Review: Varisia, Birthplace of Legends

PZO9425_500It’s not exactly a new product, but it’s one that I have referred to extensively in my Rise of the Runelords campaign, so I thought I would write a quick review.

As part of the Pathfinder Player Companion line, Varisia, Birthplace of Legends is limited to the 32-page format used by all the products in this line. Nevertheless, it manages to pack quite a bit of content into those few pages.

As a GM, I have found this book extremely useful in preparing NPCs and general flavour for my Varisia-based campaign. Since there is no Campaign Setting book that covers Varisia as a whole (and I don’t really expect there to be one in the future), this is the next best thing to get a good overview of the types of people who live in the region.

The inner front cover provides a map of Shoanti territories, as well as the important totems, domains and oracle mysteries that are relevant to to each of the clans. There are two more pages later on that offer some names, traits and typical roles of the Shoanti people. These are invaluable if you want to play a Shoanti character, or if you want your PCs to interact with the Shoanti people. There are also a couple of pages detailing the native Varisian people, which are similarly useful for populating the region.

There are a couple of new feats and archetypes, with Thunder and Fang feat and the Thundercaller bard archetype really standing out to me as interesting and flavourful options. There is also a quick overview of arcane schools and major religions in Varisia, as well as region-specific equipment.

The two centre pages contain a rather cool-looking stylised map of Varisia. Perhaps the most useful feature of this map is the travel distances between the various towns, information which is handy for PCs and GMs alike. The inside back cover shows Varisian trade routes, and also has a useful distance and travel time table between the major settlements in the region.

The second half of the book briefly details the major settlements of Varisia, giving stats of the settlement, some traits for PCs who want to originate there, and some roles describing local characters. There are four pages at the back of the book listing adventure paths that take place in Varisia, with some traits for each, plus a brief player’s guide for the Shattered Star adventure path. These pages are a bit strange, and seem at first like advertising, but they are actually mostly made up of campaign-specific traits, so they make sense in a player companion for the region.

This book also looks good, with great cover art and some really nice interior pieces. I recommend Varisia, Birthplace of Legends for anyone spending significant time in the region.

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