I’ve been known to rave about the Pathfinder Second Edition (PF2) Lost Omens line on occasion, thanks to the vast richness of the lore contained within the books that Paizo releases.
The latest in the line, Lost Omens: The Mwangi Expanse, delivers what might be the best entry in the Lost Omens series to date.
In case you missed it, I’ve written about every Lost Omens book so far. You can read about the Lost Omens World Guide here, the Lost Omens: Character Guide here, the Lost Omens: Gods & Magic book here, Lost Omens: Pathfinder Society Guide here, Lost Omens: Legends here, and the Lost Omens: Ancestry Guide here. This list is becoming too long for a paragraph format, so I’ll definitely need to change this up in the future.
What’s so great about The Mwangi Expanse book is that it really takes the deepest dive into the region that we’ve ever seen. A lot of the lore, history, and culture contained within the Mwangi Expanse hasn’t really been explored in great detail since Pathfinder Second Edition released. All of the campaign guide content is dated at this point, having been shared via Campaign Settings and the previous Inner Sea World Guide with First Edition.
The Lost Omens World Guide was the first Second Edition book to revisit the area, but with this latest book we finally get a hearty helping of what the Mwangi Expanse is all about.
Lost Omens The Mwangi Expanse: Who It’s For
First of all, if you haven’t checked out the PaizoCon 2021 Keynote Address, I’d highly recommend giving that a watch. The link provided will take you directly to the section of the Address where Erik Mona begins discussing The Mwangi Expanse and what you can expect with the book.
The key takeaway is that Lost Omens: The Mwangi Expanse was a huge perspective shift from the way that the information is presented. In the past, the Mwangi Expanse has always been shown through the lens of an outsider looking in, which isn’t the best way to truly learn about a culture or people.
Outsiders don’t have the same points of view or frame of references to draw reasonable conclusions, and that’s why the Mwangi Expanse has always seemed to be like a jungle or an unexplored wilderness.
Paizo has gone to great lengths to show that the Mwangi Expanse is WAY more than that, and they really strived to show the Mwangi Expanse from the perspective of the people living there. What are the cultures that thrive in this land? Paizo brought in an amazing group of freelancers, many of whom identify as black, to breathe an incredible amount of creativity, sensitivity, and life into this setting.
And it really shows! To me, this book pivots the previous installments of the Mwangi Expanse to showcase the region through a celebration of the people and cultures within. We get that vibe immediately just by looking at the phenomenal art on the cover. Everything in the book is vibrant. The Mwangi Expanse feels so much more than a jungle because of the care and attention that went into describing the people that live there. It’s like they are sharing their world with us and showing us the finer points of living in the area.
This book is for you if you want to expand your horizons on Golarion. It’s true that the Mwangi Expanse is unique; as I keep flipping through the pages I can’t even keep track of how many times that I’ve stopped to say, ‘Wow. That’s really, really cool!” From the various people of the Mwangi, to settlements, to points of interest, to plot hooks, this book has it all. There are countless adventures that you can begin in the Mwangi Expanse.
Players will find six new Ancestries to build characters with:
- Anadi – Sapient spiders
- Conrasu – Shards of cosmic force
- Gnoll – Hyena-like humanoids
- Goloma – Chitinous, many-eyed recluses
- Grippli – Gangly tree frogs
- Shisk – Secretive mountain protectors
Another thing that I appreciate is the blue box on page 7, titled ‘Exciting, not Exotic!’
I’ll paste it so that you can read it for yourself:
That’s exactly what I’d expect from Paizo, and it’s a message that most of us can remember. Cultures may look different than what we’re accustomed to, but it’s up to us to treat others with respect and understanding.
Lost Omens The Mwangi Expanse: The Best Parts
Now let’s take a look at my top three takeaways from Lost Omens: The Mwangi Expanse. These are things that caught my eye when reading through the book, and the things I’m most excited to bring to the table.
The Valley of Ghosts
A part of the Terwa Uploands, the Valley of Ghosts is cloaked in a perpetual fog that can disorientate visitors. Combine this with the sense of spirits floating in the mists and you can see how the valley gets its namesake.
There’s also the legend of the Ghost-Drummer. Think of him as a sort of Pied Piper, who uses his three decorated drums to lead the lost out of the valley and into safety. He’s also said to have control over the dead with his rhythmic, hypnotic beats.
The Mwangi Expanse is filled with these sub-locations that would make great side quests or springboards for full campaigns. Just this section alone could spawn the following hooks:
- Bards from all over Golarion have been talking about the Ghost-Drummers talents, and they are flocking to the Terwa Uplands to learn his mystical techniques.
- The Ghost-Drummer has lost one of his drums. As a result, some of the spirits that he has been keeping at bay are spreading the mists of the valley towards a nearby settlement.
- A large gathering of Cloud Dragons have been seen having a conclave within the Valley of Ghosts. Rarely coming down from the mountains, the occasion must be significant.
For those of you that like campaigns or adventures involving universities of magic and learning, the City-State of Nantambu is the place for you. It is the home of the Magaambya, which is the oldest magical university in the Inner Sea region. The book gives plenty of background on the school itself, offering plenty of avenues to enhance the backstory of your next student PC.
There are also a ton of really interesting points of interest. For example, you could discover the secret behind The Black Crowned Crane, a restaurant bought under mysterious circumstances by a wealthy(?) adventurer. Or the Last Chance Shop, where you can find or store crates of items and no questions are asked. Perhaps you’d want to visit Carnivorous Gardens, filled with plants looking for fresh meat. If you want to read more hooks about strange gardens, check out this article.
As region centered around learning, think of all the people and experiences that you could find in Nantambu!
Dimari-Diji is an arboreal found in Osibu whose first memory is of the Starstone hurtling toward the world during Earthfall. This has given him the title of the Final Tree of the Elder World. I mean, that’s just awesome. He has been around for so long, and you can imagine the amount of knowledge that he’s accumulated during that time. Ancient trees like these are mysterious, even the ones on Earth like the sequoia.
There’s something really interesting about story of an ancient being who has been through a world-changing event. Learning history is important otherwise the world is doomed to repeat it and all that. Couple his experiences with the whispers he hears coming from the Nemesis Well, and you have a character with infinite possibilities.
We get an entire page dedicated to Dimari-Diji, and with good reason. Through the spread of his fungus across the world, he creates a link to his consciousness. Perhaps another apocalyptic event can be stopped before it begins!
Lost Omens The Mwangi Expanse: Parting Thoughts
I honestly say that the Lost Omens: The Mwangi Expanse book is my favorite entry in the Lost Omens line thus far. The stories, histories, and people contained within offer a different perspective to your typical fantasy RPG table. I haven’t played a game that featured the Mwangi Expanse before, but now I feel equipped to be able to tell a wide variety of stories in the region.
As always, Paizo has really outdone themselves with this book. It’s incredibly well-written and detailed, with plenty of ties that bring the whole region together. It’ll help you rethink what you thought you knew about the Mwangi Expanse, presenting it in a refreshing light to showcase the wonder and magnificence of its people and culture. It’s absolutely excellent.
[Disclosure: Nerds on Earth was provided a copy of the Lost Omens: The Mwangi Expanse from Paizo in exchange for an honest review.]