What should new players know about Golarion?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


I'm running a group through Rise of the Runelords, with my entire group being new to Pathfinder and the Inner Sea setting. At some point, I'm planning on outlining the overarching world of Golarion to them, so they know a little about the world they're playing in. My question is, what should I say, and what should I leave mysterious? Obviously stuff like the Starstone should be brought up, but what about Numeria? What should I tell them about Earthfall?

Note: this is much more for the players, not the characters. I'm not asking what sorts of things might be common knowledge to adventurers, but rather what kinds of things players should know to be roughly familiar with the setting.

Silver Crusade

You could start with what regions are ‘definitely not’:

Osirion, definitely not ancient Egypt
Galt, definitely not Revolutionary France
Taldor, definitely not Napoleonic Europe
Qadira, the Arabian Peninsula
Land of Linnorm Kings, Scandinavia
Irrisia, Russian folklore
Varisia, Romania or Hungary
The Shackles, the Caribbean
Mwangi, Colonial Congo
Tien Xia, East Asia
Jalmaray, South Asia

Which are still missing?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Honestly I wouldn't do that. Most of all that stuff doesn't matter for the campaign (and I think anything that does matter is explained in the campaign.) A new player has enough to worry about without being given information that isn't pertinent.

If any of the players are interested you can obviously talk to them or tell them where to find out information. And of course if something relates to their character then filling the player in on some background makes sense, but if setting information a) doesn't relate to their character and b) doesn't matter to the plot then just giving it out isn't going to serve any purpose and probably isn't going to be remembered anyway.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Also, where are they starting out? They should know a lot more about their starting location than about other parts of the world in most cases.


Sorry, it seems I included the wrong kinds of details in my initial post, and it’s almost two questions in one. One of the questions is what sort of things are pertinent to know from history (like the raising of the Starstone and death of Aroden) or not (like the Rain of Stars in Numeria). There’s a lot of grey area in there, which is why I’m not sure how much I should talk about Earthfall, for example.

The second part of the question is how too get the players familiar with some of the more interesting aspects of the setting, either for new character concepts when that comes up, as well as looking into the future for figuring out the next campaign. In that regard, it would be hard for a character to want to try to attempt the test of the Starstone, for example, if they don’t know about it.

Does that make sense?

Dark Archive

The easy way is to just give them a brief description of their area and pertinent historical facts that even the most uneducated farmer would know. After that, make them roll knowledge skills if you think that they should know anything else.


My experience is most of Golarion's history is esoteric knowledge for scholars and historians as far as most character are concerned. Except for the death of Aroden, that is fresh enough that the consequences are still shaping the world.

Then cover a few the the Golarion takes on the different races; Elves and how they are isolationist and that the elves they encounter might be forlorn exiles. How gnomes die when they get bored. The history of halfling slavery.


That there's magic.


Oli Ironbar wrote:


...
Galt, definitely not Revolutionary France
Taldor, definitely not Napoleonic Europe
...
Which are still missing?

My quick take on those and a few others is as the "five Frances":

Galt: The terrors unending.
Taldor: Twilight of the First Kingdom, (although this looks like it is becoming the Restored Kingdom).
Andorran: The Revolution gloriously successful.
Chellax: First Empire with devils.
Isger: Vichy.


The players should know as much as they need to make a character fitting the setting. You should advise them during the character creation and provide them the information or books that may be useful.

The Rise of Runelords doesn't take you away from Varisia, so you don't really need to develop other regions, unless the players want to create a character that would make more sense if he originated from these other regions rather than Varisia. They should know that Varisia is a frontier region, and there are more advanced societies to the south, but unless they backstory is connected to them, they don't really need the knowledge of them.

Similarly with the history; even the death of Aroden didn't afect Varisia much, except that it caused Cheliax to stop organized settlement and allowed for more independent societies like Magniamr and Sandpoint to appear. If the players are interested in that stuff, you can share with them all recent history, but I don't think it's going to affect the game much. For the earlier history, I feel they should know them only if they want to make their character a scholar or other expert, as it may ruin some plots in their future games. Though it depends on how well they can separate IC and OOC knowledge.

