Darklands" even if there is one or the other feat mentioned which was designed for 3.5.

I am pretty sure this is more for main campaign setting books. Not that I am saying that they won't at some point redo the Elves of Golarion book, but I don't think it is something that will be done for quite a while.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Ganzir wrote:

There are a lot of Campaign Setting Volumes and Companion Volumes based on 3.5 - will you update all of them to match the Pathfinder rules?

If so I have to rethink my subscription policy, since I personally have no reason to spend money on a remake of i.e. "Into the Darklands" even if there is one or the other feat mentioned which was designed for 3.5.

As a general rule, no; we're not looking to reprint every one of our 3.5 books. The majority of our Campaign Setting books are relatively rules light, on purpose, since for a year or so we weren't sure WHAT direction our rules support was going to go in. What's more likely is that we'll expand upon topics now and then... or maybe, some day, compile a group of similar books into a hardcover reprint once they've sold out for the most part.

The Inner Sea Primer's sort of an unusual situation—it's a product we've never really produced before and the ones that used to do its job are sold out AND were for 3.5. Updating/creating a Player's Guide to Golarion was more or less a no-brainer.

Contributor

Ganzir wrote:
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Why not reprint them? Because they're 3.5 books with some rules material we'd like to remove or update to the Pathfinder RPG.

OK that is a quite irrefutable reason, which raises another question:

There are a lot of Campaign Setting Volumes and Companion Volumes based on 3.5 - will you update all of them to match the Pathfinder rules?
If so I have to rethink my subscription policy, since I personally have no reason to spend money on a remake of i.e. "Into the Darklands" even if there is one or the other feat mentioned which was designed for 3.5.

To add to what James said: The ISP and the WG are probably going to be "evergreen" products for us... things that we'll reprint as they run out, just as we would the Core Rulebook, simply because they're very important to the Campaign Setting product line. That's because every person who plays in any adventure path, Paizo module, or home game nominally set in Golarion is a potential buyer of the ISP and WG.

Compare that to, say, Dark Markets: A Guide to Katapesh. Many campaigns set in our world well never go to Katapesh. That book has strong ties to the Legacy of Fire AP. Odds are we won't be reprinting LOF, and therefore we won't have much need to reprint Dark Markets, either (because the demand is low). There are over a dozen countries in our world that we haven't devoted a book to yet (either a 32- or 64-pager), and we'd much rather focus on describing these "untouched" areas than revisit an area we've described in depth, so if we go back to Katapesh I expect it won't be for a long time.

The ISP and the WG are an exception to the rule--we really need those "core" campaign setting books in print, just as we need the Core Rulebook and Bestiary in print at all times. So it's an unusual situation for all of us, and I'm sorry that you're unhappy with it.


Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

OK that answers all of my questions. Many thanks for the extensive support by the way, which especially in case of a critical comment (such as mine) is not something I have come to expect from other companies.This really is a credit to you.

Well as I stated above I am with Pathfinder from the very beginning and since the end of 2009 a direct customer of paizo (who lives in Europe). Therefor my shipping fees are not the smallest plus the occasional import taxes. So when I opened my last package and skipped through the pages I was a little disappointed that the really new content isn't overly excessive. Hope you understand my side of the story.

In any case I understand the need for a low prized product to allow a new customer a glimpse at Golarion.

Speaking of untouched regions ... Alkenstar and Numeria would be great, - but those are just my two pennies.

Keep up the good work.

Greetz
Ganzir

Dark Archive

Ganzir wrote:

OK that answers all of my questions. Many thanks for the extensive support by the way, which especially in case of a critical comment (such as mine) is not something I have come to expect from other companies.This really is a credit to you.

Well as I stated above I am with Pathfinder from the very beginning and since the end of 2009 a direct customer of paizo (who lives in Europe). Therefor my shipping fees are not the smallest plus the occasional import taxes. So when I opened my last package and skipped through the pages I was a little disappointed that the really new content isn't overly excessive. Hope you understand my side of the story.

In any case I understand the need for a low prized product to allow a new customer a glimpse at Golarion.

Speaking of untouched regions ... Alkenstar and Numeria would be great, - but those are just my two pennies.

Keep up the good work.

Greetz
Ganzir

I can understand your point, but for me this is perfect; you see, I always struggle with introducing players to new environments (practically at the beginning of every campaign, unless it's already a familiar area to everyone). What does this fighter guy from Cheliax know about Varisia? What about Brevoy or Nirmathas? How much more should the rogue know about Absalom? And so on. Usually I write up a short introductory/background document for each campaign, and give more information to each character based on their background and skills.

