The Citadel of Assassins

The Citadel of Assassins is a nefarious organisation specialising in dealing death in the lands of Damara and Vaasa, led by the mysterious Grandfather of Assassins.


The date of the founding of the Citadel of Assassins is unknown, but it is believed by some to be prior to 1274 DR (at least those who suspect that King Feldrin II’s death was not of natural causes). The truth is that the Citadel of Assassins has its origins in 1242 DR and the founding of the Monastery of the Yellow Rose.

The Grandfather of Assassins; claimed by his followers to be a thousand years old and capable of living for a thousand more, is mysterious, secretive, and forever cowled. He never leaves the Citadel of Assassins; an underground complex that he describes as “his lair”, and speaks in a sibilant whisper that many find unnerving. His supposed age, and mannerisms give clues to his identity as a being of draconic heritage, but it is the hierarchy of the Citadel of Assassins and the fighting styles of the assassins themselves that provide a link to the Monastery of Yellow Roses.

The Grandfather of Assassins was at one time a senior monk in the Order of Saint Sollars; the Master of Dragons, he discovered ancient knowledge in the catacombs beneath the Monastery of the Yellow Rose that would allow him to be reborn into an enlightened form. His ambition drove him to begin the transformation in 1258 DR in an attempt to bypass his superiors and become the next Grandmaster of Flowers, but something went wrong. He emerged from his prepared cocoon as a humanoid with brass coloured scales, wings, and a reptilian maw, but within moments his scales sloughed off, his maw became toothless, and his wings withered and snapped. These deformities afflict him to this day and force him to remain covered and hooded at all times.

Taking the moniker of Grandfather, as an insult to Bahamut and Saint Sollars himself, the Grandfather fled the Monastery in shame and vowed vengeance. Travelling across Damara, he was turned away wherever he went, only increasing his hatred of people and Damara. Eventually he was barred from travelling through Bloodstone Pass and so fled into the Galena Mountains to the east, establishing a home in an abandoned dragon lair. Here he gathered likeminded individuals to his side from the outcasts and criminals of Damara, instructing them in his own perverted monastic teachings and moulding them into an organisation of trained killers.

By 1270 DR there were rumours of trained assassins operating in Damara and by 1278 DR the name Grandfather of Assassins was whispered to children to scare them into behaving. Many believe that the unexpected deaths of several members of royalty and nobility can be attributed to the Citadel of Assassins (Lord Boval Tranth in 1334 DR, King Aldrin Bloodfeathers in 1346 DR, and Queen Thaelmra in 1350 DR). Some speculate that these deaths may have been orchestrated by Zhengyi in order to weaken Damara.


Headquarters: The Citadel of Assassins, East Galena Mountains

Members: 200

Hierarchy: Strict

Leader: Grandfather of Assassins

Religion: Like most assassins, the membership of the Citadel of Assassins revere Bhaal, but as Zhengyi’s influence within the Citadel grows more and more are also offering prayers to Orcus.

Secrecy: High

Symbol: A purple flower dripping blood with a coiled serpent about its stem

The Citadel of Assassins is very strictly regimented, influenced by the Grandfather’s roots in the Order of Saint Sollars. The Grandfather of Assassins leads the organisation, beneath him are his four senior advisors, the Fist, the Foot, the Head, and the Heart. Beneath the senior advisors the assassins are organised into Strikes, each commanded by a Palm, several Strikes operate within a Duchy or Barony and a Fury commands all the Strikes within one of those political regions. Regular rank and file assassins are known simple as Assassin, unless they have just emerged from the Assassins Run and are yet to make their first confirmed kill, in which case they are referred to as Trainee.

Honorific titles are commonly awarded to those assassins that are the best in a certain skill, such as “Executioner” going to the best with a blade, or “Costumed” for the master of disguise. Those with honorific titles are otherwise known as Masters of the Citadel and are regularly called upon to train other Assassins in the field or at the Citadel itself.

Advancement within the Citadel is based upon merit and the number of kills, but can only occur if a more senior position is vacant. It is perfectly reasonable (and allowed) for assassins to slay their colleagues and superiors, although failed attempts are punished (depending upon the level of skill displayed). Once an assassin wishes to attain a higher rank all they need do is make a claim to the position and they will be allowed to enter the Assassins Run to prove their skill is enough, if there is no vacancy then they must challenge an existing assassin of the desired rank and both will be forced to enter the Assassins Run (and only one will be allowed to leave).

