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Against the Shadow  |  Organizations  |  The Chandrahaal
The Chandrahaal

The Chandrahaal


Origins

    During the years of tumult that marked the Third Age, there was an old shoemaker, whose name is lost to history, who lived in the city of Sharuun. This man had a wife, children, and grandchildren, a prosperous shop on the periphery of the Far Lands Market, the great bazaar of the Southlands. One day, he downed tools, and without a word to his apprentices or family, left the city, taking nothing but his walking stick and the clothes on his back.
    He travelled far across Eredane, suffering the depredations of bandits and renegade horselords on the southern plains, then venturing deep into the Druid's Swamp and beyond, into the Caraheen. Such a journey was unprecedented in that Age; although in the time of the alliances of the Second Age, men and elves and dwarves would think nothing of travelling thus through the lands of their partners, the growing paranoia and isolation of the Third made such events rare. All along his journey, he avoided the lethal dangers of the environment with his intellect and strange, supernatural foresight. And while the guardians of the forest saw him, and heard of his travails through the Whisper, they did not bar his path or reveal themselves to him.
    Finally, the man beheld the hometrees of Caradul itself. Approaching, he begged an audience with the Witch Queen, and to the great surprise of her advisors and soldiers, she bade him enter the Arbour. The supplicant and the Queen spoke for many days, sequestered in her chambers, and when they finally emerged, the Witch Queen announced that the man, henceforth known by the nom de plume Akhmad Alzaad, was a true prophet and visionary, the spiritual heir of Ressial, her advisors form the long, long passed Golden Age. Aradil commanded that Jenan Kyri, the Devoted Captain of her Ceremonial Guard, go with Alzaad back into the lands of men, and aid him in setting up a clandestine society that would safeguard the secrets and wisdom Alzaad foresaw.
    The two indeed did this, though it greived Kyri deeply to leave her warriors and Queen. Returning to the Southlands, Alzaad and his elven guardian went to Cambrial, where the prophet used his powers of divination to make contacts amongst the scholarly community. Between them, Alzaad and Kyri gathered sagees and warriors, adventurers and informants, from the North and the South, Highwall to Sharuun, and began weaving them into a unified whole, a network that would endure in secret until the Last Age, when it would be truely needed.
    As his span of years wore on, Alzaad left most of the details of running the organization to the still-youthful elf, and retired to a monestary outside of Highwall where he compsoed a book of his visions and prophecies. It took many years to write, and the legends say he died the very night after setting down his quill on the final page. The book, collated by Kyri and the scholars at her side, became known as the Chandrahaal ; the Chronicle of the Paths. The organization as a whole took this name for it's own, and set about preparing for what Alzaad had said would come to pass.

Organization

    There are three arms to the Chandrahaal; Those Who Read And Wait (the Chroniclers), Those Who Defend And Seek (the Sentinels), and finally, a much more recent group, Those Who Learn and Teach (the Encyclopedists). Overall, there is little hierarchy to the first group, the Chroniclers; the eldest, wisest and most knowledgeable tend to lead, but with little formal authority. As the Chandrahaal is a sparse and individual group, they rarely congregate enough to need strong leadership. On the other hand, the Sentinels, the second arm of the Chandrahaal, obey the relationship of master and a coterie of students.

The Chroniclers
    The core of the Chandrahaal is a fellowship of sages, priests and wise ones across the human lands of Eredane. The group is very loosely organized, as they practise the crafts of literacy and scholarship that the Shadow would stamp out without hesitation, let alone their support for the resistance. Each Chronicler was taught by a master, an established member of the group, taught the tales of the Chandrahaal Tome, prepared for the group's mission; to find and give succour to the Pathwalkers, the disparate heroes who will ultimatly make the difference in the struggle against the Shadow. For the Chandrahaal speaks of these individuals, blessed with strange yet wonderous powers and ancestries, who will rise up form every corner of Eredane to bring freedom, relief and strength back to the enslaved races.
    Each Chronicler hopes to encounter one or more of these heroes, to guide them to their destiny, to help and protect them at each step, in accordance with the Chandrahaal Tome. However, they must be circumspect; with little personal or corporate power, the Chroniclers and Chndrahaal as a whole are vulnerable, relying on the power of those they seek to protect themselves. Worse, some cryptic passages refer to the Dark Paths, the antithesis of the Heroic Paths; woe betide the Chronicler who reveals himself and his brothers to a Pathwalker that is in fact a creature of Izrador, mind body and soul.
    Most Chroniclers own at least a fragment of a translation of the Chandrahaal Tome; indeed, many content themselves with studying a few passages along, trying to unravel the truths therein. By following the portents and prophecies, they can gain an insight into ways to help fight the Shadow. Many Chroniclers also carry a torn copy of the first page of the Tome as a recognition symbol; it can be used as a general signal of membership, or, by matching it to it's missing half, as a specific token fo identifying particular members.
    Only fairly large settlements (village and above) tend to have even a single Chronicler, and these hermits and loners are less likely to try and communicate with others of their order.

