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[Background] Harad and the Branded Ones

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kalimgard:
Harad
Harad is a god that assumed a laid-back attitude in the days of Creation, when the gods battled each other for domains of power. He seldom used his powers like the other gods, but after millenia it became evident that his powers diminished, and Harad had to find a means to fuel his life. Having lived for thousands of years he became afraid of being reduced to nothing more than a helpless spirit. He could have become a rogue deity, sneeking into another gods domain and converting his followers secretly, but his pride didn't allow such a course of action. Instead he found another way: There were always some souls that eluded the gods. Even a god cannot be everywhere at the same time, and Harad found enough to satisfy his needs.
The gentle extraction of life force from souls however, was something he had no experience with at all. The place that would have been a paradise of an established god became a literal hell. The victims felt pain beyond reason, and Harad needed even more energy.
Soon after he began investigating the matters of souls and life force extraction, Harad discovered something that would make him known as the Betrayer among the other gods and some humans. He found a way to send a soul directly to his hell for a short while, no matter what deity it was affiliated with. But he needed a physical agent to do so, and thus he offered the souls cought in his hell a deal: He would grant them a body and send them back to the realms of the living as long as their natural life lasted, and if they sent back enough souls, he would let them go.

The first Branded Ones
The first people sent back where trapped in Harad's hell for what felt like centuries to them. They were virtually driven mad from pain and didn't care who or what had to die for them to be free. Entire fiefdoms were wiped out, because everytime a Branded One was slain, he came back to life somewhere else and continued killing. Not knowing anything definit about the threat, known Branded Ones were killed on sight, and it was a long time before any Branded One could set foot into a settlement of a country that had contact with them unhindered again. Of course, being able to train battle techniques beyond compare and learn even from deadly mistakes, they couldn't be stopped by little hamlets or even villages often enough.

Todays Branded Ones
The Branded Ones of today had a taste of Harad's hell bad enough so they would never want to go back again willingly, but they didn't loose their mind. Each of them is killing people(and yes, that includes goblins, demons and undead raised with the help of souls) for his own needs, but still there are many different characters. Some indifferently kill everything that comes into their range. These are known as the most brutal bandids, and as long as it doesn't get out that they are Branded Ones, everything is going well for them.
Others are mercenaries, traveling from war to war, working for whoever pays them. They are a well liked asset to the troops of any warlord, but distrusted nevertheless. Some see Branded Ones as omens of war, even if they follow the battles and not the other way round.

Harad and the other gods
There is no - really no - god at all who likes Harad. They try to find him and put him out of buisiness since the time of the first Branded Ones, but Harad, being one of the most intelligent gods there are, is constantly on the run and has succeeded to elude his pursuers until today. He has become very proficient with the limbus he travels through and allows the Branded Ones to instant-travel the same way. Even from capturing Branded Ones and examining them down to their atoms, the gods didn't learn anything at all.

kalimgard:
So, just in case the players role doesn't show enough in this: The players are mercenaries and useful, but expandable tools for those who summoned them, namely Lord Master Soren Windclaw.

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