That ONE place on Golarion


Lost Omens Campaign Setting General Discussion

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I do think Kyonin could make itself more interesting with one easy step: emphasizing its place as a bastion of an interplanetary culture. Seriously, the elves should be their most alien here.


Chelliax, but for the simple reason of not being able to wrap my head around what it's supposed to be. Without having every played in something with Chelliax in it, I have never learned about them naturally, and when I tried to look up stuff about it, it seemed there was little actual information as not to spoil a variety of APs.

Shadow Lodge

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keftiu wrote:
I don't mean to quibble, but... they lost both Ravounel and a huge chunk of their navy in 1e APs. Cheliax has gotten beat up so many times that I've seen other users complaining that they seem like jobbers now.

I don't understand this perspective at all. The regime has lost some valueless, marginal land with less than 200 thousand people in it and has won in exchange the total destruction of its internal enemies. It is more secure now than it ever was. (Sailing fleets are cheap to build and rebuild, especially for a country as timber-rich as Cheliax.)

This does mean there is nothing now that appeals to me about playing there, but the idea that it is too weak to be a credible bad guy faction is just strange.

keftiu wrote:
I do think Kyonin could make itself more interesting with one easy step: emphasizing its place as a bastion of an interplanetary culture. Seriously, the elves should be their most alien here.

But it is not an interplanetary culture, it is an alien colony and one moreover that has gone out of its way to exclude the indigenats. This is precisely because of its geopolitical role as a "bastion" protecting Sovyrian from Golarion influences.


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Perpdepog wrote:

Not to mention they can't hold on to any of their vassal states, even when they are bothered to try. Even when the vassal state wants to stick around. History has been pretty dedicated to making Cheliax look weak in recent decades and I'm both interested and worried to see what their counterstroke will be if/when it's incorporated into a story.

keftiu" wrote:
With how much cooler the dwarves everywhere else seem to get with each passing book, the Five Kings Mountains just keep receding further into the distance. It's hard to make the classics interesting

TBH it reminds me a lot of the focus that was put on Dwarven society in the Disk World novels. I am totally in favor of this parallel.

Also, the reason I could see some people not being especially interested in Druma or Thuvia, both nations I am a fan of, is that they aren't so much interesting nations or regions right now as they are vehicles for holding interesting things. Druma has the Kalistocrats and to a lesser extent the Mercenary League, while Thuvia has Artocus and the Sun Orchid Elixir.
Past those plot points I couldn't tell you much about either of them, though.

I think the classics are kind of an important target to hit for games like Pathfinder. You can have someone jump into the game with no knowledge of Golarion whatsoever, but having watched Lord of the Rings once, they play a dwarf and fit right in. Not everything needs to be different. Of course, you can still do interesting things with this group that still doesn't radically change them. Dwarf counter-culture might have small communities go and try to live with orcs or giants, or even have a new "Quest for the Earth" movement to lead dwarven pilgrimages back into the Darklands to rediscover their ancestral heritage, maybe even try to reconnect with their Duegar kin. Traditional dwarves, on the other hand, may have engineers on the verge of unlocking the secrets of Shory aeromancy, bringing them very close to constructing the first new Sky Citadel in many centuries: Ironstar, a dwarven utopia sitting amidst the heavens themselves, where Torag's people can thrive and rebuild their crumbling civilization, and have hope, for the first time in a long time.

Right now, Five Kings Mountains culture is stagnant and dying, and that's a little bit of the reason it's not as interesting, I think. Mental health problems seem pretty widespread with that culture, and there don't seem to be many ways for it to look forward; the dwarves completed Torag's quest and now their people are whittling away. So most dwarves here are instead fixated on looking back on the good ole days. They did their thing already. The Quest for the Sky is over. So what's next?

As for Thuvia, it's just the perfect Final Fantasy setting, in my mind. Fascinating, sovereign city-states always on the bring of war, ages of history across every expanse filled with forgotten secrets from the past (some of the very oldest civilizations in Golarion itself), all manner of magical monsters and political intrigue, and in the center of them all, a magical crystal flower with the power to restore lost life, giving this kingdom nestled between predatory neighbors a peace and security it hasn't known in all of its long history. I love Thuvia for its connection to Golarion's ancient past, its intrigue, its decentralized state (regions ruled by city-state alliances have such a different flavor from unified nations or empires), and its high fantasy potential.

Druma's in a tough situation. They, and their entire capital city of Kerse, are literally on the front lines of Tar-Baphon's march for Absalom. Better hope that mercenary league of yours is as ruthless and loyal as you keep telling people they are. Druma's previous policy of deterring conflict instead of meeting it isn't going to work anymore, so I'm interested to see how the nation evolves from here.

And Cheliax is fine. Glad they still look super intimidating heading into 2e era. They make such fun villains.


