By Stephen Esdale
With a plethoria of information and assistance
and information provided by Anders Sandberg
We are prisoners in our own World.
Since the dawn of time we sleepers...mortals...humans have been the pawns of greater powers. To them we were nothing; used as tools and exploited for their enjoyment.
The first to become our "masters" were those horrible creatures society would label Werewolves. These things that call themselves Garou subjected us to the harsh tyranny called the Impergium. For millennia they culled our numbers, stopped us from growing, and stole our world from us. We all have a legacy from it. For to look upon one of the beasts still causes madness and overriding fear; a racial memory of undying intensity.
No one remembers those dark days...no one but us.
Vampires sought to continue the cycle of dominance. These creatures exist in a limbo between life and death. They have great mystic power and have the will to use it. Many of our most talented, famous, and infamous people have been taken over to their side. Our greatest resources have been stolen from us, the collected treasures of humanity have been raped by abominations! They walk among us, unseen by most. They control mortals from the darkness, unknown by most. They are a danger to all of us, incomprehensible by most.
We are not like most people. We see, know, and comprehend.
Magic exists all around us. Those of us have master magic in some form are called Hedge Wizards. This moniker was bestowed by those of Supernatural origin; our magic cannot compare to that of the Vampire's Thaumaturgy and those of the immortal Mummy. Mummies, like their magic, are potent but not a threat. They seek the destruction of Vampires, and that could be the key to bringing them over to our side.
There is another magic so potent in this world, that its source defies logic. Only these people deserve to be called Magi. Once they were like us and are still very much mortal. I have been told they have seen the true nature of reality, and are bestowed with the power to shape it to their will. I have also been informed by those of their kind that they have only limited control, lest powers beyond their scope crush them underfoot. We would have called these Magi brothers, but they have continually attempted to control humanity. They have herded them into an alien philosophy they call Ascension.
Of all of these, those who call themselves the Technomancers are the worst. Bastions of technology, they have enslaved humanity under a dogma of science and logic. We allowed them to start the Age of Reason, for it subverted the other supernaturals and forced them into hiding. Their technological advancements have given us new weapons against our age-old enemies. Yet the time for allowing the Technomages free reign has long passed. Their Empire will be crushed in The Conspiracy.
Ah yes, The Conspiracy. That is the name for the plans we have created to finally free Humanity from the yoke of Supernatural influence. Yet its more than that, for we want humanity under our guidance. For too long have they wandered like sheep, allowing the Vampire, Magi, and Werewolf to control them. They need a Shepherd; a leader to show them the way to world dominance. We, the Illuminati, are that force.
The Secret Societies that we call the Illuminati are a diverse lot. Some of us have existed since before the Egyptians, some only very recently. Some, like my Society, want political power; others wish to control the flow of information or money. Others just want power of a different kind, like magic or knowledge! Our secrecy has been guaranteed by our unorthodox methods. A web of intrigue, control and influence make it nearly impossible for those seeking the truth to find it. And if they do get close? We drop the name Illuminati in the laps. Those Vampire fools of Clan Tremere call their information network by the same name we do. The odds are in our favour that those seeking us out will attribute our...deeds to the Tremere. No wonder those undead Warlocks are so mistrusted!
No. We should have never given our name to the Sheep, nor to the Supernatural forces that control them. Because of it, our secrecy could be threatened. A Tremere Warlock called Corvus Beltane has learned some of our secrets and has taken his knowledge underground. Though our forces have waged a successful campaign of disinformation, our fear is that others will listen to his words and actually believe him. That Vampire and his "Shamans of Beltane" must die!
The Courts will send their Cadres, independent troubleshooters charged with protecting the phantom veneer we hide behind. There are many powers in the world which are beyond even our ability to fathom. We must be diligent, or they will crush us like the ants we truly are.
Now that you heard this, you have no other option but to become a member of our side. You will now swear your loyalty to the Society of the Global Elite. If the lie detector detects deception, you will be filled with enough volts light up a small town. Now repeat after me...
Welcome to my pet project, something I have always wanted to add in the World of Darkness. However, before you read any further I want to lay out what this supplement is all about. For one thing, Illuminati: The Conspiracy is not meant to redefine anything in the World of Darkness. Everything you have heard in the other Storyteller games in NOT changed by this supplement. What I have done is added a hidden element into the Goth-Punk world, along with enough rumours and ideas to allow the Storyteller to pick-and-choose what elements are suitable for his or her own campaign. In the end, this supplement is an aid for Storytellers to spice up their campaign world. No one should tell you how to run Illuminati; not even its writer.
This is a supplement of mundane secret societies, run by
extraordinary but still mundane humans. For those who want nifty
new supernatural creatures with wondrous powers and vicious
natural weapons, you will be sadly disappointed. Its strictly a
roleplaying tool. Though they Societies have nifty gadgets at
their disposal, Mages and other supernatural creatures would eat
a conventional Knight (an Illuminati Agent) for breakfast. Only
by careful planning and scheming can these forces remain
undetected in this dark and strange land.
Illuminati is a work filled with mystery, suspense, and irony. Irony? Yes, for the World of Darkness is filled with dramatic irony. The Vampire Sabbat, though the Arch-enemy of the Camarilla, may be the Kindred's only hope against the Antediluvians. Werewolves, by their Impergium, may have driven humanity into the Weaver's influence to escape Garou tyranny. Finally, Mage's, by their actions in the Mythic Age, may have contributed to the rise of the Technocracy (though, in the case of the latter, we give an alternate theory).
In Illuminati: The Conspiracy it is very ironic that this influential and powerful organization isn't controlled by supernatural monstrosities or powerful wizard's chantry. It is mundane humans, though some blessed with extraordinary Numina, that are the self-appointed puppet-masters of Humanity. It is also very Paradoxical that though the Secret Societies are against Supernatural Influence in the world, their great power comes from the Vampire, Werewolf, and Mage pawns at their disposal. Though they want a world free from arcane authority, they need them to maintain their grip on humanity.
Another element that is very important is paranoia. Plots behind plots, ulterior motives, and secret agendas are everywhere. Working for an mysterious organization, often facing an enemy that a total unknown. Your never sure whether your teammates are trusted friends, or spies. You could be the spy! The only person you cannot distrust is your boss and he's brainwashed you.
As you are reading this, you will immediately draw comparisons between this and Steve Jackson's Illuminati (both the GURPS supplement and the card game). I must admit that the game was the catalyst for writing this supplement, as well as inspiration for the major societies in the game (Gnomes of Zurich = Shadow Bank, Bavarian Illuminati = Global Elite). Yet the bulk of the work remains generally my own (along with more than generous help from Anders Sandberg and a non-listmember, Carl Gutbrod).
I have undoubtedly used a lot of copyrights and trademarks here, and did so without permission. I am getting no revenue from this and have very little money myself. Don't sue me; you won't get much.
The World of Darkness has already been adequately been handled in the other White Wolf games. This work does not change the scope of that work. What this does is add a new force into that bleak landscape. A force which doesn't have claws or fangs, cannot dominate or toss fireballs. This force has existed for centuries, though none of its members are immortal. They rarely confront their enemy directly; never allow themselves to be discovered. They are the Secret Societies of Humanity, collectively known as the Illuminati.
Though it has faded into the racial memory of Humanity, the
real beginning of the Illuminati can be traced to the Impergium,
the empire of Werewolves that culled mankind's growth. Sometime
near the end of the Impergium, village elders started groups to
maintain a history of their people and also to chronicle the
terrible things the Werewolves had done. This was, of course, an
oral history and was passed down from generation to generation.
These small groups would later fade in the background of society
as the Garou ended their reign of terror and allowed the
unchecked expansion of humanity.
The oral history would continue to be spread until the rise of the Egyptians. Up to (and including) this time, these people had been long considered Sages and men of wisdom. Their knowledge was desperately sought, and was a valuable commodity. A small group of these oral historians, to preserve their legacy for future generations, wrote down their millennia-long legacy on papyrus sheets. They then took the many books and hid them away in a false tomb for safe keeping, to prevent the unworthy from gleaning its secrets. This tomb was the first Basilica, the storehouse of the first Secret Society which would be later called the Blood Covenant.
The secret societies sprung up over the millennia, growing from areas seeded from the Blood Covenant. These Secret Societies saw the atrocities committed by the supernatural world, terrible things that brought back memories of the Impergium. The Battle between Set and Osiris, and the Mythic Age of Magedom were only two of the horrible things which scarred humankind. The societies had once thought only about advancing mankind, the power gained being fringe benefits. Now the realized that humanity were not capable of handling their own affairs unguided. Now they would control mankind for their betterment, subverting the supernatural influence and eventually utterly destroying those abominations.
Thus The Conspiracy was formed, the plan for the saving of mankind. They would control society from the shadows, never taking a direct hand in anything. Instead they would let the humans serve as pawns, with them not even knowing that they were being controlled. From their secret positions they would lead humanity against the supernatural, erasing their power and privalage from the mundane world. The abominations would not be able to strike back effectively, for they would be unable to find the true source of the enemy.
Around the 15th century, when the great age of expansion was taking place, the Secret Societies (now calling themselves the Illuminati) were beginning to clash on a regular basis. When countries and people had little contact with each other, the Illuminati could easily work in their respected circles without difficulty. Each society had its own goals, which rarely involved another society's "holdings". Now the world was getting smaller, travel between locations would soon be much easier and less risky. Already some Illuminati were threatening their cover by hiring thugs to attack another's holdings. It seemed as if the Illuminati would go to war if something wasn't done. Thousands of years of work could be undone in but a few short years.
In the year 1492, just as Columbus was reaching the shores of the New World, the Four Major Secret Societies of the Illuminati (Global Elite, Blood Covenant, The Pantheon, and The Keepers of Secrets) met to avert major disaster. A treaty of peace, called the Pax Concordat was drawn up between the powers. This document laid out a framework in which the Secret Societies could function without risking the Conspiracy. A non-violent means of acquisition and take-over of another Society's holdings was implemented, as well a strict code of conduct for those engaged in those activities. Basilica were updated to guarantee that all Societies knew the reason for their actions and what their goals were . Finally, the Pax Concordat set up a united front against the Supernatural. No Illuminati would be alone against the Abominations.
The Illuminati have expanded steadily over the last half millennia. Two new Societies have been introduced into the Pax Concordat, the Shadow Bank and the Enigmatic Stratagem (though its in doubt whether the latter actually follows its precepts). Since ancient times, they have remained largely unnoticed by the general populace. No one has even suspected they may exist...until recently.
It is fashionable in these days to believe in conspiracies (more so in the World of Darkness). Since Kennedy's assassination, there have been those who theorized there is a phantom government in the United States (and elsewhere). This paranoia has only intensified with the apparent coverup of UFO abductions and sightings. However, the views of these people are not seriously shared by the general populace and are not considered a threat by the Illuminati. The real threat is the Supernatural themselves, specifically the two great powers in the world: The Vampire Elders and the Technocracy. If anyone can find what is going on, these two groups can.
The Technocracy has been generally oblivious to Illuminati activity, generally attributing any strange activity to the Traditions, Garou, or Kindred. They, in their arrogance, could never believe a human could ever reach their power. Its this "mage supremacist" attitude that has hindered their investigation into Illuminati-sponsered activity.
Vampires are the supreme manipulators, or so they thought. Princes have become increasingly worried by the strange increase of Hunter activity and the manipulation of Kindred-held organizations. Like the Technocracy, the Elders of the Clans have been looking to their enemies the Garou (especially the Glass Walkers) for these attacks on Vampire power. They certainly don't believe that Warlock Beltane and his mistaken beliefs about "powerful human secret societies..."
Illuminati have always been in a delicate position. The Societies must remain active to prevent the further domination of mankind by the Supernatural (as well as cement their own brand of control on the populace) but must be very careful to maintain the veil of secrecy which ensures their existence. Unless the Cadres of the Court maintains its level of vigilance, the Societies existence could eventually be threatened.
While there are still many differences between Illuminati, the signing of the Pax Concordat created many standard institutions common to all the Societies. The following is an overview of these common organizations in general.
