Evil Rangers, Dwarven Paladins, and Other Anomalies
Date: Fri, September 05, 2003
Topic: Power Groups & Organizations

It is usually accepted that Oerth and its life follows the writings of Xagyg and his successors. And yet we hear more and more of such classes and races as are not mentioned in the old books. What do chroniclers of the Flanaess, who wish to maintain the integrity of the world in their writings, make of this?

Evil Rangers, Dwarven Paladins, and Other Anomalies: A Chronicler's Guide
By: CruelSummerLord
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

Respected Iquander and Respected Sir Pluffet the Elder:

Great changes have passed over the cosmos in recent years. New ideas and new beliefs have taken hold in not only our own world of Oerth, but in many others as well. Xagyg would say that only humans devoted to law and good could become paladins, dwarves may not become wizards, and so forth. Reports from other worlds such as Krynn, Toril and Tellene now suggest that, at least in those worlds, the work of Xagyg and his successors is out of date. The question is: Does Oerth progress in the same way? What do we, as chroniclers and scholars of the Flanaess, make of this?

The question is perhaps awkward for many chroniclers, as they obviously wish to maintain the spirit of the Flanaess in their records. This information, collected by myself after extensive research through the works of everyone from Xagyg to Sargent Silver to Monterey, should be of help to diligent scholars who do not know what to make of these changes.

First, one thing cannot be understated: The Flanaess is not home, as are certain other worlds, to vast collections of magic items and supremely powerful wizards. The Circle of Eight, the Hierarchs, the Boneheart, and other such groups aside, most spellcasters simply do not have the lifespan or the talent to reach such great levels of power. As Xagyg writes, such people are rare, except in positions of power. Only a smaller number of them will continue to adventure in the traditional sense. The rest will quit while they are ahead, and assume positions commensurate with their ability, as lords and masters of a realm.

As for magic items: Artifacts like the sword Blackrazor, the Invulnerable Coat of Arnd, the Rod of Seven Parts, and Daoud's Wondrous Lanthorn are woven into the history of our world. They are also once-in-a-lifetime creations, products of a bygone age. The people who created them likely had to make tremendous sacrifices-everything from their worldly goods to their very souls-to be able to create them. Many of them are not products of humans at all, but rather of the gods. Mortals who attempt to use such things rarely come out ahead, with the coveting desire to hoard the artifact being the least of the owner's worries. Remember what Xagyg mentioned about the dangers of artifacts and excessively powerful magical items!

A general tendency I have found is this: Forty percent of all adventurers, monsters and characters will have no magic of any sort. All of their weapons and armour are ordinary. (Even masterwork items are expensive and hard to come across, as it is the rulers and nobles who tend to hoard such things.) Thirty-five percent will only have disposable items of limited use, such as wands, scrolls, and potions. Only one out of every four adventurers and characters will have permanent magic items, and even fewer of these items will be of truly great power.

When it comes to the various professions, it may be that they are not as unusual as they seem, even the various "prestige" professions that people sometimes adopt. I shall attempt to explain these in order:

-Human barbarians are likely to be found in any wild place. Wild Flan tribes will continue on in a state of barbarism. Ass both Respected Iquander and Respected Sir Pluffet have written, there are various tribes of primitives in ranges such as the Crystalmist mountains. The most "civilized" barbarians, of course, come from the Thillonrian Peninsula, where the murderous savages of Stonehold, and the Suel barbarians of Cruski, Fruztii and Schnai all give rise to thei own adventurers. Few Oeridian or Baklunish barbarians exist.

As for demihumans, halfling barbarians are all but unheard of, and only the most fanciful circumstances would allow one to find them. Wild elven barbarians usually tend to be the short, human-hating race of grugach, present in forests such as the Forlorn, the Hraak, the Fellreev, the Suss, the Burneal, Sable, Spikey, and so forth. Gnomes are usually too civilized to become barbarians. Only in the most remote areas of the Crystalmists, Hellfurnaces or Griffs would dwarven barbarians be found. The Corusks are a different story-with so few precious minerals and gems, the dwarves there tend to be savage hunters and trappers, who clash with the human barbarians for food and land.

-Bards of any race are found, but only elves and human bards have a tendency to adventure. Those of the shorter races are usually more intent on composing songs and paeans for the purposes of their own race, passing on oral lore in the tradition of storytellers and poets. Wild Flan bards share this tradition as well, and only Tenha bards adventure. Bards can be found as messengers, political satirists, and spies for various powers. Their actually fighting the forces of evil is not a common thing. Many bards see themselves as the tellers of tales and the keepers of lore, not the people to live them.

-Cavaliers tend to belong to any of a hundred national orders across the Flanaess, with the most famous ones beloning to the Knights of the Watch, the Knights of Holy Shielding, or other related orders. Realms like Aerdy and its successor states, Nyrond, the Shield Lands, Keoland, or Furyondy have the grand and famous orders known throughout the Flanaess. Other, smaller states, usually tend to defer these honours to their larger and more powerful neighbours, though their own small groups exist.

Evil cavaliers are usually from the Aerdy states, or whatever territory is claimed by the Horned Society. The Bandits, the Fists, and Iuz are all far too ill-trained and chaotic to produce the highly trained horsemen and knights this line of work demands.

Elves produce cavaliers freely, while gnomes and halflings are not inclined to do so. Dwarven cavaliers are generally highly trained phalanxes who fight in close formation, better on the battlefield than in a dungeon. Like the paladins of Moradin who lead them, they do not usually adventure. Most human cavaliers tend to be Oeridian, as few Flan or Suel follow this profession except when serviing in Oeridian lands. Variations on the cavalier may exist in the Baklunish lands.

