What do you want from a Lost Omens: The Saga Lands?


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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What's weird is that "Russia-land" is in both Irrisen and in northern Casmaron, two places that are not even remotely close to each other!


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keftiu wrote:
Gisher wrote:
I'd really like them to flesh out the culture of the Land of the Linnorm Kings the way that they did with the Mwangi Expanse (my favorite Lost Omens book so far). In PF1 it was pretty much left as a caricature of ancient Scandinavian culture where everyone is a Viking warrior.
Helping the northern bits feel more distinct from "Viking Land," "Russia Land," and "Neolithic Land" would be nice - and Quest for the Frozen Flame helped a lot in that regard!

I just loved the way they filled in so much detail about life in the Mwangi Expanse. They got down to details like most common pets in different regions. And then there were all of these fascinating inter species relationships like how human and lizardfolk astrologers lives together.

I'd really like that sort of thing for the Land of the Linnorm Kings. In PF1 it felt like everyone there was either Erik the Red or Sigurd.

Shadow Lodge

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Gisher wrote:
keftiu wrote:
Gisher wrote:
I'd really like them to flesh out the culture of the Land of the Linnorm Kings the way that they did with the Mwangi Expanse (my favorite Lost Omens book so far). In PF1 it was pretty much left as a caricature of ancient Scandinavian culture where everyone is a Viking warrior.
Helping the northern bits feel more distinct from "Viking Land," "Russia Land," and "Neolithic Land" would be nice - and Quest for the Frozen Flame helped a lot in that regard!

I just loved the way they filled in so much detail about life in the Mwangi Expanse. They got down to details like most common pets in different regions. And then there were all of these fascinating inter species relationships like how human and lizardfolk astrologers lives together.

I'd really like that sort of thing for the Land of the Linnorm Kings. In PF1 it felt like everyone there was either Erik the Red or Sigurd.

Consider the possibility that the Linnorm Kingdoms and Irrisen just aren't that interesting.

Dark Archive

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I think this is good excuse to do small recap of "What exactly ARE Land of the Linnorm Kings?" because I wage most people here didn't read campaign setting book because they weren't interested in viking lang concept.

So yeah LofLK can be split to roughly seven areas: Broken Bay, Icemark, Thanelands, Hagreach, Grungir Forest, Southmoor and Ironbound Archipelago. Back in the 1e era four out of seven areas were claimed by linnorm kings. People kinda love to exaggerate number of linnorm kings, but its actually quite small club.

Broken Bay, the "Last of the True Ulfen Raiders". Aka CE area. Basically the small area in western parts of LofLK who think others are cowards and that raiding for sake of raiding is fun :p The ulfen raiders who yearn for good old days of raiding. Its' basically the area for traditionalist vikings you want to punch out.

Grungir Forest, the "Dark Forest of Ancient Secrets". Dark and spooky primordial forest with first world connections, notably the place Fafnheir hangs out at. Also gnomes.

Hagreach, "War-Weary Borderland". Pretty much the area where hags, winter witches and winter wolves do border skirmishes from Irrisen. Besides that, notable for Blackravens.

Icemark, the "Lands of the Varki Nomad Clans" aka Varki home area. Honestly one of more interesting LofLK areas for non viking enthusiasts as it has lot of weirder locations. Most boring thing about it is actually the name

Ironbound Archipelago, the "Isles of Future Opportunity and Ancient Danger" is pretty much where kingmaker spiritual sequel could be located :p 13 major isles and not suffering from "cold and desolate" description(more onto that later on)

Southmoor, the "Fractious Southern Fringes". Aka the area where Cyrusian used to be, ruled by giants descended from thassilonian slaves. Sadly mostly got replaced by infighting vikings, maybe Ostog the Unslain changed that but enough of this.

Thalenands, the "Heartland of the Linnorm Kingdoms". This is as name implies, really what people think of when they talk about land of the linnorm kings. Its pretty much ur-viking land. It even has the trading city as we all know vikings are famous for trading as well. Funnily enough also one of less homogeneous areas due to path of aganhei and such.

...So anyway, I've avoided it far enough: THE ACTUAL PROBLEM WITH LAND OF THE LINNORM KINGS...

...Is that at least half of the areas are described as cold, rough and/or desolate.

...I uh... Don't think any of writers have experienced Nordic countries and kinda rely on stereotype of harsh north ^_^; Which while it might not be incorrect, kinda paints image of "Well that sucks" That is the actual thing that needs to be changed with Land of the linnorm king x'D


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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Gisher wrote:

I just loved the way they filled in so much detail about life in the Mwangi Expanse. They got down to details like most common pets in different regions. And then there were all of these fascinating inter species relationships like how human and lizardfolk astrologers lives together.

I'd really like that sort of thing for the Land of the Linnorm Kings. In PF1 it felt like everyone there was either Erik the Red or Sigurd.

Consider the possibility that the Linnorm Kingdoms and Irrisen just aren't that interesting.

I think this is a little needlessly antagonistic. I don’t know that the Mwangi Expanse was a place I ever would’ve cared to run a game in before the 2e book on it - if they can dig that region out of being a racist, colonialist, pulp nightmare, then surely the Saga Lands can be saved from being a little boring so far.

Even if fantasy Vikings do nothing for me, the nonhuman cultures of the region, the Varki, and the small Tian population are all very exciting, IMO.

Dark Archive

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Land of Linnorm Kings does even in its old form fulfill role of "Land of meatheads, for people who want to earn people's respect by punching monsters really hard".

