Thursday, 9 June 2011

Organisations of the Known World

Organisations of the Known World
by Håvard Faanes

Using organisations in a Mystaran Campaign Organisations can be a good tool for a Mystara Campaign. An organisation can be used to flesh out a PC, as an employer for the PCs, an enemy of the PCs or just a recurring group in the campaign (for good or worse). Most Gazetteers introduced one or more organisations. However, since they were introduced in country specific products, it was natural to assume that the organisation had no or little influence outside that country.

However, there is no reason why that should be the case. The Iron Ring for instance is a slaver organisation based in the Black Eagle Barony, Karameikos. However, since slavery is illegal the organisation must go to foreign contacts to sell its slaves. Thyatis is the most popular market since slavery is quite common there. Also, the Iron Ring has access to Baron Von Hendriks contacts in Hattias which makes their slave trade with Thyatians easier. Also, it is rumoured that slaves are sold to Darokin merchants as indentured servants. The Iron Ring is a typical example of an organisation best suited as an enemy of the PCs. The PCs will notice their characteristic manacle tattoos and general slaver demeanour. PCs may acquire personal enemies within the Iron ring, but even if these individuals are defeated, other members of the organisation will take over and may even go after the PCs if they cause too much trouble.

Churches and Wizard guilds are examples of organisations which may serve both as opponents and allies/patrons of the PCs. You could have the whole group working for such an organisation, even if the PCs aren't all Clerics or Wizards. Both Churches and Wizard Guilds employ many different people, and working with an organisation for a long time will allow the PCs to earn respect from that organisation.

A benefit of working for an organisation is that the organisation will have access to greater resources and equipment that have. If the PCs are in a new town, they may contact the local members of their organisation (if any) and will usually receive help, shelter etc from these. A downside may be that if the PCs are working for a specific group or organisation, they may find that the organisation has rivals and enemies of other organisations, which now will become enemies or rivals of the PCs.

There are also many other ways organisations can come into play in a Mystara Campaign, without the PCs being members of an organisation or enemies of one. NPC allies of the PCs may be members of an organisation, even if the PCs never deal directly with the organisation themselves. Religious and fighting orders may show up during an adventure and cause trouble for the PCs, even if they aren't necessarily enemies of the PCs. A fighting order, such as the Knights of the Griffon may show up and insist that the PCs stay away from the caves they were supposed to investigate. Instead the Knights of the Griffon insist that they will take care of the situation (and also get their hands on the treasure involved). Now the PCs must decide whether they want to become enemies of the Knights or whether there is some way they can get what they want.

Sample organisations:
Storm Legion (a.k.a. Storm Soldiers) -F Sisterhood of the Sword -F
Sisterhood of the Gray Lady -F
Foresters -R
League of Rakes -R, B
Order of Kagyar -C
Shire Masters (a.k.a. Halfling Masters) -D Orders of the Secret Crafts -W, S
Darokin Merchants Guild -R, B, E
Darokin Diplomatic Corp (DDC) -R, B, Ex Minrothad Trade Guilds -Ex, R, W
Monks of the Temple of Will (Ierendi)
Monks of Ochalea -M
Knights of the Griffon -F, P
Knights of Heldann -F, P
Bratak Schools (Ethengar Rogues) -R
Wise Women -S
Odin's Ravens -C
Shepherds of Rad -M? W?
Veiled Society -R
Iron Ring -R, F
Specularum Thieves Guild -R
Church of Thyatis -C
Church of Darokin -C
Church of Karameikos -C
Church of the Eternal Truth -C
Church of Traldara -C
Karameikos Wizards Guild -W, S
Alphatian Wizards Guild -W, S
Thyatian Wizards Guild -W, S
Order of Sclaras (Wizards) -W, S
Knights of the Air
Order of Retebius
The Thorn
Hammer of Kagyar

Silly Organisations:
Several organisations were introduced in the Glantri Gazetteers. Quite a few of them were included mostly for laughs with silly acronym names like E.L.F. (Elven Liberation Front) and F.A.I.R.I.E. Some of these may be revised by changing their names and turned into more serious organisations should the GM wish so.

