Journeys in Pharos
Races of Pharos
In general, if you are familiar with the races of Pathfinder, you will know what to expect for the world of Pharos. That said, I will outline important background information regarding the races to help you make your decision and develop your backstory.
Dwarves are native to the continents of Oson and Asartis, and have cities spread throughout both continent’s mountain chains. In Asartis and the eastern regions of Oson, the dwarves rule independent kingdoms that encompass the regions surrounding their mountain cities. Within Anshar, the dwarves live in semi-independent city-states that have been enveloped by the Anshar empire. Assaults on dwarven cities proved exceedingly costly during early Ansharian expansion, and the empire could not realistically subdue all dwarven kingdoms. However, despite the fact that the dwarves could not be directly conquered, Anshar could (and did in some cases) seal the dwarves within the earth.
With both sides facing a foe they could not fully overcome, they reached a compromise of sorts. Dwarven kingdoms would maintain significant political autonomy, but owed taxes and manpower to Anshar. In return the dwarves were given access to the lucrative trade routes of the Anshar Empire, and an absolute guarantee of their protection from all external threats.
A dwarf from outside the empire will likely be viewed with suspicion by imperial officials, simply because they are a foreigner. A dwarf from within the empire will be accepted, but given their semi-independent nature, suspicions will remain. All Dwarves are very rare within Ivo’s reach, though most people know about Rockhelm. Many inhabitants will likely view you with curiosity and be interested in understanding who you are. They will assume you are from Rockhelm.
There are very few independent Elven Kingdoms still in existence. Elves are native to western Oson, and their kingdoms were conquered approximately 2000 years ago by Anshar. Despite what some would consider a great tragedy, the elves have flourished within the empire. Elves wield significant political power, and form the bulk of Anshar’s bureaucracy. An elf can come from any walk of life within the empire, and they are trusted by the powers that be given that they are often said power. It is very rare to find an elf native to the empire that is dissatisfied with the government.
However, if your elf is actually a tribesman from Ivo’s reach, you will likely be viewed with greater suspicion and may not be satisfied with the empire.
That said, there are some independent Elven kingdoms. The archipelago known as the Meridian Strand stretches from the southern coast of Oson to Nimos. A handful of independent elven city-states and petty kingdoms share the island chain with halflings.
Elves from other nations will be viewed with a mixture of suspicion and pity by imperial officials, especially if said official is an elf. Common folk will assume any elf is a member of the empire, though may be intrigued if they learn one is not.
Gnomes hale from the far east and are native to the continent of Sunda. Beyond a smattering of immigrants, there are no gnomes native to Anshar. In Ivo’s Reach, it is unlikely that anyone will have ever seen a gnome before in their life, and many won’t even know what a gnome is. Gnomes will likely be mistaken for halflings.
Almost no one will have a pre-determined attitude regarding gnomes in the region, and will likely react in unexpected ways.
Ansharian Half Elves may hail from any corner of the Empire. Since the first conquest of human land several hundred years ago, humans and elves have mingled throughout the empire. Where they come from will have a greater impact on how others react to them than their race. Unlike in some D&D settings, half-elves generally do not have trouble fitting into either human or elf communities within the empire. It is possible, though not common, for a half-elf to be born outside the empire. These individuals will face the same suspicion any foreigner would.
Orcs still inhabit regions of Asartis, Nimos, and Sunda – and trouble the respective communities of each continent. However, on Oson, they are almost a forgotten species. Anshar waged a series of bloody wars that killed the majority of Orcs in Oson, and drove those remaining into The Barrier. These wars occured over 1500 years ago, and now few inhabitants of Oson harbor a hatred for Orcs. The wars and bloodshed are simply too remote for the average person to viscerally fear/distrust an Orc. This also means that Half-Orcs are extremely rare within the empire, and virtually all of them live within Ivo’s Reach, as it is the only region that still has routine contact with Orcs. Imperial officials will harbor a deep distrust for Half-Orcs in Ivo’s reach, though that will quickly fade if one leaves the region. The average person will likely be more tolerant, though anxiety will remain.
There are very few halflings in Anshar, though some communities dot the southern coast. In general halflings are accepted as one of the odder races of Anshar. Most halflings hail from the Meridian Island or the continent of Nimos. They share the Meridian Strand with the remaining independent elven nations.
Within Ivo’s Reach, halflings will most likely be associated with the Ithaki – the native halfling tribe that inhabits Ithaki Island. In fact, your character may actually be an Ithaki – if you would like.
In general halflings can avoid suspicion in Anshar – even when it is well deserved. In an empire rule by giants, halflings escape notice in many situations.
Humans are native to Oson, Asartis, and Sunda. Ansharian humans will likely hail from the eastern portions of the Empire, and their relationship will be highly contingent on how recently they were conquered. Those regions conquered 1000 years ago have highly integrated human populations. Those conquered just 100 years ago are still subject to significant unrest. Alternatively, your human may be native to Ivo’s reach, a descendant of one of the settlers that came to the region after the orcs were pushed out.
Imperial officials may view an Ansharian human with at least some suspicion, but this can be overcome in almost all situations with little difficulty. A human from a kingdom outside of Anshar will be viewed with consistent suspicion by imperial officials and citizens. A human from one of the kingdoms that borders Anshar in the east will be arrested if found out. These kingdoms and Anshar are on the brink of war.
You cannot play as an Anu. Sorry! However, they are important for the setting. The Anu are a race of giants native to the northern regions of Oson.
Physical facts: They can grow to be anywhere from 12-18 feet tall and generally have a highly muscular build. Their skin is typically ashen gray, though other shades are not unheard of. Despite their size, their appearance is not radically different than that of smaller humanoids. However, their heads are more akin to cinder blocks than anything else, and both their ears and nose are significantly less prominent. They mature very slowly, but their lifespans are comparable to those of elves. Due to their size, long lifespan, and slow maturation the Anu reproduce very slowly. Additionally, the Anu despise the heat and avoid it when they can.
Due to their size and physical power, few civilized races can best the Anu on the field of battle, and that fact has fueled the rise of Anshar more than anything else. However, the empire is now simply too large to be built on the backs of the Anu alone.
Within the empire the Anu are uncommon, but they almost always occupy positions of power. It is rare to find an Anu that is not tied to the formal government in some way – though this rule holds less and less as you move closer to the city of Anshar and the number of Anu in the general population increases.
Though the Anshar Empire is synonymous with the Anu in many people’s eyes, there are several independent kingdoms of Anu in the North East of Oson. These kingdoms routinely ally with the humans to the south in their wars against the Anshar Empire.