The Duchy of Anderland exists in a dangerous and shifting world. Enemies, threats, and monsters abound on all sides and even within the Duchy’s borders. Fortunately, the people of Anderland can count on the help and guidance of several local organizations. Members of these groups, although not all directly connected to the ducal family, tend to have the Duchy’s best interests at heart. The names and most important members of these organizations are fairly commonly known, but few people outside these groups know their secrets or how they operate.
Church of Bahamut: The dukes of Anderland and most people in the realm have long been dedicated to worship of the Platinum Dragon. The d’Anderville family has a long and proud tradition of supporting Bahamut’s church. Within the ducal palace is an impressive temple dedicated to Bahamut. At present, Prester Edmund Crane is the head of the temple, despite his advanced years. The Church of Bahamut still provides support and advice to Duke Caldric, although its influence has waned over the past few generations due to Maldaran insistence on worship of Bane. Increasingly, members of the church are faced with difficult choices. Do they break the law of the land (and of the Empire) and turn away from Bane? Should the faithful resort to violence to drive out the Banites? As the church struggles to answer these complex questions, it has suffered a slow but steady decrease in membership.
Council of Druids: This ancient and highly respected organization is more formally known as the Druids of the Sequestered Grove. Founded more than ten centuries ago, the druids of the Council have long served the region of Anderland and its environs. Although the Council has remained an ally to the d’Anderville family through much of this period, the druids are not servants of the Duke; indeed, they do not consider themselves the Duke’s subjects, although they obey most ducal laws whenever possible. In many ways, the Council of Druids sprang into existence to combat the ongoing threat of the Blighted in the region – there has long been a strong presence of Blight magic in the vicinity, and too many individuals interested in harnessing this dark power. There is wide belief that the Council protects the realm from many hidden threats; the Council is infamous for keeping many secrets, all “for the good of the realm.”
At present, an elderly man by the name of Talbot Ashcroft leads the Council. His tenure has stretched across seven decades, including the Night of Shadows and its tragic aftermath. Despite his surly and grouchy attitude, Talbot has led the Council with wisdom and compassion. During times of drought, he has ordered the Council to provide food for the common folk. During harsh winters, he makes sure that isolated villages do not wither and die. His druids provide advice to local farmers, and the Council provides important information to Duke Caldric about potential threats in the region.
Of late, a young elven woman by the name of Nara Blackstaff has mounted a growing challenge to Talbot’s leadership. She is likely to become the next Elder of the Council. For the most part, Nara espouses a far more conservative approach to the Council’s duties and responsibilities. She would see the Council withdraw from the day-to-day lives of common citizens; indeed, she would see the Council withdraw all regular contact from the Duchy entirely.
At present, the Council of Druid includes the Elder (Talbot Ashcroft), the Circle of Seven (seven high-ranking druids, including Nara Blackstaff, who advise the Elder), followed by a dozen druids and approximately two-dozen apprentices. There are also over five dozen aides, assistants, and servants that provide support to the Council throughout the Duchy.
The Council maintains a regular meeting place in the Sacred Grove just outside of Andersgate. In addition, the Council has two other meeting sites and at least three that are kept closely guarded secrets.
In general, the people of Anderland hold the druids of the Council in high regard. Relations between common folk and the druids are good; relations between the druids and the nobility tend to be strained, but this is to be expected. The local populace of the realm are often eager to have their children become apprenticed to the Council. When a child reaches the age of adulthood (usually 13 summers for humans), he or she may approach a druid and ask to be considered for apprenticeship. Being accepted is widely viewed as a tremendous honor, although only two or three individuals are chosen each year. Overall, it is rare for a wealthy, noble, or powerful family to place its children for consideration by the Council. Thus, the majority of apprentices come from common families of simple birth.
The Council and the dukes of Anderland have not always agreed or cooperated, but for the most part both sides respect each other’s authority. The Council does not enter into politics or interfere with ducal law, while the dukes of the realm grant certain broad freedoms to the Council. By Anderland law, the druids of the Council operate outside the law. In the event a druid commits a crime, however, the Council typically expels the offending member and turns him/her over to ducal justice.
The druids of the Council have suffered frequently in their dealings with the Empire of Maldar. The imperials do not recognize the Council as a legitimate organization; were the Empire to truly take over the Duchy of Anderland, the druids would lose their autonomy (and, most likely, their lives). The druids view the enforced worship of Bane as a growing plague upon the land, and they are concerned for the future of the region.
Followers of the Path: This is a recent splinter group from the Council of Druids. After the attack of the Night Dragon some twenty years ago, a handful of younger druids expressed frustration and anger over recent events. In their view, the Council of Druids had known much yet done little in anticipation of the dragon’s onslaught. They believed the Council could have averted the attacks, or at least ameliorated the damage. After the Night of Shadows, these disgruntled druids left the Council (although the elder members of the Council were just as glad to see them leave). They formed a new druidic organization known as the Followers of the Path. Their leader, a charismatic young woman known as Lyria Damara, wanted to form closer ties to the Wardens (see below). Lyria has long believed that the Night Dragon is destined to return. The Followers of the Path seek to prevent that return, with or without the Council’s help. These druids are somewhat more aggressive and even militant compared to the conservative nature of the Council. Lyria and her followers have long advocated direct action in favor of reflection, excessive planning, and caution. Although this splinter group has survived the past two decades, its membership has never risen above a couple dozen members, of which less than a third are actually druids. The Council of Druids considers this group nothing more than a nuisance and unorganized mob of troublemakers.
Knights of Stormhaven: This is an ancient and highly respected order of knighthood. The first knights of this order accompanied the d’Anderville family in founding Anderland, and the order has remained loyal to the ducal family since those times. Based in the town of Stormhaven, the knights originally existed to protect the realm from threats such as marauding humanoids, rampaging barbarians, and predatory monsters. In the present day, the Knights of Stormhaven are seriously lacking in a unified goal or purpose. The one greatest threat to the Duchy is the Empire of Maldar; however, the Duchy is technically a vassal state of the Empire, not an enemy. The other legitimate threat to Anderland comes from the east and the Theocracy of Paladanthis. In this instance, the Knights of Stormhaven tend to sympathize with Paladanthis and view that realm as a potential ally in the inevitable war with Maldar.
The current membership of the Knights includes 21 knights from noble families. An additional four dozen men-at-arms serve the knights, and more than five dozen servants see to the needs of the order. The Knights maintain a large and impressive castle overlooking the town of Stormhaven; their citadel rivals the ducal palace in Andersgate for sheer size. This is a wealthy and influential organization, and they enjoy full recognition by the ducal government.
The current leader (the Knight Marshall) of the Knights of Stormhaven is Baron Damian Calixis, an adviser to Duke Caldric. Baron Calixis is considered somewhat an unusual member for the Knights, given his former unsavory career as a freebooter and itinerant adventurer (despite his noble heritage). The Baron has always demonstrated devotion to the Duke in public; in private, however, Calixis is one of the Duke’s most vocal critics. Baron Calixis despises Maldar, and he believes that war between Anderland and the Empire is unavoidable. Rather than merely seeking freedom from Maldar, he actually believes that he could topple the Maldaran government and have Anderland ruling over it! He has even enlisted the help of a nobleman who is Maldaran by birth, Baron Vladimir Cadwallis.
Without a strong central goal, the Knights of Stormhaven do not actually do very much (at least not that is obvious to most folk). They do not fight except on rare occasions (and most of their duels are against other knights). They do not help fight humanoids or bandits. For the most part, they seem content to complain about the pro-Maldaran stance of Duke Caldric. The Knights of Stormhaven may not be disloyal, but their growing disdain for the current ducal regime is a poorly kept secret.
Pathfinders: Since the earliest days of Anderland, the d’Anderville family has supported a small but elite organization of scouts, guides, and messengers known as the Pathfinders. These individuals carry messages, news, and warnings from community to community and even farm to farm. They keep watch on the realm’s borders, they track movement of orcs, goblins, and other humanoids. They help the Duke’s soldiers hunt down monsters, rogue beasts, and bandits. The Pathfinders investigate strange sightings, explore the frontiers of the Duchy, and keep the Duke up-to-date of events across the land. The Pathfinders are supported primarily by the Duchy’s coffers, but they also enjoy a number of secretive (and apparently wealthy) patrons. Although supported by the ducal family, the Pathfinders remain an independent organization. They recruit members from all across the Duchy, always on the lookout for potential apprentices. The Pathfinders number less than 100 individuals at present, with the majority stationed in the southern half of the Duchy to keep an eye on the Empire of Maldar.
Kincaid Greenbriar serves as the current leader of the Pathfinders. He spends the majority of his time in Andersgate, while his lieutenants keep him connected with his various agents throughout the realm.
The Pathfinders remain on relatively good relations with the Wardens, although some rivalry is inevitable due to the overlap in their duties and responsibilities. Whereas the Wardens are primarily connected to the Council of Druids and outside of ducal authority, the Pathfinders are closely connected to the Duke and the people of Anderland. Pathfinders and Wardens often engage in friendly (and sometimes not so friendly) competition. When trouble strikes the Duchy, however, they put aside their differences (or most of them) and cooperate to a fair extent.
The Pathfinders have limited interactions with the Council of Druids; each group holds little trust towards the other. The druids may not truly appreciate the Wardens, but they actively dislike and distrust the Pathfinders.
Finally, the Pathfinders maintain good relations with the Silverhawks. The Silverhawks are almost entirely controlled by the Duke (under the command of Aileen Silverhawk). The Silverhawks do not have the degree of autonomy that the Pathfinders enjoy. Whereas the Pathfinders serve as a messenger and early warning system, the Silverhawks are often used to carry out specific tasks for the Duke.
For the most part, Pathfinders operate in groups of three to five (unlike Wardens, who operate in dyads). They are skilled trackers, hunters, and well versed in the art of stealth. They try to avoid combat when possible, preferring to use the longbow rather than the longsword.
