The Future of Pathfinder Society Organized Play, Part VI: Establish Order, No Matter the Costs
... The Future of Pathfinder Society Organized Play, Part VI: Establish Order, No Matter the Costs Monday, April 25, 2011 The proud empire of Cheliax once spread across two continents, but fell to diabolical rule after 30 years of civil war following Aroden's death. Chelaxians believe their nation superior to the others in the Inner Sea region, and won't let something as simple as the death of their patron god prevent them from attaining their prophesied age of glory. The ruling House Thrune...
The Future of Pathfinder Society Organized Play, Part VI: Establish Order, No Matter the Costs
Monday, April 25, 2011
The proud empire of Cheliax once spread across two continents, but fell to diabolical rule after 30 years of civil war following Aroden's death. Chelaxians believe their nation superior to the others in the Inner Sea region, and won't let something as simple as the death of their patron god prevent them from attaining their prophesied age of glory. The ruling House Thrune and its allies rose to power amid chaos, and established order with the help of the armies of Hell; they maintain control decades later with the same regimented organization of their infernal minions. Though Cheliax already controls the Arch of Aroden, and thus the western entrance to the Inner Sea, Queen Abrogail II's strategists know that control of Absalom is vital if Cheliax hopes to establish order throughout the region. They believe that victory is well within their grasp, and that it will come on the backs of the weak.
We led off the parade of factions two weeks ago with a look at Andoran, which is far and away the most popular faction. Though Andoran's neighbor geographically (and alphabetically in the list of ten factions), Cheliax couldn't be more different than its freedom-fighting rivals. Not only are the lawful-evil tendencies of the organization at direct odds with the chaotic good spirit of liberty, but the faction has also been the least popular in terms of active members in all three seasons of Pathfinder Society Organized Play.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out why, though. These are the "bad guys" of the Pathfinder Society campaign. They're the ones who send players on missions to spread the influence of Hell and the Infernal armies of the House of Thrune. If there's one thing we can learn from the trend in membership between the Andoran and Cheliax factions, it's that players want to be heroes!
So what happens to Cheliax going forward? So far, nothing, though faction leader Paracountess Zarta Dralneen's flagging leadership has certainly caught the eye of her superiors. It'd really be a shame for her to be punished personally for the fact that she represents the "bad guy faction." I know I'd personally hate to see her replaced, since I love reading her innuendo-drenched faction missives. I just hope Queen Abrogail and her lackeys are as amused by her suggestive tone and rampant hedonism as most Cheliax faction players are.
Luckily, we won't be gauging a faction's success on its membership numbers next season, but rather the rate at which active members succeed at faction missions. And while there are many disparaging things the champions of good can say about Cheliax, that they aren't dedicated isn't one of them. Then again, we've already said there will be another "good guy" faction next year. What would happen to Cheliax's resolve if we were to add another "bad guy" to keep things even? Will newly added prestige awards allowing Cheliax faction PCs of all classes to advance in the ranks of the Hellknights be enough to keep the already low number of faithful from jumping ship? Only time (and maybe some prayers to Asmodeus) will tell.
Check back next Monday for a look at the new scenarios and special events we'll be offering at Gen Con to celebrate the launch of Season 3!
... Into the Inner Sea? Wednesday, September 22, 2010Off to the printer goes Pathfinder Player Companion: Inner Sea Primer, our new guide to what's what and where's where for characters in the Pathfinder campaign setting. Aside from being filled with the baseline, what your character knows details of Avistan and Garund, it's also our new go-to book for traits from around the Inner Sea, with each column-length country write-up including two new options for natives of that region. As a bit of a...
Into the Inner Sea?
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Off to the printer goes Pathfinder Player Companion: Inner Sea Primer, our new guide to what's what and where's where for characters in the Pathfinder campaign setting. Aside from being filled with the baseline, "what your character knows" details of Avistan and Garund, it's also our new go-to book for traits from around the Inner Sea, with each column-length country write-up including two new options for natives of that region. As a bit of a preview, here's a new trait for Sargava to help all you Serpent Skull players soon to be in need of replacement characters. (What can I say? The Mwangi's a killer.) Also, take a peek at more of Carolina Eade's incredible art: a Chelish infernal binder—just one of three new Golarion magic archetypes included in the guide. Enjoy!
Illustration by Carolina Eade
Jungle Guide (Regional): You've made your living outfitting and guiding expeditions deep into the Mwangi interior in search of ancient ruins and lost cities. You gain a +1 trait bonus on Handle Animal checks, and a +1 trait bonus on Survival checks in jungle terrain. One of these skills is a class skill for you.
... The Pawns of Hell Monday, November 16, 2009 ... Illustration by David Bircham ... It's an exciting time around here at Paizo. With all the hustle and bustle, if you've seen me on the boards at all, it's probably been commenting on Pathfinder fiction—how it's spooling up now, how some of the authors signing on are blowing my mind, and how we plan to manage things so that both the novel line and the gaming lines can flourish without breaking the world. (If you're curious, it's also...
