Why is Golarion called "Golarion," in game?


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

Sovereign Court

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Anyone know what the origin/meaning of the name Golarion is, in game?

Grand Lodge

(Isn't it just the name of the planet (Aucturn, Castrovel, Eox, Golarion, etc.)???

I'm curious as to the historical root of the word (name).
How did Cheliax get its name, for example?
Korvosa & Ilsurian were named after people -- what about Magnimar?
Kaer Maga predates Thassilon but where do we get the name?
Is "Azlant" an Aboleth word -- or derive from such? Or is it the human name?

Sovereign Court

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Right. That's what I'm looking for. What is the historical/mythological origin for the name of the planet.

The Exchange

As far as I know, there isn't one. It's one of those "The GM fills in the holes" things.


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I would probably go with "Golarion" meaning "earth" in some ancient dead language.

Alternatively, that could the name of the planet in Elven (since Elves may actually come from Castrovel and thus actually needed a name for the planet they might be on sooner than other races did).


David knott 242 wrote:

I would probably go with "Golarion" meaning "earth" in some ancient dead language.

Alternatively, that could the name of the planet in Elven (since Elves may actually come from Castrovel and thus actually needed a name for the planet they might be on sooner than other races did).

Holy crap, that sounds plausible.

Let's go with that.


Mythic Evil Lincoln wrote:
David knott 242 wrote:

I would probably go with "Golarion" meaning "earth" in some ancient dead language.

Alternatively, that could the name of the planet in Elven (since Elves may actually come from Castrovel and thus actually needed a name for the planet they might be on sooner than other races did).

Holy crap, that sounds plausible.

Let's go with that.

Seconded.


It sounded good at the time.


David knott 242 wrote:

I would probably go with "Golarion" meaning "earth" in some ancient dead language.

Alternatively, that could the name of the planet in Elven (since Elves may actually come from Castrovel and thus actually needed a name for the planet they might be on sooner than other races did).

Isn't it mentioned in "Distant Worlds" that most elves are unaware that their sacred lands are actually on another planet?


Still, it sound more elven than anything. I can definitely see humans adopting the elven term.

In the course of a normal person's life, there's almost no reason to refer to (or even conceive of) a planet as something other than the things they see in the sky.

Referring to the entire planet is something really only required for scholarly/esoteric thought, in which case, they may well have adopted the elven term. The elves themselves may have forgotten the term's origin, but still employ it.

Well folks, there you have it. The word may not have a legitimate etymology, but now it's got a folk etymology, and those often sound better than the real thing!


I can get behind that.


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In Distant worlds, Golarion is referred to as "The Cage" in reference to its role as the prison of Rovagug (also "The Child", I guess for the relatively recent development of civilization). For your campaign, you could decide that Golarion is elven, or ancient elven, or celestial, or what have you, for Cage (or child).


I've never been sold on Golarion as the name for a planet.

The planet you come from, generally, I think, is going to have a short, rather primitive name, because it's going to be or descend-from one of the first words your species ever uttered, or from a similar word for soil, dirt, rock, etc. Earth has a plethora of related, short, primitive names, from all around the world. Because it's like... the first thing our ancestors noticed.

No caveman ever walked out of a cave, looked around him, grabbed a handful of soil, and muttered "Golarion!" Did that caveman also call a bird a "matsophylianscilian," or a rock a "flotsoformilion," or milk "thepsokiltolion?"

Golarion is clearly a more evolved word, probably a compound made from forgotten words from some extinct language.

Now, if, as has been suggested, the name came from a race of elves, who happened to be the first sapient life to visit, I can see that. Golarion would be like Saturn, or Neptune. A name from myth, applied to the planet upon discovery.

Still not fond of the actual word, though. "Golarion." It's clumsy. Also, it sounds exactly like something some astrophysicist grad student would name the new rock or malformed and meteor-stricken dwarf planet he found limping around the asteroid belt.

You can tell I've always loved the name, right?


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Golarion, unlike earth, is a planet that has had many intelligent races and creatures that were here before humanity. So Golarion could be a word from the Aboleth, dragons, Elder Things, The Vault builders, or maybe even the gods themselves.


Dragon78 wrote:
Golarion, unlike earth, is a planet that has had many intelligent races and creatures that were here before humanity. So Golarion could be a word from the Aboleth, dragons, Elder Things, The Vault builders, or maybe even the gods themselves.

Don't forget dwarves.


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Am I The Only One? wrote:

I've never been sold on Golarion as the name for a planet.

The planet you come from, generally, I think, is going to have a short, rather primitive name, because it's going to be or descend-from one of the first words your species ever uttered, or from a similar word for soil, dirt, rock, etc. Earth has a plethora of related, short, primitive names, from all around the world. Because it's like... the first thing our ancestors noticed.

No caveman ever walked out of a cave, looked around him, grabbed a handful of soil, and muttered "Golarion!" Did that caveman also call a bird a "matsophylianscilian," or a rock a "flotsoformilion," or milk "thepsokiltolion?"

Golarion is clearly a more evolved word, probably a compound made from forgotten words from some extinct language.

Now, if, as has been suggested, the name came from a race of elves, who happened to be the first sapient life to visit, I can see that. Golarion would be like Saturn, or Neptune. A name from myth, applied to the planet upon discovery.

