Core Expectations of Pathfinder / Golarion


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Hey fellow friends and gamers,

First off, sorry if I may post these questions in the wrong forums. First time I post something and I am probably intimidated by the amount of subforums here (so please let me know if it's wrong or posted in the wrong section).

Coming from D&D of various editions I am trying to lure some of my friends to Pathfinder2e, which I personally think has the more interesting system rules- and optionswise.

Now our group rarely has been a crunch or tactical fighting group, but more of a role-play / character background story focusing group. When talking about PF2e, the question came up what the "core expectations" of Golarion are in comparison of the Forgotten Realms, which is a setting that we all are quite familiar with. (Similar to what Guy Sclanders talks about in his YT Video https://youtu.be/1JdHIhRkZ_I when comparing star wars and star trek).

I really like Golarion, the vast differences of each nation and its stories but struggled to answer this question, what sets both settings apart from each other.

We really do not want to explore the Forgotten Realms using the 5e rules and I am quite intrigued to gamemaster adventures and campaigns set in Golarion, so I am really looking forward to your answers!

Best regards from Germany

P.S.: Is it just my faulty perception or do 90% of the conversations about Pathfinder revolve solely around the rules and mechanics?


There are definitely a lot of unnecessary subforums here. I think the forum admins that scrub them are on sabbatical or something...

As for what sets them apart? Some things, but that's largely because of having to operate under a different IP. The deities are certainly different, and as you note, the nations and continents each have their own themes and goals. Goblins and Orcs aren't the same as they are in 5E. And plenty of other differences. They can also change over the course of events, as some previous edition Adventure Paths have canon endings that played out into PF2's setting exposition, such as Aeon Stones being a thing instead of Ioun Stones because of the Strange Aeons AP, or how Runestones are the new ways to improve weapons due to the Rise of the Runelords adventure. Or how Goblins are a playable Core Ancestry. I would suggest reading the Lost Omens portions of the book(s), as these contain a lot of in-setting explanations in regards to certain regions or nations or religions, which are probably the biggest things that can tell you about the setting as a whole.

If you're concerned about your players being on board with it or not, then do some research. Heck, even ask them to do some research on the topic as well, maybe they'll get psyched by it. If you're looking to invest in a tabletop hobby, it's not a bad idea to research the product you're looking to invest in to ensure you're getting your money's worth out of it.

At the end of the day, if you don't want to play 5E, then don't.


SJ82 wrote:
what the "core expectations" of Golarion are in comparison of the Forgotten Realms

I'm not sure what you mean by "expectations" of a setting.

A quick meta-history of the setting might help:

The "Inner Sea" region was the initial part of Golarion that was used for the very first Pathfinder adventures. It has a wide variety of geographic and political backgrounds, because of this. It also was the setting for most of the earlier (PF1) adventures and adventure paths.

Later, as the world was explored more fully by the writers, various regions on Golarion were described in more depth and detail.

There is also a region that the writers are careful to 'leave blank' so that GMs can create their own backgrounds and not have any of the canon events in the Golarion timeline override that personalized setting.

You might find it useful to read the Pathfinder Wiki sections on the history of Golarion

Pathfinder Wiki


Darksol the Painbringer wrote:


As for what sets them apart? Some things, but that's largely because of having to operate under a different IP.

Thank you for the swift reply! I already bought some of the Lost Omens books and really like what I am reading, but my question was set for a more general differentiation.

When Star Treks expectations is to explore strange new worlds and interact with different cultures in space, Star Wars is the struggle between good and bad set in Space (and lightsabers). This sets both space settings apart.

I am personally struggling to define the expectations that Pathfinder fulfills in such a single sentence.


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I think the big difference between Golarion and Faerun is that Golarion hasn't had an apocalypse in the last 10,000 years (but that was a big one.) But summarizing Golarion in one sentence is difficult because the setting is designed to provide enough different areas that you could tell basically any kind of story you wanted to tell. So there's a "pirate area" and a "viking area" but the two don't really meaningfully overlap (on the map or narratively.)

But some of the basic narrative threads do run throughout the setting. 10,000 years ago a bunch of aboleths decided to pull a magic rock out of space and drop it on the advanced civilization of Azlant. This destroyed a continent, killed two gods, and brought on a thousand years of darkness. The last Azlanti was Aroden, who raised the magic rock out of the ocean which turned him into a god. The magic rock ("the starstone") that has the ability to grant divinity to the worthy now lies at the center of the largest city in the world (Absalom.) Aroden became the God of Humanity, and about a hundred years before the present he mysteriously died which had the side effect of "breaking prophecy" (hence "Lost Omens"). In the hundred years since Aroden died, four more people have gained divinity through the test of the Starstone, the nation of Cheliax (which claimed Aroden as their own) fought a bloody civil war that was ended when the winning side made a deal with Asmodeus to make "devil worship" the state religion. But Cheliax not playing nice with its neighbors took the backseat when Aroden's ancient enemy, the mythic lich Tar-Baphon recently escaped from his imprisonment and nearly marched an army to Absalom before they were turned away by some heroic types in the last adventure path of first edition.

Oh, and Golarion itself? It's not an ordinary planet, in fact it houses the prison for the god Rovagug, the Chaotic Evil devourer who wants nothing more than to grind the universe into nothing. As a result, some people who live underground tend to end up pretty evil due to "ambient god radiation."


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Most of the lore discussions go in the Lost Omens subforum, the one about the setting Pathfinder uses.

