The Sacrament of Vigilance
The Sacrament of Vigilance is an order of the goddess Ravi that is entirely seperated from the church, though in many cases members of the priesthood support their agenda. They are primarily based in the Pandaemonium Fortress that makes it place in the western reaches of the Borderlands, but they have Strongholds throughout Leng, wherever the undead may be found.
In keeping with Ravi's hatred of undead, the Sacrament of Vigilance is an order that dedicates itself to the eradication of the undead. More particularly, while they hunt all undead with a vengeance, they focus on the undead that is most dangerous and aggressive upon civilisation; the vampire. For more than 550 years since its founding, the Sacrament of Vigilance has dedicated themselves to the keeping of vampire lore and the practise of locating, hunting and destroying all traces of vampire infestation.
While all members of the Sacrament of Vigilance have a fervent hatred of undead and are very devout followers of Ravi, they are not all priests. The priesthood makes up an important part of the Sacrament, providing weapons and blessings against the vampire and preaching the way of Ravi to the Sacrament, but a large part of the order is composed of normal men; fighters, rangers, and the occasional paladin who are driven by their faith and hatred of vampires. While most see the work of the Sacrament of Vigilance as a good thing and members of the Sacrament are usually respected (though they have no special status within any of the nations of Leng), it has been raised on occasion that their methods can be a little extreme even for the filth that is the undead - torture of vampires with sunlight exposure in order to locate the rest of its brood being one example of the lengths they are willing to go to in order to quash them.
Occasionally, the Sacrament of Vigilance also hunts the lycanthrope threat, mostly due to the fact that lycanthrope hunters are well-paid and they are usually already well-equipped to kill supernatural beasts. While the Sacrament is definitely a religious organisation, it is also very mercenary in its attitude, often accepting payment to clear a specific area of vampires. Especially at the lower echelons of the order, that of the rank-and-file hunters, many simply join the order because it pays very well.
Organisation & Hierarchy
While the Sacrament of Vigilance follows a general miltary hierarchy, it is fairly loose. Most of the members of the Sacrament are simply termed Wardens whatever their specific skills are, be they fighters, paladins, rangers or whatever else. The rank of Warden is divided into tiers depending on experience. A new Warden with little experience in the field is known as a Novitiate. Novitiates are used to guard Strongholds, run errands and perform scouting missions to seek the presence of the undead. Novitiates are rarely allowed into the field without someone of a higher rank to watch over them and ensure they do not get themselves killed. Once they have some experience under their belt, they are promoted to the rank of Guardian. A Guardian is one who has proven themselves loyal to the Sacrament and its aims and who has accrued some experience. They are the rank and file of the Sacrament, and have freedom to seek out the undead and destroy them at their discretion.
Guardians usually operate in groups of two or three, travelling through the country and seeking out traces of vampirism or infestations of the undead. When they are located, they will take care of it alone if they feel they are able, or return to their Stronghold for reinforcements. While the Commander gathers Wardens into specific groups in the manner of a traditional military for larger tasks, they are usually allowed to act independently unless the services of the Sacrament have been specifically comissioned.
Above the rank of Guardian is that of the Custodian. A Custodian is a veteran of the Sacrament, one who has proven themselves over the years to be capable, level-headed, competent and able to lead. Custodians are different from Guardians in several ways; any order given by a Custodian must be followed by one of a lower rank, and when a group of Wardens is dispatched to eradicate an undead threat, they will often be lead by a single Custodian. Custodians are also honored and respected within the Sacrament for their experience and wisdom. Once word of an undead threat has reached a Stronghold - particularly if the undead in question is a vampire - it is common for a group of 6 people to be dispatched: a Custodian, a Templar, at least one Guardian and between one to three Novitiates.
The priesthood of Ravi in the Sacrament of Vigilance is seperated from the main body of Wardens, and follows the structure of a traditional temple; that is to say, each Temple has many priests and a single High Priest who presides over them. The High Priest of a Stronghold has as much influence as the Commander. An individual group of Wardens may or may not be accompanied by a priest, but usually will be if it is composed of 5 or more members. Priests who serve the Sacrament of Vigilance are known as Templars, and the High Priest of a Stronghold is sometimes called the "High Templar".
A Stronghold will also have many mundane staff besides the Wardens and Templars; those who wish to serve the Sacrament of Vigilance, but are not cut out for a warriors life; smiths, fletchers, animal trainers, mechanics - the list goes on. These are collectively referred to as the Protectorates, and will usually receive at least some training in combat and the tricks of the undead, specifically those that may be used to gain entry to the Stronghold - such as being tricked into inviting a vampire inside. A Stronghold does not employ staff for the most mundane of tasks such as cleaning. Instead, they are assigned to Wardens who are living in the Stronghold at the time by the Coordinator.
Each Stronghold has several positions of power that oversee the running of the Stronghold. The Coordinator is a domestic position common to each Stronghold; he oversees the Protectorates and ensures that they have the materials and equipment they need, assigns beds and facilities to soldiers, and assigns tasks and chores to sedentary Wardens. The Coordinator is responsible for stocking and running the Stronghold, as well as resolving any disputes within the Stronghold. The High Templar, mentioned above, is the leader of the priests in a particular Stronghold, and has as much influence as the Commander himself. The Commander is at the head of a Stronghold. He commands its forces, forms groups of Wardens to tackle specific problems or infestations, and handles comissions and contracts from other entities. Most of the time, the Commander does not take a very administrative role, only being required when decisions must be made for the Stronghold. The final position of power is the Keeper of Records, who oversees the library of a Stronghold and is responsible for the preservation and aquisition of undead and vampire lore.
