Despite their intended role as a secondary feature, there's no doubt that factions have become a central component of Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild—so much so that we made them a key fixture of the overarching narrative in Season 9, the Year of Factions' Favor. This season's a time for us to explore these factions' ongoing stories, and as is true for any story, the characters grow, change, and sometimes disappear entirely. In the past, we've handled most of these changes at the beginning of a new season. Not so in Season 9. We've been working toward a mid-season update in our storyline for some time, and I'd like to share three major developments with you.
Back in July 2017 we launched the Leaders in Liberty contest, inviting you to send us a backstory for a rising star in the Liberty's Edge faction. We were blown away by the submissions and posted our top five for you to vote for your favorite. With your help and that of the winning contestant Sam Sampson, we formally introduced Karisa Starsight into the campaign. Most recently we shared that Liberty's Edge was in need of an interim leader, with the two leading candidates being Karisa Starsight and the halfling Tamrin Credence. Once again, you the public cast your votes and selected Tamrin Credence!
Three things in particular struck me over the course of these contests. First, these are a lot of fun, and I'm interested in exploring ways to include more contests in the future. Second, the voting between Karisa and Tamrin was quite close, showing that both of these figures really gained traction with sizeable portions of the audience. Third, the commentary (in-character and out) in the discussion threads provided a great insight into why each of the candidates resonated and what you hoped to see in the future. What was one of the most common suggestions? Co-leadership. Although I anticipate Tamrin will be the leader of the Liberty's Edge faction, it's clear that Karisa should play an active role going forward (much as Aaqir al'Hakam and Guaril Karela share management despite the former being the final arbiter).
Illustration by Kenneth Camaro
Either way, expect to see the next installation of the Liberty's Edge story in May at PaizoCon 2018!
The Scarab Sages came into being almost four years ago, formally replacing the old Osirion faction in mid-2014. The premise was pretty simple: recover a host of gemstone artifacts that store the memories of long-dead sages, recruit strong minds to host these memories, and revive the ancient order of Jeweled Sages. Ever since the Destiny of the Sands series in Season 5, PCs have exceled at doing just that, and I have no doubt that we could continue doing so for another four years. While some of our narratives benefit from such extended arcs, we decided that the Scarab Sages' story would be strongest with a decisive end. How it ends—whether the Jeweled Sages thrive as an ally of the Society or whether they fade into obscurity—depends on you. Matt Duval played such an instrumental role in writing earlier Scarab Sages scenarios that I invited him back to bring things to a close in Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-07: Salvation of the Sages. Be sure to check those reporting checkboxes—our hope is to have a canonical outcome by the end of Season 9.
So what does this mean for the future? At the end of Season 9, the Scarab Sages faction retires, and current members will need to change to a different faction. As noted on page 28 of the current Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Guide, "any characters affected by faction retirement can retain any faction-based benefits but can't purchase new items specific to the retired faction. Such characters must choose a new faction at no cost prior to receiving credit for any further scenarios." In addition, members of the Scarab Sages faction will keep any benefits earned on Scarab Sages Faction Journal Cards, but once the faction's retired, they won't be able to fulfill further goals.
In the meantime, I encourage you to experience the Scarab Sages storyline in full in case you've missed a few adventures. Keep in mind that the Scarab Sages was also the first faction whose storyline we incorporated directly into the Pathfinder Adventure Card Guild, specifically in Season 3, the Season of Plundered Tombs. In chronological order, these are:
- Pathfinder Society Scenario #5-12: Destiny of the Sands, Part 1: A Bitter Bargain (Tier 1-5)
- Pathfinder Society Scenario #5-15: Destiny of the Sands, Part 2: Race to Seeker's Folly (Tier 1-5)
- Pathfinder Society Scenario #5-16: Destiny of the Sands, Part 3: Sanctum of the Sages (Tier 3-7)
- Pathfinder Society Scenario #6-04: Beacon Below (Tier 7-11)
- Pathfinder Society Scenario #6-19: Test of Tar Kuata (Tier 3-7)
- Pathfinder Society Scenario #7-04: The Ironbound Schism (Tier 7-11)
- Pathfinder Society Scenario #7-11: Ancients' Anguish (Tier 7-11)
- Pathfinder Society Adventure Card Guild, Season 3 (Especially #3-3: In Search of a Sage and #3-4: Tomb of the Godless Host)
- Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-17: Refugees of the Weary Sky (Tier 7-11)
- Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-04: The Unseen Inclusion (Tier 1-5)
- Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-07: Salvation of the Sages (Tier 7-11)
So that might leave a few of your characters in need of a new faction. Sounds like you'd appreciate a new option, right?
The Concordance of Elements
Pathfinder Society's factions cover a huge range of character concepts quite nicely, particularly for PCs who are interested in history, knowledge, and exploration. That said, the campaign's always struggled to accommodate one particular class: druids. I've struggled with this issue, as on most days the Pathfinder Society's interest in nature boils down to "that thing full of brambles and mud that we cross to reach the abandoned temple." Sure, the Society has its share of botanists, zoologists, and ecologically minded adventurers, yet that's not something that lends itself to sustainable storytelling. On top of that, there are already enough druid circles in the setting that we didn't want to add just one more to the multitude. No, we wanted something that we could make our own and have it stand out.
As we were planning out Season 8, we realized we had an excellent opportunity to introduce just such a group, an extraplanar operation known as the Concordance of Elements (or just the Concordance for short). The Concordance isn't your typical "nature for nature's sake" druid faction. Instead, it seeks out elemental imbalances, planar breaches, and extraordinary natural phenomena to close breaches, reestablish natural order, and study the multiverse in all its splendor. To fail in this is to allow rampant growth to choke out all life, stand by as one plane's power snuffs out the life of another, or watch as the cosmos spins out of alignment. While there are plenty of ways in which this fulfills the classic Nature Character's desires, I think you'll find that the Concordance tends to slap druids and fey on the wrist with some regularity. We're excited to announce the Concordance faction, and a blog by Linda Zayas-Palmer should appear on paizo.com a little later talking about the Concordance in more detail.
In the meantime, know that we'll be making the faction a playable option early in 2018, complete with new faction traits, a new Faction Journal Card, and a faction-related scenario due out in February. As has been the case with the introduction of other factions, characters will have the option to switch to the Concordance without spending any Prestige Points.
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