Seven Realms: Religious Factions
The shadows of the secular world are not the only places one finds organizations bent on changing the world. Aside from many bonafide altruistic or neutral religions, ones that are either good for the people or the nation, or at least do no harm to those outside the religion, there are of course detrimental religions dedicated to chaos, nihilism, corruption and the acquisition of power for the religious group at the expense of everyone else. There are also causes which are not evil, but their interference can be seen as against the national interests of one or more countries, or civilization in general.
The most powerful, or more story worthy factions are the Cult of the Reborn, the Green Wardens, the Chosen of Larmissa, the Black Order, and the Unseen Order of the One.
The Cult of the Reborn is made up entirely of secret demon-worshippers who strive to recruit people of secular power to their ranks, offering mystical might for their devotion. The bargain they make with their members is truly unholy, gifting them with the Mark, a symbol which causes uneasiness in most who see it. They are dangerous, both because each member who has made the pact is capable of adopting a hideous and dangerous form allowing them victory in personal combat and because most of them are highly placed individuals who unless they choose to expose themselves are completely hidden throughout societies of a dozen or more settlements. The Mark is only generally visible when the bearer wishes it to be seen, or when it is in use.
Green Wardens are radicals who believe that the march of civilization leads only to despoiled wilderness littered with ruins of cities, fortresses and the remnants of battlefields. A great number of their members are capable of channeling the might of the Verdant Haven, and are called druids. Like most large religious groups, some of the Green Wardens see themselves as stewards of the wilds, but there are some who consider themselves enforcers as well as rogue elements who actively act against their own races to curtail progress and growth of settled peoples. Only communities living in harmony with nature are ignored or considered good, thus quite a few religious minded gnomes eventually associate with if not fall in with the Wardens.
Larmissa, Mother of Monsters is a dread goddess that was only worshipped to keep her at bay by most of Arn since her influence became known. Still, there are those who sought her out, and worship her in true devotion. These individuals eventually trade the coin of worship for arachnoid appearance and power. While their unusual appearances make them unlikely antagonists when secrecy is required, the power they wield can be very far reaching. As only the accepted gain the gift of Larmissa’s touch, there are countless lower level fanatics to spy or give out missions both to the heroes and against them once they discover who they really are working for.
The Black Order is the nickname for the Holy Order of the Serpent, a religious cult obsessed with raising the serpentmen up from the obscurity they presently inhabit and give them power over their world. As a deposed race, they are not a very public enemy. Many races today remember the treachery of this race, and would consider large gatherings of them a large threat. However, the Demon Lords the serpentmen worshipped offer power to all of their servants, and while the purest members of the Order are not human, there are thousands of cell members who are. Still, worshipping demons leads to corruption, so at some point they either graduate to a higher circle of service, or they are chained up with the other warbeasts, which is what the unlucky who lose their minds, and thus their usefulness, become.
Lastly, the Unseen Order of the One is a hidden sect within the Church of the One, a monotheistic religion gaining traction throughout portions of the Rosenmark and the Midlands. The Unseen Order is dedicated to shaping the decisions of the church leadership, which is the same as them ruling from the shadows. While they have no foresworn themselves entirely, they are ruthless and power hungry. Threats to their power, or the growing influence of the Church, are targeted and destroyed with great precision.