Golarion is the "main" planet in Paizo's default campaign setting for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game that, as of Pathfinder's second edition, is named Age of Lost Omens. It's not the sum total of the setting's Material Plane like, say, Athas is, but it's where most of the action is and where you're going to be spending most of your time so it's also the nickname for what's properly known as the Pathfinder Campaign Setting. Golarion was first introduced to players as a generic OGL module named Crown of the Kobold King, released in June of 2007 under Paizo's GameMastery imprint. Two months later at Gen Con 2007, Paizo published Rise of the Runelords, the first of Pathfinder's famous Adventure Paths and the first product to bear the Pathfinder brand name; this was followed by another adventure path and a couple "Pathfinder Chronicles" supplements. When Wizards announced Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition and neglected to mention that the OGL would be replaced with a giant spiky dildo, Paizo cashed in on the confusion and announced that they would be creating a replacement RPG, based on OGL content but with a less restrictive license for its "Product Identity" and with Golarion as the default setting.
Golarion is notable for ripping off fucking everything, including dime-store pulp novels, random bits of relatively modern history, earlier editions of D&D, sci-fi kitsch, and the kitchen sink. This is a transparent attempt to fill the gaping orifice left behind by the loss of the D&D's "Product Identity" as cheaply as possible, justified as a way of allowing many different campaign styles to coexist in the same setting. One notable exception is the elder gods of the Far Realm, which Paizo replaced by biting the bullet and licensing the Cthulhu Mythos from Chaosium.
It bears mentioning that this "fantasy kitchen sink" style actually isn't new to D&D. ALL of the "iconic trinity" of settings from the earliest days of D&D - Mystara, Greyhawk and the Forgotten Realms - have a similar motif. What makes Golarion stand out compared to Greyhawk or the Realms is that the latter settings tend to obscure their real-world inheritances more by keeping the "non-Medieval Europe" cultures pushed from the highlight; the Realms in particular generally keeps its more blatantly real-world homage based portions off of the core map and out of the spotlight, such as Al-Qadim, Kara-tur and Maztica. Even its blatancy is not unique; Mystara did it first, and with its bizarre races and fantastical tweaks on real-world cultures, Golarion resembles a Mystara written in and for the 2010s more than anything.
The centerpiece of Golarion is the Inner Sea region, consisting of the fantasy equivalents of Western Europe, the Mediterranean Sea zone, and the northern half of Africa. Unlike most other fantasy settings, many of the cultures and civilizations of the Inner Sea region are in severe decline after the only deity which represents humans in the Great Beyond, Aroden, died a few centuries ago. To add salt to the wound, this caused a series of events which fucked up the world: the formation of a massive supernatural stationary fuckstorm that annihilated two entire nations and allowed pirates to develop their own kingdoms, the obliteration of a noble barbarian empire by a tear in the tissue of reality opened directly into the Abyss, and the prophets and diviners committing mass suicide as an prophesied golden age for mankind suddenly faded into nothing. As if this wasn't enough, the religious hysteria led the two greatest empires of the region to become balkanized devil-worshipping fantasy Nazis and decadent chucklefucks, respectively.
Anyway, if that all sounds like a clusterfuck, don't worry. In Starfinder, Paizo settled accounts by making Golarion gone. As in, it was there, and history and records skip ahead by a couple hundred years, and then it wasn't there. Nobody who was alive for it can remember what happened. But they're sure there was a Golarion at one point.
- 1 Nations of Golarion
- 1.1 Absalom
- 1.2 Alkenstar
- 1.3 Andoran
- 1.4 Belkzen
- 1.5 Brevoy
- 1.6 Cheliax
- 1.7 Druma
- 1.8 Five Kings Mountains
- 1.9 Galt
- 1.10 Geb
- 1.11 Hermea
- 1.12 Irrisen
- 1.13 Isger
- 1.14 Jalmeray
- 1.15 Katapesh
- 1.16 Kyonin
- 1.17 Lands of the Linnorm Kings
- 1.18 Lastwall
- 1.19 Mendev
- 1.20 Mendiogalti Island
- 1.21 Molthune
- 1.22 Mwangi Expanse
- 1.23 Nex
- 1.24 Nidal
- 1.25 Nirmathas
- 1.26 Numeria
- 1.27 Osirion
- 1.28 Qadira
- 1.29 Rahadoum
- 1.30 Razmiran
- 1.31 Realm of the Mammoth Lords
- 1.32 River Kingdoms
- 1.33 Sargava
- 1.34 Shackles
- 1.35 Sodden Lands
- 1.36 Taldor
- 1.37 Thuvia
- 1.38 Ustalav
- 1.39 Varisia
- 1.40 Worldwound
- 2 Lands Beyond the Core Setting
- 3 Gods of Golarion
- 4 Races of Golarion
- 5 Other Planets and Planes
- 6 Trivia
- 7 Further Reading
Nations of Golarion
Mecca meets Sigil in the middle of the ocean, with a culture more like Medieval Rome mixed with Venice. 10,000 years in Golarion's past, a fuckhuge magic space rock called the Starstone struck the planet, creating the Inner Sea in the process and destroying Azlant, home of the Glorious Azlanti Master Race. The last of the Azlanti, Aroden, lifted the stone out of the Inner Sea 5,000 years later and used its magic to become the God of Humanity in living flesh, founding the city-state of Absalom on the island where he dumped the thing to protect it from others who wanted to pull the same trick. It's still there, in the heart of the Ascendant Court, and anyone who survives the Test of the Starstone can use it to become a god too. (Thousands try every year; only three have ever succeeded, including one guy who took the test on a drunken dare and can't remember how he did it.) As everyone has a stake in keeping the number of crazy gods around to a minimum and the island is strategically located in the middle of the Inner Sea, Absalom has become the effective center of civilization in Golarion's western hemisphere, with a complete clusterfuck of races and nationalities walking the streets to wheel and deal. Other areas of note include the Cairnlands, the slightly-haunted graveyard for all the dumbasses who tried and failed to invade one of the most important places on the planet, and the Ivy District, which is where all the whores are and where everyone goes to stab each other in the back.
