Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Akashic Order as Organization

The nature of the Akashic Mysteries and their Shadow Council makes it a highly centralized organization. While ancillary organizations, like the Akashic Knights, certainly exist, and factions within the Akashic Order exist, everything ultimately orbits around the unique power and insights of the Shadow Council.

With the death of the last Alexian Empire and the seeming extinction of the Alexian line, the rest of the Galaxy and many in the Akashic Order itself lost faith in the Akashic Mysteries. They felt the fight lost, the coming storm inevitable, and the promises of the Order broken. For these former believers, the Akashic Order matters not as a way to save the galaxy from the Coming Storm, but as a cultural rallying point. For them, what matters is how the Akashic Mysteries bring everyone together. They see it as a counter point to the cold rationalism of the Empire, and a way to remind the Galaxy of the good old days. These believers attend the mysteries to meet old friends; they still approach the oracles as much for the pomp as for the advice. They seek to make the mysteries more overt, but no longer cling to the harsh strictures of the olden days.

Some, however, still feel that the Coming Storm can be defeated; this will take ingenuity and a new approach, certainly, but it can still be done! This more dedicated faction quietly dispatches its Oracles and Akashic Knights on secretive missions to shift the current timeline on a way that might, possibly, navigate the galaxy through the coming storm. It also seeks to do something that previous generations never tried: to understand the Coming Storm, and to find new allies in the fight. This group seeks to pin down exactly what will destroy humanity in the Galaxy, and seeks to contact other philosophies, like True Communion, that might aid them in the fight.




The Shadow Council

At the heart of the great Akashic Temple complex on Perspephone, deep below the surface, where all the tunnels ultimately meet, yawns a great and ominous chamber. Something terrible or weird once occurred in this chamber and twisted is psionic energy. Various strands of time tangle here, making prophesy easier, and temporal shadows haunt it. But the temporal shadows here belong here. They are the members of the Shadow Council.

The Shadow Council consists of all Shadow-Initiated Oracles who have ever come to this room, and projected themselves across time, and all who ever would. They meet to discuss the events of their time, the coming storm, and what they must do in their time to ensure that the Shadow Councilors of the future come to be, and that they can defeat the coming storm. They appear together, the living prophetess as a physical person, but the rest as shadowy figures, those from the future the most distorted, shifting and uncertain, and those from the past ghostly and wane, the echoes of a prophetess of the past.

Shadow Councilors do not all agree with one another, but they rarely move against one another, as past or present, each Shadow-initiated oracle has the power to move through time and manipulate events in some way. Thus, each Shadow Councilor is equal to all others, with a few caveats. A living Shadow Councilor, the present Prophetess, is the most powerful and most important, as she can most easily interact with the living world, but this does not make her the leader of the Council. Indeed, she must often act at on the behest of the Council, carrying out their edicts in the present world. The farther one is in the past, the more they must submit to the rulings of the Council, because the more their actions act as foundations for the rest of what must come. Those in the future have the most tenuous positions, as the acts of those in the past might cancel out their existence, but they have the greatest insights into how the others must act, as they can look into their own records and history and uncover what the Akashic Order in their past did.

(It should be noted that from the perspective of each Shadow Councilor, they are all living prophetesses, as each Shadow Councilor, in their own time, is alive. The notion of the living prophetess as “the most important” is a conceit for the Order, rather than the Shadow Council. That is, the Akashic Order gets its orders, in the present, from the living prophetess, not from the shadows of oracles past and future, at least in principle. In some times, especially towards the panic at the end of the Alexian era, the shadows of prophetesses, past and especially future, made last ditch efforts to avert the death of the Alexian line, and greatly added to the confusion of that time).

Despite the fact that the Shadow Council spans time in such a way that it has always existed and will always exist, its membership does change. The farther in time is from a particular shadow councilor, the less certain that councilor is. Each shadow councilor’s shadowy form is a quantum blur of possible futures (and even, disturbingly, sometimes a blur of the possible pasts!). Some especially privileged members of the Akashic Order are allowed to attend the Shadow Council as observers, and the Akashic Order has recordings of all Shadow Councilors and what they say, and their words and actions are deeply inconsistent. The Akashic Order uses their vast records of the past and future not as gospel truths, but as ways of reading the possibilities of the future, and on which future timeline they seem to be moving towards.

Only the Shadow Initiated may enter the Shadow Council Chamber, but not all Shadow Initiated are Shadow Councilors. Other initiates include Shadow Scribes, those librarians who record the prophecies given in such meetings, and Shadow Knights, who have been taught to see and interact with temporal shadows, allowing Shadow Councilors across time to interact with them; some are also trained in how to fight the ghosts of broken communion or the temporal shadows that may haunt the Shadow Council Chamber.

Members of the Shadow Council often have obscure names that arise from before they actually exist, as the uncertain nature of the timeline makes the prophetess appear as a strange, symbolic representation of what she could be until the timeline makes her certain. An incomplete listing of the Shadow Council includes:

The Oracle of Hunger, the Primal Prophetess

The Primal Prophetess has no known personal name, and does not seem to be human. She covers her eyes with a veil and when she laughs (as she often does) she reveals long, sharp teeth. Unlike the oracles of the future, she seems particularly unaffected by shifts in the timeline, leading some to conclude that she is truly ancient, the very first oracle to uncover the shadow chamber. However, she appears very hazy, indistinct and has substantial knowledge of the future, leading some to argue that she is the last of the oracles, the one who will live at the end of galactic civilization. She never speaks of her own time. She seems to have no agenda; she seems remarkably unconcerned about the Coming Storm, or the fate of humanity, and often observes or teases the other oracles. In the darkest of times, such as the moment the last Alexian Emperor died, she pronounces “All is as it should be.”

The Oracle of Hope, the Golden Child, Livia Alexus

Livia Alexus would have been born after the Coming Storm. She appeared as a girl on the cusp of womanhood, dressed in veils of white, with a crystal set into her brow and, unlike all the other oracles, bearing a golden light around her instead of a shadowy haze. She had a light, airy voice and a laugh like the tinkle of bells. She would instruct the other oracles in how her time came to be, explaining what needed to happen to avoid the Coming Storm. The death of Lucian Alexus, the last Alexian Emperor, destroyed her. She vanished from the chamber, never to return.

Sometimes, where she once stood, a dark shadow will appear, in which one can sometimes see a battered, half-starved and weary girl, the so-called Black Child. The Black Child has never spoken. The Vanishing of Livia Alexus ushered in an end of hope for most of the Akashic Order, and most in the order see the appearance of the Black Child as dark, even mocking, omen. Those who have hope of defeating the Coming Storm break into two camps. Some strive to find a way to restore the Golden Child’s timeline in whole, and see the Black Child’s timeline as an abomination to be purged. The other side argues that if the Black Child exists beyond the Coming Storm, then her timeline should be strengthened, not diminished, as she represents hope, however slim.

The Oracle of Chains, the Bloody Prophetess, the Alexian Mother, Sissi Sabine

The Akashic Order predates Sissi Sabine, but to most, she was the “first” Oracle. She married Alexus Rex after the Shadow Council decided that the bloody rise of his Empire was the best course to avert the Coming Storm. Sissi Sabine objected to the course, noting how many would die if the path was taken, but her concerns were overridden, especially by Livia Alexus.

Sissi Sabine is as beautiful as her legend would suggest. Her face appears an ivory white in the midst of the shifting shadows of her aura, and she has a gentle and comforting voice. She seems to carry a great sadness, arising from learning of the death of her Alexian descendants, and the futility of her sacrifice.

Sissi Sabine acts as a voice of compassion on the Council. She consistently reminds the Council of the obligations of nobility, and seems to see the Alliance as the last spark of hope for a golden age of equality and prosperity under the protection of the Maradonian nobility. At times, though, her frustration and sadness at the state of the Galaxy and her marriage drive her to tears and she’ll vanish from the Council, unable to muster the strength to maintain her trance. Some report Sissi Sabine appearing to Shadow Knights and asking them to do things on her own authority. Exactly what she wants, whether she seeks to undermine the council, or to do things they won’t saction, nobody knows for sure.

