Friday, February 12, 2021

40 Years in Fantasyland

Feb. 13th, 1981 was the day I first played D&D. It took place in an open space between several schoolrooms, and later that day, in an empty classroom, at my Junior High School (then in the process of being converted into a 'Middle School'), on the day when the school officially celebrated Lincoln's birthday (and Valentine's Day, which came after, at the start of a long weekend, or possibly, a week-long mid-winter break - I do not recall). The day was given over to students to do what they wanted, so two people, with whom I was relatively friendly, and who had played with one another for roughly two years, asked if I wanted to join in.

I had been waiting to be invited to play for a long time. The idea of a game with dice but without a playing board still made no sense to me, but in other respects, I had been preparing to step through that door since the previous year. Partly at the prompting of one of the two people who introduced me to the game, I started reading the Lord of the Rings, and in the course of that year, I had read the entire trilogy, the Hobbit, the Silmarillion, and various other pieces of the Tolkien canon. I was thus relatively knowledgeable about what the fantasy genre was, and began to explore other key writers - Le Guin and Lloyd Alexander certainly stand out in my mind, and there may have been others that I had started to read before my initial foray into the world of RPGs. For years prior to arriving in the US in early 1978, I had also been greatly influenced by folklore - Russian fairytales, the Kalevala, compendia of Kurdish fairytales and the Thousand and One Nights, and mythology of various kinds. When I became aware that there was a game which allowed you to model all these stories, and even spin open-ended tales of your own, it seemed like a natural fit. I had been warned that the game was highly addictive, and could cause you to become lost in it, like one could succumb to the power of the One Ring. But given my predisposition toward fantasy and myth, and the difficulties of transitioning to adolescence in a new country and within a family recently broken by divorce, I was undaunted.

My initial experience with the game was pretty typical for a kid who was genuinely interested (as opposed to trying it to go along, or to fit in with someone). I had no idea what was going on, and I loved every minute of it. We were playing AD&D (now referred to as "1e") - the dominant system used at the time, especially by players that had joined the hobby after the appearance of the hardback rulebooks in 1978. The rules were sufficiently complex to be daunting for someone with no background with RPGs or wargames. Not only was there no gameboard, but there were already three core rulebooks (plus one supplement on Deities and Demigods). There were already many character options - 11 character class types (including what would later be called a 'prestige class' - the bard), and seven races. To help me along, the acquaintance who assumed the role of DM just told me to pick my favorite race from Lord of the Rings, and naturally enough, I picked a dwarf. Given the racial limitations of 1e, as well as the dictates of simplicity and my ignorance of the system, I naturally went with a fighter. So Dain the dwarf fighter - my first-ever character, was born. Dain, because unlike the more famous Thorin, he had survived the Battle of Five Armies, and went on to become king of the most powerful dwarf realm in Middle Earth. My Dain also survived. I don't remember whether he ever got killed and raised, but he survived until my senior year of high school, and reached, if memory serves, 11th level. I moved on to other characters, other games, and other activities, and Dain just faded away, but never perished. Like his namesake in the Peter Jackson trilogy, and like his player, he was proud, headstrong, and on occasion, a bit of a badass. 

I don't remember exactly what we did during that first session. There was some sort of jungle temple complex we explored - not the most natural place for Dain the Dwarf. My companion was another fighter - Ungawa the half-orc. We probably wouldn't like each other too much, my fellow player told me, but we would have to work together. In any case, I had no choice - he was two levels higher than me, and in any case, I didn't know the rules, and wouldn't have been able to challenge him even if I had wanted to. We played for three hours without anyone in the school bothering us much, and the adventure bled into a subsequent weekend. I do remember coming out of that expedition two levels higher, and with a suit of +4 plate armor that someone had somehow misplaced in a jungle temple. That armor subsequently became Dain's signature item - he was always hard to hit, and acted like it. To the D&D gatekeepers who defined how the game should be played, that sort of giveaway would have been a sign of a "Monty Haul" campaign, though I recall that the group that subsequently formed around the three of us was actually quite conservative, especially given our age, and we often lambasted other players at our school for the speed of their characters' advancement, and the crazy number of artifacts their characters had (one kid famously told us that every character in his party had a Wand of Orcus). 

The playing group that got me started had an interesting destiny. The relationship between the core members of the group was a difficult one, and witnessed a number of (in-game and even more so, out-of-game) betrayals and changes of fortune. The DM and Ungawa's player had been best friends for years prior to inviting me into their inner sanctum. By the start of the following year, they parted ways with me (the details of the process are not particularly interesting, though today they would have been called "bullying"). By the end of that year, the two "best friends" themselves had a falling out along pretty similar lines. One - the DM of my first game - reached out to me. By that time, I had been pretty heavily involved in a gaming club at the local Ivy campus, and had started running games in my own right. I had an idea for an epic adventure - Snow Wight and the Seven Dwarves, I called it. So our group was reconstituted during the summer - Ungawa's player came slinking back, and there were several others. That summer, every weekday between noon and 5 PM, we gathered at the public library, torturing the poor functionary whose office was located next to the conference table on the mezzanine with our intemperate outbursts. But by the end of the summer, the Snow Wight had been vanquished, not without a little help from a certain DM PC named Dain (it did seem a little galling that everyone was gaining levels, and he wasn't). 

Our group of five or six persisted for the next year to a year and a half, not without more strife, primarily between the two erstwhile best friends, as I recall. DMing duties generally rotated, though the original three did the bulk of running games, and I think I ran more often than the others. By the middle of sophomore year in high school, we drifted apart for good. Of the peripheral players, some moved away, and the rest were relatively lukewarm toward the game without someone prodding them. Ungawa's player, bright and tactically sound, had begun to lose interest, and drifted toward athletics. We were cordial for the last year or two of high school, but largely revolved in different circles. I ran into him once in college, but haven't seen him since. He subsequently became a biology professor, following (in part) in the footsteps of his physicist father. The DM of my first session, on the other hand, remained interested in games, and in D&D in particular, though toward our time together, he also found religion. He attended seminary after college and briefly served as a minister in the Midwest before getting a job with Wizards of the Coast in the late 1990s. He was a major motive force behind 3e and 4e, and has remained a key designer of 5e despite being moved over to their Magic the Gathering division.

For my part, I remained involved with the campus group until graduating from high school. The club was structured as a multi-DM group that would run pick-up games on Fridays and Saturdays. After I paid my dues as the 8th grader trying to earn my right to play with high schoolers, college students and adults, I became a DM in my own right, and made several longterm friends in the group. The experience of being at the bottom of the social totem pole and of three months of failing to have my characters survive past 1st level has probably influenced my penchant for a gritty game (levels must be earned!) as well as a certain amount of tolerance for intraparty strife (though nowhere near to the extent of that group).

Though club play influenced me a great deal, I never entirely liked the disjointed play of the pick-up games, and the constant world-hopping of characters who had few interests outside of accumulating XP and treasure. I much preferred the campaign-style play of my first group, and by the end of sophomore year in high school, I reconstituted a small group of four people that mostly stayed together until graduation, and reformed at least twice in subsequent years. I started off as the main DM of the group, though after a time, referee duties were shared between two of us. The two worlds were entirely discrete, with their own cast of characters and their own stories. Characteristically, the strongest characters in each campaign belonged to the DM of the other setting. But pretty much everyone played multiple characters at once, because we both ran gritty games that smaller parties in which each player only ran a single character would not have survived. Aside from that, our styles were quite different, and provided a nice contrast. My friend was far more influenced by television and pop-culture, and for pure entertainment value, his campaign probably exceeded mine. I had begun to return to my original interests in mythology and history, and had a much more serious take on campaign integrity. My world was vaguely Indian, though it almost certainly owed more to Roger Zelazny than to Hindu mythology. Later, after arming myself with Chivalry and Sorcery, I launched a new world based on Renaissance Italy, for which I had tried to create a more realistic social structure and economy. I know sometimes my penchant for "realism" was not entirely appreciated, though I recall having a slightly lower overall body count.


We used to compete over who had the largest
DM screen. This is my latest effort, from
about two years back. I have a lot of new
custom charts for Lukomorye.

By the end of high school, I had gone back to the university club, though much of the time senior year was filled with teenage hijinks of various kinds. After departing for college, I played a few games with various friends, but my main playing activity was centered around the local gaming club that was dominated by Call of Cthulhu. Almost all the games were run by one person - a Frenchman, who was the first person to introduce me to an RP-driven game. His games were well-run and interesting, though probably had too many players, and there were definite moments when I thought he pulled punches when he shouldn't have. He left school at the end of that year, to start his own gaming company. But the following year, I heard that the company had failed, and that he committed suicide. Only later did I learn that he was a close relative of Charles Lindbergh.

I returned to my hometown for the last two years of college, bringing my newfound interest in Call of Cthulhu back to my old D&D group. The game I ran for them was somewhat satirical and somewhat political - a Ceaușescu-era diplomat at the Romanian consulate in New York (and, predictably, a vampire) had come to consult with a local Jewish cabalist who resided in Great Neck about building a golem to protect his castle from peasants who had gotten it into their heads that their local party functionary was no mere scion of an ancient noble lineage. The start of the game was quite good, though it soon got bogged down in trying to figure out how to expedite the inevitable court procedure against characters who were a little too free about using grenade launchers. In any event, the party was sent to Romania to hunt down the returned official, though neither the players nor, to be honest, the Keeper, had much idea about how to operate in what was at the time one of the most repressive regimes in the Soviet-led bloc. Eventually, it came down to a confrontation at the vampire's castle (for which I used the ground map from Ravenloft), which concluded with one of the players hot-wiring the vampire's cabriolet, placing a brick on the accelerator, and ramming it into the golem, which went tumbling into the ravine beneath the castle. The greatest irony of that campaign was that one of the players later ended up moving to Great Neck, and I myself stayed with him for several months last year (I didn't find any golems or vampires in any of the cul-de-sacs, though).

I did spend a few years prior to graduation playing 2e with some people from our old 1e game and a few who had participated in the club game and in the Cthulhu campaign, though it was far more irregular. One game persisted a few months into grad school, since my university was located only an hour away from home. Distance and schoolwork soon caused it to peter out. However, my grad school roommate turned out to have been a gamer in his high school days, and before the year came to an end, our conversations had prompted him to buy replacement 1e rulebooks. Soon, he left school, but dived headlong back into gaming. His interests were far more varied and far less campaign-oriented than mine. We did keep in touch after his departure, and on a visit to his house, we played an impromptu D&D game in which he played a priest, a fool, and a were-raven. That game was the earliest prototype of Lukomorye, and received an extension after I roped him and several friends who had remained at home into a brief campaign. Several years later, I tried my hand at formalizing some of the custom character types derived from the Australian game Rüs as 3e character variants, but I never completed the effort, becoming distracted by other projects (including other games, schoolwork, marriage, and children).

In turn, my former roommate soon introduced me to Vampire and the World of Darkness, and we spent a few years, off and on, playing games set in the town where our graduate program was located - a great postindustrial site for Vampire, complete with its own warehouse-cathedral, as I called it. He also ran a game set in Tokyo, where capital networks laid down by a Genoese clan of Giovanni finally converged on a skyscraper mystically connected with counterparts in New York and London. And I ran a game in Ur-Prague, where the neoliberal and post-socialist worlds collided with horizon realms based on the worlds of Gustav Meyrink, Franz Kafka, Karel Čapek, and especially, Jaroslav Hašek - author of the Good Soldier Šveik (the latter inevitably appeared as the trouble-causing assistant of the hapless PC). Many of those ideas were subsequently recycled in a Mage game I ran for a new group of players after moving to Illinois. The conceit of the game was that the characters all inherited a research institute from a mysterious benefactor. The researchers fought predictable battles with the Technocracy, found a device that allowed them to directly intervene in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict without leaving home, and discovered a Lurianic sect of cabalists who encoded information about the Holy Grail into an epic poem (here, I tried my hand out at writing a fragment of a Chrétien de Troyes-style epic - one of my better efforts, judging by the reactions, but now, unfortunately, lost to posterity). In any event, the part of that game that those involved most remember was Pazuzu - a haggard, annoying demon in the shape of an old man who was discovered in the basement of the research institute, and became the errand boy who did most of the mages' dirty work.

My erstwhile roommate also turned me on to Everway - a card-based rules-light game of mythic fantasy. I don't remember ever playing the game in person, but it turned out to be well-suited to online play. The game was recommended as a story-oriented game of multicultural fantasy, though to my mind, the city of Everway and the Walker's Pyramid at its center was a great metaphor for the unraveling of globalization in the wake of 9/11. The game I ran featured a Conclave gathered from across the spheres to select the new king of what had become an increasingly integrated multiverse (though the whole episode was in fact a behind-the-scenes plot of the Whiteoar family to exploit the growing fissures to take back power). Much about that campaign was enjoyable and memorable, and playing by text allowed to provide more thoughtful responses player actions, as well as a detailed log of everything that happened (a practice I subsequently adopted for other games). On the other hand, the long lag between moves, and the fact that players had to be nagged to get moves in so the campaign plotline would not become too unbalanced between different characters was something I did not enjoy much. The virtual character of the game made it difficult to read social clues that would have been far clearer in an in-person game. Finally, the rules-light game design created, to my mind, more problems than it solved with regard to action adjudication. It was the first instance, though not the last, that has made me somewhat suspicious of both rules-light games, and of storygamers who ostensibly focused on story-first elements, but when push came to shove, wanted to have more powerful characters. But though we did not get anywhere near as far as I wanted, I kept that game going for about a year and a half (though it was only a few days of game time).

In between Mage and Everway, the third edition of D&D came out. By that point, I had not played any kind of D&D for seven or eight years, but a couple of my Mage players were running Sunless Citadel, and asked me to join in. The rules, at least at low levels, still felt very familiar, and the adventure was terrific - to my mind, still one of the best low-level scenarios (along with Saltmarsh, Shrine of the Reptile God, and the Lost Mines). We successfully completed it, and then continued onto the Forge of Fury, which I thought was a major letdown. But I did recruit the same group for a Lukomorye-style 3e game for a few months - the second dry run.

The intervening period was one with very little gaming. I spent a year in the former Soviet Union, returned to the US to finish my dissertation, became the father of a second daughter, got a full-time academic job, and then, opted to return to Central Asia to teach for three years. Prior to leaving, I sold off the box of all my old RPGs, going back to the earliest 1e hardcovers, which had some pictures hand-colored in pencil and magic marker. I did not expect to return to RPGs. 

I returned to the US in 2011, and spent a few more years in academia. Two years later, while searching through a cardboard box full of odds and ends in the living room, my daughters discovered a mysterious cloth bag with drawstrings. Pulling on them, they discovered a bunch of strange colorful multisided objects with numbers on them. It was the last physical remnant of my old gaming life. They started to ask what they were, and as they were now 12 and seven, I decided that the time had come to initiate them into the mysteries. I had been completely unaware of what had been happening in the world of D&D for a good decade, so I looked up some rulebooks online, and discovered 4e. The changes from the D&D I knew were quite profound, but it was familiar enough, and the distinctions between the editions were quite lost on the kids, so I figured I would try it out. I made a simple series of tunnels and imported the kobold Meepo from Sunless Citadel as a cute sidekick, which went over pretty well. 

Our playing was pretty irregular, but the subsequent summer, the new 5th edition boxed set appeared. The three of us were visiting my mom, still living in the town where I started by gaming life, and on the day of the release, we triumphantly went to the FLGS, and purchased the box. The same day, the two of them made characters for the Lost Mines module included in the box set. Of course since I was running that game, it came with a twist. Though I didn't have time to design a full-fledged setting at that time, I flipped the map over, making the Sword Coast the eastern edge of a newly discovered continent rather than the western edge of Faerun . Over the next several years, that world evolved into four other campaigns in the Gethen setting (the name was shamelessly stolen, along with much else in that world). Little was left of the Forgotten Realms - Gethen's history that drew on the history of colonial New Netherlands, Tolkien's Akallabeth, the myth of Atlantis, and a rather sardonic view of elves that derived from Yeskov's Last Ringbearer. The longest-lasting of these four was a virtual game initially played over Google Hangouts with my friend from Great Neck, the former grad school roommate, a veteran from the research institute Mage game, and a friend I met at a history conference who, as it later turned out, had also played D&D in the 80s. The game ran, with one long hiatus, for about three years, and it inspired one of the players to set his own home campaign in a world that strongly resembled Gethen.

Lukomorye was an idea that I began to revisit while the main Gethen game was still running. I first made a draft of changeling and shapeshifter races, figuring the latter would be an easy sell, and then recruited the kids. For a time, the first Lukomorye game became a full family game, and within a year, my three nephews joined in as well. One of them became an especially avid gamer, and would pester us to get back to playing as often as one of the characters on Stranger Things. Within a couple of years, I had finished a full draft of the Lukomorye rules variant that I had begun thinking about nearly three decades earlier. For several years, Lukomorye was the only thing I played (aside from a handful of forays as a player on the other side of the screen). To date, there have been five separate Lukomorye campaigns, two of which are still running. There were also two brief spinoffs - one run by a longterm player of mine whom I had met online, the other run by my younger daughter, who based her scenario on the One Night Werewolf card game. Though she hadn't gotten the hang of how to award experience, I thought the way she ran the game was quite inventive.

Shortly after deciding to run games online, I became immersed in internet gaming culture. For me, this meant learning to use online gaming platforms and tools (e.g. mapping software), joining electronic discussion lists and bulletin boards to recruit new players, and following a few streamers. I struck up a few longterm virtual friendships, started this blog, and began to try to gauge the level of interest in possibly publishing Lukomorye. The latter project took me into the Russian segment of online gaming culture, and I even played a couple of games on a Russophone Discord channel. Though most of the players were pretty young, and the DM an almost complete newbie, I found the level of play, and especially, RP, to be quite high. That Russian remained the lingua franca of gamers who now lived in different post-Soviet states was not particularly surprising. But a certain level of skepticism toward my project was. Russian-speaking gamers are still fairly cosmopolitan in cultural outlook (many speak passable English), and a few regarded Lukomorye as a distasteful sort of flag-waving nationalism. Others, conversely, saw it as cultural appropriation, especially since it was written in English. One of these accused me of making the fool character class as emblematic of a Slavic-Russian setting, though my response was that fools appear in many cultures, and their absence in the standard 5e game is a charge that should be leveled at the game's custodians at Wizards of the Coast, not at me. A few actually read the text closely, and were pretty impressed with the range of folkloric, historical, and literary materials on which it drew. But on the whole, I don't think the Russian Internet is ready for Lukomorye. Not quite yet.   

Lukomorye went on hiatus for most of 2020 because I had personal issues to straighten out. Both campaigns returned in the fall of last year as regular fortnightly games. At the same time, I also started a weekly Markwald game, mostly with Lukomorye veterans, but also a few new players. This was a setting I had sketched out shortly before taking my hiatus, but as a Black Death game, it became particularly salient in the intervening period because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Markwald is much closer to a standard 5e game than Lukomorye, though it draws quite a bit from the Lukomorye variants, and, as time goes on, it will probably drift further from the normal 5e ruleset. It is also closer to Gethen than to Lukomorye in being a much more heavily intrigue-based game. I enjoy the whimsical and fairy-tale aspects of both settings, but I do find myself drifting into intrigue, especially when particular arcs become too unilinear and combat-centric. The main Markwald game is now drifting toward the "elves who have seen better days" theme that was so prominent in Gethen, though to compensate, there is a new Markwald campaign with the kids that I will try to keep more oriented around classic Grimm themes - bandits, animals who want to become musicians, and witches with secret forest hideouts.

* * *

I was originally going to conclude this retrospective with some general observations about FRPGs, their impact on my life and on social change, but as I have made my views clear elsewhere on this blog, I'll keep things brief. Role-playing games have greatly impacted my life, probably for good and ill. Though they have distracted me from study, family and career at various points, they have also proved to be an indispensable balm at various points, and have performed this function better than chemicals and therapy most of the time. Recently, I have received communication from a young woman in the Midwest who is engaged in a study of the impact of D&D on building resilience and developing coping skills among LGBTQ+ teens. The issue is of particular interest to me as my daughter, who has been an occasional gamer for over seven years, has recently come out as bi, and also has experienced mental health problems throughout the past year. The possible therapeutic properties of D&D have received a great deal of attention since the advent of 5e, and I try to follow the research and discussion on this subject, though as I've indicated earlier, I do retain concern in individual cases that attempts to implement D&D as therapy can draw upon and reinforce other ethnic and political stereotypes.

The transformation of D&D from a nerd pastime into mainstream culture speaks to the fundamental success of Tolkien's project of creating fantasy literature as a vehicle for the restoration of myth to its proper place in human society - a position one can hold without subscribing to Tolkien's politics. The project of disenchanting modern life and denuding it of ludic elements was never as successful or complete as its partisans let on. What happened was that myth and games were far more intimately wrapped up with exoteric processes - economic competition and growth, ideological politics, and on a cultural level, the the articulation of symbols and archetypes as "the subconscious". Re-enchantment is not, in and of itself, responsible for the mass psychoses of contemporary politics. We humans have always lived in a reality divided into a multiplicity of worlds, and a saner lifestyle necessitates coming to terms with this complexity, rather than decrying it (or, conversely, insisting that all of the myriad worlds around us are identically constituted or of equal value). We have never been disenchanted, but realizing that this is so is a painful process.

The mainstreaming of D&D since the advent of 5e (which roughly coincided with my return to gaming) has exposed the hobby to many of the cultural and political conflicts which were more muted while the hobby remained confined to the margins. These conflicts are the price of success, and need to be accepted, rather than wished away, in hopes that a pristine Golden Age of the 1970s and 80s will return to us, and we can just get back to playing, rather than resolving social and political conflicts. The Golden Age was far from conflict-free, and my own experiences bear witness to the scars gamers inflicted on one another (this despite the fact that today, I am not categorized as belonging to a disadvantaged group). At the same time, it will not do to reject the lessons of the past simply because times have changed, and we now know better. Yes, the hobby needs to be more inclusive, and it is the stronger for it. But that doesn't mean that we need every setting to valorize every identity. We play these games to construct different worlds, with different rules. Often, historical and mythological models are much richer than contemporary fantasy, even though they often features that are distasteful to the contemporary mentality. We must take this mentality into account when we invite players into our worlds, but we also need to keep in mind that playing in these worlds is about learning to deal with adversity - something that epic heroes knew well. That is why the 'tyranny of fun' can in fact be tyrannical - because it homogenizes worlds and playing experiences, which some believe have to be equalized for everybody.

The same thing, it should be said, applies to gaming's 'narrative turn'. Play is better when suffused with compelling stories and compelling characters. But ideas about dramatic structure often derive from very few sources, typically filtered through recent mass culture. To my mind, the use of dice and randomness are actually more epic, because they are much better at modeling the incommensurability of forces, the disjuncture between humans, spirits, and gods, the tragedy and the comedy of the epic, than standardized narrative structures. Relatedly, the penchant for 'rules-light' systems and a preference for 'rulings not rules' or the 'rule of cool' miss the fact that the continuity of gaming culture, and, in fact, the survival of D&D as top dog in the hobby are a product of the fact that rules and structure help create continuity. Even "gatekeeping", often decried, can play a positive role. When people argue about rules and their application, when people learn systems and become more adept at applying them toward creating more effective characters or challenging encounters, they actually create strengthen community: discussions proliferate, and models to emulate arise. There is no reason why models and discussions cannot be technical (as well as dramaturgical [see Matt Mercer]). And after all, few would remember Tolkien to day if he stopped writing after the Hobbit. It was the Lord of the Rings, with its histories, its linguistics, and its genealogies that made Middle Earth nerd-bait, but also an institution.

