The breadth and scale of the land of Golarion is truly awe-inspiring, but a certain region stands out among all others. It is a region with floating sky citadels, wastelands swirling with reality-altering arcane storms, a kingdom where the undead rule. A region where a paradise thrives in a desert, overseen by golems and stewarded by fleshcrafted constructs, and an island nation that have built alliances with genies while vigilant of the corrupting influence of the asura. While this land is in a state of relative peace, that very stability threatens to break every day, be it through the actions of self-interested officials, local tensions boiling over, or old things returning to reassert their command. And it is a land packed with storytelling possibilities for your adventuring party. This is Pathfinder Lost Omens: Impossible Lands.
What is Pathfinder Lost Omens: Impossible Lands?
Pathfinder Lost Omens: Impossible Lands is a new setting book for Pathfinder Second Edition. It is a 346-page supplement containing in-depth information about the lands of Nex, Geb, Alkenstar, Bhopan, and Jalmeray. This includes new named characters, local pantheons of gods, and bestiary entries. The book also contains several new player ancestry options.
The book is broken up into several sections. These sections detail the history of the Impossible Lands, including major world events as well as political alliances and trade routes. Each region mentioned above has its own dedicated chapter, describing that region's culture as well as its troubles. The second half of the book is dedicated to unique monsters, magical items, and more detail about the new player options.
What new worldbuilding material is in Pathfinder Lost Omens: Impossible Lands?
Some Pathfinder veterans might already be familiar with at least one part of the Impossible Lands. Those who have played the Blood Lords adventure path might be familiar with the undead nation of Geb and its unique organization of necromancers and zombies. Pathfinder Lost Omens: Impossible Lands fleshes this world out even further, even going into detail about the war that raged between the nation's founder – the necromancer Geb – and the wizard king Nex. In fact, there's an in-depth history about the foundations of the land before these two iconic characters made their mark, such as the rule of the Fiend Pharoah Hetshepsu and an uprising led by the Queen of Ebon Feathers. If you wanted to know more about Geb and its neighbors due to the small glimpse you got, this book will provide that and more.
What is interesting are the regions surrounding Geb. The land of Nex is an opulent magical metropolis, which is fitting given its founder is one of the greatest spellcasters in the lore of Pathfinder. While the land does have some lingering issues from older conflicts with the land of the undead like polluted waters and corrupted land, Nex's regions are bursting with exotic sights and wondrous things.
The city of Quantium is a beautiful achievement of marble walls and gorgeous architecture, strung together with powerful magic and fantastical creatures. It would be a perfect place of study if not for the aforementioned corruption. Not to mention there are plenty of opportunities for stories of intrigue and drama. There is The Breath, the order of assassins that take out dissenting voices in positions of power, a group of djinn aristocrats, a group of Arclords who attempt to keep Nex's vision of his kingdom alive in his mysterious absence, and an organization that take on the appearance of the wizard king's enemies and claim to speak on his behalf.
This isn't even getting into detail of Nex's other notable areas. The military operations of Ecanus with its fleshwork constructs, arcane golems, and surprisingly tolerant culture of drow and other subterranean peoples. The alchemical and botanical breakthroughs by Oenopion built on a large intelligent ooze hive mind formed from the runoff. An ooze hive mind that is actively seeking the city's downfall. For all of its opulence and storied history, not all is right in Nex, making it a potent bed for adventures.
Then there is the volatile spaces between these two major kingdoms. The world of Pathfinder is notable for how prominent firearms and more contemporary weaponry (cannons, explosives, etc.) are within a fantasy world. Pathfinder Lost Omens: Impossible Lands highlights the reasons behind this creation with the land of Alkenstar. Simply put, they were trapped between a rock and a hard place. Caught between two major powers – Geb and Nex – as well as living in the Mana Wastes: a desert hellscape racked with reality-altering magic storms and mutated monstrosities. Magic was dangerous and volatile, so they developed guns and siege weapons as a means of defense.
As for the Mana Wastes themselves, they have plenty of potential for Mad Max-esque adventures as well. The book even contains rules for various arcane mutations to tweak or change existing monster statblocks; perfect for GMs that want to throw curveballs at their players. It must be noted that the book does discourage ableist or possibly bigoted examples of mutation. The rule of thumb is keep any physical changes fantastical: a second mouth on the torso, a squidlike tendril protruding from the back, etc., instead of something based in modern science.
As for new gods and monsters, Pathfinder Lost Omens: Impossible Lands, has plenty of intrigue. Notable entries of gods include various Hindu-inspired characters like the multi-limbed two-faced Chamidu, guardian of the wild, and Diomazul the serpent warrior god with blades that can cut through the very timelines of his enemies. There's also a new entry on one of the major gods of Pathfinder. Arazni, now the Lich Queen of Geb, has her own entry, complete with all of the complex angst that comes with her backstory tied to other key figures in the lore.
As for challenges, there are plenty. In addition to new mutation rules for Mana Wastes encounters, there are Benthic Reavers, 50-foot tall monstrosities of bone, as well as Clockwork Cannoneers, complex siege weapons constructed by Alkenstar for defense, and the nightmarish concept of Gunpowder Oozes. There are also several entries on Fleshforged if you want to introduce some body horror to your encounters. A personal highlight is the Ratajin, highly intelligent single-minded beings descended from those with curses in their blood. Curiously enough, they are Chaotic Good by nature, their entry even mentions they can be adventurers, but they are not listed as a playable Ancestry.
What new player options are in Pathfinder Lost Omens: Impossible Lands?
Player options in Pathfinder Lost Omens: Impossible Lands are pretty solid. There's an alternate ancestry option for Tieflings called the Faultspawn. Instead of their heritage coming from Hell, the Faultspawn's parentage are tied to the rakshasa and asura. As for new entries there are the Fleshwarp, people who have had their bodies altered by magical means, Geniekin, sentient plantpeople known as the Ghoran, and two different kind of snakepeople: the Nagaji and the Vishkanya. I do have a special place in my heart however for the Vanara, a race of intelligent monkey people – perfect for those that want to do their best Sun Wukong impression – and the Kashirishi: a group of psychic emotionally sensitive rhino people.
Should I buy Pathfinder Lost Omens: Impossible Lands
Overall, I highly recommend Pathfinder Lost Omens: Impossible Lands. It is packed with creative worldbuilding and texture as well as being the most unique entry in the world of Pathfinder by far. Not only does it give GMs the tools they need for original stories, it also provides some new material for players that want characters to feel like they grew up in this part of Golarion. If anything I have written above has caught your attention, pick this book up immediately. You will find plenty to be intrigued by and plenty more.
The copy of Pathfinder Lost Omens: Impossible Lands used in this review was provided by Paizo.