And hey, it DOES have interesting locales like any other places. Grungir Forest is location of Nithveil, city of the moon, with notable feature of majority of inhabitants being talking fey animals. Though it is hard to argue against LofLK not being basic though based on 1e campaign setting book, as it presents most of monsters seem to be linnorms, trolls, giants, fay, familiar undead, and book doesn't even introduce new norse mythological creatures. Like weirdest new thing 1e campaign setting book introduced was the mindslaver mold.

Anyway I returned to do Irrisen recap before I go to sleep, Irrisen is more than Baba Yaga land, especially considering Baba Yaga is type of level 30 threat that you will never encounter directly outside of old woman appearing out of nowhere to do something cryptic before leaving :p

In case of Irrisen, the notable regions are Bleakmarch, The Verge, Feyfrost, Wintercrux, Thronehold and Hoarwood.

Bleakmarch, the "Snowy Wilderness" is about as it sounds, sparsely populated area with small towns and some dungeons. Honestly I think its technically bit redundant to have another winter wilderness area because Land of the Linnorm King book keeps talking about country as if it was mostly desolate :P My pet peeve about that aside(and half kidding since its not really problem with Bleak March as much as its with the other book), this isn't obviously mundane wilderness due to Irrisen's magical perma winter.

Feyfrost, the "Icy Realm of Evil Fey" is pretty obvious from name what its about.

Hoarwood, "Land of the Frozen Forest". Mostly notable for part of population keeping spark of rebellion alive for 1200 years.

Thronehold, "The Witch-Queen’s Province", pretty much central province of where Irrisen's rule is centralized.

The Verge, "Militarized Border Province", Irrisen's counterpart of Hagreach from LofLK.

Wintercrux, the "Center of Industry", while there are several interesting locations in this area(such as crystal mine and hot spring area), personally bit disappointed they didn't go full ham on idea of witch run industry. Irrisen is fairly magical country after all. My main criticism of this book is that for country run by witches, there isn't much of witch craft and rituals mentioned in the book.

Overall, Irrisen book isn't written by anyone with russian background either, but I think book is much more consistent about it goals and aims. One of interesting things to note is that there are minor jadwiga baroness and barons ruling things EVERYWHERE. Baba Yaga's family tree is big. Though sadly, there isn't much of witch craft here(most witchy thing in book is notes on local Holidays, they are quite witchy), but there is big focus on Jadwiga witch class versus peasants under their rule.

Aka yes, Irrisen's 1e theming is about class warfare when you look beyond witches, monster citizens and russian fairy tales. Or rather, its about class warfare where witch ruling class and monster citizen class oppress poor peasant class :P Heck timeline mentions at least five different rebellions. It's surprisingly down to earth theme for country ruled by ice witches and their monster minions.


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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Gisher wrote:
keftiu wrote:
Gisher wrote:
I'd really like them to flesh out the culture of the Land of the Linnorm Kings the way that they did with the Mwangi Expanse (my favorite Lost Omens book so far). In PF1 it was pretty much left as a caricature of ancient Scandinavian culture where everyone is a Viking warrior.
Helping the northern bits feel more distinct from "Viking Land," "Russia Land," and "Neolithic Land" would be nice - and Quest for the Frozen Flame helped a lot in that regard!

I just loved the way they filled in so much detail about life in the Mwangi Expanse. They got down to details like most common pets in different regions. And then there were all of these fascinating inter species relationships like how human and lizardfolk astrologers lives together.

I'd really like that sort of thing for the Land of the Linnorm Kings. In PF1 it felt like everyone there was either Erik the Red or Sigurd.

Consider the possibility that the Linnorm Kingdoms and Irrisen just aren't that interesting.

They aren't real places. They are as interesting as the writers make them.

Shadow Lodge

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CorvusMask wrote:
Aka yes, Irrisen's 1e theming is about class warfare when you look beyond witches, monster citizens and russian fairy tales. Or rather, its about class warfare where witch ruling class and monster citizen class oppress poor peasant class :P Heck timeline mentions at least five different rebellions. It's surprisingly down to earth theme for country ruled by ice witches and their monster minions.

And that was fine, but it's wholesome chungus now, with all the social problems solved. And not because of any change in society, but because of a personal change at the top of the regime. Put another way, nothing has changed about the country, but we are supposed to think that it has.

Radiant Oath

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

I think it's as much change as the nation can hope for given the shadow Baba Yaga casts over it. Even if a populist revolt against the Winter Witches somehow succeeded, Baba Yaga's own personal power is magnitudes stronger than her descendants so she'd quickly bring any people's government to its knees in a matter of days, install more of her kids in power and leave again with a stern warning not to annoy her like this again, or the next time will be even WORSE.

Dark Archive

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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
Aka yes, Irrisen's 1e theming is about class warfare when you look beyond witches, monster citizens and russian fairy tales. Or rather, its about class warfare where witch ruling class and monster citizen class oppress poor peasant class :P Heck timeline mentions at least five different rebellions. It's surprisingly down to earth theme for country ruled by ice witches and their monster minions.
And that was fine, but it's wholesome chungus now, with all the social problems solved. And not because of any change in society, but because of a personal change at the top of the regime. Put another way, nothing has changed about the country, but we are supposed to think that it has.

I'm somehow skeptical of it being completely resolved, though it probably has morphed to "LN ruler vs NE witch ruling class vs monster citizens vs peasants" with several group being more aligned with each other than other ones.


