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What if...? Golarion without humans.


Pathfinder Campaign Setting General Discussion


What if humans suddenly became extinct on the face of Golarion? Magical curse, plague, something wipes out everything with the human subtype (screw you too, half-elves and half-orcs). Now most of Avistan will be heavily depopulated, so what would happen?

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

Consider birthrates.

Dwarves, Gnomes, and Elves simply cannot keep up with the number that Orcs, Goblins, and such. Despite the Elven/Dwarven/Gnomish advantages in quality, the higher races will eventually be overwhelmed.

That was one of the "ecological" functions of Humans. While humans don't breed as fast as the humanoid races, they do breed fast enough that their difference in quality can make up the difference.

Shadow Lodge

Yeah, I think the Orcs (and their ilk) would inherit the earth in that case.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Kobolds.

They're the only species that combine centuries-long life with an insanely high birth rate, and they're better at actually making stuff than most of the savage humanoids.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

It's already sounding interesting.

Savage humanoids will increase in numbers without humans around to put them down, but by how much before they start preying on one another? Orcs don't seem able to accomplish much, and this is with external enemies to focus upon. Take that away and orc-on-orc (O3) violence is going to increase.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
HappyDaze wrote:

It's already sounding interesting.

Not half as interesting as Talislanta's signature advertising cry over 6 editions now.... "No Elves!"

Talislanta might be the answer to the OP's question. There isn't a single dominant race in the world. There are some groups like the Seven Kingdoms which have formed coalitions. A lot of races with artficial i.e. magical/alchemical origins, but no race that's a "baseline".

The question also takes a different form if Humans were "never were" as opposed to "just vanished". With any kind of vanishment you've got a power vacuum which means war until a new balance is found.


I'm more interested in taking Golarion as it is and then stamping out all the humans to see what happens. I'm looking for a post=apocalyptic fantasy feel. The "humans never were" approach, while valid, would change too much of Golarion's history for my purposes.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
HappyDaze wrote:
I'm more interested in taking Golarion as it is and then stamping out all the humans to see what happens. I'm looking for a post=apocalyptic fantasy feel. The "humans never were" approach, while valid, would change too much of Golarion's history for my purposes.

The answer of course is whatever effect you want it to have. It might depend on what wipes the Humans out in the first place. It's not really "post apocalypse" unless the apocalypse is a bit more general in scope.

Or to be better said, it's not really post apocalypse when there are no survivors.

Taldor Contributor

I was working on - before work on A Thousand Gods took over my copious free time - a setting based on the Fey Otherworld (what's called in Golarion the First World).
The idea was that this was a parallel world to our modern world, and that it was where all the magical creatures went as modernity took over. The map was of Europe, but instead of human nations, they were ruled by Elves, Satyrs, and the like. The mythical locations - Avalon, the mountains of the Sibyls in Italy, the original Mirkwood - had retreated into this world. While there were native humans, they were descended from abductees by the Fey (and weren't usually 100% human either) and many humans were people who had gotten stuck there from the modern world. Because time was different than in the RW, an abductee from a few hundred years ago might have aged only a few decades.
There were a few tiny human settlements and nations - New Hamelin and Montsalvat were two, but most humans were servants in the Fey kingdoms, or had transformed into Fey themselves.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Before I answer, for purposes of this question, are you counting undead that used to be human as humans?

RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32

HappyDaze wrote:

It's already sounding interesting.

Savage humanoids will increase in numbers without humans around to put them down, but by how much before they start preying on one another? Orcs don't seem able to accomplish much, and this is with external enemies to focus upon. Take that away and orc-on-orc (O3) violence is going to increase.

This could also lead in the opposite direction.

LazarX wrote:
The question also takes a different form if Humans were "never were" as opposed to "just vanished". With any kind of vanishment you've got a power vacuum which means war until a new balance is found.

Warlords of the various monster races might arise that would be strong enough to create islands of stability. And, within those islands the basis of a more civilized existence might take root. (The "new balance".)

This has already happened twice in Golarion's history. Once with the Orcs (Belkzen),which ultimately fell back apart, and once with the Hobgoblins (Kaoling), which is still working.

