Category Archives: Organizations

Tashrama, Church of the Divine Ladder

by Joe Mashuga & Carteeg Struve

 

The religion of Tashrama preaches that there is only one path to divine power. Each individual is placed at the center of a divine ladder of enlightenment, and it is free will that allows him or her to climb or descend. The Tashrama of the Midlands frown upon descending the ladder. They encourage ascension, which brings the person closer to true enlightenment and worship.

From the writings of the Tashramadic Council: “Do not be surprised if you fall every day; do not give up, but stand your ground courageously. Assuredly the gods who look down upon you will honor your patience. You must carefully consider whether your soul ceases to long for a higher level of enlightenment not as a result of impurity, but because it is mortal nature to give in rather than struggle onward. A sign of deliverance from our falls is the continual acknowledgment of our indebtedness.”

Priests of the Tashrama strive to fulfill the tenets of their gods as instructed by the holy Tashramadic Council and their own branch of the church. Along with spreading the faith of their gods, priests also maintain order in the Holy Lands, assist the needy, collect handouts and taxes for charity and for church-sponsored community services.

Adventures: Followers and priests of the church are everywhere in the Midlands and sometimes travel to the further reaches of Adlatum. Some may be carrying out duties assigned to them by higher-ranking officials in the church, or they may be working to spread the word on their own. With the friction between the Tashrama and the Midland Sovereignties about to explode, members of the church may be working to either give the Tashrama a badly needed advantage or a way to undermine Montegron’s government. Other members may also be adventuring for inner spiritual reasons.

Characteristics: The religion of the Tashrama is based loosely off the Tao-Shin in which each god is a social rank within the path to enlightenment. Unlike Tao-Shin the Tashrama has but one path, which combines all gods. Erraii (Paladine) is the top rung of the ladder, Tarfine (Gilean) is the middle rung and Rasala Hage is the lowest rung. A priest’s station begins with Tarfine and moves up the ladder depending on the priest’s service and faithfulness to the church.

Since all Tashrama are actually mystics, the order of worship does not matter insofar as the priest’s spellcasting abilities are concerned. It only applies to gaining rank within the church. The Tashrama does not officially recognize or assign ranks below Tarfine.

Three of the neutral gods have been assigned to the lower rungs because of their nature. According to Tashramadic beliefs, Reorx is classified as a god who loves his works and material possessions more than life. Shinare is only interested in generating wealth and Sirrion is considered the god of destructive fire.

It must be mentioned that there are hundreds if not thousands of Tashramadic priests that are actually faithful priests and have aspired to do good works throughout their entire lives. The higher one climbs in the organization, the more corruption and coercion one finds. Any Tashramadic priest holding the station of Erraii has been transformed into a Scalebound by the Elder Dragons, and the majority of those holding the station of Mishakal are faithful Scalebound as well. However, most Tashramadic priests are not aware of the church’s true power center.

Alignment: Followers and priests of the church can be of any alignment, although they are usually influenced by the teachings of the Tashrama and the local branch.

Religion: Since the Tashramadic faith is a religion, other faiths are not allowed within the ranks.

Background: The Drowning of Adlatum brought with it darkness and destruction. Lives were thrown into chaos and realms were in upheaval. The Minotaur Empire and most of the Midlands were wiped out due to their central location. Only the western Midland nations survived total destruction. These nations spent generations trying to survive and eventually rebuild.

In 142 AD, Tashramadic priests revealed themselves to the people of Pelcatis, the largest of the Midland nations. They brought word of the gods’ displeasure with the people of Adlatum, yet they also brought true healing. These priests foretold that the gods could forgive the people if they would end their wars and worship the gods in good faith again. Rumors of the priests spread throughout the remaining Midland nations, and displays of their clerical powers restored the faith in the true gods once again.

As decades passed, the organization became more powerful. The Tashrama endeavored to not only heal the sick and help the needy, but also cater to the nation’s nobility. Pelcatis eventually became a theocracy under the rule of the Tashrama and in 238 AD the nation was renamed to Tashramada.

The Tashrama set borders for the Holy Lands of the gods, declaring that the gods’ divine gifts could only be received and performed within the borders of the Holy Lands or by those priests touched by the gods. These borders encompassed most of the Midlands and were defined with elaborate walls, gates and statues of the gods of light and influential Tashramadic priests.

The theocracy continued to grow in power, and by 350 AD Tashramadic shrines were found in every Midland nation. Around this time, the heretics of the false gods began to appear in the Midlands. They were trying to usurp the power of the theocracy and denounce the good works of Tashramadic priests, and went so far as to demonstrate “divine” power beyond the borders of the Holy Lands. These heretics were hunted down and imprisoned for their false rhetoric. The Tashramadic Council called on all priests to combat these lies with sermons and teachings of the history and good works of the Tashrama.

After more than three decades, evidence of the true gods was too great to ignore and the Church of the Divine Ladder began to experience internal strife. Rumors of corruption and misdeeds by the High Council emerged, and many outspoken priests mysteriously disappeared. The skies darkened and a great chaos beast burst forth upon the Midlands, killing thousands. The people of the Midlands turned to their protectors for deliverance, but the theocracy was embroiled in its own problems.

A charismatic noble warrior from a distant nation took control of the situation and started delegating tasks to the Tashramadic armies who followed his lead. Under his rule they battled the servants of Chaos and saved thousands of lives in the Midlands. The Tashrama was less than grateful, yet when the smoke cleared and alien constellations filled the night sky, the Tashrama realized that the true gods had left once again. They rejoiced in their deliverance and decided to unite the Midlands under one rule, led by the enigmatic noble Montegron.

When the constellations changed following the Starfall, the theocracy stabilized and began to grow once again. Tashramadic priests discovered that their powers worked beyond the Holy Lands and they proudly displayed the blessings of the gods to all the Midland nations. Worshipers of Tashrama multiplied tenfold as followers discovered they were free to roam the continent in service to the gods.

