The Staff and Flag Pathfinder
History remembers the pharaohs, the God-Kings of Osirion, as tyrannical heralds of progress, ushering in the Age of Destiny. With vast slave armies at their disposal, the pharaohs delivered staggering advances in warfare, technology, and architecture. As Osirion ascended to supremacy, so too did its need to expand. Osirion once controlled much of what are now the nations of Thuvia, Rahadoum, and Katapesh. Indeed, the kingdom of Geb was once an Osirian colony answering to ancient Sothis. The phenomena of Osirion’s dramatic rise from barbarism is intensely studied by specialist sages known as Osiriontologists, who postulate several different theories to account for the empire’s sudden and otherwise inexplicable spike in cultural and military success. Although dismissed by more responsible academia, some treatises hypothesize that Osirion’s advancement was accelerated by a visitation from outsiders―possibly from unknown entities from beyond the vast gulf of space.
Regardless of the disagreements pertaining to its founding, Osiriontologists more widely agree that complacency ultimately ended Osirion’s reign of cultural and martial supremacy. After 5,000 years of pharaonic rule, Qadiri agents from across the Obari Ocean infiltrated the corrupt bureaucracy underpinning Pharaoh Menedes XXVI’s regime and quietly neutralized it, creating a state of paralysis. Unable to respond effectively, Osirion soon experienced a series of empire-wide―but ultimately leaderless―slave revolts, each clandestinely engineered by the Padishah Empire of Kelesh. The revolts forced Menedes into hiding while Kelesh staged a mock rescue and subsumed Osirion as a satrapy. Expanding into their newest colony, Keleshite migrants set about transforming Osirion, destroying any monuments of the pharaohs they could find which might otherwise blasphemously betray the truth of Osirion’s history.
The Keleshite migration brought with it the seeds of the satrapy’s own destruction, for it was the Kelesh who f irst introduced Osirion to the faith of Sarenrae, a sun goddess who integrated seamlessly with Osirion’s otherwise repressed traditions. Over the next 700 years, the rays of Sarenrae f lourished among both the Osirians as well as the lower classes of the Keleshites, ultimately establishing the Cult of the Dawnf lower. In response to the dangerous growth of the colony’s newest faith, the satrap was forced to banish the cult’s leadership to the neighboring deserts of Thuvia. The exile was short lived, however, and in 2253 the satrap’s body was discovered in his courtyard fountain, sunf lowers blooming from his mouth. The Dawnf lower had returned to Osirion and the ensuing power vacuum gave rise to a series of independent Keleshite sultans in succession to the throne.
Regardless of whether the sultans exercised leniency or brutality, however, they still held no answer to the facts that the Osiriani people still maintained an ethnic majority as well as a fiery nationalist pride―a pride still not suppressed even after more than two millennia of foreign rule. As such, when the powerful thaumaturgist Khemet I, the Forthbringer, emerged and purported to offer proof that he could trace his direct lineage to the Azghaadi Dynasty of Osirion’s First Age, he was quickly instated in a tidal wave of populist enthusiasm. Khemet’s brief demonstrations of his divine ability to recruit the elder elementals of Osirion’s desert to his banner persuaded the remaining sultans to evacuate and return to their homeland, paving the way for a near-bloodless coup.
Shortly after the Forthbringer secured control of Osirion, he reinstated Sothis as the nation’s capital and constructed the city’s now-famous white-walled palace. Thereafter, he became notably withdrawn and his public appearances became fewer and farther between. This was a product, some whispered, of Khemet’s devotion to maintaining the secretive contracts he had made with the elementals that catapulted his family to power. True or not, the Forthbringer’s power remained unquestioned, and after his death ended his 40-year reign of uncontested power, the throne passed to his eldest son, Khemet II, the Crocodile King. While Khemet II shared his father’s considerable magical talent, he demonstrated a weakness for governing, preferring to spend his days with harems sourced with slave-girls from around the globe. Indeed, it was almost with a sense of relief when, three decades later, following a summoning accident for which few details were released, Khemet II was superseded by his son, the Ruby Prince, Khemet III. The full character of the Ruby Prince’s rule has yet to be established. He is as withdrawn as his grandfather, and like the f irst Forthbringer, he is already widely feared. He rarely takes advice from his court of advisors, preferring instead to consult with Janhelia, his ever-present f ire elemental companion, whose agenda is still unknown.
Osirion is the home of one of Golarion’s most expansive deserts punctuated by a dynamic source of freshwater: the famed River Sphinx. Fed by two tributaries from the Brazen Peaks, the Crook and the Asp, the River Sphinx is a lifeline for huge swathes of Osirion’s population. The river, however, brings many trials to test the people who live along its banks, including black dire crocodiles (hetkoshu) and seasonal f looding. Beyond the River Sphinx are endless dunes of harsh granular sand, constantly re-shaped by the powerful storms that wrack the region. Despite the weight of these physical hardships, it is here that the cradle of Golarion’s civilization at last began to form again after the cataclysmic setback caused by fall of the Starstone in the Age of Darkness.
Government: The youthful Ruby Prince Khemet III, the Forthbringer, is unquestionably a powerful thaumaturgist. Although he speaks little, his public appearances are punctuated with visible demonstrations of his power. While Khemet III slowly swells Osirion’s military, observers of the Forthbringer dynasty have little insight into what the Ruby Prince intends to actually use his army for.
