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Taldor: breaking the stereotype


Pathfinder Campaign Setting General Discussion

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One of the things that irked me the most about Taldor is how stereotypical it seems. An old fantasy empire in decadence, populated with fops and wannabe nobles and not much more.

The premise was interesting enough: a once mighty empire in decline, dreaming of its lost glories. Unfortunately the execution left a lot to be desired. Taldans were mostly represented as ineffectual fops, obsessing around the latest fashions. The Taldan empire has been shown to be on the verge of collapse with very few redeemable qualities (the only one I can think of is they proved to be more respectful than Andorens towards the Verduran Forest).
While Cheliax's image is built around its ties to Hell and Andoran's by being a young democracy in a fantasy setting, Taldor has been identified with its decadence, and that concept, while interesting, has become almost all encompassing and, being negative by definition, not very appealing at all. Besides that, the companion book "Taldor:echoes of glory" was adequate at best and didn't do much to improve or deepen Taldor's image.

All this to say in my opinion Taldor needs a huge restyling, and since it seems the game developers are working on other projects I believe the community should try to do it instead, or at least to come up with interesting ideas that can be further develped in time.

That said I don't think the decadence angle should go away. Quite the contrary. What it needs is to be made interesting and appealing, giving people resons to want to play a taldan character.

So I'd like to throw out some areas of interest that can use some work.

Taldor and religion: Taldor is one of the oldest empires around. It was once the seat of the faith of Aroden (and interesting enough Aroden's last cathedral is located in Oppara), then that faith migrated towards Cheliax. How did this affect Taldor and Taldans?
Besides that what are the most widely worshipped deities in Taldor? What about Sarenrae?
Generally speaking I think we need a much more detailed exposition about the religious aspects of Taldor.

Taldor and society: What is the taldan society like? We know they have nobles, peasants and a small class of rich people who can aspire to buy their way into the nobility. They have a gigantic (and very costy) military. But this is only the surface. What about slaves? Does Taldor allow slavery? Or does it have something different, like serfdom (which it should be noted could be even worse than slavery... no person owns you, but the land does, meaning you can't leave the place where you were born and need to obey the ones who hold power over the land). What about the gentry? Do they want to just become nobles or to do as the Andorens did? What do the peasant think when tales of Galt reach them? How does a Taldan born in a city differ from one born in the countryside?

Taldor and nobility: In my mind Taldor should be Golarion's "land of intrigue". But in order to have that you need factions and since the land is run by nobles you need noble factions opposing each other.
These factions should answer the question "how do we bring back Taldor's past glories?" in different ways. A "traditionalist noble" could believe Taldor's decadence to be an effect of foreign customs and vouch for the return of "traditional Taldan values". On the other hand an "innovator noble" would believe the opposite while a "militarist noble" would lobby for an even stronger military. And then of course there are many other factors that could define noble factions.

Taldor and magic: Taldor was the biggest empire Avistan had ever seen. It managed to defeat and imprison the Whispering Tyrant. How is it it doesn't seem to have any notable arcane institution or individual? In other words, how do taldans see magic? How do they use it?

Taldor and the demihuman races: Taldor is still pretty huge. It encompasses different environments and even holds a sky citadel of the dwarfs inside its borders. So what is the relationship Taldans have with members of the non human races? What about the fey? And the elegant elves of the north?

Taldor and the other nations: This has actually received some thought but it just barely scratched the surface of what can be done. Do all Taldans hate Quadira and despise Cheliax? Do all of them fear Galt? What about Andoran and organizations like the Lumber Consortium? What about the Aspis Consortium?

Taldor and secret organizations: Taldor has the Lion Blades... and then what? Are there no other secret organizations hiding among the land? What about thieves guilds, mercenary companies, secret cults?

Liberty's Edge

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With regard to religon, Taldor is home to what is probably Shelyn's holiest site on Golarion, the Temple of the Upheld Golden Rose in Oppara, which the goddess herself is said to visit in disguise one a year. Notably, the Taldans seem to reject the church of Iomedae's claim that their goddess is the rightful inheritor of Aroden, as Iomedae is not one of the more commonly worshiped gods in Taldor. This is probably because the mortal Iomedae was a Chelaxian, and seemingly a relatively loyal one considering she actually governed a Chelaxian city for a while, which makes her essentially a traitor in the eyes of the Taldan state. Most Taldans who would otherwise worship Iomedae instead cling to their faith in Aroden or have presumably moved on to the worship of another deity, most likely Abadar.

There is definitely slavery in Taldor (the practice is only banned in a very few places in the Inner Sea Region), but it's been explicitly stated that there's serfdom as well. The average Taldan peasant generally seems to have fewer rights than even a Chelaxian commoner, and the population is probably less urbanized, on the whole, than in many other parts of the Inner Sea Region. That said, even the most downtrodden Taldan is raised to take pride in their heritage, and there seems to be a strong current of patriotism that helps to work against any social discontent.

As far as the nobility goes, it appears that Taldor's government and military are highly decentralized, and that the Taldan aristocracy behave largely independently of the throne. A Taldan duke once unilaterally launched an invasion of Andoran, and did significant damage before the Eagle Knights organized a counter-attack. The signature character Alain's backstory makes it clear that feuds between Taldan nobles are quite common, and may even be viewed as a kind of sport. Even the ruler of Taldor's title, "Grand Prince", seems to suggest a role as a sort of "first among equals," rather than anything approaching an absolute monarch. It probably takes a major event, like a Qadiran invasion or a call for a new Army of Exploration, to organize the Taldan nobility and their various household armies into any kind of cohesive force, and even then the Taldan military is likely hampered by internal conflicts. This might help explain why Taldor, at the height of its power, struggled to match the military of Qadira at a time when the empire of Kelesh was engaged in its own civil war and unlikely to be providing aid to their furthest-flung satrapy.

