Aroden

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Aroden procession

As incandescent rocks from the depths of space brought doom to Azlant, the legendary first and greatest empire of humankind, one man shepherded the terrified survivors to a new existence across the se.a This hero, a master of spell and blade named Aroden, became associated with an ancient prophecy that spoke of the Last Azlanti who would lead humanity to a new Age of Glory. Aroden’s accomplishments—founding Taldor and Absalom, raising the Starstone from the Inner Sea, and becoming a living god—proved his status as the manifestation of humanity’s destined greatness. Just over a century ago, Aroden’s doctrine predicted his glorious return. Instead, under circumstances still clouded in mystery, Aroden died. The following years have seen his clergy scattered and powerless, his vast international religion fallen to near irrelevance, and his legend increasingly forgotten.

Aroden was ambitious, far-seeing, and shrewd. He encouraged invention and innovation, and disliked anything that undermined civilization or caused suffering, such as assassination, theft, disease, and predatory monsters. His legacy is everywhere—in the names of months, upon the immense stone bridge spanning Avistan and Garund, and in crumbling churches in virtually every human city on two continents. To the faithful of Aroden, history is doctrine, and the Last Azlanti has one of the bestrecorded and impactful histories of all Golarion’s deities.

Aroden
Aroden's holy symbol
(Déité)
Titres Last of the First Humans
The Last Azlanti
Living God[1]
Adjectif Arodenite
Home Aroden's Domain, Axis
Alignement Lawful neutral
Portfolio Humanity
Innovation
History
Culture
Fulfilment of destiny
Adorateurs Aroden has few worshipers now, as he is dead (formerly Absalom, Andoran, Cheliax, Sargava, Taldor, Varisia)
Domaines Community, Glory, Knowledge, Law, Protection
Arme de prédiléction Longsword


Although records from Old Azlant are fragmentary at best (especially concerning the empire’s tumultuous final days), legend holds that Aroden was a master blacksmith as a mortal, renowned for his unequaled craft. In time, he became Azlant’s foremost swordmaker, known not just for the blades he created, but also for those he personally wielded in defense of the empire during the political chaos and civil wars of Azlant’s last decades. His most famous creation as a mortal, a clear jewel-bladed sword called the Azlanti Diamond, was to be the personal weapon of the next emperor. When the empire’s doddering ruler failed to choose his successor from a field of unimpressive and dangerous candidates, he asked Aroden to decide who was worthy to wield the blade and lead the empire. Seeing no alternative, Aroden decided to keep the Azlanti Diamond for himself, a choice that many believe provoked the wicked veiled masters who truly ruled Azlant to immediately call down the devastation of Earthfall, wiping out thousands of years of progress and civilization in a matter of hours.

As Golarion struggled to survive the cataclysm, Aroden dedicated himself to leading the Azlanti survivors east across the ocean to Avistan, where a few colonies of the old empire tried desperately to hang on in the face of massive catastrophe and complete isolation.

Aroden immediately began an attempt to salvage the empire’s vast cultural legacy, focusing especially on its unparalleled magical developments. Somehow, perhaps by utilizing the greatest of Azlant’s arcane secrets, Aroden gained immortality even as many of his contemporaries died off. He was not yet divine, but he no longer aged, and he began to take a longer outlook on the time it would take to restore humanity to its previous heights.

To the Azlanti survivors, the immortal hero took on a near-mythic status. Within the first few centuries, Aroden was joined by a sect of the prophecy-obsessed Knights of the Ioun Star, who had acted as the personal guard of the Azlanti emperors. They formally declared Aroden the embodiment of the Last Azlanti prophesied in the Starfall Doctrine, and while it would still be centuries before Aroden actually became a god, the beginnings of a cult of devoted followers originated in the wake of the knights’ pronouncements.

Meanwhile, perils new and old hovered over the decaying corpse of Azlant, picking off survivors and threatening to finish what the veiled masters had started. The most dedicated of these foes was the demon lord Ibdurengian, an old menace who destroyed colony after colony, vowing never to finish until every descendant of Azlant had been vanquished. After three centuries of this, Aroden personally led an army into the Abyss and killed Ibdurengian in its lair. While most of his disciples returned to Golarion, Aroden remained in the Great Beyond, building up a series of alliances with creatures from other worlds and exploring alien philosophies that expanded his mortal consciousness and perspective. Aroden eventually returned with a new focus—not just on rescuing Azlant, but on charting a new destiny for humankind as a whole. As the skies of Golarion cleared and the Age of Anguish came to a close, Aroden stood on the forefront of humanity once more, gesturing toward a new horizon.

