Wayfinder 11 Extra Content

Wayfinder 11 Extra Content

The following article did not make it into Wayfinder 11. Rather than leave the material on the cutting room floor I have posted it here (unedited I hasten to add) for anyone who wishes to make use of it:

 

Aroden’s Children

Chelaxians are fiercely nationalistic. From an early age every educated Cheliaxian is taught the history of their nation and its importance in shaping the Inner Sea region. This history, complete with troubles and trials, and eventual ascension to empire empowers proud citizens, emboldens the military and invigorates the merchant classes. Cheliaxians take great pride in their nationality and consider themselves the successor nation and rightful heirs of the ancient Azlanti. The old nations of Osiron and Taldor are to be commended for their achievements but ultimately have had their time. Young nations like Andoran are mere adolescent upstarts to be broken and tamed like a wild horse. Although fundamentally a different nation before and after the rise of the House of Thrune, this sense of national pride has always characterized the Chelaxian people. Before Aroden’s death it was prophesised that Aroden would return, and it was to Cheliax, the foremost human nation of the Inner Sea, that he would make his home. Together with the god of men, Cheliax would enter a gold age of conquest and economic domination. Chelaxians took this divine mandate as confirmation of their social and morale superiority.

Therefore it is not surprising that when Aroden died and prophecy failed, it shattered the dreams of the entire nation. The divine destiny of Cheliax was thrown to the wind and for a time chaos ruled its streets and institutions, leading to economic collapse, starvation and rampant disease. When the House of Thrune and its Hellknight enforcers restored order, many citizens fell back on their national pride as a surrogate. Who needed the god of men when strong leaders, especially those capable of summoning and commanding devils would lead Cheliax to greatness – The people of Cheliax would forge their own destiny!

As the years passed, symbols of Aroden’s worship were purposefully left to rot in public. This was intended as a constant reminder that citizens should strive to better themselves – ultimately it was the people of Cheliax and the House of Thrune that would usher in a new, stronger empire, not some worthless dead god. Aroden’s temples were left untended, many falling into public ruin, their religious items melted down and their wealth re-distributed to fund the new order. Even the old flag of Cheliax was redesigned to include elements of House Thrune’s own crest. The old flag and holy symbols of Aroden’s faith were banned and his statues covered in graffiti declaring him a traitor and deserter.

However, this level of disdain and disrespect was not universal. Secretly, many held to the idea that Aroden had not abandoned Cheliax, and that he was imprisoned beyond the touch of faith and divinity. No matter how long it took they would remain loyal to his teachings, covertly preserving the hopeful doctrine he had offered mankind. Today these individuals gather in secret and hoard relics from before the fall. Beyond anything they cherished the old flag of Cheliax as a symbol of their continued devotion and reminder of better, more optimistic times.

Despite this seemingly antagonistic perspective they remain fiercely loyal to Cheliax, many holding positions of power within the aristocracy, government and military. They view the House of Thune as illegitimate dictators that will be swept resulting in the re-instatement of a divinely blessed, rather than fiend cursed monarch. All but the most foolhardy keep their views concealed from the world, fearing discovery by the House of Thrune, whether it be by informants to the church of Asmodeus, or a random Hellknight inquisitor knocking at their door. More of an underground movement than a resistance organization, these individuals aims are mixed and varied, but always at the heart of their cause is the re-instatement of old Cheliax values. They are not widely organized and in most cases just as fearful of other underground groups as the authorities.

Disgraced nobility, which did not immediately side with the House of Thrune, lament the loss of their land and titles. They lead underground groups comprised of former staff and retainers, many of which are second or third generation, and hide old heirlooms, riches and religious items, and work behind the scenes to defraud and discredit the new nobility and return themselves to power.

Some groups like the Children of Westcrown risk public persecution, prison and even execution for speaking out against the House of Thrune or raising a sword against its agents. Other underground activities can be as diverse as hiding wanted individuals, or recovering culturally important items such as books and music now deemed undesirable by the state.

