Cheliax is, without a doubt, one of the most powerful nations on Golarion, and it maintains naval control over the profitable Inner Sea. As important as the nation may be, it pales in comparison to its former Imperial glories. Today, Cheliax suffers from extreme diabolism and tyranny.
Cheliax is currently ruled by noble houses of diabolists, led by the ruling House Thrune. Much of the power of House Thrune is gained through arrangements with Hell. Currently Queen Abrogail II rules Cheliax. The policies of Cheliax, the Asmodean Doctrines, are placed to quell dissent and to reward citizens for turning those in that they suspect as traitors to Imperial Cheliax. This fear causes many to keep quiet their suffering from the infernal regime. Officially the state sanctions the worship of Asmodeus, but doesn’t outlaw the worship of other gods. However, the worship of other devils, demons and Chaotic Evil gods is illegal.
Cheliax takes up most of the southwestern end of Avistan, and though it is less than half its former size, remains one of the largest nations in the region. Its capital, Egorian, rests near the center of the nation on the banks of Lake Sorrow. Cheliax maintains a foothold in Garund as well, holding the southern end of the Arch of Aroden and thus controlling access to the Inner Sea. Some of its Imperial holdings remain under Chelaxian control as well, including Nidal.
Cheliax was founded as a western frontier province of the Taldan Empire in 3007 AR. More than a thousand years later, and two years after forces invaded southern Taldor, King Aspex the Even-Tongued declared independence from the nation’s parent state in 4081 AR. As Taldor struggled through what would become a five-century-long war, King Aspex seized the territories of Andoran, Galt, and Isger in what would become known as the Even-Tongued Conquest.
Chelish expansion continued in 4305 AR with the launch of the Everwar in the north. The empire annexed lands in Molthune and Varisia, completing its conquest of Nidal in 4338 AR.
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 deviltry, was order restored. The empire runs on the backs of fiends now, a perfect machine of hellfire and blood, where morality surrenders to the needs of law and order. It’s easy to curse Cheliax as a nation of devil-lovers, but few can argue with the results of their fiend-binding craft. House Thrune, the greatest of its diabolic 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. Asmodeus proves as powerful a divine patron as Aroden ever did, shepherding his people toward glory and dominance of the Inner Sea.
Three-quarters of Cheliax’s human population are ethnic Chelaxians, and Chelish believe themselves superior to all other peoples. Their compact with great devils gives them power beyond measure, and no other nation of the Inner Sea can compete with their summoners when it comes to trafficking with dark forces. These devils require payment for their service, often offered up in the form of tender flesh and boiled blood.
There is a very clear order of status for the rest of Cheliax. Those in the House of Thrune are given the most freedom. Below them is the Church of Asmodeus, which has its own hierarchy. Just under them are the new noble houses. The old noble houses, mostly based out of the old capital of Westcrown, have a diverse status, depending on how well they have politicked under and conformed to the new regime. Most pathetically cling to their old status, but some have managed to strategically place themselves into a place of importance. Merchant guilds and their members are then next level on the status ring. Under them are the independent merchants and middle class. Labors and serfs share a common status under that. Finally, slaves are a large part of Cheliax’s economy and occupy the lowest rung. In addition, tieflings, the result of human and devil breeding, enjoy an unusual status in Cheliax, often allowed freedoms and status humans are not normally given.