Rahadoum – Kingdom of Man
Rahadoum at a glance:
- Alignment: LN
- Capital: Azir (72,370)
- Notable Settlements: Botosani (23,540), Manaket(26,780)
- Ruler: Malduoni, Keeper of the First Law
- Government: Council of Elders led by the Keeper of the First Law
- Languages: Common, Osiriani
- Religion: None
More than 2,000 years ago, the faithful of Sarenrae, spreading their religion like rising sunrays across northern Garund, met sudden resistance from the independent city states of the northwest coast, who favored Nethys and Norgorber. The Oath Wars — more than six ruinous decades of religious war between rival followers of the three gods — followed, devastating the region.
In 2555, the weary militia of Azir put all of the great city’s temples to the torch and exiled members of their clergies. Led by the philosopher Kalim Onaku, the militia stabilized the warring city and set down a list of new laws, the first of which was, “Let no man be beholden to a god.” Over the next 5 years, the laws of Azir spread across the region, ending the Oath Wars and expelling all forms of religion from the land. Communities willing to swear by the new Laws of Man were welcomed into Onaku’s growing nation of Rahadoum.
Since then, Rahadoum has charted a resolutely secular path. No one denies the existence or power of the gods, but their aegis comes at too high a price for the people of Rahadoum.
While a lack of religion brought the region the peace it so desperately desired, it also brought its own costs. Plague ravaged Azir and Botosani three times in the past 500 years, and the prospect of famine hovers over the fragile land like a shroud. A century ago, Manaket was among the most lush ports of the Inner Sea. Today, it is choked by encroaching desert sands, its famous gardens a memory of the distant past. While few dare speak it aloud, nervous whispers abound that the gods have finally decided to punish the people of Rahadoum for their insolence. Still, they resolutely hold to their ancient laws and avoid any contact with religion.
Visitors to Rahadoum often arrive via ship at Azir (known by many as “Port Godless”) to trade for the country’s fine cloth, exotic produce, and priceless gemstones. Foreigners must submit to a thorough search by the Pure Legion, a group of trained soldiers who watch for signs of religion. Possession of such contraband carries heavy fines and potential exile, while preaching religious doctrine garners imprisonment or worse.
Despite the strictly enforced First Law, the nation draws missionaries of all faiths. Apart from any inborn piety people might possess, the sheer power of the gods acts as a call to proselytization. Underground churches of nearly every organized religion exist within Rahadoum’s borders, and some lifelong Rahadoumi hear the call to worship some god or other. No church has the strength to openly flout the First Law, but all of them see, in some form or another, a vacuum that eventually needs filling.
Rejecting religion makes Rahadoum few allies. Nonetheless, the libertine ports draw their share of merchants from around the Inner Sea. Money talks louder than most preachers, although the most superstitious sailors don’t even set foot on Rahadoum docks for fear of divine disfavor. A lively appreciation of philosophy also draws scholars to the nation’s universities and observatories.
Relations are chilly with neighboring Thuvia, where cults of Sarenrae still hold power. The long-ago sting of the cults’ castigation has faded, but Rahadoum’s stern denials keep the grudge alive. Prince Khemet III of Osirion has a pragmatist’s appreciation for the stable government and safe ports of Rahadoum. Individual Osiriani might distrust the Godless Traders, but Osirion’s government and military find them excellent neighbors.
To the south, the pirates of the Shackles are a continual burden to Rahadoum’s ports. The Rahadoumi navy lost many good ships chasing pirates into the Eye of Abendego, and as a result it is willing to pay well for a navigator who can provide good charts or, better yet, lead Rahadoum ships on a raid around the murderous hurricane. The Mwangi Expanse, across the desert and over the mountains, is too far and too decentralized for city dwellers. Nomads, however, cross the borders frequently, bringing treasures to market at great expense. The Sodden Lands to the south and devil-governed Cheliax to the north are stark reminders of why Onaku banned religion in the first place.
Civic participation is a major preoccupation in Rahadoum. Most citizens are well-educated, and philosophy and politics are common pursuits. Speeches delivered by government figures are hashed out over drinks in tents and cafes around the country.
Self-disciplined behavior is the rule, but within those bounds, morality is largely at an individual’s or a family’s discretion. Narcotics, enthusiastically imported from Katapesh, are common in cities, although sloppy addicts are not tolerated. Slavery is commonplace.
Rahadoum’s enduring atheistic nature has had another, invisible side effect. Outsider servitors of gods use Azir as a neutral ground. The gods certainly watch their dealings there, but without open followers on the ground, the gods lack agents to enact their agendas, leaving room for plain negotiations. Many unexplained supernatural effects that occur within the cities of Rahadoum are due to invisible conflicts among celestials and fiends.
The famine that threatens the nation is not entirely due to weather and climate. Stalk beetles, big as ponies, strip entire crop fields in hours. This is not surprising by itself, as Rahadoum possesses a well-deserved reputation for monstrously large beetles known all the way down to Mwangi Expanse. What is unusual, though, is that stalk beetles normally only leave hibernation every 27 years, yet have appeared twice in the last decade. Bulette and whirlmaw attacks are also increasingly common in civilized areas.
Meanwhile, a great deal of arcane resources are invested in pushing back the encroaching desert. Walls of stone are raised against the sands, and spellcasters are paid well to magically redirect the winds of sandstorms.
Rahadoumi are sometimes characterized as grim optimists. Although serious, they maintain a back-handed positivity they use to pull through any hardship, simply because they don’t have anyone else to rely on. Despite this self-reliance, they typically exhibit an ironic, black wit so finely tuned that they say, “A Rahadoumi laughs at death — but it’s a shared laugh, not a defiant one.”
Philosophy and rhetoric are valued traits in Rahadoumi culture, as well as self-discipline and family loyalty, especially among the nomads. With no external powers to provide spiritual guidance, the Rahadoumi are quite serious about their responsibilities to themselves and each other. They expect no mercy from Pharasma after death, so they work very hard to make mortal life worthwhile, collectively and individually.
Rahadoum is ruled by a council of elders comprised of representatives from every major settlement and nomadic group. The council in turn elects one of its members to be the Keeper of the First Law for a period of 5 years. Council members elect Keepers as representative of their interests, but ambitious Keepers use the position to sway public opinion toward their own agendas. This tension means Keepers rarely get re-elected, and the resultant lack of continuity leads other political powers to wait out Rahadoum when it becomes difficult to work with, as they rely on the government’s relatively frequent change. Malduoni, a genuinely likable man, has bucked the trend, now serving his second term as Keeper and forcing other nations to deal with him.
Sources: Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting