Societies and Organisations of The Unification

Posted by EarthDragon on 9th August 2015.

The Unification abounds with organisations dedicated to varying goals. Some of the organisations even consist of, and work for the betterment of, Civilians. However, most organisations primarily count Citizens in their ranks, though not all such organisations are good and wholesome. A great many organisations exist for purposes which run counter to the best interests of The Unification. Such dark groups are rarely known for certain to exist, but the rumours of their existence are almost as prolific as are the rumours as to which famous Citizen, or even Citizen’s councillor is a member. Even if the rumoured membership of a particular organisation by a specific counsellor is tacitly accepted as true, only the truly unwise let on that they believe such a rumour if they intend to survive long.

The Black Hand abounds in rumour, but little evidence actually exists to support their purported existence. The group is alleged to be a tightly-knit society of assassins and spies. They are said to operate out of the temples of Harukan, though this is probably without the knowledge of the priesthood, or so Citizens would like to believe. The make-up of the group is diverse, though most people associate phaedim and rokagu with the society more than anything else. This could prove to be a severe (and possibly terminal) limitation for many people. Their ranks are said to be drawn from Civilians as much as Citizens, and they are said to be masters of disguise and treachery. Their dark and shady nature makes it more likely that members of The Back Hand actually serve Guiladon or Abadon rather than Harukan. Scholars who speculate on the existence of the group often cite particular assassinations or acts of espionage as being evidence of the group’s existence, but there is little evidence to suggest a particular goal or motive for the group. The acts which are blamed on The Black Hand are usually fairly random and show little sign of cohesive goals or ideals. And, to put paid to many of the rumours, some of the assassinations blamed on the group have, on investigation, turned out to be committed by highly trained and long-serving people in the employ of a strong rival of the victim rather than to any shadowy group of murderers and spies. Of course, some of the assassinations blamed on the group have never been solved.

The Brethren are a religious order which has strong conservative leanings. Their behaviour is focused on lobbying for a Citizen’s Council which upholds the values and traditions which The Brethren say have been lost, and which The Brethren hold will enable humanity (yes, they are racist) to rise once again to their former glory and eliminate The Fallen and subjugate the other races. Members of all of the priesthoods are found within the ranks of The Brethren, and the group lives in communes scattered across The Unification. Their communes spend time proselytising around their area (and are often subject to retaliatory violence as a result) and they also pool their wealth to use for political campaigns designed to influence who gets appointed to the Citizen’s Council upon the death of an existing counsellor (actually a pretty common occurrence). They also put up candidates of their own to run for positions in some districts, but in most areas they settle for secretly funding a particular candidate who holds similar beliefs, or who has promised to advance Brethren causes. To date, Brethren candidates or Brethren-sponsored candidates hold about fifteen per cent of the Council, not a great deal, but enough to serve as the balance of power in some issues. Brethren virtues hold that women belong in the home as property, not on the battlefield or in the workplace; races other than human are inferior and should serve humanity; certain “modern” religious practices are an abomination and should be eliminated; and their views on relationships and marriage hold that such unions are only between a man and his property (i.e. a woman). Their views are seen as out-dated, unpopular in most areas, and divisive by the majority of the population but, since The Brethren rarely actually go to war (they are not trusted to not join The Fallen who they regard as a purifying and purging force from the gods), their numbers are gradually increasing and, in some provinces, they are the most powerful force in the area. In other areas they are persecuted and subjected to humiliating and painful treatment by the rest of the population (particularly women and non-humans).

The Bringers of the Fading Light are an order of priests and other worshippers of Sibi. Many regard the Bringers of the Fading Light (often referred to as just “The Bringers”, though that gets them confused with the Bringers of the Primordial Dark), and worshippers of Sibi in general, with considerable doubt and mistrust. To many, the mere practice of worshipping death is like giving a gilt invitation to the goddess to take you and send you to the halls of the dead where her brother makes eternal judgement. The Bringers, however, argue (quite accurately) that their ranks tend to enjoy greater longevity than competing groups and that their goddess, enamoured of their devotion, sates her appetite for souls on one’s enemies. There is something to be said for this interpretation, as many who worship Sibi tend to last better in battles with The Fallen. In terms of ideology, the Bringers are intent on bringing death and destruction upon their enemies, something that Sibi seems to bless and welcome. This gradual realisation that worshippers of Nol-reth tend to enjoy short life-spans, while worshippers of Sibi tend to last beyond the first few skirmishes, has led to an increase in the number of worshippers for the Death-goddess. Whilst anyone can worship the Bringer of Death, those who serve her in the capacity of the Bringers tend to be particularly dedicated, devoted and, well, powerful. It is rumoured that the Bringers’ ultimate aim is to bring an avatar of their mistress into the world and, marching and fighting at her side, let her lead them into the heart of The Fallen’s infestation and destroy them utterly. How they propose to summon a god is open to considerable argument and speculation, but it is acknowledged that it would provide a solution to the problem of The Fallen that nobody else seems able to deliver on.

These Bringers, with whom the Bringers of the Fading Light sometimes get confused, are a much nastier bunch. The group consists entirely of Citizens, any Civilian who tries to join is likely to die a slow, painful death. If a Citizen ever loses their Citizenship, then they are treated like any other Civilian, often before they are even aware of their change in status. The ranks of this group are carefully chosen by those highest in the order. In the vast majority of cases, membership is by invitation, and the answer must always be yes. Sometimes, someone will come along wishing to join who was not on the list of invitees, but they are rare and are subject to much scrutiny before acceptance (the first thing they are asked being “how the hell did you know who I am?”). Not much is known about the power that these Bringers serve, but it is fairly certain that it is not one of the eighteen known deities worshipped in The Unification. Rumours abound that the power they serve is an ancient, primordial evil from before the earliest recollections of time which views the world as little more than a meal. Whether the power is a god, demon, devil, or something far more ancient and unsavoury is not certain. Some scholars speculate that the power is Darkness itself, others that it represents the spirit at the heart of the world which has now been corrupted by the taint of The Fallen and the constant warfare (and the continuing corruption of The Unification). Whatever the case, the Bringers of the Primordial Dark act more like allies of The Fallen than of The Unification, though even that may be more a question of appearance than anything else.

Any thief worth the name (who wishes to stay alive anyway) is a member of the Brothers of the Invisible Hand. Little thievery of any real note can be carried out within The Unification without this shadowy group catching wind and either demanding their tithe from a member thief or demanding a high membership fee from a non-member. Those who fail to give either are usually visited by guards who have “incontrovertible magical evidence” of the commission of the crime. Thievery of any trivial to moderate amount results in the loss of the thief’s main weapon hand, unless they are a member of the guild. Higher-level larceny is liable to cost the thief their head, or possibly both hands, both feet and their tongue. A guild-sanctioned theft (i.e. thefts where either the Guild knew in advance, received their cut, or acquired a new member) is largely ignored by the LEO forces. It is rumoured that the head of the Guild, known as the Forthright Defender, is a citizen of some repute and position. Whether he (or she) is actually on the Citizen’s Council is less clear. Based on the modus operandi of the Guild when it comes to intelligence efforts and “lobbying”, it is more likely that the shadowy leader occupies a place of considerable influence behind the scenes.

The Brotherhood of Redemption is a collection of noh-li, illumanis, vaedim and knights who believe there is no such thing as “lost beyond redemption”. According to their tenets, even the darkest of the denizens of the Undëvæth can be redeemed from evil, perhaps not all the way to a shining paragon of goodness and light, but certainly back from the brink of pure evil. Indeed, the Brotherhood is not interested in shining light and pure goodness, they believe instead in neutrality and balance, striving to pull both sides back from the extremes of existence and back into the realm of sanity. They believe that the extremes of good and evil are what lead to the current struggles within The Unification (and, indeed, resulted in the actual formation of The Unification). They also hold that the extremism that lay at the heart of the struggle saw the depths of pure evil corrupt and taint the glowing goodness that first prevailed during the early days of the conflict. Now, many of the Citizen’s Council are lost to the depths of evil themselves according to the Brotherhood. This is, obviously, an unwise position to espouse in public, making the Brotherhood a group that operates from the shadows of secrecy for the most part. Every so often, a Brother will find themselves faced with an opportunity to either redeem or destroy an unspeakable evil which demonstrates itself in the form of a Citizen and, invariably, if the time is right, the Brother sacrifices himself to publicly deal with the problem.

