Dungeons and Dragons: Krystallos
The Cartel: The Cartel grew up in the Free City of Peridot roughly twenty years before the Great Invasion. Originally one of a number of rival thieving guilds in the city, the Cartel gained dominance over the others through guile, blackmail, stealth and assassination. By the time the Great Invasion came, the Cartel had firm control over the city. Then, during the Great Invasion, something unusual happened – the people of Peridot proved more afraid of Tiamat’s armies than the Cartel. They were paying protection money to the Cartel so they demanded protection. The Cartel provided and proved to be good at war. Not direct combat, of course, but they played the games of sabotage and intelligence better than anyone. The Cartel found they enjoyed having the (very quiet and whispered) respect of the people. After the war, the Cartel spread out across Krystallos, taking over crime guilds in other cities. They are now the largest and most powerful criminal organization in the world. All career criminals are considered by the Cartel to automatically be members. Assassins, highwaymen, thieves, smugglers and other criminals are expected to regularly pay the Cartel twenty percent of their take from any criminal activity. They’ve taken full advantage of the explosion of wizardry in Krystallos in the last century and use a magical set of record books to help keep track of this. Once a year, the books are audited and any criminal listed who hasn’t made a payment in the last twenty-five months is sought out for a conversation. In exchange, the Cartel provides fencing services, access to specialized equipment, bail bondsmen and a safehouse if needed. The Cartel has at least one Kip (what they call a headquarters) in every city in Krystallos and in many of the larger towns.
Many members of the Cartel treat it like a fraternity and references to “brothers” and “sisters” are not uncommon.
The Bardic College: An ancient organization founded centuries before the Great Invasion, the Bardic College seeks the answer to the question of everything. Specifically, the philosophy of the College is that Krystallos is a Story told by the Totems. If that story can be learned the answer of creation itself would be known. Within the college there are different factions. Some see the pursuit of the Story as an end in and of itself – knowledge is a reward. Others see this as a way to gain power and elevate all people (or, at least, themselves) to godhood. Because many would consider the goal of the College as sacrilege it remains a secret society, mostly unknown to the world at large. Most members of the College are actual bards, wandering the world and supporting themselves through performances. Members collect knowledge, lore and tales. The collected information is brought to Storytellers, high level members of the College stationed in cities throughout Krystallos. The location of the central College itself is unknown, even to most members, but it is rumored to be in one of the Quartz cities.
Cult of the Green Lady: The legend of the Green Lady is shrouded in the mists of time. It is believed she was an Illithid, called the Green Lady because of the rare emerald hue of her skin. It was she, according to legend, that set the clerics of Opal on the path of guidance. Before the Green Lady, the clerics of Opal simply performed the rites of death. It was the Green Lady who advocated that the clerics of Opal should also minister to the souls of the living, providing comfort to the bereaved. This shift was fundamental and changed the function of Opal’s clerics forever.
There is a monument to the Green Lady on Mount Opal and it is thought by most to be her final resting place. Most, but not all. A small cult of Opal devotees and clerics believe that the Green Lady was not laid to rest on Mount Opal but died in the grasslands of Peridot, ministering to souls. They have found a cairn, the Verdant Cairn, that they believe is her final resting place. The Cult of the Green Lady have made the Cairn their home and maintain it as a holy site. They also have taken it upon themselves to care for the graveyard of the closest town, Buckler Lake (and, by doing so, they have kept out grave robbers and corpse stealers). The Cultists also perform burial services for people in the town.
The Bronzewood Lodge: Located two day’s journey to the west of Buckler Lake, Bronzewood Lodge is a curiosity in the grasslands. A single, giant, bronzewood tree grows from the ground there – the only bronzewood tree in the grasslands and the largest tree in Peridot. A series of underground chambers have been dug around the roots of the tree, providing home, sacred ground and burial chambers for thirty or so druids, rangers and their followers. It is the duty of members of the Bronzewood Lodge to maintain the five standing stone monuments in the Peridot grasslands. Druids erected these standing stones in ancient times along leylines that radiate outward from the Totems. It is Druidic belief that these leylines carry the power of the Totems out into Krystallos, sustaining the land and giving it life. They believe the standing stone monuments help in this function and that, if they should be destroyed, Krystallos will wither, die and vanish from creation. The stone monuments also serve to draw power up from the leylines for the Druids to use in ritual.
The Twilight Monastery: Two hours north of Buckler Lake, atop one of the large hills in the area, is the Twilight Monastery. The monks of the monastery follow a mysterious philosophy that originated in the Jade Kingdom. They refuse to talk about the specifics of the philosophy with non-initiates. The Monastery lives uneasily side by side with the town due to an incident that occurred twenty years ago.