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We sit upon the precipice of greatness. Such was my thought when I received word the King agreed to the Archbishop's proposition. Never had the order been given such an opportunity to present itself to the world. A solemn chance to exhibit the merits and degrees to which it excelled above all else. The Inquisition was my great hope. It was not until the first burning in Caelrida that I realized my folly. Behind our faith, our oaths, our discipline, we were still men. And in war men do terrible things. The Inquisition revealed the darker side of my order. It shown light and that which I wished was hidden still. If I had known truly what would come to pass perhaps I would have argued this course. Far too late now to turn back to such things however. We must see our mission done for the honor of the Ring, and glory of the Pale Lord.
-Exert from the writings of Grandmaster Gerrad Bullen
In the late summer months of 1236 SE, Nothlodar commenced the second full-scale invasion of Caeldeth to the north. A series of long and bloody engagements followed. With superior forces Nothlodar maintained a steady push into Caeldeth. As the war progress fatigue for both kingdoms mounted yet neither wavered. The sacking of Caelrida, Caeldeth's capital, appeared the push Nothlodar needed. By winter's peak the war had ended, and occupation had began.
The early months showed little in the way of discord, yet as time passed fear gave way to resentment. Natives of Caeldeth began to speak out against their overlords. Protests gave way to riots. Not six months after Nothlodar's occupation had began open revolt had set in. Putting it down was no great task but a distinct problem had arisen. Too many men had been lost in the fighting. If proper garrisons and patrols were to be maintained more would have to be brought in. With it's own forces dismal and still recovering, Nothlodar made request to the Church. It called on the forces of the Pale Ring.
The Church of the Pale Lord had been the dominant faith in Nothlodar for centuries. It held sway in court, ruled it's own lands, and most importantly; commanded it's own forces. The Pale Ring is compromised of knights in service to the Church. Though their number does not count near the number of Nothlodar's forces, it is significant. A few had fought in the war but the majority remained in Nothlodar. The hope was for them now to march north and help maintain peace in Nothlodar's newest territory. Yet the King was no fool. He knew the Archbishop would not so readily squander the Church's resources. So a decree was made by the High Council. The Church of the Pale Lord would have full authority in the apprehension and conversion of heretics in the lands of Caeldeth.
Now the forces of Nothlodar await the arrival of the Pale Ring, the Archbishop having dispatched the bulk of the Church's military north in a Grand Inquisition. A war of a different sort is soon to begin in Caeldeth.
Our primary characters are going to be Knights of the Pale Ring. They will have all arrived in Caeldeth with the first wave of the Inquisition, and been undertaking their duties. Nothing of this scale has ever been exercised by the Church before so most everyone is out of their depth. Caeldeth itself is polytheistic so in the eyes of the Church the whole population is steeped in heresy. Upon the arrival of it's forces to cities and large settlements an ultimatum was given. Renounce all gods save the Pale Lord or be forced into reeducation. There was resistance at first, but the harsh methods of the Pale Knights seemed to deter future acts. The Inquisition is proceeding wholly unhindered.
The concept of being on the other side of this fight intrigued me. All too often Role-Plays put the writers in the shoes of those fighting for their homes and beliefs, the underdogs. I thought that it would be interesting to see what went on behind the veil of villainy that the oppressors put forth. In this scenario we start hated by the natives of Caeldeth. Our every action deemed that of a tyrant or monster. Yet most of the Pale Ring has never taken on the role of Inquisitor until now. In Nothlodar they had been Guardians for the people, healers of the sick. The one's the troubled or wary sought out if all other turn against them. Man is varied, and as some may revel in the misery they conduct others surely detest it. How will the latter adapt to their new lot in life?
The main focus of this Role-Play will be exploring just that. How will our characters change due to their new environment? Will our faith hold true when tested? Will we be able to follow orders if they violate personal beliefs?
The Holy Kingdom of Nothlodar is one of the most powerful independent nations in the present age. Originally an Arch-Duchy of the Galhoth Empire, Nothlodar gained it's autonomy some four centuries ago. It's ruler at the time Arch-Duke Wilhelm Yrcing was one of many in the Empire undergoing a sort of spiritual revolution. Since it's founding the Weeping Sisters had been the primary deities worshiped in Galhoth. However, in the late ninth century missionaries of the Pale Lord managed to raise a significant following among both paupers and nobility. Arch-Duke Wilhelm was especially taken to the message offered by the priests. Fearing this shift would destabilize his nation the Emperor outlawed open worship of the Pale Lord in all his lands. A year later in 873 SE Arch-Duke established the Church of the Pale Lord in Nothlodar, and declared war on the Empire. The fighting would last for over a decade, and in the end Nothlodar won it's independence.
