Bloodhollow and Beyond - A Vigil of Vesh Campaign
Vigils of Vesh
Vigils of Vesh
Surely the most well-known ranger brotherhood in Ghelspad — and perhaps in all the Scarred Lands — is the Vigils of Vesh. The Vigils operate as elite military units of the Veshian militia, as well as serving as agents of the realm’s government abroad; but their significance goes far beyond simple national defense. They are embodiments of Ghelspad’s hopes in the aftermath of the Divine War. The Vigils stand watch against the machinations of titanspawn and titan cults; where they guard, they ensure that civilization will never again suffer as it did in the past.
VIgilants are typically lightly-armored infantry, armed with bows and melee weapons. Mobility and stealth are favored over sheer striking power, and heavily armored vigilants are almost unheard of. Vigilant training teaches resilience and adaptability, forging its members into wilderness experts capable of withstanding the most extreme conditions. Throughout the continent, vigilants take on many roles – scouts, warriors and teachers, but their primary roles are those of protectors and defenders. Vigilants are not invaders, they are encouraged (in some Vigils, less than others) not to cross borders into realms that would deny them entry; the primary goal of each Vigil is to safeguard the geographic region and people within their boundaries.
MEMBERSHIP IN THE VIGILS
There is a great deal of confusion outside of Vesh — and even within it — as to who is or can be a member of the Vigils. This is perfectly understandable. Even many members of the Vigils have a hard time keeping this straight, and for very good reason. As noted later in this chapter, the Vigils are an extremely open-ended and flexible organization. They place relatively little stock in pomp and circumstance and have only the loosest overall structure. This means that the organization is fluid and allows for individuals to come and go as required by the exigencies of their current mission.
Unfortunately, this fluidity also has the side effect of throwing into question just who qualifies as a “vigilant.” Broadly speaking, anyone who works with the Vigils of Vesh in a long-term official capacity could be called a vigilant. However, this usage is more colloquial than anything else. For example, a cleric of Madriel who regularly heals vigilants in the field might herself be called a vigilant, even though she is not bound by the same oaths and ethics as other members of the organization.
This fact is further complicated because the Vigils of Vesh sometimes recognize long-time allies by making them honorary members of the organization, granting them the right to wear the amber necklaces that are the overall symbol of the group (although individual Vigils add some other insignia to the necklace to distinguish their service).
In actual fact, though, there are only two types of people who can properly be called vigilants. The first is the broadest group. It encompasses every sworn member of the Vigils of Vesh. These individuals swear to uphold a series of oaths — known simply as the Greater Oaths and the Lesser Oaths. The Greater Oaths are the ultimate vows of the Vigils, and if broken will inevitably result in expulsion. The Lesser Oaths (also called the Standing Orders) are more flexible and open to interpretation. They too should be obeyed, but there is a great degree of leeway in just how that obedience can be had.
Vigilants can belong to any class or race. Most are rangers or rogues, although there are examples of nearly every class in the organization. These rank and file vigilants are assigned to a local Vigil and given specific instructions as to their mission. Much like any other soldier, they must heed the commands of their superiors, must understand and obey the Vigil Oaths and must participate in those actions to which they are bidden.
Above the rank and file are the so-called “true” vigilants. It is these individuals that are the basis of the legends and tall tales that have spread across Ghelspad since the founding of the organization. These vigilants are, in fact, the lieutenants of the group. They have shown themselves to be both trustworthy and capable. In recognition of their abilities, they are inducted into the inner circle of the Vigils. Most significantly, they often act on their own recognizance, making quick decisions in the field without the need to consult with any superior. Some are even allowed to become completely free agents, who roam Ghelspad doing good in the name of the Vigils of Vesh.
Given such a continuum of vigilant roles, it is little wonder that the exact membership of the Vigils of Vesh is unclear to outsiders. Fortunately, the group thrives on being flexible and adaptable. Moreover, its leaders have always preferred that its inner workings be nebulous and even somewhat chaotic. Doing so provides an extra level of protection against attack, as well as an insurance policy against infiltration from enemy forces. The destruction of the Dark Motak Vigil, for example, is a good illustration of this principle in operation. Had the Vigils been more centrally organized, Jovian Traitor’s betrayal might have had even more dire effects. Instead of destroying only his own Vigil, he might have compromised the entire organization. The Titanswar may be over, but the Vigils continue to have many enemies. Consequently, it is unlikely that the group will change its structure any time soon.
