Order of the Axe
Date: Sat, July 24, 2004
Topic: Campaign Articles
Battles rage within the eastern provinces of the Principality of Ulek. Learn about the Order of the Axe and their role in trying to reclaim these lands from the orcish hordes.
Order of the Axe
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.
The Order of the Axe
Born within the Prinzfeld province of the Principality of Ulek Thargan was a dwarf of humble origins. The Greyhawk Wars however began the rise of this once simple weapon smith. When the Despot Turrosh Mak’s forces overran the eastern provinces of Ulek, Thargan like many other dwarves, was left without a home. He turned in his hammer and anvil for axe and shield and took to the field of battle to reclaim his homeland.
Thargan served under Rourk Splinterstone in the self styled League of Right. When the humanoid forces drove northwest to Celene Pass, Thargan was present for that bloody battle. For 3 days and nights Thargan fought alongside 200 of his comrades against an unbelievably larger force. When a relief column from Ulek finally arrived they were surprised to find Splinterstone and 30 of his men still alive and grimly fighting.
The survivors of the Battle of Celene Pass were given medals of honor and pensions for the rest of their lives for their unbelievable bravery. Thargan traded his pension in for a settlement amount, using the money to build a company of dwarves for further military actions into the orc held provinces.
Several other survivors of the battle joined Thargan’s company and began a fanatically genocidal campaign against the humanoids from the Pomarj. Their numbers were small but their fearless nature drove them to some of the most daring strikes into the overrun provinces. Utilizing guerilla tactics and pure ferocity the small company of dwarves quickly made a name for themselves in their struggle against the Despot’s hordes.
Before long they were known as the Danger Dwarves for their reckless attitudes and near suicidal drive to slay the orcs and their kin. With each successful strike their reputation grew and their ranks swelled due to their fame.
In the spring of 587 CY however, Thargan and a large contingent of his Danger Dwarves withdrew from the Principality, traveling far to the north to deal with an unknown threat in the Yatils. Those members who were left behind to continue the fight in Ulek would speak nothing about the reason for the action in the Yatils.
In the early part of 589 CY rumors began to circulate of a great discovery within the Yatils. The truth of these rumors was not confirmed until the summer of that year when Thargan and his men appeared in the skies above Havenhill riding griffins. Their journey to the north had led them to the long lost citadel of Radruundar, the legendary home of the now sundered One Clan. The discovery of Radruundar had also resulted in the recovery of an object of the dwarven race’s mythic past, the Axe of the Dwarvish Lords, the Fierce Axe.
News of the discovery quickly spread through dwarf holds throughout the Flanaess. Not only was the fabled Axe recovered but rumors persisted that some of the dwarves who rode with Thargan north into the Yatils receiving the blessing of Moradin himself. A number of Thargan’s men had become holy warriors, paladins in service to Moradin whose likes had not been seen for untold centuries. Hushed whispers also persisted of some of his men wielding arcane magics, gained from a secret repository of ancient lore found in the lost citadel.
Amongst the whirlwind of rumors and activity Thargan wasted no time. Renaming his company the Order of the Axe he resumed operations into the contested provinces, striking at the humanoids with a vengeance. During this period the ranks of the Order grew swiftly as young dwarves across the Flanaess sought out the remarkable warrior who had reclaimed a piece of their race’s past.
Goals & Tactics
The goal of the Order remains simple and direct, the liberation of Ulek’s occupied provinces. This is being done by conducting numerous guerilla type raids into the occupied regions and striking against Mak’s forces there. Not only do they strike against key locales but they work closely with the Royal Army and provide invaluable intelligence for the Prince’s forces.
The tactics used are daring, reckless and unconventional, often extremely effective but highly dangerous. Members of the Order are fanatical about their efforts, sometimes leaving the more conventional Royal Army reluctant to work too close with them because of the mortality rate for the Order's daring operations. Thargan does not shy from the risks however. He personally leads the most dangerous missions and has been returned to the Order’s headquarters near death on several occasions.
The Order is comprised of approximately 300 dwarves, 100 of which remain at Radruundar to provide defense and uncover more secrets of dwarven history. The other 200 remain garrisoned in a small fort outside of Havenhill in Ulek.
The members serving in Ulek are divided into 3 companies of foot soldiers, each numbering around 50 dwarves in strength. The Order also fields approximately 50 griffin riders. The griffon riders retain the name of Danger Dwarves as they are the most daring and fearless members of the Order often striking far into enemy held territory and against forces several times their size. The griffon riders are all highly trained in the control of their mounts and proficient with their trademark weapon, the repeating crossbow.
The Risters number in the handful in the Order. They are a small cabal of dwarves who discovered bits of ancient dwarven lore in Radruundar and practice the quite frowned upon arts of Wizardry. Their magic, they claim, is dwarven in origin, discovered in ancient runes hidden deep beneath the citadel. Most of them remain in Radruundar attempting to unlock further secrets of ancient dwarven magic but two are assigned to the griffon riders.
