Organizations add verisimilitude and dynamism to a campaign world. They support ongoing storylines, provide stable reference points between adventures, and make the world evolve even when the PCs are busy elsewhere.
Each installment in this series will present a new organization, complete with shared attack and utility powers—akin to monster themes. Each will include variable goals to give its members a unique, memorable feel. Every GM should find one that matches the needs of the campaign—as allies, foes, or simply as a group working for its own purposes.
Finally, each organization offers at least one power for PCs who join the group. Like a character theme, these powers connect the PC to an organization without increasing his or her power level unduly.
Virga is rain swallowed by the sky before it reaches the ground. Like the sky, we stand between this perilous knowledge and the unknowing subjects of the realm. We keep the Threat at bay by ensuring their ignorance…
Goal: The Distant Virga seeks to prevent most inhabitants of the realm from learning of the Threat, a collection of knowledge they deem dangerous. Depending on the precise nature of the Threat, the Virga may act in quite different ways. Three examples follow.
The Distant Virga (Alignment: Good)
Philosophy: A rift has opened, allowing some other terrible reality to bleed into this one. Invaders from this alternate universe feed on fear, leaving their victims mindless and drooling. If knowledge of these invaders were to spread, it would create a feast of fear leading quickly to complete conquest— and that must not come to pass. The invasion must be repelled in the shadows, leaving the common folk blissfully unaware of the danger.
Leadership: Zhorin Denspattle, one-time explorer and now head of the Distant Virga, discovered the rift. Not trusting anyone but himself with knowledge of this Threat, he has not told anyone outside of his organization about it.
Activities: Members of the Virga trek ceaselessly through the realm, looking for signs of alien incursion. If they find an invader’s spoor, they gather to destroy the threat and erase any evidence of its existence—including the memories of any witnesses—through physical, mental, or magical compulsion, if they must.
The Distant Virga (Alignment: Unaligned)
Philosophy: A plague has stricken the nation. Unlike common maladies, this disease strikes only the rich and powerful, rotting their minds. It leaves its lucky victims with radically altered personalities—and its unlucky sufferers stark raving mad. The government fears the panic that would result from knowledge of this epidemic, the Threat which drives this version of the Virga.
Leadership: The land’s leaders are desperate for a cure but they dare not risk any official involvement. Zhorin Denspattle, leader of the Virga, spends much of his time consulting with the government but bears no official title.
Activities: Members of the Virga monitor society functions and local houses of healing with equal attention, searching for strangely behaving aristocrats who might have fallen victim to the plague. Any spare time is consumed by the searches for the plague’s cause and any potential cures.
The Distant Virga (Alignment: Evil)
Philosophy: Leading members of society have fallen under the control of a malicious power. Whether psychic parasites, demons of possession, or mind-controlling pods, these invaders intend to conquer the nation from within. Today, though, their control is incomplete, and if their secret were discovered, the unaffected masses could throw them out. The Threat the Virga opposes is the early discovery of the invasion by the common citizen.
Leadership: Although covertly supported by suborned political, religious, and military leaders, the Virga maintains a deniable distance from all. The only dominated member of the Virga is its leader, Zhorin Denspattle.
Activities: Members of the Virga discreetly observe dominated members of society, seeking to expose any who learn their secret. Occasionally, some members are sent to watch prospective targets of the invasion, charting their defenses and learning their habits.
The Distant Virga (All Alignments)
Size: The Distant Virga consists of only 30 members.
History and Headquarters: Zhorin Denspattle founded the Distant Virga 10 years ago, days after he first learned of the Threat. He runs the group from his opulent townhouse overlooking the nicest part of the capital city.
Membership and Structure: Denspattle recruits all the members directly, screening them for moral and philosophical congruity with his cause. The members are organized into groups of five or fewer, with only Denspattle knowing members of more than one group. This division prevents any one member of the Virga from perceiving the full nature of the Threat. Within each group, the members watch each other constantly for any signs of subversion from the cause.
Enemies: Any who wish to reveal the Threat would qualify as enemies, although no organized group has yet arisen to do so directly
Factions: Whether due to its small size or its single-minded focus on the Threat, the Virga has not split into any factions.
Skill Modification: +2 bonus to Insight checks.
The time the Virga spends ensuring that secrets stay kept gives them great insight into others’ psychology. They can use such knowledge to make their foes forget one of their options in combat.
[R] Not That One (psychic) • Encounter
Attack—Ranged 10 (one creature); level+1 vs. Will.
Hit—Randomly choose one unexpended encounter, recharge, or daily power of the target. For the rest of this encounter, the target may not use that power, treating it instead as if it had already been expended.
Critical—The creatures using this power may choose which power of its enemy is negated by this power.
(This power is appropriate for player characters who join the Distant Virga.)
Members of the Virga prepare themselves for their foes, learning how to exploit any weaknesses.
Strike the Tender Underbelly • Encounter
The Virga member may choose a type of damage to which its enemy is vulnerable. Any attacks made by it before the end of its next turn gain that damage type.
Sustain Minor—The altered damage type persists although it cannot change during the encounter.
Fanatical devotion has its rewards. A final chance at success—or retribution—is one of the more powerful.
Spit My Last Breath at Thee • At-Will
Trigger—The creature drops to 0 hp or lower (although not lower than its bloodied value expressed as a negative number).
Effect—The creature remains standing until the end of its next turn, at which time it dies if it remains at 0 hp or fewer. The creature dies immediately if it ever drops below its bloodied value expressed as a negative number in hp.