It's been stated that Taldor values arcane knowledge highly, and the Gran Prince himself is a wizard. Taldor probably produces the finest wizards in the Inner Sea Region outside of Garund (since everyone knows the very best wizards are Garundi), with the possible exception of wizards trained at the great schools of Absalom.

One of the ancient dwarven Sky Citadels is located in Taldor, and while most of its population has since emigrated to the Five Kings Mountains as a result of the local mines running dry, it stands to reason that Taldor would have a sizable dwarven population. Oppara is one of the largest cities in the world and a major trading port, so it's likely at least as cosmopolitan as Sothis, which has been noted as having major populations of all of the common races of the Inner Sea Region. Notably, halfling slaves and servants are probably quite common in Taldor, though possibly not quite so ubiquitous as they are in Cheliax.

I believe that it's also been noted that the much-lampooned arrogance of the Taldan people cuts both ways. They consider themselves better than other peoples, but they also hold themselves to a higher standard. Faults that a Taldan might accept magnanimously (if condescendingly) in a companion from another land might be viewed as entirely unacceptable in a fellow Taldan. I imagine that a lot of Taldans (at least in the upper classes) conceal a core of self-doubt under their overweening pride, as they struggle to live up to the countless larger-than-life figures of their nation's history, but inevitably come up short.


I am creating a village/small town in Taldor and have it that during and after the Quadirian invasion rebels, family feuds and banditry destroyed the nation internally. I also have it that some of the founders of Arodens church still exist and that there are lots of little faiths around. With the respects to recovery I have it all down to machavellian politics and foreign interests with a number of noble families trying to rebuild Taldors interior states but being stymied by feuds and political infighting.


Had to go looking for notes. Right there are nobility tiers with lesser families allied/beholden to greater ones and you also have the senatorial plotting intermixed with the noble scheming. The various founder faiths are all fairly small with at maximum 200 or so priests and that there are small pockets of Iomadites spread about. The problems caused by the eventonge and quadirian incidents are still fairly widespread but with the reestablishment and securing of the major trade routes, a number of prominent families have begun talking about a army of restoration just to restore the nations interial integraty.


@ Gnoll Bard: Good stuff, especially about Shelyn being an important deity in Taldor. It seems like a goddes who could appeal to taldans. Also dislike for Iomedae seems reasonable, although she took part to the shining crusade as Aroden's herald after Arazni's fall.
What about evil gods though? Norgorber for one seems like he would fit in just right. And for neutral gods I think Calistria would have a sizeable following in Taldor.

That said I think we disagree on the military and slavery aspects.

-Noble households have certainly their own men at arms and powerful one might even have personal armies, but the current surcebooks make it pretty clear Taldor has a huge army and a huge navy and those are what's keeping the nation from falling to external threats. Career in the army is also one of the few ways a lowborn Taldan can climb the ranks of society (although it's pretty uncommon).

-While it's true Taldor has never been said to be against slavery I think it should be... in a fashion. Meaning Taldor should be a bit different from Quadira and Cheliax and certainly from Andoran on this issue. Taldans should scoff at slavery as something "uncivilized" people do (as a jab to 2 empires they hate) and endorse the "beauty" of serfdom (which, as noted above could be worse than some forms of slavery...). This doesn't mean powerful nobles could not get away with owning slaves in Taldor, bribing officials and judges if needed. Corruption should be a part of Taldor's description but not without hope of justice being done (possibly vigilante style... what about a group of taldan vigilantes?).

@Eldred: nice ideas for your campaign! Just a note: I think the Taldan military somehow survived Quadira's invasion considering how it prevented the invading State from fully conquering Taldor and in time defeated the Quadirans taking the land back.

Dark Archive

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I've always thought about the Taldan nobility and society like England as portrayed by Bernard Crownwell's Saxon Stories series (not sure if you are familiar with them).

Taldor and Religion: According to the Inner Sea Gods, Abadar, Cayden Cailean, Norgorber, and Shelyn are all Taldan deities, which has a special meaning for Cayden Cailean and Norgorber who were once mortals. The same book also states Calistria as a common deity. IMO Sarenrae should not be a very loved deity since she is of keleshite origin and the patron of the Cult of the Downflower who believe Taldor should need "a cleansing with blade and fire".

Taldor and Society: I believe the serfs represent most of the work force, but that doesn't mean that there are no slaves. IMO this is purely an economic matter... A noble has the right of the land so the serfs must work for him and pay tribute. If a serf dies, there is no problem for another one will eagerly take its place. The same could not be said about slaves who 'cost'. On the other hand I don't think they actively purchase slaves, but the ones that exist are actually war prisoners or those who sold themselves into slavery to pay their debts.

Taldor and Nobility: Much like in the book I mentioned before, I believe the real power is held by the nobles, and not by the king (which is nothing more than the most powerful noble). Each Duke as a holding, a standing army, and also others minor nobles with their own armies. This is where the intrigue and games of power enter in scene, for the king needs his nobles so favors must be given... the more powerful a noble are, more leverage he has.

