The war against occult forces has been waged for centuries. The Sentinels have been involved in this war almost since the beginning. These holy warriors operate in secret throughout the world,identifying dangerous entities and creatures and doing their best to destroy them. Their efforts have kept millions of people safe from the depredations of the supernatural.
In many ways, however, the Sentinels are slaves to their beliefs and their visions. Many are fanatics who are blind to the consequences of their actions. Sometimes they bring harm to the innocent as well as the guilty. Also, they must never put themselves above their overriding goals. Inspired Sentinels are modern-day crusaders and saints, pious but completely self-righteous.
Membership in the Sentinels is either inherited or offered to worthy candidates. Some family lines have served for generations. Most new members are people who were victimized by occult forces or creatures, and who have shown a willingness to carry on the struggle against such forces. Their common qualities are dedication and strength of will; many members also have useful combat or investigative skills.
The Sentinels have existed for ages in some form, though the modern organization is directly related to the Opus Dei and the Catholic Church. The existing Sentinels of that time were gathered together by the church to create a tool to defeat supernatural and magical threats. And for several centuries the Sentinels were the arm of the Opus Dei that included some magical practitioners of it’s own.
However this could never last and eventually the Church decided they were to dangerous to keep, and enough of the supernatural had gone into hiding when threatened with the sword of the Church they thought they could do it. When this occurred the Sentinels who could flee, or were willing to, did splintering them from the Church. Even so they are often still zealots and highly religious, though the religion isn’t always Christian let alone Catholic.
The Sentinels believe in One God who created the world and who is the Lord of all things. They also believe that He has an Adversary, a lesser power capable of great evil. The struggle between these two forces has existed since the time of Creation, and the Adversary often sends Its minions to Earth to bring down terror and destruction upon helpless humans. The Sentinels see themselves as God’s agents on Earth, protecting all humans, faithful or unbelievers, from the forces of evil.
In the past, the Sentinels were predominantly Catholics, and to this day they remain dominated by Christians from all denominations, with smaller but growing contingents of Muslims and Jews. Religious differences are largely ignored, and theological arguments are quietly discouraged. Many Sentinels believe that the discord between different religious groups has been the work of the Adversary to trick the faithful into fighting one another instead of devoting their energies towards facing the larger evil. The Sentinels still consider pagans and those who worship many gods to be at best dupes, and at worst servants,of the Adversary.
When facing the enemy, the Sentinels will resort to all means necessary to end its evil, including violence. In the past, the Sentinels were somewhat cavalier when dealing with what the military calls “collateral damage” — innocents caught in the crossfire. The new leadership has been much more zealous in preventing the Sentinels from becoming as callous as the beings they fight. If a member harms an innocent, she will be turned over to the authorities for proper punishment. Sometimes, members who were surrendered to the police for their crimes have tried to betray the Sentinels to the authorities. Their fantastic stories of an ancient society dedicated to the hunting of monsters has earned most of them a competency hearing, but little more.
Members come from all parts of the world and all walks of life,rich or poor,educated or ignorant. Most Sentinels came into contact with the Society when they or their loved ones were victimized by the supernatural. Others were Called to the Order through visions and prophecies much like the saints of old.
In the past, membership was handed down from generation to generation through the families of previous members, and this tradition is maintained by some of them, but, regrettably, many Sentinel family lines have died off without new progeny (in some cases, wiped out by enemies of the Society). In other cases, the would-be heirs to the tradition have reacted with disbelief and refused to participate in what they consider an exercise in insanity.
Becoming a Sentinel is not unlike joining a monastic order. Members are required to devote all their time and energies to the purposes of the Society. The Sentinels are paid stipends and grants to allow them to operate without needing a mundane job, and they are also offered free room and board in any of the dozens of Chapel Houses the Society owns throughout the world. Although they are not subject to vows of poverty, most Sentinels give up all their wealth and possessions to the Order,or have no compunction about using their money to help fellow members. Some members continue to hold down jobs, but only because they are in a position to pass on valuable information and services to the Society. They include many police officers, public servants, journalists, doctors and similar professionals. Some Sentinels also move around, seemingly at random, following hunches they consider to be divine guidance.
