Rise of the Runelords
Varisia is a true frontier, stretching from the Varisian Gulf in the west to the sheer peaks of the Mindspin and Kodar Mountains in the east. The space between encompasses all manner of terrain—sprawling plains, dense forests, burning badlands, and mysterious swamps. The land remains relatively untouched by lumberer’s axe or fisher’s trawl, and its wild creatures remain varied and plentiful—and sometimes monstrous.
The Storval Rise, a thousand-foot-tall cliff that runs northwest to southeast across the region, divides the fertile lowlands from the rugged Storval Plateau. The west and south hold lush expanses: woodlands like the Churlwood and Sanos Forest, expanses so tangled even experienced trackers shy from their edge; the Velashu Uplands, a gentle plain home to the rugged Velashu horse lords; and the Mushfens, a dangerous marsh that straggles along much of the land’s southern length.
The Storval Plateau, which includes the burning wastes of the Cinderlands, encompasses the east and north. The Cinderlands are a dry desert where regular firestorms scour the thorny scrub brush and sear the reddened land. Much of the Storval Plateau proves slightly more hospitable, though, and this arid stretch of grassland and hard-packed plains is home to equally hard tribes of reclusive giants and proud Shoanti.
The People of Varisia
Ethnic Varisians and Shoanti constitute Varisia’s native peoples, having made their homes in the region for thousands of years, long before the incursion of the Chelish Empire. In 4405 AR, Chelish armies entered the region, drove the Shoanti into the arid northern regions, and settled the land with an eye toward “civilising” the native Varisians. The region’s wealth of natural resources bolstered development in the area, and Varisia is now one of the most desirable destinations for settlers and explorers.
Three city-states arose from the Chelish occupation to compete for control over the land. Korvosa, founded in 4407 AR, is the oldest of the three, an established trading magnate governed by a local monarchy. The growth of the younger trade cities in the region threatens Korvosa’s standing, a fate the decadent city refuses to accept. Magnimar, founded by discontented Korvosan expatriates in 4584, prides itself on being a more welcoming city with few restrictions on trade. Jutting from Magnimar’s cliffs, the mysterious Irespan—an ancient shattered bridge of phenomenal size—serves as an emblem of the bold city. The outlaw haven of Riddleport is a city of pirates and gamblers, ruled with harsh fairness by a group of master criminals. Riddleport is also home to the mysterious Cyphergate, a rune-carved arch spanning the natural harbor, which draws all manner of daring scholars to the city’s streets.