Season 5 was the first season to experiment with faction missions that weren’t explicitly given in each scenario. The factions each received a letter from their faction leader at the beginning of the season (in email!), and a second letter midway through the season. These faction letters are critical to the ability of your players to complete those faction missions, and now (almost 5 years later) these letters should be distributed by a GM who is preparing to run Season 5 content.
Those letters were archived by a number of users; we’ve gratefully stolen these copies from this thread, posted by Nefreet.
Season-Opening Faction Letters
Defender of Freedom,
Allow me to be among the first to welcome you back to Absalom following our productive year abroad. When I set sail from Magnimar, the Andoren embassy there was thriving. I cannot say for certain which was more beautiful: the exquisite building we left as an enduring monument to freedom or the teary-eyed people who were so sad to see some of us depart!
Once I set foot in Absalom, I quickly heard not only that there is trouble brewing in Mendev but that the Pathfinder Society has already begun sending a host of agents north. I imagine the society’s move is largely intended to support their expedition to the nearby dwarven ruins, but I know that Mendev will have need of every capable sword arm and spellcaster. Absalom is said to be sending its own soldiers, but I have not yet seen any signs of the military mobilizing. The same persuasiveness that you brought to bear in wooing the Magnimarian people will be of great use in slashing through the red tape that no doubt ensnares this familiar metropolis.
I trust I will be joining the exodus soon, but first it is important that we receive news of Andoran and confirm that our proud nation has done its part in supporting Mendev. I expect to meet with at least one of the Andoren statesmen in a few days’ time, and I would appreciate your accompanying me as we report the past year’s success and learn the past year’s news from home.
Liberty never rests,
Major Colson Maldris
My Closest Confidante,
By all appearances, at last the baying dogs of Cheliax have given up the chase, thanks in large part to your efforts. No matter how safe we seem, my darling, remember that a hellhound rarely forgets the scent of its quarry, and it may be some time before we are again hailed in Cheliax rather than hounded. In the meantime we shall operate out of Korvosa, though you must excuse me for not inviting you to our fast-growing base of operations; I regret to tell you that our rather cozy meetings of the past will be more rare, for I have critical tasks abroad that I need you to handle.
If you have not heard, the abyssal quagmire called the Worldwound is bubbling over, and the demons within are sure to spill into neighboring Mendev in the coming days. I wish to send you there, but not for the reason that seems so obvious. By all appearances you must serve the greater good, the crusaders, and whatever other honeyed drivel they feed their soldiers. Only stay there long enough to learn the critical weaknesses of Mendev and the demons, for this intelligence is critical to our long-term plans.
No doubt you are giving this missive that adorably quizzical look that I so love. Think, my pet. If another crusade should break out, it will draw every do-gooder in Avistan and distract every important nation’s eyes. That will grant us the freedom to pursue our own agenda without some fool in shining armor bumbling about, ruining our plans, and loudly shouting an oath to Cayden Cailean. Once we know the weaknesses of each side, I can pull strings to ensure that the conflict lasts long enough for us to accomplish what we must. Trust that I want the crusaders to win in the end; abyssal conquest is in none of our interests.
Ah, but what are our interests? I am researching several untapped sources of power—rather dark power—that will give us an edge in the days to come. The Chelish traditions of bargaining, deal-making, and binding have not been forgotten, and if we acquire enough arcane and planar might, Cheliax will certainly receive us again with open arms. Should you encounter other sources of magic that might give your allies pause, I leave it to your discretion as to whether we should add it to our arsenal or spurn it as too dangerous.
In the meantime, learn what you can about the crusaders’ foibles and their fortifications’ flaws. Our plans cannot come to fruition without that.
Longing for your company,
Paracountess Zarta Dralneen
We leave Varisia a safer place, thanks to the efforts of you and your fellow Pathfinders. The long-slumbering Krune is now forever at rest, and the masters Aram Zey and Kreighton Shaine personally traversed the Hao Jin Tapestry to escort the runelord’s immensely powerful artifacts back to the Grand Lodge for study.
