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A couple years back, I stumbled across an *awesome* threat that discussed what happens should each of the APs fail.
This inspired me to create Broken Golarion as a setting(name inspired by Broken Matt Hardy, who is delightful!). I ran a game within here on the boards for awhile, but it sadly died out for a few reasons.
However, now that PF1 has come to a close, I'm looking into the setting once more. When I first worked on it, I stopped at Wrath of the Righteous, as that was pretty pivotal AP as far how Golarion changed should it fail. This time around, I'm going to look through each of the APs all the way through Tyrant's Grasp and see if I can't include some of the ones after Wrath as well.
Another reason I've decided to come back to this setting is to co-GM(rotating) a game started by brother and I in real life. Our PCs are epic level, gestalt, mythic heroes, so a world that's basically overrun by incredibly powerful evils is a dang good playground for us.
Quick note: I decided to not have Reign of Winter fail for a couple reasons. One, I really rather like Baba Yaga and Elvanna as NPCs, and two, I didn't wanna deal with endless winter on top of everything else.
Anyways, I need some help!
Firstly, I'm looking to see if any of the APs might be ported over to Tian Xia to help give that continent some love. Aside from Jade Regent, I think I'm going to have Ironfang Invasion take place over there, as I feel Kaoling makes a good replacement. Any other suggestions would be rather helpful!
Secondly, I'm looking for other things, beyond the changes made via each AP, to be added to the setting. Some of what I've done can be found below, additional ideas are most welcome! Mostly, I'm looking for things to happen in nations with either no AP taken place within, or not covered below(or as part of another AP).
All of Mendev has been overrun by the demonic horde, and everything east of Starfall in Numeria as well. Surprisingly, the bizarre inhabitants and even stranger technology of the Silver Mount was able to turn back the vile demons. There's whispered rumors of things known as 'Iron Giants' decimating vast swaths of the Abyssal horrors that poured out of the Worldwound.
Sadly, the same could not be said for Brevoy, as that entire nation was also destroyed by the forces of Deskari. I'm thinking of having Choral the Conqueror return, and reveal he's a red dragon great wrym.
The unending horde marched straight into the River Kingdoms, easily crushing any and all resistance among the fractured states. There's rumors of a hold out in what used to be the Stolen Lands, and is now supposedly a section of the First World. However, nobody has been able to confirm said rumors. Areelu Vorlesh rules the former River Kingdoms and what was once northern Galt, and it is whispered she is now the new Demon Lord of Succubi.
Meanwhile, Treerazer has take over the remains of Kyonin, southern Galt, as well as the northern portions of the Five Kings Mountains and northeastern Druma.
Thanks to the efforts of the group of adventurers who braved the Worldwound, as well as the aid of a small host of angels, Nocticula, the former Demon Lord has ascended to godhood, and interestingly is apparently no longer evil.
Likewise, while they were unable to actually defeat her, a party of heroes was able to at least halt the insane machinations of Elvanna, 'daughter' of Baba Yaga. The usurper to the throne of the Witch Queen sough to blanket all of Golarion in endless winter. You're pretty sure that with everything else going on, that would have likely been the death knell of pretty much all sentient life on the planet, or close enough.
Also, while the Serpent God Ydersius has been brought back from torpor and is once again active in the Mwangi Expanse, it is caught in a war with the Demon Lord Angazhan whose cultists were able to summon The Ravener King to the mortal realm.
Thankfully, Old-Mage Jatembe returned from his self-imposed exile to the planes, and he and the Ten Magic Warriors have erected a powerful mystical barrier around the whole of the Expanse, trapping both themselves and the powerful evils inside.
Undying Sun: This is a rather mysterious alliance, formed of Qadira and Jalmeray. Backed by the incredible magickal might of both nations, they have formed a strong coalition that seeks to take the fight to the many perils that have befallen Garund. Thanks to it's extraordinary wealth, it's also able to provide considerable support to the ISA and WEC alliances, often in the form of elite mercenaries, many of whom are of an otherworldly origin.
