Friday, February 27, 2009

Campaign Sketches: Masks of the Empire

As another example of game and background prep, I thought I'd show some of the work I'd started that I never followed up on. In the list of potential campaigns I posted a while back I mentioned the basic idea for the Masks of the Empire campaign. I have some good ideas and images in my head, but I still haven't gotten everything together in my mind about about to approach the campaign. I did do some listing of ideas, along with some fleshing out of a few of them. If I were going to do this campaign, I would probably try to fill in an item or two each day and add at least one to spread out my prep work. Anyway, you might find some of this interesting:

MASKS OF THE EMPIRE SKETCHES

Accountants of the Seconds
Advenus (Mask Order)
Anargulh dan'Tural: the Keeper of Orders (God)
Arabies (Place)
Arinam the Balancer (God)


Architects (Mask Order)
Prosperal aka Architects are one of the seven orders of Masks of the Empire, founded by Idomantu the Nail. Their assigned role is gathering and building in the broadest sense. Most outsiders perceive them as leaders, but this is not necessarily the case. They plan and present for the approval of others. Lacking another person to approve, the Prosperal will make decisions and proceed, but they are generally trained to seek out at least one approval. This doesn’t mean that they operate by consensus, far from it, but instead that responsibilities are shared.

Of all of the orders of the Masks, they are the most attuned and focus on creation over stasis and destruction. If something permanent can be established—a relationship, a marker, a treaty, a building, they will work towards that end. This can put them at odds with the Advenus who would often rather clear the situation and begin again fresh when confronted with difficulties. Prosperal often have unusual habits, sometimes rivaling those of the Vidicali. They like to leave permanent marks on things, whether it be rearranging a set of stones or carving in a tree. They also often carry with them small tools or trinkets they fiddle with—stones for stacking, cat’s cradles, ropes for knotting, and so on.

Prosperal are trained in one of three paths to begin—Math, Architecture, or Gamesmanship. From there they learn other trades and crafts. In this way they serve as support members for a Masks group. On their own, Prosperal are trained to make themselves indispensable and to use that ability as leverage to gain in a situation.

As with all orders, the Prosperal possess several unique powers tied to their masks. The basic power of the Prosperal is the ability to make someone remember their words. This can range from instructions to advice to parables. Once a Prosperal has decided that someone will not forget, they cannot without the intervention of outside magics. While this might seem a slight power, their ability to insert themselves as a permanent conscience has been useful more than once. The second power, as with other orders, is learned after time and harmonizing with one's mask. At this level the Prosperal, having defined a situation, group, or object in their mind, can locate the “keystone” of that thing. It may be the person who has the ears of others, it may be the weak point in a device, it may be the flaw in an argument. The Mask must still be able to comprehend the suggestion given by their mask.

Bevanarin Fires-Unburning (God)

Bloodless (Mask Order)
The Rhocent are one of the seven orders of the Masks of the Empire, having been founded by Sentavis the Sweeper at the dawn of the Empire. Commonly they are referred to as the Bloodless, a reference to their talents with unarmed combat as well as conflict resolution. Originally, the Rhocent served the role of the providers for the masks—they handled clean up, minor tasks, paperwork, equipping and armory. Their central philosophy was to always be prepared—even for the most esoteric situations.

Over the years, the Rhocent often found themselves relegated to the background in missions. Their skills were needed, but often taken for granted. They prepared others and themselves but often found themselves waiting for their talents to be truly used. A senior Rhocent called Grace’s Wrath decided that his order needed an additional purpose and, after consultation with Sentavis, sought out knowledge the Masks did not possess. These were the early days, when the Empire was first encountering the Temples and battling against Monks and those who had harnessed their Chi powers. Grace’s Wrath undertook to study and learn these ways—learning and adapting the First Trinity of Forms. He brought these back to his order and trained a number of followers who in turn developed the rest of the Thirty-three Imperial Forms. Only once they had perfected their arts, and just after the Founding Year, they revealed their skills to the other orders of Masks.

At first their fellows showed skepticism, however after multiple demonstrations illustrating their skills, the Rhocent were given a new role—as teachers of combat, as martial artists, and as those who can resolve situations without loss of life. From those initial teachings of unarmed combat, various other styles arose—tied to various weapons, combined with the arts of debate and so on. The Rhocent only use weapons in defensive forms—for attacks they use their own body. They still retain their devotion to preparedness—and in a group when something is needed, most turn to the Rhocent. Not needing a weapon is considered the high form of preparedness for them.

