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Lómë-macil [night-blades]

D&D 3e (3.0/3.5) Rules

by Clive Squire


Winner of the 2006 Nexus Organizations Contest!

i macillanta miri lómë, tennaenta, vanwa ve mornië miricala. (EH mah-KILL-lahn-TA meer-EH loh-MEH, ten-NAH-en-TAH, VAN-wah VEH morn-ee-EH meer-EH-KAR-lah)*.

'The swords to fall into the night, until that has gone, like darkness into the light'
– Tenet of the Night Blades.

History

There is nothing worth more to an Silvanesti elf than his freedom. The freedom to walk among his beloved trees, spend days, if not years in contemplation of life and its mysteries. When elves fall from grace into the shadows of darkness, they lose this grace and their rights are stripped and they are exiled from the trees, family and loved ones. Their names are stricken from all records and they are never spoken of again. They are barred from elven life forever.

To an elf, that is a fate worse than death. To be branded a dark elf is a smear that burns an elf, as much as a flame burns paper. Before the exile ceremony there is one last chance for the would-be dark elf to be redeemed, to be brought back towards the light, but it requires a miracle – the direct intervention of the Speaker of the Stars to stay the condemned.

It has always been the right of the Speaker of the Stars to meet out punishments, as well as stay them. During the early years of the elven nations, the first Speaker of the Stars, Silvanos created a secret organisation within the elven lands.

At this time, Nazril Summeroak, who was an old and close friend of Silvanos had been unduly branded a dark elf by members of some of the noble houses. Unable to openly enter the disagreement for fear of destabilising the precarious elven court, Silvanos was at a loss as to how to help his beleaguered friend. He spent many restless nights, wrangling with his conscience as to how to aid his friend, never once believing that he was a servant of darkness, as the date of the exiling ceremony drew closer.

As he tossed and turned, unable to sleep, Silvanos became aware that he was no longer alone, getting up he looked at the outlined frame of a woman at the end of his bed. The woman had a sad face, as if she had been weeping and he could feel waves of sadness. All around her was a soft, pale blue radiance that seemed to emanate both from her and around her. Silvanos knew he looked upon a goddess, the goddess Mishakal.

Mishakal told Silvanos that his friend was innocent and that she wept for him as he was being used as a game piece by the other noble houses, all unknowing egged on by the Dark Wind, Morgion. Silvanos asked Mishakal for advice on how to fend such intricate plans of the dark god to save his friend. Mishakal said there was little that she could do to actively help him, except to enlighten Silvanos to his predicament, saying what Silvanos really wanted was a 'blade to cut through the night of lies and hidden truths'.

As she faded from his sight, Sivanos was still no clearer as how to aid his friend. Mishakal has said that what he needed was a 'blade to cut through the night....'. Suddenly, Silvanos came upon a plan of action, but the price would be part of his soul, and it was a price he readily paid.

Silvanos immediately summoned one of his most faithful and trustworthy sorcerers and hustled to his friend's cell and made him a simple deal – his life for his service. His friend would walk the thin line between the light and the dark, always working for the Speaker and, through him, the elven nation as a whole. The cost for this service would be that his friend would be altered by a loyal sorcerer to appear different in appearance, losing his form life, but from that point on, he must comply to the orders of the Speaker or be unmasked as a dark elf and killed.

His friend readily agreed to this service. Together with the White Robe mage, Silvanos concocted an elaborate illusion of his friend that was taken to the ceremony of exile, branded a dark elf and exiled. In reality, his friend had taken part in his own exile as one of the guards of honor for Silvanos.

With this he hoped to have set his hidden opponents at ease, believing that they had succeeded. Silvanos bestowed upon Nazril the title of lómë-macil, or night-blade. He would be a willing agent of the Speaker. Able to come and go without too much attention being paid to him, the perfect spy and infiltrator, allowing the Speaker to ascertain what was happening within the elven court.

Over the following years, Silvanos managed to 'condemn' various elves that were classed as dark elves and send them into exile for their various crimes, a few in reality being offered the same arrangement as had Nazril – serve or exile. Each of them, once they accepted served the Speaker with distinction.

Over the following centuries the ranks of the lómë-macil remained small, often no more than a handful at any one time, spread over the elven lands, each looking into the various dealing of the locals, gathering information and intelligence, ready for the Speaker and aiding him in his governing of the Silvanesti nation. Each one was given, and took, the Choice of Rebirth, leaving their previous lives behind.

