“The time has come to act and only within this proud and ancient order lies the strength of will, the zeal and the righteous fury required to save us. They call us Witch Hunters, in their fear and ignorance, without even the slightest idea of the monstrous deeds we must commit on their behalf. To be a member of this ancient order is to be feared, shunned and despised. Those who seek glory, or even recognition of their labors should look to another profession, for we must face terrors that would still a lesser man’s heart, but our only thanks is the venomous hatred of all who behold our silver chain of office and a lifetime of blood, flame and fear.” – Kasper von Liebenstein, author of the Witch Hunters Handbook.
What is a Witch Hunter?
A Witch Hunter is a Templar, devoted to Sigmar (with few exceptions) whose duty is to rout out the corrupted, vanquish the unnatural, burn the heretics, hang the morally corrupt and bring justice to those who act against the Empire in any form.
They are the Holy Templar’s of Sigmar, sanctioned by the faith and the Emperor to do what must be done to cleanse Sigmar’s realm of unholy heretics and the beasts that lurk within the shadows
History of the Holy Templars
Most students of history and the common learned man may associate the founding of the Holy Order of the Templars of Sigmar with Magnus Pious, who turned the order into a secular arm of the State. Others associate the founding with Grand Theogonist Siebold II, who officially sanctioned the Order of the Silver Hammer (its less known and somewhat traditional name) with defending the Empire from Chaos, daemon-worship and all other forms of heresy and illegal use of magic.
Before this official ordainment, most observers of history were unaware of the existence of such an order, until Siebold II made his proclamation.
Veteran historical researchers will know better however that the true foundation of this ancient order dates back to the time of Sigmar. So to get a better understanding of the true age of the order of the Silver Hammer, lets look far back into the past.
- Year -30est (Estimate): Wolfgart Krieger aids Sigmar Heldenhammer in his duel with the sorcerer Nagash. Sigmar rewards Wolfgart by initiating him as the heard of a new secret order. He entrusts him, and the newly established Order of the Silver Hammer, with the safekeeping of several items of great power and mystery.
- Year 0001: Sigmar is crowned Emperor by the High Priest of Ulric.
- Year 1115: Witch Hunter Hans Feuerbach decrees the use of hammers for menial work an act of profound heresy. He executes thirteen manual laborers, but is eventually caught building a scaffold with a t-shaped piece of wood, and is hanged from it by one of his own captains.
- Year 1220: The Great Temple is established in Altdorrf – near to the Cathedral of Sigmar.
- Year 1682: Grand Theogonist Siebold Ii officially recognizes the Order of the Silver Hammer and tasks it with defending the Empire from the unnatural, the unclean and the corrupt. The order is later renamed The Holy Order of the Templars of Sigmar. Many hunters still refer to it as the Order of the Silver Hammer, for it was the holy name given to them jointly by Krieger and Sigmar Heldenhammer. Fun Fact: There is an ongoing petition put forward by several prominent hunters to have the order officially renamed as the Order of the Silver Hammer. This stems from the unearthing of scholarly texts suggesting that Grand Theogonist Siebold II had the order renamed to be more in-line with acting as his personal militant arm of the church.
- Year 2011: Elector Count Konrad von Blutheim of Wissenland is executed for heresy and daemonology by Witch-Hunter Johann Bernhardt. From this point on, concern begins to grow about the order’s growing freedom and the power this gives its patriarch, the Grand Theogonist.
- Year 2111: The Grand Duke of Middenheim (who was a senior member of the Order of the Silver Hammer) has the entire town of Roterbach hanged for heresy.
- Year 2276: Hieronymus Guntheim accuses the river Mesmer of being in league with the Dark Gods after having nearly drowned in the river. For three weeks, he employs the people of Rulzbach in an attempt to stem the flow of the river with holy fire. After several villagers drown, he is recalled to Altdorf for questioning.
- Year 2304: Magnus the Pious of Nuln is elected Emperor and changes the Holy Order into a secular arm of the state at the same time, the Colleges of Magic are founded in Altdorf. Magnus implemented many changes for the Holy Order, separating it from the Grand Theogonist’s direct control and making it jointly answerable to the Emperor and the Theogonist.