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Opsylum wrote:
I think the classics are kind of an important target to hit for games like Pathfinder. You can have someone jump into the game with no knowledge of Golarion whatsoever, but having watched Lord of the Rings once, they play a dwarf and fit right in. Not everything needs to be different.

This is a really good point, just wanted to call that out because I hadn't thought of it before.

Opsylum wrote:
Right now, Five Kings Mountains culture is stagnant and dying, and that's a little bit of the reason it's not as interesting, I think. Mental health problems seem pretty widespread with that culture, and there don't seem to be many ways for it to look forward; the dwarves completed Torag's quest and now their people are whittling away. So most dwarves here are instead fixated on looking back on the good ole days. They did their thing already. The Quest for the Sky is over. So what's next?

That's why I compared it to Disk World Dwarves. Pratchett really focuses in on their culture in his last couple novels and highlights how the orthodoxy and traditionalism of dwarf culture is now flying in the face of the fact that most dwarves don't exactly subscribe to that cultural model anymore. The majority of dwarves in that setting live in a sprawling human city, for example. Well human-created, at any rate; it's pretty cosmopolitan.

Opsylum wrote:
Druma's in a tough situation. They, and their entire capital city of Kerse, are literally on the front lines of Tar-Baphon's march for Absalom. Better hope that mercenary league of yours is as ruthless and loyal as you keep telling people they are. Druma's previous policy of deterring conflict instead of meeting it isn't going to work anymore, so I'm interested to see how the nation evolves from here.

I'm personally hoping for some really unlikely alliances, like Druma sending huge amounts to somewhere like Nex to commission an army of golems which can't be turned into undead, or allying themselves with Geb or the remains of Lastwall to get some manner of anti-undead protection for their soldiery.

Opsylum wrote:
And Cheliax is fine. Glad they still look super intimidating heading into 2e era. They make such fun villains.

They definitely do, and definitely are, but from Cheliax's perspective how good is it to just be "fine?" At least, when compared to how they used to be?

Granted Cheliax can, and probably will, rewrite their histories so all their failures never would have happened, but it's still something that has to bug the higher ups.

RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

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One place? That's not nearly enough to include everything I dislike. I tend to just ignore areas I don't like, though, so it took me a bit to think about them.

And I should add, sometimes it's really little things that make me lose interest in regions.

The Mana Wastes - I like guns in some types of fantasy stories, but not in most games. Add in unreliable magic, and my interest is pretty much negative. May as well lump in Nex and Geb while I'm at it, as neither have any appeal for me.

Cheliax - I found them overdone, and a year of Cheliax in PF1 just solidified my dislike of the faction/culture/region entirely.

Rahadoum - Due to my own history and cultural history, religious bigots are as acceptable as any other bigot in my opinion. This may as well be a non-existent hole in the setting as far as I'm concerned.

Andoran, Thuvia, Druma, Razmiran - Their themes just aren't interesting to me. Meh.

Mwangi Expanse - The adventure visiting it in Age of Ashes piqued my interest a bit, since I liked things somewhat, but not enough to buy the book for it. And I have pretty much zero interest in the theme of Strength of Thousands, so that didn't help. Maybe there'll be another adventure that draws my interest, but it may be that the region just isn't for me.

There are very, very few regions I actively dislike, despite all of this. Mostly Cheliax and Rahadoum.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

There are no places in the setting I actively dislike, but a couple definitely don't do much for me.

Very much not a fan of Numeria. My interest in sci-fi in general is quite limited in scope, and that scope definitely does not extend to the "sci-fi, but in the middle of savage lands" thing going on there. The place just exists decidedly out of my wheelhouse.

Katapesh is terribly drab when compared to its surrounding areas, in my opinion. It's probably the only location on the map that has never piqued my interest or curiosity for even a single moment.

Never been a fan of Mwangi, either, but I've warmed to it with the recent material set there. I'm just personally not a particular fan of jungle adventures, honestly.


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

For me, the Five Kings Mountains. Dwarves bore me to death, and if I never see another underground dwarven kingdom, it'll be too soon.


Zaister wrote:
For me, the Five Kings Mountains. Dwarves bore me to death, and if I never see another underground dwarven kingdom, it'll be too soon.

Especially when down south and east a bit, you have an underground dwarf kingdom… who manufacture firearms and have extensive ties to their surface neighbors. Avistan’s dwarves need some work to be as interesting as all their kin in Garund.

Shadow Lodge

keftiu wrote:
Zaister wrote:
For me, the Five Kings Mountains. Dwarves bore me to death, and if I never see another underground dwarven kingdom, it'll be too soon.
Especially when down south and east a bit, you have an underground dwarf kingdom… who manufacture firearms and have extensive ties to their surface neighbors. Avistan’s dwarves need some work to be as interesting as all their kin in Garund.

Or just sink the place into the sea.


