During the time of Imperial Lung Wa, Shenmen was used as a dumping ground for unwanted or disgraced politicians and bureaucrats who were simply told to keep the lumber from the Specterwood and the silver from the Gossamer Mountains flowing. Despite being near the core of the empire, Shenmen remained an unimportant backwater, the only thing the empire seemed to care about was that the timber and metal continued to flow. Shenmen, at least in its current form as "the cursed land of spiders and ghosts", began in the aftermath of the fall of Imperial Lung Wa in 4607 AR.2 Its fall plunged all of Tian Xia into chaos, and the Lung Wa officials located in Shenmen, suddenly cut off from the succour of the state, resorted to rampant corruption and abuses of authority in order to survive. Yet, without the military support of Lung Wa, they could not control Shenmen and the monsters that lurked in its shadows.1 Within a year, the so-called witch-queen of the jorogumos, Lady Lang Loi, had taken control in Yin-Sichasi and began exerting greater political control across much of Shenmen.2
Shenmen sits in the centre of the continent of Tian Xia with the inland Sea of Ghosts forming much of its eastern border. In terms of weather, Shenmen is a land of constant rain, interspersed with occasional storms. Across the Sea of Ghosts sits the empyrean nation of Tianjing which shares a short land border with Shenmen along Shenmen's north-easternmost reach. Just north of this, Shenmen also shares a short border with the tengu nation of Kwanlai. To Shenmen's north lies the kingdom of Amanandar while, to the west, lies the exiled samurai nation of Shokuro. To the south lies Shenmen's largest neighbour, the highly militaristic Successor State of Lingshen.3 Shenmen is a land of constant rain, interspersed with occasional storms.1
With the fall of Imperial Lung Wa, human rulership of Shenmen fragmented and would rapidly come to an end. Long used as a dumping ground for politicians and bureaucrats who had either broken the law or shamed themselves in some other way, Shenmen's leaders were always lacking but with the total breakdown of order they soon resorted to outright criminal behaviour. Weakened by infighting, they proved easy prey for the jorogumos, a monstrous race of spider women who are said to transform from spiders that grow ancient enough. The jorogumos pull all the political strings behind the scenes in Shenmen, though most do not rule its towns and villages directly. Instead, they will keep the settlements' leaders in thrall, either via magic or the threat of violence. Most such settlements are expected to pay a yearly tithe in men given up to their jorogumo overlords. The jorogumos themselves are in turn ruled by their queen, Lady Lang Loi.1
After the fall of Imperial Lung Wa and the chaos that followed, Shenmen became renowned as a land of monsters as they quickly overthrew the crumbling former power structures. Now the nation is known for evil fey in the forests, cursed bandits in the foothills, and all kinds of ghosts and spirits in the waters. The worst are the spider-creatures known as the jorogumos, who now rule the land from their underground capital of Yin-Sichasi and other cavernous homes across the Gossamer Mountains.14
As is to be expected in a kingdom of monsters, the main religions of Shenmen are mostly evil and include: Fumeiyoshi, the Lord of Envy; Lady Nanbyo, the Widow of Suffering; Lao Shu Po, the Old Rat Woman; and Pharasma, the Mother of Souls.1
For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.
- “Regions of the Dragon Empires” in Dragon Empires Gazetteer, 37. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- “Regions of the Dragon Empires” in Dragon Empires Gazetteer, 17. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- “Regions of the Dragon Empires” in Dragon Empires Gazetteer, 47. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- “Strange, Far Places” in Horror Realms, 38–39. Paizo Inc., 2016 .