Pathfinder Society Second Edition Preview: Envoys' Alliance & Verdant Wheel

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Two weeks ago, we introduced the idea of major and minor factions, as well as unveiled our first two factions: the Horizon Hunters and Radiant Oath! There's a lot of great information in that blog about our approach to factions, choosing leaders, and more, so definitely check it out. On Saturday at PaizoCon we teased the next two factions, and today we're formally introducing them at last. Let's get to it!

Envoys' Alliance (Major Faction)

Being a Pathfinder's dangerous work. Travel comes with its own dangers, traps seem to be everywhere, and just about everything seems ready to eat aspiring agents. What's more, the Pathfinder Society has spent the last decade increasingly engaged in major conflicts, each of which saw extraordinary rewards yet also loss of life. After virtually nonstop campaigns, the Society's roster is sorely depleted. The Envoys' Alliance aims to change that, making the Society every stronger, better trained, and better supported.

Faction Leader: Once the envoy of an Ekujae elven community in the Mwangi Expanse, Fola Barun (N female half-elf [Ekujae]) came into contact with and later joined the Pathfinder Society through a field commission. She quickly established herself as an attentive leader whose even-keeled, professional approach not only expanded the Society's understanding of the mighty Vanji River, but also helped devastate the Aspis Consortium's predatory operations along that route. Having never trained at the Grand Lodge or absorbed the conventional Society wisdom imparted to initiates, she was appalled upon first reaching Absalom and learning of the many counts of negligence of the past century. She's brought a fresh approach to recruitment and supporting agents in the field, which often sees her collaborating (and occasionally clashing) with the three deans.

Objectives: The Envoys' Alliance is dedicated to recruiting new agents, rescuing Pathfinders in distress, and rebuilding the Society in a way that supports and values the operatives' lives and wellbeing—at least as much as one can in the adventuring world. Through collaboration, the Society can accomplish ever-greater feats—particularly with a powerful faction to advocate for the Pathfinders themselves when tasked with the Grand Lodge's latest projects.

Verdant Wheel (Minor Faction)

No matter how many forbidding jungles, grassy plains, and untamed hills agents scout, the Pathfinder Society is not strictly a nature-oriented organization. Even so, nature enthusiasts of all stripes—from grizzled trackers to bright-eyed ecologists to tenacious druids—gravitate to the Society for the opportunities to witness natural wonders, catalog new species, and better protect the world's pristine realms. The call for a united voice has only grown over the years, and the evolution of the Pathfinder Society provides a perfect opportunity to name this organization: the Verdant Wheel. This faction has a particular fondness for sensing patterns and cycles, such as that of creation and destruction, as exemplified by new growth sprouting from a fire-ravaged field. Yet even those intent on preserving that which exists can find a welcome home here.

Faction Leader: Nobody entirely agrees on where Urwal (NG male lizardfolk) came from, though one Pathfinder admits to having encountered him in Varisia several years ago and being accosted about a copy of the Pathfinder Chronicles containing misleading information. Flustered, the Pathfinder told Urwal that if he were so upset, he could visit the Grand Lodge and file a complaint. In 4718 AR, Master of Scrolls Kreighton Shaine entered his locked office to find Urwal waiting there with five heavily edited volumes of the Pathfinder Chronicles, a stack of supporting documentation, and a disappointed glower. "These are full of errors. I question that your agents even traveled to these places. I will bring more; the stars foresee it," declared the lizardfolk before clambering up a wall and out the window.

After finding Urwal reorganizing neglected entomology collections, correcting placards on a collection of Mwangi artifacts, and painting astrological charts on a Grand Lodge walkway—all helpful yet cryptically explained—the three deans decided it more prudent to recognize Urwal's esoteric knowledge and benign infiltration by granting him a field commission that the lizardfolk's never formally accepted. That he's since organized a cohort of nature enthusiasts as the Verdant Wheel befuddles the Society's leadership, especially given nobody's yet figured out where he came from (even his agents, who maintain ongoing bets about his origins). For all his eccentricities, he is a compassionate mentor who encourages his colleagues to seek out natures greatest wonders and most humble treasures, understand them, and protect them in the way each agent deems best.

Objectives: The Verdant Wheel has no single vision of what it means to preserve nature, leaving it to an individual's interpretation and the region's unique circumstances to determine the best course of action. Agents travel far and wide to study the strange and pristine—journeys often bring them into conflict with undead, fiends, and aberrations. And most of all, the faction is a home for those who revel in the glories of nature in their many forms—even the occasional alien landscape beyond Golarion itself.


