Frequently Asked Questions
What is the basis for this geography data?
Published maps of the Inner Sea, the Crown of the World, and Tian Xia were combined with information provided by James Jacobs, the Creative Director at Paizo, Inc. as of the time of this writing. The following information can be considered canonical:
- Golarion is modeled after Earth, meaning it is the same size, has one moon with the same orbit, and so on. This decision greatly simplified the world design, since the creative team at Paizo did not have to include a number of scientific experts to figure out how their world worked (e.g., geology, tides, climate, solar and lunar cycles).
- The Prime Meridian runs through Absalom.
- The Tropic of Cancer runs through the Mana Wastes.
- Magnimar is roughly at the same latitude as Seattle, Washington, USA though it can shift south towards Portland, Oregon, USA if needed to make the rest of the map work out. (In fact, it shifted a little farther north, but is still in the Seattle metro area.)
- There is several hundred miles of unmapped tundra between the Stormspear Mountains at the northern edge of the Linnorm Kingdoms and the Rimethirst Mountains at the Crown of the World.
- Casmaron should be the largest continent, and twice as wide as shown in the rough Golarion world map. It should roughly resemble Asia with an exaggerated India and a large sea at its heart.
- The ocean between Tian Xia and Arcadia should be analagous to the Pacific Ocean on Earth. The ocean between Casmaron and Tian Xia is analagous to the Atlantic Ocean.
Is this map data canon?
No. It can be considered a reasonable approximation, but it is not canonical. The distances from map to map line up properly with distances in Paizo's published source books, and the the latitudes on the Inner Sea map meet the parameters set out by James Jacobs. The continents are still rough sketches and are not based on any officialpublished maps, just rough guidance from James. The only canonical data is the official statements from James (see "What is the basis for this geography data?").
How come you assume Golarion is the same size as Earth?
Because it is the same size as Earth (see "What is the basis for this geography data?").
Why don't your continents look like the Golarion map Paizo has published?
The Golarion map is not to scale, and James Jacobs indicates that Casmaron in particular was severely squeezed. Casmaron is intended to be the largest of the continents, making it larger than even Tian Xia. The rough sketches shown here are just sketches, but they more correctly represents the intended size and placement of the continents on the globe. It's possible that these unmapped continents are larger (Casmaron, especially) and even stretch farther down into the southern hemisphere. They may even shift in position when a world map is finally published some day. But for now, this is a good view of Golarion and should be good enough for campaigns that need approximate distances between continents, rough sizes of continents, and similar information.
Don't the Inner Sea and Crown of the World maps meet?
No (see "What is the basis for this geography data?").
Why isn't north "straight up" on the west edge of the Inner Sea?
Welcome to the world of map projections! The globe is a sphere, and a sphere cannot be flattened into a rectangle without distorting its surface. In a map projection, you can preserve angles, area, or distance, but you can't preserve all three. Typically, you preserve one at the expense of the other two. Some map projections don't try to preserve any of these, and instead try to make a compromise by distorting all of them less severely. For large scale maps (maps of a small area), a properly chosen map projection will not have noticeable distortion. For maps of large areas, such as ones spanning more than five degrees of latitude and longitude, distortion becomes a serious issue.
Paizo's illustators clearly want all of their maps to have north "straight up", but in the Inner Sea World Guide they use the same map scale for all of the kingdoms and countries. This is impossible in a cylindrical map projection (one that produces a rectangular style map, where north is always up meaning lines of longitude are vertical and lines of latitude are horizontal). In order to preserve the distances in the Paizo maps, I had to assume that the Inner Sea map used a map projection that is not cyllindrical, thus allowing the northern latitudes to spread out more than the southern ones. This results in a situation where north is not straight up and down, but rather at an angle. While this does create a conflict with Paizo maps that indicate north is up, the situation is far less serious than having map distances that are incorrect by as much as 30%.