Guardians Of The Veil

Overview

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Save for the Seers of the Throne and the Banishers, no order is as hated as the Guardians of the Veil. Mages see them as a necesssary evil - valued, but distasteful allies. Even the Free Council is more respected, because its own chaotic ethos still empahsizes discovery instead of repression. Awakened wills are trained to shatter barriers and seek freedom, so most mages have an inherent distrust of anyone who would shakle human desire.




Members

The Guardians of the Veil choose their members carefully, through a process of slow indoctrination that begins as soon as the order senses a combination of Awakened potential and the necessary mindset. At first, they lure novices into a conspiracy filled with other Guardians and Sleepers. Senior members test a novice's ability to keep secrets from the unenlightened, and to commit questionable acts for a greater cause. This stage is called the Gray Veil, the least important curtain over a web of plots that test a mage's dedication and condition her ethics to accept the order's methods. The second stage is the Crimson Veil. Here, a mage must be willing to kill for the conspiracy. Sometimes a sorcerer actually murders someone whom the order has already marked for death, but any demonstration of sincere intent does.

Yet the Guardians don't want mindless servants. They want mages to believe in an ideal so strongly that they will kill, lie and die for it, but they don't want them to totally abandon individual moral judgment. The final Black Veil therefore presents a quandary to the initiate, asking her to perform an act that is immoral by the order's own standards. If the mage obeys, she can never join the order. The secret society she once knew vanishes. She is not killed, but the Guardians watch her for life. If she refuses to obey, the order lifts the final deception and she becomes a true member.

Many people believe that the order prefers initiates who used to be spies, killers or conspirators in the Sleeping world, but this is based on a misunderstanding. The Guardians of the Veil use mundane intelligence agencies and secret brotherhoods as proving grounds, but most prospects are lured to join the order. Consequently, Guardians often come from innocuous backgrounds before the order takes them. The society would rathre mold a moral, pragmatic factory worker into an accomplished spy than hire a government-trained pyschopath.

Philosophy

The Guardians of the Veil have few ancient writings, because writing is a secret shared with anyone who reads. They keep an oral tradition instead. This Law of the Mask is introduced among the earliest Veils, but is only taught completely to a mage who graduates to full knowledge of the order.

* Paradoxes strengthen the Abyss as punishment answers pride A Paradox is more than a discontinuity in reality. It is a flaw that opens the Fallen World to the poison of the Abyss. Guardians point to anomalies and manifestations as proof of this, as well as traditions that seem to show that astral journeys were once far less arduous. The order discourages vulgar magic; Guardians who casually fling reality-defying spells about risk censure or worse. Symbolically, the Supernal World itself is too pure to tolerate vain blandishments. Even as hidden masters, mages have a place in the cosmic order. If they cannot use subtle talents to subdue the Fallen World, their souls might let the darkness in.

* Sins for a just end grant wisdom to the Awakened Wisdom is a real force, not a subjective concept. The Guardians of the Veil hold that enlightenment is an impersonal entity that can be generated and transferred among Awakened seekers. Most mages hone their Wisdom by using magic carefully and clinging to compassion, because magic is the art of perfecting humanity - not abandoning it. Guardians take another path. Lies and killing are sins, but if they are offered up as sacrifices for the good of the Awakened, they create wisdom - for other mages. The order recognizes that their ways erode the integrity of their own souls, but they also provide safety and justice for the enlightened. Though the classical doctrine claims that there is an actual metaphysical transfer of merit, most Guardians are satisfied with knowing that their sacrifice helps mages.

* Merit must guide the Fallen World Rule falls to individual merit. The Awakened are wiser than Sleepers, and masters are wiser than apprentices. Mages should always foster greater wisdom among their charges, but never to the extend that they might overstep their bounds and endanger other quests for enlightenment. Arcane secrets and obscure symbolism must weed out seekres who aren't ready for the higher facets of mystic lore. Sleepers should not truck with the secrets of Atlantis or endanger mages. Mages should be sparing and even mysterious with their wisdom, and give humble but firm guidance to the less accomplished. This meritocracy has no room for chauvinism; sex, sexuality, ethnicicity and the like are almost never used to determine worth. Petty bigotry is beneath the Awakened perspective.

