1354 DR Heralds Faction
“We are they who remember, and who judge in accordance with that memory.”
An order that trains and supports the heralds of all the Realms, responsible for registering heraldry properly, recording the goings-on of high and low, and adjudicating questions of propriety and law brought to them.
Across the Realms, the Heralds seem to be functionaries in the various courts and governments of its myriad lands, described by colorful titles passed from one Herald to the next in a given region. They act as criers and announcers, as sages who specialize in history and heraldry, and as masters of the local political ebb and flow. In this, they largely blend into the mass of other bureaucrats and courtiers.
Those in the know, however, are aware that each such Herald is part of a subtle network of Heralds trained to watch and gather information, to record the passage of history, and to carefully curate the blossoming of civilization. For each Titled Herald, there is a network of apprentices and dutiful spies who watch and report. And in turn, each Titled Herald is part of a larger network whose observations are collected by a small body of senior Heralds who work together to form the "big picture" of events in Faerûn.
Goals and Philosophy
The Heralds are a largely beneficent organization - it was not that long ago, in the grand scheme of things, that they were Harpers. But where Harpers are quintessential meddlers, Heralds are beholden to watch and advise in the development of nations and politics. Naturally, this is an ideal, to which each Herald hew in varying degrees.
Heralds are expected, above all things, to do the following:
- Watch and record historical events. Heralds are expected to keep journals and send reports to their superiors at minimum of once a year, and ideally once a season.
- Act to educate folk in the advance of history, delivering important news to those who can see that it is properly disseminated, and delivering such news as they receive it to local lords, courts, and temples.
- Keep a careful record of all heraldry employed in a given area, and to report the advent of new heraldry to the office of Old Night. This responsibility extends to being the office with whom such registrations take place.
On the local level, Heralds are benign in their efforts. They gather information about important people and groups and their doings, and they pass them up the "chain". When new signs or banners or shields come out for display, a Herald knows about it within a day or two, and ascertains the right of the individual to use it - and if they don't have it, makes a point of discreetly approaching them about the necessity for changing it in accordance with local laws and traditions. Heralds also act in official capacity as criers at social events, announcing those who arrive, and as judges at events from friendly tourneys to duels and trials by combat. Heralds are often sought out by newcomers to an area for advice on the power players, the factions, and the intrigues in play, as well.
Quests undertaken by agents of the Heralds might include the following:
- Seek out old lineage information from the ruins of a noble's ancient holding.
- Uncover the intrigues that endanger the political balance in an area, and report them to the High Heralds.
- Act as mediator between two warring factions, attempting to broker peace between them.
Heralds in good standing might receive the following benefits:
- Access to Heralds: Rank 1+. Being one of the Vigilant comes with some minor perks - most notably knowledge of and a relationship with the local Herald, who is often willing to provide lore, history, and even local knowledge that might be of help to the Vigilant. Heralds often have quite a bit of social pull, as well.
- Small Coin: Rank 1+. Those who act to keep the Heralds informed are compensated for their efforts, receiving an allotment of 2gp per week at Rank 1, and increasing to 5gp per week at Rank 2.
- Apprenticeship: Rank 3+. Those who become apprentices have distinct access to the Herald, and are in active and open training. This grants the apprentice increased access to the Herald, secret intelligence not shared before, and the goodwill of those who wish to remain on the Herald's good side, including local nobles and government figures, as well as groups like the Harpers.
- Apprentice's Wage: Rank 3+. An apprentice Herald has so much of his time taken up that he receives a small stipend, to the tune of 1gp per day that goes only toward covering living expenses. This increases to 2gp at Rank 6.
- Lore Training: Rank 4+. Upon achieving this rank, the training an apprentice Herald has undertaken pays off. He gains proficiency with the History Skill. If he already has this proficiency, he may instead choose to gain proficiency in one of his class Skills.
- Heraldic Title (Office): Rank 10+. Upon achieving Rank 10, the Herald is invested with one of the Heraldic Titled Offices of the Heralds, becoming the chief herald of his office's area. In addition to the various rights and responsibilities, the registration of heraldry and the largess of the local government ensures that the Herald is capable of supporting himself in a Comfortable Lifestyle at no cost to him.
