Path of the Black Flag Excerpt: “The Abbe of Theleme”

The ‘abbey’ to Theleme was a sort of commune founded hundreds of years ago by the eccentric fire giantess, Pantagruela. Unlike her more warlike kin, Pantagruela had no wish to conquer and enslave others. Instead, she merely wanted to live in peace, do her own thing, and enjoy the company of other beings doing their own things as well. She founded the abbey as a sort of ‘anti-monastery’, a place where the only rule was, ‘Do as you will.’ Being an enormously rich and powerful giantess, not many people questioned this rule.

After more than a century of relative peace at the abbey, Pantagruela died. Since her personality was the binding force of the community there, it soon disbanded after her passing, and the giant-sized abbey stood empty. It was soon inhabited once again, however, by the even more eccentric Tengu wizard and mystic, Horus the Great. He  founded a school of magic, determined to do away with the stuffiness and hierarchy found in traditional magica schools, and in life. In this, he was inspired by the Abbey of Theleme’s original charter, and was a great admirer of the philosophy of Pantagruela. This school lasted only a few years before scandal and a lack of funds drove it apart, and Horus moved on to other pursuits. Its impact was sufficient enough, however, for the Horusite philosophy of wizardry to grow and outlast the second incarnation of the Abbey, and indeed Horus himself.

Another, more commercially minded wizard named Mirabilis claimed the Abbey of Theleme after the departure of Horus. He hoped to capitalize on the the reputations of Pantagruela and Horus, and built a sort of tourist attraction into the structure of the abbey. This project was abandoned shortly thereafter, as Mirabilis found the construction work continuously disrupted by strange disturbances. Despite his best efforts (and those of several adventuring parties) he was unable to stop the disturbances, so cut his losses and went on to construct a tourist attraction based upon the exploits of a whimsical family of ratfolk.

Nowadays the abbey serves as an artist’s commune and event space. Artists of various disciplines, including those who use arcane magic as their medium, reside and work in the various nooks and crannies of the giant-sized abbey, while bards and skalds use the the large common rooms for concerts and exhibitions. The local authorities frown on what they consider to be blatant lawlessness and the corruption of the youth, but due to the number of magical wards and guardians installed by the previous master and mistress of the abbey, they can’t really do anything about it. These wards and guardians do not seem to bother the artists, or their audiences.

Path of the Black Flag update

a black flag
a black flag (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

….I’m almost done. With the first draft. Just a few more pages, then I can start revising. Then I can send it out for editing/beta reading/playtesting. So it it’s continuing. It’s taken far, far too long. But the end is within sight.

Path of the Black Flag- Politics in your Game

Every Pathfinder campaign, unless it takes place in an infinite dungeon stocked solely with animals and automatons (and even then, who put them there?) is going to involve politics. An Anarchist campaign, with such an inherently political focus, is going to involve even more politics. But while the results of politics (death, war, guards violently enforcing weird laws, young people resisting arranged marriages) are often exciting, the means of politics (interminable council meetings, endless parliamentary debates, bureaucracy, filling out forms in triplicate) are often not. This presents a problem for people who want to deal with politics, either in a real-life or a fictional context. So how does a gamemaster make the means of politics exciting for their players?

Making Politics Exciting

The Personal is Political

Every political decision has, at its root, a personal basis. No matter how abstract the regulation, no matter how inhumane the law, there are all borne from human emotion and human desire (or dwarven emotion and desire, or goblin emotion and desire, etc., etc.). Every law, every decree, every declaration of war happens because someone wants something, and they are willing to kill (or at least threaten to kill) to get it or enforce it. And where there is someone willing to kill to make something happen, there is the opportunity for adventure.

Politics is War by other Means

Laws and edicts are almost never sober decisions designed to improve the lot of the populace. They are most often part of a hidden war being fought by secret factions, both within and without a particular kingdom or country. designed either to strike down a rival, or prevent an upstart from becoming a rival. If every political decision as someone and their desires behind it, then those desire are often for their side/tribe/cabal to achieve or maintain dominance. Guildmasters scheme against the barons. Senators that favor the red team in the chariot races scheme against the priests who favor the blue team. The wool producers of kingdom A work tirelessly to stop a small group of alchemists in country B from developing a breed of giant sheep. Dragons, liches, and those who study politics all have an ancient saying they use to help make sense of why some laws were enacted, and why some wars were waged: Cui bono? “Who benefits?”

