Companions of Corralitos: Iron Gods
After working on the device for weeks, I was quite confident the girl would survive the fall. So imagine my horror as I crouched there, doing my best to wipe her remains off of Livmick's boots, I apologized profusely, but he just shook his head and glowered at me. "What in the nine hells was it supposed to do?" I explained that the initial tests of my velocity neutralizer suggested it should have allowed the subject to free-fall, but then touch down at the base of the cliff light as a feather and unharmed. Livmick pointed to one of the lights on the device. "I think the idiot switched it off." Encouraged, I shouted up to the top of the rise, "Stand fast and ready another one!"
- From the Journal of Lieutenant Bayton
In the center of the twisted, barren plains of Numeria squats a sprawling city in the shadow of a mountain of silver metal. Starfall, the capital of Numeria and its only large settlement not built adjacent to flowing water, is the home of the masters of this strange, savage land. Numeria is ruled by the barbarian warlord Kevoth-Kul, but in name only, the Black Sovereign; the land's true overlords are a ruthless, cruel cabal of magicians with a lust for power – the Technic League.
Thanks to its army of robots and multitude of technological artifacts, the Technic League maintains a stranglehold over this beleaguered land. These arcane spellcasters are jealous and protective of their power, and those who dare to steal from them can expect to face sinister magic, strange science, and assassins who are willing to pursue their targets across the Inner Sea and beyond.
The Technic League is corrupt to its core, a corruption steeped in old-fashioned avarice and greed. The League taxes the people of Numeria, giving nothing to them in return, and growing even richer from the brutal slave trade it actively promulgates. Nearly every righteous soul who heads north to fight the Worldwound is systematically shaken down and extorted for every coin the Technic League can take. The League is dedicated to the pursuit of every kind of power and resorts to anything in order top obtain it. Its members believe freedom is a luxury for the mighty. There are no depths to which they will not sink, or crimes they won't commit. Drug trafficking, prostitution, extortion, and murder are their stock and trade. Worst of all, they are no common cadre of despots and criminals, for they hold a monopoly on unfathomably powerful alien technology that came to this world from the distant reaches of space.
History of the Technic League
The Technic League was never intended to become the blight on Numeria that it is today. The group was intended to be an instrument of salvation for its founder, and a source of knowledge and enlightenment for all who joined her. In 4501 AR, a peculiar event transpired amid the wreckage of the Divinity – a lone survivor of the original crew was released from the stasis chamber where she was preserved in a state of suspended animation. This survivor was Sidrah Imeruss, a low-ranking human soldier. Sidrah found herself a stranger on a world unlike any she had known before. AS a competent warrior, Sidrah was able to survive, learn the local languages, and assess her situation. She learned of the local population's aversion to technology after she recovered a few "artifacts", which ot her were merely pieces of standard equipment. Sidrah soon heard of Silver Mount and surmised that this large section of Divinity might contain a shuttlecraft or distress beacon she could activate. Yet, accessing the ruined vessel proved no easier for her than anyone else. This conundrum led to the conception of the Technic League.
Sidrah concluded that to pull off an escape, she needed allies, so she traveled to Chesed to seek them out. There she found an audience willing to listen about matters technological – the city's local wizards. These magical practitioners dismissed the barbarians' superstition of magic and were less easily put off by taboos. Many secretly possessed small technological treasures of their own, and these learned scholars were initially dubious that some mere "warrior" could tell them anything they had not already ascertained for themselves. Sidrah, bereft of magical powers, was nevertheless born and raised in a highly technological society, and was able to convince the group that the ruins were part of a massive starship that crashed thousands of years ago. Furthermore, Sidrah explained the purpose and function of many of the wizards' devices, and provided them with an altogether new understanding of everything they had discovered thus far by placing it in the proper context. She rapidly attracted a cadre of arcane spell casters to her side, preaching to them that technology was not to be feared. She dubbed this fledgling group the Technic League.
The original Technic League was a secret society, in large part because, in its early days, the barbarian tribes of Numeria were even more intolerant of technology than they are today. Sidrah Imeruss modeled the League after the only command structure she knew, the interstellar navy under which she had served. She gave herself the rank of captain and chose her second-in-command, Mulrach-Zeer, as her first commander. This would prove a fatal misjudgment. Mulrach-Zeer demonstrated genuine enthusiasm for what Sidrah taught, but he was also a grasping, fearful man who longed for greatness and power. Over the span of many years, the group attracted new members, collected new artifacts, consolidated its resources, and planned its expedition into Silver Mount. In 4509, the group finally began their exploration. Shortly after they arrived and set up their base camp, Mulrach-Zeer assassinated Sidrah Imeruss. He then addressed his confederates and declared that he was their new captain. None fo the cabal's members knew more about technology than the wizard, and none of hem wanted to walk away from the power that Silver Mount might contain, so they went along with his treachery. Sidrah's former commander became the new head of the Technic League, and he group was forever shaped by his vile act of betrayal.