Less than a decade later, the Tashramadic priests began to notice a weakening in their divine power. Sometimes their spells would slip from their thoughts or fizzle all together. These failings alarmed the priests and after several investigations they learned that the dead were siphoning off their powers. The Tashrama did the best they could to stave off the effects and continue their good works while being constantly accosted by the spirits of the dead.

In 421 AD, the souls of Adlatum left the world, leaving the Tashramadic priests free to use their powers once again. However, their celebration was short lived. Montegron, who had steadily distanced himself from the Church of the Divine Ladder, declared war upon the church. He claimed that the Tashrama was under the dominion of ancient dragons that had usurped the gods’ power for their own purposes. The news shocked the Midlands and sent the theocracy into disarray.

Secret History: The origin of Tashrama begins with the Graygem. The ancient artifact imbued the dragons of Adlatum with the essence of its magic. These “chaos touched” dragons discovered that they radiated the ambient magic of the fabled stone. This magic increased their inherent magical abilities and allowed them to make twisted draconic creatures that would serve them unfailingly. Yet, the dragons also discovered that they were bonded to the territories of their lair. Unable to escape and compelled to withdraw from the world, the dragons descended into their secret homes and fell into a deep slumber.

For thousands of years the dragons slept as their radiant magic infused the surrounding lands with great quantities of ambient magic. The dragons changed in various ways, but all became bounded to their lairs. After the Drowning Rasala Hage woke the altered dragons, known as the Elder Dragon, and she tempted them with power. She proposed that they gathered followers and act as proxies for her to eventually control the entire continent. The Elder Dragons tricked her. Upon setting up the base of their power and communication with each other from their lairs, now known as the Holy Lands, they rejected Rasala Hage and set themselves up as the secret gods of the Tashramadic church. Rasala Hage’s grip on the world was set back by centuries, and while the middle to lower ranking priests and the followers believed they were worshiping the gods of the Divine Ladder, in truth their praise and power was coming from the dragons.

They took on worshipers who discovered they could tap into the power of the dragons’ ambient magic as long as they resided within the borders of the dragons’ territories. The most dedicated faction of priests became known as the Scalebound. It was the Scalebound who organized the Church of the Divine Ladder and ensured that the dragons they served would receive vast power and tribute – all in the name of the gods.

The dragons built up their divine empire for centuries, using the false front of piety and holiness to swindle and control the people of the Midlands. Each of five branches of the church sent a representative to meet in a secretive council in order to allow the aims of the branches to be debated. The members of the Tashramadic Council are unknown to most, including much of the clergy. However the Tashramadic Council is seen by many to be the mortal leadership of the church.

When Chaos did descend upon Adlatum during the Days of Darkness, it was Rasala Hage who blessed the warrior Montegron and gave him the power to defend the Midlands. Believing him to be a loyal servant to the church, the Tashrama proposed a unified government ruling over the Midland nations. Montegron would be the Emperor over all of the lands, however he would be a puppet to the Tashramadic Council. Montegron denied the Council and using his own talents and the strength and wisdom of his true god, he began to unify the Midlands on his own without the church’s help. In time he planned to use the souls of the dead from Adlatum along with his living forces to crush the Tashrama and seize complete control of the region.

During the late fall and mid-winter of 420-421 AD, Montegron revealed to the public the truth of the existence of the Elder Dragons. When actions by several branches of the church confirmed this, many disillusioned followers and clergy left the church. This was a strong blow to the Tashrama. A few months later, Montegron was ready to launch his war and secure his hold on the land. However in mid-spring Rasala Hage fell silent and the unseen souls of the dead who were to bolster his forces were gone. The friction between the Sovereignties and the church was too hot to stop the war, but Montegron had to quickly re-evaluate how matters were going to proceed. This has given the church some time to try and strength its position.

Now those in the church are fully aware of the Elder Dragons existence, and those who remain in the church openly worship these mighty creatures as true gods, and the divine steps of the ladder are now seen more as positions of rank rather than as beings to be worshipped as well. Around this same time, the Etlarnic ambassador to the Midlands announced that the true gods of Krynn had returned. How the Tashrama plans to deal with the return of the Tao-Shin faith and the Sovereignties has yet to be seen.

Races: The Tashrama is open to all races across Adlatum and beyond. However since the church is based in the Midlands, some races are not included in the church due to a lack of exposure.

Other Classes: Followers of the church can be of a wide variety of classes. Clerics are forbidden since it would require them to be dedicated to another religion. Different branches often attract different groups of people (nature-based classes to the green, arcane casters to the black, warriors to the red, etc).

Path of the Divine Ladder
Priest Rank (from high to low)
Erraii (Paladine)
Miraphayt (Mishakal)
Thobit (Majere)
Nairsaif (Kiri-Jolith)
Situlos (Solinari)
Charu (Branchala)
Anphlasaad (Habbakuk)
Thuban (Chislev)
Choalshain (Zivilyn)
Giauzar (Lunitari)
Tarfine (Gilean)
Melik Suud (Reorx)
Nekkarb (Shinare)
Mirac (Sirrion)
Regunilas (Nuitari)
Lesuthiyat (Morgion)
Gaffras (Chemosh)
Peliona (Zeboim)
Folmhesta (Hiddukel)
Alnath (Sargonnas)
Rasala Hage (Takhisis)

Tao-Shin, Church of the Divine Paths

by Joe Mashuga & Carteeg Struve

 

Ever since the days of the Divine Bureaucracy thousands of years ago, the primary form of worship to the true gods of Krynn in the Midlands has been through the Tao-Shin, also known as the Church of the Divine Paths. The praise of individual gods is not unheard of, or even rare, but the Tao-Shin practice of worshiping the gods as separate steps on various paths of enlightenment has been common in Adlatum’s history. The church bases its philosophy on three pathways, each leading to an ultimate goal.

From the ancient teachings of the Tao-Shin: “A being has the potential to attain the highest happiness, the highest peace, or highest power. Everybody would like to have such a state of being. Alternatively, everybody wishes to avoid that which opposes the core of their inner beliefs. As spiritual practitioners we should seek freedom from that which causes us strife – not only for ourselves but for all sentient beings. All intelligent beings are capable of achieving these goals. They are able to practice the teachings, the methods by which these goals are realized. A practitioner can begin from his or her own spiritual center, select a path and gradually attain higher levels of being until final perfection is achieved. In certain cases the highest goal, be it enlightenment, perfect balance, or unquestioning dominance, can be attained in a single lifetime.”

