Originally appeared in Dragon Magazine #281; reprinted courtesy of Dragon Magazine
"Reveal the truth; conceal the mind." Splintered Mind mantra
The Splintered Mind is a small group of monks, psions, and rogues who work in secret to derail the plots and plans of the Scarlet Brotherhood. Founded by three former members of the Scarlet Brotherhood in 6096 SD, the group has grown to approximately 100 members in the past ten years.
The Splintered Mind is organized into fifteen cells across the Flanaess. Each cell works independently and has limited contact with (or knowledge of) the members of the other cells. Each cell consists of only six members, who work in pairs in their assigned region to root out and expose Brotherhood plots, while avoiding retaliation from their former fraternity.
The rest of the members of the Splintered Mind reside in a secret monastery near the city of Scant. Here new recruits are trained in the ways of the Mind. Elder members instruct the neophytes on topics ranging from the history of the Scarlet Brotherhood, to martial arts and weapon training, to burglary and espionage.
The work of each cell is also coordinated at the Scant monastery by the original three members -- Jeddec Al-Beth, Bri-An Liw, and Shu Besch -- who comprise the Splintered Mind Council. Only the Council knows the names and location of all of the members of the Splintered Mind. They monitor the social and political situation as reported by the fifteen cells, then determine how to deal with Brotherhood incursions in those areas.
History of the Splintered Mind
The Splintered Mind has been active for just a little more than a decade. However, the history of this group dates back to 6074, when Jeddec Al-Beth, then a young Brotherhood psion, was sent into the Raker mountain range to incite the humanoid tribes in the mountains to raid human settlements in the Bone March. If successful, the plan would both destabilize the region and give the Brotherhood strong, pliable allies.
Over the course of the next four years, Jeddec worked the Bone March, watching as intermittent raids turned into a full-scale invasion, all the while attempting to predict the long-term plans of the Brotherhood's humanoid allies from the thoughts of their leaders. Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to read the intentions of humanoids from their thoughts (there is very little difference between ally and prey in their minds), and Jeddec began to worry that he might never leave the Bone March alive.
Jeddec reported his fears that the humanoids could easily turn on the Brotherhood, but he had no firm evidence to support his concerns, so the plan continued. By 6078, the Bone March fell to the humanoid invasion, and the humanoid tribes severed all ties with the Brotherhood. Jeddec escaped with all of the Brotherhood members he could warn in time. Only a handful found their way back to the hidden city.
Although praised for saving the few members who survived, Jeddec still blamed himself for the tragic end of this Brotherhood plot. In the years following the debacle, Jeddec threw himself into psionic research, trying to find more reliable ways to uncover hidden truths and some way to discern where he had gone wrong during his time in the Bone March.
Jeddec's mental research led him to two new powers, both relating to the mind's perception of truth. However, his early experimentation with the powers kept him from ever revealing them to the Scarlet Brotherhood. Using the new power, discover truth, Jeddec learned that other members of the Brotherhood had known about the humanoids' plans to throw off their allegiance to the Brotherhood once the Bone March had fallen. Certain powerful figures in the Brotherhood decided that the loss was inevitable but that warning the agents working with the humanoids might lessen the damage done to the Bone March.
Feeling betrayed and beginning to understand that the order the Brotherhood wanted to impose on the world would serve only those in power, Jeddec began a dangerous ten-year investigation into the secrets of the Brotherhood -- and he began planning his escape. In addition to reinforcing his fears about the corruption within the Brotherhood, Jeddec's research led him to allies. While teaching psionic disciplines to two of his students -- a powerful member of the Crimson Blades named Bri-An Liw and an agile initiate of the Scarlet Fist named Shu Besch -- Jeddec found the opportunity to study their minds.
What Jeddec found was that these two students harbored similar doubts about the Brotherhood, and over the course of the next year, Jeddec helped Shu and Bri-An discover the horrible truth behind their doubts. Eventually, Jeddec trusted his students enough to share with them his own discoveries, and the three Brothers banded together to form the Splintered Mind. The three bided their time, learning what they could about the Brotherhood's plans and watching for their chance to escape.
During this time, Bri-An Liw, a fighter of some repute in the Brotherhood who favored the double scimitar, and Shu Besch, a fearsome force with the panther claw, began to develop a new form of tandem fighting. The new style required significant mental power in each member of the pair, but its effectiveness was amazing. Some of their discoveries were copied and developed by other talented monks, but Shu and Bri-An kept most of the knowledge to themselves, knowing that they must soon leave the Brotherhood.
The trio's chance at freedom finally came in 6096 SD, when a small band of mercenaries breached the defenses of the hidden city in a raid to seize a mysterious artifact that had recently been uncovered. During the chaos of the attack, Jeddec, Shu, and Bri-An escaped the hidden city.
Needing to find a secure place outside the reach of the Scarlet Brotherhood, the conspirators made their way to Irongate, a free state within the Iron League. There they founded the first Splintered Mind monastery and began planning a wide-ranging network of members. Unfortunately, the Greyhawk Wars broke out soon after, and Brotherhood forces began marching upon the Iron League. This was the first test of the truth seekers, who were able to warn Cobb Darg about Brotherhood agents within his state before the Brotherhood's armies reached the gate.
After the war, the founders decided that if they were to oppose their former organization, they must dwell within Brotherhood controlled lands, so they set out from Irongate to find a new home, leaving behind their six most promising students who formed the group's first cell. Thus, Jeddec, Bri-An, and Shu made their way to Scant and founded the permanent home of the Splintered Mind outside the city. Needing protection and knowing that the Scarlet Brotherhood controlled all of Onnwal, the trio turned to the city's thieves for help.
Jeddec approached Rakehell Chert, guildmaster thief of Scant, with valuable information that the Mind had uncovered about Brotherhood activities. Chert moved the guild outside the city, narrowly avoiding a Brotherhood attack. There, the guildmaster mounted an effective resistance and used his resources to keep the Splintered Mind hidden from the Scarlet Brotherhood.
The Exotic Weapons of the Scarlet Brotherhood
Bladed Staff: The bladed staff is 6-foot-long weapon with blades at either end. The complex fighting styles employed with this weapon typically use the haft of the weapon for defense. The bladed staff is a double weapon. You can fight with it as if fighting with two weapons, but if you do, you incur all the normal attack penalties associated with fighting with two weapons as if you are using a one-handed weapon and a light weapon (see Attacking with Two Weapons on page 124 of the Player's Handbook). A creature using a double weapon in one hand can't use it as a double weapon.
Double Scimitar: The curved blades of the double scimitar are used most effectively when spinning and twirling with the weapon. Despite its size, the weapon benefits more from quick, precise movement than from brute force. The double scimitar is a double weapon. You can fight with it as if fighting with two weapons, but if you do, you incur all the normal attack penalties associated with fighting with two weapons as if you are using a one-handed weapon and a light weapon (see Attacking with Two Weapons on page 124 of the Player's Handbook). A creature using a double weapon in one hand can't use it as a double weapon.
Panther Claw: The panther claw looks much like a punch dagger with two extra blades. The weapon retains the punch dagger's deadly force and the extra blades are useful for disarming opponents. Wielders proficient with the panther claw gain a +4 competence bonus when making disarm attempts with the panther claw.
Truth seekers are the elite agents of the splinter brotherhood. Their primary mission is to find spies and agents of the Scarlet Brotherhood that have placed themselves within local governments. The truth seekers determine the extent of the Brotherhood corruption within the government and report back to the Splintered Mind monastery.
All truth seekers are trained at the secret Splintered Mind monastery. Through rigorous exercises, they not only perfect their fighting skills but also unlock the powers within their minds. This mental energy is focused into Clairsentient and Telepathic powers, and truth seekers have honed these abilities to allow them to establish mental links with their comrades in the heat of battle. They also study in the Monastery's library, learning all they can of the history and politics of their assigned domain.
Truth seekers are formidable in combat, but they are even more powerful when multiple truth seekers fight in tandem. They almost always train and travel in pairs, allowing both to get the full benefit of their share mind power. They use their skills of Disguise and Forgery to gain entrance to nearly any location, and they tend to fight unarmed, so they are never at a loss for a weapon.
Most truth seekers are monks or psychic warriors, as they possess the martial skills as well as the inner focus needed to follow this path. Rogue, fighter, and paladin truth seekers are not uncommon, but wizards, barbarians, and clerics rarely seek the path of the truth seeker, though they are very much a part of the Splintered Mind.
NPC truth seekers always travel in pairs. They do not reveal their identity unless they completely trust the confidant.
Hit Die: d8.
The truth seeker's class skils (and the key ability for each skill) are Concentration (Con), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Forgery (Int), Knowledge (local) (Int), Knowledge (nobility and royalty) (Int), Knowledge (psionics) (Int), Listen (Wis), Psicraft (Int), Sense Motive (Wis), See the Player's Handbook and the Psionics Handbook for skill descriptions.
