Guardians of the Veil
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|Guardians of the Veil|
Law of the Mask|
Guardians of the Veil
Save for the Seers of the Throne and the Banishers, no order is as hated as the Guardians of the Veil. Mages see them as a necesssary evil - valued, but distasteful allies. Even the Free Council is more respected, because its own chaotic ethos still empahsizes discovery instead of repression. Awakened wills are trained to shatter barriers and seek freedom, so most mages have an inherent distrust of anyone who would shackle human desire.
The Guardians of the Veil choose their members carefully, through a process of slow indoctrination that begins as soon as the order senses a combination of Awakened potential and the necessary mindset. At first, they lure novices into a conspiracy filled with other Guardians and Sleepers. Senior members test a novice's ability to keep secrets from the unenlightened, and to commit questionable acts for a greater cause. This stage is called the Gray Veil, the least important curtain over a web of plots that test a mage's dedication and condition her ethics to accept the order's methods. The second stage is the Crimson Veil. Here, a mage must be willing to kill for the conspiracy. Sometimes a sorcerer actually murders someone whom the order has already marked for death, but any demonstration of sincere intent does.
Yet the Guardians don't want mindless servants. They want mages to believe in an ideal so strongly that they will kill, lie and die for it, but they don't want them to totally abandon individual moral judgment. The final Black Veil therefore presents a quandary to the initiate, asking her to perform an act that is immoral by the order's own standards. If the mage obeys, she can never join the order. The secret society she once knew vanishes. She is not killed, but the Guardians watch her for life. If she refuses to obey, the order lifts the final deception and she becomes a true member.
Many people believe that the order prefers initiates who used to be spies, killers or conspirators in the Sleeping world, but this is based on a misunderstanding. The Guardians of the Veil use mundane intelligence agencies and secret brotherhoods as proving grounds, but most prospects are lured to join the order. Consequently, Guardians often come from innocuous backgrounds before the order takes them. The society would rather mold a moral, pragmatic factory worker into an accomplished spy than hire a government-trained psychopath.
Philosophy: Necessary Secrets and sins
The Guardians of the Veil have few ancient writings, because writing is a secret shared with anyone who reads. They keep an oral tradition instead. This Law of the Mask is introduced among the earliest Veils, but is only taught completely to a mage who graduates to full knowledge of the order.
Tales from the Law of the Mask urge the order to expound on the so-called Exoteric Tenets: philosophies that the order wishes to publicly identify itself with and promote among other mages. The Exoteric Tenets are first learned by initiates who pass the final Veil. These mages soon hear rumors of more guarded beliefs and gradually immerse themselves in the deep philosophy of the order. All the same, the Exoteric Tenets are not lies, and are the heart of the Guardians’ belief system. Loyal members of the order never reject them, but might eventually learn to approach them from a new point of view.
- Paradoxes strengthen the Abyss as punishment answers pride
- A Paradox is more than a discontinuity in reality. It is a flaw that opens the Fallen World to the poison of the Abyss. Guardians point to anomalies and manifestations as proof of this, as well as traditions that seem to show that astral journeys were once far less arduous. The order discourages vulgar magic; Guardians who casually fling reality-defying spells about risk censure or worse. Symbolically, the Supernal World itself is too pure to tolerate vain blandishments. Even as hidden masters, mages have a place in the cosmic order. If they cannot use subtle talents to subdue the Fallen World, their souls might let the darkness in.
- Sins for a just end grant wisdom to the Awakened
- Wisdom is a real force, not a subjective concept. The Guardians of the Veil hold that enlightenment is an impersonal entity that can be generated and transferred among Awakened seekers. Most mages hone their Wisdom by using magic carefully and clinging to compassion, because magic is the art of perfecting humanity - not abandoning it. Guardians take another path. Lies and killing are sins, but if they are offered up as sacrifices for the good of the Awakened, they create wisdom - for other mages. The order recognizes that their ways erode the integrity of their own souls, but they also provide safety and justice for the enlightened. Though the classical doctrine claims that there is an actual metaphysical transfer of merit, most Guardians are satisfied with knowing that their sacrifice helps mages.
- Merit must guide the Fallen World
- Rule falls to individual merit. The Awakened are wiser than Sleepers, and masters are wiser than apprentices. Mages should always foster greater wisdom among their charges, but never to the extend that they might overstep their bounds and endanger other quests for enlightenment. Arcane secrets and obscure symbolism must weed out seekres who aren't ready for the higher facets of mystic lore. Sleepers should not truck with the secrets of Atlantis or endanger mages. Mages should be sparing and even mysterious with their wisdom, and give humble but firm guidance to the less accomplished. This meritocracy has no room for chauvinism; sex, sexuality, ethnicicity and the like are almost never used to determine worth. Petty bigotry is beneath the Awakened perspective.
The Esoteric Tenets are beliefs that the order does not share with outsiders. Rumors trickle forth about the hidden doctrines, and evidence points to a cohesive, secret agenda that Guardians serve without the approval of Consilii.