- Herald Pursuivant (Office): Rank 25+. Senior heralds whose worth to the Heralds as a body has transcended management of a local office, the Heralds Pursuivant are all apprentices to the High Heralds. Their service may shift among the various High Heralds from year to year, though all of them are expected to act in the best interest of the Heralds as a body, rather than fostering individual allegiances. Heralds Pursuivants are traveling envoys and messengers, agents nonpareil of the Heralds, many of whom utilize the tactics and techniques of high espionage in their missions. When not employed in such a capacity, they endeavor to master the various skills required of their rank and foster ambition to one day hold one of the High Herald titles.
- Sun & Moon Tabards (Office): Rank 25+ Just before a Shieldmeet, two of the most-renowned Heralds Pursuivant are appointed to the so-called "Sun and Moon Tabards," or just "the Tabards." These specialty offices are held from Shieldmeet to Shieldmeet, a span of four years, during which the heralds in question are under the tutelage and supervision of Old Night. It is expected that every genuine candidate for position of High Herald will hold each of these titles at least once; many occupy them multiple times.
- High Herald (Office): Rank 50. There are only five High Heralds at any time, though there are often many candidates among the Heralds Pursuivant. Each of the High Heralds is one of the leaders of their order, and it is their combined will - often uncovered through long-running debates - that sets precedent for not just the traditions of the Heralds, but how many laws of inheritance, legitimacy, genealogy, and blazonry will be judged.
Office: Heraldic Title
Each of the Heraldic Offices is given a coat of arms and a title that adheres to a local tradition.
- Altumbel & Aglarond: Green Targe (Spandeliyon)
- Amn: Sable (Crimmor), Stars (Athkatla), Swanmantle (Eshpurta), Tallboots (Murann), Thorn Tree (Riatavin)
- Chondath: Bronzespur (Arrabar)
- Cormanthor: Moonsilver (Elventree)
- Cormyr: Cormyrean Heralds are given the titles of the settlement, thus: Arabel, Dhedluk, Espar, Eveningstar, High Horn, Hilp, Immersea, Marsember, Suzail, Tilverton, Tyrluk, Waymoot, Wheloon
- The Dalelands: Bright Shield (Essembra)
- The Dragon Coast: Flailchains (Westgate), Purple Halberd (Elversult), Sundazzle (Teziir)
- Moonsea: Shimmaree (Hillsfar)
- The North: Bucklebar (Luskan), Dark Stag (Silverymoon), Diadar (Amphail), Falconfree (Waterdeep), Gold Saddle (Yartar), Hawkfeather (Sundabar), Jhalvar (Mirabar), Silver Scales (Neverwinter)
- Sembia: Curved Sword (Saerloon), Lazalar (Ordulin)
- Nimbral: Durlance (Nimsur), Fyrefelen (Ormen), Hoathal (Sombor), Lyaparce (Bromtor), Mhanrued (Esdul), Ohndivur (Tethmor), Ramrath (Curstallyon), Skannajh (Rauthaven), Statharn (Nimith), Taerash (Suthhaven), Thuldroun (Arevar), Ulaunt (Vindal), plus Culree, Honthallow, Maunthar, Vorlmaer (wandering within Nimbral)
- Tethyr: Blue Velvet (Ithmong), Shining Helm (Saradush), Swordswreath (Zazesspur)
- Vilhon Reach: Bloodbanner (Hlath), Dragonplume (Nimpeth), Lone Tree (Ormath)
- The Western Heartlands: Narlhelm (Baldur’s Gate), Drawn Dagger (Hill’s Edge), High Bow (Secomber), Ironflower (Elturel), Morningstar (Berdusk), Oakenstaff (Iriaebor), Red Sword (Beregost)
Office: Sun & Moon Tabards
- Green Shield: Green Shield attends to the rituals, diplomacy, and security of the Heralds' Round, a court held each Shieldmeet to publicly render decisions on festival dates and disputes over issues such as legitimacy, inheritance, geneaology, and blazonry. Green Shield's insignia is a featureless forest green shield, and a rod of office that takes the form of a scepter capped with miniature shields on both ends.
- Gauntlet: Gauntlet endeavors to keep track of the locations, strength, performance, and current allegiances of all militia, mercenary companies, adventuring bands, and standing armies. They share this information only with other heralds. Gauntlet is also bound to see that any established war codes or codes of honor are maintained by those in areas that have them, and that those who violate them are publicly revealed as having done so. Gauntlet's sign of office is a massive, ancient gauntlet of gleaming steel.
