Bandits of the Black Talon
Everyone knows that the Bandits fight against tyranny in all of its forms, but how they got there and how they do it are not widely known.
|Into the Black Talon Forest|
Many who have heard of the Bandits are told the tale of Clara, a villager who was burned at the stake, and whose death somehow summoned the Black Talons to the world. If you’re a sympathiser to the cause, Clara is a beautiful, yet humble woman who is wrongly accused by a jealous Lord; those who witnessed her death were inspired to rise against oppression. If you’ve been on the wrong end of a Bandit blade, you might subscribe to the less flattering rendition, wherein Clara is an ugly chaos hag who, upon being finally put to death for all her hideous crimes, mutters one last curse on the world, turning all who heard it into ravaging psychopaths. The truth is far less engaging: Clara was the name of a small village on the eastern border of a once prosperous nation. Her people were all things people can be: humble, impetuous, conniving, honest, scurrilous, wanton, noble, ignoble; but most of all, they were hungry. For the most part a community of farmers, Clara’s crops were being used to feed the local Lord’s armies in a campaign that had lasted a half a generation, and one which had no direct impact on those actually growing the food. Eventually, to feed their families, a few farmers decided not to give over everything they grew. Others, meanwhile, actually took to the roads, trying to procure (by force or other means) anything that might mean a less difficult existence. When the Lord heard of the lawlessness in his lands, he responded with (what some might have consuidered ‘undue’) force. Feeling jaded and abused, the farmers struck back in the only way they knew they could really hurt the Lord: they burned down their own village and took to the forest their village was pressed against; they were no longer going to be the starving cooks for a nations armies.
Into the Black Talon Forest
That forest was, of course, the now infamous Black Talon forest, and their presence in it did not go unnoticed: Thetis, a forest nymph of some power, had long since abandoned the barbaric world of men for seclusion in the depths of the wood. Being immortal and patient, she decided to take her time dispatching these interlopers. She set them tests of character, certain they would fail and perish in the process. She was surprised, however, at the how many passed, or at least came close to doing so before falling victim to her machinations. She looked into their hearts and came to know their troubles, their sorrow and their pain; their protectors had used, abandoned and abused them; humanity was indeed rotten, and these wretched creatures were the unfortunate victims. It was then that she made herself known to them, the first time she had done so for a mortal in many centuries. Whilst she was still unwilling to leave the forest, she gave the humans sanctuary, shielding them from the Lord’s patrols and taking vengeance on the knights who formed them. The former villagers of Clara had now found a new home, one in which they were their own masters, and bore the fruits of their own labour. In time, despite the fact that few newcomers passed Thetis’ standards, the number of the Bandits of the Black Talon Forest (as they were now being called) grew, culminating in the notorious force we know today.
Here you will find the major non-player characters from Bandit lore
|Thetis||Protector and patron||Alive||Thetis is the forest spirit who calls the Black Talon forest her home, and did so long before the Bandits arrived. She is as unknowable as the wind, but she seems to protect the Bandits, keeping them safe from outsiders and testing anyone who wanders too near.|
|Fiona Weaver||Mayor of Clara||Deceased (old age)||Along with her sister, Fiona stirred the rebellion against the Mad Duke and helped to free the citizens of Clara from his grasp. It was her order to burn the fields, and she led her her people into the Black Talon Forest.|
|Katra Weaver||Blacksmith||Deceased (killed in battle)||Katra was the first to really stir rebellious sentiment among the people of Clara. She took to the roads to steal back the food that was taken by the Mad Duke’s wagons. She was killed in the battle of Arbek’s Farm, when the original insurgent hideout was found by the Duke’s enforcers.|
|The Mad Duke||Antagonist||Deceased (old age)||Florin d’Agnar inherited a prosperous Dukedom at 16, when his father took ill and died unexpectedly. He was a petulant king, and his armies took part in many conflicts created by any perceived slight. Although his family were excessively wealthy and his stocks abundant, years of continuous conflict meant that his stores began to run low, forcing him to lean on his labourers all the more. After the Clara rebellion, the Dukedom fell into disarray and Florin locked himself in his keep. He lived there until his death, heirless, some years later. His lands were quickly absorbed into neighbouring kingdoms.|