As with all orders, the Rhocent possess several unique powers tied to their masks. The basic power of the Rhocent is one of lucky scavenging. They invoke a gaes when hunting for something—increasing the likelihood of finding it (or something comparable). They will stumble on a needle when they need one, find the right kind of cloth in a market, come across just the right kind of tool. Once a Rhocent has decided that someone will not forget, they cannot without the intervention of outside magics. The second power, as with other orders, is learned after time and harmonizing with one's mask. At this level, a Rhocent can make things fit. Gear which would not fit into a pack for reasons of shape, size or weight will miraculously manage themselves. They can pull things forth from baggage long beyond the time that others can. They also can simply reach into a bag or other holding device and find exactly the thing they wanted that they’d packed earlier. Others trying to get things forth from a Rhocent packed case may have to break the case open to actually get at things.

Cardea (Mask Order)
One of the seven orders of the Masks of the Empire, also known as the Undone. Daysar the Steward founded and oversees this order. Outsiders often perceive the Cardea as the catch-all order among the seven. Where each of the other orders has an obvious purpose and a role, the Cardea seem lack one. In fact, the Cardea fulfill an important role both as solitary agents and within a group-- they are the ones who carry things out. If there is a sacrifice to be made or a risk to be taken, it is the Cardea who will do this. Of course this does not mean that skills and abilities are not taken into consideration in making such decisions, but all other things being equal, the Cardea will carry out.

The Cardea are also those who taken upon themselves the burden of more unorthodox and problematic missions. For example, it may be necessary for the Masks to undertake missions of assassination, defamation, or of generally questionable morality. In other cases where it has been necessary for someone to serve as a scapegoat or to shoulder a burden of responsibility it is the Cardea who take this up.

Consequently, the training of the Cardea is left up to the individual masks more so than in the other orders. Usually they chooses roles and paths that complement their previous experiences. Those chosen for the Cardea are often older or have strange reasons for having joined the Masks. It is well known that the Cardea have the highest mortality rate among the orders and the largest percentage of lost masks at any one time.

As with all orders, the Cardea possess several unique powers tied to their masks. The basic power of the Cardea is the ability to ignore fatigue, the exhaustion of heat, the energy sap of cold and so on. While they still will eventually suffer the actual effects of these circumstances, they can continue through them without losing focus. The second power, as with other orders, is learned after time and harmonizing with one's mask, allows the Cardea to ignore the effects of more severe wounds and damage for a time.

Century of Law (Event)
Coils (Mask Order)
Cutters of the Gods (Rumor)
Daysar the Steward (God)
Dryeneri Hands of Darkness (God)
Dust-Cloud Brotherhood (Group)
Earmarked Sevens (Group)
Eastwind Blights (Event)
Emperor of the Hours


Factions
The Empire prides itself on a form of enlightened integration—one which brings together all citizen under the rules of the Codex of Moments. Not that all persons within the Empire are citizens—that process and who gets to bear that title varies from place to place. A good rule of thumb is that the closer one is to the heart of the Empire, the higher the percentage of persons who possess that title. Initially when a region joins with the Empire, before it becomes a registered Territ, advance agents work in the area for some time. They map the area, uncover the dynamic, evaluate resources, and try to chart the family and clan dynamics. They can also hand out the title of Citizen to those persons who work well with them, giving them and advantage when the Territ is formally established. This can be a double-edged sword, especially in places where hostility to the Empire exists. If a person is made a Citizen, then all relatives within one degree may be called citizens as well. Eventually a Territ will be established, a Dulcet Crystal Interval Gate built, and a Governor put into place. He is given a certain number if licenses to hand out to establish Citizenship—after that there is a long evolving process that adds more citizens over time. Citizenship has many benefits, not least of which are the right to vote in councils, the right to hold an office, and the right to use the Interval Gates to travel.

With the great distances of the Empire, despite the Interval Gates bringing many points together, there exist many competing interests in the Territs. Often they are surprisingly organized, perhaps owing something to the influence of the Empire itself. These factions can be broken into three major types—Temples, Brotherhoods & Societies, and Clans. The Temples exist because of the Imperial Permit allowing the establishment of facilities to retain native religions and philosophies within the Territs. These Temples gain a certain degree of autonomy and right to practice, but at the same time the Empire makes sure it can keep tabs on them. No more than two formally established Temples are permitted within a Territ. While the concept is admirable, in practice it has led to the creation of several powerful groups. Some are based around obscure philosophies, such as Towards Never's Light, which practices a difficult ascetic nihilism that has proven troublesome to some Governors. Some are Martial Temples teaching styles and ways outside the Thirty-three Imperial Forms. Usually these are smaller temples, further placed out so as to avoid close scrutiny, but some are larger. The Singing Night Delegates, for example, have taken to spreading their message out and gathering political power. Although some among their trainees are clearly revolutionaries, unlike the Forsworn Rift Temple, the Singing Night Delegates have not yet brought Imperial wrath down upon themselves. The last kind of Temple is actually devoted to a religious faith, in a few cases actually reflecting the practices of the locals but in many cases devoted to one or more of the gods outside of the Imperial Trinity Pantheon. These can include Primal Gods, Gods of the One and the Dual, or even powerful forces or beings from the Mythic Age. The Yellow-Minded Brothers, for example follow a strange being of uncertain lineage which seems to be the equivalent of a homeless beggar spirit.

Brotherhoods & Societies include organizations, conspiracies and gathers which may reach in influence across Territs. In some places, they take the form of Guilds, in others they resemble criminal gangs, and in others they may simply be revolutionary groups. One of the best known is the Hammering Constant's Scholars Society who have taken to rewriting histories in the various Territs of the Horizon and Ring Territs. While their activities may seem innocuous, they have managed to stir up troubles in several areas by making drastic changes to the written records. The Killing Purple Band is a brotherhood of assassins known and feared in the east, while the Lost Fortune's Cause Brotherhood seems to be draw from those who possess notable Grey Shian blood.

The Clans hold little sway within the Dial Territs, where nobles and the representatives of the Empire have the most influence. The further out one goes, the stronger the reach of these hereditary groups. In part this stems from one of the punishment techniques of the Empire, Familial Exile. Where a line or house has acted against the interests of the Empire, the instigators are punished. Sometimes rather than root out troublemakers in the rest of the family or grant wholesale clemency, a family is sent to one of the Horizon Territs. Some of the Clans date from the time when the Ring Territs were the furthest extent. In these cases these Clans have become defacto nobility in these areas-- often with old ambitions intact. That several Clans have manage to return themselves in the heart of the Empire makes them doubly ambitious. Some, however, retain old grudges and often act subtly against the local Governors or force their will upon them. Some Clans, notably the Earmarked Sevens, have been exiled more than once for repeated offenses.

Fallen (People)
Fearsome Pact (Group)


Fists of the Empire
The order of the military for the Empire-- these are the leaders, strategists and planners for military operations. Each fist bears a unique gauntlet inscribed with a singular aspect that represents the self of the bearer. The exact number of Fists varies from time to time, but estimates suggest there are about 3,000 at any one time. Each gauntlet shares several key powers, including a superb sense of the combat dispositions, as well as some talents unique to each one. When a gauntlet is destroyed, the bearer dies and vice versa. Usually killing the bearer is significantly easier than destroying the artifact however. When a gauntlet is destroyed, it apparently allows for the forges in the capitol to make a new one, imbued with some of that essence. Though the exact nature remains unclear, it is said that this pool of energy is the limiting factor in the number of gauntlets existing at any one time.

Gemashol the Hand (God)
Gethiglor Thicket of Swords (God)


Gods (general)
There was a father to the Gods, a Primal set of deities, three in number who through their magics worked and created the three who followed. One was singular, a Lord among Gods who created and granted power to those demi-gods below him (the One); one was a pair who looked forward and back and associated with the abstractions of the world—demi-gods and servants who were more ideas than personifications (the Dualities); and finally there were the hundred gods, who had a cyclical changing rulership over their lands (the Hundreds).

Those three new pantheons turned and destroyed the Primal Gods, binding one to the Earth, one to the Air and one to the Sun. They were chained away, caught in cycles they couldn’t escape. Then the pantheons battled one another. While there were those who remained animistic, giving honor and acknowledgment to the smaller spirits and places, most found a place within the grand spheres. The battle continued, and eventually the Hundreds and their followers retreated to the east. Within and at the fringe of the Empire there remain a few who worship one or another of the renegades from the Hundreds, but in general memory and thought of them faded.