The Pandaemonium Fortress is a huge complex in the western area of the Borderlands, and is the headquarters of the Sacrament of Vigilance. The operation of the Pandaemonium Fortress is similar to that of any normal Stronghold, except that it is headed by the Lord Commander, who oversees both the Pandaemonium Fortress and all the Strongholds of the Sacrament; he is, for all intents and purposes, the leader of the Sacrament of Vigilance. The High Clerist also resides at the Pandaemonium Fortress, who is the leader of the Templars.
Technology, Magic & Lore
Having dedicated themselves to establishing Strongholds and hunting the undead for the past 550 years, the Sacrament has accumulated a great deal of lore on the undead and vampirism in particular, and have devised many technologies and forms of magic or enchantment designed to ward away the undead or aid in fighting them. Most Strongholds will have a library that varies in size depending on the size of the Stronghold, but will at the very least contain comprehensive works on the nature of vampirism and how it is defeated. Kept in great secrecy under lock and key in the vaults of the Pandaemonium Fortress is one of the few copies of the Liber Animus, the text that contains the formula for lichdom.
One well-known item of the Sacrament is the "Amulet of Ravi". The priests of the Sacrament are able to make this relatively easily, requiring only a quantity of silver and the blood of a vampire to do so. When worn, an Amulet of Ravi grants an additional saving throw vs. spell against the special abilities of undead such as a ghoul's paralysation or a vampire's energy drain, on top of any saving throws (or lack thereof) that you may already be entitled to. If the saving throw is passed, the wearer is unaffected by the ability.
While not "new technologies" in of themselves, the Sacrament has access to comprehensive vampire lore, and their Strongholds will cultivate and store the substances known to be harmful to vampires. The Strongholds themselves will be built over running water to protect it from vampire attack. They keep extensive herb gardens, both for food and medicine and for the cultivation of garlic (which wards vampires), belladonna (which can cure lycanthropy if taken quickly enough) and wolfsbane (whose poison scent can discourage wolves and werewolves).They will usually have their own smiths, and will produce silvered and occasionally even gold-impregnated weapons for their properties against creatures of the night, as well as silver chains and restraints. They also keep a reserve of holy water, blessed personally by the local priests of Ravi. Finally, each member of the Sacrament is issued a silver holy symbol of Ravi, though it is not quite certain whether the holy symbols themselves are enough to keep vampires at bay without the power of a cleric behind it - it is believed to vary based on the strength of faith of the wielder. They also stock as many scrolls of Protection from Undead as they can produce or procure, as they are invaluable against vampires.
The Sacrament of Vigilance also has various technologies that they have developed over time. The simplest and most common of these is the wooden crossbow bolt, a simple fire-hardened sharp bolt which ends in a wooden tip instead of a steel one. Wooden crossbow bolts do not get any of the armor-piercing bonuses to hit enemies, but a natural 20 will stake them, causing them to "die" until the bolt is removed. Likewise, when bringing a vampire to 0 hit points with a wooden bolt, there is a 20% chance that they will be staked by the killing blow and will thus "die" until the bolt it removed instead of turning to mist as they usually would.
Another form of crossbow bolt employed by the Sacrament is one with a hollow core designed splinter once it has penetrated the skin, releasing its contents onto the skin. It is designed to hold holy water (though with some modification they could hold acid), and when a full injector bolt of holy water is fired into a being that is undead or of the lower planes, it will deal 1d6+1 additional damage from the holy water. Injector bolts cost 5 gp per bolt. Another form exists - that can be fired only from a heavy crossbow, but can hold 3 doses of holy water. When fired, with will deal 3d6+3 additional damage to the target, and 1d6+1 to all affected within 5' that do not pass a saving throw vs. spell. These heavy injector bolts cost 15 gp each.
The Sacrament also makes extensive use of chrism, which is flammable oil that has been blessed as holy water via a special modified form of the usual ritual specific to the order. Chrism acts as holy water, dealing damage to the undead, but can also be ignited as oil can to burn its victims. When used together, grenades that spray burning, holy oil across foes can be very deadly. A flask of chrism will deal 1d6+1 damage to undead creatures as holy water does, and will deal an additional 1d6+1 damage when set alight. It is possible to bless longer-burning oils (or even greek fire style substances) so that it lasts longer.
A work in progress.
The Pandaemonium Fortress: The headquarters of the Sacrament of Vigilance, this is where the Lord Commander and High Clerist dwell. Situated deep in the western Borderlands, the Pandaemonium Fortress was the first Stronghold established 650 years ago by the ancient group of adventurers who formed the Sacrament in the first place. It is a bold construction of huge towers and vast battlements, a final resort for the Sacrament to fall back against in case the undead strike. It is said to be riddled with secrets, and contains the Sacrament's most advanced technologoies to thwart undead attack, including a moat composed entirely of holy water that is blessed by 100 priests each day.
Riverford Stronghold: Located 5 miles west of the town of Riverford on the Border Bridge, which is in turn 100 miles south of Morndale in the Border Fiefdom of Kharolis. The Riverford Stronghold is accessed through a network of natural caverns which are guarded by Wardens at all times, which lead to an ancient Gnommish Hearth Hall that was abandoned after a war between gnomes and trolls. It has been in use by the Sacrament for 60 years and is entirely underground.