The Sisters of Mercy
The Sisters of Mercy inhabit a small chapterhouse near the Windibreeze Cathedral. Their history contains great tales of their exploits providing medical aid and last rites during battles and natural disasters as far back as the founding of the Third Empire.
We're good, not nice.
Winged pike on top of an ornate shield. Colors were formally gold and black, now red and black. Only the Grandmistress still uses the old colors.
The Sisters of Mercy remained officially neutral during the Schism, though grudges towards the leadership of Aerienna Sarista remain.
Pro-empire, but heavily critical of percieved failures ascribed to Aeternian manipulation.
The Priory of the Sisters of Mercy sits halfway between the Windibreeze Cathedral and the Alyssa Chrysinaria Memorial Hospital. Recent events in the Order’s history have lead to the expansion of the compound to encompass an entire city block. Facilities include many of the usual structures used by a militaristic order:
- Chapel dedicated to Diana. Due to recent events in their history, the skulls of deceased members line the walls of the chapel and the catacombs that lie beneath. The ambiance of the chapel is largely described as somber and melancholy. Furnishings are crafted from stone and iron, rather than gold.
- Dormitories for members of the order.
- Armory and attached workshops.
- Library. Beneath the new wing of the library lies a number of empty cells. Their use remains to be seen…
- Training grounds.
- Kitchens and small gardens. Due to the small size of the order, a great deal of their vegetables is grown within their compound.
- Multiple wells.
- Infirmary. While the Sisters of Mercy regularly work in the Hospital, the order maintains a large infirmary for emergencies (or simply for charity patients.)
The compound is surrounded by high stone walls designed to provide adequate protection in the case of civil unrest. Entrance to the compound is gained via a heavily guarded gatehouse.
The Sisters of Mercy are, paradoxically, a fairly rich order of Paladins. After the near eradication of their order, the Sisters faced a crippling shortage of paladins and squires to keep their far-flung chapter houses functioning. Rather than waste precious resources, the Grand Master sold or bartered away the empty chapter houses to other orders or private citizens. The money thus generated has thus far been spent on expanding the order’s headquarters in Aelyria Prime and the training/outfitting of new members.
Paladins receive a (very) small weekly stipend for necessities usually around 5-10 crowns a cycle. Larger purchases require the approval of the chaplain in charge of the treasury. Traveling/questing stipends are decided on a case-by-case basis. Large purchases for the good of the order are decided by the agreement of the lance or (in the case of very large purchases) the chaplains.
Equipment is provided by the armory, though paladins and officers are allowed to purchase/procure their own equipment. (Generally from sponsorship of family.)
If the paladin earns any money in the course of their travels (or through rewards for their actions in the pursuit of evil do-ers), ninety percent of the reward must be donated to the order.
The Sisters of Mercy are an entirely female order of paladins. New members are recruited from generally middle-high class girls. Marriage is generally frowned upon, but it is not unheard of for a paladin to conceive. Children in this case are either raised in the order (in the case of female babies) or sent to other orders (in the case of boys).
That said, their desperate situation has lead to their acceptance of aid from unconventional quarters. The few male instructors are generally members of larger Orders on temporary loan.
While the Sisters of Mercy still serve as healers and combat medics, the core purpose of their order has changed dramatically. The order faced extinction during the attack on Diana in 4 PF lead by Lilienna Sarista with only a single chapter master and a handful of other paladins surviving. The remaining members have since become far more militant, to the point of being accused of fanaticism in their prosecution of the agents of Aeternia. Their members believe that the Empire is tainted by the corruption of Chaos, and must be cleansed by flame and sword.
The small membership of the Sisters of Mercy (in comparison to other orders) has lead to the abolition of many traditional offices and a general re-organization.
Grandmistress Lily Ysablle
+Elite Longsword and Shield
Grandmaster Lily Ysabelle was the only Chapter Master who survived the aforementioned battle. In the years following the disaster, the human woman has taken upon herself the responsibility of re-building the order. Her faith remains unshaken despite the disaster, though her view of the Empire has grown gradually more dire as the years have progressed.
+Journeyman Thaumaturgy (There is, however, one druid.)
+Journeyman Healing (Varying skill levels.)
The remaining chaplains are all survivors of old Sisters of Mercy. They take an active role in coordinating the training of new members, overseeing deployment of paladins on missions of mercy (or righteous vengeance), and tending to the flock. Each heads a lance of paladins.
+Apprentice Thaumaturgy (If applicable. Those without arcane affinity generally spend more time studying arms or healing. Roughly 25% of paladins actually practice arcana.)
The paladins of the Sisters of Mercy are now roughly split between older members and inductees recruited after the battle. They are organized into ‘lances’ of roughly equal paladins though few actually specialize in mounted warfare. Unlike some other orders, the Sisters of Mercy train extensively with their lances. Elevation to the rank of Paladin requires a period of questing culminating in the uncovering and purging of worshipers of Aeternia.
