Thursday, April 5, 2018

The Templar Chapters: The Dark Vigil

Alternate Names: The Templars Vigilant

In the heart of the Tangled Expanse, on the cusp of the riotous and exotic Dark Arm of the galaxy and the ordered and imperial galactic core, lies the former ocean world of Alhari. Upon a shallow, turquoise blue sea and abutting a the great island mountain of Alhari sprawls the canal city of Maon. Hyperspace travel to and from Alhari is easier than any other world in the Tangled Expanse, and once one reaches Alhari, the restof the Tangled Expanse is easier to reach. As such, Maon is the busiest space port of the Tangled Expanse and serves as its de facto capital. All merchants, treasure hunters and pilgrims who seek to explore and exploit the Temple Worlds of the Tangled Expanse pass through it, and enjoy its rich, colorful and riotous culture. Where money flows, so too does crime, and Maon overflows with vice, with casino barges, floating brothels, and thieves clambering the tall buildings of Maon. Despite all of its crime, however, Maon has a reputation as a safe city, free of slave traders and assassins, because even with the grip the criminal underworld of the Dark Arm has on Maon, they fear one thing in the shadows whose name they mention only in hushed whispers: the Dark Vigil.

The Dark Vigil Chapter, a remnant of the legendary Knights of Communion, are Maon’s guardians. The popular image of them depicts them either in rich, silken black robes, with a force sword belted in their sash, or as extraordinarily fit and athletic men and women bearing tattoos on their backs, shoulders and arms. They perch atop the towering buildings of Maon and watch over their city; they have hidden bases and vaults scattered throughout the city in which they hide untold treasure and the secrets of immortality. They are more than just the boogeymen of the Maon’s criminal underworld, but it secret masters, demanding a cut of all profits and dictating what may and may not happen on Maon: the casinos and brothels get a nod, slavers and assassins disappear into the night. And when those in need, be they escaped slave or orphaned child, call upon the darkness of Maon for help, the Templars Vigilant answer them.



Origins of the Dark Vigil Chapter

The Tangled Expanse is home to the old Keleni Temple Worlds and, being easier to navigate to, Alhari (or its original Kelen name, Amika) became the gateway to the rest of the Tangled Expanse. Maon began as a small island village in the shadow of the sacred mountain of Anona. As pilgrimages to the temple worlds of the Keleni became increasingly popular, Alhari acted as a gateway to the rest of the Tangled Expanse. First came pilgrims, then merchants and criminals, first to exploit the pilgrims, then one another.

During the Alexian Interdiction during the death throes of the Alexian Empire, when the Keleni were forced from their homeworlds and the Order of the Knights of Communion lay in ruins, the True Communion nun Laela the Beautiful organized the Dark Vigil Chapter and tasked them with protecting the sanctity of the Temple Worlds. They mustn’t accept any Keleni members until the Interdiction lifted, and they mustn’t let anyone know of their existence. The Knights of Communion would rise again someday, she told the first Chapter Master of the Dark Vigil, Jaen Tsan, and the Dark Vigil was to ensure that the Temple World stood ready for that day.

Today, the Dark Vigil Chapter continues to guard the Temple Worlds, with Maon as the center of their power. They act as a mixture between a secret society, enforcers of street justice and a racketeering operation. All criminals and shady dealers of the sector know that they cannot do business on Maon without the tacit approval of the Templars Vigilant. The Empire has become increasingly aware of the presence of some subversive force on Alhari and have begun to treat it as an insurgency, but have not yet fully grasped the extent of the resources available to the “Maon Vigilantes” or why their members can seemingly vanish into thin air, enjoy amazing luck, and seem to know exactly how to avoid imperial traps, or why all the criminals of Maon refuse to speak of them.

Personalities of the Dark Vigil Chapter

Chapter Master Jaen Tsan

Jaen Tsan is an ancient Tarvathim who had seen the rise and fall of Ranathim Empire, served in its wars and fought against the Keleni on multiple occasions, but upon his defeat at the hands of Laela the Beautiful, converted to True Communion and at last found purpose for his seemingly endlessly empty existence.

Jaen Tsan towers over the rest of his Templars, but his limbs and body are rail thin and his features show centuries of scarring, giving him an odious appearance. White cataracts cover his eyes, but seem not to impair his vision at all. Leathery skin stretches over his bony body and upon it, one can read a litany of the names of fallen Templar heroes tattooed upon his skin: whenever a beloved friend fell, he noted their name upon his flesh upon his skin to forever remember them, and thus began to Vigilant tradition of tattoos.

The endlessly patient and just Jaen Tsan has presided over the Templar Vigilant for the whole of their existence. He has walked with the Five Templar Elders, the last members of the Knights of Communion. He grows wistful when he looks upon their statues in the mountain temple of Ijosin. The Templars Vigilant hold him in worshipful awe, and only recently has he revealed to the Vigilant Council that he is dying. He has not revealed what is killing him, as the Tarvathim are supposedly immortal. Speculation runs rampant: he dies of a broken heart; the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant has found some way to poison him; True Communion itself calls him back; Jaen Tsan is lying because he wants to retire. Whatever the case, Jaen Tsan will soon be no more and with him, one of the last living memories of the original Knights of Communion. His successor must be chosen, and that successor will determine the fate of the Dark Vigil Chapter.

The Warden, Jaden Wu

Young, handsome, talented and pious, Jaden Wu joined the Templars Vigilant as an orphan in the arms of Jaen Tsan. He studied at the feet of masters before he could walk, and showed a powerful understanding of both psionic phenomenon and the need for compassion and restraint when exercising them. Upon reaching the age of majority, Jaden sought to join the Ijosin monastery as a monk of True Communion, but in his meditations, True Communion laid out his future for him and, with great sadness, he abandoned his dream of becoming a monk and joined the Dark Vigil Chapter instead.

There, he rapidly rose up the ranks and became Warden, who tended to the physical infrastructure of their assets, to the mountain monastery of Ijosin, and to the needs of the poor of Maon. He was, without a doubt, the most beloved of the Dark Vigil Chapter and certain to become Jaen Tsan’s successor despite his youth.

Then someone murdered Jaden Wu. His name now resides on the skin of Jaen Tsan, another fallen hero of the Dark Vigil Chapter. But who would murder Jaden Wu? Signs point to someone he trusted, someone within the Chapter itself, most likely over the succession crises posed by Jaen Tsan’s approaching doom. Some within the chapter refuse to accept this, and have rampaged through the criminal and conspiratorial worlds to find the killer, while the more cynical and bitter have turned their eyes inward. The death of Jaden Wu threatens to tear the Dark Vigil Chapter apart, at the time when they need their unity the most.

The Trade Master, “Grandfather” Kazuma Kane

Kazuma Kane survived as a street urchin for years until his psychic potential caught the attention of the Dark Vigil Chapter and he was invited to join. He served with distinction, easily mastering the secrecy and stealth made necessary by his role, and using his understanding of the street when engaging on sacred espionage or secure valuable assets for the Dark Vigil Chapter and in reward for his service, patience and wisdom, he joined the Council of the Dark Vigil Chapter as the Trade Master, who governs over the chapter’s logistics, and effectively handles their racketeering operations.

For the criminals of the Tangled Expanse, “Grandfather Kane” is the Dark Vigil Chapter. He and his collection of elite Knights-Errant act as enforcers within the criminal world. All illicit trade that goes through Maon must go through him. He has made the Dark Vigil Chapter rich, and he enjoys no small measure of that wealth. But his influence is his greater asset, and when Kazuma Kane sends a representative to any criminal organization in the Tangled Expanse, they listen. Kazuma, in turn, uses his influence and wealth to improve Maon, to protect the temples, and to strengthen the Chapter for the confrontations with the Empire and the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant that he feels are inevitable. His critics, however, believe that he has forgotten the mission of the Dark Vigil chapter and if he rises to the rank of Grand Master, will turn the Chapter into an overtly criminal organization.

Kazuma Kane was close friends with Jaden Wu. The worked together to ensure that the poor of Maon were well taken care of. Jaden Wu acted as the face of the Templars Vigilant, but Kazuma Kane provided the financial backing . He suspects the death of Jaden Wu was orchestrated by the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant to sow dissension in the ranks of the Dark Vigil Chapter in preparation for a strike against them. He councils patience to the Chapter, and readiness for what will come next.

The Sword Master, Zarie Sutra

Zarie Sutra first came to Maon as a Satemo Sonostra, a knight of rage for the Ranathim cult of the Rebellious Beast. The beautiful Ranathim woman had hunted down a powerful corporate executive who had abused and murdered her sister and intended to avenger her sisters death through his death when Jaen Tsan intervened. He persuaded her to allow him to dispense dispassionate justice and showed her a better way than cycles of rage and grief. He helped her transcend the limitations placed upon her soul by her innate psychic vampirism and she became his apprentice in the Dark Vigil chapter. Her mastery of Ranathim psi-sword arts paired with an intense talent for force swordsmanship, and she rapidly became the finest force swordsman in the chapter, and thus became the teacher of all current Templars Vigilant.

