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Faction Evolution, Part III: History and Politics

Monday, June 30, 2014

Three 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. The following 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. Most recently, we shared how the Andoran an Cheliax factions are developing over time.

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.

Both of our factions for today tap into the past in the hope of creating a better world, though their methods and vision of what constitutes "better" differ. Be warned that there are some light spoilers from Season 5 scenarios referenced below—particularly for the Scarab Sages and developments that appear in the Destiny of the Sands trilogy.


Illustration by Ben Wootten

Scarab Sages: Unlock the Wisdom of the Past for a Brighter Future

Nearly two years ago, agents of the Osirion faction brought a collection of Thassilonian relics to offer to the Ruby Prince Khemet III. One of these relics was cursed, and it afflicted the Ruby Prince with a terrible wasting affliction. Despite the faction's attempts to find a cure, they were unable to remove the curse, and the monarch resorted to powerful magic to be rid of it. Disappointed by Amenopheus and his agents both for overlooking the curse and failing to remove it, Khemet III dismissed the Sapphire Sage and the Pathfinder allies from his service.

Season 5 has given Amenopheus ample time to catch up on past projects, including researching the mysterious order of Jeweled Sages to which he belongs (and appeared to be the last surviving member). About a year ago we discovered that he is not alone, when faction PCs began to hear rumors about the Diamond Sage and learned the secret history of the Jeweled Sages (as well as how Amenopheus gained his power and wisdom). With the assistance of Osirion faction PCs, the two sages have reestablished their order independent of the Osirian state, intent on recruiting new sages to those replaced millennia ago, securing ancient secrets, and disseminating that lore to modern innovators to spark a new golden age of thought and technology. Working with the Pathfinder Society to unearth these secrets is only logical.

How will the Osirion faction be different? Although the faction may not be a direct agent of Osirion, there's still a great deal in that nation that ties into the Jeweled Sages; the faction will still have plenty to do in its old stomping ground. The faction is also interested in recruiting new sages, which means recovering the lost sage jewels and finding worthy inheritors of that power. The leadership of the faction remains up in the air, so there's still time to influence that aspect. Despite these subtle shifts, the faction remains a strong choice for scholars and Osirion enthusiasts alike.

Sovereign Court: Nobility United for a Common Cause

For an empire in decline, war is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand it drains resources from already dwindling coffers. On the other hand, it provides a cause to rally behind, spurring squabbling houses to cooperate and struggling industries to increase production. Such was Lady Gloriana Morilla's thinking when she tried to convince the Taldan nobility to send more support to Mendev to combat the Worldwound. In numerous campaigns that united nations against a common evil, Taldor had led the charge, so why not do so again and return Taldor to the spotlight?

Although Lady Morilla found a few like-minded allies at home, many of her peers laughed off the idea. Sending more troops north would leave the southern border vulnerable to Qadiran aggression, argued some, whereas others simply laughed off the idea as idle fancy by an upstart who had spent more time in Absalom than in Oppara. Since words were not enough, Lady Morilla raised a self-styled Army of Exploration (which sees action in an upcoming scenario) with the assistance of Taldor faction PCs. The idea had been to inspire Taldor's leadership to party less and lead more. In this regard she failed, for the majority have not changed their attitudes and view her campaign as an amusing curiosity. Taldor is not a lost cause, but its inertia is too great for the faction to change it on its own.

Instead, Lady Morilla is examining some of the unintended fruits of the faction's work—in particular the stronger relationships she has with several noble houses in other nations. What if, rather than work exclusively in Taldor, the faction instead worked through other nations' leadership to create a network of like-minded aristocrats that all promote the virtues of nobility and strong governance? This secretive sovereign court would have an agenda all its own, not one tied to any one nation. Under Lady Morilla's leadership, the faction focuses on second-tier nobility of each nation, using them to act as the powers behind their respective thrones to steer national policy. Perhaps years or decades in the future, this shared vision will birth a new continent-spanning empire through politics rather than conquest—one that will bring prosperity and peace to the Inner Sea region.

What does this mean for the Taldor faction? Glory and politics are still central themes for the faction, and it's still a great home for those who love both audacious action and court intrigue. Nothing stops PCs from being active in Taldor, but the goal is now something bigger and bolder. Of course, the Pathfinder Society is happy to have the Sovereign Court as an ally, for friendly nobles are more likely to allow Pathfinders into countries where the Society had once been banned.

Happy gaming!

John Compton and Mike Brock
Developer and Global Organized Play Coordinator

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Ben Wootten Osirion Pathfinder Player Companion Pathfinder Society Taldor
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Grand Lodge ***** Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Very nice. It seems my Osirion paladin and alchemist and my newly minted Taldan bard still have homes.

Sczarni *****

Oooo.

*** Venture-Agent aka Alexander Augunas

So the Sovereign Court is essentially, "Aristocrats try to fund the UN?"

Interesting.

Grand Lodge **

Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

Seems more like a New Taldane Order to me... Darn shadow governments.

***** Venture-Agent

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Really, it sounds more like "Hey lets start the Illuminati!"

Shadow Lodge *

Well, seems that my Brevoy noble swashbuckler now fits into Sovereign Court better then he fit into Taldor.

Silver Crusade ***

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My Taldan Cleric fits the new order superbly. :)

*****

Pathfinder Card Game, PFS RPG, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Yes, this gives my Taldan paladin a good way to spread the good news of Taldan culture to the rest of the world.

Sovereign Court ***

"Oooh. More political intrigue! This is exciting! I thought something like this might be happening when Lady Morilla and I had trouble with that old bag of a 'noble' woman recently at that fabulous party I went to."

--Yzarctihstab, Lord Baron of House Garblenarf, Noble Gnome Sorcerer of the Verduran Forest of Taldor

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber
David Neilson wrote:
Really, it sounds more like "Hey lets start the Illuminati!"

Yeah that's the hook I am seeing too.

Sovereign Court ****

2 people marked this as a favorite.

What is this nobless oblige stuff? Its supposed to be all about MEEE!

Liberty's Edge **** Venture-Agent, Indiana—Hammond

Very interesting developments. I think that my Osirioni ranger may still feel at home in his faction.

As for the Sovereign Court, I think that the question will be what virtues are promoted by it. I can see several players of Taldan characters liking this move.

Mind you, I think that there will be some common ground at times between the different factions. (For example, I could see many Pathfinders supporting the spread of knowledge.)

I am interested in how these changes will be introduced in game and looking forward to how it is handled.

Shadow Lodge *****

2 people marked this as a favorite.

"I do this for Taldor! And the good of ALL mankind!"

Silver Crusade ***

"Works for me. I'm not even from Osirion. I just sided with their faction, because they appreciate me for my brains as much as my brawn. Amenopheus is the type of wise intellectual I can respect, unlike those so called 'wise men' from my homeland."


Alright, the Sovereign court is a perfect fit for my Taldor faction Kitsune Sorcerer. He is all about pretending to be a noble while secretly manipulating people, and now he will be a part of a giant network of nobles manipulating nations :)

Silver Crusade *

So that's 4 of the factions, I can only assume the 5th is going to be whatever remains of the Silver Crusade. And of course that's the one I'm most interested in since my level 10.2 inquisitor and level 9 paladin are both members of it.

Shadow Lodge ****

Bigdaddyjug wrote:
So that's 4 of the factions, I can only assume the 5th is going to be whatever remains of the Silver Crusade. And of course that's the one I'm most interested in since my level 10.2 inquisitor and level 9 paladin are both members of it.

I think they're only retooling the nation based factions.

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

All I need to know now is what my ex-Lantern Lodge now-Qadiran Bard will need to be doing.

Silver Crusade *****

I *really* like the direction for Taldor - the implications of scenarios in places that the Society has never been before all over Avistan (I think we've been to everywhere in Garund at least once, but very few trips to Cheliax, Druma, Molthune, Nidal, Ustalav, etc).

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

David Neilson wrote:
Really, it sounds more like "Hey lets start the Illuminati!"

Well, it sounds like their virtues are supposed to be about leading for the good of all, rather than indulging in their own wealth and power. How well virtue lines up with actual behavior, though, is yet to be determined.

Also, I think it's interesting the Venture-Captain Varian Jeggare would be most interested in the ex-Taldor faction.

Silver Crusade *****

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Bigdaddyjug wrote:
So that's 4 of the factions, I can only assume the 5th is going to be whatever remains of the Silver Crusade. And of course that's the one I'm most interested in since my level 10.2 inquisitor and level 9 paladin are both members of it.
I think they're only retooling the nation based factions.

Well, considering...

Quote:
Content in "The Paths We Choose" also contributes directly to the ongoing storylines of the Andoran, Cheliax, Osirion, Qadira, Sczarni, and Taldor factions.

I'd say that Silver Crusade and Grand Lodge are likely to remain largely unchanged, while the other six change. I'm really curious to see what future (and maybe future interactions) Qadira and Sczarni have...maybe a merger of sorts, especially with both faction leaders being told to look in the exact same city for both rivals and future resources...

Sovereign Court *****

2 people marked this as a favorite.
zefig wrote:
"I do this for Taldor! And the good of ALL mankind!"

These goals are, of course, one and the same.

Congratulations to all of Mother Taldor's once-and-future colonies! :-)

***** Venture-Lieutenant, Washington—Kennewick aka RAdeMorris

I'm really enjoying the changes here.

Silver Crusade *

BigNorseWolf wrote:
Bigdaddyjug wrote:
So that's 4 of the factions, I can only assume the 5th is going to be whatever remains of the Silver Crusade. And of course that's the one I'm most interested in since my level 10.2 inquisitor and level 9 paladin are both members of it.
I think they're only retooling the nation based factions.

I was under the impression they were reducing it to 5 factions, but I guess that was incorrect.

Silver Crusade **** Venture-Captain, Louisiana—Baton Rouge aka sowhereaminow

Walter Helgason wrote:
Yes, this gives my Taldan paladin a good way to spread the good news of Taldan culture to the rest of the world.

My Talden Cavalier would most heartily agree. Perhaps we can work together to steer the local lodges in a better direction.

Sovereign Court *****

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Card Game, Class Deck Subscriber

Huh. Interesting.

Well, I'll have to reevaluate my Taldan's characters goals given this update. I think most of them are going to stay with the Sovereign Court though.

Interesting faction...

Liberty's Edge ****

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, PFS RPG Subscriber

A Sczarni and Qadira faction merge would be cool. Call it "The Invisible Hand", and be obsessed with market dominance.

Silver Crusade *

Brett Carlos wrote:
Walter Helgason wrote:
Yes, this gives my Taldan paladin a good way to spread the good news of Taldan culture to the rest of the world.
My Talden Cavalier would most heartily agree. Perhaps we can work together to steer the local lodges in a better direction.

Isn't your cavalier overbearing enough?

I mean, umm...

:p

Grand Lodge ****

#Osirion4Life!

Silver Crusade ***** Venture-Agent aka Alex McGuire

Holy crap, another good aligned faction.

Paizo Employee ***** Developer

Alex McGuire wrote:
Holy crap, another good aligned faction.
Blog wrote:
Both of our factions for today tap into the past in the hope of creating a better world, though their methods and vision of what constitutes "better" differ.

Their intentions may be generally good, but both factions still have an interest in ending up on top, so to speak.

***

1 person marked this as a favorite.
David Neilson wrote:
Really, it sounds more like "Hey lets start the Illuminati!"

Golarion already has an Illuminati. There are (supposedly) ten members.

-Matt

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Alex McGuire wrote:
Holy crap, another good aligned faction.

If you consider a faction of elitists trying to justify their elitism 'Good', then yeah.

Not as good a deal if you're not born an aristocrat.

Alternatively, if you mean the Scarab Sages, I'd say a quest for forgotten knowledge based around rebuilding a secret society using artifacts of unknown provenance cannot possibly go wrong.

Shadow Lodge *** Venture-Captain, California—San Francisco Bay Area South & West aka JohnF

rknop wrote:
A Sczarni and Qadira faction merge would be cool. Call it "The Invisible Hand", and be obsessed with market dominance.

I'm not sure that would be too popular with a lot of Qadirans.

I know I chose Qadira (even though I dislike 'nationalistic' factions) because I disliked the organized crime feel of Sczarni even more.

Shadow Lodge ****

Alex McGuire wrote:
Holy crap, another good aligned faction.

I was kind of hoping that that's the way it might go, but not sure. On one hand, it really reads like some sort of illuminati/UN conspiracy. On the other, it sort of reminds me of the DL Whitestone Council or maybe even something like the Knights of the Round Table "mythology". I'm kind of hoping for the later, but not sure. There are enough neutral factions already, I think, and a strong and cool LG one might be awesome, and even start to highlight the differences between Sliver Crusade (NG) and Andoran (CG)/Liberty's Edge (CG ?).

I really hope that the Sovereign Court offers a lot of goodies like knightly ranks and titles, but not like the old Taldor and Cheliaxian ones that where kind of meaningless (in game). I'm wondering if the Eagle Knights (and maybe even Hellknights) might be more a part of the Sovereign Court than Liberty's Edge or the Dark Archive, as it seems that Taldor is still pretty central to the Sovereign Court, where the other two have basically turned away from or been shown the door by their founding nation. Also still kind of interested in Taldor itself, which is kind of the big question.

***

DM Beckett wrote:
Also still kind of interested in Taldor itself, which is kind of the big question.

I have a feeling that the setting of the AP announced at PaizoCon will have a large effect on the initial direction of the newly-formed Sovereign Court.

As for the Taldor angle, though, I believe Lady Morilla has a rather capable friend to handle that corner of the world. The Empire is in good hands?

-Matt

Shadow Lodge ****

Ross Byers wrote:

If you consider a faction of elitists trying to justify their elitism 'Good', then yeah.

Not as good a deal if you're not born an aristocrat.

Actually, it looks like the new Faction left all those guys/gals behind and are starting to focus on the more working class nobles to start getting things done.

Ross Byers wrote:
Alternatively, if you mean the ScarabStupid Sages that study an uninteresting bug, I'd say a quest for forgotten knowledge based around rebuilding a secret society using artifacts of unknown provenance cannot possibly go wrong.

Probably right there.

Shadow Lodge ****

Mattastrophic wrote:
DM Beckett wrote:
Also still kind of interested in Taldor itself, which is kind of the big question.

I have a feeling that the setting of the AP announced at PaizoCon will have a large effect on the initial direction of the newly-formed Sovereign Court.

As for the Taldor angle, though, I believe Lady Morilla has a rather capable friend to handle that corner of the world. The Empire is in good hands?

-Matt

I was referring to the retcons on Taldor. :)

***

DM Beckett wrote:
I was referring to the retcons on Taldor. :)

Right, those. Taldor really needs the 64-page treatment. I nominate Mark Seifter.

-Matt

RPG Superstar 2008 Top 32

DM Beckett wrote:
working class nobles

That's a contradiction in terms.

Anyway, there are so many levels of peerage, I doubt 'second-tier nobility' means knights and other non-hereditary titles. I interpreted it to mean "barons, viscounts, and other nobles unimportant enough that they won't upset continuity".

Scarab Sages ***** RPG Superstar 2015 Top 16

Those changes sound pretty interesting. My one Taldan character, a bard, will probably stay with the Sovereign Court. Osirion on the other hand includes over half of my characters (11 Osirions, I think?) and all will be continuing to follow Amenopheus in the Scarab Sages - except for one Thasalonian Specialist Bloatmage who may be tempted to join the Dark Archive.

