The Guardians of the Night [Organization]The Guardians of the Night
The Vara'Dome, "Guardians of the Night" in the Elven tongue, is a vigilante paladin order active in cities across Faerun. The Vara'Dome opposes criminal activity and corrupt governments alike, bringing in and throwing down either as needed. The order is active in scattered pockets across the continent, though most of its strength is concentrated in Westgate, Luskan, and Baldur's Gate.
Unlike the vast majority of other paladin-run organizations, the Vara'Dome has an integrated membership and operates in the shadows. The order has a webbed hierarchy, organized into cells. All cells are answerable to Lord Gaheris Trollbane of Westgate and to Sir Erek Fletcher to a lesser degree, but are otherwise independent, with wide latitude to operate in their home cities as the cell leaders see fit.
White every cell has it's own situation, some are of particular note.
Westgate: Personally led by the Vara'Dome's founder, the Westgate cell has possibly the toughest job of all: Rooting out the Night Masks thieves' guild. Despite extensive support from the monks of the Abbey of the Blinding Truth, the Westgate cell seems to make very little headway against the entrenched criminal organization, rarely tracking down guild officers above local cell leader status.
Waterdeep: The City of Splendors is already replete with secret societies both malignant and benign, including the Harpers, Xanathar's Guild, Shadow Thieves, Tel Teukiira, the Unseen, and the Red Sashes. Ironically, the recent assignment of the paladin Eather Heilean to lead Waterdeep's Harpers has made Ciaran Roche's (LG male Chondathan human Pal6/Rog6, Knight of Shadows) job as leader of the Waterdeep chapter more difficult, as Eather has pushed Those Who Harp into operating openly, in the process risking the identities of several Vara'Dome agents with Harper contacts. This is a complication that Ciaran did not need, given the already complex difficulties of navigating Waterdeep's underworld.
Baldur's Gate: The Sword Coast's other major port city is infested with the Shadow Thieves, and it shows. City authorities everywhere are usually cool towards vigilantes in any case, bu the city guardsmen bought off by those the Vara'Dome hunts plague Erek Fletcher's (LG male half-moon elf Pal5/Brd7 of Sune, Knight of Song) chapter almost as much as the Shadow Thieves' own enforcers and assassins.
Organization Statistics (using the format presented in Waterdeep: City of Splendors)
The Vara'Dome Order (Expansive Special): AL LG, NG, CG, LN; 30,000 gp resource limit; Membership 529 (humans 68%, half elves 12%, halflings 5%, elves (all types) 5%, dwarves 3%, half orcs 2%, gnomes 2%, others 3%); Salary 10 gp/month
Authority Figures: Lord Gaheris Trollbane (LG male Illuskan human, Pal11/Rog7), Sir Erek Fletcher.
Important Characters: Bearach Weir (LG male Illuskan human, Pal7/Rgr6), Ciaran Roche, Quinlan Lyall (LG male Calishite human, Mnk8/Pal5 of Ilmater), Amargein Ross (LG male Illuskan human, Pal4/Sorc10 of Mystra), Aleena Brightstar (CG female Chondathan human, Clr3/Rog2 of Tymora).
Associated Classes: Paladin, Rogue, Bard, Monk, Ranger
Associated Skills: Bluff, Gather Information, Intimidate, Hide, Knowledge (local), Spot, Sense Motive
Requirements: Must maintain secrecy concerning the Vara'Dome's operations. Should be available for duty at least 30 hours per tenday.
Favored in Guild fringe benefit: You are intimately familiar with the underworld of your chapter's home city. While within that city, you gain a +2 bonus on Diplomacy, Gather Information, Knowledge (local), Sense Motive, and Spot checks related to finding criminals or information on criminal dealings.
Gaheris Trollbane first attempted to found the Vara'Dome as a Tyrran knightly order in 1369 DR, perceiving the need for an arm of the church that could effectively investigate and penetrate criminal guilds if the Tyrrans were to effectively execute their god's command to spread justice. Several of the more orthodox justiciars on the church's high council, however, blocked the formation of the organization, seeing Gaheris' stated goals as outside the bounds of a paladin's duty, even though the young paladin's idea struck a chord with others on the council. (High Lord Abbot Grigor Khazar would get permission to found an order of monks based on the same idea two years later.)
Still convinced that his idea must become a reality, Gaheris didn't take long to seek alternative routes to make his idea come to life. He returned to his old adventuring companions, as well as several like-minded paladins of other faiths that he'd encountered in his adventuring days, and founded the Vara'Dome early in 1370 as an interfaith knightly order, effectively going over the Tyrran hierarchy's collective head. It has had it's opponents within Tyr's church ever since.
