Earthfall is the name given to the cataclysmic event in which of a swarm of meteoroids impacted Golarion in -5293 AR.1 It resulted in the destruction of the human empires of Thassilon and Azlant, which were consumed by earthquakes and massive tidal waves, and the creation of the Inner Sea. The cloud of dust thrown up by the Starstone's impact settled in Golarion's upper atmosphere and blotted out the sun for 1,000 years, creating the Age of Darkness.23
The Azlanti empire was the first known human civilization on the face of Golarion. Raised from barbarism by the alien alghollthu masters during the Age of Legend, the Azlanti eventually developed advanced technology, magic, and civilization, the likes of which have not been seen on Golarion since. But this advancement caused the Azlanti people to become arrogant and proud, and they no longer felt the need to obey and respect their inhuman benefactors.4 This angered the alghollthus, and in retribution they used their magic to call down an ancient, poisonous remnant of an unborn planet to destroy all life on the surface of Golarion.5
Luckily, the Azlanti were not without their protectors. When Acavna, their goddess of the moon and battle, learned of the alghollthus' plan, she pulled Golarion's moon from its orbit to intercept the massive meteoroid. The impact with the moon shattered the world-killing projectile into thousands of pieces, but did not slow or deflect it from its course. Instead, its shards inflicted lethal wounds on the goddess's physical manifestation. Distraught by her death, the Azlanti god of magic, Amaznen, sacrificed himself to render the remaining deadly alghollthu magic clinging to the meteor fragments inert, transforming it from a world-killer into one that, while still incredibly destructive, gave life on Golarion a chance to survive.5
When the fragments impacted on Golarion, they completely obliterated the continent of Azlant and plunged the world into the Age of Darkness,46 but thanks to Acavna and Amaznen they did not destroy all life on the planet.5
The destruction of the human empires of Azlant and Thassilon are the best-known, but by no means only, effects of Earthfall. Many other major events occurred due to this cataclysmic event.
Reset in technological and magical advancement
Before Earthfall, the Azlanti had achieved technological and magical breakthroughs unequaled even in the present day. Earthfall brought all of this to an end, in effect resetting these developments back thousands of years.7
Formation of the Inner Sea
Before the impact of the Starstone, the continents of Avistan and Garund were connected by a land bridge found where the Arch of Aroden is located today. That land bridge collapsed because the tremendous earthquakes brought on by Earthfall, and water from the Arcadian Ocean flowed eastward through the gap to form the Inner Sea.8 A smaller meteor is said to have fallen further east, where its impact created Star Bay between what are now the nations of Taldor and Andoran.910
Flight of the elves
Having been forewarned of the coming disaster by their agents in the settlement of Mordant Spire, most of the elves of Golarion fled through a magical portal to the mysterious realm of Sovyrian and would not return for several millennia.111 Some elves refused to leave, however, deciding to take shelter in the Darklands below the surface. Although this saved them from the worst destruction of the impact, these elves found other dangers lurking in the dark tunnels below. Forced into making contracts with demonic forces to survive the hostile environment, they eventually transformed into the evil drow.12
Destruction of the alghollthu empire
Even though they had brought about the event, Earthfall had unintended consequences for the alghollthus that they hadn't foreseen. They miscalculated the level of devastation the impact would cause, and the mighty earthquakes that followed also sent their own civilization into decline.4
Earthquakes in the Darklands
Earthfall also had an effect on the underground Darklands. The dwarves of that time were still a subterranean race, living in the realm of Nar-Voth in constant conflict with the neighboring orcs. The earthquakes caused by the Starstone's impact were seen as a sign by the dwarves, who began their Quest for Sky and unwittingly drove the orcs before them to the surface.13
Retreat of the Kellids
The Kellid tribes that spanned northern Avistan retreated into caves after Earthfall, and while they faced orcs and other underground horrors, they fared better than most survivors due to their strength and resiliency. Kellids began emerging only 240 years after Earthfall, around -5051 AR, when the Quest for Sky flushed the Kellids from their caves and back onto the surface.14
Doom of the cyclopes
Coming of the Star Seed
Among the detritus plucked out of space was a comet containing the remnant of the trapped Great Old One, Xhamen-Dor, unwittingly brought to Golarion by the alghollthus' ritual. The sentient infestation came to rest at the bottom of an unknown lake somewhere on Golarion's surface. Xhamen-Dor awakened after impact and has slowly infected the world in the millennia since.16
Over 5,000 years after the destruction of Earthfall, Aroden—then still a mortal—was called to the Inner Sea where the heart of the ancient alghollthu weapon still lay. It erupted from the waves as an entire massive island topped by a unique gem made of celestial materials, alghollthu magic, the blood of the goddess Acavna, and the scar tissue of the planet itself: the Starstone. Aroden used his magic to keep it from ever being misused again. In response, the gods elevated him to become one of them, and the Starstone has served as a vehicle to attain divinity ever since.5
For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.
- “Introduction” in Elves of Golarion, 3. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- Gazetteer, 19. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- “The Inner Sea” in Inner Sea Primer, 3. Paizo Inc., 2010 .
- “Shadow in the Sky” in Shadow in the Sky, 7. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- “Chapter 1: Founts of Mythic Power” in Mythic Realms, 16. Paizo Inc., 2013 .
- The Inner Sea World Guide, 33. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- The Inner Sea World Guide, 256. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- The Inner Sea World Guide, 32. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- Taldor, Echoes of Glory, inside back cover. Paizo Inc., 2009 .
- “Taldor, Empire in Decline” in Taldor, Echoes of Glory, 7. Paizo Inc., 2009 .
- “A Memory of Darkness” in A Memory of Darkness, 7. Paizo Inc., 2009 .
- “Drow of Golarion” in The Armageddon Echo, 54. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- “Nar-Voth” in Into the Darklands, 18–19. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- “Gazetteer” in Numeria, Land of Fallen Stars, 3. Paizo Inc., 2014 .
- “The Varnhold Vanishing” in The Varnhold Vanishing, 7. Paizo Inc., 2010 .
- “Cults of the Dark Tapestry” in Wake of the Watcher, 66. Paizo Inc., 2011 .