No doubt you have heard of the unexpected discovery made while agents explored the depths beneath Janderhoff and Koldukar: we learned of a long-lost dwarven Sky Citadel in what was once Sarkoris and we now know as the Worldwound. An expedition into a demon-ravaged wasteland is perhaps our most dangerous undertaking yet, and making the journey will require considerable preparation. Fortunately, Venture-Captain Jorsal of Lauterbury and Venture-Captain Thurl have been hard at work in Nerosyan for years, and we have an excellent base of operations awaiting the arrival of loyal agents. I have no doubt that you, one of the most reliable Pathfinders I have had the pleasure to work with, will be among the first to travel north for this grand undertaking.
In the coming months, we will need to acquire as many outside resources as possible to ensure success. Representatives of the Decemvirate have already approached the dwarves of the Five Kings Mountains for aid, and they have agreed to assist us in reaching the citadel so long as they can reclaim it once we have explored it to our satisfaction. The details are still being worked out, and negotiators are on their way to Nerosyan to finalize the details.
Your mission is, as always, the Pathfinders’ mission. Ensure that you are doing everything you can to make this expedition a success, and in the event that complications should arise, I will need trustworthy Pathfinders on hand to send in and resolve the problem without causing an international debacle.
Explore, Report, Cooperate!
Venture-Captain Ambrus Valsin
Faithful Servant of the Past,
Returning to Osirion was a bittersweet experience, for as much as I appreciated the sweatless warmth of the desert sands, I am also the bearer of dire news.
When I walked into the royal apartments where the Ruby Prince reclined, I could see that at least one of my cures had halted the ongoing decay of our monarch’s arm, but the damage was hardly undone. To say that he was impatient to be rid of this affliction would be akin to calling a boot-trodden asp mildly irritated; every other breath was accompanied by a curse disparaging our tireless work. Although I assured him that this cure would take a few days to work, he furiously reprimanded everyone present before calling upon his own power to crush the infection himself. In a flash of light, he banished the Thassilonian affliction but at great cost to his own health. It pained me to see him taxed so heavily by the spellcasting, but it pained me even more when he dismissed me from his service.
You and I are no longer servants of the Ruby Prince in anything but spirit. We have not been exiled, but neither are we welcome and honored. I spent three days humbly requesting that you not share my fate, but our prince’s counselors were unwilling to hear me; however, do not despair—especially those who might have returned to life as a Risen Guard.
I still have my title of the Sapphire Sage, for it was not granted to me by the reigning dynasty. In fact, it is not a self-proclaimed title but one that I inherited a rather long time ago when I became a Jeweled Sage. These sages have long existed in Osirion to protect the kingdom’s historical integrity, guide its rulers, and guard the secrets of the past. The Ruby Prince may have released me from his service, but in truth he has allowed us the opportunity to extend our protection to far more than just Osirion.
I long acted with the understanding that I was the only remaining sage, but several years ago I communicated with a venerable man named Zuberi who promised me information about one of the other sages should I assist him. Someone interrupted the ritual he needed, and the trail died with him.
Assist the Pathfinder Society, and I shall work to reestablish our network of contacts. Ensure that you keep alert for any signs of the Jeweled Sages, learn what you can, and report back to me. Do not, however, pester everyone you meet. If any other sage is alive and has not made himself known, I do not doubt he would frown on tactless, indiscriminant inquiries.
Together we shall persevere,
Amenopheus, the Sapphire Sage
Despite its rich markets and the ravenous appetite for exotic goods, I am comforted to think that this is the last that I shall see of Varisia for a long while. I often mentioned my homeland when greeting local merchants, but instead of prompting curiosity or hospitality, being the direct representative of a nation seemed to establish me as an invader who had designs to carve up the region for Qadira’s benefit. Fortunately the dwarves of Janderhoff were not so easily ruffled, and I suspect the first caravans shall arrive in Katheer in another month. You played an instrumental role in securing this trade route, and the entire empire thanks you.
Being viewed askance for being a foreign agent in a distant land is nothing new, and several regions—particularly those dominated by our competition—have often restricted Qadiran shipments. Thus far we have fought every competitor, rarely showing any willingness to shake a hand over anything but a transaction. The crusaders of Mendev, who accept soldiers of any background and train them to work together, might serve as an example for us. Let us build friendships and alliances with one or more powerful trade partners.
