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ID: 3482

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December 21, 2006, 9:57 pm

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Murometz

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The House of Sand

By:

The House of Sand is but a rumor to most, but there are those that listen to the streets of the great cities telling of an organization of master assassins that has it’s fingers in almost every criminal organization.

I was twenty summers old when the dream came. The dream has come to us all and I only wish to see the paradise once more. Amirah tells us that the Queen of Sand awaits us on the other side and all we must do is obey Amirah. Obedience, I have obeyed and I am now near my death. I tell you this in hope that you will see what it is to be faithful and serve the Queen as I have.
I was a street thief and footpad all my life. The law knew of me and my time was short before I would end up in the chain gang at the quarry outside of the city. Then the dream came. I awoke in a paradise with fountains, exotic food, music, dancers, and women that paid attention to my every whim. In this dream Amirah came to me and promised me immortality and everything I would ever want, so long as I served the Queen of Sand. I agreed not really knowing what I was agreeing to. All I knew is that I would yearn for that afterlife for the rest of my days and the Queen of Sand could give it to me so long as I serve her.
I awoke in my bed. It was midday and I had slept in. I dressed and went about my day. I remember I could still smell the perfume of the dancers on my skin. I ached to see that paradise again. I wanted Amirah to tell me that I would be a prince in the afterlife and have everything I would ever want.
After stealing some purses from tourists in the market district I returned home barely evading a squad of town guardsmen. I opened the door to my small apartment, closed the door behind me and out of the shadows stepped Amirah. I knew this was no dream like last night. This was real and my dream was given life. She told me to come with her and since that day she has been my life, my dream, my salvation. I walk with the Queen of Sand now and she walks with me. I give her life and she awaits me in the afterlife.
Amirah is the Queen of Sand in living flesh. It is said in the writings that she has been alive since the birth of the House of Sand and can change her form at will. She looks for people that need the Queen’s love and brings them into the afterlife that awaits the faithful for a night. Then they make the decision. To become the faithful and serve the House of Sand or to remain in obscurity and slowly wither away.
I chose the Queen and Amirah. I have paradise awaiting me behind these walls called life. Soon I will see the Queen and live forever in paradise. So, be faithful to the Queen and heed your master’s words. The Queen awaits you in the afterlife.

THE HOUSE OF SAND
Headquarters: Al’Jazeera Keep, Desert Mountain terrain
Members: Three Raksasha leaders, unknown number of assassin agents, not even the Raksasha know how many assassins that each controls.
Hierarchy: Theocracatic
Leaders: Three Raksasha Leaders
Religion: Worship of the ‘false’ goddess the Queen of Sand
Alignment: Evil
Secrecy: Very Secret
Symbol: Black handled dagger with a red tassel
HISTORY
The castle that sits in the desert mountains is known not to be abandoned but no army will go near it. It has been removed off almost every known map. People that write about it disappear. Anyone that opposes those that make their home in the castle disappear or are found dead. The House of Sand is capable of changing power in a kingdom overnight. The agents of the House of Sand are among the best assassins in the known world. Trained for at least six years after they are brought into the family, the agents become assassins that will give their lives to complete a mission. They believe that with a glorious death they will have a higher place in the afterlife. Failing a mission is not acceptable but either is suicide. Most assassinations are politically motivated. The House of Sand is strange in the fact that they seldom take on contracts because no one can find them.
The Raksasha that founded the House of Sand and are wealthy beyond belief. This wealth has been built by seven centuries of skillful political maneuvering and blackmail. The House of Sand has their fingers into every major kingdom and even those of goblinoids and evil races. Each agent is selected from the same walk of life that they will fulfill in the House of Sand. Someone that is to fill the shoes of a political target will be a charming individual that probably could have been a politician. Assassins are taken from criminal stock; some are even in jail when visited. 
The agents of the house of sand are recruited by one of the three Raksasha. The new agent-to-be is watched closely by an existing agent for weeks before the recruitment process begins. Usually this process consists of the agent-to-be having everything good in their life disappear, due to the Raksasha and their methods. Loved ones are murdered or just disappear. Their lives are destroyed. Then the dream comes. The agent-to-be is drugged by the Raksasha and brought to one of their palaces. Here they are able to taste paradise. This paradise has been carefully constructed to fit the tastes of the new agent. They are also drugged and they ‘feel’ wonderful the entire time. In this dream they are approached by Amirah, prophet of the Queen of Sand. They are told of their place in this paradise in the after life. All they need to do is serve the Queen and her House of Sand. If they say no to this request. The Raksasha turns the dream to nightmare and the agent-to-be is dinner. If they agree then they awaken at home. The drugs used by the Raksasha leave no side effects and the user does not even realize they were drugged. To them it seems they were in a vivid and almost ‘real’ dream. They still smell the exotic perfumes and many wonder if it was real. Then the next night they are visited by Amirah. They enter a covered wagon and are never heard from again.
They believe that there is an afterlife of paradise for them and over the next six years they learn everything about Amirah the Prophet, the House of Sand, and the Queen of Sand. Along with learning of their new found religion. They learn the trade they are here to perform, usually assassination. They are indoctrinated into the religion and nearly all become fanatic. They will fulfill a mission even if costs their life. After all, they get paradise if they serve Amirah and the House. They will bask in the paradise of the Queen of Sand if they die performing their duties. The Raksasha are careful to foster belief into the goddess the Queen of Sand. The agents must believe their goddess is real and the Raksasha in their disguise of Amirah take special care to capture the hearts and belief of their agents. The agents of the House of Sand can be viewed as suicidal to a point. They are willing to give their lives for the Queen of Sand. If this means they must kill a prince in front of his bodyguards, only to be struck down by the royal guard, so be it. Paradise waits. 
Over the last half century the House of Sand has maneuvered itself into a position of great power. Currently there is no kingdom that lacks agents within the hierarchy of political leadership. Merchant guilds, trade houses, royal families, none are safe. In some cases a target is assassinated only to approach with kindness to resurrect the individual only to replace the target with an agent, instead of resurrection. This is rare and usually only for the short term. But it happens.
Currently, the headquarters of the House of Sand is located in a remote desert mountain keep. The keep is surrounded by cliffs on all sides and only has a single stairway that acts as the only entrance into the fortress. The climb is steep and the fortress has never fallen to an assault. The House of Sand procured it through diplomatic channels and took it over from the inside. Now all that dwell within the keep are agents in training and the Court of Sand and the slaves of Amirah, Prophet of Sand. She can be found surrounded by bearers of food plates and fruit. A small reproduction of the fate that is awaiting those that are faithful. She holds prayer every nightfall in the temple room and all agents in training must attend. To disobey Amirah is to disobey the Queen of Sand. There is only one punishment for this disobedience and that is death.