Golarion is a “kitchen sink” setting, meaning that it aims to enable as many kinds of stories as possible, and so you’ll notice a little less coherency at the large scale view. Each region or nation is kind of a theme park for a specific genre (Ustalav for Gothic Horror, Numeria for science-fantasy) or real-world nation (Vidrian is drawing a lot on Haiti, Jalmeray is an enclave of the setting’s India-equivalent), though there’s been a real push especially in 2e to give things more depth than that.

Likewise, 2e materials have made treating every Ancestry as being “people.” Orcs and Goblins might still be murderous bandits, but they’re plenty capable of being priests and booksellers, and an effort is made to give each of them not only a culture, but multiple cultures. Almost nothing other than planar beings and very alien aberrations are “born Evil.” There’s an astonishing diversity of culture, Ancestry, gender, and sexuality in the world.


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Forgotten Realms also very heavily leans into "There are mighty NPCs like Drizzt and Elminster who solve the settings' biggest crises" kind of setup, so your characters are second fiddle at best" while in Golarion, it's up to PCs as there are very few Mary Sue NPCs running around.


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I copied Guy Sclanders's text from the video to organize my response.

1. Core Concepts. What are the core features/ideas/unique things about the worldspace?
Golarion is a patchwork adventure setting. Everyone expects parties of adventurers to wander through, so a group of people entering the city gates bristling with weapons and wearing elaborate armor is tolerated. The city guards might watch them closely because some adventurers are evil. The good adventurers work cheap, usually for loot off of enemies and whatever pitiful cash a small village can gather, so the villagers often look to them to solve problems rather than appealing to the central government.
Each country has a different theme for a different kind of adventure. Varisia has ancient ruined forts from an war between Azlanti nations that was interrupted by the apocalypse that Possible Cabbage mentioned. It is home to dungeon delves. North of Varisia is the Land of the Linnorm Kings, which has a Viking theme. West of Varisia is Belkzen, an orc nation that used to raid trade caravans between Varisia and Lastwall. Lastwall no longer exists, because the Whispering Tyrant, a powerful lich, broke free of his prison Gallowspire and turned that place into the Gravelands. So now the orcs of Belkzen fight armies of undead coming out of the Gravelands.
Those nations have their own stories, or paired stories about a war between two, and otherwise don't interact globally. Life is local.

2. Expectations. What are the expectations of the worldspace (Types of adventures, NPCs, locations, etc.)
The patchwork world sets up a variety of fantasy adventures. If a fantasy adventure story is popular, then Paizo tries to fit it into Golarion. The recent Strength of Thousands adventure path, released in December 2021, is about a wizards' school, though the player characters can be non-wizards at the school for other studies or other reasons. I haer that the school does not resemble Hogwarts of the Harry Potter books, but the books probably inspired Strength of Thousands.
The NPCs are the regular townsfolk and tribal folk, but the ones described in detail are planned encounters for PCs. They are the shopkeepers who sell magic items, the government officials who hire heroes, or the villains who must be stopped.
The locations depend on the type of nation, whether it is mostly small farming villages, elven settlements deep in forests, underground dwarven cities, or seaside port cities. However, between the civilized locations is always some forgotten ruin or haunted woods or deep cave for fresh adventures.

3. Species. What species are common, which are rare, how do they cohabit their worldspace?
The common species in civilized lands are the core ancestries: dwarves, elves, gnomes, goblins, halflings, and humans. Goblins only recently became a core ancestry in Golarion's history. Previously, they were an uncivilized people, living in primitive tribes and unable to maintain civilized trade with civilized folk. But they found niches in the cities and villages. Humans have a tendency to crossbreed with other species, leading to half-elves and half-orcs and half-angel aasimir and half-fiend tieflings and half-elemental ifrits, oreads, sylphs, and undines, though those divine and elemental creatures can technically crossbreed with other species, too.
The uncommon species are a wide variety of either ubiquitous uncivilized peoples, such as orcs and kobolds, or regional civilized peoples, such as kitsune and tengus. Or both, because some lizardfolk are civilized and others are uncivilized. They are humanoid, even the walking plants called leshies, because roleplaying different limbs would require different rules that might break game balance. A few rare playable species, such as the winged strix, are not fully humanoid, but their special abilities on PCs are often delayed until higher levels.
Rarity is meaningless among the PCs. Adventurers can come from anywhere and any species.

4. Religion and Magic. Does it exist? If so, how, and does everyone use it?
Many gods exist, their identities are well documented, worship is optional, but the cleric class gains divine spellcasting abilities from them. The other branches of magic are arcane magic from wizardly study, primal magic from a connection to nature, and occuit magic from artistic inspiration. Sometimes people, such as the sorcerer class, just have magic despite not worshipping a god, studying dusty tomes, embracing nature, or making art. Magical people tend to became adventurers, because magic is less common among non-adventurers. A small human village might have one magical person, a 1st-level cleric, wizard, or alchemist.

5. Where to Start? Choose someplace interesting to you!
Pick the kind of adventure you want and search for a nation built around that adventure.

Explore in more detail around the area in which you are going to work.
Pathfinder 2nd Edition's source books have not given many close-up details on the settings, outside of the adventure paths, but the Pathfinder 1st Edition material is still valid in Golarion, except for its history being a decade behind the timeline.

What is scary? What is big and bad and evil or small and bad and evil.
Paizo has released three PF2 Bestiaries so far. Those creatures are available in the Archives of Nethys. A lot of scary creatures are not evil. A crocodile is scary, but hungry rather than evil. Most of the world is untamed and dangerous.