The Paths of the Gods are the paths that lead to enlightenment and understanding of the universe. All mortal souls have three paths that they may follow in the course of their existence, each one with a different reward.

The Path of Light is followed by those who seek to do good deeds in the world. Those who follow this path believe that good deeds will set the foundation for their soul in the next world. Selfless acts, protecting the weak, liberating the repressed and lifting the downtrodden brings one closer to the heavens and a state of bliss when they pass into their next state of existence.

The Path of Serenity is the path of inner peace. The followers of this path search for a greater understanding of the universe and their place in it. Creation, nature, knowledge and wisdom are all things that demand a perfect balance, or they are in danger of becoming harmful in some way. Those followers that master this balance find a wider understanding of the world and of themselves.

The Path of Power is the path of dominance. Those who follow this path seek to control the world around them and bend it to their will. It is through following this path that one may gain supremacy and even immortality. Serving the gods of power is the most direct way to exert one’s will over another.

Adventures: Priests of the Tao-Shin have a variety of reasons to adventure in Adlatum. Spreading the word of their faith and their gods is vitally important since the Church of the Divine Paths has only just begun to re-establish itself. There are many who were disenfranchised with the Tashrama when it was learned that the Elder Dragons were the true power behind the church, and some are looking for something new to believe in. This is an opportunity the Tao-Shin cannot risk passing up. Others adventure in order to apply what they have learned from their path in a real world environment.

Characteristics: The religion of the Tao-Shin is based on a caste system where each god is a social rank within the path to enlightenment. For example, Situlos is the lowest rung on the Path of Light, and Erraii is the highest rung. Since the return of the gods, the ranks of Erraii and Rasala Hage have been made into ceremonial ones bestowed upon the head of the individual Paths, but in reality the leaders worship Miraphayt and Alnath respectively.

These are the Paths of Divinity. At the top of each list is the highest rank in the path and the further down you go are the lower ranks.

Paths of Divinity
Priest Rank (from high to low)
Path of Light Path of Serenity Path of Power
Erraii (Paladine) Tarfine (Gilean) Rasala Hage (Takhisis)
Miraphayt (Mishakal) Choalshain (Zivilyn) Alnath (Sargonnas)
Thobit (Majere) Thuban (Chislev) Gaffras (Chemosh)
Nairsaif (Kiri-Jolith) Melik Suud (Reorx) Lesuthiyat (Morgion)
Anphlasaad (Habbakuk) Mirac (Sirrion) Folmhesta (Hiddukel)
Charu (Branchala) Nekkarb (Shinare) Peliona (Zeboim)
Situlos (Solinari) Giauzar (Lunitari) Regunilas (Nuitari)

Study and worship in each of the gods within a path leads to a desired state of being. The gods of magic on the bottom rung do not grant divine spells, so novices and those introduced into the church learn the tenets of their chosen path based on the teachings of the gods of magic.

Once they have demonstrated they have mastered the teachings of one of the gods of magic, the priests ascend in rank and worship and learn the doctrine of the next god along the path to enlightenment. Those priests wishing to continue their ascension along their Divine Path must petition the next higher order by first talking to a member of that order, who then petitions the god of that order for acceptance. The god will usually ask the initiate for a favor before acceptance will occur.

Some followers have been known to remain with one god for a number of years or even a lifetime. This is largely accepted among the church, as true enlightenment may sometimes be found in the journey itself and not the actual destination. In this way it is possible to find clerics of Charu that are more powerful than clerics of Miraphayt, but the Church of the Divine Paths would still consider the clerics of Miraphayt to have the highest ranking authority within their path.

Alignment: People of all alignments are accepted into the Tao-Shin. Which path a follower takes is often dependant on their own moral beliefs: the good often take the Path of Light, the evil often take the Path of Power, and the neutral follow the Path of Serenity. Ethical variations are not a major concern of the Tao-Shin.

Religion: Since the Tao-Shin is a religion of its own, other faiths are not allowed within the ranks.

Background: Tao-Shin was first conceived circa 1500 PD when a religious group of researchers stumbled upon the elven ruins of Shera’Tao. The site was once a sacred elven temple to the gods. Manuscripts recovered from the site spoke of a divine pathway to the gods. A devoted follower would serve each of the gods, thereby advancing to a higher plane of existence. The elven teachings made mention of two paths to greater enlightenment, and a third that was forbidden among the elves.

The humans, who considered the lost elves to have a greater understanding of the world around them, began an organization based on the documents. Because of their more neutral dispositions, the scholars decided that all three paths should be available to make Tao-Shin complete. The Church of the Divine Paths was created and worship in the true gods took on a new form.

As the Midlands grew in power so did the church. The Tao-Shin Theocracy, also known by some historians as the Divine Bureaucracy, came to great influence in the Midlands. Even outside of the theocracy, the church became the preeminent religious order of the continent, boasting temples in every local town and grand sprawling complexes in every major city. Some of these temples were dedicated to a single path, and those who followed the Path of Light may not have a place of worship in some towns. The same can be said for those of the other Paths.

Although the theocracy fell apart less than a half-millennia later, the Tao-Shin church survived and continued. However its political influence was diminished as the various nations of the Midlands squabbled with each other. Ironically, during the times when the church was viewed by most to be at its least influential in international events, that was when it had its greatest number of followers and clergy. But in time even that advantage faded and numbers fell.

The first great blow to the church occurred after the Drowning. The divine power backing the preaching of the clergy was gone, and over the following centuries the Tao-Shin was forgotten. A century and a half later the Tashramadic faith was built up, partially based on the Tao-Shin paths being merged into a single path with two directions.