To understand the Illuminati Society, you must first understand the Pax Concordat. It IS Illuminati Society. It is the guide to which all agents follow, the cornerstone on which the Conspiracy is now resting. Everyone in the Society believes that the Pax Concordat is the only reason why the Illuminati have kept their secrecy for all these years. The Pax Concordat is contained in a large leather-bound tome in each of the Society's Basilica. It is a work that is encoded and filled with misleading passages that only a trained Bishop can understand. Though the work has long and specific rules, the Illuminati hasn't the time needed to contact the Bishop every time they wish to initiate an acquisition. So the Societies have condensed the Pax Concordat into several common sense rules that listed below.
The Conspiracy, as stated numerous times before, is a scheme
that involves all the Societies. Though the current method of
influence and control of society from the shadows is thought to
stem from the Conspiracy, it really has more to do with the Pax
Concordat than anything else. Remember, the Conspiracy outdates
the Pax Concordat by centuries.
This Conspiracy is not as much a plan as it is a list of goals. The Court believes these goals are to be met at any cost, the Illuminati are merely at tool to that end. The Societies, on the other hand use the Conspiracy as a tool for their own plans. This often creates a rift in the Society hierarchy as the Queens of the Court and the Kings of the Illuminati clash over courses of action.
In short, the Conspiracy has three broadly-worded precepts, each interpreted by the Societies to fit their own goals:
These lofty goals sound very noble, but it must be stressed that while the Court wishes to see all three precepts followed, many of the Illuminati only care about number two: Dominance of the humankind. The Creeds (see Chapter 4) within a Society often debate what Conspiracy precepts are important or redundant, often leading to heated arguments and even outbreaks of violence.
The Court is the supreme tribunal of the Illuminati. It is
composed up of five Queens, one from each of the Societies of the
Pax Concordat except the Enigmatic Stratagem. Its not even known
wether the Stratagem even has a Queen, or follows any of the
trapping of Illuminati Society.
Every year is a meeting in some neutral place, chosen randomly from a list of hundreds of locations. These locations are owned by the Court and are sometimes used as safe-houses for agents in danger. Meetings are also held every time a breech of the Pax Concordat is brought forth, or when a rule must be interpreted. At attendance in the Court are all the Queens of the Societies, the Archbishops of each Basilica, and possibly some high-ranking Rooks (acting as personal representatives of the King).
To best describe the court is to think of it has a debating club. When a matter is brought forth, the evidence is presented, people give testimony (if you are subpoenaed, you had better show up!), and then the topic is thoroughly debated. Finally, a vote is taken an the result is recorded by the resident Bishops for their respective Basilica. The matter is then closed. Their rule is final and there is no recourse for appeal. To defy them is a dangerous game, though it is one that all the Illuminati have learned to play very well.
While the Court handles all important matters in the Illuminati, it takes too much organization to organize a meeting for every seemingly important occurrence. Therefore, the Court has smaller "Conclaves", made up of Bishops and Rooks, which handle lesser matters. Conclaves are made up of ten members, one Bishop and Rook from all recognized Illuminati (except, of course, the Enigmatic Stratagem). The Conclave makes a detailed report to the Court every year and has a right to convene a Court session if the need arises (though they better have a good reason!). They also have lesser Court powers and any decisions rendered are only cancelled a Queen. There is at least one Conclave for each of the five Societies which sit on the Court, plus at least a dozen Conclaves which handle threats to the Illuminati has a whole (a quarter of which are devoted to keeping tabs on the Enigmatic Stratagem).
Originally a small underground tomb or hidden structure, the
modern day Basilica are huge complexes underneath the ground.
They are multi-story structures, crammed with natural and man-
made obstacles to intrusion. Mundane forces will meet (if they
ever found the Basilica, unlikely as it may be) a horde of
fanatical, heavily-armed Knights, remote machineguns and
flamethrowers, and tripwire grenades and claymores.
Supernaturals could find their Umbral passage blocked by a Garou
or Dreamspeaker Pawns, and Correspondence will often be blocked
by interesting Technomancer constructs. While successfully
invading a Basilica is possible, its almost always a suicide
Most of the Basilica is dedicated to the vast library, composed of stone tablets, papyrus, leather-bound tomes, and even computer programs. Connected to the Library is an extensive complex of sleeping quarters, recreation and entertainment complexes for the Bishops. There are also dark areas for Initiation and torture, as well as extravagant floors dedicated solely for King and Queen use.
Note that player characters, unless working for the Illuminati (and brainwashed into loyalty), will likely never find a Basilica, let alone successfully penetrate it.
At one time each society had its own ranking system, each
corresponding to their unique world view. The Pax Concordat set
up a standard system of Society status to be followed by all
Illuminati in emergency situations. During those important
occasions, when they were fighting against supernatural forces,
its important to know everyone's place in their own Society.
There is enough rivalry between the Illuminati already without
adding the arguments over leadership. Over the years this
ranking system has been integrated into the Society's power
structure. Though they may be referred to by different names and
have slightly different arrangements, most societies now follow
the standard Concordat ranks.
The current hierarchy was based on the game of chess. This was how most of the Society leaders thought of the Conspiracy at that time. The King was the leader of the Society, given authority questionable only by the Court. The Queen (also called a Quaesitor) was given a seat on the Court and no longer concerns themselves with Society affairs. Rooks control the holdings of the Society, while Knights act as its enforcers. Bishops are the true "sages" of the Illuminati and are the keepers of the Society's Basilica. Finally the term Pawn was given to all those who are under the control of the Society, whether directly or indirectly. More on the hierarchy in Chapter Three.
The Cadre are the elite troubleshooters of the Court,
created to help solve the growing problems facing the Societies.
Each Society represented in the Court must donate a number of
promising Knights and Pawns to form Cadres. This multi-society
band of agents, numbering anywhere from four to more than a
dozen, must swear their allegiance to the Court and them alone.
Failing to do so results in the Court's own brand of Initiation
(involving very unpleasant Brainwashing techniques).
The Cadre's responsibility is to fix any problem the Court thinks is a possible threat to Illuminati security. This includes potential rouge agents (rare as they may be), lost texts from a Basilica, and possible uncovering of Society activities by supernatural or mundane sources. The Cadres are spies, assassins, interrogators, commandos, and terrorists all at the same time. Though their importance is great, Cadres know almost nothing about the Societies they work for. They are gathered together secretly and told their mission via tape recorder or video tape (watch Mission: Impossible for ideas). They may know their objectives, but will NEVER know the reasons behind them.
With the success of the Cadres, it wasn't long until the individual Societies began fielding similar groups as the Cadres filled with only their own faithful agents. Called Cliques, these groups fill similar roles as the Cadres, though may also be called on in Acquisitions, Challenges of Dominion, and Hostile Takeovers...
While Illuminati was originally conceived as an omnipresent enemy for characters to face, it is conceivable that people would actually like to play characters involved in the great Conspiracy. Though compared to the Supernaturals in the World of Darkness, agents of the Societies are often pretty weak in comparison. However, they do have a very powerful organization, rich in resources and talent, actively backing them up on missions. Against the Abominations, a character Knight cannot hold his own in a direct fight. Yet the Illuminati have more tools at their disposal than mere guns or explosives. There are more subtle ways to harm your enemies.
Any concept is possible with Illuminati characters, the more unorthodox the better. Anything from Archbishops to Zookeepers are acceptable and encouraged. Stereotypical agents are not a good idea!
The character's Demeanour is the facade he puts up around
him. Therefore the player is free to choose any Demeanour that
fits his character concept.
Nature is another matter. Those illuminati of ranks Rook, Bishop, Queen or King; as well as those Pawns or Knights who were not brainwashed may choose freely. However, those characters who have been put through mind control techniques have Natures set by their captors. This is often Conformer, Fanatic, Conniver, and Loner; though it could be others too. Natures of Brainwashed victims are usually chosen by the Storyteller.
As far as characters are concerned there are only two ranks which will suit adventuring characters, that of Knight and Pawn. Rooks may be allowed as player characters, depending upon the particular Chronicle and Storyteller. Each Rank's duties will list special Character Generation rules and required skills/backgrounds. See part b) for more information on the ranking system of the Societies.
This author recommends that your Storyteller choose which
Society you belong to, this especially if you a Pawn or
Brainwashed Knight. Its almost never a matter of individual
Societies will also recommend Backgrounds and Skills that would be of use to them (and why, perhaps, you were chosen by them).
Besides personal goods, most equipment and weapons needed
for your missions will be provided to you by the Societies
themselves. While individualism is tolerated (and sometimes
encouraged), the Illuminati frown on equipment and clothing which
draw attention to the agent (or his employers; ie. no heavy
weaponry, explosives, tactical nuclear weapons, etc.)
Some unique gear is listed in part e) and f).
At the lowest end of the hierarchy is the Pawn. Pawns are
the workhorse of any Illuminati Society, a network of contacts
and slaves that are given the most unimportant tasks. They are
recruited from ordinary citizens, chosen specifically for their
ability to integrate into society and their usefulness to the
Illuminati. There are many types of pawns: Unwitting helpers,
dupes, hired experts and consultants, members of front
The methods of Initiation vary amongst this rank, but Brainwashing is rarely done. Its not necessary for them, for they hold no information, nor are they a serious threat to security. Societies tend to follow the acronym M.I.C.E: Money, Ideology, Coercion, Ego. Blackmail, Bribes, and Persuasion using both beliefs and narcissism are (and have always been) quick and easy ways to ensure loyalty and obedience. Pawns are often controlled through a Society's holding (often a Holding they employed with). They are often totally unaware they are working for a secret society, let alone one as powerful as an Illuminati.
At best, a Pawn can be considered a "Sleeper" agent (not to be confused with the Mage term for unawakened humans). Continuing their lives unimpeded, they are only used when circumstances warrant it. Rarely are they used in sensitive operations (unless they have been Brainwashed) and are never combat trained. Typical missions for a Pawn are information gathering, shadowing/tailing suspects, research, and petty crimes.
Supernaturals are also recruited as Pawns (its the only rank that allows them as members). However, they are chosen for their unique talents rather than their ability to fit in. They serve as defensive measures against magically endowed individuals or those creatures that can easily bypass the mundane security devices the Illuminati deploy. Other than the fact that Supernatural Pawns are always Brainwashed, they are quite similar to their mundane brothers.
Character Generation: No special skills required. Create a
Mortal/Vampire/Werewolf/Mage/Mummy character as normal.
Freebie Points: Based on your breed (15 normally for Vampires, Mages, and Werewolves, 21 for Mortals, 30 for Mummies)
Knights are the elite shocktroops of the Societies,
expendable agents with specialities in espionage and covert
operations. Just above Pawns in the hierarchy of the Illuminati,
these fanatical warriors are recruited from ex-service personnel,
former agents and police officers, and anyone who shows who shows
paranormal abilities (Numina).
Brainwashing is the normal procedure for Knights. Only rarely does someone show the devotion and self sacrifice needed to be a Knight. Absolute loyalty is engrained in them throughout their year-long training in secluded camps throughout the world. The Knight is best suited for the tactical elimination of enemies. This elimination is ideally (according to the Pax Concordat) non-violent, but deadly force is also used.
Knights are experts in surveillance and entrapment, getting evidence which can be used to persuade or ruin an individual. The also have knowledge in commando and other special forces operations. Standard operating procedure is to make all covert operations look like routine terrorist actions. Sabotage is made to look like corporate espionage or "Eco-Terrorism"; Assassinations and Bombings are carefully staged to appear the work of extreme factions of such groups as the IRA.
The amount of information a knight knows is totally dependant on the skills and natural abilities he or she possesses. Those with Merits of Iron Will, or have extensive Numina abilities are often allowed more knowledge about the Illuminati than the mundane agents with no supernatural abilities. Normal agents may know they are working for the a secret society (and may even given a pseudonym to identify it), but has no knowledge of its personnel or practices. Knights endowed with the necessary special gifts may know a bit more, such as their immediate superiors and the influence the Society has over the local area he is assigned to . Though the exact number of Knights with Numina is great (around 75-80%), less than one in ten have the Merits or Transcendental powers to warrant even nominal insight into the Illuminati.
