For centuries, these peoples lorded over Avistan as the heirs of the Azlanti and the chosen people of the god Aroden. Now that god is dead, but Chelaxian pride lives on. This pride gives them great power and self-assurance, yet also blinds them as to the dangers that they face. – Kial Tellen, Almas University scholar
Physical Description and Physical Outlook
Chelaxians are the descendants of Azlanti refugees, their blood mixed with that of pale-skinned Ulfen raider-merchants from the northern climes. As a result, they tend as a people towards dark hair, dark eyes, and pale skin – skin lighter than their duskier Taldan cousins. They have sharp features, in particular prominent, narrow jaws; strong noses; and thin, arched eyebrows.
The inherent self-confidence of the Chelaxians, instilled from birth, has served them well through the death of a god and the fall of an empire. They believe they are inherently more capable of handling any situation than are other human groups – this might take the form of either helpful, positive advice or arrogant dismissal of rival viewpoints. This aggressive attitude causes them to persevere even in desperate straits. When faced with an insurmountable challenge, where a Varisian might seek easier paths or a Kellid might grumble about the will of the world and move on to other matters, a Chelaxian re-evaluates a situation and seeks not only the most expedient answer, but also the most advantageous one.
This self-confidence is bolstered by a great heritage and a love for learning, which manifests in theology, arcane studies, and mechanical invention. Chelaxian specialists are particularly capable in discovering, developing, and adapting new techniques revealed by their own research or learned from other cultures.
Chelaxians favor rich trappings both in their homes and on their persons, and even the meanest of them dresses to the best of his ability. Popular outfits include velvet doublets and silk leggings with rich brocades and lace trim, often covered with a cloak of rare and valuable color or made from the hide of some uncommon creature. in more hostile climes, they prefer inscribed armor (often of dwarven manufacture) and filigreed weapons with rich and detailed provenances. This is not to say that, when money is tight or circumstances dictate, they are not above traveling in mufti or mixing with the hoi polloi in order to avoid difficult circumstances. They never sacrifice their bearing, however, and cannot hide their confidence.
Chelaxians are by and large an industrious, aggressive, self-confident people, combining the best and worst traits of the Taldans and Ulfen peoples. They have a flair for organization and refined cultural taste, and as a result soon came to dominate their region of Avistan. They undercut the power of, and later successfully rebelled against, their elder Taldan neighbours, and soon dominated the surrounding regions either directly or indirectly, forming the Empire of Cheliax. They even successfully removed the center of worship of the god Aroden from Taldor to their empire, and spread both north into Varisia and south into Garund in a series of conflicts known as the Everwar.
As a result of their contnual expansion, Chelaxians soon dominated and subsumed native peoples and cultures, so that often a region would have a ruling elite or caste of Chelish origin or with a strong Chelaxian heritage and blood ties running back to the empire. The empire continued to expand, and with the expected return of Aroden (under the empire’s guidance), none of the Chelaxian people had any doubt that it would eventually regain the power (and riches) of ancient Azlant.
Aroden’s death a century ago killed the empire, as vassal states quickly rebelled and Cheliax fell into civil war quelled only by the kingdom’s current diabolical aristocracy. Diabolism speaks to the legendary Chelish pride and wrath, as well as for the need for order and control bred into the citizens of an imperial heartland over centuries of privilege. This diabolism has been integrated into the society by many houses, but none so much or fanatically as House Thrune, who now holds the power over Cheliax.
Chelaxian humans thrive on the northern coasts of the Inner Sea, and the exploits of their once-mighty empire spread Chelish seed throughout Avistan and Garund. Haughty, cultured, intelligent, ambitious, organized, and ruthless, Chelaxians have become a dynamic force in the world, and not always to the world’s benefit. They are also commonly found in the former holdings of Imperial Cheliax, which includes Andoran, Galt, Molthune, Nirmathas, and the southern reaches of Varisia, including such urban centers as Magnimar and Korvosa.