This left the One and the Dualities. The Dualities had numbers and subtle arts, but they also had divisions inherent in themselves that weakened their ability to press the issue. They were their own synthesis and antithesis. The One lacked numbers but had unity of purpose and thought. As so the worship of these gods spread and took over the old god places. Variants and focuses formed, with certain worship being more acknowledged in one place than another.

Then came the Trinity of Pantheons: the Gods of the Tempest, the Gods of the Zenith and the Gods of the wake. They were new and came into being through revelation. Some said they were echoes of the chained primal Gods, but who can say if that is true. Was is known is that more than any of the other gods they made themselves known, they walked the lands, and they carved the Empire out from the heart of the World. In the Century of Law they battled against both the followers of the old pantheons and the gods of those pantheons themselves, driving them to the margins.

Gods of the Empire
As opposed to the gods at the margins, the Gods of the Empire interact with the populace on a regular basis. Though it varies from God to God, they can and do walk around within the limits of the Empire.

Gods of the Tempest
One of the three sets of Gods of the Empire, the Gods of the Tempest hold sway over the middle powers balancing the forces of the Gods of the Zenith and the Gods of the Wake. The Gods of the Tempest serve as the patrons for the Masks of the Empire. The Masks themselves carry out a variety of duties, primarily in the field often reflecting the aspects of the Gods of the Tempest. While all the Gods of the Empire appear and walk the Empire from time to time, the Gods of the Tempest are seen most rarely-- preferring omen and subtlety in their intercessions.

Verebok the Voice (Diplomacy)
Arinam the Balancer (Judgment and Adjudication)
Gemashol the Hand (Espionage)
Mazonos the Guide (Surveying)
Idomantu the Nail (Building)
Daysar the Steward (Maintenance)
Sentavis the Sweeper (Enforcement)


Gods of the Wake
The Gods of the Wake oversee matters of force for the empire.

Bevanarin Fires-Unburning
Dryeneri Hands of Darkness
Gethiglor Thicket of Swords
Idris Not-Named
Morvastyn Cord that Cuts
Rhonwens Hailing-Thunder
Siorswan the Dawn Must Wait


Gods of the Zenith
The Gods of the Zenith oversee the heart of the Empire-- the Emperor of the Hours, the Senate of the Minutes, and the Accountants of the Seconds. These branches all combine administration with the organization of worship and priestly duties.

Anargulh dan'Tural: the Keeper of Orders
Nurzhan dan'Aysal: the Provider of Moments
Sevda dan'Serik: the Binder of Hearts
Zhivkarak dan'Hails: the Timer of Winters
Reparash dan'Vera: the Caller of Duties
Iykilli dan'Ragice: the Scripter of Limits
Vatalka dan'Oman: the Speaker of Triumphs


Green (People)
Hastened Thought (Person)
Heartswan (Thing)
Idomantu the Nail (God)
Idris Not-Named (God)
Inherentors (Mask Order)


Interval Gates
Perhaps the single most important invention keeping the Empire running on a smooth course is the Dulcet Crystal Interval Gate. Through it, officials, citizens, and merchants can travel over vast distances in a matter of moments. For governors and military officials control and maintenance of these gates represents a central concern.

Drawn from the inspiration of the Gods, Emperor Numasias the noted inventor created the first Interval Gate in the middle period of the Empire—not long after the Years of Sunrise. Once scholars understood the basic principles, they established the first Gates within the Dial Territs. This project took many years and required great skill to get the alignment correct and to discover how to best protect the Gates from outside forces. Once the innermost system had been established, the agents of the Empire began to extend their reach further and further out. Today Gates can be found in the most distant lands of the Horizon Territs.

The gates function by drawing on the natural forces of the earth and the harmonic ties of the elements. They require elaborate sympathies be established in order to function. In practice, this means that twelve main branches radiate out from the capitol, roughly corresponding to the hours. Any particular gate ties to one of the branches, and to move from one to another requires travel to a junction where the lines move perpendicular to the main branches. While it is possible to move to the central hub and then further from there, the Empire reserves that traffic for the most important figures to reduce risk and overflow.