Still not fond of the actual word, though. "Golarion." It's clumsy. Also, it sounds exactly like something some astrophysicist grad student would name the new rock or malformed and meteor-stricken dwarf planet he found limping around the asteroid belt.

You can tell I've always loved the name, right?

Well, love or hate it, you've only demonstrated that the Elven etymology is highly plausible regardless of the chewiness of the word itself.

And I like Paladin's potential meaning "Cage", although I agree that "Golarion" sounds like a more elaborate compound meaning... maybe like "The God's Cage". ("Gol" god + "arien" cage, or somesuch.)

That satisfies me.


leo1925 wrote:
Dragon78 wrote:
Golarion, unlike earth, is a planet that has had many intelligent races and creatures that were here before humanity. So Golarion could be a word from the Aboleth, dragons, Elder Things, The Vault builders, or maybe even the gods themselves.
Don't forget dwarves.

In the campaign setting dwarves are kind of new, about as old as the human race give or take.


Shadowkire wrote:
leo1925 wrote:
Dragon78 wrote:
Golarion, unlike earth, is a planet that has had many intelligent races and creatures that were here before humanity. So Golarion could be a word from the Aboleth, dragons, Elder Things, The Vault builders, or maybe even the gods themselves.
Don't forget dwarves.
In the campaign setting dwarves are kind of new, about as old as the human race give or take.

I am pretty sure that they are older (as a race, civ, culture etc.) but they were unknown to everyone because they were deep deep underground.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

If we are going by ancestry, and the first sentients to name the world - it could be that the word "Golarian" is the only pleasant sounding word in the entre Aboleth language fit to name the world. Either that, or a rough translation from Aboleth to Thassilonian.

Managing Editor

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I'm loving this thread. While it's true that (as far as I know), Erik didn't have a specific meaning in mind when he came up with the word, the idea of it being elves from Castrovel's name for the planet would probably be my explanation of choice.

(As always, this is on the messageboards, and thus not canon... though if I had thought to put it in Distant Worlds, it might be. ;)


Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber

I like the idea of the name coming from Elves. It could even have a tertiary origin, the name coming from another race, from Castrovel, Akiton or another planet entirely, passed to the Elves who then carried it with them to their new planet. It would be similar to a race calling themselves Martians or Jovians. They lacked a name for it, so adopted one already in use.


I'm guessing this is one of those questions with an "Oh that's what it means," moment.

Either that, or your head will explode if you figure it out.


I agree with the idea that it probably means "The Cage" in some ancient language, although I favor one of the planar languages. The gods would have needed some sort of name to call the dirt-ball they were sealing Rovagug in, and it makes sense for a divinely defined term to stick around even if it is cumbersome for mortals to say. This is especially true when high level divine casters can call up the gods' servants to check their spelling. Perhaps, stored deep in Hell's libraries is the original contract that spells out Asmodeus' role as keeper of The Cage,and Golarion's name is specified in the legal definitions?

Real World Speculation:

In real life, after hearing that Varisia is a play on avarice, and aiudara are from the Spanish word ayudar for "to help", I've chosen to believe that all proper nouns are clever wordplay until proven otherwise.

So for all the planets in the system:

Aballon the Horse caballo is Spanish for horse.

Castrovel the Green Not sure, but I'd call it a reference to Castrovalva, either the Escher print or the Dr. Who episode.

Golarion the Cage it easily anagrams into gaol iron?

Akiton the Red an aketon or acton is a quilted layer worn under armor, and as the local equivalent to Mars, this has an appropriately martial flair.

Verces the Line it is a stretch, but it makes me think of vertices in the geometrical or astrological sense.

The Diaspora - what it says on the tin.

Eox the Dead - a simple letter transposition for the prefix exo-, appropriate for a planet with no atmosphere where exo-suits would be needed.

Liavara the Dreamer no idea.

Bretheda the Cradle The obvious thing would be for a gas giant to have a name derived from breath, but I'm uncertain.

Apostae the Messenger I think this is deliberately meant to evoke the root word of apostle or apostate.

Aucturn the Strange I think this creepy and strange world probably got its name from the creepy and strange words Nocturne and Autumn.


"The Cage" is cool sounding, but also used as the nickname for Sigil in Planescape. I doubt as if that will ever be displaced in my mind.

So perhaps we can use a cool synonym, although I'll admit nothing seems to fit (and if it's a translation anyway it hardly matters).

Jail, Prison, Dungeon (!), Oubliette...

Managing Editor

Robert Ranting wrote:

I agree with the idea that it probably means "The Cage" in some ancient language, although I favor one of the planar languages. The gods would have needed some sort of name to call the dirt-ball they were sealing Rovagug in, and it makes sense for a divinely defined term to stick around even if it is cumbersome for mortals to say. This is especially true when high level divine casters can call up the gods' servants to check their spelling. Perhaps, stored deep in Hell's libraries is the original contract that spells out Asmodeus' role as keeper of The Cage,and Golarion's name is specified in the legal definitions?

** spoiler omitted **...

RE: spoilers, I'll tell you that three of your guesses are precisely correct. :) Though I'll admit that it often works backward for me—I'll come up with something and think "That sounds perfect!" and only later realize that it sounds perfect because it's linked somehow to a word already in my vocabulary. :)

Spoiler:

That was certainly the case with aiudara. I only realized why it sounded so right *after* it had gone to press!

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