During their first few months in the Four Communities, the displaced 21st-century PCs have learned quite a bit about their new home. For example, they’ve become familiar with some of the region’s movers-and-shakers. As part of the group PC creation session, Man-Day Adventurers were encouraged to dream up associations, connections, and conflicts between their PCs and these various power groups.
The Black Tongue Society
This secretive cabal of enchanters, necromancers, and intelligent undead monsters seem to exist largely for the sole purpose of violating the Eldritch Protocols and keeping the ranks of the Night Stalkers from growing too large.
The Black Tongue Society is not to be trifled with.
The Fey Courts
The Fey Courts are a cantankerous lot roughly divided into three unequally sized groups: the Seelie, the Unseelie, and the Sidhe. The first two are the largest, approximately equal to each other in size and power (or so the stories go). The Seelie are usually characterized as good while their rival Unseelie are said to be evil, but with fey such moral labels can be problematic.
The Sidhe are the smallest but most powerful Fey Court. The iron fist of the Sidhe Queen moderates the conflicts between the other two courts, but does little to protect mortals.
The Fey Courts hold sway in wilder places. The Seelie are most powerful in the Whispering Wood while the Unseelie dominate in the Witch Hex Swamp.
Locating various fey houses is difficult since the fey realm can only be accessed via magical means (an act which the Recondite Order frowns heavily upon; see Protocol Six below).
The Library of the Silver Key
The Library of the Silver Key in Shieldmark is home to several scholars who seek greater knowledge in all fields of study, but most especially in those related to magic. Membership is open to just about everyone, but most members are limited to the rank of Iron Keyholder. Higher ranks include Copper Keyholder and (at the top) Silver Keyholder.
Iron Keyholders may enter the library and enjoy usage of general texts. They may also consult with higher ranking members (for a fee, of course). Copper Keyholders work in and for the library, maintaining the general and special collections (the latter being off limits to Iron Keyholders).
It is widely rumored that the few Silver Keyholders have access to exceptionally rare texts, including magical tomes that hold many secrets, including a few that would peak the interests of the Recondite Order and the Black Tongue Society (albeit for different reasons).
The Night Stalkers
The Night Stalkers are a loose-knit association of adventurers who investigate activities allegedly performed by evil, supernatural creatures. When necessary, the Night Stalkers hunt and destroy said creatures.
The Night Stalkers reportedly have secret meeting houses in Alfheim and Shieldmark as well as hidden bases in the Whispering Wood and Shield Tors.
While it must be admitted that the Night Stalkers are good at what they do, their methods are often criticized by those who consider themselves law-abiding. Destroying evil, supernatural creatures is job one for the Night Stalkers. All other considerations are secondary.
The Recondite Order
The Recondite Order consists of 5 men and 5 women rumored to be the most powerful spellcasters around. They live in the Recondite Towers, five fortified structures that cannot be found unless the seeker is invited.
The Order’s self-appointed duty is to police magical arts and spellcasters. They ruthlessly enforce the Eldritch Protocols, seven “laws” governing the use of magic.
The Eldritch Protocols
(1) Thou shalt not slay humanoids via magic.
(2) Thou shalt not balefully polymorph humanoids via magic.
(3) Thou shalt not violate the privacy of a humanoid’s thoughts via magic.
(4) Thou shalt not violate the primacy of a humanoid’s will via magic.
(5) Thou shalt not create or consort with the undead.
(6) Thou shalt not pierce dimensional or temporal barriers.
(7) Thou shalt not consort with outsiders.
The Shield Watch is a quasi-military group dedicated to protecting and serving Alfheim, Harvest, the Quarry, and Shieldmark. Aside from obvious tasks like fending off evil humanoids, especially the Bloodscale Clan lizard folk, members of the Shield Watch act as escorts, pathfinders, scouts, and body guards. They even deliver the mail.
All four communities have Shield Watch barracks in which members of the watch enjoy free room and board. Watchers enjoy a generally good reputation. The Shield Watch have no defined, official police powers, but are often given charters by local authorities to assist in the completion of some specific task.
The Sparrow’s Nest in Harvest offers sanctuary to anyone (or anything) that enters Sparrow’s Nest grounds. Clerics and knights of the Tangled Lady guard the Nest.
A sanctuary seeker is granted 30 days of protection in exchange for the promise to behave himself (herself? itself?). Few have ever dared to violate the Sparrow Nest’s sanctuary rules, due in no small part that it is never wise to risk the Tangled Lady’s ire.
The Tangled Lady
The Tangled Lady is arguably the most powerful entity in the region. In fact, she is worshiped by some and showed a healthy degree of respect by most. Whether or not she is truly divine is a matter of debate.
The Tangled Lady is seldom seen, but her effects are widely felt. For example, Harvest enjoys such fertile lands and abundant crops because the Tangled Lady wills it to be so. The Fey Courts seldom make their presence felt within the Four Communities proper owing the Tangled Lady’s influence.