The Pawns of Hell
Monday, November 16, 2009
Illustration by David Bircham
It's an exciting time around here at Paizo. With all the hustle and bustle, if you've seen me on the boards at all, it's probably been commenting on Pathfinder fiction—how it's spooling up now, how some of the authors signing on are blowing my mind, and how we plan to manage things so that both the novel line and the gaming lines can flourish without breaking the world. (If you're curious, it's also the subject of the editorial in Pathfinder #29.) Yet in all this discussion of the Pathfinder fiction that's coming, it suddenly came to my attention that it had been a while since I'd talked about the amazing fiction we already have.
If you've been reading Council of Thieves, I don't have to tell you that Dave Gross is one of the most talented authors we've had the pleasure of working with on Pathfinder fiction. But I can tell you, having just finished the final chapter of "Hell's Pawns"—the noir-fantasy Pathfinder's Journal in which the tiefling Radovan and half-elven Pathfinder Varian Jeggare hunt a murderer through the upper echelons of Cheliax's corrupt nobility—that Dave has something few fantasy authors in any world achieve: Weight. Gravitas. An honest, emotional connection to characters, not just the world they live in. It's what we've always striven for with Pathfinder fiction, and there can be no question that Dave delivers—along with plenty of murder, intrigue, and gangsters both official and amateur.
But I won't get into spoiler territory. Instead, I'd rather give you all a sample of what I'm talking about, a snippet from the beginning of the story, in Pathfinder #25:
On the scaffold, a knobby-kneed herald emerges from behind the canvas. He looks to either side, shuddering with exaggerated fear when the guards eye him up and down. The groundlings laugh, recognizing him as one of the Fools of Thrune, a jester from House Sarini sent out to amuse them while they wait. I lose interest the moment he raises a trumpet to his lips and blows out a length of crimson silk and a pair of sagging pillows meant to suggest he's blown his lungs out through the horn.
I see plenty of familiar mugs among the groundlings: stevedores, stable hands, street sweepers, barmaids, a seamstress I once gave a memorable night on the Bunyip Dock. A pickpocket I know tips me a wink as he pats a mark on the shoulder while his adolescent accomplice dips his hand in on the other side. A few others touch their chins or smile when they see me. I nod back.
No one from the stands throws me a greeting, but more than a few know me better than they'd admit. I know several of them better than I'd like their husbands to know, but to most I am only the silent bodyguard of Count Varian Jeggare. The only one among them bold enough to return my gaze is Ivo Elliendo.
The Paralictor glides out of the stands where he has been receiving the compliments of the ladies. His tall figure stands out like a plow cutting through a garden. The sharp red scourges on the ribs of his black leather jack give him a gaunt silhouette.
He squints when he spots me, and I can feel his scorn hot on my face. What else can I do but shoot him my toothiest smile? All around him, ladies who had followed his gaze snap up their fans to shield themselves from the sight of a mouth that I'm told looks like a drawer full of knives. The commotion distracts Elliendo, and when he sees he is surrounded by a halo of fluttering fans, his lined face darkens.
Elliendo stalks away from the stands and mounts the stairs, followed as usual by two hulking Hellknights. I begin to frame a prayer for rotting steps before deciding that's too much to ask, even on Judgment Day. On the scaffold, Elliendo peers north at the approach of the golden Royal Carriage down the Imperial Promenade. He snaps his fingers, and the clown retreats behind the canvas to a clatter of applause. Once the carriage halts and the window shades rise just enough for the occupant—no doubt some minor Palace official, rather than the Queen herself—to peer out, the canvas on the scaffold falls away to reveal the Instruments of Judgment.
In the center is a blazing furnace in the shape of a three-faced devil. From each of its gaping jaws jut a bramble of iron implements: knives, spears, chains, rods, brands, and most conspicuous of all the Tines of Cheliax. Each is a two-pronged fork sized for a stone giant, and today there are two of them.
Arrayed between the furnaces are racks of torture devices retrieved from every civilized nation on Golarion, and several not so civilized. The spiked cages of Geb are a crowd favorite, and two of them already hold prisoners. One is a fat man who begins screaming the moment he is revealed, while the other is pock-faced Gellius Bonner, the Butcher of Merrow Lane.
I fell into the Bonner case when the boss sent me to nose around the tannery across the river. I was supposed to catch a stable master selling the carcasses of his lady's mysteriously sickened horses. That went nowhere, but I spied the tanner sneaking out of his own home well past midnight. Curious, I followed him into town, expecting to discover nothing more than a mistress in some Cheapside flat. Instead, he led me to Bonner's shop, where he joined six men wearing crude robes. Bonner greeted them with some fiendish phrase, though I could understand only a few words before he led them downstairs. I let myself in for a peek. When I saw the yak-headed thing Bonner conjured and what they intended to offer it, I ran to Greensteeples and beat on the boss's door until his sleepy halfling butler woke him. With a few questions, Jeggare confirmed that the cult was demonic, not diabolic, so he sent a message directly to the Temple of Asmodeus, who in turn asked the Hellknights to capture the cultists, minus a few who resisted arrest. They even recovered two boys who had not yet been devoured.