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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
keftiu wrote:
Zaister wrote:
For me, the Five Kings Mountains. Dwarves bore me to death, and if I never see another underground dwarven kingdom, it'll be too soon.
Especially when down south and east a bit, you have an underground dwarf kingdom… who manufacture firearms and have extensive ties to their surface neighbors. Avistan’s dwarves need some work to be as interesting as all their kin in Garund.
Or just sink the place into the sea.

I really don't want to lose Numeria and Sarkoris, especially with the latter's PNW native inspiration. Nidal is fun, too.

I'm a pretty ardent believer that Avistan is less fun than almost every alternative, but there's definitely still fun stuff up there.

Dark Archive

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I really dislike complaint threads :p Like even if they don't devolve into negativity or debating, I think it kinda sucks to vomit negativity on developer's countries they likely worked hard on. (like yeah they could take it as feedback for future development, but this isn't constructive criticism thread)

Anyway that aside, I do actually have one location in Golarion that bothers me. And exactly one since even the countries I have less interest in are important for the whole in my opinion.

...its LN-we-swear-its-CG Kyonin :P I REALLY love idea of Kyonin as land of CG peace loving hippies that really want to share their portal technology for greater good, but as it always has been in actual books, its LN xenophobic isolationist high elf land.

Like... I just wish paizo would outright retcon Kyonin instead of "well since we aren't retconning Second Darkness, we will just build on the previous Kyonin and establish that queen is trying to move it to non xenophobic direction!" Like... Why is main land of CG average ancestry not feeling very CG? Why does paizo insist on having "high elves" be the "aloof smug elves"?

Liberty's Edge

Are elves expected to be CG in the setting ?


The Raven Black wrote:
Are elves expected to be CG in the setting ?

If I recall, there was a comment somewhere that one of the design philosophies behind Golarion elves is that elves are often given a default CG tendencies (this is at least true in 3.5e, I can't speak for much older than that) but the way people tend to portray elves in their worlds very often draws heavily on the much more isolationist and LN elves of Tolkien. With that in mind, yes, the culture of Kyonin as I know it was meant to be very open, friendly, and benevolent, but the writers for Elves of Golarion drew back to the Tolkien archetype at a time when James Jacobs had much less direct oversight over the lore.

Dark Archive

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The Raven Black wrote:
Are elves expected to be CG in the setting ?

To quote 2e core rulebook:

"Alignment and Religion
Elves are often emotional and capricious, yet they hold high ideals close to their hearts. As such, many are chaotic good. They prefer deities who share their love of all things mystic and artistic. Desna and Shelyn are particular favorites, the former for her sense of wonder and the latter for her appreciation of artistry. Calistria is the most notorious of elven deities, as she represents many of the elven ideals taken to the extreme."

Also reminder that the elven pantheon consist of CG, CG and NG deities x'D

(just to clear, this isn't about me having heard what Kyonin originally was supposed to be like, I've always been bothered by the "smug elf" trope and I've always been bothered that the land that is supposed to be its most "elven at core" doesn't actually match with how pathfinder claims in both editions elves to be CG. Like pathfinder core dwarves have problem with being stereotypical dwarves, but at least their homeland matches their flavor. With elves? Nothing about how Kyonin works in practice matches the free spirited way you think of chaos.)

Liberty's Edge

Deities. I think I despise having almost always Good ancestries even more than having almost always Evil ones.

It just feels completely unreal.

Which reminds me of the Good Positive elven undead in that other setting.

If there had to be Good Positive undead, it would have been more interesting that they would be Orcs or Goblins.


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The Raven Black wrote:

Deities. I think I despise having almost always Good ancestries even more than having almost always Evil ones.

It just feels completely unreal.

Which reminds me of the Good Positive elven undead in that other setting.

If there had to be Good Positive undead, it would have been more interesting that they would be Orcs or Goblins.

Worth noting that Eberron has both positive energy undead elves (who are the sacred elders of a society I would describe as Lawful Neutral) and negative energy undead elves (exiled from the former for political reasons; now, mostly living as pirates), as well as plenty of non-necromancy elves. Eberron doesn’t do innate Alignment for races - one of its many virtues.


I remembered a place I have some real gripes about: Jinin.

The idea of what are functionally refugee elves weathering cataclysm and exodus in order to find a promised land? Awesome. The part where they decided that faux-Japanese samurai culture was so cool that it needed to supplant their own? No thanks. It's an entire nation built on the idea of being a foreign otaku, made so that Tian Xia can have a third Japan - because nowhere else in Asia is more important.

Liberty's Edge

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keftiu wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

Deities. I think I despise having almost always Good ancestries even more than having almost always Evil ones.

It just feels completely unreal.

Which reminds me of the Good Positive elven undead in that other setting.

If there had to be Good Positive undead, it would have been more interesting that they would be Orcs or Goblins.

Worth noting that Eberron has both positive energy undead elves (who are the sacred elders of a society I would describe as Lawful Neutral) and negative energy undead elves (exiled from the former for political reasons; now, mostly living as pirates), as well as plenty of non-necromancy elves. Eberron doesn’t do innate Alignment for races - one of its many virtues.

