Osirion is one of the oldest continuous nations of Golarion, having existed in one form or another since the beginning of the Age of Destiny. Throughout its long history, it has seen periods of greatness and periods of decline.1
Age of Destiny and the First Age of Osirion
Nomadic Garundi people first settled along the southern shores of the Inner Sea during the latter years of the Age of Anguish (ca. -4294 AR to -3470 AR). They lived in small family groups along the fertile banks of the Sphinx, but were constantly at war with one another.2
According to legend, a prophet of Nethys called Azghaad unified the tribes and slew the ferocious Spawn of Rovagug known as Ulunat with the help of Nethys himself in -3470 AR. Azghaad I then founded Sothis around the creature's gargantuan carapace.3 According to one story, the threat of Ulunat played a major role in uniting the tribes, and after its death, they laid claim to its territory—a vast swathe of land stretching from modern day Rahadoum to modern day Katapesh.4 The borders of Ancient Osirion did eventually encompass all that territory,5 but there is little evidence to support the theory that the God-Kings ever used the slaying of Ulunat to justify their wars with their neighbours.
After Ulunat's defeat, Azghaad ordered the construction of a massive temple to Nethys that was completed in -3399 AR, proclaiming him as Osirion's patron deity. Its dedication is generally considered the beginning of the First Age of Osirion.3
The Naga Pharaoh
Azghaad's rule came to an end in -3412 AR, after which the Naga Pharaoh began her troubled rule. The Naga Pharaoh, whose true name has been lost to time, was troubled by violent visions and nightmares sent by Nethys to demonstrate magic's destructive potential. These visions eventually pushed her into a destructive rage in which she tore down Nethys' temple, perishing in the conflagration.3
The Pharaoh of Forgotten Plagues
One of the greatest pharaohs of the First Age of Osirion (at least in terms of his magical prowess) was the Pharaoh of Forgotten Plagues. He summoned the daemonic harbinger Zelishkar, compelling him and his followers to aid in numerous military endeavors. Later on, the pharaoh incarcerated Zelishkar in what eventually became recognized as the Labyrinth of Shiman-Sekh.3
In its early years, Osirion rapidly advanced both culturally and militarily. Some less mainstream historians speculate that the nation may have received outside assistance, perhaps from strange entities from the Dark Tapestry.1 The people of Osirion worshiped their own pantheon of local deities in addition to those venerated more commonly throughout the Inner Sea region.67 Their worship was most popular during the early millennia and waned as the Osirian people gradually turned to foreign deities.8
The Jistka Imperium was the most powerful nation in northern Garund during this period, but Osirion soon became the major cause of Jistka's decline. Jistka's previous trading partners found it more convenient to trade with newly emerging Osirion, and Osirion was able to ally with the warlike desert nomads of the Tekritanin League against Jistka.5 By -2764 AR, the Jistka Imperium had collapsed and Osirion was pre-eminent in the region.1
At its height (roughly around -3000 AR),9 Ancient Osirion controlled all or part of modern day Rahadoum, Thuvia, Katapesh, Nex, and Geb.5 In the latter part of the Age of Destiny, the country fell into the hands of a succession of poor rulers, and also suffered attacks from beyond its borders. The once-mighty nation entered into a prolonged period of decline and began losing territory.10
Second Age of Osirion, or the Age of the Black Sphinx
The decline was temporarily halted by the advent of the four Pharaohs of Ascension. These four powerful leaders entered into a magical pact in -1498 AR, and their combined powers were such that the empire entered into what many considered to be Osirion's Second Age1 (sometimes referred to as the Age of the Black Sphinx).11 During this time, Osirion conquered its only remaining regional threat and former ally, the Tekritanin League. The rule of the Four came to an abrupt end in -1431 AR when the four pharaohs (who had bound their destinies together) died at the same time,12 and Osirion's decline resumed. It is not clear when Osirion lost control of the lands of Nex and Geb, but the two countries were sufficiently independent to engage in a long and devastating war against each other from -892 AR.1 Katapesh passed out of the region's history for thousands of years, until circa 2200 AR.13
In -841 AR, the governor of Thuvia was assassinated. The authorities in Osirion took the decision not to replace him, calculating that the province had become more trouble than it was worth. With the withdrawal of Osirian government, the former province descended back into self-rule.1
Age of Enthronement
