The Serpent’s Skull Campaign
Your band of characters begins the Serpent’s Skull Adventure Path as passengers on a cargo ship called the Duchess, headed south to Sargava. The voyage promises not only to bring your characters together as you face adversity, but also to set you on a path into the very heart of one of Golarion’s most feared regions in search of wealth, fame, and ancient secrets.
Sargava is a land on the verge, simultaneously pushing on the edge of the map of the Inner Sea and facing an uncertain political future. The nigh impassable jungles of the Mwangi Expanse and the permanent hurricane known as the Eye of Abendego isolate Sargava from the rest of Garund, and its closest neighbors are only nominally nations themselves. The former Chelish colony also stands at the threshold of a new future free from colonial rule, making all things possible. Yet the citizens of Sargava were not the first to attempt to carve civilization out of the wild region—since the dawn of history, humanity has strived to form great kingdoms amid the dangers of the Mwangi Expanse. Crumbled ruins are all that remain of these vanished empires, and even their names have been forgotten by history. Some scholars even whisper that lost ruins of the ancient Azlanti empire may be found in the unexplored jungles, but these crackpot theories are dismissed by more reputable sages. But whatever their origins, these ruins may provide incredible wealth and power to those who rediscover them.
Founded over 500 years ago by Prince Haliad I as part of Cheliax’s expansionist Everwar, Sargava stood as the jewel of the empire for centuries. But when Aroden died, the empire was thrown into chaos, and Sargava’s ruler backed the wrong house in the Chelish Civil War. House Thrune took control of Cheliax and sent a flotilla of warships to retake the colony that had supported their enemy in the bloody conflict. Grand Custodian Baron Grallus anticipated the onslaught, however, and made a fateful alliance with the Free Captains of the Shackles. Swooping out of Desperation Bay to pounce on the unsuspecting Chelish Navy, the pirates’ superior fleet swiftly ended the threat to their southern neighbor, and extracted a mighty price from Sargava for their efforts. To this day, vast portions of Sargava’s wealth flow into the Free Captains’ coffers for past assistance and assurance of continued naval protection.
Financially weakened by the Free Captains’ high demands and cut off from many of their former trade partners to the north, Sargava faces an even larger threat from within. The native Mwangi people, inspired by the teachings of a mysterious, undead child-god in the nearby city-state of Mzali, move ever closer to open rebellion to free themselves from colonial rule. While Cheliax no longer has an official stake in Sargava’s government, the colonial Sargavan minority maintains control of the vastly larger native population. But the natives know that they have the resources of the entire Mwangi Expanse at their backs, and that Grand Custodian Baron Utilinus’s government is in a poor position to quell a rebellion.