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Lost Omens: World Guide wrote:

Today, for the first time since its founding, Irrisen is ruled by someone other than a winter witch, yet this should not necessarily be taken as a hopeful sign. Queen Anastasia may be young, but as an exile of the same world her ancient grandmother Baba Yaga hailed from, she has the potential to wield great power. Just how she will choose to exert this power in her stewardship over Irrisen has yet to be unveiled. Certainly, Irrisen is no safer a place today than it has been for centuries, and with rumbles of embittered witches who regard Queen Anastasia as the “Fraud Queen,” it remains to be seen if her rule will match the century-long reigns of her 14 aunts.

[...]

As such, the land remains eternally frozen, with frost goblins, winter wolves, ice trolls, and all manner of rime-coated fey posing common threats to those who have little other choice but to keep their heads low and their minds focused on simply making it one day at a time. That the first few years of Queen Anastasia’s rule have resulted in less agony for the land’s citizens is not taken as indication of a blissful future. Life in Irrisen has always been tough, and many still feel that the new queen’s kindness is a cruel trick intended to grant hope only to rip it away just as the citizens start to trust again. And beyond the dissidents and spurned witch relations of the prior ruling castes plotting intrigue and fomenting rebellion, there is always the threat to the west of the Linnorm Kingdoms—memories of defeat still linger there, and with an untested queen on the throne, it may be only a matter of a few months before a new invasion begins.

Emphasis my own.

Zimmerwald, you have a curious definition of "wholesome." LOWG presents Irrisen as a land ruled by a new queen who with a tenuous grasp that the common folk mistrust, the aristocracy loathe (and plot to depose!), and the folk of the Linnorm Kingdoms see as weak enough to potentially enable an invasion that would be /astonishingly/ bloody. Surviving both the land's unrelenting weather and its other inhabitants is a daily struggle. Nowhere in this writeup does it say "all the social problems are solved" - indeed, it says the opposite.

I wish the people upset with 2e's setting changes would actually read what they complain about.


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The "Ending the Adventure" from RoW says the PCs can:

Spoiler:
Demand Baba Yaga leaves Golarion alone forever

and that she will honor this request. So I don't think "Baba Yaga comes to put the smack down on something that happens in Irrisen that she disapproves of" is in the cards. Paizo doesn't necessarily reflect what happened in one table's version of an adventure (how could they know?) but they tend to avoid directly contradicting a thing that could have happened in one version of a story, particularly when that thing is related to "the good ending."

I mean, it's not unlikely she has similar setups on a whole mess of planets.


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Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Yeah, the situation in 2e canon seems to be “the RoW heroes demanded Baba Yaga install Anastasia on the throne, and she obliged.”

Radiant Oath

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Reign of Winter SPOILERS!:
That is an OPTION, yes, but the Lost Omens books don't say 100% that was what was chosen, for obvious reasons, so it leaves the question of whether Baba Yaga would crush any change to the status quo she imposes open. Besides, given the way the 2e books discuss her, it seems to imply she is still visiting Golarion, patronizing new witches and hanging out with Old-Mage Jatembe.


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I mean, from Paizo's perspective you probably want to avoid displaying a clear and direct breach of something that a party could have demanded from her in return for saving her in Reign of Winter. She's clever and tricky so "having tea in Absalom" or "sponsoring Witches" is probably fine, but "directly intervenes with an army to crush a revolt" seems like something that they're not going to commit to the page.

It's unlikely that Pathfinder is around in 2113 (or at least a lot of us won't be) so Paizo probably will never have to address the issue of "what happens when Anastasia's 100 year term is up?"


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Whipped up a character from the region that hits a lot of what I like: Oyuki, a Kitsune Monk (multiclass archetype Rogue) raised among the Tian community in Kalsgard. Poor fortune led her into the ranks of the Frozen Shadows, and pure chance saved her from their destruction at the hands of adventurers - she was simply away on a mission when the ninja were slain. Devoid of any direction or purpose, she wonders what else her skillset could possibly be used for.

She's a product of uniquely Golarion circumstances in the region, which helps prove there's more here than just "Viking Land."

I think her tailless form looks mixed Tian-Ulfen, and my brilliant idea was to have her mix foxfire and shuriken with hatchets... but that's tougher than expected to make happen, mechanically.

(I've also got ideas for a Gnome Barbarian who wants to become the First Linnorm King of Iceferry, and a Skeleton Fighter "draugr" who fell in battle against their own linnorm. Toss in a Varki Psychic or an Ilverani Elf Oracle, and you've got a lovely little oddball party!)

Dark Archive

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I figured out I should put my "read too much pathfinder lore enough that I could get degree on it if degrees for fictional setting knowledge existed" brainspace to further use and write up about Varisia too. It uh didn't end up really working out because I find it hard to summarize Varisia.

(Realm of the Mammoth Lords doesn't really need write up because it was extremely underutilized part of setting. I barely remember if any scenarios even took place there, Quest for the Frozen Flame is best usage of the place, though I always thought the stone age wilderness realm had lot of potential)

But yeah, Varisia is kinda similar to Realm of the Mammoth Lords in that its mostly wilderness. Varisia is presented more of wilderness frontier dealio though, with city states scattered around and being on top of ruins of Thassilon. Though I wonder if 2e would change that aspect of it though since I kinda get feeling 2e might want to move away from "city states vs natives" aspect of it.

On varisia meta wise:
(note: lot of this means that Varisia is better version of Sword Coast from Faerun. Just like Sword Coast, there are random ancient ruins for exploration, but unlike there they have actual consistent backstory here besides "don't think about it too much where the ruins come from". They even share the big isolated cities thing, but without ridiculously long travel times between them :p

Its important to realize this though because it means that Varisia's relation to Sandpoint, Korvosa, Riddleport, Magnimar and such is same as Sword Coast relation to Neverwinter, Waterdeep and Baldur's gate. Aka Varisia is very much separate setting from individual city states in practice.