As a people, Chelaxians are serious about oaths, contracts, and promises, and they believe in playing by the rules, all the while checking for loopholes to best subvert those rules. In urban centers, numerous lawyers, justices, and bureaucrats have Chelaxian blood in their veins. Chelaxians also tend to organize themselves and to work together toward a common goal, taking direction from an established and recognized leader. Such a talent for organization has served well among the empire’s legions in its conquests, but since that time it revealed that other leaders and goals can arise and easily split the population. A common joke is that while Varisians might form an angry mob, Chelaxians instead create a well-ordered, disapproving queue.
The advanced, urbane nature of the Chelaxians is seen in their love of theater in general and opera in particular. Even the smallest and most remote of Chelaxian communities boasts a local theater company, and those with trading connections with the larger cities often import noted actors, actresses, musicians, and playwrights to their stages.
High Chelaxian Opera is the most advanced form of this art, found mostly in the cities of the south, and performed in Ancient Azlanti (librettos are provided for the literate patrons). More common are the tragic and comedic operas performed in most major cities. Tragic operas are usually about legendary stories, such as The Hand of Aroden and Aspex the Even-Tongued. In recent years, the current government of Cheliax commissioned new works more appropriate with the latest political situation, such as The Feast of Asmodeus, and Victory of the Hellknights. Comedic opera is more open and relaxed, and as a result more popular with the lower classes. These operas are often filled with physical humor and bad puns and mostly deal with separated twins, princes and princesses growing up amongst the rabble, and last-minute rescues by authority figures. Mock fights with wooden swords are also very popular.
As a result of their inherent lawful tendency, they often have difficulty with other races and elasticities with more flexible attitudes to property and socially acceptable behavior. Combined with their view on other regions as being rightfully theirs, they tend to have bad relationships with their neighboring countries.
Chelaxians are nothing if not organized and orderly. Therefore, they tend to be lawful neutral in general. Lawful evil alignments are more common than lawful good, but both are more prevalent than chaotic alignments. People with this alignment, and the behavior going with it, are often mocked and treated as pariahs.
For many centuries, Chelaxians were almost exclusively worshipers of Aroden, the Last Azlanti. With that god’s death, they have turned to a variety of gods and beliefs, including Erastil, Iomedae, and Zon Kuthon. These are almost always choices of circumstance more than intent. One belief, however, has become strong in Cheliax after their patron’s death: diabolism, and more specific the vile devil-court of Asmodeus.
Chelaxians venerate those heroes who embody their values: strength, nobility, ambition, and – most of all – success. Chelaxian heroes tend to be accepted into the larger community with titles, grants of land, and marriage into the more respectable houses. By the same token, those heroes deemed a threat to the local ruling class are watched and, if necessary, removed, either by sending them on quests to other areas or – if necessary – in the dead of night.
Language and Naming
Cheliaxans speak their own language, derived from ancient Azlanti. Because of the spread of their power and influence throughout Golarion, most people speak this language. It is generally known as Common.
Chelaxians have a common first name and a family or surname. Those of particular power or legendary ability might gain a sobriquet as well, such as “the wise”, or “the rat-biter”. Chelaxian names tend to be grandiose and learned, and are used in full when officially addressing them.
Male: Aerous, Alexite, Gellius, Grachius, Gruckalus, Lurconarr, Manius, Marcellano, Morvius, Pavo, Pellius, Petronicus, Rutilus, Solangus, Ursion.
Female: Asmodia, Aspexia, Aula, Boudra, Drulia, Imperia, Korva, Noravia, Novennia, Pavanna, Pontia, Quinta, Rulla, Valeria, Vibia
Family Names: Alazario, Albus, Ambusta, Baradin, Chartagnion, Crispin, Fullonna, Galonnica, Jeggare, Krupt, Leroung, Pindleloric, Ratarion, Rugatonn, Taruanor, Thrune, Voralius, Wardroxan, Wintrish
Sources: Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting