Of Kings and Dragons
The First World
Lurking within many of Golarion’s darker and more fantastical myths and fairy tales are references to the so called First World. A place untouched by civilization and possessed of a life all its own, the First World is something more animate and dramatically distinct from the warped shadow presented by the Plane of Shadow. While the Shadow exists as a pale, mocking reflection of the Material, some hold that the Material does the same for the First World, or even that the First World was some manner of “rough draft” fashioned in the dim twilight of the cosmos, and later set aside or abandoned.
Regardless of its origin, the First World exists out of phase with the Material Plane, overlapping its boundaries yet existing entirely independent of the Ethereal and Shadow. Magic can provide transportation between the two planes, but only in places where their boundaries already run thin, such as in the wild places untouched by civilization, or those rare places the fey see fit to mark as theirs, placing mounds, stones, and rings of earth or mushrooms like boundary fences between the planes. Within the First World stand ancient forests as tall as mountains, living lakes and rivers, traveling faerie courts alternatively benevolent or sadistic, and landscapes of all manner separated by rolling, animate banks of memory-eating and time-shifting fog.
Among the denizens of the First World, two groups stand foremost in the collective body of Golarion’s mythologies: gnomes and the fey. The gnomes remember little of their ancient home, or even why they left, almost as if they voluntarily chose to forget the circumstances—and given how harsh the Material Plane has been to them at times, those circumstances must have been horrific. In any event, as a people the gnomes seem incapable or unwilling to return, and as such the realm’s other inhabitants, the fey, alternatively pity or resent them—though if the fey have a deeper knowledge of the conditions that predicated their egress, they uniformly refuse to speak of it.
Unlike the gnomes, the fey natives of the First World exist on the Material Plane only temporarily, stepping between it and their home plane with the ease of a child skipping across a puddle. As creatures that possess an intrinsic link to the natural world, their vision of nature is one altogether more primordial and alien than that of the material world, something that even druids find confusing, if not disconcerting, to contemplate. Ranging from pixies to redcaps, sidhe to rusalka, and many others, the fey personify the wild excesses of nature.
Eldest of the First World
While no one truly rules the First World, there are those entities so powerful as to command respect and obedience from other residents, and even from the land itself. These all-powerful personalities go by many names—the fey-lords, the shapers—yet to most they are simply the Eldest.
Count Ranalc is a primal being of darkness and the chaos of creation, exiled from the First World to the Plane of Shadow millennia ago by the other Eldest for unknown reasons, and since vanished completely. Scholars have long been intrigued by the fact that all mention of Ranalc ceases at almost exactly the same time as the archwizard Nex laid siege to Absolom.
The Green Mother:
This tall, beautiful woman with shocking green hair resembles a cross between a nymph, an elf, and a dryad. Within her forest bower, she is the most deductive and manipulative creature in the First World.
Imbrex, the Twins:
Whether the entity known as the Twins is truly a pair of siblings or simply one creature split into two bodies is a question that may never be answered. Hundreds of feet tall, the vaguely reptilian, statue-like humanoids refer to themselves collectively as Imbrex.
The Lantern King:
If the First World can be said to have a trickster god—no easy feat in a world where capricious, reality-bending mischief is standard practice for many—then the title belongs to the will-o’-wisp-like Lantern King.
The Lost Prince:
Also called the Melancholy Lord, this gaunt, dark-haired Eldest is a morose and dour individual. While his servants expound on his good works, the truth is that the Lost Prince attempts to remain neutral in most matters, keeping to himself in his ever-crumbling tower.
Capable of seeing farthest into other realms and down the long lines of probability and fate, the three-faced entity called Magdhis the prophetess and seer of the Eldest. Those seeking her wisdom and second sight are welcomed according to strange and mysterious guidelines.
Ng the Hooded:
If Ng the Hooded has a face, no one has ever viewed it. Some whisper that the delicate gloves that are his only visible body part hide whirring clockwork, others that he’s the mouthpiece of a distant god or the First World itself.
Ragadahn the Water Lord:
Also known as the Serpent King, the World Serpent, and (somewhat heretically) the Father of Dragons, Ragadahn claims to be the progenitor from whom all linnorms are descended.
Shyka the Many:
Time is fickle in the First World, and Shyka knows this better than any. Over the eons, many have borne this title—and continue to. For in all of his incarnations, Shyka the Many is a master of time.