As much as I love the Pathfinder Campaign Setting, I have had a recurring criticism of many of the books describing the world. While I generally come away from the books knowing a great deal about what it’s like to adventure in the particular land being described, I often don’t know much about what it’s like to live there. Of course, the adventuring part is very important. The game is all about adventuring and the player characters themselves are generally referred to as adventurers. As such, the adventuring part is actually crucial.
Actual game play spends less time on day-to-day living. In fact, these sorts of things are often skimmed over. If they weren’t, it would take interminably long to play any campaign. For this reason, people might be inclined to think that information on what day-to-day life is like in the world would be less important—maybe even unimportant—in a setting book. I argue quite differently. While these are background details, they are also the kinds of details that bring a setting alive. Small details like the food the characters have for dinner, the kinds of clothes locals wear, or the customs they have for greeting strangers help to paint a picture of where all these adventures take place. They allow the players to better empathise with the world, and that in turn makes it all the more satisfying to the same players when their characters help to save that world and the people in it.
Yet Pathfinder Campaign Setting books often skimp on these details of daily life. An example I’ve commented on before is that several books contain the information that Prophets of Kalistrade have strict dietary restrictions, yet none of these books ever say what the restrictions actually are. So when a book comes along that breaks with this mould, I’m quick to praise and draw attention to it. Qadira, Jewel of the East by Jessica Price is such a book.