The Defenders of the Greenkeep are little more than a motley collection of survivors from the invasion of the Bandit Kingdoms by Iuz and the massacre at Steelbone Meadows. They inhabit a section of the eastern Fellreev Forest that was traditionally a zone of contention or a border region between the Dazark orc tribe and sylvan elf clans. The worship of Olidamara was the bonding agent that kept most of them together through the roughest of times. These bandits view life with a devil may care attitude. With the constant threat of possible death just around the corner, they laugh and live life to its fullest.
The Defenders of the Greenkeep exist in loosely knit bands of bandits turned foresters that move freely throughout their territory—Scavenging and avoiding trouble. A handful of permanent campsites are located throughout their area of the Fellreev, but are shared by all. They come to these camps to share news and recoup after encounters against Iuzian's Dazark orc and sylvan elf tribes.
With a grim sense of humor and determination, they learned the ways of the forest. Their very name is a joke, as they can't defend the Greenkeep, their name for the Fellreev, they can barely hang onto their territory. While they have not allied with their stronger and more numerous neighbors, they have benefited from the alliance between the displaced Reyhu and the sylvan elf tribes.
The Defenders have become master ambushers and deadly archers. They excel at hit-and-run tactics and are highly mobile when it comes to traversing the rugged terrain of the forest. Despite the close ties between the various bands of Defenders and their sharing of a common worship of Olidamara, no new leader has risen to forge them into a cohesive force.
The Dreadwood is a large forest in southern Keoland that separates it from the Hool Marshes. This forest is home to a fiercely independent nation of wood elves that aggressively defend the wood from intruders, most notably monsters that filter in from the Hool Marshes. Still, even greater evil exists in the wood's thick interior centered around ancient ruins once used by dark wizards.
A royal writ was bestowed upon the elves giving them the right to govern most of the forest as its protectors. A convenient way for Keoland to save face appearing to grant the elves that which they already claimed. Still, the Keoland crown and the elves have been on good terms for centuries.
The Dreadwalkers were founded over 900 years ago by House Lizhal to help protect against the foul and dark magics of House Malhel. House Malhel fled into the Dreadwood to escape their punishment by House Neheli and the Silent Ones for ravishing parts of Keoland with their foul magic. Unable to eradicate them, the Dreadwalkers did contain them in the deep interior of the woods. Aberrations sometimes emerge to torment the forest from these very same areas, and an evil taint has twisted the forest there.
Over the centuries, the Dreadwalker's mission has changed and become one in line with the visions of the wood elves. Today, they protect the entire forest against all its enemies. Traffic traveling along the Dreadwood Road is often targeted by bandits and humanoids infesting the forest, forcing the Dreadwalkers to patrol its length constantly.
The Dreadwalkers are comprised of wood elves, humans, and a handful of the indigenous gnome population. They are on good terms with the Keoland garrisons, the wood elf nation, the great druidess Reynard Yargrove and the druid circle that calls the Dreadwood their home. While they often work with these other organizations, they predominantly scout the forest in their own bands.
Over the generations, many of those that found themselves persecuted by the evil Aerdy despots fled into the Adri Forest. Eventually, out of this grew small but well-organized bands of rangers, priests, and druids dedicated to protecting the forest and those that live within it.
Among these groups, one organized by the priesthood of Ehlonna, calling themselves the Warriors of the Huntress, took shape. These militant foresters believed in being aggressive and proactive against threats to the forest. They also bring the blessing and teachings of Ehlonna to all who wish it along the way.
As the reputation of these priests grew, they took on followers of like mind and faith. Chief among these followers are the rangers who aid in their crusade to keep the forest clear of the evil that ruined and broke apart the Great Kingdom.
The Warriors of the Huntress are on good terms with most in the forest, even if they are considered hotheaded by some. This lustful approach to defending the Adri has led to the warriors pursuing threats, or perceived threats, outside of the forest. Because of this, the Warriors of the Huntress have a reputation outside of the Adri. In the North Kingdom, the warriors are wanted criminals with bounties on their heads.
The Warriors of the Huntress have no real structure to their organizations and instead make decisions by committee. But the priestess Lisara Elmhern is regarded by most outside of the Warriors of the Huntress as being their unofficial leader.
Deep within the depths of the Burneal, a cold primordial northern forest, live the aboriginal Uirtag flan. These forest dwellers who once lived upon the fringes of the Burneal withdrew into its depths at the onset of the Great Migrations to avoid these conquerors. Well aware of the dangers that dwelt deep within the forest's interior, the Uirtag relied heavily upon their rangers for guidance and help in adjusting to this new isolated form of living amongst the trees. Fortunately for the Uritag the Mist Wolves of the Burneal were there to help them.