Magnus The Pious’s Reformation
Before Magnus the Pious made any attempts to reign in the Holy Order of the Templars of Sigmar, the order was, and had been for many years, left to its own devices and often at times found itself acting upon the wishes of the reigning Grand Theogonist, who had direct control over the order, giving him immense power. If a noble had a personal disagreement with the Theogonist, or if the Theogonist simply didn’t like you, one word was all it took for you to be brought to the gallows. The same is true today of course, but now there are rules and laws, regulations that govern the hunters. Not say these don’t get flouted, they do; but the difference between then and now is quite a lot.
Magnus’s reformation of the order implemented various laws that would govern them and placed the order under the direct control of the State. He charged the order to work within the law and lessened the strict requirements to join their ranks, opening up the opportunity for other religious cults to form their own inquisition but operating under the imperial decree set forward by Magnus.
Acting under the Lord Protector, the order found itself acting more to its founding principles rather than to the political whims of the Grand Theogonist or that of the Emperor.
A witch hunter’s sworn duty is to protect Empire and its citizens from “Chaos, its allies and those who would serve it”. More precisely their targets include:
- Unlicensed Magic Users (because they could use their magic against the state)
- Reformists (because their ideas are contrary to interests of the nobility)
- Mutants and the disabled (because they are a burden on their masters and carry the taint of chaos)
- Any religious faction that does not accept that Sigmar is a God
- Any race or nation currently at war with the Empire
- Any subversive individual
- Any rebellious faction that challenges the rule of the Nobility
The Six Holy Principles
These are the original founding tenets of the order since the Magnus Reformation.
- Of Obedience to the Lord Protector and renunciation of one’s own will: Fundamental to life in the Holy Order of the Templars of Sigmar is the renunciation of ones own will. All properties belonging to an apprentice templar of the order will be forfeit. Lands, tithes, and inheritances will be possessed in perpetual right by the order.
- Of the privilege to accuse, dispense judgement, declare anathema and excommunicate: Brethren have the right to banish transgressors from the mercy of Sigmar and commit them to perpetual ruin and damnation. However, this should be considered a last recourse and only employed when all other methods (including burning to death of the accused) have failed to obtain proof of innocence.
- How the brethren may clothe and equip themselves: Brethren of the order must at all times dress in simple garments of sober hue, ideally black, unadorned except for the symbol of the Twin-tailed Comet or the Ghal-Maraz. Robes, armour and mantles should be kept clean of ash and blood whenever possible. Spears, swords and other bladed weapons should be kept sheathed, that they may cleanly and easily pierce the flesh of the damned.
- How the brethren will maintain the secretive nature of the order: The centuries-old covenant, which binds our brotherhood, is of such weight that to speak of it outside the Great Temple of our order is considered heresy most foul and deserving of excommunication and death. Other matters, concerning secret keys, locations of artifacts and temples should be considered heresy of a lesser form, and only punished by the execution of the transgressor.
- The instilling of fear through the regular use of public executions and trials by ordeal: Wherever possible, all executions should be held before large gatherings, to ensure that commoners and nobility alike see the agony and ruin that befalls all who stray from Sigmar’s benevolent care.
- The suppression of mercy: A templar of the order should never be distracted by pleas for clemency or arguments of logic.
Before the Magnus reformation to the orders charter, the structure and ranks within the Order of the Silver Hammer were loose, chaotic and often at times lacking any sort of chain of command. There was always a Lord Protector however, who had overall responsibility for the templars. After the order became a secular arm of the state, a much more orderly rank and file structure was formed, and the witch hunters became more efficient in carrying out their duties.
Thaddeus Gamow is a name that any wizard would fear, even if they are a law abiding licensed wizard. Known as a terrifying zealot who possessed a deep hatred for wizards, he served as Lord Protector during the reign of Grand Theogonist Yorri XV. When Grand Theogonist Volkmar the Grim assumed the post after Yorri’s death, whispers began to emerge of a heretical cult who had infiltrated the office of the Lord Protector and thus influenced Thaddeus Gamow. Volkmar acted fast, immediately disposing Gamow once the heresy was confirmed and revealed, and disbanding his office. Rumors abound that Gamow had fled, avoiding capture, despite the official word from the church of Sigmar that he had been captured and executed.
