Scrolls and Spells and Swords, Oh My!

Friday, October 11, 2019

We’ve been taking a look at the various organizations featured in the Lost Omens Character Guide over the past few weeks. (Hop over here if you’ve missed these!) While all of these are great in their own right, there’s one organization that was an immediate shoo-in when we started early discussions for this book: the Pathfinder Society! The Pathfinders are probably one of the most well-known and most widespread organizations in our Age of Lost Omens setting. Heck, they have the name of our game in the name of the organization! There was no way we could ignore them!

The icon of the Pathfinder Society, a green crossroads engraved on a bronze background.

Illustration by Rogier van de Beek

The Pathfinder Society is a globe-trotting organization whose agents are dedicated to exploring the world, finding lost knowledge and relics, and reporting their findings both to the Society itself and to the rest of Golarion via the Pathfinder Chronicles, a publication released by the Society that is essentially a “greatest hits” of reports from Pathfinders. (For a taste of the kind of missions Pathfinders go on, check out Howard Andrew Jones’s fiction from a few weeks ago!) People join up with the Society for a number of reasons. Some want to seek knowledge, others prefer the glory that comes with their findings, others still join up for the fun and thrills involved with their missions, and some just want to help the Society and further its causes.

A human woman with a heavy fur cloak and her red hair in a long braid brandishes a short sword in each hand.

Illustration by Bryan Sola

The Society contains a few broad factions that cover most of these general aspects and most Pathfinders typically associate with one or two of these factions during their career, though such association isn’t compulsory. These factions are the Envoy’s Alliance—a group dedicated to the well-being of the Society and its members, the Grand Archive whose members are devoted to the pursuit of knowledge, the Horizon Hunters who prefer to just travel for the sake of exploration and locating new and forgotten sites, and the Vigilant Seal which includes those Pathfinders who rise up to contain the threats the Society encounters on its missions.

A male human in a hooded black cloak studies a lockpick drawn from the toolkit in his other hand.

Illustration by Bryan Sola

Due to their constant travels, the Pathfinders make use of lots of different types of equipment. These vary from common adventuring gear to more specialized tools like wayfinders. These magical compasses serve both as a badge of membership for Pathfinders and also as a useful tool for their travels. The typical wayfinder, which is located in the Core Rulebook, allows its user to create magical light and tap into the power of the magical gemstones known as aeon stones. The common wayfinder isn’t the only one in use by the Pathfinders, however. This book provides a few new wayfinder types along with other magical items like the fortifying pebble, a talisman that reduces the damage dealt to the item to which it is affixed.

Shining Wayfinder, Item 4. Uncommon, Abjuration, Divination, Evocation, Invested, Magical. A shining wayfinder is a polished silver compass blessed by the power of benevolent deities. It has the usual functions of a wayfinder, except instead of an activation to cast light, the shining wayfinder has the following two activations. Activate: command, interact; Effect: You hold the wayfinder and ask for guidance. The wayfinder casts guidance on you. Activate: command, interact; Frequency: once per day; Effect: You call upon the wayfinder’s divine blessings for yourself and your allies. The wayfinder casts bless, with an emanation centered on itself. Once per turn, you can use a single action, which has the concentrate trait, to increase the emanation’s radius by 5 feet.

Players looking to play a character who is a member of the Pathfinder Society can do so pretty easily. The Lost Omens World Guide featured the Pathfinder Agent, an archetype representing a more generic member of the Society. That archetype covers the general abilities one comes to expect as a member of the Society. Namely, it gives you means of helping you search around on your travels, gain more knowledge, and help out your allies. (Explore, report, cooperate!) Characters who took this archetype will find a few more feats to help expand their different skills. These include the Everybody Duck! feat which helps out when you accidentally set off a trap you’re trying to disarm and the Recognize Threat feat to better help you recognize the monsters you fight.