Skill Points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier.
Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Truth seekers are proficient with simple weapons. They are not proficient with armor or shields. The use of armor or shields does not interfere with the truth seeker's abilities but does affect the favorable number of unarmed attacks per round (see below).
Powers: A truth seeker manifests psionic powers. At each level, the truth seeker discovers powers as indicated on the table. These powers must be Clairsentient or Telepathic powers. A truth seeker must have a Wisdom score of at least 10 + the power's level to discover a Clairsentient power, and a Charisma score of at least 10 + the power's level for Telepathic powers. The DC for saving throws to resist a truth seeker's powers is 1d20 + the power's level + the key ability score modifier. The 1d20 roll is made by the truth seeker when the power is manifested.
Power Points: A truth seeker can manifest a number of powers based on available power points, but he does not need to prepare powers in advance, as the power point cost is paid when the power is manifested. Truth seekers do not gain bonus power points for exceptional ability scores. Power points earned as a truth seeker are pooled with power points from any other psionic class, so they can be used to manifest any other discovered power, psionic combat mode, or special ability.
0-level Powers: A truth seeker can manifest any talent (0-level power) he knows for free a number of times per day equal to his truth seeker level + 2, after which the truth seeker must pay the power point cost.
Psionic Combat Modes: At 1st level, a truth seeker learns two of the ten psionic combat modes. At succeeding levels, the truth seeker learns additional psionic combat modes according to the schedule on the table above. Psionic combat modes are covered in Chapter 4 of the Psionics Handbook.
Monk Strike: A truth seeker uses unarmed combat much like a monk. A truth seeker has a number of unarmed attacks and deals regular damage as a monk of the character's truth seeker class level. If the truth seeker has monk levels, then these are combined for the purposes of unarmed damage and number of unarmed attacks. Thus a 6th-level monk/6th-level truth seeker would attack as a 12th-level monk.
Share Mind: Truth seekers have the ability to connect to other minds and share thoughts and senses. Once per class level per day, the truth seeker can create a lesser mindlink with one willing target. The duration is 1 minute per truth seeker class level, and this power requires no power points to activate. A truth seeker can maintain share mind with only one creature at a time. This is a spell-like/psionic ability.
In addition to the lesser mindlink, the truth seeker (not the target) gains some advantages, based on his level:
The truth seeker gains these benefits whenever a lesser mindlink is established, regardless of whether the initiator was the truth seeker. Truth seekers can choose lesser mindlink as a discovered power and gain the above benefits.
Psychoanalyst: Truth seekers get the Psychoanalyst feat for free at 3rd level. This gives them a +2 bonus to Diplomacy, Bluff, Intimidate, and Charisma checks. The feat is described in detail in the Psionics Handbook.
Psychic Inquisitor: Truth seekers get the Psychic Inquisitor feat for free at 7th level. This allows the truth seeker to detect lies during a conversation. It is described in detail in the Psionics Handbook.
Truth Seeker Powers
Arcane Truth Seekers
Some DMs or players might not wish to include psionics in their campaigns. If this is the case, the truth seekers can be converted to an arcane class rather than a psionic class by replacing the discovered psionic powers and power points with an arcane spell progression identical to the first ten levels of bard. This covers number of castings per day and spells known. These spells should all be chosen from the Divination and Enchantment schools of the wizard spell list. Charisma is the primary attribute for arcane truth seekers.
The abbeys and monasteries of the Scarlet Brotherhood are home to many different traditions. In many of these locales, novitiates train as a monk for many years before being introduced to a different vocation, combining their monk training with that of a wizard, rogue, or psychic warrior. It is rumored that the Brotherhood has a secret proving ground where their monks learn the dark arts of the blackguard, and more than one diplomat has met his end at the hands of monk assassins.
The Scarlet Fist is one such order within the Scarlet Brotherhood. They combine the regimens of a monk with the martial and mental training of a psychic warrior. Unlike most monks, the training of the psychic warrior is combined with the way of the monk to such a degree that the Scarlet Fist are able to advance in both monk and psychic warrior classes without penalty, provided the two classes are within one level of each other.
Another sect, the Crimson Blades, eschews unarmed combat, preferring instead to master a variety of weapons and styles of fighting. They use the psychic training provided by the Scarlet Brotherhood's psionic fraternities, but they focus less on mental powers and more on pure combat.