Any gate can transport someone to another gate on that branch, distance is irrelevant. Weight and size have a greater impact however. A lesser gate can transport perhaps ten men with gear, while a greater gate can move two or three times that. The larger the material transported, the longer the time for the gate to recharge—taxed fully and on a strong sympathetic line, a gate might take two minutes to recharge. For weaker and further out lines, it might take upwards of an hour. Gates require an operator to activate them, something that requires some skill. At one time, the Empire held the secrets of this process closely, but over time, it has spread out and those with the inclination and resources can learn the procedure.

A gate has four major parts: the base, the frame, the pallet and the crystal. The frame is made up of four arching sleeves of metal, aligned to the hours. Connected to the base, they meet at the top, creating a metal sphere. The pallet is a round bottomed metal stand within the gate. Since the gates transport all things within a gate, the pallets have to be of standard size—given that they exchange position with other gates during transport. Over time, the wear of foot traffic and the clipping of the inconstant field effect means that the pallet must be replaced.

The most important portion of the gate is the crystal, which resonates and creates the transport effect. Each one must be carefully synchronized and lined up with the best point of sympathy in an area. This can create grave problems at times. For instance, the gate at Hardaru is nearly two hundred feet off the ground. A great structure, built with special materials so as to not interfere with the signal had to be constructed. Enormous stairs lead down off from that gate. The crystal is placed into the Void at the center of the gate, removing it from human sight and touch. Once placed, any movement of it will destroy the crystal—a dangerous thing to do if the harmonics have built up within it.

Setting up a gate requires specialized survey using devices held closely by the Empire. Forerunners in the furthest lands look for new possible points to set up gates, but must be careful. Aside from the destruction of a gate and the time needed to recharge one, there is no way to seal a gate. Since they generally must be built without too much material surrounding them, an enclosure is impractical.

Generally citizens are permitted to use the gates, but must obtain a statement of permission. The gates are not used for commerce transport—but merchants often arrange to travel by them to make deals in distant lands. After that they fall back to the common system of the Grand Imperial Riverways and the roads.

Invisible Chain (Rumor)
Iykilli dan'Ragice: the Scripter of Limits (God)
Jakaziel's Writ (Thing)
Journeyman Lost (Place)
Kalesbent (Place)
Killing Purple Band (Group)
Lymeslight (Place)
Lost Fortune's Cause (Group)


Masks of the Empire
The Agents of the Hours (Called Masks, but Agents here for ease of difference between the Masks themselves and the persons)

Each agent possesses a mask. In the beginning 777 of them existed within the Empire. Each mask possesses an enchantment protecting it from harm and a mythic geas that bends destiny itself, causing them to eventually return to the Empire. This magic has several properties. First, if several of masks become gathered in the same place, the magical effect intensifies. So if a current bearer comes near a lost mask, they tend to find the mask. This means killing agents and gathering their masks in one place is a bad idea. Usually, on a battlefield with agents, at least some of the masks will make it out. Second, the power of the masks seems to be tied to the registry of those active—as that number grows smaller, the power the enchantment increases.

Of course, there have been cases of masks being destroyed, but the effort and power required is significant. So far in the history of the Empire, twenty-three are known to have been destroyed and another Eleven have been lost for so long that they may as well have been destroyed.

Each mask has a history, recorded in the ledgers of the Empire. Persons who bear a mask learn the stories associated with that mask. Each mask also has a name—which could be descriptive, the name of the first bearer or perhaps even more obscure. Those stories allow entry by the bearer into the Mythic to enact those stories and gain power or cause an effect.

The Gods created the masks with the birth of the Empire. As with the other two major orders of the Empire (The Bearers of the Empire and the Fists of the Empire) the will and action of the gods has been intimately tied with the operations of the masks. There has been one occasion when a mask was actually replaced by one of the Gods. Each of the seven orders also is associated with one of the Seven Gods of the Tempest. There are three sets of Gods—Gods of the Tempest, Gods of the Zenith, and Gods of the Wake. The Gods themselves are the ones who revealed themselves in the Century of Law and helped to forge the principles that would guide the Empire. They pushed back the other Pantheons, sending them to the margins, where the old ways still remain.

It happens that most Agents of the Hours apply for a place in the training or else are chosen from among the most promising. Eventually they find themselves a place in one of the seven orders. When the time comes, they are permitted to select a mask from those that remain in the possession of the order. When a new agent is selected is a matter of divination—the Lords of that order have final say—choosing the person and the time for that selection. It is known that whatever the process of selection, there is a relative parity between the groups. This can be unbalanced if, for example, an order loses a number of agents—while they will be able to assign new masks faster, they cannot wholesale give them out to make up their numbers. Often what happens is that a mask will be returned, find its way home—sometimes in the possession of a new owner.