Recognize Threat, Feat 8. Uncommon, Archetype, Skill. Prerequisites: master in a Recall Knowledge skill, Pathfinder Agent Dedication. Trigger: Your first turn of an encounter begins, and you can see a creature. Requirements: You have master proficiency in a skill to identify the triggering creature. You quickly assess the threat so you can relay the information to your team. Attempt a Recall Knowledge check against the triggering creature.

Not all Pathfinder choose to be jacks of all trades, however. Part of a Pathfinder’s training requires that they gain the approval of the three deans of the Grand Lodge before they are considered full-fledged agents. These deans are known as the Masters of Scrolls, Spells, and Swords and each specialize in a different skill to train up and coming agents. The Scrolls train in history, knowledge, and observation; the Spells focus on magical lore and theory; and the Swords teach recruits combat and survival techniques. Once they become proper Pathfinders, many agents continue to associate with their peers from either the Scrolls, Spells, or Swords and undertake missions that favor a particular branch.

A human alchemist in a stained smock gapes in surprise as the vial of purple liquid in her left hand begins to bubble over.

Illustration by Bryan Sola

Characters that want to represent this affinity can do so with the three new archetypes in this book. The Scrollmaster, Spellmaster, and Swordmaster archetypes all follow in the vein of the Society branches themselves. The Scrollmaster, for example, is all about researching and being prepared and gains abilities to both further and make use of their extensive knowledge. On the other hand, the Spellmaster focuses on magic and using said magic for things like creating protective wards and even absorbing the spells of your foes to fire the spells back at them!

Unravel Mysteries, Feat 8. Archetype, Skill. Prerequisites: master in a Decipher Writing skill, Scrollmaster Dedication. You can understand the true meaning of texts quickly, and even when you get lost or hit a dead end, you aren’t discouraged from making further attempts to get to the bottom of things. When you Decipher Writing, you need only half as long as usual (reducing the time from about 1 minute to about half a minute per page), and if you fail, you don’t take the usual –2 circumstance penalty to further checks to decipher that text.
Spellmaster Dedication, Feat 6. Uncommon, Archetype, Dedication. Prerequisites: Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma 14; ability to cast focus spells; member of the Pathfinder Society affiliated with the School of Spells. As a Spellmaster, you are adept at identifying magic. You gain a +2 circumstance bonus when you Identify Magic with a skill in which you are trained or better. If you have the Wayfinder Resonance Tinkerer feat (Lost Omens World Guide 23), you can change the cantrip you chose for that feat each day during your daily preparations.

If you prefer your survival and that of your companions over anything else, you might consider taking the Swordmaster archetype. The archetype provides new options for both survival and faring well in combat. Some of these options are designed to help you prevent damage to yourself, while others are here to help you defend your allies. Regardless of which branch you associate with, your character can take these archetypes right away or in addition to the Pathfinder Agent archetype. Much like with the Hellknights and Knights of Lastwall, these new archetypes dovetail perfectly from the Pathfinder Agent, allowing you to mix and match the skills and abilities to your liking.

Harrying Strike, Feat 10. Archetype, Attack, Press. Prerequisites: Swordmaster Dedication. Your attack prevents a foe from pursuing your allies. Make a melee Strike, adding the following effects in addition to the normal effects of the Strike. Critical Success: The target takes a –15-foot status penalty to its Speeds until the start of your next turn. Success: The target takes a –10-foot status penalty to its Speeds until the start of your next turn. Failure: The target takes a –5-foot status penalty to its Speeds until the start of your next turn.
A robed swordsman with an intricate dragon tattoo on his right bicep wields a katana in both hands.

Illustration by Bryan Sola

And with that, we’ve covered all five of the major organizations found in the Lost Omens Character Guide! If you’re interested in the Pathfinders, make sure to check out Mike Kimmel’s work in the Character Guide when it releases on October 16th! Also, if the taste of the Pathfinder Society in the book isn’t enough for you, consider checking out Pathfinder Society Organized Play! Organized Play lets you go on missions as true Pathfinders! Just make sure to always explore, report, and of course, cooperate!

Luis Loza
Developer

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Tags: Lost Omens Character Guide Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Pathfinder Second Edition
Grand Lodge

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Huzzah!