Without humans, this trend would continue until some of those kingdoms manage to stand long enough for the people to become truly civilized.

This appears to be what happened in our world with humanity, b.t.w.


Lord Gadigan wrote:
Before I answer, for purposes of this question, are you counting undead that used to be human as humans?

No. There will still be many post-humans around.


Interesting questions for this scenario:

What would the ascended human gods do? Irori, Iomedae and Cayden Cailean are all ascended humans. Is Norgorber an ascended human? (I'm not sure) Do they pick other worshippers? Who does Abadar choose to elevate as the next great race of civilized folk?

Would there be human liches that are trying to reshape orcs, halflings or worse into humans through prodigious use of polymorph effects? I can imagine an enclave of quasi-humans surrounding some Dr. Moreau-like lich. Is he really that evil after all? He's just trying to restart his race...

Is this the culmination of an aboleth plot that has been maturing since the beginning of the Age of Lost Omens?


Ascended gods are no longer human. They remain around, and it's up to worshipers to choose them, not for the gods to go recruiting.

There would still be formerly human liches doing all manner of evil.

As for the 'why' and 'how' of the mass death/disappearance of humans, i haven't nailed that down yet. I'm most interested in imagining how the face of the Inner Sea are would change within the next 10 years following the "dehumanizing event". What nations would continue? Would Cheliax be taken over by the halflings only to have them strike up an infernal deal of their own (with goblin slaves)?

Taldor Contributor

Perhaps the end of humanity has something to do with Aroden?

For a couple of races one might otherwise discount:
I suspect the Strix in Cheliax would form a small nation.
The Vanaras might take over Vudra and Jalmeray.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

My general take on things by region (this is going mostly from memory here, I might be missing some important factors):

Avistan:

Absalom- A one-day-bloodbath occurs as the non-human members of the Decimverate, nonhuman servants of the ascended gods, assorted powerful undead, shadow dragons, and other beings come out of the woodwork to try to claim the vast stores of magic items and artifacts in the city. Most forces leave or die, some hole up. The whole place becomes a bizarre city-megadungon with a few lost artifacts hiding in it, lots of dangerous stuff, huge ruins, and the Starstone at the center.

Andoran- Most of the nation is retaken by the fae. Wild beasts start roming the lands. Duergar establish a small kingdom in the interior. The coastal towns and capital still stand, occupied by greatly diminished populations of halflings.

Brevoy- The region becomes wilderness and generally merges with Iobaria. Dragons rule the land, but have few subjects. Fae control the woods.

Cheliax- The western hinterlands get taken by the Strix. Most rural parts come under halfling control. The major cities get occupied by tieflings that come out of the woodwork and make pacts with their diabolic proginators. Non-human hellknight survivors regroup near the capital and join with the new diabolic government as a military arm. Hell's influence is now even more overt in the devil-controlled regions, but the nation loses its navy and general reach until things become more organized; the brutal efficiency of Hell probably helps in this organization, but it'll still likely take a bit.

Druma- Druma comes under dwarven control. The dwarves possess a large amount of wealth and have the skills to arm and organize themselves well. The dwarves end up allying themselves with the expanded elven empire to the north to fight the massive demon army. A Torag-sponsored crusade is quickly launched north to help combat the massive threat.

Five Kings Mountains- The dwarves expand and ally themselves with the dwarves of Druma and elves of Varisia, but become occupied with the northern orcs and are manage to expand little.

Darklands Below Avistan- The drow are split between those trying to sieze lands on the surface and those being called in as reinforcements for their demonic patrons in the Abyss; some drow houses probably leave for the Abyss, and a demon lord or two may try to leave for Golarion's depths if things get bad enough. Urdefhans become the chosen race of the daemons to lead a crusade to wipe out the remainder of mortal life, but their geographic location prevents them from becoming an immediate threat. Kabriri likely relocates to Nemret Noktoria personally during the mass flight from the Abyss and arranges to ally with Geb.

Galt- Large parts of Galt are retaken by fae. Those parts that remain civilized are, unusually for the new setting, much safer and calmer (though also much more isolated) than they used to be.

Hermea- Mengkare is left alone on his island. Whether he holes up until the times of chaos pass or tires to go do something somewhere else is up in the air.