Foresters (Revised)
Primary Classes: Ranger, Druid.
The Foresters is an organisation of humans trained in the Way of the Forest by Vyalian Druids. Only Rangers and Druids may join the organisation. They are trained to develop their wilderness skills and druidic abilities. Foresters have a dual role, both in defeating monsters to keep the rural population safe, and to protect woodland creatures from humans. The Foresters are active mostly in Thyatis and Karameikos, but may also be encountered in other parts of the Known World. Since the events WotI it has been rumoured that the displaced Alfheim Elves have found allies among the Foresters and that the Foresters will help the Alfheimers regain their lost forest. If the DM wishes, he may prepare a special PrC available to the most exceptional Foresters.
Note: In 3e, Forester is no longer a class (although a PrC may be made available), but an organisation. I have changed the "elven way" to the "Way of the Forest" associating the organisation more with Rangers and Druids than with the Elf Class from OD&D.

League of Rakes
Primary Classes: Rogue, Bard
The League of Rakes is known as the most efficient spy network in Thyatis. The members consider themselves Thieves with Honour or Gentlemen Spies. The organisation is independent; it does not work for the emperor. Anyone may use their services, as long as they are willing to pay. Members of the League do not steal, nor are they assassins, but their code of honour allows them to relay information. The organisation is based in Thyatis City, but its representatives may be found all over the Known World (and elsewhere too). It is even rumoured that they have infiltrated the DDC on occasions. They are known for possessing a large number of magical items and gnomish devices that help their members become the best spies in the Known World.
Allies and enemies: Rakes are disliked by Thieves guilds and other criminal organisations because they are seen to move into their territory without being 'proper thieves'. On the other hand, the League of Rakes is quite popular among respectable citizens, because of their honour code.
Note: Rakes are not a class in 3e like it was in OD&D.
I have changed them slightly making the Rakes an organisation of Gentleman Spies, a slight extrapolation of the OD&D version. Most League members are Rogues (following the standard rules). They may use the sneak attack (unlike OD&D thieves), but rarely use the Sleight of Hand skill for thieving purposes.

Storm Legion
Primary Class: Fighters
Storm Legion is a fighting order based on the island of Hattias in the Empire of Thyatis.
They propagate human dominance over non-humans and maintain that women should be slaves for men. Storm Legionaries are usually found in Thyatis, Karameikos and Heldann, but they may also be encountered elsewhere. They honour Ares (Alphaks) as their patron of war.
Note: I changed their name from Storm Soldiers to Storm Legionaries to avoid the SS pun, but also because it fits in the Thyatian context.
Allies and Enemies: Nobody really likes the Storm Legionaries as they are seen as a brutal and hateful lot. The Legionaries enjoy support in Hattians though.
The Legionaries consider the Sisterhood of the Sword as enemies since they promote unsuitable roles for women and the Foresters because they encourage a demi-human way of life.

Sisterhood of the Sword
Primary Classes: Fighter, Paladin
The sisterhood of the sword is an order of Fighting Women in Thyatis. Due to the influence of the Storm Legionaries and others, fighting women are scorned in the empire and the Sisterhood works to change this.
Allies and Enemies: The Sisterhood of the Sword are enemies of the Storm Legion, because of its hateful attitude towards fighting women and women in general.
The Sisterhood is allied with the Sisterhood of the Gray Lady. The Sisterhood dislikes the Heldannic Knights because of their associations with Hattias.