Nothlodar borders the ocean to the east, the Galhoth Empire to the west, the Maztuvan Marches to the south, and Caeldeth to the north. The bulk of Nothlodar is comprised of lowlands in the north and plains in the south. It is known to have a calm coastline which is lined with many port cities. Nearing Caeldeth the terrain slowly shifts into rolling hills and highlands.
The bulk of Nothlodar's wealth is attributed to it's maritime trade. It maintains good relations with many overseas powers that pay well for local commodities. In the north there is a large focus on farming due to the fertile nature of the lowlands. While in the south focus is evenly divided between the timber trade and mining.
Nothlodar is ruled by a king who passes his title on in hereditary succession. There is also a High Council of twelve elected representatives, mostly nobles, that debate and vote upon various issues regarding the nation. The king himself always holds a seat in the council but usually only casts a vote to break a tie. The Archbishop is also guaranteed a seat, should ever he wish to join the proceedings.
The Pale Lord is the sole deity recognized by Nothlodar. Officially private worship of other gods is permitted to it's citizens, however; many claim the Church arrests such people for heresy all the same. That aside, the bulk of the population are content in their worship of the Pale Lord. The Church itself conducts many programs to aid the citizenry, from medical treatment to monetary stipends.
As a kingdom Caeldeth is very young. Roughly a century ago, during the first Nothlodar invasion, Caeldeth elected it's first king. When the war had ended instead of relinquishing the title, Olrik Kerwyn declared himself king for now and always. Since that time his line has retained the throne. Before that however, Caeldeth was a loose federation of clans led by no single individual. The Clan Heads would gather once a year and discuss terms and the like going forward. For the people of Caeldeth this provided freedom and a degree of upward mobility. However, when the forces of Nothlodar came to bear the disorganization of such nearly ended them. It was decided that during times of war a single leader would be chosen from among the Clan Heads to rally their combined forces. Olrik Kerwyn was chosen, and against all odds beat back Nothlodar. In the end, when he refused to step down and restore Caeldeth's old way of governing, few opposed him.
Caeldeth borders the ocean to the east, the Frost Peak Mountains to the north, Nothlodar to the south, and the Thousand Forest to the west. Caeldeth is mainly hills to the south and highlands in the north. It's coastline is known to be harsh and rocky. Central Caeldeth is home to the majority of it's lowlands, and there are many valleys north near the mountains.
Caeldeth generates the bulk of it's wealth from mining. They have rich ore deposits in the mountains to the north. Central Caeldeth is primarily farming. The lush forests to the west provide a good timber and hunting industry. Caeldeth only has one port city along it's coast, due to this most trade is done overland. Caeldeth's presence is barely felt on the global economy.
Caeldeth is an Elective Hereditary Monarchy. In the event of the king's death the Clan Heads come together and vote on who will be the next king. The person elected must be related by blood to the former king. Usually it is the king's eldest son, however; it is possible to be someone further removed from the former king. Such as a cousin, or an uncle.
A pantheon of gods are worshiped in Caeldeth. All are tied very closely to nature. There is also no hierarchy to speak of, though some gods are worshiped more commonly than others. Spiritual leaders are called Druids, and the bulk of Caeldeth believe they have the ability to converse with the gods. Some even claim they can see the future, and command the very forces of nature.
The Pale Lord
Known worship of the Pale Lord dates back to the final days of the First Era. As through most of the Second Era, it was a minority religion with followers few and far between. Not until Nothlodar named it the state religion and declared war against Galhoth did the world take note. He is often depicted as a tall man with a slender frame holding a cup nearly overflowing. His features are typically very fair, having pale skin and long silver hair. In most stories and artistic interpretations his ears are long and pointed. Worship of the Pale Lord is closely tied to the moon. It is believed that the moon is an aspect of him, therefore most religious ceremonies coincide with a full moon. Unlike most deities is is depicted as neither malevolent or benevolent, but instead a rational and stoic being. Balance plays a key role in his worship practices. Such is why an offering of near equal value is usually made when asking for his blessing.
The Church is lead by the Archbishop who is elected by a panel of his peers after the death of his predecessor. Under him are the Cardinals that serve as the main governing body of the Church. Next are Bishops that head monasteries and cathedrals, who are in turn served by the Priests. Last are Acolytes, whom are still training to enter the priesthood.
