Legend of the Tiger Generals
The Golden Forge is a collection of black marketeers, artificers, mercenaries and looters, all focused on a common goal: domination through superior artifacts. The organization’s basic creed, as explained to new recruits, is that weapons of power can be the great leveler between the ordinary person and the paragon. Though some forgemasters spin this philosophy as a potential way to better the lot of the common individual, at its heart it’s nothing more than gilding of a desire to grab power. The rank-and-file of the Golden Forge get few chances to better their own lots: they’re soldiers and operatives, equipped with blastwands or other replicable artifacts, sent out as a front line for operations and frequently abandoned when things get sour.
Golden Forge threats often take the form of raids on Imperial armories, kidnapping of particularly skilled crafters or of ordinary citizens (to serve as forced labor), experimentation on captives, thefts of valuable materials, collusion with other enemies of the Empire (such as Pandaemonium and the Teind), attacks on Imperial paragons, and a multitude of forms of public endangerment and property damage. The outright lethality of the Forge varies somewhat by leader; some Forgemasters can be honorable if twisted opponents, while others are sadistic and cruel.
The Golden Forge’s strengths involve great wealth, an extensive arsenal, and a variety of constructs. They often have access to experimental items or constructs that can prove exceptionally dangerous, sometimes to the wielders. Their weaknesses lie in a lack of well-rounded arcane knowledge and some difficulty in adapting to paragons whose powers are innate.
For all that, the Golden Forge is not very prominent in Chalcedon. The strong focus on martial arts and primal power is useless to a group of artifact-raiders. Only a few scattered cells dot the Western Continent, led by Forgemasters who plot to change the land to their benefit.
The bottom tier of the Golden Forge is the Apprentices, a collection of thugs, thieves, smugglers and initiates who do much of the common work for the organization. One step above them are the Artificers, officers of the guild. Many Artificers have some skill in the various specialized crafting disciplines the Forge values. Above them are the regional bosses, or Forgemasters. Each Forgemaster is the leader of a cell, and oversees a particular project meant to better the Forge as a whole (and of course, his own standing). The Forge Templars — those paragons beholden to the organization — are technically just above Forgemasters in rank, as they can often move from cell to cell as needed. Forgemasters with paragon skills of their own, of course, stand equal with the Forge Templars. The final rank is that of the Exalted Masters, the shadowy councilors who rule over the entire guild. There’s rumor that the Exalted Masters serve an unseen figure above even them, but nobody at the Forgemaster level or lower seems to know for certain.
The emblem of the Golden Forge is a hammer laid over a pyramid. The formal uniform is a breastplate bearing the hammer motif, greaves, gauntlets and helm, all of a golden color. In some cases, the armor may be of gehennium. The vestments are of a secondary color: brown for Apprentices, red for Artificers, and purple for Forgemasters. Forge Templars are, like most paragons, prone to distinguish themselves with more personalized uniforms. The colors of the Exalted Masters are presently unknown.
Knaves of Note
The Golden Forge hires all manner of knave mercenaries, in particular those who derive their power from artifacts, such as the Levelers. They of course create their own paragons where they can, and elevate them to the rank of Forge Templar, but some Forge paragons go rogue shortly after their empowerment (such as former Forgemaster Marcato Valentine).
Forge Templars and paragon-class Forgemasters encountered so far include:
- Bercilak the Beheader, rogue knight bearing the Abaddon Axe
- Blightfinger, restructured knave who requires toxins to live
- Brontogg, forge-augmented war-ape
- Ironshod, wearer of a centauroid mechanical war-harness
- Krauser Gold, former magistrate turned knave
- Narcissa, vain owner of an enchanted mask
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