Hold of Belkzen- The orcs experience an initial surge of expansion, but then run into giants to the west, giants to the north, undead to the east, and dwarves to the south. The orcs remain generally contained.

Irrisen- Irrisen initially descends into chaos as the eternal winter remains, but the withces and their sources of food production disappear. Wolf creatures and trolls ravage the land looking for food until frost giant lords from the north, serving Kostchtie, manage to reorganize the area, turning into the heart of their new empire an gaining the treasures of the white witches.

Isger- Isger is swarmed by goblins initially and becomes a goblin nation. New Cheliax quickly makes reclaiming it one of their main objectives and gradually drives the goblin forces back, gaining ground in Isger at the cost of not making much progress in other places.

Kyonin- Kyonin becomes the heart of an expanding elvish empire that begins retaking land on Golarion before suddenly being stopped by demons. Treerazer probably allies with Deskari and performs a pincer attack. The elves end up allying with the dwarves and calling in massive numbers of reinforcements from Sovyrian in an attempt to defeat the two demonic forces.

Lastwall- Lastwall probably falls to a combination of undead and orcs, with the undead taking more territory.

Lands of the Linnorm Kings- The Lands of the Linnorm Kings are conquored by the giant empire in the north. Some parts are claimed by fae.

Mendev- Mendev is quickly overwhelmed by demons and becomes part of the Worldwound.

Molthune- Molthune becomes generally uninhabited.

Nidal- Zon-Kuthon made a pact with the horselords of Nidal ages ago to keep their nation from falling and to maintain their safety so long as they served him. Nearly all of them are gone. Zon-Kuthon, being a deity of his word, snaps into action to protect the few remaining undead descendants of the Horselords. Kytons and other shadow creatures appear en-masse, and Nidal becomes ruled by a council of undead servants of the Midnight Lord, with the population of its ruling class never increasing. It becomes something like a theocratic Eox with added kytons, and likely aligns itself with the other undead states.

Nirmathas- Nirmathas becomes generally uninhabited.

Numeria- Numeria is overtaken by demons from the Worldwound. Some demonic scholars, such as the Demon Witch, may plunder the secrets of the Technic League, giving segments of the demon army advanced technology.

Qadira- Quadira, like Kelesh itself, falls. The realm is reclaimed by desert and monsters.

Razmiran- The elves from Kyonin almost immediately take over Razmiran with little to no opposition.

Realm of the Mammoth Lords- The giants manages to take the western part of the Realm. The Eastern part, being too close to the Worldwound, is generally avoided. Deskari's followers and Kostchtie's might do some trading or form temporary alliances, but I suspect there wouldn't be any major long-term cooperation or warfare between them when they both have other bigger things to worry about.

The River Kingdoms- Most of the land here is taken by the elves. Most of what isn't gets taken by the fae. Outsea remains present, but has no real political sway.

Taldor- The empire falls apart. Small demihuman communities remain in various places. Fae and monsters retake most of the land.

Ustalav- Undead take over. Vampires rule from Caliphas. Conte Tiriac snaps when he realizes that undeath was the only thing that saved him from whatever just happened and embraces being a vampire, joining up with the other undead leaders. Followers of the Whispering Way work to release Tar Baphon and likely succeed eventually, as the demon invasion has taken most of the attention of the remaining paladins and the like. Ustalav will likely ally itself with the now-expansionist Geb and possibly also Nidal.

Varisia- Northwest Varisia is taken by the elves. Southwest Varisia becomes one of two centers of a revived serpentfolk empire. Northeast Varisia gets taken over by giants; worship of Kostichtie is initially negligible but will likely increase over time as his influence spreads. Southeast Varisia, in the form of undead, Rakshashas, and assorted devils from Korvosa, under the leadership of Bahor Arkona and Lorthact, manages to negotiate an uneasy peace with new-Cheliax. The runelords, though Zutha and possibly others survive thanks to being posthuman, fail to wake up in time for any of them to sieze a slice of the newly open pie and manage to retain their general current roles as slumbering wizard tyrants of great power.