She had deep feelings for Jaden Wu and his death nearly overwhelmed her with grief. She struggled with her own fury and rage, remembering the death of her sister, but rather than fall to them, she channeled them into a one-woman quest for answers, and her investigations revealed the complicity of at least one member of the Dark Vigil Chapter, and evidence of a deeper conspiracy within the chapter. She suspects that Kazuma Kane had something to do with the death of Jaden Wu, and that the forces that back him seek to draw the Dark Vigil chapter down the same path as the Cult of Satra Temos, turning them from a sacred order into a base criminal conspiracy. She advocates a purge of the Chapter, to ferret out this conspiracy of traitors, and to end all association between the Chapter and crime, which she feels has corrupted them.

As the direct apprentice to Jaen Tsan, Zarie Sutra is well positioned to become the next Chapter Master of the Dark Vigil, but she has less support in the chapter than Kazuma Kane does, in part because the genuine conspiracy within the Templars Vigilant works against her, and in part because old Communion prejudices against the Ranathim work against her: many believe that the death of her friend and the imminent death of her teacher will cast her into a destructive emotional spiral and she would tear the Chapter apart in her pursuit of purity and redemption.

The Chaplain, Mosiah Baba

The Chaplain, Mosiah Baba, is a wrinked, dark-skinned man with milky white eyes. He refuses offers for cybernetic replacements, arguing that Communion shows him what he needs to see. He claims the temple called him, and he displays a profound knowledge of the workings of Communion. Before an apprentice of the Dark Vigil Chapter can be accepted as a Knight, they must evade imperial patrols and climb the mountain to visit Mosiah Baba, who ascertains their worthiness.

The Empire is aware that someone maintains and protects the Temple, and while they have been unable to find or pin down Mosiah Baba, they have issued a warrant for his arrest. The common people of Maon love the aged priest, who regularly visits and blesses them, and the street-preachers of Maon answer directly or indirectly to him. Since the death of Jaden Wu, he has gone missing, and the Dark Vigil Chapter, stripped of their moral center, desperately seek out his fate.

Resources of the Dark Vigil Chapter

Organizational Resources

The Dark Vigil Chapter is a wealthy chapter. They access to considerable sums of money, well-appointed facilities, and a small fleet of corvettes with an array of stealth and smuggling features. While the true intent of their wealth is for charity, the Dark Vigil Chapter will open its coffers to Templars Vigilant in need; treat this as Bribe/Hush money (Pulling Rank p 14). They might make their stealthy corvettes available to their Templars as well (treat as Gear, Pulling Rank p 16), but will often use them for Insertion/Extraction (Pulling Rank p 14). The Dark Vigil Chapter has excellent Espionage capabilities and can offer most “Covert Activity” organizational requests! Finally, the Dark Vigil chapter has luxurious safe houses, well-appointed and training facilities owned and maintained through shell corporations (treat as Safe Houses and Facilities, see Pulling Rank pages 14 and 18).

The Dark Vigil, being in the heart of the Tangled Expanse itself, has access to numerous relics, and often confiscate relics from illicit antiquities dealers, primarily to return them to their proper place, but a few relics have collected in their vaults, especially Cult relics, which they either destroy, or keep locked away to prevent them from falling in Cultist hands. It keeps them in the near-legendary “Vault,” a highly secure facility guarded by a crack team of Templars Vigilant under the command of the Warden, buried deep in the Anona mountain.

The Dark Vigil Temple: Ijosin

This an ancient temple dates back to when the Keleni still walked the Alhari and called it “Amika.” High up the steep cliffs of Mount Anona, the Keleni carved the Forbidden Temple of Ijosin directly from its stone. The Keleni name for the temple itself has been lost, and the denizens of Alhari refer to it by an Elegans name: Ijosin.

Ijosin seems to either rise from the high peeks of of Mount Anona, or perhaps continues the natural lines of the mountain. Half of it overlooks the shallow seas that surround Maon; the other half looks down the jungle-covered mountain. Under the canopy of jungle, pilgrims walk ancient paths to reach the hallowed sight. Within the temple itself, vines creep and crawn over Keleni statuary and moss fills many of the fountains and stones clog its many streams. Nature has overgrown the temple, obscuring many of its sacred markings, but it has not destroyed its sacred center: the snow-white eloi floats beneath the branches of a great tree that sprouted up over sacred center of the temple.

The temple once housed a considerable monastic complex, where True Communion monks could meditate over a skyscape of endless ocean and learn the deeper secrets of themselves and the universe. Once, fountains flowed into streaming rivulets and glassy surfaces covered serene ponds, disturbed only by the darting color of fish in the darkness below. Today, the Empire has interdicted the world to all True Communion pilgrims. Only Mosiah Baba, a lone monk, dares defy the Empire to maintain a presence within the temple.

This is, of course, the facade the Dark Vigil Chapter allows the Empire to see. Below the temple, in the stone of Mount Anona, the followers of True Communion have dug out tunnels, crypts and vaults. In these sacred chambers, the Dark Vigil Chapter carry out their secretive ceremonies, and allow pilgrims to worship in secret. Below this, unknown to all but the chapter council and Mosiah Baba himself, the Chapter keeps its Vault, a sacred space surrounded by blessings, great stone gates and numerous, lethal traps in a maze that contains relics sacred to the Cult of the Mystical Tyrant and other relics deemed dangerous by the Dark Vigil Chapter.

The Dark Vigil Community

House Elegans

During the age of the Galactic Federation, house Elegans held Alhari as their seat of power, and the ancestral estate of House Elegans resides in Maon, where it continues to serve as the seat of government for the planet, and houses the current Imperial governor. Elegans made their peace with the Dark Vigil Chapter quickly and, indeed, quietly shared their same values. The Dark Vigil chapter would execute criminals that House Elegans couldn’t pursue for political reasons, and House Elegans would use evidence uncovered by the Dark Vigil chapter to expose broader criminal conspiracies to the Galactic Federation. They also generously funded the Ijosin Monastery, and more than one bastard child of House Elegans made his way into the Dark Vigil chapter. With the fall of the Galactic Federation, the Dark Vigil Chapter remember their friends in House Elegans, and despite the vast distance that has grown between the two groups, members of one faction generally honors the favors and requests of the other, where possible.

Criminal Organizations and Domen Sefelina

The Dark Vigil Chapter keeps watch over the criminal underworld of Maon, ensuring that it does not tread over boundaries the Chapter considers unacceptable. While the more ruthless underworld factions of the Dark Arm find them intolerable, the gentler criminal organizations, like smuggler rings casinos and prostitutes find them a godsend, as they allow them to practice their craft without fear of violence, extortion or slavery. The “criminal organization” that benefits most directly from the Dark Vigil Chapter is Domen Sefelina, the Ranathim Cult of the Beautiful Fool. Both they and the Dark Vigil oppose slavery, abuse and murder, and while the Dark Vigil doesn’t necessarily approve of the wanton activities of Domen Sefelina, they find common cause in freeing slaves and opposing the rise of the Cult of the Mystical Tyrant.

The Antiquities Market

The Dark Arm is full of ancient relics of spiritual significance and psychic power. Many, such as the Imperial Ministry of Heritage of Zathare sorcerors would seek to exploit them, while alien cults and True Communion practitioners simply want their sacred artifacts left alone. Maon is a point of interest for many treasure hunters, and a natural point to swap their wares, and here, the Templars Vigilant practice their craft, ensuring that nothing leaves the Temple Worlds or the Dark Arm that shouldn’t. As such, they have close ties to honest antiquities dealers and the magnificent Maon museum in keeping tabs on the archaeological underworld. Both sides work together, with the Dark Vigil chapter funneling harmless-but-archaeologically significant artifacts to local museums, and with the antiquities dealers informing the Dark Vigil when powerful and dangerous artifacts surface.

The Virtues of the Templar Vigilant

The Dark Vigil Chapter practices three virtues:

  • Justice

  • Charity

  • Patience

Mosiah Baba taught all three; Jaden Wu taught Charity (While he still lived), Zarie Sutra teaches Justice, and Kazuma Kane teaches Patience. With the death of Jaden Wu and the disappearance of Mosiah El, new templars can only learn Justice and Patience until the Dark Vigil Chapter finds its center again.

The Dark Vigil Chapter sees True Communion as a living, growing philosophy. It changes and adapts to the needs of the people who follow it. What True Communion means to a nun is entirely different from what it means to a whore; what it means to a lord is different from what it means to a street urchin. The Dark Vigil Chapter embraces an ideology that accepts the flaws of others, that sees True Communion as a path that sinners walk to become saints, rather than as a destination that only saints are worthy of reaching. Dark Vigil doctrine might not embrace the sins of sinners, but it forgives them their weaknesses and accepts them into the fold on the condition that they will try to improve.

Nonetheless, they feel that those who follow True Communion have an obligation and a duty to protect and safeguard their community, and the more saintly one becomes, the more duty he must take upon himself. The Templars Vigilant, as a result, take on tasks that they know others cannot: they enforce laws for the lawless; they execute the criminals that the desperate cannot defend themselves against and the government refuses to convict. They feed the forgotten and protect those society refuses to protect. A saint, in the Dark Vigil Chapter’s eye, does not just gain self-perfection, nor does he demand perfection from others; rather, he tries to make the world a better place, even if he has to get his hands dirty to do it.

