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Golarion Fans - help me!


Pathfinder Campaign Setting General Discussion

Cheliax

Okay, here's the situation. I've just picked up the Inner Sea World Guide two days ago. I've had time to read the introduction and the timeline, glance at the map, and skim the various ethnicities and races.

As the DM for my group, I'd hoped to get a couple weeks with this book. Unfortunately, my gaming schedule just got moved around, a player dropped out and a new player joined in, and - long story short - my first game in Golarion is now scheduled for tonight... and I know virtually nothing about the setting.

What I'm asking you Golarion fans out there is this:

What are the absolute most important things I need to know about the Golarion/Inner Sea setting, and about running a game in Golarion? For what it's worth, I think I'll be starting a game in Absalom, because it looks like one of those "a place for everything" cities (like Sharn or Waterdeep). Also because it's the first entry in the book, and the only one I've had time to read so far. : /

Also, if anyone knows of any any quick-and-easy adventure ideas that I can start off with - maybe something in an isolated area that doesn't require a lot of background or regional information - then I'm listening!

If it helps or matters, all I know about my party is that the PCs will be nonevil, my girlfriend will definately be playing a human witch, and my brother's girlfriend will probably be playing an orc (or half-orc) fighter.

What I'd most like, though, is maybe a quick list of the top ten (or however many) most important facts and factors I'll want to know or consider when starting and running a game in Golarion (and more specifically in Absalom, unless someone has a better idea). I'm perfectly comfortable "winging" an adventure, but only when I have a grasp of the setting. Help a guy out!

Thanks in advance, Golarion fans!


Have you considered making the PCs into Pathfinders? The reason I ask is that the first scenario of Pathfinder Society Organized Play "First Steps" series is a FREE PDF and gives the players an introduction to the city by way of several small quests on behalf of the Society.

You don't have to play this scenario as part of Pathfinder Society Organized Play (but you can, even with your home game) and it will fit into about 4 hours or so. Whether you would want to set up the PCs as newly established members of the Pathfinder Society in-game is up to you- they could easily just be mercenaries hired by the Society to perform this list of tasks instead.

At any rate, that is my advice considering you have very little time to prepare a scenario in the city (or environs)... Oh, there is also Master of the Fallen Fortress which might be a good choice as well. (Assuming in both these cases your starting them off at first level.)

Osirion

Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

For Absalom: be sure to read the entries about Aroden and his demise as well as the entries for the ascended gods (Norgorber, Caidan, Iomedae).
For Adventure ideas that ar actually intended for beginners: you got lucky. You might (depending on your group) want to personalize the quests a bit to get rid of the Pathfinders, but it is doable (probably easier then to come up with an adventure before tonight).
Aaaand ninjad ;-)

Cheliax

Thanks for the tip, I'll definately be looking at the module. Unfortunately, my PCs will be starting at 3rd level (that's just the way we've been doing it for years). I'm sure I can scale the adventure up, though.

What about the world itself? Are there any major themes I should be aware of, or any big thematic changes to the way any given race is handled in Golarion? Are there any monsters that have majorly different roles? Is there anything that's common (or uncommon) in Golarion that's exactly the opposite in most other settings?

Also, how rare are monstrous PCs like orcs? In Eberron (our usual gig) they're absolutely everywhere. In Faerun, orcs and drow are run out of town (if they're lucky).

Oh, and how "high level" is the world? Is it closer to Eberron (a 5th-level guy could easily be the top dog in town) or to Faerun (everyone seems to be about mid-level, and the mayor is retired 16th-level adventurer)?

What are Golarion's low-level threats (like orcs and goblins in Faerun, or the the Valenar, the Emerald Claw, and the various cults in Eberron), and are low-level threats, really threats to any part of the world? One of Faerun's failings as a setting, in my opinion, was the credibility-stretching idea that the low-level orcs and goblins that early adventures always sic you after could really threaten the high-powered world and the NPCs who lived there.

As far as believable low-level threats, what would you guys suggest?

Cheliax

Oh, one more thing. Why is/was Aroden so important that the world went to hell when he died? And how did he die, anyway?

Also, regarding the "Starstone" in Absalom... is there an excerpt that will tell me (or "suggests" to me) why it's so important, exactly what it does, or why it has a cathedral on top of it that makes mortals into gods?

