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Thoughts on Varannis

by Geoff Gander

The first of the mainland dominions and, as I began adding details to this area, other design elements worked their way in. On the surface, Varannis is a quiet region whose main industries are textiles, fishing, and agriculture. Belothis, the regional capital, is a large, quiet town where people mind their own business.

Of course, Varannis is also the seat of a large following of Thanatos worshippers, right up to the top.

What was new when Thorfinn created the map, however, is that the now-vanished realm of Ildarinos (which once surrounded the bay of the same name) came into being. Its history is still being considered, but this was a realm of Selhomarr that fell into evil, and was destroyed during a period of great strife. The forbidding ruins of its capital, Ildaris, as well as its once-mighty port of Dilmarion, remain as evidence. It is now a cursed land, avoided by many - cue the adventurers.

And perhaps a similar fate awaits Varannis....

Onward to the next region of Selhomarr, Varannis, which Thorfinn has rendered into classic Gazetteer style! I'll talk about some of the settlements and locations of interest, as a sort of prelude to the revisions to the sourcebook that will one day come. Onward!

If you found yourself in the Hollow World in Annurios and got tired of the primal dangers of the Korvoris Forest, you could hop a boat to someplace a little less remote (and hopefully less dangerous). Chances are, you'd end up in the quiet, dignified town of Belothis, at the tip of the Ilannir Peninsula. There are a lot of textile mills here - that, and fishing, seems to be the main industries in this part of the empire - but you'd also see a lot of soldiers. Far more than a remote, provincial capital ought to have, since there are no neighbouring realms of note. You'd also notice that the people here are *really* closed-mouthed to outsiders. If you were curious about the soldiers, you might hear something about "unusually ferocious animal attacks in Galithandur (the Golden Forest)", and the need to protect travellers along the only road of note here.

The road itself - the Belothian Way - passes through almost every settlement of note in Varannis. This isn't hard, because there aren't many settlements here, period - and oddly enough they are all along the shore. In fact, the interior is pretty much uninhabited, save for the walled village of Orastion (which used to supply Galithor Keep, but the heart bled out of the community when that fortress was mysteriously swallowed by the earth itself many years ago) and the odd homestead perched on a hill - all of which are fortified, by the way. Why? If asked, the locals would just point towards the frontier and mutter the word, "Ildarinos" and give you a look like that should explain everything.

The other thing you might notice is that the Temples of Xeron (Ixion), which are so prevalent elsewhere in the empire, are not as common here, and nor are they nearly as prominent. Odd thing, that....


Varannis is a border dominion that guards the empire from the evils that occasionally emerge from the fallen realm of Ildarinos, whose people succumbed to evil influences and threatened the empire itself. Although it was ultimately destroyed, and its cities laid to waste, the very land it occupied has developed an evil character of its own. Inithandur ("the Cursed Forest") is a lush, yet dark and forbidding place where animals seem to grow larger and are more dangerous, and where the fruits and game are as liable to poison you as nourish you. The ruins here are shunned by most Selhomarrians, but there are rumours that the great treasury of Ildarinos - itself swelled from years of plunder - awaits those brave enough to claim it.

Galithandur bears some of Ildarinos' taint as well, and it is patrolled by adventurers and soldiers. Still, every so often a monster escapes into the countryside and wreaks havoc. Those who live in the interior are pretty much on their own, because no matter how many troops are deployed, somehow monsters still get through. This is a place where heroes can definitely make names for themselves.

If the threats posed by fallen Ildarinos weren't bad enough, there is rot deep within Varannis itself, for the cult of Thanatos has put down roots here, and boasts several hidden temples of its own. Whether the cult is responsible for the monstrous activity in Ildarinos, or whether another malign force is at work, remains to be seen.....