The Steadfast Order of the Shapers of Earthen Splendor

the steadfast order

THE STEADFAST ORDER OF THE SHAPERS OF EARTHEN SPLENDOR

SCIENTISTS OF MAGIC, SEEKERS OF PERFECTION

The Steadfast Order of the Shapers of Earthen Splendor — or Shapers, for short — boast members from among the rich and powerful of various worlds, a true secret society with secret handshakes, traditional rituals, and access to mystic secrets known nowhere else in the multiverse. They can be potent ally or powerful enemy, and careless or unlucky PCs can cross their path without ever realizing what they’ve gotten themselves into.

ATTRIBUTES OF THE STEADFAST ORDER

Size: Colossal (1,000+ members) at the lowest levels of initiation, Tiny (less than 10 members) at the highest

Alignment and Purpose: LN; mastering the fundamental precepts of certain obscure forms of magic, and making use of its esoteric knowledge to enrich its members.

Approximate Class Breakdown: Wizard 30%, Aristocrat 20%, Cleric 15%, Expert

10%, Rogue 10%, Sorcerer 10%, Other 5%. Note: The percentages above, particularly as regard the wizard class, apply only to the organization as a whole. In the highest levels of initiation (called Measures), almost every member has at least a few wizard class levels (or at least levels in a prestige class with similar magic abilities); the only exceptions are the organization’s clerics, described below.

Resources: Many members of the Shapers are independently wealthy, due either to monies they possessed before joining or to their suc

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cessful efforts as part of the organization. Many of these members also hold positions of great power in society and governments, allowing them to pull strings and call in favors. Finally, the Shapers’ unusual magics often aid them in finding rich natural sources of valuable metals and minerals.

Central Headquarters: For the most part, each chapter of the organization operates autonomously from its own Lodge. Still, for the greatest and most important rituals and meetings, each world or plane possesses a single Lodge — always the largest and most ornate — with a gathering chamber large enough to accommodate all that world’s members. Additionally, each of these Fulcrum Houses (as the central Lodges are called) contains a doorway that conceals a dimensional portal, opening into the very first Fulcrum House, called the Great Axis. In those few instances in which the entirety of the Shapers must act as one, or in which Lodges from different worlds must meet, they do so at the Great Axis.

Known Enemies: The Steadfast Order of the Shapers of Earthen Splendor have a number of local enemies on various worlds, other occult organizations who lack the Shapers’ success in attaining wealth and power. Certain priesthoods also work against them, offended (and possibly frightened) by the Shapers’ devotion to obscure abstract concepts, rather than to the gods.

A GENERAL OVERVIEW

The Steadfast Order of the Shapers of Earthen Splendor is a secret society in the old-style, traditional sense of the term. It is not their existence itself that is a secret. Rather, they keep hidden their practices and their complete membership (though some members happily proclaim their affiliation), and none outside the First Measure know their true capabilities.

Their membership is composed largely of the elite of society’s uppermost classes, the rich and powerful. Some few lowborn folk are invited to join, if they have proven their mystical acumen, but they rarely attain any rank or position beyond the Middle Measures.

The Shapers are devoted to ancient philosophical and theoretical concepts of magic. They maintain that all the laws of the multiverse, both the natural and the supernatural, can be broken down into mathematics, fundamental materials and elements. Mastery of these building blocks allow those with sufficient skill to bypass the “normal” strictures of science, alchemy, and magic, to take shortcuts and to accomplish feats undreamt of. They seek mathematical perfection in their architecture, study the secrets of angles and radii, delve into the eldest and most esoteric secrets of the occult, always seeking to discover the true nature of the worlds. To their way of thinking, everything, no matter how abstract, can be precisely measured, defined, explained mathematically and philosophically. And once it is explained, it can be manipulated.

For the nonce, the Shapers have no ulterior motive, no specific goal for which they seek this knowledge. The knowledge itself is enough for some; others crave the power, the riches, and the authority they can acquire through the use of that knowledge. If members of the First Measure seek anything beyond this, it is a goal they have never shared, even with their fellow Shapers.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SHAPERS OF EARTHEN SPLENDOR

As the Shapers tell it, their brotherhood dates back so many thousands of years as to be uncountable. They claim that once, on a world long forgotten and possibly no longer extant,

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an enlightened society arose. Whether they were human, dwarven, elven or something else is unknown. Their love — again, if the Shapers are to be believed — was for learning and science, philosophy and art. They created the very notion of beauty, invented most known forms of expression, and, above all, delved deep into the science of mathematics. Back then, in the infancy of the multiverse, all things were more readily observed than they are today, and the ancients measured and categorized it all. They understood everything, and in so doing gained power over reality itself.

Sadly, it was not last. Others, jealous of the ancients’ accomplishments and learning, destroyed this greatest of civilizations from without and from within, their hatred and their numbers so great that even the powers of the ancients could not stop them. The perfect society, the likes of which has never existed since, was thrown down.

But some among their number, having foreseen the end of all they had wrought, had presence of mind to flee the coming conflagration, and they were able to save many of their civilization’s secrets. These surviving texts and tomes, collectively called the Books of Craft, would eventually form the basis of the Steadfast Order.

To their newest initiates, the Shapers of today admit almost abashedly that the remainder of their history, though thousands of years long and including many a distinguished figure, is relatively uneventful. The order grew and spread to various worlds, as first the original survivors, and then their students, carried the secrets of their lost lore from this plane to that. They accepted only the best and most skilled into their ranks; and in turn, their influence grew, for their members used their newfound knowledge and power to increase their positions further still.

Today, the Shapers exist on almost every civilized world. Their membership is largely, though not exclusively, human, and claims an astounding proportion of nobles, military leaders, government officials, guildmasters, and others of great societal import. If the Shapers ever decided they wanted to rule openly, they could likely take control of not merely nations but entire worlds so swiftly as to be nigh unstoppable. Fortunately, though linked by their ceremonies and beliefs, as well as a code of behavior and loyalty, the order is not so much an organization as a loose society, and is not nearly unified or monolithic enough to undertake such an endeavor even if its leaders wished it.

INSIDE THE STEADFAST ORDER

The Shapers have little interest in keeping their existence secret — in fact, throughout many of the nations in which they operate, membership is a sign of prestige. Many outside the order view it as a rich man’s social club, a place where people of power go to hobnob with other people of power and pull the strings of government and society.

What the Shapers do keep secret are their internal methods, their procedures, their occult knowledge and ancient magics, their rites and rituals. The power they wield and the powers they call upon are for them alone, and they will not share, nor risk any others learning of them.

Lost Lore and Forbidden Magics

The Shapers’ libraries are treasure troves of ancient occult secrets the likes of which most wizard’s guilds could not match. Even the smallest Lodge has a repository filled with dozens of esoteric tomes, whereas the Great Axis contains an entire hall of thousands upon thousands of volumes. Some are ancient his

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torical texts, some philosophical, some mathematical, some religious, some arcane, and many — written by the order itself — delve into the nature of the Grand Balance (see below) and the other fundamental truths of the universe as the Shapers see them.

While all of this knowledge is valuable, however, and the Shapers use all of it to improve their station in society, the single most important aspect is their philosophy of mathematics and measurements as the basis of the multi- verse.

In brief, the Shapers believe that everything, even the intangible, can be measured and defined. A spell or a theoretical concept has just as many quantifiable dimensions as a rock or a horse. They may not be the same dimensions and measurements — height, width, depth, weight, density — with which most people are familiar, but they exist nonetheless. Shaper libraries are full to overflowing with papers and parchment and models scattered across the tables, on which are drawn or constructed all manner of bizarre angles, nigh-abstract diagrams, and mathematical formulae so convoluted that even their creators don’t really know what they mean. All of these are attempts to find the perfect and most precise measurement of some mystical or philosophical concept. For the most part, they fail. Occasionally, they don’t. The Shapers’ unusual brand of magic permits them to do all manner of strange things; see the new feats presented below.

Mechanical Benefits of a Shaper Library

If characters who are members of the Shapers (or have, by some absolute miracle of a dozen cooperating gods, managed to sneak into a Shaper library and avoid discovery for many hours at a stretch) make use of the resources to aid in research, they receive a mechanical bonus to any relevant skill checks. The bonus granted ranges from +5 in the smallest libraries

to +20 in the Great Axis, though even most members are not permitted to research there without urgent cause. The skill checks that receive such a bonus include:

• Craft (alchemy) • any other Craft that the DM rules can be improved through book-learning rather than actual practice • Knowledge (arcana) • Knowledge (architecture and engineering) • Knowledge (history) • Knowledge (mathematics) • Knowledge (philosophy) • Knowledge (religion) • Knowledge (the planes) • Knowledge (the Shapers) • Any other Knowledges unique to the DM’s campaign that seem thematically appropriate. Although these libraries are carefully organized, they are still large enough, and the tomes thick enough, that it requires substantial time and great effort to find specific information. Anyone using the library to research a specific topic (and thus to gain the bonuses listed above) must make a successful Search check. The difficulty of this roll is equal to 5 plus the bonus granted for using the library (larger libraries are harder to use). The character may make this attempt more than once, but each such attempt, failed or successful, requires an hour of searching.

The Shapers are fanatically concerned with the security of their knowledge, their library and their books. Every library is liberally festooned with glyphs and wards (of the sort that won’t damage the books, of course), and every tome marked with hidden sigils to make it easier to locate them via spell should they ever vanish from the library.

