The Chelgrian State was an Involved polity in the Milky Way galaxy. It was the major polity of the Chelgrians and their civilization.


Ancient historyEdit

Chelgrian society had its roots in the c. 38th century CE.[1]

C. 1800 BCE, some areas of Chel were ruled by powerful Chelgrian families. Stone castles were built.[2]

C. 800 BCE, Chelgrian civilization began developing the characteristics which would lead to the Caste War in the 22nd century CE.[3][4] Some areas of Powerful families

Some religious beliefs at the time of the war had been consistently held for the preceding 2700 years before the Caste War. These included the belief that the souls of the dead were held in limbo for one year prior to being entering heaven, and associated doctrines.[2] By the time the Chelgrians achieved space travel, their dominant belief system espoused an afterlife, the conditions of which were based on an individual's moral conduct in life; at that point it was seen as a symbolic, rather than literal, truth.[5]

The Chelgrians believed in gods.[2]

The Last Unification War was fought in the c. 7th century CE; nuclear weapons were used.[2]

Space travel and the Chelgrian-PuenEdit

According to records kept by Eldar civilizations, the Chelgrians religiosity persisted long after the adoption scientific methodology, and they were abnormal in maintaining the caste system - a discriminatory social order - so long after being Contacted.[5]

The Chelgrians experienced a partial Subliming Event shortly after developing the technology to create mind-states, and within a few hundred years of developing space travel. 6% of the civilization, including some sentient machines, Sublimed within a day, and became known as the Chelgrian-Puen - the gone-before. There was no discernible pattern or outstanding traits shared by those that Sublimed. Uniquely, the Chelgrian-Puen continued to interact with the civilization they had left - the Sublimed typically quickly stopped interacting with the Real; it was theorized that the culture of the caste system, which promoted both inclusiveness and divisiveness at the same time, had been carried over by the Chelgrian-Puen.[5]

The Chelgrians gained a brief celebrity status. The peculiar nature of the Chelgrian-Puen aroused the interest of the Involveds, who observed the Chelgrians closely for a few hundred days afterwards. Concerns about the Chelgrian-Puen misusing their power proved unfounded. Instead, the Chelgrian-Puen literally created an afterlife for the Chelgrians, based on the heavenly paradise described in Chelgrian myth. The personalities of physically dead Chelgrians were saved in Soulkeepers, and then transferred to heaven by the Chelgrian-Puen.[5]

Chelgrian civilization was Contacted at least 86 years before the Chelgrian year 3455.[6]

Reforms to the caste systemEdit

In the 22nd century CE, the Equalitarians - the abolitionist movement - enjoyed a period of strength at least ten years before the Caste War, but support waned it came to nothing. One of its champions was famed composer, and Caste Denier, Mahrai Ziller. Ziller quit politics afterwards, but he was later offered the honour of being Ceremonial President of the Chelgrian State on the merits of his superlative musical career. However, in a public scandal nine years before the war, he rejected the honour by using "acceptance" speech to denounce the caste system and criticize the polity that continued to use it; he subsequently went into self-imposed exile in the Culture.[7]

The Equalitarians rose once more within a decade of Ziller's departure.[7] Their cause was assisted by the Culture. The Culture covertly secured the support of Chelgrian parlimentarians by promising technological assistance, including space technologies.[4] Seven years after Ziller's self-exile[7], Kapyre, an Equalitarian, was elected President of the Chelgrian State.[4] Kapyre's reforms fully enfranchised the lower castes, and abolished the social restrictions of the caste system. To placate the upper castes, the caste system was retained only for social identification purposes, and new property laws ensured the immediate family of house leaders retained ownership of clan lands.[7] After the first Equalitarian election, the coalition government selected Muonze, a Spayed, as Kapyre's successor.[4]

Parts of the Chelgrian Army launched a failed coup - the Guards' Revolt - after the first Equalitarian election. Expensive measures were taken to increase the proportion of pro-Equalitarians - lower caste members - in the armed forces; the Equalitarian Guard Companies and new militias were formed, and training of lower caste members was accelerated so they could assume command of the majority of the Chelgrian Navy's ships. The wisdom of arming so many with advanced weapons depended on all parties exercising tolerance and restraint.[4] Nonetheless, the Chelgrian government appeared to have been strengthened by the Revolt, and the arming of the lower castes was seen as a positive step toward achieving a comprehensive distribution of power.[7]

The Culture judged that events would now proceed satisfactorily and began withdrawing its assets in and around the Chelgrian State. This was an error; the Culture misjudged Muonze's intentions and underestimated the resentment the now-armed lower castes held toward their former masters. It was a recipe for disaster. Under Muonze's influence the lower castes prepared for war.[4]

The Caste WarEdit

Main article: Caste War

The Caste War began two years after Kapyre's election[7] when the lower castes - collectively called the Invisibles - suddenly attacked the upper castes - the Loyalists -[4] throughout Chelgrian space, and at all levels of life.[5] The war was fought with brutal ferocity and threatened to destroy Chelgrian civilization.[4] The civil war lasted less than 50 days[5] and killed approximately 4.5 billion Chelgrians.[1]

The Culture's response was stymied by lack of resources, and the death or disappearance of most of their Chelgrian contacts.[1] The Culture could not contact Muonze because he had been killed. The belligerents agreed to end the war when contacted by the Culture. The Culture publicly admitted its involvement in Chelgrian politics, its mismanagement of the pre-war situation, took responsibility for the war,[4] and pledged reparations.[5] The Culture became the object of resentment among Chelgrians.[4]

Aftermath of the warEdit

Chelgrian society underwent a period of restructuring after the war.[2]

More seriously, the Chelgrian-Puen refused to admit the mind-states of the war dead into the afterlife. By ancient custom, the admission of war dead into heaven had to be paid for by an equivalent toll in enemy lives; the Chelgrian-Puen decreed the blood-price had to be paid by the Culture.[2] As the Culture would certainly not agree to such a toll, the Chelgrian State tried to extract the necessary toll from the Culture by covert attacking Masaq' Orbital[1]; the attack was foiled by the Culture, but elicited a commitment from the Culture to work toward a peaceful solution.[8]


The Chelgrian State was an interstellar polity. By the 22nd century CE its home space was centred around Chel,[9] the homeworld of the Chelgrians.[5]; the state also had planets beyond that volume[9], and space habitats.[10]


Caste and clansEdit

Main article: Caste system of the Chelgrians

The traditional caste system was an integral aspect of the society of the Chelgrian State. The system imposed restrictions; the government[7] and the armed forces were controlled by the upper castes[4], intercaste marriages were difficult or prohibited, and misrepresenting ones caste was illegal.[7] Higher caste members could have the status of nobility.[9] The enforced restrictions of the caste system were abolished shortly before the Caste War. Thereafter caste was used only for social identification. In theory choice of caste became a matter of personal preference; while self-declared caste affiliations were no longer illegal, they were not necessarily recognized legally.[7]

Clans, or houses,[3] were family groupings. They could have significant property holdings. Some families had the status of being "sovereign families."[7] Families could have long associations with certain professions.[7][5]

Monastic, and other, ordersEdit

Some religious organizations were organized into monastic orders. Orders could have monasteries, where a relatively ascetic lifestyle was practised,[5] and operate interstellar temple ships.[6][10]

The Chelgrian-Puen maintained links to the rest of the Chelgrian civilization at least partially through machines in the care of the orders.[5] Orders also worked to retrieve lost mind-states.[6]

The Sheracht Order was associated with the upper castes.[5] Some of the Caring Orders were considered as neutral in terms of caste association or interest.[4]


Main article: Chelgrian-Puen

The Chelgrian-Puen, the "gone-before", were the Sublimed portion of Chelgrian civilization. Through the 22nd century CE, the Chelgrian-Puen were unique in that they remained in contact with those they left behind.[5]

The Chelgrian-Puen created the Chelgrian afterlife based on traditional religious beliefs; the afterlife was populated by the mind-states of dead Chelgrians.[5] The Chelgrian-Puen could influence the actions of the Chelgrian State where matters of the afterlife were concerned.[2]

The Estodiens were Chelgrians who worked closely in matters of the Chelgrian-Puen and the afterlife; they were highly respected.[2]

Government and politicsEdit

The capital was Chelise on Chel.[1]

The President of the Chelgrian State is selected by parliamentarians.[7][4] Elections were a part of the government-formation process; members of all castes could vote after the victory of the Equalitarian movement.[7]

The Ceremonial President was a person of great prestige and popularity.[7]


Applications for changes to caste were overseen by elected caste courts. Caste was only used as part of legal titles and names. Unilateral changes to caste were not illegal, but they were not legally recognized.[7]

Foreign relationsEdit

The Chelgrian State was a member of the galactic community by the 22nd century CE. It was party to galactic agreements, including those prohibiting the mass murder of non-combatants.[1]