All of this helps account for the fact that I do not really mind being a Forever DM (though this also comes with age). I have definite ideas about how I think this game should work, and I like being able to put these ideas into practice. Of course, other people have ideas, too. I am, finally, starting to play a little more. Enough to see that others' ideas are also good, sometimes.  😆

  




 

Thursday, December 31, 2020

The Classes of Markwald

In this post, I'll be primarily talking about "reskinning" class lore for a late-medieval setting (such as Markwald). Aside from drawing on historical elements, I'll be basing this discussion on earlier thoughts about class structure and regulation. Though I'm not in favor of forcing PCs into class ghettoes, playing against type still presupposes awareness of type, and the fact that there are in-game social pressures affecting the most important aspect of their existence - their life's calling. In certain instances, negotiating these pressures may affect level advancement. Lastly, in some cases, the class structures will depart from historical precedent to incorporate more fantasy elements.

On the whole, although I'm writing these for my own playing purposes, I hope people outside my playing circle will find these useful or adaptable in their own worldbuilding and character building endeavors.



Artificer (Erschaffer)


The calling of an Artificer is a new one in Markwald, having only come into being in the last century. As the economy boomed and new or rediscovered knowledge spread throughout Gaalite lands, skilled artisans from a variety of professions acquired increased opportunities to break free of established social structures and to seek fame and fortune by designing ever more ingenious devices. Recent crises have made people possessing such talents more scarce, but the Church, towns, and especially, the magnates still seek to patronize inventors, and to turn their artifices into profit and political gain.

Zunft der Apotheker (Guild of Apothecaries [Alchemist]).

The Apothecaries have their roots in the Guild of Grocers. As the towns and the population of the surrounding countryside grew, and became better supplied with various foodstuffs, grocers guilds, specializing in the sale and preservation of food and drink began to be established. These guilds sought to uphold professional standards, regulate prices, establish training practices, and provide mutual aid. As new products from overseas found markets in Markwald, Grocers' Guilds came to include spicers and pepperers. But local healers also supplied such guilds with herbs and with recruits, and the development of recipes for syrups, wines and medicines soon fell under their purview as well. Some members became associated with the guilds of barber-surgeons and physicians. The most skilled of these came into contact with Learned Doctors of Medicine, initially by way of being their suppliers.

The grocers and barber-surgeons cooperated with the Learned Doctors quite closely, and learned much from the books the latter translated and produced. But soon, the two groups also began to develop tensions. The members of the craft guilds found the theoretical knowledge propagated by the Learned Doctors to be overly abstract and ineffective at healing patients. By developing more effective treatments, some physicians acquired a large clientele and prospered economically, which made the Learned Doctors, who possessed higher status, jealous. Finally, the physicians and one school of Learned Doctors clashed over the name - both proclaimed themselves as Alchemists, but the Learned Doctors asserted that they sought nobler goals, and, as champions of a more theoretical science, presented no threat to the Church and its divinely inspired healers. Ecclesiastical and lay authorities sided with the scholars - they got to keep the Alchemist moniker, while the practical physicians, now more likely to be tarred as "witches", were reorganized as the Guild of Apothecaries. Though doing this provided a measure of social and economic control by the authorities, it also allowed the apothecaries themselves to develop stricter training practices and initiation rituals, thereby increasingly keeping their craft secrets to themselves. With formal organization, guild activity also became more local. Some apothecaries opened shops in their houses, and started to plant herb gardens in the back. 

The imposition of regulation has caused a decline in the standard of living as price ceilings for their services were set. The new guilds tended to be rare, as only the largest towns could support distinct apothecaries' guilds. As a result, apothecaries are often forced to supplement their incomes and fund their investigations through dubious practices, namely, smuggling, and the sale of poisons. As a rule, their relationship with Mage Alchemists and priests is quite tense, though they still have strong links with the guilds of grocers and barber-surgeons.

[Note: an Erschaffer who intends to enter the Guild of Apothecaries may exchange either the proficiency in Thieves' Tools or in Tinkers' Tools for one with Herbalists' Tools.]

Zunft der Büchsenmeister (Guild of Gunsmiths [Artillerist]).

The manufacture of firearms is still in its infancy. The practice seems to have come from cities in the Vallanda south, but mention of cannons and black powder crops up in recent manuals by Learned Doctors, who aver that use of fireworks originated in the East. The casting of fire-wands and metal balls, on the other hand, seems to have been acquired from the dwarfs (and it is possible that they may have their own sources of sulfur and saltpeter, and their own ancient recipes of mixing them). As far as most people know, the idea of drawing on these diverse sources of knowledge for the production of cannons belongs to individual smiths who worked together with both groups. Initially, they manufactured small, hand-held cannons to be used on shipboard, but in recent years, they have begun to experiment with the arquebus as an infantry weapon. Some smiths also worked with carpenters to construct catapults that fire explosives.

Like the apothecaries, smith-engineers developed a complex relationship with magi among the Learned Doctors. Though the knowledge came from arcane tomes, magi favored evoking the power of the elements through arcane incantation, whereas the smith-engineers sought to make this power more widely accessible through the making of devices. The Church sought to control both - by confining the magi to their studies, and issuing several condemnations of black powder as "demonic". The magnates, however, did not want to let go of a good thing that conferred military advantages. A few of them contracted smith-engineers to work under their protection at arsenals. In the last decades, one ducal family has set up the first Guild of Gunsmiths the city of Kreuzgang, enabling it to control production while also to establish gun smithing as a legitimate institution. From there, it has begun to spread to other towns, though prohibitive costs have made the diffusion of such guilds a slow process. 

The strategic importance of their work does make the few gunsmiths in Markwald quite powerful. Their guilds are less manufacturers' unions than corporate monopolies. They jealously guard their secrets and work to prohibit all competition within their principalities, threatening to defect to other states if magnates impose any sorts of restrictions. They claim the right to mine and to procure wood for their smelting operations anywhere except ecclesiastical lands (though in practice, they often violate this restriction as well). It is known that Master Gunsmiths maintain close relationships with dwarfs, though their hunger for raw materials sometimes precipitates open conflict. In recent times, the dwarfs have apparently stopped sharing their secrets with the Büchsenmeister.

[Note: an Erschaffer who intends to enter the Guild of Gunsmiths may exchange either the proficiency in Thieves' Tools or in Tinkers' Tools for one with Smiths' Tools.]

Zunft der Uhrmacher (Guild of Clockmakers [Battlesmith]).

The background of Clockmakers lies in monastic life. As population grew, so did demands for higher food yields, and monastic establishments, as major landowners, put their best minds to use in improving the designs of watermills and windmills to make this possible. With time, the production of labor-saving devices became a goal in and of itself - the more work done by machines, the more time monks had for prayer and contemplation. The increasing precision of the labor-saving devices in turn led to reconceptualizing the nature of Time. Rather than a mutable entity that varied with the seasons and the action of heavenly bodies, it came to be perceived as a something abstract, regular, and fully divine property, which for that reason, could not be wasted, and had to be calculated with the utmost precision. Prayers, festivals and fasts had to be conducted at exactly the right time, and for this to happen, artifices that allowed the exact calculation of the right time had to be constructed. 

With this in mind, monasteries began to recruit skilled masons and engineers, who were already engaged in building cathedrals, to install complex clockworks in the new structures. The masons began to read learned tomes produced by university-trained scholars, in order to become familiar with foreign writings on sundials, hourglasses, water clocks, as well as various hydraulic devices, mirrors, and lenses. They also studied with alchemists to familiarize themselves with the use of quicksilver in hydraulic devices. In due time, the construction of perpetual motion machines, which would never stop and cause people to lose track of time, became an obsession similar to the making of the Philosopher's Stone. Moreover, a perpetual motion machine could perform a variety of labor-saving, logistical, and military tasks. As they learned more about the wondrous artifices built for the powerful potentates of the East, clockmakers began to experiment with diverse kinds of automata. 

Not surprisingly, the most prominent Clockmakers soon became widely celebrated masters who not only became fabulously wealthy, but also wanted their fame to be preserved for posterity. They engraved their names into their artifices and structures, embedded hidden messages in their machines, and built automata that would resemble their creators. In response to such prideful displays, the Church sought to reorganize the Clockmakers as a guild which would regulate the power of the masters and make them swear oaths to uphold orthodox Gaalite beliefs and practices. This caused the number and status of Clockmakers to decline. Yet, building clockwork automata continues to be important as it raises the status of Church prelates and secular magnates, so remaining Clockmakers retain a measure of autonomy compared to other artisans. There are rumors to the effect that the best of them collaborate with dwarfs and kobolds in order to build ever more intricate devices. 

[Changes to the standard Battlesmith archetype:

1. Artificers who intend to adopt this archetype may exchange either the proficiency in Thieves' Tools or in Tinkers' Tools for one with Mason's Tools.

2. Uhrmacher spells that count as Erschaffer spells for you, and are always prepared include the following (replace the Battlemaster spells with these):

3rd level: Shield, Tenser's Floating Disk

5th level: Knock, Mirror Image

9th level: Haste, Hypnotic Pattern

13th level: Confusion, Conjure Minor Elemental

17th level: Animate Objects, Wall of Light  

3. Spellcasting - general. Spells with a range of Self can be cast on the automaton instead as long as you are within 30 feet of it when casting the spell. 

4. Upon entry into this specialization at 3rd level, Clockmakers do not gain the Battle Ready feature. Instead, they acquire the Peerless Engineer feature, which confers the following advantages:

a. They are good at finding True North, and may make Survival rolls to determine direction with advantage.

b. They always know the number of hours left before the next sunrise or sunset.

c. They can make Mnemonics rolls to recall anything heard or seen within the last month with advantage.

d. You may add your half of your Intelligence modifier (round down) to the Might of the Master feature of your automaton (Steel Defender), - i.e. not to your own attack and damage rolls.

5. The Extra Attack Feature gained at 5th level may be used by your automaton (Steel Defender), not by you.]    

Zunft der Waffenmeister (Guild of Armorers [Armorer]).

The armorers' guilds are among the more traditional craft guilds in Markwald and surrounding areas, but they have undergone somewhat of a transformation in the last century. With the increased use of blunt weapons and crossbows, mail became insufficient protection, and armorers began to experiment with augmenting greaves and bracers into full body covering. As these changes transpired, the price of armor began to rise tremendously. High-end enterprises began to cluster in imperial cities and the courts of only the most powerful magnates. The guild in the Free City of Einhorn became a particularly prominent manufacturing center, with high-end customers all over Gaalite lands. They began to manufacture specialized ceremonial and jousting suits, which, however, were too heavy and impractical to wear on the battlefield.

With higher prices came an increase in status. Master armorers insisted on new members and noble patrons respecting established traditions. The Einhorn guild was particularly strict in insisting that different pieces of the suits be produced by specialist artisans. The situation was somewhat freer among Vallanda armor manufacturers, and some among the Tungri chafed at the restrictions, and the fact that the guild masters pocketed most of the profits from the sales. They sought to break away by opening smaller, boutique enterprises in other cities, where they could have fuller control over the manufacturing process. Some also sought to produce armor with more wondrous features, so as to be able to draw customers away from the larger shops.

Some of the latter masters began to read the learned treatises of other artificers in order to learn how to install ever more complex decorations and accessories, and how to adopt the ceremonial armors to practical uses. A few masters reached out to the dwarfs for arcane supplies, such as magical gems. But with the spread of famines and plagues, that trade began to run dry. Desperate armorers sought to reopen the routes to the dwarf halls and mines. Thus, despite their greater conservatism relative to other Erschaffer, the Waffenmeister will pay or cooperate with anyone to reestablish those links. 

   

Bard (Sänger)


Song is eternal, and rhyme, meter, and volume are everywhere verbal components of any spell. But the bards and scops of old are no more - their voices ring out no more, or are pushed to the remote ends of the world. Their tales of heroes and the Old Gods have been set down in writing and secreted away, so that the people no longer hear and learn from them. But several centuries ago, new chanting traditions have come into being, ones that incorporate a nominally Gaalite demeanor.

Minnesänger (Valor Bard). 

The Minnesang school (if it can be called such) emerged from the lands to the southeast, where the songs of the mystic Paynims found enthusiastic hearers among the Gaalite nobility, who would refer to them as 'troubadours'. Their emotional, romantic, epic style has since evolved into a distinct tradition which expounds the ideals of chivalry, courtly love, and heroic deeds in the name of faith. The main focus of their songs is the unattainability of their ideals, which are nevertheless worth striving for. The love (Minne) they sing of that gives the school its name is usually unrequited or unattainable. The deeds they memorialized were those of heroes who strove for the impossible (like the Holy Grail), or those who had tragically perished long ago.

Minnesänger are typically members of the aristocracy, and perform for their own social circle. They travel from place to place as part of a high lord's (or high lady's) retinue, so they typically don't have to worry about singing for their supper. Though their audience is exclusive, their high social status ensures that their songs are learned and passed down through every layer of society.

As part of the elite, Minnesänger take part in knightly tournaments, where they compete for prizes for best performance just like jousters compete for the title of champion. Their training for such tournaments from a young age accounts for their martial prowess. And as a result, boasts have also entered their repertoire. A particularly humiliating defeat may result in an ability to advance in level, and possibly a loss of XP. These setbacks are a particular danger at levels where they would gain school (College) features.

In the wake of the Plague, there have been attempts to establish regulated guilds of singers who perform Minnesänger material. These performers - urban commoners, are called Meistersinger.

Spruchdichter (Lore Bard).

Where the Minnesänger are aristocratic virtuosi, the Spruchdichter are professionals. Early on, they were taught by the Minnesänger, who sometimes composed more complex poems (Spruch - literally, 'sayings') that dealt with the search for Truth, Knowledge, and Virtue. As some began to specialize in this more didactic kind of poetry, a distinct school began to form. Its adherents were not necessarily members of the noble estate - clerics, as well as burgers began to take part, and thus, to seek out patronage at courts, cloisters, and cities. Thus, they acquired a larger audience, though their relationship with it was complex - on the one hand, they sought to instruct them in wisdom, on the other hand, they were dependent on them. Losing favor meant having to move and to seek out new patrons - the Spruchdichter are, if anything, more itinerant than the Minnesänger. But life on the road and moving from court to court could also mean expanded access to more lore. 

As their repertoire increased, so did the subject matter of their lays, which began to concern not only questions of court life and ethics, but political commentary, contemplation of nature and the cosmos, and sexuality (in a more raw way than the Minnesänger). Their poetry is sometimes referred to as 'gnomic' - as it referred to opinions and teachings about the world (and, as the meaning of the term expanded, the variety of creatures that resided in it). As the Spruchdichter expanded into more controversial territory and satire (sometimes at the expense of their audience and patrons, who they criticized as dense or unappreciative), they often drew unwelcome reactions from ecclesiastical and lay authorities (though they themselves always insisted that their poetry was in the service of God and the world).

Spruchdichter also engage in contests with their rivals, which are arguably more intense, because their very survival was at stake (and because the competition frequently involved patrons as well as rivals). Feuds with rivals sometimes become chronic, drawn-out affairs. Repeated defeats might mean obstacles to level advancement; overly frank or pedantic performances can lead to expulsion, imprisonment, and worse.

Ménestrel (Glamor Bard)

Though traveling musicians providing popular entertainment never disappeared, the minstrels, as their name implies, were originally servants, who 'ministered' to the Minnesänger, who, ironically replaced them as the entertainers of choice at courts and castles. It is from them that they initially acquired their material. Minstrels do not typically compose their own songs, but develop variations of existing epic poems, as well as folksongs, legends, limericks, and other verse. On the other hand, they are more musically and dramatically omnivorous, being less subject to the stricter rules of courtly poetry. Ménestrel play a variety of musical instruments, they are jugglers, clowns, actors, puppeteers, storytellers, and animal tamers.  

As a much larger and more diverse group than either of the other two types of Sänger, minstrels appear to lack structure. Indeed, many if not most members of minstrel troupes are not Sänger at all - they might be tricksters, animal handlers, or fools. However, there have been recent attempts to regulate them by establishing a 'court of minstrels' - a guild with its own 'king', who holds minstrels to account, and prohibits them from performing in towns under a certain ruler's jurisdiction if they do not join up, or abide by the regulations.

However, the minstrels' popularity may be the product of another uniting element - their links to the Fee. The most prominent minstrels received their training from elven musicians, or may in fact themselves be elves or changelings in disguise. A certain famous rat catcher, who was not properly remunerated for his services, ended up luring away the town's children. The connection with rats leads people to suspect that powerful minstrels are in fact agents (or even puppet masters) of the Sensenmann, though some fear that the theft of children has other, even more nefarious purposes. Whatever the truth of the matter, there are suspicious that minstrels are secretly in the service of the elven royalty. Such fears elicit persecution. But it may also be the case that advancing in the class necessitates various services to the elven secret masters.   

Vaganten (Eloquence Bard)

As population grew and education spread, families with at least some means at their disposal sought to place non-inheriting children in universities, so they could at least pursue an ecclesiastical career. Unfortunately, the numbers of students grew much faster than the number of vacant benefices, which resulted in the proliferation of unemployed, overeducated, and undertrained clerics taking to the road, looking for work, and generally, causing trouble. Referred to as 'wandering clerics' or simply "vagrants" (Vaganten), these disaffected but eloquent folk traveled from town to town, festival to festival, and tavern to tavern, often getting together with others of their kind, and composing ribald poetry and songs in the scholarly Valland tongue. The poems typically praised drinking, the pleasures of the flesh and satirized the life of priests - precisely the kinds of things actual clerics could not countenance. The Vaganten also loved to engage in theological disputation with anyone who would listen, and to compose anthems to their glory days at university.

In their travels, they not only formed strong bonds with one another, but on occasion, found the most unlikely patrons. The most famous of these was an orc named Golias, who took over an abandoned castle (which he used as the base of operations for his brigandage). Once, when raiding a small nearby town, he encountered a group of Vaganten in a tavern. The latter invited him for a drink, and got on so famously with him that they followed him back to his haunt and became his lifelong companions. dubbing their leader the Drinking King. Since then, Vaganten have also come to be known as Goliards, and many shiftless persons with a smattering of education who deems themselves to be a wit have attempted to join this school. Some do, in fact, follow the original Goliards in making a living from brigandage, though most survive through the patronage of family or friends, or the money they make as traveling performers or paid rabble-rousers.

Often, Vaganten will have the Vagabond background, though quite a few of them will have been Attendants (Acolytes) with at least some clerical or university training. This is sometimes reflected in their spell choices - not a few start out knowing various healing prayers, and most will know the Valland language, in which they compose songs and rhymes. Of all subclasses, the Vaganten are among the most likely to multiclass (commonly, they are former friars, though a very few return to an ecclesiastical calling later in life.


Expert (Handwerker)


Most practitioners of trades are either peons in the service of a landowner, or belong to a craft guild. In the former case (such as fishers, gardeners or herders), practitioners typically did not own the tools of their trade and had to pay landlords or the community of villagers for their use. In the latter case, a person is initially apprenticed to a master with whom they live for a number of years. Upon the completion of their training, they may receive certification as journeymen, who were granted their own set of tools, and received the right to collect daily wages for their work. Occasionally, journeymen travel to other locations, acquiring experience and learning new techniques under different masters. Upon the payment of a fee to their requisite guild, receiving the approval of all the masters in their chosen city, and the production of a masterpiece, they may be accepted as master crafters, and full-fledged members of a guild. In some cities, guilds are divided into "greater" (e.g. weavers, moneychangers, physicians) and "lesser" (e.g. bakers, leatherworkers, chandlers), with the flatter having larger memberships, and the former producing more value-added products, and participating in the city's political life. 

Unlike artificers, the vast majority of tradespeople learn crafts that are relatively common. Additionally, survival dictates that they devote their lives to their trades, and various regulations imposed by nobility, Church, or guild. In exceptional cases, however, Handwerker can acquire a highly varied set of skills, and thus avoid being associated with only a single locale or guild. The most outstanding masters may in fact be proficient in a number of different skills, and the quality and originality of their work can cause the great to compete with one another for their services. Alternatively, journeymen may fail to become masters in the trade they were trained in, and may switch professions while still retaining the skills associated with their initial trade. Occasionally, exceptional circumstances (wars, plagues, famines) may cause journeymen and masters to take to the road to search for a means of survival. And in the rarest of cases all, a Handwerker may decide to seek fame and fortune and to "go forth into the world, because their little workshops are simply too small for their valor". Such people become jacks-of-all-trades, though they continue to be primarily associated with a particular guild or community, and to receive the benefits of membership or belonging. Those that do manage win fame in the wider world are often jealously regarded by more commonplace comrades, however. In the eyes of some, they are rogues, though Handwerker generally lack experience in any sort of criminal underworld, and get ahead in the world by relying on their wits and hard work. 

[Changes to the Expert Sidekick Class:

1. HP. Assuming Medium size, Handwerker receive 1d8 per level.    

2. Proficiencies: At first level, may select any five skill proficiencies, any two tool proficiencies, and proficiencies in light armor and simple weapons. Handwerker are also proficient in Dexterity saving throws. They may further choose a second saving throw proficiency in either Intelligence or Charisma.

3. Starting Equipment: If taking the package, you may begin with one simple melee weapon; a suit of a) leather armor, b) padded armor or c) heavy coat (equivalent to padded); a set of artisan tools, an explorer's pack, and a set of travelers' clothes. If you prefer to buy your equipment à la carte, you start with 3d4 x 10 gp. 

4. The Helpful Feature. In addition to being able to take the Help action as a Bonus Action, you may also pass your Reaction (if granted one) to any ally located within 5 feet of you.

5.  The Expertise feature at 3rd level (and its upgrade at 15th level) are eliminated (but see below for replacements).

6. At 3rd level, you may select from among the following confraternities: Virtuoso (Meisterhaft), Jack-of-All-Trades (Alleskönner), and Fame Seeker (Ruhmgesucht). You gain additional confraternity features at 5th, 9th, 13th, 15th, and 17th level. 

a. Virtuoso (Meisterhaft). You are an exceptionally skilled practitioner of your trade. Though a true specialist, your work draws upon a unique combination of skills. As a result, you have attracted attention from among the great and powerful, who make offers to draw you into their service. Though fine work and professionalism are your highest ideals, you may be drawn by the promise of wealth and a comfortable life. Many virtuosos are suspicious of their employers, whose priorities they often find dishonorable, and who lack understanding of things that matter. You may find pleasure in the company of other virtuosos, because they do understand, but are likely to be very competitive with those of them that perform work similar to yours.

  • At 3rd level, you gain the Craft Expertise feature. You can select two skill proficiencies, two tool proficiencies, or a combination of each that you already possess and double your proficiency bonus in them. In addition, you gain the Inspired Master feature. When you score a 20 or higher in a skill or tool in which you have Expertise, you gain a point of Inspiration. The score must be scored on the first attempt - you cannot make consecutive checks in the same endeavor. Your total Inspiration points thus acquired cannot exceed the score of your Dexterity modifier. You may select two more skills and/or tools to upgrade to Craft Expertise status at 15th level. 

  • At 5th level, you gain the Battle Élan feature, allowing you to can use one of your accumulated points of Inspiration to make an Extra Attack on your turn when taking an Attack action. If you take 8 hours, you may also use Superb Crafting with a tool you are proficient in. After you finish a long rest, the item created becomes a Common magical item (consult with your GM to see which items are allowed in the setting). If appropriate, the item requires attunement to use, and takes up an attunement slot. 

