Dwarves are one of the most ubiquitous peoples in all of fantasy literature. Whether they are in Lord of the Rings, Dragon Age, or World of Warcraft, they are an enduring staple of the genre. Now, Pathfinder Lost Omens: Highhelm brings that sense of storied, ancient history to the world of Golarion. And It is essential if you want to treat that history with reverence.
What is Pathfinder Lost Omens: Highhelm?
Pathfinder Lost Omens: Highhelm is a new setting book for Pathfinder Second Edition. It is a 135-page tome containing in-depth information about Highhelm, the titular Sky Citadel found in Golarion.
This information includes extensive history about the dwarven rulers, their systems of governance, the different economic and trade relationships with other nations in the setting, and the different ways of life found within this kingdom.
It also provides some new creature statblocks, some new magic items, and some new ancestry options.
What new worldbuilding material is in Pathfinder Lost Omens: Highhelm?
If you ever wanted a deep dive into the foundational lore of dwarves in Pathfinder, you will be well-served by Pathfinder Lost Omens: Highhelm.
The book covers various staples of dwarven history, including the origins for the Quest for the Sky, and the rise of the King of the Sky Taargick.
And it continues Paizo's iconic reputation of dense, intricate worldbuilding. The history of Highhelm goes back thousands of years, conveniently broken up into several distinct ages.
The foundation and times of turmoil during Earthfall. The Gilded Era where Highhelm established itself as a world power. The Lonesome Era, whose history was partially destroyed due to overwhelming orc attack.
There was even a second dark age where the rule of Highhelm fell under the fealty of a red dragon, then into an evil theocracy, then back to a traditional system after a combination of war and disease.
For those that have experienced the Sky King's Tomb adventure path, this book provides a lot of fascinating context and information to that story.
That's just the history depicted in Pathfinder Lost Omens: Highhelm. The titular city itself is illustrated in wonderful detail. Little things like dwarves growing a special lichen that generates oxygen, or the importance of Glory Ribbons, all help sell this believability.
Special mention must be given to Highhelm's various customs regarding trade and commerce. While the book does maintain the trope that dwarves take precious time to make sure everything is perfect, there's also a system in place for marking certain goods associated with various clans.
Of course, this doesn't mean there isn't a criminal underworld present; just that they need to be extra cautious.
The book also continues Paizo's introduction of diverse representation. In addition to extensive information on the 12 major dwarven clans, Highhelm also details several notable figures that are agender, genderfluid, and nonbinary. Characters like Clanleaders Hannihar Ironfist, Gondan Breakiron, and Geselm Oriddus.
Considering how important tradition is to dwarven culture, the presence of these characters in such positions speaks volumes.
It must also be noted that there are some nondwarven figures of importance as well. Lylar Rubellym is an embassador from Kyonin that is deeply fascinated by the dwarven culture. A fascination that the locals reciprocate. It's a far cry from the standard fantasy faire of dwarves and elves being isolated and hostile to outsiders, and it works here.
In fact, that dominantly dwarven culture is the biggest draw of this book. Not only does it help enrich dwarves for both players and NPCs, there's a certain anthropological appeal to being a part of a city from a culture not your own. That distinct “Highhelm Mindset” comes across beautifully.
Yet, all of that is just the first chapter of Pathfinder Lost Omens: Highhelm. The second chapter of the book is a gazetteer that digs into how Highhelm can be used in a Pathfinder campaign. The book covers every single level of the mountain, complete with maps and layouts.
From the The Depths to Stonebreach to King's Heart all the way up to King's Crown, every level is packed with detail. There's even a section about the Five Kings Mountain, the mountain range that houses Highhelm, if your players venture to the surface.
In other words, Pathfinder Lost Omens: Highhelm is essential for GMs that want to run a campaign centered on the dwarves of Golarion.
What new player options are there in Pathfinder Lost Omens: Highhelm?
If you're wondering what your PCs can look forward to using in Pathfinder Lost Omens: Highhelm, the book has you covered.
First, there are new ancestry options for dwarf PCs. If your dwarf is local to Highhelm, you gain access to several new ancestry feats. The most versatile of these is Clan Lore gives you bonuses to various skills and recounting certain lore depending on what clan you are a part of.
There is also a new dwarven heritage, Forge-Blessed Dwarf, which lets you cast a certain 1st-level cleric spell innately thanks to a divine blessing by the dwarven gods.
Dwarven Gods In Pathfinder Lost Omens: Highhelm
On the topic of gods, Pathfinder Lost Omens: Highhelm marks a first. While many Golarion scholars may be familiar with Torag, not many dwarven gods are known. This book corrects that oversight with an entire pantheon.
These gods include Angradd The Forge-Fire, a lawful good god of tradition, war, and fire. Bolka, the goddess of committed relationships, marriage, and passion. Dranngvit, the god of debt, pursuit, and vengeance. And, Grundinnar The Peacemaker, god of friendship, family, and truth.
The introduction of these gods have been a long time coming; and they don't disappoint.
Archetypes And Magic In Pathfinder Lost Omens: Highhelm
For those that enjoy martial classes, there is the new Stalwart Defender archetype. The archetype contains multiple feats designed to make your character feel like a living tank.
As for magic items, there are plenty to get your hands on. There are pragmatic pieces of armor like the Everair Mask or the Highhelm War Shield.
There are forge gifts which range from the Creative Spark, which lefts you summon a fire wisp to assist with blacksmithing, and Molten Crucible which lets you change the metallic properties of weapons and armor.
New Creature Stat Blocks in Pathfinder Lost Omens: Highhelm
Finally, Pathfinder Lost Omens: Highhelm does include some brand new creature statblocks.
Some of these statblocks include creatures that can be befriended and used as mounts like the Augdunar or the Draft Lizard. Others are more hostile like the cavern-dwelling Graul or the aggressive Pagulin.
Arguably the most frightening creature is The Bloodstorm. It is a sentient colony of insects and parasites that dwells somewhere in Highhelm's depths....
Should I Buy Pathfinder Lost Omens: Highhhelm?
If you love dwarves and dwarven culture, then chances are you already own Pathfinder Lost Omens: Highhelm. If you've always wanted to understand the appeal of dwarves in fantasy, then pick this book up immediately.
The copy of Pathfinder Lost Omens: Highhelm used in this review was provided by Paizo Inc. All photos were taken by the reviewer over the course of the review.