The Guardians of the Veil are the sons and daughters of Visus Draconis (or "Eye of the Dragon") and serve as enforcers, secret police and spies for the Lex Magica and Consilii that hold to its tenets. Oftentimes social pariahs, they are considered by Awakened society to be assassins. Down through the centuries, disguise and infiltration have been honed to levels unheard of by any Sleeper intelligence agency. They have developed 49 different types of identities, called Masques (in game terms, Masques are based on all possible combos of the seven traditional Virtues and Vices). A favored infiltration/monitoring tactic is to temporarily intercept newly-Awakened who might be better suited among the other Orders and, after passing on some tantalizing question or other fact to the unaligned new mage, release him/her to be formally claimed by one of the other Orders; the other Order thus receives a new recruit who may or may not become a Guardian spy.
The guardians seek to keep the Diamond Wheel (their vision of the sacred path of creation) moving, whole, safe, and in balance; with this in mind they may make the sacrifices other Orders are simply unwilling to make so that all may fulfill the true destiny of magic. They also await the coming of the Hieromagus, who will unify Awakened society, seal the Abyss, and judge the Guardians' sins.
Simply put: Magic is a secret and not all, even among the Awakened, are truly worthy of its gifts. Dissonance and the paradox it reaps must be stopped, as these serve only to strengthen the Abyss between the Supernal Realm and our Fallen home.
To Guardians, the primary fallacy of moral absolutism is that it doesn’t take into account a mage’s social role or his mystical connection to the rest of the world. A soul is more rhan the lifespark of an individual; a soul makes itself known by the effect it has on others. Guardians of the Veil believe that there are many roles for mages. Awakened teachers, warriors, priests and scholars all contribute to shared spiritual health. These Wise must be allowed to follow the right path and test themselves with personal ordeals in order to heal the Fallen World. Guardians call the collected souls of mages the Diamond Wheel. It is fundamentally pure and always in motion, bringing mages to their deserved ends. Guardian doctrine says that the Wheel is always unfolding into intricate patterns, like a kaleidoscope, and, given enough care, this pattern will eventually coalesce into a new Atlantis. Mages must simply work together so that their combined souls refl ect the spirit of the Awakened City. Mages who hinder the Diamond Wheel -Scelesti, Banishers, errant mages etc.- have to be destroyed, even at the cost of personal Wisdom. Thus, the Guardian sacrifices his own spiritual advancement for the sake of the Awakened Nation.
Though mages have the right to rule, they cannot grow disconnected from the rest of humanity. Therefore, the order makes magic harder to learn by surrounding it with ordeals, to ensure that only the worthy attain the mysteries. Novice mages walk with luck and survive against trials that would destroy their old selves, so Guardians created a new barrier: the Veils of Magic. First of the infamous Veils that separate a mage from the Guardians’ many secrets, the Gray Veil is an extended test of loyalty and principles. As the candidate learns the qualities valued by the mysterious organization, she is put in various situations that challenge her to follow their guidelines or not, as she pleases. The organization is, in fact, a sham overseen by the Guardians, called a Labyrinth. The mage, although promising Sleepers and Proximi can also become entangled into the Grey Veil, has to transcend the Labyrinth by virtue of merit, allowing him to reach the true meaning of the flawed symbolism before him. After a mages passes the Gray Veil, the Red Veil awaits. The mage is formally introduced into the Order, but is only allowed to tip the surface. Red brothers, as they are called among full initiates of the order and the less-couth elder mages, are given tasks specifi cally suited to their skills. Sample tasks given to a red brother include acting as messenger, relaying confidential communication and orders, surveillance and spy work, watching suspects of minor importance and guard work, watching over Guardians of the Veil sanctums and other secure facilities. The Red Veil is lifted when the associate has proven that he is willing to kill (e.g to sacrifice his own Wisdom) for the Order and the greater good of the Awakened. The following Black Veil, in contrast, is short, but more stressing. It is the moment when a mage must choose between obeying and what is right is when the Black Veil either lets the candidate pass or traps him in its folds. Failure to pierce the Black Veil lead to debarment from the Order. The order uses the Three Veils amongst themselves, but also tries to hinder other mages from learning secrets before they are spiritually prepared.
The Order avoids writing its teachings down, instead relying on an oral tradition called the Law of the Mask. Senior members tell novices the ways of the order through poems, stories and songs. There are no mandatory tales, but reachers are expected to cover every necessary procedure and precept. While members are free to make up their own elements, most Guardians use narratives passed on from their own teachers. History and occult training are not the only uses of an oral tradition. The Law of the Mask formed out of a desire for secrecy, and spycraft forms much of the lore. Guardians do not trust the written High Speech to conceal their communications. Aside from that, the order uses many of the practices of mundane intelligence operatives. First and foremost, Guardians of the Veil institute an internal culture of secrecy that uses reliable, simple methods, leaving magic to deal with emergencies and supernatural opponents.
