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Faction Evolution, Part II: Secrets and Liberty

Monday, June 23, 2014


Illustration by Alex Aparin

Two weeks ago, we briefly discussed the impact of faction PCs' decisions in the campaign and how these decisions have shaped the direction that these factions are going. Last week on the Know Direction podcast, John Compton expanded on what this evolution might entail for many factions: name changes, shifting goals, and even changes in leadership.

As advertised over a year ago, the so-called nation-based factions have spent the past season (or longer for some like the Cheliax faction) distancing themselves from their parent countries to embrace less territorial and more broadly philosophical endeavors. When the Pathfinder Society Organized Play leaders began discussing how factions would change, we looked at the reporting numbers contributed by players worldwide and carefully considered how the faction might change to reflect this information while still appealing to a large percentage of its members. For example, members of the Silver Crusade faction tend to be good guys, so changing that faction to be neutrally aligned would discourage a lot of players.

This week we're sharing the direction that two of our factions are heading (new faction symbols will come a bit later). Be warned that there are some minor spoilers from Season 5 scenarios referenced below.

Dark Archive: In Darkness Lies Enlightenment

It's been more than a year since Chelish officials condemned faction leader Paracountess Zarta Dralneen on false charges. Because the accusation and punishment were largely off the record, there was little context for Cheliax to apologize, formally withdraw the charges, or invite Zarta to resume her duties as a liaison to the Pathfinder Society. Even Zarta's agents have not escaped blame entirely. It's a bitter reminder that the servants of Hell are hardly forgiving.

Since then, Zarta has worked from Korvosa to consolidate what remained of her faction, and to her surprise, the Pathfinder Society has extended a hand to help on multiple occasions. As a result, Zarta finds her professional relationship with the Society has grown stronger. As her agents stay busy recovering powerful artifacts and tomes that they might use to track down the faction's enemies and defend themselves against future betrayals, Zarta has corresponded with the Society's leaders to carve out a niche for her organization.

What resulted is a major victory for the faction, for Zarta has convinced the three Masters that she and her agents are uniquely suited to handle dangerous relics. Not only does this cover for the evil artifacts that the faction has recovered, but it has also earned an invitation to begin cataloguing the vast array of perilous finds the Society has acquired and then promptly hidden away for later study. Zarta intends to accept the offer and found a dark archive, giving her faction access to untold numbers of forbidden texts and relics—purportedly to catalogue and better understand these objects, but also as a backdoor for her agents to gain power from sinister sources.

How will the Cheliax faction be different? Despite being estranged from Cheliax, the faction still values order and law. These are worthy end goals in their own right, and they are also potent mantras in maintaining a positive working relationship with the Pathfinder Society. Any betrayal of that trust must be a calculated one. In many ways, the new Dark Archive faction is still the “bad guy” option that the Cheliax faction has always been, but its reason for being welcome in the Society is stronger.

Liberty's Edge: In Pursuit of True Liberty

Almost a year ago, Major Colson Maldris learned of a thriving contingent of statesmen—many who had held noble titles before the People's Revolt—who had established themselves as the new nobility of Andoran. Of course, these career politicians were not embracing this lifestyle publically; doing so would invite criminal charges. Instead they have built up networks of political and economic power that keep them perpetually elected to office, in control of major industries, in a position to shape a new generation of leaders through favors and cronyism.

These corrupt leaders represent only a small fraction of Andoran's elected leaders, and much of the nation still operates in a manner true to its founding principles. Nonetheless, it is a chilling reminder that the great democratic experiment is not without its flaws. With the help of Pathfinder agents, Maldris has tracked down enough evidence to accuse a few criminals in high places, but his attempts to demonstrate how deep the corruption runs has met with pushback from both the crooked and the honest. So long as his faction operates as a direct extension of Andoran, the faux-nobility can track Maldris's attempts to root them out. The only way to save Andoran is to leave Andoran—at least for now.

What does this mean for Andoran going forward? Well, in some ways little has changed. For example, Maldris still seeks to help other throw off the shackles of tyranny and bring freedom to all people. Now, though, the faction's reason for doing this has expanded beyond altruism. In studying others' philosophies and techniques, faction PCs can borrow strategies that might help Maldris hunt corruption at home and abroad.

Happy gaming,

John Compton and Mike Brock
Developer and Pathfinder Society Campaign Coordinator

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Alex Aparin Pathfinder Society
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*****

Loving it.


You know, I don't even play in the society, and I still find this very intrigueing. I can't wait to see the rest.

Dark Archive ***

Surprised no one's posted yet. :)

EDIT: Ninja'd. :P

Dark Archive ****

4 people marked this as a favorite.

I could get use to saying I serve the Dark Archive...

*** RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 aka RainyDayNinja

Are "Dark Archive" and "Liberty's Edge" actual new names for the factions?

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Agent, Canada—Ontario—Toronto aka pauljathome

13 people marked this as a favorite.

Uh, let's put our evil devil worshippers in charge of our evil artifacts? What could POSSIBLY go wrong with that cunning plan?

