The Lodge of Imperial Hunters
For centuries since their formation in 78AIF, the Lodge of Imperial Hunters has protected the world of Kelbonnar agains the incursions of the monstrous creatures that stalk the wilder places of the Empire of Turelion. The Lodge was formed by Emperor Tasbal I to provide the armed forces of the provinces a way to concentrate on keeping the peace within the settlements and cities of the Empire, rather than having to seek out and destroy creatures that were praying on the inhabitants of both outlying communities and larger population centres. As a keen hunter himself, Tasbal was drawn to the idea of creating a pan-provincial force that could travel wherever, whenever needed to hunt down dangerous creatures, and alongside sourcing magnificent specimens for his trophy collection, save the lives of some of his subjects. The Hall of Beasts in the Imperial Palace in Meltaro is full of all manner of creatures hunted both by Tasbal and the first member of the Lodge of Imperial Hunters. Under Tasbal’s reign and the reign of his immediate successors, Orthax II and Machestaro III the Lodge of Imperial Hunters enjoyed nearly sixty years of ludicrous funding and a brief that to all intents and purposes stretched to the annihilation of any creature that was not domesticated. Eventually, the true extent of the Lodge’s activities, along with the knowledge of quite how many seriously armed and trained men and women where being allowed to roam freely across the Empire killing creatures, and occasionally people who got in their way at will, was revealed under a review of the Lodge that was commissioned by Emperor Borial I. Borial lived up to his nickname ‘the Miser’ and quashed the funding glut the Lodge had enjoyed since its founding. Borial regarded the Lodge as a frivolous extravagance that was acting without a sufficient brief with far more resources, manpower and agency than was necessary and he instituted a series of reforms that shaped the Lodge into its current form. The brief of the Lodge became to hunt down and destroy only those creatures that were identified as a direct threat to the Empire’s subjects, and to only investigate instances when they were specifically reported to the Lodge, rather than treating the Lodge’s budget as a giant safari fund. As the amount of capital at their disposal almost vanished overnight, the Lodge introduced incredibly stringent entry criteria and training regimes, ensuring that only the best trackers and hunters were admitted to their ranks. The number of physical bases the Lodge maintained too dropped off, limited to one per province, which acts as the headquarters for all Lodge members in that region. Now, the drastically underfunded and under-appreciated members of the Lodge of Imperial Hunters stand as a thin line of protection for the people of Kelbonnar against the incursions of creatures who at best, simply want to devour any unsuspecting person they can find, and at worst have nefarious plans in mind so dark they could scarcely be believed.
The Lodge of Imperial Hunters is led by the Hunter General, more colloquially referred to as the ‘Lord of Hounds’ who is appointed from the existing members of the Lodge by the Emperor of Turelion and Kelbonnar and his close advisors. The Lodge choose amongst themselves who will be put into the pool of candidates that is put before the Imperial presence, which does protect them somewhat from an arbitrary decision being made based on court politics. The Hunter General is the overall head of the Lodge and reports directly on the Lodge’s activities to the Congregation of Lords. They are also responsible for leading the recreational hunts that the Emperor periodically undertakes with the court and on the whole most of their time is spent lobbying the Congregation of Lords for additional funding, or protecting what little funding the Lodge has been allocated. Beneath the Hunter General are the eleven Provincial Captains, who are each assigned to govern the Lodge’s activities in a specific province. They are responsible for the activities of the Hunters within their provincial area, as well as the running of the Provincial Headquarters. Beneath the Provincial Captains are the Hunters themselves, who are free on the whole to take on jobs as they see fit and to come and go as they please, though Provincial Captains are likely to have Hunters that they allocated particularly dangerous or specialist jobs to when they appear. Once a member of the Lodge has served 40 years they are automatically promoted to the level of Master of the Hunt, which is purely an honorary title reflecting their years of service and experience. There is no official retirement age for Imperial Hunters, but all members have the right to apply to the Lodge to take them in as permanent residents within one of the provincial headquarters, either on the basis of age, experience or injury. Those that are accepted take the title Hunter Emeritus and take on roles supporting the Provincial Captains, maintaining the archives of the Lodge or screening and training new recruits. In order to join the ranks of the Lodge, potential recruits have to undergo a gruelling series of physical and mental tasks to test their skills and resilience, with fewer than 2 in 10 passing on average. Those that pass become Hunter’s Apprentices and must undergo 3 years of training and tests before they are inducted as Imperial Hunters and full members of the Lodge.
Since their reorganisation under the Emperor Borial I, the Lodge of Imperial Hunters have had a single goal, to hunt down dangerous creatures that have directly threatened the lives of the Emperor’s subjects. This definition means that unlike in their early years, the Lodge are no longer given unlimited resources and carte blanche to hunt down creatures purely fo sport, with the added bonus of potentially protecting people along the way. However, this narrowing of their official scope, along with the limitation of their resources has meant that the members of the Lodge have to act with more discretion with regards to which calls for help they respond to, along with having to justify why they took on certain jobs in case the Emperor’s auditors come calling. This means that many members of the Lodge do a lot of unofficial work, acting almost as Hedge Knights, taking work wherever they can get it. The work of the Lodge of Imperial Hunters means that its members can be found in all parts of the Empire, whether that be hunting a rampaging manticore in the foothills of the Spiny Mountains, or stalking lycanthropes through the streets and sewers of Meltaro itself.
Though the reforms of Borial I left the Lodge with far fewer assets than they once possessed, they do still have a lot to draw on to help their work. The Lodge maintains Provincial headquarters in each of the Empire’s eleven provinces and although these don’t tend to be in the provincial capitals, with the Lodge favouring more out of the way and cheaper locations, they are always based in towns and cities where members can access all of the equipment they may need. All Lodge members are able to stay in a provincial headquarter free of charge, and the headquarters also have a safe deposit service for their members, giving them a safe space to store their wages, bounties and other valuable items. The Lodge also maintains a small number of vehicles, including ships and light class Firewings, as well as horses and pack animals that members can use, subject to their wages being forfeit if damage is caused. Given the specialist nature of the work members of the Lodge conduct, each member is responsible for providing their own equipment, weapons and armour, all of which can be expensed provided the costs can be justified, which reflects how each Imperial Hunter will favour different weapons specialised to hunting different types of prey.
Taming the Wilds
Military, Special Operations Force
The Hounds of the Emperor; Tasbal’s Dogs; Imperial Hunters
Related Ranks & Titles