You can obviously keep some plot points hidden. Rise of Runelords deals a lot with the Thassilon, so they shouldn't read about its history beforehand, but discover new information as they follow the plot. In this case the player should know only as much as the character: that there was an ancient civilization in Varisia, but all that is left are some ruins and the stories of Varisian people.


It really depends on the character. An uneducated barbarian from an isolated area is not likely to know much of anything. A bard from a civilized nation is going to know a lot more about the world. Most characters will have at least heard about major world shaking events. A lot of it may be false information but they should be aware of it. The barbarian may not know what caused the time of darkness, but he will have heard stories about it. The stories may not be true but he is aware that something happened.

Keep in mind that Golarion is not the modern world. There is no internet and a lot of the population is illiterate. Learning is actually a lot harder than it is in the modern world. Most people will know what the country next to theirs is but something on the far side of the continent is a complete mystery. So unless a character actually has ranks in a knowledge skill they probably don’t know much about the subject.


Most people probably know the general details of major events - Earthfall, Whispering Tyrant, etc.

The more regional the event, the less likely people from outside the region will know about it. Thallisson might be relevant to Varisia, but not all to important for the average person in Taldor to know much about.


CzarGarrett wrote:

Most people probably know the general details of major events - Earthfall, Whispering Tyrant, etc.

The more regional the event, the less likely people from outside the region will know about it. Thallisson might be relevant to Varisia, but not all to important for the average person in Taldor to know much about.

If we're talking about character knowledge, I don't really think that common people from outside of Ustalav and Lastwall would even know anything about the Whispering Tyrant. After all, he was defeated happened almost 900 years ago, and the education in the pre-modern society was abysmal. Someone who doesn't have a single rank in Knowledge (history) wouldn't know about anything that is not related to him personally or the society he lives in.

For example, the common people in Varisia, that would be aware of ancient monuments dotting the land, don't necessarily know the name "Thassilon".

Silver Crusade

This could be a fun point to start writing a local mythology on what had happened in Thassilon.


Oli Ironbar wrote:
This could be a fun point to start writing a local mythology on what had happened in Thassilon.

There's an evidence in lore that people have misconceptions about the past, for example, most people believeing that Sandpoint's Old Light was a lighthouse (not being aware that in times of Thassilon, the coastline was in a different place). And another Thassilonian ruin in Sandpoint Hinterlands is known as the Wisher's Well, the name obviously having nothing to do with its original purpose.

Sczarni

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber

Things players should know for rise of the runelords:
*There are ruins everywhere from ancient civilizations
*Where do Elves come from? Gnomes?
*Brief rundown of the gods and the fact that in Golarion all clerics require a patron god. If you don't want a patron god, that's what Oracles were designed for.

RotRL was written before much more than this was known, so there are plenty of spots for the characters to learn with the players any additional information, as the characters become familiar with the history of the world, so do the players.


Chakat Firepaw wrote:
Oli Ironbar wrote:


...
Galt, definitely not Revolutionary France
Taldor, definitely not Napoleonic Europe
...
Which are still missing?

My quick take on those and a few others is as the "five Frances":

Galt: The terrors unending.
Taldor: Twilight of the First Kingdom, (although this looks like it is becoming the Restored Kingdom).
Andorran: The Revolution gloriously successful.
Chellax: First Empire with devils.
Isger: Vichy.

Isn't Cheliax more like fascist Italy?


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

There's a player's guide for RotRL, as well as a small book on Varisia. Give those in advance to the players, and they should have all the info they need.

Try to get most of the players to choose humans, and to choose Varisian, Chellaxian or Shoanti ancestry. Limit their choices of alternate races, so that they fit into the local society. If some of them really must play wacky races or PCs who hail from distant countries, tell them it'll take more work, and hunt down the pages about their chosen countries, gods and so on.

Good luck! I played RotRL for 4 years, and only made it a little past half-way through the campaign. The special section for the RotRL adventure path has loads of resources that you would be mad not to consult.

Grand Lodge

I think Molthune and Nirmathas have some parallels to colonial America and Britain, though it's not relevant at all in Rise of the Runelords.

It's both an advantage and a disadvantage that the many nations in Golarion are so distinct and disconnected from each other they might as well be different planets. For example, Nex and Cheliax have barely any connection. Same with Geb and Irrisen, or Jalmeray and Brevoy. Upside is adventuring in each of those places feels like a totally unique experience, the downside is it sometimes doesn't always feel like a fully connected world.