Governments are at War with their Citizens

Many people call Anarchy chaos. And while some Anarchists are fine with that, others retort that Anarchy is in fact Order; Government, however, is civil war.

It is undeniable that governments spend quite a lot of time and energy controlling, spying on, extorting (what is politely called ‘taxing’), detaining, and occasionally killing their own citizens- essentially, they are at war with their own citizens. Of course, they don’t say that. In fact, they spend only slightly less time and energy convincing people they aren’t doing those things, as the spend doing those things. They convince people that those they control, spy on, detain, and kill are really part of the citizenry- they’re criminals, traitors, foreigners, subversives, etc. Not real people. They convince people that the controlling and taxing that actually affects them is necessary, righteous, perhaps even holy- so much so, that opposing it is an act of treason, disloyalty, and sometimes blasphemy.

Anarchists argue that governments do this because they are predators and parasites, pure and simple- they feed  off of their citizens. Governments argue that they control their citizens because an uncontrolled citizenry is worse off and more vulnerable than a controlled one. Whoever is right, governments still commit violence against their subjects.

Politics is a Seductive Trap

If adventurers have any ambitions outside of cleaning out every dungeon ever, they usually want to advance in society. Maybe a knighthood or some other honor, maybe a title, maybe even a kingdom of their own to rule. This applies even to Anarchist adventurers. So many think they if only they were the ones in charge, they could run thing right and just. They are told continuously that fighting tyranny from the outside is foolish and unproductive- if they want to effect real change, they need work from within. And many do so, seduced by the promise of power, and start to lessen their Anarchist activities, with the goal of doing something even bigger later on. Eventually, they start to sympathize and identify with those in power, and even start to oppose the vert actions they used to do- to people doing them now don’t understand the way the world really works, not like the newly minted official of the kingdom. And finally, years in the future, when their dreams are forgotten and their souls worn down through their work, they tell the next generation of Anarchists that their agitation is foolish and unproductive. If they want to effect real change, they should work from within….

Anarchist adventurers should be in constant danger of being seduced to abandon their principles in the names of power and expediency. They act of selling-out should always be presented as an option. Some of their strongest opponents should be former Anarchists.

Path of the Black Flag- How to Run an Anarchist Campaign

Campaigns featuring Anarchist characters don’t have to be run any differently than any other roleplaying game campaign. Anarchists characters can save princesses from dragons, they can defend towns from rampaging orcs, and they can ransack dungeons for sweet, sweet treasure. They might shout the occasional Anarchist slogan as a battle-cry, but it is possible to run a campaign where Anarchist characters are virtually indistinguishable from a campaign where the characters would lay down their lives for king and country.

It’s possible, but it probably wouldn’t be very satisfying for the gamemaster, or the players. Why play an Anarchist character if you’re not going to play an Anarchist game?

To play an Anarchist character, in an Anarchist campaign, is to have goals and priorities, enemies and allies, that are quite different from a normal campaign. Entities and creatures that normally might be trying to kill you might be allies. Kings and high priests that normally might be your patrons, or at least give you quests and rewards, might be hell-bent on driving you out of their domains, or killing you. Your definition of treasure, monsters, victims, and victory- they’re all up for debate.

Oh, and plan on doing a lot more debating. So what does running an Anarchist campaign mean?

Campaign Considerations

Who is the Enemy?

An Anarchist campaign is predicated on the belief that those in power (kings, queens, high priests, merchant princes, etc.) are not your friend, are not the friend of your friends, and in fact wish you ill. That in terms of legitimacy, a king is no more noble or righteous than a bandit- both rob and kill people, one just wears a crown.

Obviously this is different from a normal campaign, where so many adventures start out with the king, or the duchess, or the village elder, or somebody in charge, giving you a quest. So many campaigns are about the maintenance or restoration of the status quo. Even if the campaign or quest is to overthrow a tyrant, it’s nearly always done with the idea of putting someone else in charge- it’s always a matter of the wrong person having the power, not with power being wrong in and of itself.

This means some changes to how governments and societies work in an Anarchist campaign. The relationship between the peasantry and the nobility, taxation, the strictures of the church- these are no longer things to be waved away, or presented as background fluff between dungeons. These are now sources of conflict. Adventure.

Paranoia

Adventurers often enjoy the tacit support of the populace. They may be agents of the the local lord or high priest. They may have rescued the darling of the community from the dragon, or receive a parade every time they’re in town because of the orcish invasion they repelled just last year. Even if they haven’t endeared themselves to the people, they’re adventurers, historically a class of people capable of getting away with things that would get anyone else arrested by the local sheriff.

Anarchists often do not enjoy the support of anyone but other Anarchists. They often come from sections of the community that are viewed with mistrust, if not outright hatred, by the powers that be and the upper classes. They often dress, talk, or act in a many that marks them as being outside of polite society. Their friends and family are often poor and/or outcasts. When they find they must break the law to survive, this puts them into conflict with the authorities, which puts the characters into conflict with authorities.

Furthermore, they know that their kings, high priests, and other leaders are lying to people. After all, they lie about the Anarchists themselves to the rest of society all the time. They tell people that their leaders are protecting them, when they actual rob and assault them. The king of one country tells his peasants that the the peasants of another kingdom are their blood enemies, and they must be defeated, even though the peasants of both kingdoms have a lot more in common than they do with their respective kings. Worse still, most of the people believe these lies, and react with shock and anger when you try to convince them of the truth.

Anarchist characters learn quickly not to put their cards on the table, and to treat every sleepy village or bustling city like a dungeon that has a habit of dropping gelatinous cubes on you. They know they can’t count on support for an Anarchist quest. They know that every baron, priest, and guard might have it out for them, and won’t hesitate to use whatever means necessary to neutralize the Anarchists, as ‘threats’ to society. They know that every friendly barmaid or gruff blacksmith they talk to might betray them, either for coin, or because they believe that however bad the king or duke is, they’re better than Anarchy.

Gamemasters should cultivate this sense of paranoia. They should have the players half-way convinced that every seemingly helpful person they meet is a paid informant of some sort secret police, every invitation by a baron or princess is a trap, every honor bait, every reward poisoned.

Always Out-Numbered

Adventurers are used to taking on impossible odds. That’s what being an adventurer is all about. Adventurers are also used to fighting multiple opponents, many opponents for every member of the party. That’s what being the low-level minion of the villain is all about.

But even with all that, your standard adventurers still have a support system. Kings & queens to give them quest and to reward them for rescuing their offspring. Sages to give them lore, smiths to make them weapons and armor. When they drink at a tavern, they are likely to be met by townsfolk who want to thank them for saving their farm from the dragon. They know that, no matter how bad the odds, no matter how many howling goblins come at them, that they have a whole society of patrons and support figures that have their back.

Anarchist adventurers don’t have that. More often than not, they are the targets of other adventurers who quest for law and order, on behalf of a king. Most smiths don’t want their weapons associated with what they consider to be chaos and mayhem. Anarchist adventurers cannot count on the city watch helping them with their qu

Anarchist adventurers walk into most situations knowing that they will not get the benefit of the doubt. Most normal people will not welcome their help. Most authorities will not only pounce on a reason to arrest them or declare them outlaw, and many will make up reasons. The characters should expect to have to scrounge or ‘borrow’ everything they need, whether be it weapons, gear, or food & shelter.

However, this impression is not true. While standard and official channels may be largely denied to them, Anarchist adventurers soon learn….

Part of a Larger World

…..that Anarchist adventurers have friends all over the place, just not where adventurers usually look. Anarchy as a philosophy finds fertile ground in all sorts of places, from meeting halls of guilds and trade unions, to ivory towers of philosophers, to the windswept rendezvous spots of smugglers. Anarchists may be found in quilting bees, in drinking halls, in temples that minister to the poor and sick, everywhere. It’s just a matter of knowing where to look.

A major theme of an Anarchist campaign should involve finding and and befriending all these individual pockets of Anarchism. One of the greatest threats to Anarchism, and its greatest weakness in your world, will be its isolation. But the ideas of Anarchism cut across class, across religion, across, language, and across species. Part of the experience of Anarchist adventurers will be helping people realize that.

Revolution

Most adventurers fight to preserve a status quo, to return things to normal. It’s part of the hero’s journey. Normal person is thrust into strange circumstance, and must strive to return to normal circumstances.

Even if the adventurers cause a great change in the world, such as defeating the lich who has ruled for a millennium, most often the motivation and effect to *return* the world to a former state. It is most often a conservative, if not reactionary impulse and theme.

