Empire in Decline
- Capital: Egorian (80,000)
- Ruler: Her Just Majestrix, Queen Abrogail II of the House of Thrune
- Government: Imperial bureaucracy of noble families
- Languages: Common
- Religion: Abadar, Asmodeus, Erastil, Iomedae, Zon-Kuthon
- Races: Azlanti, Chelaxian, Taldan, Gnome, Halfling, Half-elf
Cheliax (pronounced CHEL-ee-ax) remains, without a doubt, one of the most powerful nations on Golarion and it continues to maintain naval control over the profitable Inner Sea. Nevertheless, as important as the nation may be at the current time, it pales in comparison to its former Imperial glories.
Cheliax was founded as the westernmost frontier prefecture of the Taldan Empire in 3007 AR. It would remain a part of the Taldan Empire for more than a thousand years, until two years after the massive invasion of Taldor by Qadiri forces in 4079 AR, Aspex the Even-Tongued, the Taldan governor, declared independence in 4081 AR. Knowing Taldor would remain focused on its titanic struggle with Qadira, King Aspex of the new Empire of Cheliax incorporated for Taldan territories of Galt and Isger by force and Andoran and Devil's Perch by diplomacy in what became known as the Even-Tongued Conquest.
By 4081 AR ongoing friction between Absalom and Cheliax over control of trade in the Inner Sea area led King Haliad I to lay siege of Absalom. Although the siege was unsuccessful, Cheliax was left the major naval power in the Inner Sea and gained control of both sides of the Arch of Aroden. In the following year, 4138 AR, Cheliax also establish a new colony in Western Garund at Sargava.
Chelish expansion to the north continued in 4305 AR with the launch of the Everwar. Over the following century the empire annexed lands in Molthune and Varisia, completing its conquest of Nidal in 4338 AR. Shortly before the Everwar ended in 4410 AR with Cheliax renouncing all territorial amibitions in Varisia and Belkzen, Chelish forces founded Fort Korvosa in 4407 AR.
In the last decades of the Age of Enthronement, many of the seeds of Cheliax's present were laid. The first Hellknight order, the Order of the Rack, was founded in 4576 AR in the capital, Westcrown. In 4605 AR, King Gaspodar began the preparations for the prophesied reappearance of the god Aroden.
When their patron deity Aroden instead died, some say the soul of Cheliax perished with him. The once mighty empire tore itself apart, and only through the power of three noble Houses, each steeped in tyranny, was order restored.
The empire runs on iron will now, a perfect machine of hellfire and blood, where morality surrenders to the needs of law and order. It's easy to curse Cheliax, but few can argue with the results. House Thrune, the greatest of its noble families, has brought the empire under control once more. Cheliax rises like a dark star, as strong as ever, despite the recent losses of Galt and Andoran to rebellious forces. The Chelish always plan for a long campaign, and never trifle over today's skirmishes. It is only a matter of time and calculated conquest.
Since the Thrune Ascendancy of 4640 AR, Cheliax has been ruled by House Thrune along with a new configuration of noble houses made up of those willing to collaborate. Currently Queen Abrogail II rules Cheliax with the aid and support of her regeant General Gorthoklek.
Governmental policy within Cheliax is focussed upon maintaining order and quelling dissent. This is in direct response to the 30 years of internecine warfare and chaos that proceeded the Thrune Ascendancy. There is a great deal of physical peace and order which allows the lives of ordinary citizens to proceed normally, but it carries a high moral price. Nationalistic feelings run deep and are practically required to avoid suspicion. Ambition causes normal citizens to turn in those that they suspect as traitors to Imperial Cheliax for the perceived promise of wealth and advancement. Organized secular and religious forces such as the Hellknights and the Chelish Inquisition further strive to quell any organized dissent.
House Thrune may currently be the most powerful of the noble houses, but it is certainly not the only one. Some of the other powerful houses are:
- House Charthagnion: This house is known for its leaders possessing great wisdom.
- House Henderthane: The house of Henderthane has been supplying and manufacturing weapons for a thousand years, and currently is the chief weapon supplier to House Thrune.
- House Jeggare: The Jeggare family is one of the wealthiest not just in Cheliax, but in all of of Avistan. Members of the house, for instance, are one of the ruling families of the Varisian city of Korvosa, where there are rivers and streets named after them.
- House Leroung: A house of prominent academics and arcanists, House of Leroung is widely respected for their impartial and unbiased pursuit of knowledge.
- House Narikopolus: This family is known for their superb archers who are trained from an early age.
- House Sarini: A family of cruel jesters, this house is sometimes referred to as the "Fools of Thrune", or the "Lapdogs of Hell".
Three-quarters of Cheliax's human population are ethnic Chelaxians, and the pale-skinned Chelish believe themselves superior to all other peoples. Slaves are an important resource of the Chelish. Even as Andoran revels in its newfound freedom, the tendrils of Cheliax's empire continue to expand. Arcadia lays open before them and Sargava is ready to fall under their sway.
It is widely rumored that the rise of House Thrune and Cheliax's success in holding chaos at bay after the death of Aroden, is due to contracts between House Thrune and Hell. Many of Cheliax's detractors accuse House Thrune and its lackies of diabolism, the worship of the Archdevils, and the worship of Asmodeus imparticular.
However, few can deny that House Thrune rescued Cheliax from the brink of destruction and that these rumors do, after-all, come mostly from Cheliax's enemies.
Imperial Cheliax covers a large part of southwestern Avistan and, although currently less than half its former size, it is still one of the largest countries in the Inner Sea region. Cheliax can be roughly divided into six main areas of similar society and outlook.
- The West: The hills of Devil's Perch and the settlement of Pezzack is a hotbed of sedition and plotting against House Thrune. Strict naval blockades and a years-long siege hav ecut off Pezzack from the rest of the world.
- The Northwest: The Ravounel Forest, the North Plains and the settlement of Kintargo in the northwest are the least insular areas of Cheliax and therefore subject to the most outside influence and contact.
- The North: The Menador Mountains are the religious homeland of Cheliax. It is also the home to scores of Hellknights prepared for a life of unending servitude by the unforgiving nature of the land they inhabit.
- The Heartland: The Whisperwood, the Barrowood and the Central Plains are the heartland of Cheliax.
- The East: The Aspodell Mountains and the River Keld form a natural eastern border to Cheliax.
- The South: The Inner Sea forms the southern border of Cheliax and port cities built upon bluffs dot the coast.
The current capital, Egorian, rests near the center of the nation on the banks of Lake Sorrow. North of the lake stands the Barrowood, and the River Adivian flows south from the lake, past Westpool and East Rikkan, into Gemcrown Bay past Westcrown. Cheliax maintains a foothold in Garund as well, holding the southern end of the Arch of Aroden (the province of Kharijite) and thus controlling access to the Inner Sea. Some of its Imperial holdings remain under Chelaxian control as well, including Nidal. It's more distant holdings are the Garundi colony of Sargava (although Sargava has escaped from Chelaxian rule, at least for the moment) and Anchor's End in far-off Arcadia.
- East Rikkan
Rivers and waterways
- Adivian River
- Brastle River
- Doracium River
- Maiestas River
- Sedna River
- Smelika River
- Tomarsulk River
- Yolubilis River