The Red Hand

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For the majority of soldiers dedicated to the service of the Imperial City, the worship of Haelyn the Lawgiver satisfies them. However, there are some for whom the His message of defense, resiliency and patience is not enough. They chafe at guarding the ancient city and desire the glory of taking the battle to the enemy. Most grow out of this phase, but a few come instead to relish battle itself, to even worship struggle, strength and violence. It is from these few that the cult of the Red Hand ? worshippers of dark god Belinik ? draws its membership.

class=boxoddrow|Using the Red Hand
In the larger scheme of Anuirean politics (or even politics of the Imperial City), the Red Hand is a tiny player. This organization is most appropriate as a villain for campaigns based out of the City itself, especially those not involving Regents. Cells of the Red Hand may ally themselves with more influential elements within the City, adding powerful, brutal muscle to some greater scheme. Alternatively, a cell may go on a brutal killing spree, requiring the involvement of hero-regents (or just heroes) seeking to maintain law and order. They are particularly suitable as villains in a merchant-rogue campaign or one based around the worship of Haelyn. The cell-based nature of the organization makes it an ideal long-term villain as no amount of repression can ever be said to surely wipe out the organization.

Made up of only members of the Imperial Legion and veterans, the Red Hand maintains is strongest wherever these warriors gather, especially those tested by war. At first, potential converts are invited to join what is described as a secret society within the Legion, open only to the greatest warriors. Most jump at the chance and enjoy many benefits: training in advanced techniques, transfer to prime posts and promotion in the Legion and a heightened sense of camaraderie. To many, the ceremonies invoking the values of strength, determination, vengeance and aggression and the ritual branding are even enjoyable, validating beliefs that they have long held secretly. These initiations are numerous (varying in number within each cell), but often take years and some never finish; each new initiation reveals more secrets and involves greater violence and risk.
The final initiation involves battle between two new members; unbeknownst to the combatants, the ritual drinks they enjoy before the battle are laced with drugs that spark rage. The battle always ends with only one (sometimes none) of the combatants standing. The survivor is complicit in murder and cannot now escape from the Cult; most, however, care little as they are close to psychopathic to begin with. It is only to these individuals, which make up perhaps 50% of those involved in the Cult, that the true nature of the organization is revealed.
Perhaps one out of every 100 Legionnaires is a member of the Red Hand and while it has infiltrated the middle levels of the Legion, the upper hierarchy and the Chamberlain, Caliedhe Dosiere is aware of its presence and works to counter its growth. Thus, cells tend to grow and flourish until they become so violent that they are revealed and destroyed. Survivors, or those who were transferred out before the clamp down, then revive the cult anew.
What do they deliver: Validation of beliefs, an outlet for rage and spiritual guidance for their members. For their Master, they bring violence and suffering upon the world and weaken the faith of Haelyn within its heartland. To their enemies they deliver only pain and death.
How do they Acquire Resources: Collections from members, skimming from Legion funds. Since their members temporal needs are met by the Legion (especially weapons, which are very important to the cult) and their ritual expenses are few, the Cult needs little funding for support.
How are they Organized: The Hand is organized into cells, each containing between a handful and up to around 50 members (at which time they tend to inadvertently expose themselves). Each cell is led by a Ragemaster, who won his position by single combat (and can lose it the same way). Cultists follow their Ragemaster?s orders, even when they run contrary to the commands of their Legion leaders. The Hand has a series of secret passwords and signs to convey membership when visiting other cells, though cooperation is rare.
How do they have an Advantage: The Hand is a secretive organization whose structure has allowed it to survive outright persecution for years. They also practice specialized forms of combat.
How do they Plan for the future: The cultists are aware of who they worship and technically await ?the great uprising,? when they will deliver Anuire to their master in an orgy of blood. For most, though, the concern of finding battle is more important than long-range planning. A few more devout work to spread the cult to new parts of the Legion and within their own units. Some drop out of the Legion to form unsavory mercenary companies that are willing to serve their Master?s goals.
How do they establish conformity: Members fear exposure or murder by the cult; leadership is open to any who are able to kill the Ragemaster.
How do they satisfy their audiences: They satisfy their own rage by organizing fights between members, serving in the Legion and sparking fights with others. They satisfy their master by causing suffering and continually bringing others into his service.
Who are their prominent members: Each cell is unique and its leadership is secret.
Who are their Minor Members: Each cell is unique and its membership is secret.

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