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Procedures

So, the Steadfast Order has access to very nearly every ancient occult and historical secret known to man across dozens of worlds. They are learning to manipulate magic in a way that is either brand new or so ancient as to have been previously forgotten, depending on whether one believes their self-proclaimed history. Their members are invariably wealthy and powerful, holding positions in government, mercantile interests, and society at large that allow them to pull almost all manner of strings.

What, then, do the Shapers do with it all? After all, the order has no true stated goal, no overt purpose or objective it’s trying to achieve.

In point of fact, while the order was originally founded to preserve and even expand the ancient lore it possesses — and while this is still the primary stated goal of the Shapers — it has become far more heavily focused on the good of its members. Consider the following:

A new member joins the Shapers. As a newcomer, he is barely an initiate, a member of the Twelfth Measure. He is the son of a wealthy landowner and owns his own shop; he has much gold, but little real power in society. His patron, a member of the Seventh Measure, is the commander of the city watch for the community in which they live. Suddenly, the guards begin harassing the new member’s competitors on the flimsiest of excuses, and turning a blind eye to certain questionable activities (perhaps the selling of stolen or smuggled goods) on the part of the new Shaper’s shop. Meanwhile, the town tax collector — who is also a member — lets the newcomer slide on certain tariffs. All the members encourage their friends and employees to shop from the new member, rather than other, similar establishments. At the next meeting of the city council, they nominate the new member for a position. And so on, and so forth.

In exchange, newcomers provide materials and capital to the organization — but, more importantly, develop an unbreakable loyalty to the Shapers and their beliefs.

And this doesn’t even include the many magics practiced by the Shapers. Enhancements to Charisma allow for more successful negotiation, divinations allow spying on rivals and competitors, wards provide security from thieves, and so on.

Perhaps the single most frequent (and most welcomed) use of the order’s power comes in protecting its members. The Shapers believe firmly in standing by one another; crimes against outsiders or against society, while frowned upon, are far less serious infractions than crimes against the order itself. Thus, if a member commits some crime, the Shapers do everything in their power to hide the fact. If evidence can be concealed or destroyed, they do so. Members who are part of law enforcement turn their attentions elsewhere, even arresting false suspects. Shapers in law and government pull strings to get the case dropped or, failing that, to ensure that any trials end in exoneration. Given the sheer number of nobles, politicians, and magistrates who belong to the Shapers, this sort of conspiracy is relatively easy — which is a good thing, since it’s also far more common than it should be. The order imposes its own penalties on members who commit crimes against society, with fines and demotions in Measure being the most common, but nothing more substantial. Thus, when power goes to a member’s head and he decides the laws of society do not apply to him, he’s very often right.

On the other hand, crimes against the Shapers are punished with a hideous severity; see below.

So is advancing their own status the only purpose the Shapers have? Not really, though it’s far and away the one that occupies most of their efforts. They do still take very seriously

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their obligation to preserve the ancient lore they’ve acquired, and to unearth or recreate more of it. The order has members scouring multiple worlds, seeking ancient secrets of history, magic, and even lost mathematic formulae. In fact, they sometimes employ adventuring parties for just such endeavors, and even to offer membership to those who prove themselves especially useful and skilled.

The Shapers, perhaps surprisingly, fund and participate in a number of civil programs. Through their efforts and their monies, entire neighborhoods have been cleaned up, food and shelter brought to the poor, diseases curbed before they could spread, and similar philanthropic goals attained. Some of the Shapers, even when their main concern is their own status, feel the urge to give back some of what they’ve earned to the community. Others participate in these efforts because they want their society to be the best and most glorious it can be. And still others merely seek to maintain appearances, to elevate the name of the Shapers just that much higher in the public consciousness as a benevolent, prestigious organization for the nobility to aspire to and the commoners to respect.

Crime and Punishment

As mentioned above, the order does not consider crimes committed against outsiders or society at large to be all that heinous. They’d prefer members refrain from doing so, as it draws unnecessary attention and might have financial or cultural repercussions for the region, and therefore for the order itself. Still, at least for the first few instances, the only real penalties attached are fines (which include both remuneration of costs and hefty punitive damages) and possibly a reduction in Measure. If the problem continues, the perpetrator might face more severe penalties, but this applies only to the most incorrigible of repeat offenders.

Crimes against the Shapers themselves, however, are an entirely different matter. Such violations are divided informally into two distinct categories.

Infractions

Infractions are minor crimes. Regularly skipping the order’s ceremonies, advancing one’s own position in society at the expense of one of the brethren, failure to show proper respect to one’s superiors, entering a library to which one is not permitted access without supervision — these are lesser offenses that, if not repeated, draw little more than fines, censure, and demotion, much like crimes against outsiders. Additionally, the perpetrator may be forced to aid his brethren in regaining any monies or authority lost due to his actions.