The Heresy of the Dark Vigil Chapter

The Dark Vigil Chapter struggle with the true meaning of Justice, especially while attempting to embrace Charity. Without strict enforcement of the law, Justice would seem to have no meaning; in this reading, all crime should be purged from Maon, and the younger Templar Vigilant who flock to Zarie Sutra’s banner tend towards this reading of Justice, believing that the Chapter has fallen into corruption. On the other hand, Justice could be seen as enforcing the morals of one’s community. By this reading, the streets themselves have a law and this law may differ from the religious laws one follows. Older Templars Vigilant and especially those who flock to Kazuma Kane’s banner accept this reading of Justice, refusing to impose their own moral code upon the streets and instead maintaining the code of Justice as Maon sees it.

The Dark Vigil Chapter no longer practices Asceticism, which they have replaced with Patience. They often enjoy rich garments and spacious, well-appointed apartments and live in a luxurious, wealthy city with beautiful vistas. They see it as more important that their novices learn to endure in silence, whether they endure their own intense emotions or the pain of Mind Fire Ink, than they deprive themselves of food, drink and clothing.

The Dark Vigil Chapter rejects Purity. To hold anyone to such an extreme ideal is folly. They modify their bodies, they accept cyborgs into their ranks, they turn a blind eye to some of the vices of their own members. Maon is, itself, no longer pure, with a vast press of aliens having replaced the original Keleni inhabitants. The Dark Vigil Chapter see no point in raging against the changing of times. Instead, they wait and they watch.

The Martial Arts of the Templar Vigilant

Their founder, Laela, was an exceptional swordswoman, and they follow in her tradition of mastery of the force sword. The Dark Vigil Chapter teaches:

  • The Serene Form

  • The Final Form

  • Sacred Body Mastery

Whether in the Forbidden Monastery of Ijosin or in a sacred space within the various safehouses of the Dark Vigil Chapter, the Templar Vigilants engage in deeply intense meditation to gain total mastery over both their body and mind. The sacred movements of Sacred Body Mastery are usually the first thing taught to a prospective apprentice, and accounts for their reputation of astonishing, and often beautiful, physical fitness. If the Vigilant masters these, he moves on to force swordsmanship: the Serene Form, with its speed, precision, defensiveness and introspective katas tend to be the most popular force sword style among the Templar Vigilant, but many also study the telepathic stealth, the lethal strikes and willingness to die of old Keleni assassination techniques.

Vigilant Tactics

The Templar Vigilants supply themselves via criminal enterprise. If they ever need to secretly transport an escaped slave or acquire the funds necessary to purchase a precious relic or secure a temple site, they generally do so via criminal means. The Templar Vigilants have strict morals about which crimes they’ll perform: they generally prefer to profit from evading “unrighteous” laws (for example, they often engage in smuggling, especially medical supplies) or from offering protection to others provided those they protect are fundamentally moral (protecting an upstanding political activist from Imperial reprisal is good; protecting a corrupt executive is not). The Templar Vigilant tend to turn a blind eye to “harmless” crimes like prostitution, gambling and minor drug peddling, but this is controversial in the chapter, and some of the older or more upstanding members grow alarmed to see what younger or less discerning templars see as “acceptable.”

When the Dark Vigil chapter wishes to apply pressure to others, they prefer to use blackmail and assassination. Generally, the preferred practice is to slip into the target’s home and leave some proof that the Dark Vigil Chapter knows of a wicked deed that the target has engaged, with an implicit threat that unless the target straighten up (and cooperate), they Dark Vigil will come for them next. Assassination is used against targets too corrupt to be redeemed, those judged by the Council as guilty of abhorrent crimes. Once the victim is isolated, his executioner prevents evidence of the target’s crimes, pronounces the council’s sentence and then executes them. This must be done, even if it makes the templar’s job as assassin more difficult (True Communion is most demanding!). In principle, neither of these should be done for the enrichment of the Templar, but the temptation to become an assassin for hire, or to use collected evidence of crimes to enrich oneself always remains strong.

If the Dark Vigil’s operations are uncovered, they vanish. They understand all the nooks and crannies of Maon, as well as have a solid understanding of the languages and manners of the aliens of the Dark Arm, and can easily slip their force swords away, change garments and de-activate their tattoos to blend in. If they should be captured, like most Templars, they simply endure their suffering in silence, waiting for rescue or, if none is forthcoming, accepting their fate patiently.

Typical Vigilant Traits include:

Advantages: Cultural Familiarity (Dark Arm), Language (Kelen, Lithian)

Skills: Acting, Diplomacy, Holdout, Intimidation, Merchant, Observation, Shadowing, Smuggling, Stealth, Streetwise,

Unique Resources of the Dark Vigil Chapter

Mind Fire Ink

The tradition of tattoo art on the bodies of the Templar Vigilant is more than just a fashion statement. For many, the tattoos represent lost friends or sins they committed and wish to never commit again (the act of enduring the tattoo is a form of self-flagellation). But the Dark Vigil chapter also has access to mind fire ink, a type of psi-boosting hallucinogen derived from Keleni herbal sciences.