Mulrach-Zeer soon realized that he had gone ahead with his plans to take over the group prematurely, for though he understood technology better than the others, he didn't have all the answers he needed to assail Silver Mount. The best method to breech its metallic walls was still unclear. It took 3 years for the Technic League to devise a means to cut open a doorway-sized section of the hull using skymetal tools. During the interim, the group studied and experimented with the different fluids and chemicals that oozed from the structure. Technic League mages discovered that ingesting these chemicals caused numerous strange effects, and that many of the chemicals were intoxicating and addictive.
Exploration has progressed slowly but continuously inside Silver Mount over the last 200 years. The League encountered the gearsmen inside the ruin, and took control of them as their own private army. Command of the gearsmen granted the League exclusive control of Silver Mount, and led to the League's conquest of Starfall. It also marked the end of the Technic League as a strictly secret society, and ushered in the beginning of its domination of Numeria. The Technic League spread its influence out from Chesed and Starfall. Armed with potent magic and powerful technology, the arcanists eventually acquired either complete control or considerable leverage over almost every populated settlement in Numeria. Initially, the mages presented themselves as the guardians of civilization against Numeria's barbarian tribes, and there was an element of truth to this claim – the Technic League's power has always been formidable enough to deter anything less than a fully unified barbarian threat. In time though, the Technic League revealed its lust for power and transformed its members into the slave masters of the region.
In 4688, one man decided to throw off the yoke of the Technic League and take a stand. Barbarian warlord Kevoth-Kulof the Black Horse tribe waged a 2-year campaign to unite the barbarian tribes of [Numeria]] under his banner. In 4690, Kevoth-Kul storde deifnatly into Starfall with an army, intending to bring the Technic League to its knees. His show of power was successful, and the Technic League surrendered unconditionally. Kevoth-Kul never realized that his conquest was, in fact, a trap. The Technic League pledged fealty to him and crowned him Numeria's new Black Sovereign. The Sovereign suddenly found himself in "command" of the League's considerable technological resources and in possession of an army of robotic gearsmen to protect his new capital. The Technic League immediately introduced him to all manner of strange narcotics and provided whatever the decadent pleasures fo the Black Sovereign demanded. Now Kevoth-Kul rules from a drug-induced haze and allows the secretive cabal great authority throughout the nation.
The suspicious nature of the Technic League reinforces members' insularity and usually precludes alliances with others. The Technic League and the Pathfinder Society stand in direct opposition. The former group is dedicated to the absolute control of lost knowledge and esoteric lore, while the later's primary purpose is to discover and disseminate it. In 4704, the League convinced the drug addled Black Sovereign to burn the Pathfinder Lodge in Starfall to the ground. The Sovereign also proclaimed that any Pathfinder caught stealing secrets or technology would be hanged. The Pathfinder Society has since secretly relocated to Castle Urion and Hajoth Hakados, two Numerian settlements where the League's authority is not yet absolute.
Membership in the Technic League is limited to arcane spellcasters: primarily wizards and magi, but arcanists, alchemist, and sorcerers have always been welcome, as well as divine spellcasters of appropriate deities (such as worshipers of Brigh). In the early days of the Technic League, magically savvy rogues and other adventurers could find a place in the secret society, but through the years, their inclusion declined. Now only those with magical power are considered for induction into the upper echelons of the League. Bards can join but are often considered lesser members unless they prove successful at unlocking the secrets of new technological artifacts – a metric important to all in the Technic League.
The LEague does not actively recruit new members, except in cases where a highly knowledgable candidate is discovered. Instead, individuals submit themselves for membership and the League considers whether each applicant possesses the skills and abilities that can benefit the organization. The Technic League not only grants its members access to technology, but also provies a means to power and wealth, as well as a chance at a decadent lifestyle for those who attain a sufficient rank. Since its conquest of Starfall, the group has never had a shortage of those willing to embrace its tenets, regardless of the cost. The majority of these applicants become servants or hirelings rather than full members – or can even become slaves, if they're not careful – but openings do occur on a semi-regular basis, as lesser members fall to misfortune. Even powerful, long-standing members occassionally obliterate themselves with experiments gone wrong or untimely accidents.
