N Large City
Corruption +4; Crime +8; Economy +4; Law +1; Lore +6; Society +1;
Qualities Academic, Rumormongering Citizens, Strategic Location, Tourist Attraction, Prosperous
Disadvantages Reign of Winter, Oppressive Taxes
Government Autocratic Vassalage (Lord-Mayor, Use Stats for Colonial)
Population ~16,000 (~13,400 Humans, ~800 Halflings, ~700 Dwarves, ~500 Gnomes, ~150 Half-Elves, ~150 Half Orcs, ~300 Other)
Notable NPCs Lord-Mayor Haldmeer Grobaras (N Male Human Aristocrat 8)
Viorian Dekanti, Champion of Shalast (NE Female Human Fighter 18)
The Wardens of Runes (Four LE Male Rune Giants)
Base Value 12800 gp; Purchase Limit 75000 gp; Spellcasting 8th
Minor Items 4d4; Medium Items 3d4; Major Items 2d4
Reign of Winter Due to the ongoing supernatural winter that plagues the Inner Sea, food prices have soared, as have warm clothing and winter gear, and crime has soared as people steal food and supplies. Effects +2 Crime, -1 Economy, +5 Danger; Food Prices have Quadrupled, Winter gear Prices have doubled, and some may not be freely available.
Oppressive Taxes The populace are oppressively taxed, and no one feels it worse than those with lower incomes. Effects +4 Crime, -1 Economy, -2 Law
A Note on Potions, Alchemical Items, and Scrolls: Normally, in order to keep these fragile items safe, they are kept deep in backpacks/pouches/etc. In order to retrieve one of these items as a move action, these items must be placed in a way to be retrieved easily while also being protected - Bandoliers for Potions and Alchemical Items, and Scroll Cases/Boxes for Scrolls. Weapons are not subject to this. Wands generally can be carried as weapons, in their own holsters or straps. Everything else is considered 'packed away' and needs a full round action to retrieve. *Note: Grappling Hooks are considered weapons*
Starting Level: PCs will start at 1st level.
Alignment: Any (Except Chaotic Evil)
Ability Scores:25 point buy.
HP: Max HP rolls at 1st level. Players will roll or take average for HP from level 2 onward.
Traits: 2 traits, one of which must be a campaign trait.
Story Feats: One free Story feat at 1st level*
Base Starting Money: Maximum Starting for your Class
Races: Any Core - Others possibly available, please ask first.
Classes: All classes from Paizo products. Possible Classes from the Advanced Class Guide
Firearms: Firearms operate under the "commonplace guns" rule
(see Ultimate Combat for more details).
Food Prices: Due to the encroaching Reign of Winter, all prices for food and drink have quadrupled, and may not be for sale at all times in all places.
Coinage: Coins have weight! Many games do not worry about this, but considering this campaign is a dungeon crawl, your loot matters! As a result, 50 coins of any combination = 1 pound. Converting coins into higher value coins (I.E, Copper into silver) or converting coins into gems is subject to a 10% conversion fee. For example, converting 1000 cp into 10 gp will cost you 1 gp (or 100 cp) to do. Karzoug and his minions are the literal representation of greed - they will find any way possible to squeeze money from you, even if you work for Karzoug!
Other Stuffs: Furs, Cold Weather Outfits, Ice-skates, Skis, and Snowshoes, Blackfire Clay, Potions/Scrolls/Wands of Endure Elements have doubled in price thanks to the encroaching Reign of Winter and the greediness of Karzoug's minions. Due to the price, that means players may not start out with a free Cold Weather Outfit - they must purchase one on top of their normal clothing. This is only the purchase price, however - those able to create these items through skills and feats may do so at the normal price.
*You may opt to choose a Story Feat IF you roll one while randomly rolling your background. You do not have to randomly roll your background, but you do not potentially gain the Free Story Feat if you do not. Should you roll randomly but do not gain a Story Feat as part of your rolls, or end up disliking your story feat, you may gain TWO additional traits selected from the ones you rolled. These two bonus traits are not subject to the 'one trait per category' rule.
On Deaths: Because of the large number of players in this campaign, anyone who dies will not be able to make a new character. Resurrections (and other spells like that) are available should the group wish to bring back a player, however.