The Oracle of Spiders, The Empty Prophetess, the Sabine Witch, Mara Sabine

One of the last oracles before the Coming Storm, the Empty Prophetess first appeared when Sissi agreed to marry Alexus Rex, but spoke not a word, only watching and quietly learning, until she was revealed as Mara Sabine, who would be the Sister-in-Law of Nova Sabine. Mara Sabine currently rules the Akashic Order as the living Prophetess.

Mara has long, white hair and flawless skin despite her advanced years, which are evident in her yellow-toothed smile and her yellowing eyes, which make her seemingly youthful face look like a mask. She speaks with a rough, unpleasant voice that articulates with a carefully cultivated Maradonian Accent.

Mara seeks to restore the Akashic Order to its former dominance. She sees it as the heart of the Alliance, and without it, she believes the Alliance would fall apart. She pushes the Akashic Order towards active political involvement in the Empire, and denounces Nova Sabine’s tolerance and anti-elitism. She has appeared regularly in the Alliance Senate, exhorting the nobility to return to the Akashic Mysteries, with some success. She either does not believe the Coming Storm can be defeated, or that the only acceptable means of victory would restore the Golden Child, and harshly opposes any actions that would strengthen the timeline of the Black Child.

Despite not speaking until she took her place on the Council, the records of the Akashic Library seem to suggest she has been politically active before she took her position of power. A string of assassinations, mainly by poison, led to her birth and to her rise in power, leading to her name. While she will never openly admit it, evidence mounts that she has conducted, and continues to conduct, efforts to make sure that her rival, the Bastard Prophetess, never joins the Council.

The Oracle of Apocalypse, the Bastard Prophetess

The moment the last Alexian Emperor died and Livia Alexus vanished, the Oracle of Apocalypse appeared, which most members of the Shadow Council took to be an ill-omen. She appears as a murky shadow, with only a hint of her real appearance beneath it. She has a pleasant voice, but a common, unsophisticated accent, and often mocks the other members of the council, except for the Oracle of Hunger, whom she neither seems to hear nor see, but who often approves of the Bastard Prophetess.

The Bastard Prophetess seems to be the last Oracle born before the Coming Storm. Generally, only one Living Prophetess exists at a time, but in the modern era, there seem to be two! The Bastard Prophetess should be about 18-20 now, and could possibly take her place on the Shadow Council as a contemporary of Mara Sabine.

Nobody knows the Bastard Prophetess’s name. She seems to be common-born, or at least raised without the benefit of an aristocratic upbringing. She has a disdainful view of the Maradonian Aristocracy and is dismissive of the legacy of the Alexian Empire. Some records have her stating that she never wanted to join the Shadow Council, and only did so out of great need, and some evidence suggests that she had a tragic relationship with “a knight.” She should join the council within the next few years, and already, the Akashic Order scours the Galaxy for her as best they can with their meager resources.

The Bastard Prophetess speaks out against the traditions of the Akashic Mysteries, which she argues has blinded the order to their true objective, which is saving the Galaxy. She argues in favor of any solution that pushes the council towards defeating the Coming Storm. She favors policies of outreach towards other philosophies and political entities, encouraging the Alliance to seek alien assistance; only the Empire earns more disdain from the Bastard Prophetess than the Maradonian elites. She also argues that the Council should seek to understand the nature of the Coming Storm, and she openly supports the Black Child timeline, arguing that it represents the best remaining hope of defeating the Coming Storm. She speaks out against Mara Sabine, arguing that she uses the Mysteries as a tool for advancing an aristocratic agenda and that she commits the same mistake her descendants did that led to the downfall of the Alexian Empire.

Agendas of the Akashic Order

The Akashic Order is a shell of its former self. It lacks the prestige and power it once had, but it still does what it can to pursue the goal of stopping the Coming Storm and reasserting its importance in the Galaxy, especially in the Alliance. Different members of the Shadow Council also have their own agendas, and can appear, as dark shades, anywhere in time and space to make their wishes known.

A young noble holds the key to the future power of the Akashic Order, but does not believe in the Akashic Mysteries. The Akashic Order must persuade him otherwise! By looking into his future, the Order can determine at what points he will most need him, and then intervene at those moments. However, the Order must make sure he knows that he’s tied to the Order, whether he knows it or not, making a point of calling him “the Destined one” and giving him enough hints of his future that he draws himself deeper into their orbit of influence.