This happens rarely, perhaps once every few generations. Masks are given through ritual, but there have been times when people have found them and the mask somehow binds itself to the finder.

Orders of the Masks
There are seven orders among the agents, each with 111 masks. As each order has a role, they also have certain obligations. An agent does not have to visibly wear their mask all of the time, but there are certain times when they must. There is a suggestion that each order is allied to a combination of the factors of Creation, Destruction and Balance.

Verebok the Voice (Diplomacy)
Arinam the Balancer (Judgment and Adjudication)
Gemashol the Hand (Espionage)
Mazonos the Guide (Surveying)
Idomantu the Nail (Building)
Daysar the Steward (Maintenance)
Sentavis the Sweeper (Enforcement)


Illvanial aka Sifters (searchers and finders)-- Mazonos the Guide
Rhocent aka Bloodless (unarmed fighters)-- Sentavis the Sweeper
Cardea aka Undone (those who carry out)-- Daysar the Steward
Prosperal aka Architects (builders and managers)-- Idomantu the Nail
Numitas aka Coils (judges and deciders)-- Arinam the Balancer
Vidicali aka Inherentors (esoterics and mystics)--Verebok the Voice
Advenus aka Quiets (spies and defenders)-- Gemashol the Hand


Properties of the Masks
Masks, once bound and placed on the bearer, become transparent to the owner. There is a slight sensation of the mask upon the face, but little else. Many agents forget that they have them on—until they go to sleep or attempt to eat. Agents can also will the Mask to vanish, so that it appears that they are not wearing it—however when an agent enters into the task bound to the mask, it will reappear, regardless of the bearer’s wish. While vanished, those with the sight can still slightly perceive the mask—there is one exception, the masks of the Advenus cannot be seen or detected when willed into vanishing.

Duties of the Masks
The Masks of the Empire are those who carry out specialized tasks-- those requiring unusual talents, independent decision making, and creativity. The often serve as ambassadors, judges, sheriffs, scouts and problem solvers. In this role, they have come to earn a certain respect and reputation both within and outside the boundaries of the Empire. They are often among the first to enter into an area which may be annexed-- usually to demonstrate the fairness and power of the Empire, but also to pacify those elements which might later cause trouble. Agents are often requested by places who have had problems-- like strange creatures, lawlessness, or natural disasters. They represent and bring the will of the Empire as well as providing a beacon of hope and honor to the weak.

Mazonos the Guide (God)
Morvastyn Cord that Cuts (God)
Numitas (Mask Order)
Nurzhan dan'Aysal (God)
Opal Reign Storms (Event)
Prosperal (Mask Order)
Quarrels of the Night (Event)
Reparash dan'Vera (God)
Rhocent (Mask Order)
Rhonwens Hailing-Thunder (God)
Sentavis the Sweeper (God)
Senate of the Minutes
Sevda dan'Serik (God)


Sifters (Mask Order)
One of the seven orders of Masks of the Empire, also known as Sifters. This divine order was founded by Mazonos the Guide. The Illvanial are those who find, in all senses of the term. They range from master huntsmen to delvers into the psyche, from puzzlers to auditors. The central philosophy of this order is that all things leave traces of their passing-- nothing exists without touching another thing. In this sense they draw from the tradition of the Fallen who believe that all things are marked by signs and omens.

Illvanial find themselves in the difficult position of being among the most requested of the Mask orders-- their expertise can been useful in many situations. Consequently, they are often among the youngest of the Masks in a group since the most experienced will be sent out on their own to handle hunts, rescues and investigations. On the other hand, some in positions of power have a degree of fear concerning this order. Should they have secrets they wish to keep hidden then they may go out of their way to avoid Masks of this order. This has resulted in problems in the past, with the unannounced arrival of an Illvanial causing someone to kill themselves or else send persons to kill the Mask for fear that their mission involves them.

The Illvanial have a hard time leaving tasks unfinished. Usually they have to see them through to the end. If not, they have a tugging sense of guilt for some time. Once a Sifter has been set to a search they will usually not rest until they have made some progress. They are particularly talented in reconstructing things, in surveying things and eliminating the unimportant, and in stumbling on unexpected clues and pointers.

