Pathfinder Player Companion: Varisia, Birthplace of Legends (PFRPG)

4.50/5 (based on 15 ratings)
Pathfinder Player Companion: Varisia, Birthplace of Legends (PFRPG)
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Begin an adventure like no other in Varisia, a land of ancient mysteries and fantastic danger. Within this book you’ll find countless player-friendly possibilities as you explore one of the most richly detailed corners of the Pathfinder campaign setting. Will you indulge fortune as a Varisian wanderer, retake your tribal lands as a fierce Shoanti barbarian, uncover the secrets of a lost arcane empire, or fight to protect your peaceful home from dark magic and fierce monsters? The choices are endless, but you'll find the ones that are right for you with this primer to an entire realm of adventure.

Varisia, Birthplace of Legends presents a player-focused overview of the land, people, magic, and mysteries of the region of Varisia, one of the best-loved and most explored frontiers of the Pathfinder campaign setting. Every Pathfinder Player Companion includes new options and tools for every Pathfinder RPG player.

    These are just a few of the features you’ll find inside this book:
  • A bold new format with new features, revealing more exciting topics, options, and inspirations every time you turn the page.
  • A look into the lives of Varisia’s native peoples, the proud tribal Shoanti and far-traveling Varisians, with new ways to play members of both cultures.
  • New archetypes, feats, equipment, and traits to make characters a part of Varisia, plus many that link to Adventure Paths set in the region, like Rise of the Runelords.
  • A player-friendly map of Varisia, featuring major settlements, distances between locations, and hints at adventure sites to explore.
  • A player’s guide for the Shattered Star Adventure Path, giving players everything they need to know to create characters ready to face this deadly new campaign.

Written by F. Wesley Schneider, Amber E. Scott, Tork Shaw, James L. Sutter, and Jerome Virnich

Each monthly 32-page Pathfinder Player Companion contains several player-focused articles exploring the volume’s theme as well as short articles with innovative new rules for all types of characters, as well as traits to better anchor the player to the campaign. This Pathfinder Player Companion is intended for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, but can easily be incorporated into any fantasy world.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-453-5

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

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4.50/5 (based on 15 ratings)

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Excellent Book

5/5

The Pathfinder Player Companion line of books has been a bit hit-and-miss at times. Some of the early entries (before Player was added to the line’s title) seemed uncertain whether they were intended for players or GMs, and almost all of them have been limited by a layout format that worked for some but not for others. I’ve liked many of the books in the line (Gnomes of Golarion is one of my personal favourites), but Varisia, Birthplace of Legends elevates it well beyond anything that has come before. It débuts a new format, one that is more flexible and better-suited to conveying the information the book needs to convey. It is a book that will be a must-have for any player (and GM) about to embark on a campaign set in Varisia or just creating a character who comes from Varisia.

You can read the rest of my review on my blog.


Interesting read

4/5

This is the beginning of a new format for the Player’s Companion line. This review is thus as much about this new layout as it is about the content found within.

Many players will find just what they look for in this text. This could be feats, archetypes, equipment, or background on culture and geography of Varisia. Many of the choices available are full of flavor and as a GM I would like to see many of these options in my game.

There is a truly beautiful example of cartography spanning the centre pages of the text giving us a useful view of Varisia. The map gives distances between locations while keeping that old ‘here be dragons’ feel with little drawings of the dangers that could be faced on the road. I really enjoy this map. In addition to this two page spread there is another great map on the back cover of the book which gives details regarding overland caravan routes in Varisia.

This is where one point of criticism arises for me. I really enjoyed seeing the art from the cover of the text in all its glory without text overlay on the back cover. It was the first thing I would flip to when I got my hands on a new player’s companion. The tiny reproduction we get in the table of contents is a poor substitute. I understand the 32 page limitation of this series, but this full page of art could be included in the PDF.

Other changes to the layout include equipment listings matching the new Equipment guide, a large table of contents, and the ‘crunch’ appears to be more clearly set apart from flavour text. These are all positive changes to me.

The last pages of the text are dedicated to campaigns that have occurred in Varisia. At first glance I thought this was just a lame advertising waste of 4 pages. This would be too harsh, as each entry for an adventure path does contain some interesting tidbits. The entry for the newest arc (the Shattered Star) is given a two page spread and includes some interesting traits.

I would recommend this book.


