Beyond Bale Keep
Blue Defenders: Power Behind No Throne
If Dozelmair had a king, the Blue Defenders would be his personal guard. This most noble and popular of the guilds is an organization made up primarily of hand-picked warriors (knights), powerful wizards, and priests of several orders. The organization is bound by blood oath to defend Dozelmair and its people, and has on numerous occasions proven its worth in battle. Out of all the assorted organizations in the realm, this one garners the most respect, from friend and foe alike. It is an order of power and balance, as evidenced by its guild memberships (Diviners, Raciatans, Semitians, and Mestans, to name a few).
The spiritual and physical center of Defender might is that of the Raciatan priesthood. As maintainers of an especially rich and well-connected church, the Raciatans have no trouble attracting the nation’s elite to their ranks. Becoming a Raciatan is no small matter or achievement, but, once in the order, the individual’s future, financial and otherwise, is set. Raciatans tithe heavily, so personal fortunes are not expansive (supposedly). However, all accepted into the order receive a free university education, and cheap (sometimes free) housing for themselves and their families. Assuming the member can abide by the blood oath to defend Dozelmair to the death, it is not a bad exchange for a citizen to make. Since the order is open to petition from anyone (connections, while helpful, do not ensure inclusion in the order), many a poor man has found a home among the warrior ranks of the Raciatans.
A subset of priests somewhat subservient to the Raciatans (but perhaps more powerful, man-for-man) is that of the Red Temple, more commonly known as “The Fire Guild.” The Red Temple is home to the Semitian order of priests (war priests of great renown) and its associated wizards (Invokers, or “Fire Mages,” as they are commonly called). Much smaller in number than the Raciatans, the Semitian order seems to serve little purpose outside times of war. Their very presence, however, serves as a great deterrent to would-be conquerors, as it is said that a single Semitian warrior is the equal of any number of other soldiers (including the Chaarans themselves). The Fire Mages are feared for their ability to create and sustain great destructive powers over a wide range. The Red Temple is home to some of the most fanatical members of the realm, but its membership is (thankfully) small. It is obvious to all observers that the Raciatans are more than happy to keep it that way, as they view the Temple as a veritable “mad dog on a leash” that they must constantly restrain.
While Raciatan clerics and their associated warriors maintain the physical security of the realm (in conjunction with the regular Dozelmairian army), the Great-Grandfathers of Dozelmair, or Diviners Guild, zealously guards its intellectual properties. Much smaller in number than the Raciatans, the Diviners are a priests-only sect bent on research and discovery. They are the keepers of history and lore, and include among their number numerous contacts both in and outside Dozelmair. This “guild of the mind” consists of the traditional priests of prophecy (the core group of Diviners), as well as Mestamilsans, Monks of various benign, traveling orders and certain woodsmen and druids (all of whom serve in an “adjunct” capacity, providing information from their respective geographical areas and, for the monks, travels). In addition to their ostensible purpose of furthering intellectual and magical might, the Learned Uncles maintain a clandestine network of “agents” (spies) that allow them to keep tabs on virtually every aspect of Dozelmairian life. This network consists of creatures from all walks of life: kenku merchants, surface dwarves, and even the occasional gnoll warrior are said to be among their ranks (in some cases, it is said, these contacts do not even realize their function as agents). The Diviners also maintain contact with other “underground” (in some cases, “mythical”) organizations like the Moonblades, and the Order of Saint Archard. In this capacity, the Diviners serve as the intelligence arm of the organization. While the Raciatans and Semitians are mighty indeed, it is obvious to most informed sources that the Diviners are what makes the Defenders (and, as a result, Dozelmair itself) so powerful.
Membership, Regalia and Accoutrements
Membership in the Blue Defenders often entails sponsorship, though such is not always required. What a prospective member needs for consideration is both ability and a “deed.” In filing an application (a simple, efficient application that even master filer Fagen Femlor would admire), the applicant must include a heroic deed of some sort. Many types of deeds qualify. A farmer stemming the tide of weather or locusts could cite that as his or her deed. Veterans from the regular army seeking admittance often cite their term of service as their “deed.” Saving a person’s life qualifies as a “deed,” as does contributing to the poor. Naturally, the membership committee casts an eye toward the more “outstanding” or “traditionally heroic” deeds (deeds of bravery or personal sacrifice are the most highly valued).