The early years of the Age of Enthronement passed quietly for Osirion, although its government slowly fell from its former glory. During the first 1,500 years of the new age, Osirion was not affected by the steady expansions of the great nations of Taldor and Kelesh even though Kelesh gained a foothold on the Inner Sea region in -43 AR when Qadira became part of the Empire.1
Eventually, the Keleshites found Osirion's decline impossible to resist. Agents from Qadira infiltrated the already corrupt civil service and made it even more moribund and slow to react. A series of slave revolts were engineered, and the state proved incapable of coping with the crisis. Pharaoh Menedes XXVI went into hiding, and in 1532 AR, the Empire of Kelesh intervened in order to stage a "rescue" of the government. When the dust had settled, Osirion had become a client state, ruled by a Keleshite satrap loyal to the Padishah Emperor.1
This was the cue for widespread Keleshite migration to Osirion. Many monuments from Osirion's past were destroyed in order to facilitate the smooth transition of Osirion into the Empire. The worship of Sarenrae was introduced and promoted. The fiercely nationalistic Osirians were unimpressed by the first two measures, but responded all too well to the third. The result was the formation in Osirion of the militant Cult of the Dawnflower, which began to make the Keleshite satraps more and more nervous. In 2217 AR, the current satrap exiled the cult's leadership to the deserts of Thuvia.1 (A splinter group chose to establish themselves in Katapesh instead).13
The foreign overlords also sought to eradicate the faith of the indigenous Ancient Osirian pantheon, but they remained a part of the history of Osirion's land and people.8
In 2253 AR, the satrap was found dead in one of his own fountains, with sunflowers (a symbol of the cult) sprouting from his mouth. After this show of force, the next ruler was much more sympathetic towards the militant worshipers of Sarenrae. They returned from exile, and rather than being governed by Keleshite satraps, Osirion was now ruled by Keleshite sultans more or less independent of the Empire.1
Third Age of Osirion
The status quo of Osirion as an independent state ruled by Keleshite nobles continued into the Age of Enthronement, with Osirian nationalism simmering beneath the surface but lacking a leader to rally behind. In 4609 AR, an Osirian cleric of Abadar called Khemet announced that he could trace his lineage back to a dynasty that had ruled Osirion before the Pharaohs of Ascension. He also demonstrated he had the support of the elementals of the desert.1
Under his leadership, Garundi Osirians overthrew their Keleshite leaders in a nearly bloodless coup and installed Khemet I as their new pharaoh, ushering in the Third Age of Osirion.1 This period also rekindled interest in the Ancient Osirian pantheon.68
On his death in 4649 AR, his son Khemet II (also known as the Crocodile King) became pharaoh. He proved to be a poor ruler, and was succeeded when he died in 4678 AR in a poorly understood summoning accident by his son Khemet III (also known as the Ruby Prince), the current ruler of Osirion.1
In 4714 AR, Pharaoh Hakotep I (also known as the Sky Pharaoh) returned from the dead and tried to reclaim the throne of Osirion, but was narrowly defeated, causing his flying pyramids to come crashing down across the country.14 Upon ascending to the throne, the Ruby Prince initially extended invitations to foreign scholars and archaeologists to investigate Osirion's countless historical ruins. His aim was to enhance Osirion's standing while unraveling the mysteries behind the wonders of ancient times. However, following the calamitous resurgence of the Sky Pharaoh and the revelation of covert activities by the Night Heralds within these sites, the prince sought to once again limit access. His efforts primarily drove the thriving tomb-robbing industry into clandestine operations.15
For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.
- The Inner Sea World Guide, 146–149. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- “Land of the Pharaohs” in Osirion, Legacy of Pharaohs, 4. Paizo Inc., 2014 .
- “Land of the Pharaohs” in Osirion, Legacy of Pharaohs, 5. Paizo Inc., 2014 .
- “The Spawn of Rovagug” in The Final Wish, 50. Paizo Inc., 2009 .
- The Inner Sea World Guide, 212. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- Rob McCreary. (March 13, 2014). The Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Osirion, Paizo Blog.
- “Faith: Cults of Osirion” in Osirion, Land of Pharaohs, 24. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- “Gods of Ancient Osirion” in Empty Graves, 65. Paizo Inc., 2014 .
- People of the SandsPeople of the Wastes, inside front cover. Paizo Inc., 2014 .
- Gazetteer, 47. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- The Pact Stone Pyramid, 5. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- “Golden Road” in World Guide, 50. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- “Timeline” in Dark Markets, A Guide to Katapesh, 26. Paizo Inc., 2009 .
- “Golden Road” in World Guide, 51. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- “Golden Road” in World Guide, 53. Paizo Inc., 2019 .