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.
History of the Order
The Order arrived in the Four Communities a few months after the Boiling Plague devastated the Northern Kingdom. Cynsic Boklora acted as the face of the Order, meeting with local leaders to establish rapport and trust.
Prior to the Boiling Plague, the Order advised the High King in Caerdyn on various magical matters. During a resurgence of hostilities between the Northern Kingdom and neighboring Tenedos, Oryten Laolua divined strange fluctuations in the Dark Current.1 Some force was increasing the frequency and intensity of the Current’s eruptions. The Order reported their initial findings to the High King, who instructed the Order to determine the causes.
While the Order investigated, the Dark Current’s effects worsened as the war between the North Kingdom and Tenedos escalated. Eruptions of negative energy burst through dimensional barriers in urban centers and on fields of battle. Crops started to fail. Disease afflicted livestock. With resources already strained by the war, the people suffered from growing deprivations.
The Order made important discoveries, which they reported to the High King. The war was weakening dimensional barriers. In particular, the deployment of battle magicians accelerated the deterioration of the barriers’ strength. A malevolent force — which the Order called the Glutton — fed off the death and suffering, especially when magical energies were involved. The Order urged the High King to recall battle magicians and to broker a cessation of hostilities as quickly as possible. Fortunately, with winter fast approaching, neither of these tasks seemed too difficult.
As winter asserted itself, the two nations’ armies prepared to encamp and wait out the worst of the weather. On the sixth day of Winter’s Start, catastrophe struck. A Tenedosian assassin killed Prince Joskus, the High King’s child and heir to the throne. Takton2 appeared in the night sky for the first time that night. The hungry dead hunted the land. Rotskins3 bearing the Boiling Plague clawed free from graves, bringing sickness and death to the people of the Northern Kingdom.
When the Boiling Plague struck down the High King, the Order left the Northern Kingdom, heading south in their magical towers. For a time, they lived in the Whispering Wood, debating their new situation. The Order wrote the Eldritch Protocols and resolved to enforce them in order to reduce the Glutton’s power in at least the Four Communities region.
The Order’s membership has changed once since their arrival in the Four Communities region. Agents of the Black Tongue Society caught Ezaraea Saeah outside the Recondite Towers. Woodsmen from Alfheim discovered her hair and fingertips in a clearing. Th’ly Ala, a druid of the Tangled Lady from Harvest, was chosen by the Order to replace Ezaraea.
The Eldritch Jury
Nine of the Recondite Order’s members form the Eldritch Jury. These members issue warrants, hear testimony, hand down verdicts, and mete out punishments. That the Order has no official sanction from any governmental body is beside the point. They enjoy cooperation from the Four Communities’ leadership, and their power and pedigree command widespread respect (and not a little fear as well).
Creus Aeless, Male Dwarf Alchemist
Creus is the Order’s most reclusive member. He is never seen except when the Eldritch Jury sits. The rest of his time is apparently spent in his laboratories working on elixirs and formulae.
Cynsic Boklora, Male Human Bard
Cynsic is the Order’s most public member. He is a gifted orator and poet. Cynsic regularly meets with the Four Communities’ movers and shakers.
Inoatenoa Aelecke, Female Elf Cleric
Inoatenoa is a cleric of the Knight in Scarlet and the strictest member of the Order. She views everything as either black, white, or beneath her concern.
Th’ly Ala, Female Halfling Druid
Th’ly is the newest member of the Order, chosen to replace Ezaraea after she fell in battle with the Black Tongue Society. Th’ly follows the Tangled Lady and hails from Harvest. Since joining the Order, she seldom leaves the Recondite Towers.
Sceask Creles, Male Half-Elf Oracle
Sceask has the reputation for being the Order’s most inscrutable member. Everything he says and does seems to have at least a double meaning. He often accompanies Cynsic on his visits to the Four Communities’ leaders.
Aeraereva Caerrer, Female Elf Sorcerer
No member of the Order commands more destructive power than Aeraereva. In contrast with her elemental power, the sorcerer has a placid disposition. Aeraereva organized the High King’s battle magicians. Many speculate she was the Protocols’ chief author.
Oryten Laolua, Male Gnome Diviner
Oryten is humorless and fatalistic. His confidence in his divinations causes him to trust his own knowledge more than the combined wisdom of the Order. When he’s decided on a particular course of action, Oryten is relentless.