ORGANIZATION OF THE VIGILS
The Vigils are organized to be flexible and independent, thereby guaranteeing that no single enemy can destroy the entire brotherhood. Composed of 11 smaller Vigils, each with its own geographical jurisdiction, the Vigils of Vesh is more like a confederation of smaller groups than a single unit. Besides the effect of making the overall organization better defensible, this arrangement allows vigilants to be more familiar with the local situation and modify their tactics accordingly. If there is a watchword for the Vigils of Vesh, it is “adaptability.” The Vigils have no overarching orthodoxy when it comes to practical matters. Whatever works and is consistent with their oaths and codes of conduct is considered acceptable. What follows are some brief descriptions of the various Vigils that make up the organization. The information presented here is intended primarily as an aid to players looking to create vigilant characters.
The Eleven Vigils of Vesh:
The Acernoth Vigil is at the forefront of Vesh’s war against the growing power of the slitheren in the Mourning Marshes. Its rangers are among the most hardy and battle-tested in the entire organization. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they are also among the grimmest of all vigilants, finding little joy in their work as they fight against the seemingly unending encroachment of evil around them. Nevertheless, the so-called Marsh Vigil remains a popular choice for rangers hoping to gain combat experience against some of Ghelspad’s most vile foes.
Location: Acernoth Delta, Mourning Marshes
Alignment: Any non-evil
Allies and Enemies: The Acernoth Vigil can count on the support of the other Vigils in its vicinity (like the Hornswythe Vigil), as well as the government of Vesh. Its primary enemies are the slitheren. Rangers of this Vigil typically take monstrous humanoids as their favored enemies.
Notable Personages: Kinthas Ardante the Silverblade is the commander of this Vigil, and is considered by many to be a paragon of the never-tiring defender. Avanta Cirto is also a renowned foe of the slitheren and an expert in their unsavory ways.
Signs of Brotherhood: This Vigil uses a caterpillar insignia as its recognition symbol.
Rangers of the Vigil: Rangers of this Vigil sometimes multiclass as clerics or wizards to counter the spellcasting abilities of the slitheren. Many take Skill Focus (Survival) to aid them in Tracking through the swamps they patrol. Members of the Acernoth Vigil generally take swamp, water and plains as their favored terrains.
Due to a combination of factors, this Vigil is the most prestigious in all of Vesh. First off, its commander is extremely competent and well liked. Secondly, its members have seen a lot of action, especially against titanspawn. The Vigil once had a smaller area of jurisdiction, but expanded it when the Dark Motak Vigil was betrayed by Jovian Traitor during the Divine War.
Location: Mithril and the surrounding territory
Alignment: Any non-evil
Allies and Enemies: This Vigil enjoys the support of not only other Vigils, but also receives backing from Mithril and Mullis Town. Its enemies are mostly titanspawn and their kind. Rangers of this Vigil typically take aberrations and monstrous humanoids as their favored enemies.
Notable Personages: Lemses Behjur is the commander of this Vigil
Signs of Brotherhood: Rangers of this Vigil use a sprig of conifer needles as their symbol.
Rangers of the Vigil: Members of this group represent a mix of races and outlooks, as well as large numbers of multiclassed individuals (including paladin/rangers). They are much more likely to worship lawful deities like Corean and Hedrada than are other vigilants. Members of the Behjurian vigil generally choose plains, water, urban and underground as favored terrains.
The Beltanian Vigil is the original Vigil, and the one from which all subsequent Vigils have been modified. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it now functions as the logistical and strategic center of the organization, providing assistance to all other Vigils when needed. Many, in other Vigils, grumble that the Beltanian vigilants are merely “armchair warriors” who no longer face the front lines of the war against evil. This charge is wholly without basis, for while it is true that the Beltanian Vigil is no longer beset by enemies on all sides as it once was, its members remain as battle ready as ever. In the minds of most of their comrades — and the people of Vesh — the Beltanian vigilants are the epitomes of their vocation.
Location: Northeast Vesh
Alignment: Any non-evil
Allies and Enemies: With great regularity, these vigilantes actively support members of fellow Vigils, offering both tactical advice as well as arms, equipment and other aid When needed, the Beltanian Vigil also provides emergency reinforcements to other nearby Vigils. Indeed, many new vigilant recruits receive their initial training in this Vigil before being sent to others. Its enemies are both Blood Sea titanspawn and the orcs of Lede. Consequently, rangers of this group typically take aberration and humanoids as their favored enemies.
Notable Personages: Dareatha Keloi is the commander of this Vigil and its most famous member. The half-orc ranger Raeksen is also well known, if only for the oddity of his having turned against his ancestry to defend the people of Vesh.