As a result of the corrupting influence that was spreading through the order, Volkmar introduced the concept of a Witch-Finder General. He created three posts; North, East and South. The office of Lord Protector was, for a time, left vacant, yet there was a need for oversight of the Generals. Volkmar granted the office to the Inquisitor General of the Order of the Cleansing Flame as a way to ensure that Gamow’s treachery and corruption could not happen again, and if it did, it would get snuffed out.
- Lord Protector: Now regulated as an oversight post and answerable to the Grand Theogonist, the office of Lord Protector has very little to do with the affairs of the witch hunters in general. It is the Lord Protector’s duty however to keep an eye on the Generals, and to act as a liaison between them and the Grand Theogonist and that of the Emperor.
- Witch-Finder General: Volkmar created three posts; North, East and South. East covers the provinces of Averland, Stirland, the Moot, Talabecland and the city-state of Talabheim. South governs Reikland, Wissenland, city-states of Altdorf and Nuln, as well as a sizable portion of south Middenland. North governs Ostland, Ostermark, Hochland, Nordland and the northern parts of Middenland. Middenheim is not covered, which is under the jurisdiction of the Black Hunters (more on that later).
- Supreme Council (Redundant): Originally comprised of 12 senior templars of the inner-circle, the supreme council was disbanded when Volkmar introduced the office of Witch-Finder Generals.
- Witch Hunter Captains: A General has oversight of an entire district of chapter houses, where as a captain has oversight over a single chapter house. There is one captain to every chapter house in the empire. They are often the most experienced of the hunters.
- Witch Hunter Templars: These are the field agents of the order, who journey across the Empire, seek out corruption and to destroy it.
- Priests: Often ordained priests of Sigmar, these priests who are assigned to the Templars carry out holy duties, blessing the witch hunters, their equipment, providing holy water and at times may assist a hunter in their task.
- Preceptors & Apprentices: Apprentices are those who have just joined the order, and are usually assigned to an experienced templar to learn from, gaining the physical skills, spiritual discipline, and esoteric knowledge needed to defeat their foes. Preceptors are often priests of Sigmar given the task of training and assisting an apprentice on their journey, usually providing religious advice, teachings and ensuring that the apprentice is well versed on Sigmarian theology. After all, a witch hunter cannot be burdened with such a task while carrying out their duties.
- Chief Librarian, Scribes and Sacristans: These learned men are responsible for recording, maintaining, and researching through the vast amount of written records that the order compiles. Everything from forbidden texts that list the true names of Greater Demons to the transcripts of interrogations, to the mission reports of returning templars, and many more mundane documents besides are stored in the libraries of the chapter houses. These stores of information are one of the mightiest weapons the Order has against the minions of the Ruinous Powers.
- Sister-aids, domestics, artisans and labourers: Sister-aids are the nurses, often priestesses of Shallya who provide medical care for wounded or diseased Witch Hunters and their staffs; artisans and laborers keep the buildings of the Order in repair, and domestics keep them clean.
- Cellarer, Animal Trainers: Cellarers are responsible for the provisioning of the chapter houses (and the maintenance of the goal cells), and animal trainers are responsible for the keep of the various horses, messenger pigeons, bloodhounds, and other useful animals.
Typical Retinue of A Templar
A common misconception about a witch hunter is that they travel alone. Far from it. It is true that lone hunters can be encountered on the road, but they are a less common sight. A witch hunter decides himself if he wishes to travel alone or in the accompany of employed retinues. The ones who travel alone are the ones you need to worry about.
A witch hunter’s duty is highly dangerous, and often the completion of their task requires seeking help from others. These may consist of mercenaries, scouts, skilled torturers, physicians, barber-surgeons and for the less conservative hunter, even wizards. Fight fire with fire, as they say… At times a hunter may travel with a fellow hunter, but two hunters or more is usually a sign that they are hunting a particularly dangerous foe, and two hunters won’t go unnoticed.
All sanctioned witch hunters are now required to carry a writ that bears the seal of the Witch-Finder General’s office. Such a writ gives the hunter leave to investigate anyone anywhere within the Empire and act upon it should he find it. Such a writ gives a hunter a lot of power:
- A templar is able to command a local garrison, such as the towns watch, to assist him in any task he sees fit. Failure to provide assistance to the hunter is punishable by death.
- A templar may force any peasant in assisting him and they are obliged to help and provide aid.
