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GrayWolves

A Memorial to Maldeen the ceremonial founder of the Gray Wolves

Since the fall of Nerath evil has flourished amongst the civilized races of the world. From barbaric orc hordes to nefarious necromancers and even human nobles clothed with silk gowns sitting on thrones, high in polished towers. Long ago a boy, knowing that the corruption of the world could not be watched idely, sought to purify what he could and in doing so inspired generations after to follow in his stead. The followers of Maldeen's way are called the Gray Wolves. 1

DescriptionEdit

Wearing mundane cloaks of gray these heroes do not work on behest of a god or similarily powerful patron. No, the Wolves of Maldeen do not even fight for themselves, but instead for the pack and all of mortality. The Gray Wolves are an organization of like minded warriors opposed to the spread and taint of evil upon the natural world. The wolves do not discriminate against the different faces of evil, whether it comes from the abyss or the nine hells, from the will of an evil god or the will of a corrupt politician. 1

The Gray Wolves strike with acute percision and brilliant tactics; slaying their enemies without rest until the light of good allows them to finally remove their cloaks of gray and bask in the light of a good world. Taught and shaped by the legendary warlord Maldeen this ragtag militia is anything but; coming from the far corners of the world; in order to make it a better place. 1

Composed of the odd and ends of civiliztion; one is just as likely to meet a human or dwarf, tiefling or half-orc, ex-murderer or prince amongst their ranks. 1

The Ways of the WolfEdit

Those who seek to emulate Maldeen must have the discipline to walk his path, which might lead them into conflict with others. However, since conflict is a part of life, a follower of Maldeen readily deals with it—whether through force of arms or force of words. 1

  • “Ours is the wanderer’s path. No hearth to warm our feet by, no love to warm our hearts against the cold of night.” - Way1: Wandering Warriors
  • “We do not presume to purity, only to the total opposition of evil. Wear no ostentatious robes of white, my wolves, but don the gray instead. Do not seek shining glory, but rather an ignominious struggle, whose only reward is the battle.” - Way2: The Gray Mantle
  • “The wolf is no dog to beg at a king’s table for scraps. We are hunters, not slaves. We serve no throne, and we lend our swords to no single nation or emperor’s cause. We fight evil, and in doing so we remain detached from petty politics. No baron’s banner for us. No lord’s service. Never bow to another person. The pack is all we need.” - Way3: Bow to No One

The Code of the WolfEdit

There are fates worse than death. The worst is living powerless in a world filled with evil. If evil is the only way to survive, embrace death as a lover, and leave the world a better place. Your life for an innocent’s always. Fearing death is a luxury we cannot afford. Seed the earth with blood, and you shall reap more of the same. Kill only what must be killed, and seek no petty excuse to loose steel and spill blood. Drawing a sword is a grave matter not to be taken lightly—and never to be enjoyed. Vengeance never—justice always. Vengeance is a weak person’s balm for the wounds of our time. Justice is a forge that burns impurities from our world. Carry not just the fangs of the wolf, but a heart filled with empathy—we must never become what we hunt. 1

LeadershipEdit

The Wolves are ferocious and dedicated to the last, but a few among them, whether through experience, a talent for command, or simply survival in the face of impossible odds, grow into undisputed masters of the Pack. These leaders, who look to Maldeen’s shining example and aspire to pure excellence in command, are always warlords who combine their mastery of tactics with a hatred of all things evil to great effect. The Pack Masters of Maldeen are shining beacons of virtue, inspiring their allies in the fight through the darkest hours of the Pack’s struggle. Bane to corruption, evil, and temptation, the Pack Masters are elite among the Wolves. Their tireless devotion to the struggle of light against darkness serves as a lesson to aspirant candidates for membership in the Wolves, and as a fearsome warning against any who might choose a darker path in search of power. 1

The pack grows and shrinks, ever fluctuating in size in its constant war of attrition with the forces of evil. However, a few of the Gray Wolves, renowned for their daring exploits against the vile monsters and corrupt powers of the world, have made a name for themselves over the years. The following are a few of the Pack-Master leaders of the Gray Wolves. 1

Pack Master Varain CawdoraiEdit

A beautiful raven-haired elf warlord, Varain is one of the founders of the Gray Wolves. She came to the pack after orc raiders beheaded everyone in her family (except for her sister) in a cruel axe-wielding competition. The two couldn’t avoid hearing everything from the hiding place they’d crawled into before the orcs broke into their home. The escape they made after the orcs left was harrowing, but successful, and then Varain grimly wandered the lands with her sister in tow. She resorted to theft and even murder to survive the harsh life the deities handed down to her. Terrified of the idea of developing ties to another being lest a malevolent monster reap them as they did her family, Varain allowed herself to care only for her twin, Selessa. Varain would have amounted to nothing but a sneaking thief and sociopath, but one day her wanderings brought her to the home of a simple woodcutter in Delkarem’s Vale. Maldeen had eluded the public eye at long last to live out his few remaining years in peaceful solitude with no more bloodshed to cloud his dreams with night terrors. Varain tried to murder the old man in his sleep so that she could take her time going through his belongings, but she was shocked when the decrepit human overpowered her. After subduing Varain, Maldeen took her and Selessa in, and over the years he helped Varain come to grips with the atrocity she faced as a girl. He channeled her hatred of the world into a cold focused rage against evil, and eventually he forged it into a furious devotion to opposing tyranny in all its myriad forms. Maldeen raised his first Gray Wolf, though at the time he didn’t realize what Varain would start when she departed his cabin. It was only a month after Varain and Selessa left Delkarem's Vale to seek adventure that Maldeen died defending refugees from rampaging ogres. When news of his death spread, Varain swore to honor her master by founding an order of justiciars to carry on the fight against evil in his name. Varain is past middle age for an elf, but would still be stunningly beautiful if not for her cold and detached air. She has spent her life hunting those who would kill others for gain or sport, in remembrance of both her family and of the man who gave her life back to her. She has never wavered from this cause, and the constant struggle has taken a toll on her ability to relax and relate to others in any other terms beyond battle companions. Varain’s life has been one of torment and struggle, and darkness haunts her at every turn. Troubles follow the elf, and she has watched everyone she cared about perish at evil’s hands. To mount insult atop atrocity, in recent years her twin Selessa vanished while apprenticing at the Baleheart Academy, a mysterious training ground for students of the magical arts. The academy is nestled inside the magically preserved corpse of a gigantic monstrous spider the size of a small island. After hearing no word from her twin for months, Varain dispatched Gray Wolves to Baleheart to investigate, and none of her people have returned. Doomed to lose everyone she holds dear, Varain feared for the worst, and she immediately set out to investigate Baleheart personally. Over a month has passed since she set foot into the dark spidery citadel of Baleheart, and her fellow Gray Wolves have started to worry about her. Who else might face the terrors within the Academy’s grounds and confront the shadowy overseers of Baleheart, who now hold Varain and her sister captive? Also, Varain’s absence has led the Gray Wolves into an internal struggle over who should lead in her place. 1

Pack Master Jandor SmoketoothEdit

As a towering tiefling warlord with fearsome red skin, pitch black eyes, and curling ram’s horns, Jandor  cuts a sinister figure. His dedication to the Gray Wolves is a mystery to some of the order’s less enlightened members who view the warlord warily. The truth is that Jandor’s devotion to the pack is second to none. Many come to the cause of Maldeen with nothing left to lose, but Jandor left behind a princehood among his people, and he set aside his entire family when he lent his blade to the Gray Wolves thirteen years ago. Disgusted with the corruption festering among his royal kinfolk, and particularly repulsed by their plans to ally with a nameless demon lord shackled beneath the ancient ruins of Vor Kragal, Jandor forsook his birthright. An outcast among his kin, the tiefling devoted himself to the fight against evil with tenacity unrivaled by his fellow Gray Wolves and soon rose high in the order. Recently granted the title of Pack Master, much to the displeasure of others among the order, Jandor is now placed to take Varain’s post as the Gray Wolves’ leader. Contentious souls among the pack would prefer otherwise, despite the fact that Varain named Jandor as her successor shortly before she ventured forth to Baleheart Academy. 1

