Pathfinder Campaign Setting: The Inner Sea World Guide (PFRPG)

****½ (based on 34 ratings)
Pathfinder Campaign Setting: The Inner Sea World Guide (PFRPG)
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The Best of All Possible Worlds

Discover the world of Golarion, the official campaign setting for the smash-hit Pathfinder Roleplaying Game! A time of lost prophecies grips the world, bringing with it an unending maelstrom, a tear in the fabric of reality, a surge of diabolism, and the endless threat of war. Yet all is not lost, for these dark times provide ample opportunity for adventure and heroism.

    Inside this exciting and informative 320-page tome you will find:
  • Detailed summaries of the player character races native to Golarion, including more than a dozen distinct human ethnicities
  • Elaborate gazetteers of more than 40 crumbling empires, expansionist kingdoms, independent city-states, and monster-haunted wildlands of Golarion’s adventure-filled Inner Sea region, with locations perfect for nearly any type of fantasy campaign
  • Cultural information and Pathfinder RPG rules covering the 20 core deities of the Inner Sea, plus entries on other gods, demigods, forgotten deities, weird cults, strange philosophies, and more!
  • An overview of the Inner Sea’s history, a look at time and space, a discussion of magical artifacts and technological wonders, discussions of important factions and organizations, and hundreds of locations ripe for adventure!
  • Tons of new options for player characters, including Inner Sea-themed prestige classes, feats, spells, adventuring gear, and magic items!
  • Nine new monsters, including exotic humanoids of the skies and seas, undead and dragons, and an angry demon lord in exile!
  • A giant 21.75"x33" poster map that reveals the sweeping landscape of the Inner Sea in all its treacherous glory!

by James Jacobs with Keith Baker, Wolfgang Baur, Clinton J. Boomer, Jason Bulmahn, Joshua J. Frost, Ed Greenwood, Stephen S. Greer, Jeff Grubb, Michael Kortes, Tito Leati, Mike McArtor, Rob McCreary, Erik Mona, Jason Eric Nelson, Jeff Quick, Sean K Reynolds, F. Wesley Schneider, Leandra Christine Schneider, David Schwartz, Amber E. Scott, Stan!, Owen K.C. Stephens, Todd Stewart, James L. Sutter, Greg A. Vaughan, Jeremy Walker, and JD Wiker

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-269-2

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscription.

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Pathfinder Campaign Setting: The Inner Sea World Guide (PFRPG)

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****½ (based on 34 ratings)

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The Kitchen Sink, and Everything But

*****

To put it simply, the Inner Sea World Guide is *the* setting book for Pathfinder. There are several other books (softcovers) that provide more insight into particular areas, but this is the book that introduces the whole shebang. Weighing in at 318 pages, it provides an overview of everything that makes up Pathfinder's official campaign setting: the Inner Sea region of the planet Golarion. There are entries on each of the core races and human ethnicities, overviews of each of the nations of the region, a chapter on gods and religion, miscellaneous information like holidays and languages, an introduction to some major organisations that PCs might belong to (or fight against), player-facing material like new equipment and prestige classes, and finally a handful of new monsters for the GM. In short, there is a *lot* of information in the book and I've come to rely on it heavily.

In terms of overall production quality, a reader won't be disappointed. It's attractively laid out, with tons of maps, artwork (some of it recycled from earlier Paizo products), sidebars, etc. It's clear that a lot of love and attention to detail went into the book, which makes sense as it's one of the premier products in the Pathfinder line.

An Introduction (4 pages) kicks things off. One page is a map of the entire Inner Sea region. The theme of the setting is encapsulated nicely: against all prophecies, the God of Humanity, Aroden, has died suddenly, leading to a world "where nothing is foretold, and anything can happen." From another perspective, that's really what Golarion is: a kitchen-sink setting where no matter what kind of fantasy game-play your group wants, it can find a place for it--whether it's gothic tales of horror, swashbuckling tales of pirates, barbarians with laser-swords, steampunk gunslingers, or more traditional elves and wizards. The sum really is greater than the parts, and somehow it all works. The entire setting has a surprisingly rich and detailed history, which helps to tie everything together into a more coherent whole. The Introduction also contains a really nice in-game summary of the Pathfinder Society and a short sidebar explaining how the Inner Sea World Guide has expanded upon and updated the two previous overviews of the setting (the Gazetteer and Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting, respectively).