This also means that ironically, there isn't actually any Varisia campaign setting book despite amount of adventures in varisia's locales, Varisia has gotten fleshed out mostly in appendix to rise of the runelords :'D Or rather, it's player's guide. Yeah you can pretty much get Varisia gazetteer for free. It's kinda weird this is one of most fleshed out locations in inner sea setting)

This weird shenanigans with campaign setting books kinda means its harder to split Varisia cleanly into regions. All mountain areas, all forests, all rivers are also named. There are few areas that kinda stood out from rest of them as being referred to more often or otherwise, Mushfen is pretty often used for swamp monster dealios, Nolands is underused location where LofLK folks exile their criminals to, and not to get mention stuff on Kodar Mountains and Mindspin Mountains. Varisia is REALLY packed with lore stuff. As said, its weirdly enough one of most detailed locations that never got dedicated campaign setting book to it. Just looking at map you can see obvious split between Storval Plateu and lowlands, Cinderlands is quite interesting dealio as well.

Overally I'm not going to super huge detail about ancient thassilon here, since while Thassilon lore is interesting, from game perspective of modern Varisia its mostly relevant for "what kind of themed dungeons are in this region of Varisia". Also won't go into super huge detail about New Thassilon either because it is literally new and is now located in Kodar Mountains area and what used to be northwestern Varisia. Aka there is lot of interesting stuff to talk about, but lot of New Thassilon hype is essentially about revival of the ancient evil wizard empire with long history into new form.

So yeah let's try to detail notable areas of Varisia (or it's city states as their own settings I suppose)

Korvosa is bit hard to observe what its like in 2e post Crimson Throne. Pre Crimson Throne its that rich merchant place with draconian anti union policies and kinda s%!+ty LN place with wealth, but people with bit over inflated egos on grand scheme of things. 3.5 campaign setting book was also one of most detailed city based books pre 2e Absalom book, though unfortunately apparently writers didn't find lot of 3.5 korvosa book stuff as cool as I did considering amount of dropped lore points from it.

Curse of the Crimson Throne is pretty much best pathfinder campaign though, so that does a lot to sell Korvosa as well.

Magnimar, City of Monuments is also rich merchant city that is built near Thassilonian ruins, main difference from Korvosa is that Korvosa has stronger classism and racism than Magnimar does since Chelish values aren't as much a thing in Magnimar as they are in Korvosa.

Korvosa is built on top of Xin-Eyrithnia, Magnimar is built on one end of Irespan, and Riddleport is built near Cyphergate. Out of three cities (LN, N and CN), Riddleport is the hive of scum and villainy as the lawless city run by crimelords. Yeah you can see lot of the Sword Coast inspirations in the three main city states huh. Either way, I'm not going super huge detail about any of three cities because as said, they are basically their own settings scope wise.

Janderhoff is the only major Varisian city state that never got its own campaign setting book, because writers aren't dwarf enthusiasts I suppose. Pretty much only major city state not built on top of Thassilonian ruins, its instead one of sky citadels that never fell.

Kaer Maga, city of strangers, is notable as city of outcasts where anybody really is welcome. People studying dark arts, exiles, escapees, weider ancestries, people with weird hobbies, people from other planets, ANYBODY.

Sandpoint isn't its own state, but its most notable out of minor settlements of varisia due to being most detailed new adventurer location pretty much. It's 1e campaign setting book is really delightful read I can say.

Most of the minor settlements in varisia are holdings of one of three main city states, either way won't get super much into those since I want to get into shoanti.

I won't really have energy to give shoanti full justice here, but as you can see, I wasn't fricking kidding about how dense varisia actually is :'D Its extremely dense content wise.

So basically, there are seven quahs of shoanti in varisia(basically clans or nations) and they aren't all in cinderlands or storval plateu either, here is demonstrative picture from book I could find in google as well

To summarize, they are Lyrune-Quah (Moon Clan), "Those Whose Arrows Are Like the Stars", Shadde-Quah (Axe Clan), "Guardians upon the Sea Cliffs", Shriikirri-Quah (Hawk Clan), "Far-Ranging Traders and Beast Masters", Shundar-Quah (Spire Clan), "Unifiers of the Quahs and Voice of the Tribes", Sklar-Quah (Sun Clan), "Fierce Warriors of the Cinderlands", Skoan-Quah (Skull Clan), "Voices of the Ancestors and Hunters of the Dead", and Tamiir-Quah (Wind Clan) "Territorial Raiders of the High Peaks".

Aka there are so many shoanti quahs that it feels disingenuous to summarize them as "natives with shaved heads, tattoos and big hammers".

But yeah oof. I regret bit trying to summarize Varisia because its really hard to do that x'D I tried to be short and it still ended up as massive wall of text. But yeah uh. Varisia has gotten developed a LOT despite not having its own dedicated book.


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I do have to say: I think this thread so far has turned me around on the Saga Lands! It’s definitely moved up enough that I’d now prefer a Lost Omens book here over a few alternatives (looking at you, Old Cheliax and the Shining Kingdoms), which I’m grateful for.

While I don’t know that I’ll ever love Varisia and New Thassilon, I appreciate their place in Pathfinder history and how they enable a pretty classic frontier fantasy. The Land of the Linnorm Kings I’ve completely changed my mind on, thanks primarily to all the non-Viking influences. I think Irrisen has a lot of potential, but more importantly it might get us playable trollkin, giantkin, and/or winter wolves some day, and that’s great. The Mammoth Lords were great in QftFF, and I’d gladly take more.

It’s not often I get to say thanks to folks for such an interesting, varied discussion!