This is how it remained until the War of the Lance. The forced relocation of so many elves to Southern Ergoth caused much friction among the noble houses, even threatening to spill over into open conflict. Among all this dissension, the number of elves that were being branded dark elves began to rise. Suddenly Silvamori was overflowing with evil and dangers.

Acting quickly, before the residents of the make-shift town started to draw blood, Alhana Starbreeze, daughter of the Speaker of the Stars, who had been acting in her fathers name since he remained in Silvanesti. Alhana sent her father's current lómë-macil aide, Teriforn Windpeaks, to Silvamori to spirit those unjustly branded and to offer them the Choice of Rebirth. She would travel to Tarsis, and try to gain aid from the humans there against the encroaching dragonarmies.

Teriforn was to set up a lómë-macil cell in Silvamori, then travel with those that accepted the Choice of Rebirth back to Silvanesti, where Alhana would meet up with him.

The fates had other ideas, as history would attest. Alhana met up with the famous Heroes of the Lance and succeeded in breaching the Nightmare of Lorac. After the Heroes of the Lance had travelled on with their quest, Teriforn arrived in Silvanost, accompanied by a dozen elves, all new recruits to the lómë-macil. Teriforn and the lómë-macil travelled north and started to harry the forces of the dragonarmies, while awaiting reinforcements, which they did until the end of the War of the Lance.

Alhana never forgot the courage of these elves, and when, in the Age of Mortals, she and her husband, the Qualinesti prince Porthios, where exiled, over half of the entourage that followed her into exile where made up from the lómë-macil.

Those that elected to remain behind continued their service to the rightful ruler of elves. They silently and steadily gather intelligence, passing it on, through a network of agents and informants to the Speaker.

Goals/Motivations

The lómë-macil has only two goals. The first is to serve the true and rightful ruler of the Silvanesti. They are not concerned with political discussions on who that should be, be it Alhana, Porthios, Gilthas or a wandering kender. They serve the office of the Speaker and are only truly answerable to him or her.

This does not imply that they have a free hand. The lómë-macil are placed far from the areas of their previous lives, and are not so much barred as 'heavily discouraged' from returning to them unless requested to do so, primarily so they remain undiscovered. Should their cover be blown, they are on their own as they cannot reveal the lómë-macil to anyone or the Speakers involvement.

The lómë-macil is the eyes, ears, and fingers of the Speaker. They are able to travel by whatever means available to the individual member, more freely across the elven lands, poking into the affairs of others where the Speaker or some official officer would not go or would not gain the same information.

The second motivation of the lómë-macil is the overall protection of the elves as a race and nation. They are often called upon to deal with the less than ideal things that other elves would not do. Although not evil, the lómë-macil has been known to act to deal with a threat, using whatever force they can muster. Assassination is not above them, when warranted.

The individual members of the lómë-macil are encouraged to advance their skills, be they crafting or singing, sword play or oratory.

Headquarters/Areas of Influence

The lómë-macil has a small and modest headquarters, which can be mobile at a moments notice. This tends to be within 1 mile of the place of residence of the Speaker of the Stars. Communication to-and-fro from this building is carefully monitored, so as not to give away the location of the building, or to make the organization's presence known. Secrecy is the organisation's greatest asset.

Hostalómë are frequently sent out from the current location to the various members, keeping in touch and informing them of any facts that they might need to know, such as the possible locations of the headquarters for the following months.

Leadership/Organisation

The lómë-macil has one leader to which all members answer – the Speaker of the Stars. Below him, the organisation is broken down into a small number of sects, each named after a legendary elven hero or heroine – Laurana, Lorac, Nazril, Silvanos and Tanis. Each of the sects covers an equal area of the Silvanesti land, with the exception of the Lorac sect, which covers the immediate location that the Speaker is in.

Each sect has a sect leader, known as an aranlómë (AH-rahn-loh-MEH), or leader of the night. Each sect is further broken down into hostalómë (HOST-ah-low-MEH) or gatherers of the night, who travel far and wide and are the scouts and messengers of the organisation. Beside them are the aronmacil (AH-ron-mah-KILL), the blade kings, the warriors and enforcement of the organisation. The lowest order within the organisation is the eldalómë (el-DAH-low-MEH), or elf of night.

The current aranlómë are as follows:

  • Laurana (Dael Ungot ,N female elf bard 12)
  • Lorac (Tirfalily, LN male elf ranger 5/wizard 5/red robe1/arcane archer 1)
  • Nazril (Tracadilly Fergown, LN female half-elf fighter 9)
  • Silvanos (Justhaline Fallowherd, N male elf ranger 12)
  • Tanis (Tack, LN male half-elf fighter 4/ranger 8)

Although the sole answerable leader is the Speaker, the aranlómë make up the Council of Night. They sift through the information that is brought in from the lómë-macil from the surrounding areas, and it is they who present that information to the Speaker. Any decision the Speaker makes is filtered back through the Council of Night, down through to the eldalómë, the grass roots of the organisation.

