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February 17, 2023 at 3:34 PM #175Carlo the DMKeymaster
What is the Black Priory?
The Black Priory is an organisation of professional witch hunters dedicated to the eradication of magical and monstrous evil across the Free Provinces. The Priory itself is a foreboding fortress containing libraries of knowledge, a barracks, living quarters, a chapel, a kitchen, a great hall and dungeons. From this fortress, the Grand Inquisitor sends out teams of witch hunters to provinces where the presence of magical or monstrous evil is suspected.
What do witch hunters do?
Witch hunters of the Black Priory are organised into retinues and lead by an Inquisitor. An Inquisitor and their retinue is sent out by the Grand Inquisitor to hunt and destroy magical or monstrous evils.
The work itself is grim and thankless. It is the job of the Inquisitor to lead his retinue of witch hunters to root out and destroy evil, whether magical or monstrous, at whatever cost. Frequently, this cost is high and bloody. Whether hunting vampyr across densely-populated cities, uncovering covens of witches in village communities or purging forests of unholy cults, the work requires a team of ashen-faced men and women capable of doing what is necessary so that others may sleep safe in their beds.
Depending on the needs of the moment, witch hunters may find themselves acting as investigators, interrogators, explorers, warriors, diplomats, hunters, spies, assassins, judges or executioners.
Witch hunters are not well-regarded. The average peasant fears the arrival of witch hunters almost as much as they fear the horrors that the Black Priory is meant to be guarding them from. The great powers of the Free Provinces, whether prelates of the Dragon-Church, College grandees, hereditary lords of feudal provinces or the heads of the merchant houses of the mercantile city-states, may view witch hunters as a challenge to their power or tools to be manipulated into acting for their own ends.February 17, 2023 at 3:34 PM #176Carlo the DMKeymaster
Why are witch hunters necessary?
A thousand years ago, the Free Provinces were ruled by a magical tyrant known as the Archmagister. An immensely powerful user of arcane magic, the Archmagister used his power to create a personal domain in the Far East – the Magelands – and rule over the Provinces.
The Free Provinces gained their freedom when a Dragon, a mythical creature of near-omnipotent power, entered the world and destroyed him. The Magelands became an unstable wasteland of magical energy. The Dragon is trapped there, and will remain trapped there.
Two organisations rose after the destruction of the Archmagister: the Great College, the seat of all learning across the Free Provinces, and the Dragon-Church, a religious movement which grew out of the swelling worship of the Dragon in the aftermath of the Dragon’s defeat of the Archmagister.
In the absence of a centralised power, the Great College and the Dragon-Church grew influential, gaining footholds across all of the Free Provinces. They brought order and helped the rulers of the provinces establish law, including a total ban on the unlicensed use of arcane magic.
But learning and worship would not be enough to keep the Free Provinces safe. The use of arcane magic without permission from the Great College was outlawed, but unlicensed mages continued to exist across the Free Provinces. New magical horrors were created by the magical instability of the Magelands and came stumbling out into the Free Provinces. Older evils, existing in wildlands and wastes since before the Archmagister’s era, remained stubbornly active.
In response, the Great College and the Dragon-Church together founded a third organisation, the Black Priory, as a dedicated force of witch hunters to find and destroy unlicensed mages, new horrors from the Magelands, monsters and cultists. Created jointly by the Great College and the Dragon-Church and answering to no single province, the Black Priory was intended to be the Free Provinces’ defence against the horrors of the past and nightmares of the future.
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