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Varisia

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Varisia
Varisia's symbol
(Nation)
Alignment Neutral
Capital None
Ruler None
Government Unaffiliated city-states
Demonym Varisians
Adjective Varisian
Languages Common, Shoanti, Varisian
Religions Abadar, Calistria, Cayden Cailean, Desna, Erastil, Gozreh, Lamashtu, Norgorber, Pharasma, Urgathoa, Zon-Kuthon

Only recently settled by colonists from the Chelaxian Empire, the wild frontier of Varisia[1][2] (pronounced vah-RHIS-ee-ah)[3] is composed of rural communities, independent city-states, cyclopean ruins, and uncharted wilderness.[4]

Contents

History

Thassilonian Empire

Over 10,000 years ago, much of modern-day Varisia was ruled by one of the earliest human civilizations on the Avistani mainland, the Thassilonian Empire. Formed by Azlanti exiles, and ruled by the runelords, wizards of tremendous power who practised sin magic, this nation built enormous stone monuments to its own vanity using giant slave labor.[5] The Thassilonians were also served by the indigenous humans, whom they divided into two castes: the militia and the providers. The militia were trained in martial techniques to serve in the nation's armies, while the providers worked as farmers, craftspeople, miners, and mystics.[6]

Already weakened by corruption and warfare, Thassilon quickly crumbled during the destruction and chaos brought on by Earthfall. The runelords, having foreseen this apocalypse, hid in numerous protected sanctuaries to escape death, entering a deep sleep in which most still lie.[5]

The elven city of Celwynvian in western Varisia's Mierani Forest was also abandoned just before the impact of the Starstone. Its inhabitants, along with all the other elves of the Inner Sea region, left Golarion for their realm of Sovyrian.[7]

Age of Darkness

With the runelords powerless and slumbering, the surviving people of Varisia were left to create their own destiny. The human militia caste broke into clans and eventually developed into the Shoanti people, who began settling all over modern-day Varisia. The provider caste transformed into what are known today as Varisians, from whom the land takes its current name, and took on a more nomadic lifestyle.[6]

It was also during this time that the dwarves emerged on the surface at the completion of their Quest for Sky. They established the Sky Citadel of Janderhoff in the western Mindspin Mountains.[8]

Chelish Expansion

Thousands of years passed, and the land and peoples became more stable; the Shoanti battled giants and orcs, while native Varisians roamed across the region and spread out across Avistan. Varisia itself was largely ignored by the empires of the south because it was simply too far away, while the Jarls of the Lands of the Linnorm Kings preferred to raid further south, as Varisia lacked any major coastal settlements.[5]

This came to an end during the period of rapid Chelish expansion, known as the Everwar. Southern exploration of the largely wilderness region began in 4405 AR, when Chelish colonists entered the land through Bloodsworn Vale. This sparked a war between the settlers and Shoanti that last nearly a century before the Shoanti were pushed back onto the Storval Plateau and other less desirable regions.[9] With the native inhabitants removed from the most fertile land near the coast, Chelish colonists began to arrive in much greater numbers, under the pretense of bringing "civilization and culture" to Varisia.[5]

Death of Aroden

Another upheaval occurred upon the death of Aroden and the civil war which tore apart Cheliax for decades. After the House Thrune took the throne, a large part of the population left Korvosa and founded Magnimar on the southwest corner of Varisia. These two city states have since been vying for resources, though not openly warring, while the Shoanti grow strong, and ready for war in the north.[citation needed]

Geography

Varisia is a vast frontier region in the northwest of Avistan. It stretches from the Steaming Sea in the west to the Mindspin Mountains in the east and from the Kodar Mountains to Conqueror's Bay in the south. The region possesses a variety of environments within its limits, from the swampy Mushfens of the south to the flame-scorched Cinderlands on the northern Storval Plateau.[10]

A map of Varisia

Thassilonian Ruins

Countless gigantic monuments and buildings left over from ancient Thassilon can be found across Varisia. They have survived for over ten millennia due to the skills of their stone giant crafters and the power infused in them by the runelords. The most well-known of these include the Cyphergate of Riddleport,[5] the Irespan of Magnimar,[11], the Grand Mastaba of Korvosa,[12] and the Lady's Light in the Mushfens.[13]

In the past few hundred years, the magic protecting these structures has finally begun to fail, and have slowly been suffering from the normal effects of erosion. This has also made them more vulnerable to explorers and treasure seekers, who search for the lost treasures of their ancient owners.[5]

Major Caravan Routes

Full article: Varisian caravan routes

Many of Varisia's roads have developed from ancient routes traveled by the region's Varisian wanderers. They crisscross the region and connect most of its major cities.[14]

Government

Varisia has no central government. It is a collection of independent city-states that each holds sway over a small collection of towns and villages, while the wilds on the edges of their territory (including most of the area on top of the Storval Plateau) is claimed by the Shoanti.[5] Varisian politics is dominated by the competing aims of criminal Riddleport, ambitious Magnimar, and traditionalist Korvosa. The neutral Kaer Maga is often discounted altogether, and its inhabitants prefer it that way.[15]

Korvosa & Magnimar

Korvosa is the oldest and largest of these cities, founded as a Chelis] colony in the 45th century AR, and is the only one to have established a hereditary monarchy. Thousands of dissatisfied Korvosans fled to Magnimar less than a century ago, disagreeing with their mother city's allying themselves with the new, infernally-backed Chelish government. Although Magnimar had existed before, the mass influx of new citizens made it a true rival to Korvosa's economic dominance of the region.[5][16]

Riddleport

Far to the northwest of Magnimar and Korvosa is the pirate-haven of Riddleport. It is governed by a powerful Overlord who runs with a harsh, but decidedly laissez-faire attitude.[17]

Kaer Maga

The smallest of Varisia's major cities is the unusual city of Kaer Maga, found on one of the highest parts of the Storval Rise. It exists in basically an anarchic state, with numerous smaller power groups looking after their own interests.[18]

Inhabitants

Dwarves

Janderhoff (in the Mindspin Mountains) is not only the largest dwarven settlement in Varisia, but also where the majority of local stout folk live. There they mine and smelt the ores they dig out of the ground, but can also be found throughout Varisia as underground guides and mercenaries, merchants, and hunters. Dwarven ingenuity is well-known, and is evidenced by the exotic ore processing facility called the the Gas Forges, located in Riddleport.[19]

Half-elves

The Half-elves of Varisia face a lot of prejudices from both parental races, so they often prefer the harsh life in anarchic Riddleport or even an nomadic existence with the native Varisians and even the Shoanti to the life in the towns of southern Varisia[20]. Life is especially depressive in Korvosa where they tend to be the most pitied offspring of lustful Mierani ambassador Perishial Kalissreavil and a lot of bored young noble women from the Korvosan upper class [21].

Halflings

Halflings are a quite adaptable lot and can be found in the big cities as well as under the nomadic Varisians.[20] Good sailors, they often came with their Chelish masters to Korvosa and make the crew of nearly half the ships belonging to Korvosa's elite [22]. They can also be seen in Magnimar as well as in Riddleport where they often follow more shadowy ways and find great opportunities in the city's underworld [23].

Half-orcs

Many Shoanti tribes live near the Hold of Belkzen with constant skirmishes between orcs and humans. Sometimes this leads to rapes which could eventually culminate with pregnancy. Few of these half-orc children survive into adulthood, and fewer decide to accept the difficult cohabitation with their human cousins in some of the Varisian cities [24].

Flora & Fauna

Varisia is home to a wide variety of plant-life and creatures, given its extremes in environments and geography. It is also known as a "frontier" or "wild" region, with many dangerous monsters living in relatively close proximity to Varisia's settlements. These include such creatures as Black Magga, known to dwell in the waters of the Storval Deep north of the village of Turtleback Ferry, the seldom-seen Sandpoint devil, and such mythical creatures as the Oliphaunt of Jandelay.[5] In addition, Varisia is home to a number of larger non-human populations.

