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Council Of Awakened Traditions

Throughout most of history, humanity has been guided by mystics of various sorts. They've ranged from dedicated ritualists to folk witches and lordly priests to medicine folk. Throughout Europe, northern Africa and western Asia, the Roman Empire's collapse left a great many philosophically-minded scholars less than pleased with this state. Over the course of centuries, an alliance of artificers, doctors, natural philosophers, explorers, and reformist religious leaders slowly came together. In 1325, they formalized their "Order of Reason," declaring war on superstition, the occult...and all things alien to their world.

The various mystics who found themselves on the wrong end of witch hunts literal and figurative, who saw enchanted allies hunted for merely existing and communities forcibly converted, banded together to protect their own. It took another century and more, yet by 1470 the Free Council of Nine Mystic Traditions had formed to resist the Order of Reason's more tyrannical impulses. This coalition of mystics fought to defend their Arts and allies from the Order's spreading banality. Alas, this often led to an opposition to science itself. The rational and the fantastic wage war, and nothing on Earth is the victor.

Surprising the Traditions, the Order of Reason is divided by the Enlightenment, as the faithful look askance at their skeptical allies. The Council is able to capitalize on this in Europe with Romanticism, and opposes the Order's vision of One World by stoking the fires of revolution. America is considered a mixed bag, with lofty principles of liberty violated by institutionalized slavery and Manifest Destiny. France is an epic failure. Both prove that rebellion is beyond the control of even the greatest mages, and the Council decides to wait for movements to arise naturally rather than try to mold them.

The 19th Century pushes the Council's resolve on the matter to its limits. Tradition mages believe they live in an age of unprecedented conquest and atrocity. Industrialism threatens to crush human imagination while creating wealth for a handful, while wars grow ever more deadly. Even the Order of Reason is wracked by internal strife as their masters try to reconfigure them into a Technocratic Union, and the Traditions are happy to get out of the way and let the "Clockwork Conventions" eat their own.

When the short-lived Technocracy explodes into outright civil war in 1899, the Council is caught completely off-guard, but moves quickly to take advantage. Their efforts come to a crashing halt when many of their own move in to control nations rather than liberate them. For five years, the two great alliances of the Awakened turn on themselves, their great works left in shambles. During this epic war, the truth is revealed by heroic adventurers on both sides: they have all been used. A faction of Archmasters calling themselves Exarchs has manipulated both sides to keep humanity's potential crippled. The reason for this is uncertain, but their goal of binding the Tellurian in stasis is not. Rival archmasters known only as the Oracles whisper assistance to champions of Reason and Mysticism alike, and the Traditions are reborn.

The Technocratic Union is not. Not all Awakened have the courage to oppose the terrible power of the Exarchs, and those who submit become the Panopticon Ministries, openly embracing oppression of the human spirit. Originally composed of over half the Technocracy and approximately a third of the Traditions, these Ministy Awakened move to consolidate their worldly power, taking over most of the Technocracy's political and financial resources with insulting ease. Science is another matter, as large numbers of the medical, engineering, and exploration factions defect to the Council en masse in what they call the Great Refusal. The future will be liberty, they insist, not Technocracy.

Though some of the Traditions have added members and changed names over the decades since the Great Refusal and the subsequent alliance, the Council has more or less remained what it became in the wake of Panopticon's formation:

