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Order of Life - The Mystaran Jediby James Mishler
Five thousand years ago the FSS Beagle fell from the skies and forever changed the course of Mystaran history. The magical science of Technomancy was born out of the ruins of the Beagle, and enabled the Lords of Blackmoor to build a star-spanning civilisation thousands of years before their society and culture would otherwise have been able to do so. Thus, the society that ruled the stars in the era of Blackmoor was, starships and Technomancy aside, essentially a medieval one, with all the evils that such a society contains, including slavery, corrupt nobles and vile sorcerers. As in all such societies a few people rise above the situation to champion truth, justice and the ways of good. During the height of the Age of Blackmoor, these people were part of an organisation known as the Jedi Council; the warrior-monks that went on great quests for the greater good were known as Jedi Knights.
History of the Blackmoorian Jedi Council
The Jedi Council was born out of the same accident that started Blackmoor on its precipitous rise to greatness: the crash of the FSS Beagle. Several years after the crash the Beagle, known locally as the "City of the Gods" was raided by a small party of adventurers from the far future. Among the party were three that would remain in the ancient lands of Blackmoor to find their fortune: the Elf Ismelian Sotadis, the Cleric Jareel Takis and Purda Blue, the Sword Mistress. Among the many treasures that the three brought back from the City of the Gods were three very important items: two Light Sabres and a Holographic Imaging Recorder. These items served their owners well, until they ran out of power. As the source of power lay forever beyond their grasp (due to the destruction of the City of the Gods in an incredible conflagration several years after their own expedition), the three sought out the one of the most powerful mages of the realm of Blackmoor to see if he could help them "recharge" their "magic items". Jallapierie was more than willing to help the trio, as they had provided him and Blackmoor with heroic service in the past. Using the highest magics of the day Jal was able to transform the Light Sabres and Holographic Imaging Recorder into Technomantic devices; that is, pseudo-scientific devices whose very nature was partially magical and that were powered entirely by magic.
The trio went on with their adventures and helped clear the path for civilisation throughout the Northlands. Many legends of heroes with blazing swords of light come down from that era. Purda and Ismelian were married in time and later Purda bore a son, who is known to history as Jedarian Sotadis, the Half-Elven (born in 3990 BC). Purda and Ismelian taught young Jedarian (or Jed, as he was more commonly known) all they knew of their adventuring arts, martial and magical; he was also taught in the ways of the clerical arts by his "uncle" Jareel. Unfortunately Purda and Islemian perished in a great battle when Jed was only twelve; Jareel continued teaching the young man all he could, with the added assistance of the wizard Jallapierie. Jed inherited his parents Light Sabres and continued his parents heroic traditions under Jareel's tutelage. Upon the death of Jareel in 3970 BC (shortly after Jed's 20th birthday) he also inherited the Holographic Imaging Recorder, which by that time contained not only various technical information from the Beagle, but also the lore of Purda, Ismelian, Jareel, Jallapierie and a dozen other great warriors, wizards and priests from across the northlands.
Jed stayed with Jallapierie for several years after Jareel's death, during which he learned more about the nature of magic, especially its relation to the Four Spheres of Life and the Sphere of Death. Jed then went on to complete many great deeds and quests, and his fame grew over the following twenty years to such a level that many others sought him out for training; but he refused them all, for a time. Then, during the terrible War of the Northern Wizards (3950 BC) many of the major wizards of the era were either slain or "lost", including Jallapierie and Robert the Bald (who had started the war when he went mad after a miscast spell). Jed helped the people of the Northlands pick up the pieces after the war and then took what treasures remained from Jal's tower (and many other wizards towers) and founded his own retreat on Cloudtop, where he occupied the ruins of the tower of Robert the Bald. After ten years of work he was able (with the assistance of the Holographic Imaging Recorder and Jal's copious notes) to create a new Light Sabre, one based entirely on the principles of Technomancy using native Mystaran materials. This new Light Sabre tapped directly into the power of the Four Spheres of Life (which Jed took to calling the "Force of Life", or simply "The Force"), and thus was tied to the life force of the wielder. Jed was also able to replicate and improve upon the Holographic Imaging Recorder; the new device was known as a Holochron, as it holographically displayed the wisdom and knowledge of the past in an interactive manner. Jed then went out into the world and searched for apprentices that he felt would be able to learn as fully as he had from the martial, magical and clerical arts.