In 350 AD, the gods of the Tao-Shin returned in what is called by many “The Arrival.” Within twelve-months the Tao-Shin was reconstructed, and a Priest of Erraii named Yulii Nelens was named the new Premier of Isryan. The Tashrama and the Tao-Shin began a thirty-year struggle for the spiritual future of the Adlati people, each claiming the other church a heretical and blasphemous organization.

Following the Starfall on New Years of 383 AD, the church was bereft of the gods once again. In the span of a day, the Tao-Shin collapsed. Without their gods, the rival faith of the Tashrama gained dominance.

When the gods returned following the undoing of the Starfall in 421 AD, Deloun Var Silverwolf, head of the Path of Light received a vision that led him to the Midlands on a mission to bring knowledge of the true gods and Tao-Shin back to the Midlands.

Races: All races are allowed to join the Tao-Shin, however individual parishes have been known to discriminate based on local parishes.

Other Classes: Followers of the church can be of a wide variety of classes, but the clergy of the church usually have core class as clerics.

The Etlarn Defenders

by Carteeg Struve

 

After the Dragonkin Horde began their assault on the people of Etlarn, the Etlarn Defenders were founded as a way to combine both magic and knightly might in order to protect the magocracy from the impending threat.

Adventures: The Dragonkin Horde has been threatening the sovereignty of Etlarn for almost three hundred years. During this time the number of Defenders has grown, but they are not always used a front line forces. Sometimes Defenders need to seek for information, rescue those who are threatened by the draconic enemies, help liberate a town who’s last defenses had failed, or search for ancient weapons of arcane or divine strength that may finally turn the tides. Etlarn’s fate has been growing ever more desperate. Any mission that could assist in any way may be charged to a member of the Defenders.

Characteristics: The Defenders were broken up into three orders, each focusing on a different style of magic. The Brethren of the Flame utilized Wild Sorcery, the Brethren of the Moons utilized White Sorcery (High Sorcery of the White Moon), and the Brethren of the Stars are paladins who utilize the magic of the gods Autenanima, Pietarde, and Pensokia. Each order was further divided to include elite forces of various assortments, but the majority of the Defenders only dedicate themselves to their particular Brethren and Etlarn.

The elite members of the Brethren of the Moons join the Knights of the Argent Crescent, a unit of divine warriors. The elite members of the Brethren of the Stars join the High Arcanists. The elite members of the Brethren of the Flame join the Sentinels of the Throne.

The Paternal is the honorific given to the head of the Defenders. He or she is the only member not part of any of the brethrens, but each order reports directly to him or her. The Paternal reports directly to the monarchy. Ironically the masculine title was first given to and chosen by a woman, Treesa Paldina. She selected the name in jest, but the title stuck through the centuries. The current Paternal is Janos Clearflame, a former Knight of the Argent Crescent.

Alignment: All members of the Etlarn Defenders are good aligned, however the elite bands within the Brethren may have their own additional requirements.

Religion: Dedication to a particular deity is not required to join the Etlarn Defenders, however some of the brethren require a certain type of dedication. The Brethren of the Moons draw their power from the white moon Autenanima (and sometimes Calorossa) while the Brethren of the Stars draw power from their faith in Autenanima, Pietarde, or Pensokia. Only the Brethren of the Flame are unaffiliated with any higher power. Membership in the Brethren of the Flame does not necessarily preclude any member with a religious affiliation.

Background: In 30 AD, a silver wolf spoke to the people of Etlarn as a proxy for Autenanima, the patron of White Sorcery. Through the silver beast’s mouth, he gave both High Sorcery and Wild Sorcery his blessing. “Both the magic of the moons and the magic of the world will be needed to fight the new dangers approaching; they are meant to be used in harmony, not in opposition, against forces that would destroy all that is good and magical about your kingdom.”

A hundred years later, the meaning of the warning became clear. What were believed to be dragons and their followers came ashore in Etlarn and began a devastating assault against the land. Nearly a third of Etlarn fell beneath the horrors of these so-called dragons before the nobles managed to establish a means of defense. A former human native of Gildanesti, Treesa Paldina, helped organize the Etlarn Defenders in an effort to stop the tide of destruction and defeat. Gathering the various factions of popular magic users in Etlarn together, she formed the Brethren under the guidance of Etlarn’s king. Although the Brethren continued to operate as separate groups, she directed them in a cohesive fashion. Soon the Defenders were fending off attacks from the Dragonkin Horde and stopping the dragon’s advance.

During the Starfall, the skies changed and two out of the three Brethrens were rendered powerless. Only the Flame remained capable of spellcasting for the next forty years. This period of time proved very damaging to Etlarn as the dragons advanced in record pace. Most of the magocracy fell under the Horde’s control. Only a handful of major cities, including the capital, were still free, but many were now under massive sieges. When everything seemed lost, the Starfall was undone and the Defenders quickly re-founded the Brethrens of Moons and Stars. With the various powers available yet again, hope returned. Etlarn’s survival as a magocracy is still in great danger. The Brethrens are struggling to operate in unison again after four decades of the Defenders operating with a single order.

The current Paternal is Janos Clearflame, a former Knight of the Argent Crescent from before the Starfall.

Races: The Etlarn Defenders are primarily made up of Etlarnic citizens, but there is nothing in its bylaws that exclude foreigners or members of races not common in Etlarn.

Other Classes: Most members of the Brethren of the Moons tend to be wizards while members of the Brethren of the Flame are sorcerers, and members of the Brethren of the Stars are clerics or paladins. People with other casts are not excluded from the Defenders so long as their abilities are in line with the Brethren they join (for example, no wizards in the Brethren of the Flame).

The Midland Guard

by Carteeg Struve & Joe Mashuga

 

Name of Organization: The Midland Guard (or ‘The Midguard’)
Area of Influence: The Midlands
Base of Operations: FyxZharar
Type of Members: Bodyguards, scouts, soldiers, and warriors
Number of Members: 2571 (as of 421 AD)
Races: Human (60%), Dwarves (27%), Gildanesti (10%), Others (3%)
Alignment: LG, LN, LE
Leader: Jermon Cavlin (384 AD – 420 AD), Noragaen Veliya (420 AD – present)
Year Founded: 384 AD
Symbol: An upright sword on a field of stars (as they were before the Days of Darkness)

The core of the Midlands’ bravest and most loyal subjects, the Midland Guard consists of those men and women who have devoted themselves to the security of the Midland Nations and to the order provided by the Great Sovereign Lord.

