Bleeding Edge (3.5e Campaign Setting)/Organizations
Several organizations have been set up in the world of Accolade, the major ones becoming globe spanning whose members perform various acts for their group or guild unrelated to national borders. Though no person is ever obligated to join an organization, joining comes with certain minor benefits for your service. In exchange for these benefits, members are also asked to complete certain side tasks to rank up or retain membership in their various organizations. This can be the start of many plot hooks on their own, or simply a minor detail to fill out one's character. The following list is not exclusive, but covers the biggest players in the world.
Created and led by the late Dr. Martel back in the age of the Vulpeculae Kingdom's rise to power, the abyss delvers were a guild of spelunking adventurers seeking out eldritch mysteries, runes, artifacts, and tomes buried deep within the earth. Because their tasks often led them near or through the underdark this led them to the term Abyss Delvers, dipping deep into the dreadful darkness.
It is known at the abyss delvers discovered something amazing, which led to Vulpeculae's greatest, and final, golden age. It is said to be the mysteries of blood unlocked, knowledge taken directly from the great Damu himself. Others say it was some other secret, a secret which affected the blood and which brought the attention of Damu to the nation instead.
Though the original abyss delvers perished in the cataclysm, new ones popped up to follow their intended purpose. Many these days delve in cursed Vul Noctis itself, seeking some of Vulpeculae's secrets lost to ruin.
Benefits: You gain easier or sometimes cheaper access to materials typically local to underground or the underdark, spelunking materials, and when at any sort of guild hall with the abyss delvers they can perform Appraise, Knowledge Dungeonering, Knowledge Geography, and Knowledge History checks for you with a +10 bonus on their roll, or a +2 bonus to your own roll (whichever is higher).
Those with unusually high rank may be allowed into secret vaults only a few know of. There, it is said, the truth of the universe is revealed.
Requirements: Members of the abyss delvers are usually expected to delve into new and undiscovered caves, map them, and sometimes donate various objects found within.
Back in the glory days of the Vulpeculae Kingdom, the great Scholar Anazagoras was integral in understanding and categorizing the great treasure trove of knowledge obtained from the abyss delvers, as well as their own research. They became masters of magic, science, and other abilities and stored them all in a great library known as the Atheneum of Knowledge. When the Kingdom was set to ruin the library sunk and the knowledge was lost, but the heart and soul behind the scholars lived on. Together knowledgeable people began piecing together what was lost and rebuilding a new library with new knowledge found.
The scholars are focused on the preservation of knowledge. Seeing the loss of the first library, their facilities are now dotted worldwide in an effect to spread the wealth. Many are focused on attempting to copy knowledge, and items which grant them. It is the latter, their study of knowledge from items and analysis of artifacts, which also puts them in some danger of looters who would want to obtain the knowledge for themselves.
With so much knowledge on hand, some have begun speculating that not all the knowledge is shared as openly as they claim. The scholars keep many secrets to themselves, and one could say information is power.
Benefits: You gain access to spellbooks and spellcasting services, up to a level appropriate for the region to possess. Typically this caps out at 3rd level spells, or 6th level spells in very populated areas. Rarely does it extend beyond this. When at any sort of guild hall with the scholars they can perform Knowledge Arcana, Knowledge Nature, Knowledge Religion, and Spellcraft checks for you with a +10 bonus on their roll, or a +2 bonus to your own roll (whichever is higher). They may also cast identify on your behalf, 1/day.
Those with unusually high rank may discover their secret stock of unique and custom magic spells, and unusual magical artifacts.
Requirements: Members are expected to either find previously undiscovered or lost knowledge, or generate a new idea worthy of storing. While one cannot expect to find new things very often, they encourage that those traveling members they possess continue to search for knowledge. For others who are more localized, work in scribing and copying is a common task, or teaching for information they wish to spread.