Rituals and Observances

The Veils have already been described. The Guardians of the Veil have many other rites. Two of the most common are:

* The Masque The Masque is more than a new identity; it is a layer of false being that a Guardian uses to perform a particular task. There are said to be 49 archetypal identities, ranging from the Skull Priest who makes killing holy to the Scepter, who assumes command. History and culture provide numerous variations, including the Black Suit, Wise Merchant and Wounded Soldier. These roles are sometimes assisted with actual enchanted masks, and some of the order's positions traditionally require mages to don them. In an abstract sense, the Masque is a series of spells that conceal a mage's identity in such a way that she may easily assume a particular role. Guardians don the Black Suit to appear to be government agents who suppress evidence of the supernatural, or take up the Scepter to assume command of a corporate or government office. Symbolically, the Masque teaches a mage humility, because he must suppress his own egotism to fit the part.

* The Labyrinth The Labyrinth is one name for the web of secret societies, fifth columns and spurious cults that the Guardians of the Veil create to conceal magic from the unworthy and exert influence over Sleepers. A novice is initiated through the Labyrinth, penetrating the Veils of deception until he finds the true order. Such organizations rarely assert direct command over Sleepers. Instead, government money pours into black budgets, businesses can't succeed without the support of a certain private club, and Sleeper investigators are diverted to cults willing to ply them with voluminous, useless information. On the occult front, the order showers disinformation upon would-be sorcerers and invents prophecies that Guardians will later fulfill. It is all too easy for Guardians to lord it over their dupes. More than one mage has become obsessed with garnering temporal power through the Labyrinth.

Titles and Duties

The Guardians of the Veil create many titles. Some are false elements of the Labyrinth and others exist only to deal with mages of other orders. In addition, the order may have secret ranks that are known only to its masters, who do not profane them by revealing them to the majority. Two titles are widely known.

* Interfector Interfectors are executioners and interrogators who serve a Consilium. At official functions, the Interfector is masked. Mages are expected to ritually deride her by refusing to touch her or step in her shadow. It is common to rotate mages through the position (each wears the mask of office) so that the role retains an impersonal quality. Interfectors are usually employed by very old or repressive Concilums. The office grows less common with each passing year, and many mages argue that it's obsolete.

* Emissary The Emissary has a deceptively simple job description: relay communication and correspondence between Guardians of the Veil and other Orders. Acting as diplomats and "face-men" for their Order, the Emissary is often the first one to be interrogated by the city's Consilium about the motives and activities of the Veils. As well, Emissaries will sometimes maintain contact with Guardian agents in other orders and factions or even work as a recruiter for prospective Agents the Epopt wishes to recruit. In this sense, Emissaries often work just as closely with their Epopt as do Cultors. Although it is often held by a low status operative, several mid-status Guardians have used their rank within the Order as a means of wielding more clout as an Emissary.

* Epopt Epopts ("beholders") perform two functions. They manage the Labyrinth, upholding the order's network of influence and misdirection, and they recruit new members, sending them through the Veils. An epopt rarely works alone. She directs other Guardians to support conspiracies and initiate novices through the three Veils. Epopts are always experienced Guardians, but they rarely rise to the highest ranks of the order. The Guardians of the Veil value the Labyrinth, but try to keep its games at a distance. Epopts have a tendency to get enmeshed in the mundane politics of their office, and having tasted power over the Sleeping world are reluctant to abandon it for the more esoteric concerns of higher ranks.

Factions and Sub-Factions

Canon Factions

* Faceless
o The Id
* Inheritors
o The Orion Group (player created sub-faction)
o The Xoran Fragment
* Messianics
* Ordeal Keepers
* Prophets
o Harbingers

Known Guardians

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