The Shackled City
The Shackled City takes place in and around Cauldron located in the far southwest corner of the Inner Sea Region known as Sargava. Sargava is a colonial state settled by the Chelaxians over 500 years ago. Prior to Chelaxian colonialism, the area now known as Sargava was inhabited by various Mwangi tribes. The Mwangi tribes still make up the vast majority of the sentient population in Sargava (80%), however the Chelaxian colonials hold nearly all of the political and economic power. The majority of the Mwangi natives live in tribes scattered throughout Sargava, or have adopted the Chelaxian way of life and work on the many plantations or ranches.
Baron Utilinus, Grand Custodian of Sargava is sole ruler of Sargava given that his predecessor, Baron Grallus, rebelled against the current overlords of Cheliax. Baron Utilinus has an arrangement with the Shackles, a loose “nation” of pirates ruled by the Hurricane King. The Shackles pirates protect Sargava from invading Chelish warships, and escort all Sargavan trading vessels to ensure their safety (think of this as the mafia “protecting” their clients. They are protected, but the Shackles take their liberties).
Eledor is the capital city of Sargava, as well as the largest city in the region.
Although some of the more formal Mwangi deities were recognizable as gods familiar to the colonists (albeit under different names, such as the Bonuwat’s combination of Gozreh and Desna into a single entity known as Shimye-Magalla), it offended their Chelish sensibilities that
the “savages” did not worship in the same way they did. Though many learned to live and let live, they did little to stop the flood of missionaries into the area, and thus began the Chelish crusade to convert the Mwangi to more “civilized” religions—both in the object of their faith, if
necessary, and in the ways they practiced.
The conversion process has had its victories and its setbacks in the generations since; some Mwangi have adopted these new gods with whole hearts, while others have violently opposed the attempts at assimilation. Over time, most missionaries have come to the conclusion that
the single most effective method involves demonstrating to the Mwangi that their daily activities are already governed by the colonists’ deities: Desna watches over the nomadic tribes in their travels, Abadar ensures fruitful trading, Gorum blesses the Mwangi when they go into battle, and Aroden protects the Mwangi villages and ensures friendly relations with their neighbors.
While the colonials were able to convince many of the Mwangi that their various deities were merely different names for the same beings, they were less successful in getting the Mwangi to give up their traditional means of worshiping those deities. Whereas Chelish ceremonies tended to be sedate and comforting in their routine, the Mwangi were given to singing and dancing in joyous celebrations that could last for hours, and often included feasting and drinking copious amounts of alcohol. Needless to say, when the colonials realized that only a handful of Mwangi were willing to kneel and pray in proper Chelish fashion, they built separate churches for the Mwangi converts who wanted more exuberant ceremonies. Perhaps the most difficult thing for Chelish missionaries, though, has been the fact that to this day, while many Mwangi have given up the worship of their traditional spirits in favor of more northern customs, a sizable number have yet to embrace the Chelish names for their new gods. Even after hundreds of years, many Mwangi have simply given the gods new and descriptive names.
Aroden, for example, is often “the flying eye” (after his holy symbol), and Iomedae is “the warrior-woman,” with the canon surrounding both having taken on much of the flavor and detail of traditional Mwangi stories. (Certainly few Mwangi devoted to gods like Iomedae are willing to believe that such a brave and noble example of a female warrior chieftain could share the skin of the decadent and largely incompetent colonists.) As a result, though many Mwangi and colonials share the same faith, the divisions between their modes of worship remain strong.
Most of the major religions imported from the north have evolved and adapted to their new homes in Sargava. Below are details on several of the most prominent.
Abadar: As a religion devoted to bringing civilization and commerce to the frontiers of Golarion, the worship of Abadar is perfectly suited to Sargava and has proven surprisingly
popular among the Mwangi. Many see “the wealthy father” as promising deliverance from their lot as second-class citizens to the Chelish colonials—despite the fact that it was Chelish missionaries who originally introduced them to Abadar’s worship.
Aroden: The Chelish colonists brought the worship of Aroden with them, intending to make it the official religion of Sargava, and for many decades it was. As other settlers moved in, they brought new religions— most notably that of Abadar—but Aroden’s worship remained strong until the death of the god in 4606 ar (little more than 100 years ago). Although the worship of Iomedae has replaced the church of Aroden elsewhere, many colonials still cling to their
old religion and believe that Aroden will one day return to announce that this has all
been a test of their faith. This dichotomy in faith has led to the “old” and “new” churches
of Aroden in Sargava. New church clerics believe that Aroden is gone forever, and they have forgone the elaborate raiment of their worship in favor of lighter, less suffocating clothing. Old church clerics believe that they need to return to the original ways and have gone back to wearing the formal attire—though only during ritual observances (which both churches have
pragmatically moved to evening hours).
Iomedae: In Sargava, the worship of Iomedae is virtually synonymous with the new church of Aroden, with services being held for both gods at the same time, and with roughly the same emphasis, depending on whose holy day it happens to be. Most of her traditional, old-church adherents are colonials, while the Mwangi have had a significant influence on the new
church. Though many colonials in the new church still balk at the popular Mwangi depiction
of Iomedae as a strong and proud tribal warrior, trading her elaborate armor for a stretched-hide shield, there’s no question that the locals alteration of her image has done wonders to swell the church’s congregation.
Gozreh and Desna: Extremely popular among the Mwangi tribals living along Sargava’s coast—Gozreh and Desna are in fact worshiped in conjunction here as a uniquely Mwangi deity named Shimye-Magalla. The mythology of this being appears to have developed among the Mwangi independent of any influence from colonists, and in fact even colonials born in the region have difficulty getting information about the goddess from the tight-lipped locals, a stonewalling that has left numerous priests of Desna and Gozreh curious and frustrated. It’s generally known that Shimye-Magalla reflects Gozreh’s female aspect—that which matches the capriciousness of the sea—and pairs it with Desna’s love of travel, freedom, and the stars by which the Mwangi navigate. Beyond this, however, many of the big questions—such as who’s actually granting spells to the goddess’s adherents—continue to go unanswered by outsiders.
Shelyn: Mainly worshiped by the colonials, Shelyn is slowly falling out of favor in Sargava; squeezed from all sides, the colonials can no longer afford the exquisite works of art and lavish ceremonies they once carried out in her name. Eleder’s opulent Grallus Ball, previously held annually to honor Shelyn, has had to be cancelled for the last 2 years because of dwindling funds. The clerics of Shelyn have had a relatively easy time converting Mwangi to the worship of “the beautiful lady,” but a much harder time getting them to practice conventional methods of worship such as sculpture or painting, let alone convincing them to build temples full of such trappings. Instead, Shelyn-worshiping Mwangi dress in red tunics and keep songbirds as pets and familiars, both practices that the colonials have also adopted as a show of solidarity.