Ustalav Settlement in Golarion: Lost Omens | World Anvil


Fog-Shrouded Land of Gothic Horror

Alignment: Neutral Evil
Capital: Caliphas (15,640)
Major Races: Humans
Major Religions: Desna, Pharasma, Urgathoa
Languages: Common, Skald, Varisian

An ancient, mist-shrouded land, Ustalav is steeped in thousands of years of civil wars, shadowy horrors, selfish rulers, and deadly conspiracies. Ustalav has many enemies, but only its most visible foes—dangerous undead and Numerian aggressors—are external. Internally, the nation suffers from infighting among its decaying aristocracy, serial killers who keep to the shadows, and monsters clever enough to masquerade as humans. The land is divided into three different regions, each with a markedly different history. Although looming mountains, misty forests, and dark lakes can be found everywhere in Ustalav, the character of the local population makes each region seem very different from the others.

The heartland of Ustalav, Soivoda, contains the bulk of the nation's population and its three biggest cities. Ustalav's capital, Caliphas is a fog-shrouded port on Lake Encarthan whose residents tend to be more cosmopolitan than the isolated people found elsewhere in Soivoda. Caliphas has always had a problem with overcrowding, but Lastwall refugees pouring into the city have created a full-scale crisis. Local groups calling themselves the “Havenguard Greeters” roam the streets with clubs and blades, purportedly turning squatters out of alleys and parks, but actually indulging their bloodlust and calling it civic duty. The refugees have few options elsewhere in Soivoda, though, as the countryside harbors wolves, bears, and other beasts, and the insular Ustalavs outside of Caliphas often greet strangers with torches and pitchforks.

The three northwestern counties in Ustalav overthrew their hereditary rulers in 4674 AR and instituted a parliamentary rule of elected commoners. This region is now known as the Palatinates and is an area of innovative ideals and cutting-edge science. Doctors, alchemists, and academics—particularly at the prestigious University of Lepidstadt—are making startling discoveries in anatomy, medicine, and other sciences. Although some condemn these scientists as dangerous or even depraved, their advances are undeniable. More recently, advanced technologies have made their way from Numeria through black markets and into the laboratories of Lepidstadt, allowing monumental breakthroughs in the fields of clockwork automation, electricity, and steam power, among others.

Many wouldn't call the haunted land in the southwest known as Virlych a part of Ustalav at all; certainly, sensible Ustalavs shun the former domain of the Whispering Tyrant and the area where his prison of Gallowspire loomed over the countryside for centuries. Fifteen centuries ago, the warlord Tar-Baphon resurrected himself as a vile lich-king, and for more than 600 years, the Whispering Tyrant ruled an empire of abominations rooted in the country's corpse. When the Shining Crusade finally succeeded in imprisoning the dreaded immortal within his fortress of Gallowspire, the victorious knights freed the lich's living slaves and returned the principality's shattered counties to its beleaguered people.

The land of Virlych is gloomy and uninhabited save for predatory monsters, roaming undead, and a few hardscrabble settlers. The unnatural storms that plague the area are just one manifestation of nature gone wrong, warped by the Whispering Tyrant's necromantic magic. A place of deadly, verdant profusion called the Gallowgarden surrounds the blasted crater where Gallowspire once stood—a dense, mutated forest as deadly as a blasted wasteland. Although the Whispering Tyrant is now absent, uncounted terrors linger on.

In 4670 AR, three of Ustalav's western counties shrugged off the rule of their ancestral counts in a bloodless revolution, renaming themselves the Palatinates. A less civil conflict erupted 19 years later, resulting in the devastation of Ardeal's eastern reaches, leaving it a forsaken land now known only as the Furrows. Today, Ustalav stagnates under the rule of an aging, impolitic leader, and the threat of royal infighting looms on the horizon. Fearing rebellion, the counts of Ustalav draw inward to their decrepit provinces, coveting their remaining power and further fractionalizing the decaying nation. And in the west, the voice of an ancient evil whispers once more. Thus, Ustalav teeters, as it has again and again through the centuries, on the precipice of ruin.

National Territory


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