Friday , July 19 2024

Pathfinder Lost Omens: ‘Tian Xia World Guide’ Sourcebook

The Tian Xia World Guide extends the Lost Omens sourcebooks of the Pathfinder role-playing game system into a setting inspired by East and South Asian cultures and legend. TTRPGs have drawn ideas from our world’s largest continent before, but never on so wide a scale and with such depth. As the introduction notes, the “book was overwhelmingly written by people of Asian descent” and “offers a myriad of experiences and ideas.” The result is a book with over 300 pages and a detailed poster map that showcase more than two dozen nations, each unique, adding up to a multifaceted land where any player can find their place.

A Rich History

Tian Xia features a background timeline stretching back millennia. It shows impossibly old events such as a cosmic war between celestials and monstrous qlippoth, empires of munsahir fire-dwarves and reptilian Valashai, and, most importantly, the arrival of dragons to oversee this favored land. While western dragons are frequently devastating monsters, the dragons of Tian Xia fought for order and peace, ultimately resolving the titanic conflicts to allow a new age of civilization by smaller beings such as humans, ysoki ratfolk, blue-skinned samsarans who can remember each of their reincarnations, and many other beings of Pathfinder.

Inspired by the Real World

Although inherently fantasy, the Tian Xia World Guide hints at numerous real-world sources of inspiration, which boosts the flavor all the more for those familiar with Asian cultures. The term “Tian Xia” even comes from Chinese philosophy, a summary of “all things under heaven” used since ancient times. Players might want to journey on horseback through the steppes of Hongal with its Mongol influence, or they might want to try their hands in the gambling parlors of the cosmopolitan trading port Goka, or they may even wish to face kaiju and naga in the deep jungles of the Valash Raj. Even religious bonuses can be found among a myriad of deities recalling Daoism, Hinduism, and Shinto.

The lands of Tian Xia are hardly taken one-for-one directly from real-world nations, however. There is plenty of novel creativity, with clockwork armies poised to attack from their lairs in the Clicking Caverns and ancient evil threatening to bleed through to reality beneath the noble temples of Zi Ha. Every nation has its own essence, whether militaristic or humble or hopeful, making the setting a perfect muse for directing the next leg of a campaign or simply reading to gain new ideas for adventures.

Monsters to Fight

Some of the best flavors of the Tian Xia World Guide come in its bestiary. Campaigns and character-building are wonderful aspects of gaming, but it would not be the same without fantastical beasts to overcome. The bestiary first includes a table of the many Asian-inspired creatures that have already been added to the adventure setting through the Monster Core or other Bestiary books, such as Oni, giant snakes, and Jiang-Shi vampires. Then come new additions, such as the bloodthirsty, four-horned aoyin from Chinese mythology; the terrifying vampiric manananggal from the Philippines; and even giant forms of the real-world orchid mantis. The Tian Xia World Guide shows that the possibilities and perspectives are endless as soon as we open our eyes to them.

About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.

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