The Death Dealers
AD&D (1e/2e) Rules
The history of the Death Dealers of Silvanesti has never been written down in the historical records of its elven nation, nor has the spring up of its counterpart in Qualinesti has been recorded. Such records could be found only within the Library of Palanthas, but Astinus the Great Librarian prefers not to allow those texts to be for the viewing public.
The Death Dealers started out many thousands of years ago during the Age of Dreams. When the Silvanesti Kingdom was just finishing its establishment upon Ansalon, one of its generals, the courageous Balif was given the territory north of Silvanost, a piece of land which he named after himself and the Township of Balifor. No sooner did the general arrive than the first colonies of the newly created kender appeared to swarm over the countryside. The majority of the Silvanesti population, after spending but a few days with their new sticky-fingered neighbors decided to flee back to the Silvanesti lands. They demanded Balif raise his army to eliminate what they perceived as a threat to their sanity. However Balif became fond of the kender and refused to strike down any of their kind. This caused a great tremor in the nearly xenophobic Silvanesti nobles. The Speaker of the Stars Silvanos refused to weigh in against his friend and trusted General, however the heads of the ten major houses below him felt no such loyalties and openly berated and insulted the general for his preferred companionship, even to the point of spreading false rumors that the short in stature Balif was really in fact a kender himself.
Around the same time as Balif's refusal, one of the first cases of dark elven branding was being decided. A House, considered to be the eleventh of the most powerful had disgraced itself in having dealings with outsiders, as well as exhibiting dark and deadly practices and study. The remaining ten heads of the Houses were deliberating the fate of this house and preparing to banish the whole group as dark elves, when a secret meeting between the House Protectorate and this House occurred. Most of the substance of the meeting has even been lost in time or the great Librarian Astinus simply decided not to jot down the minutes of the conversation, but the results proved most controversial.
After this meeting, Balif, the famed General of the Silvanesti, friend to the kender and bane to the noble houses was found slain, assassinated. After word of Balif's death the trial over the disgraced House of Silvanesti was suspended. They were stripped of the prestigious position of being among the top houses that had the ear of the Speaker, however they were allowed to still operate within Silvanesti behind closed doors and in whatever practice they choose. The whispers of the council called this House, the House Death, its members, were the Dealers in Death.
Death Dealers would become the single most dreadful and powerful political tool for the Nobles of Silvanesti. Highly trained in the art of assassination, and a good knowledge in both weapons of war and the dark magic of Nuitari, they were the problem solvers that cleaned up political messes, ended rivalries between the houses, and occasionally removed embarrassments of the Silvanesti families. It was said that every great house to the lower ones that worked in the same rigid caste system all had contacts with the Death Dealers in some fashion. The rumor goes even the great Speaker of the Stars may have employed their services from time to time, but such rumors were never confirmed. No one would ever confirm their use of these dark elves in anything, the credo of the Silvanesti people was the respect of life and these of the Death Dealers only respect was to death. They became the necessary evil both despised but needed at the same time.
During the height of the Kinslayer wars, the Death Dealers were in no short demand. Half-elven children became a sign of weakness of those Silvanesti who bred with human slaves and as a result disgraced their families, Death Dealers was called upon to undertake a darker aspect of their already black job description. Death Dealers was at first rumored to be responsible for literally dozens of purges of family "mistakes". However such claims proved to be unfounded because although as loathsome as the Death Dealers were in theory, even they developed a code of honor. It was said that Death Dealers over time perfected their styles and professionalized themselves to the point that causing the death of the weak or helpless was "beneath" them. Since there was no shortage of political of racial opponents for their noble clients, this denial of killing half-elves didn't slow their business.
When Kith-Kanan was granted leave with his people to take the western forests for his own domain by his brother, Speaker of the Stars Sithas, the Death Dealer's house saw this as a way to expand their influence. Those who were like minded as the mighty Kith-Kanan decided to join him and travel west. Once Qualinesti was established and a new clan-senate based government was developed with the Speaker of the Sun at the head, the Death dealers reestablished their own clan with the same familiar doctrine as they had in Silvanesti, but with a more improved and flexible policy that appealed to the more worldly Qualinesti people. No longer were the Death Dealers just hired by nobles alone, now anyone with a legitimate claim and enough money could draw up a contract. Qualinesti Death Dealers accepted membership from half-elves, which they saw as their gateways into business amongst the Ergothian people to the north. Half-elven Death Dealers can travel the landscapes of human lands and stake out potential clients and/or marks. More contracts against non-political non-elven marks were fulfilled by these Qualinesti Death Dealers, as their settlement was forced to contend head-on with other races more readily such as the humans and dwarves, and other more unsettling folk that live in the wild. Whereas the Silvanesti Death Dealers would stick to its same rigid code, the Qualinesti branch of their house had the ability to blend more, they taught their stiffer cousins how to stalk their prey through study and practice. Both Silvanesti and Qualinesti Death Dealer houses would soon become friendly rivals, who would learn and advance through knowledge exchanged to both clans however compete to fill their coffers with more and more wealthy contracts.
