The Protectorate is assigned by the crown to watch over the people of the Northlands and enforce the laws of the crown. Some people know the history and think they are supposed to stand up for the people and dispense justice where it is needed regardless of who is in the wrong. Unfortunately, they have become a political assignment, often given to those who have no real adventuring desire or experience. The position has been held in trust by a Seneschal who handles the books and dispatches the guard to where they are needed for the past few generations. There has not been a true Protectorate (as the position was originally set up) since the last ones fell during the Orc Wars.
(history) Many people know that the last actual Protectorate was lost while engaging a cult in a bid for power of some sort. They never returned from their mission to seek out the last of the cultists.
(history/military) Anyone with a military background will know that the Guard in the Northlands answers to the Protectorate so long as their orders do not countermand the crown or otherwise put the Kingdom at risk. The Protectorate is responsible for keeping the Northlands and its people safe, and assigning the proper number of guardsmen to each area is the key to this. Even local lords will defer to the Protectorate to some degree.
(history) Tales relate that the original Protectorate had a very good working relationship with the Escova Elves that lived nearby which lasted until the Second Orc wars. The elves in question were wiped out early on, forcing the eventual alliance and merger with the Kingdom of Westhaven.
(history) It is known by more scholarly individuals that while most history paints the Protectorate as a band of heroes, not all of the members (both full and associate) were such. Evil infiltrated their ranks from time to time, causing problems and occasionally stealing items or money from the vaults.
(history) Ancient writings report of a prophecy within the writings of the Escova Elves which told that the Protectorate would resolve a conflict between the elves and humans of the northern realms. It is unknown however the exact text, since the Escova elves were reported to have been wiped out during the Second Orc Wars.
The Protectorate was a group of adventurers from the distant past who stood up for the common people. They banded together long before the second Orc Wars as adventurers intent on gaining fame and fortune and ended up, years after their formation, saving the town of Northwall from an invasion from a Lich King and his hoard of undead. The towns ruling family had perished during the battles and the people asked the group to stay and take their place. Since the group had been traveling the Northlands for many a year, the idea of settling down in one spot for a time seemed a wonderful idea.
Over the following years, they continued to solve problems for the commoners and nobles of the Northlands, sometimes deferring to the common people above the ruling nobles, something that didn’t endear them to said nobles, but over time, the Protectorate’s reputation grew so vast that even the nobles felt they could not stand against them. Eventually the Northlands were banded together as a kingdom in everything but name. The Northlands became the Northland Protectorate, and the title and responsibilities were eventually passed down from the original members to their children or other successors. Other groups of adventurers gathered in Northwall to aid the defense of the people, with exceptional ones being given official Protectorate status when the need arose. The original members and their successors lived by a simple code:
Protect the People
Protect the Land
Protect the Kingdom
This code has been passed down to each succeeding member of the Protectorate, and the Northlands were safe and stable for a generation, until the second Orc Wars.
The Protectorate came about just after the first Orc Wars, and the Second Orc Wars were fought by their grandsons and granddaughters. All available protectorate associates were summoned to help defend against the invasion. They formed ranks and fought to eliminate the threat, but they were no match for the hoard. One by one, the members of the Protectorate, along with all of the associates fell.
Westhaven, their southern neighbor came to their aid, offering an alliance against the orcs. Until this point, Westhaven was an uncertainty for the Northlands. The kingdom had sprung up and grown over the past several hundred years. They had not, however crossed the borders into the Northlands as an aggressor, making negotiations easy.
Once the new battle formations were drawn up and dispatched, Aerith Nyssam, the granddaughter of one of the Protectorate’s founding members and last surviving member, traveled to Westhaven City and arranged a more permanent alliance. She offered that the Northlands become part of the Westhaven kingdom, providing the Crown agree to keep the Protectorate in place as it has been, an official power to protect the people above all else. This was agreed to and documents officially signed by Darion III, known as the Peacemaker for his role in ending the Orc Wars through negotiation rather than battle.