Although it has never actually been seen―due to his natural invisibility―no one ever questions whether the reigning Forthbringer’s fire elemental companion, Janhelia, actually exists: the heat from the elder elemental’s body makes the creature’s presence known whenever it is near. Indeed, many who venture inside the Palace of the Forthbringer first pay for an endure elements spell to ensure they can tolerate Janhelia’s presence rather than risk slighting the Ruby Prince should he be joined by his favored elemental. The prince’s enemies often whisper, however, that Janhelia’s heat is the least of what makes them uncomfortable about the creature. They theorize that the tight bond between Janhelia and the Ruby Prince signals that Khemet III is poised to make the tragic mistake of involving Osirion in the complex and timeless politics of the elemental clans that savage the desert. Fire elementals are exceedingly rare in Osirion, and as such, no one knows which clan Janhelia might belong to or what the elemental’s agenda might be.
In addition to the undoubtedly formidable Janhelia, the Ruby Prince is protected by an elite Sothan military unit called the Risen Guard. Each member of the Risen Guard has died at least once and was raised by order of Khemet III―if not by the casting of the Ruby Prince’s hand, personally. As such, the fanatic vigilance with which the Risen Guard protects their Forthbringer (as well as his treasury, which funds their continued ability to return to life) is unquestioned. The leader of the Risen Guard, the otherwise nameless Khopeshman of Sothis, has also assumed the dual role of managing the capital’s city watch. The Risen Guard also protects the Ruby Prince’s family, and as such, the Risen Guard is frequently tasked with the dubious honor of hunting down and ensuring the safe return of Ojan and Jasilia Khemet, the throne’s young twin heirs, who frequently disappear to explore the hidden corners of Osirion’s desert.
The Council of Sun and Sky governs Osirion’s domestic policy and runs the nation on a day-to-day basis. While the council maintains the appearance of independence, it is well understood that it is always subject to the whims of the Forthbringer. The council, at present, is a divided battleground of politics between corrupt bureaucrats and idealistic crusaders. First Speaker Dahnakrist Phi, a former slave, rides a tidal wave of popularity. His tendency to publicly criticize the judiciary, however, suggests that his term as First Speaker―if not his life span―might be short.
Sothis: Osirion’s capital, the metropolis of Sothis, has grown around the molted shell of a titanic beetle, the earthly remains of Ulunat, spawn of Rovagug. As the nation’s political and military center, Sothis overshadows the trio of smaller sister-cities to the south that line the banks of the River Sphinx as it meets the Crook and the Asp: Un, the City of Triangles; Tephu, City of the Reed People; and Wati, the Half-City.
Ipeq: Legend states that Ipeq was created by the legendary Pharaoh of Blades in a single day as the culmination of multiple wish spells provided by a conscripted army of noble djinni and efreeti. It is said that one day the pharaoh’s web of binding pacts will simultaneously expire and the genie will suddenly return to wish Ipeq away into nothingness. Ipeq’s army is equipped with more than 100 scorpion boat tokens (swan boats), which are used in emergencies to suddenly sail down the River Sphinx and swell the Sothan garrison should reinforcements ever be needed in the capital.
Shiman-Sekh: Shiman-Sekh was founded by the Song Pharaoh after the self-proclaimed goddess overthrew the Pharaoh of Forgotten Plagues in the early centuries of the Age of Destiny. Built on the western edge of the Golden Oasis, the city represents the last bastion of civilization before reaching the seemingly endless desert of northwest Osirion.
Totra: Osirion’s largest port outside of Sothis, Totra was first established during the An dynasty and served as the launch point for the Great Atoqua, the slave f leets that rapidly conquered much of what is now Thuvia and Rahadoum. Today, Totra loyally accepts the rule of the Ruby Prince, although its nobles quietly bemoan the heavy state of taxation.
The Ruins of Tumen: Although Sothis was both Osirion’s first and now current capital, it was not always so. During the second age of the Black Sphinx, the slave armies of the Four Pharaohs of Ascension ruled from Tumen. Despite being buried by countless tons of sand, Tumen is still a frequent destination for treasure hunters and Osiriontologists alike.
The Sphinx Head: Osirion’s largest sphinx carving is found between Shiman-Sekh and the Junaria, staring straight toward the heart of Sothis. Although Keleshites completely chiseled off the gigantic creature’s facial features during the 700 years that marked Osirion’s tenure as a satrapy, the face has since been accurately restored using a combination of stone tell and stone shape spells. Osiriontologists speculate the face is actually the likeness of the Sky Pharaoh, Menedes I. A hidden door atop the head’s center leads inside a hollow cavity and possibly into the rest of the Sphinx’s body, which is thought to be buried beneath the sands. Prior expeditions into the Sphinx Head yielded no survivors, and it is widely assumed that the air inside is too foul to breathe. Now that Khemet III has opened parts of Osirion to foreign treasure hunters to raise additional funds and rediscover lost pharonic lore, the Sphinx Head has once again drawn the interest of outsiders who can afford both the permit fees and the imminent risk of death.
The Underdunes: Osirion’s most unique geographic feature is perhaps its Underdunes: gigantic trenches of sand created by the passage of air and sand elementals. While the risk of sandslides makes traveling within the Underdunes perilous to the inexperienced, skilled travelers can take advantage of the dune’s shade to increase their rate of travel.