Though matched with a very wide open and generic name, the explorer's guild is just that, a guild dedicated to exploring. In particular, they explore the high seas as they have their origins within the ranks of the greenskins, but any place new and exciting, even an old ruin, is fair game. It is a matter of passion, of wanderlust, and admittedly no small part of treasures which may be found on their journey. For an adventurer, it is a lifestyle which fits in very well with their own. Even to this day, though the world has been crossed by many a ship, much of the land itself (and that which lies beneath the waves) remains undiscovered territory.
The explorers are very loosely knit, each guild hall tends to be very unique and different in style, tailored to the local environment. Explorers may be part of the same guild, but this does not prevent brutal rivalries from forming via competing groups. While it usually does not enter outright violence, a good hazing is expected from such rivalries.
Benefits: You gain easier access to more accurate maps than normal as a member, as well as the latest rumors of developments around the world. The real benefit though is that vehicles tend to be slightly cheaper for you (typically 10% cheaper) and that any crew to man said vehicles comes at half the cost and generally easier to find. The one downside to this method is that these cheap crew are of consummate value of what you paid for. It can work out if you have a skilled leader to guide them.
Those with unusually high rank may actually simply be granted vehicles of their own, such as a boat or even an airship.
Requirements: You must discover something even they haven't found yet, or offer to go on an expedition with others who are about to set out to new lands. The requirements to enter are pretty easy, but to gain greater benefits a consummate greater deal must be made with any guildmasters.
Eye of Heaven
In the cryptic land of Zaeim, those lucky few to be in the ranks of the magically empowered are treated to all manner of riches and power, and of course secrets. Zaeim sits over the former nation of Uru, and is rich in relics and history of its own. Chief among them are the great obelisks, temples, and pyramid structures found all over the island, and the mysterious and forbidden tombs associated with them. Relics of a religious or magical practice whose name and purpose has been lost, some have chosen to follow up in their footsteps. For if the legends are true, the arts depicted within promise life eternal and unending.
As such, the Eye of Heaven is a cult dedicated to discovering the secrets of ancient Uru, and especially the secret of true immortality. Not merely beyond eternal lifespan, true immortality speaks of invulnerability, recovering from any amount of harm in due time, and not even the gods can remove them. For those in power, this is a fantastic discovery. Of course none have succeeded. The lucky ones pull off a "traditional" immortality through undeath or strange means, but none have become invulnerable. Yet.
Members of the Eye of Heaven keep their secret club very private leaving those who even know of the organization into wild conspiracy theories about what they actually do.
Benefits: Members all learn a secret language which is a combination of key phrases and hand signals called Eye Sign. Only members are taught the language, and teaching anyone else is grounds for instant expulsion. They gain a 10% discount on any spell or ritual which would result in immortality. They gain +4 luck bonus on AC and saving throws against the effect of traps or environmental hazards in dungeons. Lastly when engaged in their rare and hidden meetings with other members, you can access most items, even illicit items. However, they are almost universally with some manner of surcharge.
Those with unusually high rank may actually be invited to become immortal, or may be granted a palace befitting of one's noble statue.
Requirements: Members are pretty strict on entry and retaining membership. You cannot simply join, you must be invited. They seek those who can keep secrets, those with the desire to live, those with a love of lost and ancient history, and those willing to do anything to achieve their goals.
Heralds of Chaos
Deep in the underdark, the world is already conquered by the mad drow, elves of the darkness below. They worship their mad gods, enslave the races of other, and are generally unpleasant. However barring a few rare incidents here and there, they leave the surface world be and so many ignore them. One has to wonder what would lead to a society so twisted and unfathomable as they, but they are a small mystery to those who would join the heralds of chaos.
The heralds are cultists who have chosen to follow the ways of the maddening methods of the drow, either drow themselves or strange madmen who would emulate them. These lunatics actively seek the destruction and dissolution of the surface realm, bringing them into an age of darkness as those in the underdark. In fact, this is sometimes taken literally with cults determined to somehow snuff out the sun. Fortunately the one thing the heralds have in common is that none are mentally sound and their plans rarely work, but ever so often a charismatic and tactical madman will take the lead and engage in a terrible campaign against the surface and their civilization.
