Rise 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 siezed 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 (wealth, fertility, honest pride, abundance, eager striving, righteous anger, and well-deserved rest), 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.
Each of the seven schools of arcane rune magic harnessed energy from the very sins of mankind. The Runelord’s 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.
When the empire crumbled, these runelords were prepared. They escaped death (or worse) by various methods, entering states of hibernation from which their apprentices and loyal followers would revive them when the right time came. Yet the fall of Thassilon was far more complete and decisive than even the most pessimistic runelords anticipated, and none survived who could free them in the centuries of darkness to follow. In time, they were forgotten.
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.
Alaznist, Runelord of Wrath
Weapon of Rule: Ranseur of charred adamantine
Belimarius, Runelord of Envy
Weapon of Rule: Halberd
Karzoug, Runelord of Greed
Weapon of Rule: Burning glaive studded with meteoric gemstones
Krune, Runelord of Sloth
Weapon of Rule: Dragon-tooth longspear
Sorshen, Runelord of Lust
Weapon of Rule: Double-headed guisarme
Xanderghul, Runelord of Pride
Weapon of Rule: Lucerne hammer
Zutha, Runelord of Gluttony
Weapon of Rule: Scythe
The Runelords’ Slumber
As all evil empires must, Thassilon fell. The reason for this fall remains a mystery, but the event is often linked to an event called EarthFall.
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.