MOTIVATION AND GOALS
The goal of the leaders of the House of Sand is unknown. The goals of the House of Sand are shrouded in secrecy but it is known that their assassinations are about control, power, and information. They try to control and direct kingdoms to do whatever suits their plans. They are masters of deception and corruption ever seeking to bring down their enemies from within. Assassination is a common goal for those that do not wish to go along with the House’s plans. Usually a family member is assassinated to deliver a message.
The true motivations are unknown. Members believe that the assassins are performing acts that bring the Queen of Sand greater power and influence. The typical agent believes that to die in service of the queen is to be granted a higher place in the afterlife. This has bred a fanatical force of assassins.
LEADERS
Every one of the leaders is usually in the guise of Amirah or one of her servants. They are always changing and have set times when they change. Each takes their turn at the top for near a decade while the others are abroad recruiting agents for the House of Sand. Currently Rasheed is the leader of the three but power shifts can be subtle and are respected. Currently none of the three are at odds with each other. Their cause is too important, as is the wealth and power they have gained to lose it by simple bickering and they understand this.
Fellah Hadeel is the youngest of the three and the most active. She is the lead assassin of the three. The triad is patient and calculating. Fellah is probably the only one that is prone to outbreaks of violence. Normally, this is taken out on a slave in private quarters deep in the mountain. No agents currently suspect any of the triad and great lengths are taken to keep it that way. Fellah is also in love with Rasheed Wajeeha and is disgusted with the incestuous affair that Rasheed has with his sister. Fellah has not allowed either Lama or Rasheed to learn of her feelings toward Rasheed. Although, Lama suspects something is up.
Lama Nadirah is the sister and lover of Rasheed Wajeeha. She is ever at the heels of her brother and ever seeking his attention as he has grown powerful in the last few decades. She is suspicious of her brother’s power and does not understand how he could gain his power so quickly. She has a knack for survival and keeps him ever closer while trying to discover the secret to his newfound power. She is the current Amirah and hopes to keep it that way. She loves basking in the adoration of her followers.
Rasheed Wajeeha is the current leader of the triad. Currently at his request Lama acts as the prophet Amirah. He has always hated assuming the human female form. This also gives him more time for his study. A few years ago Rasheed came across a powerful artifact known as the Tear of Shadow. With it he has gained great power over the Realm of Shadow. No one but he knows of it. Lama is beginning to suspect the change in Rasheed. Rasheed knows that the Tear has entered his mind and he constantly battles for control over himself. The Tear drives him to commit chaotic acts of great evil. So far he has lost this battle twice. Once when he found the Tear among a shipment of slaves, He found it on one of the slaves. Upon touching it he flew into a frenzy and killed 22 of the slaves. Only three lived, fleeing into the depths of the city where they were shipped. His agents have located and dealt with three of the slaves. The third, a young girl eludes his agents. He cannot control the Tear’s power, but he cannot resist using the Tear’s power either. He currently is absorbed in its research and his duties for the House of Sand are being piled on the laps of the other two Raksasha.