Treason

Serious crimes against the order include the murder of brethren, revealing the Shapers’ secrets to outsiders, or somehow (nigh-impossible as it may be) getting one’s hands on the truly ancient and powerful texts to which only the First Measure is permitted access. Additionally, excessive repetition of infractions might pile up to the point where the order considers them treasonous.

In either event, the punishment for treason is always a hideous death, though the precise means of execution vary by crime. A murderer of a fellow Shaper is nailed to a wall through his palms, deafened in both ears with a sharp implement, and then stoned to death by his fellows. Those who expose the orders’ secrets have their tongue, eyes and bowels removed (in that order). Those who gain access to the Shapers’ most ancient secrets simply disappear; none outside the First Measure know what becomes of them.

Those executed due to constant repetition of lesser crimes are slain in more traditional ways, such as hanging or beheading.

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In any event, the body of a slain criminal is stored in a crypt somewhere deep within the Great Axis, so that the First Measure may speak with their corpses if necessary, and so that their bodies are not available to anyone else for raising.

Rank and Title

The Steadfast Order contains a rigid hierarchy. Members are assigned to a specific level of initiation, called a Measure. One’s Measure determines how much influence and authority one has in the sect, but more importantly, it determines how many of the ancient secrets and mystic ways is permitted to learn.

The Shapers make use of twelve separate Measures, divided into three distinct categories. The Common Measures incorporate the Twelfth Measure (where all new initiates begin) through the Ninth. Members of the Common Measures may call upon the order for assistance in establishing or improving their standing in society, may request favors from others in higher positions, may seek legal aid and advice, and so forth. During this time, the initiates are instructed in the basic rites and rituals of the Shapers, and educated in the organization’s specific beliefs. Members of the Common Measures are not permitted to peruse the libraries without supervision from a higher member. They are often assigned the most menial of tasks and errand-running.

The Middle Measures, the Eighth through the Fifth, are full-fledged participants in the order. They have substantial power, both within the Shapers and in society itself. Their researches into the histories and mystic secrets are now their own to conduct, without supervision. They may even, on occasion, lead other members in a rite, if no member of the Noble Measures is available.

The Noble Measures, the Fourth through the First, are the highest echelons and leaders of the

Shapers. They are inducted into nearly all the rites and rituals, the deepest secrets. They are granted access to hidden tomes, lost magics and forgotten mathematical precepts and formulae that most of the Shapers don’t even know exist. Only the members of the First Measure have access to everything, of course; rumor throughout the organization has it that the members of the First Measure actually have some of the original tomes rescued from the fall of the great ancient civilization they all revere. The Noble Measures lead most of the order’s ceremonies, and in fact conduct many of their own in which the Common and Middle Measures do not participate. Only members of the Noble Measures may perform the ceremony to induct newcomers into the order, and only they may sit in judgment of brethren accused of a crime.

Each Lodge, no matter how small, has at least three members of a Noble Measure, for only they may lead a Lodge by Shaper law. Members of the First Measure rarely lead their own Lodges, but rather sit in council over the entire order from the Great Axis.

Note that, in game terms, the different Measures do not correspond to character levels. It is true that, on average, members of the Common Measures are of lower level than those of the Middle, and the Middle lower than the Noble, but these are generalities only. Some of the brethren become members of the order late in life, and others never quite master the secrets and rites necessary to advance beyond their starting measure. Additionally, members who are not of noble or at least high birth rarely advance beyond the Middle Measures, regardless of their skill or ability. Alternately, a particularly gifted member might advance in the Shapers faster than she does in her other skills. Thus, while not precisely common, it’s entirely possible to have members of the Common Measures of very high level, and members of the Noble Measures of low to mid-level.

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Customs and Practices

The Steadfast Order may not worship a deity, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t devout, even fanatic, in their beliefs. Their reverence for the mathematical formulae, the measurements and the general scientific perfection of the multi- verse borders on religion. The Shapers represent this combination of philosophical and mathematical concepts with a symbol called the Grand Balance. They do not actually believe that this symbol represents a specific higher power; rather, it encompasses within it all the various concepts the Shapers revere. When they invoke the Grand Balance in a ceremony, they are actually invoking all the formulae, theories, angles, means, measurements and so forth that they believe govern the workings of magic and reality. Clerics of the order pray to the Grand Balance for their spells, but again, they are actually expressing devotion to the concepts for which it stands.