  • Akashayana (or Akashic Order): The original Akashayana was centered almost entirely in the area around India and China, with some of their philosophy spreading to the surrounding regions. The formation of the Council infused the Akashayana with European adherents, as did the Great Refusal. Akashics hold the Seat of Mind, the Awakened Sphere of thought, using it to master the self. Their primary Art is Do, the Way, which unites body and mind into a single whole. This Art is a devastating combat style, but its true purpose is to see the illusion of the world for what it is: a creation of Mind itself.
  • Celestial Chorus: A faction of Christian origin, the insights of Awakening have long since allowed most members to see beyond dogma to the truth of the One behind every monotheistic belief system. These magickal universalists wield their unity with the One to protect and heal humanity while protecting it from its enemies. The Choristers hold the Seat of Prime, the Awakened Sphere of reality itself, experiencing it as the One from which all comes and to which all returns. Their primary Art is the Song of the One, through which they can perform miracles and manifest the power of their faith.
  • Dreamspeakers (or Kha'vadi): During the original convocation that created the original Nine Traditions, there were medicine folk, shamans, and spirit-talkers from around the world who did not fit any of the larger organizations present. Though being lumped together was done partly out of ignorance and arrogance, the union of Those-Who-Speak-In-Dreams became fortuitous when conquerors rolled over most of their lands. United in mutual defense and in the effort to get the other Traditions to pay attention to the state of the world, the Kha'vadi struggle to renew their cultures individually and collectively. The Dreamspeakers hold the Seat of Spirit, the Awakened Sphere of the realms beyond, and experience it as a constant part of their lives. Their primary Art is Animism, which allows Kha'vadi to call on the spiritual in all things to perform "magic."
  • Ecstatic Underground (or Sahajiya): A group that has changed names as often as their clothes, so the joke goes, the Ecstatics are sacred shatterers of boundaries, wielding the Awakened Arts through passions from love to music. Wielding sensation itself as a focus for their magick, Underground wizards strive even more than most Tradition Awakened to free the minds of the people. The Ecstatics hold the Seat of Time, the Awakened Sphere of continuity. Their primary Art, as their name implies, is Ecstasy -- the condition, not the drug -- and through this altered state they alter the world. Most Ecstatics have a great time in the process.
  • Euthanatos (or Chakravanti): Unfairly stereotyped as the assassins of the Traditions, the Euthanatoi are keepers of karma and defenders of the Wheel of Life. While they do sometimes hunt monsters and the Council's enemies (and yes, survivors from the Hashashin did help form the Tradition), the Chakravanti spend far more time preserving life among those whose time has not yet come, as well as serving justice in more temperate ways. The Euthanatoi now hold the Seat of Death, the Awakened Sphere of endings. Their primary Art is Entropy, as they held the Seat of the Entropy Sphere before the Council reworked the model during the Great Refusal, and Euthanatoi are usually masters of coincidence and collapse. As such, they wield Fate as often as Death.
  • Genesis Union: When refugees from the Technocracy came to the Council, they had the numbers to form Traditions of their own. The most hard-science Tradition, the Genesis Union is the marriage of biologists and early bionics advocates. Their ethos exalts the enhancement and implantation of the human body, promoting biotech and cybernetic enhancement alike. The Union hold the Seat of Life, the Awakened Sphere of biology. Their primary Art is Transhumanism, and even those few who seek to transcend the body entirely embrace the need to understand flesh before escaping it.
  • Hallowyck: Creepy and kooky. Mysterious and spooky. You know the song. Keepers of old rites renewed and inventors of pop magic with ancient roots, these witches of the old world and New Age alike resist Panopticon tyranny with zeal and style. This amalgam of Tradition and Craft has burgeoned with new numbers in recent decades, and in spite of all-out assaults on their beliefs and habits, they are the largest Tradition in terms of active, knowing membership. The Hallowyck hold the Seat of Fate, the Awakened Sphere of luck and destiny. Their primary Art is the Mythic Thread, and by tapping into the most ancient legends of magic they can safely perform wonders that would bring Paradox down on most others.
  • Order of Hermes: Though the mighty have fallen (repeatedly), the Order remains a force to be reckoned with. Classic wizards of discipline and Will, masters of the Hermetic Arts remain capable of amazing works of spellcraft, though they must beware Paradox more than most. The Order holds the Seat of Forces, the Awakened Sphere of energy and force. Their primary Art is High Ritual; while Hermetics are quite capable of improvising, they are the past masters of epic, rite-based spellcasting.
  • Society of Ether: These champions of Inspired Science led the mass defection of the Great Refusal. Believers in a Utopian future where knowledge and enlightenment make all things possible, the Etherites wield technologies ranging from slightly odd to patently absurd while seeking to better the world. Society members themselves are as diverse as armchair philosopher-physicists and adventuring pulp heroes with fantastic abilities. Etherites hold the Seat of Matter, the Awakened Sphere of unliving substance. Their primary Art is Ether Science, which (unlike Genesis Union or Virtual Engineer technology) overtly calls upon the mutable nature of reality to create wonders that rival anything wizardry can conjure.
  • Virtual Engineers: Another amalgam of factions, the Virtual Engineers are masters of distance both conceptual and literal. While their culture ranges from slide-rule NASA engineers to actual cyberpunks, their style is one of the most homogeneous: most Engineers use good old hard-tech to discover and create the future. While they have their share of reality hackers (think Neo) and psionic space marines, this Tradition exists to push the boundaries of knowledge and exploration, and they want to take humanity along for the ride. Champions of the Internet (which Panopticon hates) and proponents of space travel, the Engineers also build anything and everything that seems like a good idea. The Engineers hold the Seat of Space, the Awakened Sphere of distance and correspondence. Their Art is Number Crunching, which they use for designing everything from their signature Trinary computers (each bit has three states -- yes, no and "maybe") to functioning jump drives (they have actual space stations) to methods of hacking the universe (yep, even the Virtual Engineers have "mages").