Pathfinders’ campaign setting Golarion is huge. Seriously, the Paizo store says the Campaign Setting line has 116 items! The line encompasses books about events, cultures, religions, and regions, and its regions I want to talk about. Each region has its own history, culture, and inhabitants. Most regions in Golarion are broken into separate countries, but there are some meta-regions like the Sellen River Basin or Northern Garundi. As a new player this can be daunting learning the history of one of the roughly 90 nations that exist on Golarion, let alone how each nation interacts with each other.
There’s a parody map of Golarion that I’ve seen posted from time to time that gives a humorous explanation of the Inner Sea Region. I can’t find the creator to credit the parody, but I chuckle every time I see it.
Yes, the generalizations are funny, but Golarion’s nations really deserve more careful examination, and with that in mind I want to highlight parallels between real nations of Earth and nations in Golarion in something I’ll call “Where in the world is Drandle Dreng?”
Today Venture Captain Dreng is in a nation with some interesting traits.
- This nation believes itself to be the continuation of a millennia old empire.
- This nation has lost more than half of its territory from its greatest expanse.
- The nations’ ruler is protected by a retinue of loyal Vikings called the Ulfen Guard.
- Finally, this nation is in an uneasy truce with their rivals from the east.
Where could this be?
Wha-? Why did no one cheer? Taldor is great! They give out nobility to literally everyone who can fight off a few bandits, the weather is beautiful (as long as you don’t live next to the Worlds Edge Mountains) AND you can visit historical cities like Oppara and Cassomir! Taldor stood as the civilizer of Avistan after the fall of the Starstone in much the same way Osirion did for Garundi, literally leading people out of the Dark Age.
This great country has a real world analog. It’s not a carbon copy, but a nation from history does share a lot of these traits. I’ll give you a hint, it’s not Spain like the parody map says.
Its Byzantium! Well, Byzantium circa ~1260 after Michael the 8th reconquers Constantinople from the Latin Empire. At this point in time Byzantium was continuing the legacy of the Roman Empire, after it fell almost 800 years ago. It was less than half the size of Byzantium in Emperor Justinians’ time 700 years ago. Byzantium was enjoying a tense peace with the Turks to the east after a flare up earlier in the century. Lastly, Byzantine Lords enjoyed the protection of Varangian Guards, Viking mercenaries sworn to protect them.
Pretty similar eh? Now if you have a new player, or are just having trouble conceptualizing “what” the nation of Taldor is, you can just say “Byzantium but with dragons”.