We're so excited to see these factions in action. We'll be previewing the last two factions—the two remaining major factions—in July, plus many other previews in the weeks to come!

John Compton
Organized Play Lead Developer

More Paizo Blog.
Tags: Factions Organized Play Pathfinder Second Edition Pathfinder Society
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3/5 ⦵⦵ Contributor

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Oh, dang, Fola Barun gets a faction, too? Awesome! And I look forward to meeting Urwal!

Silver Crusade 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

The Envoy's Alliance sounds interesting, though my attachment to the leader is a bit limited (at least compared to the leaders previewed before).

Verdant Wheel, a nature faction should be a good fit for a number of characters, but personally, I am not a huge fan of their "mysterious" leader, mostly because of his description and his origins. Not entirely sure what links him to the faction, but maybe that will become apparent in scenarios.

Also, when did lizardfolk become such a big deal? They will be one of the early playable factions, but I am pretty sure that a lot of players are looking forward to other races.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Hmm if I ever did society, Urwal would be my guy.

Grand Lodge 4/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I can see my wife's future druid belonging to the Verdant Wheel.

1/5

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

So the Envoys' Alliance is sort of taking a middle road between the current 'mysterious masked agenda' Grand Lodge and the retired 'explorer's union' 'Shadow' Lodge?

That right there merits a bit of exploration and curiosity.

As for the Verdant Wheel, if the faction leader is available, then hopefully people will be able to play said race from the get-go, rather than having to wait three or four years to do so (or more).

Thank you for informational food for thought.

Sovereign Court

I can only imagine Grandmaster Torch would be very receptive to the Envoy's Alliance message and purpose.

I laughed when Urwal was "clambering up a wall and out the window" like a gecko!

I'm really looking forward to the new factions.

--New Kids on the Vrock

Scarab Sages

6 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I LOVE these new faction approaches. They feel organic and inherently easy to place a character to. The leaders are personable with moral philosophies, and the faction objectives are VERY agreeable to roleplay situations. I'm already getting ideas for new characters that can fit into each! YAY!

I also love how all the factions so far fall along some form of Explore, Report, Cooperate. Makes it really easy to explain why your PATHFINDER characters would align with them, which I sometimes struggled with for the old campaign-oriented factions (and especially the nationality ones). Plus, Fola Barun's horror at the HR nightmare that is PFS is low-key hilarious to me. The increase in meta-awareness has been very entertaining the past few seasons. Definitely making one of my first characters for Envoy's Alliance.

..... also LEEZARD-FOLK FACTION LEADER.

Scarab Sages 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

5 people marked this as a favorite.

Druids Local 704 now with a new name...

Sovereign Court 4/5 ⦵⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Agent, Georgia—Atlanta aka The Masked Ferret

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I love this nature faction!

4/5 Venture-Agent, Washington—Tri-Cities aka ninthwatcher

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Wei Ji - lizard folk won’t be available at launch, but we already know from the banquet when they will be available to play (and I imagine for PFS too), which will be in October 2019 with the release of the Lost Omens character guide which will offer 3 new player race options: lizardfolk, hobgoblins and leshy.

Grand Lodge 3/5 Venture-Agent, Australia—QLD—Gold Coast aka DanielB

I am loving the new factions and choice of leaders cant wait to see what the new factions are and who leada them.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Learning about this was the best part of the VC dinner.

3/5 Contributor aka Alexander Augunas

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Lizardfolk faction leader is best faction leader!

I am looking forward to seeing the REPORT faction, considering we already have EXPLORE and COOPERATE. :)

Scarab Sages 5/5 Venture-Captain, Netherlands aka Woran

Nature people unite!

Grand Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

3 people marked this as a favorite.

You know, with Urwal's penchant for benign breaking and entering, I am wondering if most of the rogues in the society will decide that they suddenly like nature too. If nothing else, it's a great cover. "Wha-a-at? I wasn't casing the joint. I was just doing some recon for Urwal!"

I do like seeing a Pathfinder's Union faction.

Hmm


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Heh. Lizardfolk for all the wins. And especially a leader who isn’t officially a leader of a faction that also isn’t officially official. Which is just as nature intended. Before it destroyed everything ushering in a glorious rebirth. Just around the riverbend.

