Curse of the Crimson Throne
The Red Mantis are one of the most feared organizations in all of Golarion. This order of professional assassins can be distinguished by their trademark red and black armor, serrated blades, and frightful mantis masks which grant them both an enhanced sense of sight and a terrifying visage.
The Red Mantis are known as the most effective and tenacious killers that can be bought. No wall is thick enough, no bodyguards tough enough, or safehouse hidden well enough to keep the Red Mantis from their prey. They take little notice of social or political status, seeing all marks as equal if their client pays the price. That said, the assassins refuse to take contracts on rightful monarchs, out of respect for their patron deity, Achaekek, viewing monarchs as the mortal parallel of gods. Those who come to power by deception or might alone do not fall under this protection and are seen as viable targets.
They do not always take their payments in treasure, often accepting favors or the promise of future collaboration with the organization in lieu of gold. This makes some prospective clients nervous, as they never know what price the Red Mantis will ask. Even those who think they are receiving a bargain, later find out that they are paying a very high price indeed.
Contacting the Mantis can be a tricky proposition, as there are no direct channels. Those in search of their skills must spread rumors among the lowest, most criminal members of a given society and wait to be contacted by a representative. At other times, those who have a strong grudge against someone, or who wish to revenge themselves, are contacted by a member of the organization out of the blue. It is unclear whether this near-prescient knowledge is merely the result of an extensive spy or informant network, or whether the Red Mantis use magical or supernatural means to spy on potential clients.
Korvosa (pronounced kohr-VOH-sah)is the largest city found in the wilderness area known as Varisia, and serves as the seat of one of three city-states that claim independent authority over their individual holdings in the region. Though its citizens and traditions have strong ties to the nation of Cheliax, with many of its people tracing their ancestry directly to servants of the Empire, the city’s location at the mouth of the Jeggare River and the presence of a highly-defensible harbor have contributed to the establishment of Korvosa as a primary hub for trade; various cultures and peoples can be found within the city’s walls as goods move in and out of its gates.
Zon-Kuthon (God of Pain, Torture, and Murder)
Zon-Kuthon possesses one of the most twisted and evil minds in the multiverse. His position as god of pain is well earned, and he has been the root of countless tortures, murders and worse throughout time.
Sheyln (Goddess of Beauty, Art, Music, and Love)
Shelyn (pronounced SHEHL-ihn)is the half-sister of Zon-Kuthon. She started life as a relatively minor deity of beauty, art, and music, but with the destruction of her mother (former goddess of love), she gained the very important portfolio of love and became a somewhat more-powerful deity. Shelyn continues to focus on beauty (and the related areas of art and music), and has expanded upon her mother’s relatively narrow view of love to include all forms of the emotion. Shelyn’s ethnicity of origin is Taldor and her major centers of worship are Absalom, Galt, Sargava and Taldor.
Desna (Goddess of Travel, Freedom, and Luck)
Desna (pronounced DEZ-nuh)1 was one of the first deities, but while her peers burdened themselves with the task of creating Golarion she spent her time building the heavens. She’s changed little since those earlier days, and she and her followers delight in exploring the world. Desna is an ancient goddess of freedom and luck, and is credited with the creation of the heavens. In her earliest days the god Curchanus, an enemy of the goddess Lamashtu, was her mentor. Lamashtu laid a trap for Curchanus and stripped him of his beast domain, ripping it from his godly essence. As he died he gifted Desna with the domain of travel; she has traveled the planes and worlds since, opposing both oppression and Lamashtu wherever she encounters them, and spreading her word while making an effort to experiencing new wonders when she can.
The church of Desna has few temples to its name, and its priests rarely settle in a single location. The faithful of the Great Dreamer can be found on the roads of Golarion, among the caravans of Varisians and other who call the roads and beauty of the wilderness home. Other centers of worship include Kyonin, the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, Nidal, Numeria, the River Kingdoms, and Ustalav.
Desna is the goddess of travel and journeys, and there are few who traverse the roads who wouldn’t spare her a prayer or a simple-worded plea for benediction. Scouts, sailors, and those who travel for travel’s sake make up a large amount of her following, though her domain of luck also makes her a favorite deity among gamblers and thieves. The informal clergy of Desna is primarily composed of clerics, though on occasion bards are called by some song or whisper in the night to follow her path. In addition, spherewalkers are paragons of the Desnan ideal of seeing new sights each day and finding locales unheard of but often dreamed of. The individuals that comprise the clergy usually garb themselves in white robes and silk caps, emphasized by varied decorative elements and usually accompanied by one or more starknives.
Temples of Desna are few and far between, with most locations dedicated to the goddess being no more than roadside shrines erected in her honor; her faithful often leave markings and dedications in newly discovered areas and secluded locales. Those few temples that do exist often serve as observatories and are as open to the night sky as possible.