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

Good stuff! Looking forward to receiving the book!

Grand Lodge

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Unravel Mysterious seems so situational and a waste of a feat choice. I could see GM's just handwave things like that.

The Swordmaster one is nice though.

Silver Crusade

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

I can see GMs handwaving a bunch of skill checks, that doesn't mean they're gonna.


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Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Klart McCather wrote:

Unravel Mysterious seems so situational and a waste of a feat choice. I could see GM's just handwave things like that.

Keep in mind that it's a Skill feat; it's not competing with Class feats. It still counts as a feat towards the Scrollmaster dedication, so if you're taking multiple dedications that's also a benefit. I agree that it seems like it will seldom come up, but that the case with many skill feats. And hey, if you are a Rogue, you are *swimming* in them.


Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I'm very interested to see what Swordmaster offers. I've always wanted to build a PC in the vein of a Mifune Toshiro character (from pretty much any Kurasawa film, but Sanjuro from Yojimbo is most iconic), but couldn't ever get it to work in 1st Edition.


Unravel Mysteries and Spellmaster Dedication both feel very PF1.

Harrying Strike is cool though.


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So when do we get to use them in Pathfinder Society? ;)

Kaushal Avan Spellfire wrote:
I'm very interested to see what Swordmaster offers. I've always wanted to build a PC in the vein of a Mifune Toshiro character (from pretty much any Kurasawa film, but Sanjuro from Yojimbo is most iconic), but couldn't ever get it to work in 1st Edition.

It's neat. Very much a tank archetype, and can negate crits for your party members (at a cost). I haven't figured out a build I like for it yet, but it has a lot of potential!


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Klart McCather wrote:
Unravel Mysterious seems so situational and a waste of a feat choice. I could see GM's just handwave things like that.

I figure situations like "my GM doesn't let the feat I picked be very useful" is why the retraining rules are so generous.


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Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber
Rysky wrote:
I can see GMs handwaving a bunch of skill checks, that doesn't mean they're gonna.

Exactly what I was thinking. In which case, I would think a friendly discussion with your GM upon considering the dedication/feat would assist with the the play experience.


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The illustrations are on point, the last one is simply gorgeous. Compliments to the artists.


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Spellmaster Dedication is enough to sell me on not taking Spellmaster, regardless of what the rest gives. I'm not spending 10% of my class feats on +2 to ID magic. That's pretty solidly into what I'd consider a tax.

Harrying Strike is very cool, though! Hopefully the dedication is better.


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Klart McCather wrote:

Unravel Mysterious seems so situational and a waste of a feat choice. I could see GM's just handwave things like that.

The Swordmaster one is nice though.

And in my current city game players would find it immensely useful with the amount of time crucial activities they get up to while breaking into offices / abodes.

It is good to have and thematically appropriate to expand skill feats like this.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

next year when PFS can use...


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... Sooo, Swordmasters cosplay as samurai? Has no Minkaian ever told them their culture is not just a Halloween costume?...

... Seriously, I can't see the link between Pathfinder Swordmaster and samurai... and if we get samurai, which is great, it would be nice if they weren't white people...

Just my 2 cents.

Dark Archive

Great stuff, although I'm also a bit hesitant if Unravel Mysteries will be worth the 8th level slot, other than as a "roleplaying feat". Otherwise I'm really satisfied with all I see, including those beautiful pieces of art! I want this book so much! :)


>> Spellmaster Dedication is enough to sell me on not taking Spellmaster, regardless of what the rest gives.

I know what you mean, but would like to speak a bit pro feat taxes: Combat expertise was horrible, but I kind of liked feat taxes when they are not totally useless. I really liked to play a character dedicating her life to, in my case, learning the ins and outs of being a snake style monk, even though it meant that not every feat in the feat chain was gold


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So that symbol near the top of the blog, with the green criss-cross thing on a brown disc---that's the "Glyph of the Open Road," right? Symbol of the Pathfinder Society? What is its symbolism supposed to be? It doesn't look like a road to me, open or otherwise.