-Druids have long been thought to hold to the purely neutral tenents of Beory and Obad-Hai, but splinter cults have appeared. One such group devoted to Obad-Hai, emphasizing the wild, savage side of nature. They believe that the civilized lands must be taken back, by force if necessary, to return them to their wild state. It is from these that evil druids come, and individual madmen may worship their own versions of these aloof gods. They also have the services of like-minded fairies, centaurs, and treants.

Goodly druids tend to worship Ehlonna, trying ho help man grow in harmony with nature, as a part of it. The evil splinter cults tend to use nature's powers of destruction to crush and annihilate human settlement. Other druids devoted to the sea worship Xerbo and Procan, but these are very rare. These druids are typically from the Sea Barons, Sea Princes or Lordship of the Isles, while the goodly druids tend to be Flan.

Elves and halflings are commonly druids of the aforementioned gods. Dwarves and gnomes are not, but they have their own variation, one that worships deities such as Dumathoin, Fortubo, Ulaa and Segojan, holding the mountains and underground as holy, rather than the forests and plains. Obviously, they will have slightly differing abilities from "standard" druids, transforming into UnderOerth creatures as opposed to wild bears or wolves, for instance. They are rarely, if ever, of neutral alignment.

-Monks of any race other than human are unheard of. Indeed, very few of the Flanaess, outside of the Scarlet and Black Brotherhoods, practice this profession. Those that do are typically migrants from the Baklunish lands, who hold this profession in much higher esteem than do their neighbors of the Flanaess proper. Ekbir in particular is famous for its monks, devoted to the Exalted Faith, living the principles of Al'Akbar to the hilt.

-The notorious dwarven paladins are almost never found adventuring. Their powers are given exclusively by Moradin, and he emphasizes the duties of protection and clan loyalty, having more important things to do than chase after dragons or thwart evil wizards. Elven paladins are typically centuries-old warriors who have progressed in other professions before receiving their exalted status, holding dignified positions of importance, and rarely stoop to adventuring. Gnomish paladins worship Garl Glittergold, concerned with the safety of their own clan first and that of their nation second, working alongside humans in places like Ratik and Geoff. Halfling paladins are a distinct minority, who rarely feel any need to do more than protect their own shires.

Blackguards do indeed exist, sponsored by evil gods from Iuz to Vecna. Hextor is obviously the greatest user of these people, and many of them, after death, will rise as death knights in his service. They always fight honourably and straightforward, like their noble rivals, and never resort to craven trickery. This carries over even into the tactics of the blackguards of chaotic gods, except those of Iuz.

-Rangers are typically thought to be of goodly weal, and so many of them are. Evil rangers, however, tend to fall in with the splinter cults devoted to the destruction of civilization mentioned above. Unethical ones can also fall in with powers such as Ahlissa, where Overking Xavener will use them to fetter out the dissident folk of the Grandwood. Some rangers live only for nature, caring nothing for the woes of civilization.

Elves have many good rangers among their numbers, although halflings rarely follow this martial path. Dwarves and gnomes have their rangers, who are concerned with the mountains and underground rather than the woods. These folk rarely leave their mountain homes, working with paladins to protect their people. Among humans, the Flan are the ones most likely to follow this profession, although Suel and Oeridian are still present and accounted for.

-Sorcerers and wizards are among the most curious elements of this volume. Many people who become "sorcerers", as defined by those who cast spells by force of will and innate power rather than book-learning, tend to be viewed as freaks. In some lands, they are shunned and forced to live in the gutter. Iin others, such as the Pale, they are beaten, so that the demons plaguing them may be driven out. As a result, life as a "sorcerer" is miserable in most cases.

Dwarves take this prejudice even farther. It is a lucky dwarven sorcerer indeed who is not killed on the spot when his 'gift' manifests for the first time. Gnomes and halflings tend to shun such aliens, unless they can prove their worth. Only the elves are known to give anything resembling kindness to sorcerers. They accept such people as being touched by their gods, given a special gift few others have.

As for wizards, one knows that elves use magic freely. Halflings know a few cantrips for life in home and hearth, though there are very few hobniz who study magic as a profession. Gnomes are pressured early on to become illusionists rather than "normal" mages, as this is a tradition Garl Glittergold impressed on his people long ago.

Any dwarf who practices wizardry is subject to a variet yof punishments. They may be burned at the stake, hung, or drawn and quartered. Dwarves can practice such magic, but the social stigma on a dwarf who dabbles in such matters _by choice_ is even worse than against one who is cursed (as they see it) with sorcery. Such heretics are viewed as traitors to the very spirit of the dwarven race.

Fighters, assassins, thieves, priests and so forth are sufficiently detailed in other works, so I shall not waste space repeating what others have said.

Finally, a word must be said about "prestige" professions. These do not exist in great numbers, nor do people take them indiscriminately. Those that do take them tend to be members of a particular organization. Examples may be an order of knighthood, the Old Faith, the People of the Testing, the Silent Ones of Keoland, or another such group. Instead of "prestige" training, I have found that most adventurers use variations on the above professions and themes when deviating from the norm, rather than learning a whole new set of abilities from scratch.

In conclusion, remember that the core elements of what we know about the Flanaess remain untouched. Court intrigue and politics are more often the cause of national strife than a consortium of scheming liches. Many of the worst monsters are human. Smokepowder weapons are almost impossible to use safely. Very few nations are entirely good or evil. Any adventurer can, with luck and skill, gain followers and carve out a domain of their own. Truly powerful people are more often, but not always, found in positions of power rather than "in the field".

And finally: For some reason, common adventurers themselves tend to be the center of attention in many matters of good and evil in the Flanaess.

Yours faithfully,

The Brother of the Cruel Summer.

This article comes from Canonfire!

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