The Shattering of Darkmoon Vale
Welcome to Varisia
Varisia is a realm fallen in love with the stars. Nowhere amid all the world’s wonders do frosty mountains, sun-painted plateaus, and riotous forests so indulge their desire to touch those airy gems, aspiring to heights and majesty that make all else seem puny. Even the ancients of this beauteous land courted the heavens, their silent monuments nothing if not stairways to the stars.
—Cevil “Redwing” Charms, Esq.
Varisia is a true frontier, stretching from the Varisian Gulf in the west to the sheer peaks of the Mindspin and Kodar Mountains in the east. The space between encompasses all manner of terrain—sprawling plains, dense forests, burning badlands, and mysterious swamps. The land remains relatively untouched by lumberer’s axe or fisher’s trawl, and its wild creatures remain varied and plentiful—and sometimes monstrous.
The Storval Rise, a thousand-foot-tall cliff that runs northwest to southeast across the region, divides the fertile lowlands from the rugged Storval Plateau. The west and south hold lush expanses: woodlands like the Churlwood and Sanos Forest, expanses so tangled even experienced trackers shy from their edge; the Velashu Uplands, a gentle plain home to the rugged Velashu horse lords; and the Mushfens, a dangerous marsh that straggles along much of the land’s southern length.
The Storval Plateau, which includes the burning wastes of the Cinderlands, encompasses the east and north. The Cinderlands are a dry desert where regular firestorms scour the thorny scrub brush and sear the reddened land. Much of the Storval Plateau proves slightly more hospitable, though, and this arid stretch of grassland and hard-packed plains is home to equally hard tribes of reclusive giants and proud Shoanti.
Ethnic Varisians and Shoanti constitute Varisia’s native peoples, having made their homes in the region for thousands of years, long before the incursion of the Chelish Empire. In 4405 ar, Chelish armies entered the region, drove the Shoanti into the arid northern regions, and settled the land with an eye toward “civilizing” the native Varisians. The region’s wealth of natural resources bolstered development in the area, and Varisia is now one of the most desirable destinations for settlers and explorers.
Three city-states arose from the Chelish occupation to compete for control over the land. Korvosa, founded in 4407 ar, is the oldest of the three, an established trading magnate governed by a local monarchy. The growth of the younger trade cities in the region threatens Korvosa’s standing, a fate the decadent city refuses to accept. Magnimar, founded by discontented Korvosan expatriates in 4584, prides itself on being a more welcoming city with few restrictions on trade. Jutting from Magnimar’s cliffs, the mysterious Irespan—an ancient shattered bridge of phenomenal size—serves as an emblem of the bold city. The outlaw haven of Riddleport is a city of pirates and gamblers, ruled with harsh fairness by a group of master criminals. Riddleport is also home to the mysterious Cyphergate, a rune-carved arch spanning the natural harbor, which draws all manner of daring scholars to the city’s streets.
Races of Varisia
Drawn by Varisia’s beauty, resources, and monuments, settlers of every common race and many uncommon ones have managed to gain footholds in the nation.
- Dwarves: Most dwarves in Varisia live in their mountain community of Janderhoff. Many hunt the great creatures of the land, live as traders, or serve as guides for those seeking underground wonders. This race’s ingenuity has also led to the creation of several marvels in the region, such as the Gas Forges of Riddleport.
- Elves: Many of Varisia’s elves hail from Crying Leaf in the Mierani Forest, near the ruined elven city of Celwynvian. Adventuring elves find themselves attracted to the many wild areas of Varisia, and often seek to either free such regions of monstrous threats or protect them from exploitative settlers.
- Gnomes: Gnomes have two major homes in Varisia: Whistledown and the scattered communities of the Sanos Forest. Many Varisian gnomes travel throughout the nation to sate the innate curiosity of their kind or see the region’s varied marvels.
- Half-Elves: Relatively rare in Varisia, half-elves often avoid tying themselves down, preferring to sign on with caravans or adventuring parties as guards, trackers, or healers.
- Halflings: Halflings often live as servants in Korvosan lands—much like they would in Cheliax—or make their own ways in Magnimarian holdings or other frontier towns. Others, however, have found the life of Varisian wanderers highly appealing and travel widely, living each day as a new adventure.
- Half-Orcs: Half-orcs typically come from Urglin or the Hold of Belkzen on Varisia’s eastern border. They roam the region with orc raiders or live on the outskirts of settled areas. They avoid Shoanti, knowing that most will attack a half-orc on sight.
- Humans: Varisians and Shoanti are the native people of Varisia, but while they are not enemies, neither are they particularly close. The bulk of humans living in Varisia’s settled lands are of Chelish heritage, and cling to or shun the ways of that nation as their home cities’ philosophies dictate.
- Other Races: Nearly any race can be found in Varisia, as ships from across Golarion enter the land’s ports daily. The most unusual races found in the region with any regularity are orcs from the Hold of Belkzen; tieflings (particularly in Riddleport and Korvosa); and the varied denizens of Kaer Maga, including trolls, nagas, weird half-breeds, and even stranger sorts.
Five Things Everyone Knows about Varisia
- Dozens of mysterious monuments litter Varisia’s countryside, in the form of gigantic spires, massive bridges, titanic stairs, and—some say—even lost cities.
- Varisia has no central government; Korvosa, Magnimar, and Riddleport are distinct and sovereign city-states.
- Varisia’s native peoples, the Shoanti and Varisians, are both nomadic groups, wandering far in great tribes or in colorful wagon caravans, respectively.
- When Cheliax invaded Varisia, the Chelaxians displaced the native Shoanti, earning the barbarians’ eternal hatred.
- Varisia is home to numerous kinds of giants. Hill and marsh giants hunt the lowlands, stone giants defend rocky holdings, and beings of impossible size stalk the distant mountain ranges.
Varisia by Road
The map here depicts all of Varisia’s major settlements, along with the region’s most prominent roadways. Each of these routes is treated as a road or trail and includes a distance in miles, making it easy for adventurers to choose routes between locations and determine overland travel times (see page 171 of the Core Rulebook for details; these routes do not show every twist of each road, so allow for some leeway between the routes presented and listed distances). Noted below are the distances by road between numerous noteworthy sites in Varisia, as well as the time it takes to travel between them at common movement speeds (20 feet: a dwarf or wagon’s speed; 30 feet: a human’s speed; 50 feet: a horse’s speed).
|Route||Distance||Travel Time (20 ft.)||Travel Time (30 ft.)||Travel Time (50 ft.)|
|Janderhoff to Kaer Maga||87 miles||5 days, 4 hours||3 days, 5 hours||2 days, 2 hours|
|Korvosa to Janderhoff||143 miles||8 days, 8 hours||5 days, 8 hours||3 days, 5 hours|
|Korvosa to Kaer Maga||230 miles||14 days, 3 hours||9 days, 5 hours||5 days, 6 hours|
|Korvosa to Magnimar||603 miles||37 days, 6 hours||25 days, 1 hour||15 days, 1 hour|
|Magnimar to Janderhoff||545 miles||34 days, 1 hour||22 days, 6 hours||13 days, 5 hours|
|Magnimar to Riddleport||520 miles||32 days, 4 hours||21 days, 6 hours||13 days|
|Riddleport to Korvosa||770 miles||48 days, 1 hour||32 days, 1 hour||19 days, 2 hours|
|Sandpoint to Magnimar||54 miles||3 days, 3 hours||2 days, 2 hours||1 day, 3 hours|
|Sandpoint to Turtleback Ferry||501 miles||31 days, 3 hours||20 days, 7 hours||12 days, 5 hours|