This book is as large as a spellbook, with a metal cover stamped with a knight chesspiece in profile. The heavy parchment pages have block letters written upon them, and smaller writing runs down the margins.
Last Record: Knight Artula Porolos, cleric of the Red Knight, 3 Mirtul, 1373 DR.
Description: This 1-foot-square book has covers made of metal shields beaten flat and cut to size. Both covers bear faint scars from battle. The front cover is stamped with the Red Knight's symbol (a red knight chesspiece in profile with stars for eyes).
All of the text is in Chessentan. The cover page reads, "Master Tactician -- Magic to Aid the Art of War, Penned by Nicos Nathos, Priest of the Lady of Strategy, Praise Her and the Lord of Battles." The remaining pages are heavy parchment horizontally ruled, with large block letters in black ink. The margins are wide, and at least two other people (based on different handwriting styles) have left comments in the margins.
The book is in very good condition and is probably less than thirty years old.
History: Nicos Nathos was an adventuring cleric of the Red Knight, earning money and fame for his church by serving as a mercenary commander in various military operations on the Dragon Coast. Chessentan by birth, he returned to his home city of Cimbar when age began to weaken his body. Once there, he wrote a book summarizing his campaigns and the tactics he used to achieve victory. (The book was built to resemble The Red Book of War, a holy text of Tempus' faith that Nicos had heard about in his travels.) At the end of the book, he scribed three spells of interest to his faith, preserving their use for future officers of the church. Ten years later Nicos came out of retirement during the Time of Troubles to help deal with the riots and panic, but the exertion proved too much for his ailing heart and he fell dead on the street while directing a group of city guards to rescue people from a burning building. Though he had spent little time in Cimbar since he came of age, for his efforts during the Godswar he was named a War Hero of Chessenta.
His book remained in the Cimbaran temple of Tempus until a small temple to the Red Knight was built the next year (for it was only shortly after the Time of Troubles that the Red Knight started to become known as a separate deity rather than just an aspect of Tempus). The book started being used as a teaching tool for priests of the faith, both in war and the Red Knight's secret magic. Other adventuring clerics and paladins of the Red Knight have added to Nicos' wisdom written in the book, adding their own comments in the margin about certain strategies against some humanoids or in different weather conditions.
A few months ago the book was stolen by Artula Porolos, a haughty young cleric of the Red Knight. Some believe that she intends to found or seize control of one of the territories in the Border Kingdoms in the name of the Red Knight and then set herself up as a theocratic leader. Though no official confirmation of her arrival exists, rumors have spread of a new warlord in the Border Kingdoms who calls herself the Red Dragon, and her soldiers are well-trained and obey her orders unquestioningly. If the Red Dragon is actually Artula Porolos, she almost certainly has the copy of Master Tactician with her.
The church of the Red Knight would like the book back. (All of her temples want the book back in a safe place, and most of them agree that it belongs in the Cimbaran temple.) Even if Artula is the Red Dragon, the church doesn't want her killed since she is still a member of the faith, and military conquest in the name of creating order is something of which they approve. Their preference is for her to give up the book, accept some kind of censure from the church, and continue with her plans to secure a territory in the Border Kingdoms.
Contents: The first forty pages of the book describe military formations, group fighting tactics, and advice for dealing with enemy war strategies. Given that the author is talking about dozens if not hundreds of troops in formation, most of this information isn't particularly useful to a typical small adventuring party. However, someone familiar with the book's contents (after a thorough read) gets a +2 competence bonus on Knowledge (local) checks made to identify humanoids and their abilities and a +2 competence bonus on Knowledge (nature) checks to identify animals (and their abilities) commonly used by humanoids as warbeasts (see the Knowledge skill for more information).
The last few pages describe three divine spells often used by members of the church of the Red Knight. These spells are considered unusual spells, and any spellcaster who wishes to use them must first decipher them as described in the Divine Magical Writings section of Chapter 10: Magic of the Player's Handbook.
The spells the book contains are as follows:
You surround your weapon with a bright red aura that illuminates an area equal to a torch. This aura gives the weapon a +1 enhancement bonus and the axiomatic property, and any creature within the radius of its full light (including you) gets a +1 morale bonus on saving throws against fear effects.
If the weapon leaves your grasp, the aura immediately disappears (and its associated effects pause), though it appears again (and its effects resume) if you or another worshiper of your deity picks it up. Time that passes while the spell's effects are suspended counts against the spell's duration.
This spell is named for the Red Knight's personal weapon, Checkmate.
The spell has no affect on natural weaponry.
You can mentally communicate with all allies within range, though this is one-way communication. (You can send thoughts but you cannot receive thoughts in response.) Anything you choose to send is received by all allies within the emanation (you cannot send thoughts to only certain allies), and they all understand you regardless of language. Allies with Intelligence lower than 3 (such as animal companions, certain monster cohorts, and so on) understand basic commands but not complex information ("attack" is understood, but "ignore the foot soldiers and attack the spellcasters" gets the same reaction as "attack").
This spell normally is used to broadcast orders to officers or large numbers of troops when silence is key or when the chaos of combat makes it difficult to hear those orders.