For all that the Shapers revere the Grand Balance, however, they do not swear by it. The Grand Balance represents absolute perfection, and the order knows that no living being is perfect. To swear by perfection, then, is to reach for an unattainable goal, and to sully one’s connection to the divine. Thus, the Steadfast Order has created oaths around the instruments of the Grand Balance, symbols of math, measurement, science and philosophy. All oaths to the order are taken “By the Compass, the Scale, the Quill and the Rule.” Any oath taken to those symbols of the Balance is considered unbreakable, and violation of such an oath is considered heretical and punished as treason

The Shapers are heavily steeped in ceremony and tradition. They have rites for almost everything imaginable. The simplest of them is conducted at the opening and closing of every gathering of the brethren. It is a brief ritual, which involves little more than a droning litany spoken by the master of ceremonies

(usually the most senior member of the highest Measure present). The assembled brethren respond en masse at various points of the litany, and the master of ceremonies ends by lighting (or extinguishing) a series of candles in various geometric occult shapes, and then the meeting commences (or ends).

Once a week, each Lodge holds a much longer ritual, one which all local members are expected to attend unless issues of vital importance prevent it. The ceremony begins with an opening rite as described above. Rather than segue into a meeting, however, the rituals continue. They involve many chants and prayers in honor of the Grand Balance, the recitation of complex mathematical formulae, the repetition of oaths to the order and similar activities. Through it all, powerful symbols are created through the use of candles, valuable inks, even — on occasion — small bits of blood taken from all assembled.

Additional ceremonies beyond these weekly gathering exist, of course. The Shapers invoke the blessings of the Grand Balance before beginning an experiment, a spell, planning or constructing a building, and so forth. Still, the weekly ceremonies are considered the most important.

Sometimes, the weekly ceremonies contain other, less common rites. The induction of new members, the promotion of brethren to a new Measure, and the judgment of criminals all occur at this time.

Initiation

Prospective members must be sponsored by a patron of at least the Eighth Measure, and must then be approved by the leaders of the Lodge he is to join. Once approved, he undergoes a specific ritual. When a prospective initiate is inducted into the order, he is led into the meeting chamber in chains. There, all members of the Noble Measures accuse the

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newcomer of all manner of crimes and sins against the order, from working against their brethren to spilling its secrets to outsiders. Obviously, these crimes could not possibly have been committed; the leaders are symbolically arguing what will be. The initiate’s patron is responsible for “defending” him from these charges. After making a long and emphatic case for the new member’s loyalty and devotion, one of the members of the Noble Measures symbolically agrees to “pardon” the newcomer. He is warned, however, that the guilt of his “potential” sins lie on him always, and he must swear complete and unswerving allegiance to the order, and work all his life to erase the stain of his “crimes.”

Promotion

When a member believes himself ready for advancement to the next Measure, he requests permission from one of the leaders of his Lodge to undergo the ritual tests. He must present an accounting of his skills, abilities, and his knowledge. If deemed ready, he is permitted to participate in the rite which determines if he may advance to a new level of understanding.

One week before the rite, the hopeful member is taught the precise ceremony he must undertake. It is slightly different for each member, though its general format is always the same. It involves a series of questions and answers, oaths, recitations and formulae. The proper answers to the questions are not provided; the candidate must possess the proper knowledge himself, to prove that he has mastered his current Measure.

The trick is that the candidate must memorize the entire rite exactly, down to the intervals at which he is supposed to make his oaths and the timing of the questions he will be asked. When the day of the rite comes around and the candidate prepares to enter the chamber, he is magically blinded and deafened. He is expect

ed to conduct his half of the rite entirely from memory and his sense of timing. If he cannot remember what he is supposed to say, interrupts the Lodge leader, or fails to respond in time, he has failed the rite and may not try again for a full year.

The purpose of the rite is to test the candidate’s intelligence, his ability to remember complex concepts, and the like, as well as his ability to correctly answer questions and perform Shaper rituals. For each progressively higher order, the rite becomes more and more difficult. In game terms, completing one of these rites successfully — assuming one spends the entire intervening week learning the ritual — requires either an Intelligence or Knowledge (the Shapers) check against DC 30, minus the level of the Measure for which the candidate is testing. Use of magic to enhance one’s intelligence is forbidden.

Many people fail this rite the first time they take it, and no particular stigma is attached to those who must try multiple times to advance their position.

Judgment

When one of the brethren stands accused of a crime, he is brought into the center of a weekly ceremony in chains. On such nights, the leaders of the Lodge come to the ceremony in heavy hooded robes, so that they cannot be individually identified. Before the assembled brethren, the leaders read the crimes of which the prisoner has been accused. They hold no trial, permit no defense. All the allegations have been investigated by the Noble Measures and their agents before the accused is ever brought to this point; only the guilty are subject to this rite. Once the crimes are revealed, the leaders sitting in judgment proclaim the member’s sentence, to be carried out at dawn the next day. Only members of the Noble Measures may sit in judgment; furthermore, they must be of higher Measure than the

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accused. (Thus, only a member of the First or Second Measures could judge a member of the Third.) Presumably, members of the First Measure can judge their own, but so far as anyone knows, it’s never happened.