Twelve centuries after helping to create the nation of Taldor as a symbol of human ambition, Aroden achieved realization as the prophesied Last Azlanti by raising the Starstone from the depths of the Inner Sea.

A single touch pulled Aroden into the alien artifact, wherein he experienced a series of phantasmagoric scenes that presented lethal martial trials and exhausting moral quandaries that challenged Aroden’s physical, mental, and spiritual limits more than any of the arduous experiences he had survived thus far.

Aroden emerged from this experience a living god, and upon the enormous island he had dredged up with the Starstone he founded the city of Absalom: a shining beacon to attract the greatest artists, poets, architects, and mystics from all of humanity’s young kingdoms. At long last, Aroden’s devoted followers were rewarded with fantastic abilities derived from the god’s newfound divinity, and his cause became a full-fledged religion.

Aroden himself walked Absalom’s streets in those early days, fighting in its defense and setting forth a code of morals designed to make certain the city would never fall. Some of the original records of Absalom show the first truly historical accounts of Aroden’s life. As early as 400 ar, these records depict a god increasingly removed from the mundane affairs of Golarion. By the time of the infamous Pirate Siege that spanned the fifth and sixth century ar, Aroden had largely departed from the world in favor of his growing domain on the plane of Axis.

While remaining focused on the history and destiny of mankind, Aroden’s personality and outlook drifted ever further toward the divine and otherworldly, creating an unprecedented divide between himself and his people.

Although mostly absent from Absalom, the newly divine god wandered throughout the Inner Sea region during the early centuries of the Age of Enthronement, encouraging the rise of his religion (especially in his beloved Taldor) and acting personally against threats to humanity like the undead armies of the wizard-king TarBaphon, whom he personally killed on the Isle of Terror in 896 ar.

aroden

Some two thousand years later, Aroden was so far removed from the day-to-day events of the world that he chose not to intervene when Tar-Baphon returned as the undead Whispering Tyrant. Instead, he left the matter to his divine herald Arazni, patroness of the Knights of Ozem, with disastrous results. By the time the mortal leader of the knights, Iomedae, took the Test of the Starstone and replaced Arazni as Aroden’s herald, many of Aroden’s faithful began to doubt that he would ever again walk upon Golarion in person. If the Whispering Tyrant could not draw Aroden back from his seclusion in the Great Beyond, what could? Early in the Age of Enthronement’s fifth millennium, Cheliax broke free from the increasingly decadent Taldor, taking the center of Aroden’s faith with it.

Chelish fanatics turned with increasing zeal to the ancient Starfall Doctrine, identifying the capital city of Westcrown as the likeliest place for Aroden’s return to usher in the prophesied Age of Glory, which was to begin in 4606 ar. When Aroden returned to personally drive the demon lord Deskari into the Lake of Mists and Veils in 4433 ar, the zealots’ conviction took on an air of inevitability, and Aroden’s faith spread throughout the new empire, eclipsing every other human religion. When the appointed hour arrived, the Chelish emperor stood beside Aroden’s patriarch at the heart of Westcrown, eager to greet their patron and celebrate his return and the birth of a new Age of Glory.

Instead, the skies darkened with violent storms that lasted weeks, plunging the whole world into tumult and throwing Cheliax into open revolution. By the time devilworshipers finally quelled the fighting and took control of the empire, Aroden was well and truly slain, his clergy left powerless and confused. Even prophecy itself—the force that had defined Aroden’s life and spurred his personal accomplishments and ambitions—no longer functioned as once it had. The future of humanity was again completely unknown, and the world found itself thrown into the uncertainty of the Age of Lost Omens.

PERSONIFICATION AND REALM

Aroden’s symbol is the Eye of Aroden, an unblinking divine eye balanced between earth and the heavens. It represented Aroden’s guidance over humanity and his ceaseless watch against those who would do harm to his people. Today, it is a ubiquitous symbol of a better time. Religious art depicts Aroden as a valiant armored warrior armed with a resplendent golden sword. The god adopted one of 12 “semblances” when traveling in disguise among mortals: artist, beggar, craftsman, farmer, fisherman, hunter, merchant, scholar, shepherd, soldier, tailor, or vagabond.

