Taldans (pronounced TAL-dans)1 are a human ethnicity who are renowned for possessing great skill, intelligence, and sophistication. They are the creators of one of the greatest empires Avistan has ever known and many modern nations owe their existence to the conquests of the empire of Taldor. This period of greatness is now a thing of the past and the Taldan people know they are now just as well renowned for their decadent indulgences as their empire crumbles around them.
Taldans are naturally gifted and generally possess a pleasant appearance. Their skin is a natural bronze tone and their hair is normally dark brown and naturally flowing. They gain their natural appearance from their mixed ancestry of ancient Azlanti and Keleshite blood, though between the two they are proudest of their Azlanti heritage.2 Eyes tend to be on the smaller side, but are quite expressive with gray, green, or even unusual amber being common.3
Taldans always cloth themselves in only the latest and most fashionable clothes they can afford. The Taldan style is imitated across the Inner Sea region, but few can match the Taldan flair for high fashion. Men normally sport a well-trimmed, nicely groomed beard, while Taldan women who live in their homeland wear large, elaborate wigs passed down the generations as family heirlooms.2
The history of the Taldans is long and illustrious, as Taldor is one of the oldest still existing nations on the continent of Avistan.3 Taldor was originally founded by descendants of Azlant in -1281 AR4 as a place to easily trade with the neighboring Keleshite people. From these beginnings, Taldor grew well beyond its current borders. Through exploration and conquest by its Armies of Exploration, it brought its civilisation to much of the Inner Sea region and at one time the modern nations of Andoran, Cheliax, Galt, and Lastwall were all under the banner of the empire of Taldor. This expansion began to come to a close when the Chelish King Aspex the Even-Tongued pulled Cheliax, Galt, and Isger from Taldor's grasp during the Even-Tongued Conquest of 4081 AR.42
This is all a distant memory now. Taldor no longer has any holdings or vassal states outside of its borders. The Taldan people dwell on their past, however, and are as proud and arrogant today as they were at Taldor's height.2
Due to their long history of conquest and trade, Taldans have spread throughout much of the Inner Sea region, but are still most frequently found in the nations of Absalom, Andoran, Brevoy, Cheliax, Druma, Galt, Isger, Lastwall, Molthune, Nirmathas, Qadira, Varisia, and of course, Taldor.35
Taldan culture is obsessed with only one thing: Taldor. It is incredibly insular and Taldans are only interested in events that occur within Taldor, and view all foreign events as inherently dull and uninteresting. They have a similar view of anyone who is not Taldan, seeing them as inescapably provincial and inferior in breeding, education, and interest. This can make it quite difficult for any outsiders living among them. There is a reason for this cultural arrogance: as the oldest existing civilization in Avistan, Taldor has had millennia to perfect its crafts and artistry, making it a desirable place to learn one's trade.23
Taldan arrogance manifests in differing ways in men and women. Male Taldans tend toward extreme machismo that borders on misogyny, using terms of conquest and territorial disputes when speaking about women. "Bringing civilization to the barbarians" is a common way of discussing their amorous encounters with women of other ethnicities.3
Taldan women appear less vulgar, but can be just as biting and caustic as the men. When discussing foreign women, Taldans often become overly critical, eviscerating every aspect of their target's dress, hairstyle, or body features. They can turn this nasty gossip even toward other Taldans, although only in the closed company of their own people, and never with the same venom.3
These attributes are, naturally, not possessed by all Taldans, but enough of them display varying degrees of these behaviors that the stereotype tends to stick more often than not. Taldan personality attributes are not all bad, however, especially when they are inspired by their nobler emotions. They tend to be generous to a fault, both in time and money, and it is not unusual to see a beggar with a convincing hard-luck story draw out a large sum from Taldans (especially if the beggar is Taldan himself). This behavior is often shown when Taldans find themselves suddenly impoverished, and needing to rely on the kindness of others.3
Taldans worship a variety of gods, although the most popular are Abadar, Calistria, Cayden Cailean, Norgorber, Sarenrae, Shelyn, and Torag. They take great pride in the fact that four of the most popular regional deities (Abadar, Cayden Cailean, Norgorber, and Shelyn) were Taldans in their mortal life, and that two of the three mortals who passed the Test of the Starstone were Taldans as well. They likewise become quite annoyed when it is mentioned that the popular third mortal to gain immortality through the Starstone, Iomedae, was Chelaxian.3
Many Taldans prefer important-sounding and exotic names. Among women, Adula, Ionnia, and Xemne are common, while popular male names include Menas, Vors, and Xantrian.3
Chelaxian Taldans5 generally have a first name followed by a surname or family name. Family traditions are quite important, especially when someone is descended from a well-known historical figure. Names are often also quite important-sounding, and many upper-class Chelaxians insist that their full names be used when addressing them. Sobriquets or pseudonyms are common among those who have achieved renown.7
Chelaxian Taldans5 are often renowned for being arrogant, ruthless, and ambitious, as well as organised, intelligent, and cultured. They are associated with a great love of learning, be it theological, scientific, or magical, and are often of the opinion that they are more qualified than any other group to handle a problem, a character trait which makes them doggedly determined despite overwhelming odds but which also strikes others as presumptuous and self-aggrandizing.89
Heroes are popular in Chelish culture, especially those who personify the core values of strength, nobility, ambition, and most importantly, success. They are rewarded with lands, titles, and opportune marriages into the nobility, but only as long as they are not seen as a threat to the government or ruling class. Heroes who fall out of favor with the authorities are often sent on near-impossible quests to foreign lands, or else disappear quietly in the night.7
Through their many conquests, the people of Taldor spread their language and culture across much of southern Avistan. Even though this happened long ago, the Common tongue of much of the Inner Sea region remains the ethnic language of Taldor: Taldane.310
For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.
- “Appendices” in Campaign Setting, 247. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- “Chapter 1: Characters” in Campaign Setting, 30–31. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- The Inner Sea World Guide, 19. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- The Inner Sea World Guide, 35–36. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- Prior to Pathfinder Second Edition and the Pathfinder Lost Omens product line, Chelaxians were a distinct ethnicity. This ethnicity was retroactively removed in Second Edition, and Chelaxians were retroactively determined to have been Taldan.
- The Inner Sea World Guide, 12. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- The Inner Sea World Guide, 13. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- “Chapter 1: Characters” in Campaign Setting, 20–21. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- Gazetteer, 9. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- The Inner Sea World Guide, 251. Paizo Inc., 2011 .
- James Jacobs. (September 23, 2019). Post on >>ASK *JAMES JACOBS* ALL YOUR QUESTIONS HERE!<<, Paizo Forums.