Alignment: Any good
Symbol: A pair of twin swords beneath a silver crane
Discipline: An Empyreal Guardian may trade access to one martial discipline of their choice for access to the Silver Crane discipline.
Oath: Students of the Empyreal Guardians swear to the Code of Al’asadriel; passed down from the solar himself, it places an emphasis on protecting the weak and innocent from those who would prey upon them. When a Guardian’s training is done and he is deemed ready to go out into the world, his tutors take him to a sacred place. The exact place varies depending on both student and teacher; it might be the site of an act of great heroism, the ruins of a once-holy church, the tomb of a righteous warrior, or a place of great cultural significance to those the student wishes to protect. The student stands vigil for a day and a night with neither food nor water, contemplating the duty he will take upon himself, and then swears the following oath:
“In my own name, unsullied and bound to my virtue, and in the name of Al’asadriel, this I swear: with my blades I shall defend the innocent from those who threaten them wrongfully. With my eyes I shall look for evil and with my words and deeds seek to turn it back to good, or else destroy it. With my mercy and conviction I shall lead others into the light, and with my courage I shall hold back the shadow, until the day I die or Al’asadriel returns to release me.”
Allegiance Benefit: In addition to access to the Silver Crane discipline (exchanging a discipline of their choice), Empyreal Guardians enjoy a +2 sacred bonus to saving throws vs. spells and abilities that originate from evil-aligned sources, as well as a +2 morale bonus on saving throws vs. mind-affecting spells and abilities.
An Empyreal Guardian who violates his oath (see above) loses his bonuses to saving throws until he atones, necessitating a week of fasting and meditation or charitable acts worth a minimum of (200 x level) gold pieces (this might be in donations, equivalent service, etc). An Empyreal Guardian who ceases to be good-aligned may not atone or access the Silver Crane discipline until such a time as they return to their good alignment (though they remain free to change their organization).
Description: Known wherever they go for their dedication to mercy, justice, and the tenets of the Upper Planes, the Empyreal Guardians are a religious order devoted to a fallen solar named Al’asadriel. Once a mighty and puissant servant of a god, Al’asadriel was cast down for defying his master when he was ordered to commit an act of evil. Having forsaken his duty for the sake of what was right, Al’asadriel gathered a cult of mortals to his side and taught them the fighting arts he knew, sending them forth into the world to do what he could no longer do and defend the weak and innocent.
Al’asadriel has vanished, but the mortals he raised in his place still travel the lands, lending their hands, hearts, and blades to the defense and succor of the weak. Where knots of Guardians gather they build shrines to the solar that also serve as bases of operation and can even attract clerics, but for the most part they maintain only loose contact with one another, choosing instead to spread themselves thin and shine the light of justice wherever they go. As a general rule, Empyreal Guardians are less concerned with seeking out and destroying evil than they are with promoting good through merciful action, charity, valor, and respect. Though the Empyreal Guardians do not hesitate to kill if they must, especially if innocent lives are at stake, they would much rather guide their foes down the path of righteousness than cut them down, and while this emphasis on redemption has proven difficult, dangerous, and even foolhardy at times it has also been very rewarding, and to this day the cultists have friends in strange places both high and low.
Though the Empyreal Guardians may theoretically be found anywhere, they are most attracted to regions of strife or oppression where the innocent suffer. Called to duty, they do their best to relieve suffering where they find it and eliminate the circumstances which cause it. Some do so by working with or within pre-existing systems, reasoning that it is the best way to prevent innocent deaths; others simply make themselves available or provoke full-scale revolutions in an effort to teach the innocent how to protect themselves so that when the Guardian moves on they won’t be left at the mercy of evil. Empyreal Guardians may often be found working with or for good-aligned churches, or on a quest to diminish the grip of evil over the land.
Despite their good points the angelic cultists do have some flaws, recklessness chief among them. Though the Guardians favor intelligent, cunning students it’s all too easy to get caught up in opposing evil and act without all of the relevant information, and many a hot-headed young cultist has gotten way in over his head as a result – or worse, spread the very misery he was trying to prevent. The subtle trap of moral certitude can also become a problem, though a much easier one to address; Empyreal Guardians that begin the slide towards evil are guided back onto the path by their brothers and sisters, or killed before they can profane Al’asadriel’s teachings with malevolence.
There is also the ongoing matter of their obsession with their patron’s whereabouts. Ever since the solar vanished, more and more Empyreal Guardians every year set aside their normal duties to go hunting him, utterly convinced that he is held in durance vile. Al’asadriel himself either cannot or will not comment on the subject, even when questioned with magic, and so the cycle continues – errant Guardians raise up students to take up the quests they’ve grown too old or tired for, who in turn raise students of their own.
Common Tasks: Though the Empyreal Guardians possess a stunning variety in how they choose to uphold good, dedication to righteousness is still the common bond that connects them. A Guardian in good standing may be asked (or ordered) to escort a holy relic, guard a prominent member of a good- aligned faith, break the power of an evil tyrant or consecrate a profane site. Many Empyreal Guardians take on lifelong quests, seeking to rid the world of a powerful and persistent evil such as poverty, a specific demon lord, or a dragon. Others hunt for their vanished patron, raising generation after generation of Empyreal Guardians to try and ‘free’ the wayward angel.
Available Services: As a loose organization the Empyreal Guardians offer few direct services. However, Guardians in good standing may find themselves enjoying unexpected perks – discounts on day-to-day goods and services, special offers (and requests) from temples, and respect from good-aligned outsiders among them. Those guided down the path of redemption by a Guardian usually remember who saved them, and help can come from unexpected places out of gratitude, or even obligation. The story is still told of how an erinyes – Mirishka the Fallen – single-handedly held a portal to the Abyss for three days and three nights in order to pay off the life debt she owed to the angelic cultists while the Guardian Kristina ran for reinforcements.
Path of War, © 2014, Dreamscarred Press.