Government of Absalom

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The government of Absalom consists of the Grand Council, which is chaired by the Primarch, a position held by Wynsal Starborn since the disappearance of Lord Gyr of House Gixx several years prior to 4719 AR.12 Management of the individual city districts is handled by the 10 district councils, which meet within their respective quarters.3 Absalom's great wealth is driven by trade, so the city's rulers strive to craft policies favorable to commerce (and their own interests), but otherwise take a relatively laissez-faire approach to regulation.4 Taxes in the city are very light, although Siege Taxes during wartime may be significantly higher. There are no property taxes, although the city charges for access to roads, sanitation, and other public infrastructure. Modest taxes on foreign merchants are generally sufficient to supply the city's needs.4

Founding Laws

Absalom's Founding Laws are etched upon grand stone tablets that rest in the Grand Vault of Azlanti Keep. Etched by Aroden himself, they are a symbol of Absalom's long history and of the core values that have provided a reliable foundation for nearly five thousand years of government.5

Grand Council of Absalom

The Grand Council of Absalom has twelve high seats (including the Primarch's) and a variable number of low seats. Attaining a high seat requires nothing more than showing one of twelve magical cornucopias which act as seals of office at an annual meeting. These positions are generally held by powerful merchants, important religious figures, and members of the aristocracy. Seats of the Low Council are decided annually by High Council vote and members of the Low Council typically hold minor or unglamorous bureaucratic positions. Members of the Low Council generally come from prominent families, or are prominent office holders. More notable titles such as Trade Minister and Sea Lord are reserved for High Council members.36

Matters of state are settled by a vote of the Grand Council, which meets in the Grand Council Hall. Normally, the Grand Council decides on a small number of city-wide matters and anything related to foreign affairs, leaving local matters to the district councils, but that arrangement is a preference, not a legal necessity, and the Grand Council can override any district council decision. Issues denoted as "Matters of Note" (such as electing a new primarch) are debated and decided on solely by members of the High Council. Any issue can become a Matter of Note if the High Council votes to make it so, allowing them to take control of any matter a majority of them wish to rule on.73

Each district is represented in the Low Council by at least one seat and each of Absalom's vassal-cities also receive two seats, appointed by their governments. A number of low seats are also handed out to fill whatever duties the High Council feels need representation.8

Currently the Absalom High Council has 12 seats and the Low Council has 49 members, making the entire Grand Council a total of 61 seats.8

High Council

See also: Cornucopia

Members of the High Council control major departments of the civic bureaucracy and possess enormous political power and influence in the city, as well as elect the primarch and decide the members of the Low Council. The High Council has no formal meeting space, but members occasionally attend full council sessions in the Grand Council Hall.9

High Council members are generally wealthy merchants, important religious figures, powerful politicians and nobles. Their ranks include the following:9

  • Acting Primarch: Wynsal Starborn

Previous members of the High Council are:

Low Council

The Low Council is the active ruling body of the city of Absalom. Its members conduct regular votes to establish and enact policy, receive addresses from visiting foreign monarchs, assign the title of trademaster to prominent merchants, and appoint each district's nomarchs.

The Low Council's members are Absalom's most prominent citizens, including guild masters, nobles, retired celebrities, and other famous politicians, mostly chosen by the High Council. The Low Council consists of 49 seats. All district nomarchs are granted a seat on the Low Council, and seats are reserved for an additional representative of each district, who are selected by their nomarch, for a total of 20 district seats. Four seats are reserved for two representatives each from Escadar and Diobel (appointed by their governments). Three seats are dedicated to select grand ambassadors from Osirion, Taldor, and Qadira. A number of further seats are assigned to representatives of influential guilds and prominent local religions. Remaining at-large members are elected annually by the city's residents.9

Primarch of Absalom

The word primarch redirects here, but it is used as a governmental title in other places as well, such as Galt.1920

The Primarch is the head of the High Council and the one who appoints its members, granting his considerable power over the Council, and by corollary the City at the Center of the World itself. The position is held for life and a Primarch cannot name a successor—instead, after his death, a new primarch is elected by the High Council. It is within his power to veto any political appointment from a member of the High Council taking a specific position to the creation of a new low seat. He is also the only person capable of convening month-long meetings of the High Council and can thus hold the government of the city hostage unless his demands are met.9