Great little guide for Varisian campaigns

4/5

Are you playing Rise of the Runelords or any of the other Pathfinder campaigns set in Varisia? Then you need this short but informative guide. Besides scads of interesting background info, it also has some new archetypes and traits. In fact one of the traits (which gives Perception as a class skill!) is pretty darn good. Thus, altho this book is mostly for background info, it is worthwhile for the player that is just more into designing and playing a powerful PC.

This does have some info which is duplicated in the original 3.5 Sandpoint book, but now fully updated to Pathfinder.

Mind you, every player doesn’t need a copy- but at least one player and the DM should have one.


Just wow

5/5

I really love the layout of this book.Please continue with this format so very impressed with this book.Im not sure i cared for the pages to other campaigns so much but since the rest of the book was awesome I will shut up and let you continue making books your way.


I'd Give 6 Stars If I Could

5/5

I absolutely love this new layout! It seems so much more dynamic and easy to read. The graphics are incredible as Paizo has outdone themselves yet again. I really like the panoramic view of major cities in the bottom panel and I particularly love the style of map in the center.

My only regret/gripe is that the map is spread across two pages and I really wish you would release it as a separate download. I like to print out the maps and put them on my wall and this one would be a great addition.

I have to agree with the other reviewers, if you were on the fence about Companion products in the past you owe it to yourself to check this one out. It's simply beautifully done.


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Truth, Varisia is my favorite spot on Golarion. Three APs set there aren't enough and I've even put some work into moving Council of Thieves, Kingmaker, Carrion Crown and the ol' Kobold King adventures there. I love it more than any other location on the planet.

Question, though. Is this written with any spoilers from the first three APs? I know you say your setting is time-immune such that metaplots won't carry the storyline forward, but in the past I've seen some assumptions in your writing (such as posting the location of Xin-Shalast on your official map or the taming of Bloodsworn Vale in the timeline of Korvosa). Will this player's companion be written for players who have yet to play Crimson Throne, fer instance?

Scarab Sages

Finally some more delicious details on Varisia! Looking forward to this one.


James Jacobs wrote:
Eric Hinkle wrote:
Yes yes yes. I am so happy to see this coming out. Any chance we'll see a Varisia gazetteer as a full-sized book as well?

I'd love to eventually do a 320 page (or bigger) hardcover on Varisia, frankly.

I was also going to ask for a 64-page campaign setting book, but you just trumped me HARD. O.O


Came all late to this, but OMG AWESOMESAUCE!!!!**

This is a book I have been waiting for!! and asking for!!. Varisia is definitely one of my favorite nations, and I came way late to the Golarion party, so thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

Also,
SO glad I am subscribed to this!!!

**Awesomecause: When you're so awesome, its like you covered in sauce of it :)

Silver Crusade

James Jacobs wrote:
Eric Hinkle wrote:
Yes yes yes. I am so happy to see this coming out. Any chance we'll see a Varisia gazetteer as a full-sized book as well?

I'd love to eventually do a 320 page (or bigger) hardcover on Varisia, frankly.

Ahhh take my monies!


I really like Varisia, like many on these boards, I think.

Varisia, in my opinion, on account of it being a frontier region of Golarion, hits the perfect balance between familiarity and strangeness.

When you play a character treading in the wilds of Varisia, you know that you're going to discover strange new things, maybe even map some poorly charted territory - but at the same time, you're not wadding in some vaguely defined vacuum.

I like it that people back in Korvosa will hear about my hero's adventures and talk about it while drinking some perfectly civilized Chelaxian wine :-). I'm currently playing in Korvosa (CotCT), and I love the feeling of this meticulous (at the start ;-) city surrounded by wilderness and barbarian Shoanti tribes.

Speaking of that, I love the Shoanti: creating a believable ethnicity, original enough that it doesn't seem to come straight from our world, is a wondrous feat.

And thanks to the people of Paizo, for doing a great job of entertaining my imagination with thrilling adventures !


I look forward to seeing the changes to the companion line and getting a Player Companion on Varisia. I'm hoping one of the changes is putting the crunch together instead of spread-out across multiple sections. Trying to find some ability you read about in a Player Companion right now usually involves looking at least four places (and hoping you pulled the right book). I'd rather see mechanics grouped by type of mechanic (traits, feats, weapon properties) than by social trait, social feat on one page, religious trait and "aristocratic weaponcrafting technique" on another page (for example).