One question you need to settle is which Runelords AP won out - Rise (Karzoug owning Varisia) or Return (Sorshen owning Varisia)...Either way, a runelord empire would be a big player in your setting.
Another thought, if Jatembe came back, what about Nex?
I'm actually thinking of possibly having multiple Runelords+Xin split up Varisia(and some land around it) much like Thassilon was originally.
And yeah, I'm thinking of also having Nex come back, or he possibly gets brought back by the PCs.
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Yeaaah, I'm pretty sure if both Karzoug and Xin awakened, there is no chance of Alaznist dominating returns as easily as she did. Soo yeah, it does make sense if in your setting both Karzoug and Xin awakened that rest of runelords had time to awaken before Karzoug could focus to kill them in their sleep.(especially if events caused Xin to awaken before Karzoug had chance to consolidate his power, like if someone sets out to immediately build Siheidron upon Karzoug bringing his army back)
So to just note short list of effects of each ap as far as I'm aware if pcs fail:
RotR: Karzoug either returns or Mhar Massif explodes and Great Old One Mhar awakens
Crimson Throne: There is new super villain running around Golarion, that or Kazavon returns
Second Darkness: Either second age of darkness or Kyonin got blown up
Legacy of Fire: The second incarnation of Xoltani tries to courtship with Ymeri:
Council of Thieves: Westcrown is taken over by Mammon's puppet son
Kingmaker: I think your nation disappears? Either way, least interesting failure in grand scheme of things, might be interesting to have ap succeed but something else happen.
Serpent's Skull: Ydersius returns and all serpentfolk awaken.
Carrion Crown: Whispering Tyrant either returns or there is super strong forsaken lich gathering power around Gallowspire and trying to bring him back.
Jade Regent: The Jade Regent becomes a true emperor, sits on throne and divine mandate causes land to be corrupted with Minkai becoming oni ruled nation as well.
Skulls & Shackles: Old Hurricane King working with Cheliax still continues to be a thing I guess? Oh and Cheliax's navy might take over shackles so more power for Cheliax
Shattered Star: Xin Returns, pretty clear.
Reign of Winter: Eternal winter as you said.
Wrath of the Righteous: Well I'm sure you saw article in final book :D
Mummy's Mask: Flying pyramid invasion of Osirion.
Iron Gods: The Unity ascends to true demigodhood as satellite above Golarion and Godmind expands as his deity realm on material plane turning the satellite into large fortress and his cyborg assimilation religion spreads like virus in Numeria.
Giantslayer: Storm Tyrant accidentally awakens one of runelords and gets enslaved. Presumably if they are all already awakened that wouldn't happen so up to you whether he is vassalized or avoids runelords.
Hell's Rebels: Barzillai becomes Genius Loci of Cheliax.
Hell's Vengeance: The Glorious Reclamation stakes itself strongly into cheliax, leader becomes Heavenly Majestrix and the civil war escalates into true conflict where Cheliax can lose if they aren't careful.
Strange Aeons: Thrushmoor's inhabitants vanishes, Shub-Niggurath's avatar escapes into the surrounding lake making Watcher in the Bay to be present and Hastur might or might not descend into outer god hood depending on gm's decisions on timescale.
Ironfang Invasion: I think Ironfang Legion continues to be expansionist empire that conquers surrounding nations and enslaves their inhabitants?
Ruins of Azlant: Either aboleths get nuked with earth elemental bomb seperating them from surface world and drowning Munavri and majority of orv or Inner Sea nations get nuked(two choices: Either by drowning andoran with water elemental bomb drowning the nation or absalom being epicenter of air elemental bomb destroying the city and causing tsunamis on every nation near the massive hurricane. Thank you editing mistakes for giving two optional choices for bad guy's bombing target!) also magic nuke being launched brings CR 24 titan into the world to rampage as they want. Either way, aboleth vs human conflict escalates into war.
