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The Ordo Magna (aka The Great Order or simply The Order).

by James Ruhland

Interests: This order is dedicated to the maintenance and revival of Thyatian power and the subjugation of its foreign enemies (defined as anyone even remotely opposed to Thyatis) by the use of whatever means necessary.

Requirements: Any class or race may join the Great Order, but all members must be Thyatian citizens (though they may operate in disguise in lands outside Thyatis). Paladin and Forester status is incompatible with membership in the modern Great Order, but many Avengers are members of the Order.

All prospective members must be approached by current members (the Great Order doesn't operate recruiting centres and there is no one to go to ask to join). Such prospects are first given missions/undertakings by Order members *without* knowing that the organisation is involved. All such missions require the prospect to face some danger and to prove to the sponsor their dedication to "Thyatian ideals" in some fashion, though this is *never* explicitly stated. Most will involve some moral quandary: those who are good candidates for membership in the Great Order will put its goals and the efficient achievement of them above any other ethical value.

All members must be 3rd level or higher and must have succeeded in several such missions to the satisfaction of order leaders (who will covertly monitor the result of their activities) before they are even approached for membership. Becoming a member of the Great Order is similar to becoming a "made man" in a thieves guild or mob. The Order will run a background check, both magical and mundane, to insure the trustworthiness of any candidate. Many people work for the Order without even knowing they do so, and are never approached to become members.

Annual Fee: No set fee. Members are required to forward at least 25% of the "take"/booty gotten in any mission to their superiors as "taxes" to the Order, which fund its activities. In return equipment (including magic items and lodging) are often made available to members, especially if it is deemed necessary for any mission they are given.

Benefits: Contacts throughout Thyatis and abroad, including members of law enforcement groups that are on the Order's payroll and will thus botch any investigation of Order-related criminal activities. In addition, as a result of the conditioning provided by the Great Order, members are immune to ESP (spell results will reveal only mundane surface thoughts that the probed person wants the spellcaster to receive) and are as resistant to Charm (but not sleep) as Elves.

Problems: The only way to leave the Great Order is feet-first in a box. Ritual Magic samples will be taken from all members for use by Order mages against any member who rebels against Order discipline, goes rogue, or even is captured and seems likely to reveal (either deliberately or inadvertently) important Order-related information to outsiders. Geas-type spells are also placed on each member during the initiation rite (which involves a variety of semi-mystical mumbo-jumbo) to insure their compliance.