Rise of the Runelords
The subcontinent of Avistan and the northern third of Garund together are often referred to as the Inner Sea region. Itself consisting of over 40 nations, empires, frontiers, and wildlands, the Inner Sea region comprises a wide range of opportunities. From the wild frontiers of Varisia to the cosmopolitan streets of Absalom, from the cloying diabolism of Cheliax to the hopeful independence of Andoran, any one of these locations promises countless adventures.
A wide range of climate bands exist in the Inner Sea region, from blisteringly hot in the deserts of Garund to freezing cold and snowy at the border with the Crown of the World. In general, weather patterns in Avistan and Garund f low from west to east, sweeping cold rains across Varisia, Nidal, northwestern Cheliax, and the Mwangi Expanse. The rain shadow created by the Mindspin Mountains is partially offset by the rain-birthing waters of Lake Encarthan. South of the Menador and Five Kings Mountains, the chill of the north gives way to the warm waters of the Inner Sea, allowing for extended growing seasons and larger populations.
Regardless of the goods—raw timber from northern Andoran, exquisite glass from Cheliax, or exotic spices from Qadira—trade powers the nations that rest upon the rocky shores of the Inner Sea. Golarion’s most powerful trading nations launch thousands of merchant fleets every week into the salty, wind-tossed waters that link the massive Arcadian Ocean to the stormy Obari Ocean.
While numerous races and creatures exist in the Inner Sea region, humans largely dominate the realm. The use of the term “humanity” includes nearhuman, civilized races such as elves and gnomes under the overall category. Savage races, such as orcs, goblins, and gnolls, however, generally fall outside of what the Inner Sea region qualifies as “society.”
The vast majority of humanity in the Inner Sea region dwells in urban centers—cities, towns, and villages. A certain element of stereotyping and profiling exists between city dwellers and country dwellers, and conflicts between the two are not unheard of. Yet in truth, both lifestyles are inexorably dependant on each other.
Rural populations often dwell in dangerously close proximity to monster-haunted wildernesses and need protection from their urban neighbors, while urban populations rely on their rural kin for necessities like food and other resources. This dichotomy plays out often between the faiths of Erastil and Abadar—two religions about essentially the same thing but with drastically, obstinately different methods of presenting themselves.
The common citizens of the Inner Sea region, be they farmers or traders or city guards, know about magic. It’s likely that they’ve seen magic spells in action, and have even been the beneficiary of healing magic or other minor effects at some point in their lives. Yet magic is not so universal a part of life for most of the Inner Sea’s citizens that they’ve come to rely on it. It’s seen most often as an extravagance or a reward used by the wealthy, or in a worst-case scenario as yet another tool a despot or monster might use to oppress honest folk. Magic is thus a source of wonder and awe and of fear, but since it’s not a fundamental part of most folks’ everyday lives, it’s also often misunderstood.
Firearms are specialized weapons invented by the dwarves of Alkenstar and Dongun Hold. Until recently, knowledge and use of these violent weapons were limited to these dwarves. Within the last century or so, however, firearms have slowly begun to spread throughout the Inner Sea region. Their complex construction and need for rigorous care makes them rather expensive and their unpredictable nature often including misfires and explosions make them weapons for the truly adventurous or foolhardy.
Among the finest of technological treasures is the printing press, a weapon of subtle power capable of turning a quiet populace against its ruler, making an entire nation unsafe for an outlaw, or setting a hundred militias ready for war against an enemy.
Although terrifyingly expensive to build and maintain, leaders in nations as diverse as Absalom, Nex, and Qadira have benefited from the technology, reaping their investments tenfold from their use of printing presses.