Does Eberron have positive energy undead from other races ?

I dislike the take that elves are just better humans. It goes back to Tolkien and even his elves had a bit more nuance than that.

At least the Eloi were food for the Morlocks.

Liberty's Edge

keftiu wrote:

I remembered a place I have some real gripes about: Jinin.

The idea of what are functionally refugee elves weathering cataclysm and exodus in order to find a promised land? Awesome. The part where they decided that faux-Japanese samurai culture was so cool that it needed to supplant their own? No thanks. It's an entire nation built on the idea of being a foreign otaku, made so that Tian Xia can have a third Japan - because nowhere else in Asia is more important.

I like it for what might hide behind this fake seeming. I agree completely that if there is nothing more to it, it is abysmally unoriginal and uninteresting.

My prefered take is that Jinin is the emerged part of a complex subterranean elven society where elves and drows live together, while still maintaining their heavy differences in outlook. Maybe their adoption of Bushido helped them somehow reverse the Dark fate and that their whole society is actually dancing on a very precarious edge.


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CorvusMask wrote:

I really dislike complaint threads :p Like even if they don't devolve into negativity or debating, I think it kinda sucks to vomit negativity on developer's countries they likely worked hard on. (like yeah they could take it as feedback for future development, but this isn't constructive criticism thread)

I wanto to point out that this thread is not meant to criticize the skill of the writers. They created an excellent sandbox to play in, with enough tools to satisfy everyone. I only created this thread to see which themes were considered "not interesting" by the majority of players in the forum. And this has been interesting, i never expected for Numeria to be mentioned so often for example, since i find it one of the best parts of Golarion. I am sorry i did not make it clearer in the OP.

The Raven Black wrote:


Does Eberron have positive energy undead from other races ?
At least the Eloi were food for the Morlocks.

Other races can become positive energy undead (Deathless), Aerenal Elves just have a whole culture around it. Also, while is not 100% canon, in a book made by the setting creator we are told that the promise of a non-elven undying councilor is a tool used by the sea elves to keep other acquatic races, like the locathath in line.

Shadow Lodge

keftiu wrote:

I really don't want to lose Numeria and Sarkoris, especially with the latter's PNW native inspiration. Nidal is fun, too.

I'm a pretty ardent believer that Avistan is less fun than almost every alternative, but there's definitely still fun stuff up there.

The water stops at the crest of the mountains forming the Encarthan Basin, natch.

CorvusMask wrote:
(just to clear, this isn't about me having heard what Kyonin originally was supposed to be like, I've always been bothered by the "smug elf" trope and I've always been bothered that the land that is supposed to be its most "elven at core" doesn't actually match with how pathfinder claims in both editions elves to be CG. Like pathfinder core dwarves have problem with being stereotypical dwarves, but at least their homeland matches their flavor. With elves? Nothing about how Kyonin works in practice matches the free spirited way you think of chaos.)

It does, however, match quite well with the kingdom being a militarized frontier fortress. Which it is.

Dark Archive

keftiu wrote:

I remembered a place I have some real gripes about: Jinin.

The idea of what are functionally refugee elves weathering cataclysm and exodus in order to find a promised land? Awesome. The part where they decided that faux-Japanese samurai culture was so cool that it needed to supplant their own? No thanks. It's an entire nation built on the idea of being a foreign otaku, made so that Tian Xia can have a third Japan - because nowhere else in Asia is more important.

On related note, I remember someone claim that there were like five japans in tian xia and I started to wonder what countries they were talking about.

Like okay Minkai is obvious one. Jinin are literally inspired by Minkai(unless that gets retconned) so that one I see. Third one is obviously Shokuro as its "Kingdom of Exiled Samurai" founded by samurai exiled from Minkai resulting in ronin land of sorts.

After that I struggle a lot to figure out what is supposed to be fourth or fifth(assuming it wasn't said in jest as exaggeration). I guess Kaoling sort of in that in 1e they had heavy "samurai hobgoblin" aesthetic, but that was more of aesthetic than culture thing and in 2e they gave kaoling hobgoblins less samurai inspired aesthetic. Chu Ye maybe if you count Oni as "japanese", but I do think that would be kinda like counting Azlant as Greek because its clearly Atlantis inspired, like Chu Ye seems more inspired by oni myths themselves than Japan in particular.

Besides Kaoling and Chu Ye in similar manner I guess maybe Shenmen and Forest of Spirits for having lot of Japanese creatures as well, but one of those isn't really a country and more of the "spirit forest" trope and second one doesn't really feel Japanese. So uh yeah I kinda struggle to figure out what else.

that said I can spot at least three different nations based on China of various time periods and ones based on Mongol Empire and the "this is the one based on australia/new zealand because sarusan isn't australia". I'm not versed enough in asian history to recognize korean or Philippine, Thailand, Vietnam or other south east asian influences but I've been told they exist. Tian Xia in general seems to be based on east and south east asia with Casmaron covering centre(...I'd assume at least that Kelesh covers this?), west(Qadira/Kelesh) south(Vudra) and northern(iobaria) asia


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CorvusMask wrote:
keftiu wrote:

I remembered a place I have some real gripes about: Jinin.

