Todays classic return sample is obviously inspired by the Greyhawk campaign setting, from its name, to the locations and people involved in it, but is not directly a classic piece of D&D history reimagined, but a whole new piece inspired by an old setting.
The Keepers of the Grey Hawk
The Keepers of the Grey Hawk were once known as the Society of the Serpent, a group created in the inns and taverns of Nerath’s once great capital city before it fell to the rot and ruin like all great empire’s. Created by militia soldiers as a way to gain money through charity an promote the teaching and support of wounded soldiers, its influence quickly spread throughout the empire, and the society set up offices to receive donations and shelter and train troops in every town and city.
When the wild coast was invaded by Ulek Flanaess during the Year of the Cobra, 40 well-trained and well armed society members came to the town of Fax’s aid, repelling the invaders long enough for the town to be evacuated. Of those that survived the battle, they spoke of the evil magics wielded by the hordes of goblins under Ulek’s command, their leader directing them with savage force and tactical genius thanks to his familiar, a raptor that soared high above the battlefield, allowing Ulek to see everything and plan accordingly
The Society announced its intention to send its members to halt the advance of the Ulek horde, and avenge the deaths of its comrades. An army, thousands strong, made of aged and decrepit soldiers, with battle scars criss-crossing their faces, and crutches to support broken bones, and old wounds from arrows to the knee, faced off against the goblin horde on the plains of Scant.
Little is known about the battle, but it is said that the society were massacred, barely able to slow the horde, while the leaders of the society, young and uninjured, clad in magical armour purchased with money that was not distributed to their members, snook in and assassinated Ulek Flanaess, stealing his bird of prey, and leaving the battle.
The Society fell that day its members; ex-soldiers, courtiers and merchant navy were slaughtered by the goblins. Their efforts may have seemed in vain, but they killed enough of Flanaess’ forces and removed the head paving the way for the victory of the true Nerathi armies.
Years later, on the eve of another terrible war, the leaders of both sides were approached by a shadowy figure bearing a cage. He offered them the ability to see the fight in detail, for a price. A price that they were willing to pay. The shadowy figure removed the cloak covering the cages bars, and inside was a hawk, its grey feathers spotted with black and white. The figure asked each leader to stare into the hawks eyes so that they might gain its vision and its bargain completed departed.
When the battle began the next day, each leader had their eyes glued to the sky, watching, waiting, for a glimpse of the hawk, hoping that it would give them the edge that would win. They neglected their troops, failed to command their captains, and ignored the screams of the dying, until suddenly, a dark spot could be seen soaring above the blood soaked fields. Each stood triumphantly, and instantly found themselves transported into the midst of combat, facing each other, and surrounded by the chaotic melee and disorganized retreat of both sides. Hours later, their bodies were found amidst the corpses of the common foot soldiers, their necks slit, and a grey feather stuck inside their clothes.
The Keepers of the Grey Hawk are a mystical group, with vast wealth gathered in their early days. They appear randomly, often at important events that define the future of nations and carry with them a caged bird of prey. There, they will offer both sides a deal in order to utilize the group’s secret power. Few refuse the offer and few live to tell the tale. The Keepers seek to ensure the status quo is maintained, and that no power rises to control Nerath.
The Keepers of the Grey Hawk are highly selective in their recruitment, choosing only human members of a neutral outlook on life. They despise those with overtly good or evil intentions, and often kill initiates who prove themselves to be aligned too much with the religious groups or the infernal forces.
The Keepers train all their members in the ways of observation, diplomacy and judgment. The lowest rank amongst the group is that of the Gargoyle, a level in which the recruit is expected to simply observe and gather information, watching and listening. Those that rise beyond the lowest ranks become Judges, and are trained to stop the spread of world-changing power at its heart. Then, there are the Raptors, members of the group who are used to bring an end to wars, to topple kingdoms and overthrow evil dictators. The Raptors are trusted to negotiate and offer the groups services, the use of Ulek Flanaess’ ancient and magical bird of prey, a Greyhawk; a magical creature that can see and hear everything, relaying that information back to its owner. The Raptors are charismatic dealers of death, able to appear out of the shadows, negotiate and double cross their victims before slaying them amid the confusion of their own greed.
A Gargoyle, the lowest ranked member of the Keepers of the Grey Hawk, is taught how to watch and listen, absorbing information that can be parroted back to their superiors.
Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus to Perception and Insight checks, and know one additional language.
Level 5 Feature:
Rising through the ranks of Gargoyle, you have proven your ability to watch and report on the changing powers of the world. Now, as a Judge, you are taught how to bring an end to those that would upset the careful balance of good and evil that the Keepers have spent so long maintaining.
Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus to monster knowledge checks, and gain the You Have Been Judged power.
You Have Been Judged
“The continued existence of your target puts the status quo at risk, it is time they are eliminated.”
Daily * Weapon, Implement
Free Action * Personal
Trigger: You hit and deal damage against a creature of Lawful Good or Chaotic Evil alingment
Target: Triggering creature
Effect: You deal an additional 1W damage to the target, or 1d10 damage if it is an implement attack.
Level 10 Feature:
Sometimes, the Judges fail to stop the expansion of good or evil, and that is when Raptors step in. Appearing out of the shadows, they offer a deal that cannot be refused, before double-crossing them and assassinating them.
Benefit: You gain a +2 bonus to Stealth and Diplomacy checks, and gain the Double Crossed Death power.
Double Crossed Death
“Amid the confusion caused by your deal, you double cross your target, preparing them to die.”
Daily * Charm
Standard Action * Close Burst 5
Target: One creature of Lawful Good or Chaotic Evil alignment in the burst
Effect: Until the start of your next turn, the target is considered helpless for the sake of any attacks you make against it.