Death Dealer stats/requirements
Death Dealers are assassins first. They take this class as the backbone of their being and will always attempt to excel and learn improved skills to enhance their abilities. However, the Death Dealers are unique as they are specifically multi-class characters; most Death Dealers, however, tap into the dark powers of magic however than rely heavily on weaponry. Death Dealers' second devotion behind assassination would be the Black Robes and the conclave. Some Death Dealers choose to be more militant with their abilities and take up learning weaponry and build their strength as fighters to add to their success as assassins. However in the end of a Death Dealer's life (If he lives to die of Natural Causes) From the Masters of the House down to the contractors in the field, those Death Dealers who pass on do become triple class of Assassin/Blackrobe/Fighter. This potent combination is the supreme evolution of the Death Dealers, their most highly elite operatives and the ones used extensively outside their clan holdings throughout the world. Death Dealers of this sort can be found operating in various cities, in many lands other than the elves. Death Dealers as a rule do not become clerics, for their skill they choose not to be derived from worship to any God.
To be a Death Dealer is not to be a mindless killer. The Death Dealers are professionals, they only wish the death upon the marks which they are assigned, and they have no interest in the deaths of innocent bystanders, though they see such an occurrence as merely an "unfortunate happenstance". A Death Dealer doesn't execute a contract as soon as he locates the mark. The contractor would often wait, learn about his or her mark, learn about the environment that surrounds the mark, its language, customs, political or economical current events. No Death Dealer is ever too thorough when it comes to fulfilling a contract, they pride themselves in making a nice and neat kill. Some Death Dealers would go out of their way to retire their marks as painless as possible, only to prove their own greatness in his job, however such conditions would be few and far between. Death Dealers would take their valuable long elven life to study their marks, sometimes study so long their non-elven marks would grow too old for their contract to be worth it to them. Death Dealers relish a challenge, and enjoy marks that either get away or end up being a tough opponent to put down. Some Death Dealers been known to let their marks go after an initial encounter just to see how the mark reacts and prepares for the coming death. It is a dangerous practice and a gamble, but it appeals to the nature of the Death Dealers who feel he or she needs to earn each bounty they make by retiring the marks. If a mark for example would hide behind his castle walls and hire an additional thirty men-at-arms to protect him, the contractor would feel a sense of honor that he caused such dread, and would find the intellectual challenge in evading such defenses invigorating to accomplish.
The equipment of the Death Dealer is not something a blacksmith can simply create in any village across Krynn. Death Dealers pride themselves on creating their own unique weaponry and armor. The Death Dealers' katana-like swords are painstakingly created over a period of months. Most of the swords are made for concealment often times made without a cross guard and the hilt unadorned so the sheath and hilt would look like a common walking stick or staff, however some katanas are made defiantly without need of concealment, a mark of daring of the Death Dealer's part and a status symbol that can be identified by other thieves and assassin guilds whom are jealous of the Death Dealing houses. Weaponry like the shurikens popular by women Death Dealers, are worn sometimes in plain sight around the throat like jewelry. Other weapons like the Kama are used as tools in conjunction with rope, used as grappling hooks. Katana-like blades like the ninja-to have been used as steps when the blade is stuck through a wall and the Death Dealer climbs up the thicken hilt. All weaponry of the Death Dealers, be them swords or stars or something else entirely are marked with symbols of the Death Dealers, making them identifiable by both Houses of Dealers.
To hire a Death Dealer is no small feat. The code bound guild has requirements before they approve a contract to one of their operators. First, Death Dealers do not sign on to retire marks that are children, elderly or infirm, these assassins are not here to clean up the family mistakes, embarrassments or ease the discomfort of ungrateful children of the aging. The marks must be able to be a danger to the client, be it physical, or political, or emotional. For example, a rival lover can mysteriously disappear, if his wooing of a client's interest might cause a financial win fall for the rival, a marriage into a powerful family perhaps, however the Death Dealers won't get involved if it's any more petty then that. Physical danger however is more obvious and self explanatory, if the danger is too powerful or may be life-threatening to not only the client but to his or her family, or this dangerous mark has friends or fellows that would take vengeance, then the Death Dealers step in and lay waste to all for a nominal fee. Political assassination is the traditional use of the Death Dealers, seen of course more extensively in the elven communities, but sometimes also done in evil human societies. Death Dealers themselves have no political leanings or preferences except perhaps against whomever they believe may be against them directly, so they will work for any purpose and goal of the client, but their involvement ends with the retiring of the mark, beyond that the political career of the client is on their own. Death Dealers, though they are capable fighters and are a skilled killing force, will not hire themselves out as a military component, be it a militia or organized unit. Death Dealers seldom work in groups finding it more profitable to work solo or with a partner. Those Death Dealers who do group together often consist of a master who has taken students under his wing out in the field.
No Death Dealer uses their true name. Once initiated into the Guild of Death Dealers, be it Silvanesti or Qualinesti, they erase their past life in the sun and the reveling of life. Once within the dark embrace of the Death Dealers, they revel in their own skill to bring death. They choose new names which, after their first contract is fulfilled, are declared proudly before the councils. Mostly these names represent their style in causing death, or perhaps the terminology of the death itself, other names goes to the methodology or tools of the death. Female Death Dealers for example would choose names befitting their style as would males, however some take a more seductive form, using their sexuality as part of their methodology to get close for the kill. The names of perfume, fragrances or of great beauties of the generations are often proclaimed by these femme fatales.
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