- A templar may acquisition equipment and accommodation to assist in his task. However, any templar who abuses this position of trust may find themselves answerable to the Witch-Finder General.
- A templar may arrest anyone suspect of taint, morally corrupt, acting against the good of the empire and of heresy.
- A templar may call upon for a trial to take place, and may request the assistance of a local magistrate if need be. The local magistrate must abide and consider the templar’s request as priority over all other matters.
As detailed above, a sanctioned hunter has a lot of power. With that said, there are limits. Before the Magnus reformation, a hunter acted as Jury, Judge and Executioner. They still do, in a sense; but with far less frequency. Now, a set of laws and regulations govern them.
A witch hunter is expected and required to carry out trials of all those found to be accused of a crime, with few exceptions; it is not unheard of for a hunter to trial a corpse, usually as a result of the accused being far too dangerous to be brought in alive.
A lot of these trials are often show-trials; the hunter acts as chief prosecutor, often using fear, intimidation and a pious tongue to convince a rabble of peasants, a noble or a judge of the guilt of the accused.
Once the accused is found guilty, as they often are, they will be burnt at the stake to be cleansed clean by fire. Hanging is usually reserved for criminals, murderers and so on who happened to have been caught by a hunter.
Not everyone makes it to trial however; torture is a common method employed by all hunters to have them confess to their sins and to avoid at trial to begin with. Death by torture is a far more common occurrence, often by accident.
Dealing With Nobles
A templar’s jurisdiction never ends, or so they would have you believe. In truth, sanctioned witch hunters may act as they wish outside the Empire, but they must be mindful of the risks, for they no longer have the protection of the church and their writ means very little.
The same can be said when dealing with nobles. Nobles suspected of heresy or some other form of sin who earn the attention of a witch hunter should sweat, for they are on borrowed time. A templar, like a predator who has caught the scent of their prey, will not relent or submit. Yet not all is lost for the noble in question…
The influence of the noble, their wealth, power and status all comes into play when trying to prevent a witch hunter from carrying out their task. Often at times the noble may employ delaying tactics, or if they feel the need is urgent, directly appeal to an Arch-Lector who may appeal to the Grand Theogonist on their behalf, or even the Witch-Finder General.
As such, a noble has many ways to avert a hunters gaze. Thus, a templar would need to be cautious; strong evidence of the sin in question would be required for any successful trial of a noble. Noble blood tends to get far fairer treatment at the hands of a hunter than the common man.
It may also not concern the noble directly; it could for example, concern his favorite mason builder who is about to be put on trial for heresy by a templar. The noble could submit a request for a delay while he examined the evidence, but the noble has to be careful as well, for if the builder is found to be guilty, then all eyes will be on the one who tried to defend him.
All hunters are trained in the use of the crossbow, pistol, hand-to-hand combat and their chosen preferred weapon, the rapier. High quality plate armor is a must-have for any hunter, for their foes are unknowing and numerous.
The standard equipment any hunter may have:
- Silver Chain & Hammer: This is the symbol of their order, and lets all know that they are a sanctioned hunter of the Order of the Silver Hammer (provided that they got a writ as well).
- Crossbow: Often of the light variant, the crossbow is the hunters ideal backup weapon, often used to hammer a foe from range before moving in for the kill, or to prevent retreating sinners from running away.
- Net/Whip: Not exactly standard, but most hunters find a whip or a net or both to be handy distractions in combat.
- Throwing Knifes: Most hunters have these; they are often silver-coated and blessed.
- Pistol: A couple of flintlock pistols tucked into the belt is always a sure-sign of a veteran hunter, for only the experienced and those who earned their keep can afford them. The Order of the Silver Hammer do not hand these out for free. You must earn them yourself, although the order will provide training in their use at no cost to the hunter. They will also provide training in the use of the blunderbuss and other long-guns. Some hunters get their pistols modified to include a block-muzzle. This gives it a barely perceptible lever on a templar’s pistol, which when depressed, silently seals the weapon’s barrel. Should anyone use a blocked-muzzle pistol while its blocked, they will find themselves at serious risk of injury if they pull the trigger…
- Rapier: Often the preferred weapon of choice due its quickness and precision, the hunter is free however to take up any weapon he sees fit. All hunters receive training in the use of the dagger, the cutlass, the long sword, the bastard sword, the two-handed swords, the maul, the gudendag (a hammer to which spikes have been added so that it may be easily embedded in the flesh of a heretic) and the foil. As such, the hunter is best choosing what they feel the most comfortable with.
