xLuevan's Second Darkness
A sprawling region caught between the southern nations of Taldor’s old empire and the northern lands ruled by the Linnorm Kings, Varisia has long been considered a backwater. As Varisia lacked any significant coastal settlements to raid, the Linnorm Kings traditionally bypassed the region in favor of attacking the southern kingdoms, while in the south, the distances involved made exploration of the area uneconomical. Only in the past few hundred years have the nations of the Inner Sea turned their attention to Varisia, and they’ve found a land ripe for exploration -something the Varisian people have known for thousands of years, yet have long maintained their silence about. Although a relatively large stretch of Varisia has been settled by Chelish colonists and Varisian natives, the fact remains that this region is still primarily a dangerous wilderness. Legendary monsters, ranging from sinister local stories (such as the elusive Sandpoint Devil) on up to regional tales of terror (like deadly Black Magga, or the mythical Oliphaunt of Jandelay) have given the wilderness a singular menace, yet they are not as stark a reminder of the region’s dangers as the numerous Thassilonian monuments that still dot the land. Built by armies of stone giant artisans under runelord command, these monuments were preserved and protected by magic. Only today is this preservative magic beginning to fail, allowing the ancient monuments to slowly suffer the indignities of erosion and trophy seekers. In many of these monoliths lurk hidden dangers—immortal monsters trapped for centuries; enticing vaults of treasure protected by traps; and (some whisper) the slumbering runelords themselves, who wait patiently to awaken from their centuries-long sleep to reclaim a land rightfully theirs.
Although Varisia has only recently returned to the forefront of the Inner Sea’s interest, it has not always existed as a remote frontier. Before Earthfall, this was the site of one of humanity’s most powerful civilizations: the empire of Thassilon. Founded by exiles from Azlant and ruled by wizards known as runelords who reveled in the seven deadly sins, the nation of Thassilon enslaved giants to build vast monuments to its own ego. When Earthfall ushered in the Age of Darkness, Thassilon—already teetering from its own decadence and corruption—fell as well. The region remained wild for thousands of years, inhabited only by barbarian tribes of Shoanti and Varisian wanderers until the frontier finally came to the attention of expansionist Cheliax, whose armies marched on the region in 4405 ar. Chelish soldiers drove the warlike Shoanti into the rugged regions to the northeast, while colonists adopted a tenuous peace with the native Varisians under the pretense of bringing “culture and civilization” into their lives. It was at this time that the ancient frontier came to be known as Varisia. Since then, the area has become the Inner Sea region’s fastest-growing realm—a place of new opportunity, while still heavy with ancient mystery and the promise of undiscovered riches.