The psionically active ink in Mind Fire Tattoos interacts with the bearers biology to generate a dose of a psi-boosting drug on command. Each tattoo differs in the effect it generates, both due to the nature of the ink, and to the design of the tattoo itself (the ink reacts to the psionic symbolism of the tattoo). However, the basis of all tattoos are the same: the tattoo is a smart tattoo and may be “hidden” at the mental command of the bearer. Alternatively, the bearer may issue a mental command to the tattoo to generate a dose of a psi-boosting drug. The effect of this drug is identical to Psi-Booster (Psi-Tech page 34) except that in addition to inflicting 1d6 toxic damage on a failed HT roll, for the duration of the drug, the character is also Hallucinating. A Mind Fire Tattoo costs $500 per point the level 1 ability of the psychic ability costs, and requires a successful Artist (Body Art) roll; at the GM’s discretion, Mind Fire Tattoos must be purchased as signature gear.

The use of Mind Fire Ink is a violation of the Purity virtue.

The Black Chapter Vigil does not have access to all possible forms of Psi-Booster. They can only grant practitioners the following abilities:

  • Combat Sense (ESP)

  • Mind Clouding (Telepathy)

  • Mind Shield (Teleapthy)

  • Inner Healing (Psychic Healing)

  • Instill Terror (Telepathy)

  • Psychometablism (Psychic Healing)

  • Seeker Sense (ESP)

Maon Minnow Fighting

Thanks to the criminal underworld of Maon, numerous “canal urchins,” sometimes called “minnows” in the local slang, clutter up the city. Most take up a living as harmless beggars or minor pick-pockets, and many will grow up to become criminals or prostitutes, but a the Dark Vigil chapter draws many of its ranks from their population, and the Chapter feels a deep connection to the dispossessed of Maon.

The “minnows” of Maon learn to survive the hard way; their preferred trick when things go south is to run as fast as they can, using their superior knowledge of the city and their own agility and small size to escape their foes. As they get older, evasion becomes less possible and must be replaced with fighting techniques. The street fighters of Maon are unprincipled survivalists who seek to end a fight as quickly as possible. They focus on quick strikes to end a fight and if that fails, either moving in close for a devastating mixture of grapples and pummeling, or a quick attack meant to floor your opponent. While Maon “minnows” study grappling, the point of their fighting technique is rarely the submission of their opponent, but his quick defeat. If this should fail, they release their hold and run. The style also makes use of improvised weapons, whatever can be found.

Given the unusual environment of Maon, many “Minnows” learn to use the water and long drops to their advantage. Most learn to climb, fall and dive until it becomes second nature, and they use trips, throws and pushes to hurl their opponents off of heights and into water, where they have studied the art of fighting to better defeat their opponent.

The Dark Vigil Chapter has further improved and codified the techniques many of their recruits learned as youths, and then turn around and teach it to the dispossessed children of Maon, creating a coherent body of techniques that has become known and “Minnow Fighting.” They often use its excellent parkour training in combination with the Final Form, or use its dirty fighting tricks to augment the close combat mastery of the Serene Form. Those who have mastered Sacred Body Techniques combine Power-Blow with Psychic Strike for astonishingly devastating punches!

Skills: Acrobatics, Brawling, Climbing, Judo, Jumping, Swimming

Techniques: Acrobatic Stand (Acrobatics), Balancing (Acrobatics), Breakfall (Acrobatics), Combat Swimming, Disarming (Judo), Elbow Strike (Brawling), Evade (Acrobatics), Feint (Brawling),0 Hammer Fist (Brawling), Jam (Brawling), Knee Strike (Karate), Push Kick (Brawling), Running Climb (Acrobatics or Jumping), Scaling (Climbing), Targeted Attack (Brawl Punch/Face), Targeted Attack (Brawl Kick/Groin), Trip.

Perks: Dirty Fighting, Finishing Move, Improvised Weapons, Iron Hands, Neck Control (Karate), Power Grappling, Sure-Footed (Slippery), Sure-Footed (Uneven), Sure-Footed (Water), Special Set-up (Brawl Parry to Judo Throw), Technique Adaption (Ground Fighting), Urban Jungle Gym

Cinematic Skills: Flying Leap, Light Walk, Lizard Climb, Power Blow

Cinematic Techniques: Roll with Blow

Optional Advantages: Language (Kelen), Perfect Balance, Trained by a Master (Evasion)

Optional Skills: Area Knowledge (Alhari), Axe/Mace, Breath Control, Intimidation,Knife, Kusari, Running, Shortsword, Staff, Swimming, Two-Handed Axe/Mace



Signature Moves

Minnow’s Escape (Move and Evade)

First Cast: Stepping into Close Combat, the vigilant makes a Committed (+1 damage) Attack for the Face (-5). Roll Brawl -5. Success inflicts thr(+Brawl bonuses) and any crushing damage that inflicts shock forces a knockdown/stun roll. You may not parry with the hand you attacked with, and your remaining defenses are at -2 and you may not retreat. If this is used on the first turn of a fight, it is a Dirty Trick. Setup: Opponent is not expecting a fight.