The relationship between the Uirtag and the Mist Wolves had already been a strong one of mutual respect. Still, it quickly evolved into a mutual existence that has grown well beyond a partnership into a close bond between the two. From the Uirtag the Mist Wolves gained a valuable ally in their constant crusade against the evils of the Burneal, and from the Mist Wolves the Uritag tribes that adopted them learned an good and orderly view of life within the forest.
From this bond grew a new warden of the Burneal, the Mist Walkers. These rangers live alongside the Mist Wolves and have joined them in their never ending quest to keep the dangers of the Burneal at bay.
Prominent among the loosely knit organization of the Gnarley forest is its seven Ranger Knights. While there is no recognized hierarchy amongst the rangers of the Gnarley, the knights unofficially serve that role. Each of the knights watches over a section of the forest and trains a number of followers in the ways of the Ranger Knights.
The history of the Ranger Knights can be traced back to the 400's CY when a disgraced knight made his way into the forest to hide out from those seeking his head. Who he was before entering the Gnarley is unknown, but this knight became known as the Knight of the Gnarley Forest soon after. Called Tedric by his friends, the Knight of the Gnarley soon found and became fast friends with one of the Gnarley's rangers, Drikel Zondwin.
Secretly looking to redeem himself for whatever his past transgressions were, Tedric began a campaign against the evils that dwelt in the Gnarley and preyed against its inhabitants. In this endeavor, his trusted friend Drikel accompanied him and taught him the ways of the forest, making him the first Ranger Knight of the forest.
Tedric's party of close companions grew to seven in total. Each one an experienced ranger in their own right, but Tedric began teaching them the ways of knightly virtue and courage. In turn, he knighted each one and appointed them as the official Ranger Knights of the Gnarley forest. Even though the knights have no written charter or bylaws, or a lord liege they serve, the Ranger Knights follow the example of chivalric duty as shown to them by Sir Tedric. They swear to protect the weak and the innocent of the Gnarley with unto their last breath.
Today there are still seven Ranger Knights of the Gnarley, a number they hold as a sacred symbol of their order. Unlike in the days of Sir Tedric, the knights have their sections of the forest they oversee and protect instead of roaming around altogether. Each knight, in turn, trains a group of followers in the ways of the Ranger Knights. These squires are instructed in the ways of living and surviving in the forest and the virtues of being a knight. While they do not fit the typical image of knights in their worn leathers and sporting bows, falchions, and axes, they act with as much virtue and grace as any other courtly knight from around the flanaess.
Every two to three months, the knights travel to the town of Corustaith, where they exchange information about what is happening in their forest sectors. If threats are deemed concerning enough, the knights band together and will assault the problem with all of their numbers, but this is rare.
As the Wolf Nomads or Wegwiur as they call themselves settled down into their new homeland in the northern Flanaess, the elite outriders of the Relentless Horde found themselves without purpose. Under the guidance of the late Kha-Khan, they scouted ahead for plunder and grazing lands. Still, they now found themselves simply wandering their new homeland without purpose. They found occasional purpose in killing the rare monster or leading raids against their former allies, the Tiger Nomads, or into Perrenland. Still, those callings were few, so their numbers dwindled. They might have even faded into legends had it not been for the rise of Iuz, and the threat of a new foe to fight.
With the coming of Iuz, these once outriders evolved into the Wolf Sentinels, ranging the lands between their's and that of the forces of the Great Old One. They took prominent roles in the battles that soon followed Iuz's return and leaders in the continuous skirmishes and raids along their borders with Iuz's empire.
Within the rigid structure of Wolf Nomad society, Wolf Sentinels answer only to their tribal tarkhan. When donning the ceremonial red wolves head of their station, they sever all ties to their families and clans to remain uninfluenced by clan rivalries. Wolf Sentinels take no wives and have no children so long as they remain a Wolf Sentinel. They may retire from their station if they wish and live a family life, but this usually only happens if the Sentinel has lingering injuries that keep them from performing the tasks of a Wolf Sentinel. Even when they set aside the red wolf head helm, they are still without their original family.
A Wolf Sentinels are solitary figures conducting their duties alone or in the company of a personal pack of wolves that they keep. They follow the tribes they are originally from when not raiding or in a war party but always make their camps a few miles from that of the tribe. They often join or form raiding and war parties to strike against their enemies despite their isolated existence. Wolf Sentinels are a common sight in and around Ungra Balan. They travel there to meet with others of their kind, exchange information, and speak with other tribal tarkhans.
