Chapter 1: Core Deities
The first two hundred or so pages of Inner Sea Gods is about expanding upon each of the deities to provide roleplay fodder for religious characters. The first chapter details each of the core deities, the same ones featured in the Player's Handbook in a limited sense. That's 20 deities, some good, some evil, some neutral. Ranging from Iomedae the goddess of honor, justice, and valor to Calistria the goddess of lust, revenge and trickery. From Pharasma the goddess of birth, death, and fate to Asmodeus the god of contracts, slavery, and tyranny.
Each of these entries provides the same information found in the Player's Handbook along with new mechanical information unique to the three new prestige classes found in this book, but that's not the cool part. Each entry includes an overview of the deity, the organization of their church, the roles of their priests, how a worshiper of such a deity might react to the adventuring life, clothing, rites, holidays, holy texts, common sayings, and more. Each entry also includes several beautiful illustrations depicting the deity's appearance (or approximate rendition) along with what a typical worshiper may appear to look like.
Each deity's entry is beautifully crafted, with just enough information and ideas to wet your imagination's appetite without being overwhelming. Reading these entries, I began crafting a character who worships Gozreh, the dual-natured god/goddess of nature, the sea, and the weather or wondering how a group of players who react to the horrors that go on inside the church of Lamashtu the mother of monsters.
If you're looking for detailed deities for either your home campaign or more information to flesh out Golarion, this chapter on its own makes the book worth it.
Chapter 2: Other Deities
Not interested in one of the core deities? Inner Sea Gods includes a whole host of minor deities, dead gods, demigods, and powerful outsiders. Want to play a Cleric of Cthulhu? Well, there's a mention of him in here and how such a cleric might feature into Golarion society. Chapter 2 also dives into race specific deities for dwarves, elves, gnomes, and even monsters races. These entries aren't more than a few sentences, but they provide enough context and detail to allow a player to expand upon the ideas from there.
Chapter 3: Options
Chapter 3 is where the mechanics of the RPG plug back in. Most prominently, Chapter 3 introduces three new prestige classes for religious characters. The first is the Evangelist, a skilled-based worshiper that could come from any class before assuming their new role. In fact, the Evangelist includes a cool, new ability called “Aligned Class” that allows certain abilities to carry over from their previous class. While on the surface designed to be a social character, the skill-based abilities are broad enough I could see a cool sage character or a religious rogue being created from this. The second new prestige class, the Exalted, is specifically for divine spellcasters and is set up to be a great option for high-level Clerics. The third, the Sentinel, is for martial characters, designed to emphasize the use of a deity's favored weapon.
What's even cooler about each of these prestige classes is how they closely tie back to the core deities. A set of unique, special abilities depend on exactly which deity the character worships. These abilities are powerful and cool but require a sacrifice on the character's part, the performing of obediences that vary depending on the deity or risk losing access to their prestige class abilities. For GMs who have a bit more RP in their games, this is a great balance and a fun way to show religion in action.
For those not interested in veering towards a new prestige class, Inner Sea Gods includes an extensive list of feats. They're all tied into various religions but are for far more than Clerics. A few of my favorites include “Drunken Brawler” which is tied into Cayden Cailean the god of alcohol, bravery, and freedom, which encourages characters to imbibe a bit before going into a fight. There are also a lot of cool feats tied into archery for the god Erastil of which hunting is one of his focuses. “Savior's Arrow” finally solves that pesky problem of clerics not being able to heal at a range. For a worshiper of Erastil, now it's possible to launch cure spells.
Traits, subdomains, and spells receive a similar treatment featuring pages and pages of new options for religious characters that, if I'm not careful, I could go on and on about.
While gear receives the same detailed treatment, Inner Sea Gods does introduce a unique item for religious characters' altars. Altars aren't going to be a part of an adventuring character's gear list, but at a place of worship they have potent powers they grant to those who prayer at them. An altar of Cayden Cailean, for example, provides a bonus against fear and poison effects, fitting with his domains over alcohol and bravery. These new items provide a great means for GMs to explore the religions, and I could see someone having a lot of fun using these as a way to mechanically represent a character who is exploring religions and shopping around for a deity.
Chapter 4: Servitors
Gods rarely appear directly before their followers, but each deity possesses servitors, powerful creatures that can appear in their stead. Some of these are broad terms for servants while others are specifically named and detailed, such as each deity's herald, their primary mouthpiece if a mortal seeks an audience with them.
And, go figure, a god's servant is hella tough. While each servant fills only an entire page, little of this is details of their personality or the way they operate (although some of this can be found back in Chapter 1). Instead, these are walls of stats perfect for a GM wishing to set a high-level campaign largely in exploring the outer planes and visiting the realms of deities or engaging in warfare between religions.
Personally, I found this section to be incredibly dry and not as useful as the others for the majority of campaigns, but if you really needed to know the stats for The First Blade of the god of war, for example, then he's there for your player-slaughtering use.
For anyone who's ever thought about adding extra depth to their roleplay of a religious character or is looking for a few more ways to mechanically represent their devotion to a particular faith, this book is a must buy.
Five Unexpected Miracles out of Five