The Future of Pathfinder Society Organized Play, Part XII: Power through Political Manipulation
... The Future of Pathfinder Society Organized Play, Part XII: Power through Political Manipulation Monday, June 6, 2011 Since the Age of Enthronement, no nation in the Inner Sea has had as wide-reaching and influential an empire as the kingdom of Taldor. Sadly, decadence and overconfidence led to the empire's relatively swift decline centuries ago, as vassal after vassal broke free from the crown. Despite its waning influence worldwide and constant internal political strife, Taldor is one of...
The Future of Pathfinder Society Organized Play, Part XII: Power through Political Manipulation
Monday, June 6, 2011
Since the Age of Enthronement, no nation in the Inner Sea has had as wide-reaching and influential an empire as the kingdom of Taldor. Sadly, decadence and overconfidence led to the empire's relatively swift decline centuries ago, as vassal after vassal broke free from the crown. Despite its waning influence worldwide and constant internal political strife, Taldor is one of the five nations most strategically poised to take control of Absalom from within. Using the same tactics of espionage, sabotage, blackmail, and deception employed by Taldan nobility for millennia, agents of this political faction hope to manipulate the nobility and citizenry of Absalom to recognize the nation's rightful place as the natural ruler of humankind throughout the region.
Illustration by Ryan Portillo
The Taldor faction has, since the very beginning of Pathfinder Society Organized Play, been in a near-dead heat with the Qadira faction, a fitting rivalry given the nations' longstanding feud. In the end, we decided that the inability of either nation to pull ahead and truly challenge Osirion or Andoran for the top spot on the faction ladder meant something needed to change. So we shook things up...
Taldor isn't going anywhere, but the faction will be led by a new political manipulator in place of Baron Jacquo Dalsine (who many pointed out over the years was so uninvolved that he never even bothered to spell his name correctly when he signed it on faction missives). Lady Gloriana Morilla, pictured here, is also a member of Taldor's thriving noble hierarchy, but she's somewhat less concerned with looking good and throwing a good party than she is with restoring Taldor to its long-lost glory. She knows that the longer the nation rests on its imaginary laurels, the more its influence and gods-decreed dominance slip away from the Grand Prince and his loyal subjects. Expect the missions given to Taldan characters to focus more on the political intrigue that defines the faction starting in Season 3, though characters will still be encouraged to look good and make grand spectacles of themselves while carrying them out.
Lady Gloriana and all 10 faction leaders are featured in the upcoming Pathfinder Society Field Guide, with a headshot of each as well as a brief overview of their backstories, motivations, and personalities. We'll also be featuring them as prominent NPCs in adventures set in Absalom, so faction members will get the chance to directly interact with the very people who dictate so much of their adventuring careers.
Come back next week for a recap of PaizoCon 2011, the new scenarios released there, and the exclusive events attendees will have the option of playing. After that, we'll dive headlong into the first of the new factions to be officially announced. This is where it gets good!
Meet the Iconics: Alain Friday, July 23, 2010 Deference and respect are the privileges of noble birth. Few know this better than the man who calls himself Alain, yet equally well does he know that such things are not always freely given where they are due. And in those cases, it's the burden of the nobly born to correct the error, and to take by force that which is their right. ... Alain was born in Taldor with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, son of a wealthy but relatively minor...
Meet the Iconics: Alain
Friday, July 23, 2010
Deference and respect are the privileges of noble birth. Few know this better than the man who calls himself Alain, yet equally well does he know that such things are not always freely given where they are due. And in those cases, it's the burden of the nobly born to correct the error, and to take by force that which is their right.
Alain was born in Taldor with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, son of a wealthy but relatively minor noble house. As a boy, he showed remarkable affinity for both physical activities—especially the martial pursuits—and the ins and outs of courtly etiquette and intrigue. Though both traits made him the quite popular with the peerage—especially the young ladies of the court, necessitating more than one woman being shuffled off to a nunnery on a nine-month "vacation"—Alain's wealth and natural abilities also gave him an excessively healthy sense of self-importance, sometimes getting him into trouble that would have crippled a man of lower station. By the time Alain's father realized that the cane-scarred whipping boy might not be the most effective means of corralling his youngest son, Alain was already near grown, and thoroughly convinced of his own competence in all things.
