The Silent Hand and the Risen Legion

the silent hand and the Risen League

THE SILENT HAND AND THE RISEN LEGION

RAGE, RAGE AGAINST THE DYING OF THE LIGHT

This document actually details two intertwined organizations: a mercenary army that operates throughout the multiverse, capable of standing against almost any foe, and the secretive cabal who founded them, and intends them to eventually stand against the greatest foe of all.

ATTRIBUTES OF THE SILENT HAND AND THE RISEN LEGION

Size: The Silent Hand — Large (101–200 members); The Risen Legion — Colossal (1,001+ members)

Alignment and Purpose: The Silent Hand — LN to LE; to infiltrate the governments of wealthy nations and major military powers, the better to build resources and a large fighting force for the en-kha thedru (apocalypse). The Risen Legion — LN; to serve as an inter- planar mercenary and military force, actions which serve as both income for the Silent Hand and as training for the en-kha thedru.

Approximate Class Breakdown: The Silent Hand — Wizard 25%, Bard 20%, Rogue 20%, Cleric 10%, Loremaster 10%, Sorcerer 10%, Other 5%; The Risen Legion — Fighter 25%,

Barbarian 20%, Rogue 20%, Monk 15%, Ranger 10%, Warrior 5%, Other 5%

Resources: The Silent Hand has access to the treasuries of many nations across many worlds. While they cannot simply empty those repositories without drawing attention, they can regularly steal monies in small portions. Additionally, they can call on the craftsmen and workers of those kingdoms, acquiring materials and building weapons and equipment. Finally, they gain the vast majority of their income from hiring out the Risen Legion to other parties across the planes.

For its own part, the Risen Legion has only the funds the Silent Hand chooses to allocate to it, but these are substantial. The soldiers of the Legion are some of the best equipped in the multiverse in terms of the quality and quantity of their weaponry and equipment. However, every member of the Risen Legion is required

61

the silent hand and the Risen League

to spend most of his, her, or its time training and even fighting with non-magical weapons and equipment. The Legion’s Commanders issue magic items to its soldiers only on jobs where it’s absolutely necessary, and they always reclaim those items when the task is complete.

Central Headquarters: The Silent Hand has a central headquarters, but its members rarely visit it in any physical sense of the word. The so- called Forsaken Citadel is a small fortress once used by the great wizards on the Founders’ home world. It now stands within the rocky wasteland of a barren world in the far corners of the Material Plane, where no living being can survive without magical aid. The fortress is inhabited by a veritable army of constructs. When the Silent Hand meets — a monthly occurrence — its members make use of various magics which temporarily transport their consciousness into one of the constructs. They then hold their meeting in these false bodies.

The Risen Legion maintains half a dozen demiplane headquarters, each constructed out of a surviving chunk of the Founders’ home world. One floats in the Astral Plane, one in the deep Ethereal, and each of the other four sits at the boundaries between the Material Plane and one of the Elemental Planes. These headquarters contain emergency living space for members of the Silent Hand, preservation chambers for thousands of recruits, mystical laboratories, and portals that link to the other headquarters (but not the Forsaken Citadel). Each such location contains several thousand Legionnaires, including over a hundred of Command rank.

Known Enemies: The Silent Hand has a number of enemies on a personal level, individuals who have been ousted from power or otherwise inconvenienced by its activities. These people rarely know enough of the organization to pose a threat, and no larger forces are, to date, aware of the Silent Hand’s existence. The Hand considers most creatures of the outsider type to be enemies, particularly those of the lower planes.

The Risen Legion holds the same antipathy toward outsiders, and several governments and military organizations on specific worlds have reason to hate the Risen Legion’s mercenaries. For the most part, however, the group itself has few constant adversaries, though it has run afoul of several other interplanar factions.

A GENERAL OVERVIEW

In essence two branches of the same organization, the Silent Hand and the Risen Legion represent — at least in the minds of the so-called Founders, who created both — the last hope for the multiverse itself. One faction takes the form of a dark conspiracy, lying, manipulating, and even murdering its way into power. The other resembles nothing so much as a merciless and amoral band of soldiers-for-hire. Still, both see themselves as the ultimate heroes. In their eyes, given the nature of the threat that all will eventually face, the ends truly do justify the means.

This is true, however, only of the organization’s highest levels. Many local recruits of the Silent Hand are precisely what one would expect from a governments-controlling conspiracy. They are power-hungry, vicious individuals who seek power not for any higher purpose, but for profit and self-gratification. The Risen Legion may be intended to serve a greater purpose, but for the time being, it’s nothing more than what it appears to be: an independent army who fights for anyone who can afford the Founders’ hefty fees.

If the upper echelons of the Silent Hand aren’t careful, their organizations are going to lose themselves in their facades, to become nothing more than tools of dictators and ambitious schemers. And if the Silent Hand and the Risen Legion truly are the last hope of the multiverse itself, then gods help everyone if this should come to pass.

62

the silent hand and the Risen League

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SILENT HAND AND THE RISEN LEGION

The world was called Ondrachar, and it was much like other Material Plane worlds. The dominant race may not have been quite human, or quite elven, or quite anything else familiar to other worlds, but they were similar enough in most ways that mattered. This race’s original name has been lost to history. Those few who survive to this day abandoned their name when they lost their world; now they are simply the Founders.

In the days before the end of their world, the race that would become the Founders had accomplished truly great things. Their magic, their science, their architecture, their art were all astonishing. Unfortunately, so much power and beauty led to an unshakable arrogance. Who knows what the race might have accomplished if they’d worked together? Instead, nation warred against nation over imagined slights and inflated cultural or religious differences.

Eventually, it grew clear to the greatest practitioners of the mystic arts that some outside influence was at least partially responsible for the constant bloodshed and hatred. Traditional rivalries and all the normal causes of war could account for a lot, but not for the level of violence that had swept the world for generations. Gathering other spell- casters and wise men from various factions, these mages formed a cabal, called the Hand, devoted to exploring the root causes of these unnatural hatreds.

The Hand made two horrifying discoveries. First, they discovered that the very barriers between dimensions were slowly breaking down. The brutal, bloodthirsty, and vicious emanations of the Abyss, the Hells, and the other lower planes were seeping through the

cracks in reality and tainting nearly every living and sentient being exposed to them.

Their second discovery was that they had taken too long to learn the truth.

Even as the Hand investigated, the barriers between worlds crumbled still further. Demons, devils, and even worse horrors crossed over from other realities and places that should not exist at all. Normal people and animals warped and twisted, polluted in body and soul by unholy energies.

It took the Hand little time to realize that they had no real way to fight back against the demons, or to shore up the crumbling dimensional walls. In the sudden influx of planar energies, the laws of reality changed and magic itself grew wildly unpredictable. At best it was chaotic, uncontrolled, as liable to harm the caster as his foe. At worst it failed completely, or formed pockets so unpredictable that spell-like effects manifested without any casting or provocation at all.

The Hand never was able to determine what caused the failure of the planar boundaries. Had the people brought it on themselves? Had their earlier wars and cultural hatreds generated so much negative energy that it damaged the world? Did the overuse of magic, so prevalent in every level of society, used in every war and almost all forms of art, cause the problem? Or was this simply a predestined event, the Apocalypse — called, in their culture, the en-kha thedru — foretold in ancient legend?

Whatever the cause, its ultimate consequence was clear. As the barriers crumbled, magic would become not merely useless but dangerous, and fiends of all sorts would rampage across the world. Without magic, the mortal races would be helpless to resist these hellish beasts.

63

the silent hand and the Risen League

The Hand could do nothing for their home world; it was already far too late. But at the last, before magic went too completely awry, they were able to combine their spells and escape to other worlds, taking entire portions of Ondrachar with them.

The members of the Hand were gratified indeed to find that other planes and other worlds existed, places that had not yet experienced the catastrophic end that theirs had. Yet none of them believed that this was to be a permanent situation. Whatever happened on their world would happen again, and again. Sooner or later, the multiverse as a whole would come to an end. They had seen how it would happen, had experienced the horror of such an end once. The Hand determined that they would not allow it to happen again.

Thus was born the dual concept of the Silent Hand and the Risen Legion, twin branches of the same cabal, devoted to a single purpose: preparation for the end of the multiverse itself.

INSIDE THE SILENT HAND AND THE RISEN LEGION

The Silent Hand consists primarily of Founders, with a significant minority of other races represented. The Silent Hand concerns itself with infiltrating and gaining power within kingdoms, countries, armies, and powerful organizations throughout the multiverse. They communicate with one another via the constructs of the Forsaken Citadel, but never physically gather as a group.

The Risen Legion is by far the larger of the twin organizations. It is made up of thousands of creatures from across the many planes of the multi- verse. Most are human or humanoid, but a few are not. Every member of the Risen Legion possesses a degree of proficiency in hand-to-hand combat, group warfare, military tactics, or simi

lar skills. The Legion never recruits anyone who relies wholly on magic. The Founders expect the Legion to battle the inhabitants of the lower planes without the advantage of magic, for they’ve seen the laws of magic break down once before. (Some ongoing debate exists among the Founders as to whether monks will lose their abilities if magic fails. Some argue that their abilities are clearly unnatural and are ultimately subject to the same laws. Others maintain that because the power comes from within, it should remain even when more overt forms of magic cease. For the time being, the Risen Legion recruits monks on the assumption that even if their abilities do fail in the final days, they’ve still got sufficient martial proficiency to be useful.)

Many soldiers of the Risen Legion aren’t members by choice, but are kept loyal and obedient purely through magical means. These safeguards will fail in the final days if magic itself ceases to work, but the Founders believe that when faced with the options of fighting or dying (and taking all reality with them), even the most angry and rebellious unwilling recruits will fall in line. See below for the Risen Legion’s recruiting tactics, and why they have so many unwilling members.

The Legion acts as a mercenary force, fighting on behalf of just about anyone on any world. These activities provide training and experience for the soldiers, and funds and political connections for the Founders. The Risen Legion has a frightening reputation, for near inhuman skill and an absolute lack of mercy, on literally dozens of worlds. The mere rumor of their presence is sometimes enough to encourage their employer’s enemies to surrender.

The Silent Hand: Infiltration

The Silent Hand intends, eventually, to exercise some measure of influence over every major government on every world they can find. To this end, no means of entry or acquisition is ignored. Some members use magic and performance skills to actually take the place of someone

64

the silent hand and the Risen League

already in a position of power, while the real individual is removed (read: killed) for the “greater good.” The Hand prefers not to take this approach — they have no personal grudge against those who already hold the offices they seek — but they do so if and when they consider it necessary.

More frequently, the members of the Hand bribe, blackmail, extort, charm, or otherwise obtain some sort of leverage over people in authority. This grants them a degree of influence, as well as access to state secrets and other inside information. This need not be done illicitly (though it usually is). Many nobles and politicians need money constantly, and a rich friend is a valuable resource. Members of the Silent Hand use these connections as a means of entering high society, where they then establish even more contacts.

Of course, agents of the Silent Hand also exercise perfectly legitimate means of gaining power. They run for office in democratic societies. They use their connections among the upper classes — often combined with the aforementioned bribes and blackmail — to convince a region’s nobility to select one of their own for an available office. (Alternately, they use those same connections on behalf of an ambitious candidate who isn’t one of their own, in exchange for favors granted later on.) Some simply offer their vast expertise or magical assistance to rulers and nobles, who eventually come to rely on their good advice. They even resort to military conquest; more than once, the Silent Hand has manipulated one kingdom into attacking another, just for the opportunity to insert their own people into the conquered realm’s newly rebuilt power structure.

The Silent Hand: The Rewards of Power

So why, precisely, does the Hand want this sort of power over governments and other institutions? And what do they do with it?

First, the Silent Hand requires a constant influx of wealth. The organization is enormous, and constantly expanding. For all their resources, and all the monies brought in by the Risen Legion, they constantly seek more. Each individual the Silent Hand places in a position of power is one more person who can access the treasury or other resources of the kingdom or organization. The same logic holds true for goods and services; a member of the Hand who holds a high rank in a nation’s military can easily arrange for a shipment of weapons or supplies to be “lost,” funneling them to the Hand and the Legion.

Second, every nation or army the Hand controls now represents another military force they can draw on when the end comes. Although they will be far less well equipped to deal with the demons and the breakdown of reality, every healthy warrior is still an asset the Hand cannot afford to ignore.

Access to a nation’s resources — financial, military, and mystical — also allows members of the Silent Hand to keep an eye on the goings-on within the region. They are more likely to hear of a powerful wizard who might prove helpful to their efforts. They are in a far better position to learn of military action by neighboring nations; a sudden rise in violence or an eruption of war that seems to have no demonstrable cause could well indicate the beginnings of the same fiendishly inspired pattern of bloodshed that swept Ondrachar.

Finally, the Silent Hand uses its position in government and military offices to deliberately instigate wars between nations. This is partially to allow them to conquer or otherwise annex more lands, but also because the Risen Legion obtains new members only through conflict and war. Although it has happened only rarely, the Silent Hand has actually instigated armed conflict (normally in the form of border skirmishes, rather than any larger battle) solely for the pur

65

the silent hand and the Risen League

pose of acquiring a single specific “recruit” for the Risen Legion.

The Silent Hand/The Risen Legion: Recruiting

Ultimately, though the Silent Hand represents the Founders themselves and the other leaders of the organization, the Risen Legion is their primary reason for existing. It is the Risen Legion that will stand against the demons and otherworldly horrors when the worlds collide at the end of time.

The Legion’s leaders prefer to recruit their members voluntarily, partially because soldiers fight harder for a cause in which they believe, and partially because — even with their magic safeguards — the Founders have a much easier time maintaining control over willing recruits. Still, because it is so vitally important that the greatest and most skilled warriors from across the worlds become part of the Legion, the Founders have developed multiple techniques for forcing unwilling participants to join.

Only the greatest and most skilled of warriors are chosen for inclusion in the Risen Legion. In mechanical terms, all members of the Risen Legion possess at least 10 total levels in one of the classes (or a combination thereof) listed above in the Legion’s Approximate Class Breakdown. Skill alone is not sufficient cause for recruitment, however; the Founders prefer to avoid those of a heavily chaotic bent, if only because their behavior is difficult to predict. Race is not a factor, nor are any other factors of alignment or personality.

The Founders — or, more commonly, their agents — prefer to approach these recruits just before, or in some cases even during, a great battle or other hazardous situation. They begin openly, explaining that they wish to recruit the individual for an organization whose ultimate purpose is the salvation of the multiverse itself, and that they wish to do so now, before that indi

vidual risks his (or her) life in the upcoming conflict. Should the potential recruit express an interest, they take him to one of the six Risen Legions headquarters, where one of the Legion’s Commanders or other officers explains, in more detail, their goals and objectives.

Many of those approached by the Legion refuse, of course, but the Founders do not take “no” for an answer. They have multiple methods for ensuring that those who turn them down wind up serving them anyway.

In some cases, agents of the Founders acquire a sample of flesh and blood from the individual

— sometimes voluntarily, sometimes through a sneak attack, and sometimes by scavenging body parts from the battlefield. These samples are then subject to the clone spell, spawning a duplicate of the individual who is, though slightly less skilled than the original, still a powerful and experienced member of his class. Alternatively, if the body is relatively intact, the Founders may have it resurrected or otherwise raised, but because they have far more arcane casters than divine, clone is usually a more accessible option. Of course, only souls who desire to return from death are subject to raising magics. As such, many of the Founders’ attempts at postmortem recruiting fail outright. Still, they succeed in reviving approximately 10 percent of those they try to raise — some individuals are anxious to return to life even if they don’t recognize the spellcaster trying to call them back — and this is sufficient return for them to continue with these methods.

Finally, the Founders and their agents often kidnap living warriors by magic, deception, or even brute force. They might charm the recruit into following a member of the Hand, or invite him to a gathering that purports to have some other, unrelated purpose. The agents of the Founders also scour battlefields and military encamp

66

the silent hand and the Risen League

ments for skilled combatants who have been badly wounded or even worn out, making them easier targets for subdual and kidnapping.

However these “recruits” are gathered, they are brought to one of the Legion’s headquarters. There — often held immobile or imprisoned by magical means, if they aren’t present voluntarily — they are addressed by a Legion Commander or another agent of the Founders. This speaker explains to them why they are there and why the Legion exists. They will be kept here, they are told, in a form of stasis, ageless and undying. From time to time they are brought forth and hired out as mercenaries, to increase their skill an experience, and to obtain wealth for the Founders. Sometimes, after a period of service, those members who have proven themselves are permitted a brief period of recreation before returning to headquarters and to stasis. Finally, when the worlds begin to collapse, magic to fail, and demons to invade the material worlds, they are to be freed once more to fight for the very survival of life itself.

Obviously, this doesn’t sound like a particularly attractive lifestyle to many potential recruits, willing or otherwise. Unfortunately for them, by the time they’ve reached this point, it’s too late. Even if they wanted to escape, the headquarters of the Risen Legion are located outside the material plane; there’s no place for escapees to go. Further, the Founders are prepared to subject those present to all manner of controlling magics. Although they sometimes make use of charm person, dominate person, geas, mark of justice and other spells, the standard tactic is to make use of the enslave spell (see below). Once this control is established, the individuals “voluntarily” allow themselves to be placed into temporal stasis. (In some cases, if the casters simply cannot control an individual, they cast temporal stasis as a touch attack.)

Even recruits who voluntarily join the Legion are subject to enslave, as a precaution.

The Risen Legion: Mercenary Contracts

The Founders would prefer to keep every member of the Risen Legion alive and well until the en-kha thedru arrives, in order to keep their fighting force at full strength to face the demons. Unfortunately, that’s simply not an option. While the Silent Hand obtains substantial monies and resources from the governments and organizations they infiltrate, it’s insufficient for their needs. Most of them do not have access to vast amounts of capital at any give time (one can only embezzle so much without being detected). The monies brought in by hiring out portions of the Risen Legion as a mercenary force are vital, for supporting the Legion and the Silent Hand both.

Either the Founders themselves, or one of the Legion’s Commanders, actually negotiate mercenary contracts. The fees they charge are truly impressive; they vary depending on the job and the personnel involved, but exceed multiple gold pieces per soldier per day. This ensures that only the richest clients can afford the Risen Legion, but those who can are happy to do so, for the reputation of the Legion has spread to multiple worlds.

The Founders hire the Risen Legion out to just about anyone, provided the money’s good. They care little for the morality of a given conflict. The Legion won’t engage in the slaughter of civilians, and they won’t work for anyone with connections to fiends or other lower planar beings, but beyond that anything goes. The Founders have no interest in who’s in the right, or who struck first.

The Risen Legion never operates in enormous numbers on any given field of battle, in order to avoid depleting their ranks too severely in the event of an unexpected defeat. The Founders rarely assign more than a few dozen members to a given job, and never more than a few hundred. Thus, the Legion rarely operates as a standard

67

the silent hand and the Risen League

military unit, but rather as elite troops, special forces, or the equivalent of an adventuring party. They engage in infiltration, sabotage, assassination, flank attacks, assaults on the elite forces of the enemy — any activity in which skill is of greater import than numbers. The Legion does sometimes take the field openly, given that the average member is more than a match for a dozen typical soldiers, but for the most part their skills are better suited to other endeavors.

Once placed in temporal stasis, most members of the Risen Legion are kept that way year round, removed only when they are sent on a mercenary contract. Even once the temporal stasis is dispelled, the individual is still held helpless in the tiny cell where he is normally “stored.” There he remains until the Founders or other spellcasters ensure that he is still under the effects of the enslave spell (often supplemented with other spells such as geas and mark of justice, just in case). These are used to ensure that members do not attempt to desert the Legion while on assignment, that they do their jobs to the best of their abilities, and that they return when the task is complete. The Legion’s few spellcasters, and agents who directly serve the Founders, accompany the soldiers on all assignments, ready to renew the controlling magics if they somehow fail. Even if a soldier is permitted a few days of rest and relaxation after a contract is complete, he is still accompanied by such a “minder.”

In some instances, these legionnaires receive icons enchanted with the refuge spell. This cannot be used to transport back to headquarters, but it can be used to return the soldier to his minder.

Because enslave only functions on humanoids, the few monstrous members of the Legion are unaffected by it. These are never sent on mercenary jobs unless their special abilities are absolutely required. In these instances, the Legion’s casters subject them to a barrage of charm monster, dominate monster, geas, mark of

justice, and similar spells.

Of course, these minders do more than maintain or renew magical bonds on the members of the Risen Legion. They also provide magical support, often enhancing the soldiers’ combat abilities. They occasionally engage in battle, launching offensive spells from great distances (though they are forbidden to engage in close combat, as they are not considered expendable). They are useful for aiding Legion soldiers in escaping from an otherwise untenable position or situation.

Perhaps their single most important purpose, however, is the recovery of the dead. Whenever a Legion member falls in battle, his minder is required to do everything within his power to retrieve the body, or at least a sufficient portion of it for the clone spell. The Legion doesn’t lightly let its members go, even in death, and while a large number of them refuse to return from the afterlife now that they know what awaits them in the Legion, the Founders are determined to try.

In recent years, the Founders and a few other Silent Hand spellcasters have experimented with the notion of placing conjured spirits in the cloned bodies of fallen Legion soldiers who have refused to return from the dead. To date, they’ve had little luck with this concept; even if the spirit succeeds in animating the clone, it lacks the skills of the original inhabitant. Still, they continue to experiment, hoping to find a way to allow a possessing spirit to somehow absorb the skills possessed by the body when it was still worn by the soul of the now-departed soldier.

The Legion’s Commanders

The Founders are ultimately in charge of the Risen Legion, but they rarely interact with the soldiers directly. For the most part, communication between the Founders and the legionnaires, and all orders handed down to the normal members, come through the Commanders.

68

the silent hand and the Risen League

While the vast majority of Legion members are under mystical control and would likely desert if given the opportunity, some of them do fight willingly. On rare occasions, a recruit recognizes the importance of what he’s doing, and willingly submits to the Legion’s rules, including mystical control. These individuals go above and beyond the call of duty, proving over and over again that they truly believe in the Legion and what it stands for.

After several years of such behavior, a soldier of this type might be promoted to command. The enslave spell remains in place as a safeguard, but it is rarely activated; so long as the Commander proves loyal, he is left to his own devices. Each unit of the Legion that takes the field is under the auspices of at least one Commander, who works out specific tactics and strategies.

The single most experienced Commander assigned to each of the six Legion headquarters has access to one of the constructs located in the Forsaken Citadel, allowing him to meet with the Founders at need. He is expected to come only when invited, however, and a Commander who inhabits his construct without invitation had better be delivering an urgent report or have some other dire emergency on hand.

Unlike most members of the Legion, who remain in temporal stasis except when actively working on an assignment, the Commanders remain active in shifts, so that none of the Legion’s installations are left unmanned or unguarded. Under normal circumstances, eight Commanders in each installation remain active at all times. They work in overlapping eight-hour shifts, prepared to answer any call from the Founders, to meet with potential employers, and to send reinforcements to units already in the field. Each team of eight remains active for two months, and then returns to stasis while another group of eight takes over. In most cases, unless the Legion has recently lost a number of Command-level officers, each separate head

quarters has enough Commanders so that any given individual need be active for only a single two-month tour every few years.

Customs and Practices

With so many levels and branches of organization, it’s difficult to find any practices that hold true through all the different strata. Each segment does have its own customs, however.

The Founders themselves practice a variety of rituals, all of which are echoes of religious and social traditions from Ondrachar. These range from specific methods of preparing and consuming food — which vary somewhat based on the phase of a given world’s largest moon and certain other celestial and astrological phenomena — to a yearly rite that includes the symbolic “sacrifice” of a randomly chosen Founder. (This “sacrifice” actually involves the subject being put to sleep through various drugs, during which state he’s offered to the now absent gods of Ondrachar. No harm actually comes to him, and it’s considered a great honor to be chosen.)