Sovereign Court ****

We do this for the Sovereign Court!

Grand Lodge *** Venture-Lieutenant, California—Sacramento aka FLite

John Compton wrote:
Alex McGuire wrote:
Holy crap, another good aligned faction.
Blog wrote:
Both of our factions for today tap into the past in the hope of creating a better world, though their methods and vision of what constitutes "better" differ.
Their intentions may be generally good, but both factions still have an interest in ending up on top, so to speak.

Good, as in, "I must sacrifice you for the good of all!"

By the way, wouldn't most nobles who join the Sovereign Court be violating their oaths of loyalty toward their lords? (Raising a private army not answerable to your sovereign was usually grounds for charges of treason I thought. If only because it was usually the first sign of a coup or bid for independence.)

Grand Lodge **** Venture-Agent, Indiana—Decatur aka Kadasbrass Loreweaver

The Sovereign Court? A bunch of people going around called The Duke, The Baron, The Monarch.... How is this faction not a subdivision of the Guild of Calamitous Intent?

In all honesty I liked what I was seeing with Taldor this season as a new member of PFS. I was kinda hoping Taldor was gonna become the Militant Wing of the PFS but Sovereign Court still works. Hope my 4th character can get enough Prestige for the noble title vanity before the faction change.

I suppose all these faction changes means there will be a replacement for the Pathfinder Society Field Guide coming up soon.

Shadow Lodge ****

Ross Byers wrote:
DM Beckett wrote:
working class nobles

That's a contradiction in terms.

Anyway, there are so many levels of peerage, I doubt 'second-tier nobility' means knights and other non-hereditary titles. I interpreted it to mean "barons, viscounts, and other nobles unimportant enough that they won't upset continuity".

Possibly, it's all speculation. I meant more "working class" nobility, or maybe "Hands-On" nobility, vs the more administrative or hosting/patronage types. Second-tier nobility could mean a lot of different things, but I'm tending think more along the lines of (in addition to the lesser nobility), possibly the younger brother/sister that isn't likely to inherit things, but still might hold a great deal of influence, the church, and maybe things like captains. We will see in a few days, though.

Shadow Lodge ****

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Baron Marcell & Riddywhipple wrote:
We do this for the Sovereign Court!

Yah, just doesn't have the same ring to it. . .

**

However much the fit the character I dont think I can bring myself to say I belong to the Sovereign Court or Liberty's Edge. Dark Archive and Scarab Sages are quite interesting though.

Silver Crusade **** Venture-Captain, Louisiana—Baton Rouge aka sowhereaminow

Bigdaddyjug wrote:
Brett Carlos wrote:
Walter Helgason wrote:
Yes, this gives my Taldan paladin a good way to spread the good news of Taldan culture to the rest of the world.
My Taldan Cavalier would most heartily agree. Perhaps we can work together to steer the local lodges in a better direction.

Isn't your cavalier overbearing enough?

I mean, umm...

:p

Just because my character's name takes up four lines on the game sign in sheet doesn't mean he's overbearing. It just means he wants to be properly addressed...and has an animal companion with a particularly long name that also prefers to be properly addressed.

It's only polite. There's a reason I spent prestige on a herald you know...

Silver Crusade **** Venture-Captain, Louisiana—Baton Rouge aka sowhereaminow

Chris O'Reilly wrote:
However much the fit the character I dont think I can bring myself to say I belong to the Sovereign Court or Liberty's Edge. Dark Archive and Scarab Sages are quite interesting though.

Well, the Sovereign Court is supposed to be secretive, so I doubt you would announce yourself as part of it. Though I agree about Liberty's Edge. Doesn't quite roll off the tongue, does it? Maybe if it was The Edge of Liberty? Or TEOL? Or just EOL?

Sovereign Court ****

Oh Bother, the Taldans are going to be all nifty and good now. Sounds like a bad play. I fear its the Darkive for me.

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