Fuck yeah guns in your fantasy setting. Alkenstar is in the middle of a giant non-magical desert formed by a war between its magocratic neighbors, Geb and Nex, so they had to tell Medieval Stasis to shove it and learn engineering to stay relevant. Almost all of Golarion's gunpowder-based weaponry is produced by Alkenstari engineers, and they like to keep it that way so they can continue to charge out the ass for them. This is so your GM has an excuse to veto firearms. Despite what you'd expect from a desert nation that shits firearms, they're not particularly friends with Andoran, maintaining scrupulous neutrality and being situated in Golarion's equivalent of northeastern Africa.
Fuck yeah 'Muricans. When Cheliax shat the bed, the nobles of Andoran went along with their new devil overlords in the interest of not becoming a fucking bloodbath like Galt or Cheliax itself. Andoran's burgeoning merchant class had other ideas and whipped up a revolution two years later, using Galtan philosophy (as if the American Revolution parallels weren't fucking obvious enough) to fuel the fires and inventing democratic socialism and the welfare state from whole cloth. As expected of fantasy Americans, they also practice cultural imperialism, actively exporting their radical ideology and disrupting the Inner Sea's slave trade. This makes them less than popular with the rest of the world. Their patron divinity is a celestial eagle-man.
Adventures (including those for Pathfinder Society) on the other hand paint a different view entirely. There it's a massively corrupt land ruled by unfettered monopolies with a senate that's little better than aristocracy. The only checks to their power are increasingly unhinged extremists who would push the nation into another Galt.
Stupid dumb greenskin scum. When Golarion's dwarves took their expedition/holy war out of the Darklands, they pushed the orcs ahead of them. The dwarves eventually pushed them back into a shitty little valley in the continent's north, but not before a strong and ambitious orc warlord named Belkzen managed to capture and ransack a Dwarf Fortress that he rechristened Urgir, the closest thing to a capital city they have. Naturally, the Hold of Belkzen has since collapsed into a fuckpile of semi-nomadic tribes with friendly names like Broken Spine, Gutspear, and Murdered Child constantly wrangling with each other for territory. The current holder of Urgir, Grask Uldeth of the Empty Hand, has discovered the value of trade with less beefy races, and your average PC can walk the streets in relative safety... most of the time. Other locations of note include the Brimstone Haruspex, where orc clerics huff volcanic gas to predict the future, and the Foundry, where and I quote: "crazed orc engineers known as Steeleaters remain neutral in order to sell their bizarre siege weaponry to all sides." Green really iz da best, innit?
Stuck all the way in the upper right corner of the map, this land is cold, forested and the country is on the verge of collapse. Supposedly some dragon or dude with a dragon showed up, conquered everyone and his line has ruled for years only to disappear one night and now the various noble houses vie for control.
Anyway, Brevoy is divided into a few regional areas, each ruled by a noble house who have their own outlook and goals, as well as a somewhat independent city of adventurer swordsmen. The northern nobles are loosely allied against the equally loosely allied south and, in an attempt to build power and prestige enough to keep the calm, the newest king has sent adventurers south to found a new kingdom, preferably a weak one that they can conquer in a weekend war.
Motherfucking DEVIL NAZIS. I mean, shit, their flag has a fucking swastika on it, modified just enough to keep German fa/tg/uys from getting arrested. They were the biggest big cheese since Azlant until Aroden died and the noble houses turned the empire into a clusterfuck resembling a Crusader Kings game gone bad. House Thrune, fortunately (for them), had some friends in low places and leveraged their foul magic to slaughter their way through a 30-year civil war and put Queen Abrogail on the throne. Now the people of Cheliax have to deal with a government that worships Asmodeus as a state religion, regularly employs bound devils in its armies, and really likes putting spikes on things. Anyone who doesn't support the new order is at risk of getting ratted out by his neighbors for profit and the villages "live in fear," but for the most part people live as they always have. And yes, they do make sure the
trains carriages run on time and have a huge standing military. You know, just in case the swastika wasn't big enough of a hint.
Ferengi in a fantasy setting. Their religion (which they claim is just a set of divinations, even though it acts exactly like a real-world religion complete with all kinds of weird social stipulations) literally directs them to make as much money as they can, bling themselves the fuck out, favor each other over
goyim unbelievers in business dealings, and eventually buy out the entire world. Chaotic Stupid robbers beware, that unassuming gem convoy is also blinged out with enough contingency spells to flash boil a dragon, and if the magic doesn't get you, the equally pimped-out guards will. Contrary to expectations, not dwarven, though there is a substantial dwarven minority because of their role in getting the Five Kings Mountains to stop killing each other and the absolutely retarded amount of gold and gems on their land. For them, heaven is humans-only (Or was until their setting book came out, which retconned that away.)
Said setting book (Druma: Profit and Prophecy) explores the social stipulations and ideology of the Prophets further, revealing that their strange behaviors and hoarding of wealth are all in preparation for a ritual which will allow them to dodge the afterlife entirely and live on in a tricked-out demiplane until their tombs are robbed.
Five Kings Mountains
When the dwarves forced their way to the surface, they popped up here mostly. Over the course of the Quest For Sky (the aforementioned holy war to the surface) they built up a fuckton of grudges with each other that mutated and merged over time, and after an exceedingly long and generic history the Five Kings Mountains are in a situation similar to the real-life Holy Roman Empire; there are far more than five dwarf polities there, and none of them can be considered "kings." Otherwise they're your standard awesome as fuck fantasy dwarves. Funnily, are neighbors with the elves and the Ferengiboos, as well as the not!Americans.
VIVE LA REVOLUTION! Galt was at one time a Chelish holding, but after Big Daddy Asmodeus got his fingers in its contingency of poets and philosophers started writing screeds about how shit House Thrune was and if someone like that could rule by divine right, then divine right was a crock of shit. Because Galt is just the high school history version of France during the Terror, this idea spread like wildfire and anyone who was even remotely related to the Chelish leadership was put to the sword. Modern Galt is a continuously shifting crab-bucket of revolutionary governments, each one falling victim to the next based on the shifting whims of the mob. One neat wrinkle is that the guillotines used to execute yesterday's news (the final blades) trap the souls of those they kill, simultaneously preventing resurrection and keeping the soul from getting stolen by (or sent to, if the victim was evil) Hell. Dwarf players should take note of the town of Azurestone, which is built around a holy site of Torag and is kept relatively insulated from the anarchic clusterfuck.