Character Generation: Knights have primaries in Physical
Traits and Skills. They generally should have a good selection
of espionage and military skills such as Firearms, Subterfuge,
Survival, and Alertness. The also must take the Lingua skill,
the spoken version of the Rook's Fabula. Background of use to
the Knights are Contacts and Arcane (you ever notice on the X-
files that the enemy agents always disappear after rounding a
corner and NEVER seem to appear on cameras?) Numina is also very
common with Knights but preferred supernatural abilities vary
Freebie Points: Standard 21
Rooks are the cornerstone of any Society, these "enforce"
the Illuminati's will in their respective holdings. After a
successful Acquisition or Challenge of Dominion, the Rook enters
the scene and maintains order. Rooks are generally trusted
Illuminati individuals (often born into the Society through
hereditary lines) who were employed by the future Holding months
or years before the Illuminati arrived.
The masters of subterfuge, manipulation and brainwashing, a Rook ensures that the Holding is completely "loyal" to the powers that be. Rooks are often given a Clique (Society version of a Cadre) of Knights to help in the pacification of the Holding. Often the Rook has an entourage of Brainwashing experts (themselves being brainwashed pawns) or Knights that have likewise have the required Intelligence background.
Using their special abilities, key personnel are Initiated as Pawns into the Illuminati. Rooks then stay in the Holding in small, unimportant positions, watching for insurrection or outside influence.
Of all agents in exposed or semi-exposed positions, the Rooks possess the most knowledge of their Society. They know they work for the Illuminati, its name, and their immediate superior (usually another Knight, but rarely a Bishop). They generally have no idea about the scope of the Illuminati but are still well protected (just in case...).
Character Generation: Rooks must Social Traits Primary, but
may choose whether they talk Skills are Knowledges are dominant.
All Rooks must take the knowledge of Brainwashing, and most have
the Allies, Contacts, or Resources. Some Rooks have the Merit
Freebie Points: 21
Keepers of Society dogma, masters of information, historians
without equal. Bishops are generally not available to Player
Characters because of their isolated existence. Bishops are the
masters of the Basilica and has such have historical records
dating back for into what the mundane world calls prehistory.
Some of the older records include the written versions of the
original human oral-histories, many of which date back to the
latter end of the Impergium. Each individual Basilica has
different records, depending on its age and original geographic
location. Besides history, the Basilica holds the records of all
Illuminati members, past and present, and details Society
business and progress form the earliest times.
There are about a dozen Bishops in each basilica, lead by one of their number (called an Archbishop). Bishops are chosen from the brightest of the mundanes in the general area of the basilica. They are snatched from elite schools and from families who have shown a history of high intelligence. Many of the unsolved child abductions are not the work of child molesters or serial killers, but are in fact the latest inductees into the Illuminati. The children are taught from their earliest moments in the Society that they are the most important force in their organization and without it, humanity is lost. Loyalty and Sacrifice are engrained in their minds, and they are given the greatest secrets that the Societies have to offer.
For they learn Fabula, the ancient art of translating Basilica text. It is in a long-forgotten dialect, written in an ancient alphabet, and intricately encoded. Filled with false passages, and special paragraphs to mislead the uninitiated, it takes very intelligent and dedicated individuals to interpret and copy the text. In fact, Bishops are the only ones allowed to take the Fabula skill; it is taught to no other, under penalty of death. This system is so complex, that Corvus Beltane (see "Shamans of Beltane" in Chapter 5) over 350 years to decipher the code and translate the language and dialect. Even then, he did not manage to separate the true passages from the false. Its only by these special measures taken to protect the Society's knowledge that the Illuminati have survived for these millennia.
Bishops, due to their wide-spread knowledge of the Illuminati, are sequestered in their hidden Basilica, protected by some of the best Knights available. Mage, Vampire, and Garou Pawns are often used to prevent Supernaturals from finding the Basilica and penetrating it via mystical or spiritual means. So important are the Bishops to the Illuminati, they often never see the light of day.
Character Generation: Mental Attributes and Knowledges are
Primary. Other than taking the Fabula skill, there are no
prerequisites to being a Bishop.
Freebie Points: 21
Queens are the judges of the Illuminati. Sitting on the
great and powerful Court, the Queen makes sure the rules of the
Pax Concordat are followed to the letter and interpret the
rules are they apply to new situations. [Author note: The
"rules interpretations" are important generally if player
characters pursue or inquire about an unorthodox method which
may or may not break the Pax Concordat at (such as, say framing
the target with murder, which might be considered a Hostile
Takeover since violence has been used to gain a Holding).
Remember, the Courts rule is law! No appeals. Players who ignore
Court rulings better pray they don't get caught...]
Chosen from the ranks of the Illuminati (normally, an experienced Archbishop or trusted Rook), the Queen is inaugurated into the Court in a secret ceremony in one of the Courts meeting places. The Queen (or Quaesitor, using the archaic term) then looses any influence upon the Society they represent. Though they become the greatest power in the Illuminati, they only have nominal power in their old power structure. This discrepancy means that though the Court, as a whole, can reprimand Societies, individual Queens have no power to enforce the Concordat on their own (and often do not report observed internal breeches of the Concordat, due to loyalty to that Society).
Queens, though they must move to many secret locations, are almost never caught in the open. All Quaesitors have personal Virtual Adepts, other Correspondence Mages, or equivalent Garou/Vampires to "teleport" them from place to place. There are also accompanied by at least one Court-appointed Cadre for personal protection. If they must move in the open, they are given protection unequaled by even heads of state. Only Kings warrant greater protection, though they rarely leave their fortified offices.
Character Generation: They are picked from the ranks of
Bishops, Rooks, or very rarely Knights. Create a character from
those ranks, then give them an extra 30 freebie points.
Freebie Points: See Above
Legendary controllers of the Societies, they are the most
mysterious of any of the ranks. They are the supreme rulers of
their own Illuminati, with personal goals that can only be
guessed at. Because of the secrecy and isolation involved with
the King, the identity (or even gender) of the Society monarch
has become a lasting secret. A strict hereditary system, Kings
choose their favourite (and/or most gifted) children for their
replacement. The succession is never announced to the crew and
only the Queen and a special Rook (his "mouthpiece") know when
the change occurs (and the Kings real identity, for that matter).
Cloistered in a special floor, exclusively tailored for the expensive tastes of the King, the Society's leader is NEVER seen outside their domain. The floor is impregnable with massive technological, mystical, and spiritual barriers. In the history of the Illuminati, no King has been assassinated, attacked, or even approached without prior authorization. Then again, if a King had been killed, its doubtful they Society would advertize the fact...
Character Generation: They need no special skills besides
being born into the "Royal" family. Anyway, player characters
are not going to meet a King in their life time, are they?
Freebie Points: As much as they want...
As stated before, the Pax Concordat set a standard ranking
system in times of emergency. Over time it has been integrated
into the societies. However, the Societies are loathe to give up
their traditions and even those Creeds who are supported by the
Court are often resentful of the compromises placed upon them by
the Pax Concordat. [Author note: Remember, though the Societies
and Creeds believe the Court is a necessary evil, very few are
staunch supporters. Unlike Vampire society, there are very few
"Ancillae", save perhaps for the members of the Shadow Bank
(which few people trust anyway)]
Therefore, the Societies tend to have varied heiarchies which though superficially different, generally follow standard Concordat hiearchy. They are listed below:
THE BLOOD COVENANT has seven grades, linked to the planets
and their symbols. Initiation into each grade is surrounded by
complex mystical rituals and binding oaths (often variations of
the Blood Covenant; the ancient ritual which gives the Society
There are three grades of Pawns used by the Blood Covenant. Mundane people and those mundanes who are actively being manipulated by the Society are sometimes viewed as belonging to the grade of Earth. Two grades control the Pawns and are under the control of the Rook (Jupiter grade) they themselves are brainwashed pawns:
Within the Society, characters are address using lastname and their rank. Nicholas Caliburn, a Knight, would be addressed as Caliburn of Mars. If he was a Queen, he would be called Caliburn of the Sun.
ENIGMATIC STRATAGEM. As will be said later in this
supplement, not very much is known about the "official" hierarchy
of the Stratagem. Pawns, in general, are identical to standard
Concordat precepts (or so it seems). Knights, however seem to be
divided into two distinct groups. One group dresses and acts
very similar to the New World Order's Men in Black (Dark suits,
mirrorshades, and black Cadillacs). They generally operate like
any other Knight. The other group of Knights are actual
Technomancer constructs (like REAL Men in Black and Hit Marks).
They seem to be totally loyal to the Society and are most common
when dealing directly with Supernaturals (in an obvious ploy to
redirect blame to the Technocracy). Nonetheless, these "Techno-
Knights" (as they have come to be called) make a lot of
Illuminati VERY nervous.
Though no one knows about the higher ranks of the Stratagem, there is no reason to believe that they are any different than the Society norm.
THE GLOBAL ELITE only gives higher ranks titles, fitting
with their aristocratic attitudes. Pawns are not worth of any
moniker (and as such are often considered very expendable; Global
Elite pawns are the worst treated of any of the Societies). Each
of the higher ranks are considered separate institutions and as
such are somewhat autonomous from each other (this is in contrast
to the familiar "ladder" organization which is consistent with
the other Illuminati). Knights are part of the "BlackStorm
Brigades", the paramilitary assassins so feared by the Societies.
Rooks are divided up by the organizations they represent. Those part of the Political arena are part of the "Imperialists", while those involved in Corporate or Lobbyist activity are known as the Capitalists and the Arbitrators respectively. Each Rook division has its own areas of influence and a multitude of pawns.
Bishops, known as Coordinators, not only are information gatherers but act as intermediaries between the BlackStorm Brigades and the various Rook institutions. They are very influential in the Global Elite's affairs.
Queens are not well liked by this Illuminati. They are often quarrelsome members of the Society which have been granted this position to get them out of their hair. When referring to a Queen, they Global Elite simply refer to them as their "Representative".
The King (or "President") is no different from that of any other Society, though the Global Elite propaganda may say differently.
KEEPERS OF SECRETS. Rooks and Bishops are the most
prominent in the Keepers of Secrets. Like the Global Elite, the
Rooks ("Compilers") are separated in several divisions. However,
they are not autonomous by any means; merely sub-divisions of the
Rook/Compiler organization. Each Compiler division concentrates
on a certain area: Some scan the printed media, broadcasts, and
the more interesting areas of the Internet, while still others
listen to phone lines and street "gossip". The Bishops (or
Archivists) store the information gained for future "reference".
Pawns are unchanged from Concordat norm and are known in KoS circles as Allies and Contacts.
The Representative to the Court (the Queen) is known only as the Oracle. There is no known King, which leads to much speculation on who exactly rules the Keepers of Secrets. Some have even gone so far as to allude that the King IS the Oracle. If so, this would make this Society the only one which had an visible leader. Then again, why would a King leave himself open to attack? As with most of the Illuminati, the Lurkers have no plans to reveal any their mysterious.
PANTHEON, not surprisingly generally uses religious monikers
for their ranks. Most pawns are referred to as "The Faithful",
detonating their loyalty to the Society. Knights are often
called the "Knights Templar" or just Templars to confuse them
with the Throng of the same name (such as is listed in Nephilim:
Occult RPG) and with the those of the Sabbat. Rooks are referred
to as Archbishops and Bishops as Cardinals (again to confuse
matters). Queens are referred to as a Hierophant, and the King
is referred to as the Vicar.
The Vicar has often been linked to the true Pope of the Catholic church, but its unlikely they are one and the same. In fact, though the Pantheon has great influence in Catholic (and Protestant, Jewish, Islam etc), they keep themselves somewhat separate from religious hierarchies and positions.
SHADOW BANK Hierarchy is very Corporate in nature. Pawns are the Employees, dutifully "working" this Illuminati. Knights belong to Society "Security", while Rooks are part of "Public Relations". Bishops are called Executives and the Queen is given the title of Press Secretary. There is no single Shadow Bank King. It is in fact made up of a council known as the Board. The CEO, the head member of the Board fulfils any duties of the King, while another member that same Board represents the King at Court meetings (Note: This representation is separate from the Queen and other Societies send trust Bishops and Rooks to act as the King's "observers" during Court proceedings).