I am sending agents throughout the Inner Sea, but we have a history together that I shall honor; I trust your logic and intuition more than most, and it will be your opinion that helps to shape the future of our faction’s economic might. If a prospective trade partner seems a good fit, court that organization as best you can. If someone offers to ally with us whom you believe unsuitable, I trust you to reject him or her politely.
To our shared fortunes,
Trade-Prince Aaqir al’Hakam
There’s something about being waited on by a trio of blackmailed nobles that makes me truly sad to leave Varisia. Of course, these nobles were not blackmailed by us; they were simply—
I shall truly miss Varisia, but that market is saturated already by our burgeoning enterprises. One might think that ending the threat of a runelord would open new commercial opportunities, but apparently such a feat merely makes locals feel safer and less interested in buying guaranteed protection services.
Instead let us turn our sights to the world beyond Varisia’s borders. The folk of far-off places like Taldor, Katapesh, and the like say, “Who is this Guaril Karela? I have never heard of these Sczarni you mention.” These are people who I would love to conscript for a jury, but they are hardly doing our humble operation any favors in the long run. Let us start with the low-hanging fruit of Mendev, where I hear there’s no end of demand for the rarely sufficient supply. Of course, where there’s demand for goods exchanged over the table, there’s a niche for purchasing choice goods under the table, too.
The trouble is that we don’t have enough information just yet as to who does the moving and shaking in the shadows of Nerosyan. If there’s nobody there already, then the Diamond of the North is ours for the taking. If there’s someone operating there already, find out who’s who and how they operate. If you’re having trouble finding out who to talk to, don’t forget to check among the metal-clad dupes who keep throwing themselves in front of demons—the local vernacular is “crusaders;” I’ve heard some of them grew up around shady folk and might know a thing or two about shady dealings.
Warrior of Light,
The Runelord of Sloth is no more, and in time all of Varisia shall know that it was a force of justice and light that vanquished the slumbering evil. The Pathfinder Society must certainly appreciate the prestige, and in time they will no doubt learn to embrace the cause of Good.
However, while one part of the world can sleep easy, another is under assault. For nearly a century and over four crusades, the crusaders of Mendev have held the Worldwound’s demons at bay at great cost. Every day for the past week I have felt a terrible throbbing to the north as if some sinister malignance were preparing to burst from the Worldwound, and I have done what I can to hasten the Pathfinder Society’s preparations for its expedition into that abyssal landscape. Having hundreds of agents in Nerosyan will bolster the crusaders’ numbers in case trouble should befall the Diamond of the North, and we shall be ready to lead our comrades against what may be the greatest evil ever to blight Avistan.
More than just the Sky Citadel is at stake, however. Should Mendev fall, all that we hold dear would die with it. Strike down the demons that threaten our future, and be the shining paragon that motivates others to stand strong and hold the line. They shall look to you and follow your example, so remember that your actions shall influence how others view the Silver Crusade; should you find yourself presented with a difficult choice, always choose that which will create a shining legacy to inspire others.
We march north with the first light,
I once observed a child playing with a stick as though it were a sword. He whipped it back and forth, slashing at the air as though battling some great beast, though ultimately any victory he might realize would be a figment of his imagination and of no lasting consequence. In his zeal, the child accidentally struck himself in the leg and fell down crying. Had the boy simply benefited from a trained swordsman’s teachings, he might have secured a respectable future. Watching the foppish debutantes of Magnimar and Korvosa prance about under the guise of nobility reminds me of that little boy. They could be so much more were they willing to accept our guidance, but stubbornly they persist. Perhaps when they accidentally wound themselves with their own ignorance they might remember the written offers I left many of them before departing.
I eagerly anticipate your return to Absalom, for everyone is talking of troubles in Mendev; it seems that the Worldwound’s demons are stirring, and the crusaders desperately seek reinforcements. We should be among those reinforcements, but our responsibility is even greater than that. Whenever an evil has threatened Avistan, who has led the charge? Taldor. If this is the dawn of a new crusade, then it is only reasonable that Taldor rides at the head of the armies, winning back its rightful role as the greatest of empires. I have not yet learned how large an army Taldor is sending north, but I believe I shall have such a chance in the coming days.
