Rise of the Runelords
People of Varisia
The Shoanti live harsh lives guided by pride and tradition. Once the Shoanti considered all of Varisia their territory, but after years of war with encroaching Chelaxians, the tribes found themselves pushed into the northern reaches of the country. Now the Shoanti roam the Storval Plateau and surrounding areas, divided into seven quahs (“clans”). It is not an easy life, but the Shoanti take pride in having the tenacity and skill to live amid such harsh lands as the Cinderlands, where many other races would falter and die.
Most Shoanti are humans, but occasionally a tribe adopts a member of another race. The Shoanti despise ethnic Chelaxians, half-orcs, and orcs; such individuals have never been seen in any of the tribes. Their difficult way of life requires the Shoanti to be hardy, physically powerful people, and they excel at survival and combat. Shoanti tribes possess many traditions handed down from their ancestors, and their lives are guided by countless rituals and superstitions. The Shoanti sometimes find it difficult to preserve their cultural beliefs in the face of the wars and hardships they constantly face, but they consider the loss of their traditions a more devastating fate than the extinction of their race.
Varisians, the native residents of Varisia, are a free-spirited people who know numerous secrets of their beautiful homeland. For many Varisians, the world is a wondrous place full of potential, and they want to see as much as they can. As travelers, most Varisians possess piecemeal knowledge on varied subjects, picked up from roadside conversations and tales passed down from their elders. Among such eclectic expertise is a tradition of fortune-telling. Varisian fortune-telling cards, called harrow decks, are well known throughout Golarion, and many people pay to have their cards read in a harrowing. Varisians love music and dance, and often perform for money when they are allowed within a community. Like the Shoanti they share their homeland with, Varisians have a tradition of wearing elaborate tattoos. Their imagery employs shapes suggestive of winged creatures, naturalistic images, and lengthy lines of mystical symbols—the meanings of which are known only to their people.
Some Varisians do settle down and form settlements or inhabit districts in larger cities. Sadly, Varisia’s largest cities— Korvosa and, to a lesser extent, Magnimar—were both formed by Chelish settlers, leading many residents to treat Varisians like second-class citizens. Yet Varisians’ ill reputation is not entirely undue. Among their varied people are the Sczarni clans, criminal families that specialize in con artistry and illegal activities. Despite their criminal proclivities, Sczarni are still Varisians, and cleave to their people’s bold natures, free-spirited ways, and devotion to family.
Cindersnake: These giant red-patterned vipers hide amid the crags and fine silt of the Cinderlands, crippling prey with a painful, burning venom.
Donkey Rat: Snowy white rodents the size of small dogs (in some places known as capybaras or giant guinea pigs), the donkey rats native to Varisia’s coast are popular pets (and meals) throughout the southern lands.
Fire Pelt: These black-and-red-furred mountain lions stalk much of northwestern Varisia. The color of their pelts changes from predominantly black to a range of autumnal colors with the seasons.
Giant Lizard: Geckos the size of ponies prowl the moist sea cliffs and forests of southern Varisia, feasting on rodents, giant insects, and even the occasional goblin. Upon the Storval Plateau, aggressive horned spirestalker lizards hide among rocky outcroppings and fearlessly attack anything that comes in sight.
Storm Roc: Proud raptors with wings the color of thunderheads and crownlike crests of tousled feathers, storm rocs are said to live for hundreds of years and eventually grow to the size of the true rocs.