Over the following 20 years Jed was able to train and bring together a small group of warrior-monks, each of who went on to construct his own Light Sabre. These warrior-monks were trained in the martial, magical and clerical arts, and were trained with the same moral and ethical guidelines that Jed had been taught over the decades. Jed's group of warrior-monks came to be known as the Jedi Knights, after their founder. All of the early Jedi were of Lawful or Neutral alignment, as Jed felt that Chaotics (even those with good tendencies) did not have the discipline to handle his rigorous training regimen. The Jedi Knights spread throughout the Northlands and even into Thonia, brought justice to the unjust and fought for the common weal with their Light Sabres and martial, magical and clerical powers. Each Jedi Knight also took on his own apprentice, as they had each apprenticed with Jed; the apprentices were known as Padawan Learners, a term which was derived from Jed's father's native tongue ("Padawan" is Callarii Elven for "Young Sprout").
This "second generation" of Jedi Knights grew more firmly into the holistic traditions of the martial, magical and clerical ways of the Jedi; they truly became the first of a new "class", known simply as the Jedi Warrior. Unfortunately, the first Jedi Knights were not quite as choosy as Jed had been about the quality of their apprentices, and a few Padawan were taught that should never have been allowed to learn the Jedi ways. These Jedi, upon the completion of their apprenticeships, turned to studying the ways of the Sphere of Death in their search for greater power. They contacted the Demons of Entropy, and from them learned dark secrets and forbidden powers. These Dark Jedi formed their own power bases using the Beastmen of the wastes and mountains. The majority of the Jedi were ignorant of the development; most believed that their former apprentices had perished in their extended quests, and the rumours of strange sorcerers in the wastes and mountains were simply common legends or simple truths.
In 3880 BC the first of the Dark Jedi began conquering territories in the Northlands, and openly declared their nature to the Jedi Knights and the world at large. The resulting war was fairly brief, if costly, as the Dark Jedi had seriously overestimated their own power and underestimated the power of the Jedi Knights. The Dark Jedi menace was destroyed, but Jed himself was slain during the final battle. Unbeknownst to the Jedi, several of the dark Jedi escaped and fled far to the west, where they settled in Brun and carved out their own kingdoms amongst the smaller Dragon States and the Beastmen Territories. The Jedi had not the resources to follow up on the Dark Jedi's retreat, had they even known about it, for they were too busy trying to determine what they should do without the guidance of Jed. Eventually, after many debates, the Jedi formed the Jedi Council, which was made up of the 12 most powerful and wise among the Jedi.
The Jedi went on during the next several centuries in a more advisory role; they had seen what their direct interference could cause, and sought wisdom rather than martial prowess. During this time the Jedi Mystics were first taught, and brought the arts of Technomancy to the common folk at the University of Blackmoor. The Jedi Warriors participated in the destruction of the Afridhi Empire in the 37th century BC, though they had no direct hand in the extirpation of the Goblin Races on Skothar during that time. Many Jedi took part in the great voyages of the era that led to the "discovery" of the Southern Continent and of Brun. It was during one of these voyages that the Jedi discovered that the Dark Jedi had not been completely eradicated, and that they actually survived and thrived on Brun, where they had formed a small empire among the smaller Dragon States and the Beastmen Territories (allied with the Draconian Empire). The lords of this realm were known as the Sith Lords under the title "Darth" (which, again in Callarii, meant "Lord and Master"; Sith was the greatest of all the Dark Jedi, and the Dark Jedi took his name as the Jedi had taken Jed's). The Sith Lords had developed many dark and fearsome talents using the "Dark Side of the Force" (i.e., energies of the Sphere of Death or Entropy).