The oldest Society, the Blood Covenant used to be the greatest Illuminati on the planet. However, time has not been kind to the Blood Covenant and much of its former glory and power as been diminished. The first sign of decline came when long before the Pax Concordat, when many of its "colonial" Societies, seeded to provide new areas for Covenant control, became independent and formed their own Societies. As time went on, these new Societies would steal valuable holdings from their former masters.
The most debilitating force came from Christianity, nominally controlled by the Celestial Chorus and secretly influenced by the Pantheon. Placing all faith in priests and popes, not mystics and shamans, the growing power of Christians ravaged Covenant control while boosting the Pantheon's influence.
Over the years, the Blood Covenant has tried to regain some of its former distinction, supporting the Barbarians against Rome, sponsoring the Viking Wars, and even going so far as to back the Order of Hermes during the Mythic Age. Yet the Vikings were eventually lost in a Challenge of Dominion to the Pantheon, and the Order of Hermes eventually collapsed.
When the Court voted to ignore the Techomancer's manipulation of reality, the Covenant was furious. It had totally been against the idea, the only dissenter in the Pax Concordat. They were sure it was some plot by the other Societies to steal their holdings and power. They even wondered if the Technocrats (and the fabled "Architects of Reason") hadn't subverted the Court and its members. The relationship between the Blood Covenant and the other societies is strained even to this day. They also share an arch-rivalry with the Pantheon, whom they blame for the Christian destruction of Paganism.
With the Age of Reason, it seemed that the Blood Covenant would be swallowed by the other Societies, but that was not the case. Instead of destroying mysticism, it just forced it underground. Blood Covenant gained control by bringing powerful individuals into secret Occult circles, both hidden and overt. This ensured that even though Mysticism was not widely accepted, the Covenant still had influence over the mundane world. Every once and a while these groups would attempt to gain acceptance in the open, sparking organisations as the Rosicrucians, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and individuals such as Aleister Crowley. The success of such incursions varied widely, though they are gaining more recognition as the hold that the church has had on society has weakened. The Blood Covenant is not only involved in "curses" and spells. Since they control Psychics from around the world, they can convince a superstitious populace of anything (through tarot readings, etc).
The emergence of older religions, particularly those called "Neo-Pagan", have given the Covenant reason to believe a new age of power and control might be at hand. The most prominent of these new (or perhaps really old) religions, that of Wicca, has become a prime target for the Blood Covenant...and a great source of consternation. Without any rigid hierarchy, such as is found with the Catholic Church, the Covenant finds it very difficult to gain widespread control. Also, the Wika (a Verbena sub-tradition linked closely to Wicca) have thwarted the Illuminati at every turn. Though their cover is secure for the time being, the Blood Covenant must be careful lest the Wika stumble on dangerous information. Many other Societies have remarked that the Society is desperate enough to risk anything for power, even break the unbreakable rules of the Pax Corcordat. Already some have accused this Society of consorting with Infernal powers, some going so far as to say have totally fallen under demonic influence. Whatever the case, they are being watched closely.
The term Blood Covenant refers not to their mystical rituals, but the blood oath that each new member swears to the Society. This rite is practised in every Society in one form or another, but none has the history and meaning as that of the Blood Covenant.
Goal: Mystical forces have created the Supernatural that
threatens us now. Therefore it will only be by unearthing the
greatest Arcane secrets, that will give us the key to our
salvation. The control and influence of all Occult, Psychic,
Pagan, and Neo-Pagan organizations and societies are important to
reaching our goals, though me must make them more acceptable if
we are to use them to influence the mundane world.
Basilica: A tomb located near the Giza Pyramids, Egypt.
Suspected Holdings: Warlock Covens, Order of the Golden Dawn, the Rosicrucians (elements in both the Sleeper and Mage sects), the Arcanum, Psychic hot-lines, various Paranormal research institutions, Masons and the Royal Family of England.
Suspected Holdings: Various Occultists, the Arcanum, possible involvement with Infernal groups (including the Wyrm, Nephandi, and Demons of the Inferno).
Preferred Backgrounds and Skills: Occult is the only skill that is required of Blood Covenant members, though Investigation is also highly prized. Covenant Knights, if they have Numina, generally choose Hedge Magic.
Of this Illuminati, there is almost nothing known. It doesn't even have an official name. The current moniker used to identify this reclusive group was first coined by the Global Elite's Queen, saying "Of them we no nothing; neither their name or anything about their enigmatic stratagem". The name somehow stuck. Though officially part of the Pax Concordat, it does not sit on the Court. It has only met with the Court once, when its Queen (?) arrived unannounced and told the council "[They] would abide by [the Illuminati's] laws". The Court voted the Stratagem into the Concord of Peace only because its power now rivalled theirs. There still are many who are sure that one day the Court will have to call Righteous Fury upon the Stratagem, once their real aims are revealed.
The group now called the Enigmatic Stratagem first appeared around the mid to late 1800's. It came without warning, from no apparent source. The other Illuminati suddenly began to loose holdings in rapid succession. Not a general takeover, but singular specific organizations. Zoological societies and other groups involved in biological research were targeted first. The Stratagem's other targets, reclusive scientists and theorists, seemed to defy explanation. It would be until the two world wars that the its goals were beginning to come to light. From its early, unimportant acquisitions, the Enigmatic Stratagem had a firm foothold in the advanced technology and biological research market. It had predicted the great rise of technical achievement of the world wars almost a century previous. It would also be evident later on that the Stratagem had already prophesied the biological and genetic revolutions of recent years. Some have wondered whether the Stratagem had inside information on the aims of the Technocracy. Perhaps the Enigmatic Stratagem has influence over the Technocracy, or is under its influence...
What bothers the Court is that Stratagem has taken upon itself to further its biological knowledge through very strange and dangerous means. The rash of "Alien Abductions" over the years is not wholly the work of Technocrats or Umbral spirits. Some are the experiments of the Enigmatic Stratagem, accomplished through the mysterious creatures some mundanes call the "Greys". These drab, frail-bodied creatures have extended craniums and large eyes. They have been present in a number of abduction cases in North America in the last few decades. Though they are not a proven reality, the Societies are certain they are the first fruits of the Stratagems decade long technological and biological research scheme. These "Greys" seem to be endowed with great psychic ability and heightened intelligence. Are these things real? If so, how much of their creation lies in mundane knowledge and how much lies with the sphere of life, used by the Technomancer Progenitor Pawns.
In addition, the Enigmatic Stratagem has some very advanced aircraft, possibly incorporating Technomancer technology, or technology melded with the mind powers of the Greys. Despite what the tabloids print, there is evidence that only a dozen "saucers" are operated the Stratagem. Other craft stem from the Void Engineers and possibly creatures from beyond the Gauntlet. Many other sightings are complete hoaxes. The hoaxes keep the mundanes from acknowledging the presence of aliens on the planet, though the number of believers are growing. This increasing belief in alien abduction and the presence of the supernatural has only been stemmed by the Stratagem's influence in strategic government agencies. Yet the other Societies are watching them closely just in case government leverage is not enough. There are at least half a dozen Cadres permanently assigned to protect the Stratagem (whether the like it or not) form the peering eyes of the mundane and supernatural world. If there is going to be a serious breech of the Concordat, the odds are good that the Stratagem will cause it.
This Society also has a unique and baffling hierarchy, nothing like the others in the Pax Concordat. It is clear that the Stratagem has leader(s), so they will have some sort of King. They also seem to have a Queen, though its uncertain whether it is a full time position or one of convenience. Rooks are definitely in use by the Society, filling duties that emulate their society brethren. If anything, the Rooks are the only thing common the Stratagem has in common with the Illuminati, besides the Pawns. What position the Greys fit in the Society is anyone's guess, though it is possible they are Bishops or Knights. It is also known that the Society operates converted "Men in Black", specially ordered to discourage investigations into the supernatural. Whether the MiB are Pawns or Knights is also unknown.
Goal: Unknown. Generally seems to involve radical
biological research, genetic engineering, and advanced
technological testing. The reason for this, their plans, or even
the accordance to the Pax Corcordat is a complete mystery.
Basilica: Believed to be somewhere under Area 51, also known as Dreamland, an semi-secret air base located on Groom Lake, Nevada.
Suspected Holdings: Bio-technical and Technological firms around the world, US Air Force.
Preferred Backgrounds and Skills: Again, unknown. Is not even understood if they have requirements or preferences. Human Knights (?) which have been encountered have extensive psychic powers.
The Global Elite came from the same Seeded Society as the Pantheon. From influential members within Roman society, the group split up at the height of the Roman Empire. The factions disagreed on which organizations in Rome were the best platforms for world dominance. The faction which would later become the Global Elite thought that one should control the Senate and the powerful Families which influenced Imperial politics. The group which would form the Pantheon wanted command of the powerful priesthood of the Roman gods. They parted on good terms and retain amicable relations (along with a friendly rivalry). The Global Elite have remained dynamic throughout the past 2000 years, and now are the most powerful Illuminati in the World. The Elite is the most direct of all Societies when it comes to the Conspiracy. "If you must control something", these Illuminati say, "go straight to the top". They control the most powerful people in society: Politicians, Heads of State, and the those with the most political influence . From Capitol hill to the heads of government lobby groups, if supernaturals involve themselves in the affairs of government, they inevitably lock horns with agents of the Global Elite.
When trouble brews, the Global Elite deals with the threat in a forward manner. Of any in the Pax Concordat, the Elite is the most guilty of Hostile Takeovers and blatant assassinations. Their hit squad cliques (the infamous "Black Storm" brigades; so- called because of their Nazi-style black uniforms, complete with jackboots) and widely known and feared in the Pax Concordat. They are the first troops to be sent in when a Righteous Fury is called down upon a Throng.
Though they are guilty of breeches of the Concordat due to their violent methods, no Society would dare accuse them of such wrongdoing. Being the most powerful Society in the world, the Elite could cripple any Throng and give any Society much grief. Accusers often meet terrible ends (often involving very regrettable "accidents"). Strength has its privileges...
Goal: To sweep away those of paranormal existence requires
firm leadership. We must first control the decision makers, the
respected and admired people of this world. Once we have
controlled the planet through them, we can then unshackle the
world from the supernatural powers.
Basilica: Somewhere near the United Nations Building, New York State
Suspected Holdings: Government offices in many countries, the political lobby, defense contractors.
Preferred Backgrounds and Skills: To succeed in the Global Elite, most characters should have some skills in Bureaucracy and Politics. Knights of the Global Elite are the only enforcers of the Societies in which Numina is NOT encouraged. Instead, Knights are trained in mind and body strengthening techniques (Merits such as Iron Will and Hand of God).
The Keepers are perhaps the only Society actively helping enlighten mankind. Once lowly throngs, the Keepers of Secrets were a confederation of small societies from around the globe. They were keepers of libraries and caretakers of the centres of world knowledge. From the ancient library of Alexandria to the lands of the far east, the Keepers sought out the mundane secrets of the ages.
In the 15th century, as the Pax Concordat was being negotiated, the Throngs gathered together and formed the Keepers of Secrets. It was a defense measure against the encroaching Illuminati as well as move to enter the arena of the greater societies. Both moves were successful and the Keepers of Secrets became the second-last Society to sit on the Court.
Besides controlling libraries, universities, and other organizations devoted to knowledge; they also invested time and effort to influence communication technology. Over time, the Keepers gained considerable power in mundane society as contact over long distances became easier and less costly. The Keeper of Secrets encouraged all forms of telecommunication and free transmission of thought, from the pony express, telegraph and telephone, to the modem, Internet and the ever-expanding information super-highway. Currently, the Keepers are a rising power in the Illuminati. The Global Elite is trying desperately to stem the Keeper's power, trying to discourage free speech across the Internet and police the telecommunication networks. However, such policies are not as successful as the Elite would like, causing many to see a shift of power from the Global Elite to Keepers in the next few years.
The Keepers never use Hostile Takeovers and shy away from any direct approaches to problems. By utilizing their libraries, databases, and telecommunication taps, they have collected much damaging material on both the supernatural and mundane world. They use these "skeletons in the closet" to blackmail potential holdings or discourage any adversaries. They could easily destroy a person, business, or multinational if they so planned. Of any of the Illuminati, they have had the most success in stemming the Technocracy. Many Progenitor, Iteration X, and Syndicate business have had damaging information leaked when they investigated Illuminati affairs. The loss of reputation, company holdings, and billions of dollars have so far persuaded the Technocrats to abandon _active_ inquiry of the Lurkers.
