Order of the Planes-Militant: Within the Ranks

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    The LocalsOrder of the Planes-Militant: Within the RanksCopyright © 2000 by Heiner de Wendt

Based on Mount Celestia itself, the members of the Order include far more than just humans. Several archons and good-aligned dragons have joined their cause, as well as lammasu, couatl and other creatures that stand for the ideals of the Mount. Still, humans are the most numerous group in the Order, followed by other mortal races such as dwarves, some elves and even some bariaur.

Role-Playing the OrderDespite striving for the absolute perfection of Mount Celestia, this sect is astonishingly open to members of most alignments and attitudes. Only those of chaotic alignment are refused, while even evil beings can join - in the hope that they will repent for their sins and try to become pure and good.

AlignmentBeings who want to join have to understand the might and rightness of good and law. Stability is the way to success, and goodness is the success. As said above, only chaotic cutters are refused membership, but if they manage to overcome their chaotic attitudes, they can always try again. Being more ambitious about conversions here, evil beings of non-chaotic alignment are allowed, but they have to keep away from their evil deeds, and even if they only learn slowly, they have to prove that they do learn. No one expects a baatezu to get rid of all his evil thoughts in a day, but he's got to keep away from acting evil, and he's got to work towards understanding goodness. Those who fail in this are banned from the Order - but as before, if they change their attitude they can still try again.

RaceThe Order of the Planes-Militant is open to all races; of course, no non-chaotic Slaad has been seen yet, and such beings surely would have a hard time joining the Order. A peery eye would also be given to any pixie, or other usually chaotic beings, as well.

ClassAll classes are allowed in the Order, but it's still a matter of attitude: A necromancer mage who's used his spells only for the creation of undead and other such tasks would have to vow not to use such spells any more, and either learn new spells or get away from spellcasting completely. Priests of evil powers also wouldn't be allowed to join, but if they gave up their servitude to their power, the problem would be solved. Those who belong to the Order of the Planes-Militant feel like members of one big family, and they all share a feeling of safety and warmth, knowing that the other members would come to their help in an instant should it be needed. The worst thoughts members of the Order have towards each other are respectful disagreements; most share so many ideals and beliefs that they behave as if they've been best friends for years.

Order MembershipIt's been described how to become a member of the Order in the "Initiates" section. The organization is military, but they're more like a family than an actual army. Even a low-ranking member can ask the Prefect for help, and except in the most unusual circumstances, the Prefect will comply. Then again, the members of the Order tend to know whom they can ask, and when it would be wrong to. Asking a paladin on a holy quest to help battle some fiends in the Outlands wouldn't fit the behavior of a Planes-Militant. He'd ask first if the paladin had something to do, and if he heard about the holy quest, he would not ask for help. Then again, if said paladin heard about the battle against the fiends, he might decide for himself to help, if he was not in too much of a hurry with his holy quest.

Most importantly about the ranking system, there are no "namers" in this sect. Only those who would truly give their life for the ideals of Mount Celestia join the Order for long. The Order’s closest thing to "namers" are the characters who don't live on the plane and only come for a visit now and then (paladins from the Prime, for example). For the lowest-ranking Planes-Militant, there is no real "rank name" - they're just members, and that's it. Only if someone wants to dedicate his whole life to the sect can he become a "ranking" member. The first and most important step in becoming such a member is to become an inhabitant of either Mount Celestia itself or the city of Excelsior. After all, if you want to dedicate all of your life to defending Mount Celestia, you should at least be there.

The first ranks in the Order have the title of "Guide" (meaning a guide and leader in both war and wisdom), along with a defining adjective. Firstly, "quest guides" are those members who are expected to lead quests to other planes to battle for goodness and law (physically or spiritually). They can be assigned such a quest by their superior, or any member asking them for help, and it's their job to gather a handful of other (non-guide) members for support. They're the leaders of such groups, but they not only have the responsibility of ensuring their quests are successful, it's also their task to make sure those who accompany them survive and gather wisdom and experience from the quest.