Price: 450 gp (cleric spellbook value only). A buyer interested in warfare and tactics would pay up to 100 gp for the book just on its value in that field; a Chessentan buyer of this kind would offer up to 100 gp more for the privilege of owning a book written by a War Hero of Chessenta (plus an additional 100 gp if the buyer is from Cimbar). The temple of the Red Knight in Cimbar is willing to pay 1,100 gp for the book, either in coin, masterwork weapons or armor, or temple services (including mercenary work by soldiers of the faith). Other temples of the Red Knight would generally offer 700 gp for it, and the church of Tempus would pay up to 500 gp for it so that they could turn it over to the Red Knight's church.
Last Known Bearer: Artula Porolos, cleric of the Red Knight.
Artula was born in Cimbar, and she is the only daughter and the youngest of three children. Her father is a traditionalist and believes that her purpose is to get married and have many children to increase the prosperity and numbers of the family. She disagrees, since she feels that her brilliant mind is wasted on washing the floors and chasing after a half-dozen children. While still young, she secretly began meeting with members of the church of the Red Knight in her city, and they invited her to join them after she impressed them with her raw natural talent for tactics. Though her father was very angry, at his wife's insistence he eventually agreed to let her go. Artula quickly proved herself to the church elders and rapidly earned the rank of Knight, but her father still considers her as something less than her older brothers, who are both stonemasons.
Incensed at the old man's stubbornness, she recently decided that the only way to prove her worth to him is by making her name famous, and the easiest way to do that (in her mind) is to take over one of the Border Kingdoms and rule it as a queen. She knew of the Master Tactician book, having studied it as part of her education in the church, and she wanted to have it on hand to plan her battles against raiders and rival warlords in her new land. The book was available for viewing by any cleric or paladin of the faith, but removing it from the temple was forbidden without special permission from the temple elder and she knew she would not convince him of her justifiable need. Instead, she stole it from the locked storage room where it was kept and she left before she was discovered. Since she had already rounded up a few dozen mercenaries she knew through the church, she gathered her troops and began the overland trip to the Border Kingdoms. She wanted to find an abandoned castle that she could use as her fortress and palace, or clean out a monster-infested one if an empty castle was unavailable. As luck should have it, she stumbled upon a small monster-held keep that had recently been attacked (unsuccessfully) by adventurers, and she and her troops killed off the remaining defenders while the creatures were still recovering from the adventurers' attack. Now she has an entire adventuring party's worth of items distributed among herself and her lieutenants, and she also has a full payroll chest to keep her troops happy. Already she has begun fortifying her keep, sending patrols into the immediate territory in search of hostile monsters, and making plans to take on some of the nearby "rulers" after she has had time to covertly and magically analyze their defenses.
Artula believes that might makes right and believes even more strongly that her mind can overcome any challenge presented to her. She sees herself as a champion of her faith and a future hero of Chessenta, which is why she chose the name "Red Dragon" for herself -- an homage to the red dragon symbol used by Chessenta's national hero-god Tchazzar. She has no wish to harm the common people of the Border Kingdoms, and in fact believes herself to be their liberator, freeing them from the constant cycle of self-crowned but always-temporary leaders that claim to rule this land in bits and pieces. Artula hopes to draw all of the Border Kingdoms under her banner eventually, though she knows that achieving this goal is years away. Right now she knows she needs to focus on smaller victories.
Artula Porolos: Female human cleric 6 of the Red Knight/fighter 1; CR 7; Medium humanoid; HD 6d8+12 plus 1d10+2; hp 46; Init +3; Spd 20 ft.; AC 21, touch 10, flat-footed 21; Base Atk +5; Grp +5; Atk or Full Atk +7 melee (1d8+1/19-20, +1 longsword) or +4 ranged (1d8/x3, longbow); SA turn undead 4/day (+3, 2d6+4, 6th); AL LN; SV Fort +9, Ref +1, Will +7; Str 10, Dex 8, Con 14, Int 15, Wis 14, Cha 12.
Skills and Feats: Climb -3, Concentration +9, Diplomacy +5, Gather Information +2, Heal +9, Intimidate +2, Jump -10, Knowledge (local) +3, Knowledge (nobility and royalty) +3, Knowledge (religion) +7, Listen +5, Perform +2, Ride +1, Spellcraft +8, Spot +6; Alertness, Blind-Fight, Combat Expertise, Improved Initiative[B], Quick Draw, Weapon Focus (longsword)[B].
Cleric Spells Prepared (caster level 6th): 0 -- create water, detect magic, detect poison, light, purify food and drink; 1st -- divine favor*, know protections (Magic of Faerūn), obscuring mist, shield of faith (2); 2nd -- bull's strength, Checkmate's light, delay poison, hold person (DC 14), spiritual weapon*; 3rd -- daylight, magic vestment*, prayer.
*: Domain spell. Domains: Nobility (inspire allies) and War (proficiency and Weapon Focus with longsword).
Possessions: Masterwork full plate, +1 light steel shield, ring of protection +1, amulet of natural armor +1, +1 longsword, longbow with 20 arrows, 31 gp.
About the Author
Sean K Reynolds lives in Encinitas, California, and works for a video game company. His D&D credits include the Monster Manual, the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting, and Savage Species. He'd like to thank Brian Cortijo for his advice in this article series, and Ed Greenwood for the writeup of the Codicil in Pages From the Mages. You can find more game material at Sean's website, Sean's website.
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