Friday, August 4, 2017

Audacious Adversaries: The Knights of the Blackbriar

The Backstory:

The Knights of the Blackbriar, once formally known as the Benevolent Order of the Revered Blackbriar Priory, are a very old company of mercenary warriors. Rumored to have once been a legitimate knightly order, formed during the time of the Runic Wars, they are now said to be nothing more than seekers of gold and political favor. Regardless, they are also known as mercenaries with a well-earned reputation for fierceness in battle.

During the Runic Wars, the Blackbriars were charged with the recovery and safekeeping of dangerous and malevolent religious artifacts found in the possession of the Mages of Astrogoth. These foul and tainted relics, believed to be gifts of unearthly dark powers, corrupted all but the most faithful and pious of men. The Blackbriars, entrusted with the sacred duty of destroying or hiding these terrible objects away forever, performed their duties without failure or incident for many decades. Or, so it had been thought.

Knight, Death and the Devil, c.1513 - Albrecht Durer
After the end of the Runic Wars, various church elders began to clamor about wishing to examine the dark artifacts, to verify that they were either neutralized, or secured satisfactorily. The then leader of the Blackbriars, Prior Kostan Armbach, refused their requests, citing that the very nature of the impure objects made them too dangerous to examine and that the locations any such objects had to be held in the strictest of secrecy. His steadfast refusal prompted the leaders of the churches to question his motives, and rumors began to circulate that the holy order may have become tainted by long exposure to the mysterious powers of the vile objects they had been tasked to guard over.

Soon, political leaders under the influence of various church factions, began to undermine the position and authority of the Benevolent Order. Falsehoods and innuendos, once spoken in private, became topics of open discussion. Accusations of sorcery and the practice of blasphemous rituals were levied against the Order and its membership. Lands and treasuries were confiscated from the knights, as many of them were arrested and put on trial for their supposed crimes. Once this wealth began to spread into greedy hands, the innocence of the Blackbriars was no longer a concern. The trials took a decidedly nasty turn, always favoring the accusers, never the accused.

The once Benevolent Order, and the Revered Blackbriar Priory, were reduced to a handful of members, driven from their homes and lands as they fled to escape persecution. But never were any of the dark artifacts in their keeping ever recovered, nor their secrets revealed.

Behind the Story:

Whether or not the accusations against the Blackbriars were true is completely up to you, the Game Master. The influences of the evil artifacts, and whether or not they even still exist is also up to you. Either way, the current Blackbriars are a mercenary company that cashes in on the supposed mysteries of the original Order. Their current leaders curry favor through bribery, extortion, and political favors. They would make a potent and formidable enemy to the players should the PCs arouse their anger by interfering with their plans, or attempt to steal one of their supposedly evil artifacts.

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