Chapter 1 is Races (22 pages). It starts with a *very* brief overview (a sentence or two each) of where some of the uncommon humanoid races (like tieflings or kobolds) fit into the Inner Sea before devoting a single-page to each of the human ethnicities of Golarion (many with sensitively-handled analogues to real world cultures) and then the other core races like elves, dwarves, etc.. I'm not necessarily a fan of this way of handling things, as it gives the appearance that only humans have different ethnicities while all the other core races are homogeneous. Still, the chapter does succeed in adding a ton of Golarion-specific lore that is absent from the setting-neutral Core Rulebook.

Chapter 2, "The Inner Sea" (184 pages) is clearly the heart (and, by page-count, a full half) of the book. It starts by explaining that the Inner Sea consists of the continents of Avistan and (northern) Garund, explaining that the planet of Golarion contains several other continents that are outside the scope of the book. There's a detailed timeline of the setting's in-game history, which makes for interesting reading once some additional context is provided. The bulk of the chapter consists of four-page entries on each of the major countries/regions of the Inner Sea. Each entry starts with a sidebar giving basic information (like notable settlements, rulers, population, etc.) and is then sub-divided by topics: history, government, and a gazetteer of notable locations. There are 41 of these entries in alphabetical order, so it's pretty hard to cover them adequately in a review like this. I think the best thing to do is repeat my earlier point that there's a place for almost everything somewhere: revolutionary America has an analogue in Andoran, revolutionary France is Galt, Osiron is ancient Egypt, etc. But there are also some very original countries, like Razmiran (a theocracy ruled by a con-man), Rahadoum (a country that has turned against the gods and where worship is illegal), the Worldwound (a wasteland devastated by the presence of an open portal to demonic planes), the Mana Wastes (where magic doesn't work, and technology has stepped in), and so much more. If nothing else, each entry serves as a nice overview to give the area some basic flavour, and then a GM who really wants more detail can look for the matching softcover campaign setting line book for more depth. I was particularly intrigued by the eight page "Beyond the Inner Sea" section, which is more detailed than I would have thought (and definitely worth expanding someday, Paizo!).

Chapter 3, "Religion" (32 pages), contains a half-page introduction to each of the "Core 20" deities of the setting. Other gods get a paragraph or two, but there's also space devoted to archdevils, demon lords, elemental lords, dead gods, and philosophies. It's enough to get started, though serious players and GMs will likely want more detailed information. In terms of game-play mechanics, two new clerical domains (Scalykind and Void) are introduced here.

Chapter 4, "Life" is sadly just ten pages long. This is the chapter that covers the calendar, holidays and festivals, languages, weather and climate, and distinctive flora and fauna, among other subjects. There are some nice samples of things that make Golarion distinctive, but it would be good to someday have an "Inner Sea Almanac" that expanded on the little things that don't seem exciting but help add a major degree of verisimilitude to the setting.

Chapter 5, "Factions" (14 pages) provides a two-page introduction to five different organisations: the Aspis Consortium (an unprincipled group of colonialists & merchants), the Eagle Knights (anti-slavery freedom-fighters), the Hellknights (extremely strict "law and order" types), the Pathfinder Society (explorers and treasure-hunters), and the Red Mantis (assassins). Several lesser groups also get a one-paragraph overview. Overall, the chapter again serves nicely as a brief introduction, though more detailed information on each of the groups is available elsewhere.

