Saga of the Serpent's Skull
Golarion orbits a yellow sun in the far reaches of the multiverse among dozens of other worlds. Third in orbit, this blue planet contains vast oceans and lush green lands, the perfect environment for human cultures to thrive. Its nearest neighbors, Castrovel the Green World and Akiton the Red Planet, (second and fourth from the sun, respectively) fill Golarion’s night sky along with its crater-scarred moon.
Golarion contains eight continents amid its immense seas:
The largest of these is Casmaron, which spans much of the world’s northern hemisphere. On its western edge, bordered by the World’s Edge Mountains, Casmaron expands into a large peninsular continent called Avistan which plays host to a number of civilizations built upon the ruins of great past empires, such as that of the Thassilonians.
Southwest of Avistan, across the Inner Sea is the largely unexplored wilderness of Garund. Whether one is scouring its northern deserts for lost relics of the Osiriani pharaohs or trekking through the near-impenetrable jungles of the Mwangi Expanse, Garund provides endless adventures for those willing to risk its many dangers.
A thousand miles to the west from the Arch of Aroden are the remnants of the once great island-continent of Azlant, which saw the rise of the first human civilizations. All that remains of Azlant today is a series of jutting crags and narrow, twisted channels; most of the continent sunk beneath the sea when the Starstone fell from the sky.
Past the treacherous obstacles of Azlant lies the expanse of the Arcadian Ocean and the lush island continent of Arcadia which gives the body of water its name. 4,000 miles from the shores of Avistan, little is known of this land but in the most ancient of texts and lore from long-fallen empires, though there are infrequent trade and colonization efforts from Avistan to Arcadia.
The smallest continent on Golarion is Sarusan, which lies amid the least traveled portions of the sea.
An immense frozen desert spans the northern pole of the planet, called the Crown of the World.
While much too cold and harsh-weathered for permanent and successful habitation, the Crown is most often traveled as a means of reaching the far-eastern continent of Tian Xia on the opposite of the world from Avistan.
The world may not be flat, but it is hollow.
The Darklands are an immense series of caverns, vaults, and passages under the surface of Golarion. While entrances to the Darklands can be found throughout the world, it is not common for travellers to venture into the almost universally unsafe depths, making the subterranean realm almost a world unto itself.
The Darklands can be divided into three distinct layers, each with their own characteristics, inhabitants and hazards. The first is Nar-Voth, the uppermost “wilderness” layer of the Darklands. Most Darklands explorers are familiar with this region of caves and twisting tunnels, and this region only. Below it lies the largest realm, Sekamina, a vast warren of tunnels that spans across continents, with its own series of underground rivers and lakes. The final, deepest layer is Orv. Here, immense caverns termed “vaults” host a wide array of underground oceans, vast deserts, caverns with jungles and artificial suns, and entire nations of warmongering humanoids. Most reports of Orv are either in the form of ancient legends, or in wild speculation, as few truly know what strange species lives this far beneath the surface.
The Great Beyond
Past the sky, past the planets, past the universe itself dwells the infinity of the Great Beyond, a bewildering assortment of impossible dimensions and mythical domains commonly referred to as the planes. Here are the homes of the gods, and here also dwell the spirits of the dead and the great beasts and creatures of legend — demons, devils, angels, genies. Horrible or beautiful entities from beyond the planar gates might visit the world and make playthings of its people, but the common man of Golarion has no expectation to see these things in person, and a cynic might suggest that they do not exist at all.
The First World
Many residents of Golarion believe theirs to be a so-called “Second World,” with the First World existing as a rough draft of reality, a place where concepts take on life and form, and where the ghosts of possibilities that used to be or never were pose great danger to the world that is. The First World is a place of powerful spirits and ancient customs and politics. It is said that the fey have a window into the First World, that they might indeed be a part of it, but to the ordinary man and woman of Golarion it is legend, a place glimpsed only in fever dreams and youthful innocence. A place of peerless beauty and limitless danger.
The First World is home to all manner of strange creatures, apparently prototype versions of the plants and animals of the Material Plane. However, the chief inhabitants are the fey. The most powerful of them are the eight (formerly nine) creatures known as the Eldest and their fearsome living weapons, the Tane. Some of the other races found on the Material Plane also have counterparts in the First World. It is widely accepted that gnomes migrated to Golarion from the First World during the Age of Anguish, but some gnomes did not make the trip and are still here.
The Dark Tapestry
Little is known of the Dark Tapestry—-the darkness between the stars where inhabitants of Golarion believe true madness lies. The few beings able to survive in the vast, cold void of space are too alien for even the gods to comprehend, and present one of the greatest threats to the known universe should they wish to do so. The ancient, eldritch horrors of the Dark Tapestry are beings of immense power who—luckily—have thus shown little interest in Golarion or her solar system. While some crazed cultists and power-hungry arcanists contact aspects of the cosmic beings in the hopes that they can harness their cyclopean might for their own purposes, none can control the raw chaos these forces bring, however, and destruction and madness are the ultimate results.