Thuvia – Desert Land of Eternal Youth
Thuvia at a glance:
- Alignment: LN
- Capital: Merab (56,870)
- Notable Settlements: Aspenthar (25,680), Duwwor (8,300), Lamasara (11,450), Pashow (4,320)
- Ruler: Ilepodus, Patron of Merab; Prince Zinlo of Aspenthar; Zamere, Queen of Lamasara; Kharane, Defender of Duwwor; Guldis, Emir of Pashow
- Government: Loose association of independent city-states bound by treaties of trade and mutual defense
- Languages: Osirian, Polyglot
- Religion: Nethys, Sarenrae, Pharasma, Gozreh
When the God-Kings of Osirion laid claim to all of Garund, they gave the desert land of Thuvia its name. Thuvia was a harsh realm with little to offer save sand and the burning sun. As the power of the ancient Osiriani empire waned, the lords of the land abandoned the far desert. The last Osiriani governor was murdered in –841, and the name of Thuvia was lost on the desert winds as the region descended into barbarism. In time, civilization rose again, as nomads resettled the Osiriani ruins. So it was with the city of Merab, and it was in Merab that an alchemist named Artokus Kirran made a discovery that changed the region forever. In 1140, Artokus developed a formula that combined various alchemical substances with the nectar of the sun orchid — a rare flower that bloomed only in the burning heart of the Thuvian desert. Through his experiments, Artokus produced a potion that temporarily halted the process of aging. The process was expensive, but Artokus quickly found that many people willingly paid any price for the promise of eternal youth. It soon became clear that the trouble was not the gold involved, but rather the alchemist’s ability to meet the demand. Within a year, foreign powers threatened to lay siege to Merab, seeking to claim the alchemist and the secret of eternal life. Merab turned to the other cities of the desert for aid, offering a share of the wealth to be gained from the sun orchid elixir. Within 2 years the alliance was formalized, and the city-states united under the ancient Osiriani title of Thuvia.
The lords of the newborn Thuvia met in council with Artokus. The priestess Taladere urged the leaders to resist the lure of immortality. “We are all children of Pharasma,” she said. “Our journey begins with birth and ends with death. It is something we should embrace, not fear. Let these foreigners shatter the path of fate, but let us accept what Pharasma has woven.” The council acknowledged the wisdom of her words, yet all agreed that the elixir could bring prosperity to their harsh and arid land. And so they decreed that only one man in Thuvia should ever partake of the sun orchid elixir: the alchemist himself. Artokus accepted this as his destiny and his burden. The cities joined forces to build a mighty fortress in the heart of the desert. It is said that Artokus remains within to this day, continuing to produce the elixir that brings foreign gold to the wastes of Thuvia.
Every month, a blind, mute servant emerges from the heart of the fortress with an iron case containing six vials of the precious elixir. By ancient pact, the right to sell the elixir rotates between each city-state on a monthly basis, and it is the duty of the host city to provide an escort for the elixir. Merab typically relies on heavily armed caravans. Lamasara uses multiple caravans following different paths, relying on decoys to deceive would-be thieves. Pashow relies on magic, although teleportation proves to be strangely unreliable in the heart of Thuvia. Once the elixir reaches the host city, it is auctioned off to foreign emissaries. A single bid is allowed in these sessions. The six highest bidders receive a vial of elixir, and the lords of the city keep the treasures bid by all participants, even the losers. It is a costly endeavor, but anyone who challenges the process loses any chance to acquire the elixir in the future.
The industry of Thuvia is based around the elixir. Entertainers and merchants dealing in exotic services and luxuries migrate from city to city, catering to the foreigners in the month that the city hosts the elixir. As a result, each of the cities has a massive open market that stands largely vacant in the 4 months that pass between the cycle — the fifth month is always a time of festivals and celebration.
Many places and events draw adventurers to the land of the sun orchid, and while most are in some way connected to the sun orchid elixir, not all are. If a ruler has reason to believe that a particular shipment of elixir is in danger, he likely employs adventurers to protect it. On the other hand, unscrupulous adventurers might be drawn into a plot to steal a shipment of elixir. Beyond this, there is a secondary economy centered around the acquisition of the sun orchids themselves. Bands of hunters roam the interior, ranging across the dunes in search of the rare flowers. The oases and lakes of the interior are governed by the so-called Water Lords, and orchid hunters must deal with these warlords to acquire water and other vital supplies. If they are lucky enough to find orchids, the hunters must be cautious, as many of the Water Lords are no better than bandits who happily kill foreigners to gain the treasures of visiting adventurers.
Aside from the Citadel of the Alchemist, the interior of Thuvia is a mysterious and unknown land. Legends speak of Osiriani tombs buried within the shifting sands, holding fantastic treasures and artifacts of the mighty God-Kings. There is an industry in the creation of false maps supposedly showing the paths to hidden tombs, but it’s always possible an adventurer could stumble upon a true document.
The city-states of Thuvia present a unified front when dealing with foreign powers, but theirs is a very loose alliance. In theory, all of the five cities are equal, but in practice Merab has the loudest voice, both as the largest city and as the birthplace of Artokus.
Sources: Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting