The Guardians

Also known as: The Caretakers, the Protectors

“Purity and morality are not things to be forced. In forcing goodness upon people who do not wish to be good the whole philosophy behind being good is lost. It is the opinion of this speaker that when a creature is forced to do something it does not like, it resents what is being forced upon it. Case in point: just as a slave resents being forced to toil for his master, a person who is not good by nature resents being forced to be good.”

“Although I agree with my esteemed colleague that the ideals and philosophies of morality must be spread, I do not believe that the Order of the Planes-Militant’s doctrine is the correct method of establishing goodness throughout the multiverse. Example: the Brethren have been establishing cells of their agents in the various good-natured planes, such as Bytopia. The cells’ mission is to preach that which is good and lawful to the inhabits of those planes. But are these missions not exercises in futility? Those individuals who do not follow the ideals of the Brethren will, as suits their nature, ignore the preaching and the sermons of the Order, while those who already follow the tenets of the Brethren’s philosophy will, of course, listen and follow. Therefore, the idea that by ‘spreading the word’ people will follow is inherently flawed, for those who do not wish to listen, won’t. And those are the individuals that we are attempting to reach with our message.”

“It is the belief of the Guardians that we must simply defend that which is already good. By protecting planes such as Elysium, as well as other good-natured planes, burgs, temples and the like, we prevent the spreading of wickedness to those areas which are pure at heart. Those people who wish to live good, pure lives may find their way to our strongholds of hope, and through that, we are spreading the word. In the end, it is not about spreading and enforcing morality throughout the planes, but simply providing a blueprint, an example, by which others may make their own decisions and, gods willing, decide appropriately.”

—Excerpt from a debate between Prince Azlan, Prince of the Guardians, and Indigo the Stutter, of the Order of the Planes-Militant, over what is the best possible way to spread goodness.

Symbol of the Guardians

Sect History: The Caretakers are an old sect, dating back a dozen centuries or more. It is believed that the first Guardians were simply good-aligned mortals who followed the guardinals around, aiding in their battles as best they could and helping in any way possible. These proto-Guardians, as it were, admired and respected the guardinals, who their mortal followers saw as the epitome of goodness. Mortals began flocking around the guardinal species they respected most—ursinals, avorals, leonals, et al. These individuals began spreading out across the planes, defending the weak and accomplishing all sorts of good deeds. A great deal of them stayed in Elysium, however, protecting that plane from evils that were too trivial for the guardinals to combat, but dangerous enough not to be left to their own devices.

It wasn’t long before these righteous defenders began to recognise each other as such. Whenever two of these people met they would tell each other of news from across the planes, as well as what they had been doing for the past couple of months. They still weren’t a sect, however, just an affiliated group of like-minded folks. It wasn’t until about a dozen centuries ago that the group finally organised itself into a sect, under a brilliant elven leader named Risk Ty-Thall. The newly-formed sect took up the name “Guardians”, to reflect both their respect for the guardinals and to summarise what exactly they did. They were Guardians, protectors of those who could not protect them themselves, and defenders of untainted good.

The Guardians policies did not change with their organisation as a sect, however. Guardians still wandered the planes, coming and going as they pleased. No “sect headquarters” was established, nor were any councils or legislative bodies established. In fact, the only council ever formed by the Guardians in their early years was to discuss what the sect symbol should be, and that council only lasted two or three weeks. But besides that, business was conducted as usual. Whenever two Caretakers met, they would exchange stories and news, and then be on their way. Their formation as a sect only granted them a title, a name by which all others could address them.

The Sectol: The leader of the Guardians is referred to respectfully as “the Prince, in reverence the leonal prince of the guardinals. The Prince is a leader in name only—he does not declare crusades, announce sect policy, or give orders. He simply acts as the primary representative for the Caretakers. If a cause is worthy enough, a Prince can summon all the Defenders from across the planes to Elysium. There, the Prince is expected to explain the situation, and lead the effort, be it offensive or defensive. It is exceedingly rare for a Prince to summon all the Guardians back to Elysium, although it has happened on a few critical occasions.

Who are we to decide who must and mustn’t be pure at heart?

—Ratim the Quick, a Caretaker

To become a Prince is an exceedingly confusing process. The Prince is not elected by their peers, nor does they have to endure a trial by combat against the previous Prince, nor are they selected by the previous Prince. When an old Prince dies or resigns, word gets around to the other Caretakers through word of mouth. Then, individual Caretakers start saying who ought to be Prince and why. They spread their opinions to other Caretakers, who then argue it, agree with it or form a compromise, and then spread that opinion to the next one. After a year or so, all the Guardians are in agreement that so-and-so should be Prince, and then that person simply is. Somehow, this system works, and has worked for many years now.

Azlan, Sectol of the Guardians

The current Prince of Guardians is a half-elven fighter-mage named Azlan (planar half-elf fighter/mage [he/him] Prince of the Guardians / NG). Azlan has been Prince for little over fifty years now, and is one of the most powerful Princes to grace the Guardians with his allegiance. The half-elven Prince can be found wandering Elysium’s layers with a retinue of mage advisors and warrior bodyguards, keeping up with the current chant and looking out to help those in need.

Sect Headquarters: Elysium, the plane of ultimate good. Law and Chaos do not matter here—all that matters is the accomplishment of good.

The Guardians do not have a central headquarters per se, but all Defenders recognise Elysium as their “home plane” for two reasons. Firstly, it is the home of the guardinals, which all Caretakers acknowledge as being the epitome of true goodness. Second, Elysium is, in the minds of the Guardians at least, the home of absolute good. It is not tainted by the strict nature of Law, nor is to the random hodgepodge of Chaos. It is simply Goodness Incarnate. For these reasons the Prince of the Guardians generally makes their home on Elysium, to symbolise the relationship that all Guardians have with their parent plane

Role-playing the Guardians: Role-playing a Guardian is rather simple, although being a Guardian is anything but easy. The Caretakers are a laid back group, and don’t expect too much from their members. Therefore, a Caretaker player-character will never have to worry about being ordered around by some high-up berk, nor are they restricted to their home plane, like the Anarch’s Guild for example. A Defender player-character can latch himself onto any adventuring/mercenary group they wish. They may go and do whatever they desire—so long as it is accomplishing some form of good. Although there are no rules forbidding Guardians from fraternising with evil berks, most Caretakers tend to stay away from them anyway. The two philosophies simply clash too much.

A Defender player-character is generally a very relaxed cutter. They won’t force their beliefs on anyone who doesn’t ask about them first, and they’ll strive to protect innocence from corruption and wickedness. Although a Caretaker player-character will never embark on an evil-smiting crusade, they won’t stand idle by and let a village of peace loving peasants get massacred by a baatezu squadron.

Membership: The Guardians don’t have any real membership requirements. If a person wants to join the sect, they’ll get in somehow. Sometimes a Guardian-wannabe will bump into a real Caretaker, who’ll introduce them to the ways of the sect. Sometimes they’ll journey to Elysium where a friendly petitioner will show them to the house of the local Defender. It doesn’t really matter, though, because anyone who wants to join, will.

Now, one would think that this kind of system would lead to a lot of spies and infiltrators among the Guardians, but nothing could be farther from the truth. Evil and selfish berks don’t want to join the Caretakers—why spend all your life defending people and places you really don’t care about? Evil characters are generally too self centred to want to join such a giving sect, which means that only good characters join.

Structure: None to speak of. Unlike other sects and factions, the Guardians don’t have a pyramid of leadership. They only have the Prince, who acts as a representative for the sect when among other groups. Each Guardian is independent and free, expected to do their job as a Caretaker without having to be given orders from a boss.

Allies & Enemies: Due to their go-with-the-flow attitude, the Defenders get along with pretty much everyone.

But I did say “pretty much”. There are some factions that the Guardians don’t get along with, and the feeling is mutual. The Guardians can’t stand the Harmonium and Order of the Planes-Militant, with their in-your-face attitudes and my-way-or-the-highway philosophies, nor do they like Doomguard and the Bleakers, because of their inherent natures. The Guardians don’t organise any kind of opposition to these groups, though. They simply try to avoid them.

Advantages & Disadvantages: The Guardians let their members roam free, and hardly ever place responsibilities or duties upon their shoulders. Therefore, Guardian player-characters don’t have to worry about being bossed around by higher-ups.

And because the Guardians are such a widespread sect, information about the goings-on in the planes spreads pretty quick. If there’s something that a Defender player-character wants to know, then they can make short work of finding it out simply by asking other Defenders.

The final advantage to being a Guardian is their reputation. Among the good-aligned planes, Guardians are accepted as friendly, helpful individuals who should be respected and, in turn, helped if possible. Among the evil-aligned planes, however, being a Guardian is hardly a good thing…

The primary drawback to being a Caretaker is the necessity to neutral. Guardians are not allowed to engage in politicking or machinations of any sort—they must constantly strive for the higher good. A Defender must always strive for the greater good, and cannot dedicate themselves to any of good’s “alternate” forms.

Canonwatch: The Guardians were first introduced in the Planes of Conflict Player’s Guide.

Source: Brant Casavant

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