Kwanlai was initially founded by Imperial Lung Wa as a province for its tengu citizens in 4280 AR. However, the support needed was never provided by the corrupt officials of the court and soon Kwanlai came to be treated as effectively little more than a prison colony.2 Life for the tengu people became intolerable, leading to the Feather and Starlight Rebellion in 4606 AR, which was led by priests of Hei Feng and Desna and succeeded in capturing the Lung Wa-appointed Lord Som Heu Wa and forcing his abdication. This act would have certainly drawn massive and violent retribution from Imperial Lung Wa had the empire not collapsed later that year.1 A group of Hei Fengan priests known as the Sunderstorm Covenant was instrumental in the rebellion, though they are now seen as contributing to Kwanlai's instability.3
After the fall of Lung Wa, the task became how to govern a people who had spent the past millennia as vassals of other nations. This proved difficult given the tengu tendency of bringing dramatic flourishes and fiery rhetoric to such debates.4 Already in its just over hundred-year history, Kwanlai has seen three huge clan wars, not including the Autumn of Iron Tears, a conflict between the thieves' guilds of the cities Seidoyaji and Todorokaze that escalated into a full-blown proxy war. With the rise of Lady Sutarai-Gongen, Kwanlai seems poised to become more unified and prosperous than ever before.1
Kwanlai sits to the west of Xidao and the Xidao Gulf, its waters providing access to the trade ships that are the country's lifeblood. To the south and south-west of Kwanlai, the Kimu Mountains define the border with the idyllic empyrean kingdom of Tianjing, this mountain range lies within Kwanlai's borders. To the west, Kwanlai shares a short land border with both the Taldan kingdom of Amanandar and the monster-haunted land of Shenmen. To the north lies the kraken-controlled wetlands of Wanshou,5 these aggressive neighbours have already attempted large-scale invasions of Kwanlai twice. This border region is now dotted with stone forts, defensive walls, and drained swampland to try to hinder any invading force; the region is also home to the closest thing Kwanlai has to a standing army.1
Kwanlai is held together by its tengu inhabitants' shared history of oppression and the ongoing threat of being returned to such a state by foreign aggressors. Traditionally, it has always been more a fractious region, rather than a true nation, but recently the rise of the beloved Lady Sutarai-Gongen in the capital of Hisuikarasu has helped make Kwanlai a more unified land. Lady Sutarai-Gongen has proved so popular that she even has the support of all five of the fractious and highly antagonistic major tengu clans.
Kwanlai enjoys a strong trade relationship with the locathah of the neighbouring aquatic kingdom of Xidao and a strong positive relationship with the neighbouring empyrean kingdom of Tianjing. However, their relationship with the human kingdom of Amanandar is more ambiguous, as the tengu have long suffered under the yoke of human imperialist oppression. The people of Kwanlai are downright hostile toward Wanshou to the north as they have faced multiple invasions from the swampland nation since it fell under the sway of the elder kraken Zhanagorr.1
The large majority of the population are tengu, as it is part of their ancestral homelands,6 and is the largest population of tengu across Golarion.7 These tengu are a people of strong passions and contradictions, proud of their country and its achievements, while dwelling in what most people would consider slums. They are renowned for their strong sense of community that has helped them to endure centuries of oppression and struggle.6 Some ratfolk also live in the City of Whistling Swords alongside oni and other spirits.8
Surprisingly, Kwanlai is a centre of worship for the hateful rat god Lao Shu Po.9 Hei Feng also enjoys some worship in the nation, with the Hei Fengans generally serving as a destabilizing influence among the tengu.10 With the rise of Lady Sutarai-Gongen as the nation's de facto ruler, Hei Feng's worship has received a noticeable boost as Lady Sutarai-Gongen is a devotee of the Duke of Thunder. Beyond these two deities, both Desna, the Goddess of the North Star, and Sun Wukong, the Monkey King and renowned trickster god, are the other most widely worshipped deities in Kwanlai.1
For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.
- “Regions of the Dragon Empires” in Dragon Empires Gazetteer, 29. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- “Regions of the Dragon Empires” in Dragon Empires Gazetteer, 17. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- “Acolytes of Apocrypha” in Divine Anthology, 24. Paizo Inc., 2016 .
- “Tengus” in Blood of the Beast, 26. Paizo Inc., 2016 .
- “Regions of the Dragon Empires” in Dragon Empires Gazetteer, 47. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- “Tengu” in Ancestry Guide, 57. Paizo Inc., 2021 .
- “Introduction” in Blood of the Beast, 3. Paizo Inc., 2016 .
- “Other Outliers” in Heroes from the Fringe, 30. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “Life in the Dragon Empires” in Dragon Empires Gazetteer, 61. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- “Hei Feng” in Faiths of Golarion, 25. Paizo Inc., 2018 .