Monday, November 24, 2008

Good Gaming Gazetteer: The Orphan’s Guard, the Children of Sucur, and the Mysteries of the Sucuran.

Good Gaming Gazetteer: The Orphan’s Guard, the Children of Sucur, and the Mysteries of the Sucuran.

Embrace the Grey and Rise towards the Sun Motto, The Orphan’s Guard.

Cast Away the Chains of Birth and Battle for the Lord of Dreaming – Motto, Children of Sucur.

There are many who look down on the institution of the Orphan’s Guard as an abomination. There are some who believe that this organization, made up of the children of refugees cast away by the Parlinian government, is an affront to human decency and must be cleansed from the earth. Those who march under the banner of the Orphan Son know only of the eternal battle to which they have been pledged, and the great responsibility they harbor as leaders in the battle against the very decay of the Empire.

The Guard, founded under the name of Tyrus IV the Orphan Son and Pretender to the Throne of the kingdom of Aurelia, was founded as another route to citizenship. Those refugees unable or unwilling to become Servitors could pay a terrible scutage; two children given over to the Great Orphanage and raised to become soldiers of the Imperial State for every man, woman, or child raised to full citizenship. These children were to be born in a place known as the Deep Silences, a large necropolis created during the period of the Imperial Seal’s reign over the city, and their mothers immediately removed from the location. Ostari custom regards the cycle of life as one of resurgence; only recently were the children of the Emperor not born and raised in similar circumstances in the Quiet Tombs of their ancestors until such a day when they could undertake the Test of Passage and be granted the Mark of the Imperial Seal on their chest as a sign of true Imperial birth.

Children in the Deep Silences are well-fed and cared for; they are given lessons from an early age in warcraft and any specific talents which are witnessed by their instructors are encouraged. The Guards are given daily indoctrination in the teachings of the Orphan, as seen in the Oath of Service:

We learn from the dead to remain alive. We learn from our lessers to be great. We gain strength from our weakness. We gain faith in our disbelief. We seek honor in the taint of our father’s gaze. We seek hope in the darkest reaches.

Those raised in these deep, dark reaches are paler than most ruddy Ostari, and turn sickly when exposed to normal healing draughts and magic from clerics who channel positive energy. This strange nature imparts another advantage; most Orphans are trained in the arts of the Grey Ways.

The Grey Way, a talent found amongst certain Zajahran mystics and the occasional rogue talent, is a discipline which teaches the powers of defense. Those who begin to ‘walk the Grey’ become talented in focusing their minds and bodies into a denial of the energies of magic. In effect, a Grey Walker learns a way to disrupt magic protections, effects, and even items around them through a focusing of will. Though not all Orphans become Grey Walkers, those that do are highly revered by their fellows, and many find themselves amongst the highest guardians of the Emperor or as guardians of members of the Sorcerers Imperial. Members of the Orphan’s Guard are granted full citizenship along with a small parcel of land after thirty years of service except for in the case of the Children of Sucur.

Though Grey Walkers are rare, the most rare of all Orphan Guards gain access into the Children of Sucur. Sucur, a mortal manifestation of the creator’s will, gave name to the order due to the traits which Sucuran guards take on. Those martial members of the Orphan’s Guard who have shown merit in the service to the Imperial State are granted the gift of Sucur the Preserver’s embrace through the Ritual of Steel.

An Orphan, uniquely attuned through discipline to the essence of the world beyond human perception, is given a fortnight of feast. Eight Sucuran are created at a time, each representing one of the pillars of Sucur’s Eight Teachings (Loyalty, Faith, Community, Discipline, Mind, Prowess, Courage, and Charity). After the young men have been bonded in flesh to a woman who has been assured of bearing their child the Sucuran are gathered in the Teaching Place, where spheres representing the Eight Teachings sit along with eight Sucuran honor-suits. Sucur’s priests come and willingly sacrifice the eight youths, and their spirits are separated; the ‘impure’ urges and desires are cast away, while the ‘purified’ soul is placed within the honor-suit. Each Sucuran warrior is assigned to his specific Corps, and there are currently around sixteen hundred Sucuran warriors, separated into the eight Corps around each Teaching. These groups of Sucuran warriors lead a group of similarly soulbound known as the Alfini Teyri (discussions of the Alfini Teyri will appear in the gazetteer for the former capital of Central Naschia).

The Bearers of the Teachings (as the women who carry children of the Sucuran are known) are looked after in a beguinage setting. The children of the Sucuran are strange creatures, and many wonder whether these children are truly human at all. However, the Imperial Seat takes these true Children of Sucur away from their mothers shortly after their fifth birthdays, and few could guess at the secrets which hide within a small island off the western coast of Ostar known only as Hospice.

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