History

Jermon Cavlin, a friend of Montegron whose life was saved by the future Sovereign, formed the Midland Guard shortly after the Days of Darkness brought about by the Adlar. With Montegron’s consent, Jermon gathered those who believed that civilization would best be served by having a strong rule of law and order unifying the separate nations that were so heavily damaged by the Creatures of Chaos. Jermon also believed that Montegron was destined to hold the Midlands together in safety and security. With the Midland Nations still in turmoil having lost many of their own militaries in the recent war, the surviving leaders began to accept the aid of this newfound organization. Soon, even those who were loyal to their own nation began to swear allegiance to Lord Montegron, believing that he was their societies’ best hope for normalcy in the future. Those who proved their ‘Loyalty to Land and Lord’ beyond all doubt were taken into the Guard.

Most of the Midland Guard is made up of humans and dwarves, though there is a sizable minority of half-elves. There have also been several cases in which immigrants and members of other races proved their excellence and dedication to the security of the Midlands. Indeed, some of these defenders went above and beyond the duties of the Guardsmen themselves. In these extreme cases, the Guard allowed these heroes to join in spite of normal procedures. In recent years, Montegron has been doing what he can to put a stop to these non-traditional guardsmen. Since Jermon’s death in 420 AD, Second Protector Noragaen Veliya has upheld her Sovereign’s wishes and only allowed humans and dwarves of Midlander origin into the Guard.

Goals/Motivations

The Guards’ primary concerns are the security of the Midlands and of the Great Sovereign Lord, hence their motto of ‘Loyalty to Land and Lord’. In their mind, the Great Sovereign Lord’s reign is what secures the Midlands, thus both duties are one and the same.

Headquarters/Areas of Influence

The Midland Guard is situated in the Midland capital of FyxZharar. The greatest concentration of the Guard is in and around FyxZharar and along the Midland borders. The Guard has representatives in each of the Midland Nations’ capitals to act as bodyguards to national leaders, and to report any noteworthy activities back to FyxZharar.

Leadership/Organization

Although the Great Sovereign Lord is not part of the Guard, its leader reports directly to him. Jermon Cavlin even chose the title of ‘Second Protector’ to prove his obedience to Montegron’s will. Montegron has been known to send members of the Guard on assignment without the Second Protector’s knowledge. Jermon took no offense, feeling that loyalty to the Midlands and to the Sovereign is all. If Second Protector Veliya has been made aware of these activities, they have thus far been ignored.

Allies

The Midland Guard is officially allied with all of the Midland nations. There have been a few occasions in which friction developed between a nation and the Sovereignty, but as far as the Guard is concerned, this is expected from time to time. So long as relations return to normal – and they always do – the security of the Midlands is preserved.

Enemies

The Elder Dragons and the Great Sovereign Lord are at odds with each other, thus the Midland Guard is as well. For the last few decades, a small circle of the Guard has been secretly searching for information on the Volumes of the Prophet. The Great Sovereign Lord wishes to possess the Volumes in order to get an advantage against the Elder Dragons in the coming war. Those in the Guard who know about this are seeking to assist in any way possible so that they may eventually put the threat of the Elder Dragons to rest.

Membership

High-ranking members of the Guard act as the Great Sovereign Lord’s personal bodyguards in FyxZharar, and other members do the same for many of the Kings and Queens of the Midlands. Scouting parties patrol the northern border, keeping watch for minotaur and ogre incursions, while others are stationed near Mauritand to protect the Midlands from the bakali and cat-people of the Vacant Lands. Smaller troops or individual Midguards travel the Midlands’ major cities to keep their presence known to the public and to inspire confidence and faith in the Great Sovereign Lord’s rule.

From time to time, noteworthy guards will be charged with special assignments. These assignments may sometimes be public, and other times they may be done in the greatest of secrecy, possibly in foreign lands.

Joining the Organization

An aspiring guard member must have proven himself in battle on multiple occasions. Most members are from the border nations due to the number of incursions made by those from the north and south, as hostilities breed experience. More often than not, an applicant’s name is submitted by a member of the Guard without that person’s knowledge. In this case, the applicant must be accepted by the highest ranks within the Guard before he is invited to join. However, there have been cases in which people made their own requests and were accepted through the records of their valor and patriotism.

Costs and Benefits of Membership

Upon being inducted, the new member can expect to receive quality weapons and armor as well as the support of the Midlands’ populace. A Guardsman who has sufficiently proven himself receives a dragonmetal-forged weapon, armor, or shield as a symbol of status. Some members aspire to use only dragonmetal equipment, but the relative rarity of the metal, combined with the cost to create dragonmetal items, makes this prohibitively expensive to most guards.

The leaders of the Guard choose the assignments and missions that a guardsman will perform. More importantly, a Midland Guard is considered to be on-duty at all times. No matter what he or she does, it always reflects on the Guard and the Midlands. Therefore, one’s superior officers must always have an idea of where their subordinates are and what duties they are undertaking, unless someone of higher rank sends that person on a mission without the immediate superior’s knowledge.

Prestige Class: Midland Guard (MdG)

The Midland Guard prestige class represents the Guard’s most skilled bodyguards and personal defenders. While the Guard employs a variety of troops, these individuals prove their worth to the Midland Nations and to the Great Sovereign Lord time and time again.

Hit Die: d10

Entry Requirements

Race: Coin dwarf or Midlander human.
Alignment: Any lawful.
Base Attack Bonus: +5.
Skills: Sense Motive 4 ranks, Spot 4 ranks.
Feats: Armor Proficiency (heavy), Combat Expertise, Combat Reflexes, Honor-bound, Shield Proficiency.