Traditionally, the Primarch also holds the position of Sea Lord, though this is the decision of the Primarch, and Lord Gyr, currently missing, holds the title of First Spell Lord instead.3 The primarch's official residence is located in the Wise Quarter.21

As Protector of Kortos, the primarch is also the titular ruler of all the people and settlements of the greater Starstone Isle.9

Known Primarchs

District councils of Absalom

Each district of Absalom is governed by a local council that is headed by a nomarch, except the Petal District council, where the title of "satrap" is used. The nomarch is appointed by the Low Council and must be approved by the Primarch.26 The nomarch of each council also sits on the Low Council of Absalom, but may not sit on the Grand Council due to the Reborn Rebellion of 1464 AR.26 Each council has its own rules and traditions, influenced by the cultural heritage of the district's residents, and operates independently, although the Grand Council can overrule any local decision.26

While the local residents never choose who will lead their district's council, the primarch makes sure the candidate is at least somewhat popular to avoid unrest. The nomarch gets to appoint one member of the district council of their choosing from the prominent local residents, but the rest of the seats are filled by annual public elections. The council meetings are not public.9

Current district councils and their leaders are:

Law lords

Law lords oversee Absalom's judicial system. Each of the four law lords is a judge in their own right, outranking any other magistrate, and with the ability to make snap judgments on the spot, serving justice without the otherwise-required trial.27

Spell lords

Spell lords advise the primarch and the High Council on matters of eldritch import and govern the use of magic in the city, including managing Absalom's magical defense, regulating magical academies, and placing limits on experimentation.28

Military and law enforcement

Absalom is defended by a complicated web of military and law enforcement organizations, each of which has differing mandates. The First Guard serves as Absalom's army. They man the city's walls, gates, and forts and protect it from external threats. The Starwatch is a military, intelligence, and law enforcement organization headquartered at Starwatch Keep outside the city. They enforce the Grand Council's decrees, investigate crimes that cross district lines, and look into misconduct by the city's other military and law enforcement groups. The Absalom navy is the largest of the military branches and protects the city from attacks by sea and also oversees the hippocampus-mounted Wave Riders. Finally, the various district watches investigate crimes committed only within the various districts of the city.29

District watch

Each district has their own law enforcement, called the District Watch, although individual watches all have their own names and slightly different uniforms. District watches report to their district council, and have no power outside their district, which often results in administrative conflicts when a crime tracks from one district to another (which is often used by the city's canniest criminals).9

Current district watches and their leaders are:

Other government offices

The Grand Council oversees the administration of the city, but enforcement and execution of the policies are often carried out by sprawling government agencies, some of which are as old as Absalom itself. Agency heads are appointed by the Grand Council, although it is often more convenient to leave already-assigned officials in place, which often results in stagnation, conservatism, rampaging corruption, and the frustration of citizens.9

Name Leader Description
Harbormaster's Grange Harbormaster Adrielle Neprathep of House Fyrlenn Oversees import of goods into the city via the harbor.9
Office of Prisons Unknown Maintains the housing of criminals.9
Office of Taxation Chancellor of the Exchequer Kerkis of House Damaq Collects, records, and deposits taxes.31
Absalom Mint Master of Mint Kerkis of House Damaq Oversees creation, tracking, and destruction of city's coinage. A topic of many conspiracy theories.931
Sanitation Commission Chief Sanitation Commissioner Larrett Manages sewers, garbage collection, butchering of any beasts of burden that died within the city walls, and collection of corpses of the city's homeless in Absalom's Undercity. This commission is so corrupt it might as well be a criminal organization.93233
Crier's Table First Lady of Laws Neferpatra of House Ahnkamen Serves as the center for all official communications to the general public, and oversees Absalom's publishing industry.34

Shadow War

Politics in Absalom is a complicated and sometimes dangerous business, as the primarch, Grand Council, Low Council, and district councils constantly vie for power and control against one another. In addition to the actual members of government, various factions and noble houses also manipulate how the city is run from deciding who sits on the Low Council to the price of onions. This perpetual conflict is known as the Shadow War, and those who are well versed in its intricacies are aware that every actor in a civil squabble within the city often has countless political or social agendas.1


For additional as-yet unincorporated sources about this subject, see the Meta page.