While it is allowed to murder a colleague or superior, it is utterly forbidden to eliminate another assassin while he is on assignment, those discovered having done so are locked into the Assassins Run until they perish.

Dogma / Motivation / Goals

The true motivation and goals of the Citadel of Assassins are known only to the Grandfather of Assassins, but they almost certainly involve brutally murdering everyone that ever slighted the Grandfather or hindered his goals, and possibly extends to any relatives no matter how distant.

Individual members of the Citadel desire to slay their own enemies, rise in power and fame, and depose their superiors.

Secretly the Citadel of Assassins is influenced by a number of agents working for Zhengyi the Witch-King, who also has the ear of the Grandfather himself. Zhengyi uses those agents to manipulate individuals into performing deeds or motivating others to perform deeds that further the aims of Zhengyi.

The Citadel of Assassins have Strikes operating in every Duchy and Barony in Damara, these Strikes have contacts among the local criminals and listen out for opportunities to leverage their skills. Contact is made with potential employers through intermediaries (local thieves or beggars in some cases). Payment is made up front once the target has been identified and the type of assassination is determined (accident, murder, or a framed murder). The Citadel of Assassins are famous for never turning down a job, although contracts on nobility or royalty must be approved by a senior assassin (and therefore the Grandfather himself).

The Grandfather of Assassins is also known to provide orders for his own targets, this happened most recently during the Blue Bloodletting, where assassins were instructed and poised to murder hundreds of noblemen across Damara in a very short space of time. Many assume (correctly) that this was done under the influence of Zhengyi.

Membership / Recruiting

The Citadel of Assassins will take anyone that wants to join. Prospective members must first make contact with a member of a local Strike, which is an undertaking in itself as each assassins often has numerous false identities and covers, and will only meet a prospective member that can identify them.

Once contact is made the aspiring assassin is taken to the Assassins Run; and trained in all the skills of an assassin for 3 years. During this training period the candidate is not allowed to leave the Assassins Run, all his food is brought to him, and his instructors meet him early each morning to begin training with other candidates. At the end of the training period the would be assassin is taken to the centre of the Assassins Run and made to run the gauntlet through the west (easiest) path. If the assassin survives, he emerges in the true Citadel of Assassins as a true member.

When an assassin wishes to ascend in rank to Palm, Fury, or one of the senior positions, he must first wait for a position to become vacant or challenge a current incumbent. The challenger and incumbent (if there is one) return to the centre of the Assassins Run and leave via a different door (Palm = South, Fury = North, senior assassin = East), each of the paths increases in difficulty, with survival being the measure of success, only one assassin can emerge from the Assassins Run alive.

It is supposed that there must be another path from the centre of the Assassins Run for those wishing to challenge the current Grandfather of Assassins, but as yet no one has ever dared to challenge him.


Officially the Citadel of Assassins has no allies. Unofficially, the Citadel of Assassins works alongside Tightpurse, the thieves guild in Heliogabalus, and many other smaller criminal elements in other settlements. The Citadel pays Tightpurse to run interference during certain missions or provide information about a target or obtain contacts within a household. Tightpurse similarly pays the Citadel to eliminate targets or to assist in large jobs with high levels of danger. While they are not the most steadfast of allies, any attempt to destroy the Citadel or Tightpurse would at least get the attention of the other for the potential lost revenue and skills as a result.

Though many are not aware of it, the Citadel can also count the Cult of the Goats Head and its leader, Zhengyi the Witch-King as allies, providing the Citadel continues to work towards and be part of the goals of Zhengyi.


Few would openly declare themselves the enemies of the Citadel of Assassins, because to do so would instantly make them a target for every assassin in Damara working for the Citadel. Despite this fear of opposition, some organisations do actively work against the Citadel wherever possible. The noble houses of Damara suffered greatly during the Blue Bloodletting and many who were not completely broken by such an event (and those that did not ally themselves with Zhengyi) will desire justice against anyone found to be an assassin of the Citadel.

The Church of Bahamut and the Church of Ilmater in Damara are particularly opposed to the Citadel, their wandering priests keep eyes and ears out for suspicious activity (with the priests of Bahamut combating it wherever they find it), and are always on the lookout for signs of the ever elusive Citadel itself.