The discovery broke the cases of more than a dozen missing children, disappearances that Elliendo had publicly sworn to solve. As he was not on duty that night, he was surprised to hear the criers' announcement of another mystery solved by the celebrated Varian Jeggare.
If it were for the murders alone, Bonner might have met his Judgment at the edge of an axe or, if it were only one or two killings, in hard labor for a decade. The devil-worshiping lords of Cheliax, however, do not suffer the denizens of the Abyss in the city. For consorting with demons, Bonner earned his special voyage to Hell.
While not an admirer of the spectacle, I make a point of witnessing the Judgment of anyone convicted on one of our cases. This time, the boss insisted that I bring something to confirm it was Bonner and not some magic-masked substitute who did the dance of the Tines. He sent me to the Plaza of Flowers with a couple of sakava leaves plucked fresh from a plant in his greenhouse.
Once the Instruments are unveiled, four proper heralds stand on the corners of the scaffold and announce the list of Judgments. Behind them, brawny shirtless men in red hoods prepare the braces for the Tines.
When a couple of the big men unlock Bonner's cage, I slip the sakava leaves from a sleeve pocket. The size of my thumbs, they are thick green ovals with tiny white hairs glistening with oil. Just before I crush them, someone calls my name.
She is taller than me, which is not too uncommon, but most of that height comes from a pair of legs snugged in black calfskin trousers with tiny stars and suns cut out along the outer seam to reveal bare skin. Her blouse hangs loose except in just the right places to make a celibate throw himself off the roof. Her big hazel eyes are too far apart with heavy eyebrows, but they look fine above a long nose pierced above one nostril with a tiny ruby. The stone sets off a hint of late-summer red in her brown hair.
I'm staring at her over the little green leaves.
"Are you Radovan?" she asks again. I could listen to her say my name all day, but then she ruins it by adding, "Count Jeggare's servant?"
"His bodyguard." Immediately I think of three or four suave answers.
"My messages to Greensteeples have gone unanswered, and I require the count's assistance," she says. "And naturally his utmost discretion."
"Naturally," I say, but before I can give her the pitch, I feel a sharp poke just below my shoulder blade.
"Say goodbye to the girly, copper-tongue," reeks a voice inches beneath my ear. I know who it is from the stench of garlic and boiled eggs.
"Not now, Ursio." I try to sound casual, but the scratch he gave me starts to itch. Out of the corners of my eyes I see a couple of shapes that must be his backup. "I'll stay in this very public place while you and your playmates go climb your thumbs."
"These bolts are tipped with black lotus venom," says Ursio, and I know it's his treasured hand crossbow with its steel "fangs" jammed into my back. "You'll be dead before your body hits the street."
It seems unlikely that Ursio has acquired the deadly and expensive poison, but on the scaffold I see the hooded men dragging Bonner to a table, where a third man awaits with a pair of curved knives held high for the crowd's acclaim...
For more of Radovan's adventures in Cheliax, check out the Pathfinder's Journal section of Pathfinder volumes #25 through #30. I promise you won't be disappointed.
... Behind the Scenes: The Six Trials of Larazod Friday, September 18, 2009 ... Illustration by Sara Otterstätter ... This month marks the debut of the The Six Trials of Larazod, the nefarious play that features prominently in Pathfinder Adventure Path #26: The Six-Fold Trial. As promised therein, presented here are the omitted history and details of that accursed play, including a more detailed dramatis personae and more incredible art from Sara Otterstätter. Enjoy! ... What Are the Six...
Behind the Scenes: The Six Trials of Larazod
Friday, September 18, 2009
Illustration by Sara Otterstätter
This month marks the debut of the The Six Trials of Larazod, the nefarious play that features prominently in Pathfinder Adventure Path #26: The Six-Fold Trial. As promised therein, presented here are the omitted history and details of that accursed play, including a more detailed dramatis personae and more incredible art from Sara Otterstätter. Enjoy!
What Are the Six Trials?
In modern times, The Six Trials of Larazod is best known as the fictional account of a Chelish tiefling named Larazod Rilsane. Larazod receives a vision from Asmodeus in which the dark god unveils a prominent Chelish magistrate—the sinister Paraduke Montigny Haanderthan—as a traitor to Cheliax, who has compacted with demonic powers and plans to bring the worship of Asmodeus to a sharp and brutal end. Burning with unholy justice and diabolical purpose, Larazod, along with his stalwart companions, sets out to expose the highly placed traitor Haanderthan. They are greatly overmatched, as Larazod is a minor scion of a piddling noble house whose influence lies tattered in the wake of Thrune's seizure of power in Cheliax. Undaunted, Larazod vows a smoldering blood oath to Asmodeus to see the traitor fall before Haanderthan's actions bring the dark glory of Cheliax low.