Chapter 6, "Adventuring" (30 pages) is for the players. It starts with suggestions on where in the Inner Sea various classes might hail from. It then introduces four new prestige classes: the Harrower (a cool fortune-teller with an interesting suite of special abilities), the Hellknight (an armored juggernaut), the Low Templar (a sort of cowardly knight; it's hard to envision this one appealing widely), and the Red Mantis Assassin (maybe more for GMs than players, but with some eye-raising abilities). The chapter introduces several new feats; most of them are forgettable but a couple (like Rapid Reload and Fey Foundling) have become crucial to some builds and are, frankly, probably overpowered. The chapter provides updated rules for several pieces of equipment introduced in earlier adventure paths, including goblin weapons like dogslicers, Shoanti weapons like the Earth breaker, and more. It also briefly covers firearms, which are suitably rare and problematic (until someone plays a Gunslinger). Finally, there are some new spells (the most famous of which is infernal healing) and magic items (many of which are essential to parts of the campaign setting, like the final blades for Galt, the sun orchid elixir for Thuvia, and wardstones for the Worldwound). On the whole, I don't think buying the book purely for the "crunch" would be a good idea; the material in this chapter is only a supplement to what's essentially a "flavour/fluff" book.

Chapter 7, "Monsters" (14 pages) starts off with a nice overview of the role that various traditional groups of monsters (like dragons, trolls, ogres, etc.) play in Golarion. It then goes on to introduce seven new monsters, each with a 1-page Bestiary-style entry. Potential players will be interested to see that two of them, Gillmen and Strix, are given rules to make them playable races. Rise of the Runelords GMs may be interested to see full stats for the Sandpoint Devil.

As I write this review, Pathfinder Second Edition is on the horizon and Paizo has said they plan to update the official setting with the "results" of all previous adventure paths. For now, however, the Inner Sea World Guide is the best one-stop resource to get started on anything involving the Inner Sea. Lots of books have more on a single given topic, but no book has so much on so many different topics when it comes to the Inner Sea.


Incredible Product

*****

So I had a few new players starting a session zero, but after making characters, they wanted to jump in to a game. I had nothing prepared because we were deciding what type of game we were going to play. After thirty minutes and this book, I had a strong beginning to a campaign. Every location, government and current events in this book is PERFECT for a campaign. So many starting points and storyline openings. Rich with interesting information and plot hooks. Easy five star and beautiful map. Thanks paizo


An Engaging Setting

*****

This was the first Pathfinder Campaign Setting product I bought. That would have been early in 2013. I was curious about the references to Golarion in the Core Rule Book and wanted to know more. I got what I wanted in spades! This is an excellent resource for the Golarion setting.

I recently bought the PDF because I forgot where I had put my hard copy. It's excellent because I can just open the file on my computer, find what I'm looking for with a bookmark and I'm good to go.


The Inner Sea is Good for Me

*****

This is a great resource book. The layout is great and even if you don't feel like using the various nations of The Inner Sea itself it the book gives you tons of ideas on how to build your own fantacy nations. The kinds of civilizations are diverse and all look like great places to have adventures in and make me want to read all of the Campaign Setting product line.

Add to that the feats, prestige classes, items, and the handful of monsters and you've got icing on what is already a great cake of a book.

All in all definitely worth the $9.99 asking price for the PDF!


Best RPG Product Ever

*****

I can honestly say this is the best RPG product I've ever bought. There's so much reading in it, and I keep dipping back into it over and over again.

This book made me fall in love with Golarion, and each entry has made me dive off looking for more in the campaign setting and tales line.

If you haven't already hit the link to buy, then stop reading and do it now, you deserve it!


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Scarab Sages RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Super Keen! :D


Finally Pathfinderized! But will it make our previous one obsolete?


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Don't know about obsolete, but it looks to be much longer than the current 255-pager.

It would be interesting to know if they're doing any "advancing the timeline" stuff - I think I recall them saying "we'll never do that" but I'm not sure...


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Does it advance the timeline?


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

"World Guide: The Inner Sea" sounds like "More volumes forthcoming!"

Cool!

Paizo Employee Creative Director

This one will not obsolete the first printing; it'll expand on it. In some cases, material in the first printing might not appear in this new version, or might be less detailed... but my goal in preparing this book is to add and expand, not overwrite.