The Sentinels
    The militant arm of the Chandrahaal, the Sentinels are warriors, messengers and defenders of the Chroniclers and the Pathwalkers. They train in martial arts passed down from Jenan Kyri of the Ceremonial Guard, the beautiful and deadly forms and passes of elven swordcraft, the Idain . Each acomplished Sentinel trains a small handful of students when the time comes, introducing them to the ways of the Chandrahaal. Sentinels are as often found traveling the land, seeking the manifestation of Pathwalkers as guarding Chroniclers and their precious storehouses of books.
    Amongst their number, members of the Sentinel class are commonly found (only if the DM chooses to use that optional core class, found HERE ), as are fighters, defenders and wildlanders.

The Encyclopedists
    This is a very recent branch of the Chandrahaal. It was born from the need in the Last Age to preserve and, in a lesser extent, spread, the last bits of knowledge that could be saved from Izrador’s invasion.

Its members are errant scribes, who walk the lands of Aryth in search of lost knowledge and apprentices. It is they who write reports to the Chroniclers when they meet people who could be Heroes. They then observe them, and document their strange powers known as paths. If one such individual seems trustworthy (after a long observation), then the Encyclopedist makes sure that a Chronicler takes that individual under his tutelage. They also act like a link between Chandrahaal cells (think about the order of messenger magi from Ars Magica).


Origins

    It all began when Highwall fell. Only one scholar managed to flee, with a few scrolls under his arm. Actually, he fled BEFORE Izrador's army arrived (otherwise he would have been dead). His name was Kaerl, a noble Dorn. After the Day of Defeat, he spent quite a few years, walking from a ruined village to another, drinking to forget his failure. But one day, as he was dead drunk near a little fountain, he awoke and found that a little boy was trying to read one of his scrolls. Kaerl realized suddenly that, in his own despair, he had not seen that his people were being reduced to nothing from the ignorance and the lies implanted by Izrador's minions to sap their will. This was the opportunity for his redemption: he taught the boy to read and write, and soon others came and he taught them also. He also taught them how to best make use of plants, of rudiments of medicine, and other practical knowledge. He gave these people hope: he told them there was more to be learnt in books and scrolls. Unfortunately, he was soon denounced to the local legate and died as a martyr of the resistance, an old man who smiled even when he was cremated as a witch. Because he had seen his apprentices were there, hiding his scrolls under their arms. He waved them a good bye before the flames took him. Since that day, every member of this society carries with himself a lorebook, similar in every respect to the hermetic channeler's. Inside it, every member notes every bit of knowledge he stumbles upon, regardless of the field of knowledge: everything is good to know.
    To avoid detection, they always go by two, one master and one apprentice only. Always isolated, they only communicate by chance meetings (they have the same gut instinct that Defenders have to recognize each other). If one disappears or is discovered, the other can still maintain the knowledge gained (either by keeping the lorebook or by starting another and writing from memory).
    The Encyclopedist's main goal is the preservation of knowledge, in every domain: biology, medicine, literature, etc. Everything helps a little bit to limit the effects of this Dark Age. They find of special importance the study of history (it helps people not to believe the Legates' lies), medicine (prevents diseases and such), geography (so that people are aware of the outside world, and it avoids the distrust and misconceptions against other people that Izrador's minions try to implant in the people's minds), and strategy (so that prospective freedom fighters can be longer-lived in choosing their fights more wisely). To achieve this goal, they roam every country, to make scientific experiences, listen to old folks who have ancient knowledge before they are lost to time, and basically gathering every possible scrap of knowledge. This is a colossal task, but it is one of the most noble yet misunderstood acts of resistance. They also try and recover lost knowledge. For that, they sometimes research ancient sites in search of legendary manuscripts, and other precious artefacts of knowledge (this is not modern archaeology, however: rather think of Schliemann's search of the lost city of Troy based on the study of Homer's Iliad. And, last but not least, comes their most dangerous task: the propagation of knowledge (see recruitment).

    When an adept feels tired of the world and has made sure his knowledge is safe between the hands of members of his order, he settles in a remote village and teaches as many children as possible befoire being discovered and killed: this is called "making the Kaerl pilgrimage", a noble and selfless act, which allows the encyclopedist to at last freely propagate his precious knowledge. The children he taught then form a new link in this endless chain.