Dragons

Although dragons have dwelt in Varisia since time immemorial, until recently they have had few clashes with the more civilized races. As the humanoid population centers grow and expand into the wilderness, so do the encounters with dragons.[25]

Giants

The runelords of Thassilon exploited the expertise and power of giants in order to build their Brobdingnagian monuments and buildings. Thousands of years later, countless giant races still inhabit Varisia in great numbers, although most have retreated to the less-civilized regions atop the Storval Plateau.[26] These include the hill giants of the Gnashers and the Iron Peaks, and the stone giants of the Iron Peaks.[27]

References

  1. A large poster map of the country can be found in the Shattered Star Poster Map Folio
  2. F. Wesley Schneider stated at Gen Con 2013 that the name 'Varisia' had been coined as follows: The team needed a name for the modern country in which the first Adventure Path, Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path, was to be set. A debate regarding the sin to be associated with the key Runelord in the Adventure Path had settled upon greed and another word for greed is 'avarice'. Making that into a word that sounded like a country's name produced 'Avaricia', which then transformed into 'Varisia'.
  3. Erik Mona et al. (2008). Campaign Setting, p. 247. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-112-1
  4. Erik Mona et al. (2008). Campaign Setting, p. 144. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-112-1
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8 James Jacobs et al. (2011). The Inner Sea World Guide, p. 194-195. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-269-2
  6. 6.0 6.1 Wolfgang Baur. (2007). The History of Thassilon. Burnt Offerings, p. 74. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-035-3
  7. Greg A. Vaughan. (2008). Shadow in the Sky. Shadow in the Sky, p. 7. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-115-2
  8. James Jacobs et al. (2011). The Inner Sea World Guide, p. 24. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-269-2
  9. Mike McArtor. (2008). Guide to Korvosa, p. 49. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-078-0
  10. James L. Sutter. (2007). Varisia. The Hook Mountain Massacre, p. 62. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-038-4
  11. F. Wesley Schneider. (2007). Magnimar. The Skinsaw Murders, p. 59. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-037-7
  12. Mike McArtor. (2008). Guide to Korvosa, p. 13. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-078-0
  13. James L. Sutter. (2007). Varisia. The Hook Mountain Massacre, p. 65. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-038-4
  14. F. Wesley Schneider, Amber E. Scott, Tork Shaw, James L. Sutter, and Jerome Virnich. (2012). Varisia, Birthplace of Legends, p. back cover. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-453-5
  15. James L. Sutter. (2010). City of Strangers, p. 36. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-248-7
  16. F. Wesley Schneider. (2007). Magnimar. The Skinsaw Murders, p. 57. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-037-7
  17. Greg A. Vaughan. (2008). Riddleport: City of Cyphers. Shadow in the Sky, p. 49. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-115-2
  18. James L. Sutter. (2010). City of Strangers, p. 4. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-248-7
  19. F. Wesley Schneider, Amber E. Scott, Tork Shaw, James L. Sutter, and Jerome Virnich. (2012). Varisia, Birthplace of Legends, p. 5. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-453-5
  20. 20.0 20.1 F. Wesley Schneider. (2007). Rise of the Runelords Player's Guide, p. 5. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-059-9
  21. James Jacobs, & Mike McArtor. (2008). Curse of the Crimson Throne Player's Guide, p. 8-9. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-087-2
  22. James Jacobs, & Mike McArtor. (2008). Curse of the Crimson Throne Player's Guide, p. 9. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-087-2
  23. James Jacobs, F. Wesley Schneider, Amber Scott, & Greg A. Vaughan. (2008). Second Darkness, p. 5. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-142-8
  24. James Jacobs, & Mike McArtor. (2008). Curse of the Crimson Throne Player's Guide, p. 11. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-087-2
  25. James Jacobs. (2013). Pathfinder Chronicles. Pathfinder, Volume 1 #8, p. 26. Dynamite Entertainment.
  26. Wolfgang Baur. (2007). The History of Thassilon. Burnt Offerings, p. 73. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-035-3
  27. Nicolas Logue. (2007). The Hook Mountain Massacre. The Hook Mountain Massacre, p. 63-64. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-038-4



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