If you are in Absalom at the time, your presence would be a considerable boon. I have had cause to mention you by name—always in a positive light—in several of my correspondences with my contacts in Taldor, and your support might tip the balance in our favor when convincing our true aristocracy to levy an ever greater army.
To the ever-glorious empire,
Lady Gloriana Morilla
Mid-Season Faction Letters
Agent of Liberty,
Only months ago we returned to the Inner Sea as heroes, heralding a new age of cooperation with our sister state, Magnimar. Its people had spurned the crumbling vestiges of imperial rule by nearby Korvosa, much as Andoran threw off the shackles of Cheliax’s rule. Our new embassy is flourishing and will bring a surge of trade and prosperity to both bastions of freedom.
When the demons of the Worldwound struck, several of my colleagues—it’s fair to call them rivals given our years of competition, but our recent struggles have fostered an uneasy camaraderie—and I united to influence some of Absalom’s best and brightest to aid Mendev. Our success was bittersweet; though we triumphed in the north, we learned of corruption among Andoran’s politicians, some of whom have embraced elected office as a new form of nobility to elevate them above their fellow citizens!
Now that my eyes are open, I see this perversion of Common Rule with increasing frequency. I do not know whether this is a growing pain of democracy or a sign of some greater ill, but I intend to fight it and restore our vision of what a free society should be. This is where I seek your assistance. More than ever we must push our mission of abolition and freedom abroad in two ways. First, develop alliances with like-minded thinkers throughout Avistan and beyond. These potential allies may have strategies and philosophies that we can use to further our mission. Second, continue to secure freedom for the oppressed and the enslaved.
Andoran must know action if it is to remember its roots. Go forth, and be a shining example of all that the People’s Revolt represents.
Liberty never rests,
Major Colson Maldris
Each of your reports brings a smile to my face as I contemplate the implications of what you have accomplished. I am also appreciative of the texts you have acquired for me; one in particular is quite the page-turner, and I’d love to share some of my favorite passages with you the next time we meet. I long to receive more of these presents from you, but I am concerned that you might draw too much attention to our actions unless you are careful to cover your tracks. Some of the greatest victories result when the enemy thinks he has won the battle only to realize later that he has lost the war. The sweetest victories are those that the enemy never knew he was fighting.
Despite my efforts to stay away from Cheliax, I maintain numerous spies in its most beloved institutions. I recently received intriguing news through an Athenaeum contact that I intend to follow up. Of course, that means I’m sending you, my dear. Snatch these ancient prizes out from under the noses of Cheliax and its allies. Anything portable you can deliver to me. Anything larger should be hidden so we may recover it later.
I’ve begun hearing rather delightful rumors that the Pathfinder Society thinks me a free agent worth bringing into the fold. Apparently, when—despite years of loyal service—one is betrayed by her country, she becomes eligible for recruitment. Oh, you’re pouting; I can tell. Don’t worry. Should I decide to entertain the Society’s courting gestures, it will be on my own terms and after I have decided how we might make the most of the arrangement. The Pathfinders were so terribly endearing when they decided to rescue me, so I don’t believe I could turn them down outright. Until we make a decision, keep an ear open for any more news.
Keep me in your thoughts,
Paracountess Zarta Dralneen
Loyal Agent of the Decemvirate,
As of my most recent visit a week ago, the once-scarred walls of Nerosyan were completely repaired. Knowing that you and other Pathfinders were an integral part of defending that city against the demon onslaught makes me proud. No matter the ultimate cost of reaching Jormurdun, I know that the experience has helped shape some of the finest agents I’ve had the privilege to know.
Our discussions with the dwarven emissaries resulted in agreeable terms, and they have already begun mustering an impressive force to aid us in our march across the Worldwound. I’m expecting you to join the small army of Pathfinders that we’re sending with them. That’s still several months off, but it should make for a valuable experience. Just watching soldiers from the Five Kings Mountains train and drill is a lesson in efficiency and dedication.
If only I could say positive things about all dwarves. It is now clear that Venture-Captain Thurl has betrayed us. Venture-Captain Jorsal does the work of two venture-captains and hardly seems to sleep, and I know he secured considerable evidence against Thurl that clearly illustrates the dwarf’s guilt and seems to suggest we may not have seen the last of him. Stopping Thurl is not only in Mendev’s best interests; it’s a point of pride for the Pathfinder Society. Nobody does what he did and gets away with it. Nobody.