Though Alain regularly dismissed such noble studies as literature and linguistics—"If the elves want to speak, let them learn a man's language"—he could never get enough of bards' tales of battle and bloodshed, often keeping the minstrels at his favorite taverns playing late into the night. Excel as he might at the joust or the ritualized combat of the nobility, he longed for the primal exultation of war, where his mastery over his fellow men would not just be avowed or lauded, but proved undeniably by the blood on his sword, as clear as the red-dripping talons of an eagle. He had the nobility of society. Now he wanted the nobility of nature.
Illustration by Wayne Reynolds
Unfortunately for Alain, any serious clash of arms lay far beyond the borders of his father's expansive holdings, and neither his father nor his two elder brothers showed the slightest desire to sustain a blood feud with another house. All three men attempted to turn Alain to knighthood, a socially safe and proper outlet for his bloodlust, yet the idea of serving as a squire for any length of time—of letting someone else give him orders!—was unthinkable to young Alain. At last, when he could stand it no longer, the young scion gathered what funds and personal affects he could carry and declared himself a sellsword, setting off for the "crimson poetry of the fray."
True warfare has little in common with heroic ballads, and few who see its raw and naked face come back unchanged. Certainly this was true for Alain. Yet where some men learn wisdom in the wrack, at last understanding the price of a life and the senseless ease with which it's taken, Alain learned something else. In the clash of spears and the screams of horses, the man who had been a trumped-up merchant's son became an elemental force of destruction, cutting down swaths of men who were never his enemies, but merely his opponents. Though he became rich in his own right off of the heavy purses his patrons heaped upon him, Alain cared only for what the rewards represented: that here was a man whose worth was proven, in fire and iron.
Today, Alain wanders as he wills, taking commissions when they suit his fancy and embarking on his own expeditions when they don't. Thanks to his prowess on the battlefield, warriors are often drawn to fight at his side, and to Alain's secret surprise he's developed quite a knack for leading them, issuing gruff and decisive commands. These companions are almost always cohorts rather than friends—though Alain does a fine job of managing his troops and urging them on to ever-greater feats, long experience has taught him that soldiers are a short-lived lot, and hence he sheds few tears when it's time to pay the butcher's bill.
As much as his life revolves around the battlefield, Alain still retains the social graces that made him so popular (for better or worse) in the courts of his upbringing. If greeting another warrior or potential client, he may introduce himself as simply Alain, comporting himself with a calculated aloofness designed to increase others' opinions of his abilities. Where an attractive lady is concerned, however, his rough edges immediately smooth, and many are the highborn women who've fallen prey to the "rogue knight" calling himself Alain Germande, Third Son of House Germande, Bearer of the Shielding Spear—and any other honorifics that strike his fancy.
In truth, whether leading soldiers in a suicidal charge or booting serving girls out of his bed in the morning, Alain cares little about the people around him. More than money, love, or lust, Alain cares about his reputation, and strives with every encounter to increase his own legend, whether as scoundrel or saint. Perhaps the only creature he truly values is his horse, Donahan. Exceedingly well trained, and having accompanied Alain for longer than any of his human compatriots, Donahan represents everything Alain looks for in a partner: absolute loyalty, absolute trust—and absolute obedience.
... Illustrated by Christophe Swal ... Roots & Beginnings: Taldor Tuesday, March 24, 2009Next month, Pathfinder Companion: Taldor, Echoes of Glory will be hitting the bookshelves of game stores and subscribers everywhere. Hank and I had the opportunity to edit the book recently, and Taldor will definitely please those gamers that enjoy a little (or large) dose of Byzantine politics in their game. ... I spoke with Joshua J. Frost, the Events Manager for the Pathfinder Society and the author of...
Illustrated by Christophe Swal
Roots & Beginnings: Taldor
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Next month, Pathfinder Companion: Taldor, Echoes of Glory will be hitting the bookshelves of game stores and subscribers everywhere. Hank and I had the opportunity to edit the book recently, and Taldor will definitely please those gamers that enjoy a little (or large) dose of Byzantine politics in their game.
