Lost Omens: The Grand Bazaar marks the 8th entry in the Lost Omens line for Pathfinder Second Edition (PF2). As these are quarterly releases, we are TWO YEARS into Lost Omens for Pathfinder 2E, and I remain impressed with each book that comes out.
Grand Bazaar is a unique title because unlike the previous books, this one doesn’t feature a specific region or broad topic like, oh I don’t know, the world. Instead, the book is all about the most popular market in Golarion, right in the heart of the Coin District in Absalom.
At this point, I’m not going to keep blasting you, the reader, with links to all of the other Lost Omens reviews. Instead, you can check out this singular link that shows the Lost Omens reviews in one place. Yay for efficiencies!
For all you Agents of SHIELD fans, the Grand Bazaar is like Tahiti – it’s a magical place! There’s something for everybody to find in the concentric rows of tents and shops that makes this the premiere destination for shopping aficionados everywhere. Where you’re looking for powerful magic items, long-forgotten relics, or delightful toys, the Grand Bazaar has whatever you need.
Let’s get into the details of the book!
Lost Omens The Grand Bazaar: Who It’s For
I’m going get straight to the point with this one – the Lost Omens: Grand Bazaar book is primarily geared towards Gamemasters. Or at least, that’s the way that it’s presented. So much of the book is describing specific shops and their proprietors that it seems easy to get lost in the text.
However, I will say that as you start getting into the finer points, like what these shops offer for sale, you begin to appeal to player and
Gamemaster alike. There are SO many items that you look at and see an entire character concept built around them. Not to mention the armor, weapons, and other combat goodies. I’d compare the book to the old Sears holiday catalog. The only difference is that I won’t take a giant marker and circle all the things that I want.
As far as Gamemasters go, the whole point of Lost Omens: Grand Bazaar is to give you plug-and-play shops that you can place anywhere in your campaign. That’s right; these aren’t just for Absalom! There are so many good ideas that I wouldn’t restrict yourself by waiting for your party to head on over to the City in the Center of the World. Especially if you’re dealing in a homebrew environment.
If the juicy details on the shops isn’t enough for you, consider taking a peek at the shop owners. When listed, the shop owners have a nice background for you to read about, which you can certain repurpose for your own characters too. I encourage you to especially take a look at Tesyovensku’s story on page 94, which explains their connection to skymetals.
Lost Omens: Grand Bazaar also opens the doors on a wide variety of player options. For one, there is an entire shop completely dedicated to assistive items, like wheelchairs, crutches, prostheses, corrective lenses, and more. Paizo has made a lot of great strides in making their content with more representation and diversity, and these rulesets take that a step further. I’m very happy to see this, especially since it helps people feel more comfortable at the table.
Beyond the bevvy of magical items and gear, players will also find some additional options for character building. There is one new Ancestry, the Poppet, which is basically a magical construct typically resembling a stuffed puppet. If you’ve been wanting to play as Sackboy, now is your chance!
There are also three new archetypes in the book: Wrestler, Spell Trickster, and Captivator. I especially like the Captivator dedication, and how it fits in with the idea of salespeople in the Grand Bazaar. This dedication enhances your Charm abilities and increases the intensity of certain illusion and enchantment spells. It’s great for those hard-to-crack social encounters.
Overall, there are four full pages, with two columns each, that list out all of the items that you can find in the book. It’s an amazing list! And, it’s not like all of these items are geared towards high-level parties. Although many of them are, there are plenty of items in the sub-200gp category that could impact your adventures right out of the gate.
Lost Omens The Grand Bazaar: The Best Parts
Now let’s take a look at my top three takeaways from Lost Omens: The Grand Bazaar. These are things that caught my eye when reading through the book, and the things I’m most excited to bring to the table.
Back Alley Shops
I mentioned earlier that the content that really gets my jazzed as a Gamemaster is the ability to just pull something from one place and drop it right into the campaign on the fly. The Back Alley Shops section of the book offers 28 quick shop ideas that you can seamlessly incorporate into any adventure that you’re running.