The idea of what are functionally refugee elves weathering cataclysm and exodus in order to find a promised land? Awesome. The part where they decided that faux-Japanese samurai culture was so cool that it needed to supplant their own? No thanks. It's an entire nation built on the idea of being a foreign otaku, made so that Tian Xia can have a third Japan - because nowhere else in Asia is more important.

I'm not versed enough in asian history to recognize korean or Philippine, Thailand, Vietnam or other south east asian influences but I've been told they exist.

Hwanggot should be the Korea equivalent, since the Tian-Hwan are Fantasy Counterpart Korean. Minata seems to be largely based on maritime southeast Asia/the Malay Archipelago, while Dtang Ma and Xa Hoi account for mainland southeast Asia (Tian-Dan have Vietnamese names).


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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
keftiu wrote:

I really don't want to lose Numeria and Sarkoris, especially with the latter's PNW native inspiration. Nidal is fun, too.

I'm a pretty ardent believer that Avistan is less fun than almost every alternative, but there's definitely still fun stuff up there.

The water stops at the crest of the mountains forming the Encarthan Basin, natch.

CorvusMask wrote:
(just to clear, this isn't about me having heard what Kyonin originally was supposed to be like, I've always been bothered by the "smug elf" trope and I've always been bothered that the land that is supposed to be its most "elven at core" doesn't actually match with how pathfinder claims in both editions elves to be CG. Like pathfinder core dwarves have problem with being stereotypical dwarves, but at least their homeland matches their flavor. With elves? Nothing about how Kyonin works in practice matches the free spirited way you think of chaos.)
It does, however, match quite well with the kingdom being a militarized frontier fortress. Which it is.

I was also going to point out timescale differences, elven lifespans meaning that their current, grimmer attitude can be more temporary than culturally institutionalized with the passing of generations ... and then I found out Treerazor has been there since the Age of Darkness.

So yeah, what gives, elves?


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Kyonin was only repopulated by Sovyrian because Treerazer posed a direct threat to them. Upon coming through, elves discovered a post-apocalyptic woodland they had to scrub of demonic influence, and were rewarded for their trouble with having greedy Druma, politically volatile Galt, lawless River Kingdoms, expansionist Molthune, Razmiran (who they skirmish so often with they are, in their own words, effectively at war with them), and Tar-Baphon's old stomping grounds in the Isle of Terror. This in addition to the demon cults, demon armies, and Treerazer in their backyard, and a fledgling, lonely nation they are bound by necessity to make work in a world they hadn't kept up with for the past several thousand years. Y'know, after it was supposed to have exploded.

Golarion is crazy.

Their best defense is being unknown by the outside world. Intel starts getting out about their numbers, resources, strategic locations, etc — their information advantage disappears. They are strongest when they are a mystery to everyone.

And, of course, it's a lot more fun when everyone believes the craziest stories about you.


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The Raven Black wrote:
keftiu wrote:

I remembered a place I have some real gripes about: Jinin.

The idea of what are functionally refugee elves weathering cataclysm and exodus in order to find a promised land? Awesome. The part where they decided that faux-Japanese samurai culture was so cool that it needed to supplant their own? No thanks. It's an entire nation built on the idea of being a foreign otaku, made so that Tian Xia can have a third Japan - because nowhere else in Asia is more important.

I like it for what might hide behind this fake seeming. I agree completely that if there is nothing more to it, it is abysmally unoriginal and uninteresting.

My prefered take is that Jinin is the emerged part of a complex subterranean elven society where elves and drows live together, while still maintaining their heavy differences in outlook. Maybe their adoption of Bushido helped them somehow reverse the Dark fate and that their whole society is actually dancing on a very precarious edge.

I severely doubt you’re right… but now, I hold a tiny glimmer of hope for a world where elves and drow live in harmony, united by their love of Japanese culture. That’s so wild that it actually wraps back around to great.


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The power of friendship and anime is truly great.


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Bachuan deserves a mention in this thread. Whoever decided Pathfinder’s Asia just absolutely had to have evil communists… probably shouldn’t be anywhere near Tian Xia.

Dark Archive

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I'm mostly confused why Bachuan is LN considering its extremely authoritar-...

...Ah right that is why its LN instead of LE, because they don't want to call out real life nation it is copying outright evil :p

(that or idea is that its evil influences are only because of its leader while people are more neutral? *shrugs* )

Liberty's Edge

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In my headcanon, Grandmother Pei is a Veiled Master. Once again doing weird social experiments to bring humans back under their tentacle, and divorce them from the gods' influence.