Each aranlómë holds their position for a cycle of 10 years, at which point the Speaker appraises the candidates and selects one for promotion. No one person can hold the same office more than once.

Allies

As a secret sect, lómë-macil has few allies within the standard structure of elven society. Even with the patronage of the Speaker of the Stars, the group will not openly acknowledge itself. The greatest allies of the lómë-macil are other lómë-macil.

Stretching out, like a great unseen web across the lands of Silvanesti are ancient cells, each contains a bolt hole for a local member, should the need arise, as well as for any travelling members that do not wish to been seen much or noticed.

During the Age of Mortals, the lómë-macil has made several ties with the Legion of Steel, and many of the current members are members of the Legion in addition to being members of lómë-macil.

Enemies

The main enemy of the lómë-macil depends on the era. Throughout the ages the organisation has called the wrath of the Queen of Darkness's forces during the Second Dragon War, the Kingpriest and his Divine Hammers during the Age of Might, the dragonarmies during the Age of Despair, the Knights of Neraka during the Chaos War and the early Age of Mortals as well as the Dragon Overlords.

Although each army or force was stymied by the efforts of the lómë-macil, very few of these forces every truly became aware of the organisation. Those that did, found that their footsteps were dogged from that moment on.

Membership and Joining the Lómë-macil

You can only join the lómë-macil by direct intervention and invite by the Speaker of Stars. The Speaker has the candidate watched for a couple of days to months, depending on exactly how much time the candidate has before being branded a dark elf.

If the candidate is found to be acceptable, that is neither pure good like a normal elf and not turned over to evil, the candidate has a surprise meeting with the Speaker.

In that meeting, the Speaker, accompanied by a powerful mage, offers the candidate the Choice of Rebirth. If the candidate accepts, she is forever changed and become a member of the organisation. Should she decline, the mage performs a powerful memory charm, which illuminates the memory of the meeting and replaces it with mundane memories.

Once the candidates have joined, they find that they have a number of benefits and hindrances. They are taught some of the secret ways and passwords, enabling them to pass within the elvish military. New candidates are sent to apprentice with a number of aronmacil over the next couple of years, gaining new skills and a broader view of the elven lands. Once the apprenticeship is over, the initiate becomes as aronmacil.

Should the candidates ever break the vows they took to uphold the rule of the rightful ruler of Silvanesti or they do some act which is contrary to protecting the elven people and lands, the protection that was placed on them is lifted and they immediately start to forget information about what they have done for the Speaker since accepting the Choice of Rebirth and, if found, they are immediately branded dark elves and hunted and killed.

Costs and Benefits of Being an Lómë-macil

The lómë-macil is given free lodging at whatever part of the elven lands they are sent to, the initial cost for this is paid by the organisation. Once in their respective areas, the individual members have very little direct interaction with higher up members, except when hostalómë call, which is usually once every week to ten days.

During these meetings with the hostalómë, the individual members are able to pass on relevant information as well as request any particular item they might need to fulfil the goals of the organisation. The steel cost of the item that the individuals can request depends on the needs of the situation.

A minor skirmish or arming a few locals could warrant as much as 500 stl, whereas an adventuring companies' incursion into enemy territory to retrieve a precious iconic item might warrant as much as 15,000 stl.

Classes

The lómë-macil accepts a wide range of members, taken from a score of different classes. By far the largest class group within the organisation is ranger, which makes up about 40% of the members. Of the remaining members, many are rogues, masters, nobles or fighters. The lómë-macil has the greatest number of red robe elves known, in fact over 80% of all red robe Silvanesti elven wizards are also lómë-macil.

Current Activities/Hooks

The lómë-macil is currently waging a covert war on the Minotaur invaders. They are encouraging adventuring parties to enter the Silvanesti lands in search of powers and priceless treasures that were left behind in the haste to leave Silvanesti.

They are also sending out eldalómë with all the various parties looking for a new homeland for the elves.

Lómë-macil can be a powerful source of information to any party travelling within Silvanesti lands and holdings, and any such interaction will undoubtedly come at the cost of information that the PCs might know about the surrounding area or forces within the area.

