I used to think that the Green Bond was a part of the PrC, as page 19 says this:
PCs or NPCs can take The Green Bond for a given Spirit Tree, by taking the Green Bond Feat on page 35. If they are not an Arboreal Guardian, they get called a Bondfellow. Here is the part of the sidebar that covers Bondfellows:Arboreal Guardian, page 19, Ghostwalk wrote:The Guardians are the wood's first line of defence against outsiders and act as the hands and eyes of the sprit trees, vowing to protect a particular tree with a mystical pledge called a Green Bond. Mystically linked with a chosen tree, an Arboreal Guardian sees the recipient of her Green Bond as the closest member of her family, someone worth dying for. This bond extends to a lesser extent to any other spirit tree.
So modifying the section on page 19 we get this:The Green Bond sidebar, page 20, Ghostwalk wrote:Characters who have a Green Bond but are not Arboreal Guardians are called bondfellows and are like extended members of the spirit tree’s family. They are on friendly terms with the Arboreal Guardians but do not have the same requirements of devotion that the Guardians do, although if their spirit tree is in danger, they are expected to come to its aid.
Having a Green Bond is a mixed blessing in terms of cohorts and followers. Bondfellows of the same spirit tree (and druids and rangers unassociated with other spirit trees) treat the bonded character as if she had a special power (Leadership modifier +1). All other characters treat the bonded character as if she had a familiar, a paladin’s warhorse, or an animal companion (Leadership modifier –2). Thus, it is easier for a bonded character to recruit cohorts and followers who are themselves bonded or at least respect the bond with nature, but it is harder to recruit those who have little or no interest in nature or are prejudiced against those who devote themselves to plants over civilized beings.
- Bondfellows are not the wood's first line of defence against outsiders (Arboreal Guardians are),
- Bondfellows do not act as the hands and eyes of the spirit trees (Arboreal Guardians do that) but they do perform some sort of lesser role (perhaps summoning Arboreal Guardians or passing on information),
- Bondfellows are making the same mystical pledge (called the Green Bond) as Arboreal Guardians so are vowing to protect their chosen tree to some extent,
- Arboreal Guardians see their Spirit Tree as the closest member of their family and worth dying to protect, but Bondfellows have a less close "extended family" relationship to their chosen Spirit Tree (not necessarily being willing to fight to the death to protect their tree) and
- The Green Bond (not the duties of the Arboreal Guardians) extends to a lesser extent to other Spirit Trees, so Bondfellows have some sort of weaker fellowship towards all the Spirit Trees in the wood.
So if a PC or NPC is a Bondfellow and they take the Leadership skill, it would probably be more typical for them to form a group from their local Bondfellows and Arboreal Guardians and use their Leadership to do things that are somehow in the interest of their Spirit Tree. (I can see a GM with a group of Bondfellow PCs having to tweak their plot arcs to make their campaign be one about protecting the wood, rather than specifically projecting Manifest.)
There isn't really a limit given to who is able to take the Green Bond. The Green Bond Feat says: "Wis 11, permission of a spirit tree". But "permission of a spirit tree" is a bit vague. Page 19 specifically says: "...only those with close ties to nature consider taking the Green Bond." But I think we can extrapolate the options for Bondfellows (if not limits) from what is written about Aboreal Guardians:
So modifying the section on page 19 we get this:Arboreal Guardian, page 19, Ghostwalk wrote:Most Arboreal Guardians are druids or rangers. A few clerics of Galaedros become Guardians, as does the occasional multiclassed barbarian, but only those with close ties to nature consider taking the Green Bond.
- Bondfellows can be druids or rangers (because druids and rangers can be Arboreal Guardians),
- Bondfellows can be clerics of Galaedros (because clerics of Galaedros can be Arboreal Guardians),
- Multiclassed barbarians can be Bondfellows (because they can be Arboreal Guardians) and
- PCs/NPCs have to have close ties to nature to become Bondfellows
The next paragraph is slightly harder to infer details from:
There is a lot of maybe about what we get from that page 19 stuff:Arboreal Guardian, page 19, Ghostwalk wrote:Arboreal Guardians are a well-known but little understood secret society in the Ghostwalk campaign. While they guide people through the Spirit Wood to the city of Manifest, they are completely ruthless when it comes to dealing with violators of the forest. They may bicker among themselves over the proper way to nurture and preserve the Spirit Wood, but they are united in their oath to preserve it at all cost.