The Kingdom of Shalast: (Formerly known as Varisia)
Seven years ago, the Runelord of Greed, Karzoug the Claimer, awoke from his ten-thousand year long slumber, ushering in a new era for the people of Varisia. In a campaign that was as short as it was brutal, Karzoug conquered the cities of Riddleport, Magnimar, Sandpoint, and any settlement in between - with the two exceptions of Kaer Maga and Korvosa. Since then, Shalast, as the region is now known by, has seen a horrible transformation. What was once a lush, if dangerous, frontier region has become the center of a new empire, born on the backs of enslaved Giants.
With Karzoug's return, the region would never be the same.
Xin-Shalast: Legendary Capital of Shalast
Located deep in the Kodar Mountains, the capital city of Karzoug's new empire, Xin-Shalast, was rediscovered shortly before the Runelord's return by a group of heroes dedicated to the Runelord's defeat. Failing in their quest, Karzoug rose again and claimed his former capital as the capital of his new empire. Seven years later, the fabled city of Xin-Shalast, having been completely rebuilt from the thousands of years of decay, now rivals Absalom as one of the greatest cities in the Inner Sea. With streets literally paved with gold, no city can better represent the Runelord of Greed. From this mountaintop capital, Karzoug rules his empire with an iron fist.
Sandpoint: Sleepy Town Turned Slave Market
What was once a sleepy little town in the frontier where the failed heroes who opposed Karzoug originated from is now the center of Shalast's slave trade. Ruled by the former Sczarni thug Jubrayl Vhiski, the town has blossomed in size - even if, in a cruel twist of fate, most of the settlement's population are now slaves, brought in from all across Shalast and elsewhere to be traded, sold, or to have their spirits broken and forced into submission.
Barely a year after claiming the town as his own, Karzoug's forces uncovered an old, reawakened Minor Runewell of Wrath beneath the town. Karzoug himself converted the runewell into a Minor Runewell of Greed, now powered by the greedy slavers in the settlement above. Using the runewell as a power source, the Cyphermages have begun reconstructing the Old Light, once a powerful weapon controlled by the Runelord of Wrath, Azlanist. Should the reconstruction be completed, Runelord Karzoug would have a massively powerful weapon at his disposal - a weapon that would ensure few would try to threaten the coast of Shalast again.
Kaer Maga The Besieged City of Strangers
Beset on all sides by the Karzoug the Claimer, Queen Ileosa of Korvosa, and a force of Belkzen Orcs, the independent city of Kaer Maga has fallen on hard times. With no sides willing to let the city fall into the hands of anyone else, the three sides have effectively besieged the settlement, while simultaneously working to infiltrate it for their cause.
To the south, Queen Ileosa of Korvosa maintains her forces primarily at the small hamlet of Sirathu - a former holding Kaer Maga, ceded to its southern neighbor over fifty years ago. The hamlet is now the site of a growing fortress, manned by the Korvosan Military. While previously the poorest and furthest settlement ruled by Queen Ileosa, the settlement has had a surprising increase in commerce thanks to its military occupation.
To the west sits Runelord Karzoug's forces of enslaved giants. Though arguably the strongest force of the three, they are also the smallest - Runelord Karzoug has only devoted a portion of his armies to maintaining the siege and keeping Queen Ileosa at bay, for the rest of his army is busy subjugating the Ulfen far to the north. Despite being the smallest force of the three, Karzoug's armies are comprised primarily of giants and other powerful beings - not to mention a network of powerful mages.
To the north, the Orcs of Belkzen operate their forces primarily from the city of Urglin, previously an indepedent city in its own right. Where the Orcs control the least amount of land in Varisa between the three besieging parties, they are nevertheless a very real threat to both Kaer Maga and their two rivals. Their raiders are fast, hardy, and savage - and neither Queen Ileosa or Runelord Karzoug has yet to spare the manpower to take the Orcs out, for doing so would give the other the perfect opportunity to strike.
However, Kaer Maga is not alone in their plight. A new, previously unknown ally has been found. Though their origin remains unclear, be it a portal to another world buried deep beneath Kaer Maga, or recently designed by the artificers of the Ardoc family, the enigmatic Wyrwood have nontheless proven to be invaluable in the continued survival of the city.