The suggested level progression for a Scarlet Fist monk, a Crimson Blade warrior, and a Splintered Mind truth seeker are listed below.
The scarlet fist (monk/psychic warrior) is an unarmed warrior who uses the powers of his mind to enhance the power of his unarmed combat. The monks of the Scarlet Fist are agents of the Scarlet Brotherhood and act on the instructions of that organization.
A scarlet fist advances evenly in monk levels and psychic warrior levels. This gives good unarmed combat abilities, speed, and monk abilities, while providing bonus feats and powers from the psychic warrior levels.
Movement skills are important for a Scarlet Fist monk. Skills such as Balance, Jump, and Tumble are good to keep at a high level. Concentration is also important for manifesting powers in combat situations. A scarlet fist should try to keep those skills at the maximum for the first few levels. Once Tumble is good enough to guarantee avoiding attacks of opportunity (overall +14) and Concentration is high enough to manifest most powers defensively, the scarlet fist might choose to branch out. Spot and Listen are also useful skills to improve to help avoid being caught flat-footed.
As the scarlet fist attacks primarily unarmed, Weapon Focus (unarmed strike) is valuable. Likewise, since the scarlet fist is normally unarmored, feats that enhance AC are appropriate, such as Dodge, Mobility, and Expertise. There are also a number of feats in the Psionics Handbook that can enhance AC and unarmed combat.
The crimson blade (psychic warrior/fighter) is a fighting machine. They are the shock troops of the Scarlet Brotherhood psions, though they are more direct in their means than most of the Brotherhood. They also serve as bodyguards to the monastery masters.
The primary benefit of a crimson blade is the sheer number of feats they have available. The psychic warrior class gives access to psionic feats, and both classes grant bonus feats at frequent levels. If the character does not have fighter or psychic warrior as a preferred class, then the progression should remain even, but three levels of fighter for every two levels of psychic warrior provides the largest number of feats, while still providing an effective assortment of psionic powers.
Crimson blades have very few skill points to use. If the character plans to manifest powers in the midst of combat, fully half of the crimson blade's skill points per level should be used to buy ranks in Concentration. The other skill points could be used on Climb, Jump, Swim, or Tumble, depending on individual taste.
Many crimson blades learn a variety of exotic weapons, becoming focused and specialized in them. The only guideline is that the character take a Weapon Focus feat before the sixth level of psychic warrior to take advantage of the free Weapon Specialization feat. A human crimson blade can garner a total of twenty feats by 20th level -- the options are almost limitless.
The typical truth seeker (prestige class) begins his training as a monk, then applies his abilities to the psychic warrior class before qualifying for, and gaining levels in, the truth seeker prestige class. After three levels of monk (the still mind ability is important for Will saves) followed by three levels of psychic warrior, they begin truth seeker training.
Truth seekers of this sort will intersperse levels of psychic warrior with the prestige class levels as they rise in power. This broadens their knowledge of lower level powers and provides bonus feats on occasion.
The key skills initially for truth seekers are Diplomacy and Sense Motive. As Sense Motive is not a class skill, a would-be truth seeker will need to spend nearly one-third of his skill points on Sense Motive for the first six levels to get to the required 4 ranks for the truth seeker prestige class. Other skill points could be used for Tumble and Concentration. Once the prestige class is attained, truth seekers diversify into Disguise and Forgery, or Diplomacy and Knowledge (any), as appropriate to their role.
As truth seekers are typically unarmored, many choose feats such as Dodge, Mobility, and Expertise to improve their AC, but two feats selected early on should be Combat Reflexes and Dual Strike, which are required for the prestige class. Weapon Focus (unarmed strike) is essential prior to reaching the 6th level of psychic warrior, when Weapon Specialization is granted. If psionic combat is expected, then Iron Will gives these characters an extra edge by increasing Will saves.
Jeddec developed fairy tale years ago when preparing to flee from the Brotherhood. The power's careful use allowed Jeddec to convince the few Brotherhood members who have discovered the Splintered Mind that the group doesn't really exist. Without the protection of fairy tale, the renegades would long ago have been discovered.
In his youth, Jeddec developed discover truth to aid his own enlightenment. By studying his own experiences, he believed he could learn the lessons life had to teach more quickly. Instead, his use of this power let him piece together some of the guarded secrets surrounding the Scarlet Brotherhood. Knowledge of his superiors' true motives and beliefs led Jeddec to eventually rebel against the Brotherhood's teachings and flee its borders.
