Verdant Guild
Verdant Guild

Verdant Guild

The Verdant Guild

Also known as: The Wylders

Back to Nature

Symbol of the Verdant Guild

“It has been said that the elemental planes provide the basic blocks from which the multiverse is built. That’s true up to a point. But those building blocks are merely that. They could provide, and do provide, the substances around us; the air, the stones and so on. But they cannot provide life. And ultimately that’s the most important feature of the multiverse. Not that it exists, because its existence would be meaningless without living creatures in it to appreciate it. So life is the single most important feature of the multiverse. And life is natural; built by, provided for, and sustained by, nature. And before someone says it, yes I am aware that there are unnatural creatures in the multiverse. Creatures such as golems (if such can be said to possess life), the undead, or magical combinations (such as the manticore almost certainly was originally). But nature is still at the centre of these beings too. The manticore and the golem, if you wish to include it, may not have been natural in their creation. But their creator was natural, so they are still beings that would not exist without nature. And as for the undead, well obviously before you can become undead you must have once been alive.

“There is no single creature in the multiverse today that does not owe its existence, at some stage, to the power of nature. People can debate the virtues of law or chaos, the merits of good or evil, but the most powerful force in the multiverse is, always has been, and will always remain, the force of nature.

“And this is why we must act to protect nature from the ravages that we would, in our foolishness, impose upon her. Think of the bread you eat each day. Where would that come from, if there was no arable land left to grow it on? And those of you who say that you would eat meat instead, where is that coming from? Because there will be no grazing land left for herd animals to eat, so there will be no herd animals left for us to eat. Nature may be the most powerful force in the multiverse, but in life she has created a force that she cannot protect herself against. How can she, against her own children? So we must do it for her. And that is where the Verdant Guild belongs.”

—Excerpt from a speech given by an unknown Wylder at the Civic Festhall

Sect History: The Verdant Guild was formed, over nine centuries ago, by a ranger named Angeliika Silvermane. As such it is one of the oldest surviving sects, although a couple of others still around today are related to groups that predate the Wylders. These sects have changed their purpose and philosophy somewhat, however, whereas the Verdant Guild still stand for exactly the same thing it did when Silvermane first gathered together a group of a dozen like-minded people.

In that time, the sect has grown, and become very influential on its home plane of the Beastlands. In fact, although membership of sects is often difficult to calculate exactly, the Verdant Guild is probably one of the largest sects around. As such, it commands significant power, and is even treated with the respect by the factions of Sigil.

Recently, however, the sect has been heavily challenged. The creation of the Vile Hunt has given the Wylders a direct enemy for the first time, and they have not responded well to the pressure. Of late the Vile Hunt have been involved in a plot by some worshippers of a prime power called Malar to free him from his prison on Carceri (for more details on the nature of the plot, see “Something Wild”). In addition, the Vile Hunt are attempting to subvert the nature of the Beastlands themselves; to make them more evil. Fortunately the danger was averted, but the narrowness of the escape was clear to all the Wylders.

Although it emerged that the Vile Hunt had been little more than pawns in the plot, the attitude of the then leader, Aaronatok, towards the Vile Hunt came under renewed scrutiny. A challenge to his leadership was made by a ranger called Karleona, which was successful. Aaronatok was unwilling to accept his defeat, however, and a power struggle has developed within the sect. For more details on this, see the Current Chant.

Karleona, Sectol of the Verdant Guild

Current Sectol: The present leader of the group is Karleona (planar human ranger [she/her] / Sectol of the Verdant Guild / NG). She was victorious in a bitter power struggle in the Wylders just over nine months ago. She has spent much of that time consolidating her position, but has been undermined in this by Aaronatok. She bases herself in Faunel, and is almost always accompanied by a group of her hard-core supporters, numbering from five to twenty, wherever she goes. When she is in the Beastlands (which she makes a point of visiting at least once a month), she begins to develop the characteristics of a wolf. Her mask also resembles a wolf.

Karleona is a charming woman, roughly 35 years in age. She managed to win the election, in the end, because she was simply more charismatic than Aaronatok. She favours a more direct approach to the Vile Hunt, and challenged Aaronatok’s leadership because of this view. her attitude towards the Vile hunt is simple. Members of this despicable sect must be tracked down, and killed. From Faunel, she gathers as much information about the Vile Hunt as possible. When she hears of a suspected member, she tracks them down (or more accurately, she sends one of her followers, or possible hires someone), determines if they are truly a Vile Hunt member, and if they are, has them killed. As a result, the Harmonium have a reward on her head should she ever set foot in Sigil, though it is hard to see why she would. When they have found a Vile Hunt member, Karleona orders their death (though any information that can be got from them beforehand will come in useful). Mercenaries are occasionally hired to do this, though the Wylders are not a rich sect. It is expected that all belongings of the Vile hunter will become the property of the Wylders, though where mercenaries have been hired there may be individual arrangements with them.

Aaronatok, former Sectol

Aaronatok (prime human priest [he/him] / former Sectol of the Verdant Guild / LN). Aaronatok lost the power struggle within the Verdant Guild, and was forced to relinquish leadership of the guild to Karleona after having held it for over a decade. He took this badly, and still feels that his view of how to combat the Vile Hunt is correct. As such, he refuses to acknowledge Karleona’s leadership. Aaronatok took his followers into the Beastlands themselves, and is not known to have left them since. As such, the primal changes the plane makes on people have had plenty of time to work on him; Aaronatok resembles an owl. Some people who have met him recently have found his appearance cause for amusement—a human with feathers like an owl who wears a lion’s mask. Doing so is unwise, however, as Aaronatok is no longer particularly well balanced.

Aaronatok comes from an obscure prime material world called Athas. Quite how he wound up on the planes is unknown (and he seems unwilling to divulge the information), but all reports indicate that Athas is a barren world, and Aaronatok was amazed and awed by the majesty of nature that is the Beastlands.

However, although his passion for nature was clear to all (which had made him a popular leader of the guild), his handling of the Vile Hunt crisis was poor. Aaronatok remains convinced that the only way the defeat the Hunt is to protect the Beastlands themselves against attack. Consequently, he leads his followers over the plane, waiting for reports of the Hunt to arrive in order that they might track the Hunt down from where they have struck. For more information, see the Current Chant.

Sect Headquarter: The headquarters of the Verdant Guild always used to be a large, impressive building located near to the gate to the Beastlands in Faunel. Although it has no official name, most sect members refer to it as Home (not to be confused with ‘home’ – where they live). It is here than Karleona currently calls kip, and from here that she runs the Guild. However, Aaronatok’s actions have meant that many Wylders no longer acknowledge Home as their headquarters. Those that follow Aaronatok would refer to his travelling camp on the Beastlands, known to most people as Sanctuary, as their headquarters. Consequently, the location of the headquarters of the sect depends on who you acknowledge as its leader.

Role-playing the Wylders: Generally speaking, members of the Verdant Guild are more interested in nature in general than in humanoids in particular. However, how they approach that belief can differ remarkably from member to member, and consequently their attitude will differ as much. Some sect members are strongly of the belief that the animals live better lives than humanoids do, as they are not dominated by issues about ‘good’ and ‘evil’. Others see themselves as the protectors of animals (and to a lesser extent nature as a whole – the Guild are more concerned with animals than with plant life, which is a generalisation that could also be said about the Beastlands), and will defend the life on any animal with their own. Others try simply to keep a balance between the actions of mortal beings, and nature’s wishes. How an individual member of the Guild should be played therefore depends on how they would view the importance of nature, and their role within it. As an example, some members would stop all hunting of animals. Others believe that it is natural, so long as the hunting is within certain limitations (often along the lines of; it is acceptable to kill one stag for food when you are hungry, as that is a natural act that other predators would do. It is not acceptable to kill a dozen stags for sport, as there is nothing natural about that). Despite differences of opinion, sect members have, in the past, got on with one another.This is, unfortunately, no longer the case. Once sect members, on meeting, would greet each other, and possibly ask where they came from, how they were doing, when they were last on the Beastlands, etc. Now, the first question a Wylder asks on meeting another Wylder is “Karleona or Aaronatok?”.

Membership of the Wylders: Applying for membership of the Verdant Guild is actually pretty easy. All you have to do is to tell a current member that you are interested in joining the sect. Being accepted is slightly tougher. Firstly you must be nominated for membership by an existing member. As there are no punishments for members who nominate failed candidates, all this entails is convincing a member that you feel strongly enough about the sect’s philosophy to be worth trying. The next stage is that you must spend three days and nights on the Beastlands, alone. Where in the Beastlands you do this is entirely optional. An experienced Wylder will normally be close by to observe the actions of the potential member, but they will rarely act in any way. On successful completion of this, you are a initiate in the sect. The last task is the assembly of your mask. The exact process by which this occurs is still a sect secret (and probably differs from member to member), but generally takes at least one month, often longer. Once the mask is completed, the candidate is a full member of the Guild.

It is also worthwhile mentioning the Guild’s system for leadership challenges. All the candidates declare themselves, and why they should be the leader of the sect (there is no specific title attached to this post). 20 members are then chosen at random (their names are quite literally pulled from a hat), and questioned as to who they would prefer to be the leader.

Traditionally, the members selected thus should come to Home if possible. The person who keeps the tally is a neutral, often paid for the task. Such people are generally members of the Signers or Guvners, though the only qualification is that all the leadership candidates must be satisfied with the choice. If someone gains two-thirds of the votes, then they are declared the winner. If there is no clear winner, then 100 members will be consulted, through exactly the same process. If no winner is found here, 500 members will be asked their opinion, and is necessary, after this the entire sect will vote. If it comes to this stage, then the candidate who achieves the most votes is the leader, there is no longer a need to get two-thirds. It is rare that things go this far, but in the recent leadership challenge, Karleona beat Aaronatok only when all the members were consulted, and even then she only achieved 53% of the vote.

Allies and Enemies: The most obvious enemies of the Verdant Guild are clearly the Vile Hunt. The two sects believe a philosophy so diametrically opposite that it seems likely that their enmity will continue until one sect has been destroyed. The conflict between them continues to escalate. However, there are other groups that the Wylders find that they cannot agree with. Although they dislike those groups, however, open conflict is unlikely. Those groups include the Dustmen, the Doomguard (both of whom glorify the death and decay that is so repulsive to a sect that loves the beauty of nature and life), and also the Fated, whom the Wylders find to be too wrapped up in their own world to appreciate the world around them.That said, the Wylders have a number of powerful allies. The Signers are at their most prominent on the Beastlands, and the Verdant Guild are close friends with this faction. Their other main ally in Sigil is the Society of Sensation. The Sensates, as far the Wylders are concerned, at least have enough sense to enjoy life. Conversely, the Sensates take the attitude that nature has an almost uncountable array of differing forms and therefore experiences. Many Sensates will visit the Beastlands at least once, because becoming closer to your ‘wild’ side is regarded by most of the faction as an experience that should be felt.Although not as close an ally as the Sign of One or the Sensates, the Verdant Guild maintains good relations with the Ciphers. Many Ciphers just want to ‘be’, something that the nature-loving Wylders can relate to. Besides, nature rarely philosophises too deeply on its actions; it just acts. The Ciphers admire this trait in nature, and most animals.

Advantages and Disadvantages: The biggest advantage that the Guild offers surrounds the mask that its members wear. Through means not yet explained by those who have attempted to reveal the secret (most of whom have been Guvner researchers), completion of the mask grants its owner the ability to speak with the type of animal the mask depicts once a day, as per the spell. As the masks are almost certainly made in a variety of ways, this ability must be conferred on the mask when the owner is inducted fully into the Guild. This power can only be used by the person who made the mask (i.e. another person cannot speak with animals using a mask, even with the owner’s permission), and can only be used when the mask is being worn.

In addition to this, the time spent on the Beastlands, and in other wild areas, means that sect members either have to develop the ability to know where they are, or spend a great deal of their time hopelessly lost. In effect, all members of the Verdant Guild gain the direction sense non-weapon proficiency as a bonus.

However, the intimacy with which Wylders live with nature, and the amount a time they tend to spend in wild areas, has its drawbacks. Although they are comfortable in isolated dwellings, anything larger than a small village will unnerve a Wylder. They suffer a -4 penalty on all reaction rolls, due to the unease that they cannot conceal from those who observe them. Optionally, in very large places (and Sigil certainly counts as this), Wylders may find that the lack of space causes them great mental distress. Such Wylders would panic easily, and could behave quite irrationally, and may decide at any time that they have to return to the calming influence of wide open spaces at once.

This means that Wylders spend as little time in towns and cities as they can, which in turn means that they never have the opportunity to learn those skills that can be taught in such places. Any “civilised” non-weapon proficiency (e.g. blacksmithing, etiquette, engineering) is forbidden to members of the Verdant Guild. Those proficiencies that are applicable to, and could be learnt in, more natural surroundings (e.g. weather sense, swimming, survival) can still be learnt as normal.

The Current Chant: All of the stories currently circulating about the Verdant Guild concern its internal divisions. Although the change of leadership was known to most people (at least, to most of those who pay attention to events) within a few days of it occurring, just how badly Aaronatok took his defeat was not. The Guild played down Aaronatok’s actions as much as they could. However, three months ago the inevitable happened, and it became open knowledge that Aaronatok was refusing to acknowledge Karleona’s leadership, and had formed a splinter group based on the Beastlands. More recently, it has become clear that this splinter group is very nearly in large in number as those who follow Karleona.

The sect is clearly split almost exactly in two; behind either Karleona or Aaronatok. Which one a Wylder follows depends upon their view on how to act against the Vile Hunt. Those who favour an open war with the Hunt support Karleona; those who believe that they must protect the Beastlands against the Hunt as a priority support Aaronatok. Neither leader is willing to speak to the other, and it appears that the chances of a reconciliation are fading, despite the efforts of both the Signers and the Sensates to foster just such an event.

As mentioned, Karleona is based in Faunel, at Home. Aaronatok dwells on the Beastlands, roaming the plane with those who follow him. They tend to travel to an area, set up a temporary encampment for a few days (at most a week), then move on again, occasionally travelling for more than a fortnight before next camping. This roaming army (for in practice that is what it is, waiting until the Vile Hunt appear so that it can go to war with them) is probably the closest thing that the Beastlands has ever seen to a permanent settlement, and has acquired the nickname Sanctuary.

Impartial observers believe that matters are rapidly coming to a head within the Verdant Guild. The deep split between the two leaders of the sect is widening, and many people have predicted that it is only a matter of time before the Guild, currently the largest and oldest sect, tears itself in two. The biggest crisis in the sect’s history is almost upon them, and many believe that the sect cannot survive it, at least not in its present form. Already some refer to the Defenders of the Wild (Aaronatok’s faction) and the Crusaders of Nature (Karleona’s faction). Those that do so clearly believe that the Wylders will shortly fragment into two completely separate sects.

The Dark: Virtually all the stories circulating about the troubles within the Wylders are true (the only ones that contain no truth are the ones that state that followers of the two leaders are openly fighting; matters have not degenerated that far. Yet). There is little effort being made within the faction to keep it together, as most of those with influence in one or the other faction are unwilling to talk with their rivals. Both the Signers and the Sensates are desperately trying to persuade the two sides to meet and discuss their differences, and to find a mutually agreeable settlement. They are also sending messengers between the two sides, and hiring couriers to carry messages across the Beastlands.

Meanwhile, Karleona has been uncovering more and more of the Vile Hunt. Her actions have actually hurt the Hunt (which is a young sect, and fairly small in numbers) quite badly, and they have begun countermeasures. These come in three main types; promoting the split in the Wylders (which includes sabotaging the Signer / Sensate peace talks); hiding its most powerful members where Karleona can’t find them (many have relocated to the Lower Planes, or gate-towns to the Lower Planes, although Karleona has sent a few groups of mercenaries after Hunt members in these places) and putting spies into the Wylders. This last tactic is beginning to pay dividends. Sanctuary contains two Hunt spies, and they have recently managed to place a spy in Home. These agents not only can report back on the plans of the two Wylder groups, but can also encourage the disintegration of the sect.

The Verdant Guild were amongst the first in recent times to hear of the wild and untamed wilderness plane of Pangaea, and are trying to raise awareness of, and protection for, this unspoilt paradise, as they see it. Others wonder why they’re so keen to defend a load of shrubs, and suggest that the Wylders are hiding something. Wylders can also be found on Arborea and in the Wild Wood of the Hinterlands.

Canonical Source: The Verdant Guild were introduced in the Player’s Guide to Conflict, p9 in the Planes of Conflict box, and this entry expands upon that lore.

Source: Galzion

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