Wait how does unravaling mysteries have master in decipher writing as prequrestion since isn't that apart of society? So shouldn't it be master in Society instead.


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Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
So that symbol near the top of the blog, with the green criss-cross thing on a brown disc---that's the "Glyph of the Open Road," right? Symbol of the Pathfinder Society? What is its symbolism supposed to be? It doesn't look like a road to me, open or otherwise.

The top "legs" of the X are the horizon, and the bottom "legs" are the road shrinking toward the horizon. The star is the knowledge or self improvement or whatever that you're traveling towards. Quite abstract.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

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A picture of a cool dude with a katana!

Does that mean we can finally get access conditions for katanas now?


BellyBeard wrote:
Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
So that symbol near the top of the blog, with the green criss-cross thing on a brown disc---that's the "Glyph of the Open Road," right? Symbol of the Pathfinder Society? What is its symbolism supposed to be? It doesn't look like a road to me, open or otherwise.
The top "legs" of the X are the horizon, and the bottom "legs" are the road shrinking toward the horizon. The star is the knowledge or self improvement or whatever that you're traveling towards. Quite abstract.

Okay, I get it now. I wouldn't have given it right-left symmetry in the horizon and the wiggly fork parts, as to me that makes it look a lot more like two long things criss-crossed instead of one thing leading to another thing, but I admit I know nothing of art. Anyway, thanks!


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Pathfinder Lost Omens Subscriber

It's honestly difficult for me to get excited for this when we still don't have the LOWG sanctioned for organized play and no word on when that might come. I stopped playing PFS and probably won't revisit until LOWG and LOCG are available for play

Liberty's Edge

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Roswynn wrote:

... Sooo, Swordmasters cosplay as samurai? Has no Minkaian ever told them their culture is not just a Halloween costume?...

... Seriously, I can't see the link between Pathfinder Swordmaster and samurai... and if we get samurai, which is great, it would be nice if they weren't white people...

Just my 2 cents.

The Pathfinder Society has some important Tian Xia ties, so a samurai (or someone from Minkai with a katana, anyway) being a member is pretty reasonable. Certainly not something they'd necessarily be wearing as a 'costume'. It's very plausible indeed that he's carrying his family sword in that picture.

And I'm actually not sure what that guy's ethnicity is. It's hard to tell in drawings sometimes, IMO, and he looks enough like, say, this guy except with a somewhat different skin tone (and the picture has a skin tone I've seen in Japanese people IRL), that I'd hesitate to make any definitive statements on his ethnicity. Especially with the beard covering so much of his face.

I mean, he does look kinda like a white guy to some degree, I guess, but only to some degree. I definitely assumed he was Minkaian when I looked at the picture the first time, though I can see why you made the assumption you did as well.

Or maybe he's mixed race. I could definitely see that, and Minkai trades a fair bit with the Inner Sea region, so it's pretty plausible.

In any case, I doubt this is some sort of intentional 'samurai are white dudes' thing. It might be an art error, or it might just be your vision of what makes someone look white differing from that of the artist. I dunno.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Roswynn wrote:

... Sooo, Swordmasters cosplay as samurai? Has no Minkaian ever told them their culture is not just a Halloween costume?...

... Seriously, I can't see the link between Pathfinder Swordmaster and samurai... and if we get samurai, which is great, it would be nice if they weren't white people...

Just my 2 cents.

The Pathfinder Society has some important Tian Xia ties, so a samurai (or someone from Minkai with a katana, anyway) being a member is pretty reasonable. Certainly not something they'd necessarily be wearing as a 'costume'. It's very plausible indeed that he's carrying his family sword in that picture.

Maybe they're thinking he looks too much like this guy?

Dark Archive

Maybe they are thassilonian? :p

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The katana guy does look a bit Azlanti. And I can totally see an avistani pathfinder going to Minkai on his quests and spending enough time there to adopt Minkaian ways.

Liberty's Edge

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Reckless wrote:
Maybe they're thinking he looks too much like this guy?