As with all orders, the Illvanial possess several unique powers tied to their masks. The basic power of the Illvanial is to see-- regardless of the environment. So smoke, darkness, storms and such only reduce their effective visual distance rather than eliminating it. Since the vision comes from the mask itself there have been cases where a bearer has been physically and permanently blinded, but remains able to see. The second power, as with other orders, is learned after time and harmonizing with one's mask. I allows the Illvanial to place a mark upon a person of thing. They can then know the rough distance and direction of that thing by concentrating on it. Alternately they can use up the mark to see for some time from the mark's location. Skilled Illvanial are said to be able to actually move their sense around using this.

Siorswan the Dawn Must Wait (God)

Territs
A measure of the land overseen by a governor. Depending on the distance from the heart of the Empire, the definition of a Territ can be based of history, geographic features, or an even mathematical division—with the latter occurring closer to the capitol. Territs are traditionally divided into three groups—the Dial Territs, which are the major heartlands of the Empire and include large parts of the lands of the Fallen and the Green; the Ring Territs, which are further out and represent the lands which joined the Empire in the Years of Sunrise such as the Arabies, the Ninety-Nine Kingdoms, the Bewilderness, etc; and the Horizon Territs. These are the lands, principalities, kingdoms and unassuming tracts at the farthest reaches. This last set of Territs includes many places who pledged themselves to the Empire in return for maintenance of local customs and access to markets. In some cases they represent military conquests when forces outside the Empire have tried to strike at it. The rule of reprisal for the Empire is to take any fight to the heartlands of the enemy—a policy which has resulted in slow continual expansion. The Horizon Territs include the Shacklelands, the Dusk Tower, and most recently what is commonly called the Breech, a set of breaks in the World Wall.

Auditors and Accountants survey the Territs on a rotating basis—the closer to the heart of the Empire, the more frequent the visits. In the outskirts, it might be thirty-some years between the arrival of auditors. There exists a certain flexibility of border and demarcation the further one goes out as well. Governors have a great deal of leeway in decisions, provided they abide by the basic Codex of Moments, the sets of basic rights and laws. Basic here may be a misnomer in that the rues can often be quite complex. Given the breadth of the Empire, it is unsurprising that governors vary in their actual influence. In some places, popular temples may hold sway, and in others the Brotherhoods or criminal gangs may hold sway. A governor can appeal for assistance up his chain of command to his Governor of Days (usually overseeing twelve Territs), but at a cost of money, influence and reputation.

Torcs of the Empire
One the three divine orders of the Empire, it differs from the Fists and Masks of the Empire in possessing three internal divisions. Like the others, the Torcs possess singular items representing their rank and role, in this case a band around the neck. The design of the torcs among the three divisions is uniform, unlike the variety of designs found elsewhere. The three divisions of the Torcs are the Emperor of the Hours, the Senate of the Minutes, and the Accountants of the Seconds.

The Accountants of the Seconds are the senior functionaries, operatives and agents who are tied to the maintenance and management of the affairs of the empire. Those who work in the civil service in the most general sense are eligible to become an Accountant of the Seconds. The exact circumstance of the
choice varies-- a particularly bright and able worker may find himself selected after only a few months while a veteran of service may find himself selected only days before retirement. At any one time, there are several thousand Accountants scattered across the Empire. Accountants are deferred to by their lessers and usually have authority within their area of expertise, but must bow to the other two orders (and of course to the Senate) unless they can bring a case and summon a host of Accountants, often a difficult procedure unless the Accountant has prepared ahead of time.

The torcs of the Accountants of Seconds are closed and cannot be taken off once placed. While somewhat resilient to harm, these torcs can be broken, requiring the Accountant to return to the capital to present themselves for assessment. Breaking the torc of an Accountant is considered a crime against the Empire. These torcs possess three important properties-- first, they carry a sigil which is used to mark messages and to denote authority for reports entering the grand bureaucracy of the Empire. Second, it allows an Accountant to communicate privately at a distance with a Senator (or the Emperor) if they are called upon to do so. The Accountant cannot initiate this communication. Lastly, an Accountant can, with a verbal command, create a recording of an interaction. The duration of this recording depends on if it is purely auditory or includes visual information. An Accountant can only keep one recording in his torc at a time, but any recordings made are apparently also stored in the capital.