The Brothers of the Lurk are a secret society that is rumoured to exist at the fringes of society in all the darkest places within The Unification. Nobody knows who or, more likely, what the group serves, but rumours abound, though they are ill-defined and not overly helpful. About the only thing that can be agreed on when discussing the rumours is that The Brothers serve The Fallen rather than The Unification. Their very existence is questioned by many scholars and Citizens, but (assuming they do exist) speculation about their motives and operations leads one to believe that they operate at various levels of the Citizenship, even up to the Citizen’s Council itself under deep cover. The least sceptical of scholars argue that, should they exist, their numbers must be small to have escaped notice for so long, and that their operations must be extremely subtle as no overt signs of the kinds of manipulation blamed on The Brothers are particularly visible. Regardless of one’s position on their existence, it is universally agreed that, should a member be caught and suspected of the kind of machinations attributed to the group, then they would ensure that they either covered their tracks and arranged to be dismissed from their post “in shame” for an unrelated incident, or they would ensure their deaths before anything could be learned from them.

The Circle of Fendethia, more commonly referred to simply as “The Circle” are a highly organised and disciplined group of druids from all over The Unification and, rumour has it, beyond. Like druids of other worlds, their primary concern is with the protection, preservation and maintenance of nature. Nothing is more important to a druid, and druids care nothing for good or evil. They acknowledge that evil rarely heeds their exhortations to withdraw from a place where nature struggles or is tainted, but they counter that good is just as likely to ignore them as evil. As a result, they challenge both sides and care not for the conflict between the two save where it impacts on nature, which it invariably does. Druids of The Unification, however, are somewhat different from druids of other worlds, and their powers are more developed and more deeply tied to the world around them. Any given druid accepts, as part of their holy order, guardianship of certain tracts of land (along with a number of other druids) and is responsible for maintaining those areas. This is not to say that druids never adventure, for they do, and often. As there are many that protect the lands they guard, druids are expected to adventure to grow their skill, encounter the abominations they are expected to face in the course of their career and to better their knowledge and understanding of nature. The companion creatures kept by druids of The Unification are often more powerful than those of other worlds.

The Dreaming Apostates is a collection of wielders of psionic power, sorcery, magic, and renegade priests of Jol’Kanduth. Their tenets hold that the world and the troubles it faces are linked to a strange “sickness” which can be seen only from within the Drėmwüth. Adherents spend much of their time in the Drėmwüth searching out clues and seeking ways to heal the world from the affliction that they believe it suffers. The fact that most people cannot access the Drėmwüth and that the taint can only be seen from within the Drėmwüth leaves the group faced by many sceptics, even in arcane and scholarly circles. The mainstream priests of Jol’Kanduth maintain that those who serve Jol’Kanduth who are members of this group are apostates (hence the name) and fallen priests who are beyond redemption. The fact that these priests have not lost any powers seems to somewhat deflate the accusations of apostasy. Though they are welcome in the society, warrior types (and other non-magical classes) rarely join as they often do not have the requisite feats to qualify for membership. As a minimum, a prospective member must have Lucid Dreaming and Enter Dreaming I to qualify for membership. They must also be endorsed by an existing member who is in good standing. Far from secretive, this group regularly proselytises against the evil of society within The Unification and the growing taint on the world. Some, more extreme, members even go so far as to blame the appearance and growing ascendancy of The Fallen squarely on the shoulders of the Citizen’s Council in particular, and the Citizenship in general.