I also think most of the nobles are far more interested in their self gain than in any patriotic drive. If a noble has few or unfertile lands, he'd be quite eager for an expansionist campaign with the promise of new lands/riches as an example. Others, perhaps powerful enough and not really eager to try their luck or expend their wealthy in meaningless war, might instead turn their eyes to the throne, perhaps scheming with other of similar mind.

Taldor and Magic: I think their view of magic are pretty standard... they are neither fanatic about it nor dismissive. It is simply a tool to achieve something. If you take in consideration the usual picture of a Duke, who probably had devoted much of his life in the military career, he'd probably not be a wizard... on the other hand he would acknowledge the value of having a wizard on his court as an advisor.

Taldan and Demihuman Races: In their eyes they are always foreigners and as such are probably treated according to their 'perceived value'. A half-orc is probably seen with scorn, while a dwarf/gnome should be praised by his skills (like the Italians in middle age) and an elf by his knowledge/refined manners. A Halfling is probably seen like a serf.

Taldan and Other Nations: Their relationship should be measured by what they can 'take' and what they need to 'protect'. Qadira is a threat to Taldor, in war since ever. Galt, Andoran, Cheliax, Isger, the River Kingdoms, Absalon are on the other category... if Taldor could annex any of they, I'm pretty sure they would.


Yes but I have the military facing outwards mostly with just a few units patrolling the interior and they are usually aligned with a noble family.
I also feel that Taldor was beginning to look inward when Aroden died and all their former terroties went to pot.


In the case of magic there are a number of schools and the like but again they are mostly associated with particular factions. With the constant plotting and scheming going on in the state alongside standard feuds is the reason most mages don't seem involved. Magic is view as both a tool for betterment but also a vunrability to be exploited.

Sczarni

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Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

The newest tales novel sly knives is set in a taldan town on the outskirts and hits on several of the themes alluded to here: thieves guilds, nobles, feelings towards other nations, and we see a church of abadar. Also it's one of the better books in the line.

Worship. Of Sarenrae was originally written to be outlawed in Taldor, this has been ignored in later books almost retconnned by omission, but several PFS scenarios have that as a premise, so they couldn't completely retcon it.


What we really need is a new Taldor book with all the proper info and hopefully a look in taldain politics and life. Saying that I still want a book on the various sub-faiths that existed inside Arodens church like the founders and their legacy.


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Just wanted to disagree with one thing from Sir Longears

"Taldor and Magic: I think their view of magic are pretty standard... they are neither fanatic about it nor dismissive. It is simply a tool to achieve something. If you take in consideration the usual picture of a Duke, who probably had devoted much of his life in the military career, he'd probably not be a wizard... on the other hand he would acknowledge the value of having a wizard on his court as an advisor."

A Duke has probably never had a career. Most would not serve in the military. They may get to lead an army due to position/political clout.

He would be raised to further the interests of the family in the great game of politics.

Additionally:
The Royal family may not be absolute monarchs, but if they were just first among equals I would expect there to have been more changes of royal family then we have been told of.

Personally I have always seen Taldor as similar to Byzantium. Clinging on with a politic system that is half the ptoblem and not any help with a solution.


When I read Inner Sea Races, I was rather disappointed with the Taldan chapter. It seemed that the book made an effort to portray every human ethnicity in a positive light except Taldans. It seemed there was very little written positively about them.

Interesting cultures have positives and negatives and especially conflicts. It seemed like the poor Taldans got the short end of the stick in that regard.


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About factions: I think Taldor should be painted as a nation that entered the "renassaince era" but was great during "medieval times". This gives meaning to ideological conflict between nobles (but also among the common people, just not to the same extent since Taldor is a nation mainly ruled by nobles).
A "traditionalist Taldan" should be someone who believes the nation can do great if it rejects foreign influences and goes back to "the traditional taldan way of doing things" (basically sounding something like most of the roman senatorial class during imperial times or even during the republican era).
On the other hand an "Innovator Taldan" should be someone who thinks the way for Taldor to improve is to move forward discarding old traditions, rituals and social conventions.
A "militarist Taldan" would be a pragmatist. Someone who believes Taldor was made great by its armies and thinks having a strong military and navy is the key to get back what was lost. To these people tradition is only a tool as long as it is effective, they would have no qualms to change things (for example introduce new weapons like guns) as long as those would give Taldor troops an advantage.
And a "decadent Taldan" would be something like the stereotype, someone who's satisfied with his position in life and doesn't want things to change, possibly enjoying debauchery of any kind.
There should also be "revolutionary Taldans", people who want to bring the old order down violently (some inspired by ideals of democracy some others by rage and venegance)

These should be general categories, with actual factions and conspiracies built around charismatic leaders or specific plans.


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Nope. They're all a#~*##$s. Screw those guys.


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Rogar Valertis wrote:

About factions: I think Taldor should be painted as a nation that entered the "renassaince era" but was great during "medieval times". This gives meaning to ideological conflict between nobles (but also among the common people, just not to the same extent since Taldor is a nation mainly ruled by nobles).

A "traditionalist Taldan" should be someone who believes the nation can do great if it rejects foreign influences and goes back to "the traditional taldan way of doing things" (basically sounding something like most of the roman senatorial class during imperial times or even during the republican era).

Our jobs

are fleeing the country

they're going to Cheliax

they're going to Mwaangi

We. Are going. To make. Taldor. Great again.