The Senate of the Hours is comprised of those who struggle to manage and make consistent the laws and structure of the Empire. The Senate is made up of three divisions of seventy-seven members-- the Left, Middle, and Right Houses. The Left Senate is made up of those, chosen on their 35th birthday, who apparently represent the best of the Empire. This can include any citizen of the Empire whom the gods believe can aid in the running of affairs. The Middle Senate draws from the noble houses of the Empire and has hereditary positions. There have been changes within the empire which have required adjustments to the membership here, often leading to great strife. The Right Senate is also chosen, but chosen by the whole of the Senate itself, making it a place for patronage and acknowledgment of the importance of certain groups and factions. Though it happens rarely, the Gods of the Zenith possess the right to veto any choice made to fill a seat here. All Senatorial seats are held until death or the age of 77.

The Torcs of Senators are open, allowing them to remove them as needed. Only the bearer of the Emperor can remove a Torc. Stronger than those possessed by the Accountants of the Seconds, these Torcs can still be broken. Several have been in times of turmoil and strife requiring the intervention of the Gods to reforge them through the agency of the Emperor. A Senator's Torc allows him to communicate at a distance with other Senators, with Accountants and, should he permit it, the Emperor himself. The Torcs serve as markers for votes and, as with the Accountants, can record information in the surrounding area. Additionally, the Torcs apparently grant the bearer enhanced memory allowing them to juggle names, faces, facts and figures with ease. While the Torcs of the Accountants are coppery, those of Senators appear Silver.

The Emperor of the Hours has dual roles, both to carry out the wishes of the Senate and to move the Senate to decisions and actions. At times this has created tensions, but in recent years the two divisions have worked together for the greater prosperity of the Empire. The Emperor bears the master Torc, borne upon his brow rather than around his neck. It is of solid white, representing the purity of his role. Other members of the Emperor's house who are eligible for the line of succession bear similar Torcs around their necks, but of black. Should the Emperor fall or resign the throne, the next Emperor will be known when his (or her) Torc turns white. There have been three changes of lineage for the throne over the course of the Empire, in one case, wholly removing the Imperial line from the original family. The present line has been stable for nearly two centuries. The powers possessed by the Black and White Torcs have never been fully cataloged, or at least not publicly.

Toward Never's Light (Group)
Turnlock Gates (Place)
Ul-Tasking (Thing)


Undone (Mask Order)
One of the seven orders of the Masks of the Empire, also known as the Undone. Daysar the Steward founded and oversees this order. Outsiders often perceive the Cardea as the catch-all order among the seven. Where each of the other orders has an obvious purpose and a role, the Cardea seem lack one. In fact, the Cardea fulfill an important role both as solitary agents and within a group-- they are the ones who carry things out. If there is a sacrifice to be made or a risk to be taken, it is the Cardea who will do this. Of course this does not mean that skills and abilities are not taken into consideration in making such decisions, but all other things being equal, the Cardea will carry out.

The Cardea are also those who taken upon themselves the burden of more unorthodox and problematic missions. For example, it may be necessary for the Masks to undertake missions of assassination, defamation, or of generally questionable morality. In other cases where it has been necessary for someone to serve as a scapegoat or to shoulder a burden of responsibility it is the Cardea who take this up.

Consequently, the training of the Cardea is left up to the individual masks more so than in the other orders. Usually they chooses roles and paths that complement their previous experiences. Those chosen for the Cardea are often older or have strange reasons for having joined the Masks. It is well known that the Cardea have the highest mortality rate among the orders and the largest percentage of lost masks at any one time.

As with all orders, the Cardea possess several unique powers tied to their masks. The basic power of the Cardea is the ability to ignore fatigue, the exhaustion of heat, the energy sap of cold and so on. While they still will eventually suffer the actual effects of these circumstances, they can continue through them without losing focus. The second power, as with other orders, is learned after time and harmonizing with one's mask, allows the Cardea to ignore the effects of more severe wounds and damage for a time.

Vatalka dan'Oman (God)
Verebok the Voice (God)
Vidicali (Mask Order)
Winter's Love Campaigns (Event)
Wrath of the Sunken (Group)
Yearning Rift (Place)
Yellow-Minded Brothers (Group)
Zhivkarak dan'Hails (God)