As for hardcovers, I want a 320 page hardcover for Ustalav. I do like the city-state vibe of Varisia though, reminds me of the Western Heartlands of FR somewhat with its city-states. Right now I'm reading AD&D Ravenloft: A Guide to Transylvania (A Masque of the Red Death accessory) with an eye toward applying material presented toward the Ustalav sandbox campaign I'm developing. More actual material for Ustalav would be great though, especially more details of the Hundred Haunted Vales of the Hungry Mountains.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Will this book have Spoilers for Runelords, Crimson Throne, and Second Darkness?

Liberty's Edge

James Jacobs wrote:


I'd love to eventually do a 320 page (or bigger) hardcover on Varisia, frankly.

OMG Yes! And maybe on on the Worldwound...

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Stratagemini wrote:
Will this book have Spoilers for Runelords, Crimson Throne, and Second Darkness?

Hopefully nothing major, and likely nothing at all.

Contributor

Stratagemini wrote:
Will this book have Spoilers for Runelords, Crimson Throne, and Second Darkness?

No. Unless you're the kind of GM who feels like players even knowing what Shoanti are and that Thassilon was a thing are spoilers.

In general, readers should expect these books to get about as spoilerific as an AP's Player Guide, as they're meant to guide players toward useful choices, but not ruin the fun of a campaign. That said, since they don't focus on specific APs, these companions have even less potential for spoilers than your typical Player Guide.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

I've updated the image and product description to match the finished product.


Vic Wertz wrote:
I've updated the image and product description to match the finished product.

Looks Sweet Vic

The artist who did this one should get a bonus because it's that sweet.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

These last few Player Companions have had absolutely stunning pieces of cover art. Who's the talented artist for this one?

Liberty's Edge

"A player’s guide for the Shattered Star Adventure Path, giving players everything they need to know to create characters ready to face this deadly new campaign."

:(


Paladinosaur wrote:

"A player’s guide for the Shattered Star Adventure Path, giving players everything they need to know to create characters ready to face this deadly new campaign."

:(

It will be available separately as well, Right?

Liberty's Edge

This cover feels a lot like the Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Hardcover.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Cheapy wrote:
Paladinosaur wrote:

"A player’s guide for the Shattered Star Adventure Path, giving players everything they need to know to create characters ready to face this deadly new campaign."

:(

It will be available separately as well, Right?

Yes.

More precisely...

The Player's Guide to Shattered Star will consist of the following three components:
1) Advice on what kinds of characters to play.
2) Several campaign traits.
3) Faction rules for the Pathfinder Society, updated from the 2-page entry in the Faction Guide to comply with the newer faction rules presented in the Pathfinder Society Field Guide.

Components #1 and #2 appear in print in "Varisia, Birthplace of Legends." They are 2 pages long in all.

The free Player's Guide PDF for Shattered Star will consist of Components #1, #2, and #3.

(That DOES mean that the free PDF Player's Guide for Shattered Star will only be about 4 or 5 pages long.)


Please tell me that cover is not a mock-up! It's just so awesome!

That Jerse- *ahem* Sandpoint Devil is what got me hooked on Pathfinder in the first place after all, since it's a cryptid.


I think it's angry because Valeros is very clearly trying to neuter the poor beast.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Mechalibur wrote:
These last few Player Companions have had absolutely stunning pieces of cover art. Who's the talented artist for this one?

Michal Ivan.


It seems rather redundant to print the same material (player's guide material) in 2 releases, especially when one is free. That is roughly 6.25% of the book.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Azten wrote:
Please tell me that cover is not a mock-up! It's just so awesome!

This is the finished cover.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
Nukruh wrote:
It seems rather redundant to print the same material (player's guide material) in 2 releases, especially when one is free. That is roughly 6.25% of the book.

My theory:

It seems reasonable to me to believe that rolling the AP Player's Guide material into the Companion line is a great way of helping toward lessening the workload of the AP crew. i.e. this sounds like part of the ongoing effort (along with personnel changes such as the hiring of Adam Daigle) to streamline the AP process to ensure that everything happens in a timely, on schedule fashion.

By doing things this way, the player's guides become less cumbersome to produce, as it simply requires taking the pertinent section from the Player Companion and making it into its own pdf (along with some minor tweaks).

I like it. This way, we get HUGE, 32-page thematic player's guides (such as this, which could work great for a number of APs, including Shattered Star), and for those who don't get the Player Companions, they still have access for free to the relevant info.


New archetypes. Yay!

I had hoped to see a 'Inner sea at War' book (in similar fashion to Inner Sea Magic) fleshing out armies, mercenary bands and awesome style feats focusing on fighters (no imp unarmed strike preq) but this will do.

Come on HOUNDMASTER!


