Factions – Pathfinder Society (2nd edition)

Pathfinder Society Guide to Play (Second Edition) > Factions
Current Version: 0.02
Current Version Date 8/5/2019 – 18:00

Factions have existed within the Pathfinder Society for centuries. However, their history is fraught with controversy, particularly when past factions clashed for control over the Society itself or acted as proxies for various nations’ political aspirations. Following more than a decade of turmoil, growth, and housecleaning, the Society’s current factions are dedicated to promoting different elements of the Pathfinder Society’s charter rather than pushing outside ambitions. Society agents understand that their allegiance is to the Pathfinder Society first.

You can join more than one faction by purchasing the relevant boons , but you gain benefits only from the faction you are currently acting for. You must declare which faction you’re acting for at the start of an adventure by slotting its boon

The following sections describe the various factions, their broad objectives, and their goals during the current year. Following that is a list of those factions’ associated boons, which a PC can purchase with Fame. There are no restrictions on what factions characters can belong to, though some factions lend themselves to particular characters’ skill sets.

The factions are divided into major factions and minor factions. A major faction ties very strongly and directly into the Society’s goals—such as emphasizing exploration or research—and has a large number of members within the Pathfinder Society. Major factions regularly drive ongoing storylines, often with a few scenarios per year that have special tie-ins for those factions and grant additional Reputation  (a measure of your standing within a faction). A major faction offers four Reputation Tiers  in Faction Rewards and accompanying rewards. The list of major factions is not expected to undergo significant changes over the course of the campaign.

Minor Factions have a smaller profile, a more niche goal, have aims that are more tangential to the Society’s mission, or are tied to a shorter-term objective. Although a minor faction might sometimes be the driving force behind an adventure, these tie-ins occur less frequently than they do for major factions; alternatively, a minor faction might be especially influential for a particular year, after which it steps back from the spotlight. A minor faction offers between two and four Reputation Tiers  in Faction Rewards (and accompanying rewards; the two current minor factions—Radiant Oath and Verdant Wheel—both offer four Reputation Tiers. The list of minor factions will likely expand over the course of the campaign, occasionally introducing new minor factions to highlight a special season goal or address a particular style of play.

Major Factions

The following are the Pathfinder Society’s four major factions.

Envoys’ Alliance

Envoy's Alliance Faction Symbol

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 ranks are sorely depleted. The Envoys’ Alliance aims to change that, making the Society every stronger, better trained, and better supported.

Faction Leader: Fola Barun (N female half-elf negotiator) first encounter the Pathfinder Society in her role as the envoy of an Ekujae elven community in the Mwangi Expanse, and later joined the 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 deans of the Pathfinder Society’s three schools.

Faction Leader Fola Barun

Motto: Strength in Community

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 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 they’re tasked with the Grand Lodge’s latest projects.

Year 1 Goal: In addition to devastating several nations, the Whispering Tyrant’s rise resulted in hundreds of Pathfinder casualties. The aftermath is a serious wake-up call for the Society, and the Envoys’ Alliance in particular seeks not only to rescue those agents stranded by the recent chaos, but also to provide assistance to other distant operations that have suffered from insufficient support.

Grand Archive

Grand Archive Faction Symbol

Archaeology is a destructive science, and adventurers tend to be more destructive than most. If the Society is to uphold its mandate to study and preserve the past, then documentation and academic rigor are key. Members of the Grand Archive do not limit themselves to Absalom’s libraries, however; these bold explorers’ voyage to the most exciting sites to chronicle the past in person and share those tales with the world.

Faction Leader: Although third in line for the Sky Citadel Kraggodan’s throne, Gorm Greathammer (LN male dwarf raconteur) has always been drawn to the adventuring lifestyle, and his passion drew him to the Pathfinder Society decades ago. He has since distinguished himself as an explorer and chronicler with numerous publications to his name and countless stories to retell. Even so, he has regularly returned home to help administrate the sky citadel. After withstanding the exhausting Ironfang Invasion and directing peace negotiations with Molthune, he returned to the Grand Lodge on an extended leave of absence from Kraggodan. He now oversees the Grand Archive, promoting scholarship and uncovering centuries-old mysteries to solve at long last. Yet those who would expect the Grand Archive’s leader to be a shy, spectacled sage are in for a surprise; Gorm is daring, boisterous, and ready to get his hands dirty alongside his allies.

