|Ruler||The Umbral Court|
|Languages||Common, Shadowtongue, Varisian|
|Religions||Asmodeus, Desna, Zon-Kuthon|
|Images of Nidal|
Source: Campaign Setting, pg(s). 110
Nidal (pronounced NYE-dohl) is one of the oldest surviving countries in Avistan, having been founded during the uncounted years of the Age of Darkness. Even though it is now beholden to the neighboring infernal realm of Cheliax, it retains significant autonomy to pursue its own shadowy goals.
- See also: Nidal/History
Nidal is one of the oldest civilizations in Avistan and is able to trace its history all the way back to dark times following Earthfall. Little is known of the warrior culture that prevailed in Nidal before the Starstone blacked out of the sky, but they have been referred to as horse lords. What is known, is the terrible deal they made in the lightless years of the Age of Darkness. The ancient lords of Nidal prayed fervently to their now forgotten deities, begging to be saved from the terrible darkness that had spread across Golarion; they received no answer. Instead, the god Zon-Kuthon, freshly released from his age-long imprisonment on the Plane of Shadow, offered them a simple deal: survival in exchange for eternal obedience. With no other options, the rulers of ancient Nidal agreed. Ever since, Nidal has been yoked to the will of Zon-Kuthon, and this shared destiny has not always run a smooth course.
Failed invasion of Jol
In 4100 AR, worshipers of Zon-Kuthon arrived in Jol in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings in an attempt to put the locals under the Zon-Kuthon's control. This ultimately failed, leading to the torture and death of the Kuthites.
Nidal was invaded in 4305 AR during the Chelish campaign of colonial expansion known as the Everwar. Despite their perceived decadence, the Nidalese proved a capable defender of their homeland, and the fighting dragged out over the next 30 years, finally coming to a close in 4338 AR. Once firmly under Cheliax's boot, a great flowering of trade and culture occurred between the two nations, incrementally pulling Nidal's southern neighbor closer to the outlook and ideals of the Midnight Lord. This increase of Nidalese values in Cheliax was so great, that some wondered if the invasion itself was just a cunning trap laid by Zon-Kuthon to lead Cheliax to darkness and evil.
A chance for independence
Nidal nevertheless bristled under Chelish dominance for nearly the next 300 years. It was not until the death of Cheliax's patron god, Aroden, in 4606 AR and the subsequent Chelish Civil War gave Nidal the opportunity for independence for which they had been waiting. Having never strayed from the worship of Zon-Kuthon, Nidal did not suffer the same social turmoil as its neighbors and soon the Umbral Court made a deal to support the Hell-backed House of Thrune. In exchange, the leaders of House Thrune promised to withdraw all Chelish agents from Nidal should they win the conflict. With Nidal's support (and that of countless bound devils), House Thrune finally put down all other comers and ascended to the throne of Cheliax in 4640 AR. Abrogail Thrune (now Queen Abrogail I) honored their agreement, and Nidal has been independent ever since.
Nidal is run by the sinister Umbral Court, the shadow-touched aristocracy who have ruled the nation since the Age of Darkness. Ever since the current Umbral Court's distant ancestors made their binding pact with the Midnight Lord, they have lived only to strictly enforce and promote the sadistic values of Zon-Kuthon. Any disagreement or questioning of these edits is harshly punished by the Umbral Court or its agents, as is the worship of any other deity (particularly Zon-Kuthon's main rival, Desna). Few have the courage to stand against the whims of even the most minor member of the Umbral Court for to do so normally means death in the most horrific manner.
Umbral Court agents
Very few Kuthites have been gifted by their god to be members of the ruling Umbral Court, but many more operate as Umbral Court agents on behalf of their government, both at home and abroad. These agents live quite openly in the cities of Ridwan and Pangolais, but can be found working in secret throughout the country. Some work as consuls or diplomats, while others are agitators, spies, or agent provocateurs who root out heresies and seek to purify the nation. Those who work outside of Nidal generally insinuate themselves into positions of power where they can subtly steer policies that favor their home country and glorify their patron god.
Nidal still has close ties with the nation of Cheliax, and sends shadow magic-trained magic-users named shadowcasters to support the infernal regime. These loaned shadowcasters are known as the Midnight Guard.
- See also: Nidal/Geography
Nidal sits on the western coast of Avistan, with Nisroch Bay and Conqueror's Bay forming its coastline, and beyond that by vast Arcadian Ocean. To the south lies Cheliax, Nidal's former infernal master, and to the north across the Mindspin Mountains lie the frontier lands of Varisia. Finally, to the east lie the warring kingdoms of Molthune and Nirmathas. Nidal is largely cut off from its neighbours by the Mindspin Mountains to the north and east and the Menador Mountains to the south. The northern plains are known as the Atteran Ranches, rolling hills inhabited by horse ranchers and farmers whose families have lived there since the Age of Darkness. Its main route to the outside world is via the sea, with most of Nidal's sea traffic coming through the heavily policed port of Nisroch. The main geographical feature dominating inland Nidal is the Uskwood: a vast, shady forest and the subject of many dark rumours. Beneath the Uskwood's shady boughs lies Nidal's capital city of Pangolais, where it is said the trees grow so dense that it is nearly impossible to tell day from night.
- See also: Nidal/Settlements
Places of interest
- See also: Nidal/Inhabitants
The inhabitants of Nidal live beneath the shadow of a pact made in the dark days of ancient history. They are still fulfilling their part of that pact to this day, and live in fear of the dark powers Zon-Kuthon grants the Umbral Court. While the Umbral Court, the decadent nobles of Nidal, rule the land using divinely granted shadow powers, the peasants of Nidal live much like the peasants of any other land, except with a far greater fear of their noble lords.
Aasimars are quite rare in Nidal, as they are seen by the government as natural focal points for insurrection. Families who give birth to such children either quickly learn to hide their unusual features, or else sell the children into slavery at a high price. The very few aasimar who reach adulthood in Nidal either become corrupted and turn evil, or else become subversives, hoping to bring down the tyrannical government.
In addition to its human inhabitants, Nidal is home to many fearsome beasts from Zon-Kuthon's home on the Plane of Shadow, including nightshades who are occasionally summoned by the spellcasting faithful of Zon-Kuthon. The Menador Mountains are particularly infamous for being the home of many of these fell creatures, including several umbral dragons. A number of shadow giant families have also made their home in some of Nidal's wilder corners at the direct invitation of the Umbral Court itself. When not assigned tasks by the country's rulers, these giants generally keep to themselves and practice their unspeakable rites. Finally, Nidal is also home to several species of undead, including raveners and wights.
Nidal is a monotheistic theocracy ruled by a hereditary aristocracy who receive a direct divine mandate from a single god: Zon-Kuthon. It is therefore not hard to imagine that all other religions are banned there, although they are still practiced in secret. Of all of them, the worship of Desna is of particular note, and its followers even have their own name for themselves: the Whispered Song. The Whispered Song works in utter secrecy to give hope to Nidal's oppressed commoners, and are even believed to have infiltrated the Umbral Court itself.
The church's direct connections to Zon-Kuthon grants them some powerful allies, including several umbral dragons who serve as advisors, guardians, mounts, and assassins.
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