The Founders discuss these beliefs with outsiders, if they have developed a great degree of trust, but they will never allow outsiders to actively participate. This isn’t a religious prohibition per se. Rather, they feel that, as these rites are the final remnants of a dead world, they should be limited only to those who have an attachment to that world.

The Silent Hand has few customs other than a brief benediction spoken at the monthly assembly in the Forsaken Citadel. This blessing is not asked in the name of any specific god, allowing all present to direct their prayers toward whichever divinities they worship. Many members of the Hand engage in rituals and celebrations in order to fit in with the social circles they’ve infiltrated, but these don’t properly qualify as group customs. The Risen Legion has few customs of its own. Active units are, by definition, engaged in some manner of military or

69

the silent hand and the Risen League

other wartime occupations, and have little time Hand then works to place a more pliable opera- for non-essential practices. tive in their position.

Strictures and Requirements— The Silent Hand

The Founders have few laws in the formal sense of the word. All known survivors of the destruction of Ondrachar willingly pursue the goals of the Silent Hand and the Risen Legion. Certainly if any Founder were discovered to be working against those goals, or to have otherwise betrayed his brethren, he would be punished, expelled or possibly even killed. To date, none of the Founders have turned their backs on their fellows, and if any natives of Ondrachar other than Founders yet survive somewhere in the multi- verse, none have discovered them.

The laws that govern the Silent Hand are few but absolutely sacrosanct. Any member who violates these strictures is executed outright for the protection of the organization as a whole. Note that these laws apply to the Silent Hand specifically, not the Risen Legion, which is addressed below.

• Secrecy is paramount. No member of the Silent Hand may reveal the existence of the organization, or his allegiance with it, under any circumstances. The Founders threaten to outdo any tortures used or threatened to extract information from a traitor. • Follow all orders from your superiors, and remember whom you serve. Many members of the Silent Hand are ambitious, power-hungry people, who seek power and wealth for their own advancement. For the most part, the Founders don’t care what Silent Hand members do with their positions, so long as they don’t endanger the organization, and so long as they swiftly and obediently respond to orders. Those who deliver money and resources when asked, and who exert their influence as directed by the Founders, may remain in place and otherwise use their positions as they see fit. Those who refuse, or even hesitate beyond a reasonable degree, are eliminated. The The Silent Hand seeks out individuals skilled in governing, politics, impersonation, and related areas. Potential recruits are examined by a variety of mystical means, to determine their usefulness, and the likelihood that they would agree to join the organization. The Hand prefers such direct methods to the patient examination utilized by several other interplanar organizations, as they have no idea of how soon the end may come. Anyone they believe to be both valuable and amenable is invited to join. Anyone with a valuable position but not likely to join — or anyone who refuses to join, despite all prior indications to the contrary — is slain and replaced by an impersonator.

Strictures and Requirements— The Risen Legion

The Risen Legion has all the laws expected of a military organization: Its members are expected to obey their superiors under all circumstances, to fight and die when so ordered, and to maintain discipline and the image of the Legion. These laws are enforced through the use of magic, but violations still occur on occasion. Violators are usually punished by nothing more severe than the loss of rest-and-relaxation privileges, as the Founders are very reluctant to take any action that might reduce a member’s ability to fight. It is possible that a member who somehow managed to completely shake the enslave spell and betray the Legion in a major fashion might be executed, but it’s never happened. Commanders are bound by the same rules of secrecy as members of the Silent Hand, regarding what they know of the Founders.

The average soldier of the Risen Legion doesn’t know enough for the law of secrecy to apply; most members have no idea who the Founders really are. They know that their organization is led by a group who goes by that name, and that even their Commanders answer to these

70

the silent hand and the Risen League

“Founders.” Most members of the Legion assume the Founders are just a number of people who created Legion itself. That the Founders are actually the last survivors of a dead race, that many of them are part of a governments-controlling secret conspiracy called the Silent Hand, and that they have some great ultimate purpose for the Legion, are all kept secret from most Legionnaires.

Influence and Outside Connections

The Silent Hand has substantial influence with literally dozens if not hundreds of governments across various worlds and planes. In some rare cases, their agents may rule a nation outright. In most instances, they lack such total power but still hold sufficient authority to shape policy. They can obtain funds, start or alter wars, pass laws, and otherwise play these governments like a well-tuned instrument. The same holds true for many organizations and guilds, which also dance

— in whole or in part — to the Silent Hand’s tune. To date, it would appear that none of the other organizations presented in the Planar Factions series have learned of the Silent Hand. Agents of the Hand do occasionally lock horns with members of the Shapers or the Twilight Empire, but such conflict has so far remained on an individual level. The Hand wishes to keep a closer eye on the Vault of Souls as well. While the two organizations could never be allies — the Hand makes use of resurrection magics when recruiting for the Risen Legion, and such is anathema to the Vault — both organizations fear an eventual shattering of the natural order. The Hand wishes to learn if the Vault’s notions of weakening barriers between life and death have any bearing on their own prophecies of the en-kha thedru.