The heralds are most insidious because they are not merely raving rioters. Many appear as normal people, hiding their inner madness like a serial killer hides among civilization. Even worse it is said some of their unfortunate victims are brought underground for strange eldritch rituals, and when they bring them back they return to life as if nothing happened, unaware that they have become a secret sleeper agent.
In times of spontaneous violence and riots, it can be certain the heralds are behind it somehow.
Benefits: These people engage in a ritual which renders the creature immune to mind reading or being able to have lies detected. When with other members of their kind, they can gain access to various illicit materials, though sometimes with a surcharge. Your allies are only barely friendly to each other, united only in their quest to purge the surface and please their vile interpretations of the gods.
Those with unusually high rank may find themselves with fiendish assistance from beyond. You have friends in low places.
Requirements: Only evil beings would willingly join forces with the heralds. Membership is merely participating in their mad underground rituals, often ending with some terrible act of evil. Membership is simple, as it is not like anyone is checking up on you to see if you keep up your efforts to destroy the surface.
Monster Hunter Lodge
Even before the destruction of Vulpeculae, terrible monsters roamed the land. Toho alone was known as the Land of Monsters, among other epithets. These giant and terrible beasts each often unique or uncommon horrors would be dealt with by the Monster Hunters, warriors suited for taking down large prey for glory, entertainment, and the common good. With the curse spreading from Vul Noctis, business has been booming more than ever.
A monster hunter's task is simple. Find a beast and slay it, often gaining a trophy of accomplishment or even entire bodies. Besides pride these bodies provide valuable raw materials for alchemy and magical items and gear, and for more exotic beasts they are valued by the Atheneum Scholars for being a source of knowledge. These warriors work for no army, making them ideal for adventurers to work with as side missions. After all, you were going to kill these monsters anyway, right?
Traditionally, Monster Hunting is a task for those skilled in combat. Spellcasters may join, but they are often looked down on as being cowardly or dishonorable, fair or not.
Benefits: Bringing back marked targets back to a lodge hall often gives extra access to monstrous body parts as trade goods and loot, more than one might otherwise have. At minimum, they are very good at customizing weapons and armor for stylistic purposes with bits and pieces of monsters you slay. Monetary rewards are also sometimes granted for certain monsters of particular danger. When at any sort of lodge hall with the monster hunters they can perform any Knowledge check but only made for the purpose of identifying creatures with a +10 bonus on their roll, or a +2 bonus to your own roll (whichever is higher).
Those with unusually high rank may end up constructing artifacts or weapons of legacy from particularly rare and impressive loot.
Requirements: Joining the monster hunters is easy, one merely need to ask. Sometimes there is an unofficial challenge one needs to take on, but these are not legitimate. Being a monster hunter is of no importance, it is being a monster hunter of high rank. Monster hunters wear badges with pieces and pieces of all their kills which they show off as "rank". Those in the lodge are very competitive, and rivalries are common.
Originating from the elven lands of Aur Golau, the naturewards were the supposedly started as an order of knights who followed the adventures and life of the then-mortal Elegast. In Elegast's passing, they retained their order and though diluted with time, they still retain their original purpose of guarding the copper-hued forests of Afallon. They've taken the fight beyond this one enchanted wood and have dedicated themselves to protecting and watching nature all over the world, especially in those places still rich with primal fey magic. Thus they often find themselves side by side the followers of the Way of Green, but in a defensive roll rather than the Way's active and more spiritual methods. They are mostly composed of rangers, barbarians, and druids, or any other class with strong ties to nature. The natureward are no mere uncivilized warriors though, they consider themselves a full knight's order dedicated to harmony of man and beast, and preservation of the sacred lands.
Adventures sometime become wandering naturewards, a rare sight, but usually one is sent off away from defending a land to pursue a great threat to the natural world. Sometimes their defense of nature pits them against the Monster Hunters, who may have "natural" things on their hit lists.
Benefits: Choose one animal type (like felines, canines, birds, etc). You gain the ability to speak with animals 1/day as a spell-like ability. If you have 5 HD, you may use it at will.
