Rise of the Runelords
A rocky land that slopes from the high Kodar Mountains in the north to the drenched fens of the south, Varisia is a realm sculpted from stone. Yet between the mountain ranges that carve the region, wildly disparate and vibrant lands flourish.
The most dramatic natural wonder of Varisia is the Storval Rise, a continuous line of cliffs that runs hundreds of miles and in some places rises as high as 3,000 feet. Adding to this wonder, nearly the entire face of the sea cliffs bears eroded sculptures, ruined cliff-castles, and grimly carved passages into depths below.
Above the rise stretches the Storval Plateau, a barren, hilly land of sparse vegetation and deadly giants. This is the primary home of the Shoanti. A nomadic people, the barbarians range from the Stony Mountains in the west to the Cinderlands — a badland of ragged tors — in the east.
￼Below the Storval Rise, rolling hills, dense forests, and rocky plains make up Varisia’s more hospitable reaches. Many of these lands are marked by ancient monoliths, eroded statues, and cairns of unnatural size. To the northwest, hills covered in high grass and windy flatlands form valleys between mountains and the sea. In the south, fertile lands pocked by rocky limestone pavements and mist-shrouded moors border the massive rot of the Mushfens.
Numerous dense deciduous forests also huddle against Varisia’s numerous mountain ranges. While spiders and other vermin infest the Churlwood, the ghosts of werewolves are said to haunt the Ashwood. Few dare brave the Lurkwood, for its dark trees grow and shed their leaves in an order not set by the seasons. Deadly and deathly things have also long been rumored to haunt the northern Sanos Forest, but the gnome population of the wilderness’s southern arm has done much to dismiss such tales. Finally, the Mierani Forest was once and is now again a home to elves. While they have done much in the 200 years since their reappearance to treat with the peoples of Varisia’s southern lands, the elves permit few outsiders entrance to their woodland home.
The largest city in Varisia, Korvosa dominates the lands from the Ashwood to Bloodsworn Vale. Today, King Eodred Arabasti II and Queen Ileosa Arabasti rule Korvosa, their reign epitomized by the exploitation of the city-state’s vassal townships for the benefit and luxury of Korvosa’s elite. Korvosa claims to be the most cultured and civilized city in the region, yet visitors might also grant the city-state the titles of most decadent, exploitative, and socially stratified.
To the west, the city of Magnimar vies with Korvosa for dominance of land and trade in and around Varisia. Spread along the shores and cliffs of the Varisian Gulf, Magnimar’s best-known landmark is the Irespan — the ruin of a gargantuan and ancient bridge around and under which the city sprawls.
A council of elected elders presides over Magnimar along with the Lord-Mayor, a title held for life. Currently, the overbearing Lord-Mayor Haldmeer Grobaras controls the city, his bombastic and largely self-serving voice drowning out those of a fractured council of squabbling merchants, commoners, and bored nobles.