| Great and Hidden Empire
of the Scarlet Brotherhood
|The arms of the Scarlet Brotherhood, as depicted in the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (2000).|
|Ruler||The Father of Obedience|
|Major Towns||Hesuel Ilshar|
|Races||Human (S) 96%|
|Languages||Ancient Suloise, Common|
|Religions||Pyremius, Syrul, Wee Jas, Bralm, other Suel deities, Nerull|
|Allies||Crescent League, Slave Lords|
|Enemies||Free Onnwal Army of Rebellion, Splintered Mind, Telless ve Turu Decada|
The Scarlet Brotherhood most often refers to the Great and Hidden Empire of the Scarlet Brotherhood, a nation located on the Tilvanot Peninsula in the southeastern Flanaess, though it can also refer to the secretive organization which rules that land. The Scarlet Brotherhood is also the title of a 1999 sourcebook for the setting by Sean K. Reynolds.
Sometimes called the Kingdom of Shar ("purity"), the Scarlet Brotherhood is headed by a cadre of monastics, with final authority resting in the hands of the "Father of Obedience."
During the Greyhawk Wars, the Brotherhood made many gains, taking over the Lordship of the Isles, the Sea Princes, Idee, and Onnwal. However, they lost Idee to the South Province (now part of Ahlissa) in 586 CY, and in 589 the Hold of the Sea Princes erupted in civil war. In Onnwal, the Brotherhood rules only the port of Scant, though the Lordship of the Isles remains completely under their control.
The Brotherhood increased its holdings during the Greyhawk Wars through combination of espionage, Realpolitick, and military might. In a matter of months, entire nations fell to that order’s assassins. It was revealed that the advisors of many of the royal courts of the Flanaess had been Brotherhood agents, giving their leaders poisoned advice from the beginning. Some nations, such as Sunndi, the Sea Barons, and Irongate, discovered this ruse in time to save their governments. These realms were aided by the Splintered Mind, a small group of monks, psions, and rogues who were betrayed by Brotherhood long ago, and now work to oppose the Scarlet Sign.
Where guile and deception failed to win the day, the monks of the Scarlet Sign employed brute force. The Hold of the Sea Princes, already weakened by the murder of twenty-seven of its nobles in a single night, was taken via hordes of Suel "savages" from the Amedio Jungle unloaded into their lands by ships bearing sails of scarlet. At one point, captured Sea Princes ships were made to attack the Keoish port of Gradsul, though Uleki assistance rebuffed the effort.
In the captured lands--Idee, Onnwal, the Lordship of the Isles, and the Hold of the Sea Princes-—Scarlet Brotherhood agents now hold nearly every position of power. Amedio and Hepmonaland natives roam these lands in packs, obediently following the beck and call of the Scarlet monks. Worse yet, foul half-breed creatures, likely created in the halls of Hesuel Ilshar itself, are now used to instill fear in the occupied lands. The exact numbers of Brothers and Sisters in the taken lands is not known at this time. What is known is that existence there is hellish, and many of those who cannot escape commit suicide by the day.
Geography and climate
Like Sunndi to the north, the lands of the Scarlet Brotherhood enjoy a great deal of natural protection from would-be invaders. At the beginning of the Tilvanot Peninsula, where the land juts upwards from the southernmost arm of the Vast Swamp, the Spine Ridge reaches for the sky. These uplands continue many leagues to the south, where they form a great plateau. The ridge is said to be teeming with humanoids, and it is not known whether the agents of the Scarlet Brotherhood have made any attempt to tame this wild area. To the east, the lands of the Brotherhood are largely protected by the shark-infested Tilva Strait and the frequent storms along the coast of the Densac Gulf make sea travel an oftentimes treacherous proposition.
The Scarlet Brotherhood is a caste society, valuing the Suloise race and culture above all others. Full citizenship is granted only to those of pure Suel blood who adhere to the Brotherhood's philosophy of Suel hegemony. Those who are of mostly Suel extraction have some rights, but not nearly as many as citizens. The lowest tier of Brotherhood society is occupied by its slaves, made up of non-humans and humans of "mongrel" blood.
The Brotherhood has an active eugenics program and conducts regular interbreeding experiments, producing their unnatural bredthrall slaves.
As of 591 CY, the exact population of the Scarlet Brotherhood is unknown, but estimated to be in the "tens of thousands." The vast majority (96%) of the populace are human.
The Scarlet Brotherhood honors most Suel deities, the most popular being Pyremius, Syrul, Wee Jas, and Bralm. Nerull, though not a Suel deity, is sometimes honored as well. The Scarlet Brotherhood is also rumored to worship Tharizdun, but this is mostly propaganda spread by Brotherhood agents, though a splinter sect of Tharizdun-worshipers known as the Black Brotherhood does exist.
Ancient Suloise is the official language of the Scarlet brotherhood, though Common is widely spoken as well.
Unfortunately, little is known regarding the political structure of the Scarlet Brotherhood or the lands it has recently come to dominate. What is known is that the entire organization is in theory controlled by an individual, the Father of Obedience. This man is said to be a monastic religious militarist and a brilliant strategist. There are likely a number of intermediaries, but the next known step in the Brotherhood’s hierarchy is that of the Brothers and Sisters themselves.