Shadow Lodge

Rogar Valertis wrote:
There should also be "revolutionary Taldans", people who want to bring the old order down violently (some inspired by ideals of democracy some others by rage and venegance)

Traditionalist Taldan says: "oh, but these people exist. They call themselves Galtans and Andorens now, but rest assured, they'll grow beyond these vanities and return to the fold soon enough."


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^The thing about Andorens and Galtans is that they revolted from Cheliax, not directly from Taldor. A traditionalist Taldan with a better awareness of history (although not necessarily feeling more might say that the revolutions of Andoran and Galt are proof that Che obligation to be truthful) liax is the real nation of vanity, and that those nations could be brought back into the fold if only a way could be found to undo the damage done by Cheliax after its rebellion against Taldor. If they are also more aware than average of current events, they may be counting on Andoran to wreck its environment by excessive lumber harvesting, while secretly helping Andoran former nobles who want to subvert the republic and regain their noble status, so as to prepare to stab Andoran in the back, especially if Andoran gets into a hot war with Cheliax; however, they have to worry about getting stabbed in their own back by Qadira, which would probably attack immediately if Taldor got into a war with Andoran. (In this line of thought, one has to wonder if Andoran and Qadira might even have a secret mutual defense treaty, despite Andoran's hatred of Qadiran slavery, and if Taldor and Cheliax might even have some sort of secret treaty for the division of Andoran, despite the contempt each has for the other. A perfect setting for the onset of World War G, especially given that Cheliax, Andoran, and Taldor all have colonies on other continents, while Qadira is a satrapy of a much larger empire. And other nations would probably join in as well. Gorum and Szuriel must be drooling at the prospect . . . .)

True homegrown Taldan revolutionaries probably also exist, possibly intermixed with foreign agents. The traditionalists probably only speak of them in hushed whispers, and when they do, they probably emphasize the part about foreign agents as much as they can (pointedly dismissing the possibility that some of the revolutionaries truly want to overthrow the Taldan government for the benefit of the Taldan people).

With respect to the worship of Sarenrae, the www.pathfinderwiki.com entry on Taldor (from Taldor: Echoes of Glory) says that Stavian I outlawed the worship of Sarenrae in 4528 AR, but it also lists Sarenrae as one of the deities worshipped commonly in Taldor, so it seems reasonable that his Great Purge was not entirely effective, and since the end of the reign of Stavian I, Sarenites can probably exist and practice their worship in substantial numbers in Taldor as long as they are not too open (and in some cases do favors for the right people). Taldor is now under Stavian III, who continues persecution of the Cult of the Dawnflower if not the whole church of Sarenrae, but Stavian II was apparently a weak ruler, and in the confusion occurring during the rule of Stavian II, the church of Sarenrae probably managed a significant if not exactly open comeback.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber

One of Sarenrae's biggest current churches is in Oppara- to say nothing of numerous other indications, including those found in inner Sea Gods.

Safe to say the ban has been lifted.


^Or maybe they're just REALLY good at getting officials to look the other way . . . .


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Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber

...

Nothing shady at all.

Inner Sea Gods, Sarenrae entry, Page 134:

"The church is strongest in Absalom, Katapesh, Osirion, Qadira, Taldor, and Thuvia."

Cult of the Dawnflower sidebar, same page:

"Never one to turn their back on a good deity, the nation of Taldor supports a number of temples devoted to Sarenrae."

See also:
Inner Sea Temples, House of Dawn's Redemption entry, Page 44:

“The Gilded City is a splendid sight at any time of day, but
never is it so magnificent than at dawn, when the first
rays of the sun shine on the rose-gold domes of the House
of Dawn’s Redemption and the song of the Suncallers
rings out over Oppara’s rooftops from the temple’s twin
minarets. For those brief moments at the beginning of
the day, I am filled with joy, and it is almost as if I had never
left Katheer. Sarenrae’s light shines on all the cities of the
Inner Sea, from Corentyn to Katheer, but to me it seems
to shine all the brighter in Oppara, as if the Dawnflower
herself cannot contain her delight that her faith has
returned to Taldor’s shores, just as the sun rises every
morning to banish the darkness of night.”

Same book, page 46:

"Eventually, the Taldan government softened its stance
against the Dawnflower; to atone for the injustices of the
Great Purge, the city of Oppara returned to the church the
same plot of land where Sarenrae’s original temple once
stood. Over the next decade, devoted Sarenites reclaimed
the sacred sites of their goddess throughout Taldor,
and many sanctified stones and lost relics were brought
to Oppara to rebuild a new cathedral atop the ashes of
the old razed temple."


^Wonder how they pulled THAT one off . . . They must have offered Stavian III a deal he couldn't refuse.

Dark Archive

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It's a *big* country, and, as stated upthread, the local nobility often have a lot of power, including their own armies, while the 'Grand Prince' doesn't necessarily control (or know about, or care about) what is happening five days march from the capitol.

So if one wants to tell a story in which a Taldan community is hostile to Sarenrae's faith, there's plenty of room in even a 'retconned' Taldor for their to be some more 'traditional' Sarenrae-hating areas.

Areas closer to the border with Qadira might include some folk likely to hold some less-than-welcoming views of Sarenraens, and Qadirans, for that matter, since grudges would last longer in communities that have lost family members (or lands) to the centuries of back and forth conflict that characterizes the border. (And, contrarily, because people are rarely anything else, there'd be those who regularly cross the border on matters of trade, and have family and friends on both 'sides,' who consider the whole issue long over.)