Larazod's actions swiftly bring him to the attention of the Paraduke, who has the young tiefling scooped up in the crushing grasp of the law and brought before his dark tribunal for questioning. There, a dire confrontation ensues wherein Larazod reveals his vision and heaps accusations upon Haanderthan in full view of a well-attended tribunal session. Outrage and scandal threaten to topple the order of things, and Larazod's enemies grow in number. Only one high-placed member of the tribunal takes his part—a beautiful daughter of House Sarini and rival of Haanderthan named Ilsandra. A sultry love affair between Ilsandra and Larazod develops as the pair seeks to topple the treacherous Haanderthan.
Haanderthan, using the awesome influence granted a man of his stature, forces Larazod to undergo six trials to prove the truth of his accusations, stating, "If Asmodeus truly granted you this vision, then his almighty black hand shall shield you from dismemberment and disembowelment in the trials we've planned. Surely your faith does not waver?" Larazod agrees to the trials, blasting the magistrate with unholy oaths to see his foolish plans undone.
The trials follow. Combat with foul beasts and grievous tortures leaves Larazod and his companions brutally maimed both in body and soul. At its climax, though, Larazod emerges unharmed and is vindicated as Asmodeus himself drags the nefarious magistrate to Hell.
Despite the spectacle and fame of this piece, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the play is that it is rarely performed to completion. The reality of these trials in their most lethal form—as the play's stage directions detail—prove so intense that nearly every performance ends in the gruesome onstage death of the actors playing Larazod and his companions, those who vow to join him in his darkest hour and face the trials alongside him.
Historical Notes on the Piece
The writer of The Six Trials of Larazod was a legendary playwright of House Sarini named Lokoris. Writing throughout the 4640s, Lokoris was a minor scion of his house who rose to prominence through his gifts of the quill, and who maintained a complete aloofness from political rhetoric or commentary in his many other successful black comedies and heart-breaking tragedies. A signature of his style was the combination of the comic and the serious, a hitherto unexplored mixture of human experience in Chelish drama. Lokoris was a devout follower of Asmodeus in his personal life, and yet his plays were known for their ability to present characters from all walks of life and even different faiths more vividly and realistically than his contemporaries.
The age old play known as Six Trials of Larazod was considered an outrageous piece, even more so after Lokoris’s revisions to the classic—wherein Larazod, a common man, defies the will of a corrupt magistrate. Rewriting this classic plot into both a violent celebration and sideways denouncement of the new Chelish regime, Lokoris transformed it into one of the most avant-garde and sadistic plays in the country’s history. In its time one performance caused widespread riots throughout the city of Westcrown. Lokoris was soon revealed as the playwright, not only ending his career but resulting in his disappearance. He was never found or heard from again, but common theory holds he was swept up by agents of House Thrune and his soul consigned to some bleak corner of Hell for all eternity—an ironic twist of life imitating art.
The play was banned for over 50 years then revived by a later troupe, whose playing of the piece in the outer regional theatres of Cheliax met with great success (though they went through actors quickly as the trials devoured a few each night). However, as the play began to pick up traction among larger and more respectable troupes, the play proved untenable once more. A production by a highly regarded troupe in Egorian resulted in the audience storming the stage and tearing apart the actors playing both Larazod and Haanderthan.
Since, the play is oft discussed in drama academies and among the well-read elite of Cheliax but has never received a serious staging. Until now.
The Three Larazods
There have been several restagings of Lokoris’s The Six Trials of Larazod in the last dozen years, but these have been from a much adapted and markedly less lethal text bearing more in common with the original, centuries old text. Finding a "Lokoris version” or a classic “Original Larazod” now is not easy, but texts arise from time to time. As such, audiences attending the play often don't know from which text the actors will be performing, with those expecting a night of theater instead finding themselves attending a bloodbath and visa versa.
In the modern readaption, as in the original, Tybain merely serves as comic relief (even most Lokoris versions cut many of his blasphemous musings on Aroden's power and what not). Additionally, the entire endgame of the plot is often reworked, and the character of Ilsandra much changed. In this revision, Ilsandra is a succubus who delivers a false vision onto Larazod to urge the youth to topple Montigny Haanderthan—in this version vindicated as a true patriot, falsely accused through abyssal treachery. Therein, Ilsandra is the real culprit, Larazod the flawed tragic hero, and Haanderthan a true believer in Asmodeus under false accusation. Obviously, this reading of the play is far more palatable to most nobles' sensibilities and on occasion receives patronage and stagings. The Lokoris version, while deadlier and far more of a spectacle, sees a tiefling triumphing over one of the rulers of the land and seems to encourage defiance against the aristocracy—features that, regardless of the villain's corruption, do not sit well with the noblesse.
Being those to face damnation and torments most foul amid the Six-Fold Trial.
