Nidal – Shadowy Servitor State
Nidal at a glance:
- Alignment: LE
- Capital: Pangolais (18,900)
- Notable Settlements: Nisroch (24,320), Ridwan (11,400)
- Ruler: The Umbral Court
- Government: Militaristic Theocracy
- Languages: Shadowtongue, Common, Varisian
- Religion: Zon Kuthon, Diabolism, Desna
A hundred centuries ago, when the strike of the Starstone cast Golarion into a thousand years of darkness, the great warrior clans of ancient Nidal cried out for the protection of their long-forgotten gods. Their pleas instead reached the ears of a malignant entity imprisoned in a distant corner of the Great Beyond who uniquely appreciated their predicament and delighted in their fear of the dark. Freed by the vanishing of the light, the immortal being — a powerful entity from the Plane of Shadow known as Zon-Kuthon — offered the terrified humans succor from the darkness in exchange for their unquestioned obedience for eternity. Facing extinction with the blotting out of the Sun, the proud horse-lords of Nidal relented, ensuring the nation’s survival forever — while enshackling its freedom for the same duration.
Thus did the rulers of Nidal become shadowbound to the Midnight Lord, an eternal bondage revealed by the dull black eyes of Nidal’s Umbral Court. The balance of power within the court remains impenetrable to outsiders — how much sway the creeping voice of shadow has over the affairs of state is unknown. Lesser citizens of Nidal know only that opposition to the Umbral Court means death and swiftly defer to the orders of even the most minor of their lords. Some members of the aristocracy are more powerful and influential than others, of course, and the most powerful include the Black Triune of Pangolais; the dark druid Eloiander of Ridwan; and the persuasive sorcerer Kholas, adviser to Queen Abrogail in Egorian.
Shadowcasters trained in Ridwan and Pangolais support the diabolical legions of Cheliax’s transformed government. For centuries after their humiliation in the Everwar, the folk of Nidal bristled at Chelaxian occupation and influence, but that all changed 50 years ago. During the struggle for the throne following Aroden’s death, the Umbral Court threw its support behind the House of Thrune, which rewarded the act by withdrawing Chelish agents from Nidal once its own power was assured. Now Nidal stands once again as its own sovereign entity, yet remains intimately entwined with the darkness at Egorian.
Among the gray-clad intelligentsia of Pangolais, it is widely assumed that their own subjugation to Cheliax was merely a clever gambit by the Midnight Lord, for does not the pale and tiny spider invite the great and glistening dragonfly into his home, the better to make a meal? As the diabolical majestrix relies more heavily upon the grim power of Nidal to maintain her rule, those who whisper in the shadows of the Uskwood quietly prepare to make slaves of their onetime masters.
In the north, roving wild among the unnamed foothills near Conqueror’s Bay, hidden agents of the goddess Desna toil ceaselessly to undo the black works of Zon-Kuthon’s faithful. Here, worship of the Song of the Spheres is a hushed and illegal practice, carried out in extended familial rites beneath the open stars. If the humble, longhaired priests and priestesses of Luck and Dream can somehow break the stranglehold of the Umbral Court, it is hoped that the Midnight Lord himself will be swept back into his prison in the Great Beyond, as shadows retreat before the dawn.
Ruled by divine decree enforced with lethal powers of darkness and horror, Nidal is almost perfectly controlled by the Umbral Court — but “almost” is never enough. Eternally fearful of losing its mandate from the Midnight Lord, the court tightens its grip ever more firmly around the blasphemers who sing praises to Desna, who trade in diabolical secrets, or who would dare usurp the supremacy of Zon-Kuthon.
Sources: Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting