The Once And Future King
The Pathfinder Society is an organization of thousands of daring and eager adventurers who value exploration, knowledge, and helping their fellow Pathfinders. Based out of the Grand Lodge in the sprawling metropolis of Absalom in the eye of the Inner Sea, the Society’s field agents venture to the far corners of Golarion and beyond in search of ancient wonders and lost knowledge. They act as chroniclers of the world around them, their reports ranging from the day-to-day activities of an isolated village to the political mechanisms behind some of the world’s most influential powers.
The Pathfinder Society has existed for more than 400 years. Members include treasure hunters, scholars, explorers, tomb raiders, historians, mercenaries and vagabonds who roam the farthest reaches of the world seeking lost relics and answers to the world’s most enigmatic and dangerous riddles. These heroes brave vine-choked jungle ruins, ascend snow-capped peaks, and comb sun-seared desert sands in search of buried tombs and monuments of bygone ages.
Society members send records of their exploits to their venture- captain superiors, who in turn review them for accuracy before forwarding the manuscripts to the leaders of the Pathfinder Society. The most exciting and enlightening of these have the potential to be printed and distrubuted as volumes of the famed Pathfinder Chronicles.
Though the Pathfinder Society itself isn’t concerned with the specific actions of individual Pathfinder agents, they require those agents and their actions to conform to the general code of exploration, reporting and cooperation. Those Pathfinders deemed incapable of following these simple rules are removed from the Society. Most Pathfinders are trained in the necessary skills at the Grand Lodge in Absalom, but a few experienced adventurers are given field commissions in the Society once they’ve proved they’re capable.
The Society is directed by the Decemvirate—10 masked and secret members whose identities are protected even from each other. It’s not known how long each Decemvirate member occupies the position; likewise, every aspect of their existence, from nomination to election, from meetings to formal public functions, and from day-to-day functions to retirement, is utterly mysterious. The identity of the Ten is the Society’s most closely guarded secret—one, some say, that the Decemvirate is willing to kill to protect.
While The Pathfinder Society is based out of the sprawling Grand Lodge of Absalom, the organization as a whole has many official lodges spread throughout the Inner Sea and toeholds across Golarion.
Core Values: Explore, Report, and Cooperate
As with any organization, the Pathfinder Society has a series of core values that guides its members and upon which all Pathfinders can agree. Since its founding just over 400 years ago, the Society has held as its motto the three tenets which all Pathfinders are expected to uphold: “Explore, report, cooperate.” While different factions have led the society in a variety of directions over the centuries, from these three values the organization has never strayed-so ingrained are they in the heart and soul of all true Pathfinders.
The first of the three tenets, exploration, is often the value that draws Pathfinders to the organization. Pathfinder hopefuls flock to the Society to indulge their wanderlust and to answer the call of the uncharted regions beyond the edge of the map, unveil the mysteries of the dark caverns beneath the surface world, and discover the infinite potential held in the other realities that populate the Great Beyond. Even Pathfinder agents who feel most comfortable in dusty libraries or ancient learning centers seek new discoveries within the pages of antiquity, indulging in explorations of the mind and the arcane alike. No matter where a Pathfinder goes, exploration is at the heart of her motives.
The discoveries of a Pathfinder mean little if only she and her companions know of them. Thus the second tenet of the Society, reporting, is also of vital importance to the organization. Thanks to a network of venture captains spread throughout the world, Pathfinder field agents typically need only travel a short distance in order to locate a friendly ear with which they can share their newest finds. These venture-captains in turn pass on the most noteworthy discoveries to their superiors—the anonymous members of the Decemvirate—at the Grand Lodge in Absalom for further review. When these masked Ten (as the members of the Decemvirate are called) feel the exploits of a Pathfinder are worthy of immortality, such reports are included in the Patlifinder Chronicles, an ongoing series of chapbooks distributed widely throughout the organization. These books serve as guides and handbooks for other field agents and inspire those non-members who read them to embark on their own new adventures or consider joining the Society.
While many Pathfinders have reputations as loners or eccentrics, no agent is ever truly alone. In times of need whether while preparing to embark on a dangerous new mission or while on the run from a host of newly made enemies—a Pathfinder can always count on a fellow agent to lend whatever aid possible. Though egos often run high in the Society and every agent wants to be the one credited with a monumental discovery, only the most foolhardy truly believe they can steal from or impede other Society members. Thus, every Pathfinder is expected to help other members at any cost, for it is often only a matter of time until one finds himself in similar need.
The Pathfinder Society claims that its core values are meant to serve neither benevolent nor malicious ends, but despite the organization’s self-proclaimed neutrality and supposed openness to agents of all walks, most Pathfinders tend to be altruistic or at least impartial rather than wicked. The greed and selfishness of most evildoers does not mesh well with the code of cooperation held by members of the Society.
The membership of the Pathfinder Society consists primarily of field agents-adventurers who travel throughout Golarion to explore the lesser-seen parts of the world. These field agents are most often simply called Pathfinders. An individual Pathfinder may belong to numerous adventuring groups over the course ofher career, whether by following her personal interests and
making alliances of opportunity along the way or simply by seeing her companions retire or meet unplanned ends during their shared journeys. In general, however, Pathfinders work in tandem with other field agents when given the same mission by a venture-captain. Sometimes these alliances evolve into parties that travel together their entire careers, but most often, a group of given Pathfinders amiably splits ways upon completing their group assignment.
Venture-captains, for their part, are generally retired field agents who have either reached an age at which adventuring in dark tombs is no longer desirable, or those who have made sufficiently notable discoveries to attain the title while still in their adventuring prime. Those in the former category are often given oversight of a specific Pathfinder lodge-a chapter house or way station for Pathfinder field agents. These venture-captains serve as facilitators of agents’ exploits, providing materials, knowledge, and contacts to those who embark upon missions from their lodges. At the conclusion of a mission, it is these venture-captains who submit their subordinates’ reports to the Grand Lodge for review and possible publication in the Pathfinder Chronicles.
Venture-captains who earn their title while still eager and able to continue their field work are generally allowed to do so. These venture-captains often serve as expedition leaders or founders of new lodges in yet unexplored regions, or they take on various positions of authority at the Grand Lodge in Absalom, which requires dozens of venture-captains to manage the hundreds of agents in the city and within the massive lodge.
The highest echelon a Pathfinder can reach within the organization is to become a member of the Decemvirate. This io-person committee of anonymous masked agents guides the Pathfinder Society from Skyreach, the central structure of the Grand Lodge. The true identities of the Ten are a closely guarded secret, and from time to time rumors spread that one or more venture-captains have been promoted into the elite circle. The Decemvirate’s secretive nature allows them to keep an eye on the entire organization and remain free from influence of the varying factions at work within the Society.
Each member of the Ten is believed to have at their disposal one or more high-ranking field agents, whom they send on secret missions-especially dangerous or important ones outside the Society’s normal hierarchy. Among these agents are the Three Deans, the heads of the Society’s three organization-wide branches—the Scrolls, the Spells, and the Swords—who serve as mentors for new recruits and act as liaisons for all Pathfinders independent from the venture captains.