Osirion

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

Major themes:
Pathfinders - an organization of adenturers, savants and tomb raiders, collecting tales and artifacts (not necessarily in the big time magic sense of the word) on account of a mysterious inner circle, not necessarily 'good guys with good intentions'.

Cheliax and former cheliax: One of the big human kingdoms turned diabolist after the dead of their main deity (Aroden, 'racial deity of men') and the turmoil when he died instead of starting a new golden age. Several other nations (Andoras, Galt) were former Cheliaxan fiefs that split in part due to the diabolization of the rulers.

Arodens death invalidated any 'ancient prophecy' that might have existed, nor big prohecy turned true since his demise, no new big prophecy was made.

Golarion is very human-centric. The kingdoms of the elves (Kyonin) and the Dwarves (Five Kings Mountains) pale in comparison, their cultural influence on humanity is almost non-existant.

The Starfall changed the face of golarion forever about 10.000 years ago. Highly evolved human civilizations (Azlant, Tassilon) were obliterated, the shape of the land changed, centuries of darkness (literally, the sun was blocked by smoke and ashes) followed. The Dwarves and the Orks reached the surface in that age. Aroden himself was the last of the Azlanti, a powerful [wizard?] who rose to godhood after rising the starstone from the oceans depth and founded (perhaps even created) the city of absalom.

Races that are different then in other settings:
Halflings, underestimated, valued as slaves (where slavery is legal), live more or less among humans, not halfling nation, no 'travelling folk'

Gnomes are exiles from the Fey realm (the first world), fearing not death throug age but death through paling (they lose their vibrant colors if their life turns too dull)

Elves are aliens that fled to their homeworld through portals during the time of darkness and are only recently returning. Elves look different (larger ears, monocolored eyes). Elves that live and lived among humans are called 'forlorn' because being surrounded by death took some toll on their souls.

Some really big monsters (Tarrasqe) are the spawn of a god called Rovagug, a more or less enthropic monster incarcerated by the other gods.

No 'blood war' between demons and devils

The archdevil Asmodeus is actually a god, several other archdevils and demons can act as quasi deities and are probably thought of as gods by their cults.

The Dark Tapestry: Full monty of lovecraftian horrors, including the elder gods and the great old ones.

Golarion is lower level. For most NPC the 'level cap' is around lvl. 9 (much lower in most villages and small towns), most nations rulers are around lvl. 15.

Hope that helps.

Osirion

Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Garden Tool wrote:

Oh, one more thing. Why is/was Aroden so important that the world went to hell when he died? And how did he die, anyway?

Also, regarding the "Starstone" in Absalom... is there an excerpt that will tell me (or "suggests" to me) why it's so important, exactly what it does, or why it has a cathedral on top of it that makes mortals into gods?

The Starstone is some very powerful force that was among the big rocks that crashed into golarion at Starfall. The exact nature of its power was not revealed, though the irony that the anti-deist Aboleths whose magic brought down those rocks (to obliterate humanity) brought something like a rock that can make gods to the world is a nice touch.

Andoran

Garden Tool wrote:
Oh, one more thing. Why is/was Aroden so important that the world went to hell when he died? And how did he die, anyway?

Nobody knows how Aroden died. Prior to his death he was the God of Humanity, and prophesied to begin a Goldn Age...and then he died instead. Seers went insane everywhere and prophecy became unreliable. Also, his death started a number of interesting developments, like Cheliax switching over to worship of Asmodeus (and, due to that, the fragmentation of it's world-spanning empire as people rebelled).

Garden Tool wrote:
Also, regarding the "Starstone" in Absalom... is there an excerpt that will tell me (or "suggests" to me) why it's so important, exactly what it does, or why it has a cathedral on top of it that makes mortals into gods?

The Starstone's precise nature is uncertain. It was the meteor the Aboeths used to cause an extinction event to mess with the elves and all the others who lived on Golarion's surface at the time...but they just grabbed any old meteor, not knowing what it was.

Aroden raised it from the sea long ago and placed it in what is now Absalom. People can enter it's temple and take the Test of the Starstone to become a God. All evidence suggfests that the Stone itself is what causes the God thing. It's other powers and true nature are unknown, probably even to the Gods.


