The Oprichniki, or Black Riders as they are often called, serve as enforcers for the Arcana Society. The primary mission of the Arcana Society is to protect the world from the havoc and devastation that can be caused by unchecked use of magic power. The Society has a number of means at its disposal to achieve this mission. Educating magi and overseeing new magical research are the first and most effective means. When rogue magi threaten the stability of the world, the Society needs a reliable force to answer that threat. Past experience has shown that meeting powerful threats with greater magical power often leads to worse devastation, and so the Oprichniki deal with those threats without using magic force, most often ending such threats before great damage is caused.
The Oprichniki were founded nearly two millennia ago, not long after the founding of the Arcana Society itself. There is some speculation that the Oprichniki, and many of their secret martial styles, predate the Society, but today there is nothing concrete. The first written accounts of the order are from the early days of the Society, and the documents creating the Oprichniki were closely guarded secrets at the time, thus many were lost or destroyed. At the time, the Society became split along philosophical lines. Some believed that the Society should become subservient to civil authorities, specifically the successors of Alain and the Elf-King. Others within the society favored independence or even subjugation of 'lesser' powers. Debate turned to war when a cabal of elven wizards broke from the society over the Society's prohibition on the study of Necromancy. The Necromancy War began when the Society attempted to assassinate the leaders of the breakaway cabal. The War split the Arcana Society further. The Necromancers were joined by a number of other groups dissatisfied with the harsh restrictions enforced by the Society. Battles between companies of powerful wizards devastated the countryside, killing thousands in collateral destruction. The Necromancer's armies armies of undead, even creating new types like the Ghouls. In secret, the Society created the Oprichniki, in the hopes that specialized mage-killers would be able to end the horrific conflict. The Oprichniki became an invisible blade used to gut the Necromancers and their allies. Society loyalists would spend decades hunting down the legions of ghouls and other undead, while the Oprichniki hunted their creators.
To this day few know what makes the Oprichniki such effective mage-killers. They employ little magic themselves, and yet they are capable of destroying powerful Wizards and Clerics. The Oprichniki and the Society discourage speculation, simply saying that they employ advanced martial techniques. Nearly as fearsome as their martial prowess is the reach of the Oprichniki. The Oprichniki operate outside established civil authority in any territory where the Arcana Society operate, which comprise nearly all the known world, excluding the Reaver Isles and the lands beyond the South Sea. The Oprichniki are empowered to investigate and eliminate threats to their mission, with little oversight from civil authorities. Most Riders, however, work closely with local law enforcement and try to maintain a good working relationship. If local authorities hinder or interfere with the Oprichniki they risk being put under an Interdict by the Arcana Society. An Interdict prevents any ruler or organization in the territory from contracting with a Society mage, effectively cutting off the territory from magical assistance. The mere threat of an Interdict is enough sway most rulers (regardless of rank) in favor of the Oprichniki. Such disputes, however, are rare. Interdicts even more rare. Most villages and towns appreciate having the Black Riders as a free supplement to their own guards, as well as a deterrent for rogue magi with ill intent.
The Long Patrol is a special law enforcement company comprised of halflings. They patrol between the many far flung communities of halflings, keeping the communities safe as well as patrolling the roads between them. The Long Patrol also serves as a outlet for community minded halflings, who still feel the pull of the open road, allowing them to serve their hometowns while also travelling. While not an elite fighting force like the Paladins or Oprichniki, the Long Patrol serves a number of non-military functions. The Patrol keeps a number of fixed routes between different halfling towns and villages, but the number of patrol squads varies with the route or the season. The Patrol is renown for helping lost travellers, of any race. Members of the Long Patrol of often welcomed in any community, especially in more remote villages far from main roads. In many such towns, the Long Patrol is the only source of news and information. In addition, the Long Patrol also operates a mail service, forging closer connections between the far distant communities of halflings. Most halfling towns keep a couple houses set aside just for members of the Long Patrol, warm beds and full pantries for those just passing through.
The Long Patrol itself is an ancient organization. The earliest histories of the halfling say that they were once nomads. They travelled across the world (chiefly in the far north and the Badlands) in massive wagon trains. The trains would often stretch for miles and miles. Each night the wagons would stop, and dozens of new villages were formed, each morning they would pack up and move on. This period is called the Long Trek and no one knows how long the halflings wandered, or even why. As the wagon trains grew larger, they had to spread out further, to avoid seriously damaging the lands in which they travelled. As the halflings spread out, they became targets for bandits and raiders. News would spread slowly through the wagon trains, and vital information was lost or garbled as it passed. To provide the security and rapid information, the halfling leaders formed the Long Patrol. They would not be directed by any single train, and would work for the security of all, unlike the militias that were also formed. They would train and ride special breeds of dogs. These would give them the speed to patrol around and between the trains, allowing them to pass information throughout the whole society. If a wagon was attacked, they could mobilize quickly to defend. They could also scout ahead of the trains, identifying dangers early, and finding new routes around them.
About 2500 years ago, the Long Trek began to wind down. Weary of travel and the inherent instability and dangers of nomadic life, the halfling wagon trains began to stop for longer and longer periods of time. Eventually, communities of halflings began to settle permanently. As the halflings began to transition to a sedentary society the Long Patrol's mission remained the same. Rather than riding between distant wagon trains, they rode between settled communities as well as the still nomadic wagon trains. Eventually the Long Trek ended, with most wagon trains settling in what would become the human kingdoms of Ewina and Alainta. The Long Patrol kept, and still keeps the halfling people together even over great distances. One thing did change for the Long Patrol following the end of the Long Trek. On the move, the Patrol would keep distance between the halflings and other races. The halflings feared contact with others, would avoid them wherever possible. After the halflings had settled, they realized that their new neighbors could be valuable friends and allies. The Long Patrol became instrumental in forging these new bonds. Humans in particular welcomed the halflings. The Long Patrol would fight in the wars of Alain, defending human lands as well as halfling. Many members of the Long Patrol are also part of the Arcana Society, finding that magic is a powerful tool in sheltering their communities.