Pathfinder will focus the next two years of its official releases for the popular tabletop RPG on the East Asian-inspired continent of Tian Xia. Two core rulebooks - one for Game Masters and another for players - will form the backbone of roleplay support and be accompanied by a new horror-themed Adventure Path along with new character options such as trickster tanuki.
Slated for October 2023, Pathfinder’s shift to Tian Xia will start with the Season of Ghosts - a four-part Adventure Path series that will take new characters from conception through level 12. Beginning with The Summer that Never Was, written by Sen H.H.S., groups will start as residents of Willowshore and pursue horror-themed mysteries throughout the rain-drenched summer. The following three chapters - Let the Leaves Fall, With No Breath to Cry and To Bloom below the Web - comprise the rest of a single year spent protecting the village and surrounding region from an emergent supernatural threat.
Two core sourcebooks exploring the continent of Tian Xia will be released sometime in 2024 and provide groups the worldbuilding, rules and resources for constructing their own campaigns. The Lost Omens Tian Xia World Guide will reportedly be packed to the gills with history, cultural background, legends and other information that fills in a part of Pathfinder’s world that was previously only roughly sketched. Interestingly, publisher Paizo notes in the announcement blog post that it will also discuss the outcomes of previously published adventures set in Tian Xia and how that has changed the sociopolitical fabric of the continent in the present day.
The Lost Omens Tian Xia Character Guide, presumably dropping at the same time next year, will be the book most interesting to players as it outlines a big heap of new character options and tips for beginning new roleplay experiences in Tian Xia. Fresh adventurers will be able to choose amongst six new ancestries being added to the standard roster, along with several accompanying backgrounds for tying players to a life outside the current setting of Avistan.
Paizo offered a sneak peek at three of the upcoming ancestries: the Samsarans are enclave-dwelling folks who live in a constant cycle of reincarnation that can access the memories, skills and experiences of past selves. Wayangs are former denizens of the Shadow Plane caught in a diaspora who now practise their rich artisanal culture in Tian Xia. Tanuki will make their first appearance in Pathfinder, allowing players to embody anthropomorphic raccoon dogs with a knack for mischief and the ability to shapeshift into other creatures and inanimate objects.
Tabletop RPGs have a long and often sordid history adapting non-Western cultures as settings. These efforts still exist and too often amount to derivative or outright racist portrayals by teams with little or no representation or cultural consultancy. Paizo seems to be taking special care to avoid these pitfalls by employing dozens of writers, editors, consultants and readers on the team - many of whom with serious bona fides in the industry.
Tian Xia’s sourcebook and adventure path writing team includes Eren Ahn, Jeremy Blum, Alyx Bui, James Case, Banana Chan, Connie Chang, Rick Chia, Hiromi Cota, Hans Chun, Theta Chun, Dana Ebert, Basheer Ghouse, John Godek III, Joan Hong, Sen H.H.S., Michelle Jones, Joshua Kim, Daniel Kwan, Dash Kwiatkowski, Jacky Leung, Jesse J. Leung, Monte Lin, Jessie “Aki” Lo, Adam Ma, Liane Merciel, Ashley Moni, Kevin Thien Vu Long Nguyen, Collette Quach, Andrew Quon, Kyra Arsenault Rivera, Christopher Rondeau, Joaquin Kyle "Makapatag" Saavedra, Shahreena Shahrani, Kienna Shaw, Philip Shen, Tan Shao Han, Mari Tokuda, Ruvaid Virk, Viditya Voleti, Grady Wang, Emma Yasui and Jay Zhang.
More information about the books, adventure path and other releases is slated for the coming months, including 2023’s Paizocon in May. Preorders for Season of Ghosts’ first chapter are open now on Paizo’s official website and are expected to arrive in October.