Welcome to the third installment of my series on the Golarion setting for Pathfinder. In the first two articles, I covered the Characteristics of Golarion, and the Races of Golarion. Today, I’m going to take a look at three or four of my favorites countries/areas in the setting. Golarion has a huge, diverse set of areas to choose from, so just remember that I’m picking my favorites. If you don’t see something here that appeals to you, check out the Inner Sea World Guide and see what’s there.
Cheliax – A Devilishly Good Time
First up is the nation of Cheliax. Firstly, I like this place because (even though I dislike the term), it makes me think of people saying “chillax.” I’m weird that way.
What really appeals to me about Chelliax is the fact that it is, openly, ruled by Devils. Well, indirectly. The royal family has made pacts with Asmodeus and the worship of the Arch-Devil is the official religion of the country. Cheliax is in decline at the time set in the Inner Sea World Guide, but they are still a power to be reckoned with. This country has tons of room for political maneuvering, as there are small cities all over the large area that Cheliax calls its own. As well, there is something in Cheliax that you don’t always get in a fantasy setting: open slavery. Halflings are a slave class in Cheliax, so if you want to have plot lines that involve revolt or rebellion, Cheliax is a great place for it to happen (among others).
Druma – The Religion of the Sales
Traders bedecked in jewel and gold travel across rolling grasslands and dwarven lords become more reclusive as time goes on. The merchants follow the prophecies of Kalistrade and believe that their power will be demonstrated through their financial success. Meanwhile, the dwarves who used to rule the land have turned inward in their mountain kingdoms and disregard the outside world.
This place goes on my list because I love, love, love playing pompous NPCs who know that they are better than the adventurers who have come calling. The merchant lords of Druma fit that description to a T. As well, there’s a really interesting contrast between the public, present merchants and the dwarves, whose kingdoms are in a state of decline. I find that interesting because dwarves can be protrayed as greedy and wealth-seeking, which is exactly what the merchant lords are now. Will the merchant lords face the same withdrawing fate that the dwarves did?
Mana Wastes – Technology and Mutations
Magic is a powerful thing. Sometimes that power can run out of control, as it did during a previous war between the countries of Nex and Geb. The magics unleashed during that war left the area now known as the mana wastes a magic-dead wasteland, full of mutated monsters and now seeing the rise of new technologies.
Magic is a common theme in fantasy settings. Some might say that magic is what defines a fantasy setting. In a lot of generic fantasy settings, you don’t see a whole lot of consequences for the overuse of magic. The Mana Wastes show the results of magical destruction very clearly. And, because magic does not work well or reliably in this area, technology has risen to takes its place in the form of firearms. I love firearms in a fantasy setting (and, by the way, I am really excited for the release of Ultimate Combat. Gunslingers!), and I think this was a great way to introduce them into Golarion. Even if you don’t adventure here directly, the Mana Wastes have things happening that will impact the whole Golarion setting.
The Mwangi Expanse – Jungle home of a Gorilla King
Two words (echoed above): Gorilla. King. Seriously. Gorilla King.
The Mwangi Expanse is a savage, Lost World-esque jungle that has no real ruler. The being with the most power in the area is the Gorilla King, Ruthazek, who claims the center of the Mwangi Expanse as his own. He has the power to back it up, as well. In an attack on the capital of the Mana Wastes, Alakanet, the Gorilla King captured their largest, most dangerous weapon. He’s a Gorilla King with a big gun. As well, he hates humans and is working to eradicate them throughout the Expanse.
The rest of the Mwangi Expanse is filled with fell beasts and ravaging diseases. In fact, this is one of the first places I’ve seen in a fantasy setting where it makes sense that you would find dinosaurs. I love the savagery and I think sending an adventuring party here would be great fun.
As For the Rest…
What I’ve given you is a small, small sampling of the countries and areas that are available in Golarion. You could really run any type of campaign you wanted to in this setting, all you have to do is find the right country to set it in. And it does that without the areas seeming like they don’t work together. Everything works together to create an excellent, creative whole.
I was planning on one more article in this series, but I think that this look at the countries of Golarion will wrap things up. Not only is there a lot of good information in the Inner Sea World Guide, but the novels published for Golarion do an excellent job of presenting the world as well. If you need a new campaign setting for Pathfinder or any other game system, really, you owe it to yourself to pick up the Inner Sea World Guide or the Golarion novels. You won’t be disappointed.