In addition to a deed, it helps if the prospect has a sponsor, preferably one among the organization itself. While this does not ensure membership it is often good enough for admittance to “the trial,” which is simply a term for the “culling of the prospectus,” as it is called. A number of deeds, in particular heroic deeds, witnessed by a Blue Defender, will ensure admittance to the trial, and may even be enough for outright membership.
“The trial,” is a period of harsh training intended to weed out the less-deserving among the prospectus. Led by mid-ranking warrior-mentors, these trials take place both within and without the grounds of the University. The physical regime is harsh and demanding, and it usually doesn’t take long for the faint of heart to desert the prospectus. The first four weeks are nothing but physical and mental toil, including daily martial exercises, extended patrols in the wilderness and an assortment of intellectual exercises devised by the Uncles themselves. Survivors of this ordeal improve their strength and constitution, and learn the essential skills of war (to include hand to hand combat and a basic knowledge of common melee and missile weapons [shortbows, shortswords, daggers, clubs and maces]).
Survivors of this first phase move into the classroom for four additional weeks of training in specific academic subjects (none of which they choose for themselves). The applicants yet maintain an intense physical regime that includes further specialization in specific arms and armament (some of the prospectus may become archers, for example, while other might be directed toward the heavy weaponry of the shock troops). The final week of the ordeal places the prospectus in a self-sustaining unit, complete with hand-picked commanders (selected from among the prospectus). The group is given a “mission” which they must complete within the required time. The warrior-mentors serve as monitors of the group’s progress, and are the ultimate arbiters of mission success or failure. At this time, things become very clear-cut for the applicants. Succeed, and the whole group is admitted to the membership. Fail, and the entire prospectus is booted out of training. Once a prospectus is released, its members may reapply, but they must go through the entire ordeal (i.e., “the trial”) all over again.
The mission is not without its hazards. Members of the prospectus have been killed or severely injured while trying to complete their unit’s mission. In some cases, this last ordeal pits the prospectus against another group of applicants, or even a select group of Defenders. In this case, the nature of success may become a relative matter. For example, a decent performance against fully-trained defenders might be deemed a success, even if most or all of the stated mission objectives fail.
“Mission Week” has seen its share of great successes and spectacular failures, and it goes without saying that many an applicant has walked away from the whole ordeal bitter and dejected. Those that succeed, the Defenders argue, learn the ultimate lesson of the organization – the whole is greater than the individual. Lifetime friendships are formed, and commitment to the Defender ideals is (usually) a permanent, ingrained characteristic of the member.
Assuming it survives Mission Week, the prospectus is subjected to the pomp and ceremony of graduation, after which the group splits off to advanced training in their chosen fields. As with everything else in the organization, most of the choosing is done by the mentors. Most members start out as common soldiers (either straight Defenders or “Fangs of Semit”), but a select few cast off the traditional warrior garb for the robes of a wizard or the armor of a priest. And while the mentors basically decide who will become a Raciatan priest, who will become a Metsan, a Semitian, etc., any member of the prospectus may apply to these separate organizations and undergo their trails/training. At this point, the worst a member can expect is to be a soldier in the front lines of the defense of Dozelmair. This, usually, is an honor in itself.
The Blue Defender PC
Only Human characters can become Blue Defenders. To become one, the character must follow the training path described above. Completion of the ordeal can be role-played, or it can be based on a single dice roll, as described below:
Sum of Attributes= 1 per contact
Level of PC= 1 per point spend (maximum 2 points)
Luck Roll=Roll d20:
Let’s concoct a sample character using this above chart. Rimmer, a youngster from Darkdale, is applying to be a Blue Defender. The character is a Fighter who has most recently fought against a vicious spider cult that was terrifying his village. His relevant attributes are: STR 15, CON 13, DEX, 16, INT 7, WIS 10, CHA 10. He is level 2, and has one contact at the university. Rimmer’s chances for completing the ordeal are determined as follows:
Attributes – 71/10= 7.1 (rounded to 1
Karma Spent= 1, for +1
Luck Roll=14 for +1
Thus, Rimmer has a 11 in 20 chance (55%) of making it through the Blue Defender selection process.
Service in the Defenders is reflected in two ways. Either the character is currently serving in the Defenders, and has four years to go in his service, or he has already completed service. Characters currently serving are compelled to serve a year “in garrison,” meaning they cannot leave Dozelmair without special orders. They might be garrisoned in the main city, or an outpost, but, as with real-life soldiers, they cannot simply desert their post. A beginning character wishing to be free from this obligation may add four years to his starting age (to reflect the term of service).
