History of the Order
A elite order of psionic knights, the Order of Zar-Tis existed on Daryen before the Maghiz, as advisors to nobles and protectors of the Daryen populace. With the Maghiz and the ensuing collapse in technology and society, the Order found themselves becoming extinct. Where once a proud and honorable Order stood, the surviving members retreated into a more monastic existence. The numbers of the Order became less and less over the generations, until only a mere handful remain, hidden away from eyes that had turned inward to focus on the recovery of Daryen space.
A few Chapters of the Order have managed to keep the traditions alive in Daryen space over the centuries, but have remained secluded for several reasons. Initially, Daryen did not have the technology to support a wide-spread emergence of the Zar-Tis back into common Daryen society. The traditional weapon of the Order, a plasma sword known as the Brand of Zar-Tis, relied on technologies that were being handed down, from one generation to the next, with no true understanding of the underlying scientific theories. Supplies needed to produce the Brands were very limited, and prompted the Order to keep their numbers low. Despite their limited numbers, members of the Order worked from behind the scenes to promote a return to the Daryen ideals the Order had been sworn to protect.
As Daryen recovered from the Maghiz, the Order came closer to supporting a larger number of Chapters and members. However, based on a concern that growing Imperial hatred of psionics would cause persecution of the Zar-Tis knights outside of Daryen space, the Order remained secretive and unobtrusive. Instead, the Chapters continued the legacy of their ancestors, protecting and promoting technological advancement as the Daryens slowly climb back to their former level of accomplishment.
Despite their clandestine operations, the Order had not gone without notice. Starting in late 992, Chapters of the knighthood began reporting that their Chapterhouses had been raided, primarily for parts needed to manufacture the Brand of Zar-Tis. Although no formal proof could be presented, it seemed to the Council of Elders among the Order that a silent war had recently been launched against the Order. None know the identity of these raiders, not what their purpose is, but the strongest psionicists among the Order sensed that a dark time may soon hang over Daryen's future once again.
The truth, though the Order had yet to suspect it, lay in a rogue sect of the Order of Zar-Tis. A small band of talented psionic knights, the Black Hand of the Maghiz, as they fancied themselves, had broken from the rigid moral code governing the rest of the Order. Instead, they sought to use their talents for more personal gain. Working secretly in both public society and within the Order of Zar-Tis itself, the Hand slowly gathered its forces, making contacts and allies, and prepared for a future when they would strike...
The Hand planned with a long vision, having learned that lesson from the Order's approach to restoring Daryen, and they did not make themselves known to the Order or the public eye until 117 years after their formation. In 1109, a prominent noble of the Daryen subsector was assassinated with the traditional weapon of the Order, the plasma sword known as the Brand of Zar-Tis. Determined to resolve the dishonor on the Order, Grandmaster Kon'l of Daryen began investigating the attack. His hard work uncovered the rogue sect. The Order of Zar-Tis took immediate exception to the Hand's use of the Order's teachings to perform assassinations and obtain political power. The two factions fell into a silent war aimed at the other's eventual descruction.
The Order and the Black Hand of the Maghiz have thus become mortal enemies. The two factions are often found behind the political scenes of Daryen and nearby interstellar polities, working to hinder one another and destroy their rivals.
The Brand of Zar-Tis
The Brand of Zar-Tis is a TL16 personal melee weapon based on the personal military applications of pre-Maghiz Daryen Plasma Art. Used by a reclusive Daryen order of psionic martial artists, the Brand initially appears as a silver cylinder approximately 0.3 to 0.4 meters in length (12"-16"), with a black padded grip along the lower half of the cylinder. An impellor disk caps the upper end of the cylinder, and a number of configurable controls exist on one side of the cylinder, between the grip and the impellor disk. Brands usually possess a D-ring or similar connection at the lower base of the cylinder, to enable the weapon to be carried from a belt or baldric.
When activated, the impellor disk projects a brand of plasma approximately a meter (3' 4") in length, which is held in check by gravitic fields generated from the impellor plate as well. Close proximity to the brand's "edge" produces a feeling of heat. Actually breaking the brand's surface exposes the obstruction to the intense heat and destructive force of the plasma contained within the gravitic fields.
While the Brand makes a highly effective personal weapon, the configurable controls allows for the user to adjust the overall length of the Brand, making it an effective tool at times. Due to the extreme temperatures of the plasma blade itself, the Brand can, over time, be used to cut through vehicular armor.
The average Brand can remain active for up to an hour, and requires four hours of recharging from an external power source (using a recharger pack) to become fully charged again.
Brands are very hard to find, as the secrets of their construction belong to members of the Daryen Order of Zar-Tis, and is passed down only to trained members of the Order. As members of the Order consider it a grave dishonor to the Order and to themselves to allow a non-believer to possess a Brand, they will often take great risks to retrieve or destroy a Brand in the hands of a non-believer, and extend great honor to one who returns the Brand of a fallen comrade. While rare, Brands can occasionally be found on the black market, starting at ten times the value listed below, and are sought after by exotic weapon collectors for their rarity and efficiency.
Plasma Sword: TL 16, Mass 2.5 kg, Volume ~1.2 L, Cr 30,000
Plasma Sword Recharger: TL 16, Mass 2.0 kg, Volume 1.0 L, Cr 1,000
Game System Information
Character creation information for members of the Order of Zar-Tis and the Black Hand of the Maghiz, as well as the weapon statistics and use of the Brand of Zar-Tis in combat varies from rules system to rule system, and are thus beyond the scope of this informational document. Such game system-specific information is available for MegaTraveller and d20 Traveller (T20).