The Fell are adherents of Sirrilath, goddess of Disease, Pain and Suffering. Their world view holds that Sirrilath has decreed that the world’s time has come and that she has sent forth the legions of The Fallen to harry and destroy The Unification, causing as much suffering and pain as possible in the process. As such, they are something of a terrorist group, engaging in missions designed to undermine the power and effectiveness of the Citizen’s Council, weaken the military, cause suffering for many people, or to surreptitiously give The Fallen access within The Unification’s borders – usually resulting in hundreds, if not thousands of casualties. When The Fallen plunder The Unification in this manner, they do not simply kill, they wound, maim, and slowly dissect their living victims in order to cause the maximum pain and suffering. Of course, this is not a great deal different to how The Fallen behave on the front line, though in direct combat with Unification forces, The Fallen are more focused on the kill than on the agony of suffering and hopelessness. Being such a savoury and loyal group, The Fell are a banned organisation within The Unification, and their presence is to be reported immediately to anyone in authority, on punishment of death for failing to report. Word of any scheme of The Fell’s that involves letting Fallen across the border is likewise to be reported and, should the report result in a successful mission to stop them, the Civilian making the report may well earn a place in the Citizenship. In spite of efforts to exterminate them completely, The Fell still exists. Because of their association with Sirrilath, regular priests of the goddess are often harassed and tormented in a mistaken belief that they are associated with The Fell. The church of Sirrilath, in fact maintains a strong, hard public stance against The Fell and regularly denounce them and engage in undertakings to weed them out.

The Followers of the Intrinsic Harmony, far from being a bunch of musicians intent on befuddling their listeners with intricate melodies, is a collection of psionic individuals (Civilian and Citizen) who work to unravel the deeper secrets of the mind and the universe. Most scholars would regard this as a valuable endeavour as greater understanding, generally, is good for society and advancement. The Followers are definitely into advancement, but only for themselves and their goals. Given their own way, the majority of the population would be down-trodden, mind-controlled slaves. Or, worse yet, they would have their minds wiped completely and their bodies altered to pleasing, standardised representations of beauty and given just enough intelligence to serve those better than themselves mindlessly, slavishly and with absolute dedication and worship. The “intrinsic harmony” is a strange set of tablets which record various truths about the universe in a manner which is reminiscent of music. The only way to unlock the secrets of the tablets is to use the power of the mind to open a connection between the tablets and oneself and to let the harmony flood the mind, body and spirit. It is believed that the tablets contain countless millions of secrets (there are several thousand tablets and each “note” is believe to harbour a secret), and that the Followers will never unlock all of them. However, one or two of the current Followers have managed to unlock a means of attaining immortality using the powers of the mind in combination with other heads of power, effectively granting all eternity to unlock the secrets. The nature of the secrets are volatile and purely selfish in derivation and expression, making the Followers perhaps the most selfish and least socially-minded of any group in The Unification. They care not if their tampering with forces beyond all understanding and comprehension sucks everyone else into oblivion; as long as they continue exist.

The Forsaken are the stuff of legend, and nightmares and the focus of terror. There are always thirteen Forsaken; no more, no less. The Forsaken were said to be imprisoned with The Infinite Evil some tens of thousands of years ago. Legend holds that when the Infinite Evil was imprisoned, the Forsaken were bound into its prison, unable to return to the world until the barriers holding the prison shut begin to break down. When the Forsaken begin to reappear, things will be dire for the world as they always foreshadow the coming of the Infinite Evil. The powers of the Forsaken vary, according to legend, and according to the district in which the legend is told. Some are undoubtedly warriors, some are skilled in magic, some in sleight of hand and the swift strike from the dark, but most feared are those who wield the powers of the mind. To date, there is no coherent collection of names for the individual Forsaken, there being some fifty or sixty names used by them at various times. Similarly, their powers also vary, making identification of their return somewhat problematic. Fortunately, they tend to be fond of their power and reputation and like to advertise their presence in a show of arrogance and power. If they were to make an appearance on the scene, then it is widely held that The Unification will fall soon after, never to rise again. Some ancient legends, patchy and vague at best, tell that the last time the Forsaken made an appearance, The Unification (then much bigger and not so much Unified as affiliated) struggled under the burden of monsters and horrors that make The Fallen look like fluffy children’s toys. And the worst of them were the Forsaken themselves, who made all the other monsters kittens by comparison. Of course, being such ancient and feared beings, they have been the focus of much literature and novelisation over the years, and now fact, if it is indeed fact, is almost impossible to separate from popular works of fiction, including a particularly long and unsatisfying saga that starts really well, and then petered into mediocrity when the author died and a ghost writer took over writing and did not listen properly to the ghost he was writing for.