As the Greyhawk Wars began and Iuz's armies of humanoids, fiends, and evil humans marched into neighboring kingdoms, the lack of proper reconnaissance became apparent immediately. With their superior numbers supported by fiends and demons, they still won but took needless losses. After the first year of the war drew to a close, Iuz was convinced of the need for adequately trained scouts to accompany his armies by members of his Boneshadow spies. Sunifarel Brightrobe volunteered one of his most effective agents, an elven ranger named Noirian Zieros, to organize it.
Iuz ordered Noirian to find individuals amongst his subjects that could be turned into scouts for his armies. Sunifarel provided Noirian a list of potential candidates, and he quickly brought them aboard as the first recruits and then began scouring the ranks of Iuz's armies for more. Within a month, Noirian had units of scouts attached to many of Iuz's armies, providing them with valuable scouting and reconnaissance.
As the war dragged on, these units of scouts also became valuable hit squads for the generals. In addition to providing valuable battlefield intel, the scouts undertook infiltration missions to assassinate enemy officers and disrupt supply chains behind enemy lines. Because of their need to infiltrate into mostly human lands, a disproportionate number of the scouts recruited were human or demi-human. These scouts also took the name of Iuz's Huntsmen.
As the Greyhawk Wars ended, the Huntsmen became invaluable as the hot war turned into a cold one. The need for covert troops to infiltrate enemy lands and assassinate or gather valuable information was necessary. The Huntsmen were assigned these tasks as their longevity within the Iuz's empire became permanent.
Noirian Zieros, relishes his position as the head of the Huntsmen and has remained an ally of Sunifarel Brightrobe. Noirian realizes he owes his new position to Sunifarel, and having an ally, especially an elven one, in the Boneshadow benefits him tremendously.
The Justicar presented here, while influenced by the class that appeared in Dragon Magazine #290, is based more upon the Justicar character that author Pauli Kidd popularized in his novels "White Plume Mountain, Descent into the Depths of the Earth, and Queen of the Demonweb Pits."
In those novels, the Justicar was part of an organization of commandos and raiders that fought a guerrilla war against the forces of Iuz with stealth and guile. The title of Justicar was one that the main character bestowed upon himself to reflect his transformation and not one given to him upon joining a specific organization. With this Archetype, I look at what if there was such an organization.
The order known as the Justicars grew out of the military ranks of the Shield Lands and Furyondy. These scouts and rangers patrolled the borders between these kingdoms, fighting in the endless skirmishes between those nations and developing a deep hatred for them. Among these rangers was a band of freelancers under the command of Partaxian Valrune.
Valrune despised being tied down to anyone's command or being obliged to hold an allegiance to lords he often found to be nearly as corrupt as the Iuzian's. He preferred to come and go as he saw fit to fight the evil hordes of Iuz and the Horned Society. The rulers of Furyondy and the Shield Lands gladly employed them and often entrusted them with the most dangerous of missions instead of endangering their troops. The ranks of Valrune's band grew and soon took on the moniker of Justicars. The label was given to them by the troops of Furyondy for their willingness to undertake the most suicidal missions if innocents were being treated unjustly.
With the outbreak of the Greyhawk Wars, Valrune split his group up into several bands and recruited more heavily, especially from the ranks of the disenfranchised ex-soldiers of the downtrodden Shield Lands. The Justicars became a proper organization during the war, with chapters popping up across the west and central Flanaess.
The Justicars never recognized the truce that ended the war and continued their fight against Iuz and all injustice wherever they found it. This philosophy has brought them into direct conflict with many kingdoms in the post-war years, so much so that Justicars are banned from Furyondy.
Principles of the Justicars
Justicars strictly follow a simple code. To be a Justicar, one must follow it faithfully; those who do not are cast out or executed in certain rare cases. Justicars see themselves as judge, jury, and executioner of these principles. Those who interfere with their ability to follow these simple principles are the enemy.
Justicars are loosely organized freedom fighters of like mind and principle. The driving force behind their persistence and continued existence is that they feel they cannot trust anyone but themselves. During the war, the Justicars established a headquarters in Radigast city in the County of Urnst, where they often take covert missions from Countess Belissica herself.
Their headquarters in Radigast City is known as the keep and is a place where those seeking to enlist into the cause can come and get training, share information, arms and equipment. Recruits will undergo a trial period where they assist in operations and are observed to judge their worth. When one Justicar feels they are ready and is willing to vouch for them, they are welcomed into the ranks.