Keanu Reeves is actually mixed race, a fact that gets conveniently glossed over pretty often. His father is of partially Chinese and Native Hawaiian heritage. So...looking like Keanu Reeves isn't inherently an argument that you look white. Especially if we're talking 'looking like Keanu Reeves but with darker skin', which is mostly what this picture looks like.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

He also could be from that Taldan army that got stranded in Tian Xia...just saying.


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So because of the art shows a samurai, how can My Human PC from Minkai get access to the Katina in order to build my Samurai?

Please someone on Org Play staff help!


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Cyd the Arcmagi wrote:

So because of the art shows a samurai, how can My Human PC from Minkai get access to the Katina in order to build my Samurai?

Please someone on Org Play staff help!

I believe you're looking for access to the katana. Access to the Katina would be an entirely *different* matter, I suspect? :>


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Reziburno25 wrote:
Wait how does unravaling mysteries have master in decipher writing as prequrestion since isn't that apart of society? So shouldn't it be master in Society instead.

It's master in "a Deciver Writing skill" which means a skill which has the Deciver Writing use. That includes Society but also Arcana, Occultism and others.

The phrase is similar to "a Recall Knowledge skill".


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Reckless wrote:
Deadmanwalking wrote:
Roswynn wrote:

... Sooo, Swordmasters cosplay as samurai? Has no Minkaian ever told them their culture is not just a Halloween costume?...

... Seriously, I can't see the link between Pathfinder Swordmaster and samurai... and if we get samurai, which is great, it would be nice if they weren't white people...

Just my 2 cents.

The Pathfinder Society has some important Tian Xia ties, so a samurai (or someone from Minkai with a katana, anyway) being a member is pretty reasonable. Certainly not something they'd necessarily be wearing as a 'costume'. It's very plausible indeed that he's carrying his family sword in that picture.

Maybe they're thinking he looks too much like this guy?

No, not like Keanu. He looks different than the guy in the picture to me. Keanu looks of mixed heritage (probably because I know he is!), the guy up above looks european to me.

But as DMW correctly states he could be mixed heritage too, or even 100% Tian-Min and that's just how the artist draws East Asian people, so I don't have any more objections.

Liberty's Edge

I look forward to seeing the content of this approved for PFS play soon!


blog post wrote:
The Society contains a few broad factions that cover most of these general aspects and most Pathfinders typically associate with one or two of these factions during their career, though such association isn’t compulsory. These factions are the Envoy’s Alliance—a group dedicated to the well-being of the Society and its members, the Grand Archive whose members are devoted to the pursuit of knowledge, the Horizon Hunters who prefer to just travel for the sake of exploration and locating new and forgotten sites, and the Vigilant Seal which includes those Pathfinders who rise up to contain the threats the Society encounters on its missions.

Have those always been the factions? I thought they were things like the Grand Lodge faction for the well-being of the Society, Liberty's Edge for those dedicated to freeing slaves or overthrowing tyranny, the Silver Crusade for do-gooders, etc. Also I thought there were like a dozen, not four. Am I confusing the in-world Society with the real-life Society or something?

Liberty's Edge

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Fuzzy-Wuzzy wrote:
Have those always been the factions? I thought they were things like the Grand Lodge faction for the well-being of the Society, Liberty's Edge for those dedicated to freeing slaves or overthrowing tyranny, the Silver Crusade for do-gooders, etc. Also I thought there were like a dozen, not four. Am I confusing the in-world Society with the real-life Society or something?

They have not always been like that, no.

The faction list for PFS (which this matches) was revamped for PF2 (and the transition between editions also involved, well, the Whispering Tyrant's attempted invasion of Absalom and quite a lot of dead Pathfinders, as I understand it, so there's an in-world explanation for some transition).

Now, there are way more than just those four factions in the Pathfinder Society, though only two more are official right now, but those four are the most important, and so get first mention.

Links to how PFS is doing factions can be found here, here, or here.


Ahhh. Thanks!

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