Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Factions: The Guardians of Gaea and the Sol Society

Detailed below are two more factions for use in a space fantasy (or more traditional) RPG campaign.


Guardians of Gaea
More a loose band of confederates than a group with any real structure, the Guardians of Gaea are those individuals who choose to protect Homeworld—the planet itself, and not any of the political entities upon it—from artificial harm. In that they make an important distinction; while natural disasters are acceptable, since they heed the will of nature, those calamities brought on by people's efforts must be prevented. Examples of the latter include sabotaging logging operations in ancient forests, defending a sacred mountain against invasive mining, thwarting excessive hunting practices, and the like. As such, it boasts numerous rangers and druids among its members, especially humans and halflings; less common are barbarians, dwarves and elves.

Goal: Protection, Cultivation
Ensuring that Homeworld—the Earth Mother—will always bear enough fruit to feed her children is the ultimate goal of this group. In addition to defending pristine locations in a firm but compassionate manner, the group also works to preserve animal and plant types that are threatened.

Alignment: NG
While they are committed to protecting their Earth Mother, the Guardians of Gaea are generally non-violent and seek to resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner. They are not so concerned about the laws of the lands in which they work, because those laws are sometimes made by individuals who are motivated more by power and wealth than by preservation.

Unlike many other organizations, the Guardians of Gaea do not have a single reigning leader. Instead, their members make decisions through debate and then vote of all who are present.

Just as they lack a single leader, the Guardians also do not have permanent bases of operations. Instead they move about in nomadic encampments, forming temporary tent towns or, when conditions permit, living directly in nature's embrace. When it becomes necessary for members to meet in the city, they prefer to use garden space for doing so. 

An example of this is the meditative garden, an element favored by a number of eastern cultures. It consists of a walled enclosure that contains a carefully maintained orchard and garden. Usually there is a pond in the center, surrounded by various trees, shrubberies, flowers and other plants. Lining the exterior wall are a number of small, simple buildings that boast numerous windows, albeit ones that can be sealed with shutters during inclement weather. Such gardens provide a large, open space for full-group gatherings, as well as smaller, more intimate areas for private business.

Using the Organization in an Aetherial Adventures Campaign
This organization can provide plenty of plot elements for a space fantasy RPG campaign; presented here are a few of the possibilities.
  • This group sometimes comes into conflict with the elves of the Royal Navy, since most of that body's members revere the Moon Goddess instead of the Earth Mother. While some elves look down upon others who mingle with humans, halflings and dwarves, others are more accepting—especially when seeking aid in outfitting an arkship for a voyage to another world.
  • The same bias exists in many dwarves, who tend to favor the Universal Architect. Even so, the rare dwarves who espouse faith in the Earth Mother usually prove through their skill at working metal that their beliefs are not misguided. Such exceptional individuals are much more likely to be female than to be male.
  • Recently a controversy has arisen when certain members of this group—along with adherents to the Sol Society—became involved with the Navigators, a group of scholars whose beliefs some consider to be scandalously licentious.

Sol Society
Believing that much evil happens in the dark of night, members of this organization seek to shine the Sun God's light into every corner of the Universe. Indeed, they maintain that the Light of Truth (as they see it) can bring enlightenment and thus happiness to all places. It should come as no surprise that clerics and paladins make up most of this group's members. Additionally, many lay people pledge their loyalty to this group. Finally—although it is not widely known—a growing contingent of sorcerers threatens to pollute the purity of the Society's mission, as detailed below.

Goal: Illumination, Protection and Punishment
Spreading the Sun God's teachings and the spiritual light that they bring is the foremost mission of the Order. A close second to that is protecting the faithful, follow by bringing to justice those who do harm to his followers.

Alignment: LG
In theory, members of the Society seek to promote justice and well-being for all. In practice, however, this zeal can sometimes lead to a sense of self-righteousness that borders on intolerance for, and even persecution of, those who profess other beliefs.

Sir Cyrus is the elected leader of the group, a paladin of the Sun God who has earned the respect of his peers through wise judgment, fair dealing and bravery in battle. He divides his time between the local Church of Sol and pilgrimages into the desert, where he fasts and atones.

Some might be surprised by the fact that this group's headquarters in any given city is a simple, modest affair, generally a church building consisting of a few rooms and built of wood, brick or stone. Those who are familiar with the organization, of course, recognize that anything more ostentatious would embrace vanity rather than altruism. 

Said church usually boasts a broad entry area (1)—in this case, with two sets of double doors opening into it—that has a spiral staircase leading up to the bell tower. Many pegs line the walls of this room, providing a place for visitors to hang their cloaks. More double doors lead from there into the main sanctuary (2), which is filled with orderly rows of benches for the congregants. There is also a raised pulpit in the front of it. Beyond that room is a rear vestibule (3), which itself leads into a storage room (4) and the presiding priest's office (5). 

Using the Organization in an Aetherial Adventures Campaign
This organization can provide plenty of plot elements for a space fantasy RPG campaign; presented here are a few of the possibilities.
  • It almost goes without saying that the Cult of the Void is one of the Sol Society's staunch enemies, and these followers of the Sun God generally seek to expose and even eliminate those who worship the Space Between the Stars.
  • As mentioned previously, some of this group's adherents are also involved with the Navigators, an association of which the rank-and-file leadership does not approve.
  • Worshipers of Sol sometimes experience conflict with elves and others who revere the Moon Goddess, whom the elves see as striking a balance between the Earth Mother and Sun God—and thus being superior to a faith that lacks such balance. For their part, members of the Sol Society don't approve of Luna's association with the darkness of the night.
  • Given the righteous zeal of this group's members, they are not on good terms with members of the Freebooters' Fellowship. 
  • Members of the Sol Society have a special reverence for the phoenix, and send mission groups to seek out that creature whenever its location becomes known.   
  • As mentioned above, a number of sorcerers have recently taken interest in the organization. While some might be faithful who share the group's beliefs, others are thought to be zealots who associate the cleansing power of fire with the Sun God's light, and who are more interested in building up their own power than in doing good works. Indeed, some even suspect that one or more efreet might be behind this infiltration of the Society.

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