The Sentinels are organized into cells, like a resistance movement or terrorists. Few of these cells have more than a dozen members and the average is closer to half that. Though they have no grand planner or true hierarchy above the cell level, with few cells even knowing where to find others. This is both good and bad. It’s bad because if help is needed, it’s almost impossible to get. However it’s good in that if a cell is lost the organization as a whole lives on. A few people travel between cells, either because they are loners or because they are wanderers, and these people often provide the information links between cells. Even with advanced technology the Sentinels aren’t to keen on creating or using systems which can be monitored.
Physically most cells maintain ‘chapel houses’. There are Chapel Houses in most major cities of Western Europe, North and South America, and (more recently) Eastern Europe. Each Chapel House is centered around a large dwelling, similar to a monastery (and sometimes using actual refurbished monasteries) or a castle (if any are available). Many European Chapel Houses are built on old castles, while American ones content themselves with town houses or manors. Each Chapel House is under the control of a Deacon, who is in charge of managing all local affairs of the Society as well as overseeing the activities of the Society. Deacons are long-time members of the Society and they know most of the secrets and the inner workings of the Sentinels. At least for their areas.
There are few ranks among members. Full-time members are simply known as Sentinels. People who assist the Society by providing information and other services are referred to as Laymen. One specific group of Laymen is known as ‘The Assembly’ and they act as caretakers for the collective knowledge of the Sentinels. Most Deacons know where this is and will contact them if needed to find solutions to issues.
In previous times, the Sentinels searched for all practitioners of occult and “forbidden” arts, and struck them down whether they had committed a crime or not. Nowadays, the Sentinels concentrate on dealing with actual attacks against innocent people. To some degree, this means that those who do not prey on humans have little to fear from the Sentinels, although misunderstandings can and do arise. If members of another group destroy a supernatural being masquerading as a normal human, the Sentinels may think that a heinous murder has been committed, and pursue the perpetrators.
The Sentinels have many documented cases of “witches” guilty of infanticide, cannibalism and other crimes. Most of these were the work of Dark Covenants, or even of deranged Mundanes, but many Sentinels still blame the Wicce for them.
Typically,all practitioners of magic and other “forbidden arts” are viewed as potential enemies. Groups who seem primarily interested in fighting supernatural predators, like the Storm Dragons are given the benefit of the doubt.
They get along best with the Magi, though the Sentinels insistence on including women has kept the two groups with so much in common from ever merging.
Dark Covenants and supernatural predators are the Sentinels’ preferred targets. On many an occasion, the “prey” has turned on their tormentors; Vampires are notorious for their skill at luring Sentinels into ambushes. More often than not, however,the Sentinels have managed to deal with those would-be hunters.
Abilities and Skills
Most Sentinels have a number of scholastic skills, including Occult Knowledge and Theology. Mundane warriors have a wide array of combat skills.
The Sentinels are evenly divided between Mundane and Gifted members. While the Sentinels generally consider Magic to be unnatural, at best it is a natural power used by misguided people who do not pay proper homage to the True Source of all power, certain ones are included in their numbers. At worst they see Magic as the result of a pact with the forces of darkness. Necromancy is almost always considered to be utterly evil, an attempt to manipulate death, which is a prerogative of God, not Man. The most common gifted among the Sentinels are Seers who they actively recruit.
Mundane members often seek technological aid… Either Mechanical or Genetic to give them an edge against the forces of supernatural and magical natures.
Even after the split with the Catholic Church many Sentinels are clergymen, priests or pastors of a number of religions. Curiously enough, religious differences tend to matter little among the Sentinels; a dedication to serve the Forces of Light is more important than one’s religious affiliation. Monotheism (the belief in One God) is the prevalent religion, however. Additionally, many Sentinels are recruited from the ranks of the military and police; they are valued for their investigative and combat skills.