With only a paragraph or two about each location, you’d think that you couldn’t possibly get enough information for it to be useful. But I appreciate the shortform. For one, it suits itself to reading quickly so that you get the gist while players are roleplaying or discussing. It’s digestible and gives you the necessary framework to build around. Oftentimes that’s where I struggle as a Gamemaster; I just need somebody to hand me a starting prompt and let me improv from there.
My favorites of this section are:
- Re:Freshments – When you want a watering hole that isn’t your standard run-of-the-mill wooden tavern, turn to Dilyn Willers and her menu of specialty drinks.
- No Left Feet – This isn’t really a shop, but having a couatl teach dance lessons while floating in the air is such an awesome image that it immediately makes me want to have Jacinato as a recurring NPC.
- Unlimited Skewers – In a nutshell, this is a hibachi restaurant that specializes in skewers.
The Rune Room
Besides having a multitude of runes to choose from, including a Dragon’s Breath rune for your shield, The Rune Room’s background makes it an instant hit for my table. The entry itself includes several hooks that could easily weave it into your campaign if your party is looking for work.
For example, the proprietor, Rakuskuk, has an immense fear of witches, but a lot of his leads and rune work requires working alongside them. Let me point out that being afraid of witches is such a broad statement; witches aren’t always those stereotypical old reclusive women. They come from all walks of life and aren’t inherently evil or anything like that. Rakuskuk…get your act together!
Anyways, you might send the party to help broker a deal to gain information on one of the lost harrow suits or to help gather ingredients needed for Rakuskuk’s runes. Who knows what dangers the party might encounter while doing so?
The entire section titled ‘Tempting Fate’ is filled with plot hooks, and really shows how much effort and creativity went into this book. Paizo could have just listed a bunch of items, commissioned some art, and called it good. But they didn’t. Instead, they really fleshed out their locations and made the Grand Bazaar feel like a world that’s actually lived in.
And I think that’s the defining point of the book and what makes it special. This isn’t your average tabletop supplement with a bunch of shops. There’s emotion and flavor behind every decision. They fit perfectly within the Golarion mythos because of the intention behind the design.
The Poppet Ancestry is something that I never knew that I wanted until I read about it. I’ve never really been drawn to playing a Warforged or a construct character, but somehow converting the ‘metal robot’ trope into a stuffed ‘animal’ is just what the doctor ordered.
The main point of emphasis of a poppet character is that they are curious. Unless they’ve been around for awhile, they likely don’t have the same amount of experiences that other people might acquire through the process of growing up and maturing. Everything tends to be a mystery to them, and they’re driven by discovery. At the same time, poppets typically want to help others, which gives them buy-in to adventuring parties.
There are a lot of possibilities with Poppets. You could have another party member be their creator, which adds a ton of great roleplay opportunity. Or, maybe they’re on a ticking clock and want to have the most impact on the world during their short lifespan. The abilities and Feat choices offered are just FUN. You might be able to speak with inanimate objects or be able to restitch and fix things. They even have an image of a windup poppet that’s a little knight with a key in the back. I love it!
Lost Omens The Grand Bazaar: Parting Thoughts
Of all the Lost Omens entries, The Grand Bazaar might be the best all-around book for Gamemasters and Players. It serves as a directory for some cool items, but it also gives Gamemasters a ton of flavor and inspiration when it comes to adding roleplay and depth to shopping excursions. A lot of that has previously taken place ‘off air’ at my tables. With the Grand Bazaar in tow, however, I think that I’ll start to make those shopping trips more meaningful.
So grab your poppets and head into your pocket gala – the Grand Bazaar is in town and everyone’s invited!
[Disclosure: Nerds on Earth was provided a copy of the Lost Omens: The Grand Bazzar from Paizo in exchange for an honest review.]