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Scarlet Sentinels

Alignment: Any

Symbol: A red-bladed spear with its haft wrapped in chains.

Discipline: A Scarlet Sentinel may trade access to one martial discipline of her choice for access to the Scarlet Throne discipline.

Oath: The Scarlet Sentinels emphasize loyalty and dependability in their students. Though the Scarlets who go on to become the guards to royal families and high priests are the most famous, each and every one of the Scarlet Sentinels swears an oath of loyalty and friendship to those they serve with, or that they serve. This intensely private ceremony typically involves only the Scarlet and the ones she swears to, or their representative in some cases. Alone with those to whom they swear their lives, the Scarlet Sentinel cuts her palm and the palms of the others and mingles blood with them, and they gather beneath her upraised weapon while she murmurs her vow:

"By the blood we've shared and the blood we'll spill, I promise this - we're family, and though I may quarrel with my brothers and sisters, there are none who may quarrel with my brothers and sisters and not also quarrel with me. Your secrets are my secrets, and your dreams are my dreams. When you are sad, I will comfort you, and when you are happy I will exult with you, and woe be unto the one who threatens our bond - or betrays it."

Allegiance Benefit: In addition to access to the Scarlet Throne discipline (exchanging a discipline of their choice), Scarlet Sentinels benefit from a +2 competence bonus to Will saves, as well as a +4 sacred bonus to saves against compulsion effects.

A Scarlet Sentinel who violates her oath (see above) is no longer resistant to compulsion effects until such a time as she is forgiven by those she has betrayed. If she is not forgiven within a year and a day (such as by being unable to find the soul of a dead compatriot and beg it for forgiveness) she loses her resistance permanently and is shortly thereafter exiled from the order, who can see her treachery burnt upon the Red Spear.

Description: The easiest description of the Scarlet Sentinels is that they are bodyguards, though this doesn't quite capture the full truth of the organization. It is true that Scarlets find work as bodyguards, though

- they guard the lives of royalty, important priests, powerful nobles, obscenely wealthy merchants, and other more exotic patrons. Students trained by the Scarlet Sentinels in their fortress-schools are renowned for their skill with blades and spears, undefeatable loyalty, and valor, and their successes as high-profile bodyguards have earned the Scarlet Sentinels as a whole much fame and wealth.

However, these are not the only students trained by the Scarlet Sentinels, and though their other members are less famous they are perhaps more important. At their heart, the Scarlet Sentinels are governed by a body of mentors, spiritual warriors, and the occasional priest who seek to rear warriors in traditions of loyalty and blood-bound service. They care less for what, specifically, their students go forth to do than they care about how they do it, emphasizing over and over the bonds of loyalty, duty, compassion, family, and friendship. The organization welcomes good, evil, law, and chaos within its ranks in an effort to prove that its ideals are both worthy and universal, a claim that has withstood generation upon generation of Scarlets.

So it is that, once released into the world, Scarlet Sentinels take up with causes, mercenary companies, ravening hordes, overlords both good and evil, adventuring parties, or simply their own homelands. Though their vow of loyalty and friendship with the Scarlet Sentinels remains, individual Scarlets bond fiercely with a person or cause to which they pledge their lives. Within the order there are many different interpretations of this; some counsel absolute obedience and say that in swearing an oath the Scarlet should give up her will to her new masters. Others say that sometimes loyal service demands dissent or even rebellion and that a true friend knows when the ones they love need someone to tell them they're being stupid. Ultimately, the order as a whole falls somewhere in the middle, with both perspectives gaining much respect.

The one thing not tolerated by the Scarlet Sentinels is faithlessness in its members; those who break their oaths have their names branded into the Red Spear, the weapon that sits at the center of the order. Their names appear marked as gray ash at first during the grace period in which the Scarlet may seek forgiveness; once it sears itself into the wood of the Red Spear as blackened scorch marks, the order rejects that member and posts a bounty for their head - with the firm stipulation that there will be no reward for delivering the oathbreaker alive.

Common Tasks: Scarlets are sometimes asked, in the spirit of friendship and loyalty, to conduct tasks for their mentors or carry packages or messages for the order as a whole. Scarlets are also expected to send potential students to the fortress they themselves trained at, and may be required to escort groups of students there. Aside from such concerns, the Scarlet Sentinels as a whole set few tasks, having little-to-no long-term goals aside from spreading their ideals.

Available Services: The Scarlet Sentinels take their ideals of loyalty and support seriously and make quite a few services available to their members. They own long-term credit with roadside inns for use in emergencies (quite comfortable rooms, it should be said), armories of weapons both magical and mundane (available for purchase or loan - it is not suggested that you fail to return what you borrow), letters of introduction from bodyguards to powerful religious or political figures, and access to magic used to supernaturally bind contracts and agreements.