Seekers of Melora: This is a small druidic group that once belonged to the Council of Druids more than three centuries ago. During the debates over whom to appoint for the next Elder, a shifter woman calling herself Gaileth appeared before the Council. Although no one had ever met this individual before, her sheer magnetism demanded attention. She convinced over a dozen members of the Council to leave with her on a “vital quest.” By available reports, she and her new followers entered the Shadowmist Forest, never to be seen or heard from again. Every few decades, new rumors and stories about Gaileth and the “Seekers of Melora” surface. To date, the Council of Druids steadfastly maintains this organization does not exist, and Gaileth met an unfortunate death within the Shadowmist. According to legend, Gaileth and her people are direct servants of Melora, undertaking assignments to protect the primal order of the world.
Sentinels: This organization serves to protect the Duke of Anderland and his family, and to keep secure the Palace d’Anderville. The current leader of the Sentinels is the Duke’s Master-at-Arms, Borland Riordan. He is in charge of recruitment and training of these warriors. He selects men for their intelligence, bravery, and loyalty. The Sentinels, although sometimes viewed as glorified bodyguards or palace guards, are nonetheless well trained and equipped. They are well familiar with the ins and outs of the palace and grounds, and they are well versed in the habits and tendencies of the family and staff within the palace. At present, the organization includes 47 warriors, including Borland. When the Duke or his family travel outside the palace, a number of Sentinels always accompany them.
The Silverhawks: The Duke’s personal royal huntsman is actually a woman by the name of Aileen Silverhawk. During her tenure on the Duke’s staff, she has assembled an elite team of trackers, hunters, and archers to help her. These individuals not only keep meat on the Duke’s table, but more importantly, they help protect the Duke, his family, the palace grounds, and other areas of the realm. On occasion, Aileen uses her Hawks to conduct covert stealth missions near (and even into) the Empire of Maldar. Thus, to the world in general, the Silverhawks are nothing more than simple hunters and trackers. Underneath this facade, however, these individuals help provide the Duke with vital information, and they help to keep the Duchy safe from growing threats. The Silverhawks patrol Anderland to gather information and keep a watchful eye on known enemies and threats. At present, the Silverhawk membership includes 24 people (including Aileen Silverhawk).
The Wardens: During the time that Maldar underwent the Sanguine Terror, the duke of Anderland at the time met with the Council of Druids. He had a strong suspicion that his realm’s relatively friendly relations with Maldar would come to an abrupt end. He believed that Maldar would emerge from its revolution with a new appetite for expansion and domination. To that end, he asked the Council for help in creating a new organization to help protect the land. He envisioned this group as dedicated to protecting the land and the people of Anderland regardless of who was in control. These individuals, known as Wardens, would patrol the Duchy. They would keep watch for humanoid marauders, particularly dangerous bandit groups, and they would also watch for the inevitable incursions from Maldar – whether by refugees, fleeing criminals, or Maldaran soldiers. The Wardens would remain independent of ducal authority, and would also remain outside the immediate jurisdiction of the Council of Druids.
From that time forward, the Wardens have helped keep Anderland and her people safe. They have protected villages and isolated farms. They have rescued people kidnapped by brigands. They have monitored humanoid migrations and kept the populace informed. They have helped stop Maldaran weapon runners, helped interdict Maldaran slave capture teams, and they have granted sanctuary to people fleeing Maldaran “justice.” Their numbers have remained few, their resources limited. Nonetheless, few other organizations have done as much for the common people of Anderland as the Wardens.
The Wardens are primarily limited to Anderland, although they do range into the wilderness regions west of the Duchy. They travel in teams of two known as “dyads” – typically one veteran Warden and a journeyman or apprentice at his side. They have upheld a proud tradition, and they have become local heroes to the people of the realm.
The current leader (The First Warden) of the Wardens is Obrück the Bold, a blustering and stubborn man of limited imagination. He is a capable leader, but he has only limited experience in handling major crises, and when things start going poorly, he becomes too focused on small details and forgets the bigger picture. Obrück is aware of some of his flaws, but he feels that he is the best individual to lead the Wardens. He came to the position after the unexplained disappearance of the previous First Warden, Lena Sedgewick. A number of Wardens believe that Obrück took over the position out of necessity, not because he wanted it. During her time with the Wardens, Lena was popular and highly respected, although some Wardens viewed her as too reactive and too eager to act.
The Wardens are on relatively good terms with the Pathfinders – a somewhat similar organization. Whereas the Pathfinders are more closely tied to the Duke’s rule, the Wardens are more closely connected to the Council of Druids. Indeed, the druids of the Council tend to view the Wardens as a subdivision of their organization, to use as needed. Tension between the druids and the Wardens have grown slowly over the past twenty years. Relations deteriorated the most during the time when Lena Sedgewick was the First Warden (see above), but smoothed out somewhat when Obrück the Bold took the position. Nonetheless, a number of the druids view the Wardens as theirs to command – a concept that goes poorly with the Wardens in general.
The current leader of the druids, Talbot Ashcroft, considers the Wardens troublesome and a nuisance, but he is willing to leave them with a broad measure of autonomy. His likely successor, Nara Blackstaff, has made it widely known that she plans to reel in the Wardens and “bring them back to heel.” Such words do not bode well for relations between the two groups.