Goal: Every question as an answer, every person a hidden
secret. The supernaturals are not an exception. All that is
necessary is to find those secrets and use them to their best
Basilica: Somewhere near the ruins of the Library of Alexandria, Egypt.
Suspected Holdings: Information Gathering sources (TV/radio stations, newspapers, Internet sites, post offices, phone companies, government think-tanks, etc)
Preferred Backgrounds and Skills: Contacts and Allies are prized by the Lurkers, for a personal information network can augment the Keepers gathering sources. Additionally, Knowledges of all types (except for skills such as Occult) are helpful.
Splitting from the Global Elite during their schism, the Pantheon concentrated its control of the huge Imperial Priesthood of the Roman Pantheon. They infiltrated every temple with their influence, matching their sister Society, the Global Elite, holding for holding. As provinces were being added into the Empire, the Pantheon would attempt to convert them to the Roman gods or infiltrate their religious ranks.
When Emperor Constintine made Rome a Christian nation, the Pantheon quickly shifted its attention from propagating the Roman gods to the God of the Judeo-Christians. They were responsible for the transformation from the Christian church from the non- aggressive collection of believers to the expansionist, intolerant, megalithic Catholic Church that exists even to this day. The original goal of the Pantheon was to unite the world under one religion, that of Christianity. Though the Society soon became the most influential force in Europe, they had very limited success in other parts of the world.
The Crusades to take the Holy Land was the most ambitious of Pantheon plots. Its purpose, to begin to convert the world to Christianity and uniting it under the Pantheon-controlled Papacy. It had early success but in the end failed badly. They couldn't convert the Islamic nations to Christ, nor did they have any success with the invading Mongol hordes. They did, however, destroy the Celtic civilization and eventually convert the Vikings; harming the Blood Covenant greatly by doing so. The separation of the Eastern Orthodox church, the
Protestant movement of Martin Luther, and the Age of Reason all harmed the Catholic Church greatly and devastated the Pantheon. The Pantheon had supported the Age of Reason grudgingly, for they knew that by doing would only hurt the mages (specifically, their nemesis, the Celestial Chorus). The Chorus had always had been a thorn in the side of the Pantheon, always interfering with their holdings. Several times the Chorus came very close to uncovering their Society. The Age of Reason permanently debilitated the Chorus control in the church and allowed the Pantheon to strengthen its grip on the populace.
Currently, the Pantheon still seeks a one world church, but its not an immediate goal. Instead, its infiltrated each of the Western and Near Eastern religions, including Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, and some Televangelists. The Pantheon now seeks to unify each nation under a particular religion. When this is done, they will then attempt create political religious blocks (such as the an Islamic Federation in the Middle-East). From there, its believed the pantheon will attempt to create an World Ecumenical Council from which will spring forth a single World Religion.
However, Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Shintoism have given the Pantheon great agitation. Perhaps its from the non-confrontation attitudes expressed by the Buddhist Priest. More likely, its from the Akashic Brotherhood, who is always vigilant for outside interference in its affairs. In the past they have attempted to convert them to other religions, with little success. Now, for the time being, the Pantheon has focused west, perhaps building up for an eventual religious Jihad.
Goal: A Supreme Being. Whether we believe in it is not
important, for its his power over the minds and hearts of the
populace is all that's matter. Whether following God,
Jehovah, Allah, or Buddha; they will all flock under our Earthly
banner. Then, perhaps, we can wage Holy War on the Abominations
that walk the Earth.
Basilica: Jerusalem. The Centre of three of the world's great faiths: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity.
Suspected Holdings: Religious men in most Western (and Near Eastern) religions, the Society of Leopold (?), the Knightly Orders (see the net supplement Church Knight).
Preferred Backgrounds and Skills: Besides Theology (Vampire Players Guide Pg.67), character's should be appear to be upstanding and pious men in their respective communities. For the Pantheon, appearances are everything. Knights generally have True Faith as their Numina.
Though the Global Elite, Keepers of Secrets, and the Pantheon dominate the world of the Illuminati, the Shadow Bank would appear to hold the strings. The masters of money, they have the power to cripple the other Illuminati's holdings with ease. However, they seeming have no interest in attacking their fellow Society members. If anything, they are the most stalwart supporters of the Court. This in itself has eased the fears of the other Illuminati, but has made them wonder...
Though, the Shadow Bank only began to rise to Society status during the Industrial Revolution, it existed as a Throng since the early middle ages. The first holding of the Bank was the Knights Templar, stealing them from under the nose of the Pantheon. Under their influence, the Knights became very rich and powerful. Its even rumoured that the Knights found the Ark of the Covenant in Ethiopia, an artifact which the Shadow Bank is believed still to hold. Eventually, the Knights were destroyed, lost in a Hostile Takeover by the Pantheon. The fragments of the Templars not reeducated or killed by the Pantheon were saved by the Shadow Bank. They would later set the foundation for the sprawling Monetary Empire of modern day. Currently, they hold banks, stock markets, and fiscal agencies such as the IRS and Merril Lynch.
In recent years, it has been alluded to that the Shadow Bank and the Syndicate of the Technocracy may know of each other, perhaps even sharing relations and resources. Some have gone so far as saying that the Shadow Bank IS the Syndicate, and that the two are following some unfathomable plan at present. With the recent rumours of the Architects (see Architects of Reason, below), some believe that the Lucidites remained in control of the Syndicate and have used that dominance to reinitialize links to their old Society friends. While this is not been proved, it has given the other Illuminati a lot to think about.
Goal: The Golden Rule: He who has the gold, makes the
rules. Money does make the world go round, and its influence
extends even into the supernatural world. Once we master
currency, the world will soon bow before our might.
Basilica: Geneva, Switzerland
Suspected Holdings: Various banks, stock brokers, stock exchanges, and commodity exchanges.
Preferred Backgrounds and Skills: Finance and Resources are very important to both the Society and its followers. Its become a necessity (or at a very least a rite of passage) to get at least one dot in each. Knights who are part of the Shadow Bank have a mix of all Numina, but rely on their Financial Skills (all Shadow Bank Knights must have at least two dots in Finance) to fulfil their objectives.
Its not clear whether the Architects were a real Society, or a concoction of the Court to reinforce their dogma. Basilica documents due speak of another Society which existed before the Pax Concordat, but that society was never officially named. According to the official line, the Architects were a throng that wished to remove Supernatural influence once and for all. Thought to have begun in the late 12th century, it grew by recruiting members of the "mundane" Order of Hermes, especially those who were against the so-called Mythic age. However, instead of pawns, they were inducted as full members, filling the ranks of Knights, Pawns, and Rooks. It only took a few years, but the Architects power-base blossomed. They soon rose above the status of Throng, and caught the eye of most of the Great Illuminati.
Their own Conspiracy, based on reason over mysticism was beneficial to all the Societies in the World and greatly hampered the supernaturals. They rapidly rose in power, their influence growing until they were large enough that it was destined to join the ranks of the Greater Societies of the Illuminati. However, by the 15th Century, the Architects had all but disappeared. In its place, was the society of static mages known as the Technocracy.
The Court says that the Technocracy and the Architects are one and the same. The mages overcame the mundane Illuminati and took control of the Society, transforming it into the Technocracy. This party line has been used by the Court to strengthen their view that Supernaturals must always be dupes and pawns. To work with Supernaturals or allow them into the Pax Corcordat would be suicide.
While this is the official account of the fate of the Lucidites, there are other theories. Some say the Architects were not overthrown, but merely split up. The mages left to become the Technocracy, while the humans left for who-knows- where. Perhaps they were reabsorbed into the other Societies or formed their own. A radical theory states that the Enigmatic Stratagem are the remains of the Architects of Reason, still following their radical programs under a new guise.
Some have even gone so far as to say that the Architects of Reason are still controlling the Technocracy, but in the shadows. Often those who theorize this also believe that the Syndicate has joined/subverted/merged with the Shadow Bank. They also state evidence that the Architects (or whatever they were really called) were seeded by the Shadow Bank (as a Throng) while it controlled the Knights Templar.
Is any of this true? One could say many things about the Architects, but there is little proof to back up their claims. Perhaps the Architects don't exist, or maybe they were just the Shadow Bank in a different aspect. Unless they can find the Lucidite's elusive Basilica, then the truth may never be known [Author's Note: This has been left vague intentionally. Storytellers are chose the origins and fate of the Architects.]
Goal: They are believed to share the views of the
technocracy. By creating static reality, you hamper the
supernaturals ability to effect reality and humanity. It is much
easier to kill a scorpion that has lost its sting.
Basilica: Unknown. If it exists, it could be a treasure trove of information. It is believed to exist somewhere in Europe, presumably in some areas with a long history of technical/scientific achievement.
Suspected Holdings: ????????????
Preferred Backgrounds and Skills: They no longer exist (if they ever existed...). Their preferred abilities and advantages are lost in myth and fable. Technical skills were probably important.
Their views are a complete mystery...
The Throngs are small up-and-coming Societies which are have
not gained enough power to seek acceptance in the Court.
However, the Court and members of the Illuminati force these
smaller groups to abide by the Pax Concordat. Penalty for these
Throngs ignoring the Concord of Peace is hostile dissolution of
Some Throngs ally with those Societies which closest match its ideology, while others remain totally neutral. There are still others rumoured to fight against the unknown power of the Illuminati and risk total destruction at the Society's hands. In any case, there is much resentment in the ranks of the Throngs. Many believe that the Illuminati fear their power and use the Pax Concordat to prevent them from reaching full Society status. This is not entirely true, for the Societies fear that the ambition of the Throngs might cause them to breech the long- standing veil of secrecy. Still, when Society and Throng elements meet, there is plenty of tension but rarely any violence.
This is the opportunity for the Storyteller to customize his particular campaign by adding his own secret organizations into the World of Darkness. These Throngs can be existing WoD organizations or you may make up your own devilish creations. There is no limit to the number oforganizations available to you, only your imagination.
[Author's Note: There are plenty of Secret Societies in many RPG's that you could adapt/borrow/steal to use as Throngs. I especially suggest Nephilim for their secret societies and the Illuminati (GURPS, game, card game) from Steve Jackson Games]
Here are a few societies (one of many ideas and information donated by Anders Sandberg) to give you ideas:
Note: All equipment is not available to anyone but authorized Society personnel. Other characters will never get to buy these gadgets (and couldn't afford them if they could). The only exception is the Executioner, which could by custom made. However, the cost for the weapon, factoring in the costs of some of the more expensive and illegal components could be well over $20,000 (a conservative estimate).
|(Rifle)||Difficulty: 6||Damage: 7|
|Rate: 20||Clip: 20/30|
|Conceal: N||Range: 200|
|(40mm GL)||Difficulty: 6||Damage: Grenade|
|Rate: 1||Capacity: 1|
|Range: 400 yards||Weight (Rifle/GL): 12lb|
|(Rifle)||Difficulty: 6||Damage: nil (only from poisons/drugs)|
|Rate: 1||Capacity: 1|
|Conceal: P||Range: 5 ft max.|
This Equipment is available in the open market, though getting such equipment may require large sums of money, good contacts, and a very generous Storyteller... The costs listed are its whole sale price to authorized buyers.
The skill of metal manipulation and control, it is the
Societies most valuable skill. By using brainwashing
techniques, the user can mould his victim to a particular
Skill use: User rolls Manipulation + Brainwashing (TN 10) vs. a Victims roll of Willpower (TN 6). Brainwashing difficulty can be reduced by one for each different technique used by the brainwasher. These include sleep deprivation, malnutrition, repetition of phrases, drugs, psychology, mechanical tools(low frequency generator), and physical abuse (the latter is not that effective against subjects).
The roll is made every day. If the Brainwasher's success exceed the victim's willpower roll, the victim looses 1 willpower point (2 if the user of the skill exceeds the victim by 3 or more successes). If the user botches, the victim actually gains back a point of willpower (can't exceed his original maximum). If the victim botches, he gains a derangement and looses DOUBLE the number of willpower (up to 4 Willpower points!).