I’m trusting you to keep your gear close by in case I catch wind of our traitor’s location and need a trustworthy agent on short notice. I also expect you to join the trip to Jormurdun and help ensure the Society’s success. If anything goes wrong, you’re the one I trust to set things right.
Explore, Report, Cooperate!
Venture-Captain Ambrus Valsin
Initiate of Osirion’s Mysteries,
As you no doubt recall, our dismissal from the Ruby Prince’s inner circle made it possible for us to research the organization known as the Jeweled Sages, a society that dates back to Osirion’s golden age millennia ago. These men and women sensed the decline of their kingdom and began to gather the relics and wisdom that might otherwise be lost to the ages. Each sage carried a jewel in which he or she stored memories and secrets of the past, passing them to chosen successors when a member inevitably passed away. Our desert homeland’s tumultuous past scattered the Jeweled Sages to the winds, but I am certain that if they were still united as in ages past, they would praise your accomplishments over these past months—while they valued the wisdom of the whole, they also honored the initiative and excellence of the individual.
Yet are they truly gone, and I the last? We recently learned that someone calling herself the Diamond Sage has lived in central Osirion for years, and if her agents are any metric, she is as interested in meeting us as I am to finally meet another of my order. What’s more, I have divined that several other sages’ jewels are also buried nearby, though I do not know their exact locations. Because my reputation in Osirion is still stained by last year’s developments, I am sending you, my loyal agents, to find these jewels, locate the Diamond Sage, and arrange for us all to meet formally and determine the future of our fractured order. I am not certain quite what to expect when we finally meet the Diamond Sage, and I trust I will have your insights to aid my own judgment of the matter.
The Pathfinder Society has been most generous in providing me a home and offering its support in our endeavors. Even now I am working with Venture-Captain Norden Balentiir to orchestrate a formal Pathfinder expedition to the trade city of Eto, where I hope you can pick up the trail of my elusive colleague. I owe the Society much for its aid. When our business near Eto is done, let us remember your fellow Pathfinders and the equally monumental task they face to the north.
For the Jeweled Sages,
Amenopheus, the Sapphire Sage
Most Valued Associate,
Have you noticed our offices’ recent renovations: the intricate rugs, delicate vases, and shining candelabras? I felt it appropriate to spend a fraction of our recent profits on enhancing our image to reflect the lucrative business deals that you have helped secure. Through some delicate handling, the dwarves and the Kalistocrats are both willing to do business with us, though I imagine it’s only a matter of time before their rivalries flare up and force us to choose who our real friends are. Even then we shall enjoy the fruits of cooperation with the Rahadoumi, whose location offers us greater access to the west coasts of both Garund and Avistan.
Before we break open the Chelish wine, however, we must maintain our momentum; I can manage the consolidation of what we have already acquired if you can find and seal more contracts. Making our mark on the Katapeshi markets will have to wait until our network is particularly robust, so look elsewhere. I have made arrangements with the Pathfinder Society to send you to Eto, a thriving crossroads city in Osirion, to see what you can learn there. Should you meet a particularly capable powerbroker or merchant lord, see if you can bargain for a few trade secrets or news of any up-and-coming trading centers worth our attention. Of course, I expect you to follow through on that advice, so be prepared for extended travel.
Stay well while you are abroad. My colleague Guaril Karela has been looking particularly ill recently, and each month that passes seems to age him another year. I also hear that my mentor in Qadira is bedridden, and I shall travel to see him soon.
To a bright future,
Trade-Prince Aaqir al’Hakam
My Loyal Associate,
You’ve heard, haven’t you? At least half of the family seems to be running around half-mad. Well, let me assure you that hearing the word on the street is hardly the same as seeing the writing on the wall; anyone who thinks she can send assassins to stick a knife between old Guaril’s ribs is in for a nasty surprise—at least half a dozen nasty surprises with 20-inch biceps and iron-studded cudgels, in fact.
Fortunately, the Pathfinder Society knows just how valuable our services are and has volunteered some extra muscle to ensure that my head and neck do not end their longstanding partnership (I find the two have grown rather attached to each other and would terribly upset if separated). The key now is finding out which rats think they can take on the Sczarni and where their little warren is. I have to say, your work so far has turned up some strong leads; keep this up and you’ll go far in the family.