  •  At 9th level, you can improve Superb Crafting with Marvelous Craftsmanship to produce Uncommon magical items.   

  •  At 13th level, the item you can improve Marvelous Craftsmanship with Peerless Craftsmanship to produce Rare magical item. 

  • At 17th level, you can produce Masterworks, which allows the improvement of Peerless Crafting to produce Very Rare magical item.

b. Jack-of-All-Trades (Alleskönner). You are a life-long journeyman, forced to take to the road because of a disaster or injustice, or simply your refusal to settle down in any particular place. Your need to survive (or your natural curiosity) has caused you to become a quick study, and to pick up a variety of different skills. Though you may never become a master in a particular trade, your travels have likely forced you to form friendships with people in similar circumstances. While you may have difficulty in gaining access to the powerful, you don't expect life to be fair, and you probably have bonds with a far-flung network of other Alleskkönner. 

  • At 3rd level, you gain the Jack-of-All Trades feature. You may add +1 to any skill in which you lack proficiency. You also earn proficiency in a new skill, new tool, and new language. Lastly, you become proficient in medium armor and shields. If you take 8 hours, you may improve any armor you have by +1, using raw materials that cost half as much as a regular suit of armor. 

  •  At 5th level, you make create an Improvised Tool during a short rest. The raw material cost will be one half of the normal toolset cost. This tool will be able to function as any artisan tool you require, and you can make checks with it using your proficiency modifier. In addition, you may now add your proficiency bonus to attack rolls and damage rolls with Improvised weapons. Subject to normal restrictions, you may use larger (medium-sized, or perhaps larger) improvised weapons, which do 1d6 damage (or more) per attack. Generally, such weapons have the Heavy or Very Heavy property. You may use improvised items to serve as shields (+1 to AC).

  •  At 9th level, you may add an additional die of damage to improvised weapon attacks. 

  •  At 13th level, you may add two extra dice of damage to improvised weapon attacks. 

  •  At 15th level, the Jack-of-All-Trades feature allows you to add +2 to any skill in which you lack proficiency. You also become proficient in a new skill and a new tool, and learn an additional language. 

  •  At 17th level, you may add three additional dice of damage to improvised weapon attacks.

c. Fame-seeker (Ruhmgesucht). The oddballs amongst the Handwerker, Fame-seekers simply get it into their head that they are not mere craftspersons, but superheroes. Their workshops have become to confined, and they must go forth and share their skill and glory with the rest of the world; unlike the Jacks-of-All-Trade, their estimation of the world and their own talent are entirely unrealistic, but sometimes, their blind ambition causes them to succeed despite the odds. Chances are, they have heard of other Fame-seekers, and likely think of them as charlatans. But under pressure from outsiders, the Ruhmgesucht do unite into something that looks like a confraternity. 

  • At 3rd level, Ruhmgesucht gain the Boastful feature. They learn the Vicious Mockery cantrip, which, however, they can use either as a Bonus action or a Reaction. If the target fails the save, the Fame-seeker may add their Charisma modifier (minimum 1) to their next Attack and damage rolls, or to their next tool or skill check. At 5th, 11th, and 17th level, they add an additional d4 of damage to this attack. In addition, they gain the Can't Touch This! feature, and may take an 8-hour period to manufacture an item (like a belt), which subsequently allows them to add their Charisma modifier to their AC score. 

  •  At 5th level, Fame-seekers gain the Crafty Misdirection feature. When attacked by an opponent, they can use a Reaction to contest the attack roll by a Deception roll. If they win the contest, the opponent must make an attack on another creature within 5 feet of the Fame-seeker. 

  •  At 9th level, Fame-seekers gain the Schadenfreude feature. When making a successful Boast, the Ruhmgesucht may add the amount of damage delivered to their own HP total. If this takes them over the HP maximum, they may record the excess as Temporary HP. Once they do this, they cannot attempt Schadenfreude again until they finish a short rest. 

  •  At 13th level, you gain the Instigate feature, and may add your Charisma modifier to Initiative rolls.  

  •  Swagger. At 15th level, if you make a successful boast, you can add the damage to your next successful attack in the same encounter. 

  •  At 17th level, you gain the Help Yourself feature. You may apply the advantages of the Help action to yourself regardless whether there is or is not an ally within range.


Fighter (Krieger)


Though peasants and townspeople are called to take up arms or serve in militias on occasion, those who devote their lives to military pursuits either form a distinct social grouping, or take up such a profession precisely for the purpose of social advancement. Arms are among the most expensive goods one can purchase, so without family wealth or some sort of sponsorship, becoming a warrior is simply not affordable for the vast majority of the population. It should be noted that, fairly or unfairly, the Tungren (the main 'nation' residing in Markwald and neighboring areas) have the reputation of being a most bellicose people.

Ritter (Cavalier).

The Ritter (knights) are a hereditary warrior aristocracy. Their origins go back to the armed retinue of Tungrisch warlords of roughly a millennium ago. Joining the retinue of a chieftain or hero necessitated an oath, which bound the new companion to defend or avenge the leader at all costs in exchange for material rewards, initially, captured booty or slaves, and later, grants of land. Initially, the followers who belonged to the host fought on foot, but during the rule of Kaiser Hermann several centuries later, the retinue became largely mounted (hence Ritter, etymologically related to 'rider'). At this time, the right to ride horses into battle and to bear swords on most occasions became hereditary, as did the land-grants awarded to faithful members of the retinue. The fact that the servitors were now mounted greatly increased their mobility, and made far-flung conquests possible. In subsequent centuries, knights whose families acquired benefices during the age of Hermann and his successors became the aristocratic elite of virtually the whole Gaalite world (as the Ecumenical Faith conceives it). They were particularly active in the religious wars against the Paynims and the expansion into heathen lands to the East. As the system of inheritance began to favor the first child, younger children became particularly active in such campaigns, which allowed them to found their own dynasties in regions far from the Tungrisch heartlands.

Over the last century and a half, as knights became a clearly identifiable estate, a code of conduct called Ritterlichkeit developed in order to set them apart from the rest of the population (and from other warriors). This code, largely derived from the ethos of the elite Paynim warriors, combined martial, religious and courtly values, including strength, valor, piety, dignity, humility, loyalty, service, restraint, courtesy, and devoted love. Most prospective knights, born into the knightly estate, serve as pages and squires to noble patrons, and upon being dubbed knights (usually at age 21) are expected to recite a pledge, sealed by a priest or bishop, to uphold all of the above values. In addition to the code of conduct, an entire knightly culture and system of symbols developed. To uphold and defend the code, knights are expected to participate in tournaments, where both physical and social prowess is tested. A loss at a tournament typically make one's horse and armor forfeit to the winner, and must be redeemed by buying it back. Additionally, hunting (including falconry) became a knightly activity per excellence, and a complex system of heraldry fostering the visual representation of personal and family accomplishments developed as well. 

The chivalric code and its associated culture is particularly identified with the Gallisch kingdom, lying to the west of Markwald and neighboring lands. The Tungri, in the popular imagination of foreigners, are commonly regarded as a warlike people whose behavior isn't sufficiently tempered by Ritterlichkeit. Nevertheless, knights who habitually blaspheme, exhibit disloyalty to their liege, act discourteously toward the opposite sex, or behave dishonorably at tournaments may lose their knighthood. After an initial warning, a knight can be degraded, which results in a loss of all privileges associated with the martial archetype. A knight is able to perform penance to be restored to the station, but a second degradation makes the loss of status permanent. A degraded knight may, under certain conditions, select a different archetype when reaching a level when fighters normally gain new archetype features. However, the loss of knightly privileges, such as tax exemption, the right to family property, and access to elite persons and institutions (such as tournaments, or the expectation that one can expect to be ransomed after being taken captive) cannot be regained in this manner.

Waffenknecht (Battle Master).

The person-at-arms, or armed servitor, is a very broad category of people, and constitutes the vast majority of fighters. Though it technically includes the Ritter, most Waffenknechte are not knights, though they are trained in the use of a variety of arms and armor, and some possess horsemanship skills as well. Through the demonstration of extreme military prowess, Waffenknechte may gain knighthood, and as they approach the next level at which they gain archetype attributes, they may switch specialization to Ritter, though they are not required to do so (they may still gain the social benefits of knighthood, as described above). Many who possess the necessary attributes and character to succeed at martial pursuits typically become Waffenknechte as the most likely path to upward mobility. In practice, most people in this category are members of the gentry or other types of lower nobility who are rich enough to afford the equipment, but do not wish to take on the costs and responsibilities of knighthood. Others are particularly successful members of town militias or common levies demobilized after large-scale wars. 

In recent decades, Waffenknechte have acquired distinct characteristics that mark them off from their forebears and from other types of warriors. First, unlike knights, they are generally professional mercenaries who fight for pay rather than obligation to a particular lord, though the 'mercenary companies' they work for, despite being profit-oriented, are commonly headed by knights or municipal organizations, and at least some members are bound to the leaders by loyalty oaths. Many, however, are itinerant, and travel the countryside in search of employment (they are called Reisläufer - those who travel to war). Second, they are, more and more often, composed of warriors who specialize in infantry tactics. As knightly armor became heavier, infantry units developed pole-arms and organizational tactics as asymmetrical responses to cavalry charge tactics. Krieger belonging to this archetype commonly select Polearm Master, Sentinel, Crossbow Expert, Martial Adept, or Shield Master feats. Note that these tactics are often considered dishonorable by knights, though nothing prevents them from taking those feats or adopting associated tactics. Within the company, individual fighters often specialize in particular roles - e.g. point, tactician, archer, skirmisher, or quartermaster. The companies as a whole have also developed traditions and signage - slang, hazing rituals, marching songs, banners, etc. Because companies are often composed of people sharing a language or geographic origin, this contributes to rivalry between companies, and often, fights to protect the company's honor, even if the two companies are technically fighting on the same side. In certain locales, mercenary companies have developed into something resembling a private police force, guarding certain roads, and collecting duties from travelers. Many companies fight in locales far from home. It is the duty of the leaders to find conflicts to be involved in, so that the soldiers continue to receive pay. Often, when employers fail to pay, the company simply switches sides and fights for its erstwhile enemies.

When not bound by specific loyalty oaths, members of mercenary companies are have contracts that stipulate their pay, the length of their service, and various benefits (such as remuneration in case their mount is killed, or armor is damaged). However, pay is often delayed, and it is commonly understood that Waffenknechte have to live off the land in order to survive. This often leads to requisitioning food supplies, taking hostages, and sometimes, outright brigandage. Those who hire outsider Waffenknechte typically seek to get rid of them as soon as their term of service expires. It would be atypical for a city or magnate to grant their leaders hereditary or political recognition (e.g. a place on a local city council) - in fact, Waffenknechte are often hired precisely because they do not threaten a region's social balance. 

Nibelung (Eldritch Knight).

In the ancient days when the Vallanda Empire was collapsing, numerous warlike tribes settled within its territory, and set up de facto independent kingdoms. One of these was the kingdom of Feregund, ruled over by a warlord named Gundacar, or Gunther. Many members of Gunther's family claimed descent from the Fee, and to possess magical powers. Gunther's honor guard, called the Nibelungen, were said to consist of warriors who practiced the magic arts. This was a time of great chaos and strife, when the Fee emerged in great numbers to try to wrest control of the earth from humans. Gunther's descendants were subsequently defeated by the much larger and more powerful Kingdom of the Tungri (from which the contemporary Tungren get their name), and intermarried with the victorious dynasty. But King Odbrecht, its ruler, was the scion of a dynasty that itself had magical roots. Called the 'sorcerer kings', it claimed to derive from a marine being called a quinotaur. Odbrecht incorporated the Nibelungen into his own honor guard, which adopted the Feregund name. The unit persisted for several centuries, becoming increasingly endogamous, and associated with a noble house closely related to that of the king. When the Odbrechti were overthrown by Kaiser Hermann, the Nibelungen were dissolved, suspected as they were of sorcery and heresy by the Church, which had given Hermann its blessing for the coup. Nevertheless, Hermann's uncle, also named Nibelung (and called "the Historian") compiled records of the group and its members, that were subsequently secreted away. It is suspected that Nibelung the Historian also passed down a code and system of rules whereby survivors would be able to locate one another and to perpetuate some sort of group identity.  

To what degree the Nibelungen still exist as a recognizable group is difficult to tell. Yet there are still people in the mold of Nibelung the Historian who make it their primary aim to locate people descended from the Nibelung bloodline, or the related House of Odbrecht. Such people are sometimes born within the family of landless knights, or become persons-at-arms before the power of their blood makes itself manifest. When it happens, chroniclers, who are adept at divinatory magic contact them, and begin to initiate them into a secret order. Some are never located or contacted, perhaps for reasons of their safety - being identified as a Nibelung can easily bring forth charges of heresy and sorcery. Worse, those who are so identified are likely to be tortured so that they reveal their secrets and their network of contacts. For this reason, Nibelungen are likely to masquerade as knights or persons-at-arms, at times, honestly, because they do not know that their strange gifts make them part of a specific bloodline.

For those who are aware of their Nibelung status, the following things are paramount. One, they are made aware of their bloodline, and have to memorize their descent to the bloodline's non-human founder (it is possible that various beings have been busy creating new Nibelungen in the recent past, or that new Nibelungen may in fact be non-human to begin with). Second, Nibelungen must maintain a visible sign of their membership. The most common is to keep their hair long and to refuse to allow anyone to cut it - this is a tradition that goes back to that of the Long-haired Kings of the Odbrechti dynasty. Those who violate this precept lose their special Nibelungen powers, at least until the damage is restored. Third, as they rise in power, they are given the names of more and more people within the bloodline. Initially, they know none, though they are usually made aware of the fact that such people exist, and may begin to look for them. As they learn more and more names, they are also initiated into various Nibelung secrets - the location of treasure hoards, buried for a brighter day, and hidden places of mystical power. It is said that the most powerful Nibelungen know of the location of a Ring of Power that gives one control over the whole world.

[Changes to the Eldritch Knight Archetype:

1. As their powers are derived from belonging to a bloodline, Nibelungen draw their spells from the Sorcerer list, not the Wizard list. Charisma, not Intelligence, is their casting ability.

2. At levels when their choice of spells is limited by school, they may add Divination as a focus school (along with Evocation and Abjuration). Furthermore, they may select Divination spells from any class list so long as they have access to sufficiently high level spell slots.]

[Other martial archetypes.

The above archetypes apply to characters raised within human society. It may be appropriate to allow martial characters of other races to select other archetypes, e.g. arcane archers for elves, rune knights for dwarves, brutes for orcs. These selections will be decided on a case-by-case basis.]

[Champion:

The Champion is a generic type of warrior that is difficult to reframe as a true subclass. A variety of fighters can take up the champion's role, which typically consists of having top fighters from contending sides settle conflicts on the basis of individual combat to prevent needless deaths (though this works out better in theory than in practice). However, individual fighters may train to deliver crushing blows, e.g. to emerge as a Champion from jousting or melee lists at a knightly tournament. For this reason, Champion is refashioned a Feat. To qualify for the Feat, a character must have proficiency in martial weapons.

Taking the feat once allows you to score critical hits on a natural roll of 19 or 20. Selecting the feat a second time allows you to score critical hits on a natural 18, 19, or 20. As an additional prerequisite, you must have one more martial-type Feat to select the Champion feat for a second time.

Other features of the Champion archetype may be taken as feats as well: the Remarkable Athlete feature can be replaced by the Athlete feat, Additional Fighting Style can be replaced by the Fighting Initiate feat from TCE

The Survivor feature is currently unavailable in Feat form.]


Fool (Narr)

The figure of the Fool differs somewhat from that of other settings. For the Church, they are a negative figure, who mock the wise, shun convention, and say, in their hearts, that there is no God. They therefore stand for vanity, and are suspected of having dealings with the Devil. As a representation of vanity, fools sometimes find their way into carnivals (especially the Feast of Fools in early winter, when Fools take over governance for one day), and from there, into the hearts of the people as a welcome relief from the grind of daily existence. Some fools have also found a place as jesters in the courts of the mighty. A few have, improbably, organized themselves into guilds, though these rarely have regular meeting places - sometimes, a ship, or a campsite in the woods are viable substitutes. Most most fools are simply typical village idiots, though a few of them take to wandering, and fewer still exhibit phenomenal luck, and succeed beyond anyone's wildest dreams.

Fool Starting Equipment

  • An overcoat (likely to be patched, too long, too short, garish, etc.) 

  • a) a simple weapon of your choice, or b) 3 darts, or c) a sling and a pouch with 12 sling stones 

  • 3 items from the Adventuring Gear list worth under 40 gp total (chosen or randomly determined) 

  •  One container worth no more than 1 gp (chosen or randomly determined 

  •  Three trinkets, chosen or randomly determined

Alternatively, a Fool may determine starting gold by rolling 2d4 and multiplying by 10, and foregoing the above package. 

The Fool class is detailed here (Ch. 5, pp. 89-96). Because the Markwald setting is quite distinct from Lukomorye, however, the available archetypes also differ.

Dümmlinge (Simpleton).

The Dummling is a common village idiot, but with a twist. She is often born with an identifying mark, like a caul, which gives her family the idea that they are destined to be sorcerers, or, are going to be incredibly lucky. Dümmlinge typically spend their youth with little awareness of their gift (even if others are constantly talking about it). But sometime in their adolescence, they get it in their head that they do have a great destiny ahead of them, or must undertake to do something their clever siblings or companions simply cannot accomplish. Once they get going, they are single-minded in their pursuit - marrying a princess, or saving the world, and are very difficult to deter from their path. Despite his lack of common sense (or perhaps intelligence), the Dummling tends to be a genial sort - people take a quick liking to him, and often go out of their way to give him what he wants or needs.

Authorities generally regard Dümmlinge as "natural" fools, deficient in faculties, not made in God's image, and a warning to others to play their assigned role in this life. The Dümmlinge themselves, of course, are driven by their own goals, and have little time for learning a trade, acting in accordance with their station, or joining groups. They typically have Peasant, Urban Laborer, or Ascetic backgrounds, though some may be Nobles or Foreigners. It is difficult to conceive of Dümmlinge as an identifiable group, or even to suppose that they are aware of others of their kind. Yet happenstance does occasionally bring them together at festivals or mystical locales. Occasionally, these Babels actually stay together for long periods of time, and pursue common goals, though they may break up as suddenly as they formed. During times of great social stress, powerful people look in on such gatherings to recruit Dümmlinge to solve problems that no one else has been able to tackle. 

Babel Features:

  • At 3rd level, the Dummling becomes a Supplicant. She gains proficiency in Persuasion. If already proficient, she may take proficiency in any other Charisma-based skill. 

  • At 3rd level, a Dummling realizes she is Born Under a Lucky Star. On your turn, you may use an action to locate a Common or Uncommon magic item (from an available list in a published book, or elsewhere). The item does not require attunement to be used, and can be implemented on the following turn. The magic remains in force until the Dummling looks for another item, though this can only be done after he finishes a long rest. 

  •  At 6th level, you become the Darling of Fortune. You may improve on the Born Under a Lucky Star feature so as to locate a Rare magic item. Otherwise, this feature functions the same as the feature gained at 3rd level.

  •  At 10th level, you become Fortuitous. When you sustain damage from a single attack, spell, or any mishap (such as a trap), you may use this feature to take minimum damage from it. Additionally, when rolling on the Madness and Paradox table, you may roll twice, and select either result. The feature used may not be used again until you have finished a long rest (the other feature remains available, until it is also used). 

  •  At 14th level, you start to lead a Charmed Life. You may use the Born Under a Lucky Star feature to locate a Very Rare magic item (other specifications are the same as the ability gained at 3rd level). 

Tore (Jester).

Unlike the Dummling, the Tor is regarded as an "artificial" Fool - more of a dissembler or joker than an idiot. This does not necessarily make him better regarded, or even less prone to madness - always playing a role, and never being serious takes its toll. Jesters are also prone to travel to seek their fortune, but they are less driven by a particular goal, and more likely to become bored of whatever they are doing (or, as is even more likely, whoever they are serving). The Tor does like crowds and adulation, as well as the attention of powerful people. They are drawn to processions, fairs, courts, and similar venues. Jesters are likely to have the Mountebank or Trouper Background, though they may also be Augurs, Courtiers, Vagabonds, and others. Non-humans Jesters are perhaps somewhat more common than other class specializations, because it allows non-humans to live in the open, with relatively fewer questions asked.  

Tore are more likely than Dümmlinge to belong to some sort of structure, though they are not necessarily enamored of it. They might join a troupe (that may have other Jesters in it). If they possess outstanding talent, they might be taken on by a court, where they perhaps have more freedom than most in terms of what they may say and do. In a few cases, Jesters are organized into guilds (sometimes so called, sometimes referred to as Babels), though this is usually done from above to impose some sort of structure and standards on a profession that disdains both. On even rarer occasions, Tore form their own guilds, in order to ensure decent pay and to protect themselves from various abuses. Even in such cases, Jesters, being performers, often have trouble getting along with one another, and engage in mean tricks (or worse) to sideline the competition. In certain instances, magnates also send scouts to seek out prospective Jesters, who are then placed into special farms and trained for service. 

Babel Features:

  • At 3rd level, you become proficient in Acrobatics. If already proficient, you may choose any other Dexterity-based skill. In addition, you learn the Vicious Mockery cantrip. If you already know it, you may pick any other cantrip you do not already know. You may cast it either as a Bonus action or a Reaction. If the target fails the save, you may add your Charisma modifier (minimum 1) your their next Attack roll. Finally, when an opponent deals damage to you, you may perform a Comic Tumble. Whoever causes this damage must make a save against your spell-save DC, or lose their next action. Once you have used this feature, you cannot do so again until you finish a long rest. 

  • At 6th level, the Jester gains Truth to Power feature. This is the equivalent to a Dissonant Whispers spell, though in casting it, her speech is loud, clear, and direct. This power can be used multiple times between long rests, though each time it is used, a Luck point must be expended. For determining psychic damage, the Jester's Fool spell slot level is used. 

  •  At 10th level, when making a successful Vicious Mockery attack, the Jester may add the amount of damage delivered to their own HP total as Schadenfreude. If this takes them over the HP maximum, they may record the excess as Temporary HP. Once they do this, they cannot attempt Schadenfreude again until they finish a short rest.  

  •  At 14th level, you become a Master of Physical Comedy. You gain advantage on one kind of saving throw, and gain resistance to one type of damage (e.g. fire, cold, etc.).


Friar (Ordensbruder). 



Several centuries ago, the Gaalite Church has eliminated all potential rivals in Markwald and all proximate lands, and stands as the only organized priestly institution. The Gaalite priesthood in the lands dominated by the Ecumenical Faith is a monotheistic hierarchy dedicated to the guidance of human society until the Lord's return. The Church is society's primary institution, and forms the nucleus of local social structures in a dominion that, until recently, has been slowly expanding its boundaries to the South, East, and North. The priesthood is celibate, though it is divided into two types - secular and regular. The secular priesthood ministers to the people, and report to the local bishop, while the regular priesthood spends time away from the world in monastic establishments in prayer and contemplation of the divine. In the last two hundred years, a number of mendicant orders of friars have also been founded. Unlike the monastics, the mendicants are not associated with a particular monastery, but are teachers, preachers and healers who belong to a far-flung network headed by a Superior General. Not all friars are ordained priests - some are lay people, who may belong to another class. All three types of priests are eligible for advancement within the Church, up to and including the highest office of Hierophant, to whom all the Superior Generals owe allegiance. All three types exist in the setting; however, owing to their itinerant character and greater dynamism, PCs are almost certainly going to belong to one of the friar orders. Typically, the larger orders detailed below have priories or chantries in the larger towns, which can provide friars with accommodation and support, though friars are generally expected to support themselves (and their establishments) through mendicancy. All friars must also be tonsured upon admittance to an order (at 3rd level) as an expression of their humility.