Anarchist adventurers are not fighting to perserve the status quo. They are fighting to destroy it. Anarchists fight, adventure, and quest to bring about something new- a society without government, without kings, without hierarchy. There is no thing, no time, that they are trying to return to. There is no road map, no guide of history or tradition to tell them how to do it, or what it will really look like. Part of the challenge of an Anarchist campaign, beyond the standard bad guys and disasters, is the challenge of dealing with and navigating this new landscape.

Path of the Black Flag- The Daily Life of an Anarchist

Masked and black clad Anarchist protesters at ...
Masked and black clad Anarchist protesters at the G20 Meltdown protest in London on 1 April 2009 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anarchist characters behave, for the most part, like other characters. They go into the wilderness, into sewers, into dungeons & caves, kill things & people (and things that are also people), and take their stuff. Now, their motivations might be different- Anarchist adventurers might be fighting to save exploited workers rather than a princess, they might lay into evil knights more so than orcs & goblins- but operationally, they’re fairly similar.

So what about downtime? What do Anarchist fighters and wizards do on their days off? Again, they are broadly similar to their non-anarchist colleagues. The work, they play, they worship, they pursue their interests. There are, however, some variations on the standard theme.

Labor

Many Anarchists come from what are essentially working-class backgrounds. Whereas many other adventurers may be the younger children of nobility or the upper classes, Anarchists are much more likely to be the children of the poor, and to the working poor. As such, most Anarchists have at least a nominal training in a craft or a profession, usually one that is considered ‘low class’ by the dominant society. They may go into adventuring as a way to escape the poverty and toil of their backgrounds, but their interest in Anarchy tends to indicate they still identify with those backgrounds.

There are, of course, exceptions. Anyone, from any background, might possibly be an Anarchist. Many upper class people write books and pamphlets on Anarchy, and ironically many of those pamphlets and books help transmit the ideas of Anarchism to the next generation of Anarchist, many of those being working class individuals. Many other Anarchists pursue no trade, rejecting wholesale the standard social mores of work, family life, etc. They are criminals, vagrants, and artists. A significant number of Anarchist turn towards adventuring not because they want to develop their skills to help their fellow workers, or to fight for some high ideal, but because they don’t have the temperament to hold down a steady job.

No matter how they approach work, or don’t approach it, what broadly unites Anarchists is their dissatisfaction with the state of work, and labor. Anarchism originated as a working class political philosophy, and the exploitation of laborers by bosses and governments tends to be a central concern of the many different types of Anarchism.

Diversions

Anarchists like to have a good time, just like everyone else. Where they differ is in how far they will go for one. Governments often attempt to maintain control over their subjects by controlling their entertainments. Suppressing some, and promoting others for the propaganda and distraction value. The ‘circuses’ in ‘bread & circuses’ is a standard government strategy.

Bosses also attempt to control the entertainment of their workers. They schedule the times their workers may pursue entertainment, rationing it out so that they have just enough to keep them working, but not so much that they feel relaxed enough to consider ways of bettering themselves. Even then, they tend to manipulate the entertainments to pacify the workers, and to make it expensive enough that the workers need to keep working, just to afford the entertainments.

Anarchists reject these dribbles of joy and play. They reject the limits instituted by governments or bosses. They reject the limits put on people by religions, who say that one type of entertainment is wicked and immoral, and the other is fine. Anarchists tend to favor music, art, and theater that is suppressed or derided by respectable society. They are great patrons of ‘underground’ venues and social spaces. Many Anarchists are artists themselves, and make breakthroughs in their disciplines.

Protests

Anarchists tend not to be satisfied people. To be an Anarchist is to desire a political, economic, and social order that is constantly and violently denied, to the best of their ability, by very powerful people. So as you can imagine, there is a certain amount of frustration.

This frustration is often vented as a protest. Every Anarchist has their specific, ‘pet’ causes of concern, and often protest the improving or changing of conditions surround those concerns. In these protests they are often joined by those who share those concerns, but who aren’t themselves Anarchists. This often leads to conflicts, as while them might agree on there being a problem, they sometimes disagree on the origins of the problem, and often disagree on the solutions that should be demanded.

