Pathfinder Chronicles: Heroes of the Mists
Decadent Failing Empire
Decadent Failing Empire
“The sun of Taldor’s empire has set. It is up to us to see it rise again in our time.”
—Baron Jacquo Dalsine
Old Taldor once ruled the entire northern coast of the Inner Sea, from gold gilded Oppara to the wild frontier of Varisia. Now it’s reduced to a quarter of its former glory. As Old Taldor’s gaze turned ever inward, its vassals and conquered colonies slowly slipped away without a fight. Andoran and Cheliax broke off hundreds of years ago, and few in Taldor had either the desire or the motivation to go to war to stop it. Why bother dealing with petty trifles in the countryside when your own political destruction is taking place in the limelight of Taldan high society?
It’s easy to forget Taldor’s former glory and dismiss the entire country as a band of narcissistic fools who spend more time preening their wigs than they do defending their borders or quelling the unrest roiling within their great cities. Little do most know that while the majority of Taldor’s upper crust are more concerned with this season’s fashions than the well being of their collapsing empire, a few of the world’s most dangerous operatives are honed in the constant battleground of Oppara’s feuds. Old enmities between ancient houses have engulfed the Gilded City in shadowy violence and assassinations for hundreds of years, and more than a fair share of skilled adventurers have come up surviving the feuds, either as hired muscle or scions of noble houses mixed up in these simmering cauldrons of bloodshed.
Taldans are decadent bon vivants, favoring rich foods, ornate attire, and jeweled accoutrements for even the most minor of casual affairs. To a Taldan, appearance is an expression of power, and a keen sense of fashion represents a keen mind. Their appreciation for the arts extends beyond fashion and painting, dabbling in sorcery, dueling, and the murky strategies of politics and war. A Taldan mind, when raised to ire, is a dangerous thing, and the rest of the Inner Sea is about to receive a painful reminder of this timeless fact.
Goals: Get Back in the Game
Petty differences and ancient feuds have slowly ground Taldor down from a great polished stone to a whittled nub. The key to restoring the empire’s sense of purpose lies in finding an enemy to galvanize Taldor’s splintered factions, an endeavor worthy of rediscovering the nation’s august past glory. Seizing the political reins of Absalom is the perfect medicine for the wasting disease deep in Taldor’s bones.
Methodology: Wolf and Tiger
“Our weakness must now be our strength: centuries of petty infighting have afforded us one weapon—surely there is no one who can claim as true a mastery of intrigue as we Taldans!”
Taldor’s strategy for seizing control of Absalom lies in turning its enemies upon one another. Misdirection and psychological warfare are the orders of the day. Taldan missions might involve sparking old enmities between Qadira and Osirion or driving Cheliax and Andoran to rekindle their old war. “Sick the wolf on the tiger and the hunter’s work is done” is an old Taldan saying.
Faction Leader: Jacquo Dalsine
A few among Taldor’s elite realize the foolish end their empire is headed toward and plan to reverse it before the entire nation collapses. Jacquo Dalsine is the very picture of a Taldan dandy. A slender and effete gentleman, Jacquo appears the very model of a decadent Taldan fop.
The truth is while Jacquo can carouse and scribe poetry with the best of them, his favorite art is performed with a blade and he is one of the better swordsman on the Inner Sea. To Jacquo, the arts of politics and intrigue are no different than a duel. There are deceptions, engagements, feints, and disengagements, not to mention lightning fast ripostes. Jacquo sees Taldor as an ailing old duelist, tottering toward death on a foe’s blade, but he knows the empire possesses great puissance if it can be reminded of its former glory. For now, it is key to turn the blades of Taldor’s enemies on one another long enough for the decaying empire to find its footing. Some day, Old Taldor may rise again and hold its sword high once again, making all of Golarion tremble at its power.
Joining a secret society is just another dalliance for most Taldans. The Pathfinders are all the rage and everyone loves to hear of their exploits. Many Taldans join the Society simply to keep with the fashion of the times or to ensure they have something particularly engaging to converse about at parties. Others join the Pathfinder Society in hopes of sparking a renewed golden age for their decaying empire, and bringing Taldor back to the forefront of power in Avistan. What most foreigners can’t seem to understand is that many Taldans join up for both reasons. Misdirection is a staple of every Taldan’s diet, and most rely on a foppish or flippant exterior to hide their harder machinations.
Pathfinders not raised in Taldor yet still loyal to the Taldor faction in Absalom often see the decadent, crumbling empire as a haven for untapped historic wealth. Taldor has plundered nearly every country on the Inner Sea and for an unscrupulous treasure hunter or collector of rare artifacts, attaching ones self to the Taldor factions means a closer proximity to millennia of significant archaeological treasures. Still others hope that by pledging loyalty to a culture based entirely on the whims of the wealthy with an incredibly complex system of honor and respect that they might learn a great deal about how to make the world move around them rather than be moved by the world.
To learn more about Taldor, read the Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting hardcover.