|Igar Moonthrottle||Antagonist||Trapped||200 years ago Igar was an elf who was once a student (and some say consort) of Thetis. Little is known about his life, but it seems as though his already long life was not enough for him; he craved immortality. He began to dabble in necromancy, which brought conflict between he and Thetis. Eventually he was banished from the Black Talon forest, but returned some years later with an undead army at his command. Why he returned is unknown, but Thetis managed to contain him in a glade deep within the forest. The victory was not without cost, and the glade still exists where nothing grows and Igar constantly searches for paths back into the greater world.|
In character, the Black Talons are organised into ‘Branches’; they’re guild-like clubs which exist in order to give some level of structure to an otherwise unwieldy bunch. Out of character, they’re designed to enhance a Bandit’s Swordcraft experience by giving them a way to connect to other like-minded players. At the moment there are five branches (explained below), and each Branch operates in slightly different ways depending on its purpose and makeup. Some will be busy at all times, whereas others shine on Friday Nights or at Quest events. All Branches have an elected leader, and new elections are held every Quest.
- THE CLAWS
These Bandits are your soldier types. They train more regularly than other Bandits in the art of war, looking to hone both their personal fighting techniques and battlefield tactics. Their leadership is deferred to when in combat situations.
If you character likes the idea of helping others improve their martial skills, working as a team to complete battlefield objectives or mastering a combat style, then perhaps being a Claw is for you.
- THE TREECALLERS
Healers, mages, witches and druids, all and more can be found in the ranks of the Treecallers. The Bandits are the closest the Talons have to a priesthood and, whether it’s Orbos the half-orc barkeeper with the friendly ear, or Alu’alor the elven cleric with healing magic, all are committed to ensuring that the Bandits are safe and looked after. The Treecallers are also the Bandits most likely to be contacted by Thetis, though her whims are changeable as the winds.
If your character wants to explore their magical potential, wants to be a boon on the battlefield without combat, or just enjoys helping people, then perhaps the Treecallers are for you.
- THE SILVERS
So called because of their silver tongues, the Silvers are the Bandit’s diplomatic arm. Whether it’s locking in alliances, trading goods or getting their companions out of a lock-up, the Silvers are well-versed in persuasion. They may also be involved in the infiltration of higher social circles as information gatherers, when the job is too public for the Ravens.
If your character likes to talk, wheel and deal or mix with the social elite, then being a Silver might be for you.
- THE RAVENS
Hiding in the shadows, belding into a crowd or flitting through the treetops, Ravens are the Bandits spies and scouts. They are the information gatherers and the assassins. Many Bandits aren’t even aware of who among them are Ravens, in order to protect their identity.
If your character likes surprising people, stakeouts and moving unseen then maybe the Ravens are for you.
- THE FIREBRANDS
Also known as ‘The Voice of the People’, the firebrands are the Bandit’s political aspirants, bards and performers. Whether they’re giving rousing speeches in town squares, inciting rebellion in slave pens, penning sagas about great outlaws or printing and distributing messages of revolution, the Firebrands hope to ignite the fire of freedom in all who hear them.
If your character likes to speak to the hearts and minds of the people, sing rousing songs or write damning treatises, then maybe the Firebrands are for you.
How do I join a Branch? Can I join more than one?
Joining your first Branch is easy; you just say you’re a member of it, and you are! Have a talk to the Bandits within that Branch – there may be some simple initiation required and the Branch leader will need to get your name and character. Joining more than one Branch takes a lot more commitment – Bandits can be a part of two Branches, but they must be invited into the second, and this must happen in character at a Quest event. Bandits should also be a part of their first Branch for at least 6 months before they begin thinking about their second.