What happens at the protest depends upon the nature of the society that it takes place in. Relatively liberal governments will tolerate a certain amount of peaceful, well-behaved protest, and populations with a strong tradition of protests, agitation, and organization will tend to get their concerns addressed, or at least receive concessions designed to mollify the protesters. More authoritarian or insecure/paranoid governments tend to overestimate the danger of protests, and are quick to use force and violence to suppress them. Ironically, this usually leads to riots and the organizing of more militant forces, thereby creating the danger they were seeking to prevent. Governments with domestic intelligence agencies tend to implant undercover agents into protests groups, to keep tabs on them, blunt their effectiveness, and manipulate them into actions the government finds politically beneficial.

The effectiveness of protests is a subject of much debate among Anarchists. However, even if a protest is not directly successful, Anarchist often derive many indirect benefits from the act of protesting. They meet, socialize, and network with Anarchists, and learn the basics of cooperation and organization towards a common goal. For many Anarchists, protests serve as a sort of boot camp, training them for more advanced actions.

Crime

Anarchists are no strangers to crime. Some rulers consider the very existence of Anarchists to be a crime. Many Anarchists are poor, or come from poor families, and turn to crime as a means of survival. There are also those who find their beliefs, practices, and lives criminalized for other reasons, and so turn to crime for survival as well. Others see crime as a means of rebellion, and every criminal act an attack against the governments that impose them. Still others look at it more practically- there are so many laws, that are so unevenly enforced, that you’re probably breaking a law right now without you even knowing it, so why worry about it?

Still, the relationship is not a completely cozy one. While Anarchists might reject the laws of a government, that doesn’t mean they don’t have their own laws, or at least commonly agreed upon standards for interacting with each other. Those Anarchists who a little too eager to break the laws of governments might drift into breaking other laws.

Then there is the relationship between ‘Anarchist’ criminals and ‘career’ criminals. Just because both groups break the law, doesn’t meant they are in philosophical agreement. Many career criminals would react with horror at the notion that their crimes are attacks against the country, and will angrily proclaim that though they may be thieves, they are patriotic thieves! For their part, career thieves tend to mistrust Anarchists because their motivations are different, which makes them unpredictable, which is not an attractive quality in prospective partners in crime.

Still, the gold and silver of Anarchists clinks just like the gold and silver of anyone else, so thieves find customers among them. And while Anarchists might have odd motivations from the perspective of thieves (like not being in it primarily for the money, for example), the many Anarchists to have the skills and motivation to do crime, and so are welcome to join up for a cut.

Path of the Black Flag- Iconic Anarchist 2

Jathal

Jathal, the product of a dalliance between a human scholar and an elven ‘noble’ (the actually nobility of the elf has recently been called into question) grew up in the human lands with her mother the scholar, idolizing her elven heritage. This idolization took the form of an intense interest in nature; when she joined the druidic circle that resided in Blackbriar forest in early adulthood, no one was very surprised.

From the beginning of her training, Jathal was an agitator, urging for greater proactive steps among the druids to deal with the encroachment of civilization onto wild spaces. She also was also public in drawing connections between the desires of the kingdom’s rulers and the increase of despoliation and deforestation, raising concern among the more politically-minded senior druids. She began making connections with dissidents in the kingdom, developing a more encompassing critique of her kingdom’s and any kingdom’s, impact on the environment.

Realizing a dream she had since childhood, Jathal traveled to Elven lands, searching for her roots. While there, she was shocked and appalled by the attitude of the Elves. Beneath their lip service to Nature, the Elven kingdoms were just as venal as the human ones. Not only that, but the defeatist, disengaging attitude of the Elves, who preferred to dream of lost forest kingdoms as opposed to fighting for the forest they currently had, disgusted her.

Her faith in both the druidic establishment and her romanticized Elven heritage shattered, Jathal became further radicalized. She formed a network of similar radicals, dubbed the Blackbriar Gang. They vowed to not only stop the encroachment of farms and castles into Blackbriar forest- they vowed to reverse it.

This has made her many enemies, both with the druids and the kingdom, but so far she has managed to evade them all, as well as the many bands of adventurers hired to stop her activities. Through her activities, she has managed to erase two whole baronies, driving their inhabitants out of those lands, returning them to their wildness. In exchange for the network helping her with this, she has snuck into major cities on more than a few occasions, using her plant growth powers to stymie this actions of guards and soldiers against her fellow Anarchists.