A contentious vote has arisen in the Alliance Senate. The Shadow Council can find no meaningful impact that the vote will make on the future, but the Akashic Order sees an opportunity to increase its influence. They must court all sides, play cagey about the future, and then once they’ve determined which side will benefit the order the most to back, they can make a vague pronouncement about how imperative one choice is to the future. The prophecy must be correct, so that none will look back and doubt the veracity of the Akashic Order, but given the ultimate irrelevance of the vote on the ultimate future of the Alliance, the Akashic Order must spice up the prophecy to make their support seem important, so as to cement their influence on the House that backs them.

A new Oracle has been discovered! A child born in the Empire shows powerful precognitive abilities, but if the Empire finds her, she’ll vanish into the Imperial Bureaucracy, never to be found again. The Order must dispatch very discrete knights, loyal to the Akashic order, to retrieve the girl without alerting the Imperial authorities to her talents, or to the involvement of the Alliance, and bring her back to the Order for training.

Mara Sabine: Mara Sabine needs a Shadow Knight. She chooses her best candidates and sends them on a mission meant to test their mettle against powerful, and deeply corrupt, psionic threats. Those that survive will be made her shadow knights, given the Shadow Initiation, and taught the secrets of the Shadow Council so that they may hunt and slay the ghosts that haunt her. Then, she will send them to hunt the temporal shadows of the Black Child and the Bastard Prophetess.

The Black Child: The Black Child has appeared to an Akashic librarian in his dreams, haunting him with images of the coming storm, the death of himself and his family, and then pointed, showing him the location of a long lost work in his own library. The work contains instructions, a prophecy for the present day, including the death of a powerful noble, the corruption of an imperial official, and the induction of a common (if heroic, and somewhat unruly) nobody as an Akashic Knight. The Order is split on whether to enact or violate the prophecy, for both sides believe it will help bring about the Black Child’s timeline.

The Bastard Prophetess: The Bastard Prophetess knows her time has come. She appears as a temporal shadow to a knight and tells her where he can find her. She tells him that she will know nothing of all of this, that she is speaking to him from her own future. She will tell him that she will be difficult, but that eventually she will come to love and trust him, but leaves it up to him whether to violate that trust. She also tells him that the agents of Mara Sabine will be close on his heels, trying to kill her before she can be brought back to the Shadow Council, where she belongs.

The Akashic Order as Opposition

The Akashic Order lacks the wealth and prestige it once had, but its psionic prowess has not diminished, and the determination of its members has only grown more fanatical in this time of desperation. The Akashic Order is typically BAD -5, with elite Akashic Knights at its disposal, with the Shadow Council and its Shadow Agents typically BAD -8. As a deeply psionic organization, its PSI-BAD is equal to its BAD!

The Akashic Order has no better electronic security measures than most typical Alliance organizations. It makes use of biometric locks, electronic locks and security cameras, but much of its technology is decidedly traditional, and designed to make use of psionic abilities. It typically stores all sensitive data and people below ground, in caverns hewn from natural rock, and typically disguises entry-ways to look like natural stone in such a way that they’ll fool natural senses, but not ESP. It also records most of its information either on data discs or on paper, and those who want access to the data can’t simply raid a central server, but must instead find the actual information, which is usually organized in sufficiently chaotic manner that one needs to either be utterly familiar with that particular organization means, or one needs access to ESP to correctly guess where the data may be. Finally, the most common security traps that the Akashic Order uses include poisons found on Persephone or created by the Akashic Order themselves. The Akashic Order tends to teach their members how to immunize themselves to that particular poison, which means that members of the Akashic Order rarely need to worry about accidentally tripping a security measure, but interlopers risk death!

The real danger of facing the Akashic Order does not come from its security measures, or even the excellent training of its Akashic Knights. A determined technologist can overcome the technological security measures with ease. The real danger posed by the Akashic Order comes from its precognition. They will almost certainly divine any attempt to attack or undermine the order long before it occurs, and a thief may well find a veiled oracle sitting patiently atop the item he has come to steal, with a unit of determined Akashic knights at her back. For simplicity, treat all Akashic opponents as having one level of Foresight at a minimum, and at least one level of Serendipity, to represent how well they can predict the actions of other characters.