Thus while the Jedi had taken no part in the early purges of the Goblinfolk, they actually instigated and assisted in the Beastmen crusades of the 36th century. The Jedi know this period as the great Sith War, as the Jedi concentrated their efforts directly on the Sith Lords rather than on their underlings. The Great Sith War continued for decades, until the Sith were finally defeated shortly before the Treaty of Gandhar, which ended the First Beastmen Crusade. As the Dragons were forced to renounce their alliance with the Beastmen, so too were they forced to renounce their alliance with the Dark Jedi; the Sith were for the most part destroyed, though a few fled underground (literally as well as figuratively in some cases).
The Jedi once again settled into a philosophical mode, and though they continued to support the cause of good (and helped keep the worst of the worst in line), they performed few major deeds during the next several centuries. By the 33rd century the Jedi Knights had become a worldwide organisation, and included Blackmoorians, Thonians, Tangor, Oltecs, Elves, Dwarves and even a few Halflings among their numbers. The Jedi participated in the Second Beastmen Crusade (3220 through 3200 BC) as the Sith had again reared their ugly heads and conquered the Beastmen to threaten the more civilised realms. The Jedi also helped found the Consolidated Tribes of the Neathar and helped defend the Oltec Empire from Azcan aggression.
As the states of Mystara travelled to the other planets of the system and thence to the stars, so too did the Jedi Knights go, often at the forefront (for their Technomancy was always a generation or three ahead of that even of Blackmoor). The Jedi helped found colonies and kept them from being overly oppressed; later they helped those same colonies gain their independence. Eventually the Jedi moved their centre of power from the ancient citadel atop Cloudtop to the Core Colony planet Coruscant, where they founded a republic with other colonists on the planet (a republic free from ties to any Mystaran nation-state or corporation).
The Jedi, unfortunately, were not the only users of the Force that made the transfer from Mystara to the stars; the Sith, too, secretly followed the paths to other words and founded their own kingdoms of Beastmen and vile humans. The Jedi discovered the existence of the Sith worlds shortly before the Great Plague and the Great Rain of Fire. The Jedi were the only ones able to find a cure for the Great Plague, though they were only able to help a few worlds (notably Coruscant and a few other Core Colony worlds; they were unable to assist the Homeworld of Mystara).
Jedi of Mystara after the Great Rain of Fire
The Jedi on Mystara were best equipped to survive the Great Plague (as the basis of the Jedi cure was their own curative powers, each Jedi had a good chance of purging the plague in his own body). So a good number of Jedi survived; however, they quickly discovered that they could not contact anyone off-planet, and the few remaining starships they had available no longer worked [Mystara was magically interdicted by the Immortals for several thousand years]. The remaining Jedi attempted to return to the ancient citadel at Cloudtop, but discovered that it, along with most of the Blackmoor and Thonian regions, had been severely scoured by atomic weapons. Thus, the Jedi founded a new base on Brun, on the plateau north and west of modern Glantri. They called their new home simply "The Citadel", and there began to train a new cadre of Jedi Knights and Jedi Mystics; they eventually also began to train a new class of Jedi, known as Jedi Priests.
The Jedi were instrumental in containing the dark forces of the Taymoran Empire and helped save much that was good of the fallen Nithian Empire; they also helped found the Lawful Brotherhood and have helped that organisation in its battles against the Chaotic forces of Hule. Over the centuries the Mystaran Jedi have also discovered that the Sith still survive on Mystara, as well, though much reduced in power and numbers (there are rarely more than one or two true Sith Lords; their followers are either Dark Jedi or simple Wizards or such). Today there is approximately one Jedi per 500,000 people in the Known World, but as each Jedi has the power of the Force at his side, each can do more good than a hundred common men...
Jedi among the Stars (Council of Coruscant)
Little is known of the Jedi among the Stars; contact between the Mystaran Jedi and their stellar brethren is sporadic and far between. It seems that the stellar Jedi were fundamental to the founding of an Interstellar Republic centred on Coruscant. The stellar Jedi also helped the peoples of other planets not only survive the dark age brought on by the Great Plague, but even thrive and reach far beyond the heights of Technomancy that the Blackmoorians had four thousand years ago. Unfortunately the Sith seem to have thrived amidst the chaos of the Stellar Dark ages, and have formed several of their own kingdoms amongst the stars. Fortunately Mystara is still under Immortal Interdiction, as the ancient human Homeworld sits right on the border between the Interstellar Republic and the Sith Kingdoms.