- See also: Arcadian (human ethnicity)
Arcadia is a continent of Golarion located 4,000 miles west of Avistan and Garund over the Arcadian Ocean. Because of the long and dangerous sea journey needed to reach it, few folk of the Inner Sea region have visited it, and fewer still have returned. People who live in Arcadia are known as Arcadians.
The sea journey from Avistan to Arcadia is a treacherous one, as it leads one either through the sea monster-infested waters around the sunken continent of Azlant, or far to the north via a long chain of islands that connect Arcadia to far-northwestern Avistan. Those who have visited Arcadia describe it as a verdant, natural wonderland filled with stunning vistas and boundless resources; parts of it seem to be completely unclaimed by civilization. Even though most cartographers do not possess an accurate map of the continent, it is believed to be Golarion's largest landmass.
Little is known in the Inner Sea region about Arcadia, much less of its early history. It was inhabited by humans since as early as the Age of Legend, during which southern Arcadia was dominated by the militaristic, tyrannical Razatlani Empire, which lost most of its conquered territory in the Age of Darkness. Around the same time, northeastern Arcadia was attacked by Azlanti forces, and subsequently entered a long period of isolation just before the Age of Darkness began.
The first recorded Avistanis to reach Arcadia were Ulfen explorers under the leadership of King Ulvass of Kalsgard in -473 AR. A powerful scylla cleric of Rovagug named Urtleytlar is also believed to have terrorized Arcadia's eastern seaboard for a thousand years before being called east across the ocean by the chaos that followed the death of the god Aroden in 4606 AR. Even a spawn of Rovagug—the great, winged monstrosity named Volnagur—is said to have wreaked havoc in the western interior in ages past.
Millennia after the first Ulfen arrivals, the next Avistani settlers arrived in Arodus 4679 AR, as part of a Chelish colonization expedition that landed on the Grinding Coast near the Degasi city of Segada. The first Avistani born in Arcadia was Pimm Deori, 13 days after the colonists' arrival; years later, Deori also became the first Avistani to gain Segadan citizenship. Soon after the arrival of the Chelish colonists and a separate band of Andoren colonists, the local nations enacted the Segada Protocol to strictly limit and regulate Avistani colonization and exploitation of Arcadia. (See Avistani colonies.)
Despite Arcadia's pristine appearance, it is not as uninhabited as it first appeared to Avistani settlers. Soon after Ulvass, the first Linnorm King, completed his epic quest and landed on Arcadian soil, he encountered one group of native Arcadians. The Arcadians that Ulvass encountered were the Kansari people, fierce combatants who fought many battles against the Ulfen invaders using bows and tomahawks.
Despite eastern Arcadians' general distrust toward outsiders in the centuries after Azlanti assaults, the Mahwek people of Degasi generally leaves Valenhall alone, having decided it is too heavily defended to be worth their trouble. The other Avistani settlements to the south (see Avistani colonies) have been met by inhabitants of the Degasi city of Segada, however, to both protect the colonists and limit their influence. The powerful Segadan military quickly secured a border with the newcomers, and Segada's commercial influence drew its parent nation of Degasi and a coalition of three other Mahwek nations to enact the Segada Protocol, an agreement that spared the Avistani colonies in return for strict regulations on Avistani access to the Arcadian interior and Segada, a 15% limit on the amount of income they can ship off Arcadia, and regular inspections from the Segadan guard.
People of Arcadia
Hundreds of unique cultures cover the massive continent, though few are known to visitors from the Inner Sea region (and fewer still in their homelands).
Known Arcadian nations include:
- Degasi and three other Mahwek nations that form a trade coalition
- Three Craters, a city-state in the eastern Land of Northern Lakes
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The only Avistani settlements of any size on the continent are the colonies of three Avistani nations on the continent's eastern seaboard, which are permitted by Segada through the Segada Protocol.
Valenhall is the oldest and largest Inner Sea colony in Arcadia. It is a place where the great lords of the Lands of the Linnorm Kings come to die after embarking on one final voyage, island hopping across the northern reaches of the Arcadian Ocean. Those who reach Valenhall believe they have ascended to their final reward on another plane.
The Andoran settlement of Elesomare was founded as a timber and agricultural colony during that nation's pre-revolutionary days, and is but one of a number of small Andoran villages dotting Arcadia's eastern seaboard. Long under the thumb of the Lumber Consortium, the colonists have recently been able to free themselves from that organization's iron-fisted control. Because of the great distance between Elesomare and the homeland, the Eagle Knights have done little to reverse this trend. Elesomare exists with the heavily regulated permission of four Arcadian nations, including Degasi, through the Segada Protocol.
Anchor's End is a Chelish settlement known for its extensive gold-mining operations. It is of great interest to House Thrune, as it is among that nation's most lucrative colonies. Chelish ships bound for Anchor's End generally depart their homeland from the western port of Kintargo.
Anchor's End (and Canorus, until its abandonment) exists under the protection, and with the heavily regulated permission, of four Arcadian nations, including Degasi, through the Segada Protocol.
Non-human races & other fauna
The Arcadians are not the only intelligent humanoid race native to the continent. The syrinx, a race of owl-like humanoids, lives here as well, as do the skinwalkers, the descendants of were-creatures. Perhaps the best-known non-human inhabitants of the continent are the giant, ape-like sasquatches, and the beneficent couatls.
Other less benevolent creatures include the aquatic ningyos, fire giants who make their home near places of volcanic activity, adherers who dwell near shamanic mounds, shadow giants, as well as halflings and wyrwoods. Of all of these races, the humans, halflings, skinwalkers, and wyrwoods are the most populous.
Arcadia in Avistani culture
Because of the length of the journey from the Inner Sea region to Arcadia, not to mention the danger, the continent has become a byword for perilous journeys and distant adventures throughout the region. An example of this is the popular sea shanty Haul Away for Arcadia.
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