Jathal

Half-Elven Druid (Verdant Partisan archetype) Level 17

NN Medium Humanoid

Init +4                         Perception +26

Defense

AC 27 Touch 13 Flat-Footed 27 (+10 Plate, +4 Shield, +2 Ring, +1 Ioun Stone)

HP 124

Fort +17 (+2 belt, +3 cloak)  Reflex +8 (+3 cloak)  Will +21 (+4 headband, +3 cloak)

Offense

Speed– 20′ (30′ w/o armor)

Melee+1 Club +14/+9/+4 (1d6 +1)

Short Spear +13/+8/+3 (1d6 +1)

RangedShort Spear +12/+7/+2 (1d6 +1)

Statistics

Str 12; Dex 10; Con 14; Int 10; Wis 18; Cha 14

Base Attack– +12/+7/+2         CMB 13    CMD 23

Feats Organizational Affinity, Pass, Conspiracy Theorist, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, Toughness, Verdant Spell, Natural Spell, Weapon Focus (unarmed), Skill Focus (survival, bonus)

Skills Knowledge (Geography) +20; Knowledge (Nature) +21; Survival +31; Perception +26

Languages Elven, Common

SQ Re-wilding, Nature Bond, Nature Sense, Orisons, Wild Empathy +17, Woodland Stride, Trackless Step, Resist Nature’s Lure, Wild Step (1/day), Revenge of the Green, Venom Immunity, A Thousand Faces, Timeless Body, immune to magical sleep

Traits Veiled Disciple; Environmentalist

Gear potions of haste (2); Other Gear+1 ironwood wild full plate, +2 darkwood heavy wooden shield, +1 club, masterwork shortspear (3), belt of mighty constitution +2, cloak of resistance +3,druid’s vestments, dusty rose prism ioun stone, eyes of the eagle, headband of inspired wisdom +4, ring of protection +2, holly and mistletoe, spell component pouch, waterskin, 134 gp

Spells

9th—fire storm

8th—earthquake, word of recall

7th—control weather, creeping doom, fire storm, heal, true seeing

6th—antilife shellflame strike, greater dispel magic, wall of stone

5th—baleful polymorph, call lightning storm, cure critical wounds (2), insect plague

4th—control water, dispel magic, flame strike, freedom of movement

3rd—dominate animal, greater magic fang (3), protection from energy (2)

2nd—barkskin (3), bull’s strength (2), cat’s grace,

1st—entangle (2, DC 18), faerie fire (2), shillelagh, speak with animals

Path of the Black Flag- Iconic Anarchists 1

Trisgrak Blackscrap

Trisgrak was born in the human (or at least, human-dominated) kingdom of Ruritania. She was an orc, a race at war with the humans of Ruritania for decades, until the humans conquered them and absorbed the orcs into their kingdom over sixty years ago. During the time of Trisgrak’s birth they were an underclass, living in slums and squalor in the cities of humans, doing menial tasks.

Trisgrak had a difficult childhood, even for an orcish child living in Ruritania. She was known as Trisgrak the foolish as a child, and she was- she was too smart for her own good, and never knew when to back down, or to be quiet. For an young orc, and a young female orc at that, these were now survival traits, with either her own kind or the human authorities. Her saving grace was that she was as strong as most other orcs, and she really was very smart, so she was able to think her way out of the worst of what her foolishness got her into.

But her mind could only do so much. The mortality rate among her fellow children was high, the normal hardships of poverty combined with the clannishness and rage of their elder, and the indiference (at best) and antagonism of their human rulers, who saw them as subhuman, second class citizens compared to their human and demi-human subjects. Even for all her strength, and all her intelligence, Trisgrak would have been killed before reaching adulthood, if not for the timely intervention of a half-orc named Ausk.

Ausk was a Black Mask, a secret society of magi dedicated to ridding the world of oppression and tyranny. He saw something in that little orc girl, a keen intelligence and a willingness to fight for what she believed in. He also saw that she had managed to make an enemy of the orcish elders and the human government, and that if something wasn’t done she would hanged or torn apart by a mob before too long. So Ausk did something, and trained her to be a Black Mask.

Jumping forward thirty years, Trisgrak is a nondescript housekeeper, one of the few jobs open to an orc woman. She has worked in all sorts of houses for all sorts of people. She has also become a mother, and grandmother, with over eight children, and over forty grandchildren. She is also one of the most notorious and feared outlaws in the kingdom of Ruritania. By day (when most orcs are asleep), she cleans the houses of the wealthy and mighty. At night, she robs those same houses, as well as attacking caravans and tax collectors, redistributing her gains to the poor. She also frees prisoners, stops executions, and targets all manner of petty tyrants. She is also a terror of orcish society, dealing our deadly vigilante justice against killers and abusers, whose crimes are all too often ignored by the human authorities. She does all this with the help of her magical black mask, that helps her maintain a secret identity.

Trisgrak is not part of any of the larger Anarchist groups or movements- she does not work well with others. But her solo efforts are enough to keep the entire kingdom of Ruritania off-balance.

Trisgrak Blackscrap

Orc Magus (Black Mask Archetype) Level 20

CN Medium Humanoid

Init +1              Perception +4

DEFENSE

AC 23; Touch 13; Flat-Footed 22 (+9 armor, +1 shield, +2 deflection, +1 dexterity)

HP: 64

Fort +13     Reflex +7     Will +10

OFFENSE

Speed– 20’ (30′ w/o armor)

Melee- +2 Scimitar +23/+18/+13 (1d8 +6)

Ranged- +1 Composite Longbow (+4 str) of Speed +17/+17/+12/+7 (1d8 +4)

Statistics

Str 18; Dex 12; Con 13; Int 16; Wis 6; Cha 10

Base Attack +15/+10/+5            CMB +19          CMD 30

Feats Toughness, Extra Traits, Lunge, Weapon focus (Scimitar), Greater Weapon focus (Scimitar), Greater Weapon focus (Scimitar), Weapon Specialization (Scimitar), Power Attack, Arcane Strike, Extra Arcane Pool, Intensify Spell, Spell Penetration, Extra Arcana, Extra Arcana

Skills Perception +4, Fly +8, Spellcraft +20, Knowledge (local), Use Magic Device +11, Profession +10, Intimidate +12, stealth +10, disguise +9, Sense Motive +6

Languages Orcish, Common, Dwarvish, Giant, Undercommon

Traits Suspicious, Egalitarian (Orc)

SQ Arcane Pool, Improved Spell Combat, Spellstrike, Improved Spell Recall, Knowledge Pool, Heavy Armor, Fighter Training, Counterstrike, Greater Spell Access, True Magus, Spell Mask

Arcana Arcane Accuracy, Empowered Magic, Maximized Magic, Spell Blending, Arcane Strike, Arcane Edge, Ghost Blade, Spectacular Arcana

Gear Full Plate of Improved Shadows, Mithral Buckler, Artisans Outfit (housekeeper), Scimitar +2, Composit Longbow of Speed (+4 strength) +1, Sleeping Arrows (5), Hush Arrows (5), Masterwork Arrows (10), Boots of Speed, Grey Flannel Patch, Copper Wonder of Hiding, Belt of Giant Strength +2, Ring of Protection +2, Ring of Wizardry II, Pearl of Power III, Intensified Metamagic Rod, Wand of Vanish (50 charges), Wand of Grease (50 charges), Wand of True Strike (50 charges),  Wand of Cure Moderate Wounds (50 charges), Bag of Holding Type I

Spells

  • 1st– Color Spray, Enlarge Person, Obscuring Mist, Ray of Enfeeblement, Shield, Shocking Grasp, Grease, True Strike, Vanish, Protection from Law, Linebreaker
  • 2nd– Bear’s Endurance, Darkness, Elemental Touch, Frigid Touch, Glitterdust, Mirror Image, Web, Align Weapon (Chaos only), Savage Maw
  • 3rd– Fly, Force Hook Charge, Haste, Ray of Exhaustion, Slow, Stinking Cloud, Vampiric Touch, Power to the People, Magic Circle Against Law, Deeper Darkness
  • 4th– Arcane Theft, Black Tentacles, Dimension Door, Firefall, Invisibility (Greater), Monstrous Physique II, Stoneskin, Wall of Ice, Barricade, Chaos Hammer, Shadow Conjuration
  • 5th– Cloudkill, Cone of Cold, Corrosive Consumption, Fire Snake, Overland Flight, Teleport, Wall of Force, Wall of Stone, Dispel Law, Shadow Evocation
  • 6th– Chain Lightning, Greater Dispel Magic, Flesh to Stone, Forceful Hand, Sirocco, True Seeing, Undead Anatomy III, Overcome, Shadow Walk

 

Path of the Black Flag- Revolutionary Strategy

The structure of a simple guerrilla warfare or...
The structure of a simple guerrilla warfare organization (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The revolutionary strategy is simple, if not easy. Anarchists want to destroy government (all governments theoretically, but usually one government at a time.) How do you destroy a government? You raise an army and fight it.