Generally speaking, priests in this setting share some similarities with classic clerics (notably, the core spell list and some Channel Divinity features), but differ from them in a number of particulars, notably, their lack of combat-related proficiencies, their lesser HD (d6 instead of d8), the much greater range of spells (or prayers) available to them, more powerful and versatile Channel Divinity features, and access to Sacraments, which have limited mechanical impact, but provide a measure of social (and to some extent, economic) power that is unavailable to all other classes. The main reference material for the priest calling that serves as the basis for this class can be found here, on pp. 97-106, with a special section on adjusting this class for the mendicant orders of the Ecumenical Faith on pp. 212-214. Note that the differences between the two are slight. Most importantly, friars gain Channel Divinity features in reverse order from that of the main class, and the sacraments differ slightly from the mysteries of the True Confession priests (not mentioned in the text is that friars can also provide a special blessing for newly-formed knights, which gives the recipient of the sacrament a point of inspiration).

Friars are required to uphold their Vows, both general and order-specific, but moreover, in their actions, behavior and demeanor, they are expected to uphold the values of the Church as a collectivity of worshipers as well as its interests as a hierarchy and social structure. Not doing so is replete with the dangers of losing class-related features. Only in very exceptional circumstances would this follow from the action of divine powers. More typically, a friar, like any Gaalite, may be excommunicated from the Church for serious offenses by a higher-level Church functionary. For priests, this can have devastating consequences, such as the loss of all class powers except hit points. Excommunication is hardly ever given out for a first offense - typically, the church leadership would try to reason with the offender, which is followed up by the issuance of a temporary punishment lasting a set period of time, after which, powers are restored pending atonement. Final excommunication is issued only for heresy and schism (though these may be loosely defined and based on e.g. political expedience). On certain very rare occasions, however, offending priests may keep all powers (except the sacraments) upon breaking with the Church: this happens when they are able to establish new schismatic sects, but doing should prove quite difficult.

Finally, the priestly sacraments of friars have level prerequisites, but attaining the necessary level is no guarantee of receiving these powers. To become a bishop, for instance, it is not enough to accumulate enough experience to reach 7th level: as the Church is an actually existing body in the game world, there must a available sinecure for the character to occupy, and winning one will likely require developing relationships with high-level prelates ahead of time. A friar in good standing would receive all features of the class upon reaching e.g. 7th level, but having access to 7th level sacraments requires actually being installed as a bishop.  

Starting Equipment Package:

  • Priestly vestments (generic, specific for geographic area, or intended order - see below)
  • A holy symbol (crucifix or rosary) that can double as a prayer focus
  • A walking stick (staff)
  • A begging bowl
  • 10 candles
  • A scribe pack or explorer's pack  

Characters who do not wish to take the starting package may begin with 2d4 x 10 gp in addition to the money and equipment granted by their Background. 

Predigerorden (Order of Black Friars).

Also known as the Order of St. Albus, or the Order of Preachers, the Black Friars were established by Albus Peralta, a Bosisch priest (since canonized by the Church) active around a century and a half ago. Albus main calling was the placement of Ecumenical theology on a more solid footing at a time when Gaalite lands had come under the intense cultural influence of Paynim arts and sciences. Albus' aim was to be able to argue against opponents of the Ecumenical Faith on the basis of Vergin philosophy. Thus, the Blackfriars became the intellectual arm of the Kreuzzüge - the wars against the Paynims and pagans. An additional aim was to expose the errors of internal groups that had lapsed in their belief (key among them being the Adepts of Light). The establishment of the mendicant order was in fact a direct response to the fact that the leaders of the heretic sects led an ascetic lifestyle, whereas Church prelates were regarded as too worldly. Albus' followers focused on acquiring key positions at universities, where they used scriptoria and lecture pulpits to expose dualist and other heresies, and strove to show that the canons of the Faith were fully in accordance with Reason. Additionally, many Black Friars took up leading positions in the newly-formed Holy Inquisition. In most cases, such people were trained in the investigative methods of jurists, though some Blackfriars were also granted Hierophantic permission to use torture to extract information and confessions (damning the body in order to save the soul). In light of this involvement, the Black Friars received the popular moniker "The Hounds of the Lord".

The defining vow taken by entrants into the Order of Preachers is the Vow of Obedience. Members of all orders must obey their superiors, of course, but the Black Friars have turned necessity into a virtue. Black Friars believe that left to our own devices, we are weak, and tend toward sin. Obedience is to be extended toward secular as well as ecclesiastical authorities, as these have been set up by God as well (though when the two are in conflict, Black Friars obviously defer to Church officials). All orders must be carried out without question, and any wrongdoing reported without delay. Those who are vigilant and responsible are rewarded by being allowed to rise to positions of influence, and it is no accident that Black Friars are disproportionately represented among bishops and cardinals. Quite a few of them have also become Hierophants.  

Priests joining the Order of Preachers are trained in philosophy, rhetoric, and the law. They are universally authorized to preach, being answerable to the Head of the Order and the Hierophant alone. Typically, they are sent to areas which are rife with heresy and religious strife, to directly confront heretics and get them to change their ways, or to root the secret ones out through investigation. Often, they combine these pursuits with teaching at schools or universities. Being concerned with vigilance as they are, Black Friars are typically opposed to non-humans, believing them to be a negative influence on their flock. In the rare cases where non-humans convert and join the Church, they are eagerly recruited by the Order of Preachers.

The garb of Black Friars is a black cloak worn over white habits.

Koinobiten (Order of Brownfriars).

The roots of the Koinobiten go back roughly 800 years, though as a formal mendicant order, it is no older than the others. The rules of the order were set down by St. Salvia, a Vallandisch nun who established a series of convents dedicated to the pursuit of a communal life away from the world. The rules became so popular that they were soon accepted by male institutions, and in the intervening centuries, became the most popular regulations for monastic life in most Gaalite lands. Those who chose to live in convents and monasteries devoted themselves to collective chanting, prayer, meditation, meal-taking, and work for the glory of God - to discipline body and spirit by removing all distractions and pooling efforts, so as to experience God as a collectivity. Aside from prayer, they performed agricultural work, gardening, husbandry, brewing, and construction. A few engaged in scribal activities to preserve knowledge during the turbulent times that followed the collapse of the Vallanda Empire. As one of their key aims was to achieve a proper balance between prayer and work, not a few monks and nuns constructed labor-saving devices, such as waterwheels and windmills, to ensure that they had sufficient time for the former (and it is no accident that many early artificers emerged from this milieu). 

The defining view of the monastics was the Vow of Stability. Originally, this entailed that the brothers or sisters were bound to the establishment they joined, and could never leave it without abandoning their status. As the number of institutions grew and life became more mobile in recent centuries, a mendicant order was established to carry messages between individual establishments, and engage in work that required greater mobility (such as guiding pilgrims to shrines, diplomacy, and increasingly, exorcism). For the mendicants, the Vow was partially redefined. It consisted of loyalty to their home institutions (which they would not betray or act against under any circumstances), the maintenance of a rigorous schedule involving work, prayer, meals and sleep, the maintenance of a spartan lifestyle (though this last rule is somewhat less strict than for other friars). Along commonly traveled routes, traveling Brown Friars set up special hostels called chantries. These houses are required to admit all those who wish to stay there (within reason), so long as they also take the Vow of Stability during the period of their sojourn, and engage in collective work and prayer. The Brown Friars also insist on an equitable division of all wealth among the members of their establishment or company.

Unlike other mendicant orders, the Brown Friars have no overarching structure, or a Superior General. Just as the monasteries, convents and chantries form a decentralized commonwealth, so each establishment, though it might have a prior or abbot, strives toward a democracy in which everyone works equally hard toward common goals - a unique experiment in the context of a hierarchical society. Similarly, the Koinobiten are relatively accepting of outsiders and non-humans (so long as the latter are willing to abide by their rules and to work and pray alongside them).  

Brown Friars wear sackcloth hooded robes tied with a rope belt.

Minoriten (Order of Grey Friars).

This order was founded nearly 150 years ago by a Valland named Carlo von Rapace. The young man was moved by a sermon to renounce his worldly possessions, and to live an ascetic and contemplative life in the service of others. After trying to form a chantry under the rule of the Koinobiten, he decided to establish his own rule, feeling that the former were too dismissive of non-monastic life and the mendicant lifestyle. Carlo then devoted his life to caring for the sick, the poor, and animals. The name Minorites, or Lesser Brethren, referred to the unassuming character of those living under this rule. Always identifying with the most marginal people and creatures, his followers defined themselves by the Vow of Poverty, which requires them to wear simple clothes, eat simple food, and enjoy few or no creature comforts. They generally keep only 5-10% of all acquired wealth, giving away most valuables, luxuries, and anything they cannot carry on their person (and only those relics they can attune to). As a result of their humility, the Grey Friars soon became one of the most popular mendicant orders.

As the order grew, its vocation was extended into new areas. Whereas the Black Friars make it their mission to defend the boundaries of the Gaalite Realm, the Grey Friars are drawn to these boundaries because they believe being there brings them closer to God. Rather than preaching or teaching in cities, they become anchorites in the wilderness, befriending animals and taking care of the wilderness. Rather than working as jurists to develop arguments against heretics, they became empirical scientists, observing and cataloging animals, herbs, stars, minerals, spirits and a variety of other things, as a tribute to the vastness and beauty of the created world. As members of the two orders would often take up university positions, their divergent perspectives sometimes made them rivals at disputations and Church councils. Whereas the Preachers sought to debate religious rivals and to expand the purview of the Church, the Minorites aimed to act as diplomats and mediators between the two sides, and sometimes developed an appreciation for the position of Paynims and other rivals. Like the Preachers, Minorites are heavily involved in the Inquisition, though usually not as investigators or prosecutors, but simply as living examples of the righteous Gaalite life. 

The joyful glorification of creation and the pursuit of a religious life far from the center sometimes highlights a somewhat darker side to this order. While Grey Friars typically believe that people, like the whole of God's world, are created good, some come to believe that this natural goodness means that the imposition of harsh discipline or a rigid hierarchy is not required. Minorites experience more visions than other orders, which sometimes lead them to conclude that the world is passing into the realm of Pure Spirit, meaning that established social structures and inequalities could be swept aside, and all property shared in common. These Spirituals sometimes form their own branches of the order, and the more radical of these branches, called Zealots, have themselves recently attracted the attention of the Inquisition. Some of these branches have influenced the appearance of lay orders, such as the Freigeister and the Geissler, who directly challenge the authority of the Church.

Grey Friars wear grey (occasionally, grey-brown) hooded robes tied with a rope belt.

Karitaten (Order of the Leather Belt).

The rules guiding the Karitaten are even older than those of the Koinobiten, but the mendicant order based on them is barely 100 years old. The rules were compiled by St. Beatus of Kahfia - arguably, the most authoritative theologian in the Ecumenical Faith. The organization of the Beatific monastics is similar to that of the Brown Friars - it is decentralized, without a single head, and relatively democratic on the local level. As the Church on the whole grew more prosperous and individual establishments grew wealthy, discipline grew lax, and a centralized mendicant order based on Beatific rules, and under the leadership of a Major Superior appeared in Vallanda, and then spread to other Gaalite lands.

The guiding principle of the order is charism - the notion that creation is, persists, and is permeated by Divine Love. Though humans (and perhaps other mortals) are cracked vessels who are born with Original Sin, they nevertheless persist because of divine grace and the promise of salvation. For this reason, the defining vow of the Karitaten is the Vow of Charity. Each brother or sister pledges to come to the aid of all those in need, and all those who solicit their aid (though they are aware of the fact that supplicants can come to them with ulterior motives, and the help they provide them may not come in the form the supplicants envision). Their chief aim is to redeem the suffering of their fellow creatures by taking their suffering upon themselves, in emulation of Gaal. For this reason, the Karitaten are perhaps closest to the world of any other friars. Local chapters of the order, called abbeys, are typically attached to hospitals, asylums, leper colonies, and orphanages, and not coincidentally, quite a few Karitaten are trained as healers or physicians. Some abbeys become hostels were the poor are housed or fed, especially during periods crisis and displacement. Certain Karitaten also engage in missionary work, especially if it takes them far beyond the bounds of the Gaalite Realm, or to dangerous places full of unfavorably inclined non-believers. As a rule, of all friars, the Karitaten are the most open to non-humans, and to those who have dabbled in magic. Though they may not support their activities, they will persist in believing that such people can be redeemed.

Though St. Beatus was a man, the theology of the order is strongly centered around the Virgin Kivi, and nuns, ordained sisters, and lay sisters actually outnumber male members of the order. Those who join are often moved by the Spirit to live their lives in accordance with the examples set by Kivi and Gaal. Not a few experience stigmata - spontaneously opening wounds on the hands, feet, and abdomen, which are taken as a sign of divine grace. The love that drives them is sublimated into a wholly spiritual experience - for this reason, chastity is taken especially seriously by this order. 

Adherents dress in black wool hooded robes tied with a black leather belt - a symbol of their chastity. Some ordained friars will occasionally also wear a priestly rochet over the robe.   

Weinberger (White Friars).

This order was founded in the Sweet Lands during the Kreuzzüge. A group of hermits had taken to meditating in a vineyard atop a mountain where Gaal was said to have taken repose. As pilgrimages from Gaalite lands increased, so did many devotees seek these hermits out in hopes of receiving Divine Insight. They petitioned the local archbishop to allow them to draw up formal rules for a mendicant order, and claimed that the informal rules of the the hermits of the vineyard (hence, Weinberger) stemmed back to the ancient Seeress Sheva, who also sojourned in those gardens even before the Lord had. Approval was granted, subsequently recognized by the Hierophant, and the order spread quickly to Gaalite heartlands; but it is unique in lacking an individual founder from among the Gaalite saints.

The Weinberger do share many features with other orders. Like the Karitaten, they reserve a special veneration for Kivi, and their divine focus is charism, but the White Friars understand it in a more contemplative sense. Contemplation, and an openness to the contemplative life, and to God, is a divine gift. Like the Brown Friars, the Weinberger often seek to separate themselves from the world as a community, but unlike the former, they see contemplation as encompassing service and friendship. Like the Grey Friars, they are drawn to mystical communion, and often receive visions, but unlike the latter, but rather than pursuing a detailed study of creation, they develop spiritual exercises to allow themselves to receive more immediate insights into its workings. They tend to focus more on quiet study than on exploration, and are particularly inclined to become chroniclers or composers of hymns. Such activities require them to quiet the mind, and for this reason, their defining vow is the Vow of Silence. Taking this vow does not require them to be silent at all times - in any event, such an all-encompassing vow would fly in the face of their pursuit of a balanced Gaalite life. When engaged in work or meditation, they will often quietly whisper the words of a prayer. But for two hours each day, when not eating or sleeping, they do have to remain completely silent. At other times, they can engage in light conversation, but will generally be laconic, preferring listening to speaking, and speaking toward purposeful ends, or answering questions.

The people drawn to the Order are most commonly those attracted to the more easy-going atmosphere in Weinberger priories (as their houses are called), or those who have had profound ecstatic experiences. However, some reformers within the Order push adherents to commit to a more hermitic lifestyle. The Weinberger tend to be highly scrupulous about observing all fasts, and one of their unique features is complete abstinence from the consumption of meat (except in cases of severe illness). The development of hermetic discipline is hard work, and for this reason, ordained friars especially, are challenged to obey their priors (and, on the highest level, their Prior General) without expending unnecessary words on questioning and arguments.

White friars wear a white cloak over a brown habit as a reminder of Kivi's purity, and the light of the Sweet Lands.


Paladin


The closest retainers of Kaiser Hermann, initially 12 in number, were formed as a kind of replacement for the Nibelungen of the Odbrechti dynasty that preceded him. The Niblelugnen, who were also referred to as the comites palatini, contributed the name to the greatest heroes of Hermann's reign. Their exploits centered on warfare against the Paynims, and heroic deeds in the name of the Faith (though at least one of them was a Paynim convert, and the idea of heroic retainers with a religious mission seems to have been in part borrowed from the Paynims as well). Belonging to this group carried a hereditary title (comites - count, palatine - palace), and in time, the counts of the palace (Pfalzgraf in Tungrisch) counted themselves as high nobility of the Empire. However, in the next five centuries, multiple attempts to reconstitute a new group of paladins on the basis of the original group's religious mission were undertaken. Though the groups are highly distinct, they do all trace their spiritual kinship to the original paladins. The membership in each group was initially limited, though the numbers grew in most instances. In many cases, to prevent the paladins from becoming yet another hereditary nobility, an oath of celibacy was enforced.

Paladins who violate their oaths are stripped of their power (in most cases, by priests, though possibly by warlocks or higher beings) for a set period of time, unless they atone. Repeat offenders lose all of their paladin-associated features except hit dice, and any strictly combat-oriented abilities (fighting style, the ability to use martial weapons and armor, extra attacks, etc.). They continue to advance without gaining any paladin features until they reach the next level at which they are entitled to them, at which time, they may become fighters).

Gralsritter ([Grail Knights] Oath of Devotion).

The origin of the Grail Knights is lost in the mists of time. There is tell of the Grail being kept at the court of the Odbrechti prior to the formation of the paladins, but its keepers, if any there were, are not mentioned. Possibly, they were the dynasts themselves, though some insist it was in fact the Nibelnugen. According to some Minnesänger, the keepers of the Grail and the Nibelungen were bitter rivals. It is also possible that the keepers were simply aware of the Grail's whereabouts, but did not themselves possess it. Whatever the case, it is clear that one or several of Hermann's paladins went off in search for it after the collapse of his empire, and found the hidden kingdom where they became its guardians. Subsequently, they, or their descendants reappeared at the court of Ludwig the Great, King of the Tungren, who reestablished the Empire after a century. These grail knights reputedly took spouses from among Ludwig's key vassals. One descendant of this union was Friedrich Sieden, who, over a century later, became the leader of the first Kreuzzug, and subsequently, the King of the Sweet Lands. Friedrich was also the founder of the Knights of the Tomb, an order, an order of celibate knights dedicated to guarding Gaal's tomb. Though the knights could not marry or possess land, their fame and exploits made them the most storied knightly order in all Gaalite lands, and with fame, their collective wealth grew. Along with it, so did legends of the Grail, which, it was now said, the Knights of the Tomb recovered from the Paynims during the Kreuzzüge. Two hundred years later, the Knights had grown so rich and so powerful, that the King of the Galli moved against them, disbanded their order, and had their Grand Master burned at the stake. Yet, it is said that some survivors secreted the Grail somewhere, and continue to serve as its defenders. As any remaining Knights of the Tomb were declared heretics and viciously hunted down, they have taken on the old name - the Grailsritter. The order's symbol is a red doorway on a white field, but it is never publicly displayed anymore. At present, they are the smallest paladin order.

Today, the Grail Knights are, for understandable reasons, a highly secretive organization. Recruits are approached at a fairly young age, generally, but not exclusively, from among the martial classes. There is some suspicion (mostly among detractors) that they belong to certain bloodlines, but there is no proof that this is indeed the case. Sometimes, word reaches recruiters of young people who have had religious experiences that call them to the service of God, and such adolescents are then subtly approached by recruiters. There are special agents who are in charge of recruitment in particular areas. There are other officials within the ranks who manage hidden wealth: though all money belonging to the Knights of the Tomb was seized, there are persistent rumors of vast hidden wealth managed by various religious organizations and banks. Some important Gralsritter are also in possession of important relics, which are passed down to newer members when older custodians pass from the scene. On the whole, the religious beliefs of the Grail Knights are a matter of some debate: though they are accused of being demon-worshiping heretics, they themselves assert that they are true Gaalites whose beliefs are not at variance with official Church doctrine. At the head of the order is the Grail King, who is the custodian of the Grail. The location of the realm is secret: it may be on an island in the Western Sea, hidden in a church somewhere in the Land of the Albi, or perhaps on a mountaintop somewhere on the continent, back in the lands of the Paynims, in a secret hidden Realm that may only be accessed by the pure of heart, or perhaps, hidden in plain sight. Before passing, the Grail King (sometimes called the Fisher King) seeks a successor among initiates.

Knowledge of the order's secrets are revealed to recruits only slowly, possibly when they attain levels when they receive Oath features (though this is not necessarily the case). Along with the standard features of the oath, recruits must also pledge themselves to never reveal the order's secrets, including to outsiders under any circumstances. The secrets may include the location of members, relics, special locations, as well as a system of signs encoded in paintings, sculpture, literature, and architecture that reveal hidden information to initiates. They may also include knowledge regarding the true nature of the Grail, as well as the purpose of keeping it hidden. One aspect of the old oath of the Knights of the Tomb has been altered. The latter pledged celibacy. The Grail Knights are allowed to marry, but on the condition that their spouses never ask them their true name, which they keep hidden from everyone. For these reasons, more than typical paladins, Grail Knights are more likely to possess a proficiency in Arcana or other Intelligence-based skills, and to place a premium on mnemonics (though this need not be the case for all recruits, who are sought out for different reasons). In any event, violating the Oath of Secrecy, even more than the other oaths of the order, is almost certainly going to result in the stripping of class features should the violation become known to other order members. Occasionally, Grail Knights do appear in tournaments, incognito.  

Justiziar (Justiciar [Oath of Vengeance]).

During the age when the Kaisers were at the height of their power, the struggle between between Greif and Einhorn dynasties nearly tore the realm apart, but after the decisive defeat of the Einhorn contender, Duke Leonhardt the Wild, the lands formerly under his control became increasingly unruly. To enforce order, Kaiser Ottfried Redmane created a tribunal called the Holy Vehm, which would answer to him alone, and would prosecute justice when the local magnates would not do their duty. The precedents for the Vehmic court (Vehmgericht) go back to ancient heathendom, when all free Tungri had the right to sit in judgment over their fellows. Though technically, this right was now codified in law, when the Vehmgericht became an imperial institution, the top officials were members of the nobility or Church prelates, while the rank-and-file members constituted a network of informants who would summon the Vehmgericht either in particularly outstanding cases, or when the domains became so lawless that local justice failed to function. The meaning of the term Vehm is unclear - it seems to refer to punishment or retribution for particularly noxious acts (though some also claim that it derives from a Paynim term meaning 'secret wisdom', since the founders of the institution had all participated in the Kreuzzüge). The "punishment" refers to the fact that the Holy Vehm presides only over capital cases, and a special focus on cases of heresy and witchcraft. The code also stipulated that the courts had no power over members of the nobility and the clergy, but in practice, this is no longer the case. In fact, although the Vehmgerichte technically act in the name of the Kaiser, there have been multiple instances of bringing charges against sitting emperors. The fact that in many cases, the Vehm seems to be answerable to no one is one of the main reasons it has become so feared.

