The Order of Merciful Aid
The Order of Merciful Aid offers exactly what it promises: merciful aid on the edge of the sword or by the burn of a bullet. Powerful and disciplined, the Order is a nation-wide organization which consists of elite warriors and scholars. Each major city has its own Order Chapter.
Members of the Order are called knights. When asked, the knights state their mission as simply “Protection of mankind.” The knights are lethal, honorable, and unfortunately, convinced that they are always right. Like the Guild, the Order protects humanity against the magic dangers, but unlike the Guild, the Order charges according to income, meaning that if an indigent person petitions the Order for help, the knights will assist him pro bono. The Order has a strange semi-official status and is considered to be a part of the Law and Order triumvirate, which also includes the Military Supernatural Defense Unit (special forces of U.S. Army) and the Paranormal Activity Division (police).
To become a knight, one usually has to pass the Order Academy’s legendary entrance exams. Upon acceptance, the prospective knight is given the rank of Squire. Squires live and study within Academy’s walls for four years. They are not permitted to leave the grounds for longer than 24 hours even on holidays.
The course of study is strenuous and includes weapon and magic training and extensive mental conditioning. The Order isn’t simply interested in producing effective knights. These knights must also be true believers of the Order’s cause.
Only one in eight squires lasts long enough to graduate and be knighted as a knight-defender. Of those, one in twelve will die within the first year, and of the remaining, only one in three will make it to retirement.
The knights are ranked according to their ability and experience:
- Knight-Defender. The rank-and-file of the Order. Knight-defenders usually have 2-10 years of experience. If in that time they fail to distinguish themselves in a way that would permit the Order to assign them a new classification, they assume the rank of Master-Defender.
- Knight-Questor. Once called knight-inquisitors, the questors specialize in investigations. They often enter the ranks of the Order after having served in the military or law enforcement.
- Knight-Diviner. Knight-diviners derive their power from faith. Buddhist monks, Taoists, Christians, Pagans, and scholars of Torah were all know to serve as knight-diviners. Like all magic users, knight-diviners project their own magic field. This field is the reason why strong knight-diviners are particularly effective against vampires. When confronted with the human divine magic, the vampiric pathogen, which fuels vampires’ insatiable thirst, fails to recognize the source of the magic as human. In other words, vampires view knight-diviners as moving pieces of scenery rather than targets. The knight-diviners act as counselors and psychiatrists. The Order recognizes their special status, and the Codex bestows protection onto petitioners who come to see knight-diviners: they do not need to identify themselves, nor do they have to disclose the reason for their visit to any other knight.
- Master-at-Arms. Masters-at-arms are knights distinguished by their supreme knowledge and ability with weapons. Masters-at-arms have a specialized designation according to their chosen weapon: “Master-at-Arms, blade”, “Master-at-Arms, blunt”, “Master-at-arms, firearm”, etc.
- Master-at-Craft. Masters-at-craft are knights who possess exceptional magical knowledge and ability. Like Masters-at-arms, they are distinguished by their specialization: “Master-at-Craft, medicine”, “Master-at-Craft, conjuration”, “Master-at-Craft, battle”, etc.
- Knight-Crusader. Crusaders have a special rank. Unlike most knights, they are not tied to a certain chapter, but are free to travel as they see fit. Crusaders are the Order’s equivalent of a lancet. Got a nasty boil ready to rupture? Throw a crusader at it. He will take care of the problem and move on. Deadly fighters, the crusaders are extremely dangerous and unpredictable. They are the most shadowy of the knights and tend to be loners who value their privacy.
- Knight-Protector. Knight-protectors spearhead the individual Order Chapters. They are skilled leaders and proven fighters.
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The Order’s Academy
Only one in eight who enroll graduate. (p35)
More people flunk out on oath breaking than any other test of will. They are given a secret to keep and then tortured by beating, drowning, whipping, and branding with a hot iron. If they keep their secret, they pass. (p132)
Ensure the survival of the human race (p103)
There is a square of enchanted silver on the badge. If an impostor holds their finger over it and says “ID” then it will turn black until the real owner does the same, which will turn it silver again. (p12)
Their stamp signaling classified information is a mace crossed with a polearm on a shield. (p85)
Located in Wolf Trap, Virginia is the national HQ. (p30)
Everyone begins as a knight-defender. They have ten years to distinguish themselves or else they become master-defenders, which are the rank-and-file of the Order. (p31)