The Judges (HARP)

Copyright Tero Oksala © 2004-2008

Edited by Peter Mork and Nicholas HM Caldwell for The Guild Companion

"We had aspired to the virtues of honour and justice and the actions of our commander shocked us."

History

Three hundred years ago, in the world of Cyradon, there was a rather large mercenary army. The army consisted of roughly 300 mercenaries, who were skilled and cruel fighters. They did what they promised, but they did not have any sense of honour or justice.

One day, the mercenary army was hired by a local baron to attack an Orc encampment. The Baron said that the army had to stop the advance of the Orc forces. According to his spies, there was an encampment about 140 miles north in the thick forest. The strength of the enemy was only about 100 Orcs.

The commander of the mercenary army accepted the job, took half of the reward and left with his men to stop the Orc forces. The army travelled for five days before they reached the Orc encampment on the morning of the sixth day. The encampment was as small as Baron had said, but there was something that wasn't right. At the center of the camp, there was a big tent. The tent was dark as night and as enormous as the circus tents that one sometimes sees in towns. Right in front of the tent stood a man wearing a dark blue robe. The man spoke with an Orc, who was supposedly the chief of Orcs. Some time later, the man in blue robes went inside the tent. The Orc chief headed to his own tent.

The commander of our army commanded our men to arms, because in daylight the Orcs were helpless (at least most of them). When the men were ready, our commander gave the order to attack. We charged their camp, but before I had a chance to kill any Orcs, the man wearing the dark blue robe contacted our commander and said: "We know who hired you and we know that you are mercenaries. I also know that mercenaries do their job if they get payment, but if I offer you more, will you help us to destroy the village where the Baron lives?" The commander said then: "I have given my word and it has to be kept. I have no intention of prolonging this conversation." But the man wearing the dark blue robe persisted: "I am willing to offer you twice as much as the Baron did. Is that enough for you? You can also keep everything that you can get from the village. It is my final offer."

The commander thought about this for some time and ordered his men to lower their weapons. Then he said: "I accept your offer and we'll help you with your request." Our commander took his new payment and ordered us to go to our encampment.

I and two other mercenaries from the army overheard the discussion. We had aspired to the virtues of honour and justice and the actions of our commander shocked us. We decided to be avenged for this outrage. We plotted the whole night while marching with the Orc forces and when the sun started rising, we started with our plan. Pretending to be drunk, one of my friends accidentally shoved our commander to the ground. We knew that the commander was quite short-tempered and sometimes violent to the men. As expected, the commander was angered and he unsheathed his sword. At this point, the two of us came upon the scene and interceded with the commander. He said that a man has to face the consequences of his actions. Our suggestion to him was that an honest duel was the right approach. He set the duel to start at sunrise. Our terms for the duel were also clarified. If our leader should lose the duel, he then should go back and help the Baron to fight the Orcs. The commander accepted our terms.

The morning came and the two men met in a duel. The commander lost in a fair fight and he had to fulfil his promise by protecting the Baron's land from the Orc army. Later the three of us left the mercenary army and headed south to the city of Tarahir. Some said that we were brave and honest men, but others said that we were stupid and foolhardy. We didn't care about those evil words. During our trip to Tarahir, we decided to begin a new society which should spread the word of Justice and Honour. We also swore an oath:

I swear to protect all innocent people.

I swear to protect all betrayed people and bring the betrayer to justice.

I swear to follow the path of law.

I swear to help friends when they need help.

I swear to follow any lawful command without question.

I swear to listen to the voice of a friend.

We spread the word about our society. Within a few weeks, we had almost two hundred candidates who were willing to join our forces. At that point, we named our society "The Judges". We established two main bases, one in Tarahir and the other in Neras.

Overview

Today the Judges can be found almost everywhere - there are about 600 Judges within Cyradon's known continents. Most of the time they work alone, except if more than one Judge is needed to complete a job. Today few can hire the Judges as they will only take part in missions that are carefully considered.

Almost anyone can join the Judges after passing a test. The Judges also recruit young people (aged between 15-20) and train them for the organisation. Characters can join the Judge forces later during their journeys by passing the test or purchasing membership as a training package using development points. There is also a list of skill prerequisites - these can be achieved through a Judge education, otherwise the character must already have met these criteria when joining the Judges as a novice member. A Judge Education costs 40 development points. If the character passes the test of the Judges he gets the other benefits (if he hasn't bought the training package with his/her development points), but no education. Character can also spend 35 DPs to pass the test and start play as a novice member (then all skills are included to that cost).

The test is in two parts. In the first part, the character must demonstrate proficiency in at least three non-weapon skills (partial success is enough) from the list of prerequisite skills. The first test is of Easy difficulty, the second test is Light, and the third test is rated Medium.