    Eventually, all the tomes gathered by the Encyclopedists end up in the Hargern (which means “Hidden” in old Norther), a secret grotto located in a deep chasm in the hot Asmadarin mountains. This place is inhabited by Irenuil, the last untainted Lore Pool on Aryth (see MoS p 41), who acts as the organization’s librarian. He makes sure all their encyclopedy is safe from the elements and carefully indexed with its inhuman patience. Of course, one day, a legate will discover it, and this only source of knowledge will be wiped away from the world... unless bold heroes can prevent it?

Recruitment into the Chandrahaal

    A member of the group, typically an encyclopedist, usually spends years secretly studying prospective apprentices (though they don't know it). He often observes them when they are children, secretly testing their curiosity and sense of loyalty. Knowing that he can't afford mistakes, he takes all the time needed to be sure of his choice. When the apprentice is selected, the encyclopedist typically makes sure that the child accidentally "finds" a parchment covered of inscriptions: if he tries and decipher it, the encyclopedist tells him that he can teach him, but he has to become his apprentice and leave his current life forever (mistreated orphans are typically a good pick). If the child accepts, they leave together, master and apprentice, in search of more knowledge. When the master thinks the time is right, he frees his apprentice, who then can teach his own apprentices. At this time, the apprentice can choose which branch of the Chandrahaal he will join. And thus the cycle goes on.
    Every member of the Chandrahaal has deep knowledge of codes (decipher script skill) and uses a secret language only they practice and know (it is based on fragments of elthedar language, just as our world's Dark Age scientists used a bastardized form of latin to secretly communicate).

    When two members meet, they typically spend some time together to share their knowledge and copy each other's lorebook. This increases the chances for that knowledge not to be lost. Unlike wizards, they don't try to keep it a secret, in the contrary, everyone should have access to it. This method also allows a global knowledge to slowly develop into a unified "encyclopedia"


In Your Campaign

    The Chandrahaal are a good organization for providing unexpected support for the PC's (preferably as a campaign hook rather than pulling their bacon out of the fire). Literature is replete with Strider's and Gandalf's, Moiraine's and Aunt Pol's appearing to reveal the hidden destinies of unlikely heroes. The Sentinels make fine guides and protectors, while Chroniclers can be used as fanatical prophets, mysterious seers, or scholars who hold the information the PC's need to complete their current quest. The Encyclopedists are the most likely members to be met.
    The natural inclination of the Chandrahaal is to follow where the Pathwalkers lead, confident in Alzaad's prophecies and the hero's power. However, if you want a more sinister tone, you could easily decide that they have become slightly corrupt, and plan to use the Pathwalkers for their own agendas, perhaps turning them over to the Legates for bounties or twisting their powers to personal profit. An Earthbonded hero could be enslaved and set to sniffing out mineral veins, or a Giantblooded sold to a lascivious giant queen.

The Encyclopedists’ lust for knowledge also brings opportunities for adventures and quests: saving the last man on earth who has knowledge of something useful (maybe how to create adamantine, for instance...), discovering lost libraries, etc...

The Chandrahaal (minor)
Neutral Good, with some True Neutral tendancies.
Resource Limit : varies by community.
Membership : varies by community, though usually with a higher incidence of fey races, particularly elves.
Class Mix : Integrated; 37% scholar (expert); 20% sentinel; 18% rogue; 10% channeler; 7% fighter; 5% wildlander; 3% other classes.

The Sharuun Circle .
With the loss of Cambrial, the Chandrahaal's former centre of operations, and Highwall, the greatest library in Eredane, Sharuun houses that largest remnant of the Chroniclers. Calling itself the Circle, this cell of the Chandrahaal has the most, and wealthiest members. Led by a throughly learned scrive named Litahn Jemai, who uses his position transcribing letters and books in the Shadow Temple to gather information and protect his followers. Unlike most Chandrahaal groups, the Sharuun Circle has a fairly strict code of secrecy and behaviour. They meet regularly in the basement of a large warehouse in the docks district of the city. The following assumes Sharuun is a Large City.
Resource Limit : 2500gp.
Membership : 107 (90% human, 4% elven, 3% gnome, 2% halfling, 1% other).

The Baden's Bluff Cell .
Though not the largest or most resourceful, the Chandrahaal of Baden's Bluff are blessed by the relative freedom their location permits, and by the presence of several powerful individuals amongst their number, including the leader, Tobias Cartwright, an astonishingly talented channeler and master Diviner. Tobias is also involved in the thieves guild and resistance movements of the city's underworld. The following assumes Baden's Bluff is a Small City.
Resource Limit : 900gp.
Membership : 12 (60% human, 20% elven, 8% gnome, 8% halfling, 4% other).

Please remember, though, that all Encyclopedists are nomads.

Authors: Dirigible & smeagol.

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