Among those Gaheris had brought together were Erek Fletcher, a bard and paladin of Sune who was instrumental in bringing together the ranks of the order; Bearach Weir, a Mielikkian wanderer and protector of travelers on the roads; Ciaran Roche, a young Ilmatian foundling from Waterdeep whom Gaheris had first met bedridden in the Hospice of St. Laupsenn; Afemond Larey, a monk of that Hospice who'd developed a friendship with Ciaran, and Amargein Ross of Silverymoon, one of Mystra's Knights of the Mystic Fire who had manifested a talent for sorcery. From these he named the organization's council, choosing them for the varied talents they brought to the fold.
Most of the earliest rank-and-file members were recruited from Erek Fletcher's many friends and contacts. Cells and chapters were formed and began the slow process of insinuating themselves as seamlessly as possible into the seamy underbellies of Faerun's metropolises.
One of the organization's earliest large ventures, however, was an expedition to infiltrate and attempt to overthrow the Loviatar-dominated government of Dambrath in 1372, a move strongly pushed for by the Ilmatians on the leaders' council. While the rule of the half-drow Crinti was severely disrupted and weakened by the Vara'Dome's efforts, it was not long before the Lovite priestesses discovered the agents at work against them, and the knights had to flee for their lives. Bearach and Erek, who had led the expedition, barely escaped with their lives, fleeing on horseback by night with Crinti shadow marauders hot on their heels. Several other agents did not make it, including Afemond, who gave his life fighting a group of Lovite priestesses and warriors to buy time for Ciaran to escape with a pair of junior agents.
Gaheris and the Council of Guardians, as the order's leaders came to be called, now take a more conservative approach to their operations. Except for the Silverymoon chapter's antagonism towards Luskan's Arcane Brotherhood, the Vara'Dome now rarely directly acts against governments. It is presently an organization of investigators, carefully ferreting out and eliminating criminal activities as Gaheris originally envisioned.
Being the webbed organization that it is, the Vara'Dome as an entire organization has very few enemies or allies. Rather, each cell tends to have its own individual relationships with local organizations independent of the rest of the order.
Westgate: The flagship chapter of the Guardians of the Night is first and foremost concerned with rooting out the Night Masks from their positions of influence within the city. This has made them some powerful enemies, including the Night Masks themselves and the Fire Knives assassins' guild. Among their few allies are the Monks of the Blinding Truth, based out of the Abbey of the same name, with whom they share their mission. Also friendly are the the clergies of the House of Ilmater and Morningstar Haven, the local temple of Lathander.
Waterdeep: The City of Splendors has a complex web of secret organizations, and Ciaran Roche's cell has an equally complex web of relationships with them. The Red Sashes, a vigilante order primarily operating in the Dock Ward, has a back-and-forth relationship with the Vara'Dome; while the two groups often share goals, some of the paladins within the group don't appreciate the cavalier way with which the Sashes treat the government and the City Watch. The Xanathar's Guild and the Shadow Thieves are both enemies of the Vara'Dome, as are most of the petty street gangs that carve out small territories among the warehouses of the Dock Ward. The Guardians' relationship with the Harpers has soured of late, since their new leader's decision to operate openly has run the risk of exposing several agents who were formerly close to Harper contacts, and Ciaran is still not sure about the newly-formed splinter group calling itself the Tel Teukiira. The senior agents of the chapter have begun to suspect the existence of the Unseen in some form or another, though they are presently unaware of just how extensive the doppelganger problem really is.
Silverymoon: In stark contrast with the Waterdeep cell, the order's chapter in the capital of the Silver Marches works in close harmony with the Harpers. Silverymoon itself doesn't have a large crime problem; most of the trouble the Vara'Dome deals with in the North stems from Luskan. With the Arcane Brotherhood on constant alert, however, maintaining a chapter in Luskan itself is too dangerous. Therefore, agents are dispatched to Luskan on an as-needed basis, much like the Harpers do.
Baldur's Gate: Erek Fletcher's chapter is neck-deep in trouble with the Shadow Thieves. Faerun's most infamous thieves' guild has a stranglehold on the port city's underworld, and is disturbingly good and corrupting officers of the Flaming Fist mercenary company, which makes life for the cell doubly hard. Erek has managed to counter-bribe enough of the mercenary company's officers to keep his safehouses from simply being crashed into for mass arrests, but he isn't able to make much headway in the face of the thieves.