Acolytes of the Arrow
Symbol: A single arrow that streams scrolls as if fluttering in the wind.
Disciplines: Solar Wind.
Oath: Acolytes of the Arrow swear themselves to the bow and forswear weakness in both the immediate personal sense and the spiritual sense. An Acolyte is given their oath after a test of survival in which they are given only a bow and a dozen arrows—not so much as a stitch of clothing is permitted them—and commanded to survive for a fortnight in a harsh environment. Those that live kneel at the feet of their fellow Acolytes and swear the following oath.
“This test was only the beginning. Before my fellows I swear to purge myself of the weaknesses that plague my mind, my body, and my soul. Whether pride or powerlessness, I vow to rise above my flaws and to aid others who seek the same, to test myself against worthy foes, and to raise no hand against those too weak to challenge me. By the Arrow, let it be.”
Allegiance Benefit: An Acolyte of the Arrow continually gains the benefits of the endure elements spell as an extraordinary ability. In addition, he gains proficiency with all simple and martial bows and crossbows, and can use such weapons as improvised melee weapons without the normal –4 penalty. Weapons used in this way by an Acolyte of the Arrow deal 1d6 points of bludgeoning damage (plus his Strength modifier, as normal).
An Acolyte who violates his oath (such as by indulging in excessive vice) loses his endure elements effect (but not access to the Solar Wind discipline or the other allegiance benefits) until he atones by spending a week in obedience to his oath, during which he is permitted neither food nor water. An Acolyte of the Arrow who leaves the organization permanently loses the endure elements effect, but retains his other benefits.
Description: The Acolytes of the Arrow offer one simple purpose and goal to their students and to the world: transcend the weaknesses of mortality, not by cheating them but by challenging and rising above them. Acolytes strive to purify their bodies, hone their minds, and balance their souls so that no pain, vice, or temptation may have power over them. To do this, they train in the arts of war and put themselves through all manner of tests, trials, and training. To the Acolytes, ignorance is just as inexcusable as physical inability, and flaws like addiction or sloth are just as bad as either. This war-cult attracts students with the simple promise that if you work hard enough, they will make you strong in a way no one else can or will.
Though the Acolytes admit to favoring archery because of tradition—their founder was a master archer—they also prize bows and knives as tools useful for survival, battle, meditation, sport, and even art. Each Acolyte dedicates themselves to self-reliance, but they interpret the idea differently; one masters magics that let her survive without tools, while another can craft anything he needs with only the resources at hand. Acolytes understand that they will never achieve the perfection they seek in life, but they find nobility and value in the attempt, and it is not uncommon to hear a mentor tell their students that striving for the impossible means growth rather than futility.
If there is one thing the Acolytes refuse to abide, regardless of creed or morality, it is those who deliberately create weakness in others. Drug dealers, spreaders of poison or disease carriers are marked for death by the cult and treated with neither pity nor mercy. Though the Acolytes have no respect for those who will not address their flaws, they have even less for people who hold others back. The order as a whole does not take a stance for or against charity work and other acts to aid others, though the somewhat chilly distance these master archers affect can make others uncomfortable around them and gives the Acolytes as a whole a reputation for arrogance.
Common Tasks: Acolytes only rarely give tasks— which, when they do, tend to fall under eliminating a spreader of weakness—but they do often set challenges for one another. Acolytes test each other by challenging their brethren to great feats of strength, cunning, or survival, which very often draws them into the adventuring lifestyle where such challenges may be found.
Available Services: The Acolytes of the Arrow have a strong internal barter culture, and all manner of services and handmade goods might be found amongst them. Additionally, the order has long-standing deals with various temples that offer discounts on healing services—and, at times, resurrections—in exchange for services rendered by the cult. Any given Acolyte may be called upon to honor those deals, especially if they’ve recently taken advantage of those discounts.
Path of War – Expanded, © 2016, Dreamscarred Press.