The Esoteric Tenets are secrets for two reasons. First of all, practicing these Tenets openly risks the wrath of the other orders. The Guardians of the Veil are clever mages who can survive much hardship, but they know that they would never survive against the combined might of the other orders. Even if the Esoteric Tenets did not draw such unmitigated hatred, they would damage the already fragile trust of the other orders.
Secondly, the Esoteric Tenets are more sacred than their public counterparts. Guardians of the Veil revere the Esoteric Tenets. Unworthy mages would profane them just as they profane magic itself. A fool spouting a wise doctrine is little different from a fool tempting the Abyss with wild magic.
- All thrones are false; all souls are flawed.
- The order believes that mages are inherently unworthy to rebuild Atlantis. Paradoxes are a form of moral castigation. As all contemporary mages risk Paradoxes, no modern mages can be fi t to rule. Guardians do not need to recognize the historical legitimacy of any order’s claim to the Atlantean ways. Even the Silver Ladder is fundamentally impure. All orders are, except for Guardians of the Veil.
- There is a secret hierarchy of souls.
- Nevertheless, the truth (as the order sees it) is that some souls have more potential than others. The order’s duty is to test those souls and press them to do great deeds. A related doctrine is that souls are interrelated. Like families, some souls are destined to influence each other as they pass through the tests of life.
- The Hieromagus will fulfill the Diamond Wheel.
- Virtuous and mighty mages still suffer from essential failings, and their great works cannot last. Atlantis can only be restored by a perfect mage. The order sows and reaps the destinies of mages to bring a more worthy generation into existence, but ultimately, only one mage will achieve a perfect Awakening.
Rituals and Observances
The Veils have already been described. The Guardians of the Veil have many other rites. Two of the most common are:
- The Masque The Masque is more than a new identity; it is a layer of false being that a Guardian uses to perform a particular task. There are said to be 49 archetypal identities, ranging from the Skull Priest who makes killing holy to the Scepter, who assumes command. History and culture provide numerous variations, including the Black Suit, Wise Merchant and Wounded Soldier. These roles are sometimes assisted with actual enchanted masks, and some of the order's positions traditionally require mages to don them. In an abstract sense, the Masque is a series of spells that conceal a mage's identity in such a way that she may easily assume a particular role. Guardians don the Black Suit to appear to be government agents who suppress evidence of the supernatural, or take up the Scepter to assume command of a corporate or government office. Symbolically, the Masque teaches a mage humility, because he must suppress his own egotism to fit the part.
- The Labyrinth The Labyrinth is one name for the web of secret societies, fifth columns and spurious cults that the Guardians of the Veil create to conceal magic from the unworthy and exert influence over Sleepers. A novice is initiated through the Labyrinth, penetrating the Veils of deception until he finds the true order. Such organizations rarely assert direct command over Sleepers. Instead, government money pours into black budgets, businesses can't succeed without the support of a certain private club, and Sleeper investigators are diverted to cults willing to ply them with voluminous, useless information. On the occult front, the order showers disinformation upon would-be sorcerers and invents prophecies that Guardians will later fulfill. It is all too easy for Guardians to lord it over their dupes. More than one mage has become obsessed with garnering temporal power through the Labyrinth.
Ranks and Titles
- Neophyte :
- Famulus (●●, 1st-degree Adept or 2nd-degree disciple)
- Magister (●●●●●, 1st-degree master)
The Guardians of the Veil create many titles. Some are false elements of the Labyrinth and others exist only to deal with mages of other orders. In addition, the order may have secret ranks that are known only to its masters, who do not profane them by revealing them to the majority.
- Cultor : Cultors are the ones who weave the lies that turn into secret societies and religions.
- Emissary : The Emissary has a deceptively simple job description: relay communication and correspondence between Guardians of the Veil and other Orders.
- Epopt : Epopts ("beholders") perform two functions. They manage the Labyrinth, upholding the order's network of influence and misdirection, and they recruit new members, sending them through the Veils.
- Susceptor : Susceptors are the order’s elite spies.
- All: Ascended Adept, Austere, Bearers of the Eternal Voice, Bokor, Celestial Masters, Cult of the Doomsday Clock, Daoine, Echo Walkers, Eleventh Question, Fallen Pillar, Fangs of Mara, Forge Masters, House of Ariadne, Illumined Path, Liberatores, Mimirs Voice, Neocologists, Orphans of Proteus, Path of the Book, Pygmalian Society, Skald, Sodality of the Tor, Storm Keeper, Subtle Ones, Tamers of Fire, Tamers of Rivers, Tamers of Stone, Tamers of Winds, Tamers of the Cave, Thread Cutters, Transhuman Engineers, True Soul, Unforgotten Scions, Votaries of the Ordained, Whipping Boys
- Banned: Austere, Bokor, Celestial Masters, Cult of the Doomsday Clock, Echo Walkers, True Soul, Unforgotten Scions