Golarion: 300 ARA
The Return of Aroden
Aroden was the god of human culture, innovation, and history. “An important prophecy known as the Starfall Doctrine suggested that he was to manifest in Cheliax in 4606 AR, marking the beginning of a long-awaited Age of Glory. Instead, at the appointed hour, Golarion was wracked with three weeks of storms (leaving the Eye of Abendego as a lasting reminder). When the weather broke, the clerics of Aroden found themselves disconnected from their god, and all presume Aroden is dead.”
But Aroden did return in 4606. The world foolishly assumed that the manifestation of the god of human innovation would take the form of a deity come to lead them into the Age of Glory. But this was not Aroden’s plan. Aroden manifested himself, not as a radiant figure to lead Cheliax, but into the being of all the peoples of Golarion. He used his divine essence to empower them, to bring about a generation of remarkable people who would, by there dedication and innovation, usher in the Age of Glory. One hundred years later, in 4706 (what would become known as year 0 After the Return of Aroden), this generation came into its own, in the years of heroes.
The Years of Heroes
The year 4706 and those that followed saw the appearance of heroes all across Golarion. Found mostly in small groups, the most significant concentration was in the Pathfinder Society. For 5 years, they served the interests of the society, collecting artifacts of power, and increasing the Society’s influence. Then, in 4711, in the course of thwarting an assassination attempt, a party of pathfinders discovered both the cruelty and the identities of the Decemvirate. The Decemvirate was toppled shortly thereafter, and the Society reshaped to aid the halfling bard who would become Emperor Bungo the First in his quest to restructure the government of Golarion.
Political machinations won Bungo the throne of Taldor, the supreme electorship of Andoran, and the first speakership of Osirion in rapid succession. In 4713, these three nations were pretentiously declared declared the Empire of Golarion, with its capitol at Absalom. Massive public works projects ensued, and the standard of living rose dramatically. Seeing these successes, Queen Evadine joined Cheliax into the Empire in 4714. Shortly thereafter Watcher-Lord Michael of Lastwall (having subsumed Ustalav two years prior), joined as well, stipulating a role for Iomedae in the government. After the remarkable coup of having these two diametrically opposed nations join in the same year, Nidal, Molthune, Nirmathas, Isger, Druma, Kyonin, Katapesh, and Galt were brought into the fold between the end of 4714 and 4717.
4718 saw the Hold of Belkzen, united and reformed by the Bard-Chief Dale join the Empire (strange rumors assert that the deal included the transfer of substantial research on vampires). That same year, the Empire gathered an army of unprecedented size to crusade into the Worldwound. Jointly led by Watcher-Lord Michael and Macher Kishef the Valiant, the army made swift progress. Gundrun, Undarin, and Storasta fell in 4719, and in early 4720, as Macher slew the Balor Lord Khorramzadeh, and Michael slew demonic archmage Vahedifar Ayeshalmoutey, the city of Iz itself fell. By the end of 4720, no demon lived in what had been known as the Worldwound, and the Watcher-Lord added to his charges an eternal vigil over the rift in reality.
After this display of overwhelming military power, the remaining nations of Avistan and Garund surrendered in short order. The next ten years saw extensive negotiation with the Padishah Empire of Kelesh, bringing the two Empires closer together. Then, in 4730, in a dramatic diplomatic coup (in which the Bard-Emperor himself was rumored to play a leading role), the Padishah Empire of Kelesh gave up its sovereignty in favor of the (increasingly aptly named) Empire of Golarion. The rest of Casmaron followed within three years.
From 4733 to 4740, the Empire completed its mandate by, through diplomacy and threat of force, absorbing each of the nations of Tian Xia in turn. In 4740, the Emperor declared Golarion united. While there were still several groups not part of the Empire, most of which would be subsumed over the next 300 years, every major civilization now looked to Absalom as its leadership.
Solidifying an Empire
While Golarion was united in name, it would take another 70 years to cement that relationship into a single nation in truth. The government instituted massive public works projects – relying primarily on an army of bards from the newly refocused Kitharodian Academy, armed with lyres of building. War between nations of course was ended, as there were no nations left to go to war. The Empire provided guard forces to reduce crime throughout Golarion. In 4789, Imperial mages and clerics finally succeeded in permanently closing the Worldwound. As time went on, trust in the government increased, paving the way for the reforms that would come a century after the Empire’s establishment.
But even as the strength of the Empire grew, so did that of Evil. Enraged by the loss of so many friends and followers in the Empire’s campaigns against evil, Asmodeous, all the fiends of Hell, and all those who worshiped them in Golarion prepared their revenge. Led in battle by the Erinyes Evadine, in 4813 they launched an attack no one expected. A direct assault on Heaven itself.
The Battle of Heaven
Even caught by surprise, it did not take Heaven long to respond to the horde of devils that appeared at the base of the mountain of Heaven. Angels, Archons, Agathions, and Azatas rushed to the defense of the Fortress of Ragathiel. The fields outside the Fortress saw one of the largest battles in the history of the planes. Some would come to call it the Last Battle.