- Bondfellows are probably less well known than Arboreal Guardians in the Ghostwalk campaign,
- If Arboreal Guardians are not well-understood, then Bondfellows are probably even less understood,
- Bondfellows do not need to guide people through the Spirit Wood to the City of Manifest (that is the job of the Arboreal Guardians),
- Bondfellows do not necessarily need to be completely ruthless towards violators of the forest (but they certainly wouldn't like violators of the forest and would presumably summon Arboreal Guardians to deal with them),
- If Arboreal Guardians bicker about the best way to preserve the wood, then Bondfellows must bicker too (presumably the group of Arboreal Guardians and Bondfellows for a specific Spirit Tree would have general agreement with each other) and
- Bondfellows would be united in their oath to preserve the Spirit Wood (although we know they have a lesser "requirement of devotion" so it might not be an "at all costs" thing).
I'd say that the "Race" requirement and the "Patron Deity" requirement are most likely to fit in with the "permission of a spirit tree" theme from the Green Bond Feat:Arboreal Guardian, page 19, Ghostwalk wrote:Requirements
To qualify to become an Arboreal Guardian, a character must fulfill the following criteria.
Race: Elf or half-elf. A creature of another race who does a great service for the Arboreal Guardians or the spirit trees may be allowed to join this elite society of protectors.
Skills: Intuit Direction 5 ranks, Knowledge (nature) 8 ranks, Wilderness Lore 8 ranks.
Feats: Great Fortitude, Green Bond, Point Blank Shot.
Spells: Able to cast entangle.
Patron Deity: Any but Nessek or Orcus.
- We know that elves and half elves can be Bondfellows (because they can be Arboreal Guardians),
- We know that other races can also be Bondfellows (because they can become Arboreal Guardians if they perform a great service),
- We know that people who worship Aluvan (NG), Chaniud (LN), Dracanish (LN), Eanius (NG), Gladros (N), Khostren (NE), Phaant (LE), Soggelos (CG), Tephaneron (CN), Uhnam (LN) and Wyst (CG) can take the Green Bond with a Spirit Tree (as only worshippers of Nessek and Orcus are banned from becoming Arboreal Guardians).
It's interesting that worshippers of the evil deities Khostren and Phaant were not banned from becoming Arboreal Guardians. But perhaps they serve Spirit Trees inside the Howling Vale.
The section on The Hidden Palace Glen gives us a very interestimng bit of information:
A very important bit of information is in the last paragraph. Balabek is the master of the Aboreal Guardians, but does not have the Arboreal Guardian PrC.The Hidden Palace Glen, page 114, Ghostwalk wrote:The Hidden Palace Glen
Somewhere within the Spirit Wood lies the Hidden Palace Glen, home of the Arboreal Guardians and the Spiritsong Court. Without the aid of magic (divination spells of 4th level or higher) or guidance from the Arboreal Guardians, this glen is impossible to find—it moves throughout the wood, and the trees act to confuse, block, and subtly redirect the path of unauthorized travellers.
The glen itself forms the palace in which the elves and the Guardians live. It is a huge, multistory maze of living trees forming themselves into walls, floors, archways, staircases, and even occasionally doors. These halls provide not just shelter but sacred meeting places where the living members of the Spiritsong Court consult with the dead. Each hall and passage is marked by a different herbal fragrance—that is how the inhabitants of the place actually find their way around. Without the scents, navigation would be impossible, no matter how long someone lived in the palace—the maze constantly changes according to the ebb and flow of the seasons.
Aside from well-trained guards, the Glen is protected by a host of animals (some of them awakened). Thran, a powerful awakened dire bear, commands the animal protectors. He, in turn, answers directly to Balabek (male half-elf Drd18), the ancient druid master of the Arboreal Guardians, who dwells deep amid the roots of the Palace Glen itself.
So I think we can infer that an NPC or PC can take the Green Bond and be an Arboreal Guardian that doesn't take the PrC. (They won't get the abilities the PrC grants, but will have that stronger "worth dying to protect" attitude towards their Spirit Tree.)
So I think we can divide the natives of the Hidden Palace Glen into:
- Members of the Spiritsong Court,
- Arboreal Guardians with the PrC,
- Arboreal Guardians without the PrC and
- Awakened animals (who serve Thran).
Has anyone found anything else that can be used to infer information about Bondfellows?