The current situation opens another door, Sarenite clerics in Taldor, but doesn't really close the door on there maybe being *some* Taldans (and even entire communities of Taldans) who don't much like them.


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There could also be some situations in which some Taldan Nobles were helped by the clergy of Sarenrae who felt that they had to balance out the harm that the Cult of the Dawnflower was inflicting (possibly even involving said clergy calling the Cult outright heretical). Which would make those nobles enemies of both those nobles who are outright hostile to any Sarenite sects and the Cult of the Dawnflower itself, who would likely see those Sarenite clerics who opposed them as heretics themselves and the nobles that worked with them irredeemably evil.

Just throwing some more ideas out there.


^That's true -- the church of Sarenrae seems to have an above average amount of schism and infighting, even developing a whole prestige class as a result. Could be that the management (such as it is) in Taldor decided that it would be better to play different parts of the church of Sarenrae off against each other by making up with the sect deemed to be the least threatening.

Dark Archive

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Or how about James Jacobs had enough enough of someone's hand having tampered what he wanted for Taldor. Just look at the damage done to Erastil. Thank God for retcons.


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^Retcons are not all bad, but when a good story can be made out of a mistake, I prefer that route.

Dark Archive

Like Days of Future's Past movie?


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Right I've typed out my view on a number of your points so here goes.

How I view Taldor!

A moderately decadent nation that is currently trying to re-establish itself in the modern era, where it is now no longer a superpower but just a player on the Inner Seas political landscape. This can be attributed to multiple factors the first being what was the sheer size of the empire before the Chelaxian secession, the centuries long war with Quadira and that Taldor still sees itself as the greatest nation that the inner sea has ever seen. Now most Taldans are justly proud of their nations achievements but are just as arrogant about it also, the average citizen is both proud of the past but stubborn in the refusal to accept others achievements. These days the country is wracked by political infighting and feuds among the various factions and houses that makeup the power structure of the nation. The competing factions among the senate, the various feuds amongst the nobility, merchant houses and the shadow war fought in the shadows amongst the various foreign powers. Some of the noble feuds are centuries old and others just a few hours old but this internal plotting and scheming ironically prevents outside influences gaining much traction.

Taldor is still racked with internal issues left over from the long war with Quadira and the fact that Arodens death changed the political climate on her borders. This uncertainty that accompanies the age of lost prophecy has kept many funds and resources locked into the military. This has prevented the rebuilding of the interior land except in small amounts or by nobles trying to increase or preserve their power and prestige. Now part of the reason for many of the interior conflicts is as discussed the various feuds, there are a good dozen or so royal houses who all have subordinate families and relations between them affect the political landscape drastically. Most of these internal conflicts are the result of proxy wars between the subordinate families on behalf of their patrons trying to cause various houses to lose face and economic power.

Arcane magic is typically associated with the various noble and merchant houses and with the military with most family mages being of their bloodline. There are a number of magic schools and guilds but these are usually associate with one of the numerous political factions, the few that aren’t are generally prized by the military for their ability to navigate the complex web of politics. Now there are a few major faiths that have managed to avoid the complex web of politics and they happen to be a solid factor in why Taldor didn’t collapse after her long struggle. The church of Aroden still survives in part in Taldor but so do a large number of the minor faiths that grew around various heroes and founders of the church, the fact they still receive divine backing cause some to question where they get their powers from. Most of the Arodinite sub-faiths have attached themselves to some of the noble families which has helped protect them somewhat.

EtG

Liberty's Edge

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UnArcaneElection wrote:
^That's true -- the church of Sarenrae seems to have an above average amount of schism and infighting, even developing a whole prestige class as a result

I tend to imagine this has something to do with the fact that Sarenrae is the patron of the entire Empire of Kelesh. Not only is Kelesh huge and, presumably, fairly diverse, as a society it has... let's say mixed success living up to the standards of their goddess. There's probably a tendency for all sorts of social and political movements in the Empire to try and claim they're carrying out the true will of the Dawnflower, further contributing to the division of the faith against itself.

And if Sarenrae seems to disapprove of some of these schismatic theologies, or of the conflicts within the faith, why, that's just further evidence that you should get on board with my brand new and absolutely authentic interpretation of her will!

Dark Archive

Gnoll Bard wrote:
I tend to imagine this has something to do with the fact that Sarenrae is the patron of the entire Empire of Kelesh.

And yet also has a strong presence in Osirion (where the people are in the grip of a newfound nationalism and pride, after a long time under Qadiran occupation), and Taldor (again, no great friends of Qadira). I'd expect the churches of Sarenrae in nations that resent Qadira and it's customs and traditions, to necessarily have to present a different face to their potential worshippers, which could lead to some stylistic differences.

And that's not something unique to Sarenrae. I'd expect a Pharasmin cleric in Osirion to look and act quite different from one in Ustalav (psrticularly if the latter is a follower of the Pharasmin Penitence, and about as likely to be mistaken for a Kuthite by someone who doesn't know better...).


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Religion in Taldor: I think we are more or less in agreement with the following statements

- Abadar: Being the god of cities and civilization and its avatar being taldan itself should be a commonly worshiped deity in Taldor. This begets the question... what does it mean to have a strong church of Adabar in a nation? How does this influence a country like Taldor where nobility rules? I can see the Taldans sobstituting Aroden with Adabar, especially considering not a lot of them would like to follow Iomedae, being a Chaelexian and all.