Pack Master Waldrun GypsumbaneEdit

A stout dwarf with a cheery glow to his cheeks, python-thick arms, and a bushy red beard, Waldrun is well liked among the Gray Wolves and is the favored successor to Varain among the pack. Waldrun’s easy way with people and his past exploits as a champion against the abominations of the Underdark have earned him acclaim. Truthfully though, Waldrun has not hefted his hammer against evil in many years, and he spends most of his time drinking. The dwarf’s boisterous love of ale has grown from a pastime to an addiction and crutch, which has prevented him from mounting any noteworthy campaigns against evildoers recently. The dwarf has grown tired, and his last harrowing raid into the Underdark left his soul shaken—he cannot muster the courage to face another excursion. He drowns his shame in ale now, and he hides his cowardice and insecurities behind a quick smile. Some of the older veterans among the Gray Wolves see the pain in the old dwarf’s eyes, and they fear both for his soul and for the order if Waldrun ascends to Varain’s post as leader of the pack over the less favored, but far better suited, Jandor. Dangerous times await the Gray Wolves unless Varain is rescued from Baleheart Academy before the need to choose her successor becomes imminent. 1

Prominent Locations and FortressesEdit

No Gray Wolf has a home, but the Gray Wolves as an order use various locations throughout the lands to help them in their toil against the forces of darkness. 1

The Gray LodgeEdit

Though the Gray Wolves have no place to call their home, the Gray Lodge serves as a temporary headquarters. This nexus of the organization is located far from the bustle and drone of the city, where the comings and goings of the Gray Wolves attract little attention. The Gray Wolves also move it to a new location if local agencies learn of its location and seek its destruction, or if the Gray Wolves feel that its placement is no longer advantageous. The Gray Lodge’s exterior is wholly unremarkable in every case—it is nothing more than another farmhouse amid surrounding farmlands or a log cabin in the middle of forested land. Here the Gray Wolves trade information and supplies; seek aid, healing, and respite; and record the tales of their adventures in the Annals of Maldeen. The heart of the Gray Lodge is the shrine to Maldeen, which is a simple pedestal that holds a leather-bound book of illustrations of every Gray Wolf who has given his or her life in the timeless, and often thankless, battle against evil. This is the only testament to their sacrifices and the only remembrance of their devotion to the cause. No families remain to honor the fallen Gray Wolves, and so this memorial is their only record. The book, created by a powerful wizard of the Gray Wolves named Zalrashir, is a marvel. Whenever a Gray Wolf perishes, no matter how far away, or in whatever lightless dungeon, his or her face appears in the book. The book’s primary purpose as a salute to the fallen is obvious, and it also allows the Pack Masters to keep a grim tally of the loyal Gray Wolves who have perished and also helps indicate how many new recruits are needed to replenish the pack. 1

Wayside ShrinesEdit

Wherever the Gray Wolves roam, they erect small shrines to Maldeen both to remind themselves of his sacrifice and to inspire the local people of the area to oppose evil as their patron once did. Most of these are nothing more than a simple structure of thatched logs with a few wolf pelts and a small statue of Maldeen, or a gray sword planted in the earth as a tribute to his cause. Gray Wolves and their allies make small offerings to Maldeen here, sometimes leaving behind trophies from their efforts against evil monsters. These shrines serve another purpose as well. Gray Wolves passing through often bury supplies and weapons beneath the shrine’s earthen floor, so that their fellows might find relief here in times of need. A handy quiver of arrows, a healing potion, or rations might await visiting Gray Wolves. 1

Safe HavensEdit

The safe havens of the Gray Wolves can exist below farmhouses, in old abandoned barns overgrown with weeds and ringed by shady trees, in old smugglers’ tunnels, or even in secret mountain caves. These hideaways offer members of the order a well-concealed place of respite when the forces of evil ride close at their heels. More importantly, these hiding spots, whose locations are among the order’s closest held secrets, allow the Gray Wolves to sequester innocents or refugees safely out of harms’ way when a battle with evil shakes a region. The safe havens are used only once, and then abandoned, lest the Gray Wolves’ enemies learn their location and lay an ambush for the order’s operatives and their charges. Each haven is stocked with medicines, fresh blankets, clothing, and enough rations and fresh water to support a large group of people for as long as a week. When the Gray Wolves act against an evil power in the land, they first hide any innocents who might pay for their actions in these havens, and then they post a few of their number to safeguard the group while the rest of the Gray Wolves take the fight to their foes elsewhere.  1

Items and WeaponsEdit

The Gray Wolves employ many weapons in their endless fight against evil. Though usually mundane, there are a few more potent magic items that members of the order have created over the years to aid the Gray Wolves in their noble quest. 1

ReferencesEdit

  1. Dragon 364 (Wizards of The Coast - 2008) - The Wolves of Maldeen:By Nicolas Logue

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