Playing a Lómë-macil

Many things drive an elf to the verges of being exiled, and the promise that they can remain as they are and remain within their elven lands and people is sweet music to an elf.

Even though the lómë-macil may not be as openly prestigious as the griffon riders or the wildrunners, the elves selected to become lómë-macil have been hand chosen by the most important elf of all – the Speaker of the Stars, and such things matter greatly to Silvanesti elves.

Another key reason for becoming an lómë-macil is that the elf is contributing to his nation's defence and the creation of a better, whole elven nation.

Combat: Although the lómë-macil are a hidden organisation that rarely likes to show itself, that does not mean that they shirk from a battle that must be fought. For the continuation of the Silvanesti elves and for the Speaker, the lómë-macil will happily enter battle.

Wherever possible, the lómë-macil prefers to dispatch opponents in the least flashiest way, using sword to spell.

Advancement: Lómë-macil advance within the organisation by performing their duties. Members that work against threats within their area find that they are noticed quicker by their peers than those that are slow to react to the dangers of enemies. Each successful mission is counted for the character, after he has accomplished 5 of such missions he is eligible to be promoted should an opening occur.

Lómë-macil Lore

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (history) can research the lómë-macil to learn more about them.

DC 10: Lómë-macil is a mysterious group of elves that meddle in the affairs of others.
DC 15: Lómë-macil is known to work with members of the Legion of Steel.
DC 20: Becoming an lómë-macil is very prestigious but comes at a high price, the initiates life.
DC 30: Tack is currently a respected leader among the lómë-macil.

Lómë-macil Prestige Class

Although not required to become an lómë-macil, many choose to take one or more levels of the lómë-macil prestige class.
HD: d6

Requirements

To qualify to become an lómë-macil, a character must fulfil the following criteria:
Race: Elf or Half-Elf.
Alignment: Lawful Neutral, Neutral or Chaotic Neutral.
Skills: Any four skills 6 ranks.
Special: The candidate must be suspected as being a dark elf but not yet exiled and he must be approached by the Speaker of the Stars and offered the Choice of Rebirth.

Lómë-macil
Level BAB Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 Bonus feat, retrain skill
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3 Believe the cause
3rd +2 +1 +1 +3 Retrain feat
4th +3 +1 +1 +4 Infiltration, retrain skill
5th +3 +1 +1 +4 Retrain level

Skills: 4 + Int modifier per level. Class Skills – Disguise (Cha), Diplomacy (Cha), Gather Information (Cha), Knowledge (local) (Int), Knowledge (nobility), Sense Motive (Wis), Spot (Wis).

Class Features:

The following are all class features for the lómë-macil prestige class.

Weapon and Armour Proficiency: The lómë-macil gains proficiency with all simple and martial weapons and all light and medium armours and all shields except tower shields.

Bonus Feat: At 1st level, the lómë-macil is able to select a bonus feat from the following list – Deceitful, Education, Investigator, Mimic, Negotiator, Nimble Fingers, Quick-Thinking, Skill Focus, Stealthy, Street Smart, Toughness, and Trustworthy. You need not meet any prerequisites to gain these feats.

Retrain Skill (Ex): At 1st level and again at 4th level, the lómë-macil can retrain a number of skill points that he has spent within a single skill and resign them to another skill. The lómë-macil can retrain up to 1 skill rank per class level and reassign that skill rank into any other skill. The skill point cannot be used to exceed your normal skill maximums.

Believe the Cause (Ex): By 2nd level, the lómë-macil's faith in what he is doing is absolute and unshakable. He gains a bonus to all saving throws against the effects of enchantment (compulsions) equal to his class level.

Retrain Feat (Ex): At 3rd level, the lómë-macil is able to retrain any single feat for another single feat. The feat to be exchanged must have no prerequisites and must not be a prerequisite for any other feat that the character has and cannot be a bonus feat from any source. The character can exchange that feat for any other feat, as long as he meets the prerequisites for gaining that feat.

Infiltration (Ex): Lómë-macil area highly trained in blending in with a community, so as not to attract too much attention. When the lómë-macil reaches 4th level and is trying to pass himself off as a local or attempting to join an organisation as a new member, he gains a +4 insight bonus on Bluff and Disguise skill checks.

In addition, once established in a community (usually after 4 weeks), he gains a +4 insight bonus on Hide and Move Silently skill checks within that community.

Retrain Level (Ex): Lómë-macil can, by 5th level, can retrain one single class level in any class that he has, with the exception of retraining a class level from this class, and train in any other class. The character loses all benefits that the level would have granted him and gains those of the new level instead.

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