“I felt the need to add something here, but I haven’t written anything new in a while. Instead I have gone into my archive of organizations and pulled out one of my favorites, which can act as enemies of a group of PCs. This was originally posted on E.N. World.” – RPB
Symbol: Two swords crossed over a bronzed shield with the old heraldry symbol of the city of Vapaa (when it was named Yösydän) upon it. (A gauntleted fist above a dark, foreboding city.)
The Blades of the Emperor are an organization over a 1,000-years-old, which has always fought to protect the lives and interests of the Imperial Family of the Old Sword Imperium. They willing gave their lives for the glory of the Empire and the Sword Gods.
Now, after the fall of that empire, the Blades align themselves to powerful nobles and merchants able to pay for protection. A few of their numbers work towards restoring the Empire of Swords and are seeking a worthy successor with Imperial blood for the Imperial Throne.
Most Blades consider the citizens of Ahamudia to be invaders on the Ragik Peninsula and always work to undermine their lives and society. They will go so far as to attack Ahamudians traveling anywhere west and north of the Rilous Mountains.
Leaders: Hzina Blackrazor (LE female human, fighter 8/blade of the emperor 4/blackguard 4]; Gulric Hangomhal (LN male half-orc, fighter 7/blade of the emperor 4]; and Rethme the Shadow (NE male tiefling, rogue 6/assassin 3].
The Blades of the Emperor are not a unified group as they were in the Empire’s glory days. Now they are split into many factions each with its own agenda. Most of these factions are nothing more than bands of brigands riding across the Ragik Peninsula taking whatever they can from whomever they encounter. A select few are more organized working towards higher ideals.
The Blades are on the decline, regardless of what they would like their enemies to believe. More and more, former Blades are leaving the Ragik Peninsula to find another life where they can forget the death of the Last Emperor on the 31st day of Hansa, 749 N.C. These exiles never wear their traditional Blade tunics as most beyond the Ragik Peninsula look unfavorably towards the Blades. A few of these exiles fall back into old habits by protecting nobles or petty lords. It isn’t much, but it is all they have left.
Those Blades unwilling to give up their ideals and dreams for a new reinvigorated Empire of Swords continue to live and work throughout the Ragik Peninsula. While not as reviled in the Old Sword Imperium, they aren’t always welcome either. Blades can usually wear their traditional tunics openly in the Sword South, the Sword East, and the Lake Ragik Region. However, they are not welcome in the Sword Protectorate and most of the lands surrounding the Imperiumi Forest. Also, beyond the Iron Shields of Järir, Blades are looked upon unfavorably by the citizens of the lands of the Ragik Interior as well as the Iron Lands to the south. No Blade would ever openly walk in the lands of the Kingdom of Ahamudia.
The largest faction of Blades of the Emperor serve the dictator of the Järir Autarchic known as the Iron Emperor. These Blades are known as the Iron Shields of Järir. The faction’s leader, Hzina Blackrazor, believes that the Iron Emperor is the only man capable of restoring order to the Sword Lands and rekindle the days of old. Hzina is completely loyal to the man and will defend him with her life. She expects the same from her fellow Blades and none of them would dare disappoint their commander. Hzina is a blackguard as well as Blade and is devoted to the Sword Gods almost as much as she is to her lord.
The next largest faction is controlled by the half-orc Gulric Hangomhal. Known as the Red Brands of the Imperiumi this faction is found exclusively in the Lands of the Miekka in and around the Imperiumi Forest. They are known for protecting the ancient ziggurats & tombs and the surrounding communities lining the Empirisk River. They are also commonplace throughout the towns of Miekka and are one of the few factions that treat people fairly within the edicts of the law. Yet, without an Emperor to protect, the Red Brands have turned towards protecting the dead (but not the undead) King-Priests of the Old Sword Imperium. They are near fanatic in this devotion and will kill any that dare defile the rest of the King-Priests, even locals of Miekka. There is no greater crime in their minds.
The third largest faction of Blades is one that most have never even heard of. They are called the Blood Shards of Vespin and most that have heard of them think they little more than another cult dedicated to the dead Sword God of Thieves and Assassins, Vespin. And while their leader is an assassin, known as Rethme the Shadow, they are made up mainly of Blades loyal to the ideals of Rethme. The tiefling assassin is fanatical about the resurrection of Vespin and deciding who will be the next Emperor of Swords. These two ideals often conflict as he uses the Blood Shards to gather information about possible heirs to the Imperial Throne, while sending out assassins to kill any heir he finds lacking. (Rethme has strong ties with the religious sect known as Vespin’s Lost.)
The largest active outpost of Blades outside of Järir is the garrison located at Räven Castle. This large fortress is located near the Gradig River just northeast of the town of Gräsenbyen and is considered essential towards the domination of the northern communities of the Southern Domain of the Sword. Blades walk openly in the towns of the Domain and patrol the lands of the Sword South constantly. They always stop — and often imprison — those traveling south from the Sword Protectorate and do not allow citizens of the Sword South to migrate north into those lands. They see the citizens of the Sword Protectorate as traitors to the Last Emperor. The towns of Gradigstade and Gräsenbyen on the northern edge of the Sword South are, thus, tightly controlled border towns.
Another outpost of Blades are those that control Våravhold Keep on the edge of the Menhir Waldd in the Eastern Domain of the Sword. These Blades are less integrated into the military structure of the Domain as they do not pay fealty to the Princes of the East. They were once loyal to the Last Emperor and have as yet to decide whether to back the Princes or move to have a person of their choosing named Emperor of the East — a title not used since before the Sword Lands were united. These Blades tend to stay close to Våravhold Keep and aren’t as militant as some of the more visible factions. They work towards protecting the hamlets within a days ride from the keep but demand shelter and food from these communities citizens. They are often found in the Town of Svärdaden, Village of Grisby, and, sometimes, the City of A’Harn. They have apathetic relations with the Prince of A’Harn and often butt heads with the city’s guardsmen over matters of law. The prince puts up with the Blades as the citizens of A’Harn consider them intimidating; they are less likely to cause unrest when Blades are nearby.
Rumors abound about other outposts of Blades across the Ragik Peninsula and beyond. The rumor spoken most often in taverns throughout the region is that a group of good-aligned blades protects the members of the newly formed senate in the city of Vapaa. (After the fall of the Old Sword Imperium, life in the Sword Protectorate changed dramatically and quickly. Three major cities in the region joined the Eight Cities Alliance with those that helped bring down the Last Emperor.) Another rumor circulating through the Kingdom of Ahamudia is that a single Blade swore fealty to King Loghan Halonnan after being captured by the Ahamudians during the Ahamudian-Imperium War. It is said that this Blade is a half-elf who grew up under the yoke of the Last Emperor and rode with the Northern Army to Vapaa to bring down his former liege. It is said he still wears the traditional tunic of a Blade but the heraldry matches that of the capital city of Kingdom of Ahamudia.
Others rumors include (1) a group of Blades riding across the grasslands of the Wild Plains, following a powerful warlord; (2) another band of five Blades now protect Countess Erin Camur of Mistria; (3) a solitary Blade of resounding good, said to also be a paladin, now lives somewhere in the Thunder Lands doing good deeds; and (4) a rumor circulating in the Kingdom of Izmer says that a group of Blades, numbering over fifty in number, passed through the region riding south towards the city-states of Hellekan and Favir. The truth of these rumors remains unknown.
Most Blades of the Emperor (with the Blade of the Emperor 3.0 prestige class, see FFG’s L&L Path of the Sword, page 16) are lawful evil but are often lawful neutral as well. Lawful good Blades are extremely rare remaining in hiding from the traditionalists (LE).