A strange campaign
Races of Varisia
Races of Varisia
umans are by far the most common race in Varisia, and generally fall into one of three ethnicities — the cultured Chelaxians of the cities, the nomadic Varisians, or the fiercely tribal Shoanti barbarians. The elves, recently returned from an age-long absence, are far taller and thinner than humans, with long pointed ears and pupils so large they fill much of the eye. Most elves keep to their own kind, preferring the wild places where, over time, they take on aspects of their environment. Occasionally a traveler in Varisia might run into one of the *Forlorn*—lonely elves who grew up in non-elf lands among folk who are born and die in the time it takes an elf to reach maturity.
warves of Varisia live in the iron-walled town of Janderhoff. Having settled in the copper-rich foothills of the Mindspin Mountains centuries ago, with the coming of foreign
interlopers the dwarves have seen their home change from a simple mining village to a bustling trading town. Despite Janderhoff’s fortresslike exterior, its people welcome any visitors who seek to
do honest business and who don’t cause trouble. This hospitality extends to both the Shoanti tribes of the Storval Plateau and the Chelish traditionalists of Korvosa. While the barbarians and Chelaxians antagonize one another seemingly at every opportunity, Janderhoff has no mind for such bickering. The dwarves eagerly capitalize on their position as the sole passage for the worked goods of Korvosa and beyond onto the plateau and rare Shoanti foods, medicines, and ancient artifacts into the south.
While Janderhoff offers great opportunities to enterprising dwarves, those who seek their fortunes away from their home’s copper steeples can be found among the workshops of Magnimar, the gas forges of Riddleport, hunting alongside the Shoanti, and anywhere else in Varisia that a profit might be made.
ew elves make their home in Varisia, with the exception of the residents of the Mierani Forest. From the giant pines, white barks, and towering coastal redwoods, the Mierani elves have sculpted several villages, most notably cliff-side Arsmeril on the coast and the trading town of Crying Leaf on the edge of the Velashu Uplands. Their true home, though, the tree-city of Celwynvian, is a city abandoned. Although it still stands, the elves have fled the City of Emerald Rains, saying only that the place has fallen under the deepest of shadows. Few elves—and no outsiders—
know any more than this, though emissaries to Korvosa and Magnimar offer incredible rewards to any willing to investigate the forsaken city.
Aside from those of the northern forest, elves from far-off exotic locales like Kyonin, Sovyrian, and the Mordant Spire are not unknown in Varisia’s larger ports.
hile it’s well-known that the gnomes of Varisia make their homes in the Sanos forest, few can truthfully say they’ve ever seen an actual gnome community. Whimsical but secretive—despite their seemingly good natures—the gnomes of Varisia rarely speak of their homes. Even when they do, their details rarely weather retellings, leading many to speculate that a great treasure, gateways to the fey court, or some other secret lies hidden within the forest. Regardless of their mysteries, Varisian gnomes share their race’s typical ties to the natural world, and perhaps even a heightened curiosity, as many gnomes seem to sense something vaguely “off,” “strange,” or “old” about the land.
Gnomes are most commonly found it the rural communities around the Sanos Forest. Nybor, Wartle, and Whistledown host the largest populations, with some even traveling as far as Magnimar and Riddleport. While gnomes are sometimes seen in Korvosa or farther north, these rare individuals are typically traders and wanderers from Thom to the east, Brastlewark in Cheliax, or the shey citadels of Irrere.
s they tend to throughout the world, the halflings of Varisia live among the other races of the lands they inhabit. Most commonly met in the southern lands from Magnimar to Korvosa, halflings tend to adopt one of three distinct ways of life.
As many migrated to Varisia following Chelish explorers, the halflings of Korvosa and its vassal townships live life similarly to their kin in Cheliax: second-class citizens who toil as servants, middlemen, and entertainers. To the west, in the lands claimed by Magnimar, halflings enjoy more emancipated lives, occupying many of the same roles as humans. Although some Chelish prejudices survive, leading some to ridicule the smaller folk, most halflings are happy to swindle foolish and condescending humans.
Numerous halflings have also joined the land’s native Varisians, sharing in their nomadisim and reverence of the goddess Desna. Both peoples seem to view the other as kindred spirits and willingly share their ways.
orn of extraordinary and often unfortunate circumstances, half-elves face prejudices of both their parent races. While some find it easy to disguise their mixed heritages in the teeming human cities of southern Varisia, a considerable number discover a harshsanctuary among the cutthroats and outcasts of Riddleport. Some half-elves dwell on the fringes of the Mierani Forest where they are, at best, pitied by their elven kin or, at worst, shunned. A few half-elves have come to live among Varisia’s wandering natives: the Shoanti see no difference between them and full-blooded elves, while Varisians prove all too familiar with the scorn of their “civilized” human cousins.
Regardless—or perhaps in spite—of the cards cast against them, half-elves strive for extraordinary goals, doing and saying what few would dare, defying the world, and determinedly shattering prejudices.
embers of this rare, bastard race most commonly come to Varisia alongside marauders from the Hold of Belkzen, which frequently raid Shoanti tribes and pillage the sparse resources of the Cinderlands. The warlike clans long ago discovered that breeding with humans produced whelps of greater cunning and discipline and have since preyed upon Varisia’s native peoples to provide such brutal unions.
While some half-orcs have sought to escape the barbarousness of Belkzen, most travel Varisia on special orders from their warlords, taking them to scurvy Riddleport, shadowy Kaer Maga, or the merciless pits of Urglin. While some make their homes in the same depraved dens their bloodthirsty kin frequent, others live on the fringes of Varisia’s southern lands. In seeking acceptance, these outcasts lead lives of incredible daring and personal discipline, ever hoping to prove their worth by actions and escape the shadows of their birth. In any case, wise half-orcs rightly avoid Varisia’s native Shoanti, who see them as the foulest abominations, more hated than even the Chelaxians of the south.