- Stakes: Wooden stakes made out of heart-thorn wood or ones with silver-coated tips, blessed by a priest of Sigmar and bearing the symbol of a twin-tailed comet.
- Handbook: An essential and valuable tome consisting of knowledge for the hunter, given to them by the order. The information within is considered sensitive enough that certain parts of it are written in cipher and code that only the hunter would understand. The majority of the book is written in Reikspiel however. It deals with all manner of subjects, such as how to tell if someone is a witch or a warlock, the methods for dispatching daemons and those who are possessed by such foul abominations. The book is considered essential for apprentices and novice hunters who are just starting out their duties. Veteran hunters will rarely carry it, having known it by heart and unwilling to risk it falling into the hands of less desirable folk.
- Vial of Holy Water: Often blessed by an ordained Sigmarite priest, this water can be the difference between life and death when coming up against one of the more unsightly foes that a hunter can face.
Then there are the less obvious weapons of choice a hunter may have:
- Leaded-cloak: The distinctive black robes of the witch hunter are feared throughout the length and breadth of the Old World. Along with their chains, branding irons and wide-brimmed hats, the long flowing cloaks of the Templars of Sigmar demand awe and respect from all who are unfortunate enough to behold them at close quarters. The cloak however serves another purpose. Sewn into its lining, there is a row of lead balls. Should the wearer find himself unarmed and in danger, he can unclip the cloak and brutally lash anyone within a number of feet. Many a recalcitrant heretic has been thrashed to within an inch (or indeed beyond) his life by templar wielding nothing more than his own clothes.
- Clay-tobacco pipe: Clay has long been considered the most suitable material for a pure tobacco flavour when smoking a pipe and many a templar of the order benefits from the calming properties of this habit. The practice is more than a harmless indulgence however. Concealed within the shank of their pipes, some witch hunters keep a handful of seeds from the Wissenland Bell flower. With a sharp exhalation of breath, the seeds ccan be fired from a tiny opening in the ipipe’s bowl. The properties of the Bell flower are such that, upon contact with human skin (preferably the face), its seeds induce a powerful mania, causing the victim to hear a deafening, agonizing ringing in his ears. This is usually all the distraction a witch hunter needs to overcome an opponent.
- Spring-heeled boot knife: A throw-back to the pre-Magnus reformation of the charter and a still frowned upon device. The spring-heeled boot knife may seem like it has practical uses for defending oneself, but don’t be misled. This is a political device. A tiny spring-loaded blade concealed within the heel of their knee-length boots. The blade is barely larger than a darning needle and its prick would barely be noticed, and if so, mistaken for an insect bite. As such, the blade has no practical defensive application, except for the poison that coats it. Extracted from Morr’s Crown, a purple-hue rare flower, the poison is slow acting and subtle, taking effect over several weeks. The sufferer will appear to have a natural illness, although death is not always assured, with the afflicted having at least a 60% of survival. The purpose of such a device and poison is to quietly ‘pass judgement’ upon political sensitive sinners where a trial may prove impossible or politically dangerous. The Magnus reformations have lessened their use, but veteran conservative hunters may still find them useful…
- Snuffboxes: Some hunters will carry these on their person. Ideally there would be three small boxes that they’ll carry. The first is made of tortoiseshell, the second of mother-of-pearl and the third of silver. The tortoiseshell contains snuff (a fine-ground tobacco for snorting as an aid to concentration). The pearl box contains powder that appears to be snuff, but is actually poison hemlock, used in the subjugation of heretics. The silver box contains powdered death angel mushrooms from the World’s Edge Mountains. Upon consumption, these small but potent fungi will cause the user to slip into a drug-induced frenzy; becoming immune to pain, unnaturally strong and enraged beyond belief. The symptoms are short lived but effective.