Midland Guard
Class Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special
1st +1 +2 +0 +0 Able defender, favor +1
2nd +2 +3 +0 +0 Uncanny dodge
3rd +3 +3 +1 +1 Bonus feat, dragonmetal sanction
4th +4 +4 +1 +1 In the line of fire, favor +2
5th +5 +4 +1 +1 Improved uncanny dodge, keep a wary eye

Class Skills (2 + Int modifier per level): Craft, Diplomacy, Intimidate, Knowledge (local), Knowledge (nobility and royalty), Listen, Search, Sense Motive, Spot.

Class Features

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: You gain proficiency in all simple and martial weapons, all types of armor, and shields (including tower shields).

Able Defender (Ex): Whenever you are using Combat Expertise, or performing the fighting defensively or total defense actions, you may give the AC bonus to an adjacent ally while retaining the bonus yourself.

Favor (Ex): You are able to call upon the considerable resources of the Midland Guard and the Midlands as a whole. This ability functions like the noble class ability (see the Dragonlance Campaign Setting). If you already possess this ability from another class, you may add your Midland Guard class level to the level of the class(es) that grant the favor ability.

Uncanny Dodge (Ex): At 2nd level, you can react to danger before your senses would normally allow you to do so. This ability functions like the rogue ability of the same name. If you already possess uncanny dodge from a different source (such as barbarian or rogue levels), you instead gain improved uncanny dodge (see below).

Bonus Feat (Ex): At 3rd level, you gain a bonus feat, which must be selected from the list of fighter bonus feats.

Dragonmetal Sanction (Ex): Also at 3rd level, you receive a dragonmetal melee weapon, dragonmetal shield, or dragonmetal armor of your choice. The dragonmetal item is attuned to you and grants you a +2 bonus on Charisma-based skill checks to people of the Midlands when displayed proudly. If the item is traded or given to someone who is not of the Midland Guard, you must buy another dragonmetal item to regain the bonus to Charisma-based skill checks.

In the Line of Fire (Ex): At 4th level, you can protect your charge under all but the most unusual circumstances. Whenever you are flat-footed, you may (as an immediate action) give up an attack of opportunity to give either your armor bonus to AC, or your shield bonus to AC, to an adjacent ally. This bonus lasts until the beginning of your next turn. You may perform this action multiple times in a round as long as you have an attack of opportunity to give up (i.e. if you are out of attacks of opportunity, you cannot perform this action).

Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex): At 5th level, you can react to opponents on either side of you as easily as you react to a single attacker. This ability functions like the rogue ability of the same name. If you already possess improved uncanny dodge, you may add your Midland Guard class level to the levels of the class(es) that grant improved uncanny dodge to determine the minimum rogue level required to flank you.

Keep a Wary Eye (Ex): Also at 5th level, you are constantly on your toes and looking for danger. You gain a +4 competence bonus on all Listen, Search, Sense Motive and Spot checks, and you can take 10 on these skills even if distractions or stress would normally prevent you from doing so.

Cult of the Shark

by Nael

“We are the masters of our watery domain, like the great sharks of the open ocean all who cross our path are our rightful prey.” –– The Book of Truth

 

The Cult of the Shark is a semi-religious piratical remnant from the Corinesti Trade Wars, which opposes non-Corinesti use of the Sargassi Sea for purposes of trade or travel. The cult consists of rogue Corinesti and a small number of Gildanesti of Corinesti descents. Although Gildanesti of Corinesti lineage are allowed into the cult they are always fringe members and never part of the upper echelons of the cult.

Joining the Cult

The cult recruits disaffected coral elves and half-elves who fear the eventual dominance of the Sargassi by non-elves. It accepts only those who have proven themselves the enemy of other seafaring races.

Entry Requirements
Racial: Must be Corinesti or Gildanesti of Corinesti extraction.
Special: Must have an affiliation score of 10 or higher.

The cult is lead by a cabal of five. The members of the five are unknown to anyone, including other cabal members. Magical hoods conceal the identity of the cabal’s leaders. Each member of the cabal shows some measure of magical aptitude either divine or arcane in nature.

Affiliation and Association

Symbol: A Stylized Shark or Sharks tooth are the recognized symbols of the cult.

Background, Goals and Dreams: The cult was founded at the height of the Corinesti Trade Wars, when the Speaker sought outside help (humans mostly) in to curb the excesses of the rouge guild and to prevent further escalation of hostilities. Pander Thrash, a Gildanesti who could claim distant blood relations with the Speaker, had for years made his living as a guild sponsored privateer. In this his preferred line of work Pander and his crew would board any ship not flying a Corinesti tithe flag and confiscate all goods, of which Pander was required to give 50% to the guild. Seeing his way of life about to be destroyed, Pander and a few like-minded captains’ with him, rebelled and fled to one of the many unoccupied Esorucak Islands. From these islands Pander and his associates continued to raid ships and confiscate their goods but while no longer bound to the guild’s rules their tactics and treatment of defeated crews became much more bloody and cruel.

Before his death Pander chose his successors with care. Unable to decide on a single heir he secretly trained five of the most ruthless and dedicated of his followers to lead after his passing. These five would become the cabal or the Hand of Pander. The cabal’s members are to forever be unknown so that any one captain who would plot treason against the cabal would never know if one of his coconspirators is a member of the cabal and thus spell his doom.

Panders vision for what would become the Cult of the Shark has changed very little in the 400 years since his death, although his philosophy has taken hold with an almost religious fervency among the pirates of the cult. Panders book, the Book of Truth outlines the philosophies and eventual goals (the complete destruction of the Corinesti shipper’s guild and the reestablishment of the Trade Wars) of the cult, many have come to ascribe some religious significance to the book do to the large number of prophecies which Pander penned into it as justification for his actions and beliefs.

Enemies and Allies: Non-Corinesti who seek to use the Sargassi sea lanes for trade and travel as well as the Corinesti Shippers guild constitute the enemies of the Cult. However the church of Ve’co Mori (Zeboim) is openly hostile to the cult, as it does not pay special homage or tribute to the dark sea goddess. The cult has few allies other than the occasional corrupt merchant or ships captain who seeks to make a profit from stolen goods.

Scale: Regional, the Cult has no influence outside of the Sargassi Sea.

