Now that I’ve finished with Character Concepts series for the Advanced Player’s Guide for Pathfinder Second Edition (PF2), I can finally turn my attention back over to some LORE. And this time, we’re diving into the Pathfinder Society history with the Lost Omens Pathfinder Society Guide.
In the short time that Pathfinder Second Edition has been out, we’ve already had FIVE Lost Omens lore-based books. You can read about the Lost Omens World Guide here, the Lost Omens: Character Guide here, the Lost Omens: Gods & Magic book here, and Lost Omens: Legends here.
So far, I’ve been quite impressed by the breadth and depth of the lore that Paizo presents in these supplements. And I’ll be up front on this one: the content for the Lost Omens Pathfinder Society Guide is fantastic, but it’s not a supplement that everyone will find useful. In my review below, I’ll share more thoughts on that, as well as highlight some of my favorite parts of the book.
Lost Omens PFS Guide: Who It’s For
The Pathfinder Society Guide is truly designed to benefit players and Gamemasters (GMs) who frequently participate in the Pathfinder Society Organized Play. If you primarily play in Adventure Paths (APs) or homebrew your own campaigns, there are bits and pieces of this book that may be relevant to you. After all, Paizo’s APs are all set in Golarion, so there are sometimes Pathfinder Society characters that will manifest themselves in those adventures.
Alright, maybe I’m over-generalizing a bit here. But in a book called Pathfinder Society Guide, you have to expect that the majority of the content is going to be focused on that.
Don’t get me wrong – the content is really good if you want to know more about the history of the Pathfinder Society, its Factions, or the different Lodges. Especially that last one; nearly half of the book is strictly dedicated to the Pathfinder Society Lodges.
Now, let’s say you don’t play Pathfinder Society scenarios and you rarely GM. Why should you care about this book?
As with the rest of the Lost Omens line for Pathfinder Second Edition, there are character options and items sprinkled throughout, including a ‘Gear’ section towards the back. You’ll also find a small smattering of magical artifacts labeled as ‘Pathfinder Society Secrets’, which offer some fun lore connections as well.
However, I don’t think that there is enough player-focused content that would compel me to pick up this supplement if I’m not going to be involved in Pathfinder Society organized play. The main draw is Golarion history; if you’re interested in gobbling up all the finite details that Golarion has to offer, that’s what you’ll find between these pages.
From a GM perspective, I find a lot of usefulness in the allusions and stories presented in the Lost Omens line. For example, I might not care much about the Master of Swords, Marcos Farabellus, but his history gives me a lot of inspiration for other characters that I might develop.
For example, Marcos is quoted as saying ‘rules in combat are for people who don’t mind dying.’ It’s little phrases like this that can define a person and allow you to understand their ideals. This is the kind of person that will take any advantage, no matter how small, to outsmart and outwit their opponent. They go against societal flow and that’s how they stand out.
In short, the Pathfinder Society Guide is a welcomed addition to a Golarion lore connoisseur, or for people that are heavily involved in Pathfinder Society organized play. If you don’t fit into those two categories, this might be a supplement that you hold off on, and flesh out your collection with other Lost Omens books first.
Lost Omens PFS Guide: The Best Parts
The rule of a good compliment sandwich is that I should cleanse your palette with a bit of positivity in the form of my favorite parts of the Lost Omens Pathfinder Society Guide. There are three main areas that I want to focus on: the Decemvirate, the Legends, and *gasp* GALT.
Back at Gen Con 2019, I ran a Pathfinder Society scenario #10-16: What the Helms Hide. The scenario dealt entirely with the Decemvirate, the group of ten masked, secretive leaders of the Pathfinder Society. Basically, nobody really knows their true identities behind these amazingly elaborate masks, and they pull all the strings from behind the shadows.
In all honesty, it makes the Pathfinder Society seem like a strange cult led by an invisible cabal of glorified figureheads. Probably not something that you’d mention to a greenhorn Pathfinder Society recruit on their first day. You’d usually wait until their inundated in the whole schtick before you drop that bomb.
So how does this tie to the Lost Omens book? We get actual images of the Decemvirate masks to go along with the history! I’m a sucker for masks, as I think they offer a ton of really interesting roleplay avenues and character development. Now, you will only see nine masks depicted in the book, because back in 4719 AR, one of the masks was destroyed when a graveknight infiltrated the Pathfinder Society.
Even with all of the interesting history about the Decemvirate, I’m still left wanting more. Granted, it’s supposed to be a secret so if every knew all of the juicy details it wouldn’t be as much fun.
You would be surprised how many notable people are involved in the Pathfinder Society. I’m honestly not sure if you can flip past three pages in the Pathfinder Society Guide without running into a blurb about a famous Golarion person. And that’s why I find it sort of interesting that this is the Lost Omens book that follows up Lost Omens: Legends.
Lost Omens: Legends features characters who are important on a global level in Golarion, but you could argue that a lot of the folks involved in the Pathfinder Society are tied to greater Golarion history as a whole. I think the subtitle for the Pathfinder Society Guide could be Lost Omens: Lesser Legends with the emphasis that Paizo has placed on the celebrities here.
That’s not necessarily a knock on the book. People built the Pathfinder Lodges, and developed the Factions, and formed the Pathfinder Society. Without people, none of this would even exist. Even if you’re talking about the real world, understanding the people and their motives will give you a really good insight into why certain global events occurred.
What I really enjoy about getting these insights into notable figures of the Pathfinder Society, is that it gives players many different ways in which to flesh out and connect their characters to the lore. Few things can make a character more believable than referencing actual people and conversations or memories shared with them.
It’s especially useful for GMs who are trying to roleplay during Pathfinder Society Scenarios. Many of these organized play one-offs involve communication with various Faction leaders, but tend to offer less insight into who these people are. With the Pathfinder Society Guide, you can arm yourself with the artwork and written history of these people to create a better, more believable, and more consistent rapport with your players across these scenarios.
Galt is my absolute favorite location in Golarion. It’s an analog to the French Revolution in which the locale is ravaged by a constant shifting of government and change. It’s not a place that you want to live, but the revolutionary atmosphere offers a breeding ground for adventures to spawn.
However, despite all of the Golarion content between Pathfinder First Edition and Second Edition, it remains relatively unexplored. I haven’t read all of the Pathfinder Adventure Paths, but I don’t think that any of them have much reference to Galt in the slightest.
At this time, I’d like to turn your attention to the section about the Woodsedge Lodge, on page 106. This Lodge is housed in Galt, and features the famous Maze of the Open Road. Flip the page, and you’ll start to learn more about the Pathfinder agents based in Galt, and the masks that they wear.
I have an obsession with masks, what can I say? Plus, they wear this red ribbon around their neck which is actually an emergency disguise talisman, but it also doubles as being symbolic of Galt’s numerous and frequently-used guillotines, the final blades.
This is the sort of stuff that I LOVE about the Lost Omens series. If you asked me to dump out all the information that I had on Galt, the Lost Omens Pathfinder Society Guide would definitely not be the first place that I would look. But here it is!
And hence why Paizo’s work on the Lost Omens line is so fantastic. From the layout with the informative sidebars, the artwork, and the contents, the Lost Omens books set Golarion apart as one of the most fleshed-out universes in all of tabletop gaming.
Pathfinder Society Guide: Parting Thoughts
In summation, the Lost Omens Pathfinder Society Guide is perfect for those of you that play Pathfinder Society organized play scenarios. It’s also designed for the Gamemasters of those campaigns, and for people who want to satiate themselves with more Golarion lore.
I wouldn’t classify this book as a must-have for players, because it certainly won’t appeal to everyone. But if you’re going to be diving into some PFS scenarios, then this may be the starting point for building all of your future characters.
Just considering the content alone, the Lost Omens Pathfinder Society Guide solidifies itself alongside the rest of the Lost Omens supplements. Its breadth of coverage is as wide as it is deep, and even the most dedicated Golarion historian will discover new secrets within its pages.
Discloser: Nerds on Earth was provided a PDF copy of the Lost Omens Pathfinder Society Guide in exchange for an honest review.