It's a place I'd sooner see shaken up "off-screen" between editions, with something else in its place in 2e.


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Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

It could be an interesting place if it were communist without the authoritarian overtones and the re-education and purges.


Bachuan is one of the places i couldn't ever call "boring", because it has so much potential, but it needs some massive rewriting before i feel confortable doing anything there.

Shadow Lodge

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Critical support to Bachuan.

(In all seriousness, communist revolutions are good and more countries in setting should have them.)

Opsylum wrote:
Kyonin was only repopulated by Sovyrian because Treerazer posed a direct threat to them.

A threat which is more appropriately and effectively addressed by dispatching four to six high-level adventurers (whether to assassinate Treerazer or to smash the Sovyrian Stone) than by setting up a fortress kingdom around the latter.


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zimmerwald1915 wrote:


Opsylum wrote:
Kyonin was only repopulated by Sovyrian because Treerazer posed a direct threat to them.
A threat which is more appropriately and effectively addressed by dispatching four to six high-level adventurers (whether to assassinate Treerazer or to smash the Sovyrian Stone) than by setting up a fortress kingdom around the latter.

But then players wouldn't have those tasty plot hooks and we can't have that.


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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Opsylum wrote:
Kyonin was only repopulated by Sovyrian because Treerazer posed a direct threat to them.
A threat which is more appropriately and effectively addressed by dispatching four to six high-level adventurers (whether to assassinate Treerazer or to smash the Sovyrian Stone) than by setting up a fortress kingdom around the latter.

Castrovel's hardly a bastion of peace itself. Having a portal to another world is an incredibly valuable asset, especially given the secrets to manufacturing them were lost with Candlaron. Those are incredibly rare artifacts — destroying them is not a great option. It's possible recovering the stone might be an option, although moving it could potentially disrupt it. Adventurers, while powerful, aren't qualified to fight demon lords and said demon lord's armies at the same time, let alone protect the stone as a long term investment. If it was discovered once, chances are it will be discovered again.

This opportunity presented Sovyrian to expand their territory, secure an ultra-powerful magical artifact, seek potential trade arrangements and alliances outside their world, and kill some demons. Sounds like a reasonable move, to me.

Shadow Lodge

It sounds like the motive of an empire concerned about doing land grabs and not the motive of a people concerned about not getting eaten by demons.


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It really feels like if Treerazer set up shop in humanity's back yard, someone in the Aroden/Arazni/Iomedae crusader sphere would have thumped him back to the Abyss centuries ago. He benefits greatly from how Elves aren't in a hurry to do anything.

Shadow Lodge

PossibleCabbage wrote:
It really feels like if Treerazer set up shop in humanity's back yard, someone in the Aroden/Arazni/Iomedae crusader sphere would have thumped him back to the Abyss centuries ago. He benefits greatly from how Elves aren't in a hurry to do anything.

He did, though. The elves weren't there when he put down stakes, but powerful human empires were.


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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
It sounds like the motive of an empire concerned about doing land grabs and not the motive of a people concerned about not getting eaten by demons.

I don't really buy Sovyrian elves' motives being imperialistic. Seems more likely they were simply looking to preserve their future. When you've got one home that you've seen almost completely destroyed by alien machinations, and on your homeworld, Formian and Lashunta wars erupting across the continents as they fight to expand, having a network of portals that can transport people to distant locations starts looking like a good strategy to ensure your long term survival. I've seen nothing in elven history to suggest their culture is remotely interested in empire. The only reason they came back to Golarion in the first place was to prevent a demonic invasion which would threaten Castrovel and Golarion both, which, as previous posts have recognized, was not being adequately dealt with by the predominant human empires of that time. Kyonin has never taken any action that suggests they have interest in expanding their borders beyond Kyonin, the necessary breadth of which being to safeguard the Sovyrian Stone from misuse, as it represents an exposed gate straight into the heart of Sovyrian itself.

I don't think the elves did anything more or less than what was necessary to preserve their own existence, especially considering the land they staked out was unaffiliated with any surrounding culture (indeed, it had been attributed to elven civilization since before Earthfall), and unclaimed entirely by anyone but demons, or whatever elves remained behind to tend the forest after Earthfall concluded. If there's any question of moral misconduct here, it's probably about whether the Sovyrian Stone should exist in the first place.

If nothing else, Sovyrian elves had a presence in Kyonin long before Treerazer's arrival. The fact they made no effort to form a nation there until defending it became a matter of life and death suggests, quite strongly I think, that the elves had little interest in using this place as the vanguard of a forthcoming empire. They had the very easy opportunity to for a very long time, and they just weren't interested.


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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:
It really feels like if Treerazer set up shop in humanity's back yard, someone in the Aroden/Arazni/Iomedae crusader sphere would have thumped him back to the Abyss centuries ago. He benefits greatly from how Elves aren't in a hurry to do anything.
He did, though. The elves weren't there when he put down stakes, but powerful human empires were.

