- This article covers the Taldan civil war. For the Pathfinder Adventure Path, see War for the Crown (adventure path).
The War for the Crown was a civil war of succession in Taldor that occurred in 4718 AR. It began with Grand Prince Stavian III ordering the murders of half of the Taldan senate and ended with his daughter Eutropia Stavian becoming the first woman to rule Taldor as Grand Princess.12
The Exaltation Massacre
Eutropia, an opponent of her father's rule since the death of her brother Carrius II,3 lobbied the Taldan senate to repeal primogeniture—the requirement that the Primogen Crown of Taldor be passed from father to son—which would make her the heir to the crown of Taldor.4 After forming a coalition of nobles and senators, she successfully pushed for a vote to repeal the ancient law on Taldor's annual Grand Day of Exaltation in 4718 AR.3
Stavian III, opposing the repeal and lacking a male heir since Carrius II's death, secretly adopted and nameed High Strategos Maxillar Pythareus as his heir hours before the vote. Pythareus had once courted Eutropia and had long opposed her attempts to claim the crown for herself.5
The senate voted on the repeal of primogeniture in addendum 22,087 of senate business with a vote of 107 in favor of the repeal, 79 against the repeal, and 36 abstaining. In the process the senate also recognized Eutropia as the legitimate heir to Stavian III and announced a recount to confirm the result.6
The centerpiece of the annual Grand Day of Exaltation is the Exaltation Gala, in which the grand prince exalts a nominated commoner to the aristocracy. In 4718 AR the Gala was to take place after the close of senate business to exalt Kalbio, a weaver of the hamlet of Breezy Creek,7 during which the senate would recount its vote on the repeal of primogeniture.6
However, Stavian III had instigated a plot in which Eutropia, the senate, and the nobles he perceived as threats to his rule would be murdered on his signal while celebrating the result of the vote. He had arranged for a small private army of foreign mercenaries from Andoran, Cheliax, and Galt to barricade the senate chambers during the Gala and begin slaughtering those inside on his signal. Details of Stavian III's plan were leaked prior to the massacre by Bjarte Trolltooth, a member of Stavian III's Ulfen Guard, to Lady Gloriana Morilla in exchange for services to be performed by the Pathfinder Society.89
The attackers were organized by Earl Calhadion Vernisant of Ridonport, a distant descendant of the legendary General Arnisant, whom Stavian III had officially charged with arranging the Gala's security.8 Morilla was a staunch foe of Vernisant and ally of Eutropia.10 Some of the attackers arrived as official envoys from other nations, such as Karina Deckland of Cheliax,11 while members of the Norgorberite Brotherhood of Silence posed as servants of Vernisant.12
Morilla and agents of the Society learned the details and timing of Stavian's plot from Trolltooth only hours before the Gala and notified Laurisa Tromaine of the Lion Blades, who then dispatched agents to infiltrate the Senate building and join the crowd moments before Stavian III's assassins sealed the chambers' doors.8 As Grand Prince Stavian III welcomed Kalbio to the presentation dais he began accusing the present senate, nobles, and Eutropia of conspiring against him, then stabbed Kalbio to death. This signaled to his mercenary army to begin slaughtering the assembled and now trapped crowd, with only a few senators and their aids transported by forgotten safeguards to catacombs beneath the Senate building.13
Pathfinders managed to breach the sealed chambers from outside, saving the lives of many of the massacre's targets.14 Survivors of the initial attack fled for their lives,15 and many of the staff, nobles, and senators present as well as Eutropia, several members of the Lion Blades,13 and Pathfinders14 fought back against Stavian's assassins. Members of the Ulfen Guard killed assassins and bystanders alike while closing ranks around Stavian III.13 Attacks then spilled into the surrounding Senate building, including bloody lion-mounted charges executed by Earl Vernisant himself against both bystanders and Eutropia's loyalists.16
After two days of counting the casualties, 78 senators and 102 aides, guards, relatives, and staff were confirmed to have been killed, and the attack was quickly dubbed the Exaltation Massacre. Stavian III was also announced as having been killed during the massacre17 after a Lion Blade agent leaped from the crowd and stabbed him through the heart.16 The Sovereign Court faction of the Pathfinder Society recovered Kalbio's body for his family, and no other commoner would be exalted.18 The senate was dissolved.13
Among the survivors were Eutropia's close allies Lady Martella Lotheed, who was captured and tortured by agents of the Brotherhood of Silence but rescued,17 and Lady Morilla, who was aided in escaping the senate chambers by agents of the Pathfinder Society;19 several nobles and senators teleported beneath the senate, including Wilfen Botoles, Gryphus Plastion, Gael Urbaen, and Sargavan visitor Jowuan Zubari; and Pythareus, who was not targeted by Stavian's assassins.20 Both Eutropia and Stavian III were missing in its aftermath.21
Claims for the crown