Those with unusually high rank may find themselves able to use astral protector as a spell-like ability at will, but only one location at a time. They might also find direct assistance from other naturewards for missions and help.
Requirements: Joining the naturewards involves swearing an oath, often after some set task to prove one's worth. The oath demands only respect to the land and the defense of it when called to. Intentional acts which run counter to the goal of saving and preserving nature can cause a naturesward to "fall", removing the guild benefits until atonement is achieved.
Born from the survivors from the fall of Vulpeculae and stationed within the borders of the Kingdom of Anser, the Platinum Guard were the surviving order of knights who disagreed with Vulpeculae's direction and managed to escape with their sanity mostly intact. They swore that the actions of the old kingdom must never happen again and became brave and just knights fighting the curse at the front lines, keeping it at bay. When one thinks of the noble knight, the paladin, the champion of justice, one thinks of the Platinum Guard and their shining silvery armor.
Though mostly confined to the front lines of Anser, the Platinum Guard have been spreading out of late. They need to recruit, for their numbers thin as monster activity increases, and they face one very harsh reality on the horizon; they have no means of stopping the curse, only delaying its effects. And so they seek for a solution before things get out of control.
Less known to the public is a second problem they face, for it is said that not even the strong will of their knights can resist the curse. Eventually, be it latent magic from the fall or from being soaked knee deep in the bodies of cursed beasts, but eventually the knights themselves begin showing signs of the curse. Their bodies grow more animalistic, their behavior erratic, and their armor warped. Rumors persist of one platinum guard so warped, he became... something else entirely.
Benefits: Once per day you gain a smite attack like a paladin of your character level, using your highest mental ability score instead of just Charisma and applying to any "cursed beasts". You gain a second use of it at 10 HD.
Those with unusually high rank may find themselves able to obtain holy relics and artifacts, and the assistance of other platinum guards, including clerics willing to assist in your revival if slain for a reduced price.
Requirements: Joining the platinum guard involves swearing an oath, often after some set task to prove one's worth, and usually involving the slaying of an accursed beast. Intentional acts which run counter to the goal of defeating the beasts which arise from Vul Noctis and elsewhere can cause a platinum guard to "fall", removing the guild benefits until atonement is achieved.
The reclaimers were once abyss delvers, and had the same function and goal, to dive into mysterious ruins and seek hidden treasure. But while the abyss delves seek knowledge beyond all else, the reclaimers seek materials. They are the scavengers of the world, looked down upon as trash pickers yet invaluable, for the Workshop and Scholars alike often purchase wares from their repurposed goods. They do not merely collect, but they even invite those who would attempt to build, rebuild, or repurpose broken devices into something fresh and new again.
They also act as a pawn shop, and can usually purchase nearly anything and find a better use for it to ultimately make a profit. Most things anyway, even they have their limits.
Buyer beware, shopping at reclaimer storefronts. They are useful, but also dangerous.
Benefits: Reclaimer's stock is often random, sometimes very useful and sometimes not, but usually sold at lower than normal prices. And also sometime sold with flaws and curses. Purchasing from a reclaimer storehouse is risky, but could potentially save you a lot and is a fine source of discovering low priced consumable items or flavorful tidbits. When at any sort of storehouse with the reclaimers they can perform any Craft checks for you with a +10 bonus on their roll, or a +2 bonus to your own roll (whichever is higher).
Those with unusually high rank may find themselves able to repair things that are otherwise broken beyond repair, and discover specific items of any sort (or at least the current locations of them).
Requirements: Joining the reclaimers is easy, as there is practically no unity between storehouses and practically no methods of checking up on if you're helping other than the honor system, and the ability to pawn off otherwise unsellable items to someone.
While the followers of El Sabaism may have a respect and adoration for the scaled goddess that is not shared by their Kleosian brethren, few would think that their lives are dedicated to anything more than supplicating a god who happens to be a dragon. Not so for the scalecloaks, a secret organization like the heralds of chaos with a completely different goal in mind, for the scalecloaks worship dragons and all that their magical blood has touched. They desire a world where the dragon's ancient kingdom rises again, and the age returns to that when the number of dragons were many instead of few. For the few dragons which are aware of the scalecloaks and so not merely dismiss them as fools, the scalecloaks prove to be loyal and dutiful minions to their cause.
