Journey to the East
WILD FRONTIER REGION Alignment: N
Capital: Korvosa (18,486) Notable Settlements: Celwynvian (unknown), Kaer Maga (8,000), Magnimar (16,428), Riddleport (13,300), Urglin (5,800)
Ruler: No centralized ruler Government: Unaffiliated City-States
Languages: Varisian, Common Religion: Abadar, Desna, Erastil, Calistria, Gozreh, Lamashtu, Pharasma, Norgorber, Urgathoa, Zon-Kuthon
At the height of Old Azlant, the wizened mystics of that island continent-kingdom exiled a powerful wizard named Xin for his heretical beliefs that cooperation with the lesser races could build a greater nation. The outcast arrived on the shores of Avistan with an army and a plan. He established the empire of Thassilon, and so doing brought commerce and civilization to the simple folk he found living on Avistan as nomads, a people known as the Varisians. As Thassilon’s reach and influence continued to grow, Xin appointed seven of his most powerful wizardly allies as governors, splitting his empire into seven nations.
Xin’s governors, each focused on one of the seven schools of rune magic he himself helped define in accord with his seven virtues of rule, became known as the runelords. Yet Xin’s optimisim was sadly misplaced. The runelords wrested control of his empire from him, and for centuries their cruelty led Thassilon along the path of decadence, ultimately collapsing into ruin when the Starstone rocked Golarion (although sages argue to this day upon the exact
cause of Thassilon’s demise).
The region remained wild for thousands of years, inhabited only by barbarian tribes known as the Shoanti and the nomadic Varisian survivors of Thassilon’s fall, until it came to the attention of expansionist Cheliax, whose armies marched on the region in 4405. Chelish armies drove the warlike Shoanti into the rugged regions to the northeast, while colonists adopted a tenuous peace with the native Varisians under the pretense of bringing “culture and civilization” into their lives. It was at this time that the ancient frontier came to be known as Varisia.
Modern Varisia is a region of conflict, a frontier laid against the land of barbarians and giants to the northeast—the Storval Rise. Although no central government controls Varisia, three city-states have emerged, each of which could some day soon claim control over the region. The eldest and largest of these is Korvosa, a city of Chelish loyalists ruled by a monarchy but cleaving close to Cheliax in a bid to be reabsorbed into the empire. The second largest city in Varisia, Magnimar, flourishes while Korvosa, at best, stagnates in its thick traditional values. And further to the north lies Riddleport, a solution to those who find law of any sort oppressive—Riddleport gives safe harbor for mercenaries, thieves, andits, and pirates of all cuts.
Yet bandits and pirates are far from the only perils that haunt this ancient land. In many areas, Varisia remains a true wilderness, claimed by deadly predators and ferocious humanoids none too eager to share territory with the advance of humanity. Along the coast, hundreds of goblin tribes dwell in sea caves and thistle-thick woodlands, bickering among themselves until leaders strong enough to unite several tribes at once take hold.
Further inland, ogres and trolls hold court on rugged mountaintop and in deep forest glen, yet the true lords of the wildlands are the giants. Descended from the slave castes of ancient Thassilon, giants of all types call the true wilderness reaches of Varisia home, and their periodic forays and raids against humanity make for constant and brutal reminders that this realm is far from tame.
Other creatures dwell in the darkest corners of Varisia as well—monsters in some cases left over from Thassilon’s rule, tales of whom frighten even the giants of the land. These include mighty dragons, the cannibal spirits known as wendigos, sinister fey, pockets of scheming lamia-kin, and even sinister explorers and pilgrims from other worlds whose eldritch corners brush unwholesome and unwelcome against parts of this haunted landscape. And against this menacing backdrop broods an even darker evil, for the ancient lords of the land are said to exist still, dead but dreaming, awaiting the time for their return to rule over lands once theirs. Should these all-but-forgotten runelords rise, Varisia could be but the first of Golarion’s nations to fall.