And it's not just Golarion; it has been the same with Mystara (Known World) and FR, too. However, if someone has already done the job for me, and I can just give this book to them saying "All you know is in there!", it's less work and stress for me. Especially now, as I'm probably about to start running Pathfinder for new players at my library; if all goes as planned, it'll be a new group every month or so, and this book will make it dramatically easier to accomplish. :)


PDF version available for sale today (Dec 1). Thank you, Paizo!!!! I have the Gazetteer and am still very excited about this item. 'Updated' versions of previous publications wouldn't be coming out if Pathfinder weren't a vibrant, growing vehicle. Keep 'em coming.

Bob B.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Erk, you mean finding a copy of the Campaign Setting this late wasn't part of the game? Oh, well! ;)

The Inner Sea Companion is awesome, though. ^_^ I'm staring a new game this weekend, and I and all of my players are newcomers to the system. It's absolutely perfect for us.


Ganzir wrote:

Speaking of untouched regions ... Alkenstar and Numeria would be great, - but those are just my two pennies.

Keep up the good work.

Greetz
Ganzir

I have to second this. I just got the book and I love it, especially the work on fighter and wizard archetypes.


Question regarding Aldori swordlord (archetype):

Inner Sea Primer, page 25 wrote:
Disarming Strike (Ex): At 5th level, when an Aldori swordlord successfully disarms an opponent using an Aldori dueling sword, the swordlord also deals normal damage to the target, but without the normal Strength bonus to damage. This ability replaces weapon training 1.

An Aldori dueling sword does not have the "disarm" weapon property. How is this reconciled with this archetype ability?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
LoreKeeper wrote:

Question regarding Aldori swordlord (archetype):

Inner Sea Primer, page 25 wrote:
Disarming Strike (Ex): At 5th level, when an Aldori swordlord successfully disarms an opponent using an Aldori dueling sword, the swordlord also deals normal damage to the target, but without the normal Strength bonus to damage. This ability replaces weapon training 1.

An Aldori dueling sword does not have the "disarm" weapon property. How is this reconciled with this archetype ability?

You can disarm using any weapon, having a disarm property merely gives you +2 CMB.


Ah! Much obliged. Thank you :)

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Question regarding Dawnflower Dervish (archetype):

Inner Sea Primer, page 25 wrote:

Quote:
While dervishes can be clerics, paladins or rangers, zealous fighters join their ranks as well.

The problem being that all of the dervish abilities replace armor training, and rangers don't get armor training. I assume this means that while those other races can be dervishes, they don't actually get any cool archetype powers... you just call them a dervish and be done with it.

I ask because I have a ranger in my game that wants to be one and he's hung up on the quoted text I included above.

Contributor

"Dawnflower dervish" is a fighter archetype. Archetypes don't apply to multiple classes, so that's just how to build a dervish of Sarenrae with a fighter.

You can build a similar archetype for other classes, swapping other class abilities for those presented in that archetype. The point of that Combat article was to show three example Golarion-specific martial styles for fighters (and we wouldn't have the space to fully describe archetypes for other classes).

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Just a few questions arose during reading:

1) Aldori dueling sword stats? Why no stat block?

2) Each of the fighter archetyes refers to a feat from the Inner Sea World Guide which isn't published. Are those feats listed somewhere already?

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Thomas LeBlanc wrote:

Just a few questions arose during reading:

1) Aldori dueling sword stats? Why no stat block?

2) Each of the fighter archetyes refers to a feat from the Inner Sea World Guide which isn't published. Are those feats listed somewhere already?

Both the sword and the feats were in the old campaign setting book and will be reprinted in the new edition.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Gorbacz wrote:
Thomas LeBlanc wrote:

Just a few questions arose during reading:

1) Aldori dueling sword stats? Why no stat block?

2) Each of the fighter archetyes refers to a feat from the Inner Sea World Guide which isn't published. Are those feats listed somewhere already?

Both the sword and the feats were in the old campaign setting book and will be reprinted in the new edition.

And the Aldori dueling sword is also statted in Adventurer's Armory too, but you'll also need the Adventurer's Armory errata for the first printing of it.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Sean K Reynolds wrote:

"Dawnflower dervish" is a fighter archetype. Archetypes don't apply to multiple classes, so that's just how to build a dervish of Sarenrae with a fighter.

You can build a similar archetype for other classes, swapping other class abilities for those presented in that archetype. The point of that Combat article was to show three example Golarion-specific martial styles for fighters (and we wouldn't have the space to fully describe archetypes for other classes).

