The League of Names
The League of Names is based in the Sea of Pearls, but there is nowhere they will not go to fulfill their duty. They serve one god and one god only, though he has many forms and visages: Father Death, the Pale Monarch, the King in Robes. Death is precious, they teach, and to die before your appointed time is a kingly gift. It is only through the mercy of Father Death that the Compact of Names has been signed, so that a life may be consigned to oblivion if it is duly paid for in gold. To give this gift away freely is absolute sacrilege, and it is a most unforgivable crime to kill those whose deaths have not been paid for. The actual sum of money is of comparatively little importance; what is important is that the death has been paid for in the proper way. To accept a token amount would also be sacrilege - the pay must be equivalent to the value of the target's life, or it is a farce and a mockery of Father Death - even worse than not demanding pay at all.
The way in which the League of Names may be contracted is simple - go past cursed Whitehelm and the Baron's Reef to Black Isle in the Sea of Pearls, and journey into the looming forests. There, at the center of the woods, is the City of Stone. It is not a true city at all, but a great labyrinth as old as time itself. Scratched into its walls are prayers to Father Death and hundreds of names. Go there, walk the labyrinth, and carve your name into the stone, and below it the name of the one who must die. Now you have brought upon yourself the attention of the League of Names. Do nothing else and leave immediately, and you may yet live. The woods teem with assassins-in-training to compete and vie constantly against each other; those who return from the City of Stone without leaving their name, who leave another's name, who tarry on their way, or who deal death needlessly are fair game for these students of the Pale Monarch. Once you have left the Black Isle, an assassin will find you. It may be tomorrow; it may be in a week, or in a month. But they will find you. They will tell you that the deed has been done, and that Father Death must be satisfied. Then you will pay them, or your life will pay. The price is always exactly double the price listed here. There is almost no warning to the target - only that they may see a crow circling them, following, watching them for a time before the deed is done.
None know where the League of Names draws its students from, only that recruitment always occurs in childhood - many speculate that they recruit those who have been orphaned by needless slaughter. But since every assassin casts aside their own name and identity in the first stages of their training, it is not spoken of. No assassin has ever betrayed the League of Names in recorded history. It is known that assassins-in-training - like those who have nearly completed their tutelage - live in a state of constant danger in the forests of Black Isle, where they fight and prey on each other, but none know where the headquarters of the League of Names is. Many believe that it is somewhere on the cursed island of Whitehelm, as it is empty and desolate and very near Black Isle, but none have been foolhardy enough to check - or if they have, they did not return.
Namers of the League are always single-classed members of the Assassin class. They are always Neutral Evil aligned, and they may never take a life that has not been paid for under any circumstances. To do so is to invite dishonor and shame. Your own life will pay for the life you took if you are caught breaking the Compact of Names. Namers of the League receive names from crows that whisper into their ear; to receive a name and refuse to carry out the Task is to break the Compact of Names, with the same consequences. If a Namer's life is ever saved by someone, the Compact of Names demands that they offer a free death in exchange.
Namers wear whatever disguise, clothing or armour is most appropriate to their current task, with one exception: the Mask of the Nameless. This is a carved wooden mask which resembles a gaunt, skull-like grinning demon. This mask is the face of Father Death, and it must be worn so that he may witness and acknowledge the one who's life has been taken outside of the usual flow of events. To kill without the mask is to break the Compact of Names.
Namers of the League receive several strange powers from their training and their affinity with Father Death:
- They may speak the language of crows. Crows recognise them as servants of Father Death and will usually assist them. In particular, they will tell a Namer where their mark may be found and whisper secrets about him.
- Namers gain the ability to change their face. They may assume the face of anyone they have killed, as well as an entirely new face of their own choosing. This functions identically to the effects of an Alter Self spell, changing their actual physical appearance; it is no illusion.
- Namers are completely ignored by unintelligent undead as if under the effects of an Invisibility to Undead spell. Intelligent undead that hate life are indifferent to Namers. Strongly intelligent undead with personalities (such as vampires or liches) may still oppose a Namer, though many choose not to anger Father Death lest he take note of their unnatural vitality.
- When a Namer of 5th or higher level changes their face, everyone who sees them do it must make a saving throw vs. spell or they will not realise what has occurred; depending on circumstances, they may still be confused about where the Namer "suddenly came from". At 7th level onwards, there is a -2 penalty to this saving throw.
Although the League of Names does not directly incorporate the order of the Deathpriests, they serve the same master and cooperate. In many cases, the catacombs beneath a city or the graveyard in a town is used as a hiding place for Namers or a cache for equipment. A Deathpriest can freely move in these places without suspicion, which makes it easy for them to assist the League.
In places that are further from the Black Isle, the priesthood of the Silent Monarch can also create Compacts. This happens only in the great cities, where the Deathpriests have a hallowed catacomb complex. It is possible to be led to a Deathpriest into these catacombs, where one will find the same kind of scratched names that are found in the City of Stone.