Old World's End
Question and Answer Number One
Topics: Questions about The Hand of Light 1-17, and some other more general questions.
The Hand of LIght Questions:
- The Hand of Light (H.O.L.) is a combination Aasimar and Ifrit organization which abhors arcane magic. Do they accept converts from other races or are they exclusive?
While race isn’t particularly strong among the value system of the Hand of Light, the introduction of members of other races to its fold is somewhat uncommon. In rough, round terms, the racial breakdown would be 60% Aasimar, 30% Ifrit, 5% Human, 3% Vanara, 2% Other.
- Given that the posted home fort for the H.O.L. is quite far away from the Ifrit volcano isle, how do they get there in such numbers to be qualified as half the force? what draws them there?
See #1 for a slightly updated racial breakdown. Important to keep in mind here is that the Ifrit were made Ifrit by exposure to Fire-Mountain-Isle during the mythic past (i.e. hundreds of years ago). While a majority of Ifrit have stayed in that proximity, a significant number have left the frozen-yet-hot Isle for other places more suitable to them. For this reason, there are small Ifrit populations in Northern cities already (esp. Windwater, Trader’s Avoy, and Planetar). These are places where the Hand of Light has tried (with mixed success) to gain footholds or recruit members.
As to what draws them: The H.O.L. cultivates a culture of perceived superiority and unity against a distinct ‘otherness’. There are numerous examples throughout history of such groups having authority or power. Add to this a strong paramilitary (e.g. regimental, orderly) feel as well as an inspirational religious fervor, and there’s certainly a home for several different kind of individual.
- Are they strictly ordered to kill any arcane magic user on sight, or are there levels of punishment that range from imprisonment and rehabilitation to execution?
In areas where they have political influence, the practice of arcane magic is prohibited in the strongest terms. Exile or Death are the two normally allowed punishments, and it usually falls to leaders of squads to deliver the sentences at their own discretion.
- Do they often send out missionary groups or are they relatively confined to their region?
- Do any groups actively oppose them or have beliefs that run counter to their dogma?
Do all their members agree on their practices?
Actually, yes. Most worshipers of their goddess Vildeis are appalled by what they see as a perversion of the teachings of a truly loving goddess with a harsh disciplinary code. However, most non-H.O.L. worshipers of Vildeis are paralyzed by the fact that some clerics among the H.O.L. are empowered with divine magic and the holy symbols of Vildeis.
In non-religious circles, there are several individuals throughout the isles who would see the H.O.L. defeated by military means, disbanded, and its clerics defrocked for the good of the public. However, the majority of these individuals do not have the Isles-wide political clout to marshal such a force.
- Where does their financial stability come from? Do they subsist off of the donations / tithing of members? Do they have any products they sell?
This is a very astute question, and one that several people in the isles would pay a lot of money to answer. However, as yet, it remains unanswered to the public at large.
- How long have they existed?
The first recorded military activity by the Hand of Light was about 25 years ago.
- Clearly the hand of light favors divine magic. Is there a particular God that is their patron? Yes. Vildeis. See #5 and the existing wiki page.
- What is their command structure? Do they have a pope? Exarchs? Tiers of priests and bishops?
A single Theocrat selected from among the top generals, a small college of generals, each commanding a few dozen of squad-commanders with charges of 10-15 trained regular soldiers.
- How does one join? Is there a probationary period? Trials? Mandatory time as an apprentice? How do the hand if light ifrit members treat their inherent spell like ability that functions as an arcane spell? Are they considered tainted/lesser members of the society for it?
These are good questions, but those who know are close-lipped about the answers.
- In general temperament, are they zealot warriors on a hair trigger, traveling missionaries trying to simply spread a message, or somewhere in-between?
“Zealot warriors on a hair trigger” is pretty close to the temperaments of most of the squad-commanders.
- is that pretty universal of their members? Becasue agreeable cause or not, fanatics aren’t overly approachable to the populace at large.
Their appeal isn’t their approach-ability, it’s their army size, politically protected status, and their zeal for their ideology.
- Getting more of a Klan vibe of them then?
Perhaps better would be “Motivated by murderous ideology, with individual charitable members from time to time,” but I won’t belittle the comparison.
- But it’s safe to assume they have a zero tolerance policy and violence is often the first resort?
I think you’re over-thinking them. Imagine an organization which believes in mandatory and immediate damnation for the practitioners of arcane magic and has the resources to guarantee that over some areas. That is the H.O.L. in a nutshell.
- Is their authority to act autonomously recognized all over, or only near their fort? Do any cities turn away their followers for fear of trouble or violence following their admittance?
Their authority is relatively localized, but they have small groups of people in a variety of different cities, and a large contingent in Planetar. Those who show their colors openly would be denied entry to Great-Solar if they tried to go there, however.
- Is their organization preferential towards one gender over the other?
Given long-standing associations between women or woman-creatures (i.e. Hags) and malevolent magic, women don’t fare particularly well. The exception to this are particular zealous priestesses of Vildeis, whose skill in a variety of arts advances them well both inside and outside the H.O.L., although their internal reputations are often quite colorful.
- How common are various long distance forms of message? Are there couriers that brave the wilds with satchels of mail? Does each city have a coop of carrier pigeons?
Message carriers can be purchased in most towns and all cities. Some cities even have magical means of carrying messages available for use. Windwater has a group of message-birds for short-range message carrying, but other cities do not. The brave souls who carry messages by land are usually a last resort, and one must usually pay them quite well to brave the wilds. More common is to send a message between port-cities by paying a travel fare for an individual messenger. Often messengers will try to carry a few messages rather than a single one to make a bit of profit on their journeys.
- Are there any established magic academies?
Not of great renown. While arcane writing and formulae may be available in libraries in cities (most notably Great-Solar or Trader’s Avoy in this region), the sort of academic practice of magic that is available in some settings has never gained a strong foothold in the Isles.