Dark Archive

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Glad to hear that :'D

But yeah, I'm bit too exhausted to talk more about Varisia, but I have one short thing to say about thassilon:

I liked that early art of Thassilonian stuff is this weird mixture of different cultures combined together. It kind of creates that atlantis/proto civilzation trope feel that I'm not sure if its intended or not, Azlanti art and aesthetic later on is more "magitech" civilization in feel and I'm not sure if Belimarius' realm had similar feel to it, but I do hope New Thassilon art won't get completely rid of it in favor of them having more recognizable "standard fantasy aesthetic".

Liberty's Edge

keftiu wrote:

I do have to say: I think this thread so far has turned me around on the Saga Lands! It’s definitely moved up enough that I’d now prefer a Lost Omens book here over a few alternatives (looking at you, Old Cheliax and the Shining Kingdoms), which I’m grateful for.

While I don’t know that I’ll ever love Varisia and New Thassilon, I appreciate their place in Pathfinder history and how they enable a pretty classic frontier fantasy. The Land of the Linnorm Kings I’ve completely changed my mind on, thanks primarily to all the non-Viking influences. I think Irrisen has a lot of potential, but more importantly it might get us playable trollkin, giantkin, and/or winter wolves some day, and that’s great. The Mammoth Lords were great in QftFF, and I’d gladly take more.

It’s not often I get to say thanks to folks for such an interesting, varied discussion!

Playable Ogrekin in Varisia so that we can finally fulfill the secret fantasy of playing a Graul.

Scarab Sages

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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
keftiu wrote:
Are there any dwarven cultures in the region? Recent material on Garund has made me significantly warm up to the stout folk, but I think more traditional frozen mountain miners might just never be my thing.

There is the large city of Janderhoff (10,230 pop, 8,223 dwarven ancestry) due NNE of Korvosa, almost to the Storval plateau. In 1e, because they trade with Korvosa and ally with the Shoanti against threats like the orcs of Belkzen and the many giants of Varisia, they are forced to be rather diplomatic. To the point where they have a lot of cavaliers of the order of the blue rose, which is not something you might expect from dwarves. This group was called the Sky Magistrates. With the Whispering Tyrant loose, and Azaersi the ruler of a new nation nearby, I imagine they're busier than ever these days and could be interesting.

Scarab Sages

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My most wanted Saga lands item is probably a visit to Arsmeril, since Xin-Edasseril claims all of the Celwynvian forest, but I'm not too sure the elves are inclined to bend the knee to that particular monarch. Seems like a good place for some intrigue, covert actions, and tensions that threaten to turn a cold war hot. Could be a good setting for an AP volume that rehabilitates the image of the elves.

My second-most is also in Varisia. There's a lot of Korvosa in the adventures that harken back to Curse of the Crimson Throne, but the minor holdings of Korvosa don't have much.


I was really surprised to see how little info on the Mierani elves is out there. Are they really that under-detailed, or is this just a case of a weak wiki? The core ancestries seem remarkably undefined in Varisia, considering how many APs it got.


The Raven Black wrote:
keftiu wrote:

I do have to say: I think this thread so far has turned me around on the Saga Lands! It’s definitely moved up enough that I’d now prefer a Lost Omens book here over a few alternatives (looking at you, Old Cheliax and the Shining Kingdoms), which I’m grateful for.

While I don’t know that I’ll ever love Varisia and New Thassilon, I appreciate their place in Pathfinder history and how they enable a pretty classic frontier fantasy. The Land of the Linnorm Kings I’ve completely changed my mind on, thanks primarily to all the non-Viking influences. I think Irrisen has a lot of potential, but more importantly it might get us playable trollkin, giantkin, and/or winter wolves some day, and that’s great. The Mammoth Lords were great in QftFF, and I’d gladly take more.

It’s not often I get to say thanks to folks for such an interesting, varied discussion!

Playable Ogrekin in Varisia so that we can finally fulfill the secret fantasy of playing a Graul.

Graul?

Silver Crusade

keftiu wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
keftiu wrote:

I do have to say: I think this thread so far has turned me around on the Saga Lands! It’s definitely moved up enough that I’d now prefer a Lost Omens book here over a few alternatives (looking at you, Old Cheliax and the Shining Kingdoms), which I’m grateful for.

While I don’t know that I’ll ever love Varisia and New Thassilon, I appreciate their place in Pathfinder history and how they enable a pretty classic frontier fantasy. The Land of the Linnorm Kings I’ve completely changed my mind on, thanks primarily to all the non-Viking influences. I think Irrisen has a lot of potential, but more importantly it might get us playable trollkin, giantkin, and/or winter wolves some day, and that’s great. The Mammoth Lords were great in QftFF, and I’d gladly take more.

It’s not often I get to say thanks to folks for such an interesting, varied discussion!

Playable Ogrekin in Varisia so that we can finally fulfill the secret fantasy of playing a Graul.
Graul?

The rapist, inbred Ogrekin family in RotR (Hook Mountain Massacre)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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While we got to develop a lot of Varisia in the earlier adventure paths (since that work doubled for "we need to create a campaign setting for our Adventure Paths) that's ironically meant that Varisia tended to get left behind when it comes to larger books. As we got the chances, we did some softcover books on some of the cities of the region (Janderhoff, as mentioned above, didn't get one, but neither has Riddleport or Uglin or Cellwynvian so far), but the idea that we've overly detailed Varisia is a false one, I think. For the context of the many adventures we've set there, there's a lot of info, but there's relatively little about the region as a sandbox in the way we've recently covered Absalom and the Mwangi Expanse.

