Pyromancer: The Authorities
The Church of the Holy Flame
The Church of the Holy Flame is state religion, government and vehicle for heriditaty influence all rolled into one. It claims to have founded the Shining Domain and tells the populace that without its protection, humanity would inevitably be consumed by the demonic forces of the Skar.
Their power is maintained through mastery of the energies of Pyros - the burning force of magic that flows through the parallel dimension of Flamespace. It is the Church that controls who may learn the secret arts of Pyros manipulation, granting licenses to Guilds to allow them to teach their Journeyman the more utilitarian magics, and retaining the more militarily useful magics for their own Templars.
In the eyes of the Church, Pyros is the stuff of God, and Flamespace is the blood, soul and mind of God. Only those with Holy dispensation can be allowed to access its energies - mere ordinary men must be content to worship the manifestations of Pyros and to be give thanks for the gifts of life, warmth and light.
The religion of the Holy Flame also elevates the Holy Family that governs to semi-divine status, giving them the right and responsibility of ruling over society and channelling the worship of the masses through them. The Holy Family (which number only a few hundred of "pure blood") lead weekly services in the Cathedrals of the Holy Flame, accepting the worship and adoration of the ten to twenty thousand kneeling before them in the Cathedral, and the indirect worship of others across the city who are required by religious law to cease their work and to pray to the Holy Flame and its Holy Emissaries.
Naturally the Holy Family itself cannot run the church all by itself, and The Church maintains four distinct organisations which oversee its various roles.
First and foremost are the Ecclesiarchy. This is the churches administrative and executive branch, overseeing the functions of government such as tax collection and disbursement, maintenance of the legal courts and interpreting the Holy Family's edicts.
The Templars of Burning Light
The Templars are the Church's military, ostensibly formed to defend the Shining Domain against the Skar, but also acting as police force for the Domain, and muscle to back up the Church in its actions. The Templars inevitably have the best equipment and training, and it is a foolish Burner who tries to take them on head on.
The Missionaries of the Sacred Flame
The Mission claims to have an agenda of mercy but are in reality all about public relations and keeping the populace happy. They proselytise, speak sermons to workers and maintain small charitable missions that provide the only free healthcare and social support for the poorest members of society. Though well liked by the masses, the Missionaries are a more sinister entity than they first appear, with their High Council engaged in a constant program of careful societal engineering, seeking to create a more compliant and obedient populace through whatever means are necessary.
The Paladins of the Secret Fire
As their name suggests, the Paladins aren't a publicly acknowledged organisation, but rather a secret order that operates on a covert level. The Paladins were created in order to maintain the Church's monopoly over Flamespace. They stay "tuned in" for hours at a time, running regular patrols to look out for illegal flamerunners and seek to eliminate them on sight.
For the Church to admit the existence of Paladins would be for them to admit that flamerunners exist, and that they are a thorn in their side. Thus, the Paladins secret war remains so, fought purely in flamespace.
The Guilds have existed for most of the history of the Shining Domain, and originally were simply collections of skilled tradesmen protecting their interests within their industries.
Over time, however, the Guilds have turned into something different - the equivalent of modern day corporations. Each Guild is now interested only in making money and maintaining its own wealth, and now Guilds have little relation to their names - the Masons Guild, for example doesn't just chip at stone - it oversees mining facilities, has controlling interests in the construction industry, has a presence in the retail sector and is one of the foremost names in heavy industry.
Of all the hundreds of guilds in existence, half a dozen control 99% of the commercial and industrial interests in the Shining Domain. Each and every one of these six Guilds has a presence in almost every sector of society, whether it is manufacturing, retail or finance. While they are vicious competitors in a crowded marketplace, they also are willing to team together to crush any upstart small businesses that want a portion of the market share, or unite to defeat any threat to the status quo.
The six Guilds are as follows:
- The Masons Guild - The largest of the six, the masons specialise in heavy industry, and have a reputation of producing durable and reliable goods. The Masons are well known for being extremely conservative - far less likely to hire free agents on black ops or engage in dangerous plays.
- The Weavers Guild - The main competitors to the Masons in the manufacturing sector, the Weavers are known for producing and distributing cheaper goods, making their brand more recognisable at street level.
- The Milners Guild - The Milners are well recognised as masters of the finance sector, dealing with investments and lending as often as they will deal with actual manufacturing or retail. A series of takeovers has left them with many subsidiary interests of course, and many "independent" names are in fact under the Milner umbrella.
- The Silversmiths Guild - Ironically the Silversmiths are very much a "down to earth" guild, dealing primarily in work outside of the cities - agriculture, mining and logging. They are the poorest of the six, but still a recognised part of the power structure.
- The Caskers Guild - The Caskers are kings of retail, though a certain amount of vertical integration means that they have a hand in high-skill manufacturing and product-finishing. Their power tends to wax and wane with the health of the economy.