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Erik Mona, et al. Absalom and Starstone Isle” in World Guide, 18. Paizo Inc., 2019
  2. Lyz Liddell. The Absalom Initiation, 3. Paizo Inc., 2019 Gyr disappeared "several years ago" as of 4719 AR, derived from the publication date.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Erik Mona, et al. “Chapter 2: The Inner Sea” in Campaign Setting, 55–56. Paizo Inc., 2008
  4. 4.0 4.1 Owen K.C. Stephens. “Introduction” in Guide to Absalom, 5. Paizo Inc., 2008
  5. Erik Mona, et al. Absalom” in Absalom, City of Lost Omens, 22. Paizo Inc., 2021
  6. James Jacobs, et al. The Inner Sea World Guide, 38–39. Paizo Inc., 2011
  7. Erik Mona, et al. Absalom” in Absalom, City of Lost Omens, 23–28. Paizo Inc., 2021
  8. 8.0 8.1 Owen K.C. Stephens. “People” in Guide to Absalom, 47. Paizo Inc., 2008
  9. 9.00 9.01 9.02 9.03 9.04 9.05 9.06 9.07 9.08 9.09 9.10 9.11 Erik Mona, et al. Absalom” in Absalom, City of Lost Omens, 24. Paizo Inc., 2021
  10. Patrick Renie. “The Radiant Festival” in Devil at the Dreaming Palace, 68. Paizo Inc., 2020
  11. Benjamin U. Fields, et al. “NPCs” in Ruins of the Radiant Siege, 86–87. Paizo Inc., 2020
  12. Owen K.C. Stephens. “Places” in Guide to Absalom, 44. Paizo Inc., 2008
  13. Mark Garringer. Slave Ships of Absalom, 4. Paizo Inc., 2014
  14. Mark Garringer. Slave Ships of Absalom, 10. Paizo Inc., 2014
  15. Mike Brock, et al. Pathfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Guide, 12. Paizo Inc., 2018
  16. Benjamin U. Fields, et al. “NPCs” in Ruins of the Radiant Siege, 90–91. Paizo Inc., 2020
  17. Erik Mona, et al. “NPC Glossary” in Absalom, City of Lost Omens, 344. Paizo Inc., 2021
  18. Erik Mona, et al. “NPC Glossary” in Absalom, City of Lost Omens, 375. Paizo Inc., 2021
  19. James Jacobs & Greg A. Vaughan. “Exploring the Darklands” in Into the Darklands, 5. Paizo Inc., 2008
  20. James Jacobs, et al. Classic Horrors Revisited, 7. Paizo Inc., 2010
  21. James Jacobs, et al. The Inner Sea World Guide, 40. Paizo Inc., 2011
  22. Lyz Liddell. The Absalom Initiation, 3. Paizo Inc., 2019 Gyr disappeared "several years ago" as of 4719 AR, derived from the publication date.
  23. Owen K.C. Stephens. “History” in Guide to Absalom, 57. Paizo Inc., 2008
  24. Owen K.C. Stephens. “History” in Guide to Absalom, 55. Paizo Inc., 2008
  25. Owen K.C. Stephens. “History” in Guide to Absalom, 54. Paizo Inc., 2008
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 Owen K.C. Stephens. “Places” in Guide to Absalom, 12–13. Paizo Inc., 2008
  27. Erik Mona, et al. Absalom” in Absalom, City of Lost Omens, 25. Paizo Inc., 2021
  28. Erik Mona, et al. Absalom” in Absalom, City of Lost Omens, 26. Paizo Inc., 2021
  29. David N. Ross. “Guards of Absalom” in Sixty Feet Under, 61. Paizo Inc., 2020
  30. The formation of the Edgewatch is the subject of the Agents of Edgewatch Pathfinder Adventure Path. Absalom, City of Lost Omens 193 explicitly assumes the Edgewatch are successfully formed and are active in Absalom.
  31. 31.0 31.1 Erik Mona, et al. Wise Quarter” in Absalom, City of Lost Omens, 229. Paizo Inc., 2021
  32. Erik Mona, et al. Absalom” in Absalom, City of Lost Omens, 48. Paizo Inc., 2021
  33. Erik Mona, et al. “NPC Glossary” in Absalom, City of Lost Omens, 347. Paizo Inc., 2021
  34. Erik Mona, et al. Absalom” in Absalom, City of Lost Omens, 44. Paizo Inc., 2021