As far as Aroden goes there is a thread with discussion/links here.

The Starstone is detailed here.

Hope this stuff helps.

Cheliax

ub3r_n3rd wrote:

As far as Aroden goes there is a thread with discussion/links here.

The Starstone is detailed here.

Hope this stuff helps.

Interesting stuff. Did the Starstone fall out of the sky / rise out of the ocean with a citadel on it, or did someone build it there?

Also: are the Pathfinders based out of Absalom?

Andoran

Garden Tool wrote:
Interesting stuff. Did the Starstone fall out of the sky / rise out of the ocean with a citadel on it, or did someone build it there?

Aroden built it when he relocated the Starstone to it's current location.

Garden Tool wrote:
Also: are the Pathfinders based out of Absalom?

They are indeed, though they tend to travel all over, and often have Lodges elsewhere, too.

Osirion

Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

It fell from the sky with a couple of other rocks that caused the apocalyptic event called 'starfall', initiated by powerful aboleth magic. It is said that aroden raised the starstone from the oceans floor and created the cathedral.

The main (grand) lodge of the Pathfinders is indeed located in Absalom.


If you are going to use the modules, there are Three Beginner ones (all free). I would just have your PCs jump back to level 1 and at the completion of each module they get a level, that way by the time the end they will be ready for whatever you throw at them and you get your feet wet with the world.

Cheliax

This is all very helpful. I like the human-centric Golarion approach.

In other news: according to a text from my brother, he'll be playing a Kelshite barbarian from the Realm of the Mammoth Lords (I gave him a link to a Golarion wiki I've been browsing from work today). My girlfriend, who is playing a witch, seems very "Irrisen" by her concept. After reading the entries for these two regions, I feel like this is a problem. Should I discourage the "Irrisen" concept of the witch, or is there any Golarion-friendly trope I can use to justify these two characters in the same party?

Andoran

Garden Tool wrote:

This is all very helpful. I like the human-centric Golarion approach.

In other news: according to a text from my brother, he'll be playing a Kelshite barbarian from the Realm of the Mammoth Lords (I gave him a link to a Golarion wiki I've been browsing from work today). My girlfriend, who is playing a witch, seems very "Irrisen" by her concept. After reading the entries for these two regions, I feel like this is a problem. Should I discourage the "Irrisen" concept of the witch, or is there any Golarion-friendly trope I can use to justify these two characters in the same party?

You mean Kellid. Keleshites are a different group.

And with the game taking place in Absalom, they might just be glad to see someone else who remembers snow.

Alternatively, the Witch might be on the run from the other Witches who rule Irrisen as a whole for being too nice. This would endear her to the Barbarian pretty quick (maybe after some initial hostility), and not be particularly difficult as they are, as a rule, horrible people.

Cheliax

Kellid, yes - that's what I meant.

Regarding the "other witches," are the witches who run the place (and supposedly descended from Baba Yaga) even human? Is Baba Yaga human?

And what would happen to a witch who left Irrisen because she didn't want to fight with the other witches for a position of "nasty ruler of something-or-someplace"?

Would the other witches just be grateful to have that much less competition? Or would they (or some of them) be after her for some reason?

Andoran

Garden Tool wrote:
Regarding the "other witches," are the witches who run the place (and supposedly descended from Baba Yaga) even human? Is Baba Yaga human?

She is indeed, as are her descendants. Though she personally is likely so steeped dark magics it's hard to tell.

Garden Tool wrote:

And what would happen to a witch who left Irrisen because she didn't want to fight with the other witches for a position of "nasty ruler of something-or-someplace"?

Would the other witches just be grateful to have that much less competition? Or would they (or some of them) be after her for some reason?

Hmmm. I think it would depend on what circumstances were involved in the leavetaking. If she just quietly left, well, good riddance. If she burned down someone's Ice Palace and freed their slaves on the way out? Probably a lot of anger and vengeance coming (from that individual anyway). Between those two extremes based on her behavior seems reasonable to me.

Osirion

Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber

No, the descendants of Baba Yaga are not completely human, but they are not the whole ruling class - not nearly every (not even most) witches are descendants of BY.

Andoran

feytharn wrote:
No, the descendants of Baba Yaga are not completely human, but they are not the whole ruling class - not nearly every (not even most) witches are descendants of BY.

Actually, as per James Jacobs (who's the guy who decides this), and Elvanna's (the current Queen's) stats in Inner Sea Magic they are indeed completely human. As is Baba Yaga herself (well, she was originally anyway).

Though you're right about the ruling class not being universally related to her.


You might want to take a look at the Iconic Witch backstory as she is a witch who fled Irrisen

Osirion

Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:
feytharn wrote:
No, the descendants of Baba Yaga are not completely human, but they are not the whole ruling class - not nearly every (not even most) witches are descendants of BY.

Actually, as per James Jacobs (who's the guy who decides this), and Elvanna's (the current Queen's) stats in Inner Sea Magic they are indeed completely human. As is Baba Yaga herself (well, she was originally anyway).

Though you're right about the ruling class not being universally related to her.

Thank you! I must have missed this information from JJ...and ISM rests somewhere among the unread books that started to pile up once I began working on my master paper.

Sczarni

2 people marked this as a favorite.

I'm going to try for a Top Ten Facts:

1. Golarion is fairly low-level. There are not many published adventures for really high-level play; most Adventure Paths end at around 15th-16th level. A 16th level PC will be a world-class badass.

2. Golarion has a lot of gods, with a wide variety of personalities. A player can probably find a god or goddess to worship that fits whatever their character concept happens to be. The gods don't have stats defining their power levels, and they are not arranged in a hierarchy.

3. The gods don't take a lot of direct action on Golarion, mostly choosing to act through their worshippers. This is not for any particular metaphysical reason, it's just because that's how they choose to do things. Different regions can have very different religious situations.

4. Low-level magic is somewhat common, but high-level magic is very rare. Magic does not have much of an effect on the everyday lives or economic actions of most people. This can also vary by region, however.

5. A lot of the nations and regions of Golarion are based on real-world analogs. There's an Egyptian land, and African jungle area, an India land, a revolutionary France land, etc. But not all of the places have real-world equivalents, and don't expect everything to match up exactly.

6. Golarion is a really old world, and there are tons of lost civilizations, ruins, and long-forgotten secrets. Recovering things from the past -- or thwarting ancient threats -- is a common theme for adventures.

7. The main setting is the Inner Sea Region. In this area, there are very few ongoing major wars, but there is a lot of political tension between various former members of crumbling empires. The Inner Sea Region has a very wide variety of different types of societies and cultures.

8. Humans are by far the dominant race. Elves and dwarves have their own small countries and a few outposts. Half-elves and half-orcs are rare individuals in most places. Gnomes are strange eccentrics. Halflings mix freely in human society, but are mostly servants or slaves. Weirder races are rare in most places.

9. Travel is often easier by ship than over land, at least for nations that have coastline on the Inner Sea.

10. There's a good mix of large cities, small villages, and vast wildernesses. You can find just about any kind of terrain to adventure in.

Sczarni

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Also, the best Golarion wiki for this stuff is:

www.pathfinderwiki.com/wiki/Pathfinder_Wiki

Andoran

Trinite wrote:
I'm going to try for a Top Ten Facts:

Most of these are really good information, but a couple need clarification.

Trinite wrote:
1. Golarion is fairly low-level. There are not many published adventures for really high-level play; most Adventure Paths end at around 15th-16th level. A 16th level PC will be a world-class badass.

This is a matter of definition. Up to 8th level or so people can and will crop up fairly commonly, even in medium-small town's (Sandpoint has several 7th to 8th level characters at only 1,240 people), and most country rulers are 15th level or so, with a few higher, or even much higher (the aforementioned Elvanna is listed as 20th level +).

Still, by the teens you're very definitely one of the baddest people most folks you run into have ever met.

Trinite wrote:
5. A lot of the nations and regions of Golarion are based on real-world analogs. There's an Egyptian land, and African jungle area, an India land, a revolutionary France land, etc. But not all of the places have real-world equivalents, and don't expect everything to match up exactly.

The settlement rules from the Gamemastery Guide seem designed with Golarion in mind, making higher level spellcasting a bit more available than this implies, but still uncommon, and unlikely to effect the lives of common people notably.