Worldwound- The demons break through the wards around The Worldwound almost immediately and begin pouring south and east. Ustalav, thanks to its undead lords, is generally avoided, whereas Mendv and Numeria fall almost immeidiately. The demon tide is eventually met by a combined force of dwarves and elves and held back again in a much-loo-ser-bordered and much larger Worldwound. The demon horde is stalled less through the power of its opposition and more by Deskeri's new problem: the Qlippoth retaking the Abyss. Deskeri probably eventually makes a personal retreat onto Golarion and seals the Worldwound behind him, taking over leadership of his rapacious demon-nation personally.

-----------------------

Garund:

Alkenstar and the Mana Wastes- A group of nonhuman refugees takes up residence here to hide from the undead army that's ravaging Nex. They establish a small, isolated post-apocalypic pocket civilization that has to fend off wandering zombies and monsters from the wastes.

Geb- Geb himself vanishes almost immediately, as the disappearance of mankind finally convinces him that Nex is gone or dead. Arazni and the bloodlords take control, and, realizing that Nex's treasures are the most unguarded that they've been in centuries, invade to the north. Geb becomes an expansionist undead powerhouse that begins allying itself with other undead forces around the planet.

Jalmeray- Jalmeray becomes an mysterious place filled with bound planar beings and treasure, but nearly no people.

Katapesh- The Pactmasters remain in power and keep their golem army. Trade is initially disrupted, but they resume trade with the world's new nations and forces once things start settling down.

Mediogalti- Large sections of the Red Mantis leadership vanish, resulting in a bunch of elves and other nonhuman agents getting promotions. The island's non-Mantis population becomes negligible.

Mwangi Expanse- Ruthazek initially makes progress expanding with his empire of gorillas. He is eventually stopped by the serpentfolk, who quite possibly manage to resurrect Ydersius (possibly killing a now-followerless Waukena for his divine spark in the process). The gorillas eventually lose out to and are driven back by the serpentfolk, who begin expanding throughout the jungle.

Nex- Nex is overtaken quickly by Geb in a massive invasion. Various parts contain lost magic, strange mutants, and undying guardians whose masters suddenly vanished from the world.

Osirion- Osirion is slow to recover, but is eventually taken over by mummies of ancient pharoahs and their undead servants. It possibly allies itself with Geb.

Rahadoum- Rahadoum's civilization crumbles. The land becomes fertile once again with the wrath of the gods no longer so finely directed towards it.

Sargava- Sargava depopulates and is eventually overtaken by the serpentfolk once their expanding empire gets that far.

The Shackles- The Shackles depopulate. The region probably becomes a place full of known treasure hordes and deadly trap-filled dungeons left by now-vanished pirate kings. Some nonhuman pirates remain in positions of power.

The Sodden Lands- The Sodden Lands remain a place of monsters, rain, and marsh.

Thuvia- Thurvia becomes desolate. Divs begin building a strong powerbase in the desert, and this power build-up is generally unnoticed due to their now-remote location.

-----------------------

Tian Xia:

Amanandar- Amanandar is, fortunately for most of its remaining inhabitants, occupied partially by Jinin and partially by Kwanlai.

Bachuan- Bachuan becomes generally depopulated, but none of its neighbors rush in to fill the gap, as they are occupied by other things.

Chu Ye- Chu Ye puts itself in a position of authority at the head of an alliance that includes Kaoling and South Minkai. The oni, lording over a successful hobgoblin empire, become a major threat to the non-evil nations of the continent that aren't to the far south.

Darklands of Tian Xia- The darklands over here remain generally unchanged.

Dtang Ma- Dtang Ma is taken over by Nagajor in its consolodation of the south.

Forest of Spirits- The Forest absorbs the top portion of Minkai and becomes a stronghold for the Kami. The oni manage to keep the Kami from spreading, but the kami put up an effective defensive front.

Goka- Goka becomes controlled by nonhumans and becomes surprisingly self-sufficient. It takes hold of nearby lands around it, but does not expand far, becoming a less lawless version of Kowloon.

Hongal- Some parts of southern Hongal are taken by various minor oni, but the land generally returns to wilderness.

Hwanngot- Southern Hwangott is taken by the Nagajor-dragon alliance. Northern Hwangott is generally left abandoned.

