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Sacred Guardby James Ruhland
(Palatine Guard Force)
This force is one of the last pieces of the puzzle with respect to the active/standing Thyatian Imperial forces for my Thyatian Military Variant. There still remain a few reserve forces (transport fleets mainly, and the like), and the auxiliaries forces of the colonies, etc. I've been meaning to do this for some time, but have been somewhat reluctant to, for a couple reasons. In my opinion, one can (and perhaps should) just say that 200+ tough hombres and various defensive magics etc. guard the Imperial Palace in Thyatis City (or Sundsvall, or the Royal Palace in Vestland, or wherever). In my opinion, providing stats for these guards might make people think they can treat it like a dungeon - go through, fight and kill the guards, loot the treasure. While I think it's perfectly acceptable to go into the Imperial Palace and adventure there, these activities should either be diplomatic/non-combat encounters OR one should sneak around/infiltrate the palace. Folks shouldn't march through, killing the guards and looting the place.
On the other hand, I'm reluctant to overly munchify the guards to make that impossible. So I'll strike what I hope is a good balance, and provide the following warning: IMO, one should do what is needed to insure that the protective guard force is Superior to that of an invading adventurer party (an invading army might be another matter). It should not be possible to wipe out the guards in combat and sack the place.
The other thing that made me somewhat reluctant is the knowledge that there are various opinions regarding the use & presence of Psionics in Mystara. Some (even many) prefer a Mystara with no Psionicists whatsoever. However, I do use Psionics in my campaign, and in my opinion Psionics are a must for forces like this - use of Telepathic and other abilities, Psionically Empowered devices, Psionic "sweeps" of the Astral and Ethereal planes to prevent infiltration and/or eavesdropping from there etc. are sensible and necessary. However, I have converted (where possible) all Psionicists and Psionic devices into magical ones, though I will provide some notes as to that for people who do use Psionics in their campaigns.
Also, my inclination is to not provide War Machine stats for this force - it is not a Field unit intended to battle other military forces. I might provide some War Machine stats at the end, because it is possible that an invading army might battle the Sacred Guard.
The Sacred Guard consists of 200 troops tasked with defending the Imperial Palace in the City of Thyatis.
The uniform of the Sacred Guard consists of a white tunic with gold lacing and piping, gold buttons, and belted by a scarlet sash, over a Kilt of pure white. Boots are polished black. Helmet is of the "pith" type, also white, with a gold emblem in the front (if you've seen the movie Zulu the helmet resembles those worn by the British Soldiers of that era). The emblem consists of a two-headed eagle superimposed in a sunburst, with a "wreath" of six five-pointed stars under it in a semi-circle, and a eight-pointed star over it.
All troops have had the spell Improved Armour cast on them along with Stoneskin, by a 20th (36th) level caster (Demetrion). The spell Improved Armour can be found in The Book of Magecraft (a Birthright accessory). A short description will be given below. If other, similarly long-duration spells are available in your campaign, the members of the Sacred Guard will likely benefit from them as well.
All persons in the Sacred Guard are members of the elite Order of the Golden Eagle (which see) - membership in that Order ends up providing them with various bonuses against magic, especially mental attack and influence. A description of that Order will be posted later.
Forces are broken down as follows:
There is a Command & Control Force of 20 persons. All can Detect Invisibility & Detect Evil as a Semi-permanent effect (see the spell Semi-Permanency). They are also Protected from Evil and from Normal Missiles.
There are three Sections of 60 persons each, divided into ten Squads of 6 Guards each. One Section is on duty at any given time, another Section is sleeping (but can be called to muster quickly), and the third is on personal time (about half these will be somewhere in or near the Palace grounds at any given time, and can also be called up quickly. The other half will be elsewhere in The City, and take longer to arrive in case of emergency).
Squads are stationed at the main entry points to the Palace, at the entrance to the Throne Room, and in moving patrols. Moving patrols usually have Blink Dogs accompanying them.
Each Squad consists of the following personnel:
1 8th level Paladin Commander (Cavalier Kit) - AC 0 (Improved Armour, Dex, Single Weapon Fighting Style); Mv 12; HP 52; THAC0 12; #att 2 (Sword or Bow) or 1 (other weapons); Dmg 1d8 +5 (+2 longsword; specialisation & strength bonus). +2 Longsword, +2 Short Composite Bow, Dagger. Will use sword in preference to other weapons, and avoid using bow (Cavalier). Is +5 to hit with sword (magical bonus, specialisation, Cavalier bonus). Also has a Medallion of ESP, 90' radius. The Paladin is usually dedicated to Tarastia.
1 7th level Fighter/8th level Mage (Dual-classed) - AC 0 (Improved Armour, Dex, Single Weapon Fighting Style); Mv 12; HP 50; THAC0 12; #att 2 (Sword or Bow) or 1 (other weapons); Dmg 1d8 +5 (+2 longsword; specialisation & strength bonus), or spells. +2 Longsword, +2 Short Composite Bow, Dagger. +4 to hit with sword (magical bonus, specialisation). Will use spells to incapacitate foes.