Fuck yeah Lich King (actually a ghost king, though there is a Lich Queen ruling in his stead, since the ghost king is mildly senile (edit: said Lich Queen was destroyed in an AP and is now wandering around without a body somewhere on Golarion)). Originally part of ancient Osirion until they exiled a cocky necromancer named Geb, so he started his own kingdom with blackmagic and hookers, also named Geb, and got into a multi-century pissing match with the wizard Nex, who ruled the nation of Nex. This war fucked both countries, turning Geb into an undead wasteland and the southern portions of Nex into a desert where magic doesn't work.
Council of Wyrms: The Nation. An island in the sea between Cheliax and Varisia ruled by a gold dragon who is instituting some "Glorious Endeavor" to perfect humanity. Has had literally 0 info put out about it except that it kinda exists... UNTIL SECOND EDITION, where it turns out that said Great Wyrm is using eugenics to form the perfect weapon, powered by perfect souls, to kill an avatar and save the world. A plan so perfect that he doesn't need to ask anyone's permission about it. Enter the player characters...
Cold as a witch's titty, and boy are there witches here. Founded by Baba Yaga after a month long war, she locked the land in perpetual winter then promptly fucked off, only returning every 100 years to kidnap the current queen and install a new daughter on the throne. Formerly part of the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, they are still butthurt about losing the territory. Was a major focus for one of the adventure paths and had some sourcebooks written about it. Basically it's a Russian's nightmare of every single cruel icy fey imaginable, witches be fucking everywhere (and they rule the place) and there is a secret police with lots of spies. There is also a transforming worg waifu that half the fandom creamed their pants over.
Cheliax's bottom bitch. Only notable because their flag has a barely-disguised swastika on it. A glorified trade-route between Cheilax and other wealthier nations, such as Druma, keeping the trade roads secured is the main priority, leaving the rest of the nation to suffer. Isger is used to suffering, though, as large swaths of the country were recently fucked in a war with raiding goblin tribes from which they still haven't really recovered. Its like Marvel Comics Switzerland in WW2 where it became a puppet of the Reich and is usually given over to Hydra if they aren't given Bavaria or some other southern territory in Great Germany.
Little India. Originally ruled by Nex it was given to a Vudran explorer because Nex liked the cut of his jib.
Slavers and drug dealers ruled by a mysterious, eldritch race called the Pactmasters. Its basicaly Oman before OI MATE DO YOU HAVE A LISCENCE FOR THOSE BLACKSLAVES, GUNS, OPIUM AND HOOKERS!
Typical elf kingdom. Been fucked over by a demon who has blighted a huge swath of the south.
Lands of the Linnorm Kings
Vikings and nasty animalistic dragons called linnorms. If you can actually kill a linnorm they'll crown you as one of their kings. Killing a linnorm subjects you to the linnorm's death curse, which does bad things to you until you die. Notably, actually uniting the Lands of the Linnorm Kings involves killing the biggest, meanest linnorm, and his death curse causes you to become him, so have fun with that.
Another crusader state, this one fights the demons from the Worldwound. Its queen is over 100 years old but looks to be early middle aged due to a youth potion they buy from Thuvia.
Island of assassins who venerate a giant red praying mantis god. They can and will murder anyone but sitting monarchs.
Fantasy Prussia. Recently lost their northern lands to a bunch of Robin Hood wannabes. Makes the criminally stupid decision of hiring hobgoblin mercenaries because they have an unhealthy obsession with outdoing Cheliax in the whole empire-building thing. GOTT MIT UNS!
Home to intelligent gorilla men (who fortunately worship a Demon Prince and thus want to fuck everyone else over so you can kill them and take their stuff.) and a super ancient empire of black men who lived in flying cities.
Originally part of ancient Osirion, at some point it became its own nation called Nex ruled by the wizard named Nex. Real creative bunch, these wizards. As is natural for a nation of wizards they have royally fucked up their lands in a massive magic war with Geb, to their south, almost single-handedly making the nation of Alkenstar in the process. After Nex just completely fucked off one day, the war pretty much went into a stalemate because Geb didn't even want to fight anymore if he wouldn't get to kill Nex.
Client state to Cheliax that worships the Goddess of Love's twisted big brother. They are basically Clive Barker's Cenobites (think BDSM people who love hard piercings and spiked chains) plus 1984.
A wooded area that told Molthune to fuck off. Basically this is Robin Hood's Sherwood Forest.
Literally Egypt if the Mummy movies were documentaries. The capital is built in and around a giant beetle shell, there are pyramids everywhere filled with mummies and treasure, adventurers from all over the world go there to protect the artifacts, and it once had one of the largest empires in existence before being taken over by foreigners.
Fantasy Turkey/Arabia. Have warred with Taldor and for a while ruled Osirion. May or may not be on the verge of a civil war. Is actually the westernmost holding of an even larger Persia-inspired empire called Kelesh.
A country so fucked over by decades of war between three churches - ironically, one of them was the church of Sarenrae, who is the local Goddess of Paladins - that divine magic and worship is outlawed. This no-doubt displeases the gods but they continue their machinations in secret via espionage courtesy of hidden oracles, clerics, and even angels.
Previously part of the River Kingdoms, broke off a few years ago because said "God-King" converted a bunch of idiots. A nation of Scientologists and home of the "false priest" archetype for sorcerers.
Realm of the Mammoth Lords
Ever want a low fantasy caveman game that still fights witches, giants, demons, prehistoric megafauna and more? Go here.
A vast territory of constantly rising and falling petty kingdoms, it's likely if it ever united it would be one of the most powerful nations in the Inner Sea since its comparable to Taldor and Cheliax in size, but they prefer fighting amongst themselves. All neighboring countries claim some bit of it but can never hold it long due to various reasons. Banditry is massively common and is expected by the populace, some even take up banditry as a bit of part-time work between their normal lives like fishing and farming. Has its own unspoken code called the "Six River Freedoms" which basically amount to:
- Say whatever you want, but don't be surprised if a Half-Orc punches you in the face when you call their mother uglier than a mountain troll.
