Origin of the runelords
Thassilon was founded more than 11,000 years ago by First King Xin who had been exiled from his homeland of Azlant for promoting heretical beliefs. As the empire grew beyond the bounds of Xin's ability to control, both militarily and administratively, he appointed powerful arcanists as governors to oversee his lands. The mightiest of these were the runelords, seven of the most skilled (and power-hungry) wizards in Thassilon, if not all of Golarion. Working secretly to secure power for themselves, the opportunity to fully escape servitude under First King Xin appeared when he, in his old age and after having ruled Thassilon for more than a century, destroyed himself and much of his palace in a mysterious magical event. The runelords seized the opportunity and subjugated those loyal to Xin—including his own son, who became a puppet emperor—while each plotted within his or her own lands to become ruler of all Thassilon.
The Virtues of Rule (generosity, love, humility, temperance, charity, kindness, and zeal), passed down from the goddess Lissala and First King Xin himself were seen as the benefits of power, and each of the runelords was drawn towards one of the seven. Over the course of time, the runelords corrupted these into what modern scholars understand to be the "great sins of the soul," abandoning the positive aspects of each and embracing the negative connotations of each (greed, lust, boastful pride, gluttony, envy, wrath, and sloth) as the rewards of rule. Each of the seven rulers specialized in a single school of rune magic and possessed a mighty weapon which not only served them in battle, but also became a symbol of their rule.
The runelords of Thassilon
The runelords forged alliances with dragons and enslaved giants by using secrets of rune and glyph magic stolen from the aboleths in their efforts to increase their own power. With their enslaved giant armies, the wizards of Thassilon built massive tombs, enormous magical constructs, and staggering monuments that survive today, mute testimonies of a mysterious age long past.
At the time of Earthfall, the following runelords were in power:
- Alaznist, Runelord of Wrath
- Domain: Bakrakhan
Weapon of Rule: Charred adamantine ranseur impaled with the skull of the very first Runelord of Wrath
- Belimarius, Runelord of Envy
- Domain: Edasseril
Weapon of Rule: Ornate memory-stealing halberd of gold and mithral
- Karzoug, Runelord of Greed
- Domain: Shalast
Weapon of Rule: Burning glaive studded with meteoric gemstones
- Krune, Runelord of Sloth
- Domain: Haruka
Weapon of Rule: Dragon-tooth longspear that can move and attack of its own volition
- Xanderghul, Runelord of Pride
- Domain: Cyrusian
Weapon of Rule: Lucerne hammer made of an unknown type of skymetal
These seven runelords were the last to hold their titles, but only Sorshen and Xanderghul survived the betrayal of King Xin. Previous runelords died or fell to usurpers, including:
- Haphrama, Runelord of Greed
- Domain: Shalast
Penultimate Runelord of Greed; reportedly slain by his successor and mentee, Karzoug.
- Goparlis, Runelord of Sloth
- Domain: Gastash
Penultimate Runelord of Sloth.
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The runelords' slumber
As all evil empires must, Thassilon fell. The reason for this fall remains a mystery, but as the end drew near, the seven runelords retreated into the depths of their greatest monuments, entombing themselves with orders for their minions to release them later to reclaim their empire. Alas, Thassilon's minions were enslaved or slaughtered. No one was left to waken them, and so the wizard kings of Thassilon slumbered for countless ages.
- Rob McCreary. (2013). Runelords of Thassilon. The Dead Heart of Xin, p. 69ff. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-491-7
- James Jacobs. (April 22, 2007). Raising the Runelords, Paizo Blog.
- Wolfgang Baur. (2013). NPC Gallery. Herald of the Ivory Labyrinth, p. 59. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-586-0
- Greg A. Vaughan. (2012). Spires of Xin-Shalast. Rise of the Runelords Anniversary Edition, p. 340. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-436-8
- Alexander Augunas, Steven T. Helt, and David N. Ross. (2016). Arcane Anthology, p. 18. Paizo Inc. ISBN 978-1-60125-814-4
- F. Wesley Schneider. (2012). Artifacts & Legends, p. 51. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-458-0
- Rob McCreary. (2013). Runelords of Thassilon. The Dead Heart of Xin, p. 69. Paizo Publishing, LLC. ISBN 978-1-60125-491-7