What do you want from a Lost Omens: Shining Kingdoms?


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

Wayfinders

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Andoran. Druma. Five Kings Mountains. Galt. Kyonin. Taldor.

Classic, traditional fantasy-style locales - but not without their unique twists.

I have to admit: most of the region does not really woo me (Druma is intriguing from my skim of the final 1e book about it, and Kyonin has both a fun internal conflict with Treerazer and a backdoor to interplanetary weirdness), but this region has its roots in what's basically the fantasy genre's foundational tropes (a once-mighty empire now in decline, homelands of the elves and dwarves), and featured plenty in 1e (some of it, at least, though I think there was only one bespoke Adventure Path set here?), so I'm sure it has its fans, and people who could be sold on it if given the right treatment (after Lost Omens: Knights of Lastwall went from "eh" to "holy hell this is one of my favorite Pathfinder books", I can be sold on anything*).

So I come here: What would you want to see in a book about this place? What's cool about it, what would be worth updating and porting over, both lore-wise and rules-wise? How do you make this place sing?

* - I'm still cold on Absalom City of Lost Omens, but that's neither here nor there.


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I’m also not a fan, myself, but would love to see a clever team sell me on the region. Kyonin is the big winner here - an enclave-nation of aliens with portals across the world and two other planets AND it’s got a Demon Lord on their doorstep? A Treerazer AP would be a real treat, as would a chance to do right by the elven nation. If we can really lean into the strange flavor here (embassies for lashunta, formians, and fey, perhaps?), I’d be delighted.

Things get tougher from there. The big plot I want from Andoran (sailing a Grey Corsair fleet to Okeno and smashing it up) is 100% never happening. Druma is interesting, but seemingly ill-suited to a game where you beat people up on a tactical battle map. Galt I think has a ton of potential post-NotGD, and unlike Druma, I can readily see where “adventure” can pop up in the chaos of a post-revolutionary nightmare.

The Five Kings Mountains are competing with Isger for the “most generic spot on the map” award, but 2e has done some interesting complicating of the dwarf-orc history that might get touched on here, and the Pallid series in PFS seems popular enough. Taldor leaves me pretty cold, and like Andoran, its most interesting plot hooks are to the south (in their cold war with Qadira and the resulting intrigues), rather than in the Shining Lands proper.


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Something I think would be a neat idea, if not precisely fully fleshed out as a "thing I want" is if all the 'kingdoms' were more or less standard fantasy nations on their surface (and not to be confused with generic) more or less like they are now but maybe with a little more personal identity, but each also have one major twist which makes them stand completely out from standard fantasy--Kyonin already has the 'elves are aliens who colonized the planet in prehistory and still have a portal network spanning the world.'

I'm sure we can come up with more neat twists for the other nations. Perhaps Taldor would lean into the fact that it was founded by survivors of fantasy-Atlantis some few thousand years after the latter's collapse, and the mythical lion thing it puts on its flag.


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I've GMed both Second Darkness and War for the Crown to completion. Before doing that, I wasn't really a fan of any of the places from the Shining Lands that these APs visit. After running through them, though, you end up becoming fond of them. Or well, at least I did.

Slight-ish Second Darkness spoilers below:

My issue with Kyonin is an issue that is well known... Its portrayal in one of these adventures didn't seem to align to the image that the setting has for it. My players adventured in a very... Classically elf-ey land. The illusionary Iadara was fun, traversing the Tanglebriar felt tense, and dealing with a certain group of problematic elves felt exasperating. But their whole portrayal screamed Lawful Neutral, not Chaotic Good. I'm excited to meet the real Kyonin, whenever the time comes. I've always been curious of the Lantern Bearer's fate.

Before going through the AP set in Taldor, the nation never caught my eye. It seemed too generic, too vanilla... I've always been a fan of taldan being used as common in the most of the Inner Sea, but that's the only aspect of their premise that I found interesting

But the AP did wonders in humanizing the nation; of making their haughtiness both over the top but also credible(and then the they made the first taldan featured in a 2e AP so bleurgh, but nevermind that). I also think that WftC's first chapter is the strongest first chapter from all the adventure paths, buuuuut that's nor here nor there. I've liked the direction that the writers took them so far — as an International Relations major, I find Eutropia's efforts entertaining.

The Five Kings Mountains are very dwarf-ey! I've had moderate fun travelling through there in a certain AP, but I'm more excited to find out what else it can offer to set it apart from the many others classically generic dwarven nations that different settings have.

Druma and Andoran, I don't know a whole lot. But...

Druma... Eh. I don't know. I've never given it a chance, to be honest. They've always seemed like the avistani version of Katapesh, I guess, but with their own religion. I really think that the nation could use a small adventure. Personally, I've entertained the idea of running a game inspired by Shadowrun in there, where factions hire disposable mercenaries to mess with other factions. But realistically, that sort of game could be ran in many other places.

Andoran is one of the few nations in the entire setting that I sort of have an issue with; although not the only one. Personally, I am curious to what Andoran has to offer... And kind of put off to what Andoran has offer to the rest of the Inner Sea. I'm excited for the Crown of the Kobold King for that matter! Although it looks like a fairly impersonal adventure?


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Travelling Sasha wrote:
snip

I'm with you 100% on Kyonin - the hazy vision I can imagine of a Chaotic Good oasis of alien elven culture absolutely rocks, and it's a bummer that things were so mishandled in Second Darkness. It doesn't hurt that the Elven Pantheon is one of the coolest in the setting, or that you have an excuse to have members of every different elven culture in town.

If they don't get around to a Darklands book, this might be the place for playable Drow, weirdly enough. That would definitely move copies of a book that might otherwise be a little too familiar :>


Sibelius Eos Owm wrote:

Something I think would be a neat idea, if not precisely fully fleshed out as a "thing I want" is if all the 'kingdoms' were more or less standard fantasy nations on their surface (and not to be confused with generic) more or less like they are now but maybe with a little more personal identity, but each also have one major twist which makes them stand completely out from standard fantasy--Kyonin already has the 'elves are aliens who colonized the planet in prehistory and still have a portal network spanning the world.'

I'm sure we can come up with more neat twists for the other nations. Perhaps Taldor would lean into the fact that it was founded by survivors of fantasy-Atlantis some few thousand years after the latter's collapse, and the mythical lion thing it puts on its flag.

Five Kings is where I really struggle to imagine something cool.

Dongun Hold has firearms and a ruler who wants to try and make right the dwarven genocide of the orcs in the ancient past. The rest of Garund's dwarves are super idiosyncratic and unique. It feels like the niche left to the Five Kings Mountains is "stereotypical Dwarves, unrepentant in their old biases" and I don't exactly find that appetizing.

Wayfinders

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There are things such as the Rivethun, a dwarven shamanic tradition (which would obviously need a revised shaman to return first to really become tangible), and I broadly have a fondness for classic fantasy dwarves since I had a big interest in the Dwarf Fortress video game as one of my gateways into TTRPGs, and I'm sure there are ways to spice it up - for one thing, with envoys from other dwarven cultures within the Inner Sea (or beyond, even).
Fleshing out the character, visuals and relationships of individual holds within the area could go a long way too, I think.


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Adding my voice to those who are desiring Kyonin to be updated.

The only other country in this group I have any particular feelings over is Druma, which is probably my favorite nation in Avistan. Kellids have always been my favorite ethnicity, and reading how they adapted and survived in this particular situation is satisfying. The Prophets of Kalistrade are a very unique take on religion in a world where deities factually exist (they also managed to convert a dragon to their religion, which is pretty cool). The Blackjackets are a perfect alternative to Hellknights for when you want to play a LN mercenary without having to constantly justify your alignment. The way the country has a beneficial relationship with the fey (and nature in general) instead of an antagonistic one is refreshing.

Fortunately/unfortunately the Druma book was late enough in 1e that it essentially got the same treatment as 2e has been doing with their lore, so unless an ap or something ends up being set there I can't imagine they're going to do much with it.

Radiant Oath

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

Thankfully the Lantern Bearers got a MUCH needed update in 1e's Adventurer's Guide. It basically says they looked at their behavior in Second Darkness and went "wow, we REALLY have messed up here. We've got to take a long, hard look in the mirror." And they're now a much healthier organization, helped by the fact that one of their members, Telessel Neirenar, IS a drow. A unicorn-riding drow ranger!

She was originally a normal elf but became a drow through the classic reincarnation spell mishap, and after a bunch of soul-searching on her part AND the Lantern Bearers' part, they realized drow CAN be good and now they're working to help drow who've escaped demon-worshipping drow society integrate with surface communities.

It wouldn't be too much of a stretch I think to suggest that the Lantern Bearers also are trying to reach out to non-evil drow communities like the ones introduced in Abomination Vaults to offer support and open conversation in the hopes of eventual reconciliation with at least some of the drow...it's a shame Starfinder will render these efforts moot, with the elves retreating deeper into isolation on Castrovel due to trauma from the Gap and a collective memory of some great betrayal to the elven people as a whole, while the drow ironically integrate more easily with Pact Worlds society by becoming premier weapons and starship manufacturers, but also arguably become worse through the influence of a force even more insidious than demon-worship: capitalism. <_<

Wayfinders

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Eh, Starfinder is a future of Pathfinder, not the future, considering other lore discrepancies between the two that already exist.


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

Conflict.

Other than Galt, there is none. Andoran is painted as the protector of liberal* values and a constant rival of Cheliax but as far as I can tell it mainly just sits there and looks smug and enlightened while Galt is a cluster and Cheliax continues to be evil in the west.

A more interesting take on Andoran would be well-meaning peacekeepers who just can't quite get it right and cause more trouble than they solve, breaking things and then acting unapologetic when they need to be fixed (sound like any contemporary places you can think of?).

*in the 19th century humanist sense of the term


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keftiu wrote:

stuff

If they don't get around to a Darklands book, this might be the place for playable Drow, weirdly enough. That would definitely move copies of a book that might otherwise be a little too familiar :>

Haha, you brought this up in another thread too, right? Meant to reply you there, but by the time I checked the thread again, the conversation seemed to have changed course. :B

But that's very true, and it honestly sounds like a more likely place to offer mechanical options for the Drow than waiting for that LO: Darklands. :| Great insight, keftiu.

Archpaladin Zousha wrote:
stuff

I'm always looking forward to your posts, Zousha! You seem to have such a firm grasp on the setting and, maybe more importantly, really know how the weave that knowledge into words and ideas beautifully.

I'm a very big fan of organizations focused on redemption or conciliation, but I often feel like they fall a little flat in execution... I may have a to take a look at their writeup in the Adventurer's Guide someday, to check how they feel. Anyways, I'd love to see a Lantern Bearer NPC in some adventure, doing something related to that adventure; like we often see Hellknights around.

Leon Aquilla wrote:

Conflict.

Other than Galt, there is none. Andoran is painted as the protector of liberal* values and a constant rival of Cheliax but as far as I can tell it mainly just sits there and looks smug and enlightened while Galt is a cluster and Cheliax continues to be evil in the west.

A more interesting take on Andoran would be well-meaning peacekeepers who just can't quite get it right and cause more trouble than they solve, breaking things and then acting unapologetic when they need to be fixed (sound like any contemporary places you can think of?).

*in the 19th century humanist sense of the term

Ahaha, I really like your take. Honestly, I don't necessarily mind Andoran's premise; it's their political missions that seem to be so unapologetically flawless in execution that I find either bland or kind of off-putting. They read like "Nation - The Hero" to me, and... Eh. I dunno. I find the power dynamics that must be established between them as a major power and other nations as minor powers for that sort of operations to be at least Neutral, alignement-wise. Unless they are executed perfectly, which in that case sure, they are Good; but by then, we're back to square one. I dunno, maybe I'm just rambling.

I also agree that the land could use more conflict, but of note, half or one third of Kyonin is occupied by a creepy demonic forest, which is the nest of one of the Inner's Sea biggest baddies right now.

Shadow Lodge

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Galtan and Andoren political parties! Social bases, platforms/programmes, leaderships (beyond the single head of government per country). . .


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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Galtan and Andoren political parties! Social bases, platforms/programmes, leaderships (beyond the single head of government per country). . .

It bums me out that for all the political craziness in Galt, we have such a fuzzy concept of what actual philosophies people are cutting all these heads off over. A post-NotGD Galt is likely to focus on rebuilding and the collective trauma of the past, but some insight into what ideologies drive the people and how they still come into conflict would be a real treat.


Only thing I can think of that would be cool in shining kingdoms would be a political adventure where the orc kingdom and dwarven kingdom initiate a cultural and political reconciliation. Outside parties want to mess up the peace moot and the PCs investigate and fight their way through shadowy opposition to help ensure a stronger more peaceful geopolitical climate.

Radiant Oath

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
keftiu wrote:
zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Galtan and Andoren political parties! Social bases, platforms/programmes, leaderships (beyond the single head of government per country). . .
It bums me out that for all the political craziness in Galt, we have such a fuzzy concept of what actual philosophies people are cutting all these heads off over. A post-NotGD Galt is likely to focus on rebuilding and the collective trauma of the past, but some insight into what ideologies drive the people and how they still come into conflict would be a real treat.

This is why I keep saying, NotGD feels like buying book 6 of an AP and not having the preceding books to run it with...it just kind of irritates me. It's nice to know what to build TO, don't get me wrong, my predictions on what was happening were close, but not quite (I thought the Grey Gardeners were Norgorberites seeking to turn a nation pre-Lost-Omens prophecy said would be a beacon of reason and light into a dark playground of blackmail, ignorance and murder for the faithful). But I'd have liked some material to give at least the skeleton of a coherent story and give PCs going into NotGD reasons to have connections to the NPCs and locales of the story.

It's why I adore APs like Kingmaker, Curse of the Crimson Throne, Council of Thieves and Hell's Rebels in particular. You're not just opposing the baddies for some obscure cause or for financial reasons. You're fighting for your HOME. And I feel like NotGD needs more to make Galt feel like the PC's home.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber

That's a perfect summary of why I've never felt too compelled to run NotGD.


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I feel like Night of the Grey Death was a compromise between resolving Galt’s problems and not touching on Galt at all. It would’ve been an AP if the folks making decisions wanted it to be; whether that’s because Galt seemed too unpopular to carry a full campaign, the potential optics of getting into the weeds on revolution, or something else, we’re in a post-NotGD world now.

The question of what comes next is far more interesting for me, personally.


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I agree that Kyonin doesn't really live up to its own premise, but the easing back of its campaign against the Drow in 2e, paired with the redemption of Nocticula, suggests to me that maybe drow could be better incorporated, perhaps as refugees looking to worship their newly redeemed goddess in peace and spread her Good Neutral Word. Having an above-ground population of non-evil drow integrating into elven society alongside whatever interplanetary immigrant communities Kyonin has could be an interesting idea. And I know little enough about the Five Kings Mountains other than "basically Middle Earth Moria" that it's kinda a blank slate to me, ripe to make feel like something different and unique.

Otherwise, as zimmerwald1915 says the other route to go is politics, and make some of the factions feel less one-dimensional. Galt is ripe for covert revolutionary groups, political reform parties, traditionalists and hardliners and monarchists, etc. As a democracy, Andoran's political parties could add some flavour, and do so in a way that makes it feel less like Revolutionary-era America and perhaps more like the Dutch republic? And one of the key influenced of Taldor was imperial Rome, and according to Taldor: The First Empire they still hold local elections for Tribunes. The ages-old battle between the senatorial Optimates and the populist Plebians is still something I could see modern Taldor having to balance, especially in the post-WftC turmoil.


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Okay, wall of text and opinions incoming

Andoran- With a de emphasis on Slavery and so many other parts of the world where that odious system is on the way out anyway, it's easy to forget that Andoran is anything but conflict free. Cheliax just lost some land in one area, you can bet it's eying what it sees it's rightful territory. Mean while, Taldor is on the other side with even older claims and new leadership that might decide it can better defend against the Whispering Tyrant threat if it goes full imperial again. While pressed from the borders, Andoran has former noble families plotting to reclaim their privilege , greedy members of the Lumber Consortium abusing their power over their workers, Irked Fey, and pirates on the shores. Then there are the decades worth of ex slaves that have been liberated from all shores to settle in Andoran. They're a source of diversity and innovation if treated justly, but some Andoran citizens may resent that the new folk aren't assimilating fast enough, and be totally blind to the hypocrisy of their expectations.

In short Andoran has any number of problems ticking away like timebombs. I wonder if Paizo is going to have one or more go off, possibly at the same time. I can even see Andoran get too complacent in it's success and try to 'liberate' Isger, only to find out it has made a serious mistake as Cheliax reinforces Isger to one degree or another, and taldor decides to claim a few miles of it's former territory from the otherside while others are committed. They say Pride Cometh Before the Fall, I DON'T want Andoran to fall, mind you, but I can see things getting tense so that PC heroes need to step up.

On a less dramatic angle? They really do need to flesh out the various guilds. The Lumber Consortium gets some limelight as the villain of darkmoon vale area, but EVERY major guild in the nation is granted a representative on the People's Council. More details on them would be fantastic, and provide hooks. Is there a wizard's guild of Andoran with a rep grumbling about a need for more funding for devil banishing research? I like the image myself :)

I'd also like to see at least one new Large Town or City there be shown there where halflings actually out number the humans. I've a fondness for Pathfinder Halflings, and would love to see such a city setting; Andoran , with such a sizable number of halflings (relative to many other areas IIRC) would be ideal for it.

Druma- I hear the 1st Edition setting book was excellent. I didn't get it so I don't know it well. I do know that Lake Encarthan is less safe for trade. This will force more land and river routes usage. Due to investments in Isger, if either Cheliax OR Andoran makes moves on Isger, Druma might have something to say about it.

Five Kings Mountains- Much as I like Andoran, I want the real focus to be on Five Kings Mountains and Kynonin. The non human nations need some serious love and this will be the region for it. The City states of the Five King Mountains are more independent city states than a proper Dwarven Kingdom, but if anything should rally them it is the call to be ready for the Return of a certain undead threat! I've mentioned I would love to see a take on Camelot in Golarian but with a different Non British twist and something put in it's place. It could work here. The Five Kings Mountains could use a new King. It would make a pretty good adventure or three for PCs to have a chance in finding him, helping him (or her) test worthiness, and so forth.

I also think it would be cool for other Dwarf Gods to catch on popularity wise with non dwarves but that's not Five Kings specific. However, one has to wonder what it is like for humans and other non dwarves who live on the surface side and valleys of the Mountains. Are they kicked out, second class citizens?

Galt- Galt! I mean, this one has some fans but I have few opinions on which direction I want to see it go. I just hope those fans are pleased.

Kyonin-Like the Five Kings Mountains, this should get a good focus. I played Second Darkness and the elves need a Positive PR injection. Treerazer is a hell of a hook, but I want to see Kyonin become more pro active in stopping tar Baphon's forces and return. I also like the idea of them seeking ways to redeem the Drow as someone else mentioned. I think the elves could easily become the rallying call for a lot of heroes from a lot of lands, only maybe this time don't be jerks about it (See Second Darkness)

Taldor- Taldor has a new ruler, and got a shot in the arm at clearing off the Cobwebs. It may also see itself as a force for Order, a shield against future threats. I think in some ways it might be as much a threat to Andoran as Cheliax will be because it can offer the former Aristocrats there what they want without the devil hooks, while having the military power to move the borders. But let's not make this all about Andoran. Taldor has a chance for opening up the old Canals, purging internal corruption and clearing out monsters. Adventuring chances galore. I would like to see a chance at a 'city maker' where some wreck of a city gets built back up by PCs if they choose to and some lucky PC gets to be a baron or something.


I like Galt and the Five Kings Mountain, but mostly I'm looking for a reason to care about the Shining Kingdoms.


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I'd proposed it in a another thread, but "Kyonin puts out a call for foreign help, including to the disparate branches of the elven people, in order to finally handle Treerazer" is my ideal plotline for the region. Give me a party with an Alijae Magus, an Ilverani Kineticist, a Vourinoi Psychic, and a Drow Cleric off to kick some demon butt together, please.


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Ridge wrote:
However, one has to wonder what it is like for humans and other non dwarves who live on the surface side and valleys of the Mountains. Are they kicked out, second class citizens?

I once had a dwarven character from the region called Athelstan Twice-Dropped. I didn't originally have an explanation for his epithet, but eventually I came up with the backstory that there are dwarven tunnels riddling the whole region underneath human towns whose planners inconsiderately don't consult the local dwarf clans when they put down roots, so every few centuries an entire village will drop into a massive sinkhole. The humans and dwarves draw a legal border a few hundred feet beneath the soil, but incidents like that force the two to cooperate to save lives and reduce property damage. Athelstan was involved in two such events, being roped in as part of the disaster relief teams on behalf of his uncle's mine, the dwarves using their mining expertise and darkvision to find trapped humans, and it was considered unusual enough that two had happened not just in living memory but to the same dwarf that he adopted it as part of his name.

When you think about the interesting kind of things that neighbouring but insular dwarf and human communities could do, it really makes me wish the region attracted me more than it does.

Dark Archive

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My two cents: Secret of Shining Kingdom is politics.

...No really. That is the common theme with them, lot of Shining Kingdom countries are more interesting when taken in relation to international politics as well. Its not really just "traditional fantasy region", its actually "international shenanigans the region"

Kyonin is definitely still suffering from SD and still needing that "CG Elf Kingdom with direct connection to alien planet" rewrite.

Since Galt finally resolved the eternal revolution plotline, it needs new rewrite to refocus nation on "Okay, so what is Galt without its old central gimmick".

Andoran also needs new article to explain what its overall focus is with slavery de-emphasized, but not to same degree as Galt since Andoran actually already has hooks to it. The weird thing is that those hooks aren't really in the campaign setting book, as said, lot of shining kingdom countries are more interesting when looked from international perspective. In case of Andoran, they have bit of warhawk thing going on because they are very much looking for opportunity to "liberate people from tyrannical rule" and such. That already puts them at odds with lot of other nations because while interventionist policy isn't necessary a bad thing, it always will make other nations suspicious of your true intentions.

