The Shattering of Darkmoon Vale
Magic in Varisia
The mighty monuments of Thassilon are not the only legacy of the old empire hidden in the wilds of Varisia. The ancients crafted powerful magic as well. Artifacts like the seven swords of sin have recently captivated the imagination of several explorers and chroniclers, but there are even greater magics hidden in the corners of varisia—artifacts like the Shattered Star itself, said to be the first major creation of King Xin, legendary founder of Thassilon. I believe the Shattered star exists still, its Skymetal fragments scattered across Varisia, waiting to be rediscovered.
—Sheila Heidmarch, Pathfinder Chronicles, Volume 44
Varisia hosts several centers of arcane learning. Noted here are the most prominent, along with details to help characters incorporate them into their backgrounds.
Founded on strict Chelish principles and with a reputation in line with that harsh country’s, the Acadamae is known for its grim professors, student rivalries, dark ambitions, and accidents involving fiendish summonings. Those who undergo the Acadamae’s curriculum can come to master any school of magic, though many at the school favor conjuration. Given its stringent focus on traditional arcana, nearly all of the Acadamae’s students are wizards.
- Location: Korvosa
- Focus: All schools (with a focus on conjuration)
- Special Options: Acadamae Graduate (Feat)
More a magical industry than a school, the Golemworks crafts magical constructs, ranging from simple animated objects to actual golems, for the wealthy and eccentric. These workshops use stone from Magnimar’s famous Irespan in many of their constructions, and have pioneered the invention of new magical constructs and properties. They take on only a few apprentices each year, and those tend to focus their studies on transmutation, various skills that aid in the creation of constructs, or general studies that allow them to master a wide array of spells useful in construct creation. Students of the Golemworks are often wizards or alchemists with the Craft Construct feat (see Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Magic for a variety of additional construct creation options).
- Location: Magnimar
- Focus: Transmutation and Craft skills
The Cypher Lodge is the headquarters of the Order of Cyphers, colloquially known as cyphermages, who seek to unravel the secrets and mysterious magic of Varisia’s monuments and lost cultures. The fractious group accepts spellcasters of all walks, but most members see one another as rivals rather than peers or mentors. Those who begin their careers with connections to the Cypher Lodge likely served as assistants to other members, and have considerable insight into Knowledge (history) and Linguistics. Spells unique to cyphermages can be found in Pathfinder Player Companion: Second Darkness, and the cyphermage prestige class appears in Inner Sea Magic.
- Location: Riddleport
- Focus: Divination and transmutation
- Special Options: Cypher Script (Feat), Cypher Magic (Feat), Cyphermage (prestige class)
Stone of the Seers
This small, elite school of wizards lies near the famed Seerspring Garden, where it’s said an oracular water spirit once dwelled (or, perhaps, still does). Small classes teach the worthiest and most talented of Magnimar’s would-be casters how to use the arcane arts to reveal mysteries and defend life, much as the spirit of the Seerspring once did. Students of the Stone of Seers are typically wizards, though oracles sometimes join their ranks as well.
- Location: Magnimar
- Focus: Abjuration and divination
Founded in the quiet community of Galduria, the Twilight Academy teaches serious students a holistic vision of the arcane arts, free of instructor agendas or power-hungry squabbling. These elements, along with the academy’s out-of-the-way placement, attract many Varisians interested in the powers of the harrow and other Varisian traditions, such as tattoo magic. Most students of the Twilight Academy become universalist wizards, but their broad outlook and range of study means that magi, oracles, sorcerers, and witches often number among their ranks.
- Location: Galduria
- Focus: Universal and Varisian traditional magic
- Special Options: Varisian Tattoo (Feat), Tattooed Sorcerer (archetype)
What Is Thassilon?
This mysterious name won’t ring a bell with most residents of Varisia. Outside of the libraries and lecture halls of the region’s academics, few have heard of Thassilon, or else they know the name only in vague association with the land’s most legendary monuments or times of fantastic antiquity. The Shoanti and Varisians shun the word, relating it to myths of dark magic and terrible tyrants. Many explorers have a very different reaction, though, sharing reports of powerful arcana and fabulous treasures found in nameless ruins. The truth of this topic is a far more difficult thing to discover, often requiring considerable research, advice from a knowledgeable expert, or the discovery of relics alien to the modern age.
The empire of Thassilon was founded in –6530 ar, 1,237 years before Earthfall brought the Age of Legend to an abrupt and apocalyptic end. The nation was founded by a visionary—if controversial—Azlanti wizard named Xin, a man exiled from his homeland for his belief that the so-called “lesser races” of the world could rival the achievements of Azlant. Xin brought with him an army of apprentices, followers, and their families, all loyal subjects who chose exile with their lord rather than remain in Azlant. When they arrived on the shores of what would someday be known as Varisia, Xin knew he had found a place where he could prove his beliefs to the elitist Azlanti. He embraced the cultures of the native peoples—the nomadic and superstitious Varisians, the proud and headstrong Shoanti, the powerful and mystical taiga and
stone giants, and the alien and magical elves of Celwynvian. Xin drew from the strengths of multiple cultures to shore up the weaknesses of any one group, and in so doing built the nation of Thassilon into a true empire.
Though his intentions were certainly noble, Xin did not fully account for humanity’s capacity for treachery. It would take Xin decades to establish Thassilon and build it into a burgeoning empire, but only a fraction of that time for his self-appointed subordinates—the socalled runelords of Thassilon—to turn against him and seize the empire as their own. And so history remembers Thassilon not for what Xin had imagined it to be, but as a perversion of all his hopes and dreams.
Seven Virtues, Seven Schools
In Azlant, tradition held that rulers of nations must abide by the “seven virtues of rule”—seven qualities a leader must engender in his people and personify himself, lest his state collapse and fall into ruin. In practice, this philosophy never quite lived up to its promise. No ruler and no nation of Azlant ever managed to excel at all seven virtues, and more than a few failed to uphold even a single one. The seven virtues of rule (charity, generosity, humility, kindness, love, temperance, and zeal) appealed greatly to Xin, but in a more intellectual manner than an emotional one. Xin believed that the seven Azlanti schools of magic flowed from these virtues (the school of divination stood outside the rest in Azlant arcane society, viewed as a “universal” school that no wizard should ignore). More than anything else, his exhaustive work developing methods of wizardly specialization earned him his extensive network of apprentices, followers, and admirers. Xin took his research and network with him when he was exiled from Azlant. Most of his contemporaries were more than happy to see Xin’s “ridiculous and stubbornly deliberate misinterpretation of magic” leave the realm.
Only wizards can truly follow the ancient philosophies created by Thassilon’s runelords, for only wizards have the capability to specialize in a school of magic. The choice to specialize in a Thassilonian school of magic must be made when a character first becomes a wizard. Once the choice to do so is made, it cannot be changed.