Many younger individuals are drawn to the underground for the authorities mistreatment of non-humans in the empire (except Tieflings whom they generally despise irrespective of their backgrounds), harassment of their faith, which is not restricted to former worshippers of Aroden, and the harsh actions of the Hellknight orders. These younger individuals do not cling the idea that Aroden will return since all evidence points to the fact that the god is indeed dead. Instead these more pragmatic individuals use Aroden as an aspirational role model who died to teach Chelaxians humility and self-reliance.

For many older Chelaxians their support for the underground groups is subtle and shrewd. Lady Malgoria Salisfer funds a group of aristocratic adventures lead by her son called the Barons of Longacre. Their public persona is that of a group of headstrong young nobles with nothing better to do than drink taverns dry, and woe eligible heiresses with stories of high adventure. Their unspoken quest is to find, collect and hide old deeds, heirlooms and religious paraphernalia from the Order of the Rack, who are charged with rewriting Chelaxian history at the behest of the crown. This frequently leads the group into conflict with agents of the Pathfinder Society and Aspis Consortium who routinely try to smuggle these items out of Cheliax. Lady Malgoria takes great pleasure when the local Hellknight inquisitor drops by Salisfer manor for a concerned chat about her son. She serves him tea while he laments her son’s latest transgression all the while sitting on a chair whose cushion has an old Cheliaxian flag sewn into its inner lining.

Tiberious Mazgotti is a Chelaxian envoy frequently despatched to Taldor and Absalom. In many ways he is the product of modern day Cheliax, born to a minor landowner, well educated, a gifted swordsman and is a rising star of the imperial bureaucracy. However, as well as carrying out his official duties, he frequently uses his position to smuggle persecuted and religious dissidents out of Cheliax. He accepts no money for this and gives no reasons for his actions. Tiberious is known to underground groups in Egorian, Westcrown and Ostenso, simply as the diplomat.

The military is a dangerous place to harbour feelings of dissent. Admiral Torgaul, is a veteran of the Imperial Navy, who continues to survive the House of Thrune’s constant inquisitions and tests of loyalty. He considers it an insult to the loyal, brave men and women under his command that he must carry ‘monstrous devil-binders’ in his fleet. Torgaul leads a conclave of like-minded captains and commanders called the Knot who plot and plan for the day when the navy needs new leadership.

Many supporters of the underground ply their trade under the noses of the royal court and imperial bureaucracy. Madam Leticia Bravaldi, former harlot and successful madam to Cheliaxian high society, moves in social circles acting as a madam to the rich and famous. Her clientele include nobles, diplomats and several prominent priests of Asmodeus. She is an information broker and dealer of secrets who harbours a deep burning hatred for the House of Thrune. She rarely resorts to direct action and prefers to aid others from afar, offering like-minded individuals choice pieces or information and useful contacts for free. She goes to great lengths to protect her tiefling daughter Yiana, the product of numerous liaisons with a particularly depraved priest of Asmodeus. Yiana is an accomplished inquisitor of Calistra who frequently defies her mother by advocating a more militant approach toward the state.

Some groups have degenerated into criminal organizations engaging in smuggling, thievery and drugs, but continue to justify these activities based on a twisted loyalty to old Cheliax. Linos Ranc is an imperial customs officer who works the docks of Kintargo and abuses his position to smuggle slaves out of Cheliax. What started as a kindness has escalated and he now finds himself fencing seized contraband to the local thieves guild to fund the venture. In addition the thieves guild has Linos overlook a smuggling operation, which brings in alcohol and pesh from Katapesh.

Despite their other activities none of these individuals or groups would ever do anything to weaken Cheliax. Acts of sabotage are rare and violence against citizens and the military frowned upon. Aiding another country or foreign organization to destabilize or annex part of the Cheliax is treasonous even if the Thrice-Damned Queen sits on the throne.