The Vehm is a holy order that vows to uphold the law and the Ecumenical Faith. Its membership is technically secret, and requiring a secret initiation in order to give the enforcers every advantage against wrongdoers and local authorities that may oppose the administration of justice. Especially important is the protection of the names of the informants and summoners, in order to protect them from reprisals. In practice, the names of high Vehmic officials are often known, but revealing the name of any member, the initiation rituals, or the details of any Vehmgericht case, even to one's own family, is considered a capital crime, and offenders are hounded down mercilessly. The same applies to any unqualified participant in any proceeding. Typically, the proceedings (called Stillgericht - 'silent court') take place on a hilltop outside a settlement, traditionally between two linden trees (which serve as the order's symbol). A stone table, upon which a noose and a sword are laid indicates that the Vehm is in session. If the accused answers the summons and is convicted, they are hung from one of the trees, and a dagger engraved with the letters S.S.G.G. (standing for Stein, Strick, Gras, Grün - 'stone, rope, grass, green') is left behind, to indicate that the death is not a murder, but an execution sanctioned by the Vehm. The accused may call exonerating witnesses, but the number of witnesses required for acquittal can be as high as 21. In the case of particularly egregious crimes, such as witchcraft or devil worship, the proceedings are said to take place in a secret cave or crypt, and there are rumors, which cannot be proven, that torture is used to extract information and confession. Given the recent rise in unholy activities, Stillgerichte have become increasingly common sights. In a few cases, especially when the accused is a person of high standing, the case can be settled by a trial by combat. This function is specifically carried out by the Justiziar.

Most of the members of the Holy Vehm, even including a good number of the judges (called Freischöffen), are not paladins. From among their number, a chair (Stuhlherr), who presides over the proceedings, is chosen. Each Vehm jurisdiction has a presiding officer, called an Oberstuhlherr, and these are typically paladins. The Justiziar are typically, though not exclusively, chosen from noble families that bear the title of Freigraf (free count). On some occasions requiring a particularly powerful or authoritative judge, Stuhlherren from distant domains are summoned. They show up masked or helmeted - a sight that strikes terror in the hearts of the local population. In most circumstances, the executioners (Frohnboten) are low-level members of the Vehm, but in high profile cases, they are Justiziar. The Justiziar, more than any other members of the Vehm, know the elaborate system of secret signs and passwords by which communication within the order is conducted. Like the Grail Knights, Justiziar may be stripped of their powers for violating their Oath, but violating oaths of secrecy brings a death sentence.  

Gehrungsritter ([Knights of the Mitre] Oath of the Crown]).

Unlike the Grail Knights and the Justiziars, the Knights of the Mitre are not a secret organization, but a structured monastic fighting order which owes its allegiance to the Hierophant. Among the fighting orders, it was the oldest, being initially set up by the Brown Friars in the Sweet Lands to minister to pilgrims and the sick. With the breakout of the Kreuzzüge, it was reconfigured as a primarily military organization - the first to restructure a paladin confraternity as a primarily religious organization subject to ecclesiastical authority. The Gehrungsritter, along with the Knights of the Tomb, would become the dominant strike force against the Paynims for nearly two centuries. The Gehrungsritter themselves claim that their order is far older, going back to the time of Gaal himself, or even earlier. They regard Noya the Forerunner as their patron, and given her own ascetic life, adopt it as their ideal. In the last century, as the tide began to turn against the Gaalites in the Kreuzzüge, the Knights of the Mitre quit the Sweet Lands and established several heavily fortified islands in the Southern Sea, which now serve as their center of operations. Nevertheless, the Gehrungsritter benefitted from the setbacks as well: after the rival Knights of the Tomb were disbanded, the Mitre Knights inherited most of their property. Despite being a primarily western and southern order, the Knights do maintain a limited presence in the Tungren Lands, and several cities in and around Markwald have Gehrungsritter commanderies. 

Like other religious fighting orders, paladins form the core of the order, though the bulk of it is made up of persons-at-arms, friars, and servitors of various kinds. There are also wealthy patrons (donats) and honorary members (confraters) who support the order financially and raise its prestige. The knightly core draws largely from non-inheriting children of the nobility, though it is only necessary to be free-born in order to join the Gehrungsritter. Not a few recruits do join the knights out of pure religious or crusading zeal. Along with the standard oaths of their subclass (note that the Law, for the Knights, is ecclesiastical law), they also swear obedience to their superiors and to the Hierophant. Like priests, they also swear a Vow of Celibacy, and are not allowed to marry, have children, or own land. The formal organization of the Knights of the Mitre is far more visible than that of the other orders. Among the knights, new recruits are simply called "brother knights". Competent and authoritative brothers rise to take command of particular commanderies as bailiffs, and the individual baileys are grouped into "tongues", roughly corresponding to individual nations. The Tungrisch Tongue is among the smaller subdivisions within the order, but its head, the Grossballei (Grand Bailiff) also serves as the Head of Fortifications for the entire order. At the very apex of the organization stands the Grand Master, who is assisted by a deputy Grand Commander, and a Marshal (a sort of minister of war). In the last half-century, the paladin knights have taken full control of the order from the priests. All bailiffs, heads of Tongues, and the top officers of the order are now paladins.

There is a significant degree of rotation and circulation among the order members. Almost certainly, at some point in their lives, knights will have gone to the south to defend one of the island fortresses or to campaign against the Paynims. Those who take up positions at Tungrisch commanderies are typically returnees from these wars. As an order Gehrungsritter have also become quite wealthy, and rank-and-file knights are frequently charged with the transportation of valuables from one commandery or bailey to another. On account of this, Gehrungsritter are often adept at handling money (History proficiency). Many have experience in naval combat (water vehicle proficiency). As they are skilled at fighting against Paynim light cavalry, they will likely choose their weapon specialization accordingly.

Tungrischritter (Tungrisch Knights [Knights of Conquest]).

The Order of Tungrisch Knights is among the youngest crusading orders, but in the lands neighboring Markwald, one of the largest and most popular. The order initially split off from the Knights of the Mitre in the Sweet Lands to accommodate Tungrish-speaking pilgrims and knights, and received sponsorship from the Order of the Leather Belt friars, who were largely responsible for getting the new order to adopt Kivi as its saintly patron. Unlike the Knights of the Mitre, the Tungrisch Knights also have a dual loyalty - not only to the Hierophant, but to the Kaiser as well (when conflict between the two arises, the Knights avoid taking sides). After the expulsion from the Sweet Lands, the knights moved the center of their operations to the northeast of the Empire, where they began to subjugate the heathen tribes that still lived in the area. In certain instances, they also turned their attention to Gaalite rulers who did not follow the Ecumenical Faith, or did not recognize the Kaiser as their overlord. In time, the Knights established their own territorial state that became known as Ritterheim, with the Grand Master as its ruler. There, they took control of the amber trade and to offer protection to a Tungrisch trading league called the Guild Fellowship, with which they soon established a lucrative partnership.

The structure of the order is similar to that of the Knights of the Mitre, though with a finer distinctions between various levels of their hierarchy, and a more severe discipline. New recruits, called Pfleger (wardens) undertake vows of chastity, celibacy, poverty, and charity. They must also take meals together with all other lower-level members at their commandery, which they call Komtur. Once having risen to the status of Hauskomtur - Komtur commander - their livelihood changes. At this point, they are allowed to marry, but must pledge to leave half of their wealth to the Order. Commanders rule their Komtur almost as a private fief, and the rules regulating their behavior become significantly more relaxed. The two main subdivisions of the order consist of the Ritterheim branch and the Imperial branch, each headed by its own Magister. Most recruits are expected to serve in Ritterheim and to be involved in its military campaigns at some point in their lives. Knights based in Ritterheim sometimes travel west on diplomatic missions, or to protect shipments of amber by the Guild Fellowship. There are rumors that they also bring heathen relics captured from their enemies to be stored for safekeeping. The subject population of the eastern Komturs often consists of recently converted heathens, who must be closely watched to ensure their compliance with the rules of the new Faith, though the ruling knights often make it a point to learn the secrets the their wise men and women still possess. The Imperial Komturs provide benefices for exemplary service, and also serve as recruitment centers for new members (including knights). Knights attached to Imperial Komturs also help conduct new settlers to what are regarded as sparsely populated lands to the east, and provide new settlers with protection. The most accomplished knights can rise to leadership positions within the order as a whole. The top position belongs to the Hochmeister, and below them, a group of various deputies, Marshals and Kanzlers hold key administrative posts within the structure.

As the knights of the order serve in regions with bitter climates, many of them take care to learn proper survival techniques. As effective rulers of a vast and powerful state, Tungrischritter, more than other paladins, also learn statecraft, and relatedly, strategy games such as chess. One knight named Antonius is even rumored to have played chess against the Sensenmann himself (though unsuccessfully). A black chess knight on a white field is the order's symbol, though it is sometimes embellished by accomplished knights who adopt different color schemes, or transform the knight into a unicorn, hippogryph, or similar creature on their devices.

[Altered Tenets of Conquest Oath:

Expand Gaalite Domains. No territory must remain under heathen control. Sometimes, purported Gaalite rulers are also lightly disguised heathens. Compromise with them is to be avoided, unless your commander uses it as a tactical stratagem.

Prevent Apostasy. No people over whom you have established rule should be allowed to lapse. Old shrines must be razed to their foundations, and any relics found therein destroyed, or sent to legitimate scholars for further study.

Tame the Wilderness. Wild Lands, like wild people, are the abode of Dark Powers. Transform the heath into orderly settlements, and encourage good people to live on it.

(Oaths of chastity, celibacy, poverty and charity as well).

Altered Circle Spells for Oath of Conquest

3rd level - unchanged

5th level - unchanged

9th level - fear (unchanged), sleet storm

13th level - dominate beast (unchanged), fire shield (cold version only)

17th level - cone of cold, dominate person (unchanged)]

Schimmelreiter (Oath of the Ancients)

This is the most mysterious of all the orders of paladins. There are no verifiable accounts of its origin, and it is likely that it goes back to the period before the establishment of the Gaalite faith. What seems likely is that the order was reconfigured and reborn as a reaction to the rise of the other paladin orders, taking on some features of their features. The Schimmelreiter often appear as antagonists of the latter, for instance, issuing challenges to questing paladins, trying to gain entry to the realm of the Grail Knights, or attempting to repulse the expansion of the Tungrischritter. The stories of these encounters are replete with descriptions of the Schimmelreiter's dark magic, their non-human origins, and their possession of a realm of their own. Some narratives describe them as warriors of the Old Gods. Most impressively, these paladins are associated with the Wild Hunt, when one rider, typically wearing a horned helm or headdress, riding through the wilds at night, accompanied by other hunters, dogs or wolves, and occasionally, armies of undead (which in turn leads to suspicions that the Wild Hunt is somehow related to the Totentanz). It is not entirely clear how the hunters select their prey - sometimes it is simply an animal, sometimes, surprisingly, a wondrous beast that is associated with elves, but oftentimes, it is human.

Whether the order has any recognizable structure is not known. It is said that when the Wild Hunt rides, anyone who encounters it has a quick decision to make. If they try to oppose it, or try to interpose between the hunters and their prey, they will almost surely be killed, and torn apart by beasts. If they aid the Hunt, on the other hand, they will likely receive presents - a share of the prey, money, and on occasion, an invitation to join the order. Those who do join are expected to heed calls to join the Hunt when it is called, and carry out other orders on its behalf. Some of these may involve gaining entrance into the Grail Realm, stealing its relics, or hunting down some of its members. There is also great enmity between the Schimmelreiter and the Tungrischritter, as the Schimmelreiter aim to defend ancient shrines and gateways and the woodlands which their enemies aim to turn into farmland and villages. The Schimmelreiter also attempt to intercept the pagan relics which the Tungrischritter take from their owners and resting places. Some captive Schimmelreiter have confessed that their realm is ruled by their leader, Klingsor, who is reputedly a paladin and sorcerer of great power and cunning. Tungrischritter who have ridden against the Schimmelreiter confirm this, and further attest that Klingsor's realm is likely to be Albenheim, though others claim that it is the nebulous domain of Nibelheim, or perhaps even Hell itself.

If the latter testaments are true, it would seem that some of the Schimmelreiter are elves, though frequent descriptions of the riders as pale or ghostly suggest that they may also be undead, or perhaps more powerful beings still. The name of the order - Schimmelreiter - refers to the Huntmaster's pale-white horse, which lends some substance to these rumors. Yet clearly, humans are recruited into the order as well, through given its otherworldly associations, they likely do not hold leadership positions. The humans that do join tend to be forest-dwellers, or live on the margins of civilization. Their skill set typically includes wilderness survival, and likely, Arcana. The association of the Schimmelreiter with magic seems to suggest that many of them may belong to other classes as well. It is not well known how the leaders of the Hunt communicate with their followers, but given their magical potency, it could be through portents, dreams, or prophetic messengers (like ravens). In any event, many Schimmelreiter have died after refusing to reveal how they receive their orders and whence they issue from. They also keep silent about other participants of the Hunt. They few that have broken under torture have almost always been hunted down by their former comrades. Because of their secrecy, the Schimmelreiter have few identifying marks, though antlered skulls (or carvings thereof) sometimes appear in locales that they intend to strike.

[Altered Tenets of the Oath of the Ancients:

Keep the Hunt Secret. No name, power, or timing associated with the Hunt is to be communicated to outsiders. Do not reveal the location of portals whence the directors of the Hunt issue. Those who violate this tenet become prey themselves.

Preserve the Wild. Defend wild places from encroaching civilization, and destroy all settlements that are built on locations of ancient shrines and sacred groves.

Reward those who aid you. Your numbers are few, and any ally is invaluable. The best of them should be initiated in the Order.

Preserve the Old Ways. Knowledge should be kept secret, but passed down in subtle ways, to prepare the world for the Ancients' return.

Altered Circle Spells for Oath of Conquest

3rd level - unchanged

5th level - unchanged

9th level - conjure animal, plant growth (unchanged)

13th level - hallucinatory terrain, locate creature

17th level - unchanged]


Ranger (Wildhüter)


The part of the world where most Gaalite lands are located lack expansive frontiers. Nevertheless, the Tungrisch lands that form the core of the Empire are still quite heavily forested, and the new lands to the east into which the Empire has expanded in recent centuries are even more so. The initial establishment of the Empire under Kaiser Hermann over 500 years ago witnessed the establishment of royal forests, which were set aside specifically for the emperor's use, as well as the foundation of specialized services - the Wildhüter, who would maintain the Wildbannforst  - the ban on outsider use of the royal forests, and manage these lands for the king. The Wildhüter were even assigned their own saint - St. Bertha, who was subsequently adopted as the patron of all hunters and foresters. The institution was adopted by the Greif Kaisers, and if anything, gained in importance as hunting transformed from an activity in which many people took part into an aristocratic pastime and training for warfare. Overseers of royal lands and those who brought food for the royal table set an example for local Wildhüter who served minor lords, though the most accomplished of them dreamed of joining the elite imperial services. Some towns and villages that shared ownership of wilderness tracts (Markwald) also began to employ their own Wildhüter.

Jägermeister (Hunter).

Much of the population is engaged in hunting when it has the opportunity to do so, but ranger hunters differ from these in several respects. They are typically raised to preform the job within the households of trained hunters - on occasion, hunting talent is found elsewhere, but this rare, and even such exceptionally talented hunters begin to specialize in the procuring of game from a fairly young age. Second, skilled hunters (Jäger) are typically employed by landowners to procure game and fowl on their estate, whereas other hunters hunt when they can on common land (or engage in illegal poaching). This makes their activity specialized and legitimate. Third, as hunting speciality involves fairly extensive training in the use of a variety of weapons, hunters in the service are a martial group, though in contradistinction with other martial classes, hunters, especially at low levels, are drawn from a variety of social groups - some from the free population, many from dependent groups such as serfs, though high positions are sometimes held by members of the nobility or (often illegitimate) relatives of the landowners (which lower-level hunters frequently resent).

Hunters have three fundamental duties. The first involves procuring game and fowl for the lord's table (when members of the lord's household, the hunters receive victuals from his table as well, though on occasion, they are free to sell any surplus, or may engage in such sales illegally). The most important valued game includes harts and wild boars, though fowl of various kinds are also brought down, perhaps on a more regular basis. Some hunters are also skilled fishers, but fishing is usually considered a less difficult and status-laden activity, and tends to be performed by others. Second, hunters are responsible for organizing hunts as social activities, which play as dominant a role in the Jäger's lives as tournaments do for knights. Such hunts generally take place around three times a year on any given estate. The Jägermeister - the masters of the hunt, are responsible for tracking and locating the prey prior to the event, and subsequently, leading the assembled participants to the prey (often by signaling with their hunting horn), keeping it at bay, and, after it is killed (usually by someone else in the hunting party), butchering it.  On the larger estates, Jägermeister have a substantial support staff of lower-ranking hunters and trappers at their disposal. Some of their subordinates specialize in working with particular animals - typically, horses, hounds, and falcons. In addition to training the animals, when funds are available, Jäger travel to special locations where hunting animals are bred. The most famous of these is the St. Bertha convent, where a variety of hunting dogs have been bred for hundreds of years. Finally, Jägermeister are commonly charged with teaching the young scions of lordly families the basics of hunting. Third, hunters are charged with bringing down predators which may present a threat to people or livestock, and which possess valuable fur. The luparii were a specialized corps of wolf hunters set up by Kaiser Hermann that was taken over by later emperors, and that have their local analogues elsewhere. Major magnates often require several hundred wolf pelts per year in tax, and Jägermeister are usually heavily involved in this effort. In recent decades, Luparii have also expanded in hunting other dangerous predators, such as werewolves. Jägermeister are alerted when particularly dangerous or wondrous beasts wander onto a lord's domain. Recently woven tapestries, for instance, depict the hunters' prowess in catching unicorns. 

Youths who show great promise as hunters start out as Jäger - assistants, and work their way up to Jägermeister (typically, around 3rd level). As skilled hunters are highly prized, an apprentice will typically find employment with another lord. Jägermeister will often accompany their lords as they make the make the rounds visiting their vassals. Here they will meet with their fellow hunters and share trade secrets - this, apparently, is the main way in which "hunter magic" is preserved, developed, and passed down to subsequent generations. Finally, the best Jägermeister will be hired (or bought) to join a household on royal lands, and a lucky few will become Grossjägermeister - grandmaster hunters - of the entire realm. Sometimes, this job will go to a royal relative who will use it as a personal sinecure, but on other occasions, particularly successful and loyal hunters are themselves ennobled, and are granted estates of their very own.

Förster ([Forester] Beastmaster).

The word Forst (forest) denotes not so much "the woods" in general, but specifically, the open area that constitutes the hunting grounds of the king. It is in reference to this designation specifically that the Förster were initially organized, at roughly the same time as the Jägermeister, and by the same founders. Though the social origins of the two groups are largely identical, their training, culture and missions differ quite markedly. Where the Jägermeister are typically quite close to the lord's household, and commonly live in or close to his or her castle, the Förster are more independent, and commonly have an abode of their own - a small cabin on the land of a lesser lord, and, not infrequently, a fortified lodge or even outright castle on royal lands. The Förster are therefore more independent and self-sufficient, and ironically, despite being more distantly located from the key nodes of economic activity, they are often more involved in monetary exchange. 

The duties of the Förster center around land management. First, they act as wardens of the forest. They are responsible for coppicing young trees to ensure that they continue to produce shoots, thus ensuring forest regrowth. They also keep an eye on the possible spread of tree diseases, the maintenance of sufficient pastureland (also included in the Först) for the lord's animals, surveying, and the clear demarcation between woodland and pasture land. They are further charged with the collection of timber for heating and construction purposes (though the actual woodcutting is usually performed by lower-level personnel, often not connected with the Förster's own household). Secondly, they act in the capacity of sheriff (Vogt), and regulate the use of the lord's land by peasants, monasteries and other vassals who are granted the right to use it. They set prices for timber, and regulate how much can be taken from the Först. They regulate the number of animals that vassals can graze upon the pasturelands. The enforce the lord's Wildbannforst with regard to what animals vassals can hunt on the lord's land (the main quarry of the noble and royal hunt - harts and boars, and sometimes, other animals, are usually forbidden). Because they are in charge of conveying these orders, enforcing regulations, and collecting fees and duties, they tend to acquire a foul reputation among the vassals, sometimes undeservedly so. Third, the Förster patrol the land in search of poachers of various kinds. Sometimes, the poachers are simple peasants, and can be chased away or brought to justice with relative ease. But often, the poachers are bandits who outnumber the personnel that the Förster has available. They are nevertheless the first line of defense, and being forced to call the lord's persons-at-arms for aid does not reflect well on the Förster. Sometimes, the poachers, or trespassers, are far more dangerous creatures than simple bandits. The Förster do have a structure they can call on for aid - sometimes, they are organized in guilds, and have novices or underforesters serving beneath them. They are also adept at taming wild animals (which they use to a far greater extent than the Jägermeister, who prefer tame ones), and use these to great effect to intimidate the locals, or to help them fight off poachers.

The beast companions of the Förster or Förstermeister - commonly such beasts as wolves, boars, harts, and lynxes - form a mystical bond with them, which is emblematic of the "magical powers" the Förster develop over time. Unlike hunters, who tend to learn their tricks from other hunters, the Förster often locate witches, hags, and other keepers of the Old Ways in the course of their ranging. Sometimes, instead of evicting such creatures, the Förster learn from them, which does little to help their reputation. Nevertheless, as they perform a necessary service, they are tolerated, and allowed to organize. Large forests are assigned their own Jagdaufseher (wardens), who, if not already ennobled, are granted lands of their own. Whole realms (like Margraviates) have wardens that oversee the administration of the whole of their territories.

Lokator (Horizon Walker).

When the Empire was firmly established 400 years ago, the Tungren launched a sustained effort to colonize lands to the east, that were inhabited by heathen, sparsely populated and loosely organized Labdysch tribes. While the work of conquest would fall to marcher lords (margraves) and monastic fighting orders (paladins), and the work of conversion - to the priests, the gains would prove difficult to cement absent extensive settlement in the new territories. To effect this, the margraves and ecclesiastical authorities turned to specialists called lokatores. Typically, the lokatores were trained as Wildhüter, and drawn, especially in the early stages, from cadet branches of margrave families, as well as non-inheriting knights and bastard children. As the colonization drive picked up steam in the next several centuries, commoners - both townsfolk and peasants, as well as children of local chieftains and warriors joined the highly lucrative profession, which promised wealth and status to those lokatores who were successful. With time, lokatores came to acquire a wide range of support personnel who would take care of mundane details, while the Wildhüter lokatores increasingly focused on protecting and ruling the colonists. In the last century, however, the stream of settlers began to dry up, and the lokatores turned to more intensive development of the new territories, and answering threats from newly activated portals (e.g. near fairy rings) that still dotted the new lands.

Lokatores are contracted by lay or ecclesiastical authorities in the marcher lands to establish settlements on a given territory. The contract usually stipulates the share of the territory that would be transferred directly to the lokator, though sometimes, payment is made in cash, and milestones will be outlined, so that the employer is not paying an unsuccessful lokator. Commonly, small-time (or low-level) lokators only receive contracts for small settlements - contracts for large tracts of land go to proven agents and the well-connected. Lower-level lokatores may be play supporting roles in a larger operation, and be charged with specific tasks. After the contract is signed, a lokator surveys the territory, negotiates deal with any native groups settled on the land, and, importantly, locates any mystical nodes or portals that could either prove troublesome in the future, or that could provide the magical power to ensure a settlement's future success. Having done this, the lokator (or their representatives) travel to heavily populated villages or towns in western regions, and attempts to recruit settlers to the newly surveyed lands. Proven lokatores may have advance payments to distribute among potential migrants, while others may need to borrow funds or promise tax breaks in hopes of being able to recoup their losses after the colonies are up and running. If successful in recruiting settlers, lokatores or their assistants then conduct the settlers to the new location. They are responsible for guarding the migrants along the way, and possibly, either paying for their accommodations or setting up campsites. After arrival, lokatores oversee the apportionment of plots, the demarcation of fields, the clearing of forests, and the construction of buildings, fortifications, and mills. It may become necessary to renegotiate terms with native dwellers, or to bring them in on the deal. If hostilities break out, contractors prefer to leave dealings with the natives to lokatores, as monastic fighting orders and newly installed bishops typically lack sufficient links with the natives to arrive at mutually satisfactory settlements. Once the settlements are up and running, the lokatores (or underlings) remain to manage the lands (as other Wildhüter), to provide protection, and watch over the possible (re)opening of portals. As migration has slowed, the numbers of the lokatores have dropped, and the latter tasks have gained in importance.