These small, halfling-sized constructs made of wood and metal, have bolstered the city's defenses with their unyielding vigil. Though alien and cold in their behavior, would it not for their assistance, Kaer Maga would have doubtlessly fallen by now, especially with the encroaching Reign of Winter. Supplying the city with food of dubious origins and quality, the Wyrwood have also helped the denizens of Kaer Maga defend their city by assisting in the construction of an army of clockwork soldiers which guard the ramparts against incursions from Karzoug, Ileosa, or the Orcs.
While some believe the Ardocs have control of the Wyrwood, others point to facts that disprove those claims. Though the Ardoc Family is undoubtly filled with extremely skilled artificers who have specialized in the construction of magical constructs, the Wyrwood are a cut above even the Ardoc's best creations - and seem to have their own agenda above and beyond the agenda of the Ardocs.
Some, however, question the motives of this alien, mechanical race. These doubters, though grateful thus far for the assistance the Wyrwood have offered, worry that the mechanical beings are simply using Kaer Maga as a beachhead for an eventual invasion from wherever they originate from - others believe they are using what resources the city on hand to simply procreate their own race - abandoning the city to its fate once resources run out - or turning on the population, using them as slave labor.
However, no such proof of these claims exist, and for now, the Wyrwood are a welcome presence in Kaer Maga.
Magnimar: City of Monuments
Though not first on his list of targets, Karzoug wasted no time in conquering the city. However, compared to Riddleport and Sandpoint, Magnimar came out almost entirely unscathed - thanks entirely to the city's Lord-Mayor, a portly nobleman by the name of Haldmeer Gorbaras. Though not wielding absolute power within the city, as the city is run jointly by the Lord-Mayor's Office and the Council of Ushers, Gorbaras none-the-less acted entirely alone when he contacted the approaching Karzoug and sold his city out to the Runelord. Though by doing so, he spared the city devastation and enslavement at the hands of Karzoug's Giant armies, he did it out of cowardice and greed, not selflessness. Knowing that Karzoug would make an example out of the city's leaders, Gorbaras allied himself with the Runelord, allowing him to remain in office. Indeed, with the Council of Ushers now being filled entirely by Karzoug's faithful, Gorbaras has had unprecidented power over his city - a city whose motto of "Where Freedom Can Never Be Lost" is no longer valid.
Though now thoroughly one of Karzoug's Vassals, the 'City of Monuments' has changed surprisingly little. The native Shoanti, Varisians, and Sczarni are still as poor as ever, while the city's aristocracy gets fatter and richer by the day. The Summit, or the portion of the city resting on the massive cliff overlooking the rest of the city, has become more and more splendid thanks to its rising fortunes, while the Shore - or the portion of the city resting in the Summit's shadow, has become more and more poverty-stricken thanks to the increased level of taxes. Crime, though never as bad nor as organized as in Riddleport, has increased substantially as the poorer folk try harder and harder just to make ends meet. The Shadow, meanwhile, has suffered the least, surprisingly enough - as it has always been a place of poverty, crime, and destitution.
In addition to becoming Karzoug's Vassal, the city - and by that extension, Lord-Mayor Gorbaras, is 'advised' by none other than Karzoug's greatest champion, a former Mercenary Guildmaster from Riddleport known as Viorian Dekanti, wielder of the Sword of Greed, Chellan. She is not alone in this task, either, as numerous of Karzoug's Rune Giants accompany her, often seen patrolling the outskirts of the city. These Rune Giants, standing forty-feet tall, dwarf most of the settlment's structures as they patrol, a constant reminder of who the city now serves. Other giants, including Fire and Stone giants, patrol the city's streets as a further reminder.
The Cyphermages, based in Xin-Shalast itself, have expanded their holdings recently to Magnimar - with the city being built upon an ancient Thassilonian bridge, opportunity is ripe for the Cyphermages to uncover lost artifacts to appease their lord. Rumor has it, however, that they are opposed within the city by a group of Sczarni-backed Pathfinders, some of the few who were not absorbed by the Cyphermages. Whether or not this is true, however, has yet to be seen.