-Shelyn: She fits the image of Taldor as a land of people enamored with the arts. She's another deity who should have a substantial following in Taldor, especially among the nobility. But if the churches of Shelyn and Adabar are strong in Taldor and appeal to the nobles, do they clash for influence or do they peacefully coexist? Also Shelyn being strong could mean Khutute discontent, another factor to keep in mind.

-Cayden Cailean: For different reasons Cayden should be commonly worshipped too, although I think its cult should be more widespread among the lower classes and seen with a modicum of contempt by the noble and administrative classes. It fits nicely with Cayden's image as a common folk hero.

-Norgorber: Should also have great influence in Taldor. If Taldor is a land where intrigue is very much present in the lives of citizens then Norgorber is probably widely worshipped by Taldans from every walk in life.

-Erastil and the Green Faith: Interestingly enough taldan traditions made it possible for them to interact peacefully with the denziens of the Verduran forest. These 2 cults probably have a strong following in rural areas of Taldor and appeal to the lower classes and possibly to traditionalist nobles.

-Sarenrae: Despite having been outlawed for a time, her cult is said to be present and strong in contemporary Taldor. That said it's unlikely taldan nobles would like to associate themselves too much with their #1 enemy patron goddes. On the other hand a philosopy of mercy and redemption could appeal to the dispossessed and poor who fill Taldor's underbelly, especially in the cities. I think taldan officers keep a wary eye on sarenites. Their cult might no longer be outlawed but that doesn't mean those in power trust it implicitly, especially with the cult of the dawnflower active on the borders with Quadira. It would also be interesting to learn when and how Taldor abandoned its persecution against the sarenites.


Quote:

Religion

The people of Taldor worship a wide range of deities, but among the major gods prefer those who are generally associated with the Taldan people: Abadar, Cayden Cailean, Norgorber, and Shelyn. The worship of Calistria and the controversial (because she is associated with Qadira) Sarenrae, and even the deceased Aroden are also popular.[3] The cult of Kurgess (a demigod who began as a Taldan mortal) is also beginning to spread.[32]

from the wiki.

So you missed commenting on Calistria and Kurgess.

Kurgess was a commoner and is probably worshipped by commoners more than nobles, though his portfolio would also appeal to knights.

Calistria is probably also seen as a commoner goddess.

Also Milani is said to have been a Saint of Aroden so she could be considered a Taldan deity too. She is more relevant to Cheliax of course.


Secret Societies in Taldor: As for thieves guilds Taldor officially has one and it's mentioned in the Inner Sea Campaign Setting right in the middle of Oppara's entry.

From Inner Sea Campaign Setting:
Is supposed to be "one of the largest and most influential thieves’ guilds in the Inner Sea region".

From Taldor Echoes of Glory:
That said Paizo has not yet delved much into this organization. All we know is they have a chapterhouse in Oppara’s Crownsgate district. It's "a nondescript black marble building with darkened windows and two armed and armored men guarding the front door". They are also said to have "chapterhouses in every major city in the region" but none as obvious as the main one in Oppara.

The BoS is led by a figure known as "the Masked Marquis". No one knows his (hers? Its?) identity and he seems to change shape, age and sex with every public sighting.

From Armor Master's Handbook:
We also know the BoS employs spellcasters to enchant their light armors and they invented several special abilities just for the BoS. Apparently senior members of the guild consider owning suits of armor enchanted with these special abilities to be some sort of status symbol and actively try to procure new and different ones.

All things considered seems like the BoS fits the bill of the mysterious and well entrenched thieves' guild strong enough to operate openly in Oppara and having chapterhouses in the other nations of the Inner Sea.
This is an aspect of Taldor that should be further developed: how does the BoS interact with the nobiliy? The Lion Blades? Does it give a chance to its lowborn members to gain social standing? It it meritocratic in a way most other Taldan institutions are not? Ho does it operate in foreign countries? Does it further taldan interests or is it just out for its own interests?
Just a few question but there are certainly several others.


Thanael wrote:
Quote:

Religion

The people of Taldor worship a wide range of deities, but among the major gods prefer those who are generally associated with the Taldan people: Abadar, Cayden Cailean, Norgorber, and Shelyn. The worship of Calistria and the controversial (because she is associated with Qadira) Sarenrae, and even the deceased Aroden are also popular.[3] The cult of Kurgess (a demigod who began as a Taldan mortal) is also beginning to spread.[32]

from the wiki.

So you missed commenting on Calistria and Kurgess.

Kurgess was a commoner and is probably worshipped by commoners more than nobles, though his portfolio would also appeal to knights.

Calistria is probably also seen as a commoner goddess.

Also Milani is said to have been a Saint of Aroden so she could be considered a Taldan deity too. She is more relevant to Cheliax of course.

Thanks for mentioning them. I will do some research then.


Quote:
Taldor and the demihuman races: Taldor is still pretty huge. It encompasses different environments and even holds a sky citadel of the dwarfs inside its borders. So what is the relationship Taldans have with members of the non human races? What about the fey? And the elegant elves of the north?

The Sky Citadel Kravenkus is an almost ghost town now, with a population of only a few thousand living in a metropolis/city besieged by dark lands creatures. It would make sense to assume many of the populace did indeed integrate into Taldor's cities and towns.