And what is their cause?
Well, that depends on the dragon. Dragonkind is no longer united, and play long tactical and political games against each other that is barely notable on the scale of a human lifetime. And so the scalecloaks become their hands to play this great and dangerous game of chess. It is not uncommon to find scalecloak fighting scalecloak, working on two separate factions of the same group, working for two different dragons, and all of this actually a ploy to make a move on a third dragon that is not even seen yet. The scalecloaks in this are useful pawns, but their loyalty does not go unrewarded. After all, to make allies or friends of even a single dragon is to have the greatest ally of all.
Benefits: Followers may gain a blood transfusion which grants them the Dragonblooded subtype for 1 year before needing to be refreshed. Those who already have the subtype instead gain a +1 caster level on spontaneous arcane spellcasting. In addition, you are immune to a dragon's frightful presence.
Those with unusually high rank may find themselves able to actually gain favor or meet with an actual dragon on favorable terms. If they really like you they might do something on your behalf.
Requirements: Discovering the scalecloaks is difficult given their secretive nature, but if discovered you will be taken to see a representative of the dragon (or rarely the dragon itself) where you may swear loyalty, or get yourself out of there in one piece. Curiously enough it is possible to gain the attention and favor of one sect of scalecloaks by slaughtering the followers and dragon of another if they are opposed.
In the past, the Blessed Kingdom of Karlikov spread across much of the known world and became a superpower thanks to its overwhelming culture, backed by the might of its crusaders known as the Silver Blades. As time passed and the empire faded, the Silver Blade's original function to keep control of the empire left, yet the organization persisted going from holy crusader to that of pilgrims, preachers, and (at least in Karlikov) retaining a fragment of their military past as royal guards. It is the ideal place for clerics and paladins of the Kleosian religion to work with, for they offer a wide network in which to help best deploy wisdom and assistance to others. When natural disasters hit, when wars occur, when things go bad, the Silver Blades arrive to help tend to the sick and wounded while spreading their ideals.
Of course, some have not forgotten the Silver Blade's previous bloody history. And a few do not forgive.
Silver Blades were called such due to the silver swords they used to carry. Now the sword is little more than a ceremonial dagger, but it is still used. It is not uncommon to see a medic with a shining dirk at his side, and it proves functional to in times one may need a knife to help in an emergency.
Benefits: Members may use Heal checks as if they always had a healer’s kit on hand, and they may deal non-lethal damage with weapons without taking the -4 to attack rolls (this does not permit you to non-lethal sneak attack with a normally lethal weapon).
Those with unusually high rank may find themselves able to get easy access to discounted restorative magic to remove status effects, cure damage, and raise the dead. If your entire party dies, allies within the guild will be dispatched to try and recover your bodies and raise them (though you will owe them the cost of revival, going into debt if needed).
Requirements: Silver Blades are usually religious but do not need to be. Rather they do need to take an oath to save lives and minimize harm. Intentional acts which run counter to the goal of helping others and healing the needy can cause a platinum guard to "fall", removing the guild benefits until atonement is achieved.
One of the mysteries of Kathib is their people's obsession with the stars. Those who are able to breach into the sensitive hidden culture may discover than much of the study of the heavens arrives from those they call the void watchers. They are diviners, scientists, and scholars who seek answers in the sky. Some believe the answers are religious in nature, while other think that it is a reasonable scientific explanation for everything. What is certain is that the heavens are key to whatever they believe, and so they share their data amongst themselves.
Most void watchers are adherents to the existence of Eliade. This forgotten deity was said to rise into the heavens and vanish, and many think he may sail the heavens like stars in the sky. One day he will return, and bring knowledge of all that is out there. Or destruction. The prophecies about this matter are quite old and quite vague. Until the time is right, they translate the position of the stars into predicting the future.
