Rise of the Runelord
Varisia is a vast frontier region in the northwest of Avistan. It streatches from the Steaming Sea in the west to the Mindspin Mountains in the east, and from the Kodar Mountains to Conqueror’s Bay in the south. The region possesses a variety of environments within its limits, from the swampy Mushfens of the south to the flame-scorched Cinderlands on the northern Storval Plateau.
Countless gigantic monuments and buildings left over from an ancient civilization can be found across Varisia. The most well-known of these include the Cyphergate of Riddleport, the Irespan of Magnimar, the Grand Mastaba of Korvosa, and the Lady’s Light in the Mushfens.
Many of Varissia’s roads have developed from ancient routes traveled by the region’s native Varisian wanderers. They crisscross the region and connect most of it’s major cities.
Varisia has no central government. It is a collection of independent city-states that each holds sway over a small collection of towns and villages, while the wilds on the edges of their territory (including most of the area on top of the Storval Plateau) is claimed by the Shoanti. Varisian politics is dominated by the competing aims of criminal Riddleport, ambitious Magnimar, and traditionalist Korvosa. The neutral Kaer Maga is often discounted altogether, and its inhabitants prefer it that way.
Janderhoff (in the Mindspin Mountains) is not only the largest dwarven settlement in Varisia, but also where the majority of local stout folk live. There they mine and smelt the ores they dig out of the ground, but can also be found throughout Varisia as underground guides and mercenaries, merchants, and hunters. Dwarven ingenuity is well-known, and is evidenced by the exotic ore processing facility called the Gas Forges, located in Riddleport.
The half elves of Varisia face a lot of prejudices from both parental races, so they ovten prefer the harsh life of anarchic Riddleport or even a nomadic existance with the native Varisians and even the Shoanti to life in the towns of southern Varisia.
Halflings are quite an adaptable lot and can be found in the big cities as well as under the nomadic Varisians. Good sailors, they often came with their Chelish masters to Korvosa and make the crew of nearly half the ships belonging to Korvosa’s elite. They can also be seen in Magnimar as well as Riddleport where they often follow more shadowy ways and find great opportunities in the city’s underworld.
Many Shoanti tribes live the Hold of Belkzen with constant skirmishes between orcs and humans. Sometimes this leads to rape which could eventually culminate with pregnancy. Few of these half-orc children survive into adulthood, and fewer decide to accept the difficult cohabitation with their human cousins in some of the Varisian cities.