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

by James Rhuland

Firstly, though the Great Order is includes many "nefarious Thyatian schemers," by no means does it include all of them. That wicked Thyatian over there very well may not be an Order member. In fact, the more obvious he is about it, the less likely it is that he's an Order member. Ludwig von Hendricks should never be portrayed as having been an Order member. Desmond Kelvin might be.

Order members prize subtlety over brute force, but can be brutal in their methods if they need to. Opponents of the Great Order tend to disappear quietly...

Secondly, though the Great Order is part of the corruption that is a backdrop of Thyatis, and the corruption of the Order's ideals is symbolic of that, the members of the Order are not themselves corrupt in their dealings with each other. Rarely are they treacherous in their dealings with each other (except, perhaps, in issues of promotion). Almost all members would rather die than betray the Great Order. Members who learn of the Geas or of nasty deaths suffered by Order members who do turn out to be "stool pigeons" react *not* in thinking that their leadership was nasty in putting the hex on that person. They instead think that such traitors/canaries "got what they had coming to them." Most Order members, if caught in the act and sentenced for a crime, will do the time and never "rat out" the Order itself. In return, their prison stays are often fairly comfortable (cf the prison life of the Mafia members in "Goodfellas.)

The Great Order is, however, *secondarily* a criminal organisation. They are *not* the Shadow-Hand Thief's Guild or the Mystaran Mafia. They get some income from extortion, bootlegging/smuggling (goods that "fell off the back of a cart") and "protection rackets" in some places, but this is not the purpose of the Great Order and it should not be played as if it were. However, they do have similarities to the images of the Mafia (or the "Hollywood Mafia") at least, especially in organisation, methods, and influence (political and among law enforcement).

The Order's purpose is not profit through criminal enterprise. Their activities are centred, and should always be portrayed as being centred, on "Thyatian power," subversion of foreign governments, and the like.

The Great Order is perfect for campaigns when the Storm Soldiers become tiresome (or are defeated by the PCs). The Great Order is much more subtle, but no less powerful (and probably more powerful/influential overall) than the Storm Soldiers are. They make a perfect threat to displace Thanatos' minions if/when they are defeated in your campaign. Thwarting the Great Order ultimately should never be based on how many members, including the Omnicratic Master, the players kill (in fact, the players shouldn't likely encounter the Omnicratic Master except as the climax of a campaign, and defeat should be as likely as victory in such a situation). Opposing the Great Order should be more a matter of political manoeuvring and counterscheming, not hacking and slashing. Characters who kill many Order members are likely to be arrested, tried, and convicted of murder. And their stays in prison will be *nothing* like those of the "Goodfellas" crowd.