Like the Father of Obedience, the Brothers and Sisters of the Scarlet Brotherhood are often, though not always, trained in a bizarre form of unarmed combat. Because of this, these individuals abstain the use of weapons under any circumstance. Often found wearing scarlet, deep-hooded robes, these individuals command a near-frightening amount of respect from their subordinates. To fail in the eyes of a Brother or Sister of the Scarlet sign is to invite death. Strangely, the monks seldom have to dirty their own hands. With a single order, the disfavored are often expected to end their own lives. It is a testament to the place the monks hold in their society that such an order is seldom challenged.
Below the Brothers and Sisters are the assassins of the Scarlet Brotherhood. Called "Uncles," it was these individuals who brought the order its greatest successes during the Greyhawk Wars. Because of this, many Uncles (the term is used for both men and women) have been given important stations in the Hold of the Sea Princes, where their efforts were most successful. Many more of their number have returned to the field, and are now thought to be in place in nearly every uncontrolled nation in the Flanaess.
Finally, the "Cousins" make up the day to day members of the Brotherhood’s hierarchy. These men and women are often field agents; a spy for the Brotherhood planted in a foreign land is most often a Cousin. Because of this, the Cousins are often adept at those skills necessary to avoid detection. Seldom can be found the Cousin who cannot blend easily into darkness or climb the sheerest of surfaces. Still, such individuals do exist. Because the Scarlet Brotherhood is a multi-faceted organization, the Cousins are the most diverse of the three groups that define its upper echelons. Members of this faction occasionally dabble in the arcane arts or devote much of their time to physical perfection.
Below the Brothers, Sisters, Uncles and Cousins, life in the Scarlet Brotherhood isn’t particularly enjoyable. The Vitiates, or "flawed," are the closest analog to a merchant class evident in the lands of the Scarlet Brotherhood. Their numbers are comprised of those for some reason unfit for membership in the upper levels of the Brotherhood and are not technically members of the organization. They are, however, fully subordinate to even the lowest of Cousins and are subject to the orders of any superior. The Vitiates are the landowners and merchants of the Brotherhood, and are accorded a very small amount of respect from the higher ranks. On a very rare occasion, Suel-blooded nobility of conquered lands have been awarded with this status, particularly if they aided in the invasion of their homeland.
The Scarlet Brotherhood's coat of arms is blazoned thus: Gules, a mullet of four points wavy sable.
The Brotherhoods military mainly organization of Monks that wear red and gold, it was mentioned that they knew how to fight barehanded, and developed systems to train and practice their own marital arts style, and borrow the fighting styles of other cultures by using secret agents all around Greyhawk. The Brotherhood preaches a doctrine of Suel superiority, believing they are a master race; a message the populace took up with pride. It was suggested by many that the Brotherhood (which sanctioned only strictly arranged marriages and births) had initiated extensive breeding programs. Specifically, if a child has pale skin, blue eyes, and blond hair that child will be trained as a Monk of the Brotherhood from childhood to adulthood. Children born without those features will be trained to specialize in other job classes, to be used as agents of the Brotherhood.
During the Greyhawk Wars, the Scarlet Brotherhood established itself as a major victor. In a matter of months, entire nations fell to that order’s assassins. It was revealed that the advisors of many of the royal courts of the Flanaess had been Brotherhood agents, giving their leaders poisoned advice from the beginning. Some nations, such as Sunndi, the Sea Barons and most notably, Irongate, discovered this ruse in time to save their governments with the help of The Splintered Mind, a small group of monks, psions, and rogues who were betrayed by Brotherhood long ago who work in secret to derail the plots and plans of the Scarlet Brotherhood.
Where guile and deception failed to win the day, the monks of the Scarlet Sign employed brute force. The Hold of the Sea Princes, already weakened by the murder of 27 of its nobles in a single night, was taken by using a hordes of “savages” from the Amedio Jungle unloaded into their lands by ships bearing sails of Scarlet. At one point, captured Sea Princes ships were made to attack the Keoish port of Gradsul, though Uleki assistance rebuffed the effort. In the captured lands—Idee, Onnwal, the Lordship of the Isles and the Hold of the Sea Princes—Scarlet Brotherhood agents now hold nearly every position of power. Amedio and Hepmonaland natives who are half-orcs roam these lands in packs, obediently following the beck and call of the Scarlet monks. Worse yet, foul half-breed creatures, likely created in the halls of Hesuel Ilshar itself, are now used to instill fear in the occupied lands. The exact numbers of Brothers and Sisters in the taken lands is not known at this time. What is known is that existence there is hellish, and many of those who cannot escape commit suicide by the day.
- Cook, David. "History of the Greyhawk Wars." Wars. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1991. Available online: 
- Decker, Jesse, Will McDermott, and Stephen Schubert. "The Splintered Mind: Rebels of the Scarlet Brotherhood." Dragon #281. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2001. Available online:
- Gygax, Gary. The World of Greyhawk. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1980.
- -----. World of Greyhawk Fantasy Game Setting. Lake Geneva, WI: TSR, 1983.
- Holian, Gary, Erik Mona, Sean K. Reynolds, and Frederick Weining. Living Greyhawk Gazetteer. Renton, WA: Wizards of the Coast, 2000.
- Looby, Paul, and Stuart Kerrigan. "Beasts of the Scarlet Brotherhood." Dungeon #106. Bellevue, WA: Paizo Publishing, 2004.