Order of Retebius
Primary Classes: Fighter, Paladin, Ranger This is a military order in Thyatis, under the command of the Emperor. Members of the Order are trained with using Wyverns as mounts. They are a very prestigious branch of the Thyatian armed forces and enjoy wide popularity among the population.
Allies and Enemies: The Order is very popular throughout the Empire and among its allies, but disliked by countries with not so good relations with Thyatis. The Order is on friendly terms with the Knights if the Air, many of whom are retired Retebius members.
Note: According to the Dawn of the Emperors the Order used a wide range of creatures as mounts including Dragons. Bruce Heard later unofficially suggested that this be changed to Wyverns, hence that change in this description.

Knights of the Air
Primary Classes: Fighter, Paladin, Ranger Knights of the Air is an order mainly consisting of retired members of the Order of Retebius, but the main requirement for membership is requiring a flying mount. Not surprisingly, most members use Wyverns as mounts, but griffons are also popular, especially among elven members.
Allies and enemies: The order is on friendly terms with the Order of Retebius. Foresters are also friendly towards the Knights since many of their members are elves. The Knights are seen as servants of the Emperor and are thus liked or hated depending on how the individual feels about Thyatis.
Note: Flying mounts were revised as per the Order of Retebius. The detail about elves using Griffons is a common fantasy cliché, which I have decided to incorporate in my version of Mystara.

The Iron Ring
Primary Classes: Thief, Fighter, Warrior, Thug (UA), Brigand (KoK)
The Iron Ring is an organisation of slavers based in Halag, Karameikos. Their main activity is kidnapping Traldarans and halflings from the Five Shires and selling them off as slaves to Thyatis or Indentured Servants to Darokin. They have good connections among the Hattian nobility.
Allies and Enemies: The Iron Ring is illegal in Karameikos. However, it receives support from many among the Karameikan aristocracy as well as among the Hattian nobility. They are on friendly terms with the Storm Legion, who secretly has encouraged the Iron Ring to capture more halfling and elf slaves.
Note: After Von Hendriks is driven out of Halag, the Iron Ring moves its centre of operations somewhere else, but continues its activity with the support of others within Karameikan aristocracy.

Sisterhood of the Gray Lady
Primary Classes: Fighter, Paladin.
This is a fighting order for Thyatian women devout to Vanya.
Allies and Enemies: the sisterhood is allied with the Sisterhood of the Sword, and enemies of the Storm Legion.

Holy Order of Kagyar
Primary Class: Cleric (Dwarves)
This is a religious order serving Kagyar. Only dwarves are permitted and almost all dwarven clerics belong to this order, though dwarven clerics outside Rockhome sometimes take up the worship of other Immortals.
Their basic ethos is to serve Kagyar. They are not allowed to heal non-dwarves, nor are they allowed to use any magic to destroy matter.
Allies and Enemies: The Order of Kagyar is downright hostile to Dwarven Clerics following Immortals outside the Dwarven Pantheon (Kagyar, Garl, Terra). They dislike Foresters due to their association with elves.
They are allied with the Hammer of Kagyar, but don't always approve of the actions of that organisation.
Note: This is an adaptation of the Dwarven Cleric class from OD&D. Since they were given a class of their own in that system, I figured they deserved special mention here.

Cult of Halav
Primary Class: Cleric
The Cult of Halav is religious organisation of fanatic followers of Halav. Most simply view these guys as silly and annoying, but the cult is actually on the verge of being taken over by agents of Entropy.
Allies and Enemies: Although few take them seriously, the Cult of Halav considers itself a fierce enemy of the Church of Karameikos and the Knights of the Griffon. The Church of Traladara is allied with the Cult of Halav, but is worried about the direction that the Cult is taking.
Note: making the Cult an agent of Entropy is my own idea for making the Cult more than just a bunch of fanatic loonies.

