Product Review: Inner Sea Gods

Surprise! Product review! This one won’t count against the normal weekly allotment of Everyman Gaming articles; I just really wanted to review this product.

Now, ONWARD!

Inner Sea Gods

Inner Sea Gods is a massive textbook of a game guide that focuses on deities worshipped in the Inner Sea region of Paizo’s campaign setting. The book, as its name suggests, focuses on everything divine and godly: it’s the Deities and Demigods of Pathfinder. Some people have been peeved at the PDF cost of this book, so does the hefty price tag justify the content? Let’s take a gander and see!

Crunch (Game Mechanics)

Inner Sea Gods actually has a surprising amount of game content in it. There are roughly eight pages of feats, three new prestige classes, and at least one spell per major divine power in the Inner Sea region. Each of the gods also contains a small list of unique powers called obedience’s, which vary by Prestige Class (or lack thereof).

The feats mostly revolve around the Channel Energy ability but there are a wide array of other types of feats in this book as well. Most of the feats are restricted to the followers of a specific god which is honestly an aspect of this book that I don’t like. For example, why do I need to worship a goddess of undeath and gluttony in order to chug potions like candy? There are a couple that really work well, such as an Outer God / Old One feat that allows a divine spellcaster to cast a small number of wizard spells at the cost of her sanity, but most of them just feel needlessly restricted. For example, there’s an awesome feat that really helps to prop up multiclass bards and oracles but it’s restricted to followers of Shelyn. It makes sense why it would be restricted to her, but it’s a perfect example of how the mechanics don’t justify the restriction.

This book sports three new Prestige Class that have powers that vary by deity. Those who own the Book of the Damned: Lords of Madness or Chronicles of the Righteous won’t be surprised: the obedience mechanic returns in the form of Deific Obedience. Every major god in the Inner Sea (the Core 20) has a list of obedience that varies by Prestige Class that becomes increasingly powerful over time. These Prestige Classes also have other abilities with powers that vary by Domain or Alignment as well, making them wonderfully customizable and ripe for expansion in future AP articles or Primer products. Also worth noting is the Evangelist Prestige Class, which amounts to a one-level delay in your base class in exchange for a smattering of minor powers and abilities, which is awesome if you want to play a wizard-priest or a divine rogue. Interestingly enough, there are no archetypes in this book (unless you count a reprint of EVERY CLERIC SUBDOMAIN EVER PRINTED OUTSIDE OF THE CORE RULEBOOK LINE), which is a breath of fresh air.

Finally, there are a bunch of new spells in this book. While many of the spells are restricted based on the caster’s deity, the spell effects themselves make a lot more sense in context than the feats do, I found this to be refreshing after reading the feats section. Overall, the crunch in this section is good, but it isn’t particularly easy to adapt outside of the Golarion campaign setting, which is disappointing. Regardless of where you game, many of the feats have overly restrictive requirements, such as requiring you to be a worshiper of Cayden instead of a worshiper of a deity with the Freedom subdomain. The crunch is good, but the pickiness of it all leads to a 3 Star of 5 rating; many of the options are just okay and the deific restrictions just turn me off from them completely.

Flavor (Lore and Setting Information)

Buy this book. 5 of 5 Stars.

What, that’s not good enough for you? There’s like six pages of content on every one of the Core 20 deities, fantastic artwork on every page, tons of information, deity-specific paladin (and antipaladin) codes of conduct, religion traits for every one of these deities, and information down to the favored COLORS of these deities.

Many people are annoyed at the small shout-outs to less common deities in the setting, such as most demigods and the gods of Tian Xia. (I was personally offended when Daikitsu was listed under “human gods” and no mention of her being a kitsune was made at all in her article!) But let’s face it, this is a book about INNER SEA gods. We all knew it was about the Core 20, and the wonderful piece of Hastur-Priest artwork coupled with the fact that most divine agents have tons of information on them in the appendix makes this a book an easy 5 Stars of 5 in setting flavor.

Texture (Layout Artwork)

I am very picky about my layout. Paizo never disappoints me, and they certainly haven’t here. The two-page spreads are gorgeous, the tables are gorgeous, and the way the artwork is incorporated onto the pages is gorgeous. The colors are gorgeous. The text dump of deity statistics at the beginning of every page is gorgeous. I absolutely love everything about this book’s texture. Not only is Paizo a master of the art of book-crafting, but they set the bar higher for themselves and for others with every book they publish. Seriously, if you own the Forgotten Realms Faiths and Pantheons book, just put this one next to it. You can almost see Faiths and Pantheons crumpling itself up in shame.

Final Score & Thoughts

Crunch: 3 / 5 Stars
Flavor: 5 / 5 Stars
Texture: 5 / 5 Stars
Final Total: 13/15 Stars, or 4 / 5 Stars

Inner Sea Gods is glorious to read, but its crunch is somewhat lacking. The needless restrictions on many of the feats harken back to my complaints with the Advanced Race Guide; restrictions need to make sense for both mechanical and flavor reasons. If they don’t, the option suffers for it. If you’re looking for deific crunch, this book has some decent stuff for you, especially the Prestige Classes. If you’re a GM, this book is priceless. You need this book to run the Inner Sea because you’ll learn so much more about the religions of the world you’re playing in as well as the gods who stand at the heart of it all. This book deserves every dollar you can throw at it.

Alexander “Alex” Augunas has been playing roleplaying games since 2007, which isn’t nearly as long over 90% of his colleagues. Affectionately called a “budding game designer” by his partner at Radiance House, Alexander is the author of the Pact Magic Unbound series (Radiance House) and a handful of other Third-Party Products. Before founding the Everyman Gaming blog, Alexander gained notoriety for writing the GM’s Guide to Challenging Encounters, which remains accessible to this day. His favorite color is blue, his favorite Pathfinder Race/Class combination is kitsune evangelist, and his favorite Inner Sea God is Iomadae.

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