Jinin- The elves take up arms in defense of the land against the combined hobgoblin-oni forces and other threats. Jinin forms an alliance with Kwanlai Zi Ha, and Tianjing, creating a stable central core for the contient that can resist the eastern and northwestern forces.

Kaoling- Kaoling expands in power greatly, beginning a sweeping conquest to the south. Oni from Chu Ye and Minkai take postions of leadership in an alliance with the expanding hobgoblin empire.

Kwanlai- Kwanali gains power as its tengu population survives the vanishing generally unscathed. It quickly allies with the elves and samsarans to protect the core of the continent from the oni, hobgoblins, jorogumo, krakens, and other things.

Lingshen- Liangshen is conquered by the hobgoblins of the north. Its sheer size is all that keeps them from expanding faster.

Minata- Wayang rule large parts of Minata, which suffers little political shifting overall.

Minkai- Northern Minkai is retaken by the Forest of Spirts and the kami. Southern Minkai becomes the dominion of the oni, who ally with their bretheren from Chu Ye.

Nagajor- Nagajor does well thanks to its nonhuman population. Its leaders ally with Pham Duc Kwan and the remaining pureblood dragons from Xa Hoi and take control of most of the south of Tian Xia in an orderly, generally peaceful manner.

Po Li- Parts of Po Li are abandoned and merge with the wilderness being formed from Hwangott and Bachuan. Other parts are taken by the expanding Nagajor.

Quain- Quain is far enough to the south of Kaoling to not be immediately overwhelmed by hobgoblins. It will probably become the primary location of a war between downwards-expanding hobgoblins and upwards-expanding nagas.

Shaguang- It becomes completely desolate. The tribes are gone, as are the remaining Shory. Monsters take over the flying city, and the desert below is generally ignored.

Shenmen- The jorogumo maintain power but lose a large part of their enslaved work force. This leads to them avoiding too much aggression and searching for subtle alliances, probably finding one with the oni, exchanging raw materials from their mines for new slaves.

Shokuro- Shokuro is quickly taken by the nearby elves of Jinin and absorbed into the elven nation peacefully.

Tianjing- The asaimar remain present and join the central alliance with the elves, samsarans, and tengu.

Valashmai Jungle- The jungle remains generally the same, as the priorities of the naga empire lie to the north, not the south.

Wall of Heaven- The mountains remain generally the same; Leng's denizens probably make some headway.

Xa Hoi- Xa Hoi, having lost its human population, allies itself with Nagajor, which retains a strong population base. Its dragons become close allies of the naga government and maintain positions of power and influence thanks to their natural abilities.

Xidao- The kraken Wanshou retains power, but lacks a large nonhuman force for expansion. Xidao remains generally the same, but stands as a general block between Chu Ye and Kwanlai.

Zi Ha- The samsarans ally themselves with the tengu, elves, and asaimar to prevent the oni and hobgoblins from gaining too much power.

-----------------------

Crown of the World:

Almhult- The land is suddenly depopulated and overtaken by the expansionist frost giants.

Hasanaliat- The land is suddenly depopulated and overtaken by the expansionist frost giants.

Khorkii Clans- This place vanishes as a nation, becoming indistinguishable from the wilderness.

Osman Confediration- This place vanishes as a nation, becoming indistinguishable from the wilderness.

Ulaagor Clans- This place vanishes as a nation, becoming indistinguishable from the wilderness.

Urjuk- Allies itself with the giants of Irrisen and becomes a second center for the new giant empire.

Yumyzyl- This place vanishes as a nation, becoming indistinguishable from the wilderness.

Zavaten Gura- The dwarves build up defensively, generally isolated from all civilization save that of giants.

-----------------------

Casmaron:

Iobaria- Civilization as it presently stands vanishes. Cyclopes and degenerate giants begin reasserting control in the region.

Nonhuman cultists of Rovagug probably begin seizing lands near the Pit of Gormuz.

-----------------------

Arcadia

Not enough information.

-----------------------

Sarusan

Not enough information.

-----------------------

Other Planets of Note:

Castrovel- Elves leave Sovyrian en-masse to retake Golarion.