Formal admittance into the Technic League requires a sponsoring captain to submit the candidate's name before the Council of Captains. The candidate must demonstrate magic ability and is tested on her arcane knowledge. The council then votes in private on whether to accept the new member, though this is mostly a formality – rejecting another captain's hand-picked candidate is a sure route to a feud, and few captains would want an incompetent serving under them. Candidates who are rejected are sometimes offered lesser positions as hirelings, and assistants and offered the promise of an opportunity for reconsideration, should they accomplish somehting noteworthy. Others are sent away; a few are killed because the council feels they have learned too much about the League while undergoing the selection process.
The most important part of the selection process, more important even than the council's approval, is the League's loyalty tests. These tests are designed by the initiate's sponsor, and they examine whether an aspirant is truly willing to pit the League's interests – and those of his or her patron – above all else. This loyalty doesn't need to be selfless – the Technic League has no objection to the pursuit of personal power and wealth, so long as it never endangers the League as a whole. While even assassination among the ranks of members is permissible if carried out discretely, when it comes to outside threats to the League and its mission, a member should be prepared to do whatever is required by the organization, and pay whatever cost. As a result, loyalty tests are often (though not always) brutal and cruel by design, and may involve magical coercions, such as geas. Regardless of the specifics, a member of the Technic League must come out of the tests having proven herself willing to abandon nationality, faith, friendship, and morality itself should the League demand it. The Technic League routinely engages in blackmail, extortion, slavery, torture, and murder, and if a candidate is going to flinch at these activities, the council needs to know about this weakness prior to her induction.
Once admitted, new members are almost always granted accommodations in the Technic League's palace in Starfall and assigned to serve their sponsoring captain. This relationship is ideally more akin to mentorship than to actual servitude, though some captains hold on to their secrets more tightly than others. The initiates are watched closely and discreetly tested again to prevent excessive ambition and ensure that they are not merely clever infiltrators. In the Technic League, no one is ever above suspicion.
Ranks and Hierarchy
After being accepted into the League, members are granted accommodations in Starfall as well as a modest stipend. These benefits improve as the member advances in status. After "member", "captain" is the only standaradized rank recognized throughout the League. Below the level of the Council of Captains, a member's standing depends larely on her psersonal power, achievements, and the approval of her patron captain. As such, titles are often quite loose, with captains assigning terms and ranks as they see fit. The informantion below is not absolute, but is rather an attempt to categorize the general structure observed within the League.
Agents, Assistants, and Hirelings: These individuals are attached to the Technic League, but not true members. An assistant may have been denied entrance into the League and given time to prove himself, or perhaps is simply in it for the coin. Many of them carry out the mundane drudgework of science and security, which is considered too boring for a full League member but too sensitive or specialized to be trusted to a mere slave. On occasion, agents are used as enforcers, spies, or assassins, and the best may even be loaned technological trinkets and tools for use in their missions. Because they are an exception to the League's rules about technology, agents entrusted with artifacts are rigorously tested for loyalty before they are sent out in the field, and some are tagged with tracking devices.
Initiates: These are brand new League members, still in their probationary period, and likely being observed and sometimes tested for both loyalty and a specific skill set. Initiates serve their sponsoring captain and any lieutentants, and they may observe and work with technology but are forbidden to own it. Advancement in rank occurs after a period of time set by their superiors.
Members: Most members still serve their patron captains, but may collect and own their own technology, run private experiments (so long as any findings are shared with their superiors), and have some level of autonomy. Members can and do shift allegiances between captains.
Commanders, Lieutenants, and Seconds: These are the most rusted subordinates of a Technic League captain – as well as their greatest threats, as it takes only a single fatal accident to turn a lieutenant into a captain. These members have great autonomy in their experiments and personal missions, directing League resources and lesser members toward a variety of ends. Some may be in charge of League activities in whole regions or settlements, keeping an eye on local government and League interests. They may explore sites freely across Numeria, though the Silver Mount itself is still subject to certain restrictions imposed by the Council of Captains.
Captains: These few members are entitled to seats on the Council of Captains and have unfettered access to Silver Mount, as well as command of lesser Technic League members and agents – even those outside of their personal coteries. While captains are in charge of looking after League interests all across Numeria, most choose to stay in Starfall, where the concentration of resources and information is highest, and instead send lieutenants and seconds to keep an eye on matters of governance and the excavation of newly discovered wrecks. All captains have broad discretion for accessing League resources, including technology. Captains have routine access to the Black Sovereign and can heavily influence national policy decisions. They also have access to all manner of decadent pleasures, like the ones used to keep the Black Sovereign compliant.