Signs of Brotherhood: Rangers of the Beltanian Vigil use the fly as their symbol.
Rangers of the Vigil: The members of this Vigil are very knowledgeable in the theoretical aspects of combat. Many possess high ranks in Knowledge (ancient history) and other related tactical skills. Mountain, plains, urban and forest are primarily the favored terrain of this Vigil.
The Ganjus Vigil is not a part of the military of Vera- Tre, but nevertheless works closely with it to protect the Ganjus Forest from the forces of Mormo. The Vigil consists mostly of elves, but includes many outsiders as well. Indeed, this Vigil is also often used as a training ground for new vigilants, since the dangers of the Ganjus offer many opportunities to learn skills vital to a vigilant’s success. Furthermore, the interaction with the government of Vera-Tre offers another perspective on how the organization can work hand in hand with others to achieve a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Location: Ganjus Forest
Alignment: Any non-evil
Allies and Enemies: The Ganjus Vigil is allied with the elves of Vera-Tre. Their enemies are primarily the titanspawn of Mormo. Consequently, rangers of this group typically take aberrations, humanoids and monstrous humanoids as their favored enemies.
Notable Personages: Andrus Kheltarion is the leader of the Vigil and noteworthy for being a devotee of both Tanil and Denev.
Signs of Brotherhood: Rangers of this Vigil use the petals of the blue tavistia flower as their symbol.
Rangers of the Vigil: Nearly all rangers in this group pay homage to Tanil, although a handful also regard Denev as a patron. They specialize in archery, which is why most take bow feats such as Far Shot, Point Blank Shot and Rapid Shot, among others. Many are skilled in Craft (Bowyer) as well. Ganjus vigilants typically use masterwork bows, the majority of which were personally crafted by the vigilants that carries them. Forests and plains are the primary favorite terrains of this vigil.
The Hornswythe Vigil is the second oldest Vigil in the entire organization. In its early days, it was at the forefront of the battle against titanspawn and those allied to them. Over time, as Vesh grew more secure and the fronts of the battle shifted, it grew less important. Now, it serves primarily as a back-up for the larger Acernoth Vigil. Unlike the Beltanian Vigil, which has also seen its role change over time, the Hornswythe Vigil remains actively engaged in battle. It simply does so in a more supportive fashion, with its main emphasis being filling holes in the Acernoth Vigil’s roster.
Location: Mouth of the Hornswythe River
Alignment: Any non-evil
Allies and Enemies: This Vigil works closely with the Acernoth Vigil, which is its primary ally, in the war against the creatures of the Mourning Marshes. Unsurprisingly, then, the Vigil’s enemies consist of the slitheren of the region, as well as any other swamp creatures that threaten Vesh. Rangers of this group typically take humanoids and monstrous humanoids as their favored enemies.
Notable Personages: Delian Ruk is the leader of this Vigil. He is assisted by Shan Pavan, a charismatic ranger/bard devoted to Tanil, whose skill as an entertainer is almost as great as her prowess in battle.
Signs of Brotherhood: Rangers of this Vigil use the mosquito as their symbol.
Rangers of the Vigil: Since they function primarily as an adjunct to the Acernoth Vigil, rangers of this group frequently multiclass to provide a wider range of abilities than is usually found among their kind. Ranger/clerics (of Tanil) and ranger/bards are common, as are ranger/rogues. A handful of the members of this Vigil also dabble in arcane magic. Most of the vigilants of the Hornswythe Vigil choose swamp or water as favored terrains.
Lolharden’s Vigil is somewhat unique among the Vigils of Vesh in that it actively seeks out evil to fight rather than defensively guarding an area. This tactic is due to their role as protectors of the Veshian caravans in Lede. If the Vigil simply waited until evil reared its head, too many merchants would be slain and the viability of commerce in the region would be undermined. However, the pre-emptive raids these vigilants undertake often result in many deaths, which have ensured that its leaders are always on the lookout for new recruits willing to undertake it dangerous mission. This fact has given Lolharden’s Vigil a grim reputation, as well as the respect of traders everywhere.
Location: Forests of eastern Lede, near the Bridged City and Gest Ganest
Alignment: Any non-evil
Allies and Enemies: This Vigil receives varying degrees of support from the other Vigils, but is frequently understrength and lacking in equipment. Perhaps that is because its enemies are orcs, proud and the Horsemen of Vangal — all powerful and prolific opponents. Rangers of this Vigil typically take humanoids and monstrous humanoids as their favored enemies.