Faction Leader Gorm Greathammer

Motto: Chronicling the Past

Objectives: The Grand Archive promotes the ongoing education of Pathfinder agents, the recovery of ancient knowledge, and the mastery of esoteric lore. Thanks to Gorm Greathammer’s leadership, the faction also encourages travel, so that agents can experience history directly, draw their own conclusions, and ensure that all relics receive the care and curation they deserve—especially where a berserker’s boots might otherwise shatter a priceless statue. After years of neglect and several noteworthy attacks, the Grand Lodge’s written records are a tattered shadow of what they once were, and the Grand Archive is dedicated to restoring the Society’s libraries by seeking replacement texts and long-lost documents the world over.

Year 1 Goal: Although the Pathfinder Society now keeps track of its myriad, far-flung lodges, the first few centuries involved venture-captains founding, operating, and ultimately abandoning numerous lodges across Avistan and Garund. Not only are these lost lodges an important part of Society history, but many also house libraries with unique, now-forgotten manuscripts. As the Society explores its earliest agents’ exploits, the Grand Archive seeks to track down the lost lodges through historical clues, hoping to recover and preserve the lore sequestered within each one.

Horizon Hunters

Horizon Hunters Faction Symbol

Since the Pathfinder Society’s first day, when adventurers gathered in Absalom to share drinks and swap stories, the Society has been an organization of explorers. The Horizon Hunters is home to those who carry on the proud tradition of ascending the highest peaks, plumbing the darkest depths, and seeing what lies over the next hill. And as sweet as it is to discover a lost ruin or unknown vista, it’s all the better to tell wild tales about the experience and revel in the admiration of peers—particularly if an agent’s deeds might be immortalized in the Pathfinder Chronicles, a widely distributed record of the greatest Pathfinders’ achievements and discoveries.

Faction Leader: Hailing from the Sodden Lands, Calisro Benarry (N female half-orc corsair) is a pirate-turned-Pathfinder who made her name as venture-captain of the Arcadian Mariner’s Lodge, a ship-borne Pathfinder lodge aboard the Grinning Pixie, whose command passed between venture-captains every few years. Bucking tradition, Benarry commanded the wheel for a decade, oversaw exploration of the dreaded Gloomspires, and traveled widely before recently being ordered to surrender the ship. She considers that no excuse to settle down, though, and has poured her energy into inspiring curiosity, tenacity, and wanderlust in the Society as a whole, spearheading the Horizon Hunters faction.

Faction Leader Calisro Benarry

Motto: Glory Lies Over the Horizon

Objectives: The more untouched, unfamiliar, or unknown a site or treasure, the more exhilarating it is to reach it. The Horizon Hunters encourage exploration for its own sake, yet it’s also dedicated to enhancing the reputation of its members—anything from publication in the Pathfinder Chronicles to being the subject of the latest tall tale to circulate the taverns. Iconic objectives include uncovering mythical lost cities, blazing the trail through uncharted territory, and reaching foreboding realms. And if the Pathfinders can look good while doing so, that’s all the better.

Year 1 Goal: Calisro Benarry longs to rekindle the public’s wonder and admiration of the Society through daring and inspiring adventures, focusing on two goals. First, she encourages Pathfinders to seek out and overcome public challenges, from beating previous records to blazing trails at the behest of influential patrons. Second, because she believes the Society has stuck to the Inner Sea for too long, she is pushing for a major mission to document a distant land—an endeavor that the people of Absalom will be talking about for years to come.

Vigilant Seal

Vigilant Seal Faction Symbol

Rune-sealed doors, buried temples, warded vaults, and ancient keeps…these are among the most tantalizing sites for explorers to delve, yet all too often these ruins were abandoned for a good reason: their contents were too dangerous to leave unfettered yet too enduring to destroy outright. The Pathfinder Society has a long track record of unleashing forgotten horrors while in the pursuit of glory and lore. Yet for every imprisoned fiend accidentally released while Pathfinders explore overgrown shrines, the explorers have also uncovered and defeated slumbering evils that would have otherwise emerged to plague the world unforeseen and uncontested. As far as the Vigilant Seal’s concerned, this tradition of cavalier recklessness must change.

Faction Leader: Among the most famous Pathfinders of the previous decade, Eando Kline (CG male human explorer) famously explored Varisia, infiltrated the Hold of Belkzen, and plumbed the Darklands’ depths to uncover a lost serpentfolk city. Knowing that further publicity would encourage exploration and goad the serpentine villains to attack the surface, Kline returned to the Grand Lodge ahead of his rival Arnois Belzig, urging the Decemvirate not to publish either of their findings about the site. The Decemvirate dismissed his concerns, and in disgust, Eando Kline resigned from the Society. For the past decade he’s led his own expeditions, always endeavoring to explore more responsibly than the organization he left behind. Yet with news of a change in the Decemvirate and respected colleagues rising to positions of power, Eando Kline has returned to the Society at last, accepting his old wayfinder so long as he can lead in the organization’s reform.