Were it not for the Order of the Cyphers, Riddleport might now be little more than a smoldering pile of ruins. When Karzoug awoke and eventually worked his way to Riddleport, he had originally intended to decimate the city, for he considered it to be a useless haven for pirates and thieves. His only interest in the city was his Cyphergate - a powerful, though currently dormant, tool that allowed Karzoug to peer forward in time, ultimately allowing him to survive Earthfall. On the cusp of preparing to destroy the city, Karzoug was contacted by the leader of the Cyphermages, a mage and crimelord known as Elias Tammerhawk. Elias, who had discovered that the very creator of his obsession was now alive and on his way to his very city, wasted no time in securing an alliance with Karzoug - and promising to hand over Riddleport to the Runelord in exchange for its survival.
Aided by some of Karzoug's minions, Elias staged a bloody - and spectacularly flashy - coup against the then-current Overlord of Riddleport, a notorious ex-pirate known as Gaston Cromarcky, obliterating the Overlord's manor in a spectacular hail of fire and magic, much to the rest of the city's enjoyment (For the fireworks) and fear (For the fact he'd do it to them too, if required). Considering that Elias had already become the most powerful crimelord before Karzoug ever awoke, the succession was unchallenged and immediately accepted by the rest of the city - the added fact that Elias had saved the city from destruction by the hands of Karzoug only further secured the city's support.
Elias, though now Overlord of Riddleport, has since lost his position as leader of the Cyphermages - in no small part due to the fact that he specializes in the School of Divination. Karzoug, considering the school worthless as a subject of specialization by itself, has since promoted one of his own apprentices to the position, a Sin Mage of Transmutation, much like the Runelord himself. Elias, unhappy with the turn of events, nevertheless plays his part, knowing that he would full well be destroyed should he try and convince Karzoug otherwise.
Though as crime-ridden as ever, Riddleport has blossomed under Karzoug's rule, even more than it did under Gaston's. Finding new employ under Elias, the Riddleport Gendarmes have continued to enforce the laws of the city. Riddleport has also become one of Shalast's primary ports, the city having long since had connections to the sea anyways - and as a result, it has become the foremost naval port of Karzoug's steadily growing navy.
As for the Cyphergate, Karzoug currently has no way to power the structure - though rumors persist that the Cyphermages are working towards that end. Once the Cyphergate is operational again and at his disposal, it is likely he would use it to great effect against his enemies.
The Order of Cyphers: The Cyphermages
With the Order of the Cyphers officially coming under the rule of Karzoug, they have become the foremost experts on recovering lost Thassilonian artifacts for their new leige. Having relocated their headquarters from Riddleport to Xin-Shalast four years ago has been to the great benefit of the Order. Their numbers have swelled as have their fortunes. However, it has been only recently that the Order of the Cyphers has moved to Magnimar. Though the city is built upon an ancient bridge that was once part of Bakrakhan, the Realm of Wrath, the Order had difficulty finding anyone particularly interested in the city - the vast majority of the Order's veteran members were too busy enjoying themselves in Xin-Shalast - and everyone else was too new or inexperienced to fully take on the responsibility of running a Magnimar Cypherlodge. This is doubly so because of the city's rampant crime under Karzoug's taxes, not to mention rumors of both disappearances and renegade Pathfinders stirring up trouble.
However, just barely a year ago, the Cyphermages had a new recruit up for the job - an experienced wizard who had fled Kaer Maga some years prior named Taros Ardoc - one of the infamous Ardoc Brothers, known experts at magical construction - constructs especially. Taros, making his way to Riddleport, quickly proved adept at researching ancient Thassilon and eventually offered to open a Cypherlodge in Magnimar - the leadership heartily agreed.
Taros, using funds aided by the Cyphermages, opened up Magnimar's first Cypherlodge in what had been previously known as Heidmarch Manor - once the home of a pair of famous Pathfinders by the same name. With the city coming under Karzoug's rule, however, the manor had been abandoned and left to rot, despite being in city's prestigious Alabaster District. Quickly working to fix up the old manor, Taros Ardoc is finally ready to open it to new recruits - new recruits eager to plum the secrets of Magnimar's famous monuments.