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It’s a Wonderful World! Pathfinder Lost Omens: Tian Xia World Guide Reviewed

Title: Pathfinder Lost Omens – Tian Xia World Guide

Publisher: Paizo Inc

Authors: Eren Ahn, Jeremy Blum, Alyx Bui, James Case, Banana Chan, Connie Chang, Rick Chia, Hans Chun, Theta Chun, Hiromi Cota, Dana Ebert, Basheer Ghouse, John Godek III, Sen H.H.S., Joan Hong, Michelle Jones, Joshua Kim, Daniel Kwan, Dash Kwiatkowski, Jacky Leung, Jesse J. Leung, Monte Lin, Jessie “Aki” Lo, Luis Loza, Adam Ma, Liane Merciel, Ashley Moni, Kevin Thien Vu Long Nguyen, Andrew Quon, Danita Rambo, Kyra Arsenault Rivera, Christopher Rondeau, Joaquin Kyle “Makapatag” Saavedra, Kienna Shaw, Philip Shen, Tan Shao Han, Mari Tokuda, Ruvaid Virk, Viditya Voleti, Grady Wang, Emma Yasui, and Jay Zhang

Artists: Ekaterina Gordeeva, Mylene Bertrand, Zach Causey, Alberto Dal Lago, Nicholas DeLuca, Gunship Revolution (Mico Dimagiba, Patsy Lascano, Adelijah Ocampo, Luisa Odulio, Hinchel Or, and Brian Valeza), Sammy Khalid, Roman Kierszenbaum, Chris L. Kimball, Robert Lazzaretti, Vira Linevych, Mayra Luna, Lucas Villalva Machado, Paulo Magalhães, Damien Mammoliti, Alexander Nanitchkov, Ilina Naydenova, Arthur Oliveira, Nicholas Phillips, Sandra Posada, Maichol Quinto, Riccardo Rullo, Luis Salas Lastra, Kevin Sardinha, Riley Spalding, Carl Springer, and Sam White

Year: 2024

Genre: World guide for the Pathfinder roleplaying game featuring the land and peoples of Tian Xia

Pages: 304 pages

MSRP: Hardcover $79.99 or $29.99 in PDF

Dragons, nagaji, tengu, and spirits wait to welcome readers to the land in the Tian Xia World Guide, an immersive and engaging introduction perfect for GMs and players alike.

One of the biggest challenges with a sourcebook so clearly tied to real world cultures is the issue of thoughtful takeoff rather than clumsy caricature. Tian Xia sidesteps this by bringing in a writing team primarily composed of Asian authors. Bypassing a western Orientalist gaze, the book instead feel like a fresh perspective with a rich and distinct appreciation for the people, traditions, and countries that served as its inspiration. Likewise, the writing team also encourages players to be mindful of their own decisions, reminding them to “play a person first and a culture second” and to bring a “willingness to learn” to the table.

While sensitivity remains a hot topic in the world of media, it’s wonderful to see Paizo continue to demonstrate its commitment to making tabletop gaming a place everyone can see themselves represented.

The world of Tian Xia feels appropriately expansive, opening with a comprehensive history that remains eminently readable even as it imparts thousands of years of backstory. This opener pulls double duty, not only establishing the setting’s history but demonstrating the ways in which Tian Xia’s unique denizens interact and how it differs from most other settings. For those familiar with east Asian mythology, much of this will feel familiar, but for those who have never been exposed, it’s a concrete demonstration of why dragons aren’t just slain – at least, not without consequence.

From there, it’s onto the Imperial Dragons, factions, religions, and philosophies before diving into the regions themselves.

Tian Xia is information dense and it’s a credit to both the writers and the designers that it never feels overwhelming. Each region’s opening page contains an at-a-glance summary of key details including peoples, languages, religions, and resources, among others. While it will take multiple readings to fully appreciate the depth of the worldbuilding and variety of story hooks, even a first pass is enough to ignite the imagination of even newbie GMs.

One particular strength of these profiles is the interplay of geography and history, past and present in shaping the modern day realities in which players operate. It’s a strong grounding touch and emphasizes the idea that, despite the fantastical trappings, Tian Xia’s people must contend with the same forces as a denizen of any other continent.

While the writing deserves no shortage of praise, the art is equally merit-worthy. With a clear mix of Asian influences, the locations, races, and NPCs introduced throughout the book are beautifully rendered and possess a real flair.

Pathfinder setting books set a high bar, perfectly demonstrating how to merge worldbuilding with practical, play-oriented information. The Tian Xia World Guide continues this tradition of excellence; by drawing from a rich and diverse pool of lived experience, the authors have created a world that is wholly unique while remaining believable and grounded. The Tian Xia World Guide is a no-brainer not only for Pathfinder fans looking to expand their knowledge of the setting, but also for those interesting in compelling, “Own Voices” storytelling in the tabletop world.

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    It’s a Wonderful World! Pathfinder Lost Omens: Tian Xia World Guide Reviewed

    Pathfinder knocks it out of the park once again with the Tian Xia World Guide, delivering a compelling Asian-inspired setting rooted in Own Voices storytelling. This is an absolute must own if you're running Pathfinder and have even the slightest interest in including the people and lands of Tian Xia.
    10
    10
    Fantastic

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