Aerith returned to the front lines and lead her troops through the remainder of the war, and then retired to Northwall, the historic home of the Protectorate. Others joined the ranks and they continued to serve for several more generations before the current group disappearing during a quest. The Seneschal who took care of the mundane tasks of governing the city continued in his role until his death, at which time he passed the duties on to his son. This has continued for several generations since the Crown has not found anyone worthy or willing to take over the post.
Now, most of the history of the Protectorate is shrouded in mystery, but should another group of adventurers take over the post, they may well gain more insight into the past protectorates though the use of their amulets:
The symbol of office, (shown here) is slightly magical. The magic of the amulet serves to open hidden doors in the Protectorate’s palace in Northwall. Beneath the palace is a series of rooms where past Protectorates have stored their treasures, adventure loot, and any tomes of lore and magic they came across. This is perhaps the largest such library in existence in all the north. The place is protected however, and interlopers should beware. A demon trapped in a summoning circle guards the entrance to the deeper vaults with instructions that any who venture in without permission, are to be killed should they get within reaching distance. Any bearing the symbol of office is granted access by default. Unfortunately, the past Seneschals were given access to the underground lair, and they were not quite as honest as their one-time employers would have wanted them to be, and the valuables were taken to fund a more comfortable lifestyle for the family. The current Seneschal knows nothing about the underground storage vaults, or how his family obtained its wealth. There are sure to be records, and journals to be had however, should someone venture into the place and find it.
The last official group who held the title of Protectorate was involved in seeking out and eliminating a group of evil cultists who had gathered in the Barrowlands, an ancient burial place for the Sea Kings. The cultists were searching for an ancient weapon of unknown powers. The Protectorate met their fate under one of the burial mounds facing the remnants of the cultists, but the mound collapsed on top of them burying them, the cultists, and the weapon in question for all time.
The players have performed some feat of heroism, which is brought to the attention of the King in Westhaven. Should the players be of a mind to do good deeds, and enjoy it, they can be rewarded with the title of Protectorate (the term is both singular and plural). Many of the common people have a skewed idea of what the Protectorate actually is, if they are even aware of the title.
The Protectorate position can be used for good-aligned PCs who have done some duty for the crown and you need some reward that also puts them into a position for more adventure. The position could include some small percentage of income from taxes collected throughout the Northlands as an incentive. Although, sticking around to actually spend the new income may prove difficult. The Northlands should have as one of its borders, an uncontrolled land, rife with monsters, barbarians, or some other type of enemy that the players can enjoy trouncing on a regular basis.
The Protectorate can be awarded to neutral or evil-aligned PC’s who have somehow fooled the Crown into believing they are worthy of the title. It is assumed that they have found out about the possible treasure beneath the mansion and the party intends to find it and take it for their own.
While employed as the Protectorate, the players can find adventure of any sort. Whether your players enjoy intrigue, or combat, you should be able to customize any number of scenarios around their new duties, or even bring in published modules and strategically place them within their sphere of influence.
Beneath the Protectorate’s mansion lies a series of rooms used for storage. Most of these should be empty, but perhaps the past Protectorates left something behind; something powerful and dangerous or something valuable. Whatever happens to fit into your campaign.
Once they have taken up their new positions, there is any number of things that need to be cleaned up.
The cult still exists in some fashion but much diminished and are still working to bring about a dark age, or to bring their evil god or goddess to power and hope one day to retrieve the weapon mentioned above.
The vaults beneath the Protectorate’s palace may hold scraps of knowledge, or even whole tomes and magical devices hidden down there for safety reasons. The demon that guards the entrance may also prevent the removal of said items forcing them to find a way to bypass it.
The symbol of the Protectorate is slightly magical, but the only function is to bind itself to an official representative of the Crown who has been assigned official Protectorate status, and is used to open the two doors that lead into the vaults.