After the seventeenth and final course was served, my Taldan hosts invited me to join them in the drawing room for brandy and polite conversation about the state of the world. Being fresh from an extensive tour of the western nation, I prepared to tell them of the political and military imbroglios I had witnessed. However, nothing could have held less interest to these gentlemen. Instead they proceeded to spend the next four hours describing every social faux pas of the season, and waxing rhapsodic about the global importance of an upcoming royal fete. – Alaxen Kalepopolis, Chelaxian explorer
Physical Description and Physical Outlook
Despite the loss of their empire, Taldans retain an arrogance and aloof spirit befitting a people at the height of their power and influence. Blessed to be a beautiful people with long, flowing brown hair and naturally bronze skin (gifts from their Keleshite ancestors), Taldans frequently adorn themselves in fashionable clothing. Wealthy merchants, royals, and land owners across the Inner Sea do their best to cultivate the style, air, and sophistication of Taldor, but observers can always tell the difference between a poseur and the genuine article. The way a Taldan man wears his neatly trimmed beard is as much a birthright as a matter of grooming. Ant the elaborate, ribbon-festooned wigs worn by the women are heirlooms passed down from generation to generation.
On the shores of the Inner Sea sits the kingdom of Taldor, the oldest of the surviving Avistani nations in the region. From it humble beginnings as a trading post where Azlanti fleeing the devastation of their homeland could exchange goods with Keleshites living on the frontier of ancient desert empires, Taldor grew to become a world power in its own right. At one time, the Empire of Taldor spanned most of southern Avistan, north to the River Kingdoms, and west through most of modern Cheliax. Today, however, the kingdom of Taldor is a mere fraction of its former size.
Historians say that the Empire of Taldor, like so many before it, fell due to its own decadence and excesses. The Taldan people became haughty and so sure of their supremacy in the world that they did not even conceive of the possibility that their colonies might revolt, and so were completely unprepared when said colonies slipped away in the Eventongued Conquest. With Qadiri armies amassing on its borders and beset by centuries of decadence, Taldor soon lost control of Andoran, Galt, and Isger, and saw the kingdom of Cheliax grow into a mighty empire.
The Taldan people are known the world over for being among the most accomplished scholars, artisans, and practitioners of exotic martial skills. They are also known to be perhaps the most arrogant, self-important, and dismissive culture in history. Both these reputations are well deserved.
With millenia of cultural development and decadence, Tandor and the people it birthed have achieved the highest levels of education and artistry, allowing both to reach their fullest expression. Scholars and craftspeople from across Avistan and northern Garund claim at least partial Taldan heritage, and many seek to study in Taldor in order to have a connection with the ancient and learned culture spawned there. A year of training in Taldor, they say, is worth five anywhere else.
Taldan arrogant pride manifests differently for the two sexes. Regardless of the specific details of their ethnic elitism, Taldan haughtiness tends to wallow in shallowness. Obviously, not every Taldan exhibits the most extreme arrogant personality traits described here, but enough do to make the pride of Taldans an unfavorable stereotype known throughout the Inner Sea region.
Male Taldans exhibit an arrogant machismo that usually falls just shy of outright misogyny. They speak of conquests and territorial disputes when they discuss Taldan women, and of “bringing civilization to the barbarians” to brag of their exploits with women of other ethnicities or races. This insular fraternity leads to extremely close relationships between men, such that observers from other ethnicities often mistake these bonds as more than just friendship – an assumption that occasionally holds more than a shred of truth.
Women express their ethnic superiority complex via biting commentary of the dress, hairstyle, body shape, or facial features of other females they see. Although they tend to focus their overly critical judgments on women from other ethnicities or races, when bored or among only close friends they sometimes casually insult one another (albeit with considerably less bile than when their attentions are drawn outside their close circles). Taldan women take great pride in Shelyn’s Taldan origins, and frequently do everything in their power (including spending more than they can truly afford) to attain a nebulous level of beauty that differs by individual. In general, Taldan women tend to treat men as attractive playthings meant to entertain, buy perfumes and beauty aids, and then leave when they become boring.
On the other hand, when moved to better emotions, Taldans express their concerns with nigh-unparalleled charity of time and wealth. In fact, the success with which hard-luck tales and wide-eyed impoverished children (expecially those of obviously Taldan descent) can convince a Taldan to donate hard-earned coins further leads to the view of others that Taldans throw about their wealth with little concern for the future. This hedonism, critics observe, frequently is the reason why many adults fall on hard times an must turn to their fellows for additional aid.
Outsiders sometimes find it difficult to fit into Taldan society. The local populace considers anyone who does not have the advantage of Taldan birth and training to be hopelessly provincial, an opinion Taldans express loudly and often. They generally seem to be of the opinion that anything of importance must happen in Taldor and conversely, anything that happens outside the kingdom is trivial and banal.
Taldans justifiably take pride in the strong influence their native gods have exerted across not just the Inner Sea region, but across most of Golarion. Of the 20 most widely worshiped deities, four hail from Taldan traditions or were themselves Taldan in their mortal lives: Abadar, Cayden Cailean, Norgorber, and Shelyn. They gladly point out to anyone around how two of the three mortals who ascended to godhood thanks to the power of the Starstone are of Taldan descent. By the same token, they become petulant whenever someone has the bad manners to point out that the third and most widely worshiped of the ascendant gods – Iomedae the Inheritor – is of Chelaxian stock. Within Taldor and other nations with sizeable Taldan populations, temples dedicated to Abadar and Shely sometimes grow to ridiculous proportions. Taldans like to point out, both verbally and in their often grandiose art, that the most beautiful of all deities originated amongst their people.
Language and Naming
Although both they and their Keleshite enemies try to deny it, the traditional language of the Taldans, Taldane, shares some common ancestry with Kelesh. Both languages map Azlanti words onto the grammatical structure (and lexicon) of a lost ancestor tongue, but they differ in that Kelesh also adopted words from the languages of genies while Taldane borrowed from Varisian.
Taldan names are often as ornate and ostentatious as the people who bear them. Polysyllabic construction predominate, with sounds that evoke thoughts of high-minded nobility. Surnames often allude to a family’s holdings or past glories, evoking place names, victorious battles, or even valuable treasures. Examples include Merrion, Albercoft, Neverion, and so on.
Male: Domitian, Eudoxius, Galadon, Iacobus, Ioseph, Marcian, Menas, Narses, Olybrius, Origen, Stilicho, Theodric, Vors, Xanthan
Female: Adula, Charito, Eudocia, Euphemi, Ionnia, Kale, Komana, Pasara, Salvianella, Semne, Viviana, Xene
Sources: Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting