WotBS Order of the Aquiline Cross


I'm hoping to compile some ideas about how to present this group within the game - I'll be running this story for a SECOND group now, and one wants to be a Paladin/Warlock with ties to the reformed church. Asking about the history of the organization, I'm at a bit of a loss for concrete info... I know I can make up my own, but I figured I'd pick the brains of the collective, here, for any further details that they know (or made up). Aside from the temple in the first adventure, and Laurabec Adelsberg in adventure 3, I don't recall the order popping up much in the rest of the story.

I know that the order was once devoted to healing, protection, and sacrifice, but eventually they became violent and cruel. In an unexplained series of events, they were somehow destroyed (or perhaps destroyed themselves?) about seventy years prior to the campaign (not long before Coaltongue came to power). They then reformed in Sindaire, about ten years ago, under a premise more true to their original purpose, and have subsequently quickly spread across the lands.

I assume that the original order was in fact, in its earliest forms, tied to the actual Aquiline Heart, and tried to emulate its symbolic purpose (both the immortality granted by its blood, and the precautionary tale about hubris). Over time, that original purpose was either lost to time, or deliberately neglected, as the order began to see themselves as arbiters of who deserves to live and die. Likely crushed by the ambitions of their own leadership, they dissolved away.

THAT SAID... does anyone here have any more information about the Order that I've somehow missed, or any new content they've created that they'd be willing to share?

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The general pattern that I'm currently thinking about is:

For millennia, worship of the four primordial beasts was central to the tribes of the known lands. Even as civilization began to form, and notably powerful mortals ascended to godhood (thus creating a more recognizable pantheon), many tribes and druidic cultures retained reverence towards the beasts as a staple of their culture. Over time, these faiths shifted and changed into something less devout and pure; a fact that the actual beasts cared nothing for, because their nature did not depend on worship as the other deities did.

Roughly 400 years ago, one of those faiths came to prominence in the desert region between what is now Sindaire and Ragesia. When a group of nomads fleeing a blue dragon through the Opaline Wastes, they were unexpectedly saved by the appearance of a shadowy draconic figure. Sensing the purity of their cause, the creature known as Time led them to the Aquiline Heart itself, and explained the truth behind the age-old legend. The nomads swore an oath to protect the heart, and the first Order of the Opaline Heart was born. Over the next two centuries, they fortified the cave (which they creatively titled Two Dragon Arch), transforming it into a shrine to their cause, while protecting it from those who would seek the secret of immortality, with less than pure motives.

As with all organizations, though, over time it lost its purpose, and "protecting the Heart" became less about restricting access, than proactively preventing any from even considering the journey. They began to accuse the mighty of having designs on the Heart, mounting crusades against any threat, real or perceived. These battles became ever more frequent and violent, leading to an internal power struggle. Time, dissatisfied with his charges' actions, expelled them from his caverns, prohibiting their return. At that point, the Order turned upon itself, dividing into numerous factions, each insisting that they were the most pious, and that the others had strayed from the cause. Within a year, they destroyed themselves.

But, some of the knights survived. Humbled by their failures, they agreed to restore the true purpose of the order. Scattering to the north, throughout the land of Morrus, they began to reach out to the tribes that still held to the old ways, learning anew the tales of the beasts, maintained by a rich oral tradition over generations. Time passed, and the knights passed on their mission to others, those willing to create a new order. After several decades, the descendants of the survivors reconvened in the south, finding a home in Sindaire. There, they compared the old stories, and gained new understanding of the truth. Taking the symbology and name of the old Order of the Aquiline Heart, they set out with a new mission: teach the world that, above all else, life must be held sacred.


Rhuarc killed the bulk of them, and the order fell apart. Check Rhuarc's introduction in book 7. The other mentions I can think of are Laurec in book 3 and a mention in the player's guide.


I wasn't sure that the knights mentioned in Rhuarc's intro were indeed Knights of the Aquiline Cross... they were never called out by name, only as "Morrusian Knights." I suppose the timelines aren't contradictory, though... the Order of the Aquiline Cross was said to be destroyed 70 years ago, and Stacia's Rampage against the knights happened during Rhuarc's childhood (born 80 years ago).

Rhuarc's story seems to paint the knights in a much better light, though, than the stories in the player's guide and Laurabec's entry in Chapter 3... Rhuarc's story seems to make them more superstitious and over-reactive, responding to rumors of Stacia's dealings with devils. Meanwhile, the other entries seem to indicate that the Order was much more cruel and judgemental.

I suppose it's all a matter of perspective...


If I compile the Stacia/Rhuarc arc into the main story, the timeline goes something like this:

Early History: Tribes recall the tales of the Primordial Beasts. Individual worship begins for the Stormchaser (amongst others).
400 years ago: The first formal Church of the Aquiline Heart was formed. The Order of the Aquiline Cross was formed, specifically, to protect the heart itself.
150 years ago: Eventually, the Church lost its favor in the world, and largely dissolved. The Order, having largely forgotten its original purpose, became more of a general peacekeeping organization throughout Sindaire and Morrus.
100 years ago: Over time, the Order became a self-perpetuating crusade against anything it saw as wicked and impure.
80 years ago: A Knight of the Order, Galad, fell in love with a Taranesti sorceress, Stacia, and married her in a secret ceremony. The Order, suspecting that Stacia used infernal magic to enchant their fellow knight, sought to kill the Taranesti. Galad defended her to the death while she escaped with their unborn son, Rhuarc. After giving birth, she made a pact with a devil, forged Shaalguenyaver, and set her long-term plan into motion.
70 years ago: Stacia set out on a crusade of her own, slaughtering the Knights of the Aquiline Cross one by one. Ultimately, her son Rhuarc kills the last of the Aquiline Cross ten years later.
10 years ago: Fragments of the ages-old Order of the Aquiline Heart re-emerge, and renew the faith in the old ways. Their descendants create a new Order of the Aquiline Cross, with a focus not on destroying evil, but protecting life.

Bill T.

In the 3.5 version, there is a difficult Know(religion or history) check that tells us that the real goal of the order is to heal the heart itself to "renew the life of the land". Even the healing sect is a secret society at its heart. :LOL:

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