Varisia was built to serve as an entire campaign setting, back in a time when it wasn't assured Paizo would get to build anytihng of the sort, and as such, there's a LOT of content there that's only been surface scratched, and a lot of elements (Shoanti, Sczarni, empyreal lord mystery cults, smaller towns, the wilderness, giant societies, Thassilon's legacy, etc.) that we've only scratched the surface of that could really stand to get some room to talk about to make them deep and insightful and capable of serving more than specific adventure plots.

And that doesn't even touch the other regions of the Saga Lands.

I'd love to help create this book, for sure, but that's not really my call; we have a LOT of ground to cover and we won't be able to cover all of it.

And as for the Grauls, that's a GREAT example of how not everything needs to be a player option, and a GREAT example of content we'd not do more with today. The world of 2022 when Pathfinder is an established brand is very different from the world of 2007 when no one really knew what we had planned and we felt like we were months or even weeks away from shuttering the company and going off to find jobs outside the industry after losing the magazine licenses. Choices made then would not be choices made today. Ironically, that edgy dark visceral mature content is a big part of what made Paizo successful enough to still be around today... but what helps you in year 1 doesn't need to be repeated in year 15.

Dark Archive

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Oh no, I didn't mean to say its overly detailed, I meant to say its geographically really detailed and that its regions aren't as easy for me to sum up as "here is the dealio in single sentence". To compare to other saga lands countries, Varisia, LofLK , Irrisen . As said, its impressive for country without dedicated book.

(I'm actually bit hurt if you thought I was saying its overly detailed, I devour trpg lore for breakfast x'D There can never be "too much lore")

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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keftiu wrote:
I was really surprised to see how little info on the Mierani elves is out there. Are they really that under-detailed, or is this just a case of a weak wiki? The core ancestries seem remarkably undefined in Varisia, considering how many APs it got.

They are that under-detailed, yes. That's a side effect of the way we did the lore books in 1st edition, and is a big reason why we changed things around for 2nd edition.

In a typical year in 1st edition, we'd produce 10 64 page books in the Lore Book line, for 640 pages a year. This let us cover more topics, but each individual topic got a pretty simple and surface exploration unless we focused in tight on a topic. Imagine what the amazing hardcover Mwangi book would have looked like trimmed down to 64 pages and you'll have a good picture of what that book would have had to do in the 1st edition era.

In a typical year in 2nd edition, we do 3 to 4 hardcover books in the lore line. The page count varies, but it's comparable if not more than the 640 pages we produced in a 1st edition year. We have fewer books, and thus fewer topics, but the topics we cover go into much more detail. And since we do fewer books, we work harder to make sure those topics are SOLID.

So while we're doing fewer titles for the lore books in 2nd edition, the details we're producing for those topics is greater... in some cases six to seven times greater... than what we'd be able to do with that topic in 1st edition.

This is in part why the 1st edition Varisia support books drilled down on specific cities—64 pages is a healthy amount of room to talk about a small city like Magnimar or Korvosa or Kaer Maga, but a 64 page book on all of Varisia would only scratch the surface—especially since unlike most other regions in the Inner Sea, Varisia was created to support almost all possible stories for a complete campaign world rather than being set up with a central theme (such as "horror adventures" or "Viking adventures" or "Undead nation" or "Pirate region" or "Fantasy Egypt" or the like), since at the time we were creating it we wern't sure we'd be around long enough as a company to do a bigger, more robust setting.

Fortunately that proved to be not a worry in the long run, but it does mean that Varisia is in a weird place where there's not a lot of lore about it while still having the perception of there being a lot of lore about it. Turns out, if you develop a region mostly via adventures, that means that players aren't going to be as exposed to the lore, because GMs don't want players reading the adventures! :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

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Anyway; thanks all for chatting about the Saga Lands and Varisia. This is a region that I have a lot invested in, and there's a lot more to be said about the area. Even if we don't do a bigger book about it anytime soon it's nice to know folks are still interested! Back to lurking for me, and I apologize if my last two walls of text were too disruptive to the conversation.


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James Jacobs wrote:
Anyway; thanks all for chatting about the Saga Lands and Varisia. This is a region that I have a lot invested in, and there's a lot more to be said about the area. Even if we don't do a bigger book about it anytime soon it's nice to know folks are still interested! Back to lurking for me, and I apologize if my last two walls of text were too disruptive to the conversation.

They’re not disruptive at all - it means a lot to hear sincere love from someone with such a hand in making the region, and to get that insight into how and why things end up the way they do. I definitely appreciate that Varisia doesn’t have a specific theme like some other regions, but rather tries to hit on a lot of classics: evocative local cultures, ancient magical ruins, cities full of intrigue and peril, and lots of wild between it all.


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The wiki led me to the old Inner Sea World Guide for something interesting: Mammoth Lord Followings sometimes take in and raise Giants as their own! The 1e text is admittedly pretty fraught (these Giants are often taken from their dead kin, and most are described as being enslaved), but it does go on to describe some as coming to view their Followings as family.

While the stealing of war orphans is soundly an Evil act, Quest for the Frozen Flame depicts the Followings with a little more nuance than that, and so I might have our path to playable giantkin - given that Followings can have Giant members and often revere Giant gods, I think it makes phenomenal sense to have some sort of giantkin Ancestry in the region! Whether that's Half-Giants or something brand new, I don't really have a preference, but it seemed worth bringing up here.

EDIT: If they go the route of a giantkin Versatile Heritage (representing a titanic bloodline), they would make a good fit not only in the Realm of the Mammoth Lords, but also among the Belkzen Orcs to the south!