LEADERS
Fellah Hadeel (Raksasha Assassin)
Lama Nadirah (Raksasha Sorcerer)
Rasheed Wajeeha (Raksasha Sorcerer)

I need to elaborate on each of the leaders and provide some more details, but I am looking for a little feedback before continuing.



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Comments ( 13 )
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Voted Cheka Man
December 22, 2006, 9:45
Only voted
Voted valadaar
December 22, 2006, 10:10
0xp
I think this is quite an interesting take on an Assassin's guild - the means of recruiting is excellent.

From the perspective of presentation, there are some odd phrasings and some of the sentences seem rather clipped.

Not sure to what level to comment, but one suggestion presented many a time on this site is read your submission to yourself and see if it makes sense. Interestingly the lead in story told by the new recruit has better structure to me then the rest of the sub.

If I may present one example:

"They believe that there is an afterlife of paradise for them and over the next six years they learn everything about Amirah the Prophet, the House of Sand, and the Queen of Sand. Along with learning of their new found religion. "

"Along with learning of their new found religion." does not sound like a correct sentence to me, more of an afterthought.

I would break up this into two sentences, one indicating their belief, and the other included what they trained in.

Again this is my opinion, and I'm just a computer geek.

Nit-picking aside, I think this is a really good post. Overall, a 4/5 from me.
MindForge
December 23, 2006, 23:14
0xp
I wrote it really quick, I am working on revisions. I am an impatient person and wanted to see what you folks here at Strolen's thought of the House of Sand.
Voted MoonHunter
December 22, 2006, 10:45
0xp
I was thinking about adding this to the new take of assassins, but that idea died.

Overall I like the submissions. I can overlook the D20 format.

I agree that this is a great idea marred by a couple of notable language glitches. (Cut and Paste this into a word processor and run a grammar check OR read the entire thing out loud to your self.)

A few line spaces between paragraphs and breaking up some of the text blocks into seperate paragraphs would improve the readability greatly.

You really do not need to detail out the leaders. A line or three about what they are like should satisfy people. In such an organization, nobody is ever going to encounter them. If these people are even half as smart as they seem, they will be no where near any place where "interloping intruders"/ i.e. adventurers can get access to them. Sure they could get their own hands dirty and take out problems, but that is why they have minions. And if minions die, they can always make more... so why risk ones self?
Wulfhere
December 22, 2006, 12:44
0xp
A well-done cult of killers, working well from the inspiration of the historical Hashishim, the original assassins. Historically, the Hashishim would extort tribute from local rulers, much as Al Qaida does in some areas today.

(As a side note, the only group I'm aware of that successfully put the Hashishim in check was the crusading Order of the Templars, who successfully demanded tribute from the assassins.)

As far as developing your sub further, I have several suggestions:

A few lines in boxtext describing rakshasha would be helpful, especially for the non D20 crowd. Are there other strange creatures or demons that these supernatural things use as minions or tools of assassination?

A small paragraph sketching out what each of the leaders is like will suffice for them, as Moon pointed out. The player characters are unlikely to fight them, but may encounter them indirectly, through their minions or messages they have left behind.

Do they have a particular "face" person, that serves as their envoy to local rulers?

Are there enemies that fear them, but would secretly act as a patron against their evil?

Please separate paragraphs with an extra line between.
MindForge
December 23, 2006, 23:18
0xp
I figured I would pattern the group after the Hashshashin, the origin of the word assassin. It was used as the structure for the entire group, although converted to the world of fantasy.
Murometz
January 4, 2007, 22:22
0xp
besides the Crusaders, which did keep them in check (and vice versa), the Mongols actually crushed them like fleas, assailing their unassailable mountain fortress, Alamut, and burning down what some call one of the ancient/medieval world's greatest troves of books and manuscripts. Gnosis. A shame.
Wulfhere
January 4, 2007, 22:25
0xp
Interesting! I didn't know about that!
Voted CaptainPenguin
December 22, 2006, 13:27
0xp
Good.

My only complaint is that I don't know if I like the sort of cherry-picking of Arabic and Hindu mythology, but whatever.
MindForge
December 23, 2006, 23:29
0xp
It isn't mythology, as far as the group is concerned, the Hashshashin really existed. So it isn't Arabic mythology, as far as the Raksasha, ok, straight Hindu mythology, I don't deny it.
Voted Murometz
December 23, 2006, 20:59
0xp
I actually LOVE this! Will explain why later.
Murometz
January 4, 2007, 22:19
0xp
I love the format you used, I love Rakshasa, and I love the feel of this piece! Even the name turns me on! House of Sand.
MindForge
January 29, 2007, 21:15
0xp
I am glad you like it. There is also an opposing house that was made by a gamer on my website, thetabletop.net (erase this if you want, I know you don't like people advertising)


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Magical spectacles that can see through illousions to reveal the truth behind them.

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