Savage Rise of the Runelords
“Like no other land I have visited in all my vast and fevered travels, here in Varisia art and environment are truly one. The monoliths of a mysterious and romantic people weather the ages, telling the voiceless tales of a race lost to silence. Each inspired day colors the skies in vivid palettes of placid blue, raging red-orange, and sorrowed gray—heavenly emotions painted across an endless, cloudless canvas. Even the natives live like masterpieces on display, their tattoos becoming the likenesses of their lives, their dances telling their endless tales, and their wisdom tempered by murmured harmonies echoing from both past and future.”
—Cevil “Redwing” Charms Esq., Eidolon
“Savagery and regressivity epitomize the disfigured lands of Varisia. Jagged mountain chains break the worthless, dusty clay at queer and reckless lengths. Tangled forests grow wild with titan weeds—the flora of these fecund briars little more than tenacious brambles. Blasted reaches of cracked earth and rolling scrub form the parched paradises of all manner of backward savages, including the doomed final generations of humanity’s brutish ancestors. And everywhere the land bears the scars of a forgotten people whose eroding ruins and crude attempts at artistry litter a landscape already scarred by its own geological leprosy.”
—Darvayne Gios Amprei; Merciless: Abendego, Belkzen, Varisia, and Other Hells
The seat of civilizations forgotten by most modern empires, Varisia’s history is etched upon the stones of its innumerable ruins. Few know what mysterious people once ruled these lands, their towering monuments and incredible architectural feats the sole records of an age of power and wonder. Yet, ask the native Varisians of the past and the monoliths that litter their land and only the cold dread in their eyes will answer.
Nearly 300 years ago, Cheliax founded the colony of Korvosa in the supposedly cursed wilderness between its northern provinces and the Lands of the Linnorm Kings. A century of bloody war with the native barbarians, the Shoanti, followed, culminating in southeastern Varisia falling to Chelish rule. Soon after, colonists and adventure seekers of all persuasions came to populate the newly tamed land. Yet, the deeper foreigners trod inland, the greater the mysteries they discovered: endless walls of carved earth, titanic monoliths, and writings no sage recognized. While many viewed these idols and obelisks as evidence of the land’s cursed reputation these oddities did little to halt Cheliax’s imperialistic march.
A century ago, the supposed death of Cheliax’s god Aroden started a civil war which fractured not just the country’s domestic holdings but indefinitely severed its links to numerous colonies, including those in Varisia. Korvosa, the oldest and largest of Varisia’s cities, made overtures of fealty to Cheliax’s diabolical new Magistrix—overtures which went ignored. Abandoned, discord erupted in the city between traditionalists to the dead Chelish theocracy and revolutionaries eager to embrace Cheliax’s new rule. Realizing that infighting would doom all they had accomplished, many of the traditionalists left Korvosa, migrating west and ultimately founding the city of Magnimar. Today, both Korvosa and Magnimar fancy themselves the center of culture in Varisia. Both cities have birthed or claimed numerous vassal townships in the surrounding lands. Other races have also come as well, integrating with the human populace or claiming their own territories. The natives of the land also remember a time when Varisia was theirs alone and swear the land will once again be theirs.
And, alien and now largely ignored, the monuments of an ancient era look on… biding their time.
Much of modern-day Varisia was ruled by one of the earliest human civilizations, the Thassilonian Empire. Formed by exiles from the mythical Azlanti, and ruled by wizards of tremendous power, this nation built enormous stone monuments to its own vanity. The Thassilonians were also served by the indigenous humans, whom they divided into two castes. Centuries of their leaders’ 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).
Little is known of the history of the first human civilization, other than the sad story of its destruction. Myths tell of an ancient war between the Azlanti and the serpentfolk. The Azlanti are said to have driven their enemies off the face of Golarion and in the war’s final battle, Savith, an Azlanti hero beheaded the serpent god.
Other legends state that the demon lord Zura was once a queen of Azlant who lusted after eternal life. In these tales, Zura’s depraved acts led to Azlant falling into decadence and was one of the catalysts for its destruction.