Honestly, I wouldn't go out of my way to give them too much of the lore outside of maybe recommending they get the Inner Sea World Guide. As they progress in Pathfinder, they'll naturally learn more and ask questions if they get interested.

Golarian is so massive and detailed it's nearly impossible to fill them in all the lore without overwhelming them. It's better imo to release it slowly and stick to things they ask about.


I still enjoy the premise of RotRL when it first came out, and that was that you were in an isolated coastal town, and adventure beckoned inland. But what that precisely was felt largely ephemeral and vague. That was of course in large part because the writers hadn’t defined it yet. So that was a convenient parallel to the PCs’ own ignorance. But for me it contributed to the wonder and joy of discovering the world as my character did...

So I don’t know that’s a helpful way to deal with your question. Discovery is its own pleasure, and I miss knowing much less about Golarion than I do now.


Yqatuba wrote:
Chakat Firepaw wrote:
Oli Ironbar wrote:


...
Galt, definitely not Revolutionary France
Taldor, definitely not Napoleonic Europe
...
Which are still missing?

My quick take on those and a few others is as the "five Frances":

Galt: The terrors unending.
Taldor: Twilight of the First Kingdom, (although this looks like it is becoming the Restored Kingdom).
Andorran: The Revolution gloriously successful.
Chellax: First Empire with devils.
Isger: Vichy.

Isn't Cheliax more like fascist Italy?

Well, other than having been successful at grabbing up territory.

Taldor is more the Byzantine Empire, but the "five Frances" thing makes for a an effective way of getting those across as a group. Sometimes I even describe Korvosa and Sargava as variant Quebecs to go with them.


Dαedαlus wrote:
Obviously stuff like the Starstone should be brought up

I want to challenge you on the word "obviously."

Even if you want an eventual campaign where your characters go to the Starstone, there's no reason they need to know the reality or know about it immediately. It's a magic stone. Maybe they hear that it can brong the dead back to life. Maybe they hear that an evil king is using it to take over the world.

They can find out more along the way. It's thousands of miles to Absalom, unless you want to teleport them there, there's a lifetime of experiences for them between now and then.


Okay, so I think that I haven't quite explained what my goal is properly.

One thing that I was considering was just handing them the Inner Sea World Guide and telling them to read that, but there are some things in there (such as the true nature of Razmir) which I think would be more fun if they were left out. Basically my question is, if there were to be a new, spoiler-free Guide to Golarion meant for players, what should be in it? I'm not looking to fill them in on every battle or the details of every country, just give them an overview of the kinds of things that make up the world and make it unique and cool, from a metagame perspective. So in that regard, the Starstone is very much something that I would want to mention, because that's a uniquely 'Golarion' object (a special rock, where if you touch it and pass a test, you become a god).

The campaign is already underway, we've been playing for a while now (but taking a break because of summer), and I just want to be able to let them know about a few major things in the world when we come back, and I'm mainly looking for suggestions/highlights on what I should say.

Dark Archive

That would be Inner Sea Primer player companion book I think. It had short gazetteer on each of the countries without being really spoilery


I would ask them about their planned character and character background. Use that to fill them in about areas pertinent to said background.

Dark Archive

Honestly, I have played PFS for a few years and recently got done with Hell's Rebels campaign and I know very little about Golarian. I have heard of the world scar, but all I know is that monsters are coming out of it. Don't know why it is there. Maybe something to do with Aroden? Also, don't know much about Aroden. Who died like, 100 years ago for some unknown reason? Cheliax is a country of devil worshipping evil doers, and Absalom is awesome. Also, hire the PFS if you need someone dead and/or their stuff stolen.


OK, I first had impression the OP's players hadn't even yet created characters and was as much interested in how to frame info to allow them to create characters with basic world info. (I wrote spoiler info below from that perspective, although it still seems relevant) I guess even if they already have created characters, rounding out their knowledge could help them deepen their roleplaying (and of course, PCs can always die and a new one gets created).