I spoke with Joshua J. Frost, the Events Manager for the Pathfinder Society and the author of Taldor, Echoes of Glory, about the sources of inspiration for Taldor. According to Josh, he envisioned the decadent, failing empire as a mix between the cultural decadence of Amsterdam during the 16th and 17th centuries and the exceedingly complicated politics and government of the Byzantine Empire.
The Gilded City of Oppara, the heart of Taldor and the rotten core of a failing empire, was modeled after the opulence and corruption found in historical Amsterdam. At the time, the economics of the city were largely geared toward making a handful of individuals obscenely wealthy, while the rest remained mired in the middle and lower classes. Such a division between rich and poor is obviously reflected in the politics of the Gilded City, where the Royalty and Senatorial classes live in opulent decadence while the masses toil away as laborers, conscripted soldiers, and penniless vagabonds. 16th and 17th century London also inspired the aristocratic culture of Taldor, particularly with regard to the importance young men of Oppara place on the possession of a fine sword; the concept of Oppara's "young blades" comes directly from this period of British history.
Josh's studies of the Byzantine Empire inspired Taldor's convoluted political system. The expansive bureaucracy of the Taldan empire, the power of the emperor to elevate officials and common citizens to higher ranks, and the division between the "bearded" aristocracy and the "unbearded" masses were all modeled after the complicated politics of the Byzantine aristocracy. In particular, the tendency of the Byzantine emperor to bestow numerous, seemingly redundant titles upon "the Bearded Ones" of the aristocracy directly inspired Taldor's elaborate hierarchy of aristocratic titles.
GMs who love to include political intrigue should look no farther than the Byzantine Empire—indeed, the bureaucracy of the empire was so vast and tortuous that the word "Byzantine" has become synonymous with decadence and duplicity. If you can't wait to include dangerous, double-dealing political intrigue in your campaign, or to simply explore the decaying empire of Taldor in greater detail, look for Pathfinder Companion: Taldor, Echoes of Glory next month!
... Snagged from the Vault: Taldor, Echoes of Glory Wednesday, March 18, 2009Huzzah! The Preview Purloiners return from the treacherous Vault of the Golem once again with a fantastic prize—Ralph Horsley's art for the cover of Pathfinder Companion: Taldor, Echoes of Glory. Such beauteous art is particularly coveted by the Golem and its minions; but of course, the danger to our own lives is of no concern to you, our faithful readers. Now, please excuse us as we don hastily assembled...
Snagged from the Vault: Taldor, Echoes of Glory
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Huzzah! The Preview Purloiners return from the treacherous Vault of the Golem once again with a fantastic prize—Ralph Horsley's art for the cover of Pathfinder Companion: Taldor, Echoes of Glory. Such beauteous art is particularly coveted by the Golem and its minions; but of course, the danger to our own lives is of no concern to you, our faithful readers. Now, please excuse us as we don hastily assembled disguises.
Vadid and Nahk Preview Purloiners
Chivalry Tarnished Knights, fair maidens, heroic adventures, and righteous quests—these are the legends of old Taldor. But the once powerful empire has fallen from its former glory. Now rival nobles battle each other with bitter knights and proxy armies for personal power rather than honor. A smoldering truce with Qadira again threatens to ignite into war, and Taldor's daughter states look down upon her with contempt. Yet there is still greatness in Taldor, a stone foundation under the flaking gold adornments. Sons and daughters of forgotten royal bloodlines hear change on the wind—but is it the whisper of greatness to come, or the death rattle of an empire long past its prime?
This Pathfinder Companion describes the country of Taldor and its capital of Oppara. Become one of the Lion Blades, a secret agent prestige class for the empire! Learn the magic of the oppressed church of the Dawnflower! Rise to greatness from humble origins with new feats! Gain the ostentatious magic of Taldor's wealthy elite! Taldor needs champions—are you ready for the challenge?
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 5
Exploring Paizo's Pathfinder Society Organized Play, Part 5 Thursday, June 19, 2008 We know that a pathfinder's loyalties are often split between the Society and the nation that birthed them. We ask only that you endeavor to keep your interests in discovery and exploration ahead of your country's interests. ... —Venture Captain Alissa Moldreserva ... In Part 1, we unveiled our first faction, Andoran, and spoke a little about the faction system we'll use in Pathfinder Society Organized...