Faction Leader Eando Kline

Motto: Protect, Contain, Destroy

Objectives: Just as the Pathfinder Society decrees that its agents must “Explore, report, and cooperate,” the Vigilant Seal expects its agents to “Protect, contain, and destroy.” Dangerous artifacts are often best kept deep within the Grand Lodge or other secure sites, rather than left where they might cause harm. Where slumbering evils lie chained, agents are expected to ensure every link remains strong. And where those goals are impossible, those agents must be ready to neutralize the threat. The Vigilant Seal encourages its agents to be educated enough to identify and understand hazards, and Eando Kline believes that individual Pathfinders must exercise their own discretion in assessing the danger and knowing when to intervene.

Year 1 Goal: The Pathfinder Society’s past is replete with buried dangers, both in sites of expeditions that were never completed and in the vaults below the Grand Lodge. Now that the Society’s leadership has become enamored with unearthing the exploits of the earliest Pathfinders, it’s only a matter of time before agents inadvertently unleash a devastating curse or threat that the likes of Pathfinder Society cofounders Durvin Gest or Selmius Foster thought it wiser not to disturb—Vigilant Seal members must be ready to avert such dangers whenever possible, and to quickly neutralize them if not.

Minor Factions

The following are the minor factions in the Pathfinder Society.

Radiant Oath

Radiant Oath Faction Symbol

The Society’s mission doesn’t intrinsically involve acts of altruism, heroism, and sacrifice, yet in many areas Pathfinders are known for thwarting evil, lending a helping hand, and representing their organization as upstanding folk. For the Radiant Oath, this benevolence extends beyond incidental assistance. Instead, the faction sees the Society’s broad reach as an excellent vector for assisting others the world over. Those who join the Radiant Oath swear simple vows to assist others, expanding on these promises the more they serve the faction.

Faction Leader: No stranger to peril, Valais Durant (LG female aasimar ritualist) set out for Numeria after earning her wayfinder and distinguished herself in covert operations there and in Ustalav. When the Society needed agents to investigate the possible misdeeds of Venture-Captain Thurl, she volunteered, directing her practiced senses to uncover his crimes. Unfortunately, she fell prey to his guardians and magic, ultimately being transformed into an amalgam of demonflesh. She fought off her new form’s abyssal influence long enough to return to the Society, and there she sought to restore her mortal form. Her journey took her as far away as Heaven, where with other Pathfinders, she uncovered a ritual to remove the demonic corruption safely. The ritual exceeded her greatest expectations. Rather than restoring her human body, Heaven granted her a celestial form.

Even though she’s still adjusting to her new body and celestial connection, Valais is committed to helping others as the Society helped her. Rather than crushing her spirit, her exposure to dark rituals and demonic whispers has taught her what’s at stake if evil prevails, granting her the strength to defeat fiends and assist the vulnerable in equal measure. Her supernatural powers don’t blind her to her own biases, though. Valais knows that her own perspective of justice and benevolence is but one of many the world over, so she recruits faction members of diverse backgrounds to spread good in their own ways while respecting the sensibilities and values of unfamiliar cultures.

Faction Leader Valais Durant

Motto: A Light in the Shadows

Objectives: Unlike its spiritual predecessor, the Silver Crusade, which threw itself forcefully at the most significant threats and villains, the Radiant Oath emphasizes acts of kindness, compassion, and redemption. However, when dire evils threaten the world, the members of the Radiant Oath are ready to combat it. By consistently promoting the cause of good and building the faction’s reputation, the Radiant Oath strives for greater influence in the Society to direct its resources toward just causes.

Verdant Wheel

Verdant Wheel Faction Symbol

No matter how many verdant 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 opportunities to witness natural wonders, catalog new species, and better protect the world’s pristine realms. The call for a united voice representing those interests 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, but those intent on preserving that which exists also find a welcome home here.

Faction Leader: Nobody entirely agrees on where Urwal (NG male lizardfolk astrologer) 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 deans of the three Pathfinder Society schools decided it more prudent to recognize Urwal’s esoteric knowledge and benign infiltration by granting him a field commission (which the lizardfolk has never formally accepted). That he has since organized a cohort of nature enthusiasts as the Verdant Wheel befuddles the Society’s leadership, especially since nobody has yet figured out where he came from (including the Verdant Wheel’s 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.

Faction Leader Urwal

Motto: Truth Sprouts from the Ashes

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

Back to: Pathfinder Society Guide to Play (Second Edition)

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