Only in the past few hundred years have the nations of the Inner Sea turned their attention to Varisia, and they’ve found a land ripe for exploration—something the Varisian people have known for thousands of years, yet have long maintained their silence about.
Although a relatively large stretch of Varisia has been settled by Chelish colonists and Varisian natives, the fact remains that this region is still primarily a dangerous wilderness. Legendary monsters, ranging from sinister local stories (such as the elusive Sandpoint Devil) on up to regional tales of terror (like deadly Black Magga, or the mythical Oliphaunt of Jandelay) have given the wilderness a singular menace, yet they are not as stark a reminder of the region’s dangers as the numerous Thassilonian monuments that still dot the land. Built by armies of stone giant artisans under runelord command, these monuments were preserved and protected by magic.
Only today is this preservative magic beginning to fail, allowing the ancient monuments to slowly suffer the indignities of erosion and trophy seekers. In many of these monoliths lurk hidden dangers—immortal monsters trapped for centuries; enticing vaults of treasure protected by traps; and (some whisper) the slumbering runelords themselves, who wait patiently to awaken from their centuries-long sleep to reclaim a land rightfully theirs.
Although Varisia has only recently returned to the forefront of the Inner Sea’s interest, it has not always existed as a remote frontier. Before Earthfall, this was the site of one of humanity’s most powerful civilizations: the empire of Thassilon. Founded by exiles from Azlant and ruled by wizards known as runelords who reveled in the seven deadly sins, the nation of Thassilon enslaved giants to build vast monuments to its own ego. When Earthfall ushered in the Age of Darkness, Thassilon—already teetering from its own decadence and corruption— fell as well.
The region remained wild for thousands of years, inhabited only by barbarian tribes of Shoanti and Varisian wanderers until the frontier finally came to the attention of expansionist Cheliax, whose armies marched on the region in 4405 ar. Chelish soldiers 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. Since then, the area has become the Inner Sea region’s
fastest-growing realm—a place of new opportunity, while still heavy with ancient mystery and the promise of undiscovered riches.
Modern Varisia is a region of conf lict, a strip of frontier laid against the Storval Rise (a land of barbarians and giants to the northeast). Although no central government controls Varisia, three major city-states have emerged, any of which could some day soon claim control over the region.
The eldest and largest of these city-states is Korvosa, a city of Chelish loyalists ruled by a monarchy but cleaving close to Cheliax in a bid to be reabsorbed into that empire. Yet as much as her people might like to put on airs, Korvosa is far from the only center of civilization in Varisia. The second-largest regional city, cosmopolitan Magnimar, is in an era of growth, while Korvosa stagnates in its hard-set traditional values. Farther north, in the region’s third-largest city of Riddleport, crime is actively encouraged, resulting in a rapidly growing den of pirates, thieves, and scoundrels.
Any one of these three city-states could someday claim the right to rule Varisia. While all three vie for that honor in their own way, only time can tell which of the cities is destined for such glory.