- If you swear an Oath you keep it or you die, no exceptions.
- No one can block the use of the rivers or land travel or charge tolls other than in wartime. However if you get attacked whilst travelling them you're on your own.
- Within their realms all who are there are bound to whatever local laws exist.
- Slavery is utterly prohibited, and even wizards can get their ass bitten if they summon a creature in view of commoners.
- As long as you give the victim a chance to defend their belongings, you're allowed to steal and conquer their stuff. However if you steal their stuff and they don't get a chance to block it you're treated as a common criminal.
Basically Anarcho-Monarchists of the setting, but with more rivers. Also the home of the Kingmaker AP module, which let players build their own kingdom.
Technically a colony to the devil-worshipping assholes in Cheliax, they are effectively independent thanks to the massive fuck-you hurricane and pirates to their north. The local Mwangi people are little better than slaves and may be plotting to overthrow the colonists.
Pirates of the Caribbean. "Ruled" by the Hurricane King, every island and small stretch of land is claimed by some pirate or pirate group.
Previously consisting of two small kingdoms that thrived on prophecy, when Aroden died and prophecy pretty much failed followed by a massive hurricane that would make Katrina look like a small breeze, they collapsed and this is now just ruins and swampy, marshy lands. So yeah, Louisiana on a bad day.
Has overtones of the Byzantine Empire. Stagnant, decadent, corrupt. The grand prince hires vikings as bodyguards. Once rules much of the world but has become a shadow of it's former self.
Barely held together because the small cities in this realm produce the single most sought after magical item. No, not girdles of gender-swapping. I swear to... No, they make a potion that reverts the drinker to the prime of life. Consume it often enough and you basically can be immortal. Only a few batches are made each year and the prices are exorbitant.
I vant to zuck your blood! Take every fantasy gothic horror trope and dump it here. You got vampires, zombies, werewolves, liches, hags, voodoo, Cthulhu, witches and everything else. Here, EVERY night is a horrible night to have a curse.
This is the main setting of the main setting. Vast wild lands, a few small cities at the edges, massive ruins to explore, goblins to kill, gypsies and more. Most of the adventures paths either play completely here, start here or at least have ties here.
Varisia also had a massive overhaul done to it when Pathfinder updated to its second edition. Very descriptive. It would be appriciated if someone was to edit this.
As of second edition, Varisia still seems to be the place for adventuring groups to get their start, and indeed Sandpoint is listed as being famous for having been the place where several legendary parties got their start.
Politically, it’s been Balkanized by an invasion by Cheliax which displaced the Shoanti - who were already coexisting uneasily with the native, nomadic Varisians - into the northern, harsher reaches of the region.
Aroden, god of humans, made a lot of enemies in his day before he died. One was a giant insectoid demon lord. When he bit the bullet about a hundred years ago, the demon lord saw his chance and tore open a new gaping hole into the world to fuck. In constant war with Mendev and for the most part leave Numeria and the Mammoth Lords alone because why would you fuck with alien tech and guys who fight on mammoths? This owes a clear debt to Iuz in Greyhawk, especially as Carl Sargent detailed it; to the point one town herein is named "Iz".
Lands Beyond the Core Setting
Paizo, still wanting even more kitchen sink fantasy and wanting to emulate Forgotten Realms, have other continents and lands beyond the core setting.
Well they needed a place for the Americas. Notably the vikings from the Lands of the Linnorm Kings think of it as a kind of paradise and their rulers have a settlement on it in an allusion to Vinland from viking history.
Recent books have expanded upon Arcadia more, filling it with numerous Mesoamerica-inspired civilizations and a few Wyrwood (little wooden people) settlements.
Atlantis by another name. Home to the first human empire that was uplifted by the aboleths, was destroyed by the Starstone when the aboleths thought humans were getting uppity.
What happens when you mix India, the 'stans and the Middle East? Well... Islamic-era India itself but also this. Vast swaths of largely unruled or ungovernable lands but also two massive "empires", one being a Persian/Ottoman expy, the other being fantasy India.
Crown of the World
Connects Avistan (Europe) to Tian Xia (East Asia). Siberia mixed with lovecraft.
Classical Greece. An island archipelago that serves as a common stopping point for traders going between the Inner Sea region and the distant lands of Vudra and Kelesh in Casmaron. Known for its prophesying Cyclopes and Demigod Heroes who often rule its numerous City-States.
Mysterious land of deadly terrors which is clearly Australia. Australia is bad enough, who the fuck knows how scary it would be with fantasy elements. Nobody can remember what it looks like for some reason that has nothing to do with leaving a blank canvas for your GM to paint with horrible death.
Has all your classic East Asia fantasy tropes going on here. Decadent empires, eastern dragons, monks in monasteries learning kung-fu, mystical gurus meditating under waterfalls, Studio Ghibli creatures running around, Naga, Oni, Mongols, ninja, and samurai.
Gods of Golarion
There are gods upon gods for the game but they split up into a number of different pantheons.
Abadar: God of Civilization, Walls, and Banking. Doing pretty well in modern times, all things considered. Lawful Neutral in a very reasonable kind of way, leaning more towards good, but still stuck doing shit like letting Zon-Kuthon into his Vault because he doesn't break his contracts. His herald is the Lawgiver, a giant gold-plated living statue with an equally-huge hammer. Also worshiped in Tian Xia.
Asmodeus: It's Asmodeus, what the fuck do you expect? The most notable changes from OGL are that Asmodeus is actually a deity this time around, and that misogyny is an explicit part of his dominion. Because otherwise you wouldn't be able to tell that he's a bad guy. Yes, the leader of his greatest group of mortal servants is female. No, the setting material does not comment on this. (One designer claimed this is because he doesn't care so much about mortal gender, since mortals are just going to die and the lawful evil ones will end up his anyway. While this was probably just the designer trying to keep his ass from getting ripped by angry neckbeards and doesn't make that much sense, it does line up with PF Asmodeus' general "they'll all see things my way eventually" mentality.)