LARAZOD RILSANE: A tiefling at a time when being a tiefling isn't easy. To most Chelaxians, tieflings are considered a distasteful mixing of pure bloodlines and diabolic influences based not on thoughtful and potent compacts and bargains, but rather a crude relationship and mere carnal episode bearing rotten fruit. Larazod is a low-ranking scion of a lesser house and has no real influence. He achieved nominal acclaim as an officer in the Everwar but has never really been recognized as a hero. He is an odd choice for Asmodeus's messenger, but his faith in the Dark Lord is peerless and unquestioning. He is a simple and low-ranking member of society who is chosen nonetheless by Asmodeus to right a terrible wrong through faith alone.
DENTRIS MALAGRADA: An old, cantankerous wizard and a retainer in Larazod's family for as long as anyone can remember. He has forgotten more about magic than most wizards ever knew. While his magic is rusty, his mind is otherwise sharp, and his rapier wit cuts down most foes before violence is even an option in their mind. As snarly and grumpy as he is, he loves Larazod like a son, and though he tries to talk the zealous youth out of his dire course of action several times, he still marches steadfastly into death and dismemberment with his tiefling master once his sound advice is ignored. He is the character who most often moves audiences to tears, and his death during the trials often leaves no dry eye in the house.
TYBAIN OBEISAN: A paladin of Aroden who is drawn to close kinship with Larazod not by common religion, but rather by the mutual power of their faith in their own respective gods. The religious discourse between these two characters in the original manuscript illuminates just how close faiths can be, even when diametrically opposed. Tybain serves mostly as comic relief in this play, though theorists claim his original purpose was far more dramatically interesting, and meant to serve as insightful religious and political commentary. However, most of this was cut in staged adaptations for obvious reasons, and only the comic bits involving this character remain. The actor cast as Tybain traditionally dies first in the Trials and usually to audience applause.
ILSANDRA: The diabolic daughter of House Sarini who falls in torrid lust/love with Larazod. Whether or not Ilsandra really loves the young soldier turned tyrant-toppler is a topic of much heated debate among noteworthy drama critics. Many insist she is just using the boy to take down her rival. Either way, no one can deny her canny, Machiavellian mind and demure use of both her charms and wiles to come out on top in the play's conclusion (whether Larazod survives or not).
DROVALID VORCLUNE: Para Inquisitor of the Tribunal, a deeply pious giant of a man whose flesh is one long taut veneer of scar tissue. He is a self-flagellant whose zealous love of his duties as head torturer is matched only by his zealous belief in Asmodeus's will. Assigned to administer soul-rending tortures to Larazod, the giant is converted by the tiefling's unyielding devotion to his beliefs and decides to assist the unlikely prophet through the remainder of his trials.
MONTIGNY HAANDERTHAN: The sadistic, traitorous, and demon-corrupted paraduke of Cheliax who engineers and oversees Larazod's trials. Arrogant and self-serving, he uses his lofty station in an attempt to deflect Larazod's accusations and put an end to both his accuser and his political rivals. His fate is decided, though, as soon as he defies Asmodeus's chosen servant.
BAILFF: The left hand and herald of magistrate Haanderthan. This nameless servant of the court introduces the feared paraduke and speaks no more, though his ominous presence lingers throughout the trial.
THE PRINCE OF DARKNESS: The archfiend and lord of Hell himself, whose hand shields Larazod throughout his trials and who ultimately exacts his own judgment upon both the accused and the accuser.
Cheliax, Empire of Devils Tuesday, July 28, 2009 ... Available mid-August, Cheliax, Empire of Devils is a Pathfinder Companion sourcebook written by a star cast of authors led by Amber Scott (contributor to Dragon magazine, the Ecology of the Varisians article for Pathfinder, and Dark Markets, A Guide to Katapesh) and Colin McComb (TSR veteran and a designer for Fallout II and Planescape: Torment). Developed hand-in-hand with the Council of Thieves Adventure Path, Cheliax serves up a big...
In a land ruled by devil-worshipers, nothing is quite... normal. Basement arenas in slums host cockatrice fights. The elite military forces train against devils to overcome fear. Priests of Asmodeus interpret laws. At the top of the hierarchy, lovely young Queen Abrogail issues orders to the royal scribes, redacting events of the past and issuing new official histories so that eventually all will believe that Cheliax has always been in league with Hell.
As the Pathfinder Companion line is designed to be player-friendly, inside you'll find articles on Westcrown (an excellent source of info for players about to start the Council of Thieves Adventure Path) and the capital city of Egorian, magic items and spells of Cheliax, religion in Cheliax (including how non-Asmodean religions are allowed to exist there), new traits, new combat feats to emulate devil fighting styles, and four fully statted NPCs suitable for contacts, hirelings, or cohorts.
How Do I Play a Paladin in Service to Cheliax? Thursday, July 10, 2008Good question! We're hearing this one and others like it on the Pathfinder Society messageboards, so we thought we'd use today's blog to give you a sneak peak at the Chelax section of the Pathfinder Society Player's Guide soon-to-be-released here on paizo.com. All of the base classes will be covered in the final Player's Guide. Below we've included just a few of the classes folks are having a hard time imagining as non-evil...
How Do I Play a Paladin in Service to Cheliax?
