The Witchfinders are an organization which stretches across all the fiefdoms and is ultimately oriented towards the eventual destruction of all things magical.
The Witchfinders were formed as the Imperial Witchfinders in 2953 by Emperor Arion II as a response to the traitorous Robin the Black's mage rebellion. During the Eiderdown Campaign they were crucial in ensuring that the wizards would never rise up against the Empire ever again. At the time they were given extensive rights over those who practise magic, moving through the Empire with almost no institution able to question their work. After the Eiderdown Campaign and the following trials and assassinations by the Witchfinders they were seen to largely have done what they were set out to do and was, for the most part, ignored by the Empire. When the Great Snake War started though, the Witchfinders once again became useful, showing their proficiency in working behind enemy lines to assassinate enemy wizards. During this time they made a point of working with wizards within the Empire to aid the war effort, after the war though a great deal of those wizards who had worked with the Witchfinders disappeared in mysterious circumstances.
Goals & Motives
The Witchfinders were originally created to root out wizards who were traitors to the Empire, in the time since their goals have slowly mutated, becoming the eradication of all magic from the fiefdoms. New Witchfinders are indoctrinated in the belief that magic is ultimately an evil thing and that mankind will be better off without it. It is the belief of the Witchfinders that wizards cause much of the magical disasters that happen throughout Adylheim, either directly or indirectly and as such their elimination remains their most important task. Witchfinders are usually motivated by an intense personal hatred of magic, which has made them orphans and taken from them anything they might have once cared for. They seldom compromise on these goals. It should be noted that Witchfinders rarely have a problem with priests and the miracles these perform, however. The distinction made between priests and magi can sometimes be rather shifting, but it is usually considered to be of importance to the Witchfinders.
The Witchfinders rarely act in large numbers, often travelling in pairs, one apprentice and one master. Witchfinders rarely act in concert and can be found across all the fiefdoms, travelling and plying their grisly trade wherever they are needed. Witchfinders are often a welcome sight to those who have found, they often seek out places where wizards have used their magic irresponsibly or there are innocent victims being harmed. Of course, Witchfinders also use rumours as weapons against popular wizards or witches, turning popular opinion against them before they make their move. While Witchfinders generally consider their ultimate aim to be a noble one they often do things that are far from noble to get there. If such options are considered to be ultimately untenable, they may straight out assassinate the wizard without anyone learning of their presence. It is wrong to think that the Witchfinders only concern themselves with wizards though. They just as often deal with magical creations, elves, fairies, demons, changelings and all manner of other strange and unusual people. While Witchfinders seldom have any strict need for uniforms, they often wear capotains and capes, usually coloured black, when they need to act in any kind of official capacity.
While each Witchfinder is usually apprenticed to a master, this actually starts relatively late in their training as Witchfinders. Over the hundreds of years the Witchfinders have been around in various forms they have come up with a form of training which gives them a fairly good chance against whatever they come up against. Witchfinders are usually orphans that have lost everything to an incident in which magic was involved, Witchfinders will take these orphans and bring them back to their chapterhouses for training. From a young age they are usually trained to recognize magical text and can recognize the use of Prime Words in spells, and their senses go through a similar attuning method to that which wizards use to allow them to sense magic. They undergo extensive teaching in the weaknesses of various magical beings and how to exploit them to their advantage. Out of necessity Witchfinders usually have a lot of insight into magic, however it is usually centred on the destruction of it rather than any insight into how to put it to any constructive use. They live an austere life which is entirely centred on the dogma of the destruction of all things magical, once they reach the age of fourteen they are taken out of the chapterhouses and apprenticed to a master Witchfinder. After this they will not return to the chapterhouses, except to pick up an apprentice of their own or to retire and teach new Witchfinders.
Personnel & Holdings
The Witchfinders rarely number more than a few hundred, their strict methods for choosing who will serve as new members for their organization means that the pickings are always relatively slim when it comes to new recruits. It should be noted that Witchfinders do occasionally recruit outside this standard though and people who have not been orphaned by magical forces are chosen to join them. In addition to their constantly wandering Witchfinders, there are 16 chapterhouses spread across the fiefdoms where the Witchfinders train their young wards to become new Witchfinders. These are usually fairly austere buildings, offering little by the way of luxury.
Foremost among the tools of the Witchfinders is the Malleus. It is a handbook carried by most Witchfinders. Each copy is handed down from master to apprentice, masters who take on multiple apprentices often make their apprentices copy down their old texts. Every Witchfinder who has a copy will usually add their own notes to the book in their lifetimes, sometimes in concert with other Witchfinders, sometimes through experience, so while all the books are somewhat different, their core remains relatively similar. It details methods for investigation, interrogation and destruction of magical phenomenon and people. Witchfinders also employ a great many devices to aid them in their searches, they will, however, not employ magical artefacts if they can avoid it. Items which have been created by priests and deities however are generally considered fair game and Witchfinders will often carry blessed items, holy water and similar. They will also generally carry back up weapons made out of iron or silver for such times when these are needed. Apart from such specialist items Witchfinders also have a great fondness for the crossbow and the lighter blades such as scimitars and sabres as they do not often fight armoured opponents. While it could not be said that all Witchfinders are thus armed, a good few are. They also always carry specialised equipment intended for interrogation purposes.