Calistria: An elven goddess of Lust and Revenge, Calistria's temples often double as centers of intrigue and brothels. Feeding into people's lust and also feeding people's anxieties until they seek revenge, she is seen often as a bit of an odd one. Her favored animal is the hornet since they can sting repeatedly. Seriously, if you piss her off she will show her disdain for you by having hornets sting your junk until it's black and blistered. She is Chaotic Neutral to the extreme, in fact she is so whimsical and unreliable that she is the only non-chaotic evil deity that even Asmodeus refuses to work with.
Cayden Cailean: Five humans in the setting have ascended to godhood, each with their own outlooks and spheres and Cayden Cailean is one of them. His outlook and spheres? Partying it up, getting drunk, helping people, and going on adventures. Cayden Cailean apparently got drunk one night and took the Test of the Starstone. There are plenty of legends around why exactly the drunken man did it but one says he saw Calistria, goddess of lust and revenge, and wanted some of that. The goddess rebuffed him and said only a god could pleasure her. Pissed and drunk, he grabbed a keg and set off. Three days later, rocking a heavenly hangover, Cayden emerged as the most recent of the gods. His herald is Thais, a former prostitute who was his best buddy back in their mortal days.
Desna: An ancient space alien who befriended one of the first gods. When Lamashtu stole the beast domain from him, she took his travel domain. Chaotic Good, and likes wandering around, but guides people with her control over luck, and has a bunch of scientist followers who see her as helping them find knowledge. Very chill for a goddess whose signature weapon is an oversized shuriken. Has a habit of creating and releasing gods, some of which are locked up for a good reason. Also worshiped in Tian Xia.
Erastil: Old-fashioned god of the harvest and rural areas; a grumpy but well-meaning old codger who's getting a little past it since "city living" became a thing, but is still popular out in the farming country and wilderness regions. Source of much SJW outrage when his first detailed writeup revealed that being "God of the Old Ways" also makes him a patriarchal chap who believes women should get married and make babies, though he will sigh and accept it if a woman wants to prove she can have a happy life doing something else. They kicked up such a stink about this, claiming there was no way he could be Lawful Good and think this, that Paizo hastily retconned it. For the record, men are supposed to (eventually) be settling down too. Basically a generic wilderness/rural god, though he does have some similarities to St. Cuthbert.
Gorum: Basically Khorne-lite, and including the bits about not killing non-combatants. (Well, technically Crom, but the kids only care about their 40k.) Favors actual strategy and tactics over charging massed archers armored only with war-cries though.
Green Faith: Not so much a deity as much as it is a nature-minded philosophy adhered to by druids. It essentially gives the druids a sort of organization that'd be familiar to 2E's druid hierarchcies.
Iomedae: Aroden's herald, who mostly took over his job after his untimely demise. A former paladin turned deity via the Starstone, and a righteous crusader type. Paizo really screws with Iomedae depending on what source you read. Sometimes seen as a paragon of righteousness, she sometimes comes across as a prick, going so far as to deafen people who are trying to save the world because they dicked around too much in her presence in one poorly-balanced and poorly-written adventure. May or may not have banged the local Bahamut-equivalent, Apsu, as a gold dragon calling her mom hangs out in her court.
Irori: Fantasy Kung-Fu Buddha. A former mortal, but unlike the others, whom he mocks for just copying his old friend Aroden, he got there on his own, by refining and honing his body and mind into literal perfection. Has more followers out in Tian, but he's making waves in Golarion. His clerics get Improved Unarmed Strike instead of a favored weapon.
Lamashtu: Mother of monsters and a former female demon lord who stole the domains from a god she murdered. Most of the "monster" races pay homage to her, and her evil favor usually manifests as hideous deformity and mutation. Usually manifests as a heavily pregnant mishmash of monster parts. Also worshiped in Tian Xia.
Nethys: The god of magic. Played too much Call of Cthulhu and broke his brain by briefly gaining omniscience. His fractured mind usually manifests as two faces, one white and benevolent, one black and destructive. Has self-contradictory holy texts. The only things he consistently cares about are a policy of not giving spellcasting to people who weren't born with it, nor have earned it, and opposing Rovagug.
Norgorber: A supposed mortal who became the god of trickery, secrets, backstabbing, and deceit and thus is represented by a very inconspicuous-looking bugger who totally won't fuck you over at the first opportunity. His worshipers tend to either worship one of four extremes of his character: the trickster, the serial killer, the saboteur, and the assassin. All information about his past is REDACTED, and trying to learn too much about his church can get you killed even if you're a member.
Pharasma: The Raven Queen, sort of. The deathly-neutral type of death goddess, survivor from the previous multiverse and shaped the beginnings of this one while protecting it from Cthulhu, and is, along with Yog-Sothoth one of the two anchors of the current multiverse. Is grooming one of her psychopomps to do the same for the next multiverse as she herself did to this one. Haaaaates undeath, so much that her clerics get a custom variant of the Death domain with the undeath-related parts replaced. Judges the souls of every creature that ever dies before assigning them to their proper afterlives, with allowances made for things like racial affiliation and belief in reincarnation. Also worshiped in Tian Xia.
Rovagug: An ancient primordial force of destruction, despised by all the other gods and worshipped only by madmen and lesser primordial forces of destruction. The other gods put aside their differences long ago to trap him in the Cage, which is Golarion itself. Bad Things will happen if he ever gets out, which might be fated to happen. His spawn still rampage around the world, one of which is the tarrasque. A mid-tier one.
Sarenrae: Rule 63 Pelor. Asmodeus's good-aligned brother's first servant, who took up his portfolio after Asmodeus murdered him. Ironically, the two allied to take the foremost role in defeating and caging Rovagug. In addition to being a sun goddess, she emphasizes the idea of compassion and redemption for the truly-repentant and destruction for those who're truly past all that. Also worshiped in Tian Xia.
Shelyn: Beauty, art, and love goddess. Not so much sex though, that's Calistria's job(this has not stopped her from getting cozy with both Desna and Sarenrae). Literally all beings love her... some are just incapable of expressing that love in healthy ways. Lamashtu in particular gives her the creeps. Zon-Kuthon's sister, and responsible for containing the worst of the monster he's become. Also worshiped in Tian Xia.