The Thorn
Primary Class: Rogue (Dwarf)
This organisation started out as a club for young dwarven pranksters who wanted to annoy the elves of Alfheim. They arranged "raids" on Alfheim elves, but never caused serious harm. In fact, the Dwarves of the Thorn were the dwarves in Rockhome who had most contact with elves. With the destruction of Alfheim, The Thorn changed. The dwarves realised the seriousness of the situation and decided that they wanted to help their elven rivals regain their forest.
The Thorn has contacted elven refugees in Karameikos and is working alongside the elves opposing the Shadow elves.
Allies and Enemies: After WotI, The Thorn is allied with the Alfheim refugees including the extreme organisation the Alfheim Avengers, as well as the Foresters. Their sudden sympathy for the elves is met with surprise and confusion among other dwarves. The Hammer of Kagyar has even shown strong dislike for the Thorn since their change in attitude.
Note: I have taken some liberties with the Thorn when updating it to the post WotI situation.

Kagyar's Hammer
Primary Classes: Cleric, Fighter, Paladin (Dwarf) Kagyar's Hammer is a religious fighting order in Rockhome, serving Kagyar. Most members spend their life fighting evil, but parts of the order have become quite extreme and propagate dwarven supremacy.
Especially, many show hate towards elves.
Allies and Enemies: Although not official policy, many among the Kagyar's Hammer are hostile towards elves and Foresters, and even show strong dislike for the Thorn after that organisation suddenly became elf-friendly. The order is allied with the Order of Kagyar.
Note: Kagyar's Hammer is solely my own creation. At their best they are a sort of Dwarven Paladins. At their worst, they are Rockhome's Storm Legion.

Knights of the Griffon
Primary Classes: Fighter, Cleric, Paladin The Knights of the Griffon are a religious fighting order associated with the Church of Karameikos. They are loyal servants of the High Patriarch of the Church of Karameikos (currently Jowett). Anyone can be a member of the order, but only nobles can gain the title Knight of the Griffon.
Allies and Enemies: The Knights are allied with the Church of Karameikos, and with King Stefan. The Cult of Halav considers it their enemies and the Church of Traladara often speaks out against the Knights. The Knights hate the Iron Ring above all other Karameikan criminal organisations.
PrC: The DM may consider allowing Knights of the Griffon to access the Purple Knight PrC if they meet those requirements.
Notes: This is an extrapolation of the Order of the Griffon.

Shire Masters
Primary Class: Druid (Halfling)
The Shire Masters, sometimes just called Hin Masters, are druids of the Five Shires and the Shires of Leeha.
They have a special status in Hin society and are respected by all Halflings. They serve as judges in disputes between the clans and protectors of the Hin Homelands.
The Shire Masters enjoy a unique position within the Five Shires, but rarely leave the borders of the Halfling Homelands.
Allies and Enemies: Shire Masters are respected and honoured by all Halflings. They hate the Iron Ring since its members abduct Halflings to sell as slaves.
They are on friendly terms with elves and Foresters, as well as other druids.
PrC: Hin Masters may access a Hin Master PrC if available, or if the DM allows, he may substitute that with the Hierophant PrC. Note: This is an adaptation of the OD&D Halfling Master class.

Mystic order of the Temple of Will
Primary Classes: Monk, Psionic Classes.
The Temple of Will is an order of Monks based on Ierendi. Combining the philosophies of Alphatia and Ochalea, these Monks seek inner enlightenment. Some among the order have even developed psionic talents.
The Temple is based in Ierendi, but its Monks may be found all over the Known World.
Allies and Enemies: The Temple of Will has few enemies or allies, as its monks tend to keep to themselves.
They have some relations with the Mystic Order of Ochalea, though they have philosophical disagreements.
Note: This will need to be developed further later.

Mystic Order of Ochalea
Primary Classes: Monk, Psionic Classes, Cleric These mystics are followers of Korotiku and seek inner enlightenment following the Great Spider's Example. Although often very serious, the Monks also believe that humour is a virtue. They are widely known for their martial arts. Although based in Ochalea, the monks of the order often travel widely in order to learn more about the world. Ochalean Temples have also been established in other Known World countries with some success.
Allies and Enemies: They have some relations with the Mystic Order of the Temple of Will, though they have philosophical disagreements.


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