Aroden’s realm in the Great Beyond was a massive city of sweeping marble towers and immense crystal domes known as Aroden’s Domain. Designed as a perfect setting for the afterlife of his followers, it was meant to be an idealized version of the terrestrial utopia he encouraged his human followers to create for themselves.

Today, Aroden’s Domain is a wasteland contested by angelic armies, noble devils, and numerous other parties (including Milani, who maintains a small refuge near the heart of the realm). In anticipation of this, the Axiomite Godmind declared Aroden’s Domain a distinct region unto itself and no longer a part of Axis until such time as it is fully claimed by a new ruler. A buffer of crystalline sand and a circular golden wall guarded by inevitables demarcates the region.

DOGMA AND WORSHIPERS

At its height, Aroden’s faith was by far the most widespread and powerful human religion in the Inner Sea region, with massive cathedrals in nearly every major city and minor shrines just about everywhere. Most of Aroden’s clergy were clerics, with some paladins and magi. The religion influenced nearly all aspects of daily life, from municipal administration to sacramental services celebrating birth, marriage, and death.

Owing to a myth cycle covering thousands of years, Aroden’s faith is packed with saints, famous martyrs, and local heroes. Some of these approached demigod status, but like Arazni they are all either long dead or largely forgotten—only Iomedae remains. The names of these heroes survive, however, in the churches and cathedrals named for them, and in the countless statues and temple frescoes bearing their images.

In the decades following Aroden’s death, many of his clergy lost faith or drifted to other religions headed by deities capable of answering their prayers. Many of the most devout, delirious with dreams of Aroden’s imminent return or fatalistic at the prospect that he never would, threw themselves into the First Mendevian Crusade against the returned demon lord Deskari and the Worldwound.

TEMPLES AND SHRINES

Most Arodenite temples bear Azlanti architectural features—thin spires, domes, and marble columns and statues. Stained glass windows predominate, with the richest temples sporting examples that qualify as priceless works of art. Major temples are almost always dedicated to a saint or martyr, the most famous example being Saint Sarnax in Absalom’s Petals District, the current home of the religion’s patriarch and the center of its worldwide religious organization (such as it is). Other notable temples include Absalom’s Hall of Aroden (the city’s current Chelish embassy), the Almas Cathedral in Andoran’s capital (now a famous Pathfinder Society lodge), and the legendary lost Sanctum of Aroden somewhere below the streets of Absalom, which served as the modern headquarters of Aroden’s faithful Knights of the Ioun Star. In Saint Borobuto in Sargava, elements of Cheliax’s colonial church still cling to the Arodenite faith and believe that the Last Azlanti will return once more to lead their people to greatness, just as the missionaries first preached more than six hundred years ago.

Aroden’s rural churches often contained shrines to Abadar, Cayden Cailean, Desna, Erastil, Sarenrae, and Shelyn—allies in the march of humanity toward its glorious destiny. Religious services were usually held in the morning, with more orthodox temples (especially in Cheliax) sponsoring sermons after sundown or even at midnight, particularly on Sundays. These beautiful ceremonies featured choirs of adults and children accompanied by highly skilled bards who often wove encouraging and magical effects into the proceedings.

Many Arodenite hymns live on today as the melodies of songs devoted to other gods (particularly Iomedae and Abadar), and underlie countless popular tavern songs.

A PRIEST’S ROLE

aroden priest

For millennia, the lay clergy of Aroden served as the cultural custodians of humanity, the chroniclers of its many accomplishments, and the inspiration for its greatest innovations. They led congregations to seek justice for even the weakest members of society, galvanizing the wealthy to offer succor to the impoverished and the poor to aspire and work toward a more rewarding life. They encouraged focus on the community over the individual, urging all toward a shared destiny of survival, strength, and spiritual and fiscal enrichment.

Each priest sought to model herself on the life and accomplishments of Aroden. The Last Azlanti was not the savior of human history and culture because the stars and the prophets said he would be, but because he recognized the hero of the Starfall Doctrine in himself, and acted to fulfill what he believed to be his destiny.