Eleven noble pretenders to the crown of Taldor staked claims in the massacre's aftermath, with Eutropia's and Pythareus' the most prominent. Both were also early suspects of blame in the initial confusion of the massacre, while the Lion Blades suggested it was planned by Stavian III.22 Stavian III survived his injury despite initial reports announcing his death; he was moved in secret by Pythareus to Zimar.2324 The Ulfen Guard sealed the Imperial Palace and daily rule shifted largely from centralized rule from Oppara to local governments.17
Eutropia established the Palace of Birdsong in Meratt county as a base, wresting control of it back from House Lotheed.25 Pythareus established much of his support in southern Taldor, while Eutropia's support solidified along the Inner Sea coast and rivers. The two split influence over northern Taldor, while other noble claims held sway in smaller localized regions of the nation.26
Support soon split more broadly among the populace into Loyalists, who backed Eutropia, and Imperialists, who backed Pythareus. The Taldan Horse had Loyalist leanings.27 Both pretenders' focus shifted to Yanmass, where they each dispatched agents to persuade the Mercantile Council to support their claims.28
Cult of the Twilight Child
Yanmass was also the home of a new and rapidly growing mystery cult claiming to worship the resurrected Carrius II, son of Stavian III, whom the cult referred to as the "Twilight Child". The cult staged daily services from the Encircling Bower theater.29
The Twilight Child was in truth Carrius II, the long-deceased son of Grand Prince Stavian III. However, his soul had been forcibly removed from Nirvana and resurrected against his will by agents of a secret society known as the Immaculate Circle, composed of Taldan nobles in pursuit of immortality.1530 The Circle had learned damning information about the circumstances of Carrius II's accidental death at Stavian III's hands during an argument over succession.3
As Stavian III's reign ended, the Immaculate Circule then resurrected Carrius II in a plot to install him as Grand Prince. Doing so required Carrius' soul, which was damaged in the process of his forceful resurrection, to be fused with the legends of prior Taldan heroes.31 The Circle also fostered the growth of the Cult of the Twilight Child to unwittingly advance this plot.29
The Circle's installed leadership in the cult kept Carrius II imprisoned and docile through hallucinatory magic until a group of Eutropia's agents rescued him and reunited him with his sister.32
Pythareus, a Taldan military leader, enacted a plot by Sir Milon Jeroth to secretly conduct false-flag attacks on Taldan holdings under the guise of Qadiran raiders in order to consolidate power behind his perceived military support and strength.5 He bribed commander Jaliessa Staubel of the Taldan Horse to turn traitor, disguise themselves as Qadiran raiders, and engage in raids from the Tallgrasses caravanserai.33
Agents of Eutropia uncovered and exposed his plot, which ended support for his claims to the crown.34 In response, agents of Pythareus published records indicating that Grand Prince Stavian I was an illegitimate heir born of the disgraced House Adella. The records were subsequently confirmed by multiple academics and undermined Eutropia's bloodline claim to the crown.35
With both Pythareus' and Eutropia's claims to the crown invalidated or discredited, more noble houses of Taldor made their own claims to the crown or supported others' claims to it, dissolving the two factions of Loyalists and Imperialists and further dividing Taldor into dozens of competing regions of influence.36 To establish an authoritative claim, agents of Eutropia located and secured the Mantle of Kings, an artifact of Taldaris believed to be capable of indicating the rightful ruler of Taldor when worn.37
Assassination of Eutropia
Before the recovered Mantle of Kings could be presented in Taldor, Rhien, a Norgorberite cultist of the Masked Marquis, apparently assassinated Eutropia Stavian and her dog Taldogis by blade within the Palace of Birdsong.1530 However, Eutropia anticipated the attack and used magical means to store her soul outside of her inert body for later resurrection while her agents pursued her assassins. Her method of storing her soul, using an Azlanti thrum of the hidden soul, obscured her fate from divination and prevented her resurrection or post-mortem questioning.38
The agents traced her killer to the Immaculate Circle's headquarters, defeated its leaders, and located the device used to resurrect Carrius II. They then used this Soul Crucible to resurrect Eutropia.39
Crowning of Carrius II
As Eutropia's agents pursued her attackers, the Immaculate Circle manipulated Carrius II to suddenly grow in both power and ambition. He staked his own claim to the crown with widespread support from the sympathetic Taldan public, blamed Eutropia's agents for her assassination, hired the Sleepless Agency to reinforce his network of spies, and gained the allegiances of the Ulfen Guard, Taldan Horse, and Taldan Phalanx.40 He was coronated within a week.1541
Crowning of Eutropia
Eutropia's agents nonetheless managed to infiltrate the Imperial Palace in Oppara, reach Carrius II, and calm the influences of the legends that the Circle inflamed into dominating his soul. Carrius II relinquished the crown,4243 the Mantle of Kings affirmed Eutropia's claim to it, and she rallied enough support to be crowned Grand Princess. She named Carrius II, physically decades her junior due to the span of time from his prior death, as her heir.43
Many who opposed Eutropia prior to her ascension to Grand Princess continued to oppose her after, and many of the organizations that plotted against her during the war remained active after it.