Squires x 30
The tradition of the Sisters of Mercy is to have exactly one squire for each paladin. Officers are not required to take a squire, though they take an active role in the education of squires. Chaplains see to religious instruction while the Grandmaster (largely) teaches Thaumaturgy herself. Squires are responsible for serving as nurses, cooks, and servants for their mentor.
- It’s occasionally whispered that the Sisters of Mercy pursue the servants of Aeternia with excessive force and a distinct lack of mercy. Most citizens would, however, dismiss this allegation as slanderous and of particularly bad taste due to the Order’s good works. (Reality: They aren't just as brutal as rumors suggest; they can be downright nasty when it serves their purpose. They are, however, very smart about not allowing witnesses. These are not your mother's paladins. :<)
- The Sisters of Mercy possessed a particularly holy artifact prior to their destruction. No one outside the order knows of the fate of the artifact, and the paladins are sworn to secrecy on the matter. (Reality: There is such an artifact. Details left for a mod at later date.)
- The lion’s share of casualties at Diana came at the hands of necromancers and mages. While the Grandmaster takes some role in the arcane academy in Prime, the Sisters of Mercy are very suspicious of outside mages. (Reality: Generally true, but the Sisters are pragmatic.)
- "The Sisters don't like men. And the squires and their mentors are very, very, very...close." (Reality: See public reaction to first secret. As for truth, wouldn't you like to find out? ^^)
The Sisters of Mercy were never a particularly popular order of paladins. The demands they place upon their members are strict and uncompromising. Members can only leave the order through retirement or transfer to another Order. Transfers require the blessings of both Grandmasters. Severely injured or old paladins are given the option to retire to a nunnery or service as a priestess. Sisters largely eschew physical possessions except equipment in the pursuit of righteous vengeance. The combination of poverty and a lifetime of service is not particularly attractive to the middle and upper class families from which the order used to recruit. After their near destruction, recruiting has become far more difficult owing to their loss of senior members.
New members must demonstrate either a reasonably wealthy background (for reasons of health and political savy) or blessings from another Paladin order. They must be physically fit, willing to serve, and sound of mind and spirit. Previous experience with arms and arcana is not required.
Squires are introduced to every aspect of the Sisters of Mercy: healing the sick, revering the goddess Diana, and the tragic history of the order. Each new squire is assigned a Sister as a mentor. Due to the loss of membership, training is largely conducted by the experience of mentor. Some prefer training in one discipline at a time whist others prefer a broader education. Arcana unbinding is conducted by the Grandmistress when the squire takes her first rites. Those with an aptitude for arcana study further with the Grandmistress or, very rarely, a visiting Master Thaumaturge.
Equipment is supplied on the whim (and inclination) of the mentor. There is no requirement for the type of arms the student trains in, but since the mentor serves as the primary instructor squires usually have little choice in the matter. Squires are also taught to fight in groups alongside their Paladins in the case of extreme emergencies.
Most mentors prefer to pass on their knowledge of battlefield medicine to their squires. Some prefer letting squires take lessons in the hospital, while others allow their squires to pursue related trades (such as herbalism or, very rarely, alchemy). The blacksmiths and armor/weapon crafters normally take an apprentice. In these rare cases, the squires are freed from their obligation to practice medicine. All squires are required to work as nurses and orderlies either in the Hospital or the infirmary.
The Grandmistress, as mentioned before, oversees arcana training personally. Students with an arcane aptitude are expected to practice every brightening.
Requirements to embark on their quest:
Apprentice Thaumaturgy (If PC is arcana inclined.)
Professional Arms (Skill in other weapons are encouraged and often part of the cirriculum.)
Journeyman Healing (Or other trade skill.)
Example Equipment @ end of training:
Axe and shield.
Field plate. (Unadorned.)
When the lance considers a squire ready for full membership, the Squire is required to leave the priory for a period of no less than three months. (Squires are allowed to leave earlier in the training with the approval of their mentors.) A stipend and equipment are provided. The candidate must uncover evidence of serious Aeternian corruption and purge the disease.
Training does not end with ascension to the rank of full paladin. They are expected to further train themselves in the arts of war and healing. However, full paladins have a great deal more freedom in the direction of their training. They can pursue other trade skills with the approval of their Chaplain, or seek training from an outside instructor in arms or arcana. New paladins are generally given a few months to acclimate before being assigned a squire (if available).
Upon their ascension, the paladin is presented with a suit of ornate and custom-made plate armor. The paladin works with the armorsmith to choose the motifs and embossment on their armor. Religious symbols are common, though many of the new paladins include more morbid imagery to show their dedication towards the cleansing of chaos.
Paladins are expected to take an active role in their lance and assist in the normal operations of the Sisters of Mercy. While they are not expected to always remain in Aelyria Prime, the Guildmistress prefers that paladins (particularly with squires) spend the majority of their time in the priory.
Sisters are appointed to higher positions for a lifetime. As the Sisters grow, the Guildmistress may expand the ranks of officers. The generally large sizes of the lances have already caused rumors that the Chaplains are scouting for a new addition to their ranks.