Urgathoa: Once upon a time, when the world was young, there lived a decadent queen who spent her whole life in unbridled hedonism. So much that, when she died, and went to wait in line in Pharasma's Boneyard to await judgement, she cut out of the line and slipped back into the world because she couldn't stand the thought of giving up the pleasures of life. In the process, she became the first undead creature and infected the world with both undeath and disease. Aw well. Very cheery for an evil goddess, since she's all about doing what you love... though for most of her followers, that's various shades of cannibalism and plague-spreading.
Zon-Kuthon: Originally known as Dou-Bral, half-brother to Shelyn, he got so asshurt about his sister's talents that he decided to go to the leather club between realities to brood. There, he was enlightened by an alien presence. He returned to Golarion as a hyper BDSM fetishist known as Zon-Kuthon, god of pain, torture, and edge. His unholy symbol is a skull with a spiked chain going through the eye sockets, for fuck's sake. Despite his worshipers being evil touturing murderers and his servants being straight-up Cenobites, his clergy still tends to be kind to those who worship Shelyn because he still loves her, deep down in the irrevocably-ruined part of him that's still Dou-Bral.
Daikitsu: Basically the Shinto god(dess) Inari. Literally named "big fox". Goddess of kitsune, farming and rice making her one of the most popular Tian-Xian gods. Rumored to have had relations with Nalinivati but both deny this.
Fumeiyoshi: After murdering Shizuru (see down) he was cursed to be god of the undead (though he is not one himself), and dishonor and has picked up evil oni. He is named for the Japanese word "dishonor" (Fumeyo) paired with the common suffix for male names yoshi.
General Susumu: Shizuru's evil brother (though with the low detail on these deities it isn't clear why he is evil instead of lawful neutral) and god of asshole samurai instead of honorable ones. Also horses, even though he has no domains to support this. Curiously gets the glory domain which is full of good aligned spells. He is named for the Japanese word "advance" (in the military sense). Vaguely based on Susa-no-O.
Hei Feng: Tengu god of thunder, storms, sea and winds. Also the god of Chaotic Stupid characters, being that his creeds include "flipping your shit if somebody insults you or Hei Feng". Funnily enough his Anti-Paladin code includes a clause about helping good causes if it entails violence visited on others and another clause where you have to be honest about your hatred for others.
Kofusachi: God of Joy and Prosperity
Lady Nanbyo: Her name is Japanese for "incurable disease", and is predictably goddess of disease.
Lao Shu Po: A rat who feasted on the corpse of Tsukiyo during his brief death. Lives in the alleys and sewers of a daemon city.
Nalinivati: Goddess of Naga, Nagaji, sorcery, lovers, and patron goddess of Nagajor. Rumored to have had relations with Daikitsu but both deny this.
Qi Zhong: God of medicine and the elements.
Shizuru: Shizuru is your typical asian themed goddess of sun (vagely based on Amaterasu), honor, ancestors, and swordplay. She's generally on good relations with every other Tian deity. She's typically worshiped by honorable samurai and weeaboos. She is the lover of the moon god Tsukiyo and had to get him resurrected by the help of Qi-Zhong, the god of medicine, after his brother Fumeiyoshi grew so damn jealous of his brother actually having a girlfriend that he geeked him. She has an star archon daughter called the Dusk Ronin, who got kicked out of her mother's house and now wanders the Great Beyond in search of redemption. Oh and she's a dragon. Not "depicted as a dragon", an actual massive dragon that's on fire.
Tsukiyo: God of the Moon and Jade. Lover of Shizuru which got him killed by Fumeiyoshi. Brought back to life by Qi Zhong, but not before he was nibbled on by Lao Shu Po. Noted for being a lawful good god with the madness domain.
Yaezhing: Ninja god of murder, death, and punishment
Yamatsumi: God of Mountains and Volcanoes.
Other Major Deities
Zyphus: God of Accidental Deaths and pointless tragedy. He achieved godhood by rejecting his death after dying a pointless accidental death. Hangs around with daemons all day and snatches any and all souls who died from accidents, making him a true parasite and a hated foe to all good and neutral gods, especially Pharasma.
Droskar: Dwarven God of Pointless, Soul-sucking jobs. He mostly took over those Dwarfs who refused to take the Quest of the Sky and eventually became Duregar.
Torag: Leader of the Dwarven gods, noted for having a substantial following with humans. Made Nivi Rhombodazzle the first and so far only Gnome god(deep gnome) after she traded him a gem stone.
Alseta: Goddess of Doorways and Portals, friendly with most other gods even house-sitting for them when they have to step out. More a shrine than a church kind of goddess. Not technically an Elf
Ketephys: Down-to-earth god of forests and the hunt.
Yuelral: Neutral good goddess of Magic and jewelers. Very open to Half-Elves.
Findeladlara: Goddess of Art and Culture. Looks down on invention and new ideas ignores the prayers of non-elves.
Chaldira Zuzaristan Goddess of luck and battle and sidekick to Desna, tends to run headlong into fights to protect Halfling kind.
Thamir Gixx God of thievery, strongly opposed by Chaldira Zuzaristan but supposedly friends with Norgorber the primary god of thieves and murder.
Races of Golarion
Being effectively Dungeons & Dragons 3.75, Golarion is absolutely crawling with races. Your D&D standards are here, but there's also an ever-growing array of races, from monstrous humanoids to ones lifted from real-world mythology to even homebrewed races.
Human: Bog-standard human, following in the best D&D traditions by having different nations with different hats to wear.
Elf: One of the planet's oldest races. Buggered off through magical gateways to another planet during the worst of the Starfall disaster, then came back a few centuries ago.
Halfling: Pretty much your standard stunties, barring the fact that they're very popular slaves throughout the Inner Sea region. No homeland has been given, not even one that no longer exists.
Gnome: Fey who migrated to Golarion from The First World, then found out that without regular stimulation, they undergo something called "The Bleaching" which drives them mad and painfully kills them. In other words, they can literally get bored to death!