The Holy Voice of the Repeated Meme hold that there is nothing that occurs which has not occurred before. Time and history repeat themselves in a consistent and predictable cycle. To a Holy Voice, everything is a repetition of something else; nothing is new, not even ideas, technologies or words. To a Holy Voice, the key to The Unification surviving the infestation of The Fallen is to find the point in history (recorded or otherwise) in which these events happened before and learn the winning strategy from the last time that The Unification overcame The Fallen and apply it to the current struggle. Holy Voices are full of suggestions and dubious records of ancient histories which, on the surface, seem to suggest that The Unification is currently in exactly the same place it was some fifteen thousand years ago. In response to this, most serious scholars point out that there are no recorded histories of times that far back, and the mystical scrying techniques undertaken by the Holy Voices are dubious at best and outright charlatanism at the worst. In spite of criticisms, The Holy Voice of the Repeated Meme has a substantial number of adherents, if not too many actual members. Scholars argue that the large following, particularly in the Civilian groupings, is due to a desire to believe the flights of fancy and utopian fantasies of the actual body corporate of the Holy Voice. Membership to the Holy Voice requires at the very least, knowledge of the Lucid Dreaming Feat, and preferably the ability to use some sort of scrying power, whether it be from magic, psionic power or sorcery (or even natural-born talent). Other classes also join in a lesser capacity as guards, assassins, researchers and assorted other occupations, but they are not afforded with full membership.

The name of this group is relatively self-explanatory, or so it seems. The Keepers of Evil (sometimes known as just The Keepers, though this causes some confusion) do, indeed, keep evil in their very hearts and muster forces and items of evil to certain, hidden, locations. However, their mandate is more than just that. True, they seek out evil, in any form, and seek to bring it into their strongholds (none of which have been found as yet), but they also seek to do much, much more. The Keepers are dedicated to the Infinite Evil; making them close companions of the Forsaken (should they ever return). In fact, seeking out signs of both the Infinite Evil and the Forsaken is their primary goal. Gathering up other elements of evil is something of a hobby, with an ultimate aim of providing the Infinite Evil with, not only its Forsaken, but as much of whatever other evil there is in the world as possible. The exact nature of the Infinite Evil is uncertain, though it is believed that it is usually non-corporeal and prefers to act by way of intermediaries such as the Forsaken and the Keepers. The ranks of the Keepers are drawn from a diverse range of backgrounds, but most of them, once they join the group, are secretive and hidden most of the time. It is said that their association with evil taints them in some visible manner which makes them easy to identify if they do not hide themselves well. However, this means that they are also easily mistaken for Afflicted and, likewise, Afflicted are often mistaken for Keepers of Evil.

The Gate which is kept by the Keepers of the Gate is said to be a trans-dimensional gateway between realities. According to their public records, the Gate is a portal which holds back certain forces from the world which might otherwise destroy it. Most assume that this means it holds back evil, but the Keepers say that there is much more out there that could destroy the world than mere evil. The Gate is said to require a Key to open, but nobody outside the Keepers knows where this key is to be found, or even whether it exists for certain or just in rumour. The other side of the Gate is believed to contain access ways between dimensions and worlds and these access ways are blocked off to prevent the spread of the forces that might rend the world asunder (though The Fallen are doing a pretty good job in the meantime anyway). To a Keeper, the Gate is a portal that is to be opened only in the direst need, and only by one properly trained in its operation. According to the records of the Keepers that have been studied by scholars, the gate is not a simple open/close mechanism, instead, parts of it can be opened or kept closed in different patterns. It is these patterns that determine what comes through the gate. The operation of the Gate is a secret kept by the most senior of the Keepers and shared with nobody. Should it ever be necessary to open the Gate for some reason, it would require the cooperation of the Keepers (and those of high rank and seniority) to do so, and they are hard to convince at best. The Keepers claim that the Gate has been opened three times in the last fifteen thousand years, and that in two of those times, the reason for opening the gate was invalid and great destruction ensued as a result, making them even more reluctant to open it now. It is speculated that the Gate is part of the mechanism on the prison of the Infinite Evil and the Forsaken, and the Keepers worry that an attempt to open the Gate to allow forces through that might benefit the world will instead open the prison of the Infinite Evil and the Forsaken, leading to the likely decimation of all that lives.