The Risen Legion, which is as famous as its parent organization is secret, holds little formal influence. However, its reputation allows it to occasionally sway political decisions in situations in which they’re involved, if only because

nobles and leaders don’t wish to alienate such a skilled group of warriors. The Legion has few constant enemies, but it has at times taken the field against the Midnight Dawn (when the Legion was hired by an enemy of that group), the Gur-Tannan (a resistance cell on a partially conquered world was able to scrounge enough gold to hire them), and the Vault of Souls (who object to the presence of clones and resurrected members among the Legionnaires).

NEW SPELL

Enslave

Enchantment (Compulsion) [Mind-Affecting]

Level: Sor/Wiz 9

Components: V, S

Casting Time: 1 round

Duration: Permanent

As dominate person, except as noted above. Once the subject has failed its save, it is forever in the caster’s power. However, subjects may still resist actions that go against their nature. This requires a new Will save, with an additional –10 penalty. Even if the victim succeeds, it remains subject to the enslave spell, but it need not take that particular action. If the save succeeds, any saves to avoid that same action in the future do not suffer the –10 penalty.

Enslave can be dispelled by miracle, disjunction, wish, or similar magics. It can also be broken through the use of a second enslave spell, with the express purpose of freeing the subject (though the subject may not voluntarily fail his save, and if the save succeeds, the original enslave remains in effect).

NEW RACE: THE FOUNDERS

The original race name of the Founders is lost, abandoned when they fled their dying and

71

the silent hand and the Risen League

demon-ravaged world Ondrachar. Few know of the Founders’ existence at all, and even fewer know of their sad history or their determination

— so severe that it has led them down dark and dangerous paths both physical and spiritual — to prevent their fate from befalling others. Founders frequently mingle with humans or other humanoid races, using magic or mundane disguises to mask the subtle differences that set them apart from others. They take great pains to blend in, but when in the presence of their fellows, they show a somber, vaguely religious nature very much alien to local practices.

Personality: Founders rarely display much humor or mirth, except when faking it to blend in with others. Their own history and current place in the multiverse tend to make them dour, brooding individuals. In many of them, this bleak nature masks a raging anger, and some of the Founders feel alive only in the midst of violence. A growing number of Founders consider other races inferior, and while they are still determined to prevent them from suffering as the Founders have suffered, they also harbor a growing resentment that these other beings should thrive when Ondrachar is no more.

Physical Description: Founders are tall and lithe, averaging 6 feet tall and typically weighing 120 to 140 pounds. At a distance or in poor lighting they appear to be dark-skinned humans; close examination reveals the tint of their skin leans more toward a deep crimson than a standard tan. Their hair ranges from deep reds to browns to blacks, and is somewhat coarser than a human’s, not unlike horse hair. They wear it in tails or locks. Most Founders are clean-shaven, but a few boast thick beards. They tend to have blue or green eyes, with occasional examples leaning toward yellow. When viewed under the effects of detect magic, Founders’ eyes glow with a very faint aura of divination.

Founders prefer loose, comfortable clothing, such as robes or billowing tunics and leggings,

and rarely wear jewelry unless it is magic. They tend toward quick, sharp, and sudden movements, which often put those around them on edge. The Founders originally lived for many hundreds of years, sometimes over a millennium, but those born since the destruction of Ondrachar have lifespans of five to seven centuries. They fear that their race was more tightly tied to their home world than they knew, and with it gone, they will slowly die off as each generations grows more and more short-lived. Founders reach their majority at around 90 years of age.

Relations: The Founders find the other humanoid races somewhat puzzling. They don’t understand how the elves can “waste their immortality” on what the Founders see as frivolous pursuits. They consider halflings to be insignificant in the grand scheme of things, gnomes to be absolutely incomprehensible, and humans unfocused. They most closely identify with the serious and productive nature of the dwarves, but feel the dwarves focus their energies on unimportant matters.

Alignment: The Founders are all driven to prepare their organizations, the Silent Hand and the Risen Legion, for the so-called en-kha thedru: the Apocalypse, when barriers between worlds will collapse, magic will cease to function, and demons and fiends of all sorts will ravage the material plane. As such, nearly every Founder is of lawful alignment. Lawful neutral is most prevalent, as the Founders are willing to do whatever they must to see their goals fulfilled. Some still cling to lawful good, while more and more slide down the slippery slope of justifications and “acceptable sacrifices” toward evil.

Lands: The Founders have no territories of their own, unless one counts the Forsaken Citadel, located on a bleak and desolate world incapable of supporting normal life. For the most part, the Founders simply blend in with the upper echelons of whatever government, organization, or society they are attempting to infiltrate.

