Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Forgotten Realms Factions in Ravenloft

I like to think that nearly anything that exists in the D&D multiverse has a place in Ravenloft. However, anything brought into the Land of the Mists is likely to be warped by the darkness that permeates its domains. This post explores what the Forgotten Realms’ factions might look like if they found their way into Ravenloft and were irrevocably changed by the Domains of Dread. If you enjoy this write up, you can get it nicely formatted in issue five of Strahd Loves, Man Kills, my Ravenloft fanzine. There are only a few print copies left, so I wouldn't wait too long!

The Emerald Enclave

The Land of the Mists abhors balance, which has greatly upset the Emerald Enclave’s goal of maintaining equipoise between civilization and the natural world. The members of the Emerald Enclave have become eco-terrorists who believe that the only way to save the land from evil is to destroy civilization and let the natural process of death and rebirth cleanse the land of its curse. Agents of the Emerald Enclave engage in violence against logging communities and threaten those who would expand the reach of civilization by taming the wilderness. 

For an additional wrinkle, it may be the case that the Emerald Enclave has been infiltrated by members of the Children of Winter cult from Eberron.

The Harpers

Even the Harpers are unable to maintain the dignity of their cause under the Dark Powers’ corrupting influence. The Harpers have grown more secretive, insidious, and willing to entertain less than ethical approaches to fighting against evil. Many Harpers feel that the end justifies the means and that it is sometimes necessary to sacrifice the lives of innocents for the greater good. 

Because members of the Harpers tend to be fiercely independent and self-reliant, they sometimes clash against other agents from their organization who are pursuing a different angle on the same problem. Rather than being united in purpose, their skulduggery causes them to come into conflict. Consumed by paranoia about being exposed, their cloak and dagger operations are often stymied by a lack of coordination.

The Lords’ Alliance

The original purpose of the Lords’ Alliance has become perverted by the fell influence of the Land of the Mists. Now a faction of lickspittles and lackeys, the Lords’ Alliance works to prop up the power and reach of the wealthy and aristocratic. Fierce defenders of the status quo, members of the Lords Alliance are partisans who protect the interests of the elite.

The Order of the Gauntlet

The Order of the Gauntlet has become a faction consumed by religious zealotry and fanaticism. Members of the Order of the Gauntlet believe that the only way to live a righteous life that will be rewarded in the world to come is to endlessly crusade against the forces of supernatural evil. 

The Order of the Gauntlet’s efforts are usually directed toward combating fiends and the undead. They harbor a particular hatred for vampires, whom they consider to be abominations in the eyes of the gods they serve. The Order of the Gauntlet seeks the location of the vault of the Bellegard family, which is said to contain a trove of blessed weapons and ancient manuals describing the family’s techniques for fighting against monsters.

The Zhentarim

The Zhentarim have evolved into an organized crime syndicate that operates throughout the various domains of the Land of the Mists. The Zhentarim specializes in dealing illicit substances, assassination, protection rackets, and supplying mercenaries, bodyguards, and other thugs-for-hire. Some of the intoxicants peddled by the Black Network’s coterie of dealers have been modified by magic and alchemy to make them both more intoxicating and more addictive. 

For those willing to pay a premium, the Zhentarim employs a number of black magicians who summon demons to perform assassinations in cases where a mortal killer would be unlikely to successfully commit a desired murder.