Though the Technic League attempts to present a unified front to the outside world, internal politics and rivalries seethe beneath the surface; one-upmanship, sabotage, and assassination are common. Most members join the Technic League for one reason: to increase their personal power. This motive manifests in a variety of ways, such as the need to attain wealth, gain the ability to pursue their often-depraved interests unconstrained by the morals of traditional society, or research esoteric knowledge simply for its own sake. Though members of sufficient rank are given time to pursue these interests, their obligations to the cabal are always expected to come first. All members are charged with protecting the League's secrets and monopoly over technology, assisting in controlling Numeria, and acquiring and disseminating knowledge throughout the League.
The mandated sharing of knowledge is a particularly fraught matter. It's rare to find friendships between members, or between low-ranking members and their supervising officers. Freely sharing knowledge is counterintuitive to many mages who seek power, and this is no different among members of the Technic League. In 4531, the Mage Mutiny exploded inside the technic League as lower-ranked members rose up in protest, claiming (accurately) that supervising officers exploited their dangerous, difficult work and left them nothing to show for it. That era's Council of Captains sensed a major institutional schism was about to erupt and short-circuited it neatly. They decreed that while captains and their seconds were entitles to a certain amount of secrecy in their research, any significant results of these efforts must be shared with the rest of the League ina timely manner. Moreover, sharing discoveries with superiors would be the primary means of advancement within the society, and any lesser member who felt that her superior wasn't properly rewarding her research was welcome to switch her allegiance to a more appreciative captain. Only revealing secrets to those outside the League would be seen as a betrayal of trust and punished accordingly.
Thus did the League create an infrastructure that reinforced both the institutional unity and solidarity against outside forces. The relationship between a member and her supervising officer is still fairly tense, as both parties attempt to alternately withhold and extort as much as they can from each other until the merits for promotion cannot be denied. The Council of Captains maintains a watchful eye on the supervising ranks to ensure they are being reasonably honest, lest the whole system fall apart. Ozmyn Zaidow is a perfect example of this system at work, as his recent series of new discoveries has catapulted him to the position of being the League's most influential captain.
Should a member die (research can be deadly at any rank), her supervising officer is quick to confiscate her notes and artifacts before another captain can. When a captain or commander dies, her peers descend upon her quarters like carrion birds. Her rooms and workshops are usually picked clean of any devices left unsecured or unhidden as soon as it is known the owner is dead. More than one supervising officer has devised a magical means to discern when one of her charges has met an untimely fate, so as to be the first to secure the subordinate's final work before anyone else can.
The primary responsibility of all member of any rank is to maintain the Technic League's stranglehold on technology, both in respect to actual knowledge and Numeria's many artifacts. To preserve the League's monopoly, every member is expected to kill when necessary and without hesitation. Any member found to knowingly leak information to outsiders or otherwise assist adventurers in their plundering can expect swift and terrible retribution.
Governance of Numeria
Though Numeria appears to be a monarchy, its true system of government is oligarchical despotism. Numeria is rules by Kevoth-Kul, the Black Sovereign, but one of the nation's most poorly guarded secrets is that the Technic League heavily influences the Black Sovereign. The mages have his permission to run roughshod over the land and its people by royal decree – so long as the Sovereign and his cronies are kept entertained, unchallenged, and drugged into a state of euphoria.
In reality, the Technic League expends little effort influencing the country's governance except as it relates to the League's own interests. The Black Sovereign's officials – usually selected from the ruler's own friends and relations – handle the bulk of the country's administration, with the League stepping in only ot provide advice on matters that interest them, as well as for the occasional show of force to help keep the populace properly cowed. The league is careful never to overstep its bounds, however, for while the Black Sovereign may have degenerated into sloth and apathy, he's still a powerful figure – if properly roused, he and his barbarian horde might still be able to sweep the relatively small Technic League from the land.
The Council of Captains appoints certain member sto watch over activities in key settlements and regions throughout Numeria. These appointments vary in their authority and their prestige. Captain Merisk Kaffaun enjoys an almost royal lifestyle and status in Chesed. Kannath, overseer of Aaramor, spends many of his days foiling assassination attempts (13 so far). Some settlements, like Castle Urion and [[Hajoth Hakados]], are so filled with Mendevian crusaders or so close to the River Kingdoms that eh Technic League's powers there are comparatively limited.