Strap in, Pathfinders, because we're entering the home-stretch of our grand tour around the Age of Lost Omens, as presented in next month's Lost Omens World Guide hardcover sourcebook. We've spent a lot of time over the last few weeks on the continent of Garund, but now we're headed back to where it all began way back in 2007 with the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path—the northern stretch of Avistan now known as the Saga Lands!
Throughout Pathfinder's history, no region has been as thoroughly explored in the pages of our adventures as the frontier land of Varisia. For millennia, the untamed land was defined by its ancient past, as Varisians, Shoanti, and explorers and colonists from distant lands all eked out a living in the shadow of cyclopean Thassilonian ruins. But in the past decade, the long-dormant runelords awakened and attempted to reclaim their former empire. Alaznist, Karzoug, Krune, Xanderghul, and Zutha have all been defeated, and the powerful heroes who foiled their plans now watch over the land, leading many to hope for a safer future for inhabitants of cities like Korvosa and Magnimar. As the latter grows in prominence to become the largest and most influential Varisian settlement, Korvosa continues to decline, even under the new leadership of Cressida Kroft, who took over in the wake of the tyrannical, plague-tainted rule of Queen Ileosa.
But Magnimar is far from the only kingdom in resurgence. In the northern reaches of Varisia—the hilly plains of the Nolands and the impossibly high Kodar Mountains—the two surviving runelords have claimed a new kingdom of their own: New Thassilon! Under the conflicting rules of envious Runelord Belimarius and the less expansionist Runelord Sorshen, New Thassilon is already on the brink of civil war as the two powerful wizards vie for contril of the new kingdom. From her capital of Xin-Edasseril off Varisia's western coast, Belimarius already sets her sights on the elven forest of Celwynvian and the southern Lands of the Linnorm Kings, but these long-established lands are not so quick to roll over and bow before the upstart runelord. Sorshen has set her capital in Xin-Shalast, high in the Kodar Mountains, where no one has claimed the land since before Earthfall. With no feuds for territory (other than from Belimarius, who has no desire to share power), Sorshen has opened the isolated city up to outcasts and exiles from across the world, promising them a safe place to live their lives free from the oppression of their enemies.
To the north, the balance of power in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings has shifted, and three new linnorm crowns sit upon new brows. King Thira Ash-Eyes earned her right to rule Kalsgard after her father, King Svienn Blood-Eagle departed for Valenhall across the sea, leaving the throne vacant for her should she slay a linnorm (she did). In Icemark, the Varki ranger Nankou surprised many by being the first non-Ulfen to earn the title. In the southern city of Jol, the famed adventurer Ostog the Unslain puts his moniker to the test as the Linnorm King closest to Runelord Belimarius's lands. What great sagas of these new Linnorm Kings and the mighty heroes who vie for future vacant thrones will be told in the near future? Perhaps some wise skald will regale us with tales of heroism in another decade's time.
Relations between the Ulfen of the Lands of the Linnorm Kings and the Jadwiga of its eastern neighbor, Irissen, have cooled in recent years (pun intended), thanks to the rise of Queen Anastasia, who hails from a distant world where magic is less prevalent. While not a daughter of Baba Yaga like the ice queens who preceded her, the legendary witch's blood nevertheless flows through her veins. A much more benevolent ruler than past queens, Anastasia gives the people of Irrisen and its neighbors hope for a better future. Nevertheless, the constant winter of the enchanted land continues, and rumors of Baba Yaga's presence in the land out of season persist. Could the mother of witches have plans to reassert control over the land by placing a new daughter on the throne in Anastasia's place?
Like the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, the Realm of the Mammoth Lords to Irrisen's east seems on the precipice of peace for the first time in over a century, as the threats of winter witches to the west, the demons of the Worldwound to the east, and the orcs of Belkzen to the south have all subsided. This has allowed the nomadic Kellids of the harsh taiga to travel farther into all three neighboring lands in their seasonal hunts of the region's megafauna than ever before. Despite the lack of open antagonists on their borders, potential conflicts with repatriating Sarkorians, xenophobic Irrisens, and those orcs not focused on the Whispering Tyrant's forces on their southern border could all prove problematic for the migratory Mammoth Lord holdings. After all, honor is everything and tempers can flare, and it just takes one spark to start a fire that could set the entire plain ablaze.
Players from this region may select from seven new backgrounds like Shoanti name-bearer, Thassilonian traveler, and winter's child, or take the runescarred archetype, while arcane and primal spellcasters can learn the wintery snowball spell!
Check this space on Thursday for a new piece of flash fiction by Liane Merciel to inspire new stories of adventure in players and Game Masters alike, and then next Tuesday for the final meta-region of the Age of Lost Omens campaign setting: the Shining Kingdoms. Until then, Pathfinders, may your exploits be marked in the sagas of the gods!
The Saga Lands
Tuesday, July 23, 2019