Office: The High Heralds
- Unicorn: The most highly ranked of the High Heralds. Unicorn's decree has precedence in matters of judgment (though abuses are overruled by unanimous quorum of the other four). Unicorn has first right to adjudge and cry all single combats, and all ceremonial or ritual contests where creatures other than great cats or horses and their kin are used. Unicorn has keeping of the black rod known as the Rod of the Heralds as his insignia.
- Old Night: This office is responsible for two primary tasks: the training of senior heralds and the maintenance of the Herald's Holdfast, the great repository where all the lore that comes across any Herald's attention eventually ends up, carefully cataloged and collated. Old Night is reclusive, and the rod of office given as his insignia is a gnarled walking-stick of bronze, its current shape the result of crumpling down a shield of bronze.
- Black Vizor: An office that assumes travel and communication, Black Vizor is intricately invested in current politics, keeping track of intrigues, changing attitudes, treaties, and the shifting balances of power. His symbol of office is an immense magical black full-visor helm, and a massive matching mace of over four feet in length.
- Crescentcoat: Crescentcoat's work is hard and constant, as the office is responsible for exploring and researching every issue brought before the High Heralds and presenting them to the body for debate, as well as the training of local Heralds. When a Heraldic Office on the local level is newly filled, that herald is likely to earn a visit from Crescentcoat, who stays for however many weeks or months necessary to ensure the new herald is well-trained and prepared to do their work. Crescentcoat bears an ivory rod of ancient make as their sigil of office, as well as a tabard covered with interlocking crescent moons worked in cloth-of-silver.
- Red Dragon: This office has the traditional role of "devil's advocate," responsible for challenging tradition to ensure that it still serves as the best way of doing things. As a result, Red Dragon usually has a reputation as a shit-stirrer and firebrand among the High Heralds. Outside of their august company, Red Dragon plays an important diplomatic role in arranged marriages among nobility, who often seek their aid when finding a fit spouse for one of their scions has proven difficult. Red Dragon also has the traditional duty of escorting supplicants in rituals of attaining or receiving a title, position, or honor, though this is traditionally handed off to the local herald in their place. Red Dragon's icon of office is a rod of fine wood topped by a carved dragon's head, its jaws wide and roaring.
- Alaghust Meldivver: Unicorn. Unicorn is based out of Swordsmere, though frequently travels to tend to ceremonial duties more than most of his predecessors. He is a balding man and former soldier, with a well-combed and oiled beard. He is strident in doing things "the right way," and he and Red Dragon have nearly come to blows before.
- Shalara Swordshigh: Old Night. Formerly a ranger whose travels took her all over the North, the Western Heartland, Anauroch, and into the Moonsea, Shalara has only recently taken her office. She seems very content with her new responsibilities, and even those Heralds Pursuivant who are older than her have benefited from her tutelage. Her wanderlust has not left her, however, and she frequently takes several-hour walks in the woods around the Holdfast, and once-a-tenday overnight trips to Silverymoon, where she has friends.
- Ghelimar Firefrostarr: Black Vizor. Ghelimar is another old soldier, which is probably why he and Unicorn get along as well as they do. He is not so strident as Alaghust, though, and has a tendency to meddle in events that his fellows have had to call him to heel for. He is known to have a great many friends among the Harpers, and may even have been one early in his career. He resides at Black Helm Tower in Daggerdale, in the North, when he isn't traveling for his duties.
- Naernythra Thaloudyn: Crescentcoat. A gleeful-minded wizard of no small skill, Naernythra is quite adept at gathering information on important topics. To work as one of her Heralds Pursuivant is to be plunged into all manner of intrigues and espionage, and every one that passes muster comes away a virtual master of spycraft. She dwells in Moonrise Towers, a fortified compound west of Elturel on the banks of the River Chionthar.
- Bellym Glarsh: Red Dragon. In an order that focuses so much on the rights and privileges of the nobility, it was inevitable that Bellym's contempt for arrogant nobles and his concern for commoners should land him in the title of Red Dragon. Though previous Red Dragons were often quite merry in their taking of lovers, Bellym seems almost celibate. He is based out of Dragonrise Keep, a fortified compound south of Easting, near the headwaters of the stream that becomes the southern feeder of the River Chionthar.
- Elranmyr Wands: Rank 12 • Falconfree (Waterdeep). The Herald of Waterdeep is a ranger with tremendous familiarity of the North who was recruited by Old Night. One of the few Wands without a lick of arcane magic, Elranmyr has already cultivated a network of informants on what going on behind closed doors in the City of Splendors.
- Apprentices: Finn Estelmer (Rank 4)