The Exchange 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Lieutenant, North Carolina—Charlotte aka eddv

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Fola Barun huh?

Given recent events if you were gonna go that route, Finze Bellaugh makes a lot more sense. After Bones of Biting Ants, it would make a lot of sense for him to spearhead that sort of thing while Fola Barun just sort of....exists.

I have no opinion on the other faction but Urwal is a pretty strange choice.

Grand Lodge

Alex Augunas wrote:

Lizardfolk faction leader is best faction leader!

I am looking forward to seeing the REPORT faction, considering we already have EXPLORE and COOPERATE. :)

I was thinking the same thing. Also wondering what the fourth (implicit) pillar is. Leading candidates are PUBLISH, DRINK, and MURDER.

Dark Archive 4/5 Venture-Captain, Illinois—Chicago (City) aka DaveFrahm

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Urwal and Fola both seem familiar. Were they in anything before?

Sovereign Court 4/5 ⦵⦵⦵⦵

1 person marked this as a favorite.

"Since my beloved Taldor stopped working with the Society so overtly, I have been lost in the Society. Maybe these new organizations will allow me to open up my horizons to new ideas."

Grand Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Online—PbP aka Hmm

1 person marked this as a favorite.
David Frahm wrote:
Urwal and Fola both seem familiar. Were they in anything before?

I think Urwal may be brand new. I remember Fola from Dead Man's Debt.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Love Urwal.

1/5

Y'know, if they're going to be Faction leads, we need the arts for them so we can show their awesome to our players...

...just saying. :)

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Envoy's Alliance looks nice, it'll pair great with Radiant Oath ^w^

Silver Crusade 5/5

4 people marked this as a favorite.

I just want to be the first to say :

If Paizo at some points decides it would be "interesting" to have Fola Barun have her own agenda and betray the society and her followers in pursuit of that agenda I will be very, very, very pissed off.

ESPECIALLY if the PCs aren't allowed to actually do anything about it "just because".

As in rage quit PFS upset. As in do everything I can legally and ethically do to kill PFS locally upset.

You got to do it once (over many players objections). You do NOT get to do it again.

Shadow Lodge 5/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.

What the hell agenda could she have?

Silver Crusade 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

Paul Jackson wrote:

I just want to be the first to say :

If Paizo at some points decides it would be "interesting" to have Fola Barun have her own agenda and betray the society and her followers in pursuit of that agenda I will be very, very, very pissed off.

ESPECIALLY if the PCs aren't allowed to actually do anything about it "just because".

As in rage quit PFS upset. As in do everything I can legally and ethically do to kill PFS locally upset.

You got to do it once (over many players objections). You do NOT get to do it again.

Seems reasonable... though I think that people still remember the fallout, though I didn't like the NPC you avoided mentioning since his appearance in a very early scenario.

I very much hope that the new faction will not feel tied to any previous factions.

Scarab Sages 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Quote:
The Envoys' Alliance is dedicated to recruiting new agents, rescuing Pathfinders in distress, and rebuilding the Society in a way

Gloomspires going to be THAT bad huh?

Liberty's Edge 1/5

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

I dig it. Gives us a "Pathfinder's Pathfinder Faction" :D

Shadow Lodge 5/5

Justin Norvegicus wrote:
Quote:
The Envoys' Alliance is dedicated to recruiting new agents, rescuing Pathfinders in distress, and rebuilding the Society in a way
Gloomspires going to be THAT bad huh?

Nah. Another spire, on the other hand...

Liberty's Edge 1/5

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Sebastian Hirsch wrote:
Also, when did lizardfolk become such a big deal? They will be one of the early playable factions, but I am pretty sure that a lot of players are looking forward to other races.

Paizo has said in interviews and things before that they recognized that Lizardfolk were one of the races that were open to get emphasis and focus akin to what they did with Goblins without running into other companies work/etc.

The Exchange 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Lieutenant, North Carolina—Charlotte aka eddv

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Paul Jackson wrote:

I just want to be the first to say :

If Paizo at some points decides it would be "interesting" to have Fola Barun have her own agenda and betray the society and her followers in pursuit of that agenda I will be very, very, very pissed off.

ESPECIALLY if the PCs aren't allowed to actually do anything about it "just because".

As in rage quit PFS upset. As in do everything I can legally and ethically do to kill PFS locally upset.

You got to do it once (over many players objections). You do NOT get to do it again.