Assign a Loremaster, someone who knows the worldspace really well and who can give insight on the worldspace as needed.
That is typically an adventure path.

SJ82 wrote:
Now our group rarely has been a crunch or tactical fighting group, but more of a role-play / character background story focusing group.

My own players are focused on character stories and interactions yet they also appear to be tactical masterminds. They like making their characters bond and grow naturally as a team, and teamwork is the most powerful way to win combat in Pathfinder 2nd Edition.

Players find that the powerful character designs that worked well in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition and Pathfinde 1st Edition are merely average in Pathfinder 2nd Edition. The Paizo developers tightened the PF2e math on the characters so that min-maxing for great power is no longer effective.

SJ82 wrote:
P.S.: Is it just my faulty perception or do 90% of the conversations about Pathfinder revolve solely around the rules and mechanics?

The setting discussions are mostly in the Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion subforum, the Pathfinder Adventure Path General Discussion subforum, and the indiviual Adventure Path's subforums. The individual adventure path discussions are mostly questions about missing details and tales of campaigns. Sometimes I get philosophical: How can I remove slavery from Ironfang Invasion?


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Keftiu is right on the money calling it a kitchen sink setting; it'd be more helpful to talk about "expectations" for individual regions than for the whole setting since they're all made to write different genres of fantasy in. Even places as similar geographically and culturally as Galt and Taldor are for very different campaigns, and the regions that are further apart the differences are even more extreme.

It can be a good idea to decide what kind of campaign you want to do and then focusing in on a region that best fits that theme. Varisia is kinda the "default" for the late medieval fantasy adventure, it's where many adventure paths (including the first one) are set.


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The Lost Omens: World Guide helpfully groups the core part of the setting into 10 thematically and geographically-linked “Meta-Regions,” and details each region and nation within them in a few paragraphs. Leafing through that will help you find somewhere interesting, and from there you can drill down for more info.

That approach will work a lot better than trying to understand Pathfinder/Golarion as a collective whole, in my experience.


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Arachnofiend wrote:

Keftiu is right on the money calling it a kitchen sink setting; it'd be more helpful to talk about "expectations" for individual regions than for the whole setting since they're all made to write different genres of fantasy in. Even places as similar geographically and culturally as Galt and Taldor are for very different campaigns, and the regions that are further apart the differences are even more extreme.

It can be a good idea to decide what kind of campaign you want to do and then focusing in on a region that best fits that theme. Varisia is kinda the "default" for the late medieval fantasy adventure, it's where many adventure paths (including the first one) are set.

Very much this, as there's a country for Ravenloft adventures, another resembling Thundarr the Barbarian, as well as many that reflect Earth's mythologies & lore (i.e. Egyptian, Persian, Indian, etc.) plus Boot Hill's guns meet Gamma World's mutants (the latter being my interpretation of the Mana Wastes, opinions may vary). So perhaps "eclectic fantasy spanning many sub-genres" works as a theme, though also of note is that Golarion's universe is very dangerous. On Golarion itself, humans (et al) exist on a thin shell of a prison for a cosmic threat. Delve too deep underground, evil reigns. Delve into the oceans, evil reigns. Space, evil reigns. And these evils veer into Lovecraftian themes of madness & horror. So even while there are abundant threats and opportunities for heroism among or adjacent to civilization, there are boundless threats beyond which encroach upon life and sanity as we know it. Good times. :-)

Perhaps important is that most if not every core country has a major dynamic ongoing story, and most of those w/ fantastical/epic elements, i.e. dragons are central to the viking country's motif, a magic hurricane (which kinda mourns the death of Aroden) impacts the pirate region, and so forth. It'd be difficult to find a plain backdrop (though if necessary, isolated areas could be mundane). Yet it's also all recognizable because Paizo has emphasized rich cultures and NPC character development. (Plus they had the advantage of choosing the fruits of decades of homebrew material from a dozen GMs/writers/etc.)

Grand Lodge

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Darksol, I noticed you mention the change from Ioun Stones to Aeon Stones and the influx of runestones being the product of AP events, but I hadn't actually heard that before! Do you know where I could look to get that info?


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If you want to create your own adventures, the continent of Sarusan is a good place for them.

Staff said

James Jacobs, Creative Director wrote:
Sarusan is a region we've deliberate chosen not to develop because we value the concept of there being "blank places on the map" and the idea of mysteries and wonder. The more we reveal about the game, the fewer mysteries there are, so we decided from the start that we'd keep away from Sarusan to at the very least ensure that as we developed the world we'd be sure to have part of it with a "here there be dragons" kind of spot on the map.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber
Sasha Laranoa Harving wrote:
Darksol, I noticed you mention the change from Ioun Stones to Aeon Stones and the influx of runestones being the product of AP events, but I hadn't actually heard that before! Do you know where I could look to get that info?

Ditto, this is news to me! Would it be weird converting those adventures to 2e given that both of those mechanical changes are already reflected in the rules?


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willfromamerica wrote:
Sasha Laranoa Harving wrote:
Darksol, I noticed you mention the change from Ioun Stones to Aeon Stones and the influx of runestones being the product of AP events, but I hadn't actually heard that before! Do you know where I could look to get that info?
Ditto, this is news to me! Would it be weird converting those adventures to 2e given that both of those mechanical changes are already reflected in the rules?