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There's been a conversation about the Order of the Nail in the Old Cheliax thread (we were talking about them in the context of a wider talk about Hellknights), and it's revealed for me that they're... pretty much irredeemable bastards. Their aim is nothing less than the genocide of Varisia's indigenous peoples, with a particular bloodlust directed at the centaurs and Shoanti humans, and that the prominent LG centaur within the Order of the Nail's ranks doesn't make much sense as Good at all.

But there's a promising potential thread in 2016's Path of the Hellknight, presenting the head of the Nail's signifers (Hellknight mages) as being chiefly concerned with how much Thassilonian magic is left in Varisia, and how little oversight the land's mages have - which honestly reads as a very valid concern to me! If I'd lived through all the excitement Varisia bore in 1e, I'd absolutely think that was a pressing issue, and it's one significantly more sympathetic than exterminating the locals in the name of "civilization."

Would folks be interested in seeing that concept expanded? Varisia having a Hellknight Order of its own with a focus on responsible magic use (almost certainly to an exactingly-high definition of "responsible," as suits Hellknights) and the safe storage of magical relics seems immensely fitting with the themes and history in play.


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I think that’d be an awesome premise. Additionally, I can see them slowly having to develop a number of countermeasures for dealing with the outer gods/great old ones/demons/qlippoth, as the runelords were known to heavily associate with them and almost certainly left behind a number of artifacts of theirs.

Though at that point I guess they’re just a remake of the Vise. Hmm


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SOLDIER-1st wrote:

I think that’d be an awesome premise. Additionally, I can see them slowly having to develop a number of countermeasures for dealing with the outer gods/great old ones/demons/qlippoth, as the runelords were known to heavily associate with them and almost certainly left behind a number of artifacts of theirs.

Though at that point I guess they’re just a remake of the Vise. Hmm

The further I dig into the Hellknights, the harder it seems to be to give them any benefit of the doubt; most Orders are bastards! A reformed Order of the Vice would help balance that out some.

There seems to be an unofficial split between those Orders who focus on a specific threat and are severe, but effective at their job, and those Orders with a more ideological bent, who mostly just do harm at scale and serve the throne of Cheliax. Leaning more into the former would make me quite happy; let the latter be the villains they clearly are.


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The Order of the Pyre is meant to keep tabs on magical knowledge as part of their remit, but they're also firmly in that latter camp of bastardy so seeing a Varisian Order of the Vault/Rune/Whatever that is more dedicated to collating magical threats and keeping them from becoming problems appeals much more than letting Pyre keep doing what they're doing.


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Perpdepog wrote:
The Order of the Pyre is meant to keep tabs on magical knowledge as part of their remit, but they're also firmly in that latter camp of bastardy so seeing a Varisian Order of the Vault/Rune/Whatever that is more dedicated to collating magical threats and keeping them from becoming problems appeals much more than letting Pyre keep doing what they're doing.

Yes - I love both of those name ideas! The idea of calling in an Order of the Vault team whenever something spooky and ancient is dug up really appeals; imagine a Hellknight Thaumaturge, all of their Implements marked with Thassilonian runes!

Radiant Oath

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber
keftiu wrote:
imagine a Hellknight Thaumaturge, all of their Implements marked with Thassilonian runes!

There's nothing in that sentence I don't love!

Liberty's Edge

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keftiu wrote:
Perpdepog wrote:
The Order of the Pyre is meant to keep tabs on magical knowledge as part of their remit, but they're also firmly in that latter camp of bastardy so seeing a Varisian Order of the Vault/Rune/Whatever that is more dedicated to collating magical threats and keeping them from becoming problems appeals much more than letting Pyre keep doing what they're doing.
Yes - I love both of those name ideas! The idea of calling in an Order of the Vault team whenever something spooky and ancient is dug up really appeals; imagine a Hellknight Thaumaturge, all of their Implements marked with Thassilonian runes!

They would likely be a great fit with pathfinders of the Vigilant Seal. Until it's time to decide who gets to keep the evil relic for safekeeping.

Hilarity ensues.


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Easy. They split it in pieces and then each take part of it away.

And later on Cobra Commander has to hunt down the pieces of his Weather Dominator.

Radiant Oath

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Something I returned to in some of the old 1e books that I'd like to see revisited are some of the fey stuff in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, particularly Nithveil, the City of the Moon and the forest in the canyon of Summerglen, where the local fey have made alliances with the small dwarf clans that live there and mine crystals from the walls!

It kind of gives a more "old-fashioned" Faerie vibe you don't quite see with more of the First-World-focused stuff. I know the Lands of the Linnorm Kings hasn't always grabbed people's attention because it's very easy to just label it "Viking Land" and move on, but these little touches really inspired me personally! Hagreach and the Forest of Grugnir are the kinds of places I think a lot of folks would really dig if they got more screentime. I've got all sorts of ideas for playing things like a fey-touched Summerglen dwarf, or a Thaumaturge from the Blackravens, using all sorts of tricks and superstitions to fight witches, or sprites from Nithveil and the Forest of Grugnir in general!


Archpaladin Zousha wrote:

Something I returned to in some of the old 1e books that I'd like to see revisited are some of the fey stuff in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, particularly Nithveil, the City of the Moon and the forest in the canyon of Summerglen, where the local fey have made alliances with the small dwarf clans that live there and mine crystals from the walls!

It kind of gives a more "old-fashioned" Faerie vibe you don't quite see with more of the First-World-focused stuff. I know the Lands of the Linnorm Kings hasn't always grabbed people's attention because it's very easy to just label it "Viking Land" and move on, but these little touches really inspired me personally! Hagreach and the Forest of Grugnir are the kinds of places I think a lot of folks would really dig if they got more screentime. I've got all sorts of ideas for playing things like a fey-touched Summerglen dwarf, or a Thaumaturge from the Blackravens, using all sorts of tricks and superstitions to fight witches, or sprites from Nithveil and the Forest of Grugnir in general!