72

the silent hand and the Risen League

Religion: The Founders still honor the pantheon of gods lost when Ondrachar was destroyed. Founder clerics still gain their spells from somewhere, but the gods of Ondrachar never answer commune spells or otherwise reveal their presence. Whether they are simply too weak to respond, or whether Founder clerics gain their powers from some other source — perhaps other deities, or simply the power of their own belief

— is unclear. Although they may participate in religious rituals in order to blend in, Founders never truly convert to the worship of local deities; they feel that doing so would be a betrayal of their lost culture and heritage. Language: The Founders still use their initial language, the common tongue of Ondrachar. It is a relatively harsh language, full of glottal stops and short, sharp syllables. Founders speak this tongue only to one another, and only when they are certain that no non-Founder might overhear.

Names: Founders have taken to giving their children only traditional names with long histories on Ondrachar. This, they feel, grants them yet one more tie to their lost world. Of course, the Founders don’t go by these names in public, but rather call themselves by whatever human (or other) name they’ve adopted to blend in to their surroundings. Their “true” names are used only in conversation with other Founders, and usually only when speaking their native tongue. Founders traditionally have no family names; rather, one’s last name is created by adding a prefix to the father’s (if the child is male) or mother’s (if the child is female) first name. The male prefix is “thult,” the female “theld.” Thus, if Elt’s father is Oltec, his full name is Elt Thultoltec. Rulka, daughter of Breka, is properly Rulka Theldbreka.

Male Names: Akrus, Chunekric, Elt, Kraidoc, Oltec, Queld, Tuvinect, Vardusk

Female Names: Akraic, Breka, Dashkelt, Kendke, Neek, Qesus, Rulka, Ycrettke

Adventurers: Although nearly all Founders

have levels of adventuring classes — especially wizard — they rarely have an “adventuring” lifestyle. Most of them are too wrapped up in running the Silent Hand and the Risen Legion to focus on much of anything else. Very rarely, however, a Founder explores the wilds of the world in a quest for additional funds and useful magics for the Legion and the Hand. Although most of these adventurous Founders travel in the company of other Founders, or else with subordinate members of the Hand or the Legion, some few do join up with other adventuring companies. They never reveal the true purpose behind their activities, instead passing off their search for magic and wealth as a personal goal, or perhaps for the sake of a family.

Founder Racial Traits

• +2 Dexterity, +2 Intelligence. The Founders are capable of extremely quick movement and great accuracy, both mentally and physically.

• Medium: As Medium creatures, Founders have no special bonuses or penalties due to their size. • Founder base speed is 30 feet. • Spell-like Abilities (Sp): 3/day — detect magic; 1/day — read magic, resistance • Future Sight (Su): Founders have an innate ability to see a fraction of a second into the future. This allows them to react to stimuli faster than members of other races. Any of the following abilities marked with an asterisk are due entirely to future sight, and do not function in antimagic fields or in any other circumstance in which spell-like abilities fail. • Improved Initiative*: Founders automatically receive this feat, by virtue of their Future Sight. It does not function in any situation in which Supernatural abilities fail. This free feat does not stack with the actual Improved Initiative feat, but Founders who purchase that feat may use it even in antimagic fields. 73

the silent hand and the Risen League

• Uncanny Dodge*: Founders can see danger coming in time to avoid it. They receive the Uncanny Dodge ability regardless of class. Founders retain their Dexterity bonus to AC (if any) regardless of being caught flat-footed or struck by an invisible attacker. Further, opponents who flank a Founder receive only a +1 bonus to hit (though the Founder is still subject to sneak attacks under these circumstances.) This ability does not stack with the Uncanny Dodge granted by certain classes; if the Founder has Uncanny Dodge thanks to a class ability, he makes use of whichever option is superior. • Dodge Bonus*: Founders receive a +1 dodge bonus to AC, as they can see the attack coming faster than other races. This bonus stacks with all other AC bonuses, including other dodge bonuses. • Deflect Arrows*: Founders gain the Deflect Arrows feat for free, even if they do not meet the prerequisites, because their future sight allows them to see the attack coming. This ability does not stack with the actual Deflect Arrows feat, but a Founder who has that feat may use it even in antimagic fields. • Low-light Vision: Founders can see twice as far as a human in starlight, moonlight, torchlight, and similar conditions of poor illumination. They retain the ability to distinguish color and detail under these conditions. • +2 racial bonus to Spot checks.

• Automatic Languages: Common and Ondrachar Common. Bonus Languages: Any languages common to the region. • Favored Class: Wizard. A multiclass Founder’s wizard class does not count when determining whether she suffers an XP penalty for multi- classing. • Level Adjustment: +2. Magic? Or Something Else?

If you aren’t averse to the use of psionics in your campaign, the Founders might work better as a psionic-oriented race than a mystical one. In this instance, you should replace their spell-like abilities with comparable psionic powers. Their favored class becomes psion. All Founder wizards in the Silent Hand become psions; all Founder bards and clerics become psychic warriors; and all Founder sorcerers become wilders.

Especially in campaigns where psionics are rare, this gives the Founders a more alien and exotic feel. However, it also requires the DM to decide that psionics and magic ultimately come from the same source, as it necessitates the breakdown of psionics at the same time magic fails at the end of the multiverse.

74