Tuesday, August 25, 2020

D&D: Sky Warriors of Phrydias

Here's an oldie I originally posted on EN World more than 4 years ago. It's actually part of CC1 Beyond the Skies. I bet a number of people haven't seen this. This excerpt introduces an order of half-elven knights who ride giant eagles. Their base of operation is a circular structure hanging from a gigantic balloon.

CC1 FLOOR PLAN Phrydias Seminary for EnWorld .png

This order of half-elven knights originally formed in honor of an epic hero by the name of Bambathiel. His legends tell of the first recorded case of a Calderan eagle being tamed as a mount. The giant raptors are reputed for being particularly difficult to approach, let alone to befriend and ride like a horse. Magic sometimes works in this respect, but followers of Thaëldar see this as an insult to their deity. For them, Calderan eagles embody their Lord of the Skies. Being entrusted with one is nothing less than a holy gift requiring utmost respect and devotion.

Bambathiel died in a fight with a night howler, a great beast of evil that had been preying on Calderan eagles in the Kaël Mountains. Though he who became known as the First Knight defeated his mythical foe, his wounds and those of his majestic mount were awash with deadly poison. No prior in Phrydias could stop its spreading, and both died in writhing pain. The High-Prior of Thaëldar prayed for their return to life, but the Great God of the Skies decided to keep them both at his side. Since then, faithful followers of Thaëldar, those who are pure of thought and brave at heart, have created the Order of Sky Warriors in memory of their fallen hero. Bambathiel and Oba Eagle-Lord together became scions of the cult and the order’s spiritual protectors.

The night howler is an enormous beast that sometimes appears late at night. It is born from the nightmares of slumbering evil Phrydians, and vanishes before dawn. What is unclear, however, is why so many people would make the same horrid dream during one fateful night. No Bongorese literature had ever mentioned night howlers. A sect of malevolent wizards or perhaps a demon are thought to be at work, summoning the beast when the moons are right, perhaps as the consequence of an unholy ritual planting seeds of evil into many a weaker or disturbed mind. Priors of Thaëldar have come to believe that in the heart of the eagles lies great spiritual power, which the wicked covet for their evil deeds. What they do with such wondrous power remains a mystery. As the beast unexpectedly rises again to wreak havoc upon Thaëldar’s flock, the knights scramble to deny the odious harvest. In truth, the beast springs from a curse. It was cast by the demon-prince Kokumo, when Thaëldar cast his spear at him.

This order is the armed chapter of the Faith of Thaëldar. Aside from safeguarding breeds of eagles small and large, they live to protect of the Sky God’s temples in Phrydias and elsewhere. A contingent resides in northwestern Alfdaín where the cult has found significant following. Their ethos is neither fundamentally malevolent or purely benevolent. Their philosophy concerns more specifically the order of all things in the universe. Most members of Thaëldar’s fanatical legion stick together as a military organization. Others ride their fabulous mounts, travelling the world in search of clues about who or what lies behind the summoning of night howlers. They are avengers, adventuring warriors looking for a worthy cause for the purpose of acquiring goodwill toward their quest and their faith. Their beneficiaries are to watch for defilers of great eagles and for clues about the night howlers, and alert them if such comes about. Following the belief that evil doers dwell in evil places, sky warriors aren’t loath to exploring dungeons and other places of despair, for hints may lie there was well.

Isn’t a knight anyone who desires it. Prerequisites include being at least a pious follower of Thaëldar. In this regard, race is not an issue. To become a squire, one must already be a fine warrior or a skilled prior (one with the experience of at least a dozen worthwhile dungeon expeditions should qualify). A time will come when the squire will have to seek out a giant eagle’s nest high in the Kaël Mountains and earn its occupant’s respect, a perilous quest on its own. Magic of any kind, clerical or otherwise, is not permitted, and the squire must act alone. Should a glorious fate shine upon the squire, an egg will be available for the taking. It must be safely returned to the order’s sanctum, wherein its new owner will have to care for it until it hatches. The squire must raise the young eagle, nurture its growth, earn its loyalty, and train it as a mount.

Note: The remainder of the chapter goes on about 
risks and rewards of being a knight, and creating a player-character. You'll find all this in CC1 Beyond the Skies

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