Aereansi Anoph, Female Human Summoner
Aereansi is the Order’s resident contrarian. She questions every action, every decision, offering every alternative she can think of. In a way, Aereansi is the Order’s conscience. In another, however, she is the Order’s most ruthless member.
Kaet Eluse, Female Halfling Witch
Kaet is the Order’s most jovial member. She almost seems to not take her duties seriously. This, however, is not true, for Kaet supervises Inquisitor Mors Krin. It is said that Kaet holds the authority to unleash the Order’s hound (although the prudent check to make sure Mors isn’t lurking nearby before speaking so).
The tenth member serves as the Order’s chief investigator and prosecuting attorney. Few (if any) people within the Four Communities are more feared than Mors Krin. When the Council issues a decree or summons, Mors delivers the word. When the Council suspects a violation of the Protocols, they send Mors to find the facts.
Mors Krin, Male Half-Orc Inquisitor
Grim, determined, and merciless are the three words that best describe Mors. The Order’s Inquisitor is a skilled warrior, canny investigator, and commands impressive magical power as well. He fights with the fabled scythe Merciful Wound.4
The Eldritch Protocols
The Order penned the Protocols in order to starve the Glutton. The Order remains convinced that the Glutton is responsible for both Takton and the rotskins, and that the bloodshed and disorders of the war fed the Glutton’s power. The activities of battle magicians amplified the effects.
According to the Order, offensive use of magic against humanoids5 creates a sort of magical food that the Glutton siphons off into its dimension. Because of magic’s peculiar qualities, its “feeding effects” increase exponentially with repeated use. Mind-affecting enchantments not only have this feeding effect, but can also open a channel between dimensions, allowing possessing entities such as demons access to the Material World. Magic involving the undead, piercing dimensional barriers, and outsiders6 feed the Glutton; furthermore, they create fissures through which Dark Channel eruptions can occur, often in areas far removed from where the magic was used.
I. Thou shalt not slay humanoids via magic.
II. Thou shalt not balefully polymorph humanoids via magic.
III. Thou shalt not violate the privacy of a humanoid’s thoughts via magic.
IV. Thou shalt not violate the primacy of a humanoid’s will via magic.
V. Thou shalt not create or consort with the undead.
VI. Thou shalt not pierce dimensional or temporal barriers.
VII. Thou shalt not consort with outsiders.
Relations with Other Factions
The Order has no authority except insofar as they have both the power to enforce their decrees and also the support of the majority of the Four Communities’ citizens. The Order remains on good terms with the Tangled Lady and the Shield Watch. Relations with the Night Stalkers can be strained, but the two factions understand they have common enemies.
The Order dislikes the Library of the Silver Key. They think the Library is a bit too free with its collection, and the Library thinks the Order’s secrecy is counterproductive. Of course, the Library sticks to a campaign of words since the Librarians would be ill-equipped to oppose the Order in terms of power and influence.
While the Order stays on the Tangled Lady’s good side, they have had their problems with the Sparrow’s Nest. The Nest’s sanctuary policy has worked contrary to the Order’s goals, but even Inquisitor Mors shows deference to the Nest’s leaders.
Of course, the Order and the Black Tongue Society are sworn enemies.
1The Dark Current is a negative energy current that occasionally erupts into the Material Plane. Minor eruptions cause illness, curdle milk, and other similar minor effects. Major eruptions cause death and undeath.
2Takton, called the Evil Star, appears annually on the sixth night of Winter’s Start. It heralds increased undead activity.
3Rotskins are a type of dimly intelligent zombie.
4Merciful Wound is one of three powerful magical weapons crafted by the Order. The other two — a greatsword called Paindrinker and a longbow called Iron Rain — have not been seen since the fall of the Northern Kingdom. Rumor has it they were lost.
5The Order defines humanoids to include humans, halflings, dwarves, elves, gnomes, orcs, and goblinoids, as well as half-breed races such as half-elves and half-orcs.
6Outsiders include all manner of extraplanar creatures, regardless of whether they are good, evil, or indifferent. The fey may or may not fall into the category of extraplanar creatures. The Hollow Lands from which the fey come is a different realm, but it still appears to be part of the Material World.