That's pretty much what I figured, but the blurb about clerics, paladins and rangers had one of my players all confused. Thanks.


So far, this is really a little beaut. But is it just me, or has the listing of Major Religions by population under each country gone to a simple alphabetical listing? Am I missing something? Why was that done?

Contributor

Mairkurion {tm} wrote:
So far, this is really a little beaut. But is it just me, or has the listing of Major Religions by population under each country gone to a simple alphabetical listing? Am I missing something? Why was that done?

For the gods in both the primer and the new Inner Sea hardcover, we went with alphabetical rather than by population for the gods. The thinking was that, while it might be obvious that, say, Abadar is more popular in a given region than Urgathoa, often the most prominent gods will have pretty comparable congregations, and we don't want to skew people's perceptions due to the order we list them in. And besides, religion is one of those things that can change from day to day, so without an annual census, even *we* wouldn't know who's more popular in a given country. Better to just list the major faiths and leave it at that (though you'll notice that we always put the named gods before the philosophies, etc.).


James Sutter wrote:
Mairkurion {tm} wrote:
So far, this is really a little beaut. But is it just me, or has the listing of Major Religions by population under each country gone to a simple alphabetical listing? Am I missing something? Why was that done?
For the gods in both the primer and the new Inner Sea hardcover, we went with alphabetical rather than by population for the gods. The thinking was that, while it might be obvious that, say, Abadar is more popular in a given region than Urgathoa, often the most prominent gods will have pretty comparable congregations, and we don't want to skew people's perceptions due to the order we list them in. And besides, religion is one of those things that can change from day to day, so without an annual census, even *we* wouldn't know who's more popular in a given country. Better to just list the major faiths and leave it at that (though you'll notice that we always put the named gods before the philosophies, etc.).

I'm sorry to hear that. I think that, with the exception of major historical transitions, religious populations remain relatively stable in traditional societies over long periods of time. The "census thinking" seems to me more indicative of contemporary realities. I found the old way of listing very helpful. Sure it's only suggestive and would require some interpretation on the GM's part, but I think that's preferable to no guidance at all. And the suggestiveness of it also does away with the worry about exact numbers.

Grand Lodge

Apologies on the thread necromancy but how does it work with the new Inner Sea World guide? Is the fluff mostly repeated in that and all I'll likely be paying for is a traits guide and a few Archtypes?

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Helaman wrote:
Apologies on the thread necromancy but how does it work with the new Inner Sea World guide? Is the fluff mostly repeated in that and all I'll likely be paying for is a traits guide and a few Archtypes?

What should you know as a player in the setting? That's the big thing that's in this book that is NOT in the ISWG, besides the archetypes and traits. None of those are repeated.

Grand Lodge

So they go fist in glove so to speak? A necessary buy?

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Helaman wrote:
So they go fist in glove so to speak? A necessary buy?

As a player, it's pretty close to a yes, not an absolute but definitely highly recommended, but not a true necessity as a GM.

Liberty's Edge

I cast Raise Thread:

In preparation for the RotRL HC, I'm getting my players prepared mentally and physically. Does this guide make any mention of

Spoiler:
Xin Shalast

either in text description or on the map?

Owner - House of Books and Games LLC

HangarFlying wrote:

In preparation for the RotRL HC, I'm getting my players prepared mentally and physically. Does this guide make any mention of

** spoiler omitted **

either in text description or on the map?

Nope!


I bought this PDF due to the reference to it from Regional Demon Slayer as found here http://www.d20pfsrd.com/traits/regional-traits/demon-slayer

Imagine my disappointment to find these words, when searched on, produce zero results.

Epic Fail


Steven Hartline wrote:

I bought this PDF due to the reference to it from Regional Demon Slayer as found here http://www.d20pfsrd.com/traits/regional-traits/demon-slayer

Imagine my disappointment to find these words, when searched on, produce zero results.

Epic Fail

"Demon Slayer" is the generic form of the trait "Treerazer’s Bane" (page 10 in Inner Sea Primer). Same trait.


d20pfsrd had to change the names of some feats, and other things, when they became a commercial site. You will find the trait under another name: Treerazer's Bane.

Edit: Ninja'd. Never post whlle making dinner. :)

Liberty's Edge

Yeah, it is maddening. I can't use d20pfsrd anymore because of it. I recommend my players to not use it as well as I don't want everything to have two names.


Which is why I use Archives of Nethys.
Having the Society legal options identified is also handy.

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