Return of the runelord: Alaznist changes past, resurrects a demon lord and rules burning varisia while time paradoxes happen. Least likely to happen if previous two aps already failed :D (and assuming Krune, Xanderghul and Zutha are alive as well)
Tyrant's Grasp: Whispering Tyrant is a now a god and starstone probably destroyed or taken.
Here's what I think would be cool for the timeline of Varisian APs that reference Runelords.
1) Karzoug wins, comes back, and brings back his armies to begin conquering all of Varisia. The Dwarves of Janderhoff are able to hold him back.
2) As he does so, Queen Ileosa completes her plan, and then either leaves Korvosa for elsewhere or gets taken out when Sorshen comes back. Sorshen claims Korvosa and surrounding environs as Eurythnia. Karzoug chooses not to test his might against her, since she's more powerful than him (at least for now). Karzoug instead turns his attentions to the Lands of the Linnorm Kings and and Mierani.
3) Karzoug sets about reforging the Sihedron in order to have an extra weapon for defeating Sorshen. Once he does so, Xin awakens and his clockwork armies invade and capture Magnimar.
4) Krune wakes up, and the cult of Lissala is resurgent. The Dwarves of Janderhoff are either enslaved or driven out, and Janderhoff becomes the new Xin-Haruka. That, or Krune chooses to help the dwarves of Janderhoff defend against Karzoug.
5) Zutha's phylactery is reassembled, and he returns to reclaim his domain of Gastash, enslaving all nearby Shoanti and giant tribes.
6) Alaznist wakes up a few years earlier, thanks to all the war of Karzoug's conquest. However, she finds that Karzoug, Xin, Sorshen, Zutha, and Krune are already active, and never gets the chance to do any of her time travel shenanigans.
You could also have Karzoug take the time to conquer Hollow Mountain and find a way to trap Alaznist in her Runewell forever, since they hated each other so much, but either way, without the events of Return of the Runelords, Xanderghul and Belimarius have no way of returning, since Xanderghul's wake up timer is broken and no one goes and messes with time travel shenanigans.
The other option is that Alaznist wakes up and does her time travel shenanigans anyway, but there's no Sihedron Heroes to oppose her, so she never loses the Scepter of Ages and rules a fiery, demon-infested New Thassilon after taking out Xin, Karzoug, and Sorshen through either time travel shenanigans or straight up murder. Xanderghul gets a chance to wake up in this one, though, and try to stop her, which could lead to an interesting adventure where Xanderghul is the one using the PCs as his pawns, not to save Varisia, but to make himself the emperor of New Thassilon.
Note that another variant on "what if every ap fails" is "What if pc party died in first encounter in campaign"
Like, if heroes never completed Burnt Offerings, eventually Malfeshnekor would have been freed, Nualia would have united Sandpoint region's goblin tribes and recruit more goblins tribes from northern mountains into massive army to burn sandpoint as offering to become demon. That combined with Erylium spawning sinspawns from the runewell and Scribbler's ghost underneath(later on Karzoug's return powering runewells further has Lamashtu return him as divine guardian) would have given good grounds for turning ruins of town as goblin ruled Lamashtan cult attracting ire of Red Bishop and other Pazuzu worshippers along with magnimarian armies. And if Foxglove had somehow survived goblin attack, there might be a ghoul infestation as well. Eventually the goblins and lamashtans might end up in war with Giants trying to destroy Scribbler
Basically, some of aps have things get even more chaotic if pcs fail from the start
Seventh Seal, you're right, Belkzen is where Gastash used to be.
I don't think he'd have to worry about crusades of Lastwall knights, though, because if every AP fails, then that means Lastwall gets wiped out in Tyrant's Grasp. In that case, he may be able to expand his undead realm even further, beyond his borders.
|The Shifty Mongoose|
|Vorsk, Follower or Erastil|
Remember that in Return of the Runelords Sorshen has actually stirred when Karzoug awoke and actually fully awoke during the events of Crimson Throne, so depending on how that played out determines her role in this Broken GOlarion and the later books. Now watching other evil people actually succeed may lead to her not having her change of heart and and continue to have a view of "Being bad makes me WIN" and thus never become the ally that she does in Return.