This is news to me as well. As far as I knew, the change was simply to differentiate Pathfinder's version from D&D's, who are named after a deity if I remember correctly. Ioun Stones becoming Aeon Stones was more to give them a unique identity than anything, linking them to the setting's monitors devoted to law, the Aeons.

And the Strange Aeons title hasn't got anything to do with aeon stones either, to my knowledge. It's a quote from Lovecraft's short story "The Nameless City," which is super appropriate given the antagonist of the AP.

Lovecraft wrote:

That which is not dead can eternal lie,

and with strange aeons even death may die.


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Mathmuse wrote:
West of Varisia is Belkzen, an orc nation ...

Oops, Belkzen is east of Varisia.

Castilliano wrote:
..., though also of note is that Golarion's universe is very dangerous. On Golarion itself, humans (et al) exist on a thin shell of a prison for a cosmic threat. Delve too deep underground, evil reigns. Delve into the oceans, evil reigns. Space, evil reigns. And these evils veer into Lovecraftian themes of madness & horror. So even while there are abundant threats and opportunities for heroism among or adjacent to civilization, there are boundless threats beyond which encroach upon life and sanity as we know it. Good times. :-)

Guy Sclanders had pointed out that in Eternia, the He-Man planet, people don't die. It is a kids' cartoon. The adventures leave the losers bruised but alive. In contrast, Pathfinder is a roleplaying game built atop a combat system. The PCs will repeatedly find themselves in situations where they must kill or be killed. Even in a country like Brevoy, designed mostly for royal court politics, some nasty noble will hire assassins. Murderous creatures crawling out of holes, rising from the sea, dropping from the sky, or gating in from other dimensions are there to keep the combat going.

On the other hand, downtime for crafting, retraining, or finding a new quest is built into Pathfinder, too. So the GM can declare that a province is at peace or a city is well defended, so that the PCs can take a break from adventuring. In my PF1e Iron Gods campaign in Numeria, a setting that mixes science fiction and fantasy via a crashed alien fleet, the PCs loved technological crafting with the skymetals. They founded workshop businesses during their downtime, just for the roleplaying.


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I figured the change from Ioun to Aeon is that as time passes on, a smaller and smaller portion of your audience has read the Jack Vance "Dying Earth" books so references to it don't get you much. People at least have connotations with the world "aeon."


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
keftiu wrote:

The Lost Omens: World Guide helpfully groups the core part of the setting into 10 thematically and geographically-linked “Meta-Regions,” and details each region and nation within them in a few paragraphs. Leafing through that will help you find somewhere interesting, and from there you can drill down for more info.

That approach will work a lot better than trying to understand Pathfinder/Golarion as a collective whole, in my experience.

Per my review of said product, I would not recommend purchasing Lost Omens: World Guide if you are new to the setting. It is a "Previously, in Pathfinder...." splat that mainly summarizes what's gone on since 1e launched -- but Inner Sea World Guide is more helpful (and cheaper) for getting a base familiarity with the regions.

If, after reading the write-ups in Inner Sea World Guide, you're curious about what transpired during the 1e era, then I'd recommend purchasing Lost Omens World Guide - or just read a wiki summary for the region you're curious about.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:
I figured the change from Ioun to Aeon is that as time passes on, a smaller and smaller portion of your audience has read the Jack Vance "Dying Earth" books so references to it don't get you much. People at least have connotations with the world "aeon."

Here's the quote by James Jacobs on the matter from 2021:

James Jacobs wrote:

Ioun stones were first invented by writer Jack Vance long before D&D (this is where the "Vancian Magic" comes from as well). The story goes that Jack Vance gave Gary Gygax verbal permission to use some of his creations in D&D, not expecting the game to last that long or make a big splash, but it ended up being more popular than Jack Vance in the long run, I think, which is kind of depressing. I wish D&D had done better giving credit where credit is due, and I kind of wish all game companies did (Paizo included) as well, but that's a different story.

We changed them to aeon stones in 2nd edition for the same reason we changed the names of troglodytes and stirges and ankhegs—to make it easier for us to use the flavor for these things we invented in non OGL products. Having aeons in the setting was a happy coincidence that gave us a great similar sounding word to change to, but the link between these things didn't exist in print before 2nd edition.

Liberty's Edge

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The central theme of Pathfinder/Golarion is "everything is possible".

In addition to the geographical elements mentioned above, the time is known as the Age of Lost Omens because Fate is broken and prophecies are widely unreliable.

So, anything can happen, up to your PCs becoming deities.

Pick and enjoy.


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Leon Aquilla wrote:
keftiu wrote:

The Lost Omens: World Guide helpfully groups the core part of the setting into 10 thematically and geographically-linked “Meta-Regions,” and details each region and nation within them in a few paragraphs. Leafing through that will help you find somewhere interesting, and from there you can drill down for more info.

That approach will work a lot better than trying to understand Pathfinder/Golarion as a collective whole, in my experience.

Per my review of said product, I would not recommend purchasing Lost Omens: World Guide if you are new to the setting. It is a "Previously, in Pathfinder...." splat that mainly summarizes what's gone on since 1e launched -- but Inner Sea World Guide is more helpful (and cheaper) for getting a base familiarity with the regions.

If, after reading the write-ups in Inner Sea World Guide, you're curious about what transpired during the 1e era, then I'd recommend purchasing Lost Omens World Guide - or just read a wiki summary for the region you're curious about.