1 8th level Priest of Vanya - AC 0 (Improved Armour, Dex, Single Weapon Fighting Style); Mv 12; HP 50; THAC0 12; #att 2 (Sword) or 1 (other weapons); Dmg 1d8 +2 (+2 longsword). +2 Longsword, Mace. Will use spells to aid Squad and incapacitate foes. Will Turn Undead. Can automatically Detect Lie as a permanent ability.
3 8th level Fighters (Myrmidon Kit) - AC 0 (Improved Armour, Dex, Single Weapon Fighting Style); Mv 12; HP 52; THAC0 12; #att 2 (Sword or Bow) or 1 (other weapons); Dmg 1d8 +5 (+2 longsword; specialisation & strength bonus). +2 Longsword, +2 Short Composite Bow, Dagger. +5 to hit with sword (magical bonus, specialisation). Also specialised in Short Composite Bow. NOTE: in campaigns that use Psionics, one of these three will be a Psionicist.
In combat, the Paladin and one Myrmidon will engage the enemy in melee, the other fighter(s) will use his bow against enemy spellcasters, while the priest and mage use spells and/or missile weapons. The squads of the Sacred Guard function as an efficient combined-arms team. Goal will be to delay the enemy as long as possible while reinforcements come.
Each guard post has had a permanent Clairaudience, Clairvoyance, and Detect Invisibility affect placed over it, so that members of the Command & Control force can monitor what is going on, and dispatch reinforcements to needed areas. These spells have also been put in place at key choke-points throughout the Imperial Palace itself (consider these akin to high-tech surveillance systems), to prevent infiltration.
Throughout the Palace there are numerous statues, frescoes, and the like. Most of the statues are in actuality Living Statues, Golems of various types (though usually much smaller in size, but identical in statistics, to normal Golems), and other Constructs and Automatons used to defend the Palace. These are given limited instructions (IMC all have been Psionically Empowered, with various Telepathic abilities, which make them intelligent) and thus able to react to intruders. They can also be commanded at will by a member of the Sacred Guard. Alarm type spells affect various secure areas, with the alarm ringing back in the Command & Control Centre. Shrieking Walls and/ or Crushing Walls spells affect off-limits areas. Note that the Palace & its grounds are also Warded with many effects. Also, many palace staff and residents will be skilled - some exceptionally skilled. Even many of the servants are retired gladiators, military, and the like. Djinni and other extra-planar creatures can also be found, bound by various pacts to help serve and defend the Palace and its residents. Some others are Polymorphed Dragons, such as Demetrion's friend Hytilaph.
Command and Control Force
This force consists of personnel who spend their duty time in a secure chamber (difficult to infiltrate), and of an elite "reaction force" of high level heroes (this should be a "party" of no less than six persons, who are at least 3 levels higher than that of an attacking party of adventurers, but not less than 20th level in any case. They should consist of 2 Fighters, 2 Foresters, and 2 Priests. If you have the old Judges Guild City State of the World Emperor accessory, consider them similar to the Black Adders team, except that they live in the Palace grounds. The Emperor does have a "secret service"/spy force - the Magistranoi, but it is different.) The monitoring personnel will likely be mages and/or clerics. They can cause Guards and Wards type effects to affect various portions (or all of) the Palace if needed, triggering various magical items enchanted to do this.
The entire Palace grounds is protected by Invisibility Purge, Land of Stability, Preservation, and Forbiddance - like effect (this is somewhat different because it isn't keyed to alignment. Individuals are given passcodes that are specific to them - in tune with their personal "aura", what makes them unique. Thus others cannot use them even if they somehow acquire them. Polymorphing, Shapechanging, or even Impersonation is not sufficient to "fool" this Ward, because aspects of the caster's true personality remains in place. Only by actually becoming the person for whom the passcode is "keyed" would one be able to use it. Wishes have been used in advanced so that if someone tries to use a Wish to gain a passcode, acquire the ability to use a passcode, or simply to bypass the Ward, this will be known immediately, and the identity of the Wisher and/or the target/beneficiary of the Wish will be revealed. This allows them to enter the area via Teleportation, Plane Travel, and the like, bypassing the Forbiddance ward. These passcodes can be granted out and rescinded as needed. This version has no affect whatsoever on people walking in normally, it simply affects dimensional penetration as noted above).
Other Warding-type spells, such as Weather Stasis or Grounding can be cast if needed.
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 4
Area of Effect: 1 Creature
Saving Throw: None
Similar to the 1st level armour spell, this enchantment creates a faintly glowing magical field of energy around a target individual that serves as if it were field plate mail (AC 2). This spell has no effect on a person already armoured or a creature with Armour Class 2 or better, but it is cumulative with Dexterity bonuses. Improved Armour does not affect a creature's movement or hinder spellcasting, and it has no weight. Improved Armour remains about the individual until dispelled or until the individual suffers damage equal to 10 points plus twice the caster's level (50 HP when cast by Demetrion). The armour does not prevent the spell recipient from suffering the damage. The materiel component for this spell is a polished steel cube.