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Questions about Factions in Golarion


As someone relatively new to both RPG Superstar and Golarion, I had a question regarding factions that I wanted to save until after the entries were complete for round two. In an effort to be prepared for round two, I read the Faction Guide cover to cover and one thing jumped out at me that I didn't understand; why is there a huge void in factions in the southern continent of the Inner Sea Region? I see both the Shackles Pirates and Red Mantis along the south west islands and the Risen Guard in Sothis just south of Absalom, but nothing in the rest of the southern lands. I thought Katapesh was the second largest city in the Inner Sea Region, yet is has no factions? Both Merab in Thuvia and Azir in Rahadoum looked like potentially viable faction locations as well. Is there some history that I've missed? Maybe this is explained in other books? What other reference materials would you recommend for someone seeking to learn the realm of Golarion? I do have the Inner Sea World Guide, Faction Guide, Cities of Golarion and Guide to Absalom. Thanks fellow gamers, all insight is welcome. Cheers!

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

I noticed this as well. I also have the 3.5 Campaign Setting and check the often.

I would guess it is because the attention of the developers has largely been focused on Avistan and the Inner Sea region, at least so far. The Serpent's Skull AP spent some time there, but the reception seems lukewarm. There may be more coming in the Skull & Bones AP and supporting products.

Thanks Thomas, for whatever reason I hadn't been using the pathfinderwiki, but I went back to it based on your comment and found that it is a great source of information, good call.

Thanks Urath, do factions get introduced in the Adventure Paths, so potentially I could find a faction for Katapesh in the Legacy of Fire Adventure Path? I guess it does make sense that they could be introduced in any publication. Thanks for the tip about the upcoming AP, just checked it and it does appear the Shackles Pirates will play a major role.


The Faction Guide came out just before the Serpent's Skull AP, if I recall correctly. It was certainly after the last 3.5-based AP (Legacy of Fire), so none of the early ones have any significant mention (though you could work them in).

The Factions *can*, but do not have to, play a significant role in the Serpent's Skull AP, and there are suggestions in the AP as to how to do that.

The Whispering Way is a major part of the Carrion Crown AP, but the Faction rules are (again) entirely optional.

I do not recall them appearing in Kingmaker with any significance.

Generally, as the Faction Guide is an optional supplement, Paizo avoids making anything dependent upon that material. If anything was to be used as a key part, there would be enough information in the AP volume or module in order for you to use it. With something like the Factions, there would be so much material to re-print, that seems unlikely. More likely are additional "sidebars" on using the Factions with the AP.

For Katapesh and the Legacy of Fire, you might need to make your own in the near-term. Any named organization could be the basis for a Faction, such as the Severed Paws (mentioned in "Dark Markets: A Guide to Katapesh"). It appears quite a few religions have a presence in Katapesh, so their Factions could all be active in the area.

It is also worth noting that Inner Sea Magic introduced "Magic Schools", Faction-like organizations. They are a bit different, and the one for the Arcanamirium notes that if you are using both, the version in Inner Sea Magic (as a school) is recommended to replace the Faction version from the Faction Guide. Mwangi and Nex have specific example schools presented, and the "Monastery" school is a template for any religion-based school... so such could be anywhere.

Thanks Urath, that's a great bit of useful information, I appreciate you taking the time to provide the history and insight on how Factions have developed and how they're implemented in APs.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Another overlooked area, since the 3.5 Pathfinder Chronicles: Campaign Setting, is fighter schools. Taldoran fighter academies are often mentioned. Theives guilds, bardic colleges, druid circles, tribes, and many other groups could use the faction system. Political parties (heavy RP campaigns) and galdiator arenas (heavy combat campaigns) could be a good examples of local organizations.

Also organizations for the round 2 RPG superstar are focusing on Golarion. Be sure to check them out and vote. Let me just say, I am glad you started this thread after the submission deadline was closed.

Some folks suggested a companion for Inner Sea Magic. The suggestion was that it be called Inner Sea Combat and to include Figher schools and such.

Although the chapter in Inner Sea Magic is called "Magic Schools", it contains several sub-types that address some of Thomas LeBlanc's suggestions. There are Academies, Guilds, Monasteries, and Secret Societies presented as sub-types, with examples.

Academies are more or less exactly schools... the Academae in Korvosa, the Arcanamirium in Absolom, and Magaambya in Nantambu are described as examples,

Guilds include Bardic Colleges and Thieves' Guilds in Inner Sea Magic. The White Grotto, "the premier bardic college in Absolom", and the Daggermark Poisoner's Guild are examples of each, and the Kintargo Opera House may be a mix of both. The other in the book is the Fleshforges of Oenopion, which seems mostly aimed at Alchemists. Note that although the title of the chapter is "Magic Schools", the Poisoner's Guild has almost no magical requirments or effects, and could be used as a model for a Thieves' Guild or Fighter School.

Monasteries exist for each religion, which can include using them to portray Druid Circles (although some modification may be needed). The Green Faith Faction already exists, so Druid Circles could also be local "offices" of the Green Faith. Only one generic Monastery is presentd, but there are deity-specific benefits listed under it.

Secret Societies are exactly as the name implies... groups with secret goals and members working clandestinely. Examples in the book include Citadel Enferac (Hellknight spellcaster school), the Crimson Citadel (Red Mantis HQ), and the Harrowed Society (Varisian Harrowers).

In addition to the Political Parties, noble families could also be done up as small-scale Factions.

Edit: Before I forget, one of the supporting articles in the Council of Thieves AP is about the inner workings of Thieves' Guilds. It does not give Faction-like bonuses or membership details, but if you're interested in fleshing out the details of such a group, there's a place to begin.

On the subject of fighter schools, a few of them were made into archetypes in the Inner Sea Primer. Maybe the same could be done for magic "schools", bardic colleges, other guilds etc. come to think of it, I really like that idea, but I also really love archetypes.

Sczarni RPG Superstar 2012 Top 32

Khonger wrote:
On the subject of fighter schools, a few of them were made into archetypes in the Inner Sea Primer.

I did some before the ISP came out. A few are still in my googledocs, but need updated.

Archetypes and Factions/"Magic Schools" serve different purposes.

Archetypes make characters who are trained in a certain style BY a school.. the product of the school. The Faction/"Magic School" represents the school as an organization. You can have both, in other words, but one does not replace the other.

Thanks again Urath, I appreciate you taking the time to share your knowledge. Regarding the Council of Thieves AP with the inner workings of Thieves' Guilds, is it Adventure Path #29: Mother of Flies (Council of Thieves 5 of 6) that contains that supplemental info, or is it spread throughout the whole Council of Thieves AP?

Bombadil wrote:
Thanks again Urath, I appreciate you taking the time to share your knowledge. Regarding the Council of Thieves AP with the inner workings of Thieves' Guilds, is it Adventure Path #29: Mother of Flies (Council of Thieves 5 of 6) that contains that supplemental info, or is it spread throughout the whole Council of Thieves AP?

Yes, I am thinking of the "Ecology of a Thieves' Guild" article in #29 /Mother of Flies.

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