Eh, I would disagree - I came in new with 2e and found LOWG a plenty solid start! Plus, the ISWG shows its age in both outdated lore (Worldwound, Numeria, Sargava, just to name a few) and a fair bit of 1e’s edgier tone than what is printed now. I’m not personally recommending something over a decade behind current canon as a starting point.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Quote:
the ISWG shows its age in both outdated lore (Worldwound, Numeria, Sargava, just to name a few)

Sargava and the Worldwound, yes. tl;dr - Sargava is now Vidrian and the Worldwound isn't there. Next.

Numeria has had some changes in management, but the locations are all still very pertinent. Same with Irrisen. Literally just read the wiki and you've gotten the gist of what changed, but the places you'd visit are still the same.

Quote:
and a fair bit of 1e’s edgier tone than what is printed now.

A matter of personal taste and not pertinent to discussions of more objective value like cost and word count. Some people like 1e's tone.

Quote:
I’m not personally recommending something over a decade behind current canon as a starting point.

You seem to be making my point for me: If you care about the ongoing world-shaking changes going on and want to go along with the official Society plots, then yes, Lost Omens World Guide is pretty important, but if you just want GM hooks then read Inner Sea World Guide (which is both more detailed and cheaper) and then buy Lost Omens World Guide (which is less detailed and more expensive) or read the wiki to catch up on things related to the region you care about.


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I don't think the issue is "which tone is preferred" so much as "which tone reflects Pathfinder today". Paizo did a lot of edgier stuff to differentiate their brand early in the lifetime of the product range, and they're full on not interested in doing that sort of thing any more.

That's pretty much the whole of it. Rise of the Runelords is iconic, but there's a *lot* of stuff in there that would not make it into a 2023 AP. Which is not to say they won't get dark, Hell's Rebels and Agents of Edgewatch were plenty dark, they just do so in a more purposeful manner.


Kasoh wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
I figured the change from Ioun to Aeon is that as time passes on, a smaller and smaller portion of your audience has read the Jack Vance "Dying Earth" books so references to it don't get you much. People at least have connotations with the world "aeon."

Here's the quote by James Jacobs on the matter from 2021:

James Jacobs wrote:

Ioun stones were first invented by writer Jack Vance long before D&D (this is where the "Vancian Magic" comes from as well). The story goes that Jack Vance gave Gary Gygax verbal permission to use some of his creations in D&D, not expecting the game to last that long or make a big splash, but it ended up being more popular than Jack Vance in the long run, I think, which is kind of depressing. I wish D&D had done better giving credit where credit is due, and I kind of wish all game companies did (Paizo included) as well, but that's a different story.

We changed them to aeon stones in 2nd edition for the same reason we changed the names of troglodytes and stirges and ankhegs—to make it easier for us to use the flavor for these things we invented in non OGL products. Having aeons in the setting was a happy coincidence that gave us a great similar sounding word to change to, but the link between these things didn't exist in print before 2nd edition.

I did largely suspect that to be the case. A lot of name changes and removal of themes from the OGL were to sever legal ties to its predecessor. I was wrong about the Aeon Stone thing being tied to the referenced AP, but having played the Runelords AP, I can safely say that the Runestone change is both from the result of that AP's climax, as well as the result of avoiding legal ties with the OGL.


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Leon Aquilla wrote:
Quote:
the ISWG shows its age in both outdated lore (Worldwound, Numeria, Sargava, just to name a few)

Sargava and the Worldwound, yes. tl;dr - Sargava is now Vidrian and the Worldwound isn't there. Next.

Numeria has had some changes in management, but the locations are all still very pertinent. Same with Irrisen. Literally just read the wiki and you've gotten the gist of what changed, but the places you'd visit are still the same.

And what of it presenting the Mwangi Expanse as a place of little civilization and less culture? The whole reason the 2e Mwangi book had to do so much heavy lifting was because of the reductive presentation in sources like the ISWG.

What about New Thassilon coming into existence and every Runelord coming back? The secession of Ravounel? The founding of Oprak? The destruction of Lastwall and the release of the Whispering Tyrant?

The idea that the only reason to care about continuity is being a Society player is absurd - I've never and will never touch organized play, and I'm here plenty. But telling someone who wants to understand the setting that their best bet is to give dive into a bunch of info that will leave them pretty firmly disoriented by just about any 2e text... I don't think it's helpful, personally.


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I do think a major thematic difference between Golarion and its respected competitor is the sheer number of things that happen that change Golarion, and the fact that the PCs are behind or at least have a front row seat to most of them.

This is structural, since Paizo's monthly adventure paths are effectively an ongoing news magazine on "What's going on on Golarion." There are certainly things that happen in Faerun, but more of them are "special events" than "the world changing is the way of the world." Like I'm pretty sure there isn't a 5e module about "founding an independent nation" but Pathfinder's got a couple. It's the difference between "there's a death curse we need to cure, then you find yourself fighting a lich" and "you show up at a protest, then end up forming a nation."

Since there isn't an Elminster around who's meddling, Pathfinder is very free to let the people who rearrange geopolitics be the player characters.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
PossibleCabbage wrote:
In the hundred years since Aroden died, four more people have gained divinity through the test of the Starstone,

The Other Ascended gained their godhood through the Starstone LONG before Aroden died.

Norgerber ascended about 2800 years ago.
Cayden roughly 2000 years ago and Iomadae about 900 years ago. There is no 4th that I know of. A recent web fiction implied a new hopeful passed the first trial but had not confirmed she made it to the stone or what her name as a Deity is if she did in fact Ascend.