I think the repeated questions about Numeria seem of dubious relevance, IMHO it isn't particularly impactful in broader world, certainly not Varisia. But I'm not sure if you were asking because a PC already established some tie there? If that's the case, I think Kellid tribal culture and politics is just as relevant as Exo-tech details of Numeria which don't necessarily change mode of daily life. But in general, same goes for Razmir and River Kingdoms, they mostly have little impact outside their area (by design), so why is it important to learn about them for ROTRL AP? Nex and Geb might be cool, but those are political entities not relevant in Varisia, so spelling out the details isn't important, what might be imporant is ethnically Osirioni/Garundi character from that region, that's it. So I wrote up my spoiler excluding all that info (note how I made Half-Orc info mostly Varisia specific), although if you want to run AP in other region, you probably can/should adjust the scope of info to be alot more relevant.

In general, I would start with bigger picture, and don't fixate on detailin every single specific country. Instead, start with the ethnolinguistic groups since PEOPLE is what matters for how PEOPLE see the world... Highlighting how they relate to Varisia, and sneak in some basic world history to explain how it ties together. If you establish the big picture, they can ask you about specific topics relevant to their PC either personally or thru their Knowledge skills.

Here goes: (some of this might be slightly out-of-character for some PCs, but mostly generic common knowledge)

Spoiler:
Varisians: Ancient ties to Varisia's mythic Thassilonian past. Caravan merchants, thieves, cattle herders, and mystic fortune tellers are stereotypically Varisian ("not Gypsy") occupations. Desna (CG goddess of travel, luck, and dreams) is most common Deity, and mystic Thassilonian rune tattoos and bladed scarf also exemplify Varisian culture. Ustalav, on northern shore of Lake Encarthan, far East of Varisia across mountains, is alternative Varisian cultural stereotype, tending to settled village life fearful of outsiders and unseen horrors alike ("not Transylvania"), although probably not very familiar in Varisia proper.

Shoanti: The other ancient indigenous people of Varisia, they also share ties to ancient Thassilonian past, but are distinct from Varisians with own language and culture. Cheesy "Native American" comparison is best summary. Semi-nomadic shamanistic tribes with distinct traditions, they traditionally live in northern easterns regions of Varisia far from Chelish founded cities and farming areas, with both Shoanti and Chelish mutually looking down on each others' culture.

Thassilonians: Who are they? Hard to say exactly, but there is alot of ancient ruins all over Varisia ascribed to them. They seem to have been ruled by archmarges who were into magical runes, and ethnically affiliated to the ancient Azlanti as well.

Azlanti: Who are they? Well, they are also old and magical, with language and gods long forgotten (or nearly so, scholars aside). They had own country or continent whose sinking into the sea triggered Age of Darkness over much of world. Aroden is supposed to be Azlanti (when he's not Chelish or Taldane), and Chelish and Taldanes sometimes claim descent from Azlantis but that's less of a objective fact and more of a myth.

Chelish: They share language with Taldanes but are differentiated by nationality, diverging further after death of LN "god of humanity" Aroden, fall of Chelish Empire, and emergence of Hellknights in Cheliax. Asmodeus (LE devil deity of contracts, deception, and tyranny) is particularly common in Cheliax proper, but Iomedae and Abadar are also popular deities amongst Chelish in general. Chelish Empire first imposed domination on local Varisians directly, but when Cheliax (proper) fell to civil war, Chelish locals in Korvosa and Magnimar broke off as independent principalities. Cheliax had other colonies and imperial provinces which broke off into own countries. (you don't really need to detail Molthune, Andoren, etc unless somebody is specifically interested in playing "not-Varisian not-Chelaxian Chelish-type person", as it isn't relevant to AP)

Taldanes (exception to above rule for historic reasons): Like Chelish, but not quite, they probably could only be distinguished by distinct accent, if at all. Chelish Empire itself emerged from older Taldane Empire when that dissolved. Taldor is core remnant of that Empire, like Cheliax but smaller and further to the East of Inner Sea so much less direct contact with Varisia. Taldor is currently defined by decadent aristocratic politics, and suppressed tensions with Kelesh Qadiran neighbors to the South with whom they fought wars in past. Founded by (now dead) "god of humanity" Aroden, Iomedae (LN deity of justice, valor, and light, and "Inheritor" of Aroden) and Abadar (LN deity of law, wealth, and cities) are common deities amongst others.