At the climactic moment, Evadine led a charge against the gates of the Fortress, held by the Archangel Michael (having been granted that rank after his death in battle with Orcus). The two champions fought, and after an intense battle, Michael struck Evadine down. As the Erinyes lay sprawled at the foot of Heaven, awaiting the killing blow, she looked up to see the hand of the Archangel stretched out to her. The offered hand finally drove home the futility of the conflict that had claimed so many lives. As she took his offered hand, they called for the battle to end.
The Treaty of Axis
With Heaven and Hell having ceased their war, at least temporarily, and with the unification of Golarion a shining example, several of the major deities of the Outer Planes sought a lasting treaty. It was agreed that in late 4814, Divine Heralds would meet in Abadar’s domain in Axis. Unsurprisingly, no emissaries from Abaddon, the Maelstrom, or the Abyss took part.
After several months of negotiation, the final treaty was written by Asmodeus himself, and signed in 4815 in the divine essences of Abadar, Asmodeus, Calistria, Cayden Cailean, Desna, Erastil, Gorum, Gozreh, Iomedae, Irori, Pharasma, Sarenrae, Shelyn, Torag, and all the lesser gods of what would become known as the six planes. The treaty stipulated an interplanar peace, and a policy of nonintervention in the material plane. Gods would still answer prayers, and lesser outsiders would respond to summons, but no direct action could be taken. Of course, the treaty was a thousand pages, stipulating every detail and supposedly closing every loophole, though conspiracy theorists maintain that it must include an arsenal of legal manipulation for Asmodeus.
Finally, the treaty included plans for the immediate reorganization of the outer planes.
As required by the treaty of Axis, 4816 saw a final interplanar conflict: armies from the 6 planes, supported by mortal forces, invaded Abaddon and completely annihilated the race of Daemons. Long considered the abominations due to their soul consuming ability, the treaty allowed the unification required for an extermination. Universal balance needed to be preserved, however, so a new race of daemons were created. They still seek unfettered destruction, but lack the ability to destroy souls that had been considered unacceptable.
Having accomplished this re-creation, another massive task was undertaken. The planes that refused to sign the treaty were severed from the other planes. Crossing to or from them became possible only with extremely powerful magic. The gods of those planes were able to grant power, but barely able to touch the world. Their worship was reduced to cults almost overnight. The new planar order allowed the peace that brought on the Renaissance in Golarion.
With Golarion unified, and the Treaty of Axis protecting it from planar intervention, a new era dawned. An era of increasing art, culture, and science. The truth of Aroden’s return soon dawned upon those who maintained allegiance to him. In honor of his sacrifice, and to emphasize the new era, the year 4841 Absalom Reckoning was officially followed by year 135 After the Return of Aroden.
The second century of the reign of Bungo I saw substantial changes throughout the Empire. For the first time in Golarion’s history, education was emphasized, and schools were built in every major settlement in the Empire. Universities sprung up as centers of research into advanced and theoretical magic, as well as more mundane topics, ranging from alchemy to sociology.
Absalom was rebuilt as city that put even the dwarven sky-citadels of old to shame. Equipped with lyres of building, the dwarven master architects had no need to attempt to explain their visions, but could construct them directly. Huge quantities of material was mined from the plane of earth, refined by magic, and transported for the construction of soaring towers with beautiful sculptures and stained glass windows. The fortress of Skyreach was demolished, and in its place was built the Imperial Palace.
In 161, Emperor Bungo I knew that his death was near, and it was time for him to move on. However, there was no one he trusted to lead the Empire in his stead. After extensive consultation with national and religious leaders, it was decided that the Empire would change its form of government. After Bungo’s death, a new government would be formed: Its power derived from it’s people, who would elect a council to make most of the decisions. Final authority, however, would rest in the hands of a single person, one who could be trusted to maintain the integrity of the government, and to render swift and just judgement when expediency way required. The person selected to hold this position, in perpetuity, was Iomedae. As Aroden’s inheritor, she was an obvious choice. Others were considered (Desna was foremost among them, but she refused the position), but all finally agreed that Iomedae was an excellent choice. Thus, in 163, Emperor Bungo I ascended to his future as an Azata, Iomedae was named Empress of Golarion, and the newly elected ruling council began its reign.
The new government lead well, and the renaissance continued in full force. New styles of art were being created, and advances in metallurgy allowed more impressive architectural styles. In 195, the lost continent of Azlant was raised from the ocean floor, and Azlanti styles uncovered by excavations inspired imitations and derivative works. Lost Azlanti technologies were rediscovered, inspiring additional discoveries. Explorers began mapping many of the more hostile areas of Golarion, as well as detailed exploration of the Planes.
Age of Glory
In the year 200 After the Return of Aroden, Philosophers and Historians officially declared the beginning of the long anticipated Age of Glory. Standards of living were higher than could have been imagined 200 years before, and continued to climb rapidly. New technologies were constantly being developed. It was in the years from 200 to 300 that many of the current governmental policies and infrastructure (too numerous to list here) were put in place.