For reference the Starstone was raised 4722 years ago which started the current calander and years system of AR we know this because the Golorian current year follows the current year on real life earth from 2007 but in the 47th century thus when Rise of the Runelords was released it was 4707 on Golorian and it is currently 4722 on Golorian. This is a bit odd tho because although the year and date change to match real Earth, Earth in the Pathfinder universe is something like 90 years in tbe past to real Earth being somewhere around 1930 currently.

Also if we are being technical the Starstone only killed one deity. A second deity sacrificed themselves to render its magic inert.

Also someone mentioned Rise being the reason for runestones being how enchanting is being done. As far as I know this is not the case I have run and read Rise a few times and Rune magic and runestones are not related and the exploration of rune magic didn't start in karge until after Return of the runelords which was only 4 or so years ago in Golorian not long enough for Runestones to have completely replaced old enchanting it like Aeon stones was as far as I can tell done to make enchanting mechanically easier in the rules and remove item crafting feats from the mix and allow anyone (with ome feat) to make magic gear now without having to be magical themselves. In fact rune magic is actually closer connected to aeon stones as their use in Azlanti, Thassilonian and Rune magic was a technique lost during earthfall but recently being relearned since. Again as far as I can find between RotR, SS, and REotR rune magic and runestones have no relation and are not related to their use in 2E as the means of Enchantment it is just a setting change that isn't explained in lore, alongside abolishment of slavery changes to deities profiles as well as removing some badly written sexist and other -ist lore.

Sorry for wall of text I don't know why those things bothered me so much.


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Thank you all so much for the many and very multi-layered answers to a question I was not aware of the scope of. In addition, great respect for the fact that you are a very friendly and respectful community that has patiently expanded my questions and own answers. Unfortunately, you find that less often on the net these days.


Golarion always struck me as Forgotten realms without the high-level NPCs tending bar and before 4e mucked it up.


Gamerskum wrote:
Golarion always struck me as Forgotten realms without the high-level NPCs tending bar and before 4e mucked it up.

So who is Golarion's Drizzt and Elminster?


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Gamerskum wrote:
Golarion always struck me as Forgotten realms without the high-level NPCs tending bar and before 4e mucked it up.

Golarion feels a fair bit like the 4e Realms to me, actually! Sky islands and blue fire that warps flesh wouldn’t feel out of place in the setting at all, and neither would atheist dragon-folk from another planet.

I’m a big fan of that edition’s take on Faerun - the blind hate for it online ignores a lot of really fun fantasy, IMO.


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Totally Not Gorbacz wrote:
Gamerskum wrote:
Golarion always struck me as Forgotten realms without the high-level NPCs tending bar and before 4e mucked it up.
So who is Golarion's Drizzt and Elminster?

Aroden was the Elminster archetype.

There are a few options for Drizzt types, but most of them are members of the Pathfinder society. Durvin Gest or Eando Kline come to mind, but I suppose in terms of 'Has some books about them' There's Count Varian Jeggare.

Grand Lodge

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Kasoh wrote:
Totally Not Gorbacz wrote:
Gamerskum wrote:
Golarion always struck me as Forgotten realms without the high-level NPCs tending bar and before 4e mucked it up.
So who is Golarion's Drizzt and Elminster?

Aroden was the Elminster archetype.

There are a few options for Drizzt types, but most of them are members of the Pathfinder society. Durvin Gest or Eando Kline come to mind, but I suppose in terms of 'Has some books about them' There's Count Varian Jeggare.

The main difference is these figures in Golorian are usually in the past and if they still exist in the present they are beyond the affairs of mortals kind of thing now like the Ruby Phoenix. The Paizo team is very careful not to have regularly occurring high level people who aren't PC's meddling around. Usually when high level npc's start making waves it ends up in an AP.


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Kasoh wrote:
Totally Not Gorbacz wrote:
Gamerskum wrote:
Golarion always struck me as Forgotten realms without the high-level NPCs tending bar and before 4e mucked it up.
So who is Golarion's Drizzt and Elminster?

Aroden was the Elminster archetype.

There are a few options for Drizzt types, but most of them are members of the Pathfinder society. Durvin Gest or Eando Kline come to mind, but I suppose in terms of 'Has some books about them' There's Count Varian Jeggare.

Aroden was an egoistic egomaniac and arguably a terrible person. Elminster is many things, but he's a sympathetic do-gooder for sure.

The others are low-level folks that are overtaken easily by a mid-level party.


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Totally Not Gorbacz wrote:
Gamerskum wrote:
Golarion always struck me as Forgotten realms without the high-level NPCs tending bar and before 4e mucked it up.
So who is Golarion's Drizzt and Elminster?

The PCs.


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Nicolas Paradise wrote:
Also someone mentioned Rise being the reason for runestones being how enchanting is being done. As far as I know this is not the case I have run and read Rise a few times and Rune magic and runestones are not related and the exploration of rune magic didn't start in karge until after Return of the runelords which was only 4 or so years ago in Golorian not long enough for Runestones to have completely replaced old enchanting it like Aeon stones was as far as I can tell done to make enchanting mechanically easier in the rules and remove item crafting feats from the mix and allow anyone (with ome feat) to make magic gear now without having to be magical themselves. In fact rune magic is actually closer connected to aeon stones as their use in Azlanti, Thassilonian and Rune magic was a technique lost during earthfall but recently being relearned since. Again as far as I can find between RotR, SS, and REotR rune magic and runestones have no relation and are not related to their use in 2E as the means of Enchantment it is just a setting change that isn't explained in lore, alongside abolishment of slavery changes to deities profiles as well as removing some badly written sexist and other -ist lore.