Fish and Flash: Make a quick fake to one side, and then make a quick jab to your opponent’s face. Make a rapid (-6) defensive (-2) Feint using Brawling (Roll Skill-8), then make a Rapid (-6) Defensive (-2 damage) Punch to the Face (-5) (Roll Skill-1l). If successful, deal thr-3 (+ brawling bonus) and opponent must make a Stun check if you inflict any shock. You defend at +1 for the remainder of the turn.

Skipping Stones: Make an All-Out Attack (Double). First, Deceptively (-2) grapple the head (-3) (Judo-5). If successful, roll Knee Strike (-1) to strike the head (-5) (add +1 if you have Neck Control). Roll Brawling-6. If you hit, deal thr+2(+Brawling bonuses); any crushing damage that inflicts shock forces a knockdown/stun roll. Opponent defends against the judo rapple at -1, and defends against the knee strike at -4 (for block or parry) or -3 (for dodge). You cannot defend. You may attempt to maintain your grip on your opponent normally. Setup: You are already in close combat with your foe.

Flailing Minnow: If your opponent is pinned, shift your grip so that you can sit atop him. Roll a contest of ST- or DX-based Judo, and your opponent rolls the better of ST, DX or his best grappling skill. If you succeed, your arms are freed. Opponent attacks at -8 and defends at -3, and you have +5 to attempts to resist his break free attempts. You may freely punch him on later turns. Setup: Your opponent is Pinned.

Swimming Lesson: While near water or the edge of a building or canal, make an All-Out (Strong) deceptive (-2) Push Kick (-3). Roll Brawling-5. Your opponent defends at -1. If successful, roll thr+2 (plus brawling bonuses) damage; apply no damage, instead apply double knock-back. This is generally sufficient to knock the opponent over the precipice; handle the rest as falling damage. Minnows prefer to give swimming lessons after a successful feint or stun (such as a Fish and Flash). Setup: Your opponent is near a precipice from which he can be knocked off.

Shark Maw: While underwater, grapple your opponent (the lower of Judo, Swimming or Combat Swimming). Minnows who perform this technique generally make a Breath Control roll before going underwater, and then simply hold their foe under, knowing he’ll drown before they do. Setup: You and your opponent are underwater.

New Traits

Techniques

Balancing

Average

Default: Acrobatics;

Prerequisite: Acrobatics; May not exceed prerequisite skill+5.

Use this technique instead of Acrobatics when Balancing (Exploits p. 19). This technique is redundant if you have Perfect Balance.

Combat Swimming

Hard

Default: Swimming

Prerequisite: Swimming; May not exceed prerequisite skill+4.

When fighting underwater, the maximum of your combat skill is Combat Swimming, rather than Swimming.

Running Climb

Hard

Default: Acrobatics or Jumping;

Prerequisite: Acrobatics or Jumping; May not exceed prerequisite skill+6.

Use this technique instead of Acrobatics or Jumping when using the Running Climb rules (Exploits p. 19).

Scaling

Hard

Default: Climbing-3

Prerequisite: Climbing; May not exceed prerequisite skill.

Allows the character to buy off the -3 penalty when scaling a building; see Climbing (Exploits p. 19).

Skidding

Average

Default: DX-2

Prerequisite: None; May not exceed DX.

Allows the character to buy off the -2 to DX when making use of Skidding (Exploits p. 19).

Relics of the Dark Vigil Chapter

The Psi Sword of Jaen Tsan

Jaen Tsan carries a blade with as unique a pedigree as himself. It originally belonged to a fanatical devotee of Domen Khemet, the Ranathim Cult of Death, and it still has a bone-white light to its blade. Jaen Tsan used it as an executioner, and he uses it for that purpose today, though he offers the traditional Xamorte exectutioner’s chant when he uses it now. The Dark Vigil chapter holds the blade in both dread and awe: it represents something terrible to take up, something corrupt that Jaen Tsan has turned to righteous purpose, but on the other hand, it’s symbolic of everything the Dark Vigil Chapter does, as the Dark Vigil chapter enforces and executes their own form of justice in the streets of Maon. While the Dark Vigil Chapter has had no Chapter Master but Jaen Tsan, it seems likely that whomever succeeds him will also take up the sword.