STR Ranger wrote:

New archetypes. Yay!

I had hoped to see a 'Inner sea at War' book (in similar fashion to Inner Sea Magic) fleshing out armies, mercenary bands and awesome style feats focusing on fighters (no imp unarmed strike preq) but this will do.

Come on HOUNDMASTER!

You sure you didn't meant to post in Knights of the Inner Sea?


Vic Wertz wrote:
Azten wrote:
Please tell me that cover is not a mock-up! It's just so awesome!
This is the finished cover.

Consider it bought.


I am just not a fan of repeated info in books that cost money, which is roughly 0.34 per page in this product line. I would much rather have 2 pages of specific/random tables as opposed to repeated info that is available elsewhere and essentially relies on the book to be tied to an area covered in an AP. Such books would be produced anyway to tie in with the AP line. Just repeating content for the purpose of lessening the workload, if that is truly the case, is just cutting corners. The books only have 30 pages not including Table of Contents/Coming Next pages. Toss in chapter intro pages (1-2 pages) which leaves 28 pages. 2 repeated pages brings that down to 26 pages.

I just don't see how repeating content lessens any workload beyond not producing unique content for each product. Someone still has to export files to their respective pdfs, which while it is not rocket science seems to involve many hands in the approval mix to achieve the results from what has been commented on by staff in the past.


Nice Cover Art!

Liberty's Edge

Nukruh wrote:

I am just not a fan of repeated info in books that cost money, which is roughly 0.34 per page in this product line. I would much rather have 2 pages of specific/random tables as opposed to repeated info that is available elsewhere and essentially relies on the book to be tied to an area covered in an AP. Such books would be produced anyway to tie in with the AP line. Just repeating content for the purpose of lessening the workload, if that is truly the case, is just cutting corners. The books only have 30 pages not including Table of Contents/Coming Next pages. Toss in chapter intro pages (1-2 pages) which leaves 28 pages. 2 repeated pages brings that down to 26 pages.

I just don't see how repeating content lessens any workload beyond not producing unique content for each product. Someone still has to export files to their respective pdfs, which while it is not rocket science seems to involve many hands in the approval mix to achieve the results from what has been commented on by staff in the past.

So the traits(that would probably make it to d20pfsrd)and the types of characters to play (that seem redundant between the AP and the area) get their own 2 pages inside the Varisia companion, and will be given away for Free in the Shattered Star Player's guide. The Player Companion line gains importance, and the Free (FREE) Player's guide is still open to you. The Free(free) Player's guide is just a condiment. I'm glad they are pushing to theme these together.


I looked at that cover and yow. Now we know what My Little Pony would look like in Golarion. Even the cute little multi-colored ponies are badflanks there!

Sovereign Court

Nukruh wrote:

I am just not a fan of repeated info in books that cost money, which is roughly 0.34 per page in this product line. I would much rather have 2 pages of specific/random tables as opposed to repeated info that is available elsewhere and essentially relies on the book to be tied to an area covered in an AP. Such books would be produced anyway to tie in with the AP line. Just repeating content for the purpose of lessening the workload, if that is truly the case, is just cutting corners. The books only have 30 pages not including Table of Contents/Coming Next pages. Toss in chapter intro pages (1-2 pages) which leaves 28 pages. 2 repeated pages brings that down to 26 pages.

I just don't see how repeating content lessens any workload beyond not producing unique content for each product. Someone still has to export files to their respective pdfs, which while it is not rocket science seems to involve many hands in the approval mix to achieve the results from what has been commented on by staff in the past.

So, should they pull the free stuff?

I don't really like the pdf player's guides anyway, the printed issues for RotRL and CotCT were much better.

As it is, I'd much rather have a companion (as Second Darkness had) with the info than have to print out a flimsy pdf.

I vote to drop the free player's guide.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
GeraintElberion wrote:


I don't really like the pdf player's guides anyway, the printed issues for RotRL and CotCT were much better.

As it is, I'd much rather have a companion (as Second Darkness had) with the info than have to print out a flimsy pdf.

This is my feeling too. I don't consider them to be padding out the player companion. I consider the free product to be containing (some) repeated material.

I was a big fan of the old printed players guides. Sadly, that didn't work out. Maybe with the monthly companions and the policy of increasing integration of the various product lines we will end up with a satisfying compromise.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

The Cover is Incredible, and I am incredibly happy to have a book that will tell my players more about Varisia and how they should prepare characters for campaigns in the region... I'm unsure about having Shattered star Specific advice though... I'll reserve judgement on that point till after I see how it works.