The Church serves many roles in Nothlodar. Primarily it acts as the spiritual leader of the nation, serving it's communities and enriching their lives. More directly though the Church operates in nearly all levels of government. Holding positions in nearly all legal courts including a seat on the High Council. In lands it owns the Church also acts in the role of feudal lord to it's subjects.
Officially The Pale Ring was founded in 875 SE by the Church in Nothlodar to aid in the war against Galhoth. However, more zealous members and historians claim the roots of the order began in the First Era. Where the brave and faithful took up arms in the Pale Lord's name. Regardless, the Pale Ring has been even present in Nothlodar since it gained independence. As a knightly order it is primarily military in nature; focused on protecting Church lands, pilgrims, and holy sites. At times the order is charged with apprehending heretics or assisting the forces of Nothlodar itself. That aside, the order is also known to act as healers and diplomats. They provide aid to locals that cannot garner attention from the crown or pay for outside assistance. Many in Nothlodar revere the order, idolizing it's actions and merits. Their current role in the occupation of Caeldeth is unprecedented, none of it's number having ever taken part in an inquisition of this scale.
The Pale Ring is arranged in the way of most knightly orders. It is lead by a sole Grandmaster that answers only to the Archbishop. Directly under him are the Paladins that serve as both commanders and the most venerated of the order. Next are the Knights that make up the bulk of the order's forces. Finally there are the initiates, the hopefuls training so that they too may one day serve.
The Cold Iron Ring:
The order gets it's namesake from the pale circular brands upon their chest. It is a brand that marks you are a member of the order once you graduate from initiate to knight. Unlike most brands however, this one is not hot but indescribably cold. It was said to be a gift of the Pale Lord himself, a faint trace of his power left in the mortal world. Once pressed against the skin it scars it, leaving a ghostly white circle where placed.
These are the initial protagonists to our story. All Knights of the Pale Ring adapting to their current situation in Caeldeth. They come from many walks of life, in all shapes and forms. United solely by their dedication to the Pale Lord and their oaths to the Church. Some may relish their new positions, hunting down heretics and forcing their to convert. Others may loath their new lot in life, having to put innocents to the sword for refusing the Pale Lord's grace. Regardless of their view on things, they will have committed many acts in the name of the Pale Lord since the occupation of Caeldeth began. There are no real restrictions on the creation of these characters save for those in the sheet and the fact that they may only be Human.
(Image Here. Realistic Only, no Cartoon/Anime.)
Name: (Medieval Fantasy Style Names.)
Rank: (Knight or Initiate.)
Gender: (21 or Older.)
Birthdate: (Current Year is 1238 SE.)
Height: (In Feet and Inches.)
Weight: (In Pounds.)
Eyes: (Blue, Green, etc.)
Hair: (Red, Brown, etc.)
Skill-Set: (One Paragraph Description of the Character's talents. Fighting style, thievery, etc.)
Equipment: (One Paragraph Description of the Character's Current Tools and Gear.)
Appearance: (One Paragraph Description of the Character's Appearance.)
Personality: (One Paragraph Description of the Character's Personality.)
Biography: (Three Paragraph Description of the Character's background.)
These characters are less important than our main heroes but more so than an NPC. They will mainly be used to liven up the scenes of others, or otherwise flesh out more of the Role-Play. They can be Caeldeth citizens fleeing the Inquisition, Nothlodar nobility conducting themselves, or anything in-between. They are less restricted than Primary Characters to allow easier insertion into a scene. However, a character that may impact the overall plot heavily does need an okay from a DM. Someone like the ruler of a nation, a god, or a rebel leader, will have to be approved. It is important to note that one does not need to create a sheet for a character if they do not wish. However, if they are reoccurring it may be wise to ensure they aren't killed off like a simple NPC.
This is custom setting that I have worked with before. I've actually Role-Played in this same scenario before, but on the other side of the conflict. It's been a long time since then and I figured it would be nice to revisit something old, while adding a new twist to it. A friend and myself originally created this for a tabletop campaign way back when so I'm well versed in the lore and can move the story along fairly seamlessly. It is a Low Magic world. Which means Humans are the only known sentient race. Magic and the arcane is mostly nonexistent, save for a few exceptions. The tone of the story is meant to be dark and gritty, but with doses of lightheartedness sprinkled throughout. I am open to altering and changing certain aspects to meet the needs of willing writers. However; I would like to keep the core of the setting and story as close to their original as I possible can. Thanks guys! Let me know if you are interested or have any ideas.