The wielder of the Psi-Sword of Jaen Tsan may, in addition to using it as a normal psi-sword, may invoke the miracles of Death as True Communion Miracles without risking Corruption. The sword demands a strict code from the follower, requiring that he follow at least -20 points of self-imposed mental disadvantages appropriate to Communion; if the character violates them, he may still invoke the miracles of Death, but they will corrupt him normally. The blade’s wielder will also find himself in positions where he must execute the guilty; this must always be done legally, though not necessarily as defined by the local government, but certainly as defined by True Communion’s religious edicts.

Price: $100,000

Statistics:Alien Path (Death as True Communion) [1], Higher Purpose (Execute the Guilty) [5], Reputation (Death) +2 [10]

Broken Communion Miracles: Inured Mind, Roads of Broken Communion, Chaotic Interference Shroud of Broken Communion, Black Sun, Commune with Dead Sense Death, Extinction of Communion Lesser and Greater Avatar of Death

The Heart of Laela

Before Laela the Beautiful left her Chapter to seek out Revalis and avenge the death of Gladius Tao, she gave Jaen Tsan one last gift: a violet memory crystal that she wore on her brow. She placed it in his hand, closed his fingers in it, and told him she would always be with him. He kept it for a century before he could bear it no longer and gave it to the swordmaster of the Chapter; the position has passed down the Heart of Laela ever since.

The Heart of Layla contains the “psychic image” of Laela. Those who hold it or wear it on their brow sometimes dream of Laela or seem to hear her whisper urging them to act in a particular way, or showing them the way to some particular secret. Those most worthy or deeply connected to Communion will “see” Laela herself as a sort of ghost or after-image. She will offer them advice, teach them martial secrets from her boundless knowledge of Templar martial arts or discuss the deeper truths of Communion. She is not the ghost of Laela, but a memory of her left in the crystal, and thus cannot answer what happened to Laela the Beautiful after she departed Alhari. She is also “in the mind” of the bearer, and cannot offer anything except information.

Price: $55,000

Statistics: Patron (Laela’s memory; Psionic -10%; Highly Accessible +50%; Minimal Intervention -50%) [9]

Stolen Artifacts of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant

The Dark Vigil Chapter has, over time, collected items precious to the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant and keeps them buried in its labyrinthine Vault, to deny their ancient enemies access to them. Whether or not the Cult is aware that the Dark Vigil Chapter has them is up to the GM.

Examples include, but are not limited to:

The Key to the False Tomb of Satra Temos

The true nature of Satra Temos remains a mystery: his name is evidently a psuedonym. Legends persist that he found some form of immortality, but that he also had a tomb located on some lost world; most scholars of Satra Temos agree that the tomb exists, but that it is not the final resting place of Satra Temos but is, instead, a secure location for his secrets and treasures or possibly a trap for the unwary.

At great expense, the Dark Vigil Chapter managed to secure a peculiarly resilient stone shaped as though it was meant to slot into a larger mural. The creator of the work inscribed astronomical imagery onto it which, if connected with other keyes to the False Tomb of Satra Temos, would show its precise location, and how to open the tomb.

The Blood Chalice of Anthara

The old Imperial Cult of the Ranathim, Domen Meret, used a psionically resonant “chalice” to formally determine the heir of Anthara. The ministers poured the blood of a sacrifice into it and then floated a hollow, gold “dousing needle,” shaped like an arrow-head in the blood. The needle would turn in the direction of the true heir, and then the blood would ignite once the heir held the chalice, clearly indicating that he had the right to rule the Ranathim Empire.

With the fall of the Ranathim Empire, the old chalice, and thus ritual, was lost. None seek it today except for the fragmented remains of the Cult of Anthara, who seek the true heir of Anthara. In truth, the Dark Vigil Chapter has it in their vault, which would allow them to find that true heir if they wished.

The Stasis Chamber of Leto Daijin

The execution of Leto Daijin finally broke the unity of the old Galactic Federation. In an effort to placate the rage of the people at the death of their beloved war hero, the Senators of the Federation placed the body of Leto Daijin into a stasis chamber and shipped him to be buried on Maradon with the honors appropriate for his achievements and contributions to the safety of the Galactic Federation. They could not have anticipated that this itself would turn into a disaster. Opponents to Leto Daijin sought to seize it and destroy the body, while agents of Ren Valerian sought to seize it as a monument to the future Emperor’s rule. Chaos ensued as numerous ships descended on the transport and destroyed its escort in what some call the first shots of the Galactic Civil War. The stasis chamber and the body itself was lost.

Exactly how the Dark Vigil Chapter tracked it down remains their secret, but it took time and deception. The body of Leto Daijin lies in frosty repose in a misty chamber deep within the vault.

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