While that is the broad strategy, the tactics of Anarchists differ from the tactics of other armies. Anarchist armies are usually at a great disadvantage when it comes to numbers, training, and resources. So, they must adapt to those limitations. Instead of fighting the government forces head on, they prefer sneak attacks, hit-and-run maneuvers- in short, guerilla tactics. It’s all about weakening the enemy, disrupting their logistics and intelligence, so that when you do attack them, their size, resources, and training can’t help them.

While the Revolutionary strategy is one of the most commonly used Anarchist strategies, second only to the Trade Union strategy, it is least popular among the great Anarchist thinkers and theorists. The theorists dislike it because it is so easy for an Anarchist revolution to forget, compromise on, and betray its original reasons for existence. Many Anarchists philosophers see the very act of forming an army, even to to fight governments, as perpetuating the problems of government. They feel the temptation for the Anarchists commanders, and their soldiers, to give up control after they win would be too great. Still, from many Anarchists it is the most familiar, most comfortable form of resistance they know, so Anarchist revolutions keep happening.

It should be noted that Anarchist revolutions rarely happen in a vacuum, during peacetime, and rarely on their own. Most often, they are part of a more general revolt or war against another government. If a civil war breaks out, or if most of the army is away fighting some other power- that is when an Anarchist revolution is most likely to occur.

Path of the Black Flag- Insurrection Strategy

English: "Famous whiskey insurrection in ...
English: “Famous whiskey insurrection in Pennsylvania”, an illustration from Our first century: being a popular descriptive portraiture of the one hundred great and memorable events of perpetual interest in the history of our country by R. M. Devens (Springfield, Mass, 1882). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Those who hold with the insurrection strategy believe that the governments and hierarchy will not simply dissolve peacefully, or whither away. Like those who hold with the revolutionary strategy, they believe that governments, institutions borne of violence, will not disappear without their violent destruction. Where the insurrectionists differ with the revolutionaries, however, is how this violence is to be carried out.

Insurrectionists are skeptical of organizations, even nominally horizontal ones. They see the structure of most revolutionary groups as simply a new hierarchy trying to replace an old one. Instead, insurrectionists favor informal networks of affinity groups. They reject calls ‘movement building’ and ‘consciousness raising’ in favor of immediate and direct action.

Given this informal and decentralized strategy, there are few constants between different insurrectionist affinity groups. However, some points of insurrections strategy are usually held in common. These are:

  • Attack– The best way to get your point across, to protest against the abuses and tyranny of the government, is to attack it. Do not rely on peaceful protests, or propaganda of words. Only action will do. Do not allow your struggle to be mediated, pacified, accommodated, modified, or sacrificed for someone else’s larger plan.
  • Everyday Insurrection– Rebel against tyranny every day. Most of these rebellions will be modest, and won’t succeed. Do not wait for when you are sure to succeed, for that ‘perfect moment of rebellion’. You will never be sure of success, and that perfect moment will never come. Every attempt, every small act of rebellion, is not a failure if it doesn’t bring out Anarchy right then and there. It is instead better thought of as practice. Do it until it sticks.
  • Self-managed Struggle– Don’t wait for others to show you how to be the perfect Anarchist. Don’t sign up to the a soldier in someone else’s Anarchist army. Fighting for someone else’s plan is a good way to find yourself fighting for things that others want, and not what you want. Do what you can, and what you like, when you can, and when you like, right now.
  • Temporary trumps Permanence– Long-running, durable groups are dangerous. They have a tendency of growing rotten and toxic, and become more interested in maintaining and strengthening the group, as opposed to further the goals the group was originally formed to further. Keep your organizations small, temporary, and dedicated to a concrete purpose.
  • Fight for the Individual, and for Society– Insurrectionists fight to liberate themselves, and for other individuals. However, they recognize that the only way for an individual to be free is from the individual to exist in a society that does not have hierarchy. Do not fight against a specific king- fight against the concept of Kings. Do not fight against a specific boss- fight against the concept of Bosses.