When the victim reaches 0 Willpower, the Brainwasher can then "mould" him/her at his whim. Their beliefs, religion, name, and background can all be altered, as well as their Nature and Demeanour. This is generally permeant, though intensive deprogramming (actually another minor type of Brainwashing) can bring them back. After brainwashing Willpower is regained at a rate one a week (up to his pre-brainwash maximum).
Restricted to Bishops, this skill is important for writing
and reading Illuminati texts. The written word of the Societies,
Fabula is an intricately designed language that has its origins
millennia ago. Its base tongue is ancient Sanskrit, encrypted
with a system that would make the CIA proud. The language, in
itself, is difficult to decipher, but the Societies have also had
the foresight of adding other features in their texts.
Each paragraph has hidden code words in the initial sentence or two. This tells the rightful reader of the text, whether its true, false, or texts that involve the "Great Secrets of the Illuminati". The false paragraphs are the most common and give misleading information about the Illuminati. The true paragraphs are wedged in between the pages of disinformation, often specifically written to appear false ("The illuminati are ranking system is based on chess? Yeah, right. It says here on the fifteen paragraph that the Illuminati are really the Tremere information network. Chess indeed!").
Finally, the "Great Secrets of the Illuminati" is an alarm system built into all the Societies texts. It reveals great sources of treasure and terrible magic and weapons of destruction. There all to be found in certain "highly secret locations" which the Text just happen to reveal. Exploiting the greed and lust for power that most people have, they lead enemy interlopers into dangerous traps ambushes. These serve to not only identify those who have stolen Society text, but to retrieve that text and eliminate the perpetrator.
Each Society has their own Fabula "dialect", though all stem from a common source (that of the original Fabula used by the ancient Blood Covenant society)
Specialization: Reading Texts, Writing Texts, Translating other Fabula dialects.
Like the skill Fabula, Lingua is the Knights way of encrypting their conversations. Simpler than Fabula, this spoken tongue is also based on ancient Sanskrit. The language tends to be encrypted as well, but most often simple codeword and innuendos conceal important information. This is a tongue of communication and orders, not generally used to give away dangerous secrets (though, in the past, it has been done so.). As with Fabula, each Society has their own dialect of Lingua. Specializations: Orders, Explanations, Warnings, Small-Talk, Deciphering "foreign" Lingua.
The knowledge a particular society, this skill should be
restricted to the those of Knight or higher status. You know the
origins, history, and goals of this Society, as well as some of
Specialization: Origins, History, Hierarchy, Goals
|*||You know for sure that they exist (Knights)|
|**||You have an idea about the Societies sphere of influence (Rooks only)|
|***||You know the Society Hierarchy (Bishops only)|
|****||Know the exact location of the Society's Basilica (Queen only)|
|*****||Their very secrets are yours (Kings only)|
Generally reserved for the most trusted of the Illuminati,
this is the knowledge that a person has of the Illuminati as a
whole. This includes their number, influence, and their
objectives. Generally, unless the Phantom Veneer has been
broken, no one outside the higher echelons of the Illuminati
should get this skill (Corvus Beltane, a Tremere, has Illuminati
Lore 2, and Society Lore 2 [Blood Covenant]. He _is an
Specialization: Societies, Influence, Objectives
|*||There are more than one Illuminati [Knights Only]|
|**||You have learned several of the Societies Names|
|***||The Societies and their general goals are known [Bishops Only]|
|****||You have a good grasp on the makeup of the entire Pax Concordat, including the Conspiracy.|
|*****||You Know as much as the Court [Queens/Kings only]|
The Societies must be very careful when dealing with the
World of Darkness. There are many forces which, due to their
fantastic powers, are more likely than mundanes to find out about
the Illuminati. Therefore, the Societies have developed several
techniques to safeguard their secrecy.
Note: Take these suggestions as a general guideposts. Use, modify, or ignore them at your leisure.
To first understand the Society influence structure, you
must understand the Web. The Society is like a spider, its
trail of money and influence like its web. The Societies go from
organization to organization, using influence and other means to
convert them into their holdings. Each holding is a spring-
board to acquire several other organizations. Those
organizations would each take control of a couple of holdings,
and so on. Covert and visible influence, compounded with false
trails, shell coporporations and ligitimate revenue make tracing
an Illuminati to its source a long, arduous process. That is, if
they even have the Contacts and Resources to undertake such
At the centre of the web is the prime holding of the Society, probably some multinational or other powerful organization. This organization has a few, easily-broken links connect itself to the Basilica. If, by some means, the Society is tracked to that organization, the Basilica breaks the links and that organization takes the blame. Like the spider, the Illuminati control the web, but are not part of it. Storytellers should pick a Prime Holding that has some prior history of criminal or espionage activity. It should be easier for players (and their characters to blame the organization than a hidden conspiracy.
For example: Say your studious players track the Keepers of Secrets to its Prime Holding. Have that holding be something like the CIA or NSA. Who wouldn't suspect the CIA of being behind the infiltration? Who would suspect a HUMAN conspiracy behind it? If anything, the players will be blame the Vampires or the Technocracy (excellent scapegoats). Of course, the Keepers are more than happy to leave evidence to prove the character's hypothesis...
To operate effectively, the Societies need to support their troops with money. Orders can be given easily, but cash often presents a problem. The major weakness of the Web is that it has the potential of leaving a paper trail right to the Society's Prime Holding. To fight this, the Conspiracies practise called "shuffling". That is, the use of small diverse holdings called Junctions to transfer the money between holdings. Junctions may cross the spheres of control that each other has set up. A Keeper of Secrets might use an insignificant Televangelist, something that you would think only the Pantheon would bother with, as a Junction. Since Junctions generally have no major influence in the world, they are not considered valuable property and are basically fair game. There may be as many as a half- dozen Junctions, or more between Holdings. As the money flows through the Junction it is lost in a maze of transactions which make a paper trail literally a nightmare to follow. Though wasteful money-wise (each Junction takes a small cut to keep going), but it further prevents the likely hood of curious individuals for following the trail of money right to its source.
Though this has come to mean any takeover of an organization, its original meaning was the appropriation of an unheld organization or one held by those not of the Illuminati (mainly the Supernaturals). Because the risks or discovery are greater than normal, all Acquisitions MUST by handled as a Challenge of Dominion (see below). Though Hostile Acquisitions (Takeovers) have been done, the Court rarely lets the perpetrators go unpunished.
The Challenge is the official name for the taking over of
another's Society's Holding. Unlike what it may infer, there is
no official declaration of the Society's intent. What it does
mean is that the Challenge is a test of the cunning and power
between the two Illuminati. However, there are some strict rules
of conduct in a standard Challenge. These are outlined in the
Pax Concordat section of Chapter Two: No Violence is allowed and
when one Society conclusively controls the decision making of the
Holding (say by controlling the majority of stocks or
brainwashing the President), then the Society takes control of
Non-Violent means that only persuasive methods may be used. The most common avenues is Brainwashing, Blackmail (a good short term measure), or subversion (say by taking over the Vice-President and then orchestrating his rise to the Presidency). After the Challenge has been one, the Rook assigned to that Holding then goes to work. He then brainwashes key personnel to make sure most of the leadership's support is also loyal to the society. These support people are often the first "casualties" of any takeover attempt (often literally if a Hostile Takeover is initiated).
Challenges of Dominions can be a great source of roleplaying potential for Illuminati Players. Knights and Pawns would have to actually think and role-play instead of shoot, maim and kill. A well-thought out plan of action, along with some quick-thinking (and blind luck) will be required to outsmart the enemy Clique.
When a Challenge of Dominion gets violent, then its called a Hostile Takeover. Gangland-style executions and daring raids that would make Sly Stalone proud are common elements in these takeover attempts. While this sort of acquisition may satisfy the "Brujah-style" players in your group, it is very unwise to allow this sort of action continue without consequences. Though one such action by a Clique/Cadre doesn't concern the Court, multiple instances will only tempt their wrath. Warnings are rare with the Court, and giving one to the players should be conveyed with as much venom and anger as possible. The next violation will surely get one of the player's killed...as an example. Don't be afraid to terminate a Knight or Pawn because of his actions. Your player's should actually _fear_ the Court, as much or more than a Vampire would fear a Prince or Justicar. The Court IS the Society's law. Not only will he enforce the boundaries of your campaign but when they _have_ to go against the Court, it will make the adventure all the more terrifying, exciting and satisfying ("We cheated the almighty Court! Yes!!!!!!").
As I have stressed throughout this supplement, secrecy is the only advantage the Illuminati have. All Supernaturals have some information on each other. The Vampires know about the Lupines, Mages, Wraiths, etc. However, no one knows about the Societies, at least nothing that counts has hard fact. Anxious Illuminati Players, with their zealous dreams of world domination are sometime prone to do open and spectacular things. Open warfare, assassinations, and heavy-handed tactics might well suit a Werewolf campaign, but are extremely dangerous in Illuminati: The Conspiracy. Yes, some groups due use Hostile Takeovers more than not (the Global Elite is notorious for this), even they pick and choose targets are pre-disposed to violence. For example: The city's largest elicit drug manufacture centre was wiped out by a Black Storm brigade. The police believe it was the work of a rival drug manufacturer, due to evidence "found" on the scene. Every Storyteller who runs an Illuminati campaign will one day have to repair the damage from the players. Here are a few suggestions:
Blame someone else; someone believable. In the mundane world, its best to blame those who are already suspected of meddling in society. The CIA, FBI, and NSA are perfect American examples of potential scapegoats (In Canada, CSIS has bungled so many covert operations, they'd be perfect targets). Amongst the Supernaturals, place the onus on natural enemies or those under suspicion. If the operation was against the Werewolves, blame Pentex, DNA, Vampires, or the Shadow Lords. When against the Vampires its best to leave evidence accusing the Lupines, the Sabbat, or the Tremere. The Technocracy-Tradition feud is perfect cover for Illuminati activities as well. Note that the arrogance of the Supernaturals toward the mundanes predisposes them to blame the nearest paranormal source for the trouble. Except for the Arcanum, most Supernaturals to not consider normal humans that great a threat.
So they're sure its some sort of secret society. Fine.
Give them a secret society, but make sure it has nothing to do
with the real Illuminati. The Enigmatic Stratagem have this down
to a science. Everyone is convinced that the American government
is in league with Aliens and that they are using alien
technology. With the Stratagem's strange equipment and the
presence of the "Greys" have done much to perpetuate this
falsehood (as has the activities of the Technocrats and certain
Umbral beings). While everyone is concerned with the "Alien
Conspiracy" no one suspects mundane humans plotting the overthrow
of mankind. Its also noteworthy that there so many sceptics
about Alien involvement, that most people are convinced there is
NO Conspiracy at all.
The main purpose of Disinformation is to mix as much falsehood in with the facts to lead any researchers on a wild goose chase. The more convinced they are in the fabrication, the more embarrassed they will be when they are proven wrong. This tends to lower the credibility of the researchers (very important if they eventually find out something about the True Illuminati).
Think about it. Just look at how Steve Jackson games are selling lots of things named Illuminati, and how the concept of Illuminati have spread far and wide thanks to R.A.Wilson... the real Illuminati are hard to find among the wannabees and enthusiasts.
A favourite of the all the Illuminati, the main goal of
Discouragement is to make the investigation more trouble than its
worth. Corporations who involve themselves in Illuminati affairs
see their stocks fluctuate wildly or become the objects of
government investigations. At first the "problems" are just bad
enough to serve as warnings. If things persists, however, they
can become crippling. While this method has the potential of
encouraging investigation, often the individual organization's
instinct for self-preservation will convince them otherwise.
Discouragement tactics range depending on the Society. Global Elite rely on "physical" means (beatings, bombings, and assassinations; often disguised as terrorist acts) or political pressure, Shadow Bank using monetary means, the Pantheon resorting to slander campaigns from the pulpit (Interesting Plot Hook: Exactly why is the Pantheon so anti-RPG? Maybe the Blood Covenant is behind TSR?), and the Blood Covenant involved in curses and other mystical incantations.