-----------------------

Other Planes of Note:

Leng- Leng's denizens now face less opposition in their plans, and they lack the decrease-in-arriving-souls problem that most of the major planes have. Overall, Ling's plans are probably furthered.

The Abyss- The tide of mortal souls into the Abyss (like most planes) suddenly dries up, resulting in far less demons being produced. The qlippoth lords notice this and surge up from the Abyss's depths, retaking most of the plane from the demons. Most demon lords, excluding Lamashtu, Kostchtie, and Pazuzu are forced into a defensive war and some are probably killed. Some, most likely including Deskari, flee to other planes. Kostchctie's forces are bolstered by the reknewed sway of frost (and other) giants; with Baba Yaga's children gone, Kostchtie probably manages to kill her and reclaim his full power, usurping Nocticula's postion as the second-strongest demon lord behind Lamashtu. Lamashtu, thanks to her monstrous and nonhuman worshippers, manages to remain a potent power. Pazuzu, thanks to his avian followers, manages to retain his power and remain a thorn in her side.

Axis- Compared to the other planes, which have lost the mortal souls used to produce their primary denizens, Axis is doing excellent. Inevitables, unlike all of the other major planar races, are mass-manufactured in huge forges and don't require mortal souls (the mortal souls there go to Axiomites). Axis suddenly has a numerical advantage in reinforcement production that is unprecedented. Law begins to spread to the other planes as Axis takes advantage of this and quickly expands.

-----------------------

Overall an interesting scenario. Thank you for posing it.

Cheliax

Working from the "humanity disappears or is destroyed by a species-wide catastrophe" position:

The last humans are somewhere in the Vaults of Orv. Perhaps protected by their strange gods. Perhaps retreating to avoid the catastrophe.

Various megafauna, previously held in check in many civilized regions, reassert themselves. Some druid shapechangers keep memories and culture of humanity alive, even if they are only beasts that can adopt human shape through strange powers and pacts. Other druid shapechangers seek out and annihilate fragments of the old cultures.

A wasting blight, perhaps divine punishment or perhaps sympathy to the dying or disappeared humanity, spreads to all those races that shaped humanity's blood. The half-orcs and half-elves become mockeries of themselves, half-faded from the world or turned to frightening monsters in their own right. Other races shun their own half-kin, for fear that whatever fate befell humanity might spread to them.

And, on a less serious note, I sort of want to make a veiled reference to "Yor, the Hunter from the Future" or "A Boy and His Dog" or something equally inane, but I can't really come up with anything. Assume that it would have been funny and carry on.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Lord Gadigan wrote:


Leng- Leng's denizens now face less opposition in their plans, and they lack the decrease-in-arriving-souls problem that most of the major planes have. Overall, Ling's plans are probably furthered.

The Abyss- The tide of mortal souls into the Abyss (like most planes) suddenly dries up, resulting in far less demons being produced. The qlippoth lords notice this and surge up from the Abyss's depths, retaking most of the plane from the demons. Most demon lords, excluding Lamashtu, Kostchtie, and Pazuzu are forced into a defensive war and some are probably killed. Some, most likely including Deskari, flee to other planes. Kostchctie's forces are bolstered by the reknewed sway of frost (and other) giants; with Baba Yaga's children gone, Kostchtie probably manages to kill her and reclaim his full power, usurping Nocticula's postion as the second-strongest demon lord behind Lamashtu. Lamashtu, thanks to her monstrous and nonhuman worshippers, manages to remain a potent power. Pazuzu, thanks to his avian followers, manages to retain his power and remain a thorn in her side.

Axis- Compared to the other planes, which have lost the mortal souls used to produce their primary denizens, Axis is doing excellent. Inevitables, unlike all of the other major planar races, are mass-manufactured in huge forges and don't require mortal souls (the mortal souls there go to Axiomites). Axis suddenly has a numerical advantage in reinforcement production that is unprecedented. Law begins to spread to the other planes as Axis takes advantage of this and quickly expands.

The planes of the Outer Sphere are almost incapable of noticing the drying up of souls of one mortal species from one tiny world in the infinite galaxies of the material plane. Business continues as usual except for those entities who already had a particular interest in Golarion.

Aside from that, good stuff.

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