86 years before the Chelgrian year 3455, the prevailing opinion of the state toward the Culture was not unfavourable.[6][11] Culture interference was responsible for causing the Caste War, and relations became strained. The Culture apologized, and pledged reparations and aid.[5] The immediate post-war relationship was marred by covert violence; the Chelgrian State was compelled to seek restitution in an unsuccessful attack on the Culture's Masaq' Orbital[1], with the Culture retaliating in turn.[12] In any case, the war was a major embarrassment to the Culture.[13]

The Chelgrian State drew the ire of the Oskendari airsphere's dirigible behemothaur as a result of the attempted attack on Masaq'. The behemothaur Sansemin's death was tied to preparations for the attack held aboard it.[10] Subsequently, the behemothaur's referred to the Chelgrians as the "Lesser Reviled", a designation they continued to use nearly a Grand Cycle later.[14]

Armed forcesEdit

Main article: Chelgrian Combined Forces

The Chelgrian Armed Forces was the military of the Chelgrian State at the time of the Caste War;[6] branches included the Army, and the Navy[4] - which operated spacecraft.[10] The upper castes' traditional control over the military was reduced prior to the war by the formation of pro-Equalitarian militias and the Equalitarian Guard Companies.[4]

Space forces could be augmented by privateers.[3][9][10]

Nobles wore distinct body armour.[9]

Economy and developmentEdit

Economic activity included the purchase and selling of goods and service.[5][10] Clans owned significant property, including land.[6][7] Nobles, military officers,[9] religious orders[5], and other organizations[2] employed servants.

The Chelgrians had sapient AIs - although they were underutilized at the time the Chelgrian-Puen were created. They also used Soulkeeper implants to save their mind-states upon death.[5]

By the 22nd century CE, the state had drones[6], and its interstellar spacecraft used field-based drives.[10] Full body regeneration,[4][5] and cloning for revention,[5][11] were also available.



Main article: Chelgrian name

The full names of Chelgrians were long, and contained references to persons' caste, clan, and organizational affiliations; they were likened to condensed biographies.[7]


The lunar[10] or tidal month[15] was a unit of time used in the state. There was also a two-moon month;[2] Chel had two moons.[16]

Death and the afterlifeEdit

Chelgrians used Soulkeeper implants to save their mind-states - or souls - when they died. Chelgrian civilization was atypical in that mind-states were rarely used for reventing, or for creating personality duplicates. Typically, mind-states were transferred - or saved - by the Chelgrian-Puen from Soulkeepers to the afterlife.[5]

The Chelgrian afterlife - or heaven - was created by the Chelgrian-Puen. The afterlife was a paradise inspired by Chelgrian mythology. The mind-states of dead Chelgrians could be contacted by the living through intermediate machines and people; this also helped to confirm the existence of the afterlife. The afterlife also contained entities resembling Chelgrians who died before the invention of the Soulkeeper; these entities could not be contacted by the living and it was suspected they were best-guess constructs by the Chelgrian-Puen.[5]

The Chelgrian-Puen controlled entry into heaven. Some of the entrance requirements and practices were inspired by ancient Chelgrian beliefs and mythology.

All saved mind-states were held for one year before being released into heaven; this was in accordance with ancient beliefs.[2]

Entrance requirements to the afterlife were quite broad, and was generally open to all Chelgrians except under certain circumstances. While traditional beliefs were vague on the fate of suicidees, the Chelgrian-Puen typically refused to save suicidees; this discouraged people from attempting to quickly enter the paradise of the afterlife. Faith was not an entrance requirement.[5]

War dead required an equal toll in enemy dead to be admitted. This was an extraordinary condition based on particularly barbaric ancient beliefs.[2]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Look to Windward, chapter 14
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 Look to Windward, chapter 10
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Look to Windward, chapter 3
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 Look to Windward, chapter 6
  5. 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 5.18 5.19 5.20 5.21 5.22 Look to Windward, chapter 8
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 Look to Windward, chapter 2
  7. 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 7.12 7.13 7.14 7.15 7.16 Look to Windward, chapter 5
  8. Look to Windward, chapter 16
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 Look to Windward, chapter 4
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 Look to Windward, chapter 12
  11. 11.0 11.1 Look to Windward, Epilogue
  12. Look to Windward, Closure
  13. Surface Detail, chapter 9
  14. Look to Windward, Space, Time
  15. Look to Windward, chapter 11
  16. Look to Windward, The Memory of Running