Strictures and Requirements

Any potential new member — whether he comes to the order or the Shapers approach him — must be sponsored by a member in good standing of the Eighth Measure or higher, and approved by local leaders. Brethren won’t sponsor just anyone, especially since sponsoring someone who is rejected by the Lodge leader is a black mark against a member’s reputation. Only those who are seen as having something definitive to offer the Steadfast Order are considered. This can be wealth, a particular talent or skill (they particularly seek out acknowledged experts in crafts such as smithing, stonework, and the like), knowledge, noble blood, a powerful position, or anything else the Shapers would consider useful. They have even been known to (reluctantly) offer membership in trade for certain items, such as ancient occult texts whose owners were unwilling to sell, or as repayment for favors.

Once someone is a member of the order, only a single formal rule exists that he must follow, a rule spelled out in a brief litany that begins many of the Shapers’ rites. “The Grand Balance is perfection. The Grand Balance is all. Honor it. Strive for it. Embrace it. Obey it.”

Rather abstract, really, but the Shapers have developed guidelines as to what that actually means.

• The brethren must participate in all Lodge rites and rituals, save for those circumstances when matters of the utmost and gravest import prevent them from doing so. • The brethren must follow, to the letter, any oath they take in the name of the symbols and tools of the Grand Balance. To do otherwise is to reject reality itself. • The brethren must, to the best of their abilities, seek to improve understanding of the measurements, the mathematics, the science, the theory, the philosophy, and the magic of the Grand Balance. • The brethren must, at all times and in all ways, seek to educate and guide those of lower Measure, to obey and learn from those of higher Measure, and to always aid fellow Shapers in any way they might require. • The brethren must not reveal the secrets of the Grand Balance, its tools, its agents, or the Steadfast Order to outsiders under any circumstances. Those who wish to learn will find their way to the order; those who do not are unworthy. • The brethren must not undertake any action that might harm the order or interfere with the activities of their fellows. Technically, violation of any one of those precepts is treason and punishable by death. In practice, missing rituals, fudging the parameters of an oath or scheming in a minor way against a fellow are considered lesser crimes, punishable by fines and demotion, unless they become chronic.

Influence and Outside Connections

The Steadfast Order consists largely of people of power: politicians, nobles, wealthy merchants, military leaders, watch captains, guild- masters and the like. Furthermore, in those nations in which they have operated for a long time, they are often viewed as the pinnacle of society, a gentleman’s association to which everyone aspires. As such, they have at least some strings to pull in nearly every level of

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society. If they cannot influence kings, they can certainly influence advisors; if they cannot influence generals, they can certainly influence unit captains. Their pull is especially strong in larger cities, where the sheer size of the bureaucracy means that they can have large numbers of personnel in positions of authority.

The Steadfast Order has no specific connections with any other interplanar factions, though some of their richer members have, at times, been known to hire the Wild Hunt. In one or two instances, the presence of the Shapers in government has prevented the Eternal Flame and the Silent Hand from placing their own agents in those positions but, to date, neither group has turned its attentions to the Steadfast Order as a whole.

GEOMANTIC FEATS

Of all the ancient magics the Shapers have studied, the greatest — or at least the one they’ve most successfully mastered — is the art of geomancy. By using the natural shape of the earth, the powers inherent in stones, metals and other materials, and by constructing buildings with specific designs and in specific locations, the Shapers are able to invoke a sort of power unavailable to those not initiated in the secrets. By placing a hallway and an oddly angled corner here, carving this symbol onto the roof there, or by constructing all the houses in this neighborhood in a specific pattern, the order turns architecture and even city planning into magical components. By combining certain alchemical compounds into a blade with forgotten metallurgical techniques, and invoking the powers of the iron from which it came, they can grant the weapon enchantments in ways other spellcasters cannot.

In game terms, these powers are represented not by new spells, but by a new category of feat called Geomantic feats. These come in

two categories: architectural feats (involving buildings and structures) and craft feats (involving smaller items). Assume that membership in the Steadfast Order is a prerequisite for learning any of these feats, in addition to those listed below.

Architectural Focus [Geomantic, architectural]

You know how to properly place and design a building so it serves as a focus for divination spells.

Prerequisites: Knowledge (architecture and engineering) 8 ranks, ability to cast Intelligence-based arcane spells or access to the Magic Domain; membership in the Tenth Measure or higher.

Benefit: If you design a building, and build it at the proper angle and distance in comparison to other nearby structures, it becomes a focus for your divination spells. You must make a successful Knowledge (architecture and engineering) check during the planning stages, against a base DC of 15 for a small structure of three rooms or fewer. The DC increases by 1 for every three additional rooms (or equivalent amount of space), rounded down. Thus, a building with five rooms requires a DC of 16, while a building of 27 rooms has a DC of 23. You do not know if the check is successful until after the building is constructed. Once the building has been built, you gain a bonus to any divination spells you cast either from the building, or to see into it. Any spell of the Divination school that you cast while in the building, regardless of target, functions as though you were 2 caster levels higher. Any spell designed to see into the building (if, for instance, you wished to scry on someone inside) functions at +2 caster level, has its duration doubled, automatically sees through any misdirection or cloaking spells unless they have a caster level higher than your own, and bestows a –4 to any saves or checks made by

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the subjects to determine that they are being watched. These effects stack, so if you are scrying from one room of the building into another, the spell is at +4 caster level.