Survivors of the secret society of the Immaculate Circle became a cult of its three-headed sahkil patron Thassritoum,4842 and the Cult of the Twilight Child persisted and continued to deifically worship Carrius II as savior and rightful emperor of Taldor.4244
Paizo published a Pathfinder Adventure Path depicting these events titled War for the Crown, and a Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild scenario depicting the moments before, during, and after the Exaltation Massacre titled The Lion's Justice. Many possible outcomes from this Adventure Path are thus inferred as canon events due to subsequent or dependent events being explicitly made canon in later works, particularly World Guide, Legends, and Absalom, City of Lost Omens.
For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.
- “Shining Kingdoms” in World Guide, 123. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- “Shining Kingdoms” in World Guide, 128–129. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- “Crownfall” in Crownfall, 5. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “Shining Kingdoms” in World Guide, 128. Paizo Inc., 2019 .
- “City in the Lion's Eye” in City in the Lion's Eye, 5. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “Crownfall” in Crownfall, 23. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “Crownfall” in Crownfall, 14. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- The Lion's Justice, 4. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- This refers to the events of The Jarlsblood Witch Saga.
- This refers to the events of Birthright Betrayed.
- The Lion's Justice, 6. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- The Lion's Justice, 7–12. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “Crownfall” in Crownfall, 25. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- The Lion's Justice, 15. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “Eutropia Stavian” in Legends, 42. Paizo Inc., 2020 .
- The Lion's Justice, 17. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “Crownfall” in Crownfall, 51. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- The Lion's Justice, 21. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- This refers to the events of The Lion's Justice.
- “Crownfall” in Crownfall, 26. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “Crownfall” in Crownfall, 42. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “Crownfall” in Crownfall, 51–52. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “NPC Gallery” in Crownfall, 57. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “City in the Lion's Eye” in City in the Lion's Eye, 49. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- This refers to the events of Songbird, Scion, Saboteur, which are presumed to be canon by subsequent events being made canon.
- Songbird, Scion, Saboteur, inside front cover. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “The Twilight Child” in The Twilight Child, 5. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “The Twilight Child” in The Twilight Child, 6. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “The Twilight Child” in The Twilight Child, 41. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “The Six-Legend Soul” in The Six-Legend Soul, 5. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “The Six-Legend Soul” in The Six-Legend Soul, 28. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “The Twilight Child” in The Twilight Child, 55. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “The Twilight Child” in The Twilight Child, 29. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- This refers to the events of City in the Lion's Eye, which are presumed to be canon by subsequent events being made canon.
- “The Reaper's Right Hand” in The Reaper's Right Hand, 6. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “The Reaper's Right Hand” in The Reaper's Right Hand, 5. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- This refers to the evnets of The Reaper's Right Hand, which are presumed to be canon by subsequent events being made canon.
- This refers to the events of The Six-Legend Soul, which are presumed to be canon by subsequent events being made canon.
- “The Six-Legend Soul” in The Six-Legend Soul, 29. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “The Six-Legend Soul” in The Six-Legend Soul, 31. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “The Six-Legend Soul” in The Six-Legend Soul, 37–38. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “Eutropia Stavian” in Legends, 43. Paizo Inc., 2020 .
- “The Six-Legend Soul” in The Six-Legend Soul, 55. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- “Continuing the Campaign” in The Six-Legend Soul, 63. Paizo Inc., 2018 .
- No Time for Treason, 3. Paizo Inc., 2022 .
- A Gilded Test, 3. Paizo Inc., 2021 .
- Escape from Oppara, 3. Paizo Inc., 2022 .
- “Continuing the Campaign” in The Six-Legend Soul, 64–65. Paizo Inc., 2018 .