The Winter Council was a group of advisors, and later secret manipulators, that influenced elven policy across Golarion. It was especially active in Kyonin, where it worked through proxies to keep the existence of drow a secret from the rest of Golarion.23
The council was not always a secret society. It started off as an organization whose members advised the elven rulers and served as elven ambassadors to Azlant. However, even in those days they engaged in some secret intelligence gathering, and it was one such operation that allowed them to anticipate the oncoming Earthfall.
They found out information which led them to believe that the rise of the Azlanti had been secretly aided by alghollthu masters, and that the alghollthus were upset by the egotism of the Azlant and were planning to wipe them out.
Most of the elves withdrew prior to Earthfall and the subsequent Age of Darkness, and the Winter Council withdrew with them. The organization embraced more and more secrecy, and when the elves returned, they adopted the policy of operating completely through proxies—both elven nobles and later the Shin'Rakorath, or Lantern Bearers. The council itself faded into the background.
The council believed it had the age, experience, and talents that made it both their right and responsibility to make hard decisions and guide the elves through hardship. They were not particularly concerned if a few innocents suffered in the process.7 In any conflict between tradition and progress, they always came down firmly on the side of tradition.5
This approach often brought them into conflict with Kyonin's more progressive ruler, Queen Telandia Edasseril, who was happy to see the council's demise. For a long time, the council was too secretive and influential for Queen to move openly against them.8
Return to Thorn's End
The council's traditional headquarters, the fortress of Thorn's End, was situated within what had now become the Tanglebriar, the domain of the demon Treerazer. The building's ancient wards kept it relatively intact, and the council concluded that with the aid of an artifact known as the Maleficus Spike, they could make it effectively "demon proof".
In an act of incredible hubris, the council moved back into Thorn's End and defied the demons to do anything about it. They now had a secret base in which to carry out their plans, in a location completely safe from the attentions of any other elven factions.6
Dissent within the council
One of the council's members, the famous general Allevrah proposed an audacious plan to destroy the drow by calling upon the same alghollthu magic that the council believed had caused Earthfall. The plan would unfortunately also ensure the destruction of much of Nirmathas, Varisia, Cheliax, Druma, and Andoran, collateral damage that Allevrah insisted could not be helped.103
The rest of the council refused to agree, and a fight broke out in which Allevrah killed the council's leader, Auramesties. She then damaged the Spike in order to cover her escape.
The demons were emboldened by the weakening of Thorn's End's wards and put the stronghold under permanent siege.6
Members and ex-members
- See also: Category:Winter Council/Members
The council originally had six members.
- Allevrah, now a renegade
- Arlindil, oldest member and the most hard-line; liaises with the elven druids
- Auramesties, leader until killed by Allevrah
- Hialin, the Council's expert on arcane magic
- Malindil commands Thorn's End's defenders, and liaises with the Lantern Bearers
- Perelir, the Council's theologian6
Of these, Perelir is known to remain active with the reformed Lantern Bearers.2
For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.
- “Lantern Bearers” in Adventurer's Guide, 108–114. Paizo Inc., 2017. Adventurer's Guide assumes a favorable outcome of the Second Darkness Adventure Path and confirms that the Winter Council is disbanded, but does not specify when or how it happened. The year 4717 AR is derived from its publication date. .
- “Lantern Bearers” in Adventurer's Guide, 108. Paizo Inc., 2017 .
- Paizo retroactively removed drow from the Pathfinder campaign setting as part of the Pathfinder Second Edition Remaster Project. A canon replacement for drow in this context might not exist. See Meta:Drow.
- “Shadow in the Sky” in Shadow in the Sky, 7–8. Paizo Inc., 2008 .
- “A Memory of Darkness” in A Memory of Darkness, 7. Paizo Inc., 2009 .
- “A Memory of Darkness” in A Memory of Darkness, 22–23. Paizo Inc., 2009 .
- “A Memory of Darkness” in A Memory of Darkness, 46. Paizo Inc., 2009 .
- “A Memory of Darkness” in A Memory of Darkness, 10–14. Paizo Inc., 2009 .
- “A Memory of Darkness” in A Memory of Darkness, 12. Paizo Inc., 2009 .
- “Descent into Midnight” in Descent into Midnight, 7. Paizo Inc., 2009 .