The Order of Turaka, or The Order, as it is more commonly known (a good ninety per cent of the population have never heard the full name) is an affiliated group of arcane spell-casters, selusid, noh-li, iillumanis and vaedim who are all dedicated to Immi-kora, the god of Magic, Creation and Truth. As a group, they are dedicated to two main goals. The first is the defence of The Unification from The Fallen, while the second, growing out of the first, is the intensive and in-depth study of magic and magic items in order to perfect new weapons against The Fallen. Many of the Order’s researchers die in magical experiments, but considerable advances are made from time to time. It is thanks to the efforts of The Order that certain weapons used on the front line in major hot zones are present and contributing to what appears to be a gradual shift toward The Unification holding their own instead of retreating and conceding ground. Many of the Order, not suited to magical research, serve on the front lines in the worst areas of the battle front. All members of the Order are Citizens, though this is a matter of circumstance rather than discrimination, it just happens that Citizens tend to live longer on the front lines and Civilians are not usually versed in magic. Some groups have questioned the motives of the Order on the basis that they send their new weapons and the combat personnel to where they see fit and pretty much ignore the High Command. Nobody outside The Order understands the significance of the name “Turaka”.

The Order of the First is a mysterious collection of scholars, mentalists, san-li, vaedim and selusid. Nobody (outside their ranks) knows precisely who or what “The First” is, and nobody can truly say much about the motives and actions of the Order. They like to present themselves as an owlish book club, a gathering of minds interested in Knowing, Learning and Research but, given the usual run of affairs within The Unification, nobody is particularly buying that. Still, there has been no true dirt ever dug up on the group, though there are countless others who seek to discredit the group, believing it to be a front for evil. They have no specific achievements that they lay claim to, and no specific agenda that anyone can discern. Scholars have scoured their public records (and try to do the same to the not-so-public ones), but they can find nothing of use as the records are all in some sort of code that nobody seems to be able to break. Rumours abound, of course, of the dark and nefarious goals of the Order, but nobody has ever managed to substantiate any of them. It is of course, entirely possible that they are innocent, bookish types with a bad reputation, but then again, it’s entirely probable they are not.

The Pale are a “secret society” whose existence is not so secret, but whose membership is. They are perhaps best described as “necrophiles” as they have an unhealthy fascination with the dead, recently dead and no longer quite-so-dead. The undead are their source of power, the objects of their adoration and worship, and their enduring masters. The Pale, while “secret” in the sense of their membership roll being a closely guarded and currently undiscovered secret does not operate in total secrecy. They even have representatives who, whilst heavily disguised, magically, psionically and physically, are relatively easy to locate and contact. This “people’s front” maintains that The Pale’s membership extends to the highest levels of the Citizenship and stretches right across The Unification, even to border garrisons and outposts on the front lines. Whether this PR spin is true or not, naturally, nobody knows. But the activity of undead, of the intelligent and unintelligent variety is certainly pandemic across The Unification, and their actions are also certainly organised well above the level that might be expected of isolated pockets of the creatures. The Citizen’s Council claims that The Pale talk up their membership far beyond what is factual, and also claim that the membership is mostly made up of Civilians and lower-ranked Citizens.