"The best way to avoid a conspiracy is to start it yourself". So the Illuminati creates groups apparently opposing them, to lure in anybody trying to find them or their holdings. The Enigmatic Stratagem probably manipulates the UFOlogists trying to make the government release secret documents, and the Blood Covenant runs debunkers and sceptic organizations which are used to strike at their competitors in the occult world. Additionally, the Global Elite probably controls anarchists. For every attack on a holding owned by their Society, there are a half dozen levied on Enemies (both in the mundane and Supernatural world).
So, you thought the Societies were a homogenous mix of
infiltrators, blackmailers, and spies? Wrong. The Conspiracy
and its three main tenants (Control the World, Fight the
Supernatural, Enlighten Humanity) have sparked much debate
amongst the higher echelon's of the Illuminati. What's the most
important tenant? What should the Societies main purpose be?
There are many who choose one of the three tenants as their
life's goal (their "Creed") while still others have developed
their own ideas about the Conspiracy and the direction the
Illuminati must follow.
Creeds go beyond Society limitations. In many ways, its the only thing the Illuminati have in common. Though Societies may fight their own petty battles, many times their Creeds still have relations (though strained they may be).
"Conspiracy for Conspiracy's sake".
These people have told so many lies, weaved so many intricate plots, that they have become mentally and emotionally dependant on the Conspiracy. The are deathly afraid that if the machinations ever ended, that their life would shallow and worthless. The Collusionists have no other goals but to keep the lie alive; to do nothing but forge endless (and often meaningless) plots and schemes. Followers of the status-quo, they actively fight any attempt by a Society or Creed to hinder or abet the Conspiracy (because it could eventually cause its end). They are a small faction, but present in all Societies, most notably the Global Elite (and some say the Enigmatic Stratagem).
"The Conspiracy is not to enslave, but inform".
This Creed seeks a return to the origins of the Illuminati, when the role of the Societies was to educate and assist humans throughout the world. Though they have no love for the Supernaturals, they see no reason to wipe them out. Likewise, world domination is a trivial and useless endeavour. Only by enlightening mankind to the possibilities the world has to offer, can freedom from all forms of oppression be guaranteed. Many of the Enlightened have adopted Ascension-like beliefs, making many wonder if those of this creed are not being influenced by Harmonist elements. They are very common in the Blood Covenant and are the most common Creed-members in the Keepers of Secrets. Also suspected of having members in the Enigmatic Stratagem, though they may have been distorted by the Aliens twisted philosophies (whatever they may be).
"The Conspiracy is for everyone, both mundane and supernatural".
A throw-back to the Architects of Reason, the Harmonists believe that the Supernaturals should not be enslaved, imprisoned, or destroyed. Instead, they should be part of the Illuminati; using their powers to the benefit of humanity rather then its exploitation. A very small and silent Creed, the Illuminati regard Harmonists with the same hatred and fear that the Sabbat have for the Path of Evil Revelations. Harmonists must remain secretive, lest they be hunted down and eradicated. Nonetheless, there is believed to be quite a few Harmonists in the Enigmatic Stratagem and the Shadow Bank.
"Only our Conspiracy is the true Conspiracy"
Loyalty to one's Society is the most important to members of this Creed. Only the Society has the correct path to victory of the supernatural. Only they are worthy of becoming Illuminati. The other Societies are only pretenders to their throne, anti- popes to their divine right of leadership. In short, all other Illuminati are inferior and should bow their will. These groups clash on a regular basis with the Court, and despise their rule. They appear in sizable numbers in most of the Conspiracies.
"The Battle is lost. Humanity is doomed"
Gloomy, depressed, and perhaps unbalanced, these society members are convinced that the war with the supernatural has been lost before it started. The only recourse is to go out with a bang, taking as many as the abominations with them as they can. There are stories of Nihilists going into Vampire clubs with a backpack full of thermite or napalm, destroying dozens of vampires in the process. Most of these have been dismissed by Vampires as suicidal Hunters, but the Illuminati is deathly afraid of the publicity these actions cause. Because of this, this society has been officially banned by the Court. In many ways, the hatred of the Nihilists equal the Camarilla's hatred for the Sabbat, or the Sabbat's hatred of the Path of Evil Revelations. However, these believers still exist in small numbers; more rise up everyday, despite the many who die.
"There is only one path for Humanity. The path that we, the Illuminati, forge".
These are by far the largest Creed, not only in power but in influence. The Kings have actively supported the Overseers in their Societies, for it has given them an excuse to grab power wherever they find it. The main goal of the creed is simply the complete domination of mankind. Once they have the mundanes in check, they can use its great resources to curb the Supernaturals. Many within the Creed believe that what they are doing is for the benefit of mankind, but there are just as many greedy cutthroats who do it for the personal influence it gives. The Court has long tried to inhibit the Overseers, but it hasn't the will (or the power) to ban such a large group of individuals (especially since some Queens have fallen under their control). As stated above, the Creed exists in all Societies; the Global elite is securely under their control.
"There is only one way... inwards"
This creed (which is related to the Collusionists) is unofficial but quite prevalent in many societies. The paranoids have seen too many friends turn out to be traitors, heard too many awful secrets and know far too much. They cannot leave, they cannot relax and the only way to survive is to fit in while trying to understand what is really going on. They hide their fears under a veneer of loyalty, and often do their outmost to serve the Conspiracy while constantly watching for trouble. Most of them simply try to avoid it, always keeping to the safe side or hiding behind the party-line.
"What you call genocide, I call a day's work".
While other Creeds only condone the hinderance of the supernatural, the Purifiers believe in their total destruction. The exact reasons for their hatred is varied; xenophobia, a religious hatred of "evil", human supremacy and purity of the race (of any race or gender). Supernaturals are seen as unnatural and polluted strains of humanity; many feel they its their duty of eliminate aberrations for the good of Homo Sapiens everywhere. The Purifiers dream is to set up Auschwitz-style extermination camps where Vampires, Werewolves, Mages, etc. would be exterminated. While no one will admit to being a Purifier (most masquerade as other Creeds), their presence is felt throughout the Illuminati.
"Knowledge is Power."
This creed is common among some Bishops, who have spent all their time studying in the libraries of their basilicas. They no longer care for the eventual defeat of the supernatural or the eventual fate of humanity. Instead they have become obsessed with the wast amounts of knowledge their society has gathered, and want to get more, to use the Conspiracy to learn all secrets (this creed is quite common among the Keepers of Secrets). They do their best to gather as much information as possible about the supernatural, their enemies or the world in general. They are not very powerful, but very tenacious when they want to learn something.
"To control the beast, you must remove its claws, pull its teeth, pluck out its eyes, and cut out its ears. After that its rather harmless".
The Supplanters are the second-largest Creed, just behind the Overseers in overall support. They have the direct backing of the Court (who seek to control the Overseers and Purifiers advocacy and growth). The Supplanters see only the curbing of influence the Supernaturals as a worthwhile goal. Those such as Vampires require pawns to safeguard their existence and control mankind. By removing those pawns, ideally without them knowing, the Illuminati take control of what the supernatural sees and hears. As the Supernaturals have become dependant on their holdings and mortal pawns, so they have given the Illuminati a potent tool in which to misdirect or even destroy them. Ironically, if knowledge of the Illuminati were to become widespread, their dependence on holdings would be their demise. Though they haven't dominance in any society, their presence has at least restrain the influence of the Overseers in most of the societies (excluding the Global Elite, which is firmly under Overseer control).
"There are no Societies. There is only the Conspiracy".
Seeing themselves as visionaries, the Unionists yearn for a day when the Societies can put aside their differences and join as a single unit. Only then, they reason, can the Conspiracy be brought to fruition. They have sought to build relations between friendly Illuminati (such as the Global Elite and the Pantheon), as well as bring peace to feuding Societies (Pantheon and the Blood Covenant). Receiving nominal support from the Court, the Unionists have managed to be a thorn in the side of the other Creeds. They are powerful enough to resist absorbtion from the other creeds, not threatening enough to risk a ban, and have enough support to cause many to wonder whether separate societies are a good idea. They exist in all Societies (save, perhaps, the Enigmatic Stratagem; the seem to want to keep as far away from the other Illuminati as possible).
**********SPOILER WARNING: PLAYERS OR GAMEMASTERS WHO************ *********HAVEN'T READ "DIRTY SECRETS OF THE BLACK HAND"********** *****************MAY WISH NOT TO READ THIS CHAPTER***************
The following is a brief guide on the relationship between the Illuminati and the other denizens of the World of Darkness. Note that these relationships are based my personal concept of the Illuminati and WoD in general. You should feel free to alter or scrap any or all of this information if it doesn't fit with your campaign.
"The Illuminati and the Tremere are one and the same.
It is an obvious ploy to divert the blame incurred by their
scheming actions. This mythical group does not exist. "
-Victor, Ventrue ex-prince of Peterborough, Ontario.
The Vampires suffer from the elitist philosophy which
tends to relegate mortals to the roles of food and petty
annoyances. Except for the Arcanum and some Hunters, the
Camarailla doesn't see humans as a serious threat.
Of all the Kindred, the Tremere have been the most victimized by the Societies. Whether by design or just chance, the Tremere have named their information network "The Illuminati" (See the Vampire Players Guide). This offered the True Illuminati an opportunity to pass of some of the blame to the Tremere. While the Tremere are not innocent by any means, they've been blamed for many conspiracies that they have had no part in.
The Elder Vampire of the Camarilla are most likely to have any idea about the Illuminati. The Societies have laboured hard to taint any truths they may hold with fraudulent information. Still, its more than likely that there are some Elder Vampires (Especially Methululahs and those of low Generation) would know something about the Illuminati.
"While I have never heard of them, I have noticed strange
things in the city. This requires more investigation"
-Piper, Nosferatu Bishop of Peterborough, Ontario
Sabbat cities offer the opportunity for the Illuminati to
take control of mundane institutions. Because the Sabbat sever
all ties to the mortals, there is often a control vacuum in the
city. While the Lupines, Mages, and Technocracy have tried to
fill this void; the Illuminati usually find the most success
(generally due to its ability to "blend" in with the rest of
humanity). The Sabbat generally don't have the contacts with the
mundanes to have any chance of discovering the presence of the
Illuminati (and the Illuminati generally doesn't tackle with them
directly, preferring to use some militant holdings to deal with
them). The Societies feel that the Sabbat are the worst threat
the Vampires pose to Humanity and that they should be eliminated
at all costs. Even the normally passive Harmonist Creed have no
love for the Sabbat.
Note that since both the Sabbat and the Illuminati use the term "Bishop" as status rank, the Societies members can be confused with the Sabbat in case of a breech. This of course, only benefits the Illuminati.
"Illuminati? No Comment."
-<Deleted>, Member of the True Hand
The relationship between the True Hand and the Illuminati
is a reverse to the normal link between the Societies and the
Supernatural. Of the True Hand, the Illuminati know almost
nothing. They know they exist, but know little more than they
are the "Secret Masters" of Ventrue fame. However, its very
likely that the True Hand knows much about the Illuminati and its
purposes. While both the Hand and the Illuminati both are
protecting mankind, the Societies do so at the expense of the
Supernaturals. The Pacifier Creed has the Hand especially
nervous, for they advocate the genocide of those of Supernatural
origin. But to actually crush the Illuminati would by very hard
and damaging to the Hand. For one thing, the Illuminati (in one
form or another) vastly predates the True Hand. As such, they
have a lot more experience in fighting phantom wars. To actually
crush the Societies, while possible, would greatly tax the Hand's
resources and undoubtedly reveal their existence for all the
world to see. So, the True Hand wait in secret, erecting
invisible walls to hem in the growth of the Illuminati. They
hope these barriers will be enough, for they dread the day the
will have to deal the Societies of the Pax Concordat.
[Author Note: Depending on your own campaign, the True Hand could be a complete mystery to the Societies, or both will have complete knowledge of each other (and fight an invisible cold war). You may also have the True Hand influence or even control the Illuminati, but I personally discourage that (especially the control part). That would make the Illuminati redundant; we already have enough supernatural conspiracies.]
"Fantasy is the truth no one wants to hear."