What I’m not so happy about is hearing that my former business associate is one of the ones selling me out! What’s worse, he’s done a truly professional job of covering his tracks—so much so that none of my cousins have been able to track down our real enemies. I’ve run out of good options, so I’m sending you in to negotiate. The information-broker I’m talking about is holed up in Eto, and the Pathfinder Society has organized a special trip for us to knock on his door and ask some pointed questions (I’m telling you, this deal with the Society is great). Stay sharp, figure out where our enemies are holed up, and don’t promise anything we can’t deliver on.
Once you know where our enemies are, contact me. I’ll pull some strings and make sure the Society lends us a hand in busting some skulls and ending this debacle. Of course, when the time comes, I’ll need you to lead the raid. In the meantime, go help the Pathfinders do Pathfinder things—you know the routine.
Go make me proud,
Let us always honor the fallen, especially the innocent who never invited violence and the heroes who gave their lives to protect those who could not protect themselves. The loss of life during the failed siege of Nerosyan was both regrettable and devastating. Nonetheless, our hard-won victory has strengthened our resolve and sired a new generation of battle-hardened crusaders to beat back the Abyss. That you valiantly aided the crusaders reflects well on you and the Society.
Over the months since that battle, I have worked alongside Sir Jorsal of Lauterbury, who is among the noblest souls I have found in the Society’s ranks. With his help, we have repaired Nerosyan, secured Mendev’s borders, and presented the Pathfinder Society’s kinder image to the world. It is true that the Decemvirate does not always direct the Society in a selfless manner, yet even they can understand the benefits of being perceived as a force of good. Even a tyrant’s heart can be coaxed away from evil if shown love instead of fear.
Every deed you do in the name of good reflects well on the Pathfinder Society and demonstrates that holiness is a virtue shared by the strongest agents. Each feat you perform in the name of the Silver Crusade strengthens the resolve of the Mendevian Crusaders, beating back the demonic armies so that future generations might settle Sarkoris once more. This is your chance to be a true hero.
The days to come will present difficult choices and difficult battles. I trust you will always show courage and make the right choices, so long as your actions do not threaten the lives of your allies. Let your actions be an inspiration to all—the faithful and the fallen, alike. The Pathfinder Society will set out for Jormurdun soon, and the expedition would benefit from your presence. In fact, with Sir Jorsal’s support, I believe the other venture-captains may even choose you to direct part of the operation. Make the most of this opportunity.
Agent of the Aristocracy,
There is no doubt in my mind that courtly intrigue in Taldor is an art; the nuances of posture, movement, innuendo, and scheming surpass the machinations of less prestigious nations. I once believed this was because Taldor has a history of action and cultural excellence. However, even masterful art stagnates and fades into irrelevance if not shared with the world, and the finest art incorporates new techniques and styles over time. Taldor’s nobility may be composed of artists, but they have withdrawn from the world to pursue petty squabbles and boast about what they would do if they could muster the wherewithal of their esteemed ancestors. It is a toxic atmosphere in need of a good airing out.
With the outbreak of war in Mendev, Taldor sent a token force north—not nearly enough for a nation wishing to continue its role as a world power and trendsetter. As you no doubt recall, I have taken matters into my own hands by mustering an independent army—an Army of Exploration—composed of soldiers from throughout the Inner Sea region. Once it is complete, we shall march on the Worldwound, rally the people of Avistan, and reclaim the lands now despoiled by demons.
Recruitment is steady but insufficient, and if the army is to succeed, we must acquire greater numbers. In the past, the greatest armies swelled when given something to rally around, be it a general or a flag, and I believe I know of the perfect centerpiece for our army. I have discussed my intentions with the Pathfinder Society’s leadership, and they expressed an interest in helping us recover it. When the venture-captains begin selecting agents for this mission, I will recommend you.
Continue to distinguish yourself in our mission and that of the Pathfinder Society. A military campaign is an excellent opportunity for promotions, and when the Society marches for Jormurdun, it will need ambitious, capable officers who are able to lead and inspire those around them. It would please me to know that you were among them.
Onward to glory,
Lady Gloriana Morilla