ATTRIBUTE BOOSTS: Due to the intense physical and mental training they undergo, Blue Defender PCs receive a +1 bonus to CON and WIS. In addition, Blue Defenders are well-regarded in most parts of Dozelmair. Identifying yourself as such in these quarters grants a minimum +2 bonus to Comms checks. A Blue Defender wearing the regalia of his order gains an additional +2.
WEAPONS TRAINING: All Blue Defenders are trained in the use of all medium and small weapons. They retain this training regardless of their class limitation. This means a Spellcaster character who is a Blue Defender has access to Medium weapons, as well as small.
STIPEND: Blue Defenders receive a stipend of 50 gp/month., for the rest of their lives. They have to report to a Raciatan representative to get, however, and missed payments do not go into backpay. Further, any Blue Defender who accepts a year’s worth of stipends is put on a “reserve” roll, and can be called into duty at any time. For this reason, anyone wishing to really retire from the Defenders has to pass up the stipend.
*Roll Call: Schools/Guilds associated with the Defenders
The following are the organizations with either a substantial membership in or important functional with the Blue Defenders.
The Cathedral of the Four Winds (Raciatans)
The main church, headquarters and spiritual center of the Raciatan faith. Situated in a location accessible to the populace, it is manned and maintained by a small contingent of very powerful Blue Defenders, and is easily accessible by the entire University garrison. The high priest of the order resides here in all his glory, and services are conducted regularly. The Cathedral is audacious in its display of iconography and wealth, and has had more than its share of enterprising thieves attempting to pilfer a portion of its treasures. By all indications, none have succeeded as yet.
The Dozelmairian Institution
The Institution is a collection of museums run by the Great Grandfathers. The largest establishment in the complex, the Institution is made of up the following major sites: the Museum of Antiquities, the Mana Center (also known as The Institute of Magical Research, and the location of the city’s order of Cyclopedians), the Ironheart College of Divination (training ground for Diviners and Prophets) and the Hall of Heroes. There are, as well, several bureaucratic offices, and a few highly specialized museums (including a two-room affair specializing in Sespetian History and Relics). The Instituion employs many, many sages and scribes, most of which are involved in compiling records. Rumor has it that every item in the Institution is actually a clever forgery created for display only. The real documents relics are supposedly tucked away in a secret location somewhere in the great labyrinth that beneath UMMAC.
The Center of Humanocentric Studies
The permanent home of the Mestamilsan order, this humble establishment is located in the eastern wing of the Museum of Antiquities. The Mestans have a small contingent of researchers and historians present at all times.
The Red Temple
The Temple is not ostentatious, but it is imposing. The architecture is distinctly Kzetan, with its colorful, domed spires and ornate archways. From a distance, the main entrance appears to be a great maw flanked by imposing fangs. The Temple is home to the Semitian priesthood. It features a huge commons area for martial training, and its own tavern (which few non-Semitians have ever seen). Tucked away in a far corner of the Temple is the guildhouse for the Order of Flame, where the realm’s most powerful Invokers (‘Fire Mages’) train and reside.
Other notable landmarks, institutions located in or near UMMAC
Not on the University grounds per se, the Hospice represents the University’s “outreach program” for the poor and infirm. The Hospice is a humble, though large and comfortable complex staffed by various volunteers and “brothers” (monks). Priests of many orders perform charity work here, including Yultans, Reyettans and Raciatans.
The Great Well
Located in the heart of the Great Plaza of UMMAC, the Well is an everflowing font, a magical device created a maintained by the followers of Foenseth. The well is part of a larger complex of fountains that brings great beauty to the plaza and adjoining gardens.
The Dozelmairian Gardens
The Gardens are maintained by Yultans and Brothers of the Oak and feature a tremendous variety of plant life culled from all over the triangle. The ubiquitous Dozelmairian boxwood is here, as well as the extremely rare northern lilac (found only near in the northern reaches beyond Adlbore). All the various walkways in the Gardens eventually lead to the center of the site, where the prize resident of the establishment, a huge Chaaran Ironwood tree, stands. Virtually unknown outside the underdark, the Ironwood was a peace offering from the Chaarans that has outlived all expectations (thanks in no small part to the efforts of the Brothers of the Oak).