Grand Lodge ***** Global Organized Play Coordinator

2 people marked this as a favorite.
RainyDayNinja wrote:
Are "Dark Archive" and "Liberty's Edge" actual new names for the factions?

Yes

*****

pauljathome wrote:
Uh, let's put our evil devil worshippers in charge of our evil artifacts? What could POSSIBLY go wrong with that cunning plan?

Blame Drandle Dreng.


4 people marked this as a favorite.

Ok, so my monk who wants to simply be the Paracountess's caterer for her parties would logically be catering for the Dark Archive parties. Yes, it's a silly reason for a faction switch. Don't knock it.

So the monk will say, "I serve the Dark Archive ... breakfast."

*

Will the faction logos change as a result of this change in name?

**

1 person marked this as a favorite.

My first character is Andoran, and would at first opportunity explain to Maldris how corruption is an expected outcome of governments grown large enough to constrain natural freedoms.

Actually, he will explain this to anyone at any time, and at great length. His adventuring partner, a bard, has had to develop a countersong for those times when a simple "Shut up, Valthur" will not suffice.

*** RPG Superstar 2014 Top 16, RPG Superstar 2013 Top 16 aka RainyDayNinja

Hmm. I always swore I'd never make a Cheliax-faction PC, but I might be persuaded to join the Dark Archive...

*****

Heine Stick wrote:
Will the faction logos change as a result of this change in name?

yes, it mentions that new faction logos will be forthcoming in the post.

Grand Lodge ***** Global Organized Play Coordinator

Heine Stick wrote:
Will the faction logos change as a result of this change in name?

Yes

This week we're sharing the direction that two of our factions are heading (new faction symbols will come a bit later).

Scarab Sages **

Well, given the Cheliax change, at least my Hellknight is close to retirement. I can't see someone in that prestige class following Zarta if she's not supported by the Government...it just rubs the wrong way for a law and order group.

...now if she was founding her own order...

...that could be interesting.

*

Matthew Starch wrote:
Heine Stick wrote:
Will the faction logos change as a result of this change in name?
yes, it mentions that new faction logos will be forthcoming in the post.

D'oh! Yeah, I missed that part, apparently. :D

Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Aww snap.

Grand Lodge *****

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

The Paracountess as the Guardian of Warehouse 13... fear that.

Paizo Employee ***** Developer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
pauljathome wrote:
Uh, let's put our evil devil worshippers in charge of our evil artifacts? What could POSSIBLY go wrong with that cunning plan?

It uses the same logic as "hire a thief to catch a thief." The Pathfinder Society employs all* sorts, and the darker personalities that also value loyalty tend to make pretty good dark archivists.

Anywho, all the paladins we sent down there kept burning out within a week or two.

* It tries to avoid the super-evil ones, as those tend to be bad from a PR perspective.

Grand Lodge ***** Global Organized Play Coordinator

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Cascade wrote:

Well, given the Cheliax change, at least my Hellknight is close to retirement. I can't see someone in that prestige class following Zarta if she's not supported by the Government...it just rubs the wrong way for a law and order group.

...now if she was founding her own order...

...that could be interesting.

Yes, it certainly could be interesting.

Liberty's Edge *****

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, PFS RPG Subscriber
John Compton wrote:
Anywho, all the paladins we sent down there kept burning out within a week or two.

"Burning out", in this context, could be read a couple of different ways....

*****

NOW it's going to be really tough for Paladin to be Cheliax (dark archive)

Paizo Employee ***** Developer

Michael Brock wrote:
Cascade wrote:

Well, given the Cheliax change, at least my Hellknight is close to retirement. I can't see someone in that prestige class following Zarta if she's not supported by the Government...it just rubs the wrong way for a law and order group.

...now if she was founding her own order...

...that could be interesting.

Yes, it certainly could be interesting.

That it could. Also keep in mind that although many Hellknight orders are based out of Cheliax, they are not (strictly speaking) a part of that country's government. They just happen to have similar interests. However, were the Chelish government to abandon its lawful philosophies, I imagine the Hellknights would not follow suit.

Liberty's Edge ***** Venture-Lieutenant, Alaska—Anchorage aka Dragnmoon

My Cheliax PC no longer fits there but I do have Grand Lodge PC that now does. Is the free faction change going to be open to all factions or only to those that get some kind of change?

My Andoran PC fits in perfectly!

***** Venture-Agent, Canada—Ontario—Ottawa aka Mistwalker

I can see a certain amount of jokes and irony over the names.

Liberty's Edge will be shortened to LE on chronicle sheets - Lawful Evil

Dark Archive will be shortened to DA on chronicle sheets - District Attorney

Grand Lodge ***** Global Organized Play Coordinator

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Dragnmoon wrote:

My Cheliax PC no longer fits there but I do have Grand Lodge PC that now does. Is the free faction change going to be open to all factions or only to those that get some kind of change?

My Andoran PC fits in perfectly!

It is a free faction change that is open to all factions.