It will advance the timeline by a couple of years, but won't assume any of the modules or Adventure Paths have taken place. You'll still be able to use this book as your campaign book to start, say, Rise of the Runelords or Curse of the Crimson Throne.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Zaister wrote:

"World Guide: The Inner Sea" sounds like "More volumes forthcoming!"

Sure does, don't it? :)


James Jacobs wrote:

This one will not obsolete the first printing; it'll expand on it. In some cases, material in the first printing might not appear in this new version, or might be less detailed... but my goal in preparing this book is to add and expand, not overwrite.

My precious, precious Alkenstar... I hardly knew ye...

Sovereign Court

Zaister wrote:

"World Guide: The Inner Sea" sounds like "More volumes forthcoming!"

Cool!

World Guide: Akiton???


I like it. I wonder how much difference there really is? 25%?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Urizen wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:

This one will not obsolete the first printing; it'll expand on it. In some cases, material in the first printing might not appear in this new version, or might be less detailed... but my goal in preparing this book is to add and expand, not overwrite.

My precious, precious Alkenstar... I hardly knew ye...

Alkenstar isn't going anywhere. Well... it's going to a section entitled "Mana Wastes" and that section is getting 4 pages to cover the Mana Wastes and Alkenstar and everything else going on there. But it'll still be in the book.


James Jacobs wrote:
Alkenstar isn't going anywhere. Well... it's going to a section entitled "Mana Wastes" and that section is getting 4 pages to cover the Mana Wastes and Alkenstar and everything else going on there. But it'll still be in the book.

I know, James. But I can't help but be a petulant child until Mana Wastes / Alkenstar gets their own Chronicles love. But at least I'm getting my halfings. ;)

Dark Archive

Most Awesome!

Dark Archive

Even if I love my Pathfinder CS, I'm glad that this and the map folio are coming out! :)

James, will the cover stay the same, or are you going to replace it with new art?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Asgetrion wrote:

Even if I love my Pathfinder CS, I'm glad that this and the map folio are coming out! :)

James, will the cover stay the same, or are you going to replace it with new art?

It's getting a new cover by Wayne. The book's going to look VERY different than the current one.

Dark Archive

James Jacobs wrote:
Asgetrion wrote:

Even if I love my Pathfinder CS, I'm glad that this and the map folio are coming out! :)

James, will the cover stay the same, or are you going to replace it with new art?

It's getting a new cover by Wayne.

Awesome! :) Not that I didn't love the "old" cover, but it's more convenient that way (and I also want to see what Wayne comes up with).


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

WOW!

This is most AWESOME indeed. And I like the "World Guide" tag, and as someone else mentioned (and JJ commented on) sounds like an open invite to have additional World Guides for other regions). WOOT!

Dean; The_Minstrel_Wyrm

Dark Archive

Very cool

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Will people with subscriptions automaticly get this one?

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

Yes.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Erik Mona wrote:
Yes.

Excellent it all falls into place MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA


Looking forward to this..

Dark Archive

Woot!

Shadow Lodge

Awww....my only problem with this is that it's coming out right as I'll be headed to Iraq.

Shadow Lodge

Kthulhu wrote:
Awww....my only problem with this is that it's coming out right as I'll be headed to Iraq.

Have someone send it to you;)

Thanks for your service!=)


Calixymenthillian wrote:
Zaister wrote:

"World Guide: The Inner Sea" sounds like "More volumes forthcoming!"

Cool!

World Guide: Akiton???

Rather World Guide: Tian Xia for when Jade Serpent gets up and running, and World Guide: Casmaron would be awesome!

Contributor

Awesome!

World Guide: The Outer Sphere? Plz? ;)

Liberty's Edge

I'm happy to see this updated to the PFRPG, but I'm also wondering what the extra 64 pages of materials will be, mainly Fluff or Crunch?


sigh...... just when I broke down and got the PFCS too

Dark Archive

seekerofshadowlight wrote:
sigh...... just when I broke down and got the PFCS too

Be glad that might have been the last copy of the old one they needed to sell to make the new one. So you might be the reason we are getting one.


seekerofshadowlight wrote:
sigh...... just when I broke down and got the PFCS too

Don't be too distressed. Owning both will have its advantages.