Every novice member must also pass the combat part of the test. A small group of the Judges tests all the novice candidates. In the test, a character must either fight and defeat one training opponent (a novice member usually) with training weapons (training weapons do only stunning damage) or a novice candidate can perform a series of attack maneuvers requested by one of the Judges. (These are made using weapon skill; the first is rated Light difficulty, second is Medium, third is Hard, and the fourth is Very Hard. It is also possible to pass the test with the bow. The character must shoot five arrows at a target, which is usually 50 feet away. The GM should use the Percentage column of the Maneuver Table to calculate the number of points scored. The maneuver should be considered as a Light maneuver (+20). Every full 20% of success above 100 is one point. If the character gets 18 points or more, the test is successfully completed. If a character defeats his training opponent or clears any other combat test, then he passes the combat test. If the character doesn't pass all of the tests, he/she can try again after one full year, when the Senate of the Judges gathers again.

Novice TP

Ppre-requisites: One talent from following list: Scholar, Outdoorsman or Lightning Reflexes.

Novice Member gets:

Skill Ranks
Arcane Lore: any 2
Foraging/Survival 2
Melee skill 4
Missile skill 2
Mundane Lore: any 4
Perception 2
Streetwise 2
Choice of one skill 2

A Novice also gains two +5 magical weapons, a set of armor (which the character can use), cloak emblazoned with the Judges' sign (made from black silk), a set of clothes (black or very dark grey/blue), boots (shining black), belt, scabbard, and a broad-brimmed hat (black) with a big white feather (sign of the Judges). A novice can also receive living quarters and assistance with his job (at the Senate's discretion). A character can obtain almost all the mundane equipment that he/she needs. Herbs are 15% cheaper to members when bought from the Judges. Characters get only minor missions during their time as novices.

There are also a few rules that characters must adhere to. A novice member must always obey orders from higher grade members. A character should give 40% of any received payments to the society. In the case of betrayal, sabotage or crimes committed during a mission, the novice will be jailed. One has to live honestly and observe the law. If characters don't obey these rules, they will be jailed and then expelled.

The next grade up are the Older Members, usually simply known as the Judges. To become a Judge, the Novice member has to provide the society with at least 200 gold pieces and have spent one year in the Judges' service. There is also an annual ceremony where Novice members can prove their skills if they have met prerequisites. The player should choose three skills and roll d100, if the result (skill + roll) is 101+, the character is promoted to a Judge. The first skill is made as a light maneuver, second roll is made as a medium maneuver and third skill roll is made as a hard maneuver (no weapon skills can be used within the test). If the character should fail, he can try again the next year. There are also some other prerequisites that Judge must have:

Judge TP

Pre-requisite: Character should have Law-Enforcement talent. Other requirements see above for Novice Members.

Older Member TP includes:

Skill Ranks
Arcane Lore: Any 4
Duping 2
Melee 2
Mundane Lore; Any 4
Perception 2
Public Speaking 2
Streetwise 2
one skill of choice 2

Older Members are sent on more dangerous jobs. They can also get better equipment and three Novice members under their direct command. Judges receive a new weapon from the organisation. This weapon has the Judges' symbol on its hilt, and is +10 magical. A Judge has to give 35% of their payments to the order. Judges are also responsible for training Novice members, especially those under their direct command.

The third grade is the grade of High Judges, also called Lieutenants. To become a Lieutenant, a Judge has to serve at least five years and fulfill the following prerequisites.

High Judge / Lieutenant

Talent prerequisites: Character should have Scholar talent. Other requirements see above for Judges and Novice Members.

Skill Ranks
Arcane Lore: Any 4
Duping 3
Mundane Lore: Any 4
Public Speaking 3
Resistance: Will 4
Trading 2

Lieutenants may use, when permission from three other Lieutenants is gained, any and all magical equipment, weapons and armors owned by the order. They can also command all lower grade members, not just members that are under their direct command. There can only be 7 lieutenants and one commander-in-chief at any one time. These eight form a Senate, which makes the decisions on the order's activities and deals out punishments for erring members. The senate has to vote on every decision. The commander-in-chief has more influence than the Lieutenants as he casts three votes to their one. His word usually counts as the final decision.

The High Court of Judges is well hidden in a mountain region and its location is a secret known only to the order. At least three Lieutenants and the commander-in-chief are usually in residence at the High Court, which is a temple-like building, under which is an extensive series of catacombs. These catacombs act as prisons for dangerous criminals and minions of evil, living quarters for novices, and storage. The Judges' Treasury is a well-hidden and highly guarded place in the catacombs.