Witch Hunter Attire
A hunters attire is no simple affair and is often of the finest quality. A hunters armor is paid for and provided for by the order, but when it comes to maintaining it and making repairs out in the field, the hunter must cover the costs himself. Most hunters wear a studded long leather coat, often reinforced with plates stitched on the interior side. A buckled tunic underneath, which is layered with plate armour over it. The leggings are made out leather which cover the oblong plates at the top, knee and lower segments, providing near full coverage. There is of course the black cloak, and the infamous wide-brimmed hat, which has thin-plating covering the front, back and sides.
Adorning the jacket of a templar, many would take notice of the various inked ribbons and small parchments that are plastered onto a hunters jacket or armour. These are often inscribed prayers, copied from Deus Sigmar and other holy books, to provide courage and instill renewed faith into hunters who find themselves on the darkest of paths.
Becoming A Templar
The only easy part of becoming a templar, is finding the courage to sign-up. In theory, anyone can sign up to become a templar, but not everyone is cut-out for it, and very few ever realize the true horrors that face the holy templars. Many people who sign up are oblivious to the threats that a hunter faces. Some believe that a witch hunter’s only task is to root out witches, heretics and mutants, unknowing that they face far greater foes… When a potential recruit gets to the stage of finding out the true task laid before them, they often get cold feet and run.
Many folk have a lot of misconceptions about the templars. They see them as nothing but a militant arm of the state, there to watch out for the unbelievers and the tainted. Witches are always a threat… but daemons? The undead? The uncounted twisted abominations that roam the countryside? The things that lurk in the deep places of the world would terrify and drive any man insane. A templar knows these unnameable horrors; he must, for one day he may face one, and courage, not fear, is what he will use to win the day.
On any given day, week or month, there are a number of idiots who come with some romanticized idea of becoming a witch hunter. Some might be pulled in by the allure of power over others. Others are devout Sigmarites, who may mean well, but are so naive and unprepared for what they might face.
Yet now and again, rarely, one such individual may surprise them. Yet the ideal candidate for a hunter is one who is strong willed, who has no preconceptions about what it means to become a templar; and should they have any, then they need to be ready to face reality. Roadwardens, bounty hunters, veteran soldiers of war, deep watchers, warrior priests, scouts and even sewer jacks or rat-catchers are all professions, dangerous professions, in which the individual may have, in their lifetime, come across something so foul, so twisted that everything they thought they knew, suddenly changed. Templars look out for these kinds of people, for they know they’ve already got a taste of whats to come.
Training to become a templar is no easy feat, and those who are put through the trials are not guaranteed to survive. The trials, which are numerous, will not be detailed here. Suffice to say they are difficult, and only the strong will survive them. Those who do survive, yet fail in their tasks, will never be the same again… For that poor soul now knows the horrors that await them. They know of the dark gods, they know their names.
Black Hunters (Black Cloaks)
Despite the cult of Sigmar’s historic hegemony, the cult of Ulric was among the first to respond to Magnus’s invitation. No doubt keen to prove that it had no lessons to take from anyone when it comes to rooting out witches and other such evils, least of all their old rivals.
Known as Black Hunters, this small group (dozen Hunters & 1 Hunter General) are based out of the cult’s center of power, Middenheim. In fact this small and secretive group have tracked sorcerers for centuries. Middenheim with its historic ties with wizards and as one of the focal points of the Wizards’ War has long been a rich source of sorcery and other such heretical practices.
Their motto is Certo Dirigo Ictu (I Aim With a Sure Blow) and their symbol is a wolf, shrouded in darkness with yellow eyes staring out.
The Black Hunters consider themselves very different from their Sigmarite counterparts and mark their distinction accordingly:
- No gunpowder weapons, just crossbow pistols
- No throwing knives, throwing axes are favoured instead
- No holy water, relics nor amulets, just the cleansing fire of the Eternal Flame (not actually from the Eternal Flame, but it is blessed by the Ar-Ulric. Its carried in an ornate storm lantern)
The Black Hunters, or Black Cloaks as they are commonly called by commoners, operate very differently to their Sigmarite cousins. Recognized by their long black wolf cloaks, these hunters even dress differently. They do not wear the wide-brim hats, and they stand out a lot less than the Sigmarite templars.
They operate under the Hunter General, who reports directly to the Grand Master of the White Wolves, who has overall superiority over them. Black Cloaks tend to confine themselves within Ulrics territory, meaning most of the northern parts of the Empire, although if need be, they will chase a foe even if it brings them across the Grey Mountains.