Honestly, I like the whole Torch angle a lot and think Society could do with a more interesting/intriguing metaplot than we've had recently outside the Sages.

The Exchange 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Lieutenant, North Carolina—Charlotte aka eddv

1 person marked this as a favorite.
NightTrace wrote:
Sebastian Hirsch wrote:
Also, when did lizardfolk become such a big deal? They will be one of the early playable factions, but I am pretty sure that a lot of players are looking forward to other races.
Paizo has said in interviews and things before that they recognized that Lizardfolk were one of the races that were open to get emphasis and focus akin to what they did with Goblins without running into other companies work/etc.

Ah yes the old focus group approach to RPG writing.

Grand Lodge 5/5 Venture-Captain, Arizona—Phoenix aka TriOmegaZero

Write what sells?

Shadow Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka thistledown

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I really like the return of the Shadow Lodge Envoy's Alliance, but not a fan of Fola Barun.

I'm surprised Verdant Wheel isn't run by Osprey. Or maybe it is.

Grand Lodge 4/5 Venture-Agent, France—Paris

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Even the faintest emanation from the Shadow Lodge/Grandmaster Torch is already a red flag to me. I hope that Fola Barun doesn't go the " I absolutely do not care about the consequences " route.

Liberty's Edge 1/5

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
eddv wrote:
Ah yes the old focus group approach to RPG writing.

I mean, I feel like it's less that and more recognizing the ability to really make something "yours" and promote the brand by doing so. You write a good product, and emphasize things that aren't typically the focus, and it "gets over" (to borrow wrestling terminology).

It's not a sterile process, it's trying to make sure you're evolving consistently. :)

5/5 Venture-Agent, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka Pirate Rob

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I think Osprey is Tim Hitchcock's character so we need him back as a writer to see more.

Silver Crusade 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

1 person marked this as a favorite.
NightTrace wrote:
Sebastian Hirsch wrote:
Also, when did lizardfolk become such a big deal? They will be one of the early playable factions, but I am pretty sure that a lot of players are looking forward to other races.
Paizo has said in interviews and things before that they recognized that Lizardfolk were one of the races that were open to get emphasis and focus akin to what they did with Goblins without running into other companies work/etc.

I think I get it, kinda like what Blizzard to some of the World of Warcraft races, though I am pretty curious how the Drow redemption efforts are going.

To be honest, none of the races announced for the character options hardcover excite me overly much, but I am pretty certain, that this won't matter.

Liberty's Edge 1/5

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Yeah, kinda like that. Lizardfolk are a thing in Pathfinder already but they have had very little emphasis placed on them, and in "D&D"/"TTRPG"s in general they have a tendency to be background antagonists that don't get a lot of focus outside of tribal levels normally.

Deciding to put a new emphasis on a humanoid race that doesn't have a lot of existing canonical baggage within the system or historical stereotypes from other IPs makes them an engaging choice as a writer. They're not an explicit blank slate, but they're open enough to interpretation that you can make them your own. :)

1/5 RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

Envoy's Alliance feels a little too niche to dedicate a character towards. Is there something about it that I'm missing?

Shadow Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Lieutenant, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka thistledown

1 person marked this as a favorite.
NightTrace wrote:

Yeah, kinda like that. Lizardfolk are a thing in Pathfinder already but they have had very little emphasis placed on them, and in "D&D"/"TTRPG"s in general they have a tendency to be background antagonists that don't get a lot of focus outside of tribal levels normally.

Deciding to put a new emphasis on a humanoid race that doesn't have a lot of existing canonical baggage within the system or historical stereotypes from other IPs makes them an engaging choice as a writer. They're not an explicit blank slate, but they're open enough to interpretation that you can make them your own. :)

But somehow also make them distinct from Nagagi, Vishkanya, and Serpentfolk. And Kobolds.

5/5 Venture-Agent, California—San Francisco Bay Area North & East aka Pirate Rob

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Grazzle the Lizardfolk Oracle my favroite PACG character.

Grazzle!

Silver Crusade 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

1 person marked this as a favorite.
James Anderson wrote:
NightTrace wrote:

Yeah, kinda like that. Lizardfolk are a thing in Pathfinder already but they have had very little emphasis placed on them, and in "D&D"/"TTRPG"s in general they have a tendency to be background antagonists that don't get a lot of focus outside of tribal levels normally.