Kelesh: "not Arab/Persian" large rich empire to east of Taldor and Inner Sea region. Qadira is only Kelesh satrapy on Inner Sea, associated with horse warriors and Genie binders, but Kelesh Empire previously controlled Osirion. Sarenrae (NG goddess of sun, fire, and redemption) is heavily associated with Kelesh people, yet also popular amongst others. Little direct contact with Varisia, but Kelesh merchants trading in exotic spices and crafted goods can find market anywhere.

Osirioni/Garundi: Once an empire even older than Taldor, spanning all of north Garund, yet it's historic core of Osirion proper only recently broke free of Kelesh Empire. Ancient Egyptian tropes with pyramids and storied pharaohs, Osirion represent one of first human empires to emerge from Age of Darkness. Old cults vie with popular new religions of Sarerenrae as well as stalwarts like Pharasma (TN goddess of life/death, fate, and judging of souls) and Nethys (TN god of arcane magic who was Garundi), and "atheistic" nation of Rahadoum even bans religion. Little direct contact, but travelling merchants and mystics are not unknown even in Varisia and Osirioni clans stick together wherever they are found.

Nidalese: Nidal is immediately south of Varisia along coast, but it's domination for thousands of years by followers of Zon-Kuthon (LE god of pain, torture and darkness) has yielded isolationist culture with few outside interactions. Formally subjugated to Cheliax, in tributary relation that allows Zon-Kuthonite control of Nidalese society to continue as if outside world didn't exist. Besides Nidalese people, Varisians also live in Nidal, sometimes a focus of tension given Zon-Kuthon's mutual hatred of Desna.

Ulfen/Skald: "not Vikings" originating from Land of Linnorn Kings immediately to north of Varisia, they enjoy singing epics of their own (and others) heroism, as well as sharing tales of trickster Fey. Often seen serving as mercenaries in other countries to the south, Ulfen will also have presence as sailors and maritime trades given Varisia is directly on LoLK shipping route. Ulfen also form main basis (along with Varisians and Shoanti) of Velashu Horselords cattle herders in northern Varisia. Desna (CG), Gorum (CN god of war, strength, and glory), and Erastil (LG god of family, farm, and hunting), as well as Druidism (TN) are most common religions.

Vudrani: Vudra is "not India" and even further from Varisia than the Kelesh Empire and generally will be mysterious exotic culture with little local relevance. Although not entirely unknown due to Vudrani merchants and the success of Irori (LN goddess of self-perfection, knowledge, and strength) and associated martial arts which is originally from Vudra, although only one of thousands of their gods.

Mwangi: "not Africans", from tropical western portion of Garund continent, south of permanent magical hurricane. Some of their lands are dominated by Chelish colonists similar to Varisia, while others remain free. In Varisia they would be exotic and little known, but might feel sympathy with Varisian experience of Cheliax. Each nationality has distinct culture, but Gozreh worship (TN god of nature, weather, seasons) is common, along with common ancestral tales of hero-mage-warrior Jatembe helping refound civilization parallel to Aroden.

Tian: Dragon Empires AKA "not East Asia" and on opposite side of world from Varisia, Tian Xia is another exotic culture (or group of cultures) with even less direct presence than Kelesh or Osirioni. Yet travelling merchants still can be found, with northern overland route crossing icy Crown of World being most common route.

Kellid: Kellid are the original inhabitants of central and eastern Avistan surrounding Lake Encarthan, across mountains to east of Varisia. Often viewed as uncivilized, especially by Taldans who dominated much of their lands. Being culturally insular, they would not be well known in Varisia, although the Lake Encarthan merchant cult nation of Druma actually derives from Kellid stock. Otherwise, their cultures range from cave-men to steppe warlords to semi-integrated with Taldane culture in River Kingdoms, often worshipping Gorum (CN) or Erastil (LG).

Dwarves: A long lived people known for stone and metalwork, their own empires rose and fell before Humans arose. Now remaining Dwarven strong-holds subsist alongside Human kingdoms, benefits of trade averting conflict. Raised on epics of their people's rise from Darklands to the surface, and defined by conflict with chaotic Orcs, they have traditional and lawful culture epitomized by Torag (LN Dwarven god of honor, strategy, and the forge). Nearby Dwarven city-states do trade with Varisian principalities, and Dwarven communities exist within Human cities even as they maintaian their own culture.