-Corvus Beltane, 8th Generation Tremere.
Jacques DeCarnac is believed to be the only Bishop to have
successfully rebelled from the Illuminati. A member of the Blood
Covenant, he managed to smuggle one of the Basilica's texts to a
certain Tremere called Corvus Beltane (obviously a pseudonym;
real name unknown). Corvus, a former Verbena embraced by a
jealous Tremere, had promised Carnac the very secrets of Vampire
Thaumaturgy. However, the traitor was killed by the Court's
Cadre before he could collect. From that day in 1634, Corvus
spent his waking hours in hiding, attempting to crack Fabula's
multi-level encryption sequences. When Corvus cracked the codes,
he thought he had discovered the source of much of the Tremere's
bad image; a human organization that has pull the strings of many
occult organizations. However, the false paragraphs in the book
led him to many erroneous conclusions. For instance, he believes
the Blood Covenant to be much more powerful than it really is,
controlling the other thirty Societies with an iron fist. He
also falsely affirms that the Blood Covenant is behind the Path
of Evil Revelations and the Sabbat. Beltane was quick to tell
the others in the Camarilla about his findings but mistrust for
the Tremere (and a healthy dose of Illuminati Disinformation and
Scapegoating) convinced all concerned it was nothing but an
ill-conceived scheme to redeem his clan. Especially since no one
but Beltane could understand the book's contents.
Beltane would later loose his evidence while using the book to find "the Mystical secrets of the Blood Covenant". A Clique, hiding in wait at this chosen site, attacked the Warlock and forced him to flee in panic. Unfortunately, he dropped the book in the early moments of the attack and lost his only evidence of the Illuminati. Beltane has since gone underground with his information, along with a few Tremere and Ventrue. Corvus has now devoted his unlife to routing out the Illuminati and destroying it. Calling themselves the "Shamans of Beltane" they spent some time in Peterborough, Ontario; once the last bastion of Camarilla rule in Central Ontario. Staying there until the Sabbat takeover, the group went on to Ottawa and then moved into an undisclosed location in the states. The current whereabouts of the Shamans of Beltane are unknown, but the Illuminati are dying to have a talk with them...
[Author: Peterborough is near my home-town of Havelock and the location of our Vampire LARP. I actually played Corvus, who was an 8th Generation Tremere. Also played Piper, the 9th Gen. Nosferatu who would eventually cause the city's fall to the Sabbat...hehehe]
"Mortals are slaves to superior powers, whether it be us
or the Vampire pawns of the Wyrm. To suggest they are
capable of this level of manipulation is laughable."
-Krieg Iron-Hand, Shadow Lord
The Werewolves and other Were-creatures are the hated enemy of the Illuminati. It was the Garou Impergium which sparked the Growth of the Blood Covenant and indirectly the other Societies. However, while their hate of the Garou is strong, the Illuminati has done very little harm them. That occurs because the agents of the Wrym have done such a good job of depleting the Werewolves numbers that they haven't nearly been the threat to humanity they once were. Still, those Garou like the Glass Walkers and the Shadow Lords have made forays into the cities to make pawns of mankind. It is then when the Illuminati have cracked down upon them. The Garou rarely have the resources in the human world to even hint at the presence of the Illuminati. The Glass Walkers may have their suspicions, but generally the Garou are the least informed about the Illuminati. Not due to any deficiency in skill or power; more likely due to their single-minded battle against the Wyrm and its servants.
"Yes, we have had contact with a few of them, more of which
I will not say. Draw your own conclusions if you wish.
You know the way out."
-Unnamed Pentex Board Member.
Wyrm minions and those of the great multinational
corporation Pentex have had clashed with the Illuminati on
occasion. However, due to the great power the Wyrm has on the
planet, the Societies have had only partial success in stemming
their domination of humanity. With the legions of Fomori and
other creatures at Pentex's disposal, any Acquisition generally
leads into a hostile takeover (something the Courts want to use
sparingly). As such, the Illuminati pick and choose their
targets carefully, making sure they have some scapegoats that
their enemy will actually believe in (generally the Garou).
Pentex and the Wrym-agents do know of the Illuminati's existence and may (depending on your campaign) have subverted the Blood Covenant. Otherwise, they don't see the Societies of much of a threat. This is not a foolish attitude because its quite possible that Pentex could easily overcome any Societies attempt at subversion and control. Whether they could match the Illuminati in a head-on battle is unknown, but it is a possibility.
"Oh yes, I've heard all sorts of stories about conspiracies,
alien viruses from deep space, honest politicians. Won't
believe it, though, 'till I see it."
-Platon, Virtual Adept.
As stated in the introduction, the Illuminati have very
little hatred for the Mages of the world. They fear the Mages
for their ability to warp reality and for the strange insanity
and occurrences (Quiet and Paradox Flaws) which happen around
them. This, along with the practise of recruiting Acolytes had
convinced the Illuminati that its in humanity's best interest to
subvert the Mages as well. Ascension, in all its forms, is an
alien concept to most members of the Pax Concordat. Most believe
if anyone has the right to enlighten mankind, its going to be the
Illuminati and other mundanes.
As with the Werewolves, the Societies will not bother with Mages unless the involve themselves in activities that will control or harm mundanes.
"The whole concept is fascinating but pointless.
If sleepers were capable of such things, the Technocracy
would never have been needed. As you see, we are still
here. We are still needed."
-Dr. Francis Cavalier, Iteration X
Years ago, the Illuminati voted to allow the Technocracy
freedom to create the Age of Reason. It is generally believed
that this was done to further subvert the Supernaturals
(specifically Mages and other Umbral beings) as well as provide
more weapons to use against their enemies. However, now its
generally seen as a catastrophic mistake. The Technocracy now
rivals the Illuminati is total size and has a stranglehold on the
minds of the entire world. If the Illuminati could unite, they
may be able to wipe them out. However, with all the infighting
(and the questionable loyalties of the Shadow Bank and the
Enigmatic Stratagem), its unlikely they would have the strength
to accomplish this goal.
The New World Order has long suspected a shadow government paralleling their's. The Enigmatic Stratagem (along with the Cadres of the Court) have been very efficient in hiding their existence, but the NWO probing continues. However, the NWO has no idea that the Illuminati exist (at least not that they are not Supernatural-controlled) and can be easily convinced that the Vampires, and especially the Traditions (like the Virtual Adepts) are involved. While its only a matter of time until the Technos find out about the Societies, there have been rumours that someone is preventing the NWO from discovering the Illuminati. This supposition has been forwarded by the same people that believe the Shadow Bank and Syndicate are one in the same. However, it IS possible that some remnant of the Architects of Reason could be subtly manipulating the NWO (as well as the rest of the Technocracy) away from the Illuminati. This makes many wonder how true these rumours really are.
"So, you want to know about the Illuminati...
Are you willing to pay...the price?"
-Redden Malthus, Nephandi
These fugitives from beyond the Gauntlet may or may not know
about the Illuminati. Even if these two powers learned of its
existence, it will not easily share this information. Not many
people believe the ranting of the Marauders and the Nephandi
would tend to exact a...heavy price for such information.
As for the Illuminati, they consider both these Mages more threatening to the welfare of humanity than the Technocracy. It partially vindicates their decision to let the Technocracy set up the Age of Reason (though still considered a grave mistake on many more grounds). The Illuminati will terminate any Marauder on sight and will conceder the same fate for any Nephandi.
"I care not for the Quick. We are the dead and we
have a more important problems that require our attention."
-Elias, Hierarchy Centurion
Since Wraiths generally do not involve themselves in the
lands of the Quick (except to protect their fetters and nurture
their Passions), they are not a threat to the Illuminati. In
fact, some within the Blood Covenant have good relationships with
these denizens of the Shadowlands. Obviously, unless the Wraith
has spend much time in the real world, they are not going to know
about the Illuminati. So generally both sides leave each other
Of course, its been said that there are a lot of former Society members in the Shadowlands as Wraiths. Some say these Wraiths even formed their own Society called "The Silhouette". Again, wether The Silhouette exists and its relationship with the other Illuminati is up to the Storyteller.
"Don't take the Illuminati so lightly. Mortals are capable
of much more than we could ever dream of; I know for a fact
that all those who call themselves Illuminati are not all
Mummies, the undying remnants of the Egyptian way of life,
know well the existence of the Illuminati. They may have well
been part of the early Blood Covenant before the battle between
Set and Osiris forced them to be part of the Spell of Life. For
the most part, Mummies are more concerned with the eternal cycle
of their lives and joining Horus' battle with the Followers of
Set, to be worried about the Illuminati and humans in general.
There is one mummy who has been "inducted" into the Illuminati
(The Blood Covenant, of course), but its un known whether he did
so of free will and whether they Society can control him
throughout his many lifetimes. It is clear that though they may
have been part of the Societies at one time, Mummies are now
considered no better than the rest of the Supernaturals: Pawns
and potential enemies.
The Illuminati cares very little about the Mummies. They have done very little harm to humanity and have not sought to dominate them. Even if they did impose their will on a number of humans, it is impossible to kill a Mummy permanently. So the Societies tend only to control/subvert these types of Mummies while they're in the land of the living. This includes the evil Bane Mummies of the Vampire Set.
"There can be only one? I wonder what will happen when the
last Immortal gets The Prize and finds out what's REALLY
going on in the world. The suspense is killing me!"
-Nicholas "The Razor" Caliburn, Immortal
Immortals, like Mummies, may know about the Illuminati. It
depends on how old the Immortal is and where they lived.
Luckily, the Immortals are often more concerned with "The Game"
and winning "The Prize" to be worried about mortal secret
societies. However, there are those Immortals who have carved
their own Empires on the backs of mundanes and have sought out
groups like the Societies. Its these Immortals that mostly
concern the Illuminati.
The Illuminati have take great pains to make sure that the Immortals do not discover their existence. The Watchers, the organization that conducts surveillance on Immortals, could be such a defense measure the Societies (most likely the Keepers of Secrets) have erected. The Hunters would be a suitable assassination tool for those Immortals who did get too close. Again, this is up to Storyteller approval (but it explains a great many things).
"This game is not real...you are"
-introduction from Nephilim: RPG
Since you are reading this (and assuming you're not one of
those people who reads the last page of Mystery novels) I guess
you've at least skimmed through my work. For this I'm very
grateful. Its been a few months since I started this supplement
and I'm more than happy with the result. Its not the typical
Secret Society dissertation I had originally had planned, but I
feel that it has blossomed into something more original. I hope
you like what you've read, or at least have something that you
Again, I'd like the thank Anders Sandberg for all his ideas and information, Carl Gutbrod for his support, and all the members of wod-l for their suggestions and ideas that have floated about since its inception.
The following are excellent sources of Illuminati and Secret Society information in general.
This work probably has infringed on many registered trademarks and copyrights. I am neither making money of this supplement, nor am I challenging any of the copyrights/trademarks involved. This supplement may be reproduced freely as long as no profit is made of this supplement and my name is listed as its author.
THE LAST NOTE (HONEST): If enough people like this work, I will support it with posts over the next month. Ideas floating around in my head are stats for Corvus Beltaine (and more info on the Shamans of Beltane), the Grey "Aliens" (and an expanded psychic generation system and power selection), an expanded version of Hunters Hunted (with more Merits/Flaws and Backgrounds unique to mankind), and more information on the Secret Society of the Wraiths: The Sihouette.
That's it. Read and give me feedback, flames, suggestions, problems and questions. Don't let my initial oversensitivity deter you, I want feedback (but I want you to read it first before complaints). An as far as my unwillingness to change, I will only not change the clan system and the politics. Why? I'm confortable with the Clans structure and have no ideas on how to remove that (and frankly I like having different secret socieities battle it out). As for politics, its not just the Vampires domain. Anyway if there are no politics in Illuminati, what's the point of having it? As far as cadres, courts, and other "vampire-esque" trappings, tell me what you like and don't like. An remember, scrap what you want! I won't be offended (honest).
------------------------------------------------------------------ Stephen Esdale (firstname.lastname@example.org) | -Last Roadblock on the road to enlightenment | | "Understanding is a Three edged Sword" | -Kosh, Babylon 5 | -------------------------------------------------------------------