Minor point of correction: Kyonin was inhabited by a token guard. Also I don't believe there are or were any powerful human empires in the area of the Tanglebriar. Only reference I've found is that Taldor's First Army of Exploration mapped the Sellen River but it seems unlikely they found nay part of Kyonin or saw fit to settle or protect the middle of the Fierani Forest from a demonic incursion that they likely did not know was occurring. I have not yet found evidence of other human empires occupying the area.

...Actually for that matter it appears that Treerazer has been on the planet since the Age of Darkness.

As for the matter of whether a god should have taken notice to beat Treerazer back to the Abyss, his occupation of Tanglebriar predates Iomedae's birth, but the elven god Ketephys reportedly served as a commander in the war that manage to push Treerazer back to his current territory.


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Do we think any lashunta live in Kyonin? That alone would instantly spice the place up for me.

Shadow Lodge

keftiu wrote:
Do we think any lashunta live in Kyonin? That alone would instantly spice the place up for me.

Doubtful. Sovyrian is on another continent from where the Lashunta live, isolated from it by forever-storms and by elven policy. Aiudeen are really into ethnostates, it turns out.


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keftiu wrote:
Do we think any lashunta live in Kyonin? That alone would instantly spice the place up for me.

I would expect to see a few, but probably not too many. That's something I'd like to see more of though. Castrovel is fun.

Edit: hiding rant about elves for ease of everyone trying to scroll:
On that note, I've had thoughts recently, in part because I'm actually in the middle of reading through Dave Gross's Queen of Thorns right now, which is a Pathfinder Tale set in Kyonin. It's reminded me how much I love elves, as well as some of my frustrations with how they've been written in other material.

Writing for (Kyonin) elves for Pathfinder seems to be warring with itself, at times. On one side, this is supposed to be, by in large, a society with mores leaning toward chaotic good ideals. Elves are reclusive and isolationist, but care deeply and are insatiably curious about the world and people around them. On the other hand, there's this attitude of smug superiority and xenophobia that makes periodic appearances in the material that undermines this character.

I think Pathfinder needs to pick a lane with Kyonin culture, between isolationism and xenophobia, because there is a distinction, and move forward with that. Like, there are some defining things about elves that explain their attitudes about the world, best illustrated by passages like these.

Second Darkness wrote:
When the war had been fought to a standstill, the elves paused to look around them, and in doing so discovered that humanity had advanced significantly during their long absence, and could now be treated as semi-civilized beings.

Ignore the part about "semi-civilized beings" for now. Up until that point all of the elves' neighbors had been pretty warlike, so it's a little bit understandable elves would look all this violence and war over pointless squabbles and think "what is up with everyone?" Regardless, the important point here is that, after the elves had contained Treerazer and Sovyrian's safety was secured, their principal stated reason for sticking around in Golarion was because of their interest in getting to know the people of Golarion better. Sure, there were a lot of problems going on in the world, but it wasn't actively imploding and there was a chance for something better. So they stayed.

Elves are isolationist for a few reasons, a couple of which I've touched on above so I won't go over them again (information advantage, predatory neighbors, the Sovyrian Stone, and the fun of being able to invent your own reputation). There's also another pretty good reason which hasn't been touched on.

Pathfinder Core Rulebook wrote:
Elves are often rather private people, steeped in the secrets of their groves and kinship groups. They’re slow to build friendships outside their kinsfolk, but for a specific reason: they subtly and deeply attune to their environment and their companions. There’s a physical element to this attunement, but it isn’t only superficial. Elves who spend their lives among shorter-lived peoples often develop a skewed perception of their own mortality and tend to become morose after watching generation after generation of companions age and die. These elves are called the Forlorn.

Elves feel incredibly deeply. The bonds they share with others are very, very powerful. This follows the Tolkien tradition, in which a notorious characteristic of elves is that a "broken heart" is a potentially lethal condition. Due to their long age, elves will not only frequently be in the position of feeling like they live in a world populated mostly by foolish children, but they will also be in the position of watching the things they care about, the people they care about, die — over and over and over again.

This is really heartbreaking, and a compelling element to their character. Because of this condition, elves perhaps unavoidably "live in the world, but are not of it," to borrow the phrase. In a single elven individual, you'll find something that will outlast entire kingdoms. Whether they want to or not, they do not live in sync with the world around them. Some just grimace and get used to that fact. Others...create a home in sync with themselves. This is Kyonin, where the elves and other long-lived creatures like fey and arboreals live with each other in communities resembling very, very large extended families, where just about everyone knows everyone. The specter of death inspires little fear here (Treerazer notwithstanding).

What happens when you start introducing shorter-lived mortals to this society? That illusion of long youth and vigor disappears. Really fast. You're going to be having numerous funerals every generation, more and more cemeteries reminding of you of the things you'll never experience again. So much death and loss. ...It's sort of what Treerazer himself represents, I think. The destruction of life and beauty enduring through the ages.