Exploring Paizo's Pathfinder Society Organized Play, Part 5
Thursday, June 19, 2008
We know that a pathfinder's loyalties are often split between the Society and the nation that birthed them. We ask only that you endeavor to keep your interests in discovery and exploration ahead of your country's interests.
—Venture Captain Alissa Moldreserva
In Part 1, we unveiled our first faction, Andoran, and spoke a little about the faction system we'll use in Pathfinder Society Organized Play. In Part 2, we announced our second faction, Cheliax, and we talked 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. In Part 3, we revealed the third faction for Pathfinder Society Organized Play: Osirion, Land of the Pharaohs. In Part 4, we brought you the fourth faction: Qadira, desert frontier kingdom, gateway to the massive continent of Casmaron, and the westernmost satrap state of the Padishah Empire of Kelesh. For Part 5, we uncover the final faction: Taldor, Golarion's decadent, failing empire with its fingers still gripping hard on the shores of the Inner Sea.
Decadent Failing Empire
The sun of Taldor's empire has set. It is up to us to see it rise again in our time.
—Baron Jacquo Dalsine
Old Taldor once ruled the entire northern coast of the Inner Sea, from gold gilded Oppara to the wild frontier of Varisia. Now it's reduced to a quarter of its former glory. As Old Taldor's gaze turned ever inward, its vassals and conquered colonies slowly slipped away without a fight. Andoran and Cheliax broke off hundreds of years ago, and few in Taldor had either the desire or the motivation to go to war to stop it. Why bother dealing with petty trifles in the countryside when your own political destruction is taking place in the lime light of Taldorian high society?
It's easy to forget Taldor's former glory and dismiss the entire country as a band of narcissistic fools who spend more time preening their wigs than they do defending their borders or quelling the unrest roiling within their great cities. Little do most know that while the majority of Taldor's upper crust are more concerned with this season's fashions than the well being of their collapsing empire, a few of the world's most dangerous operatives are honed in the constant battleground of Oppara's feuds. Old enmities between ancient houses have engulfed the Gilded City in shadowy violence and assassinations for hundreds of years, and more than a fair share of skilled adventurers have come up surviving the feuds, either as hired muscle or scions of noble houses mixed up in these simmering cauldrons of bloodshed.
Taldorians are decadent bon vivants, favoring rich foods, ornate attire, and jeweled accoutrements for even the most minor of casual affairs. To a Taldorian, appearance is an expression of power, and a keen sense of fashion represents a keen mind. Their appreciation for the arts extends beyond fashion and painting, dabbling in sorcery, dueling, and the murky strategies of politics and war. A Taldorian mind, when raised to ire, is a dangerous thing, and the rest of the Inner Sea is about to receive a painful reminder of this timeless fact.
Goals: Get Back in the Game
Petty differences and ancient feuds have slowly ground Taldor down from a great polished stone to a whittled nub. The key to restoring the empire's sense of purpose lies in finding an enemy to galvanize Taldor's splintered factions, an endeavor worthy of rediscovering the nation's august past glory. Seizing the political reins of Absalom is the perfect medicine for the wasting disease deep in Taldor's bones.
Methodology: Wolf and Tiger
Our weakness must now be our strength: centuries of petty infighting have afforded us one weapon – surely there is no one who can claim as true a mastery of intrigue as we Taldorians!
—Baron Jacquo Dalsine
Taldor's strategy for seizing control of Absalom lies in turning its enemies against one another. Misdirection and psychological warfare are the orders of the day. Taldorian missions involve sparking old enmities between Qadira and Osirion, driving Cheliax and Andoran to rekindle their old war. "Sick the wolf on the tiger and the hunter's work is done" is an old Taldorian saying, and the mantra by which Taldor's agents create havoc around the Inner Sea.
Check back in a week to learn more about Pathfinder Society Organized Play. Don't forget to check the Pathfinder Society messageboards as well to learn about some awesome opportunities to help launch Paizo's organized play at this coming Gen Con!
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