Distraction has been in the Scarlet Brotherhood for centuries. The group's psions use the power when working with rogues, allowing the rogues more chances to make sneak attacks without exposing the psion to the dangers of melee combat.
Narrow thoughts is relatively new to the Scarlet Brotherhood. This power is most often used by Brotherhood psychic warriors when dealing with a single, very dangerous foe. This power can give a lightly armored Brotherhood monk better odds against a heavily armored foe.
The power find the heart was developed by Brotherhood psychic warriors long ago, and it appeals to the cruel nature of many Scarlet Brotherhood agents. Few outside the Brotherhood choose to master this power.
Years ago, members of the Scarlet Brotherhood realized that their enemies often fought less effectively against them than other foes because of the Brotherhood's fearsome reputation. After years of study, psions in the Brotherhood learned to induce a state of hesitation in their enemies, with the brittle psyche power.
Where illusions create images or sounds that do not exist, fairy tale causes its target to believe that something that does or did exist is merely imaginary. The caster chooses one object or thing that becomes imaginary in the mind of the target. If a living being is chosen as the "imaginary" object, that creature can then be considered invisible to the target.
Rogue/psion multiclass characters often make use of this power, causing the owner of something they've stolen to think the stolen object is imaginary.
Because the mind is very hard to influence in this way, the use of fairy tale is difficult. The target can avoid the power's effects with a successful Will save. Furthermore, even if the target fails her saving throw, each time she is exposed to the "imaginary" object, she gets another saving throw. The DM has the final word on what circumstances allow the target an additional saving throw. Any time the target of fairy tale is attacked by the object or creature she believes to be imaginary, the effect automatically ends. Also, if the target comes in physical contact with the "imaginary" object or creature, the effects of fairy tale end.
This subtle power uses the target's memories to uncover hidden truths. When activated, the target can visualize a specific 30-second period of time that he remembers. The target sees not what he remembers but rather what was truly there. In the target's memory, invisible creatures and objects can be seen, and illusions have no effect. For discover truth to work, the time period recalled must have occurred at least 24 hours before the power's activation.
This power affects the mind of the target, clouding his anticipation of attacks and disrupting his ability to focus on an attacker. Any creature attacking the target gains a +2 circumstance bonus to hit and characters with the sneak attack ability add their extra damage when attacking the creature if it can be affected by sneak attacks.
Distraction can only affect creatures with an Intelligence score.
Like its lesser counterpart distraction, narrow thoughts affects the target's ability to concentrate on combat. However, where distraction dulls the perceptions and focus of the target, narrow thoughts heightens the target's awareness of a single foe.
A creature affected by narrow thoughts must choose one visible enemy to focus on when the power is manifested. For the duration of the power, the affected creature's Dexterity bonus, dodge bonuses, and shield bonus to AC apply only when attacked by the chosen enemy. Furthermore, the affected creature gains an additional +2 dodge bonus to AC against the chosen enemy. This means, of course, that attackers other than the one the affected creature chooses to concentrate on will have a much easier time striking the power's target.
Find the Heart
Find the heart gives its user an intuitive feel for striking a creature's anatomy. Using this insight allows the psychic warrior to make more precise, damaging strikes. This power grants the equivalent of +2d6 sneak attack damage. The extra damage is treated like the rogue's ability to sneak attack, except find the heart grants bonus damage only to melee attacks. Any time the psychic warrior makes a melee attack, she can add +2d6 points of bonus damage if the target would be denied a Dexterity bonus to AC or if the target is flanked.
The extra damage from find the heart applies only against creatures susceptible to a rogue's sneak attack damage; it does not work against undead, oozes, plants, and incorporeal creatures. Any creature that is immune to critical hits is also immune to the extra damage from find the heart. Multiclass psychic warriors who already have the sneak attack ability still gain the benefit of •find the heart; the extra damage from this power stacks with regular sneak attack damage.
The affected creature suffers a -2 morale penalty on attack rolls, weapon damage rolls, and saving throws. Creatures with 10 or more Hit Dice avoid this effect with a successful Will save. Creatures with less than 10 Hit Dice get no saving throw to reduce the initial effect. Creatures who succeed at their first save are immune to the further effects of the power.
Furthermore, when the affected creature takes damage during a combat round, the penalties increase. At the end of any round of combat during which the creature takes damage, the morale penalty increases by an additional -2. The creature can avoid this additional penalty with a successful Will save. Successfully making a saving throw prevents the penalty from increasing but does nothing to prevent the penalty from increasing next round, nor does it rid the creature of penalties already accrued.
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