Important NPCs

Banak (Evil, Human – Vaasan, Male, Magic User 12): Banak is a thoroughly evil man, obsessed with death, the dead, and undeath, to the point that he offers to brutally murder and reanimate everyone he meets, vividly describing the visceral methods he would use to slay them, this alone is enough to unnerve everyone that comes into contact with Banak. To make matters worse, Banak is an incredibly powerful magic user who openly flaunts his exceptional power and ability to raise the dead (and summon demons).

Banak is devoted to Orcus, and carries the Amulet of Orcus with him at all times. He is currently a member of the Citadel of Assassins, occupying the rank of Heart as one of the most senior assassins. Banak is chiefly responsible for promoting the reverence of Orcus within the Citadel, and many assassins assume he serves Zhengyi, although no one would dare ask him outright.

Banak has recently been sent to lead the Bandit Army operating in northern Damara, some whisper that this is because his power and influence in the Citadel is rising as he converts more assassins to the worship of Orcus with promises of power and eternal existence.

Banak was among the first of Zhengyi’s converts when he arrived in Vaasa many decades ago. Zhengyi tempted Banak with promises of power and eternal unlife, tempting away from a life as a shaman among one of the tribal groups of Vaasa. Banak has proven a true disciple and grown in power enough to perhaps rival Zhengyi. Zhengyi has rewarded his most promising student with the Amulet of Orcus, crafted from a piece of his own Talisman of Orcus, and a magic staff that can transform into a poisonous burrowing serpent of Zhengyi’s own creation.

Banak was believed slain during the Bloodstone Wars in the Battle of the Pass, many assumed he was destroyed but he has been seen recently as a leader of the Bandit Army, however he is much reduced in power. In truth Banak was slain and his soul was drawn into the Amulet of Orcus, granting Banak a form of lichnee status, he may possess anyone touching the Amulet of Orcus (which he did so when it was found by a farmer), but his new form is much less able to command the Art (Banak suspects Zhengyi enchanted the Amulet of Orcus to deliberately limit his power in the event of his death, although he was told the Amulet would restore him to unlife). Banak is forced to absorb the life energy of others (through his icy draining touch) in order to sustain his lichnee form, his victims are left as lifeless, frozen, shrivelled husks.

Burghey (Evil, Human – Vaasan, Male, Warrior 3): Burghey is a Palm and runs one of the Strikes in Heliogabalus (known informally as Burghey’s Boys). A former soldier with a penchant for cruelty, he uses his knowledge and contacts with the guards to benefit the Assassins in his charge.

Canthan “Filtara” (Evil, Human – Damara, Male, Expert 4): Canthan is a middle aged, bookish man, with greying brown hair, a bald spot, a long straight nose, and beady brown eyes. He joined the Citadel of Assassins a decade ago, and used his magical skills to great effect in the Assassins Run. Since beating the Assassins Run he has slain only a single target (a contract that he himself paid for, on his own father), and as a result many of his colleagues have given him the nickname “Filtara”, which roughly translates as “to do little”.

Canthan serves as a travelling contact between various Strikes, gathering intelligence and returning it to the Citadel, he also specialises in generating new contacts wherever he travels, using his magically augmented charm to gain the assistance of needy locals one small step at a time (often in return for wealth, training, or information). Despite his skill with magic he has never shown any ambition to rise beyond the rank of Assassin.

Cavil (Evil, Human – Damaran, Male, Expert 5): Cavil is the best sword fighter in the Citadel of Assassins and has been granted the honorific title of Executioner in reward for his skill. Cavil has achieved the rank of Palm, and formerly commanded a Palm in Ravenburg but is too well known after his exploits during the Blue Bloodletting. He has since been reassigned to infiltrate the Bandit Army and has gained notoriety among his comrades for his skill at arms.

Cavil is deeply loyal to the Grandfather of Assassins, and will never willingly betray him or follow another master.

Coureese (Neutral, Human – Vaasan, Male, Expert 5): Coureese is a Palm, in charge of a Strike that operates in Goliad. He is the perfect example of a Palm; calm, collected, unthinkingly obedient, and dedicated to his work. Despite his virtues he is uninspiring in his work, having achieved his position purely because he does what he is told, when he is told, and never gives no matter the odds. Coureese is not a natural Assassin, he takes no pride in the killing itself, but in knowing he followed orders and pleased his superiors.