Several dwarven rogues and the rare dwarven ranger are also employed by the Order, utilized as advanced scouts and saboteurs they are often sent deep into humanoid controlled regions with little or no support.
Personalities of Note
Thargan Hammerbinder, Commander of the Order and Warden of Radruundar.
Thargan is a gruff but charismatic dwarf. Straightforward and direct in all he does he does not place himself above the dwarves who loyally follow him. The recovery of the Fierce Axe has aided him greatly in his desire to free eastern Ulek from the humanoids grip but he is trying to avoid the implications of his remarkable discovery, instead focusing on his original goal. He dislikes the fame his discovery brought him, feeling it distracts from his plans. As a side effect of the Axe, his appearance has undergone a change. The magic of the Axe shapes it’s wielder into the “ideal” image of a dwarf and has darkened his hair to a shiny jet black and molding his physique into near perfection. His steel gray eyes shine with an inner light and are quite intense.
His mannerisms and good nature have won him the trust and friendship of Prince Corond, the two have several times fought side by side on the battlefront against the orcs.
Barak Blackboar, Lieutenant of the Order and commander of the ground forces.
Barak served with Thargan in the League of Right and is also one of the few survivors of the Battle of Celene Pass, the two are fast friends. The initial wave of humanoids into the principality decimated his clan, combined with the horrors of Celene Pass it has left Barak a grim warrior with a burning hatred for the orcish hordes. A brilliant, if unconventional tactician, Barak is responsible for many of the astounding victories the Order has achieved. He speaks little and is a harsh commander but the dwarves of the Order respect him greatly. Some of the Order have grown a bit unsettled by his battle lust as of late when confronting the humanoids and even the orcs tell tales of the dwarf who rides into battle atop the back of a massive dire boar, fighting as if he were possessed.
Koralt the Keeper. This aging dwarf is a devout follower of Dumathoin.
He made the discovery of the ancient runes beneath Radruundar detailing bits or arcane lore from the past. His studies led to the formation of the Risters and the return of arcane magic to the dwarven race. His work remains largely unappreciated by dwarven society on a whole but he hopes with further work in the citadel he can return dwarven magics to their proper place in their society. He spends half of his time in the citadel and the other half riding into battle alongside Thargan aiding with his battle magic.
Conflicts and Intrigues
Derro have been gathering in the tunnels near and beneath Radruundar. Several small scale battles have erupted so far with the dwarves guarding the citadel. Thargan is splitting his time between the Citadel and Ulek managing efforts on both ends. He has sent several emissaries to dwarven strongholds near the Yatils requesting assistance with the growing Derro threat. Sustained actions in Ulek along with a building war in the north has greatly drained the resources of the order. If something is not done soon the dwarves could suffer major setbacks in their campaign.
There has been growing concern among members of the Order about Barak’s mental state. The Lieutenant has grown increasingly reckless in the assaults he has made into humanoid territory. Thargan is aware of the problem but is unsure of how to cure his longtime friend of his inner demons.
Priests of Moradin have made claims that the recovery of the Fierce Axe heralds a dawning new age for dwarf kind. Some say it prophesizes the coming of a new age of High Kings, all agree that the dwarven race will suffer many trials as they draw near this golden age. There is increasing pressure being put on Thargan to allow this matter to be more easily resolved and for him to assist in doing it. He has been appointed as the Warden of Radruundar and given the task of readying it for a future king.
The Order and Adventuring
Recently members of the Order have been dispatched to various locales about the Flanaess. With the ever growing demands on their coffers, Thargan and the other leaders are seeking new sources of revenue. To aid in accomplishing this, many members have been sent to scout ruins along the Wild Coast and other areas in search of lost treasure hoards. An expedition has even been sent to the Sea of Dust hoping to return with lost fortunes of the Suloise Empire.
Because of this, lone members of the Order can be found in nearly any location about the Flanaess, allying with various groups and sending funds back to Ulek.
The Order in Campaigns
The Order can easily be added to any campaign, either through a single dwarven character or as a dwarven campaign centered around it.
Campaigns surrounding the Order can be varied in direction. The most obvious is a protracted military campaign focusing on the Order’s efforts to reclaim the eastern provinces within the Principality of Ulek. In such a campaign the party could serve as a semi-independent unit venturing into humanoid controlled lands targeting orcish and humanoid dens in the region.
A campaign centering around the Order could also take place within Radruundar in the Yatils. A mixture of politics and military action as the party seeks allies to aid in the defense of the citadel while attempting to find a way to stop the Derro threat.
A longer more complex campaign could also be woven around the possible changes that the Order’s rediscovery of Radruundar and the Fierce Axe could have on dwarven society. This campaign could be one of intrigue with varying dwarven lords vying for power and the right to claim the Citadel. How will the Order take being placed in such political games? Moradin’s faithful claim that the discovery heralds a new age for dwarves everywhere. Thargan makes no claim to the Axe as his own, insisting that he is it’s keeper until a proper dwarven hero presents himself, perhaps the party is responsible for finding this hero.