Titles Benefits and Duties: As you rise through the ranks of the cult you gain certain preferences and privileges in the lands surrounding the Sargassi Sea, however well known affiliates may find themselves wanted for their crimes in the various ports of call.

Criterion Affiliation
Modifier
Corinesti Elf +3
Gildanesti of Coral Elf Ancestry +1
Committed an act of piracy +1 for each time
Fenced goods for the cult +1 for every 2000 gp value.
Rogue Class Level + Level/3
Information gathering +1
Member of the Shippers Guild -3
Cannot breath Water -2
Lawful Alignment -1
Cleric of Ve’co Mori (Zeboim) -5
Swim score of 5 or less -3
Affiliation Score Title: Benefits and Duties
3 or less No affiliation
5 – 6 Freelancer: May be called for assistance in minor jobs.
7 – 9 Informer: Will be called to help them locate valuable shipments.
10 Swabbie: May Petition the Cult for entry.
11 – 15 Deck hand: Receive a half share of the total loot from successful raids participated in.
16 – 17 Crewman: Share increases to a full share. +2 to intimidate checks.
18 – 20 Mate: Share increases to 2 full shares. +2 to Diplomacy checks made with other affiliates.
21+ Captain: Receive 3 Shares and receive a Shark Token.

Executive Powers: The cabal has the following executive powers:

Assassinate: The Cabal can when needed hire the services of a professional assassin (5th -8th level Fighter-Rogue with a minimum of 2 levels in the Assassin PrC) or a freelance (8th -10th level hire sword with no levels in the Assassin PRC) max combined level of the assassin is 10th.

Plunder/Raid: The Cult can plunder other organizations such as the Seafarers Guild. Permission when granted will supply the captain with a 2d6 x 1000 gp but the captain becomes a marked criminal.

Terrorize: The cult is known to use its influence and perception to extort goods and services from weaker organizations. The Cult will use this when it seeks to collect a special tax or to blockade an area to outside trade.

Brotherhood of the Prophet

by Carteeg Struve

 

This secret and vitally important organization has been in existence for four and a half millennia. Initially the Brotherhood assigned themselves the tasks of studying the Prophet’s works and delivering the Volumes of the Prophet to their respective races. Since then the Brotherhood has been inactive but waiting. Research on the mystical tomes has been conducted throughout this time, and the Brotherhood has struggled to make sure the races never exploited their tomes beyond their intended use. Several times, as with the case of the Canon War, the Brotherhood failed.

For most times, the Brotherhood does not interfere with history as it progresses around them. The knowledge within the Volumes is viewed of as sacred, and since the Brotherhood once had access to all seven tomes, they have sworn not to meddle in affairs unless extreme circumstances demand it.

Adventures: With the time of inaction passed, cells within the Brotherhood are being called into action. Although covert, members are now being sent to follow leads in where the lost Volumes of the Prophet may be hidden. Thousands of false leads may end nowhere, but all must be checked in the hope that by miracle the tomes can be found, and the fate of Adlatum be changed for the better.

Characteristics: Adlatum is entering a time of crisis. Even without the Volumes of the Prophet, the danger of the Midland Civil War spreading beyond its borders is very real. The Brotherhood is sworn never to interfere in the natural flow of events in the world unless a time of great need arises. Many cells believe the time has come.

There is no top-level leadership within the Brotherhood. Divided up into various cells across the continent, for centuries membership is often passed down from parent to deserving child while at other times those who proved themselves were accepted into the Brotherhood.

When the need arises, a code sent to members, signaling them to join and act. Lately these signals have been sent more often than ever before, even prior to the Canon War.

Alignment: The respect for the purpose of the order and the willingness to not corrupt the knowledge the order seeks to protect is vital to what the Brotherhood believes in. As such only non-evil and non-chaotic members are allowed to join.

Religion: The origin of the Volumes is believed to stem from the gifted knowledge of Tarfine. As such faiths that deny this source, such as the Tashrama, or deny its relevance, such as Adlarism, have no place within the Brotherhood. There is nothing within the laws of the Brotherhood itself that forbids a particular religious follower from the order, but the inherent conflict between the purpose of the order and other faiths prevents one from following both paths.

Background: The Brotherhood was formed after the death of the Prophet, whose final vision saw the destruction of the world at the hands of a being more powerful than the gods. The Brotherhood seeks to find the Seven Volumes, as they have unleashed terrible consequences upon the world, and they seek to understand the inner meanings of the writings of the Prophet.

Amongst these writings were the Seven Volumes of the Prophet, graced with the magical ability and knowledge of the future. These Seven Volumes were eventually given to the various races prominent on Adlatum. The Brotherhood of the Prophet was allowed to study the Volumes, but they are forbidden from ever possessing one, and they are forbidden from interfering with the fate of mortals, even during times of dire crisis, such as the Cataclysm.

The Brotherhood must contend with other races that may be looking for the Volumes to see if they can go back in time and un-do events that had happened in the past. They have the understanding that those races of original creation cannot affect time while those that are not may. The Brotherhood also tries to protect the Volumes when a single corrupted force tries to gather the knowledge within the multiple tomes and exploit them for their own benefit. The Volumes were believed to aid each of the major races along their own fate, not to be used in the domination of Adlatum and Krynn.

Recently a cell took in a Mentoi named Opheimus, an eccentric genius in linguistics, law, politics, and social development. More importantly, he showed himself to be an expert on a vast number of texts focusing on the Volumes and their histories. After accepting Opheimus into their cell, the gnome began researching the Brotherhood’s theories on the Volumes. He came to realize that many of the Brotherhood’s theories on what the tomes were and what their purposes were for were far from fact. Convincing the order to break their oat of non-interference, the cell broke into the underground palace in Karsuhon, rescuing the Fallen Avanesti woman who calls herself the Prophet. By either coincidence or fate, the cell’s leader Voronfelmos Yaweanalumn was her own brother. Currently they are now attempting to find the lost Volumes.

Races: Although the Brotherhood is predominantly human, there is nothing forbidding any race from being a member.