Notable Personages: Collit Lolharden is the commander of the Vigil and is well respected, even outside its membership, for his bravery and skill. Rogas Penna is likewise well well-regarded and is widely considered the greatest living expert on the Horsemen of Vangal in Ghelspad.
Signs of Brotherhood: Rangers of this Vigil use the acorn as their symbol.
Rangers of the Vigil: Rangers of this group are always on the move. They use horses to a much greater extent than do other vigilants. Thus, many possess high ranks in Ride as well as feats like Mounted Combat, Ride- By Attack and Spirited Charge. While multiclassing is not the norm, many rangers of this group possess a few levels as fighters to give them access to more combat feats. In addition, renegade half-orcs and even full orcs sometimes wish to join the group, although few of them show the necessary expertise (or dedication to combating evil) that is needed to last long in the ranks of Lolharden’s Vigil. Primary terrains these vigils operate in include mountain, plains, forests and underground.
The Maritime Vigil is one of the most demanding of all the Veshian Vigils. This is a function not only of the foes it faces — titanspawn of the Blood Sea — but also the necessity that its members be adept at operating on and under the water. The group maintains a small fleet of light warships to battle against its enemies, and its no-nonsense commander believes that every vigilant under his command should know how to operate all aspects of these ships should it become necessary. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Maritime Vigil is not a sought after assignment by most rangers, and those who do request placement here are considered somewhat eccentric (or even mad) by their comrades.
Location: Blood Sea coast, south of Sorporatra Swamp
Alignment: Any non-evil
Allies and Enemies: Neighboring Vigils theoretically support the Maritime vigilantes, but the unique nature of their missions makes this aid less than useful most of the time. Its enemies consist primarily of the horrors of the Blood Sea. Consequently, rangers of this Vigil typically take aberrations and monstrous humanoids as their favored enemies.
Notable Personages: Pheloros Markhannian is the leader of this Vigil and is well known as a tough and determined vigilant, with a remarkable sense of justice. Lananda is another respected member of the Vigil. This half-elf woman is an accomplished sailor and trains many new recruits in the use of boats.
Signs of Brotherhood: This Vigil uses the seashell as its symbol.
Rangers of the Vigil: Members of this group are all accomplished swimmers; additionally, most of them choose water as their favored terrain. Not surprisingly, they avoid heavy armor and favor weapons that work equally well in an underwater environment, such as spears and tridents. Most also know how to pilot small watercraft, and perform other basic sailing tasks.
The Metyrian Vigil is well-known as “the mounted Vigil.” Its members are skilled equestrians and travel quickly across the wide territory of the group. All of these vigilants are swift and accomplished riders — they have to be. Within its jurisdiction are some of the most titan-haunted lands in all of Ghelspad, such as the Bleak Savannah and the Blood Steppes. Members of this Vigil can expect to face a wide variety of foes, from giants to spider-eye goblins to wrack dragons. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the Metyrian Vigil enjoys a good reputation and is a popular assignment for vigilants looking to see a lot of action in the battle against evil.
Location: West of the Kelder Mountains
Alignment: Any non-evil
Allies and Enemies: The Metyrian Vigil is largely independent due to its unique nature, but many citystates within its territory, such as Amalthea, give it aid when possible. Its enemies are primarily evil humanoids and the titan-serving peoples of the Blood Steppes. Consequently, most rangers of this group take humanoids as their favored enemies, although some also take aberration, giants or monstrous humanoids.
Notable Personages: Nytheera Oskial is the leader of the Vigil and an excellent horsewoman. Mon Alainek is well known for his rivalry with the giant tribes of the Blood Steppes.
Signs of Brotherhood: Rangers of this Vigil use the genny (wild wheat) seed as their symbol.
Rangers of the Vigil: All rangers of the Metyrian Vigil are expected to have maximum ranks in Ride. Many, if not most, possess mounted combat feats, as well as at least one from among the Hill Walker, Mountaineer or Plainsman feats (see Appendix One). A few of these vigilants even multiclass as fighters in order to give them access to a larger number of such feats. Interestingly, there are more women in this Vigil than men, partially due to Oskial’s example and active recruitment of the best riders within the region — regardless of their gender. Rangers of this vigil typically have the largest range of terrain specialties with plains, mountains and forests being their primary.
The Mullis Town Vigil ensures that trade continues between Mithril and its namesake. The group started when a group of traders and caravan guards decided to band together and seek the sponsorship of the Vigils in their endeavors. After they proved their worth in battle, the leaders of the Vigils of Vesh were quite happy to sanction their work, providing them with training, equipment and additional vigilants to round out their numbers. Since then, the Mullis Town Vigil has become an essential part of life in that region of Ghelspad and much beloved by the merchants who ply their trades in the Cordrada Corridor.
