In the history of Golarion, no empire has reached the heights of influence nor seen that influence ripped away by revolutionaries and anarchists than Cheliax—at least if modern accounts of Chelish history are to be believed. But in today’s Cheliax, ruled by Her Infernal Majestrix, Queen Abrogail II of the Thrice-Damned House of Thrune, the truth is malleable and is often altered to support the reigning regime rather than objective fact. From the outside, Cheliax appears as a failing state, whose territories have slipped through its fingers in the wake of decades of tyrannical rule by devil-worshipping nobles more concerned with their own power than the plight of their people, an empire in decline despite its own claims to the contrary.
At the heart of the Old Cheliax meta-region is Cheliax itself. Two recent revolutions (one successful, the other not so much) within their borders have shown the people the precarious position their government and aristocracy find themselves in. In response to growing anti-Thrune sentiment, the infernal agents of the throne have redoubled their efforts to stamp out any discord and promote the propagandic party line of both House Thrune and the church of Asmodeus. Despite this, the downtrodden and abused commoners of Cheliax know of the success of the Silver Ravens in Ravounel and of the folly of mounting an overt assault on House Thrune as the Glorious Reclamation attempted to do, and they have adapted. With the help of the Firebrands and allied organizations like the Twilight Talons of Andoran and the halfling abolitionists of the Bellflower Network, small cells of dissenting Chelish revolutionaries are gaining a foothold in the deep shadows. Will the agents of the crown, the Hellknights sworn to maintain law and order, and the Asmodean church be enough to put out any new sparks of freedom that may take light in the dry kindling of the authoritarian regime?
The successful revolution that has so effectively inspired the people of Cheliax to consider alternatives to the status quo is that of Ravounel. Formerly a Chelish archduchy, Ravounel began its struggle for sovereignty in 4716 AR behind the revolutionaries of Kintargo known as the Silver Ravens. At the same time, the Iomedaen crusaders of the Glorious Reclamation attacked Cheliax in Westcrown far to the south. Its armies and resources split between the two fronts, Cheliax could only win one war, and in 4717 House Thrune was forced to recognize Ravounel’s independence. Today, Ravounel’s focus is on building the foundation of a stable government to last for generations to come and establishing trade with its neighbors along Avistan and Garund’s western coasts.
Aside from Cheliax, Ravounel shares a border with the shadow-shrouded nation of Nidal—the oldest continuous nation state in the entire region. Founded by followers of Zon-Kuthon emboldened during the Age of Darkness, the isolationist nation is ruled by a secret cabal of shadowcasters known as the Black Triune. During the period of Chelish expansion known as the Everwar, Cheliax formally annexed Nidal, though the latter never truly ceded its independence to Chelish rule. Instead, the Black Triune maintained near total control of the shadowy nation by Chelish grace. Even under control of House Thrune, Nidal has been left largely to its own devices, though the common ground between Zon-Kuthon’s and Asmodeus’s faiths have strengthened the nations’ alliance.
In Isger, to Cheliax’s northeast, however, things are not so cordial. Isger is a vassal in every form of the word, with its ruler, Hedvend VI little more than a thrall under Abrogail’s iron rule. Despite its close ties to Cheliax, Isger gets little benefit from its powerful liege state’s influence, instead sending its resources to Cheliax with little in return. This dynamic was never more evident than two decades ago, when the goblins of Isger’s Chitterwood, under hobgoblin commanders, attacked much of the unprotected countryside surrounding the forest. During the ensuing Goblinblood Wars, the armies not only of Cheliax but Andoran and Druma had to come to the Isgeri’s aid, and casualties were high on both sides. Even 20 years on, Isger is still recovering from the bloody conflict, but a glimmer of hope has arisen, for among the surviving goblins, a new alliance of likeminded tribes has begun reaching out to the local human population in the hopes of preventing future conflicts between goblinoids and other ancestries from causing the same level of devastation. And with the undead threat around Lake Encarthan growing, the Isgeri largely welcome any allies they can get as their government largely ignores their needs in order to lick their Chelish masters’ boots.
Players hailing from or adventuring in the region can look forward to seven new backgrounds such as Chelish rebel, Goblinblood orphan, or Thrune loyalist, as well as the Hellknight Armiger archetype, which allows members of all classes to begin their journey as a keeper of law and order as early as 2nd level! Look for a new piece of horror-tinged flash fiction from Liane Merciel later this week as the Tales of Lost Omens series continues. Next week we’ll venture to one of Cheliax’s more distant former holdings, the frontier region of Varisia and its larger meta-region of the Saga Lands.
Tuesday, July 16, 2019