Elves: While Dwarves can live to few hundred years, Elven lifespans extend to thousands, so unsurprising their psychology seeming bizarre and inscrutable to shorter lived races. Elves' spindly androgenous appearance, pointed ears, and all-black eyes give hint they are not originally of this world. Yet Elves say they lived here before Age of Darkness, leaving to some other world to return in more recent history. Still, Elves are rare sight, with very few emissaries from their Kingdom of Kyonin far to the East on eastern shores of Lake Encarthan, although small satellite communities exist elsewhere, including the Mierani Forest in NW Varisia. Elven culture commonly worships Desna (CG), Calistria (CN goddess of trickery, lust, and revenge) or own Elven deities, and idealizes nature while cultivating arcane magic and architecture. But the more common type of Elf for Humans to meet would be the Forlorn, so called for their melancholic outlook gained from living amongst the short-lived races, isolated from Elf culture.

Half-Elves: While most demihumans are incapable of procreating with each other, that is not true of Humans and Elves. While having positive qualities of each parent race including longer life span nearing 200 and subtly pointed ears, Half-Elves' experience and identity is often defined by ambiguity. Often idealized by Humans as more approachable Elves (with Half-Elves much more commonly encountered than real Elves), yet patronized by long lived Elves, they live amongst 2 cultures and peoples. Half-Elves can also breed with each other, thus don't necessarily have direct Human and Elf parents.

Half-Orcs: The other hybrid race, Half-Orcs instead result from Human and Orc parentage, although can also reproduce amongst themselves. Orcs are chaotic and brutal warrior race who emerged from Darklands along with Dwarves, and their wars with Dwarves define their mutual history. Most Humans have never encountered an Orc, so any prejudice vs Half-Orcs will be vague, but some Shoanti who live in NE Varisia are perpetually in conflict with Orcs and refuse to accept Half-Orcs in their communities. On the other hand, Half-Orcs often rise to positions of power in Orc society such as small Orc settlement of Urglin. Communities of Half-Orcs do band together, most notably in islands of LoLK to north of Varisia.

Halflings: Halflings generally live alongside Humans sharing much of the broader local culture, although they do have own language and sense of community. Halflings unfortunately are commonly held as slaves especially in Cheliax, but this isn't strictly defining of their status elsewhere, even if Chelish culture especially may be incliend to look down on them. Being perpetual "underdogs", Halflings often seek to draw on luck to aid them in harsh world.

Gnomes: Although of similar stature to Halflings, Gnomes are unmistakable given their brightly colored hair and Fey features. In fact, Gnomes long ago derive from Fey of the First World, a heritage which persists in their eccentricity and unconventional obsessions. Not known to all outsiders, Gnomes that aren't continually exposed to novelty actually experience a disease known as the Bleaching. Gnome communities are generally small in number, but their chaotic personalities draw many Gnomes to life of travel.

Aroden: Now assumed dead "LN god of humanity" he was survivor as Azlant who did a bunch of heroic deeds which eventually enabled him to ascend to godhood. Besides being the patron deity of Taldor while he was alive, and smacking down various BBEGs of his time, his most obvious accomplishment was creating the island of Kortos as home for his ideal human city of Absalom, also to house the Starstone which offers (vague) path for other mortals to ascend to godhood. But exactly when the prophecies of humanity entering golden age of prosperity was supposed to occur, Aroden disappeared and his Clerics lost their divine power he was granting them. Since then, human empires ended to disentigrate and various catastrophes occured. Many of his followers switched to worshipping his former herald Iomedae, while others are drawn to evil Asmodeus.

Absalom: As above, created as ideal city-island of humanity, it serves as 'center of the world' albeit as much in Paizo's publishing pattern as formal claim re: greater world of Golarion beyond Inner Sea. Culturally mostly a mix of Taldane and Osirioni cultures as predominant peoples of Inner Sea, it is the pre-eminent City of the Inner Sea for sure, convenient as multicultural nexus for plots and organizations like Pathfinder Society.

