- See also: Golden Path
The Golden Road region of the Inner Sea spans northern Garund from Nuat in the west to Osirion and Katapesh to the east, as well as Stonespine Island and the Avistani trade power of Qadira.12 The Golden Road microregion also encompasses the nations of Rahadoum and Thuvia and is a major trade route where citizens are generally well-educated in medicine, astronomy, alchemy, and mathematics.3 The population is concentrated in cosmopolitan cities located next to coasts and rivers, while vast stretches of desert are left to monsters.4
Despite the region's harsh, arid climate, it was one of the first areas of the Inner Sea region to climb out of the barbarism of the Age of Darkness following the devastation of Earthfall more than 10,000 years ago. For a thousand years, humanity had huddled in small bands and villages, eking out a bare existence under an ash-clouded sky, rarely organizing beyond localized trade networks. Then in -4120 AR, the Jistka Imperium was founded and produced clever artificers who rose from the deserts of what is now Rahadoum. The Imperium conquered the neighboring peoples and forced the desert dwellers in north-central Garund to form a defensive federation called the Tekritanin League in -3250 AR, matched also by the rise of the powerful Ancient Osirion in the east in -3470 AR. In the ensuing conflict between these three nations, Osirion eventually ended up victorious in -1452 AR through a combination of astute politics, magic, and brute military force, with its god-kings conquering both of the neighboring empires. But Ancient Osirion eventually met its end as well, finally collapsing thousands of years later under the weight of its own hubris.4
Agents from Qadira, a satrapy of the vast Padishah Empire of Kelesh just across the Obari Ocean, took advantage of this decline. Their agents destabilized Osirion until Qadira swept in and "rescued" Osirion from disaster, turning it into a Keleshite colony in 1532 AR. This foreign rule in Osirion lasted for more than three millennia before Khemet I, known as the Forthbringer, drove the Keleshite government from its shores and returned Osirion to sovereign rule by a Garundi pharaoh in 4609 AR.4
Meanwhile, to the south of Osirion, Sarenite refugees and bandits established settlements in arid and sparsely populated plains. These communities were safeguarded from marauding bands of gnolls by the legendary jann heroes known as the Templars of the Five Winds. However, it was only with the arrival of the enigmatic Pactmasters and their laissez-faire, plutocratic governance that this emerging nation of Katapesh truly flourished as a central hub of worldwide trade.4
Today, the collective nations along what is commonly referred to as the Golden Road offer a striking contrast. Within their bustling, cosmopolitan cities, markets brimful with curiosities from across the globe, while scholars push the boundaries of magic and science in buildings older than many northern nations. However, settlements mostly cluster near coasts and rivers, leaving vast expanses of land untouched, surrendered to deadly monsters and those intrepid adventurers who dare to confront them. In these sun-drenched dunes ruled by scorpions, genies, fiends, and sphinxes, heroes either amass their fortunes or become forever lost to the sands of time.4
In the face of abundant mines and other natural resources, the primary source of economic power along the Golden Road remains trade. This prominence can be primarily attributed to geographical and political conditions in Qadira and Katapesh, both serving as endpoints of significant intercontinental trade routes (i.e., the Golden Path and the South Tack).567 In addition to these two trade routes, the Path of Salt runs along Garund's northern shore, connecting the nations of Rahadoum, Thuvia, and Osirion.8 All the nations partake in substantial wood and finished goods imports, while also exporting commodities like grain, beer, flax, papyrus, and salt. Osirion distinguishes itself by exporting magical knowledge and rare antiquities. Meanwhile, Rahadoum sends forth ingenious machinery and unparalleled engineers but requires substantial food imports. Thuvia, while maintaining self-sufficiency, remains reliant on the profitable sun orchid elixir, ensuring its influential standing on the global stage.7
Despite being connected economically, deep-rooted tensions between the nations in the Golden Road region remain high. Rahadoum and Thuvia remain at odds, driven by the conflict between Rahadoum's stance on religion and the followers of Sarenrae in Thuvia. Thuvia, often a target of conquest, holds a general mistrust toward its neighbors and foreign powers, fully aware of their covetous intentions regarding the precious sun orchid elixir. Osirion maintains a pragmatic and amicable stance toward both Rahadoum and Thuvia, reserving its skepticism for Qadira and the Keleshites, who once subjugated it. In the southern regions, Katapesh emphasizes trade relations with all nations, although recent international anti-slavery sentiments are creating challenges. Qadira, on the other hand, prioritizes trade above all else, indifferent to the opinions of others as long as commerce thrives and its borders remain unchallenged by Taldor.8
The most commonly found peoples in the Golden Road are humans of Garundi, Keleshite, Mwangi, Taldan, Tian, or Vudrani extraction, in addition to dwarves, gnomes, and halflings, while the most frequently spoken languages are Common, Kelish, Mwangi, Osiriani, Vudrani, and Tien. Popular deities worshipped include Abadar, Gozreh, Nethys, Pharasma, Rovagug, and Sarenrae.9
- “Golden Road” in World Guide, 49. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- “8: The Age of Lost Omens” in Core Rulebook, 423. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- “What People Know” in Travel Guide, 72–73. Paizo Inc., 2022 .
- “Golden Road” in World Guide, 50. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- “History of Qadira” in Qadira, Jewel of the East, 5. Paizo Inc., 2017 .
- The Inner Sea World Guide, 253. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- “Golden Road” in World Guide, 53. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- “Golden Road” in World Guide, 56. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- “Golden Road” in World Guide, 48. Paizo Inc., 2019 .