Dark Places of the Earth
Avistan is the more northern of the two continents in the Inner Sea Region. Once inhabited mostly by clans of Kellid barbarians, coastal Ulfen raiders, and the mysterious wandering Varisians, much of the continent is now claimed by nations who can trace their genesis back to the old empire of Taldor. The Taldan people claim descent from the so-called “first humans” of Old Azlant, and that their nation was founded by Aroden, the god of humanity himself to be a guiding light to all the world. At the height of their power they ruled an empire spanning the entire northern coast of the Inner Sea and had settled lands as far north as wintery Brevoy. In time, however, corruption grew at the heart of Taldor and the empire faltered, loosing the majority of its lands as it committed all its forces to a centuries-long war with the Keleshite people of Qadira.
Taldor was succeeded by the kingdom of Cheliax, founded by the governer of the empire’s prosperous westernmost province. The Chelaxians too claimed descent from the ancient Azlanti, and in time came to be seen as the rightful successors to the Taldan empire and the new chosen people of Aroden. In addition to claiming most of the lands that had been Taldor, the Chelaxians expanded their empire even further, conquering lands to their north as far as Varisia and establishing colonies in distant Arcadia and the Mwangi Expanse. Ultimately, this expansionist drive exhausted itself, but the armies of Cheliax yet stood strong and proud until a little more than a century ago.
One hundred and four years ago, on the eve of his prophecized return to the mortal world, Aroden, god of humanity, died. As his priesthood, once perhaps the greatest power in the Chelaxian empire, found themselves cut off from their deity and their magics, all the world was wracked with storms and other natural disasters. Kingdoms and empires fell, whole civilizations vanished, and the far north a great rent was opened between the mortal world and the demon-infested Abyss. Almost overnight Cheliax descended into a civil war that would last for more than thirty years and claim the flower of the empire’s youth and the better part of its nobility.
In the end, Cheliax survived, in a sense, as the thrice-damned house of Thrune, empowerd by bargains struck with the rulers of Hell itself, brought a brutal new order to their homeland. However, the damage was done, and from the wreckage of the Chelaxian empire rose a half dozen new nations, from the isolated city-states of Korvosa and Magnimar to the prosperous and idealistic republic of Andoran. Avistan stands now a land divided, moreso than it has been in thousands of years, and all its people, from the lowliest slave to the Queen of Cheliax herself, are faced with an uncertain future filled with unknown dangers — and opportunities.