Heroes of Sandpoint
Savagery and regressivity epitomize the disfigured lands of Varisia. Jagged mountain chains break the worthless, dusty clay at queer and reckless lengths. Tangled forests grow wild with titan weeds-the flora of these fecund briars little more than tenacious brambles. Blasted reaches of cracked earth and rolling scrub form the parched paradises of all manner of backward savages, including the doomed final generations of humanity's brutish ancestors. And everywhere the land bears the scars of a forgotten people whose eroding ruins and savage attempts at artistry litter a landscape already scarred by its own geological leprosy.
-Darvayne Gios Amprei, Merciless: Abendigo, Belkzen, Varisia, and Other Hells
Modern Varisia is a region of conflict, a strip of frontier laid against the Storval Rise, a land of barbarians and giants to the northeast. Although no central government controls Varisia, three city-states have emerged, each of which could some day soon claim control over the region.
The eldest and largest of these is Korvosa, a city of Chelish loyalists ruled by a monarchy but cleaving close to Cheliax in a bid to be reabsorbed into the empire. The second-largest regional city, cosmopolitan Magnimar, is in an era of growth while Korvosa, at best, stagnates in its thick traditional values. Further to the north lies the region's third-largest city. Riddleport is a solution to those who find law of any sort oppressive, and serves as a safe harbor for mercenaries, thieves, bandits, and pirates of all cuts.
Dozens of smaller towns and villages dot the lowlands of Varisia, and the majority of them see one of these three cities as their protectors. Korvosa takes a relatively active role in governing and guiding these holdings, but Magnimar prefers to let its holdings develop on their own, providing aid and support when a town asks for it. Riddleport has little interest beyond its walls, though, and as a result, very few villages survive for long in northwestern Varisia.
In many areas, Varisia remains a true wilderness, claimed by deadly predators and ferocious humanoids none too eager to share their territories with the advance of humanity. Along the coastal reaches, hundreds of goblin tribes dwell in sea caves and thistle-thick woodlands, bickering among themselves until leaders strong enough to unite several tribes at once take hold. Further inland, ogres and trolls hold court on rugged mountaintops and in deep forest glens, yet the true lords of the wildlands are the giants. Giants of all types call the true wilderness reaches of Varisia home, and their periodic forays and raids against humanity make for constant and brutal reminders that this realm is far from tame.
Other creatures dwell in the darkest corners of Varisia as well. These include mighty dragons, the cannibal spirits known as wendigos, sinister and capricious fey, pockets of scheming lamia-kin, and even sinister explorers and pilgrims from other worlds whose eldritch corners brush unwholesome and unwelcome against parts of this haunted landscape.