The best way to defeat Akashic prognostication and visions to is have uncertain and chaotic plans, so that their actions blur into a thousand shadowy paths that the Akashic Order cannot predict with absolute certainty. Anti-Psionic characters with Psionic Invisbility cannot be seen by the Akashic Order, and can bypass all of their psionic defenses with ease. The best the Akashic Order can do against such opponents is look for blindspots, absences, or inconsistent futures to uncover where an attack might happen, but against the background of chaotic possibility, this is almost impossible, hence why the Akashic Order has a second layer of physical defenses.

Serving in the Akashic Order

Religious, Military and Servant Ranks

The Akashic Order, strictly speaking, contains only characters with Religious rank, but they tend to be closely intertwined with servants who work directly for the Order, and the Knights of the Golden Path, or the Akashic Knights who, inspired by the Knights of Communion, created their order in imitation of it, at first to fight the “heresy” of Communion, but now to protect the flickering candle of Akashic faith.

Ranks:

Religious

Religious

Military

Servant

8

Living Prophetess







7

Shadow Councilor







6

Temple Oracle



Knight Commander



5

(Superior) Oracle

Temple Priest

Knightly Council



4

Oracle

High Priest, Shadow Scribe

Master, Shadow Knight



3

(Lesser) Oracle

Master

Knight



2

Apprentice Oracle

Priest/Priestess

Knight

Servant Superior

1

Initiate

Initiate

Initiate

Lay Servant

0

Petitioner

Petitioner

Petitioner Knight

Lay servant

All who wish to serve the Akashic Order are petitioners. They tend to work on whatever task the Akashic Order has for them, and the only thing that differentiates them from lay servants are the fact that the Akashic Order expects them to stick to vows of chastity and poverty. Those who wish to serve the Akashic Order must absent themselves from the world and become invisible to time. Great power, wealth and descendants can cause ripples in time, and if an oracle or a priest acts on a prophecy in such a way that it impacts a great legacy like his own genetic line or wealth, this can have huge repercussions, and thus all members of the Akashic Order (and the Knights of the Golden Path) accept these vows.

Once a petitioner has convinced the Akashic Order of their worthiness, they undergo Lesser Initiation. They learn their proper place in the world from an Oracle, and are either accepted fully into the order, or are cast out, based on the needs of the Order and the petitioner’s future. Note that this is the same initiation those who do not wish to join the order get. One can be initiated without joining the order, but one cannot join the order without being initiated.

The initiate continues to act as a sort of a servant, but with superior knowledge and official membership into the Akashic Order. They also serve as Companions, guiding others through initiation. Once they have been sufficiently educated in their tasks, women with ESP become Apprentice Oracles; they attend the actual oracles and begin to study the techniques and skills of Prognostication, but lack the authority to truly act on their own. Men or women who lack ESP become priests or priestesses. They have the authority to conduct ceremonies (Clerical Investment), attend and support Oracles, and help petitioners and initiates to interpret prophecy.

Once an Apprentice Oracle completes her training, she undergoes Akashic Initiation and touches the Akashic Record itself. She then has the right to give prophecies, perform match making, make calls to judgment and anything else an Oracle may do (Clerical Investment). In principle, they have no additional ranks, but in practice, newly minted oracles do not take on apprentices and do not leave the temple, and superior oracles usually take on apprentices. Finally, every temple has a Temple Oracle. She ultimately decides what goes on in her temple, though day-to-day administrative tasks are left to priests.

Priests may increase in rank to master or high priest. A master governs a single task within the temple, and often have titles, including Librarian, Quartermaster, etc. High Priests govern all other priests within the temple, and answer to the Temple Priest, who handles all administrative tasks within the temple, and answers only to the Temple Oracle. Note that the Akashic Order has a 50/50 male/female division of priests and priestesses, and both can attain any position within the temple (priestesses tend to be slightly favored over priests).

Servants work beneath a Servant Superior, a lay person who lacks any Clerical Investment or any requirement for oaths, and he answers to a priestly Master. Servants handle everything from cleaning the temple to preparing food, but they never handle religious matters; specifically, they never act as Companions.