Thursday, July 10, 2008
Good question! We're hearing this one and others like it on the Pathfinder Society messageboards, so we thought we'd use today's blog to give you a sneak peak at the Chelax section of the Pathfinder Society Player's Guide soon-to-be-released here on paizo.com. All of the base classes will be covered in the final Player's Guide. Below we've included just a few of the classes folks are having a hard time imagining as non-evil Chelish faction members.
Since House Thrune rose to prominence, reclaiming the past glories of Cheliax and re-establishing their footholds across the world has been their primary goal. Chelish armies amass in the ruthless homeland, and their agents push far and wide seeking to expand the diabolic empire's influence. Chelish culture is widely popular, and their fashions show up in most nations across Avistan and Garund. House Thrune places a high priority on discovering the relics of the past and controlling the revelation and interpretation of historical finds. The noble houses of Cheliax encourage the populace and even their own scions to join the Pathfinder Society and seek treasures of ancient power to bolster the empire.
Barbarians: Cheliax is built on law and order. The empire runs smoothly with the help of its infernal allies, and they tolerate no disruption to the nation's workings. Barbarism does not thrive among the devil-bowing culture of Cheliax. Still, there are blood pits in Westcrown where men become beasts to the deafening roar of the crowd and the hot spray of an enemy's blood. Cheliax's most fierce battle-raging warriors are cultivated from slaves who earn a place in the military only after brutal escapades in the blood pits. Other conscripts in the army of Cheliax are drawn from captured Shoanti of Varisia who sometimes pledge their loyalty to House Thrune and join the Pathfinder Society in the empire's service.
Druids: Cheliax's colonial holdings of old inspired several orders of wardens dedicated to safeguarding the majesty of the natural world. When House Thrune seized control of the crumbling empire, they bent these earthly wonders to their own infernal uses and even today most of the empire's natural resources are ruthlessly hewn and sent to the new capital at Egorian for whatever sinister purposes House Thrune sees fit. A few of the druidic orders of old persisted, doing their best to stem the burning of the land, and convincing the noble houses to slow their voracious ravaging of the landscape, lest the resources run dry. The Black Wardens survived by dedicating themselves to Asmodeus dogma, claiming they grow the trees to stoke the fires of his dark glory. Other orders like the Sisters of Oak maintain their vigil over the landscape with no official ties to the Church of Asmodeus, but doing so sometimes creates friction between their order and the government of Egorian. Still as the country's natural resources wane, the government of Cheliax cannot afford to eradicate these druids, and are forced to form tenuous agreements with them in order to save their nation's landscape from utter destruction.
Monks: Monastic orders abound in Cheliax, most steeped in martial arts once trained in the smoldering depths of the Nine Hells. The coveted martial arts of devil kind are now practiced by the Chelish in secret sects and monasteries all over the empire. Several of these orders are attached to the Chelish legion, and in particular the martial art of Hamatulatsu, learned from barbed devils, is practiced by monks in military service. Other orders include the Sidaal Thram, an order of glaive wielding martial arts masters who wear long bears braided with barbs and blades, as well as the spiked chain wielding Order of the Razored Shackle, who wrap themselves in the kyton's chains and engage in horrifying self mutilation as part of their path to excellence.
Paladins: Paladins are a rare sight in Cheliax. Before House Thrune rose to power, the shining servants of Iomedae and her slain patron Aroden rode throughout Old Cheliax. Some are still there and do the best they can to serve her glory in a nation much overshadowed in darkness. They see it as their divine duty to bring the empire back to a path of temperance, or at least to balance the evils of their homeland. More than a few paladins of Aroden still believe their god will return someday to bring the nation back into the light. These paladins remain to herald his return, and hold on to the burning idea of Old Cheliax, a sprawling empire whose glory was a beacon in a dark and savage world.
One Faction to Rule Them All! Tuesday, July 8, 2008Rather than spend a lot of time in today's blog wowing you with words, I thought we'd skip right to the brand new icons designed for the Pathfinder Society Organized Play factions by Paizo's own Art Director, Sarah Robinson. You may not know her name, but you certainly know her work, as she is the mastermind designer behind the layout for the Pathfinder Adventure Path volumes landing in your mailbox monthly. Sarah has put together five...
One Faction to Rule Them All!
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Rather than spend a lot of time in today's blog wowing you with words, I thought we'd skip right to the brand new icons designed for the Pathfinder Society Organized Play factions by Paizo's own Art Director, Sarah Robinson. You may not know her name, but you certainly know her work, as she is the mastermind designer behind the layout for the Pathfinder Adventure Path volumes landing in your mailbox monthly. Sarah has put together five fantastic representations of the factions based on their national flags (soon to be debuted in the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting hardcover.)
Once the Pathfinder Society website is running at full functionality, your faction choice will be represented as one of the above icons resting comfortably next to your name on the paizo.com messageboards. You'll be able to show off your faction choice with even more pride once we launch our line of faction-specific T-shirts in the very near future. Rumors that you get a small benefit at the game table when you wear your faction shirt to an official Pathfinder Society Organized Play event should be started immediately.
