The Dashwood Society
The Dashwood Society was founded in 300 PC during the Age of Might. It was founded by Wycombe Dashwood in the city of Tarsis and soon spread to other influential cities of the time. It started out merely as a social club for meetings of every interest among the nobility, where they could drink to excess and complain about the peasantry. However Wycombe was a devotee of Hiddukel and he quickly used it to corrupt the nobility swaying them to blaspheme against the gods.
Wycombe was a devotee of the game of Khas and organized the society into a series of rings and by the ranks of Khas pieces. Pawns were in the outer ring. They were the players which could be most easily manipulated by the society as a whole. The middle ring was comprised of the Bishops, Knights, and Rooks. These were the eyes and ears of the society and owed loyalty to the Inner Circle of the Society Royalty.
The foundation in place, Wycombe's society began by subtly manipulating the leaders of Tarsis. Those leaders they could not manipulate; they discredited and forced from power installing one of their loyal pawns. The Inner Circle would become the de facto rulers of Tarsis in this manner. They never assumed the seats of public leadership themselves, but manipulated events to their liking from behind the scene through their puppets.
As the society spread it would adopt similar tactics in each city. Rumor has it that the branch in Istar was instrumental in bringing about the downfall of the Kingpriest; however, there seems to be little truth to such rumors as the forces of the Kingpriest destroyed that branch months before the Cataclysm.
In the wake of the Cataclysm, most of the branches were destroyed. The Daltigoth branch was wiped out in the ogre invasion which left much of the city in ruins. The Tarsis branch was left nearly penniless when the ocean which supplied much of the society's funding receded. Only Palanthas remained viable. It used its influence to turn the people all over Solamnia against the Solamnic Knights; which led to that order's expulsion from the city of Palanthas and the installation of a puppet ruler easily manipulated by the society - the Lord of Palanthas.
The branch in Tarsis though withered was not dead. It managed to cling to life and throve even though it lost much of the prestige it once had; however, it would not be until after the Chaos War that the Dashwood Society would recover its former grandeur and power. Lord Thaddeus Slade led the society into the Age of Mortals and he re-established the society's hand on the throat of Tarsis. The society manipulated the Dark Knights, the Lady of Tarsis, The Council of Elders, and even the Mercantile Union. The city which had been in the grip of the dark knights gradually slipped from their grasp.
Its resurgence was relatively shot lived. Rather than be content to rule from the shadows, Lord Slade longed to rule the city for himself. He manipulated the three major factions of the city and set them against each other, then using an outside force, decapitated the leadership of all three to throw the organizations into utter chaos. Thus did Slade ascend to the Lordship of Tarsis. His rein did not last long as a group of heroes rose to defy him and his schemes. When the smoke cleared Slade was dead and with him the last remnants of the Inner Circle of the Tarsian branch of the Dashwood Society.
The purpose of the Dashwood Society is to obtain and exert power through political and economic means rather than through outright conquest and domination. Khas is a game much appreciated by members of the Dashwood Society as it involves strategically maneuvering your pieces, then striking when the timing is right.
Headquarters/Areas of Influence
During the middle of the Age of Might there were four branches of the Dashwood Society, located in the cities of Daltigoth, Istar, Palanthas, Tarsis; all of them very prominent cities. Owing to its status, the Lord Imperial operated out of Tarsis. The branch in Istar was destroyed during the reign of Beldinas Pilofiro. After the Cataclysm, the branch in Daltigoth was destroyed by invading ogres, and the branch in Tarsis, bereft of the ocean which was its life blood withered. Only the branch in Palanthas remained viable. The Lord Imperial moved his base of operation there and left the Tarsis branch, such as it was, in the hands of its Red King, Thaddeus Slade.
During the Age of Despair, the branch in Daltigoth would arise again in Gwynedd, the new capital of the Empire of Ergoth. It would not be until just before the Chaos War, that a fourth branch would arise again; this time in the Khurish capital of Khuri-Khan.
During the Age of Might, the Dashwood Society was ruled by a Lord Imperial who oversaw all the branches of the Dashwood Society. He was not a member of any Inner Circle or any particular branch, but ruled over them all.
Each Branch is ruled over by a Council of the Chosen, also variously known as the Lords Cardinal, or the Inner Circle. At the head of the council are the Kings and Queen. They decide the direction of their branch and all members swear loyalty to them. Below them in order of importance are Bishops, Rooks, Knights, and Pawns.
Contrary to expectations, Bishops do not have to be able to wield the power of divine magic, though many members in the past have been members of the clergy. A Bishop acts as the second in command in the absence the King or Queen.
Rooks are junior members of the Inner Circle. They are typically chosen by the King and Queen for their positions; though occasionally a Rook is recruited by a Bishop.
Kings and Queens are attended by a host of servants, including personal aides. Sometimes, these aides are applicants for the Rook positions who must serve the King and Queen as aides until they are formally accepted into the Inner Circle.
Knights are the personal forces of the Kings and Queens to whom they answer directly. In lieu of the Kings and Queens, the Knights will accept orders from the highest ranking member of the Inner Circle available, usually but not always, a Bishop. Knights are well paid for their loyalty.
Pawns are the lowest rank in the club and are considered expendable by members of the Inner Circle. Pawns consist of lay members of the club or even outsiders, whom the Inner Circle find useful in their games of one-upmanship. To the Inner Circle a pawn is only a playing piece to maneuver into position to take a bigger piece.
Each branch adheres to the titles of major Khas pieces. The color schemes are drawn from the colors of dragonkind and are as follows:
Daltigoth/Gwynedd: Black & Brass
Until recently the Tarsis branch was led by the following Lord's Cardinal:
The Dashwood Society counts no one as allies or rather it should be said, they maintain allies only as long as they prove beneficial to the interests of the club. To the members of the Inner Circle any allies are simply more pawns to use to achieve their goals.
Anyone who crosses the Dashwood Society is viewed as an enemy. Most times the members will not openly attack these enemies preferring to work through intermediaries to demean & discredit them.
There is no uniform standard of conduct governing the membership of the Dashwood Society; its members are free to act and pursue their own interests provided those interests do not run contrary to those of the Dashwood Society. There is only one requirement of members and it is unbreakable. What happens in the Dashwood Society stays in the Dashwood Society. Members are forbidden to discuss the club or its matters outside the walls of the Club.
Joining the Organization
If your parent is a member then you too have membership even if you do not know it. The Dashwood Society watches the descendents of its members and when the time is right, will inform them of their membership in the exclusive club.
Barring inheritance, the surest method of joining is to amass enough wealth and influence to attract the notice of a member of the Inner Circle. This member will typically watch the prospect for some time to determine if he/she is a good match for the organization. He will then approach the Inner Circle with his observations and if the members approve will extend membership.
Costs and Benefits of Membership
Though there are no membership dues, members lucky enough to be on the Inner Circle are expected to contribute significant sums used to pursue the agendas of the club. Lay members are expected to contribute whatever they are able, most often this is nothing more than their time and talents for the purposes of the club. The biggest single benefit to being a member of the Dashwood Society is the level of access and influence of higher profile members that one might not have access to otherwise. Among the members of the Dashwood Society the preferred currency is favors. If someone does a favor for you expect to one day do one in return.
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