Other Classes: Since the Volumes and the knowledge within them must be protected from ill use, the Brotherhood will often require members of various skills. No class is directly excluded from the order, but most members tend to lean towards more academic based classes as opposed to physical. Spiritual classes, like clerics and mystics, are also often included to a moderate extent.

Corinesti Trading Guilds

by Nael & Carteeg Struve

 

In the older days of the Corinesti Traders, a single unified guild had all trading rights and contracts. Since the Trading War of 300 AD, there are only four major guilds unified beside the Speaker in maximizing profit and trading influence throughout the Sargassi Sea and around the shores of Adlatum. The Corinesti Trading Guild is not only a major corporation in Corinesti society, but it is also the government that directs the lives of all Corinesti in the sea. Very few Corinesti have escaped the influence of the Guilds, and if the Guilds’ leadership has their way, the few will be brought back into the fold.

Adventures: There are many places to explore to find new bounty to trade, and many lands in which one can travel to in hopes of gaining favor with potential clients and customers. All of the sea and all shores are ripe with opportunities for business, whether it is to benefit one’s own position, their superiors, or even to harm a competitor. The reasons for adventuring may not be as altruistic are those in a knighthood, but the need for money to feed friends and family can be just as important.

Characteristics: The four guilds are commonly known as the Salvagers, the Traders, the Explorers, and the Harvesters. Each has an equal voice in the Corinesti Government, and the Speaker of the Tides acts as a fifth tie-breaking vote. Each also has a separate duty to perform in the operation of business.

The Harvesters are seabed farmers and hunters, gathering supplies and growing food from the ocean itself. The Salvagers hunt for pre-Drowning artifacts and recover goods from recent or newly discovered shipwrecks. The Traders are those who deal with Airbreathers, bringing goods above-water to trade with land dwellers. Traders also purchase goods from one land and selling them in a distant port, acting as middlemen between nations that do not often directly deal with each other. Explorers venture beyond the Sargassi Sea and away from Adlatum’s shores, searching out new territories.

Although the Guilds focus most of their work in and around the Sargassi Sea, trade with Airbreathers on shores outside of the Sargassi Sea has been consistently conducted, especially in the western Midlands. Corinesti ships are often seen in the Sea of Tears near Midland ports and off the coast of the Vacant Lands as well as throughout the Esorucak Islands and Sargassi ports.

The Guilds keep their own secrets from each other and often squabble over matters where their jurisdictions overlap. They also tend to keep their own matters away from the ears of those in other Guilds or outside of the Guilds entirely. Beyond that, the Guilds operate as a business. The bottom-line is the final detail of importance, and unless profit can be maintained, power is loss.

When profit is gained by one of the Guilds, money is not often distributed to everyone fairly. Those who conduct the most work, those at the bottom of the organizational chart, often live on next to slave wages. The elite who work in the upper levels of management often take these profits to fund further business opportunities or their own accounts.

Alignment: The Trading Guilds have a monopoly of almost all the Corinesti. Very few Corinesti are able to escape its influence. But since the Guilds are all encompassing, there is no restriction on alignment for inclusion. However those who are working in the higher levels of management tend to see things in a more lawful manner than those on the bottom.

Religion: There are no religious requirements within the Guilds, even though Rosmera and Smer-Tio are popular among many families.

Background: Even though the most ancient records point to their having been hundreds of guilds competing for profit and control thousands of years ago, most of Corinesti history was dominated by a single monopoly that ran the vast majority of Corinesti society. Various houses within the Guild competed for Council seats at the head of the Guild from time to time, but the hold the Guild had on all business activity was near absolute. The Council ran the Guild, and the Guild ran the Corinesti. It was this unified Guild that lead the Corinesti into the Sargassi Sea after the Drowning, believing that more business opportunity could be reached operating from the interior of the continent rather than solely around the edges. When warfare against the Nordar became a constant annoyance in the Shattered Sea, most of the Guild’s business retreated to the Sea.

In 290 AD, the Council ran into difficulty due to their own bylaws. The laws on who could be installed as Speaker were designed to allow only one of the elite few to be eligible. Unfortunately, the rules became so restrictive that only one elf was able to take the seat when the time came for a new Speaker, and the Council was unanimous in their hatred for this man, Lias “Wavestrider” Ambrodel. After his appointment, the Council became fractured. What were normally disputes between divisions within the Guilds turned into purposeful sabotage. The Guild broke apart as houses tried seizing control of various Guild assets and forming their own autonomous organizations. By 300 AD, the Corinesti Trade Wars had begun, and economic ruin spread throughout the Corinesti and onto the mainland.

Soon the trade wars came to an end, and the top four guilds agreed to allow each other to remain in existence so long as their leaders had an equal voice in how the overall management of their nation was handled. Each Guild Leader had a seat on the new Council of five. Each one had an equal vote on all matters concerning the Trading Guilds as a whole, and each Guild would be able to run matters internally on their own. In cases where votes ended in a tie, the Speaker would have the fifth and final tie-breaking vote. This was the Speaker’s sole power, officially. However the Speaker has come to be viewed as an important part of public relations and communication with many aboveground organizations.

Since then the Speaker and the Guilds have been striving to repair the damage done by the Trade Wars of 300 AD. Some Corinesti have not forgotten the mess and are struggling to remain outside of the Guilds. Some of these Corinesti have taken up pirating, and others have settled in the Coral Cauldron, forsaking their people’s “grasping and materialistic” natures and becoming monks and mystics. The Guilds hope to bring these dissidents back into line.

The current Speaker of the Tides is Quvaresh Thylosathen. Since the end of the Trade War, the restrictions on who is able to take the seat have been somewhat relaxed.

Races: Very few Gildanesti and humans have been allowed into the Trading Guilds, but there have been honorary exceptions. The rest of the Guilds are populated entirely by Corinesti. No other races have ever been allowed into the Guilds.

Other Classes: If a set of skills can be used for profit, the Corinesti Trading Guilds will find a use for it. As such, even though some classes are not designed for enterprise (such as druids or monks), all classes are welcome to the Guilds.