New format for Pathfinder Player Companion: Happy

Yet another book concerning Varisia: Not so much

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Very nice cover.

Liberty's Edge

product description wrote:


A bold new format with new features, revealing more exciting topics, options, and inspirations every time you turn the page.

You know, WotC started doing new formatting for their 3.5 stuff just prior to the announcement of 4th Edition. I hope this "bold new format" ISN'T a harbinger of Pathfinder 2.0.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Card Game, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
HangarFlying wrote:
product description wrote:


A bold new format with new features, revealing more exciting topics, options, and inspirations every time you turn the page.
You know, WotC started doing new formatting for their 3.5 stuff just prior to the announcement of 4th Edition. I hope this "bold new format" ISN'T a harbinger of Pathfinder 2.0.

Almost certainly not. It isn't the first time that they've made changes. This is almost certainly due to the fact the the combat/social/magic/faith were increasingly looking like things were being shoehorned in & the move to a monthly release schedule for the companions.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

HangarFlying wrote:
product description wrote:


A bold new format with new features, revealing more exciting topics, options, and inspirations every time you turn the page.
You know, WotC started doing new formatting for their 3.5 stuff just prior to the announcement of 4th Edition. I hope this "bold new format" ISN'T a harbinger of Pathfinder 2.0.

It's not.

Liberty's Edge

James Jacobs wrote:

It's not.

Awesome! You the man!

Silver Crusade

Keep the Varisia books coming!

Looking forward to that mythical 320p hardcover!

Dark Archive

If I recall correctly, Paizo stated that the would no longer divide their Player Companions into Combat, Social, Faith and Magic sections, so the "bold new format" could just mean that.

Paizo Employee Creative Director

Jadeite wrote:
If I recall correctly, Paizo stated that the would no longer divide their Player Companions into Combat, Social, Faith and Magic sections, so the "bold new format" could just mean that.

It means more than that.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Can't wait for the new format. I was never a fan of Combat/Social/Faith/Magic - I thought it constrained the creativity and enforced unnecessary content.


good as long as it doesnt mean that we get an image of Seoni slapping Valeros..

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Cover art.


Paizo's art has really evolved since Rise of the Runelords.

Liberty's Edge

That player friendly map might be the best part of this book, or the at very least something I'll get the most out of.

Contributor

Joseph Wilson wrote:

My theory:

It seems reasonable to me to believe that rolling the AP Player's Guide material into the Companion line is a great way of helping toward lessening the workload of the AP crew. i.e. this sounds like part of the ongoing effort (along with personnel changes such as the hiring of Adam Daigle) to streamline the AP process to ensure that everything happens in a timely, on schedule fashion.

By doing things this way, the player's guides become less cumbersome to produce, as it simply requires taking the pertinent section from the Player Companion and making it into its own pdf (along with some minor tweaks).

In short: Yup!

In long: Over the years AP Player's Guides have evolved into include more information that's less directly pertinent to the players of said adventure path. It's been important to get that info out there and we've been glad to do them, but it's meant the player's guides themes have shifted to something only partially useful to players. Additionally, they became increasingly onerous to create, taxing the staff of a line already struggling with their production schedules.

By rolling the majority of the heavy lifting for the player's guides into the player companion, we can do a few things. First, we've got a whole other crew doing the work on them who can work with the AP guys and who have worked on plenty of APs themselves to assure that what needs to be in these guides get in there. Second, the love that we give a print project will always exceed the love we give a PDF product - that's just the way it is. So we can dedicate more design, art, and edit resources to make sure these player's guide sections look really sharp. So, by making the hear of the player's guides part of the player companion line, we can produce something more exciting and better looking without overtaxing the AP crew.

Now, the Shattered Star Player's Guide will have more that isn't covered in Player Companion: Varisia, but then Player Companion: Varisia will tons of player friendly details that aren't covered in the Shattered Star Player's Guide. Overall, each stands nicely alone and supports the other nicely. And really, if you like what you see in the free Player's Guide, there's a strong chance you'll love whats in Player Companion: Varisia.

Contributor

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Gorbacz wrote:
Can't wait for the new format. I was never a fan of Combat/Social/Faith/Magic - I thought it constrained the creativity and enforced unnecessary content.

Meeee too. As we get closer to Player Companion: Varisa's August release I'll be doing a couple of previews of the new format and design on the Paizo blog so everyone can check out the new hotness.

Overall, the new key words are modularity, flexibility, and variety.

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