Sweet. I was just re-reading parts of the campaign setting and the excellent Gazetteer a couple of nights ago, and am looking forward to this revisit.

That said, I'm not sure if it's a good thing that it is not aiming to make the previous book obsolete..I'd prefer one stop shopping, not to mention knowing for sure which of the crunch options in the original book are intended to be part of PFRPG and which were just meant to last through the end of 3.5.


James Jacobs wrote:
Zaister wrote:

"World Guide: The Inner Sea" sounds like "More volumes forthcoming!"

Sure does, don't it? :)

I sure am looking forward to all forthcoming world guides. As a matter of fact, the organizational layout is what I have been looking for! When I get around to doing a world guide for Sarunia, it will follow the same format.


Dark_Mistress wrote:
seekerofshadowlight wrote:
sigh...... just when I broke down and got the PFCS too
Be glad that might have been the last copy of the old one they needed to sell to make the new one. So you might be the reason we are getting one.

I am not really upset, just more of a kinda "it figs' reaction. I do not regret buying the book as so far of what I have read its a setting I would love to play around in.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

The PDF is going to be priced at 10 USD, so a replacement won't hurt your wallet much :)


I do not use PDF's nor do I like to read from them. Just not a product I find all that useful. The 10 buck price point is very nice however


Gorbacz wrote:
The PDF is going to be priced at 10 USD, so a replacement won't hurt your wallet much :)

Really? Didn't read that yet. Where did they say it?

Dark Archive

Gorbacz wrote:
The PDF is going to be priced at 10 USD, so a replacement won't hurt your wallet much :)

Personally, even if it *DOES* hurt my wallet (and regardless of the fact that I own the "old" CS), I see this book as a worthy investment! :)

Liberty's Edge

KaeYoss wrote:
Gorbacz wrote:
The PDF is going to be priced at 10 USD, so a replacement won't hurt your wallet much :)
Really? Didn't read that yet. Where did they say it?

Over in the announcement for all the Pathfinder Chronicles products being released, down in that section of the boards.

Liberty's Edge

Wonderful news. I can't get enough of the current version so more content is just awesome.

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

Any "rules" elements we want to keep from 3.5 that currently appear in the hardcover will end up in either the Advanced Player's Guide (in the case of general stuff that doesn't really belong in the campaign setting book) or in the revised campaign setting book (in the case of stuff like the "regional" feats, etc.)

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

The new book will also include _new_ rules items, of course.


Erik Mona wrote:

or in the revised campaign setting book (in the case of stuff like the "regional" feats, etc.)

Meaning this book?

Paizo Employee Chief Creative Officer, Publisher

Right.

Dark Archive

Erik Mona wrote:
The new book will also include _new_ rules items, of course.

Such as? :)


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
The book's going to look VERY different than the current one.

Good! I'm getting sick of the same old rectangular books. It's about time you guys went with triangles or circles.

Dark Archive

Shinmizu wrote:
James Jacobs wrote:
The book's going to look VERY different than the current one.
Good! I'm getting sick of the same old rectangular books. It's about time you guys went with triangles or circles.

Nothing that simple -- I want some warhammer- or battle axe-shaped books!

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Uh may be a bit of an odd question but I would imagine you would be dropping pathfinder chronicler from this book? (since it is in the main rule book now)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Kevin Mack wrote:
Uh may be a bit of an odd question but I would imagine you would be dropping pathfinder chronicler from this book? (since it is in the main rule book now)

It's still in the Pathfinder Chronicles line; it's not in the main rulebook line despite the fact that it's a hardcover.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
James Jacobs wrote:
Kevin Mack wrote:
Uh may be a bit of an odd question but I would imagine you would be dropping pathfinder chronicler from this book? (since it is in the main rule book now)
It's still in the Pathfinder Chronicles line; it's not in the main rulebook line despite the fact that it's a hardcover.

Sorry I meant the prestige class not the line the book is in.

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