The Prophets of the Shining Promise are all adherents (in one way or another) of Jol’Kanduth, the god of Knowledge, Prophesy and Messengers, though they primarily venerate him in his Prophesy aspect. Some of the prophets are actual priests of Jol’Kanduth, while others belong to other classes and are best referred to as “lay-people”. They all, however, demonstrate an almost blind and child-like devotion to the god and his works, with specific focus on the Medellin Codex and the Giltherime Manuscript. The exact text of these works is a closely guarded secret of the Prophets, but they claim that the documents contain the most complete, accurate and verifiable set of predictions as to the course and fate of the world. They are largely unconcerned with the current conflict with The Fallen, viewing it as little more than a minor skirmish (which has, to date, cost close to fifty million Unification lives according to some estimates and over eight times as many by others). Their blind focus on certain prophetic signs and portents makes them come across as idiots to many scholars and, indeed, to the general population. However, they periodically reveal some portion of their sacred texts and explain the event that is being prophesied in the passage released to the Citizen’s Council and to various other authorities within The Unification. So far, they have never been wrong. Not even once. Not even by half a second. Ever. Their detractors are hard pressed to explain this accuracy, so hard pressed, in fact, that they just don’t even try any more, and usually try to rapidly change the subject.

The Rising Storm is an organisation with a big name and reputation, but a relatively humble aim. Their primary concern is the welfare of Civilians. Many wonder at such a grandiose name for such a paltry purpose, but the adherents of the Rising Storm contend that, if Civilians continue to be abused and suppressed in such brutal fashion as is so common, then they will rise like a tide of anger and storm their way through The Unification, tearing away the institutions that hold them down. Very few Citizens find such an explanation plausible as they believe there is no means available to Civilians that would permit such an uprising, let alone allow it to succeed. The members of the Rising Storm beg to differ, pointing out that the majority of members are actually Citizens dedicated to the betterment of the Civilians’ lot, and they themselves represent a breath of change which can only bring about a better world. Civilians, for their part, are somewhat suspicious of the organisation, though many hold out hope for the mission, and there are a good number of Civilians who are active members of the group; when they can hide from the LEOs.

The Scintillating Curtain is a secret society of sages, magic users, selusid and masters of the mental arts who are gathered for the express purpose of unlocking the secrets of the multiverse and gaining knowledge and immortality through raw power. According to the public records of the Curtain, the adherents spend much of their time after initiation simply expanding their knowledge and skills and learning their niche. After many years of such research, the members are believed to specialise in a Path to Power. Once committed to a Path, the member cannot change, short of death and rebirth in another form or with different skills. The Paths followed are by no means unique to the Curtain, and indeed there are Paths that are documented in ancient manuscripts which allow a Path to Power to those who do not necessarily have skill in magic, mental arts or sorcery. The fact that selusid seek Paths to Power within the Curtain suggests that these Paths grant substantially more than just immortality (since selusid are inherently immortal anyway and tend to be lazy enough to not want to expend energy unless they get something significant out of it), though the exact details are couched in vague terms in the ancient manuscripts and are not mentioned at all in the Curtain’s public records. Of all the manuscripts on the Paths to Power known to exist, those held by the Curtain are believed to be the most complete, clearest, and easiest to follow, though the trials and challenges required are still quite prodigious. Membership to the Scintillating Curtain is permanent, and final; those who wish to leave only do so as a corpse which is unable to return to life in any way, shape or form.

The Seers are servants of Jol’Kanduth who constantly cast auguries and make predictions on a wide range of topics, with one notable exception. They make no projections about the course of the current war, claiming that such knowledge is best left in the hands of the god and contend that the existence of prophecies projecting beyond the war is a sign from the god that The Unification will prevail and life will improve beyond the war. Indeed, when dealing with the Seers, it is best to remember the mantra “don’t mention the war”, lest they become offended and refuse their services. Their skills in prophecy and augury in other realms is formidable, with their predictions coming true in some fashion some 98% of the time or more. Whether the prophecy unfolds in quite the way the listener expects is a different matter, the prophecies, unfortunately, are open to a certain degree of interpretation and license. The Seers will willingly foretell anything to do with an individual, so long as the prophecy does not relate to the war, and can predict any number of events. The reason for their aversion to prophecy relating to the war is not understood by any outside the Seers, and they aren’t telling. Even priests of Jol’Kanduth have no idea what the reason behind such reticence might be. When hard pressed, the most the Seers will say is that the war is a “nexus of flux and tribulation sent by the god as trial for all mortalkind”. What this means in anything resembling plain Basic is anyone’s guess.