Benefits: Members can always tell their exact position on a map as long as they can see the night sky, and cannot become lost. They also gain augury as a spell-like ability 1/day from reading the stars. As such, it can only be cast at night.
Those with unusually high rank may find themselves able to actually use moment of prescience as a spell-like ability 1/day from reading the stars, communicating with the cosmos directly. You may also receive important data and divinations from other members who wish to assist you.
Requirements: Besides being accepted by one's fellow practitioners, the only requirement is a desire to learn. After all if you have no desire you will soon find yourself bored stargazing to no end or purpose. You must spend 1 hour a night to study the stars when you can (if you can't, it doesn't count against you). If you leave the void watchers or spend more than a month without studying the stars you lose the benefit of this guild until you can correct either of these events.
Way of Green
While the naturewards are militant keepers of the forest born of elven knights, the way of green is a much older and far more mysterious organization. They are a gathering of druids and other nature minded folk, meeting very rarely only to discuss matters of great importance. When these meetings occur, animals from all over begin guiding their members towards where the meet is to take place, so that all may attend. The purpose of the Way of Green is to spread and promote nature, fixing what has been despoilers or (for less ethical sorts) destroying what they feel ruins the land. However, generally they are not so militant. The Way of Green is spiritual in nature, they seek to listen to the health of the planet itself. If they act, it is because a great danger has threatened the world itself and they must become its antibodies or face destruction.
Most members follow the Way of the Earthmother, and they can almost be thought of one in the same. However religious devotion is not required.
Those who are members of the way of green may barely know they are members at all, at least until things go down.
Benefits: You may receive occasional messages from unexpected sources; a talking animal, a water elemental in a pond, ants carving messages in the dirt, and so forth. These messages appear randomly and are helpful, showing up whenever you are around and about. As a general rule, this never tells you a direct answer, and the additional guidance may only appear once per day willingly. It may still show up at random times as it sees fit.
Those with unusually high rank may find themselves able to being taught Druidic if they didn't know it already (this is an exception, and the teacher will not fall for doing so), and whenever they are in natural terrain they benefit from the effects of a ring of regeneration, but it heals your HD in hit points each hour (or each 5 minutes for non-lethal).
Requirements: The way of green is a secretive coven, and thus the only way in is through invite. The members are often intermingled with others, always spying, always watching. If you prove worthy of their goals, they will find you.
The legendary smith Wayland the Gray crafted an incredible amount of items for the then rising kingdom of Vulpeculae. His work became known as the Edgemaster's Workshop, and the worshop produced all sorts of wonders from the mundane buildings and utilitarian roads, to the fantastical wondrous architectures and the Golden Men, an army of regenerating sentient yet loyal golems. Yet it was all lost when Vulpeculae sank into the earth. Now the remains of his work are found, rediscovered, and attempted once more. The new Workshop Guild attempts to recreate Wayland's amazing work, creating alchemical, explosive, and transforming weapons of all kinds. And of course, blood weapons, the strange technique Wayland used and which seems abnormally effective on the cursed beasts of Vulpeculae.
The worshop demands intelligence and the love of the craft. People who come here do so for the purpose of crafting and purchasing unique items which cannot be replicated elsewhere. It's expensive, but often worth it.
The worshop has somewhat of a bad reputation of being dangerous. It tends to attract mad scientists, arsons, and pyromaniacs who use weapons technologies as a release for their behaviors. To be fair, it is partly true. Watch your self when moving around the workshop proper.
Benefits: Strange and unique requests for crafting can usually be made here with various degrees of success. Members gain access to raw materials which decrease the cost of crafting (both mundane and magical) by 10%. You can find items here which are more technologically savvy than most other places as well. If you can afford it, you may apply an item template to your item in question.
Those with unusually high rank may find themselves able to learn some new techniques. Choose one item creation feat. When in a workshop, you have the use of that feat. You cannot use it for the purposes of pre-requisites.
Requirements: To become a member of the workshop, one must craft either a masterwork item out of an unusual material, or a magical item.