Five Kings Mountain is example of what I'd consider "basically good premise, but its so underdeveloped that its easy to miss". They kinda suffer from "None among paizo devs were enthusiastic about classic dwarfs and this is classic dwarf land". (man we need more dorf fortress fans ;D)

Joking aside, Five Kings Mountains has first problem of "name is artifact title from historical events rather than evocative description of current situation". I mean makes sense for traditional (heh) dorfs to care about ancient history and all, but I can't even name the five kings or know much about them besides that they were involved in war that lasted 700 years apparently AND that literally all five of those kingdoms have already fallen by now :P

To copy paste "Government Gathering Council, composed of the rulers of Larrad, Highhelm, Kovlar, Taggoret, Rolgrimmdur, and Tar-Kazmukh" so as you can count, there are six kings in the council right now (and as said, none of them are the original five founding nations). Five Kings Mountains' dealio is being fractured bunch of smaller dorf kingdoms lacking leader to unite them into single nation and region where dorf center of culture is located, but the region really suffers from being underdeveloped. Five Kings Mountain also is important for Druma's history funny enough but enough of that. My point here is that I'm kinda baffled in that it kinda sounds like there are only dwarves in the region but at least several of the kingdoms and citadels fell to orcs so I would presume there has to be significant orc presence as well right?

Well anyway, here is quick summary of what we know bout said six kingdoms: Larrad has lot of "temple-caverns", cathedrals and is also a necropolis so it seems to be sort of religious center, Highhelm is the "mighty dwarf cultural center, what you imagine the dwarf sky citadel should be like dwarfy dwarf dorf stuff", Rolgrimmdur is super fortified military city, Taggoret dealio is iron mining and smelting, Kovlar is small enough city to not even be mentioned in inner sea world guide(its detailed in dwarves of golarion apparently) and Tar-Kazmukh has big arcane library and librarians with tattooed magic sigils.

Basically, there is potential there for expansion(at least you can figure out theme for most of the local big cities rather than just "dorf city"), but what we have of modern Five Kings Mountains is bit barebones.

Druma is hard to discuss without spoiling, like even the actual end goal of Kalistocrat faith is fascinating topic. Also, politics!

Taldor is interesting in that war for the crown is super interesting ap, but admittedly most interesting aspect of Taldor is "waning super power with still massive amount of influence" aspect of it. Aka politics!

You people see why I said that most interesting aspect of various countries in this region are in regards to how they behave with their neighbors? You can of course have standalone regular adventures in them, but if you don't include at least some political intrigue you are missing out on stuff x'D

Dark Archive

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After sleeping bit more on this, I want to add one more thing:

Shining Kingdoms is good example of where meta regions can work better than 1e standalone country format. Pathfinder 1e campaign setting books treats countries as fairly isolated from each other but with Shining Kingdoms their most interesting aspect is how they interact with other countries (Kyonin's isolationism or elf culture exporting depending on LN/CG Kyonin, Galt's exporting anarchist ideas, Andoran does lot of sabotage and skirmish operations, Taldor had entire prestige class for elite spy faction and Druma's merchant dealio) so them being looked from perspective of multiple countries works better. Lot of 2e meta regions are just grouping together either historically connected or vaguely similar in thematic nations for sake of it being easier to expand upon them in a campaign setting book, but Shining Kingdoms shows potential of meta region frame, so hopefully eventual book on it capitalizes upon it.


Can someone help me see the light with the Five Kings Mountains? My eyes slide off the wiki pages; is there any more to it than just being "traditional dwarf land"?


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keftiu wrote:
Can someone help me see the light with the Five Kings Mountains? My eyes slide off the wiki pages; is there any more to it than just being "traditional dwarf land"?

I'll be honest, I've failed my attention span will save more than once poking around in FKM lore, but my friend likes playing dwarves so I keep coming back. I can't say that I have anything that will interest you, but to me the most interesting things that have managed to lodge in my memory include the fact that this otherwise stoic bastion of beardly dwarfiness has actually seen a lot of upheaval.

Perhaps this is only my assumptions about dwarves speaking, but I tend to imagine dwarf kingdoms as pillars of honour and tradition unchanged for centuries if not millennia. Contrary to that expectation, the FKM first collapsed into 700 years of civil wars back in the 1500's, A couple centuries later the entire nation fell to orcs with the exception of Highhelm.