Second rank is the "tactical guide". They still have all the responsibilities of quest guides, but usually hand over minor tasks to worthy quest guides. It is their job to decide who is best to take over leadership of such a quest, and if problems arise, they have the duty of supporting the quest guide as well as they can. In case of important quests, tactical guides take things into their own hands, and if secrecy is needed, sometimes even travel alone. In cases of war, they command troops of up to seventy-seven members each. It is their duty to gather the right people for such troops from among the non-ranking members and the quest guides, although they do not have the right to gather such troops to start a battle themselves (of course, the higher ranks still reserve the right of asking any Order member for help - but they're not supposed to gather people to start a war if it's not really necessary). Such are the tasks of the "guides of light", those members who havegathered so much wisdom that they're supposed to be able to make the right decisions even if hundreds or thousands of lives are depending on it. They may ask the tactical guides to gather troops, and they're also the ones who organize raids into the Lower Planes now and then. The greatest such raid of recent times was when Marcus the Spear-Thrower asked twelve tactical guides to gather troops, so that nearly a thousand members of the Order stormed a fortress in Gehenna, and killed a yagnoloth who was planning a great attack on Excelsior. The guides of light are the first to have embraced the ideals of the plane of Mount Celestia so much that they gain special abilities from it. Only characters with a Wisdom of at least 17 can become guides of light; as soon as they reach this rank, they learn to cast the archon-spell "Crown of Radiance" once a day by pure thought.

The next rank up is the "advisors". Usually, the advisors don't directly organize battles or quests, though in case of long-term wars, they often take over such tasks from their less-experienced brethren. Instead, they care for the over-all rightness of their sect, making sure that things run well and the ideals of Mount Celestia are maintained wherever possible. "Advisors of goodness" are masters of moral decisions, and they must have mastered at least one of the paths of Mount Celestia. They approach any guide-ranking member they feel is about to make a wrong decision, and usually their advice is taken. Those members who have deep personal problems and/or are plagued by strong doubts can always ask an advisor of goodness for a talk, and nearly all of them come back from such a discussion relieved and filled with new faith and will. The advisors of goodness are often seen as the "spirit keepers" of the Order, and it is their task to initiate new members to the Order (except in the case of extraordinary members who've succeeded in the fourth or higher way of joining the sect). Nearly all advisors of goodness live in one of the Order's monasteries, and if they're not too busy with the tasks they already have, they tend to take over further tasks of the monastery, be they political, religious or otherwise. Having such a great understanding of goodness and law, the advisors of goodness gain the special ability to cast the archon spell "Crown of Flame" once per day. Spellslingers of this rank have created many of the "helms of brilliance" that are found throughout the planes.

There are only a handful of "advisors of wisdom". They need to have succeeded in at least four of the spiritual paths of Mount Celestia, and they are the ones who lead the monasteries of the Order as well as the Outposts on other planes. They're responsible for initiating those members who've succeeded in the fourth to sixth ways of initiation, and they're the diplomats and local political leaders of the Order. Each and every one of them has the right to start an all-out war against any foe where this seems necessary - but in their wisdom, they avoid physical battle wherever possible, hoping to spare the lives of good and innocent people when they can. The advisors of wisdom aren't above discussing problems with a non-ranking member, though. If someone has truly deep problems that even advisors of goodness can't solve, the advisors of wisdom have an open ear for them. Being about as near to perfection as a mortal can hope on Mount Celestia, the advisors of wisdom gain the extra abilities of casting a Crown of Brilliance once a day, and a Crown of Glory once a week (as per the archon spells).

The last rank of the Order is that of the Prefect, the leader of the whole sect. He (well, currently she) makes the great decisions that move and strengthen the Order, and is responsible for explaining the most important decisions to all the other members (those that listen to the speeches, at least). It is up to the Prefect to make sure the members don't blindly follow commands, but gain wisdom and perfection through serving in the Order, while the safety of Mount Celestia is assured and evil and chaos is battled everywhere else. The Prefect has a veto right for each and every decision that is made in the Order, although this right is rarely used - the Prefect prefers to give advice, especially since such advice is almost always followed. Further, the Prefect is responsible for diplomatic relations with the Guvners, the Harmonium and other important groups, and more than once has managed to avoid a bloody battle with a few wise words. The Prefect needs to have succeeded in at least five of the Paths of Mount Celestia, and gains the special ability of casting up to seven spell levels once per day freely (e.g., one spell from seventh level, or five from first level and one from second level, etc.). When a Prefect dies or resigns, or whenever a member of advisor ranking asks for it, a new Prefect is chosen. During the time of the choosing, a week-long contest of speeches takes place. All members are allowed to listen to such speeches, but only advisors of wisdom may take part in the oratory contest themselves. During these days, all competitors try to prove that they know best what's right for the Order - but one shouldn't forget that over-eager or arrogant talkers don't stand a chance of being chosen as Prefect. After the week of speeches, all the advisors who've listened to all the speeches may vote in a blind ballot for the new Prefect. If the former prefect is "taken from his throne", he may decide to resign, although most such Prefects have chosen to take over the tasks of one of the advisor ranks again. In practice, most Prefects have kept their ranks until they died.

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