Half-Elf: Pretty much your standard half-elves. Splat gave options for Half-Drow, but that's still not a radical change.
Half-Orc: Instead of (only) "you were probably born from rape!" backstory, Golarion's half-orcs are the result of orcs realizing they are indeed retarded and need non-retarded leaders/spellcasters. Also born of political marriage in places where orcs team up with humans to fight other orcs and other threats.
The races most of /tg/ mocks because they're seen as favored by people who want special snowflake or weeaboo type characters, even if these are all races with roots in traditional D&D.
Aasimar: The iconic D&D Goodly Planetouched. Because Pathfinder has a much bigger array of "angels", there's many different sub-varieties of aasimar. There's actually a country where these guys are really common, which makes them almost as normal in Golarion as a dragonborn or half-orc would be in standard 5e D&D.
Catfolk: Pretty bog-standard Chaotic Stupid cat-people. Infamous for their schizophrenic artwork, which has portrayed them as anything from "catgirls with a fine layer of fur all over their body" to "full fledged furry" to "why does this look exactly like a Khajiit?".
Changeling: Not to be confused with the Eberron changeling, which is a doppelganger's half-human spawn, Golarion's changelings are the immature larval form of hags. Essentially, an entire species of cute/hot witches - with heterochromia, no less! - who are supposed to beautiful, but at the same time, so creepy and spooky they get a Charisma penalty. This aspect is the main reason why /tg/ mocks them. They're not necessarily a bad race, though, especially if you want more dark fantasy or horror fantasy games.
Drow: When the elves fucked off to another planet to escape an apocalypse, some of the more arrogant assholes stayed behind. Ultimately turning to worship of various Demon Princes to survive, and becoming psycho-evil arrogant assholes in the bargain. Most noted for their fucked-up love of fleshcrafting, which is basically manipulating living creatures and turning them into monsters.
Suli: One of the stupider planetouched races in Pthfinder, these guys are genie-kin who trace their lineage to the oft-forgotten Janni, the mixed-elemental fifth genie race which is the weakest of them all.
Tengu: Humanoid flightless crow-people who love shinies. Essentially less-evil kenku outright using the mythological version's name. Tend to become rogues (or ninjas), samurai and pirates. Sometimes two at once.
Tiefling: When one of the countries has the theme "demonic invasion through gaping portals to the Abyss" and another is "Fantasy Nazis using a pact with Satan to stay in power", are you really surprised that these guys are everywhere? Especially considering Golarion has a huge list of fiends outside of the Devil/Daemon/Demon trinity and they all make tieflings.
Goblin: Doubles down on the Chaotic Stupid aspects; love fire, really good singers, absolutely terrified of dogs, horses and writing. Made a core race in 2e which fits perfectly with the general kill-on-sight thing the more civilized races have for them in the lore.
Orc: Driven up from the Underdark by the dwarves, who they used to war with. Really double-down on the Always Chaotic Evil aspects.
Kobold: Pretty much the D&D iconic version.
Hobgoblin: A militaristic race descended from an experiment to magically mutate goblins into slave-soldiers to fight against the elf empire; their creators were killed, but the hobgoblins were complete, and now they don't have an off-switch.
Because Golarion has lots of "not!X" countries, there's both a "not!India" (Vudra) and a "not!Orient" (Dragon Empires), each of which has some fairly unique races native to it.
Kitsune: Your standard mischievous fun-loving shapeshifting fox-folk.
Samsaran: Spiritually enlightened blue & white-colored humans who continuously reincarnate.
Vanara: Friendly, sage-like monkey-people.
Pathfinder's mapped out the star system that Golarion comes from, and in best pulp fantasy fashion, that means that you can play androids and aliens in this setting too. These races and more would be later expanded by the sister game line Starfinder.
Android: Look like humans with pale, silver-tinted skin and circuitry that lights up like science-tattoos when they use their powers. Most common in Numeria, as they are born out of "creation forges" left behind when the starship crashed.
Kasatha: Four-armed humanoids who don't remember what world they came from. Favor dual-wielding bows.
Triaxian: Pointy-eared aliens whose planet undergoes an extreme orbit, leading to centuries-long summers and winters, and thus the species is divided into "Summer Generation"(Baldy) and "Winter Generation"(Furry) subspecies.
The least common race group, so far, these are critters taken from non-D&D fantasy sources, including several Lovecraft races and cryptids.
Orang-Pendak: A cryptid that is basically a smaller, smarter sasquatch.
Being of Ib: Amphibious, gnome-like frog-people from the Cthulhu Mythos; although their Dreamlands colony was famously annihilated by Sarnath in "The Doom That Came to Sarnath", it's possible other colonies exist elsewhere in the multiverse.
Yaddithian: Tapir-snouted insectile-looking people adept in sorcery who have scattered across the galaxy due to their homeworld being destroyed by bholes. Taken from the Lovecraft story "Through the Gates of the Silver Key".
Other Planets and Planes
Being that Golarion could only carry off as much D&D loot as OGL permitted, one of the things they had to do for themselves was come up with their own distinctive multiverse. The result was the Great Beyond, which largely imitates the Great Wheel as closely as possible, but changes around a few planar concepts to avoid being sued. Ironically, the Beyond does steal a few things from the much-hated World Axis; the First World, a Plane of Faerie, was added in as a major component to the Great Beyond, mirroring the Feywild, whilst the Beyond's Outer Plane of True Neutral is the Boneyard of Pharasma, which functions as a sorting house for the spirits of the multiverse's dead, ala the Shadowfell, rather than as glorified Transitive Plane (and dumping ground) like the Outlands.
One big change that Golarion made, referencing its drawing heavily from the Science Fantasy and Sword & Sorcery traditions, was the addition of other inhabitable planets to the solar system and intergrating these into its setting lore. This wasn't unprecedented, both Greyhawk and the Forgotten Realms had done this before, but the fact there were other planets in the solar system was generally ignored unless you were playing Spelljammer. Golarion's solar system features eleven planets (including Golarion itself) and an asteroid belt, and starting from the sun, they go like this:
- Aballon, the Horse - On the face (heh) of it this system's Mercury but really its Vulcan. That's the scorched and lifeless pseudoplanet which Einstein's General Relativity removed from consideration but may still lurk in old pulp fiction. This one nevertheless houses ancient ruins because pulp.
