The King is Dead

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The King is Dead: An Illuminated Example

So, here's an example secret society write-up from the upcoming playtest packet.  What do you think?

The Illuminated 

Freethinkers and cabalists
“The goal of alchemy is to change lead into gold – to change the dross of a dark and hopeless world into freedom and progress.”
The Illuminated are a society of philosophers and occult scholars dedicated not only to the overthrow of the vampires, but also the reformation of society.  They preach the values of freedom, equality, and brotherhood (but what exactly those values mean is a topic of debate in the society).  Membership is theoretically open to anyone of any race or gender who accepts their ideals, but the majority of Illuminated are middle-class Mallean men.  They have members amongst the planters of the Colonies and gentry of the Pale, the merchants and professionals of the towns and cities, and the adventurers of Hammerstadt.

The Illuminated are skeptics, challenging the accepted wisdom of nearly two millennia of tradition.  The Illuminated are scholars, unearthing and researching the science and learning of the ancient Remulan Empire and other humanist societies.  The Illuminated are occultists, dabbling in the Cabala and alchemy in order to better understand the world.

They oppose the Panoptic Church and the divine right of vampires, but they also reject prejudice against race, sex, and social class.  In a time of outrageous disparity between rulers and their subjects, the Illuminated believe in the equality of all humankind.  Unfortunately, many elder statesmen of the society believe in gradually reforming society once the vampires are defeated.  Their refusal to demand immediate equal rights for women or immediately end slavery estranges the Illuminated from their natural allies among the Sorority of Belquis and the Bloodstained Blade.  There are female and non-Mallean members of the Illuminated, but they are rarer than they should be.

No member of the Illuminated would be so foolish as to deny the very practical, real effects of the supernatural in the world, but they do believe that Sathaniel and his vampire minions are merely the victors of a war – not the favored children of the Creator.  They point to the centuries-long reign of the Remulans and the continuing power of the Ostermann Empire as proof of this philosophy.  They argue that magic – the control of supernatural forces through the mind and will – provides humankind with the tools to take back the world from the vampires.

Benefits of Membership 
Membership in the Illuminated provides access to a loose network of lodges that stretches across Malleus, Lochland, and the Colonies (but with few locations in Clavus).  Members communicate through coded letters; all members are taught the ciphers and may successfully code a message with a Common Knowledge roll.  Many members also publish pseudonymous pamphlets and tracts that are read and debated throughout society. Illuminated receive the following bonuses skills and Edge:
+1d4 Knowledge (Occult)
+1d4 Persuasion
Connections (Illuminated) Edge.  Since most members are members of the prosperous middle class, a successful Connections roll may provide the player character with access to an alchemical laboratory, an irreproachable false alibi, or other financial or legal aid befitting the help of a pillar of the community.

Inspiration
The Illuminated are inspired by the progressive ideals of the lluminati and the occult mystery of the Freemasons.  Many influential thinkers of the Enlightenment and heroes of the century’s revolutions belonged to one or the other order.  While modern conspiracy theorists paint them as the villains of a New World Order, it should be remembered that the new order they wanted to create was one of freedom and equality.
Historical examples: Giacomo Casanova, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Jefferson, Comte Saint-Germaine, Madame Roland, Voltaire.
Fictional examples: Francesca Bruni (2005 Casanova film), Ichabod Crane (2013 Sleepy Hollow TV series), Anton Hoffer (Twins of Evil), Jack Stiles (Jack of All Trades).

Example Characters

Occult Scholar (Novice)
A typical member of the Illuminated, this scholar of the classical world has studied the battles of the Remulan armies and the mysticism of ancient Tsion.
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6.
Skills: Fighting d4, Gambling d4, Investigation d6, Knowledge (Battle) d8, Knowledge (Occult) d8, Notice d4, Persuasion d4, Riding d4, Spellcasting d8, Stealth d4.
Charisma: +0  Pace: 6  Parry: 5  Toughness: 5
Hindrances: One Major, two Minor. 
Edges: AB: Magic, Scholar.
Gear:  half-finished treatise, grimoire, accounts of classical warfare in their original languages, rapier (Str+1d4, +1 Parry).
Power Points: 10.
Powers: 3 novice powers.

Adventurer (Novice)
In the eighteenth century of The King is Dead, “adventurer” refers to those who seek to better their social standing through their wits and charm, such as the historical Casanova. 
Attributes: Agility d6, Smarts d8, Spirit d6, Strength d6, Vigor d6.
Skills: Fighting d4, Gambling d4, Intimidation d6, Knowledge (Occult) d4, Notice d6, Persuasion d8, Shooting d4, Riding d4, Stealth d4, Streetwise d6, Taunt d6.
Charisma: +2  Pace: 6  Parry: 5  Toughness: 5
Hindrances: One Major, two Minor. 
Edges: Attractive, Strong Willed.
Gear:  second-hand fine clothes, rapier (Str+1d4, +1 Parry), enough money to stake a wager but too little to pay his debts.



2 comments:

  1. Structure-wise, it looks good. Conveys feeling and gameable information. Would this be the No. 1 secret society for Weird Science as well?

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    Replies
    1. Even though Jefferson was an inventor and Ben Franklin was a Freemason, no, the Weird Scientists have their own society.

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