Location: Mullis Town region
Alignment: Any non-evil
Allies and Enemies: This Vigil works very closely with the Behjurian Vigil to protect the trade route between Mullis Town and Mithril. Its enemies are primarily the orcs of Lede and bandits who prey on the merchant caravans that travel through the region. Naturally, rangers of this Vigil typically take humanoids as their favored enemies.
Notable Personages: Denivan Intos is the current leader of the Vigil. Another popular member is Pol Zelaon, who almost single-handedly defeated an orcish raid on a caravan outside of Mullis Town. His actions earned him the respect of his peers and the enmity of the orcs.
Signs of Brotherhood: The rangers of this Vigil use a pebble of adamantine as their symbol.
Rangers of the Vigil: Because this group frequently works in the capacity of caravan guards, many of its rangers multiclass as fighters or rogues. A fair number are also quite knowledgeable about various aspects of trading, and may have even once worked as traders themselves. They favor missile weapons, particularly crossbows, and wear light to medium armor. Plains, mountain and underground are typical favored terrains, but some of these vigils specialize in water as well.
The Pelpernoi Vigil operates in the Haggard Hills, where they lend support to the elves and druids of the area. The Hills were once a far more dangerous place than they are now. Largely thanks to the efforts of the vigilants of this group, they have become considerably safer and calmer in the last couple of centuries. This has created a certain unease among the Vigil’s leaders, who worry that they no longer have a purpose and may be disbanded. There is currently no evidence that there is any such plan in the offing, but it has not stopped Pelpernoi vigilants from worrying about their future — and ways to ensure it never comes to pass.
Location: The Haggard Hills
Alignment: Any non-evil
Allies and Enemies: The Pelpernoi Vigil enjoys the friendship of the local elves as well as the druids of Denev. Its enemies are the titanspawn and sorcerers in the area, who continue to sow discord despite the relative calm of the region. Most rangers of this group take humanoids and monstrous humanoids as their favored enemies
Notable Personages: Talissa Pelpern is the current leader of the Vigil. She is well known primarily because her ancestor, Lord Hadras Pelpern, led his troops into battle against the evil sorcerer Muslijher two centuries ago. Talissa is trying hard to live up to his legacy, which sometimes leads her to make foolhardy decisions.
Signs of Brotherhood: Rangers of this Vigil use the moth as their symbol.
Rangers of the Vigil: Rangers of this group are much more adept in the ways of magic than others of their class. Many have ranks in Knowledge (arcana) and Spellcra ft. Others multiclass as clerics (of Tanil primarily) or wizards. Mountain, forest and underground are primarily favored by this vigil.
The Semanye Vigil exists primarily to protect Durrover and the surrounding territories. Inevitably, defending Durrover means that these vigilants regularly engage in clashes with the Calastians, whose imperial designs threaten the realm. Officially, the Vigil is not supposed to become involved in Calastian politics. In fact, of course, it has always done so, encouraging insurrections and rebellions and providing aid and comfort to those opposed to Virduk’s rule. This has created a small amount of friction between the Vigil and its superiors in Vesh, although so far this tension has been kept to a minimum thanks to the deft diplomacy of the Semanye Vigil’s leaders.
Location: Durrover and regions further west
Alignment: Any non-evil
Allies and Enemies: The Semanye Vigil receives much support from Durrover and from the many rebels working against Calastia. Naturally, its primary enemy is Calastia. Rangers of this Vigil typically take humanoids as their favored enemies.
Notable Personages: Drax Mora is the leader of this Vigil. His daughter, Sesoin Mora, is even more famous, since she was captured by the Calastians and executed as a spy two years ago. She is widely regarded as a martyr to the cause of freedom and younger vigilants seek to emulate her devotion. The Vigil’s founder, Patrushin Semanye, was born to Veshian and Durrovian parents. He is considered a model of the amity that exists between the two realms.
Signs of Brotherhood: Rangers of this Vigil use a blade of the tundra-grass called shivitsk as their symbol.
Rangers of the Vigil: These vigilants frequently work as spies and saboteurs. Consequently, they often possess ranks in Bluff, Diplomacy and Disguise. Some have also been known to assist in the defense of the mountainous heights of the region, and thus mountain and underground are favored terrains among this vigil. Many multiclass as rogues, with some even reaching high enough levels to take the shadow dancer prestige class.