Gemisorn (Evil, Human – Vaasan, Male, Expert 2): Gemisorn is an Assassin in the Citadel, currently part of a Strike operating in the lands around Bloodstone Village. Gemisorn has adopted the persona of a hunter, bowyer, and fletcher that moved into the settlement 5 years ago, and has used his skills to support this persona.

Gemisorn is a wild talent with the ability to empathically communicate (and influence) avian creatures, this has allowed him to train falcons and other birds of prey quicker and better than any other falconer in the Barony of Bloodstone. Before joining the Citadel of Assassins, Gemisorn was a member of the Moor Eagles tribe in Vaasa, but left after he murdered a fellow tribesman over a petty argument.

Grandfather of Assassins (Evil, Human – Damaran, Expert 12): A mysteriously individual, reputed to be immortal, whose face is always covered by a mask. Many Damaran legends surround the Grandfather of Assassins, and are designed to inspire terror, he is used as a bogeyman to frighten misbehaving children.

The Grandfather of Assassins was once the Master of Dragons in the Order of St Sollars a century ago, he was brave and ambitious, having ridden a remorhaz unaided (like all Master of Dragons must do to claim the rank), but his ambition drove him too far and he used magic to try and elevate himself above others in the Order. The ritual failed spectacularly and left the Grandfather raw and deformed. This event drove the Grandfather insane for a time, and although he is now lucid, his personality is cold, detached, and obsessed with getting revenge on everyone that ever crossed him.

Although the Grandfather can appear sympathetic, even charming, it is all an act to get what he desires. The Grandfather does have a flaw, he cannot resist offering his victims one question before he kills them, a curious remnant of the being he would have become if the transformation had been successful. If any had survived such a meeting with the Grandfather they would report his voice as being a deep, serpent-like whisper, with an aura of menace that strikes fear into even hardened soldiers.

The Grandfather is secretly manipulated by Zhengyi, who manifests in his dreams and whispers to him of plans that the Grandfather views as gifts from an evil being he refers to as “The Serpent”, a draconic force that has haunted him ever since his failed transformation. More often than not he follows these dream visions, but is also influenced by those agents of Zhengyi planted within the ranks of the Citadel to reinforce his seeds of vision by offering similar advice to the Grandfather.

The Grandfather sees an opportunity with the disintegration of the Kingdom of Damara to seize real power (rather than ruling behind the scenes as Zhengyi wants). He desires to conquer the Barony of Bloodstone, then march on the Duchy of Arcata and beyond. To achieve these aims he has recruited an army from the masses of deserters, bandits, and monsters that roam the wilderness of Damara and Vaasa. Zhengyi does not approve of these plans, but the Grandfather will not be dissuaded no matter what his advisors say, and so Zhengyi has determined to allow the conquest of the Barony of Bloodstone, but to have the Grandfather replaced with someone more reliable and pliable.

The Grandfather of Assassins originally created the Citadel from an abandoned dragon lair he found in the Galena Mountains, he regards the Citadel as his own and even describes it as his lair at times. Within that lair he acquired a number of magical items, including a mask that disguises his identity and shields him from location, a longsword +2, a dagger of venom, boots of speed, a ring of spell storing, a ring of invisibility.

Jailiana (Evil, Human – Damaran, Female, Magic User 2): Jailiana is a Trainee at the Citadel, having recently graduated the Assassins Run, mostly through daring and blind luck. She shows some promise as an Assassin, with a growing repertoire of spells dedicated to purely killing her enemies from afar. Jailiana is eager to kill her first mark and earn the title of Assassin, but her superiors feel she is to bold and may get herself killed in the process.

Kinik “Whips”, “Filtel” (Evil, Halfling – Lightfoot, Male, Expert 8): Kinik, otherwise known as “Whips” for his weapon of choice (a coarse whip with a bladed tip that slices the throat of a mark), also known as Filtel (meaning “the Short”). He is a master of disguise and has been given the honorary title of “Costumed” in recognition of the hundred or so disguises he is believed to have crafted in places across Damara. His most well known persona is that of a child waif in Heliogabalus that is pitied by the guards and regularly allowed access to secure places to take shelter.