Management of vast new lands is a complex operation, so Lokatores are trained in a variety of tasks, such as brewing or minting coins. After settlements are established, lokatores run the operations they are trained in so as to provide them with a livelihood and support them in their status as wardens. Important Lokatores become tax collectors and administrators (Schulzen). The "magic" of the lokatores is drawn from the portals on the new territories - this is another reason why they, unlike other armed colonists, have little reason to shut the portals down (as opposed to using them to ensure the prosperity of the newly built towns and villages). Quite a few of them grow up in the vicinity of the portals they later come to oversee. It is known that lokatores often disappear for long stretches, as they travel through the portals to augment their knowledge, bargain with Otherworldly powers, and seek mystical artifacts.

Other Wildhüter

There may be other types of rangers, and perhaps even ranger organizations, on the margins - mountain areas, the sea, distant rivers, etc. Of particular note are the Wilderer (literally, 'poachers'), who are likely non-humans (and their human allies) that originate from deep in the forest, and focus on defending the wild places and portals from human encroachment. They typically don't poach animals, but are associated with poachers by the authorities who mean to frighten the local populace into not cooperating with them. They do sometimes kidnap children and adults. As such, they are usually opposed to other Wildhüter. The best model for these mechanically is the Fey Wanderer.

[Ranger adjustments:

Adjustments to the ranger class are laid out in the Lukomorye rules, pp. 107 - 109. In brief, the Natural Explorer feature requires rangers to roll Survival and Perception checks with advantage, rather than taking automatic successes. They must also roll for Insight or Animal Handling when using Primal Awareness. They gain the Land Stride feature (along with an additional Favored Enemy) at 6th level, and the Fleet of Foot feature at 8th. With regard to favored terrain, all Wildhüter start with Forest as their favored terrain. They gain an additional favored terrain (or an alternative) at 3rd (not 6th) level, depending on the ranger specialization they select, and then again at 10th level. The favored terrain gained at 3rd level is as follows:

Jägermeister, Lokator, Wilderer (Hunter) - any

Förster (Beastmaster) - Speak with Animals spell as at will ability. Double proficiency on Animal Handling checks as long as the beast is native to a Favored Terrain.]

[Natural Explorer as a Feat: non-ranger characters may wish to take a version of the Natural Explorer feature. If so, it provides the following benefits:

  • Increase you Wisdom by 1
  • Select a favored terrain. In that terrain, you make Perception checks to avoid getting lost, finding your destination with advantage. You make Survival rolls to track prey, determine the number and size of your quarry, and the timing of its passage with advantage.]


Schurke (Rogue)


The rogues are the most disorganized class in the setting, which should not be especially surprising given their marginal status in the interstices of society. There is no specifically declassé social category, but there are numerous categories of people that are regarded as 'roguish' for their failure or refusal to conform to society's norms. These include vagabonds, paupers, thieves, brigands, heretics, religious minorities, sexual dissidents, prostitutes, and lepers. No overarching organization could encapsulate all these categories, not even on a subclass or local level. Most people in marginal groups are not even involved in criminal activities, and the definition of what constitutes criminal is rather vague, given the parcelized sovereignty in Gaalite lands. Houses of prostitution, for instance, are frequently controlled by town authorities, or even by the church. Families involved in armed robbery and murder often have patrons among urban oligarchs or even high magnates, especially during times of intense political struggle, when they may be regarded as useful allies. But for the most part, people who are involved in crime are desperately poor, homeless, and struggling to survive. At times of great social dislocation - and the decades prior to the outbreak of the Plague certainly qualify - the marginal population does greatly expand, as does "roguish" activity, and the severity of punishment. Where in earlier times, many crimes were punishable by fines or provided opportunities to hire professionals to stand for one's innocence in a trial by combat, authorities living in what many are coming to regard as the End Times are becoming ever more partial to maiming, torture and execution. But at a time when the power of authorities is itself shaky, meting out punishment for most petty crimes is impossible. And despite their desperate straits, some rogues refuse to live by prescribed norms, and take pride in their own risk-filled, dissolute, or freewheeling lifestyle.  

[Changes to rogue weapon proficiencies: these include Simple Weapons, longswords, and short swords. The Grosses Messer - a curved, scimitar-like weapon, replaces proficiency in rapier. It does 1d8 slashing damage, and is considered finesse. Simple weapon proficiencies include darts, javelins, slings, and light crossbows (but not hand crossbows. For a complete breakdown, see here, pp. 137 - 138).]

Dieb (Thief).

Thievery is rife in cities and smaller settlements, from pickpocketing to late-night mugging, purse-snatching, and burglary. Stealing horses and cattle is a particularly lucrative activity, though one that carries the heaviest penalties. But for most thieves, criminal activities are a side-business to supplement their lifestyle - they generally have day jobs. It is a precarious business given the likelihood of retribution and getting caught. Working alone with with a few friends, as most thieves do, yields inadequate protection in the event of being caught, so successful thieves who wish to pursue this dangerous lifestyle typically seek out some sort of patronage in order to get access to witnesses who would speak up for them in court, advance them money to hire witnesses or to cover the costs of fleeing to another settlement, or to pay off magistrates. The most common place to seek protection is with one's own family, and some large families with connections do persist in criminal enterprises over an extended period of time. Beyond the family, there are neighborhood self-defense forces and craft organizations of unskilled workers which can often field a gang of toughs composed of apprentices to protect their neighborhoods. Sometimes, such gangs also find ways to supplement their meagre incomes. But such gangs tend to form situationally, and do not persist over long periods of time.

More long-term criminal enterprises tend to be clustered around high-value businesses, especially those engaged in various import-export trades. Houses or prostitution and inns are favored sites of thieving bands or families. Thieves are usually careful to target only those frequenters who make easy prey and lack social protection (travelers, pilgrims, or members of outgroups who cannot legally testify in courts). Often, such enterprises are run by (or employ) fences who buy stolen goods. Protection rackets are common, though those also tend to target owners who have precarious social standing. Beggars in a particular city also form an informal network, and those clustered around particular religious almshouses or hospitals provide a measure of religious protection to those who happen to engage in larcenous activities. Many thieves are also clustered at dockyards and customs houses, where smugglers find ways to move goods without paying duties, or removing a part of a shipment for their own enrichment. To do this over a long period of time requires them to have powerful allies among the town authorities, the city watch, or local oligarchs, who work together with thieves to increase their own profits and to undermine the activities of their competitors. Often, thief gangs are the criminal arm of a political faction that is associated with a particular trade network (fur, spices, wine, gems, weapons, etc.). Such organized gangs also know when large amounts of money are being moved through or stored in their town, and the more audacious among them sometimes make an attempt to steal it. 

More formal organizations are quite rare, though those do include the most successful thieves. Criminals in several cities in the the Gallisch lands to the west have an informal group called the Coquillards, which has now spread to some Tungrisch towns, where they are known as Schaltier. Among the Coquillards, there is a recognized division of labor - the pickpockets do not burgle, the cutpurses do not do second story work, and so on. This group has also developed their own system of signs and an argot which allows members to recognize their own, and to communicate in secret (though the argot differs from place to place). One of the largest cities in that area has a poor district known as the Court of Miracles, which serves as a magnet for displaced people from surrounding lands. The paupers of the district have organized, and even lobbied the king of those lands to recognize all those without gainful employment as belonging to a "thieves' guild", though they have not received official recognition. In the larger cities to the southwest and southeast that border Paynim areas, there is also are also affiliates of a criminal brotherhood called the Banu Tabar, which specializes in break-ins, though some of its members also write poetry. They hardly ever come far enough north to reach the cities of Markwald, unless they have very pressing business there. 

Schwindler (Mastermind).

Swindlers commonly revolve in similar circles as thieves, though their focus is usually on the confidence game rather than outright theft. The lower-level ones can be found running small-time scams near marketplaces, such as pretending to be important people who are temporarily separated from their money, asking passers by if a purse they found might belong them, playing shell-games, telling fortunes, or looking offering marks some exotic or magical item (or, even more commonly, a holy relic) in a secret tent. Some swindlers make it a mark of honor to never take anything that was not willingly placed in their hands, though others have little problem with pickpocketing or more forceful forms of thievery. Quite a few of them are also involved in shaving coins, which brings them in contact with moneychangers (on occasion, the money-changers will be swindlers themselves). The fences who operate out of houses of prostitution and other enterprises tend to be swindlers as well.

As swindlers prefer to let other people do their fighting for them, they tend to gravitate toward more organized groups quicker than thieves do. They may act as lookouts in disreputable parts of town or in front of disreputable businesses - beggars (and fake beggars) are particularly adept at this sort of activity. As fences who are not directly involved in theft, they know where to sell (and buy) stolen and contraband goods. They are also well-connected with local craftspeople, and can procure unusual tools (it is usually swindlers who sell thieves' tools). Quite a few are employed in strategic positions - e.g. as clerks at a town Rathaus, assistants at a merchant's counting house, suppliers for the City Watch, etc. This puts them in the know of key goings on around town - what shipments are coming in, what valuables are being brought in or stored in town, what damaging gossip is there about key town officials. They also know more about safe houses and how to make a quick exit out of town than anyone else. Because they tend to be more level-headed than other members of a criminal organization, they are often charged with storing a gang's loot (which makes their theft of that loot all the more damaging, because it is unexpected). They also act as intermediaries between rival gangs, building trust, but also making sure that any arrangements are beneficial to them.

Though some higher-level swindlers become councilors to gang leaders, others, having achieved success, prefer to be as independent as possible. Some accumulate sufficient wealth to become important merchants and try to go fully legitimate, though their past can catch up to them (so they have to continue to employ old gang members as their muscle). They also try to dissociate themselves from any large-scale organizations like the Coquillards or the Banu Tabar, but they do employ a network of informants, and are probably the best source of intelligence on such brotherhoods. Likewise, they are the best-informed on foreigner communities and non-humans who reside in town, and on their comings and goings. More non-humans choose this path than any other urban-based one, and not a few kobolds in particular have become successful swindlers over the years. 

Räuber (Bandit).

Räuber are actually the most common rogues, as most of the population lives in the countryside. Tracts of forest and other wilderness areas actually make the most convenient places to operate for people who live outside the law, far from the reaches of most established authorities. They also tend to be the best organized and the most hierarchical of all rogues. Entire families turn to banditry when times get tough, and having a blood relation as the head of one's group makes it more durable. When commerce dries up, even nobles turn to banditry, or secretly cooperate with established bandit groups to collect by force what they are no longer receiving in taxes and duties. Escaped serfs, tabor-less Augurs, Labdy tribespeople driven from their lands, and demobilized soldiers who have not been paid, or whose homes have been destroyed often form or join bandit groups in order to survive in the woods, and during the Plague, when cities empty, more criminal band spring up like mushrooms. 

Highway robbery is the Räuber bread and butter. A fallen tree across a forest road typically means bandits are nearby. Some also take up residence in abandoned (or still operating) roadside inns. Forest huts, caves, mines, abandoned castles and monasteries also serve as bandit sanctuaries. Bandits are more likely than other rogues to use force to take what they need, and to attack high-status targets. Though desperadoes, bandits are not stupid, and will not precipitate unnecessary fights. They prefer to get what they want through a show of force, because healing and supplies are often far away. Bandits also have roots among the local populace. Villagers will often have relatives among the bandits, and will inform those nearby about any travelers passing through, and offer them food and places to hide. Conversely, since many bandits are themselves villagers fallen upon hard times, they will themselves share their loot with friends and relatives, which makes bandits that much harder to root out. Räuber connections also extend to cities, and urban rogues often know about arriving loot because they have been told so by bandits, who want to avoid attention, but expect to get their cut. In return, urban rogues sometimes guide pilgrims and other travelers through the woods - and right into the arms of bandits. When not robbing travelers, bandits survive like other people roughing it in the wild - by hunting, fishing, and trapping. Some also spend a lot of time looking for buried treasure hoards. 

Räuber have little interest in far-flung brotherhoods, but they do sometimes join with neighboring bands. Large bands, especially ones that are distant from cities occasionally become veritable armies, led by their own bandit kings. Creatures that are not commonly admitted into towns, like orcs, often take up with bandits, or make alliances with nearby Räuber groups for mutual benefit. Sometimes, bandits will kidnap villagers for the orcs to eat, or marry. As forest-dwellers, bandits are often knowledgeable about, and sometimes, friendly with, other forest denizens - hags, werewolves, and perhaps even serpents. A few bandits pick up magical skills from them, though others are well-trained in the use of arms - Räuber are more likely than other rogues to belong to multiple classes. Some reputedly have arrangements with roving groups of undead, but bandits are far from immune from the ravages of the Totentanz.

[The mechanics for the Bandit archetype can be found here, on pp. 111-112. In brief, they are rogues who possess some ranger-type wilderness survival skills, have more versatility with strength-based weapons, and can stun enemies by surprising and bashing them.]

Assassine.

Rogues have occasionally engaged in murder-for-hire, but as this is a particularly dangerous enterprise, and because the money to pay for such work has been mostly insufficient, no specialization focusing on this type of activity has developed. Some thieves have dabbled in the use of poison, and making murder look like a robbery gone bad. Swindlers, for their part, sometimes worked to develop contacts among servitors close to important people, but left the execution of murder up to them. Sometimes, elimination of rivals was simply left to knight retainers or mercenaries who were charged with eliminating inconvenient people when they made their way home through darkened streets. In more recent times, however, rogues who specialize in political murder have become somewhat more common. This is particularly the case in Vallandisch cities, which are relatively wealthy, and have rich but unstable regimes a rough-and-tumble politics. Outside this area, assassins are still quite rare - certainly, the least numerous of all rogue specializations. But this does not prevent powerful people to suspect their ubiquity - partly out of paranoia, partly to advance their own political agendas.

In the places where they do operate, assassins usually have some sort of cover to conceal their actual activities. Some work as diplomats, physicians, actors, perfumers, courtesans, or any other job that allows them to get access to their targets. Some do belong to other classes. Higher-level ones generally do not hobnob with other rogues, though where struggles between political and criminal factions boil over, some do work with gangs to carry out hits on opposing gang leaders. After carrying out particularly high-profile hits, they often need to go on the lam, which sometimes brings them to more northerly areas.

Because they lead double lives and often lack roots in their locales, assassins, more than other rogues, tend to be lone wolves, and lack an overarching structure. Or so it would appear. The term for their profession is actually of quite recent origin - certainly no older than 200 years. It seems to have been introduced by participants in the Kreuzzüge and their chroniclers, who originally used it to refer to a Paynim heretical sect that carried out political killings on religious grounds. Their founder, a certain White Beard, was said to have lived in a hidden, impregnable castle, which, according to some accounts, contained a hidden gate to Paradise. A potion distributed by White Beard gave his servants an advance taste of what awaited them after death, and those who fell in his service were said to be carried to heaven on the wings of angels. But their orders had to be carried out to the letter, and those who disobeyed became targets of assassination themselves. Though the order was routed nearly a century ago by the Tartarians, legends insist that White Beard merely went into occultation, and means to return and rally his followers to victory. It is possible that some of his followers have infiltrated other sects, and perhaps even fled to Gaalite Lands, where they began to engage in assassinations for money in order to survive, or possibly, because their original purpose has become corrupted. They may also have prompted the rise of imitators. Whether these Assassins actually exist is unclear, but their legend has become quite popular, thanks especially to epic singers. If they do truly survive, they are a highly secretive and structured society, but only the highest level assassins are aware of their existence, and they would be likely to kill themselves before they reveal any of its mysteries.

Betrüger (Arcane Trickster).

Roguery, as we saw above, includes categories of people who not only engage in what we think of as criminal activity, but those who do not conform with the lifestyles prescribed by the powerful. Every so often, people who are placed in one of these categories - lepers, libertines, sexual dissidents and heretics are forced to adapt to the kind of life where they must learn how to defend themselves, or have to deal with various unsavory characters on a daily basis. Occasionally, those people come to manifest magical talents, which they apply toward allowing them to continue living the way they want. Alternatively, some hardened rogues who live in a largely criminal milieu come to manifest these talents at a point in their criminal career, and try to make the best of their multifarious skills without losing their support network.

Many of these Betrüger start their careers in similar ways to swindlers, engaging in the same kinds of scams and con jobs. At a certain point, they learn to perform magical tricks, either through a knack they acquired on their meanderings, or simply because latent talents they possessed became manifest. At this point, they can continue along their initial path for as long as they can, but their magic often frightens off many of their associates. Then, they strike out on their own, surrounding themselves with henchmen who often include nonhuman, fae, infernal creatures, and shapechangers of various kinds. Some also gravitate toward the lifestyle of entertainers (especially jugglers) if they didn't already come from that walk of life. Often, they do this to fleece gawkers, but on occasion, they take to the road to simply annoy kingpins and the powerful without any clear monetary gain on their part. Their behavior begins to resemble that of fools, though those who know them well will continue to suspect that it's all part of some elaborate ruse. Fools, in any event, will also make common cause with Betrüger, though perhaps for their own reasons. Some Betrüger break off on their own and become highly secretive, trying to track down buried treasure or arcane secrets. 

Any connection between Betrüger is difficult to establish, but it is known that not a few of them have adopted a man called Reineke Fuchs as a kind of patron saint. Reineke (or Reinhard) seems to have been a shapechanging fox who kept company with other shapechangers and devoted much time to impersonating priests or engaging in lengthy legal battles with his ill-wishers and various magistrates. Reineke's exploits attracted many imitators, including a latter-day Betrüger named Till Eulenspiegel, who seems to have recently succumbed to the Plague. Whether Reineke and Till were simple tricksters or plotters is not known. But a legend that has surfaced among the rogues is that they are both descendants of an ancient god who is again becoming active through his followers. The fear among mundane rogues that the Betrüger are feigning foolishness while all the while laying the foundations for a takeover of all criminal activity is growing. The Church, needless to say, surmises that the increased Betrüger activity is one of the Devil's machinations, as he himself is a magical trickster extraordinaire.  

[Changes to the arcane trickster: 

  • They select their spells from the Sorcerer list, not the Wizard list;
  • Charisma, not Intelligence, is their spellcasting ability;
  • At levels when their choice of spells is limited, they may add Transmutation as a focus school;
  • They may select Transmutation spells from any class' list, so long as they have a high-enough spell slot level to cast it.]

Zauberer (Sorcerer).


The Gaalites say power resides in the sacred blood of the Redeemer who bled for this world. They refuse to accept that power may reside in the blood of others, and certainly not since his sacrifice; all those who claim otherwise appropriate what is rightly God's, or fall under the spell of demons who rebelled against him, and thus, engage in sorcery, which is an affront against him. But the idea of power in the blood is a very ancient one, and long predates the Ecumenical Faith. Old stories say that the world itself was created out of the blood of a slain god, and long ago, other beings of awesome power engaged in congress with mortals, and those born of this union and their descendants passed down traces of this power through their bloodline. This memory is encoded in the Tungrisch word for magic - Zauber - which is related to tiver - the reddish dye used to mark sheep and draw runes in sympathetic resonance to the power of blood. This power was not "natural" and available upon recall to anyone who belonged to the bloodline. Often, the "gift" skipped generations, or sometimes, even millennia, waiting to emerge when the time was right. Typically, people marked by the blood are born weak or deformed, and do not survive their childhood. If they do, the blood manifests suddenly and unexpectedly, usually during adolescence: after a prolonged illness or bout of madness, or during a violent or sexual encounter. The spirits that circulate in the blood had to be recognized and mastered. It may also derive (or be awakened) through ways other than descent - for instance, drinking from a magical brook, or having been imparted by a dying sorcerer. The latency of Zauber, its hidden, occult character was deemed problematic before it was labeled demonic by the Church: even pagan priests and magistrates used to perform divination to find the inheritors of Zauber, to remove them from society, study their secrets, and often, to kill them. When a true Zauberer is born undetected and makes it to adulthood, their power often becomes so great as to shake the very foundations of the established order. But Zauberer are also easy to find, because they are born with identifying marks. For this reason, beings who share their nature sometimes steal them to raise them in secret, far from human settlements. Attempts to hide Zauberer far from the seats of power accounts for the fact that like rogues, sorcerers tend to originate on the social margins, especially among stigmatized groups that are more likely to feel a sense of kinship with a young sorcerer. Like rogues, Zauberer as a class are far less organized than others - often, the only thing that unites them is their shared bloodline. And the peculiar circumstances of their birth and their often mixed bloodlines mark Zauberer as the class most likely to have non-human members. 

[Hemomancy. The use of blood magic, altering as it does the structure of the cosmos, bears a cost. Using magic to harm others can result in a sorcerer finding no rest after death. For this reason, Zauberer often try to "unload" the accumulated cost onto an apprentice prior to death. Additionally, the use of sorcery points results in necrotic damage to the caster (1 per point used, though cutting, nosebleeds, etc.), unless a sorcerer finds some other person who willingly takes this cost onto themselves (for further details, see here, p. 115).]

Kambion.

This is the one of the most common Zauberer bloodlines in Markwald and neighboring lands, though there are divergent accounts of their origin and descent. Properly speaking, Kambion are born when a succubus has intercourse with a human male, and passes his semen to an incubus, who then uses it to impregnate a human female. However, many stories point to the similarity between the Kambion and common changelings (Wechselbälger) placed in human households by dwarfs, kobolds, and undines, because the two experience childhood quite similarly. The vast majority of changelings do not grow up to become sorcerers, and perhaps, do not grow up at all, as most accounts insist they do not live past the age of 19. However, this may concern changelings that are born in typical peasant households, and not those who are placed with guardians charged with helping them develop their talents. It is also unclear whether the bloodline includes only the Wechselbälger that are placed with human families, or those humans which are stolen, raised among dwarfs, kobolds, and fee, and intermarry with them, and produce progeny, which at some point find their way back to human society. Some may simply be a product of a succubus-incubus union, without any human involvement. Lastly, it is not clear whether the changelings can produce offspring at all - Church records insist that demons cannot create true life - only a mockery thereof, which would make the Kambion line very stochastic. But similarities between Kambions and the Nephilim of the Holy Writ, born of a union between angelic "Sons of God" and daughters of men, suggest that Church accounts may not be entirely accurate on this score. The relationship between Kambion and Wechselbälger is likewise shrouded in mystery. Perhaps the dwarfs and kobolds who create them are degenerated forms of the 'giants' of old. Or perhaps the incubi and succubi who produce Kambion use the changelings as a cover to make sorcerers difficult to find by drawing resources away from ecclesiastical diviners.

Whatever the facts of their lineage and conception, Kambion (and other changelings) have difficult childhoods. They are almost ubiquitously described as being born with 'thick heads' and oversized eyes. Many church writers regard them as mere lumps of flesh, without a soul, though some hasten to baptize them to prevent them from falling under the control of dark powers. On occasion, they are covered with a darkish, brittle skin (or scales), vestigial horns or tails, clubfoot, and sometimes, emerge from the womb with a full set of teeth (the similarity with tieflings is not coincidental). The babies are typically fussy, cry a lot, and demand copious amounts of milk (up to four times the amount of a normal infant). They are often sickly, and those that are not disposed of by their parents (not an uncommon occurrence) many die before reaching adolescence. Some never learn to talk. Those that do often turn to drink at a very young age. Some of these who are baptized and protected go on become Fools while, while others are approached by their infernal parents and granted the power to rise high in the world, often at the expense of other people. A few (likely the genuine Kambion) either possess great strength or the ability to detect magic, but these are often whisked away as soon as their power becomes manifest. Their career usually begins with their mastery of the Heavy Gaze - the ability to enchant or frighten people simply by casting an askance glance or looking directly into their eyes. Those who do not look directly at people are often suspected of being Kambion.