Interesting.

During my playthrough of RotR, towards the end of the book, the GM exposited that we needed "runeforged weapons" to defeat the BBEG. While we TPK'd before we could fully explore what that was, it was my assumption that the BBEG, who was a Runelord, had some sort of defense that made him invincible to non-runic weaponry, and in the canon ending of RotR, the PCs were victorious, which meant that the knowledge of such things did exist in the game world, and that it would take REotR and PF2 to make it become commonplace, either due to time lapse, or another similar event requiring it to be mass-produced to prevent it from spiraling out of control.

Of course, I haven't played REotR, which is the AP that set up a good amount of lore change for PF2 (among other non-lore reasons), so it's entirely possible that RotR didn't deem it necessary to implement as a lore adjustment.

Obviously, it's all mostly because of avoiding copyright claims or associations with D&D, but I am trying to stick more with what the lore aspect of it is, instead of the meta reasons.


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Totally Not Gorbacz wrote:

Aroden was an egoistic egomaniac and arguably a terrible person. Elminster is many things, but he's a sympathetic do-gooder for sure.

The others are low-level folks that are overtaken easily by a mid-level party.

I'll cede to your superior knowledge of Elminster. I read all of one book where he was a character and he wasn't all that likeable.


Totally Not Gorbacz wrote:
Kasoh wrote:
Totally Not Gorbacz wrote:
Gamerskum wrote:
Golarion always struck me as Forgotten realms without the high-level NPCs tending bar and before 4e mucked it up.
So who is Golarion's Drizzt and Elminster?

Aroden was the Elminster archetype.

There are a few options for Drizzt types, but most of them are members of the Pathfinder society. Durvin Gest or Eando Kline come to mind, but I suppose in terms of 'Has some books about them' There's Count Varian Jeggare.

Aroden was an egoistic egomaniac and arguably a terrible person. Elminster is many things, but he's a sympathetic do-gooder for sure.

The others are low-level folks that are overtaken easily by a mid-level party.

Durvin Gest explored more than one location on Golarion that are only written about in mythic-style books, and possibly by himself. Varian Jeggare and Radovan have tangled with celestial dragons, 20th-level monks, an ancient green dragon, what sounded a lot like a succubus empowered to the level of a bailor, and a reborn Runelord, the last with Eando Kline as part of their team, and come out the other side. They don't sound like low-level folks to me.

Also maybe Old Man Jatembe is more like Golarion's Elminster? I don't really know D&D lore all that well, but Jatembe is the nicest super-spellcaster that Golarion has, and it's heavily implied that he's still alive and sometimes hangs out with Baba Yaga to swap gossip.

Liberty's Edge

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"Runeforged" in 1e is just a +2 weapon ability that gives it the Bane property against certain wizard specialists (except for Divination, because of lore reasons), along with some other properties. One that's tuned against Abjuration, for example, is a Bane weapon against abjurers and any creature that has a current abjuration spell effect (so, y'know, most things you're fighting at high levels), and also cancels out the first successful dispel magic you're targeted with each day. Nothing to do with runes or runestones, mechanically, as they exist in 2e.

Edit: I forgot they also give the wearer a +2 morale bonus on all saves against their opposed school of magic, and a -2 penalty on all Diplomacy checks.


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Jatembe’s been a little bit more than “heavily implied.”

Spoiler:
You hang out with him in Strength of Thousands.


Losonti wrote:

"Runeforged" in 1e is just a +2 weapon ability that gives it the Bane property against certain wizard specialists (except for Divination, because of lore reasons), along with some other properties. One that's tuned against Abjuration, for example, is a Bane weapon against abjurers and any creature that has a current abjuration spell effect (so, y'know, most things you're fighting at high levels), and also cancels out the first successful dispel magic you're targeted with each day. Nothing to do with runes or runestones, mechanically, as they exist in 2e.

Edit: I forgot they also give the wearer a +2 morale bonus on all saves against their opposed school of magic, and a -2 penalty on all Diplomacy checks.

Good to know.


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Perpdepog wrote:
Totally Not Gorbacz wrote:
Kasoh wrote:
Totally Not Gorbacz wrote:
Gamerskum wrote:
Golarion always struck me as Forgotten realms without the high-level NPCs tending bar and before 4e mucked it up.
So who is Golarion's Drizzt and Elminster?

Aroden was the Elminster archetype.

There are a few options for Drizzt types, but most of them are members of the Pathfinder society. Durvin Gest or Eando Kline come to mind, but I suppose in terms of 'Has some books about them' There's Count Varian Jeggare.

Aroden was an egoistic egomaniac and arguably a terrible person. Elminster is many things, but he's a sympathetic do-gooder for sure.

The others are low-level folks that are overtaken easily by a mid-level party.

Durvin Gest explored more than one location on Golarion that are only written about in mythic-style books, and possibly by himself. Varian Jeggare and Radovan have tangled with celestial dragons, 20th-level monks, an ancient green dragon, what sounded a lot like a succubus empowered to the level of a bailor, and a reborn Runelord, the last with Eando Kline as part of their team, and come out the other side. They don't sound like low-level folks to me.

Also maybe Old Man Jatembe is more like Golarion's Elminster? I don't really know D&D lore all that well, but Jatembe is the nicest super-spellcaster that Golarion has, and it's heavily implied that he's still alive and sometimes hangs out with Baba Yaga to swap gossip.