I'll admit, fey stuff has never been my jam, but this all sounds like a lot of fun! Summerglen does have me wishing, yet again, that we had a fey Versatile Heritage. It seems so obvious! Luis has homebrew ones called Waybound, but a more generic "touched by the First World" option would enable a lot of characters. A little enchanted crystal dwarf... maybe an unlikely devotee of Yuelral?

Radiant Oath

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There ARE Ilverani in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings too, though the place they're most commonly encountered, Elfmeet, is on the opposite end of the Lands from Summerglen, in Icemark...


Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
There ARE Ilverani in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings too, though the place they're most commonly encountered, Elfmeet, is on the opposite end of the Lands from Summerglen, in Icemark...

Icemark is definitely the coolest (heh) part of the region in my eyes, but I’m weak for both weirdo elves and how cool the Varki seem.


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I'd be curious to see more of Urglin, a city in Varisia run by orcs and built over what seem to be ancient Shoanti ruins. Pretty much everything on it is from the early days of 1e, and thus present it as a place of constant violence and open Rovagug worship... and yet, it's open to outsiders, and is independent from Belkzen.

The passing of over a decade and more nuance in orc writing has me wondering if Urglin might be somewhat rehabilitated. Keep it a 'wretched hive of scum and villainy,' but giving it the feel more of a place like Bloodcove, where the shady and the free make their own way. Varisia is hurting for more non-human settlements, and I think giving the orcs one that isn't solely Murder Town 24/7 would balance the scales some. Likewise, I think there's a lot of potential for an outpost that hosts orcs who fell out with the current Belkzen regime - exiles, heretics, ambitious rivals, all sorts of folks who can fuel drama.

Dark Archive

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I think it speaks lot of Belkzen orc mindset: Like sure CE tribes likely attack on sight on intruders, but they don't really care about your exact presence in "neutral grounds". Sure they think its fine and normal to start violent fight in middle of street, but like they aren't xenophobic in sense you'd think of. Belkzen orcs seem to relish conflict and combat as a way of life rather than as a means towards an end goal. I think its main reason why Grask Uldreth saw to reform Belkzen orc culture in first place, the guy didn't have any form of formal education but was wise enough to realize that if orcs continue as they have been, they will just stay in irrelevance and slowly die out from killing each other and provoking other nations.

(sidenote: Grask Uldreth is one of my favorite 1e NPCs so I'm pretty sad he never got to appear in adventure before he was off screen assassinated to demonstrate that he did succeed in his goal to make sure his philosophies stick post his death :p)

I kinda avoided mentioning it whenever 1e core ancestries get brought up is that lot of their history is from player companion books from early pathfinder which are of questionable canonicity nowadays(like taldor player companion is where the idea that its illegal to not have beard in taldor comes from). Orc player companion for example proposes idea that reason why orcs are so eager to fight to death is that they have innate talent to forget traumatic memories seemingly at will(to be exact, player companion claims they have ability to selectively forget what they want to forget, which they usually use to forget memories they believe make them weaker, like crippling failures, moments of fleeting terror and unwanted emotions). I don't think this has ever gotten mentioned afterwards :'D (its at same time hilariously disturbing ability and pretty alien concept, so I'm bit sad it never got explored again, though I guess it was originally more of cheap justification for leeroy jenkins tactics)

(same way lot of early dwarf history is from 1e dwarves of golarion player companion book, but I don't think I have that one so I can't compare how much of that information changed during 1e itself even before 2e, especially since FKM rarely got featured)

But while early pathfinder talks about orcs like if they were barely sapient, Orcs of Golarion never implies they actually hate non orcs. It goes more for "they just view violence and subjugating weak as how world works and they love war" angle.


keftiu wrote:
Perpdepog wrote:
The Order of the Pyre is meant to keep tabs on magical knowledge as part of their remit, but they're also firmly in that latter camp of bastardy so seeing a Varisian Order of the Vault/Rune/Whatever that is more dedicated to collating magical threats and keeping them from becoming problems appeals much more than letting Pyre keep doing what they're doing.
Yes - I love both of those name ideas! The idea of calling in an Order of the Vault team whenever something spooky and ancient is dug up really appeals; imagine a Hellknight Thaumaturge, all of their Implements marked with Thassilonian runes!

Well dang, looks like someone's already explored this idea. Who'd have thunk?


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

I confess after finishing Frozen Flame I'm curious what the "canon" outcome is.

My outcome:

- The Broken Tusk decided it was getting "too big" and that familiarity breeds weakness, and separated into three tribes.

One character and her faction returned west to migrate the original "circuit" that the Tusks had abandoned and called themselves 'Children of Syarstik".

One character and her faction took the name "Sun Wyverns", and went south and began integrating Orcs from Belkzen into its ranks.

The third remained the Broken Tusk and kept the Primordial Flame.

- The Broken Tusk became The Adamant Tusk, integrated with the Iomedaen crusader remnants, and continued to keep the Primordial Flame safe using the dilapidated Castle Grimgorge as a stronghold and a centerpiece for a new settlement.

- The Burning Mammoths were permitted to go their own way under Lomok

- The main characters descendants who stayed with the Adamant Tusk either took the last name "Flamekeeper" or "Flamebearer", designating them as responsible for either guarding the Primordial Flame, or bearing it in a time of crisis. But never both.

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