Architectural Trigger [Geomantic, architectural]

You can design a building so that it actually becomes a magic item, capable of casting a spell or spells if those within take the proper actions.

Prerequisites: Knowledge (architecture and engineering) 13 ranks, Spellcraft 18 ranks, Architectural Focus, Craft Staff or Craft Wondrous Item, membership in the Sixth Measure or higher.

Benefit: You may design and build a structure so that it actually contains spells, much in the manner of a wand or staff. You must make a successful Knowledge (architecture and engineering) check during the planning stages, against a base DC of 20 + the combined levels of all the spells attached to the building. Thus, a building that casts daylight (2nd-level spell) whenever a door is opened has a DC of 14, whereas a building that alerts the caster (alarm, 1st-level spell), paralyzes the intruder (hold person, 3rd-level spell), and summons a greater earth elemental to destroy him (summon monster VIII, 8th-level spell) has a DC of

24. You do not know if the check succeeded until the building is finished. You must spend both gold (above and beyond that required to construct the building) and experience points, exactly as though you were creating a magic item with these spells. Although these spells are technically use-activated, they follow the rules for creating a staff in terms of gold and experience costs.

You must decide when enchanting the building what trigger sets off the various spells. It might be something as simple as entering a specific room or opening a door, to as complex

as uttering a password or shedding the blood of specific creatures in specific rooms in the proper order. You must also decide where such spells are targeted. Note that the building is not inherently immune to its own spells, unless you enchant it thus, so triggering, say, a fireball in the front hall if the door is broken down might have undesirable consequences.

Enchanting the building requires one day for every 1,000 gp (or fraction thereof) of the base price. This process must be completed during the building’s construction.

Special: You can, with extra cost and effort, render the building immune to damage from any of the spells you have attached to it. For a gold and experience point cost equal to 50 percent of the cost necessary for imbuing the spell into the building, you can render the building immune to that spell. Note that this renders the building immune to only the spells that you attach to it; if someone else casts the same spell, the building takes damage as normal.

Brew Alchemical Potion [Geomantic, craft]

You can brew certain potions even if you are not a spellcaster, or cannot cast the relevant spells.

Prerequisites: Craft (alchemy) 10 ranks, Profession (herbalist) 7 ranks, membership in the Tenth Measure or higher.

Benefit: Through the use of alchemical, herbal, and mineral techniques, you may brew certain potions regardless of your magical acumen. You may create the following potions:

• Bear’s endurance • Bull’s strength • Cat’s grace • Cure light wounds 86

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• Cure moderate wounds • Cure serious wounds • Darkvision • Delay poison • Eagle’s Splendor • Fox’s Cunning • Jump • Lesser restoration • Love • Neutralize poison • Owl’s wisdom • Remove blindness/deafness • Remove disease • Remove paralysis • Water breathing All gold and experience point costs are calculated as normal (using the cleric/druid/wizard base prices). The process must also be completed as per normal item creation rules, save that no spells need be cast. The functional caster level is equal to the creator’s character level –3.

Craft Geomantic Arms and Armor [Geomantic, craft]

You can create certain magic arms and armor even if you are not a spellcaster, or cannot cast the relevant spells.

Prerequisites: Craft (alchemy) 8 ranks, Craft (armorsmithing or weaponsmithing, as appropriate) 13 ranks, membership in the Seventh Measure or higher.

Benefit: Through the use of certain metallurgical and alchemical techniques, you may create magic weapons, armor and shields regardless of your magical acumen. Although you may create items with enhancement bonuses

up to +5 (if you’re high enough level), you may not create weapons, shields, or armor with special properties of greater than +1 total value. Thus, you could create a +2 heavy flail, or even a +2 flaming heavy flail, because the flaming quality is worth only +1. You could not, however, create a +2 holy heavy flail, because the holy quality is worth +2. Similarly, you could not create a +2 flaming thundering heavy flail, because while flaming and thundering are each +1, the two together are a total of +2.

All gold and experience point costs are calculated as normal, and the process — including the crafting of the item — must also be completed as per normal item creation rules, save that no spells need be cast. The functional caster level is equal to the creator’s character level –3. You must also meet the minimum level requirement for creating a given item; that is, your functional caster level must be at least 3 times the enhancement bonus.

Divinatory Architecture [Geomantic, architectural]

You can scry areas of a building you specially designed without the necessity of casting a spell.