***

Ironically, my Taldan aristocrat would fit right into the new version of Andoran. She saw that change coming, but she was incorrect on the question of how long it would take for Andoran to get there.

-Matt

Shadow Lodge **

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Very cool. I like the evolution of these factions, but... I still miss Shadow Lodge and Lantern Lodge! :(

Sovereign Court *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

Are we surprised that anything Colson Maldris starts is Lawful Evil? He is Andoran after all... (EDIT: in reply to Mistwalker)

I wait nervously for what will happen to Taldor.

(But seriously, I like the change to Cheliax - it finally makes it interesting, more than just the sex faction that a lot of players saw it as. Andoran is meh.)

Sczarni *****

The Blog wrote:
...Last week on the Know Direction podcast, John Compton....

I'm probably missing something obvious, but I haven't been able to find this podcast yet. Anyone have a better link?

*****

As an Andoran, will I still be able to purchase the Eagle Knight vanity?

Sovereign Court *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

Nefreet - try this link.

Sovereign Court ****

drat...
if a PC doesn't feel comfortable with "the new order" what are thier options? I ask because I have a few in Cheliax that are likely NOT to be comfortable in "the Dark Archive"... feels to much like "house slytherin"

Sczarni *****

James McTeague wrote:
Nefreet - try this link.

Thank you!

*****

Nick Greene wrote:
As an Andoran, will I still be able to purchase the Eagle Knight vanity?

John Compton mentioned in the podcast that some Faction vanities may change due to these and upcoming faction changes. That may be one that gets the axe?

*****

Percy Footman wrote:

drat...

if a PC doesn't feel comfortable with "the new order" what are thier options? I ask because I have a few in Cheliax that are likely NOT to be comfortable in "the Dark Archive"... feels to much like "house slytherin"

Mike mentions it above, but ALL characters will benefit from a free faction change when season 6 gets here, if they want it.

Scarab Sages ****

Started in Cheliax faction, and was one of the first to move to Shadow Lodge, then back to Cheliax... and now... sigh. Maybe I'll just retire to my country home outside Westport.

Sovereign Court

What does this mean for vanities? I was going to make an Andoren character to access that sexy, sexy list of titles. Can Maldris and the Liberty's Edge still grant knighthoods and such, not being official representatives of Andoran?

EDIT: Also, Dark Archive? Cool name. Liberty's Edge? Myeh.

*****

Carlos Robledo said wrote:
Nick Greene wrote wrote:


As an Andoran, will I still be able to purchase the Eagle Knight vanity?
John Compton mentioned in the podcast that some Faction vanities may change due to these and upcoming faction changes. That may be one that gets the axe?

Then Lance Corporal Frederick Kneebiter of the Eagle Knights better get cracking if he wants to ever be a true knight.

*

That would be lame, to show an axe to eagle knights and such. Really, really lame. I know a bunch of people who would lose their interest to even play such a character that is currently an Andoren Pathfinder, purposefully made to possibly acquire knighthood at some point.

Would be a bad move to remove the access to them

Shadow Lodge ****

3 people marked this as a favorite.

With the changes, I'm getting the hankering for a new faction.

Say, one that is a worldwide network of self-serving information brokers.

... members of which are granted a special ability when undertaking older scenarios from prior seasons to impersonate any other faction ("Today, I think I'll pose as a Taldor operative... tomorrow, maybe Cheliax...")

Now, if there were only a well-connected information broker to rally around and lead us...

*****

Getting interesting... Maybe my high-level andoran should get the titles while he still can.

***** Venture-Agent

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Actually Paladin's would I think be naturally attracted to keeping a very, very close eye on evil artifacts. A Paladin of Erecura would make a lot of sense.

Scarab Sages ****

wakedown wrote:

With the changes, I'm getting the hankering for a new faction.

Say, one that is a worldwide network of self-serving information brokers.

... members of which that possess a special ability when undertaking older scenarios from prior seasons to impersonate any other faction ("Today, I think I'll pose as a Taldor operative... tomorrow, maybe Cheliax...")

Now, if there were only a well-connected information broker to rally around and lead us...

Interested!

*****

So, this makes me wonder... with the offer being extended by the Masters of the Society, is the Paracountess now an actual Pathfinder agent instead of merely an "ally" of the Society?

***

Speaking of... how will Seasons 0-4 work going forward?

-Matt

*****

Mattastrophic wrote:

Speaking of... how will Seasons 0-4 work going forward?

-Matt

People still give faction handouts for those?! What?!

(more seriously, seems to me conversion would be 1:1... Dark Archive gets Cheliax faction missions, and so on)

*****

Mattastrophic wrote:

Speaking of... how will Seasons 0-4 work going forward?

-Matt

yeah, i see no reason why they would any differently than they already do, with the new factions getting missions (when/if the GM gives them out) based on the original faction.

Grand Lodge *****

Anyone care to post a list of locations of factions vaniety's (Which books, etc.) I think I have most of it covered, but probably a good idea for everyone to make sure that they have what they want before the rules change goes into effect.

Sczarni *****

They're only in the Field Guide, so far as I've seen.

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