Assassins of Porphyra
This information is specific to the world Porphyra, published by Purple Duck Games.
Assassin Orders of Porphyra
Most of the assassins of Porphyra belong to an order, or is at the very least trained in a secret that once belonged to an order. Most of these orders are small, local affairs. Leaders may call themselves guild masters, matriarchs, or prophets, but rarely do their power reach further than the knives of their minions and they frequently have to relocate to escape persecution. Few small orders are open to strangers. Generally all members are blood kin or recruited as children. This insular approach breeds fanatic loyalty, but limits the secrets of the guild to what a single master can teach. Some orders of assassins reach regional power, often through the support of a ruthless government. Such orders control a stable area where they seek to eradicate all other assassins, both to ensure their monopoly and so as to not take the blame for the acts of others. A regional order might be open to strangers that prove themselves, especially if they bring in new skills, but they must take contracts only from the order and generally work as outside consultants rather than full members.
A select few orders stable enough to have developed long traditions are described below. For more information on the places and gods mentioned, see Elemental Lords of Porphyra, Gods of Porphyra and the upcoming Lands of Porphyra.
The Clockwork Lands is the ideal place for assassins, but it is a market that is tightly controlled. Ostensibly a security firm, it is an open secret that Clockwork Security is an assassin guild. Employing both company men and independent contract killers, Clockwork Security is one of the largest and most public assassin orders on Porphyra. The price of this openness is that the corporation keeps independent assassins under its thumb; outsiders are tolerated as long as they act as grease for society by eliminating troublesome worker leaders or facilitate changes in corporate structure, but if they go too far the corporate hammer hits them hard.
Descended from the elven nation of Colothorian that was shattered in the New GodsWar, the elves living in the shadow of Morah'Silvanath fight a guerrilla war against the inhabitants of the giant tree. In its shadow they have trained their own assassins, adapted to eternal dusk. They are friends to all kinds of vermin and fungi and farm them for poisons, the deadliest of which target plants. Relatively safe inside the guerrilla movement, Colthorian assassins can afford to not be paranoid. Instead they suffer persecution by the Silvanathi elves and harpies.
It is known that there were tasked slayer genies before the New GodsWar, and murder was an accepted path of advancement in the elemental courts. Queen Antropda in the Haunted Sea is but one elemental ruler with assassin abilities. But today elemental assassins are disorganized and fractious, and it is rare to find more than a single master and a few apprentices working together.
Supported by House Vark, the ruling house of Tuthon, the evening shades are trained by demons and led by Dark Mistress, the succubus patron of the house. Operating out of the pleasure-fortress of Shadowlight, their ultimate goal is nothing less than the ascension of their demonic mistress to the ranks of the divine. They combine pleasure and death, working the sex trade to gain access to both information and victims. Persistent rumors that some prostitutes in The Jawed City are secretly assassins is just one more kink and seems to attract rather than repel customers. Some of their members are of exotic races, like fetchlings and skulks, and keep a lower profile.
The personal assassins and torturers of the elemental lady of glass Ashamar Shining, the splinter guild has a stronghold in the isolated desert town of Ayishim. Sending assassins out as their first probing agents to see if the land is yet ripe for their lady’s return, isolated fire splinter assassins can be found across the world, seeking to create deep cover cells. The Fire Splinters pioneered the lingering death ability long ago, which is today common to all assassins. This is used as a cover by the fire splinters as they slowly return to the world; since every assassin uses some of the glass assassin’s old secrets, signs that these techniques are resurfacing are taken more lightly than they should.
Haven of Calopia
Foreign assassins on manhunts in Caliopia are often foiled by retired heroes who are not themselves assassins, making the shadow war of assassins impossible here. A retired assassin in Calopia might serve as a mentor or trainer for a young apprentice, but no orders are tolerated. This has made Caliopia a refuge for retired assassins—in a place where so many have exceptional abilities and have done extreme acts of destruction, old killers feel right at home.
Worshiping Rajuk Amon-Gore in his aspect of the end of the dance, the dancers see killing as a sacred duty, a chance of advancement, and the re-enactment of their gods ascension all in one. Members who thrive on the fruits of their labor may have secret identities as respected members of society. Led by the Black Bishop, whose true identity is unknown to all, the rajuki are chaotic and have only an informal organization. Rarely do they work together unless one member can gain leverage against the others, often by threatening to disclose their secret identities. Sometimes a visionary can build a large cult and become a real threat. Rajuki assassins use a black hood as their identifier, going hooded at cult meetings so they cannot identify their compatriots, and do their murders hooded to honor their dark god. They tend to use the divine or gruesome secrets, but may be given any secret as a gift from their dark god.
Patrons of Assassins
There are two main gods of assassins in Porphyra, Shade and Rajuk Amon-Gore. Shade's cult is by far the larger, but Rajuk’s is the more feared. Even more terrifying are the rare assassins of the elemental lords.
Shade is the patron of assassins, and most assassins pay at least lip service to him. Some assassins have patrons among the other evil gods as well, depending on their mindset and goals. More frequently, the faithful of other gods employ agents of Shade to do their bloody work. Shade tells his brethren to organize and support each other, but always at a price. The assassin is the point of the blade, the informant is the spine, the poison-maker the edge, the fence is the fuller that bleeds the target dry, the middle man connecting them all is the handle and the client is the pommel that balances the whole. All work for their own best interest, together they prosper. If one part fails, it can be easily replaced, but if a part becomes untrustworthy the integrity of the whole is in peril. It is better to kill an distrusted partner than to put yourself at risk.
Rajuk Amon-Gore is the god of fanatics, death-cultists, and murder as a spiritual path. He is special in that the kill itself is a holy act, rather than a means to an end. This places him in opposition to Shade's more mercenary approach. Rajuk's assassins in theory belong to a Porfyria-spanning guild known as the Rajuki Dancers, but in practice most are lone madmen or small sects led by a vision of death. The Rajuki believe that the "divine spark" of creativity can be stolen. While some accept commissions like other assassins, they also go out of their way to find young, talented people to kill. Others take over the life of a victim, preferably a rich recluse.
Other notable divine patrons are Ul’ul and Ferrakus who are special in that they sponsor assassins who are usually not evil. The builder and destroyer recognizes assassination as a useful tool, while Ul'ul is the inspiration for dream assassins.
Most elemental lords were once served by elemental assassins and would gladly accept the service of any assassin today. Ashamar Shining is notable for having a special order of assassins, the fire splinter glass killers, tough few remain today. Korufu the shadow has few mortal servants, but still inspires dark thoughts, dark deeds, and shadow assassins. Wind of Jewels rarely resorted to something as subtle as assassination in her heyday, but her use of death and imprisonment in the New GodsWar inspires necrotic assassins.
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Section 15 addendum: Lands of Porphyria (c) Purple Duck Games. Author Perry Fehr