- The Fletchers Guild - A minor Guild for a long time, the Fletchers rose to prominence just eighty years ago after developing a series of exciting new industrial technologies. The old hands consider them "upstarts" but are grudgingly forced to accept them as serious competitors. The Fletchers maintain two reputations from their early days - one is for being adventurous with R&D, and the other is for being willing to use whatever dirty tricks are necessary to expand their market share!
Structurally, the Guilds follow traditional lines of organisation, and most share the following terms:
- Guildlord - The ultimate authority of the Guild, essentially the equivalent of a CEO, typically elected from the Guildmasters.
- Guildmaster - A high senior in the Guild, essentially the equivalent of a member of the Board of directors. The group of Guildmasters is known as the Guild Sanctum.
- Fabricator - A high ranking official, not necessarly involved in manufacturing.
- Journeyman - A middle rank employee, essentially the lowest level that can be considered to be part of the privileged elite, and certainly the lowest level that is licensed to handle Pyros.
- Guildsman - A low ranking employee, but a professional one, likely with the prospects to advance if talented and ambitious.
- Worker - Also called "Affiliates" and "Indentants" these are the blue-collars who do the actual hard labour in the Guild. Workers have their own subdivisions of rank, but it is almost unheard of for one to make it even to Guildsman rank.
The Guilds are not military organisations, and rely mostly upon mercenaries for their dirty work. However, the last fifty years have seen the invention of a new kind of soldier, thanks to the R&D department of the Fletchers Guild.
The Hellforged are bio-crafted monstrosities, incorporating pyrotech weapons into vat-grown clones. They are too few in number to be employed in squads, but each is a living engine of destruction, used as shock troops in high level inter-Guild actions. All the major Guilds use them (having bought specimens from the Fletchers, or reverse engineered their own variants) but all are circumspect enough to deny their existence and to perform thorough "clean-ups" to erase signs of their actions. For a Burner on the street, its well known that if you come up againsy the Hellforged, the best thing to do is to run...
The third power block, and one whose power-players are more likely to be encountered on a face to face level by Burners on the street, are the Hadar.
The Hadar are crime syndicate of crime syndicates, having systematically absorbed every major organised crime group in the Shining Domains over the last three centuries. Though technically illegal, they are on an equivalent level to a Major Guild in influence and status, and The Guilds are no more interested in taking them down than they are any other part of the status quo.
The Hadar themselves are bound by an internal code of honour, that centres around obedience to superiors and loyalty to other Hadarrim. Though there are several families of Hadar, they share their Code in common, and though they might war against themselves they will always unite against outside threats, and will work together to stamp hard on any who break the Code of honour.
Haddarim are recognisable by their black flame tattooes, which they wear openly and ostentatiously on bared chests, backs or on their faces. These tattooes are often more than just badges of allegiance - forbidden occult arts are used to enchant these markings, imbuing the tattooed with enhanced physical abilities or pyromantic powers. The secrets of these tattooes are jealously guarded - woe betide the Burner who openly displays or employs a Hadar tattoo without the patronage and protection of the Family!
The Hadarrim call their soldiers Ashwalkers, and these individuals are famed both for their melee prowess and their viciousness. Even Templars and Guild soldiers will cross the road when faced by an Ashwalker, at least if they are in Hadarrim territory. However, Ashwalkers aren't that often seen in the open - as the elite of their organisations, they are often trained in the mystic arts of Smokecrafting and so tend to move unseen through the shadows. It is said that an Ashwalker will traditionally do his victims the honour of showing his face before the killing blow, but as so few survive being assassination targets, this is hard to confirm!
A Hadar Lexicon
- Hadar - Literally, "the family", used to describe the metaorganisation as a whole, and individual members.
- Bayt - The smallest family unit is the bayt, or "tent," harkening back to the Hadar's days as a nomadic culture. In the past, a Tent might be a few adults and children, but at this time, a Tent can be a rather large or extended family. In all cases, however, the Tent has a matriarch heading the family.
- Goum - This is an extended grouping of bayts linked together by marriage or common ancestry.
- Ibn amm - These are also known as "descent groups," and are formed by the 3 to 5 generations of cousins, nieces, and nephews of a goum.
Three Powers, One Status Quo
A Burner might be forgiven for thinking that Church, Guild and Hadar are opposed powers, and that they can be turned against each other. To an extent, this is true, as all three factions are often opposed, and even within individual guilds, dioceses or families there is conflict aplenty.
This analysis is missing a final truth though - all three are the Status Quo, and ultimately the enemy of Burners. While as organisations they may clash, there are often individuals and groups who have power across all three powers. A shadowy figure may well be a high ranking ecclesiarch and also have a seat in the Sanctum of the Weavers, and have close allies in a Hadar family. The three powers are inextricably interwoven with ties of corruption and mutual interest. The Burners might be motivated by greed to do jobs for one faction or another, and may even target other factions to do so, but so long as they play the game they are shoring up the status quo one way or another. Taking a stand as a true free agent is the only real way to change things, but challenging the status quo is the most dangerous game of all...