They operate in a much more secretive manner than their Sigmarite cousins. Some minor subterfuge is possible, but should be limited as Ulric is a unforgiving god, and a hunter must resort to penance if they feel they’ve angered Ulric.
The Black Cloaks are not as well equipped as the southern templars, nor are they experienced in dealing with the untold horrors that the Sigmarite templars have to deal with. The Black Cloaks greatest experience is hunting down rogue wizards, sorcerers and witches, and this is where their strength lies.
Training is also a lot more forgiving, but not easy. You are more likely to survive their training and initiation than you are as a Sigmarite templar. The templars prefer to toss you into the deep end and see if you survive. The Black Cloaks would not put a recruit through that ordeal, rather, preferring to take a gentler approach and judging you based on the abilities you possess already.
As such, it appears that the Black Cloaks may be the safer profession. Yet magic is not to be underestimated, and there may be some witch hunters who would rather pick the two-headed four armed fire-chucking abomination over a powerful wizard, for magic is greatly feared and for good reason. The Black Cloaks excel in this area though more than anyone else. Templars are often afraid and suspicious of magic in general. The Black Cloaks are not fearful of it, nor do they particularly hate it. They understand it better than any witch hunter and for that reason are more capable in facing a rogue wizard lord. There is also one powerful asset that they have, that the witch hunters don’t; they can call upon their fanatical zealous brothers, the White Wolves, for assistance. A powerful ally indeed.
However, there is one caveat when it comes to joining their ranks. The witch hunters are quite open to accepting anyone of any faith, provided you give yourself to Sigmar in the process. You will not have to renounce your faith, but you would have to pledge yourself to Sigmar. The black hunters are a bit more strict in this regard; they will not accept anyone who isn’t a true Ulrican believer. You gotta be born and raised in Middenland and a devout Ulrican to become a Black Hunter.
Black Cloak Equipment
Black Cloak equipment is a much more simple and straight forward affair than a witch hunter. The cold north is not kind to wearers of plate armour, and the Cloaks prefer agility over armor, often favoring studded leather, draped in fur to keep them warm. In addition, they favor none of the deceptive weaponry that the witch hunters use. There is no lead balls in their cloaks!
- Axe or Sword: A short sword is usually preferred, although many opt to wield an axe.
- Crossbow pistol: A small hand-held crossbow. Crucial in closing the distance to a dangerous wizard, warlock or witch. Fire, forget, draw weapon and close distance is the usual tactic.
- Attunement Crystal: A special white-fluorescent crystal devised by the Guild of Alchemists and Wizards. When in close proximity to magic, it glows brightly, its color adopting the wind that its detecting.
- Wolf: Wolves, hand reared since they were pups, are specially trained to assist black hunters. Hunters treat them more than just canine companions; they often form a special bond with the hunter. Yet these wolves are no ordinary wolves, for they have been trained with one specific purpose in mind; to track magic. Not every wolf succeeds in developing the senses needed, and not every wolf survives the process either after being handed over to the Guild of Alchemists and Wizards for their training. Although its safer to say that more wizards have been bitten than wolves have perished.
Reputation and Nature
Unlike the templars who are feared throughout the empire, the black cloaks are only feared by those who misuse magic, is a witch or a warlock practicing the black arts. They have none of their twitchy zealous nature that the witch hunters have. Most importantly of all, they often go unnoticed. They are unheard of outside of Middenland, and even Middenlanders will be hard-pressed to know much about them.
Sanctions and Benefits
Witch hunters can often get free rooms by just walking into an inn and not uttering a word. Not to mention they have their writ which gives them a lot of power.
The black cloaks on the other hand, will likely have to pay for their room and board, and they don’t have a fancy writ that lets them do as they please. They have none of the powers that a Sigmarite templar has, and instead must act on their own means.
A black cloak cannot requisition a local watch garrison nor avail of any of the benefits commonly associated with a Sigmarite templar. However, unlicensed magic is highly frowned upon, and while the wizarding community would prefer if rogue wizards were brought back alive, this rarely tends to happen. So trials and formal arrest procedures are usually not the concerns of a black hunter.
Among-st being called black cloaks, they are also known as lone wolfs, for they often travel alone without a retinue, unlike that of their southern cousins.