Varian is level 6, Radovan is level 7. Fiction isn't a simulation of game rules, when it is, it goes usually horribly bad.

Jatemebe is the closest equivalent of Elminster, but he's currently AWOL purposefully so that he doesn't get to outshine PCs or have people go the "yeah, this problem is too big for us, let's just send a letter to Old Dude Yatembay or whatishecalled"


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I mean, they limit the Old Mage's ability to fix problems for the PCs because he spends a lot of time hanging out with Baba Yaga who is by far the more powerful (and more likely to cause problems than fix them).


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There is a reason why Nex is potentially in the sun and Geb is off somewhere. While the remaining runelords kind of keep to themselves. Then you have various high level leaders and NPC doing their own things from being the local ruler, adventuring in various planes, or just having their own fun. You can technically even meet any of the deities in their home realm, or walking about randomly in some cases (*cough*Desna and Cayden*cough*. What makes Golarion work is that non of the high level NPCs that could solve the issues are ever around to solve said issue. While non of the gods will help besides occasionally granting boons, gifts, or mythic ranks.

Because each country keeps to themselves generally, you are able to see very different cultures and standards. Also makes it easier for writing scenarios by making it clear "People that dress in X way are from Y country or Z region."

*****************************

P.S. I highly recommend reading the lore stuff from PF1. There are a lot of people that dismiss it because Paizo is not using the same writing style. But there is a lot of stuff that PF2 has not covered and will not likely cover.

Regarding some of the regions being dismissed in PF1 lore. Most of the PF1 Golarion lore is written from an Avistan perspective. With Cheliax being one of the few Avistan countries that interacted with the Mwangi Expanse. Cheliax being mostly demon following imperialists makes it so they are a lot more likely to treat others as "lesser" and act as colonialists (they even set up colonies in Varisia).


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Temperans wrote:
Regarding some of the regions being dismissed in PF1 lore. Most of the PF1 Golarion lore is written from an Avistan perspective. With Cheliax being one of the few Avistan countries that interacted with the Mwangi Expanse. Cheliax being mostly demon following imperialists makes it so they are a lot more likely to treat others as "lesser" and act as colonialists (they even set up colonies in Varisia).

The books never come out and say "we're writing from a Chelish perspective," they're writing in a neutral, narrative voice - one that happens to assume a colonial foreign perspective. If you don't understand why that gets people's hackles up, I invite you to please try and meditate on how the assumed-factual text of the books dehumanizes and makes foreign the people of Fantasy Africa while siding with the people of Fantasy Europe might cause problems.

I'm not saying to burn all 1e books, by any means, nor am I saying to not read them ever. But for someone coming at the setting fresh, as OP seems to be? Start with what's current before delving into the more problematic archives of old material.


Wouldn't Jatembe be Elminster ?


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keftiu wrote:
Temperans wrote:
Regarding some of the regions being dismissed in PF1 lore. Most of the PF1 Golarion lore is written from an Avistan perspective. With Cheliax being one of the few Avistan countries that interacted with the Mwangi Expanse. Cheliax being mostly demon following imperialists makes it so they are a lot more likely to treat others as "lesser" and act as colonialists (they even set up colonies in Varisia).

The books never come out and say "we're writing from a Chelish perspective," they're writing in a neutral, narrative voice - one that happens to assume a colonial foreign perspective. If you don't understand why that gets people's hackles up, I invite you to please try and meditate on how the assumed-factual text of the books dehumanizes and makes foreign the people of Fantasy Africa while siding with the people of Fantasy Europe might cause problems.

I'm not saying to burn all 1e books, by any means, nor am I saying to not read them ever. But for someone coming at the setting fresh, as OP seems to be? Start with what's current before delving into the more problematic archives of old material.

I don't see the issue of reading past lore that is still cannon because to me all the books are written by an unreliable narrator. Its written in a neutral, friendly, or aggressive tone? Doesn't matter because the person writing is still unreliable (they can only know and write so much). Nor do I see the problem with assuming that the people writing about any specific thing is either a local to that area or a foreign historian. Specially when Cheliax is involved since they are known to burn and manipulate books: Seriously always take stuff related to them with a grain of salt, never know what is true and what was manipulated.

P.S. "Foreign" is a matter of perspective. A person writing from X place about Y place is talking about a "foreign" location. The people of Y place writing about X place would do the exact same.

P.S.S. have you seen half the people of Garund? Yeah there are humans, but not everything is a human. It is not "dehumanizing" to say something that is not human is not human. Now whether the representation is correct or not that is a different matter.

**********************

I won't respond any more about this subject in the interest of not getting banned for going to far by mistake.


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Temperans wrote:
Cheliax being mostly demon following imperialists

Devil-following. Chelaxians are associated with devils, not demons. Maybe it's time for you to actually read some lore of the world, starting with the basics?


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Totally Not Gorbacz wrote:
Temperans wrote:
Cheliax being mostly demon following imperialists

Devil-following. Chelaxians are associated with devils, not demons. Maybe it's time for you to actually read some lore of the world, starting with the basics?

You know, I wont deny that I forgot. Usually demon and devil are used interchangeably and I always need to remind myself which is which when talking about those two in the context of pathfinder.


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Frankly, I also found the later PF1 setting books to be a lot more engaging than the early stuff. Paizo's gotten better and better at writing the setting, and the later books on Nidal or Druma have a lot more interesting details than the old stuff like Cheliax.

The PF2 setting material is the best comprehensive stuff, so I'd start there regardless.

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