I don't think Earthfall needs to be closely detailed, regular people probably know general idea of Azlant which is half caught up in myths and stuff, and they know it suddenly ended with beginning of Age of Darkness but they don't know why (Aboleth calling Doom Rock from Space was secret conspiracy after all, it's not like real life people are well acquainted with specific ancient meteorites, especially without modern science to study them), they probably know Aroden was Azlanti and that's about it. Plenty of people might ascribe more importance to other empires like Osirioni or Tekritani and so on, Azlant and Earthfall jsut aren't really a burning topic for most people who aren't scholars of obscure history, although it might be something crackpot Chelish/Taldane nationalists could use to embellish their claims of grandeur.

I think that gives broad over view of different peoples, prioritizing how it relates to Varisia in particular, since even if the PCs are just new arrivials to Varisia it matters in how local NPCs will relate to them and how they relate to local ethnicities and political factions. The stuff about Chelish Empire is pretty relevant, and little bits of Osirioni and other history are there if they might be interested, which is ideal if they can ask you questions about specific areas. Hard to know what else to say, without knowing your players and group.


Ok, I got a bet picture of what you want now.

Assuming the players don't know this already, I would start with presenting the main races and their general position in the world:
- Humans of various ethnicities are the majority in most countries. More about them later.
- Elves have their own country (Kyonin), but there are other minor elven communities around the world; some elves even grow up in human cities, although they are considered Forlorn because of their disconnection with traditional elven culture. Half-elves exist; they never completely fit any society, but most of them tries to fit in wherver they are. Drows don't exist.
- Dwarves also have their own country (Five Kings Mountains), and other settlements around the world, but unlike the elves they are more cosmopolitan and generally blend with human societies well.
- Orcs have their own 'country', i.e. the region where they dominate, and they are virtually never met far away from it, and they basically don't create mixed societies with civilized races. Half-orcs are born out of violence or from half-orc parents; they are discriminated against in the region close to the orcish hold, but sometimes may travel far away where the discrimination isn't that strong.
- Gnomes are the descendants of fey, and they have an unique condition known as Bleaching that, if they don't constantly experience new stuff, makes them lose their coloration and usually ends up with death. Because of that they rarelly settle in one place, and they can be found everywhere.
- Halflings are a race whose origins are lost. For as long as people remember they were abused by humans who put them into servitor roles. They don't have their own country and live mixed-in in most human societies.
There are other races, but they are rare or exotic, and their mambers always stand out, rarely finding a society where they can fit in. They can make some exotic adventurers though.

Then you have the recent history, from the death of Aroden until now. While it may be fun to understand the older history, it's not really necessary to live in the current world, and by delving into it too much you can spoil some adventures.
Let's start with the situation 100 years ago:
The Empire of Cheliax dominated most of southern and western Avistan, from Varisia to Galt, and even had colonies far to the south, in Sargava. To the east there was a rump state of Empire of Taldor - once mighty, now in decline. The north of the continent was divided into many smaller states, especially in the region known as River Kingdoms, where the situation was exceptionally unstable. South of the Inner Sea, in northern Garund, there are several berber-like states. Even more to the south things tend to become even more exotic. On an island in the middle of the Inner Sea lies the metropolitan city of Absalom, the biggest city in the world (as far as people know), and the center of trade with the whole region.
100 years ago people were expecting the fullfilment of a particular prophecy, when god Aroden, who was once a mortal man but achieved divinity, was supposed to return to the material world and usher a new Age of Glory. However, he failed to do so, his clerics lost their divine power, and all signs suggest that he died; what really happened remains unexplained to this day. Within the following decades the Cheliax Empire crumbled, torn apart by a civil war and rebellions - what now is Cheliax is only their old core province. More strange things happened upon the death of Aroden: a rift leading to the demonic realm of Abyss opened in the north, destroyed a countrie, and only with several crusades and continuous effort of the astationing knights they demons are somehow kept in check, however they remain a constant threat. In the south a giant and permanent storm appeared, destroying some coastal countries and interupting the sea route to Sargava; today that region is infested by pirates.

Now, if the players get interested in any particular region, feel free to describe it as much as you feel is right; you can stress out that the countries are diverse and follow many tropes that can be found in fantasy, so if the players are looking for something specific, there's a chance that it exists within this setting. I wouldn't deem necessary to push the detailed stories of each region onto your players if they are not interested in this at the moment; if in the future they will be creating an exotic character, or you'll play an adventure in a different region, you can get back to it, and provide them with the necessary information.

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