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The Sihedron, symbol of the runelords of Thassilon

Xin then, latterly, runelords
Lissala, the patron goddess
Source: Burnt Offerings, pg(s). 74-79
This article covers the historical nation. For the modern re-emergence, see New Thassilon.

The ancient empire of Thassilon (pronounced THAH-sih-lon)1 existed in the waning years of the Age of Legend, and occupied parts of what today are the nations of Varisia, the Hold of Belkzen, and the Lands of the Linnorm Kings.23 While its power was great, struggles for control within the nation were near-constant, and it was finally destroyed by the devastation of Earthfall. All that now remains are mysterious ruins scattered throughout its former territories.4


Founding and rise to power

Thassilon was founded by the benevolent emperor Xin, who first harnessed the power of rune magic. Xin was exiled by the mystics who ruled the nation of Azlant for promoting the belief that the Azlanti could learn something from and should cooperate with the other races of Golarion. He and his followers left the distant continent and traveled to northwestern Avistan to establish a new nation in the area now known as Varisia. In doing so, they brought advanced civilization to the people who lived there, known today as the Shoanti and the Varisians. Though exact dates from the Age of Legend are hard to gauge exactly, it is believed that Xin began the formation of the Thassilonian empire around -6530 AR. As the size of his nation grew, Xin divided Thassilon into seven fiefdoms and entrusted his advisors to rule them in his stead. Each of them specialized in a different school of magic, and was guided by one of the Azlanti seven virtues of rule; they became known as the runelords. As Xin's personal influence over the nation waned, his ideals were also pushed to the wayside, making way for the villainy of the sinful runelords, who gained even more power than Xin, but did so on the backs of the people of Thassilon.546

Rise of the runelords

Thassilonians flee Earthfall.

Eventually Xin's subordinates, the runelords, deposed him, declaring themselves the monarchs of the seven realms of Thassilon. Under their leadership, the nation fell into decadence and cruelty for hundreds of years. They enslaved giants to create cyclopean cities and monuments to themselves, and bled the coffers dry. When Earthfall finally struck, Thassilon was already on its last legs and would not have lasted long had the cataclysmic event not occurred. Each of the wizards foresaw the doom, and made various preparations to survive the fiery apocalypse that claimed so many. Their refuges were powered by mighty artifacts known as runewells powered by mortal sin; many of these runewells still exist, although without the runelord's presence, they are largely dormant.4


Emperor Xin

Emperor Xin was the founding ruler of the powerful empire of Thassilon. He helped to create not only his empire but many orders of knights and wizards and is also credited with fostering monastic orders. His goal was to create a civilized paradise within his empire. To do this, Xin bargained with mighty and powerful creatures, ancient dragons and inscrutable creatures from the Great Beyond who granted him knowledge of rune magic, said by some to be the language of creation itself. Xin used this knowledge in many aspects of day to day life within Thassilon, along with promoting the worship of the godess Lissala. Xin lived longer than an average man, ruling until the age of one hundred and ten and his death was as exceptional as his life. Rather than succumbing to the ravages of age or disease he was consumed by his own magic, which immolated him in crimson flames in -6420 AR and destroyed much of his palace, leaving no remains whatsoever.56

Xin believed that a ruler should be guided by the seven Azlanti virtues of rule: wealth, fertility, honest pride, abundance, eager striving, righteous anger, and rest. The runelords sadly perverted these virtues in their quest for power and wealth, transforming them into the seven vices: greed, lust, pride, gluttony, envy, wrath, and sloth.54

The Runelords

After Xin's death, Thassilon was ruled by seven runelords, each of whom mastered one of the seven schools of arcane rune magic harnessed from the very sins of mankind. Their constant ambition for dominance over the rest led to much strife and death in the empire. Eventually they agreed to suspend open warfare in favor of combat between chosen champions. These generally short-lived warriors were each given one of the Alara'hai, magical swords of great power tied to the runelord's power.7

At the time of the fall of Thassilon in -5293 AR, the runelords were Alaznist (wrath), Belimarius (envy), Karzoug (greed), Krune (sloth), Sorshen (lust), Xanderghul (pride), and Zutha (gluttony).4


Remnants of Thassilon's settlements remain in the dilapidated forms of countless ruins throughout the land. Because the magic-users of Thassilon weaved their craft into its buildings, monuments, and other structures, a surprising number of ruins have survived the past ten millennia.4 Built by enslaved giants, these imposing, magically preserved structures are now prominent, if mysterious, landmarks in current cities, such as Magnimar, Riddleport, and Kaer Maga. Each of the seven nations of Thassilon was said to have its own thriving capitol, but most have been lost to time.[citation needed]

The seven domains of Thassilon


The pre-eminent divinity in Thassilon was the rune goddess Lissala, whose worship was introduced by Emperor Xin himself. It was her teachings of rune magic that gave the empire its power.5 Even though she was not believed to have been an evil goddess, her message was eventually corrupted by the runelords.

Other churches included the monasteries of the Peacock Spirit, Minderhal, Lord of the Giants, Desna, and the worship of numerous fiends.9


For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.

  1. Erik Mona, et al. “Appendices” in Campaign Setting, 246. Paizo Inc., 2008
  2. James Jacobs, et al. Burnt Offerings, 73–73. Paizo Inc., 2007
  3. James Jacobs, et al. The Inner Sea World Guide, 213. Paizo Inc., 2011
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 James Jacobs, et al. The Inner Sea World Guide, 210–211. Paizo Inc., 2011
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 James Jacobs, et al. Burnt Offerings, 73. Paizo Inc., 2007
  6. 6.0 6.1 Wolfgang Baur, et al. “Introduction” in Lost Kingdoms, 3. Paizo Inc., 2012
  7. James L. Sutter, et al. Seven Swords of Sin, 4. Paizo Inc., 2007
  8. James Jacobs, et al. Burnt Offerings, 74–76. Paizo Inc., 2007
  9. James Jacobs, et al. Burnt Offerings, 78–79. Paizo Inc., 2007