Saga of the Serpent's Skull
The Pathfinder Society is a globe-spanning organization based out of Absalom, the world’s largest city. The membership consists primarily of Pathfinders, adventurers who travel throughout Golarion, usually inconspicuously, and explore, delve, and otherwise experience the lesser-seen parts of the world. They send journals back to their venture-captain, who also assigns them new missions and suggests new places to explore. The most exciting and illuminating of these journals are compiled in the Pathfinder Chronicles, an ongoing series of books which collect the history and mystery of Golarion for their membership.
The day to day running of the Pathfinder Society is managed by the venture-captains. These are usually older or accomplished Pathfinders, or long-time allies of the organization, who have settled down, and claimed a Pathfinder lodge for themselves. They direct Pathfinders in the field towards new and interesting locales, and receive the regular reports that will eventually become part of the Chronicles.
They receive their instruction from the Decemvirate, a secret body of ten masked individuals who pass messages along to the captains in subtle and silent ways. Little is known about the Decemvirate, not even their ultimate goals for the collection of the endless data the Society receives.
The Pathfinder Society is willing to accept members of all backgrounds, creeds and morals. Any applicant who does well enough overall on the initial tests is allowed to take the oath and become an initiate. Training is overseen by three deans, the Master of Swords, the Master of Spells and the Master of Lore. The final test, Confirmation, is taken after 3 years as an initiate (although ambitious or gifted initiates may persuade the deans to allow them to take the test earlier). The test is effectively the initiate’s first mission; those who pass become Pathfinders and those who fail are discharged from the Society (but often remain on good terms with it afterwards).
Those rare few non-members who manage to significantly change the course of history may be offered full Pathfinder status by the Decemvirate as a “field commission”.
More commonly, anyone who makes a discovery and elects to report it to the Society may sometimes be offered the chance to join as an initiate, and to have the initial discovery count towards his final Confirmation. Depending on the individual, he may then be asked to report to the Grand Lodge for further training, or invited to attempt the remaining task(s) required for Confirmation.
Members of the Society are loosely affiliated adventurers, who are not required to interact. However, they are forbidden direct conflict against each other, but this doesn’t stop the more unscrupulous from leading rival parties into dangerous situations and dead ends. Most are issued a Wayfinder, which is a type of magical compass, and taught to recognize the signs indicating a lodge. Other than that they are largely free to be and do what they please. This allows for a very varied membership, with a Chelaxian devil-binder and a Garundi rogue easily finding themselves sharing a night in the same lodge in the far north of Avistan.