Those that do survive to adulthood, or return to live among humankind develop truly astounding powers. It is said that the purpose of creating Kambion is to rival Gaal in their their knowledge, power, and the ability to beguile. That this is so is related in the tale of a Kambion named Merlin, who is said to have lived 800 years ago, though there is strong suspicion that it was merely a cover for a more recent Zauberer, as it was only set in writing around a century ago. This Merlin was supposedly saved from evil by having been baptized in a timely manner, yet he inherited all his father's power as a diviner and shapeshifter, and went on to become the progenitor, kingmaker and magical mentor to a prominent Imperial dynasty. Others contest the fact of his baptism, and relate that Merlin remained evil, urging his protege to kill all male infants being born into his family to prevent a potential rival from being born. Eventually, Merlin became so great as to be venerated as a god by his contemporaries. The task appointed to him was to reverse the effect of Gaal's descent into Hell to triumph over Death, and to enthrone Ashmudai as king over Heaven and Earth, while confining God's angels to the Inferno. Some heterodox writers regard the decline of the Empire (and emerging Age of the Divine Presence) as the collapse of his plans, though Church authorities insist that the doctrine of this new age is itself heretical, and a sign that Kambion are undertaking a new effort at taking power, perhaps this time by producing multiple offspring rather than uniting behind one sorcerer. 

[The Netherworldly Bloodline. Mechanically, Kambion are identical to the Netherworldly bloodline, detailed here (p. 114 - 115). In brief, they gain the following features: Heavy Gaze, Evil Eye, Night Flight, Possession, and Unblinking Mastery).] 

Die Hodfarben (Wild Magic).

The Hodfarben are another populous category of potential sorcerers. Their name derives from Hod, one of Gaal's devotees who famously betrayed him to his death. According to popular versions of this famous story in the Writ, Hod was red of hair and beard, and the color is therefore associated with treason, unpredictability, and the Devil. Hod is said to have been the first vampire, and the red hair color is also said to signify werewolves, witches, and various other groups who superstitions link to the Devil (e.g. the Fogarma, most of whom in fact have dark hair). But the link between a fiery temperament and red hair long predates the Gaalite religion. In heathen days, it was associated with a variety of fire-deities, most especially the giant Logi, who passed down his fiery temperament to his offspring. The trickster god Loki also produced a sizable brood, which included a variety of monstrous beings. The above-mentioned Reineke Fuchs and various fox shapechangers are popularly associated with Loki, as well as the Devil.

There is of course a fairly large number of redheads in the world, and the vast majority of them do not have any sorcerous powers of note. They do grow up facing discrimination of various types - they are said to be liars, quick to anger, are regarded as depraved and sometimes shunned as marriage partners (though this only makes them more attractive to some), and are regarded as unreliable servitors, especially for high officials. Still, Hodfarben who possess the gift grow up in relatively normal circumstances compared to other Zauberer. Their abilities tend to manifest during periods of high stress and excitability (occasionally, they are activated as a result of drinking from a magical brook), which result in manifestations of Wild Magic, and not a few spontaneous fires. Such happenings color the perceptions of red-haired people as a whole, and the stereotypes only become more pronounced the further south one travels, as redheads tend to be rarer in those parts of the world. Paradoxically, red hair is said to possess magical power, especially for the production of bounteous harvests and even transforming copper into cold. These may be superstitions without substance, but there may be a dose of truth regarding the hair of actual Hodfarben. Any any case, all redheads may be subjected to unwanted dealings with seekers after material components.

Some Hodfarben do manage to rise high, since not a few high nobles and magnates are born into the bloodline. Kaiser Wilfred Greifswald is a particularly prominent example of a powerful ruler from the Empire's glory days, and it is rumored that he was a Zauberer of great power. The Kaiser died while on Kreuzzug, quite possibly as a result of a magical accident. But he is rumored to be waiting to return to life at the hour of his people's need. However, the fact that his burial site is continually circled by ravens only adds to the association of Hodfarben and vampirism. His grandson, another Wilfred, who even made an attempt to bring the Hierophant to heel, was also rumored to have returned from the grave, not once but multiple times, powered by a potion of vitality, a magic ring of invisibility, and a magical fire-resistant cloak provided to him by a southern priest-king named Teodor. Though several of his new forms (or perhaps imposters pretending to be him - the accounts differ) were burnt at the stake, a sizable movement led by monastic diviners, and multitudes of poor, formed around expectations of Wilfred's ultimate return. His realm, prophesied to be a true Gaalite kingdom with no Church, no hunger, no divisions between rich and poor, and infinite possibilities created by the magically protean monarch.   

Die Reinen (Divine Soul).

The birth of one later marked as one of the Pure Ones (die Reinen) is occasionally unremarkable, though at times they are born in a caul, and considered lucky. Sometimes, they are also born under unusual circumstances (e.g. a seventh son of a seventh son). Following their birth, unless they are detected by the authorities and eliminated, they often live lives typical of one of their station until they reach adolescence, at which time they begin to hear voices. Sometimes, the voices are interpreted as that of God, though sometimes they are understood as those of spirits of light (Albe - the elves), and it is possible that they are descended from either elves or angels. At this point, die Reinen set out on their life's mission, typically involving bringing light into the darkness, or enthroning the true king (whoever that might be). They are often able to gather a large following, and are sometimes regarded as saints, though unsurprisingly, Church officials may start questioning the nature of the voices they hear, and to suspect that the light they say resides within them is brought by the Devil - the False Light-bearer.

Die Reinen, unlike other Zauberer, tend to be aware of the nature of their power from an early age (though their beliefs on this score may be mistaken). They say that the divine light within them is a spiritual spark of the true God, imprisoned in the flesh created by an evil God (the Devil). As they see it, the spark is present in all people, though most are held in such deep bondage by the evil God they cannot recognize it. Occasionally, they see themselves as incarnations of earlier Zauberer who beheld the truth. The fact that the elves have withdrawn from the world, and also uphold beliefs in reincarnation resonates with some of die Reinen. Whichever version they subscribe to, they usually hold to the belief that the spark cannot be passed down through normal means (i.e. sexual procreation), because that only deepens the bondage of the flesh, and begin to lead a life of abstinence. They usually abstain from consuming animals and animal products, for the same reason. There is a rivalry between die Reinen and Kambion, because the former believe that the latter are obvious products of the Evil One's machinations, though for some of die Reinen, exposing their enemies by adopting their tactics, and, generally speaking, cathartically sinning, undermines the Devil's works. Those who take this tack do engage in sexual activity and may marry. In any event, they sometimes have a difficult time holding their more passionate followers at bay. For the most part, they act as exemplars, however, and accept the type of aid that furthers their cause.

Die Reinen commonly find themselves at the head of various heretical movements, such as the Giessler (Flagellants) and Achimites. The latter seek to return to the primitive state of equality and pure spirit, while the former, who have greatly increased in strength following the outbreaks of the Plague,  believe that the mortification of the flesh is a necessary precondition to preparing for Gaal's return. In this regard, die Reinen are not dissimilar to the Hodfarben, though they do not seek to enthrone a royal messiah, and, like the Church, are skeptical of the Hodfarben's own mystical marks. The Church views die Reinen as perhaps the greatest threat to its power and tries to nip any movements they lead in the bud, but at times, it finds itself simply overwhelmed by the amount of support these Zauberer are able to martial among local communities. The Church has pronounced the movement as a front, not only for Asmodeus, but also for elf princes (equivalent to fallen angels in its eyes) who seek to use die Reinen to wreak vengeance on the Ecumenical Faith in order to pave their return to the world.     

[Other sorcerers. Other lineages, likely descended from the Old Gods or e.g. the Dark Elves of Niflheim may appear at various points, or survive at the margins. Old divine bloodlines (e.g. Shadow or Storm sorcerers) are acceptable as PCs, but as bloodlines, lack the numbers or the structure to be detailed here. By and large, they do conform to the general features of sorcerous bloodlines outlined at the beginning of this section.]  


Hexe (Warlock).


The hedge that encloses the physical space of a typical village also serves as the boundary marker between human and Gaalite settlements and the wilderness, controlled by various spirits and creatures of darkness. Traditionally, someone in the village serves as the keeper of this in-between space, and a guide between the two Realms. This person's designation  - Hexe, derives from this hedge (Hecke). Over the centuries, this guide was regarded as something along the lines of a healer or hedge wizard, and though the Church was not especially fond of them, they were generally left alone if they caused no obvious harm to the villagers. By and large, the Hexen were either sorcerers or people with rudimentary magical powers, and though they were often elderly, their designation as hags (Hexe) did not bear markedly negative connotations. With the rise of large and wealthy heretical movements in the last 150 years (such as die Reinen), this began to change. Where before, sorcerers were charged with crimes when their magic harmed others, now, their activities were deemed to threaten the very foundations of the Gaalite social order. Documents of the Inquisition and the lay authorities began to designate the Hexen as a distinct group, one that received its powers through an explicit pact with powerful beings, which made any who concluded such deals individually responsible, not just mere dupes or slaves to the dictates of their magically potent blood. It is unclear whether there actually were pacts or if their existence were a legal fiction invented by the authorities, and then demonstrated as fact after confessions to this effect were wrung out of people charged with witchcraft after undergoing torture. But over time, the powers that trafficked with the Hexen seem to have seized on this idea, and began to offer magical powers to those who would explicitly condemn the Ecumenical Faith and the order it stood for, as well as offer something of value to the powers to seal the deal. They also began to mark those with whom pacts were concluded - either with a visible discoloration on their body, a third nipple, or some other sign (depending on patron or pact boon). The pacts grew in popularity as the crisis of the existing order deepened, especially since the onset of the Plague. The war between the Hexen and the Church has now become open, even though not every Hexe is a willing or enthusiastic participant.

[Covens. Unlike Zauberer, who tend to be solitary, Hexen belong to groups whose members share allegiance to the same patron. These groups collectively perform rituals (dances, sacrifices, etc.), which augment their power, as well as that of the patron. The number of such groups is not set, though trial documents allege that it is always set at 13 (it is known that different patrons find different numbers significant, however). Though a coven gathered together in one place may increase its power under the right circumstances, a coven also creates a collective mind. When a Hexe wishes to access spell slots after having used up their powers for that day, they must initiate a short rest, and tap into that collective mind in order to receive more spells. The Hexe may request any number of slots so long as the total requested does not exceed their daily allotment. Unless they have telepathic powers, Hexe may only communicate the following things to the collective mind: who they are, and how many slots they are soliciting. Other coven members may only respond with a yes or no; no response is equivalent to a rejection. Granting someone slots results in a loss of slots for yourself (asking a coven member to "return" slots the same day one has given them slots is considered bad form. The only thing that can be asked in return at this time is to have the supplicant accept a point of Impiety (Gottlosigkeit). Otherwise, the only problem with a rejection is the risk that a coven members will have their requests rejected in their future. As a rule of thumb, the chances of having one's request fulfilled is 1 in x, where x is the total number of coven members. Obviously, this means drawing in ever more members into your coven is advantageous, as this increases the chances of replenishing one's slots after a short rest. The biggest beneficiaries are the coven leaders (Hexenmeister), since they can usually replenish the highest-level slots.]

Erzfeen (Archfey).

The patrons associated with this pact are most commonly encountered in the woods, especially during nights when the moon is especially bright. Typically, they are with a woman in hunter's garb and armed with a bow (but occasionally, mounted upon a huge boar). Most such meetings end badly, as the woman either shoots or tramples anyone who crosses her path, or is torn apart by dogs or wild animals. Only those who fall before her and invoke her by name, pledging their everlasting devotion, might be spared. She is usually referred to as Diana (after the manner of the Old Gods), though she is also called Layla, Bertha, and Frau Holle. Even more frequently, encounters take place with whole armies of her rampaging followers chasing down quarry, which they mean to possess or devour. No one who doesn't appeal to the Queen is spared (though having the presence of mind to appeal to her is no guarantee of survival). Instead of Diana, one might encounter the Wild Hunt, led by a figure in a horned helmet named Ruprecht, or Berthold (sometimes, a horned monster named Krampus), though the outcome of such an encounter is often similar. Both Diana and Ruprecht are understood as Elven royalty (though they different names may in fact account for different personages within the royal entourage).

What these hunters want from their followers isn't entirely clear, though following the example of earlier recruits is generally a good guideline. The latter engage in orgiastic dances which sometimes turn into cannibalistic rampages, especially when someone refuses to join the dance. It is best when such processions take place in full public view, especially in front of members of the clergy (and most especially, when the latter can be enticed or cajoled to join the dance), but as that generally risks the lives of new followers, the dances are held on hilltops or in thick hollows, especially on Thunarstag. If such processions have an overarching purpose, those goals are not revealed to any save the Hexenmeister. The goal appears to be to cause as much chaos and disruption as possible, though Hexenmeister are often charged with humiliating (or destroying) highly placed clerics and other officials. The purpose of the Hunt is similar, though a specific quarry is named ahead of time, and the purpose of targeting them is usually revenge for some prior offense. A fair number of half-elven (or other half-fee) offspring are conceived during this time, so the siring or birthing of such offspring may be a condition of sealing the pact as well.

This pact includes deals with the Lord of the Dark Fee, who grants similar rewards (in terms of Pact Magic). When he chooses to introduce himself, he calls himself Alberich (literally, King of the Elves), though it is not entirely clear whether he is an elf or a dwarf (as he is known to be a shapechanger). Unlike Diana or Ruprecht, Alberich has different goals, and a different manner of interaction. He is usually encountered alone, in the woods, or in a mineshaft, and most often asks those he encounters for a favor, sometimes, a trivial one. If his request is fulfilled, he offers the stranger a pact. The condition of the pact is most often a service of labor - the supplicant must work for the king for a set period of time, or on particular days, generally crafting items. Sometimes, Alberich sends the supplicant on journeys to track down particular items, or treasure hoards. Less frequently, he requests a child (usually, a first-born). To those who serve faithfully, Alberich promises riches beyond their wildest dreams, a high position in his court, or an important magic item. Covens are usually built by recruiting other people to help you fulfill your task. If Alberich's pacts appear more favorable than those of other Fee, a potential Hexe should be put on notice that he has ways of subtly changing the terms of the contract in ways that have people working for him indefinitely (or simply eliminating those he thinks have outlived their usefulness).

Unhold (Fiend, but see below).

This pact is unusual in that it comes in two varieties (the standard Pact of the Fiend, and also a custom Pact identical to the Netherworldly Pact [see here, p. 119]). Partly, this is the case because fiends are organized in a much more sophisticated hierarchy than other patrons, and can thus tailor their pacts to specific preferences. Hell itself is more extensive than other Realms, some of its planes resembling fiery infernos, and others subterranean pits or the gloomy halls of dead. Thus, pacts are typically concluded with specific individuals within the infernal hierarchy - e.g. Beelzebub, Mephisto, or, on occasion, Ashmudai (Asmodeus), the Lord of the Nine Hells himself (this does not mean that infernal patrons always give their real name - in fact, they frequently masquerade as other entities, and not all Hexenmeister learn their true names, especially without offering something of great value in return). These entities can appear in the flames (when invoked), but are frequently encountered in similar environments to Erzfeen patrons, and may in fact be pretending to be such (e.g. a creature called Baphomet passing itself off as Krampus). Initial demands of followers are similar - to engage in orgiastic rituals or cannibalism. Sometimes, the dances are used to produce Kambion (just like the Fee use them to create changelings). The subtle difference, at least initially, is that the Unhold require all recruits to desecrate Gaalite symbols - most commonly, by spitting on, stepping on, or breaking a cross, but also mixing infant blood into Communion wafers, defiling holy water, and so on.

Subsequently, the differences become more pronounced. Unhold are not simply interested in chaos - they aim to destroy the Church from within by perverting its rituals. Members of established covens are pressed into structuring their meetings as inversions or mockeries of church services - by wearing an upside-down crucifix, holding Sabbaths (typically on an Ostertag), reciting prayers backwards, invoking the names of pact patrons instead of that of the Lord, the Trinity, the saints, etc. The Hexenmeister are urged to adopt vestments and titles that resemble those of Ecumenical priests - e.g. anti-priest, anti-bishop, anti-Hierophant, etc. The blood sacrifices held are more and more dedicated to the patrons under their true names (which increase their value to the patron, and allow the Hexe to access ever-greater magical powers). The greatest gifts also require one to sign away their soul in blood. The original document, if located, is nearly impossible to destroy, or undo. But Unhold enjoy upping the stakes and changing terms, so long as the warlock's jeopardy becomes ever greater. And they especially like entrapping high-standing, ambitious and intelligent people, whose fall is all the greater for their might. Patrons are also especially active in areas where heretical sects are strong, not only to have a large pool of potential recruits, but also to fan the flames of religious wars, and to bring about the downfall of those sects that have lofty moral goals and legitimate beefs with the Church.

Enrollees in this pact are not only hated by the Church, but also by those who subscribe to the Erzfeen pacts. The Fiends not only attract too much attention to themselves, but also to other Hexen, and Inquisitors tend to tar all pacts with the same brush. The imputation that all warlocks have explicit pacts is also a result of the Unhold imitation of the Erzfeen, whose offers are much more implicit. Nevertheless, both types of warlocks can be subjected to auto da fe, which is increasingly applied after the first offense.

[Fiend Pact and Netherworldly Pact. As should be clear, Unhold warlocks can change their pacts' mechanics without actually switching patrons (though they may think they are doing so). Typically, the changes take place once a warlock attains a level at which they are granted Pact features. Most commonly, the switch is from the Netherwordly Pact to the Pact of the Fiend, but this is not necessarily so. The link to the Netherworldly Pact is given above, but in brief, they receive the Infernal Aura features (Aura of the Nav', doubling the effects of Heavy Gaze and Evil Eye [see Kambion, above]); Witches' Flight, which allows non-corporeal travel, and Witches' Ride, which allows the possession of victims; and the To the Devil's Grandmother (Go I Know Not Where), which essentially doubles the effects of the Hurl Through Hell feature Pact of the Fiend Warlocks get at 14th level.  Pact spells are found there as well.]

Sensenmann (The Undying).

This is the most enigmatic patron of all. In Tungrisch lands, he appears as the Grim Reaper - black hooded cloak, scythe, hourglass, but occasionally, a boney, nearly desiccated graybeard astride an emaciated pale horse. In lands to the southwest, and in Labdysch lands, the form is feminine (the Labdy refer to her as Morena). But Reaper is only infrequently encountered in true form prior to the conclusion of the pact - this usually happens only to those who explicitly seek to learn the Sensenmann's secrets. Typically, a person appeals to Death in desperation, in order to postpone own's own demise, or that of a loved one. The Sensenmann almost never answers - the fact that a pact has been struck is evident only in the effects of the appeal - powers are granted, and someone's life is spared - for the moment. Sometimes, those spared are suspended between life and death, in a vegetative state (unless further tasks are performed). To effect the pact, a symbolic payment must be made - one copper or silver coin (which does disappear if the pact is concluded).

It is typically unclear, at least initially, what else the Sensenmann requires in payment. His function is to reap life, but it is not necessarily evil, and may be performing a service to the divine powers as their harvester, or an expression of God's wrath. His desires are commonly expressed by some sort of anonymous message - an unsigned letter, a suggestion voiced by a coven member, a dream. These typically involve aiding the culling of the living - allowing a person with the Plague to enter a certain area, digging up corpses, silencing those who strive to cure the sick, etc. Though the Sensenmann seeks death, he also leads the Totentanz, though fostering the spread of the revenants (Wiedergänger) seems to fly in the face of clearly marking the boundary between life and death, and reminding all mortals that their days are numbered. The purpose of the Totentanz is never explained - learning its secret is the lifelong (and perhaps, unlife-long) task of all true followers. But if the Sensenmann's followers kill large numbers of people and raise armies of undead, they do not, like other warlocks, revel in destruction and sadism. The Reaper's minions kill people methodically and efficiently. Unlike the grisly dances associated with other pacts, the Totentanz does not appear to have any political ends in mind. Certainly, neither they nor their master use the Totentanz to create any sort of offspring (except more undead) or support bloodlines of any kind.

Despite the cryptic silence of the Sensenmann (or Morena), he does not seem devoid of a certain dark sense of humor. It is rumored that he likes games, and has been known to appear to take part in chess contests against his followers (often, saying nothing in the process). But the entire relationship between patron and warlock has been described as one long chess match (which, presumably, the Master wins in the end). The Sensenmann usually reacts calmly to any cheating (of any sort) by their clients - going against the master usually results in sudden setbacks, or the deaths of the people the warlock strove to protect. Such occurrences lead to discussions within a coven, with the lead usually taken by the person who has the best (or the most enigmatic) explanation. And if the Sensenmann's followers have trouble divining his true purpose, the situation is of course much worse for his quarry, or the authorities that strive to keep him at bay. The recent outbreaks of Plague testify to his long reach, and the Church has usually found nothing better to do than to accuse his followers of being in league with the Devil (which the latter answer only with laughter, if at all). 

[Though in most respects, the Sensenmann's warlocks conform to the Pact of the Undying, they have unique Pact Invocations (see here, p. 195) that are unique, and quite potent. Undying Servitude is also considered to have this pact as an additional prerequisite.]

[Pact Boons. All existing Pact Boons are eligible for play. The Archfey are partial to Pact of the Blade and Pact of the Chain, the Fiend patrons grant Pact Boons in roughly equal proportion, and the Pact of the Undying eschews the Pact of the Chain, in favor of Pacts of the Blade (the Sensenmann is a blade-wielder, after all), Pact of the Tome (for ancient secrets are contained therein), and the Pact of the Talisman (which can be used as the basis for a phylactery). 

New Pact of the Blade Invocations are listed below. In addition, there is a new Pact Boon - the Pact of the Cauldron - which is also detailed below, along with new Invocations. This Pact Boon is favored by the Erzfeen and the Unhold.]

[Pact of the Cauldron. You gain proficiency in Herbalists' Tools. If you already have it, you may gain proficiency in one other tool. If you acquire a cauldron weighing at least 50 lbs., you can use your Herbalist proficiency to brew one of the following potions (one dose). It takes one long rest period to brew the potion, during which time the cauldron must be continually bubbling. At the end of the long rest, you may decant the liquid into an empty receptacle (you do not have to use up the whole brew). The effect of the potion is determined randomly by rolling a d8, and consulting the table below. The random effect is triggered upon consumption. You may, however, use an action and expend a spell slot, and create a potion of your choice, without having to roll.

  1. Healing. The drinker regains 2d4 hp + your Charisma modifier.
  2. Love Potion. Any creature drinking this potion becomes charmed by the creature closest to them for one hour. The Wisdom save is made at disadvantage. If you expend a spell slot, the choice of the creature that charms them is up to you.
  3. Transformation. The drinker's body becomes transformed as if affected by an Alter Self spell, for 10 minutes. They determine the transformation caused by the potion, but if you expend a spell slot, you may make the determination. 
  4. Resistance. The drinker gains resistance to one type of damage for one hour. They determine the type of resistance, unless you spent a spell slot to create the potion, in which case you determine it.
  5. Levitation. The drinker can levitate (as per the spell) for 10 minutes if they (together with any equipment) weigh less than 500 lbs.
  6. Insight. The drinker gets an insight regarding a course of action as if they had cast an Augury spell.
  7. Darkvision. The drinker gains 60' Darkvision for 8 hours, as per the spell of that name.
  8. Free Action. The drinker gains either a climbing speed, a swimming speed, or a burrowing speed equal to their normal speed, for 1 hour, They may breathe normally in the new environment. The choice of new speed is up to them, unless you expend a spell slot, in which case, you may choose. 