Exploring Paizo's Pathfinder Society Organized Play, Part 2
Exploring Paizo's Pathfinder Society Organized Play, Part 2 Thursday, June 5, 2008 No barfly at the local tavern who blusters on about his adventures shall ever know the heart-pounding rush of facing down the winds of Abendego on the prow of a pirate king's ship, or the majesty of the dawning sun cresting the Sphinx's brow at Sothis. ... —Venture Captain Alissa Moldreserva ... In Part 1, we unveiled our first faction, Andoran, and spoke a little about the factions system we'll use in...
Exploring Paizo's Pathfinder Society Organized Play, Part 2
Thursday, June 5, 2008
No barfly at the local tavern who blusters on about his "adventures" shall ever know the heart-pounding rush of facing down the winds of Abendego on the prow of a pirate king's ship, or the majesty of the dawning sun cresting the Sphinx's brow at Sothis.
—Venture Captain Alissa Moldreserva
In Part 1, we unveiled our first faction, Andoran, and spoke a little about the factions system we'll use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. In this segment, we'll talk briefly about faction prestige, how it's earned, and what it means for the world of Golarion as well as what it means for you as a member of the Pathfinder Society.
Missions and Prestige
You gain faction prestige by succeeding in specific missions. In a single scenario there will be one to three missions dedicated to your specific faction, all tasks that if completed give your faction an advantage in Absalom's shadow war. You might need to make sure a crime lord dies, protect an innocent merchant, save a kidnapped child, hand off an important missive, foil an assassination, or steal an important communiqué. Whatever the mission, a positive outcome earns you and your faction anywhere from one to three points of Faction Prestige. Every Pathfinder Society Scenario offers the same potential amount of Faction Prestige to each faction. It's up to you to make sure your faction scores higher than its competitors.
As you advance in Faction Prestige your faction rewards your excellent service. At the same time, the factions with greater prestige gain power and their star rises in the ongoing storyline of the season. Every month a Pathfinder Missive (our monthly newsletter) will let everyone know which factions are increasing in dominance over the city of Absalom and which factions are being nudged ever closer to ignominy and ineffectualness. At the season's conclusion, the faction scoring the most Faction Prestige rules Absalom from behind the scenes, while its enemies gnash their teeth and their kingdoms suffer the consequences. Having a Pathfinder in the winning faction gains that character access to rewards you wouldn't otherwise be able to obtain. (More on rewards later.) Every season ends in June at the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, OH. July is a "bridge" month between seasons during which the loosely connected storyline of the previous season comes to a close while foreshadowing the new season to come. Faction Prestige is reset in July, so that when the next season of Pathfinder Society Organized Play kicks off at Gen Con, every faction once again has the possibility to rule Absalom from the shadows.
And now a sneak peek at Cheliax, the Infernal Empire, and the second unveiled faction for Pathfinder Society Organized Play.
Asmodeus himself smiles upon our endeavor and we shall not rest until the entire world trembles before Him.
—Paracountess Zarta Dralneen
When Aroden died, some say the soul of Cheliax perished with him. The once mighty empire tore itself apart, and only through the power of three noble Houses, each steeped in deviltry, was order restored. The empire runs on the backs of fiends now, a perfect machine of hellfire and blood, where morality surrenders to the needs of law and order. It's easy to curse Cheliax as a nation of devil-lovers, but few can argue with the results of their fiend-binding craft. House Thrune, the greatest of its diabolic noble families, has brought the empire under control once more. Cheliax rises like a dark star, as strong as ever, despite the recent losses of Galt and Andoran to rebellious forces.
Asmodeus proves as powerful a divine patron as Aroden ever did, shepherding his people toward glory and dominance of the Inner Sea. His plans reach eons into the future, and the minor setbacks of yesterday are all factored into the cost of doing a devil's business. The Chelish always plan for a long campaign, and never trifle over today's skirmishes. In the end all will burn in hellfire. It is only a matter of time and calculated conquest.
The pale-skinned Chelish believe themelves superior to all other peoples. Their compact with great devils gives them power beyond measure, and no other nation of the Inner Sea can compete with their summoners and warlocks when it comes to trafficking with dark forces. These devils require payment for their service, often offered up in the form of tender flesh and boiled blood. Slaves are an important resource of the Chelish as are artifacts of ancient power whose secrets are revealed to them by their timeless patrons. Even as Andoran revels in its newfound freedom, the tendrils of Cheliax's empire continue to expand. Arcadia lays open before them and Sargava is ready to fall under their hellish sway. The Inner Sea will fall with the rest as soon as Absalom rests firmly in the bloodied hands of House Thrune.
Goals: Hell on Golarion
The Chelish plan to spread the dark influence of Asmodeus across the face of Golarion. They bring order to chaos, quell the troublesome concepts of freedom and self-determination, and leave broken souls eager to accept the bondage of slavery in their wake. The world must come to terms with the order of things. Mortals serve at the knee of greater powers. The devils of the Nine Hells are Golarion's natural overlords and if the rabble gathered along the coast of the Inner Sea can't be made to understand this simple fact, then they will be purged in a torrent of fire.
