Formerly Sabina Merrin
The Gray Maidens were the all-female, elite bodyguard for Queen Ileosa Arabasti of Korvosa. Since the queen's death, the group has been officially disbanded. A few cells, however, remain active in Varisia (outside of Korvosa) and in Cheliax.1
The Gray Maidens were founded in 4708 AR by Queen Ileosa in the chaos following her ascension, in order to secure a military force that was loyal only to her. Members of all the other military or militia units in and around Korvosa (including the Sable Company marines, the Order of the Nail, and the Korvosan Guard) were under the command of individuals whose loyalty to the new queen was questionable.2
During the queen's brief reign, the Gray Maidens enforced her will with increasingly violent methods. After the blood veil plague was quelled, Queen Ileosa named the order as the new protectors of Korvosa, appointed Sabina Merrin as its leader and the new General of Korvosa, and granted the organisation even more power and prestige. She also dissolved the Sable Company and merged its remnants into the Guard, leading to a failed assassination attempt by its commandant Marcus Endrin and a subsequent riot that the Gray Maidens brutally put down.3
After Queen Ileosa's death
The queen's death within the same year resulted in the shattering of the organisation into small, often rival, factions. Smaller bands include Faceless Kaid's Band and the Maidens of the Lady's Light, although none has been as successful as the Erinyes Company and the Scarlet Rose.4
Recruitment and training
Initially, new recruits were selected from the most beautiful female warriors in Korvosa, particularly those from the Sable Company, the Order of the Nail and the Korvosan Guard, although later recruits were often criminals taken from the city's more violent underworld. Conscripts had to pass the queen's examination for strength and beauty, and those who failed were ultimately disfigured and imprisoned in the castle dungeon. A gruelling initiation process awaited those who succeeded designed to break down their personalities, to leave their faces scarred, and to teach them unquestioned loyalty to the queen.2 The psychological conditioning was typically augmented with magical compulsions, and many former members suffered from the after-effects of this trauma.5
As royal guards, Gray Maidens were outfitted with fine armor and a distinctive (and intimidating) helm with red plumes. In combat, most Gray Maidens used a more refined version of the Hellknight fighting style, a style that has proven surprisingly popular with many young warriors.67
For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.
- “The Gray Maidens” in Curse of the Lady's Light, 68–69. Paizo Inc., 2012 .
- “Seven Days to the Grave” in Seven Days to the Grave, 19. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- “Escape From Old Korvosa” in Escape from Old Korvosa, 9–10. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- “Eagle Knights” in Adventurer's Guide, 77–78. Paizo Inc., 2017 .
- “Eagle Knights” in Adventurer's Guide, 77. Paizo Inc., 2017 .
- Armor Master's Handbook, inside front cover. Paizo Inc., 2016 .
- “Armor Fighting Styles” in Armor Master's Handbook, 10. Paizo Inc., 2016 .