Deciding to put a new emphasis on a humanoid race that doesn't have a lot of existing canonical baggage within the system or historical stereotypes from other IPs makes them an engaging choice as a writer. They're not an explicit blank slate, but they're open enough to interpretation that you can make them your own. :)

But somehow also make them distinct from Nagagi, Vishkanya, and Serpentfolk. And Kobolds.

Excellent point, and after the playtest scenario and previous scenarios (where Kobolds had a hard time actually being seen in Absalom) I wonder when we will get a Kobold ancestry (apparently we got a race boon for them very late in the lifespan of PFS1).

Paizo Employee Customer Service & Community Manager

10 people marked this as a favorite.

We understand and love that there are many folks in our community that are deeply invested in and passionate about the storylines of society adventures. And while everyone at Paizo appreciates the opportunities provided by getting feedback about what people want to see (or not see) with the worlds and stories we are creating, feedback for creators is not helpful when it's phrased with intimidation, such as threatening to take down organized play for a local gaming community if something doesn't go a subjectively "right" way.

There are ways to express discontent with something that was previously published and the fears that it may happen again without resorting to hostile language. Remember, the developers, authors, artists are part of the Paizo and paizo.com community and are often on the forums reading or engaging in threads. "If the story goes a way I don't like, I'm going to rage quit!" sets up a combative dialogue that unnecessarily provokes a defensive reaction, and tends to drive both fans and staff away from posting.

In this context, one way might look something like "When the previous Society betrayal story arc occurred, I was upset, and along with many others, raised significant objections. I hope that this isn't a theme that will occur again, because I don't feel that I would want to go through that again."

Paizo Employee 5/5 Organized Play Lead Developer

8 people marked this as a favorite.
Paul Jackson wrote:

I just want to be the first to say :

If Paizo at some points decides it would be "interesting" to have Fola Barun have her own agenda and betray the society and her followers in pursuit of that agenda I will be very, very, very pissed off.

ESPECIALLY if the PCs aren't allowed to actually do anything about it "just because".

As in rage quit PFS upset. As in do everything I can legally and ethically do to kill PFS locally upset.

You got to do it once (over many players objections). You do NOT get to do it again.

Fola Barun has plenty of possible stories to tell, as does the Envoys’ Alliance. The org play team consists of players and GMs who played through the early seasons with you. We are very familiar with those past storylines, where they went well, and where they’ve gone over poorly. I encourage you to see Sara Marie's post above regarding tone.

Grand Lodge 5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

1 person marked this as a favorite.
James Anderson wrote:


But somehow also make them distinct from Nagagi, Vishkanya, and Serpentfolk. And Kobolds.

Elf. Skinny monkey. Human. Just right monkey. Dwarf. monkey was sat on. Halfling, monkey sat on forgot to shave feet. Gnome. Remembered to shave feet and hit in head.

Silver Crusade 5/5

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Philippe Lam wrote:
Even the faintest emanation from the Shadow Lodge/Grandmaster Torch is already a red flag to me. I hope that Fola Barun doesn't go the " I absolutely do not care about the consequences " route.

One of the things that bothered me most was when, by authorial fiat that made little or no in world sense to me, there were NO consequences.

If they'd followed "Torch betrays you" with scenarios where you track down and kill the bastard it wouldn't have been AS bad. But following up the betrayal with "you have to cooperate with him, because we say so" just poured salt into the wound.

Edit: I just read Sara's post above and I apologize for my hostile tone.

@John - I've never seen a comment (I may well have missed it, of course) stating that Paizo thinks the Torch storyline went badly. For all I know at least some people in Paizo think it was a wonderful storyline that went very well, the fact that it pissed off so many of us just shows how succesful it all was. I've certainly seen non Paizo employees who think that.

5/5 ⦵⦵⦵

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Paul Jackson wrote:
just poured salt into the wound.

that was a different scenario, with the army syste. ow ow ow couldn't resist ow ow ow i feel your pain...

Silver Crusade 5/5 ⦵⦵ Venture-Captain, Germany—Bavaria

1 person marked this as a favorite.
BigNorseWolf wrote:
Paul Jackson wrote:
just poured salt into the wound.
that was a different scenario, with the army syste. ow ow ow couldn't resist ow ow ow i feel your pain...

Yes, but it made the scenario where you recruited the dwarven salt mining clan that much more important... and the whole expedition would surely have failed without the craft service table army.

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