Priests of Aroden therefore advocated personal reliance and responsibility, urging all followers to live to the utmost of their potential.

Today, the central question to what remains of the Arodenite faith is this: Why worship a dead god? The truth is that not very many people do. Without the tangible spells granted by her deity, a cleric has little to show for her devotion. In a world where clerics of even the most minor godlings can heal wounds and cure disease, a powerless clergy leads to empty churches. But the church of Aroden still controls many properties, buildings, and other remnants of its once-continentspanning infrastructure, all of which require administration.

Aroden’s faithful also have lawappointed seats on city councils, ecumenical organizations, trade guilds, and other social circles throughout Avistan. At one time, priests of Aroden had the ear of nearly every ruler in the land, and while this influence has certainly waned in the last century, it still exists in places. Where there is political power lying about, there will always be those who step forward to claim it. This means that few of the remaining priests of Aroden truly “believe” in their deity, paying only the barest of lip service to their doctrines or duties. Only the oldest cling to their faith, and their numbers thin with the passing of every year.

HOLIDAYS

Aroden’s church recognized dozens of high and low holidays, from annual festivals celebrating his great achievements to days set aside for the honoring of minor saints. The following are some of the most important.

Foundation Day: The first day of the year, 1 Abadius, sees the celebration of Foundation Day in Absalom, commemorating Aroden’s founding of the settlement in 1 ar. It remains a major festival, with thousands of spectators watching the Patriarch of Saint Sarnax seated alongside the Lord-Mayor upon the gaudy prime caisson of the procession that leads from the Ascendant Court to Azlanti Keep.

Remembrance Moon: On the first full moon of Desnus, those Arodenite temples that still honor the old traditions light candles until the eldest resident cleric loses count, representing the unknowable numbers slain in battle against the Whispering Tyrant in the Shining Crusade.

Armasse: For a week starting on 16 Arodus, clerics of Aroden used to gather the able-bodied populace of their settlements for training in simple combat techniques, ordination of apprentice clergy, selection of squires for knighthoods, and instruction on military history, lest the mistakes of the past be repeated. While Iomedae’s clergy continues Armasse where they can, the vast majority of the Inner Sea region sees Armasse as a week of partying and relaxation completely divorced from its dead liturgical history. With bloated, baroque pomp and circumstance surrounding ideals most people have forgotten, this holiday has become a fitting metaphor for the sorry state of Aroden’s church itself.

Day of the Inheritor: This day on 19 Rova celebrates the official welcoming of the remnants of Aroden’s faithful into the flock of Iomedae following the death of the Last Azlanti. It’s an occasion of solemnity and brotherhood, of putting aside grudges and taking up common causes to create a better tomorrow for all.

APHORISMS

Aroden’s faith spawned countless sayings, including the following.

The Fool Lives in the Moment. The Wise Live Forever: This remonstration reminds Aroden’s followers to take the long view, focusing on legacy over immediate rewards.

Humanity’s Destiny Is to Spread Its Knowledge and Culture Across the World: This statement, the sole sentence written upon the opening page of The History and Future of Humanity, is the essential credo of Aroden’s faith.

Arodenites believe in destiny, and moreover, they believe it’s their personal responsibility to ensure that humanity’s best destiny comes about through their own efforts.

May the Eye Guide Your Blade: The all-seeing Eye of Aroden directs a person’s life just as surely as it aims his sword into his enemy’s heart. This saying, used as a blessing of good luck, applies to all tasks, not just combat.

HOLY TEXTS

Aroden’s most prominent holy text, The History and Future of Humanity, combines his personal anecdotes of living in Azlant, his goals for humanity, basic facts about medicine and engineering, and guidelines for ushering the human race toward greatness. All editions contain a complete transcription of the Starfall Doctrine in Ancient Azlanti and numerous modern languages. Each temple of Aroden, no matter how small, also housed at least one Tome of Memory, a liturgical text including transcriptions of homilies and aphorisms allegedly spoken by Aroden. Forged from brass to represent the light of Azlanti knowledge, Tomes of Memory also include several blank pages, in which clergy were expected to record the personal history of their temple. These books, mostly long removed from their original altars, often contain clues about intriguing local mysteries and treasures, making them valuable to adventurers hoping to reclaim the more tangible secrets of the past.

