by Jeff Bray
Formed in Arylon in 1363DR, the Order of the Sphinx is a martial order for priests. It is affiliated with the Council of Arylon, and closely aligned with the Silver Crescents, the city defense and police force. The Order's primary duty is to aid Arylon and its citizens.
The Order of the Sphinx is the only Order in the Western Heartlands composed entirely of warrior priests. During the Dragonspear Accords, a number of clergy from different faiths banded together to form the Order of the Sphinx. These priests realized that Arylon needed both spiritual guidance and powerful protection from its enemies. As with any interfaith debate, sides were taken as each group of clergy believed their way was best. A secret Cyricist named Krebsel thought this was a perfect opportunity to spread strife and take over the proceeding in the name of Cyric. Bedlam broke out as the priests battled one another. An androsphinx named Alconyx Devilslayer, who came from the south to aid the alliance, became disgusted with the scene. (The androsphinx came to Dragonspear to offset the fiendish advantage.)
Alconyx shattered Krebsel's Shield of Faith and his spine with a tremendous roar. With the surviving priests' undivided attention, he put 11 of the 12 shield pieces into a cauldron. He told the priests that only the 11 that could remove a piece would stand for Arylon, the rest were deemed unworthy. What the standard was, or how Alconyx knew this, has never been explained. The 11 that pulled forth a piece each represented a different power. There was some grumbling, but none challenged the androsphinx. The sphinx disbanded the remainder and told them to return to their charges; he would oversee the new Order of Arylon.
Thadeus of Lathander declared that the Order be named the Order of the Sphinx, to honor Alconyx's wisdom and timely intervention (as well as the birth of a new undertaking). None disagreed. Alconyx was flattered, but reminded the priests that this would not save them from his wrath should they fail in their appointed duties. He commanded them to keep the pieces of the Shield each had chosen; he would keep the 12th. He told them that if it appeared Arylon faced certain doom, they should reassemble the Shield and he would come. The androsphinx flew off to the south and has not been seen or accounted for by men.
The priests went to work immediately codifying the rules and laws of their Order. Thadeus appeared before the Council and requested a charter for the Order of the Sphinx. He explained they would work directly with the Council and the Silver Crescents in protecting Arylon and its citizens to the best of their abilities. The Council agreed and granted a Charter to build the Chapterhouse. They pledged their allegiance to the Council of Arylon and began construction of a chapterhouse on the northern edge of the city. This large structure has stables and gardens inside a walled compound. The chapterhouse itself has cells for 80 clerics, storage rooms, a kitchen, a dining hall, prayer rooms, meditation chambers, a library, a scriptorium, offices, armories, a treasury, and a chapel. Non-members are prohibited from entering any room except for the entry hall.
Listed are the Order's points:
The organization is simple. All eligible members are of the same rank, no matter their skills or duties. The exception is the following: each faith has one member on a ecumenical council totalling 11. Each member carries a piece of the Shattered Shield. One of their number is to be elected leader who speaks for the Order of the Sphinx. The leader of the Order's Council is Thadeus of Lathander.
To be eligible for admission to the Order of the Sphinx:
Game info: no priest is above 5th level. Usually such priests will leave to form a shrine for their power, or move on to greater things.
Note: Only the Speaker is detailed. Positions are open for submissions, either general member or the 11 Coucil members (no further priests of Lathander available for the council).
The Chapterhouse and compound take up a roughly 240 ft square and the main entrances faces due east. The house itself is a large 'i' shaped structure of stone that can be up to 3 stories depending where one is in the house. The stables are nested in the southern indentation of the 'i'. The gardens, a fountain, jakes, well, and apothecary's shed are in the north indentation of the 'i'. The northeast corner of the compound has a 50 foot lookout tower. The tower is manned by the priests of Helm and Tempus. The chapterhouse can be entered through the posthouse/stable gate on the south compound wall, the sally gate on the north compound wall, or through the main entrance on the west wall of the house. The door is iron-bound of oak covered with beaten copper. The ground floor contains the entry hall, great hall, chapel, classrooms, offices, dining hall, kitchen, and miscellaneous rooms. The second level covers the front of the house and the back (west and east ends), but not the central great hall and chapel. The west has cells for the priests and the scriptorium. The east contains the rooms of the ecumenical council. The third level has a library on the west side and the chambers and offices of the council leader to the east. Beneath the chapterhouse is a series of cellars and chambers. They contain storage, crypts, prison cells, armory, and treasure vaults.
