Those elves who would become the Nyss left Ios over 1500 years ago. When they left, they took a small portion of the Dawnguard with them. These professional soldiers owed their proud military heritage to their god, Lurynsar; now one of their missing deities. These career soldiers protected the proto Nyss on their long travels from Ios to the icy wastes where they eventually settled.
The Protectors, who by now were severely reduced in number, were eventually settled (by negotiation) on the edge of the territory of the Voassyr Tribe, away from the heartland of any of their Shards. Here the few remaining Protectors founded their fortress monastery.
The Protectors accept candidates from amongst the children of all the twelve major tribes. They are loathe to further deplete the population of the smaller tribes, which struggle to maintain their identity as much as they struggle for survival itself. These candidates are selected for their potential using magic rituals and assessments of their spirituality, rather than physical or intellectual tests.
Protectors live a Spartan life of contemplation of their races’ loss and their own self imposed requirements to continually improve their own levels of self control. An individual is considered a Protector from the moment they are accepted until the time they die. Their un-sworn (but solemnly and doggedly followed) purpose is to protect what remains of the Nyss. As such, individuals occasionally venture out to live amongst the Shards (never the one they were born into) and ward them against animal, monster and human threats.
Their methods amongst the Shards are the teaching of the Nyss Claymore fighting style (the art of Voassyr) and instruction of the Shard’s children in caution, hazard recognition and self-reliance. All with a strong emphasis on self-control and the realisation that control of one’s own mental process is paramount to success when faced with potential harm or death.
After a number of years (when the Protector judges that their work amongst that Shard is complete for the time being) the Protector will return to their cloistered environment and share what they have learned with their fellows. The comparative lack of structure amongst the Protectors means that, inevitably, some knowledge is lost. However, their egalitarian methods also mean that lessons are constantly being (re)learned and so their methods are always evolving to meet the threats to the Shards that exist now, as opposed to those from the distant past.
There is no ‘leader’ of the Protectors. Venerable individuals usually retire to a cell within the headquarters to continue to guide their successors with advice and constructive critique. As an entity, their movement remains separate from the tribes and different from the more individualistic and mystical individuals who fulfil the role of priests within Nyss society. They are generally welcomed within the Shards, although there might occasionally be some rivalry between a Shard’s hunters and a visiting Protector if that Shard has not felt the benefit of a Protector in a long time.
The Art of Voassyr refers specifically to the art of using their fearsome Nyss Claymore to best advantage. Following the ancient teachings of Lurynsar, this focuses on a lightening strike designed to cut the enemy down with one stroke (quick draw and leaping attack). This is what they teach amongst the Shards, who are otherwise self-taught.
The Protectors themselves have an extended repertoire. If their initial attack does not succeed in delivering a grievous wound (ie does not result in a critical hit), they are trained to follow up the sword stroke with a sweep attack (in RM this is an improvised kata).
Being bereft of shields and heavy armour, Protectors spend long hours on self-defence. They practice dodging and evading all manner of attacks, including the deflection of thrown weapons and missiles.
Their self imposed requirement for self reliance means that they continue to practice other skills dating back to when their forerunners were law enforcers in Ios. They are skilled in disarming their foe, either with or without their Claymore, they also practice locking holds as well as their sweeps and throws. Their unarmed disciplines are very direct and efficient, with none of the grace or concentration on form found in similar disciplines in modern Ios.
Aside from their overt combat abilities, the Protector’s concentration and self discipline allows them to hold their breath for extended periods of time (useful in a blizzard), walk with a rarely paralleled lightness of foot (over powder snow [or sand, or passing with very little disturbance over a firmer surface]). As they progress they become able to perform ever greater feats – the Mawg Climb (using all limbs, but going up a normal wall or natural surface facing outwards), the strike without shadow (that fast). And ultimately to sense the weakness in their opponent.
Other important class skills are meditation (healing trance, ki focus etc), perception and teaching.
Protectors are protectors from early childhood to the time they die. As such they have a purpose and draw their power from deep within themselves. Should a Protector ever refuse to aid (in any way, not just combat) another Nyss who asks, then this would shake their world view to the extent that they begin to loose their abilities (in the same manner as a cleric who looses their faith).
A Protector must share their lessons with a Shard and with their fellows at their hidden fortress monastery in order to fully assimilate their experiences and thus improve (ie every time they want to go up a level in Protector).
Without the ability to teach the Protector cannot fulfil their purpose amongst the Shards. Therefore a Protector must have as many ranks in teaching as they do in any of their combat skills.
The only other class to which a Protector could belong without breaking their covenant (and being outcast on pain of blinding) is sorcerer. This is a naturally occurring phenomena in elves and thus embraced without question.