Prerequisites: Knowledge (architecture or engineering) 15 ranks, Spellcraft 14 ranks, Architectural Focus, membership in the Seventh Measure or higher.

Benefit: You may view any area of a building which you designed and to which you have already successfully applied the Architectural Focus feat, as though using the scry spell. All benefits of using divination magics to view the building, as granted by the Architectural Focus feat, still apply. You may focus on either a specific room, or on a person or object you know to be present. You may maintain this observation for a number of minutes per day equal to your Intelligence modifier plus your

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cleric or wizard level. The time does not need to be consecutive; that is, you could watch for two minutes in the morning, three in the afternoon, and so forth. You may change locations at will.

If you designed more than one building to which you have applied both this feat and Architectural Focus, keep time for each such structure separately.

Extended Architectural Focus [Geomantic, architectural]

You may design an entire neighborhood or small village to grant you the same benefits as a single building does under the Architectural Focus feat.

Prerequisites: Knowledge (architecture or engineering) 15 ranks, Spellcraft 18 ranks, Architectural Focus, membership in the Fifth Measure or higher.

Benefit: As with Architectural Focus, but you gain the divination and scrying benefits for every building within a small area or community. You must have designed at least half the buildings in the area, and you must have planned the layout of the entire community. This requires a successful Knowledge (architecture and engineering) check during the planning stages, against a base DC of 25 for a small community of three buildings or fewer. The DC increases by 1 for each additional small building (the size of an average house). Larger buildings might increase the DC by 2, or even as much as 4 or 5. Truly large buildings, such as castles, forts or large mansions cannot be incorporated into this feat, and must be treated separately with the Architectural Focus feat.

Extended Divinatory Architecture [Geomantic, architectural]

You can scry areas of a neighborhood, community or village you specially designed without the necessity of casting a spell.

Prerequisites: Knowledge (architecture or engineering) 17 ranks, Spellcraft 20 ranks, Architectural Focus, Extended Architectural Focus, membership in the Fourth Measure or higher.

Benefit: As per Divinatory Architecture, but applied to an entire grouping of buildings which you helped design, and to which you have already successfully applied the Extended Architectural Focus feat. Unlike the time restraints imposed by Divinatory Architecture, there is no limit to the amount of time you may spend scrying on the community.

Greater Architectural Focus [Geomantic, architectural]

You can cast other spells into a building via your scrying spells, regardless of distance.

Prerequisites: Knowledge (architecture and engineering) 10 ranks, Spellcraft 13 ranks, Architectural Focus, membership in the Sixth Measure or higher.

Benefit: You may cast other spells — anything from detect magic to lightning bolt — into a building you designed, and to which you have already successfully applied the Architectural Focus feat. Any spell with a range other than Self or Touch, and that does not radiate from the caster in all directions, is applicable. The casting time for any such spell increases to one full minute, or doubles if it is already a minute or longer; you may not shorten it through the use of the Quicken Spell feat, though other metamagic feats may be applied normally. All other aspects of the spell — required attack rolls, saving throws, damage, etc. — are unchanged. You

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must be able to see the room into which you are casting, so you must either have a scrying spell of some sort active, use a scrying device like a crystal ball, or use the Divinatory Architecture feat. Each use of this feat immediately grants all subjects an additional save to detect your observations, and this save is not subject to the normal –4 penalty granted by Architectural Focus.

A WORD ON DUNGEONS

The Steadfast Order constructs buildings, fortresses, castles, neighborhoods, even entire villages around the precepts of geomancy. They have also delved into the earth to carve dungeon complexes.

Why do these complexes exist? Why, in the middle of the uncharted wilderness or desert regions of so many D20 fantasy campaign worlds, can one inevitably find an underground labyrinth or other dungeon, just waiting for stalwart adventurers to loot?

The Shapers are often the reason why. Many of these dungeons were carved for geomantic purposes, their bizarre twists and turns not nearly so random or nonsensical as they appear to the uninitiated. Some are entirely symbolic, carved by the Shapers purely to “bless” an area in the name of the Grand Balance, and used for little more than storage, living quarters, or perhaps an actual dungeon for holding prisoners. Others are actually components of geomantic spells that have either long faded or not yet been triggered. A dungeon might, for instance, have been constructed to house a blood ritual that would allow contact with a being of the outer planes. The monsters that have moved in since it was abandoned supply the blood and the adventurers, by slaying them and spilling that blood, draw unknowingly nearer to opening a portal in the center of the

complex and allowing something to come forth. The Shapers are not an evil organization, so the creature might not be hostile — but who can say until it’s too late?

Certain powerful and intelligent monsters, or perhaps even members of the Shapers themselves, might dwell in these complexes, having learned to use their mystical attributes to observe or control what happens in their halls and chambers.

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