This doesn't have to mean elves are xenophobic. Kyonin is a home made for people who measure their lives in centuries, but that's changing. The entire reason Kyonin was established was because elves wanted to make friends of mortals. Despite Golarion having pretty few elven nations, elves can be found everywhere — probably because, at any given time, probably a majority of them are out seeing what they can see in the world. They care about people. They're also afraid of them. It's this beautifully nuanced relationship, and it saddens me to see it reduced so often down to "Haha, our superior culture sneers down at your filthy human one, gaze upon our beauty and worship us!" Like, that's just not the Kyonin I'm seeing here.

Also, kudos to James Jacobs and Dave Gross for fantastic representations of Pathfinder's elven culture in the character Merisiel and the novel Queen of Thorns, respectively.

Okay, rant over.

Dark Archive

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Yeah its part of why I'm frustrated with how Starfinder likes to say "nah elves were always xenophobic smug a*@%#@!s even before Gap" whenever possible :p


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CorvusMask wrote:
Yeah its part of why I'm frustrated with how Starfinder likes to say "nah elves were always xenophobic smug a$%%~~&s even before Gap" whenever possible :p

Yeah, that's a bit of a downer — elves in Starfinder seem to have shifted much more toward a CN alignment, out for vengeance. Probably why Calistria's still a noteworthy goddess even in Starfinder's time, when the relatively small population of elves have an entire integrated galaxy to contend with, and their aiudara gates, once the savior of their culture, are now...just a faster mode of transportation than a starship.

That's actually broaching an interesting subject, I think, in that I'm not sure the xenophobia thing was as unintentional as it looks. Starfinder legacy races got really dark in general: Dwarves, their culture defined by generational wrestles with faith and pursuit of divine mandates, have completely lost the god who's guided them throughout their long history, and they are left grappling with this new identity they have to define for themselves. In the time since Golarion, the Bleaching seems to have affected gnomes so frequently that they have adapted to this disease, with a significant proportion of their people losing their mirth and laughter and even being born with the loss of this connection to the First World. Orcish civilization, once proud and fiercely independent, is now concentrated on Apostae where a majority of them work as wage slaves for their corporate drow overlords. And, of course, elven society, which due to a propensity for isolationism has struggled with xenophobia before, have almost completely withdrawn from the world. About the only people who adapted well to space had the least to lose to begin with: halflings and goblins seem to have actually improved their fortunes since the Gap.

I'm thinking, if you want to tell an interesting story with these legacy ancestries, starting from a place where they are each struggling with their greatest fears and vulnerabilities from the outset is an intriguing way of going about it. Kinda rough from the perspective of a player who wants to play as one of these legacy ancestries but also doesn't want to deal with this "down on their luck" narrative built into its identity, though.

I digress. I don't mind elven culture struggling with xenophobia as a narrative tool. That's going to be one of the probable downsides to having an isolationist culture — just as there are downsides to every cultural configuration, no matter how smart it be. Good storytelling is all about wrestling with conflict and personal contradictions. It's just, if you're going to paint a civilization's mores as broadly chaotic good, xenophobia probably shouldn't be a defining feature of this civilization.


Opsylum wrote:
I'm thinking, if you want to tell an interesting story with these legacy ancestries, starting from a place where they are each struggling with their greatest fears and vulnerabilities from the outset is an intriguing way of going about it. Kinda rough from the perspective of a player who wants to play as one of these legacy ancestries but also doesn't want to deal with this "down on their luck" narrative built into its identity, though.

Well, if the legacy ancestries were in good places, people might not want to buy a splatbook of Mos Eisley Cantina regulars to play instead. A function of Sci-Fi settings with lots of alien ancestries tends to water that ancestry down to their particular hat, as no one can write an extensive culture for every playable creature.

Liberty's Edge

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zimmerwald1915 wrote:
It sounds like the motive of an empire concerned about doing land grabs and not the motive of a people concerned about not getting eaten by demons.

I do think Kyonin has had an inconsistent characterisation, but I don't think it has always been presented in this sort of perspective. I'm not questioning the validity of the reading - Kyonin has some very messy parts of it - but presented with an inconsistent piece of the setting, Paizo has a choice as to how it resolves it going forward. I'd much rather they buy into Kyonin as a primarily CG place, albeit struggling with some of the issues they've already presented. For that to work, I do think some existing lore would have to be outright changed - but at least personally, I'm OK with that. I've seen a lot of ~LN xenophobic elves, I'd be interested in some changes there.

Even if things don't end up going that way, at least I have the Mualijae in the Mwangi Expanse :)


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CorvusMask wrote:
Yeah its part of why I'm frustrated with how Starfinder likes to say "nah elves were always xenophobic smug a%#&@$*s even before Gap" whenever possible :p

Losing their favorite clothing store can make one irritable.

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