As a bonus action, you can shrink the cauldron down to the size of a chalice weighing 5 lbs., but if you do so while the cauldron is brewing, you the liquid has no magical effects. The chalice, properly sealed, may be carried, has enough liquid to potentially create one potion. Finally, if you take an Invocation that has the Pact of the Cauldron as a prerequisite, you may roll a d10 (with the additional potion being listed as Result 9. Rolling a 10 allows you to chose the type of potion you want to make without expending a spell slot. If you take a second invocation with the Pact of the Cauldron as your prerequisite you take, you include the two new potions as results 9 and 10, and have free choice on results 11 and 12. If you take three or more invocations with this prerequisite, add the new potions to the list, but roll a d20, with any result exceeding the number of potions you can make allowing you free choice.]

[Eldritch Invocations. The following new Invocations are available with Pact of the Blade and Pact of the Cauldron:

Athame. Prerequisite: 5th level, Pact of the Blade feature. This invocation allows you to use your pact blade weapon to draw a Magic Circle on any solid surface. The casting time and duration is the same as the spell, but you do not need to expend any money or material components. Once having used this feature, you cannot do so again until you finish a long rest. 

Athame Banishment. Prerequisite: 9th level, Pact of the Blade feature. You may take a bonus action to turn your pact weapon into one that effects a Banishing Smite on a creature the next time you hit it. Once you use this feature, you cannot do so again until you finish a long rest. 

Eldritch Sight Elixir. Prerequisite: 5th level, Pact of the Cauldron feature. You may brew a Potion of Clairvoyance (as per DMG).

Elixir of Beast Whispers. Prerequisite: 5th level, Pact of the Cauldron feature. You may brew a Potion of Animal Friendship (as per DMG). 

Elixir of Celerity. Prerequisite: 5th level, Pact of the Cauldron feature. You may brew a Potion of Speed (as per DMG). 

Elixir of Heroism. Prerequisite: 5th level, Pact of the Cauldron feature. You may brew a Potion of Heroism (as per DMG). 

Elixir of Invisibility. Prerequisite: 5th level, Pact of the Cauldron feature. You may brew a Potion of Invisibility (as per DMG). 

Elixir of Invulnerability. Prerequisite: 5th level, Pact of the Cauldron feature. You may brew a Potion of Invulnerability (as per DMG). 

Elixir of Longevity. Prerequisite: 15th level, Pact of the Cauldron feature. You may brew a Potion of Longevity (as per DMG, but if the effect is reversed, the drinker loses the anti-aging effects of all previous potions, and ages 1d6 + 6 years). 

Elixir of Mind Reading. Prerequisite: 5th level, Pact of the Cauldron feature. You may brew a Potion of Mind Reading (as per DMG), but the DC to save against the effect is your normal DC. 

Elixir of Vitality. Prerequisite: 9th level, Pact of the Cauldron feature. You may brew a Potion of Vitality (as per DMG). 

Flying Elixir. Prerequisite: 7th level, Pact of the Cauldron feature. You may brew a Potion of Flying (as per DMG).

Strong Brew. Prerequisite: 5th level (but see below), Pact of the Cauldron feature. You may create two of the potions allowable by the Pact Boon for each cauldron you boil. At 15th level, you may take this Invocation a second time, and create three potions for each cauldron you boil. Note that unlike other Invocations that have this Pact as a prerequisite, you do not alter the type of die you roll to determine which potion you create simply for taking this Invocation.


Magier (Wizard).


The term Magier (or Magus) derives from a long-extinct circle of fire priests in the lands of the Paynims, but for over 2000 years, it has applied to an elite of professional scholars engaged in uncovering the secrets of the cosmos by incorporating all knowledge into a single scientific endeavor. In contrast to scientia - the standard term for systematic knowledge and contemplation, Magie ('magic') conceives of science as a set of active operations upon the world - its similarity to the word Macht ('power') is hardly accidental. In the minds of ancient mages, the practitioner of magic was nearly godlike in power, and thus, capable of undoing the settlement whereby mortals (perhaps willingly, though foolishly) gave away such power to divinities. Such grandiose claims did not sit well with authorities, who feared the mages' hubris would destroy all order and hierarchy, so they strove to limit the mages' work by taking control of educational establishments and constraining the circulation of knowledge. Constraining, but not altogether eliminating it, for the knowledge provided useful benefits to those who held effective power. When the Gaalite religion became established, priests were especially skeptical of mages' ambitions, as true knowledge was the province of God alone. The chaos that attended the disintegration of the Vallanda Empire effectively destroyed the existing system of scientific knowledge, and effectively handed the priests a monopoly on all knowledge. But faced with the far greater sophistication of their southern and eastern neighbors, over the last two or three centuries, the Church began to establish a formal network of schools, and then, universities, that left some room for the practice of magic, within clearly defined boundaries. 

First, Magier had to obtain formal certification in a particular faculty within a university, an institution that was technically an arm of the Church, and received its charter from a secular or ecclesiastical ruler. These universities, mostly located in lands to the South and West (though there are now a couple of Tungrisch ones) were organized into several faculties. The arts faculty, comprising the seven liberal arts (including grammar, logic, rhetoric, arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy - these were called liberal because only free people possessing full personal rights within Gaalite society could be admitted to them) served as the basis for entry into the higher faculties. The most prestigious of these was theology, followed by medicine and law. Completing the courses of study at the higher faculties took a total of around 12 years of study. All three were dominated by priests (and more recently, friars), who held virtually all chairs within these faculties. The philosophy faculty was sandwiched between these three and the arts faculty in terms of prestige, but access to degrees and chairs was opened to those ordained only into the lowest orders of the clerisy (not the priesthood itself). It was here that Magier found their place - in fact magic and philosophy are used as synonymous terms, precisely to underline the contemplative character of the discipline. The arts that comprise the philosophy faculty (on which see below) were reclassified from prohibited to restricted, but the final stage prior to receiving a master's degree (or a doctoral degree - the two terms are synonymous) involved attending a disputation where the aspirant defended their work as in accordance with both Reason and the Holy Writ. Magic was classified as natural and demonic, and needless to say, natural magic (Naturmagie, or Naturphilosophie) was the only kind granted sanction (although mages themselves also drew the distinction between white [restorative] and black [transformative] magic, many of them privately admit that black magic is the kind that is effective). Upon the receipt of degree, the recipient not only had to forswear demonic magic, but also to do everything in his or her power to prevent others from doing so. The admittance of magic into the university was therefore a mechanism for combating sorcery and witchcraft, which were then beginning to spread. The only legitimate practice of magic is by a degree holder wearing proper scholarly vestments that identify them as such (though magnates and towns have some leeway in terms of employing court magi). Still, creating overly dramatic magical effects can quickly bring the unwelcome attention of local magistrates or the Inquisition, who will charge the magus with practicing demonic magic.

Given the extensive preparation required to become a Magier, and the necessity of being literate, only a few Backgrounds are generally appropriate, though it is not absolutely imperative to be a Learned Doctor (sage or scribe) - it is possible for Magier to also have backgrounds as Attendants (Acolytes), Nobles, and under exceptional circumstances, Plague Doctors. In certain instances, Foreigners (Far Travelers) of exceptional ability are taken on as court magicians. It is, however, absolutely imperative for a Magus to be proficient in Literacy, so one Background or class slot has to be devoted to this skill. Mages should also know several languages (Vallandan at a minimum) - hunting down old tomes written in arcane tongues is an absolute obsession for most of them, because it expands the potential number of spells that can be copied into their spellbooks. Translation of old manuals is lucrative work, as it makes more spells available to those who otherwise cannot understand them. But as the number of texts in possession of Gaalite mages has grown, so have the power levels of what had been a relatively weak and constrained class, though this has resulted in greater skepticism toward its activities on the part of the Church. The transcription of magical knowledge possessed by other classes is also regarded as an intrusion, and in some cases, those who belong to them treat wizards as outright thieves. 

[Starting spells and learning new spells. Magier start with six spells from the Wizard spell list, but one of them must be the Write spell (see here, p. 210). This spell is necessary to copy any newly found spell into one's spellbook, provided the language can be understood. The new spell must also be deciphered, by successfully rolling a DC Literacy check (modified by any Arcana proficiency). Specialists in a particular school make the check with advantage. A spell in non-written form (e.g. one that is woven or recited) has a DC of 30. Failure allows for subsequent weekly attempts, but three successes at DC 15 are required. Once understood, the spell can be transcribed with the Write spell, though a DC 15 Literacy check (modified by Dexterity) is required to copy it accurately, without splotches. The check can be repeated, but the paper or page becomes besmirched (and costs for writing materials and grimoires can quickly pile up). However, mages can learn and add spells from any class list into their spellbooks, provided they succeed on all of the above checks.]

Wizard schools. The following schools represent the seven Restricted Arts and are all represented among university faculties, except Necromancy, which is handled last.

Fakultät für Alchemie (Transmutation).

The aim of this most ancient science is to transform matter in such a way as to reunite it with its original, divine form. It dates back to the sages of the Land of Parapis, and was reintroduced to Gaalite lands by Paynims who rule over that country today. For the first 100 years, Gaalite scholars were largely focused on copying Paynim texts, but in the last century, attention has gradually shifted to experimentation on rearranging the qualities of particular substances. Many engage in iatrochemistry and the development of medicines to cure illness and prolong life, though they see this pursuit as more holistic and theoretically grounded than the work of mere apothecaries with whom they occasionally collaborate. Magnates in pursuit of easy money began to bring alchemists to their courts, swayed as they were by stories that they could transmute base metals into gold and silver. Though some ambitious alchemists certainly played up that aspect of their work, the authorities look on askance (for economic and legal, as well as religious reasons). Defenders counter that the true goal of the science is human moral transformation, though their own more esoteric work actually attracts more opprobrium than that of the 'money-changers'. The grand goals of such alchemists orient around finding sympathetic correspondences between mineral, vegetable and animal life, and ultimately, the creation of new life - the new, improved (or the old, restored) human, prior to the Fall. All of this flies in the face of religious doctrine, to a much greater extent than the transmutation of metals, and is usually pursued in secret - it is not accident that much of the work in creating new life is done by Fogarma wizards behind the walls of their segregated compounds. The most obsessive quest of the alchemists is for the famed philosopher's stone, and much infighting occurs between those who claimed to have completed this Magnum Opus. Some claim that the real Stone still lies hidden in Parapis, while others argue that the Stone is actually the Grail.

The hood granted to alchemists upon the completion of their degree is red, representative of the Stone.

Fakultät für Angelologie (Conjuration).

This faculty is more rooted in the Holy Writ than most of the others. The object of its study is the organization of the heavenly realm and the modes of communication between God and mortals by way of divine messengers (i.e. angels). Aspirants to this study begin by compiling catalogs of angelic names and categorizing various angels by function and order (i.e. seraphim, cherubim, thrones, dominations, virtues, powers, principalities, archangels, angels). To the outsider, this work may appear overly scholastic and pedantic, but it has a pragmatic goal: to learn to properly interpret angelic messages, and to properly implement their power in combating heresy and other enemies of the Faith e.g. by tapping the power of holy relics, and seeking out those that have been lost (such as the long-lost Barque of Ib). Some angelologists dabble in optics (so as to better understand the nature of light - the element angels are composed of. But the study of angels often takes practitioners farther afield - scouring the sacred books of the Paynims and the Fogarma for more information about the transformation of mortals into angels, or the names of the Fallen, which should be avoided. In such a way, many angelologists come into contact with the angels of Ashmudai's host, who entrap them into summoning them, perhaps under false pretenses, or perhaps because the scholars themselves become corrupted by the pursuit of power. In extreme cases, whole schools within this faculty have explicitly gone over into the service of Asmodeus, and had to be rooted out. Angelology faculties have also become lodestones for practitioners of dark magic to gain the legitimate cover of official status.

The hood granted to angelologists upon the completion of their degree is white, representative of the heavenly light. 

Fakultät für Astrologie (Divination).

Astrologers study the movements of heavenly bodies - the 'fixed' and 'wandering' stars' of the etherial sphere. There is some overlap between their work and the work of angelologists, in that the heavenly lights are regarded as embodiments of angelic beings, but astrologists insist that their approach is in greater conformity with the reigning rationalist theology that conceptualizes an ordered cosmos. More than angelologists, they focus on the study of optics (to better behold the movement of the stars), as well as harmonics, to better understand the music of the spheres. Because the microcosms of the sublunary sphere reflects the workings of the macrocosm, they also study the sympathies between earthly bodies and the heavens. In practice, many astrologists are also practitioners of humoral medicine, striving to restore balance to earthly bodies. In both their medical capacity and their proficiency in casting horoscopes, astrologists are in high demand at the courts of high nobility, which provides them with a fair amount of protection from criticism that marks them as gnostic diviners who claim to be able to read the mind of God. To further protect themselves, astrologers often have to encode their prognoses in vague, poetic forms which allow for ambiguous interpretations (especially if their horoscopes contain bad news for their employers). Some astrologists are less cautious, and engage in various other forms of forbidden divination (chiromancy, haruspicy, geomancy, and the reading of cards). Mundane astrology (to which members of this faculty often aspire) also carries enormous risks, because predicting the course of history is an intrusion of God's domain, as well as that of the angelologists, who say that the dispatching of angels bringing revelations that alter history's course cannot be divined by human reason. But when comets appear in the sky, those who can afford to do so still turn to astrologists. 

The hood granted to astrologists upon the completion of their degree is silver, representing the heavenly vault. 

Fakultät für Kabalismus (Illusion).

The cabalists practice a mystical science that regards the created universe as composed of a set of divine emanations, most of which are opaque to mortal reason, though perhaps partially accessible through spiritual insight. Typically, they conceptualize 10 such emanations, or sefirot, each concealed by a veil which only long years of study make it possible for a practitioner to peel back. Behind the final veil is God, outside of space and time, and beyond all manifestation and impossible to behold (although peeling back that veil is precisely the goal that tempts the most powerful Cabalists. If God is ineffable, then all his manifestations in the other emanations are, ultimately, illusory - mere foci for insufficiently trained minds who may glimpse aspects of the Godhead, but not to behold the the absolutely transcendent in conjunction with the immanent. Reciting divine names and performing spiritual exercises to pull back the veil is disconcerting, and also flies in the face of the simpler, rational structure of Gaalite natural philosophy, which obviously makes Cabalism highly suspect. The science was nearly consigned to prohibited status, especially considering that it was largely derived from the work of Fogarma scholars. Its champions pointed out that it was a necessary corrective to the abuses of alchemists, astrologers, angelologists and others who try to reduce God to easily understandable formulae, and claim divine power as their own. They further add that the individual emanations are universally understandable by any who hold to the belief in one God, so Cabalistic ideas can be used to bring the Fogarma and the Paynims to the Ecumenical Faith. Still, the revelations of the Cabalists, which most people perceive not as such, but as illusions, are deeply troublesome, as is their depiction of the interrelated sefirot in the form of the Tree of Life, which orthodox minds regard as the Cabalists' unsanctioned attempt to return to the Garden from which mortals had been expelled. The chorus of voices demanding the closure of the school is getting ever stronger.

The hood granted to cabalists upon the completion of their degree is green, representing the Tree of Life. 

Fakultät für Beschwörung (Evocation).

The Faculty of Evocation is a contradictory one. On the one hand, most people are aware of the highly destructive power of their spells, as well as the school's questionable roots in heathen demonology. At the same time, the faculty upholds the most orthodox ideas of natural philosophy, eschewing anything that smacks of heresy. Its adherents adhere to the notion that a rational cosmos admits to the existence of one God, and therefore, any evocation of divine power is the evocation of that one God alone. Further, they postulate that this God is the Prime Mover of the cosmos, which is set in motion by the Divine Word, as is revealed in the Holy Writ. What the evokers undertake to uncover is the language by which God sets the world in motion, and this language is nothing other than the language of logic. A logical language is razor-like in its precise and concise definitions. The only entities that exist exist within space and time, which are created by God, whereas abstractions and universals do not exist separate from the objects, but only as their predicates and properties. By delineating simple magical formulae that define the entities and their effects and properties, evokers, like the Prime Mover, bring objects into motion. Some have also begun to apply mathematical language to individual objects. Precise descriptions of the entities and predicates of the whole cosmos is impossible for mortals who have only begun the study of God's language, therefore, no effective statements regarding the motion of the cosmos as a whole can be made. This makes it possible for evokers to shy away from any claims that they can know God and God's plans in their entirety, over and above what has been revealed through the Writ and God-given mortal Reason. The Church occasionally intervenes to outlaw individual spells, but given secular ruler's interest in evocation magic for practical military reasons, these prohibitions are rather ineffective. For rulers, it is cheaper to fund one evoker than to support the activities of multiple artificers, and for the Church, faculties of evocation seem easier to control than artificer guilds, because they are, at least nominally, under their control. The evokers themselves regard artificers as their rivals, though some radical evokers have collaborated with them in the production of armaments and clockworks, considering these fully in accordance with their philosophical ideas. Some still fear that despite this faculty's loyalist veneer, its learned doctors are undermining the social order simply by contributing to the expansion of warfare.

 The hood granted to evokers upon the completion of their degree is steel grey, representing the Razor of Logic.  

Fakultät für Goëtie (Enchantment).

Goety, like Cabalism, is not a faculty in particularly high standing among the restricted arts. The term itself dates back to ancient Danaea, where the goetes were literally "charmers", sorcerers who prevailed on people to do their will, charlatans, and jugglers. The name was subsequently adopted by rhetoricians who sold their services to politicians. These goetes were regarded as perverters of truth and enemies of the early philosophers, but as their art was in high demand in places where politics were competitive, their art survived, and the name was adopted by Vallandan rhetoricians, who, despite their condemnation of 'purple prose' recommended themselves as goetes if their speech was especially effective. Though goety was condemned as influenced by demons by many of the church fathers, it survived in the Gaalite realms. Under cover of rhetoric, goetes praised the Vallandan "Masters of Eloquence". Their services became highly demanded with the expansion of urban growth, and magnates found it more effective to control the rough-and-tumble of urban politics with a little magical eloquence than with constant resort to threats and force. The establishment of a separate university faculty is still shrouded in mystery, and many suspect that enchantments were in fact used to gain final approval. Since then, the goetes have attempted to lie low. They make no grand theoretical claims, save to follow the Vallandans in believing that a person can shape the future of society through speech. Aside from that, they tend to uphold the most orthodox doctrinal position (one that largely aligns with the Evokers) and recommend their sciences as a set of teaching, debating and expository techniques. They have also introduced sophismata - puzzle statements that admit to variable logical interpretations - as philosophical tools (though enemies say that these are in fact mind-control spells that produce cognitive dissonance). At the same time, there are suspicions that members of this faculty have trafficked extensively with the fee, from whom they learned mind-altering techniques. More seriously, a lists of demonic names to be invoked have recently been found in several goety faculties, and the effort to shut the faculty down is once again gathering steam.    

The hood granted to goetes upon the completion of their degree is purple, representing the type of prose of which, despite everything, they are defiantly proud.  

Fakultät für Theurgie (Abjuration).

Theurgists are demonologists, but of a kind that have found legitimacy within university and ecclesiastical structures. Though Church Fathers such as St. Beatus disapproved of theurgy nearly as much as goety, its explicit appeal to angels  won the theurgists a measure of approval from the establishment. At the outset, theurgists and angelologists were difficult to distinguish from one another, as both drew upon angelic assistance to purify the soul from negative influences and receive insight. The two diverged in areas of specialization, however, as angelologists claimed the angelic and celestial spheres proper, whereas theurgists began to focus on the study of the infernal realm for the purposes of knowing their enemy. The theurgists began to compile catalogs of demons, to construct a model of the infernal hierarchy, and to gather data on the various layers of Hell. With time, some began to branch out to the study of other Realms in order to distinguish infernal residents from other sorts of enemies. Theurgists claim to be the first to have discovered and explored Purgatory, and also undertaken a systematic effort to distinguish the infernal creatures from the fee, and to initiate detailed studies of the fee realms (Albenheim, Niflheim, and so on). This study was dangerous work, with Magier always in danger of falling under the sway of otherworldly entities. The theurgic focus always remained on articulating defenses against the dark magics used by such creatures, and their mortal minions. More than any other school, aspiring theurgists undergo the most rigorous loyalty and sanity testing prior to being admitted into the faculty. Over time, theurgy faculties have grown into a kind of magical police that keep tabs on other faculties, though this has resulted in some degree of pushback. After catalogs of demonic names were found in several goety faculties, the goetes defended themselves by claiming they were planted there by the theurgists, who, after all, specialize in those sorts of investigations. 

The hood granted to theurgists upon the completion of their degree is gold, representing angelic protective auras.

Necromantie.

Sometimes conflated with nigromancy ('black magic'), necromancy is widely reviled and condemned by both the ecclesiastical and the scholarly establishment. This condemnation was not immediate upon the foundation of universities - necromancy certainly had a foul reputation, but so did goety, cabalism, and to a somewhat lesser extent, astrology and the other restricted arts. Those subsequently labeled necromancers proposed to use astrological, angelological, and theurgical techniques to establish a natural philosophy of death, which, they claimed, was no less an object of study than the heavenly vault, divine emanations, and all the rest. Initial proposals were to structure the faculty around divinatory pursuits and gathering evidence regarding death by speaking to the departed. This the authorities could have grown to allow, at the margins, just as they allowed goety and cabalism. But the practitioners of the science of death were ambitious, and strove to create a program of study which would ultimately lead to the overcoming of death. This the Church could not countenance, as doing so would directly violate the tenets of Faith (death could only be overcome by belief in Gaal), as well as the priesthood's own monopoly on bringing the (supposedly) dead back to life through God's allowance. As the question of banning the necromancers from the academy was being decided, the latter began to seek knowledge from die Reinen, whose own take on death was that it was a release of the spirit from the prison of material life. The discovery of this relationship sealed the necromancers' fate. Henceforth, they were barred from universities, and could only obtain degrees by false auspices, or through a handful of secret academies sponsored by heretical benefactors, or hidden away in inaccessible locations. Condemned, necromancers sought knowledge  among explicitly antinomian groups - heretics, Zauberer, and Hexen, and by explicitly trafficking with demons. They also continued to seek ways to bring the dead back to life, though the Church saw their efforts of reanimating the dead as mockeries of the Resurrection. Those especially close to die Reinen believed that the established order created bondage by forcing people to work, and by shunting work onto animated corpses, they were in fact freeing the spirit. For their enemies, the outbreak of the Plague and the attendant Totentanz were clear evidence that the necromancers had put their great plan into motion, and had to be stopped at all costs.

Necromancers cannot legitimately practice, and have no scholarly hood, but at occasional secret meetings, they don the black hood as a challenge to the academy and the Church.

[Other schools of Magier are possible. The disciplinary specializations are different among other peoples such as the Paynims and the Fogarma, though there is some overlap as well, given the latter's influences on Gaalite natural magic. Non-humans may have their distinct traditions, too, e.g. the elves' Bladesingers.] 



 


     

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