The Guardians of the Veil have very strict regulations governing members’ interactions with the walking, talking, magic-degrading machines known as Sleepers. Any meeting between a Guardian and a Sleeper is one in which the Veil that hides the Mysteries could accidentally be breached. Secrets tumble from an unwary mage’s mouth and the Mysteries are spoilt, spells thoughtlessly spill from a careless mage’s desire and the Abyss grows wider, making a mage’s vision of the Supernal all the dimmer. The only good end to an encounter with a Sleeper is one in which nothing jostles the Lie; it is left undisturbed because the Sleeper saw nothing. Most Guardians try to envelop Sleepers who are interested in magic into their labyrinths, hoping to distract them from the truths that are too much for them and to possibly guide them to Awakening via the paradoxical "mysteries" they teach. Most Labyrinths also provide the Guardians with cheap labourers and agents among Sleeper society, bringing them into conflict with the Silver Ladder.
The Exoteric TenetsEdit
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 fi nal 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 grandiose 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.
- 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 extent that they might overstep their bounds and endanger other quests for enlightenment. Arcane secrets and obscure symbolism must weed out seekers 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, ethnicity, and the like are almost never used to determine worth. Petty bigotry is beneath the Awakened perspective.
The Esoteric TenetsEdit
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.
- 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 fit to rule. Guardians do not need to recognize the historical legitimacy of any order’s claim to the Atlantean ways.
- There is a secret hierarchy of Souls: All mages are a part of the Diamond Wheel; they draw power from a common source that manifests itself in the tendency to Awaken, to seek out certain Watchtowers and to join various orders and Legacies. The momentum of the Wheel makes these choices partially predestined, because other mages have paved the way for future Sleepers to Awaken. Some Guardians believe in reincarnation, so that the soul itself continues evolving though a succession of bodies. A soul predisposed to finding occult truth is more likely to Awaken than one that’s spent its time in the Fallen World. The order’s duty is to test those souls and press them to do great deeds.
- The Hieromagus will fulfill the Diamond Wheel: Guardian legends tell of the Hieromagus, a mage-messiah that will unite the Fallen and Supernal Worlds and end the threat of Paradox forever. When the Hieromagus has come, the Order will no longer be needed and its mission will be fulfilled.
Guardians of the Veil assign internal positions according to function instead of ritual need. Ceremonies are matters for magic and Labyrinth psychodramas, but practical secret-keeping requires clearly defi ned duties and the right people to carry them out. The majority of Guardians don’t have formal positions at all; they are jacks-of-all-trades who perform all necessary tasks. Those who hold titles for any length of time do their best to specialize, but never at the expense of broad studies.
- Neophyte - Mage who have passed the Black Veil and are full members of the Guardians
- Emissary - Emissaries act as in-betweeners between the Guardians and the other Atlantean Orders. They also specialize in neutralizing threat against the Guardians
- Cultor - Cultors are tasked with maintaining and cultivating Labyrinths
- Famulus - Mages who have the responsibility to plan and execute important tasks within the order and to act as propagandists to maintain the secrecy of Guardian activities.
- Interfector - Interfectors act as henchmen to a local Consilium, stalking and torturing enemies of the Awakened
- Susceptor - Susceptors act as the Order's spies, infiltrating hostile groups and sometimes even other Pentacle orders
- Epopt - Epopts guide and direct Labyrinths and the local Guardian forces
- Magister - Magisters have mastered their first Arcanum and have to guide the Order morally and spiritually, maintaining the Guardians’ sacrificial integrity in the face of ever-increasing threats to their way of life
Guardians of the Veil do not march in lockstep to a single tune; they vary in the emphasis they place upon certain ideological ttenets of the order — and some Guardians even hold tenets considered foolhardy or even heretical by others. Inevitably, some members of the order devolve into petty factionalism, carrying the banner of a particular creed higher than other elements of Guardian belief, such that Guardians argue and even come to blows with members of opposing factions.
- Faceless: Masters of the Masques, the Faceless believe that the Fallen World is imperiled by the actions of vain and careless mages, and the Faceless harbor a deep resentment against each and every mage who's too stupid, irresponsible and vain to adjust her magical practice to reflect the dire reality of the situation. As such, they haunt such mages and try to teach them the errors of their ways.
- Messianics: These mages experience their defense of the Veil as a spiritual calling and a religious struggle, and even though it may take a toll on their souls, they believe that their efforts and their pain are for the noblest of all possible causes: the defense of the Fallen World and, ultimately, the defeat of the Exarchs.
- Inheritors: As they see it, the Inheritors are the only faction within the Guardians of the Veil really dedicated to keeping the Mysteries from the eyes of the unworthy, and there's little the Inheritors won't do to keep the blindsided from nudging aside the Veil and seeing what they're not supposed to. This definition doesn't distinguish based on whether a person has Awakened or not, it judges others based on their intelligence, prudence, and discretion in dealing with the Mysteries.
- Ordeal Keepers: Seekers of perfection that strive to perfect Sleepers via the Labyrinth and guid them towards Awakening. Consequently, they are ardent foes of cronyism or any system of assigning authority in which competence is not the sole criterion for assessing worth and fitness to lead.
- Prophets: Information brokers and mystics, they are the most open faction within the Order
- , p.39-42