Things were fine for a while after that until Droskar's Crag (the largest volcano on the planet, not technically in FKM territory but in the mountain range) erupts so badly that it swallows a couple cities and breaks the spirit of the kingdom. This rolls over into a period of political corruption where a cleric of Droskar (evil dwarf god of toil) turns the nation into a theocracy of unending labour for a hundred or so years.

The thrust of which is: I normally see dwarf kingdoms as incredibly calcified in tradition, but FKM has seen a constant cycle of wars, has been almost overrun, and had fallen into an evil theocracy before Cheliax made it cool. The city-states of the mountains still have not successfully been united since the last upheaval.

Mind you, this is all history 200+ years ago, but the idea of the FKM being disparate city-states that were last united under a despot who usurped the throne might leave something to work with.


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That’s actually a really interesting bit of nuance that I’d missed; I hadn’t realized FKM’a modern iteration is so young. 250 years is within a dwarven lifespan, right?

Trying to rebuild their sense of dwarf identity and history is really interesting. Much like I’ve proposed for Kyonin, I’d love it this nation could be the home of the “dwarf UN,” hosting their kin from further abroad: Mbe’ke merchants, Dongun artificers, and so on. The idea that a Taralu might come here to study the ways of the Rivethun, or the Pahmet might search for archives of their ancestors from Jormurdun, is much more interesting.

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FKM is kind of "since writers weren't interested in it, they kinda didn't build advertisement for it" :'D Like... yeah it does have interesting things to it but you have to work to find it because its not as easy to summarize unless you already like dorfy dorfs. I don't think we ever really saw adventuring content there before age of ashes? (I had forgotten that book 4 took place in Kovlar aka the said smallest of six city states) So I decided to sacrifice my mind to LORE and finally delve into this

Here is cliffnotes version of FKM history(why I do this to myself?...):

Back when dorfs united for quest for sky, they formed Tar Taargadth empire (founded by Taargick) which is pretty much this setting's version of "glorious dwarven golden past they feel nostalgic for". This golden age lasted until famous orc warlord Belkzen took one of sky citadels and this started decline of empire. Still though empire lasted from its formation in -5133 AR(pre dwarves reaching surface) until 1551 AR, this is longest lasting dwarven civilization btw :p Yeah they never got really stable after this anymore, this setting doesn't really have any "stable as rock" dorf empires. It does have lot of squabbling dorfs though.

So in 1551 when Tar Taargadth collapsed, there were only four sky citadels remaining, Dongun Hold(in what is now known as Mana Wastes), Janderhoff(Varisia), Kravenkus(Taldor's world edge mountains. Man didn't realize that World Edge Mountain is also in Warhammer) and High Helm(FKM). All four of these remain(though Kravenkus is bit of ghost town) and High Helm become cultural center of traditional dorfy dorfs because it was first and greatest sky citadel. Dorf fortresses hold longer than dorf unity.

Sidenote, I think Kraggodan and Cloudspire didn't exist yet when FKM was written because I don't think those sky citadels ever collapsed either :p

After Tar Taargadth(...okay why are traditional dorf names so mouthful, Urist is much easier)'s collapse, five brothers formed five kingdoms around High Helm(aaaaaaand name drop!). These were Gardadth founded by Gardrick I, Pious Kingdom of Saggorak founded by Saggorn the Holy, Impenetrable Kingdom of Doggadth founded by Doggon, Laborious Kingdom of Grakodan founded by Grak the Younger and Everlasting Kingdom of Taggoret founded by Taggrick I.

Yes dorf kings have problem with naming kingdoms after themselves. Yes none of these exists in present day. Nine years after foundation of the name sake five kingdoms it was start of first of 19 civil wars in war known as Five Kings War that lasted 700 years

(sidenote: ancient dorfs were kind of condescending colonizers towards Drumans. Druma's people were in really bad shape during Age of Darkness and Tar Taargadth offered aid to them, but came to quickly see them as empty territory and in -4890 AR Druma was part of Tar Taargadth and became empire's breadbasket. So yeah due to various schadenfraude, Drumans rebelled four times during Tar Taargadth's existence, then later fifth rebellion actually succeeded during Five Kings Wars(they were part of Saggorak) and got tax relief from them)

So after that 700 year war, the dorf kingdoms finally negotiated peace (with help of Druman) in what is known as Kerse Accord(which also established Druma as independent nation). Clearly finally their problems were solved? Nope, after 160 years of peace, orcs invaded again and all five kingdoms fell leaving only sky citadel of High Helm standing.