There are 3 factions in the Order. They are named, the Hammers, the Shields, and the Reserved, respectively. The first and most powerful sees the Order as militant. They wish to take to the field and smite the foes and dangers to Arylon. These priests often patrol with the Silver Crescents, or with other Order members outside the city. They hunt down humanoids, undead, evil priests, and monsters. The also try to eradicate the Dead Magic Zones/Wild Magic Zones. This faction is the strongest. The second faction believes their purpose is to aid Arylon by aiding the citizens of Arylon. They treat the sick and injured, provide spiritual guidance, patrol the city with the Crescents, and perform ceremonies such as marriages, etc. They are well-liked since they most affect the average person. Finally, the last faction sees themselves as the last resort in defense. They are to be called upon only when all other avenues have failed. For obvious reasons, they are least liked and fewest.
Thadeus of Lathander hm NG SP7 of Lathander
Str:8, Dex:10, Con:10, Int:14, Wis:17, Cha:16 hp:26 AC:10 or 3
WP: mace, staff, hammer
NWP: healing, musical instrument-lyre, artistic ability-composition, local history-Western Heartlands, undead lore, persuasion, etiquette, heraldry, religion, singing, administration, oratory.
Magical items: +2 chainmail, wand of illumination (7), mace of disruption- called the "Ray of First Light" Special abilities: as 7th level Morninglord
He is a tall man of middle years. He is articulate, urbane, graceful, and well-mannered. His eyes are brown and hair is black, turning silver. He wears robes of saffron except when he must wear his armor. Thadeus is master administrator and uses his talents to keep the Chapterhouse humming along. He is a man of powerful charisma; few that meet him are not impressed by his bearing. It is said that he can out-haggle Waukeen and best a pit fiend in a deal. He prefers to delegate his authority and is an excellent judge of potential in others. All of these skills make it unlikely that he will be removed from the Speaker's Seat against his will.
He was born into the Estelmer noble family of Waterdeep to a branch that would never see rule of the house. At a young age, his ability to wheedle what he wanted from the servants and a large number of the family marked him as a possible candidate for political power in the city. His great-uncle arranged that he be sent to The Spires of the Morning to be educated and hopefully become the patriarch of the temple so Estelmer would increase their power. Thadeus honed his skills, but was not ambitious enough to move rapidly through the clerical ranks. He liked administration, but really enjoyed the fine arts and learning to the cut-and-thrust politics of the Spires and Waterdhavian life. Deemed a disappointment to House Estelmer, he coasted for nearly a decade as a valuable, high-potential, but low-ranked priest. When the Dragonspear problems occurred, he applied for leave to aid the soldiers. The Patriarch agreed, thinking this might be the spark to motivate him to greater things. Thadeus saw this as a New Beginning and threw his efforts into plotting and planning assaults, healing, and increasing morale. His organizational skills won Waterdeep an important engagement against a squad of baatezu sent to destroy Zundbrige. After the campaign, he participated in the Dragonspear Accords. During the interfaith discussions, he was the first and loudest to respond to Alconyx's challenge. Again, a New Beginning loomed in front of him. He was elected to the Speaker's Seat by the first members and has held that spot for 7 winters now.
As Head of the Order of the Sphinx, he uses his abilities to promote the aims of Lathander, the Order, House Estelmer, and Arylon in that order. He is clever enough to disguise his priorities. So far nothing has come about that conflicts with his loyalties. He is one of the Reserved; he sees himself as a advisor and consultant. This is contradictory to his actions: both at the Dragonspear Accords and as Head of the Order. All candidates come before him for a interview so he may judge the worthiness of each before the Council and full chapter decide admission. It is very unlikely that any given member will have much to do with Thadeus, unless severe discipline or important tasks require it. He does attend every general meeting as he sees it as improving morale and fostering an image of accessibility.