The Sisters of the Eternal Void are a collection of female noh-li and wielders of the mental arts. There are also believed to be some illumanis in their ranks, but this is mere conjecture. The name of the group suggests something dark and nefarious, something that has been pointed out to the Sisters any number of times in response to their claims of innocence and virtue. Indeed, the Sisters claim to be largely pacifistic and benevolent. They claim that the Eternal Void is a state of mind in which the person attains perfect balance between the physical, the mental, the divine and the arcane; essentially attaining perfection and union with the universe. In spite of their professed peace-loving tenets, the Sisters do not hesitate to fight if provoked or in self-defence. In fact, the district surrounding an enclave of the Sisters enjoys considerable social harmony and peace, with minimal crime or violence in the area. This is because the Sisters make excellent police, better even than the LEOs (at least in part because they are totally incorruptible), and they patrol their environs seeking out evil, and fighting crime along the way. The Civilians are particularly fond of them because the Sisters often operate soup kitchens and provide shelter and clothing for homeless Civilians who have been driven out by LEOs, Citizens, Fallen or just plain thugs. Citizens frown on the group, viewing their charitable works as a dangerous precedent in pandering to Civilians who are best kept at heel. For their part, the Sisters largely ignore the Citizens and the Citizen’s Council and they rarely provide any form of succour to them, even if they are in need. In areas where the Citizens have sought to shut down the Sisterhood’s enclaves, the Sisters have proven to be a formidable opponent and have largely sent the troops sent to burn them out running. The Citizens in a given area rarely make the same mistake twice.

The Sisters of the Eviscerated Mind are a collection of psionic practitioners, all female, who are unified by a particular credo. Essentially, the Sisters believe that the mind is the ultimate power and perfection can be obtained by disciplining the mind and directing all energy into mental endeavours. Any other means of advancement or perfection is considered to be heretical and sheer nonsense. The Eviscerated Mind believe that the mind is paramount over the body, and that all activities should be carried out using mental energy alone, physical exertion is anathema to them. Indeed, the most advanced of the Sisters are so powerful in their mental energies that their bodies are little more than husks that provide a receptacle for their minds. There are rumours that some Sisters have gone beyond even this point, becoming pure mental energy and eschewing physical form completely. Should they exist, such Sisters would be an exceptionally powerful force as they are believed to be totally invisible to all forms of sight or detection, inaudible unless they choose to give sound to a thought or concept, and so staggeringly powerful that even many of the most powerful of The Fallen would be crushed in seconds upon encountering such an Eviscerated Mind. So far, the jury is out among scholars and other wise folk as to whether these stories are true. The Sisters themselves refuse to either confirm or deny such rumours, instead insisting that the only true path to knowledge is experience and that any female with such enquiries need merely join to learn the truth. Men and those without or of indeterminate gender are simply brushed off and largely ignored.

The Speakers of the Final Word are a strange group; nobody seems to have ever figured out quite what they are about. They do not serve any particular god, claiming (at various times) that either the gods are equal and deserve equal reverence, or that the gods are totally irrelevant and are best considered to be a polite work of fiction. Needless to say, this fluid attitude has left a bad taste in the mouths of the priests of various religions, and the clergy (as a general rule) have absolutely no time for the Speakers, anyone who supports them, or anyone who tries to bring them up in conversation more than once. The exact tenets of the Speakers are clouded in mystery, misinformation and downright lies and deceit. The only thing anyone can nail down is that the group is believed to hold to a tenet of words having power and significance beyond their mere spelling and grammar and that they can influence and change the world. Using this logic, some have speculated that, accepting that words have power and a final word is, well, final, then the Speakers must be working to discover and utter the Final Word, which will end existence and make way for a new reality. It should be pointed out that this speculation is just that, speculation, and, worse, it is proposed by those who are discontented with the lack of information from a group they believe is being deliberately obtuse and difficult. As such, it is entirely possible that the group may, in fact, be after nothing more than the best way to end a sentence in the hash of languages that is now known as Basic. Unlikely, to be sure, but so is the alternative. Some scholars, more wise in the ways of the world have come to the conclusion that the Speakers of the Final Word are in fact no more than a group of scholars with no particular religious leanings who like making people wonder and enjoy frustrating people who need everything to be explained and niched in an orderly fashion.