Methodology: The Kiss and the Lash
A true corrupter can convince a man to hand over his soul, a blissful smile on his face.
—Paracountess Zarta Dralneen
The Chelish are masters of seduction as well as pain. They bring their enemies to heel with promises of aid, riches, and glory, but keep them in line with cruel lashes and hellfire. The Chelish faction wins others to its dark cause with temptation. Lust, power, riches, vanity, the Chelish offer all, and cater to the sinful nature in every man to bring him low. If a foe cannot be seduced, he must instead be scourged. Many missions of the Chelish faction involve tempting upright people into darkness and vice, and then threatening to expose their sins unless they aid the empire as dutiful agents. The tricks of devils have claimed men's souls since time immemorial and they serve the Chelish well in their quest for control of Absalom.
Check the blog again on Thursday for more information on Pathfinder Society Organized Play!
... The Proud Chelaxians Thursday, April 3, 2008The Pathfinder Chronicles Gazetteer contains all the common races you're used to—dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, the half-breeds, and humans. It also contains, however, numerous human ethnicities that exist across the Inner Sea region of Golarion. Among the most numerous of these ethnicities are the Chelaxians, a group descended from the ancient Azlanti themselves. The following quote appears in the Pathfinder Chronicles Gazetteer, in a...
The Proud Chelaxians
Thursday, April 3, 2008
The Pathfinder Chronicles Gazetteer contains all the common races you're used to—dwarves, elves, gnomes, halflings, the half-breeds, and humans. It also contains, however, numerous human ethnicities that exist across the Inner Sea region of Golarion. Among the most numerous of these ethnicities are the Chelaxians, a group descended from the ancient Azlanti themselves. The following quote appears in the Pathfinder Chronicles Gazetteer, in a sidebar dedicated to this elegant and haughty ethnicity.
"The distant, bastard descendants of Azlanti refugees spread throughout southern Avistan as if entitled to the land by the gods themselves. Sharp-featured with dark hair, dark eyes, and pale skin, Chelaxians differ from their duskier Taldan cousins due to widespread intermixing with pale-skinned Ulfen raider-merchants in the distant past (from whom they also gained the legendary Chelaxian wrath).
"Chelaxians are best known for their pride and ambition, possessing a sense of entitlement that has followed them through history. They tend to sneer upon savagery and respect strong authority. Quick to be offended and slow to forgive, Chelaxians hold grudges longer than most other humans. They are most common in the current and former holdings of the once-vast Empire of Cheliax, including Andoran, Galt, Nirmathas, Molthune, and the southern reaches of Varisia. Most speak Taldane."
—Pathfinder Chronicles Gazetteer
Humans of Varisia Wednesday, June 6, 2007As mentioned in previous blog posts, the Varisian region contains three prominent human ethnicities: ... Chelaxian: Monument-haunted Magnimar and imperial-minded Korvosa vie for control of southern Varisia. In these cities and the numerous vassal settlements of each, the majority of the populace can trace their ancestry to the sharp-featured people of Cheliax. Those of Chelish descent possess dark hair and eyes contrasted by pale skin—along with...
Humans of Varisia
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
As mentioned in previous blog posts, the Varisian region contains three prominent human ethnicities:
Chelaxian: Monument-haunted Magnimar and imperial-minded Korvosa vie for control of southern Varisia. In these cities and the numerous vassal settlements of each, the majority of the populace can trace their ancestry to the sharp-featured people of Cheliax. Those of Chelish descent possess dark hair and eyes contrasted by pale skin—along with a taste for artistic fineries and high art.
Shoanti: Across the northeastern reaches of Varisia, the seven ardent tribes of the Shoanti make their homes. A turbulent people adhering to traditions unchanged in hundreds of years, these natives live harsh lives, preying upon predators and eking what they can from an unforgiving land.
Varisian: Passionate and fiercely independent, Varisians (shown in the sketch presented here) lend their name to their homeland. While these clannish wanderers can be found in many lands, nowhere are larger populations found than in the land of their ancestors.
Insular and adhering to an ancient, nomadic way of life, extended families of Varisians form wandering communities, traveling wherever fate directs them. Varisians don't believe in claiming land and thus see no hardship in their nomadic lifestyle. While nature provides for most of their needs, these wanderers often visit the cities and towns of settled people to trade art and curios from their travels, earn coin by entertaining and performing small jobs, and sometimes to con and steal from the unwary—a practice indulged often enough to make Varisians widely distrusted and unwelcome by those not of their society.
The typical Varisian possesses deep olive skin and hair that ranges from black to auburn, often worn long by both men and women. Customary tattooing leads most to exhibit complex patterns and symbols significantly different from those worn by the Shoanti who share their homeland. As wanderers and often entertainers, Varisian dress tends toward extremes, from functional garb fit for traveling to wildly impractical dress meant to accentuate their dancing, exotic tattoos, and naturally fit forms.