Lost Omens Highhelm, a recent sourcebook and supplement for Pathfinder Second Edition (PF2), focuses on Highhelm, the mighty Dwarven keep in the Five Kings Mountains that doubles as one of the fabled Sky Citadels!
This book not only fleshes out Highhelm in its entirety, but it also serves as a sourcebook that delves deep into Dwarven lifestyle and culture. By learning the day-to-day life of the residents of Highhelm, you can understand the finer points of why the Dwarves built the Sky Citadels like Highhelm to begin with.
Lost Omens Highhelm features local maps, gear, character options, and much more to take your Dwarves to a higher level. Maybe even… above ground? Oh, and did I mention that a large fold-out map is included?
Let’s charge straight into the details of the book!
Lost Omens Highhelm: Who It’s For
Unless your table is planning on running an intricate homebrew adventure in the bowels of Highhelm, I really see Lost Omens Highhelm as a book that’s fit for Gamemasters and players alike. Dwarves have been a staple in fantasy storytelling and gaming for a long time, and this Lost Omens installment really packs a punch in presenting the familiar in a slightly different light.
Sure, you have a ton of ‘standard’ information about Dwarves, but the Sky Citadels of Golarion – that were already established in Pathfinder 1E – are already a unique spin of their own to traditional Dwarven lore. And, like a lot of the Lost Omens books, the flavor in the side margins is where the creativity really shines.
That being said, if you have any sort of interest in Dwarves or playing Dwarves in Golarion or even in other settings, you’ll find Lost Omens Highhelm to be a sandbox of inspiration on top of being a plug-and-play setting for your own games as well. I’m partial to the King’s Heart area of Highhelm, specifically the Lunar Grotto which reflects the moonlight through gemstone mirrors. It’s very National Treasure-esque from the 2004 hit movie with Nic Cage.
Being able to have some specific NPCs and points of interest not only gives you a copy+paste template for other Pathfinder games, but it also always provides a veritable treasure trove of inspiration for me as a character creator. What kinds of people live or work in these locales? What class might they be? What drives them to succeed or do the things they do?
Lost Omens Highhelm also pairs very well with the Sky King’s Tomb Adventure Path, so if you’re planning on running that as a Gamemaster, add that to the list of reasons why this one might be worth looking into.
Lost Omens Highhelm: The Best Parts
Now it’s time to pick out my three favorite things in Paizo’s Lost Omens Highhelm! These are specific to my tastes, and just know that there is plenty more where this all comes from.
Spy Games (Pg 59)
Of course one of my favorite bits in the book has to do with games! Not only is it canon that board games are all the rage in Highhelm, but specifically there is one type of board that stands out as a clever little dead-drop mechanism for passing messages or information: the Liar’s Board.
The concept is that playing or arranging a game’s pieces in a specific order would trigger a hidden compartment to open up on the board. There could just be a single compartment or many, each triggering off its own conditions. Highly complex messages could be tucked away behind equally complex arrangements of pieces.
What I really like about this is the innocuousness of the entire thing, and how messages can be hidden in plain sight. These boards are said to be very commonplace in Highhelm, so people are aware of their presence. Imagine dishing out loot across the party and coming across a chess board that has some vital information hidden away inside! It would also, of course, be complete with a fail-safe to destroy the information if tampered with.
Defenders of Highhelm (Pgs 106-111)
If you’re looking for character options, these pages are going to be your bread and butter, listing out Feats, lore, Heritages, and more. What’s more is that these options are solely restricted to Dwarves; they may be encouraged as such, but there are plenty of ways you can justify using them on any character.
Warpriest was one of my beloved classes in Pathfinder 1E, so the Stalwart Defender archetype caught my eye immediately. Stalwart Defenders aren’t necessarily Warpriests, but they are absolute tanks on the battlefield. Between grabbing training in medium and heavy armor, they have the ability to gain temporary hit points, become like ‘a wall of stone’, and eventually can even have resistance 10 to all damage.
If you want to play a character that is nearly hewn from the mountain itself, nothing gets me more excited than a Stalwart Defender!
Dux House (Pg 55)
This might seem like an innocuous choice – a Dwarven manor house owned by a Baroness Nicasia Dux of Taldor. Why should we care so much about a random noble’s home? It’s not so much the owner, but the individuals who come visiting the house.
Apparently this house is basically a hotbed of information. Anybody worth their Dwarven salt passes over the threshold into the manor from political figures, merchants, adventurers, and more. There’s a common trope of starting adventures in a tavern, but starting one in the Dux House seems like it could be a playful twist on that idea.
The people that set foot into this house are doers – people who make waves. You know that phrase, ‘if only these walls could talk’? That’s exactly applicable here.
Lost Omens Highhelm: Parting Thoughts
The Lost Omens Highhelm book for Pathfinder Second Edition makes me so happy as a lover of all things Dwarf for decades. From my first Warhammer army to my first tabletop RPG character, Dwarves have always held a special place in my heart. And now there’s plenty more lore, history, and character options to enjoy, courtesy of Paizo!
My weekly gaming group is currently running through a lot of one-shots of other systems, letting everybody have a chance in the driver’s seat of Gamemaster, but after this next one we are going to settle back into a Pathfinder Second Edition campaign. Lost Omens Highhelm has really steered my preparation towards the Dwarves, and I’m super excited to see where things go from here!
[Disclosure: Nerds on Earth was provided a copy of Lost Omens Highhelm from Paizo in exchange for an honest review.]