Shadow Knights, Shadow Scribes and Shadow Councilors all have undergone the Final Initiation and been inducted into the Shadow Council. They have Security Clearance (Shadow Initiation) and are privvy to the deepest secrets of the council. They answer directly to the Shadow Council.

Favors of the Akashic Order

The Akashic Order has numerous unique assets at its disposal. Any member of the Alliance (or any character with Status at the GM’s discretion) may use Status as Pulling Rank to gain access to any of the favors below, though the Akashic Order will favor members and initiates in the Akashic Mysteries over non-initiated (apply a -1 to Status as Pulling Rank for non-Initiates).

These favors include, but are not limited to:

Prophecy: The Akashic Order can look deep into time and, while their prophecies aren’t perfect, they can tell a great deal about one’s future. They even offer their prophecies to outsiders. Treat a given prophecy as a free Destiny until that Destiny has been fulfilled or proven to be sufficiently false that the GM removes it. Anyone can request a session with an oracle through normal channels, which does not require an AR but an AR can expedite the process, in which case no modifier applies, and the character can expect to get his prophecy in days rather than months. If time is an issue, or the character needs access to the highly effective and dynamic prophecies of a member of the Shadow Council, treat it as Technical Means (PR 18).

Matchmaking: The Akashic Order specializes in eugenics and has extensive records on eligible bachelors and bachelorettes of noble lineage. The Akashic Order can find a suitable bride or groom, and then arrange a meeting or even a marriage. Treat this as an Introduction (PR 18), including the +5 modifier if the bride or groom has the Believer (Akashic Mysteries) quirk or is initiated into the Akashic Mysteries.

Prophetic Medicine: The Akashic Order offers a unique form of prophecy, where the oracle determines the best form of treatment for someone. Treat this as Treatment (PR 17).

Future History: The Akashic Order houses vast library of prophecy and the words of its Shadow Council, revealing the vast, uncertain and complex shape of time. It will grant a member only (no Status as Pulling Rank here!) access to this information. Treat this as Files (PR 15) except all such documents are “sensitive.” Waive the -5 if the character has Security Clearance (Shadow Initiate).

Treatment: When it comes to healing others, the Akashic Order offers extensive medical resources. The sick are brought before an oracle, who uses with Oracle or Prognostication to determine what the best cure would be; if an Oracle cannot be spared, the Order will search through its extensive records to find a similar case and a similar prophecy (treat this as a Research roll that acts as a complimentary roll that grants a +2 if such a prophecy exists). Then the Order treats the victim. The Order prefers natural medicines (Pharmacy (Herbal)) over artificial cures, but will use whatever method the Oracle demands. Such healing isn’t faster than TL 11^ medicine, but it can certainly cover edge cases that TL 11^ medicine cannot cure.

Shadow Knights and Akashic Knights: The Akashic Order commands the loyalty of the Knights of the Akashic Mysteries and their own, highly lethal Shadow Knights. Treat this as the Cavalry (PR 19), but it tends to result in 1-3 Knights, rather than the typical 5. The Akashic Order makes up for its inferior quantity with superior quality!

Akashic Character Considerations

Requirements: Characters serving the Akashic Order as servants need only Servant Rank 0 and some level of non-hazardous Duty (Akashic Order) [Varies]. Characters who wish to be Oracles or Priests must have Religious Rank 0, Vow (Chastity) [-5], Discipline of Faith (Monasticism) [-10], and Duty (Akashic Order, 15 or less) [-15]. They must take Clerical Investment (Akashic Order) [5] at Religious Rank 2+ (for priests) or 3+ (for Oracles). Akashic Knights must have Military Rank 0+, Vow (Chastity) [-5], Vow (Poverty) [-10] and Duty (Akashic Order, 15 or less, Extremely Hazardous) [-20]. Shadow Initiated characters have Security Clearance (Shadow Initiation) [10]

A Favor from the Akashic Order is worth 1 point/rank. The Akashic Order (or just one Shadow Councilor) as a Patron is worth 20 points as a base. The Akashic Order (or just one Shadow Councilor) as an Enemy is worth -25 points.

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