After that was 700 years of "Wild Era" when orcs controlled the FKM, besides High Helm. Dorf known as Khadon the Mighty managed to take region back for dwarves and established empire of Tar Khadurrm which lasted for 500 years until Drokar's Crag erupted in 3980 AR.

So after the Rending dwarves fell into general depression and apathy which lead to series of events that resulted in formation of Drokar's Kingdom and was pretty much last straw on many dwarves back. 250 Years since Drokar's Kingdom's collapse and nobody has managed to unify dwarves again. The current dwarv high kings are really more of "kings of single city state" in the mountains.

And while I'm not going to repeat myself from earlier what was five of city states' dealio, I will actually use Age of Ashes Kovlar info to clarify what is Kovlar's dealio: It used to be single district of Saggorak and now its only surviving part of city as rest of the city is haunted by dorf ghosts.

Yeah Dorf history is very much Dwarf Fortress death spiral schadenfraude. I never realized how accurate dwarf simulator that game was!

Here are high scores!: Tar Taargadth lasted for 6684 years, Five Kingdoms about 869(note: I didn't bother actually calculating average, so I just did "9 years pre civil war +700 years of civil war + 160 year of peace, I swear I didn't intentionally aim for meme even with my irreverent towards dorf stance) years, Tar Khadurm (701 year if dates aren't errors, so I dunno where the "500 years" came from), Drokar's Kingdom (84 years). With average life span of 250 that means 6684/250 = 26.73600 lifespans fit in longest dorf empire ;P Which is impressive by real life standards, not as much by fantasy standards with all 3000+ year old human empires.

I think I'm going to repeat my statement from before: Five Kings Mountain name is pretty misleading and devs rarely featuring FKM doesn't help, its not super clear name implies "people butting heads together for hundreds of years" and "clinical cultural depression", hence why lot of them ended up moving away from FKM during Drokar's kingdom and why now you can find them all over inner sea x'D Lot of dwarves have probably given up by now on idea of dwarves being united as people

Another thing to realize is that ancient dorf kingdoms aren't really far off from humans in jerk and ego levels. Case in point look at their naming habits and Druma's history

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So I've discovered that I actually do own dwarves of golarion players companion and that yeah info here is likely not 100% canon anymore, for example, apparently dwarves of Five Kings Mountain prefer to call themselves "stout folk". (so there being ten great sky citadels and only four of them remaining intact are others things orignating from here it seems?) That sounds like something I'm fairly certain they never bought back xD So another thing like Taldor beard law and orc ability to forget on purpose. Still though I've learned that because of it there is actually quite nice map on Five Kings Mountains I could have found on google if I realized to google for it :D

Anyway, player companion has actually quite lot of details on dwarven culture, but since early PF 1e sources are questionable canon wise, I'm not really gonna repost them here.

I'm also weirded out how this book(and map) lists major settlements Davarn (2,009 population) and Kykar (8,990) which haven't been detailed elsewhere or even mentioned seemingly despite being "prominent centers of stout folk society"?(get wrecked Varook's Deep, Kar-Azakh and Bolgrad, ye major settlements who aren't even prominent :D)

Kykar is so obscure it doesn't even have wiki page despite having higher population than Kovlar and Rolgrimmdur :p Like according to map, Rolgrimmdur is a city, but Kykar is "major settlement" and funnily enough Kovlar is just a major settlement(though it seems FKM's Gathering Council has only representatives from six of the cities aka the only detailed ones. So Kovlar has representive, but bigger settlement doesn't. I'm now curious of reasoning in universe, dorf traditions or is there some other reason why not every settlement has a representative?)

(btw finally discovered how Rolgrimmdur's fortress city aspect differed from High Helm: They are major dwarven mercenary exporters to other cities and inner sea. So Rolgrimmdur is mercs, Larrad religion, High Helm dorfy culture, Kovlar "well crap that is lot of undead", Tar-Kazmukh arcane knowledge and Taggoret iron. I think only dorfy stereotype missing is beer. Maybe Davarn or Kykar can be alcohol producer? ;P)

But yeah this has been this day's dose of "They really need to build on the FKM at some point")


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The appeal of FKM is that the Dwarven Mindset makes politics interesting (polite, reasonable, not-impulsive, but stubborn and utterly ruthless) and this is a place where the politics has absolutely broken society.

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I don't disagree(the dwarven cultural depression and despair/apathy is fascinating), but it really shows that most of FKM lore currently is ancient history(that seems to have timeline errors) rather than what is there currently :'D

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