RELATIONS WITH OTHER RELIGIONS

Aroden’s strongest allies were the surviving gods of the Azlanti Empire. In the long centuries following Earthfall, the religions of gods such as Abadar, Pharasma, and Shelyn comprised, in large part, the culture Aroden had sworn to protect. When the Last Azlanti aided in the founding of Taldor and Absalom, it was to Abadar’s Manual of CityBuilding that he turned for civic inspiration. Although Aroden opposed the worst excesses of the Azlanti Empire, he was nonetheless a product of its highly decadent culture, and to him fine music, epic poetry, and gorgeous artistic expression inspired by Shelyn were the necessary byproducts of a successful civilization. After Aroden’s death, surviving clergy blamed Pharasma for withholding foreknowledge of Aroden’s fate, and flare-ups between followers of both gods led to bloodshed in such far-flung lands as Isger, Molthune, and Sargava.

Tales of Aroden’s early life relay his mortal devotion to Acavna, Azlanti battle goddess of the moon, and her lover Amaznen, patron of the arcane arts. To the former he dedicated the sharpness and strength of his blades, and to the latter the potent magics he infused within them. Both gods died in the cataclysm that destroyed Azlant. Aroden’s doctrines used the lovers as examples that humanity always goes on, even if its gods should be destroyed.

Desna occasionally appeared in Arodenite art revealing cosmic secrets in the arrangement of celestial bodies, but as Aroden was seen as manifesting the realized potential of those prophecies, Desna’s role was, by necessity, secondary.

Aroden had an unusual respect for Cayden Cailean.

He appreciated that—despite his own personal best efforts to protect the Starstone with the deadly traps of the Starstone Cathedral—human ingenuity, luck, and will to survive were such that even a drunkard, under the right circumstances, could emerge unscathed.

Just as the mortal paladin Iomedae gained divine powers from her dedication to Aroden, Aroden himself gained strength and inspiration from her devotion and unwillingness to lay down the sword in an age defined by battle. Iomedae’s optimism and inherent goodness countered the dark impulses inspired by millennia of immortality, and if Aroden had known his fate, he could have chosen no more fitting Inheritor than she.

Among the gods of evil, Aroden’s clergy saw in Lamashtu the darkness and chaos beyond a settlement’s walls, the lurking danger of an unwelcoming world outside the perimeter that divides man from beast. Urgathoa’s gluttony and decadence reminded Aroden of the failures he had left behind—if she hadn’t come from Azlant, she may as well have—but her obsession with undeath gained her Aroden’s eternal enmity. Norgorber represents the darkest urges of humanity, the murderous, selfdestructing impulses that keep the race unable to escape its worst depravities. That the villain managed to coax divinity from the very Starstone that Aroden had raised from the ocean depths made Norgorber—and his debased followers—sworn enemies of Arodenites everywhere.

ADVENTURERS

Outside those connected to the remnants of Aroden’s ecumenical apparatus, very few modern humans can be called followers of the god in a traditional sense.

Adventuring Knights of Ozem probably represent the closest modern equivalent of paladins of Aroden, as many of their traditions tie back to rituals heavily steeped in Arodenite religious practice. Remnants of the ancient Azlanti Knights of the Ioun Star once served as Aroden’s personal guard, but the last of his faithful perished when they were sealed within the Sanctum of Aroden under Absalom upon his death. The only remaining Ioun Knights are of the Eastern Star faction, who believe that Aroden’s death proves that he was not truly the Last Azlanti of prophecy after all. Today, Aroden’s greatest contribution to adventurers is in the meticulous historical records kept by his clergy and the abandoned temples filled with forgotten secret chambers, vaults, and sealed crypts ready to be plundered.

The Last Azlanti

God of humanity, innovation, history, culture, and fulfillment of destiny

Alignment LN

Domains Community, Glory, Knowledge, Law, Protection Favored Weapon longsword

Centers of Worship Absalom, Cheliax, Taldor, Sargava, Molthune, Nirmathas, Lastwall, Varisia

Nationality Azlanti

Références

  1. Modèle:Cite book/Arcane Anthology

Paizo published major articles about Aroden in Humans of Golarion and A Song of Silver.