Whispil is a major gnomish city in Taldor's part of the Verduran Forest.

The metropolis Cassomir is one of the main halfling settlements in the Inner Sea Region.

RPG Superstar 2015 Top 8

My main problem with Taldor is that we only get a blurry impression what the empire looked like at its prime. I wouldn't mind if the roman influences (which are there) were a bit more prominent. I would like to see the roots of contemporary law, bureaucracy, philosophy, and architecture (the septem artes liberales in general) all across Avistan being based on or at least heavily influenced by taldan traditions. Roman stoicism seems like a particular good fit for patriotic taldans.

Also, there should be something similar to the concept of translatio imperii, where every ruler in the Inner Sea traces his lineage back to taldan royalty and claims to be the true heir of the empire (some going so far as to emulate the image of the emperor).


Amanuensis wrote:

My main problem with Taldor is that we only get a blurry impression what the empire looked like at its prime. I wouldn't mind if the roman influences (which are there) were a bit more prominent. I would like to see the roots of contemporary law, bureaucracy, philosophy, and architecture (the septem artes liberales in general) all across Avistan being based on or at least heavily influenced by taldan traditions. Roman stoicism seems like a particular good fit for patriotic taldans.

Also, there should be something similar to the concept of translatio imperii, where every ruler in the Inner Sea traces his lineage back to taldan royalty and claims to be the true heir of the empire (some going so far as to emulate the image of the emperor).

I agree with most of your points (unfortunately it seems it was Chealiax that influenced the rulers of most of the Inner Sea region though).

To rectify a recent comparison of mine: Taldor of old was probably something like the Roman Empire during the height of its power. The eventongue conquest and the war with Quadira marked the beginning of Taldor's "Dark Ages" (with Chaeliax becoming the equivalent of the Eastern Roman Empire in real world's history). Now Taldor is slowly coming out of the Dark Ages and possibly entering Renaissance (but it must be said the setting goes out of its way to stress how Taldor is in decline and that's supposed to continue for several centuries).
It's a matter of just wanting to keep Taldor's image negative or allowing some hope into it.


Rogar Valertis wrote:

Secret Societies in Taldor: As for thieves guilds Taldor officially has one and it's mentioned in the Inner Sea Campaign Setting right in the middle of Oppara's entry.

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **

** spoiler omitted **

All things considered seems like the BoS fits the bill of the mysterious and well entrenched thieves' guild strong enough to operate openly in Oppara and having chapterhouses in the other nations of the Inner Sea.
This is an aspect of Taldor that should be further developed: how does the BoS interact with the nobiliy? The Lion Blades? Does it give a chance to its lowborn members to gain social standing? It it meritocratic in a way most other Taldan institutions are not? Ho does it operate in foreign countries? Does it further taldan interests or is it just out for its own interests?
Just a few question but there are certainly several others.

They also have a spy agency, the Lion Blades, embedded in one of the two bardic organizations (Kitharodian Academy and Rhapsodic College).

The dwindling Taldan-based Hellknight Order of the Scar specializes in rooting out assassins.

Both the Pathfinder Society and the Aspis Cosortium are present in Oppara, and the Lumber Cosortium is in the Verduran Forest though not in the Taldan Part.

The new PF Tales novel Shy Knives involves the thieves guild afaik.

Dark Archive

Rogar Valertis wrote:
- Abadar: Being the god of cities and civilization and its avatar being taldan itself should be a commonly worshiped deity in Taldor. This begets the question... what does it mean to have a strong church of Adabar in a nation? How does this influence a country like Taldor where nobility rules? I can see the Taldans sobstituting Aroden with Adabar, especially considering not a lot of them would like to follow Iomedae, being a Chaelexian and all.

Taldor's already a bit of a center-of-the-wheel for the Inner Sea, the first nation to get it's crap together after the Age of Darkness and send out expeditions across the world (resulting in Taldan being the 'common' tongue of Golarion).

Abadar's prominence suggests that coinage across the Inner Sea might also reflect Taldan styles, or that specifically Taldan coinage might be in common use all over the Inner Sea, even if some of it was seized by Ulfen raiders and brought north (or by the Ulfen Guards to the Taldan Prince), or ended up in Qadira as a result of military action, or vast quantities ended up in Thuvia during Elixir auctions, or ended up in the Shackles / Sargava as a result of piracy or whatnot. Taldan coin, stamped out in an Abadaran bankinghouse-mint, could be, effectively, the 'coin of the realm' in nations that don't necessarily have their own mints (such as the Lands of the Linnorm Kings or Realms of the Mammoth Lords or Varisia).

Even in places far from Taldor (and with little organized following of Abadar), people might handle coins with the face of a Taldan ruler on one side, and the symbol of Abadar on the other.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Dot.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber

Some coin-related stuff...


Over the feel of it I sort of see Taldor as part Roman Empire with the senate and the Holy Roman Empire with all its competing nobles and states.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

There's the Brotherhood of Silence, one of the greatest thieves' guilds we know almost nothing about. It's based in Oppara, wants to corrupt or at least influence every government, and has chapter houses "in every major city of the Inner Sea region." The way they're (briefly) described reminds me of the Shadow Thieves from Forgotten Realms, though with significantly greater reach.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber
Generic Villain wrote:
There's the Brotherhood of Silence, one of the greatest thieves' guilds we know almost nothing about. It's based in Oppara, wants to corrupt and influence every government, and has chapter houses "in every major city of the Inner Sea region."