Sczarni

Deadmanwalking wrote:
Trinite wrote:
I'm going to try for a Top Ten Facts:
Most of these are really good information, but a couple need clarification.

Good points. There are generally plenty of mid-level NPCs, but overall very few high level ones.

Also, 'm going less by the GM Guide settlement rules, and more by what I've experienced in the written modules and AP chapters that I've played so far. There's a good amount of magic, but not a whole lot of high level stuff.

I'd say that adventurers are reasonably likely to run into high level stuff, but your average person in Golarion really isn't. Merchants don't generally teleport stuff around, for instance.

Andoran

Trinite wrote:

Good points. There are generally plenty of mid-level NPCs, but overall very few high level ones.

Also, 'm going less by the GM Guide settlement rules, and more by what I've experienced in the written modules and AP chapters that I've played so far. There's a good amount of magic, but not a whole lot of high level stuff.

I'd say that adventurers are reasonably likely to run into high level stuff, but your average person in Golarion really isn't. Merchants don't generally teleport stuff around, for instance.

Oh, I agree. I wasn't actually disputing your points, just providing additional information on exactly what they might mean in the context of Golarion. After all, some game settings 8th level is considered high.


@OP - Sooo... how did your game go?

Cheliax

OP checking in - thanks again for all your help yesterday, folks.

My game went really well. My players ended up with:

a CN male Kellid barbarian (armored hulk archetype);
a CN female catfolk rogue (bandit archetype, scouting-focused);
a CN female Ulfen witch (necromancy-focused); and
a CG male Varisian cleric of Desna (crusader archetype, Liberation domain)

I browsed the free PDFs and loosely adopted the plot arc of the first one. I changed it significantly, though, to match my group's style (and level - we started at 3rd, as we always do).

(Minor "First Steps" adventure path spoilers ahead.)

As it was, they went after Auntie Gilda's orphanage first. In the adventure path, the Pathfinders are asked to look into an orphanage that seems to be gobbling up donations of aid from the church of Sarenrae like candy. Headmistress Gilda is running a (relatively tame, but still evil) child labor operation, and has become addicted to some of the medicinal drugs the church donates.

In my version of the story, Auntie Gilda isn't just running a child labor outfit, but she's actually using the kids to help run an illegal, tax-free alchemy lab where she experiments with mutagens. Never on the kids, though - she's just a mean old lady whose mutagen "alter-ego" always leaves her wanting more when the effects wear off. She's addicted to the strength and vigor that the mutagen offers, and uses a good portion of the donations of aid from the church of Sarenrae to further her alchemical research.

She never hurts the kids, though, she just sends them on "errands" in running her operation, and dips into the meds every chance she gets.

When Headmistress Gilda became sure that the PCs presence meant that the church was finally becoming suspicious of her, she invited the PCs into the "time out" corner in the basement of the Home. She meant to kill them, or maybe just disable them and dope them up, then leave Absalom to pursue her addiction elsewhere. The PCs beat her down, of course, but they left her alive. They're a CN group, but they're working for a wholly-good-aligned church and saw no reason to kill her outright.

Later on, I'm going to let Auntie Gilda return with a level or two of Master Chymist as a minor, once-recurring villainess.

The combat itself was entertaining. The poor cleric of Desna ended up on a five-foot-wide stairway with his party bottlenecked behind him for a couple of rounds, getting wailed on by a feral-mutagened old lady. My girlfiend's first-ever D&D/Pathfinder character, (the witch), got to steal the spotlight by:

> Sending a summoned earth elemental burrowing into the basement to set up flanking for the cleric and pound on the BBEG.

> Hit the BBEG with a blindness spell, permanently blinding poor Gilda on round 3 or so.

> Nailing the BBEG with a misfortune hex. Even after being blinded, Auntie Gilda was really tearing up the party barbarian (who had finally managed to get between the poor cleric and Gilda) just by swinging blindly and getting lucky on her concealment rolls. The misfortune hex really shut her down.

> Getting the last blow with her summoned earth elemental during the last round of it's duration. It only did about 5 points of damage, but she still got the last hit.

Needless to say, she loved her first game. Yay!

Next game is in a couple weeks. Looking forward to it!

Sczarni

Great! It's so good to hear about new groups starting off well! :D

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