Curse of the Crimson Throne
Zach & Toadie Do History - Part 1 - Mythology and the Age Before Ages
Howdy folks! I’ve had a lot of fun reading up on the history and the setting of this world while staying away from the local going ons as much as possible to avoid spoilers. A lot of people put a lot of work into this world. It’s like, Tolkein’s Middle Earth deep. Since I got crazy for about 2 weeks after that first session and read most of the HISTORY wiki pages on Golarian, I thought I’d give you mine and Toadie’s informal (and sometimes probably misremembered and misleading) version of events. Hopefully it helps the folks like me who haven’t played extensively in this setting better immerse themselves and understand their place in the world. -Zach
[This is a story of the Age Before Ages, or the Ages of Creation, Serpents and Legend. It largely myth and legend and speculation, and different peoples on the world of Golarion have different versions of events. This is Toadie’s best guess at Golarion’s prehistory.]
So in the beginning, in the Age Before Ages, before the rise of fall of the ancient Azlanti and even before the gods took notice of Golarion, the Aboleth ruled the oceans. The Aboleth were a powerful, proud and atheistic people who were gifted in powerful mind magic and with a special knack for weaving illusions. This magic allowed them to strongly control air breathing slaves on the lands above. This eventually is how humanity was raised from barbarism as the Aboleth enslaved humans and taught them to control their magic. This led to the rise of the Azlanti, the first human civilization.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Before the Azlanti came around, another great race would come to Golarion, The Vault Builders. The Vault Builders were a primordial people who traveled to distant worlds to conduct experiments on the nature of life and evolution. This expansion led them into conflict with the terrifying Aboleth. The Vault Builders got their asses kicked and fled Golarion, likely leaving the Aboleth as the chief power in the world.
At some point the gods began to take an interest in Golarion and with gods comes drama. This first drama centered around the ancient and most terrible god Rovagug, whose seeming only ambition was to destroy all worlds and gods. By the time The Great Destroyer set his eye on Golarion, he was already an ancient god who had destroyed countless worlds and many gods. Enough was enough. An unlikely coalition of gods of all alignments banded together and eventually succeeded in imprisoning The Rough Beast in the Dead Vault. Serenrae and Asmodeous were the leaders of this conflict and only Asmodeous holds the key to the Unmaker’s prison. [I have heard no mention of the Aboleth in this great war of the gods and I assume they felt the conflict was paradoxically scary and dangerous and also beneath them.]
This is known as the Age of Creation. Near the end of this age, the first of the lesser mortals began to appear on Golarion.
While the Age of Creation was fully of mythology and fantastic wars between primordial races and the gods themselves, the following Age of Serpents was a relatively quiet affair. The Serpentfolk were among the oldest of sentient creatures native to Golarian and were the first to form civilizations. These civilizations eventually spanned entire continents and perhaps even other worlds before the rise of the humans and the Azlanti.
The Age of Legend is where humanity first began to play a part in the story of Golarion. It is the last age before we begin the slow transition from mythology to history.
We already know how the Azlanti were raised up from the slave pits of the Aboleth (and some scholars speculate gifted the power of magic and intelligence). Some time after the Azlanti had flourished into a sophisticated and powerful people, a powerful wizard named Xin came along. Xin believed the Azlanti should work together with other peoples and races and create an even greater government away from the Lost Continent of Azlant and on the continent Avistan [where we are!]. Xin was declared a heretic and he and his followers were exiled. Undeterred, they made the perilous journey across the Arcadian Ocean and reached Avistan anyway. Once there, the native peoples of Varisia did not resist Xin’s rule for long — both fearing his powerful magic and also desiring the technological benefits that could be acquired from cooperating with the Azlanti exiles. This was the beginning of the mighty Thassilon Empire. The exiled Azlanti and the native humans and elves quickly expanded in all directions, taming the wilderness and barbarism that ruled the land. Xin founded many orders of knights and wizards and it was his goal to create a sort of utopian society within the empire. This somehow led to Xin bargaining with all sorts of powerful creatures, from ancient dragons to mysterious outsiders, who granted Xin the power of Rune Magic, said to be the language of creation itself. After the death of Xin [which is a story in itself], power passed to the Rune Lords who each governed their own regions within the empire. The Seven Runelords were legendary in their ambition and lust for power, although no one knows for certain if this contributed to the demise of the empire. Some theories include moral decay (especially involving the feuding Rune Lords), rebellion of the enslaved Stone Giants, or perhaps in exploring darker, more powerful magic, the Rune Lords unleashed an evil power that even they could not control. Probably it was simply the fall of the Starstone in the cataclysmic event called Earthfall [which we’ll get to in a moment]. This is the story of the Thassilon Empire. It marks the beginning of the narrative of the Inner Sea Region [which is where we are].
There is also said to be a civilized people in the far east, on the continent Tian Xia, where dragons ruled the land.
And the Cyclops nation Koloran on the continent Casmaron.
The great event known as Earthfall is what led to the end of the Age of Legend. According to the stories, the Azlanti began to think themselves superior to their Aboleth masters. This pissed the Aboleth off and in one of history’s great overreactions, they used their powerful and ancient magic to summon a huge meteor to destroy all life on Golarion. Fortunately for anyone with a pulse, the Azlanti worshipped some gods who took altruism to another level. Acavna, the goddess of the moon and battle, used the moon to intercept the meteor. The impact split the meteor into thousands of shards, but it did not stop or even slow the trajectory. Instead the shards killed the goddess. Distraught by her death, the Azlanti god of magic, Amaznen, sacrificed himself to purge the dark Aboleth magic that was infused in the meteor shards. The result of the two gods’ sacrifice was that the impact was incredibly destructive, but it did not end all life on the planet. The lost continent Azlant was sunk deep into the Arcadian Ocean. The Azlanti civilization was destroyed outright and this probably is what destroyed the Thassilon Empire as well. This created the Inner Sea which sits between the continents Avistan and Garund. After the impact of Earthfall, the world was plunged into the Age of Darkness. Probably the world has still not fully recovered to the levels of technology, magic and culture that had been experienced in the Age of Legend by the Azlanti and Thassilon empires. The Pathfinder Society [think Indiana Jones meets the Illuminati] has a special fascination with those empires and is often digging around for relics and any information that can shed light on the world’s history.
[Note: It helps me to have real life analogies to the history and mythology of Golarion. The continent Avistan is much like Europe and Garund is Africa and the Inner Sea between the two is like the Mediterranean Sea. Much of our focus is on The Inner Sea Region that generally refers to Avistan and Northern Garund much like Western History focuses largely on Northern Africa, the Middle East and Europe. The nations and civilizations that sprout up in this region often bear striking similarities to real life counterparts in Europe and around the Mediterranean. The continent in the far east called Tian Xia is much like Asia and specifically China from what I understand. The mythology of the Azlanti is likely inspired by Atlantis. Korvosa is in the region called Varisia which is roughly in NW Avistan.]