Yup, and detailed out pretty extensively for something a supporting character is affiliated with on the most recent tales novel 'sly knives' as Thanael and I have already mentioned


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Cpt_kirstov wrote:
Yup, and detailed out pretty extensively for something a supporting character is affiliated with on the most recent tales novel 'sly knives' as Thanael and I have already mentioned

Ah, didn't see that. Just did a ctrl+f to see if anyone had mentioned the Brotherhood yet.

All in all, Taldor seems like the country that literally no one at Paizo wants to touch. It gets dribs and drabs - Corentyn is probably the coolest and most substantial, but there's also the hamlet of Heldren wherein the Reign of Winter campaign begins. However if I recall correctly, the author points out that Heldren is generic enough to be located pretty much anywhere.

Like the OP, I'd like to see a bit more of Taldor.

Sczarni

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules Subscriber

No problem... they are mostly just called the brotherhood in the book, the full name is only used a few times... so I couldn't remember it


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Thanael wrote:
Quote:
Taldor and the demihuman races: Taldor is still pretty huge. It encompasses different environments and even holds a sky citadel of the dwarfs inside its borders. So what is the relationship Taldans have with members of the non human races? What about the fey? And the elegant elves of the north?

The Sky Citadel Kravenkus is an almost ghost town now, with a population of only a few thousand living in a metropolis/city besieged by dark lands creatures. It would make sense to assume many of the populace did indeed integrate into Taldor's cities and towns.

Whispil is a major gnomish city in Taldor's part of the Verduran Forest.

The metropolis Cassomir is one of the main halfling settlements in the Inner Sea Region.

According to Taldor Echoes of Glory: The city Maheto has a sizable population of dwarves who lend their skills in metal-crafting to the empire in exchange for open-ended mining rights in the World's End Mountains.

It seems of the core demihumans only the elves, half elves and half-orcs are under-represented.

The Pathfinder Tales novel Plague of Shadows by Howard Andrew Jones plays in Taldor and features an Elven Ranger who was a warden for a noble iirc (and a former adventuring companion) and a half-orc Drelm who is a captain of the guard for the same.

Nearly all of Wispil's inhabitants are gnomes, although a fair number of halflings, elves, half-elves, fey, and a handful of dwarves also live there.

Cassomir has quite a few halfling and a gnome shipwrights. And being a port city probably a few more exotic specimens too.

So it seems that Taldor is indeed like a generic human fantasy kingdom in regards to demihumans. They exist here and there, in larger numbers mostly in racially fitting environments. (Gnomes in the wood, dwarves in the city near the mountains, etc.) The larger cities will have a few demihumans, while in rural areas they will be more rare. There might exist smaller demihuman settlements here or there.

No weirder races are noted, so I assume they are even rarer.


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The Oppara Arena is the oldest arena in the Inner Sea region. It is located in the Grandbridge district of Oppara and is large enough to fit 20,000 people. the Oppara Arena runs daily gladiatorial battles and slave fights. It costs only one copper piece for a person to attend. Sometimes, members of the royalty and senatorial classes feed the crowd in the arena.

This tells us that there certainly are slaves in Taldor


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Thanael wrote:

The Oppara Arena is the oldest arena in the Inner Sea region. It is located in the Grandbridge district of Oppara and is large enough to fit 20,000 people. the Oppara Arena runs daily gladiatorial battles and slave fights. It costs only one copper piece for a person to attend. Sometimes, members of the royalty and senatorial classes feed the crowd in the arena.

This tells us that there certainly are slaves in Taldor

Not really. The arena in Tymon is not about slaves but a sort of sport. Furthermore the country of Tymon was founded by a Taldan gladiator who wasn't a slave at all but wanted to spread the gladiatorial lifestyle giving those of that profession some sort of "home".

Guide to the river kingdoms:
The city-state of Tymon was founded by the famous Taldan gladiator Maldar Tymon in 2021. Maldar was the star of the Oppara Arena, but felt the need to test his skills further. Along with his squad of gladiators, Maldar joined the Taldan Fifth Army of Exploration and helped to conquer and map out the lands that would become the River Kingdoms. In return for his heroism, Maldar was given a piece of land that included much of the Exalted Wood and the mandate to rule this land for Taldor. He set about building the town of Tymon and many of his fellow soldiers stayed on to tame the wilderness. Maldar’s intent was to create a beacon for gladiators everywhere to come to Tymon, hone their skills, and achieve fame and fortune. However, before he could see his dream come true, his body failed him and he found himself dying of old age.

Besides that the brawler iconic is actually a taldan noblewoman who fights for sport.

So no, the presence of the arena in Oppara does NOT prove slavery exist in Taldor, only that sometimes slaves fight there too (but is this a legal activity or some sort of illicit affair?). On the contrary from what we know it seems Taldans treat gladiators as some sort of professionals athletes.

By the way Taldor having serfdom instead of slavery is an idea meant to differentiate Taldor from other countries in the setting who clearly pratice slavery on a large scale, Cheliax and Quadira especially.


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... Except for the part where it refers to gladiatorial battles and slave fights.

Page 20, Taldor, Echoes of Glory.

Now, this same source says that Sarenrae's worship is outlawed,so this might not be true- but unlike the Sarenrae business, I cannot recall any direct contradictions to the presence of slaves in Taldor.

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