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I'm planning to have the characters of my campaign visit various countries all over Golarion for the sake of variety of locations and themes. That said, how could I achieve this within the boundaries of the setting and rules?

I'm guessing most travel happens by caravans/horse on land and ships on sea, but that can mean weeks of travel to go from country to country. Teleportation or portals sounds like the most practical and fastest way to do it, but then it becomes an issue of means, as I don't suppose these things come cheap, otherwise we would have airport-als all over.

Is there something in-between? If not, how could I justify such means being available to low-level (3-4 at the moment) characters?

Note: while it's always possible to narratively skip travel time and this can be a solution at times, I'm still looking for an actual fast-travel medium to lower the in-character time investment. It's easier to justify characters doing a "quick" sidetrip to a far-away country, less so if it's take 6 months of travel. It also opens up time-sensitive adventures across multiple locations, though this is isn't my top priority.

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It depends on the kind of action you're expecting: is this a fast-paced, "We've only got 14 hours to save Golarion! We need to be on the other side of the world, right now!", or can you simply hand-wave a few months of travel by caravan? –  Ardavion Feb 9 at 21:26
    
Hand-waving should be okay as a trick, but the less time characters spend traveling, the easier it is to justify I'd say. Otherwise, they'll need really good reasons to go where they go to :) –  leokhorn Feb 9 at 22:03
    
IIRC, the Runelords around Thassilon had circular gates that they used for travel. Not sure where I read that so I can't link you to a source and my google is coming up dry. Maybe give the players the "key" to those gates? Personally I would have the gate near their destination, but no at it so they can get a bit of perspective before the plot hits them... maybe a day's ride. –  Pulsehead Feb 11 at 13:28

2 Answers 2

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If you're constraining yourself to Golarion canon

I don't think you have many options, other than giving them a magic item that lets them travel fast. The flying carpet that mxyzplk suggests is flavorful and classic, but if you aren't comfortable with them flying you can create something of your own, like a chariot figurine that can act as the Phantom Chariot spell for 10 hours / day.

Otherwise

This is your Golarion. If you want it to have fast travel options available to low level characters, go for it. There are many ways to do so. To decide how you want it to work in your world you'll want to answer a few questions for yourself:

  • Does everyone have access to cheap, fast travel? If so,
    • How cheap and how powerful? (Roc caravans? teleportation portals maintained by the travel mage guild? magically fast chariots? a potion that lets horses travel at 5x speed for one day?)
    • How different is your world because of this ease of getting around?
  • If it's not accessible to most people, why does your party have access to it?
    • Do they have a patron who gave them an item or who casts high level spells for them? If you want to be directive, the patron can give scrolls keyed only to a particular destination.
    • Did they stumble across an item that helps them travel?
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I'm thinking it should be a restricted access means of travel, if only to avoid dealing with all the consequences. It's supposed to help me not justify things, not the other way around ;). I'm currently thinking of a system of fixed teleporting devices àla Stargate that only a few can control, including the heroes, for some reason. Maybe an old Azlanti device that requires Azlanti ancestry blood/genes? This also isn't a "go anywhere" card as in-country travel would still be needed. –  leokhorn Feb 16 at 13:18

Short of giving out some kind of high level magic as a deus ex machina, there are no in-game options common in Golarion canon - many adventure paths (esp. Jade Regent) are oriented around long treks to get to places. You could let them steal a party-sized flying carpet or get some teleport device (though even teleport, RAW, won't take you all the way to Tian Xia, especially if you haven't been there).

But, you're overthinking it. Handwave the travel time. You seem to think this will require "in game justification" - why? Are the PCs overly concerned about getting old? Why can't you say "and then after six months of travel you find yourselves in a Qadiran bazaar..."? You say it's an issue but no reasons why it is, which makes me think that it's not really and you're just having a mental block.

This is basically how Pathfinder Organized Play works. New adventure starts, "You are all in Absalom, and..." It just makes no bones about it. You can do the same thing.

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"Are the PCs overly concerned about getting old?" Isn't everyone? :) But yes, I may be having a mental block. I'm not sure how to explain it further than in my edit-note. It seems to me the more efforts required to go to a place, the more justification it will need. And sometimes, I may want a quick scenario thousand miles away that characters would just not spend that much effort on reaching. I guess I need to give them better reasons, or none? But I rather like/need justifying stuff. –  leokhorn Feb 16 at 13:15
    
"You're a Pathfinder and got told to" is the PFS excuse. If you have trouble moving the PCs (and they aren't just footloose hobos content with a "we went there because it sounded cool") then devise a group conceit that can drive their actions in that manner. –  mxyzplk Feb 16 at 16:31

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