- Castrovel, the Green Planet - Pulp Venus; hot, tropical jungles and swamps. Home planet of the Lashunta; pulp-styled elf-women and dwarf-men.
- Golarion - Have you even been paying attention?? In this context is detailed its moon, which has been terraformed... by demons.
- Akiton, the Red Planet - Pulp Mars; a cold, arid world of red deserts, inhabited by tribes of four-armed lesser giants called Shobhad-neh, lizardfolk, and technologically advanced ratfolk called the Ysoki.
- Verces, the Line - Pulp Mercury. Tidally locked planet, meaning one side burns under perpetual day and the other freezes under perpetual night, with life being confined to the inhabitable twilight zone of the equator. You know and I know that Mercury rotates in a 3:2 resonance, but Isaac Asimov didn't know. That's how much our knowledge has improved since WW2. Anyway Aballon is taking on modern Mercury's role, so Paizo has moved Verces out here about where Vesta would be.
- The Diaspora - The asteroid belt. The asteroids are boring; the space is being used for Verces and Eox.
- Eox, the Dead Planet - Ceres, sort of. Home to the remnants of an ancient magocracy that survived a magical war that went so apocalyptic it blew off the planet's atmosphere by converting themselves into sapient undead. Here the stories about "Damocles" or "Minerva": the Titus-Bode Law predicted something between Mars and Jupiter, but all we got were shattered rocks, so the pulps imagined a cosmic act of destruction.
- Triaxus, the Wanderer - Hey, kids; ever wanted to live on a comet? Or have you read Brian Aldiss' Helliconia series? Triaxus runs on an irregular and elliptical orbit, which gives it centuries-long and climatically extreme summers and winters. Its native humanoids, the Triaxians (later called Ryphorians), thusly have a trimorphic nature, being born as distinctive subspecies depending on which part of the orbit cycle they are born in.
- Liavara, the Dreamer - A Saturn-esque colorful and many-ringed gas giant.
- Bretheda, the Cradle - Largest planet in the system, and abounding in native life.
- Apostae, the Messenger - Rumored to be home to portals leading beyond the solar system.
- Aucturn, the Stranger - Yuggoth. A mysterious planet with a very strange orbit, it comes remarkably close to Golarion for a period of 4 months every 56 years, during which time Golarion's elements and elementals start acting strangely. Lovecraft's Pluto, back when everyone thought it was knocking the Neptune / Uranus orbits. Nowadays, stay tuned for Planet Nine...
One weird thing about Golarion is that, when Paizo was starting out, they decided to market themselves not only as the "true heirs to 3.5", but also as "the mature D&D company" - touching upon subject matter that the bigger, more public WotC couldn't or wouldn't dare.
Initially, as part of their blatant pulp-styled setting, that meant they went for a much more grimdark tone to their world. In a manner closer to D&D's Sword & Sorcery ancestors, the world of Golarion is really fucked up; ogres are depraved, sadistic, inbred cannibals right out of a hillbilly slasher film, one of the main evil deities promotes miscarriage, mutation and bestiality, another main evil deity is the goddess of lust, cannibalism, and necrophilia, body horror runs rampant, slavery is legal in many major countries, one country is basically Nazi Germany controlled by devils, the Gods of Good can be (and usually are) morally flawed...
But then, somewhere along the lines, they realized there was another audience also looking for "mature" D&D content. The social progressives crowd, who wanted a D&D world that more overtly tackled political matter. So, Paizo decided to fill their world with things to appeal to them. Ethnic minority pride? Well, how about the fact that not!Africa is the oldest, most unbroken seat of human civilization on the planet, was never conquered by any other human nation, and is even one of the original founders of magic amongst humanity. Sexual minority representation? Homosexuals and transgender people are everywhere amongst the NPCs and the game's iconic characters.
Now, this is not exactly a happy marriage. The progressive fanbase tends to look down on the pulp fanbase with sneers of disgust; witness the controversy over Erastil for one of the earliest examples of this. In return, the pulp fanbase scorns the progressives as gutless and wanting to "hugbox" the setting, until it becomes as bland and PC as D&D itself. Unfortunately for the pulp fans, it seems the progressive fanbase may have won; 2e has "moved on" with Golarion such as good-aligned goblins joining mainstream society, open rebellion in Cheliax, and a reforming Grand Princess on the throne of Taldor
which may put some pretty major nails in Paizo's coffin, given that the pulp fanbase was the original foundation for their setting's success and Pathfinder 2e is going quite strong at the moment. At the same time, there were plenty of voices even before the PC elements were introduced arguing that the "mature" content was just edgy for edge's sake, so who knows what the future will bring? And it's not as if having racial diversity somehow inherently exists on a competing end of the spectrum from grimdark.
|The Races of Pathfinder|
|Player's Handbook:||Dwarf - Elf - Gnome - Half-Elf - Half-Orc - Halfling - Human|
|Aasimar - Catfolk - Changeling - Dhampir - Duergar |
Drow - Fetchling - Gillman - Goblin - Grippli - Hobgoblin
Ifrit - Kitsune - Kobold - Merfolk - Nagaji - Orc - Oread
Ratfolk - Samsaran - Strix - Suli - Svirfneblin - Sylph
Tengu - Tiefling - Undine - Vanara - Vishkanya - Wayang
|Bestiaries:||Android - Astomoi - Caligni - Deep One Hybrid - Gathlain |
Gnoll - Kasatha - Munavri - Naiad - Orang-Pendak
Reptoid - Rougarou - Shabti - Trox - Yaddithian
|Adventure Paths:||Being of Ib - Kuru|
|Inner Sea Races:||Ghoran - Monkey Goblin - Lashunta - Skinwalker |
Syrinx - Triaxian - Wyrwood - Wyvaran
|Ultimate Wilderness:||Vine Leshy|
|Blood of the Sea:||Adaro - Cecaelia - Grindylow - Locathah - Sahuagin - Triton|
|Planar Adventures:||Aphorite - Duskwalker - Ganzi|