|The Social Organizations: The Masquerade, The Occuso|
Some say that the Masquerade is the most powerful and most organized of all the groups in Archaea. Their eyes, ears, and daggers are everywhere from the sewers of Lathay to the council chambers of Sarhall. The Masquerade, or the guild of thieves, is rumored to have a vast network of con-men, cutpurses, charlatans, spies, and mercenaries as well as a few warriors and magic-users. The strength of the thieves' guild is in their number and in their diversity.
The Masquerade is said to be centered at Lathay in the province of Asta but the web of the Masque extends to all the cities of the realm. Subterfuge and intrigue are the staple of Masquerade activities as well as the need to make a neat profit.
Whether it be in a small town or a great city, there will always be a Masquerade hall. Each hall is run by a Prince who has dominion over his or her territory.
The group's goal is to acquire something for nothing-or at least as much for as little as possible. Members often receive news, rumors, tip-offs, and other benefits such as guild protection if necessary. In return, the Masquerade requires absolute secrecy, loyalty, and a share of a member's "earnings." A member who does not comply with the ruling of the Masquerade or who is too stingy with donations will often find themselves hunted in a world where there is no place to hide.
Furthermore, Masquerade members shun great weapons, armors above Brigandine (6-point), and medium and large shields.
The Masquerade have also been called the Net, the Web, the Sly, and with some facetiousness, The Silver Guild.
Becoming a member is a delicate process. Membership is often by invitation (and when the Masque calls, it's impolite--and deadly--not to answer). Other than the Prince, who resides at the top of a particular city's hierarchy, members are divided into three main levels: apprentice, journeyman, and master. Depending on the level, the prerequisites and benefits will vary (calculated for Rule of Skill):
PRIMARY SKILLS: Appraising, Climbing, Courtier, F/R Traps, Forgery, Lock
Picking, Nautical Lore, Pick Pocket, Poison Lore
Thieves' Cant is the secret "language" of the underworld full of code words and ciphers. Only members of the Masquerade understand the strange, stilted speech and the nonsensical handwriting. The Cant is updated and changed almost every year keeping the rest of the world in the dark. The spell Translation will not decipher Thieves' Cant.
The Thief's Bag is a magic item awarded to a member who has reached journeyman status. It is represented in game by a plaid cloth drawstring pouch (of non-stretch material) of no more than 12" x 12" in size. Anything which can be fit in the pouch and have the pouch close completely becomes invisible and is considered magically hidden from sight and the skills Looting and Concealing. The Thief's Bag is a small extradimensional space and Detect Invisibility will reveal an area of magic but will not allow the caster to access the bag. A Detect Magic will not reveal the bag. However, a Concealing skill of level 11 or greater will reveal the Thief's Bag. Once the bag is revealed either by magic or skill, a Looting skill of 11 or greater will allow access to its contents unless the thief can better hide it.
The Thief's Point is a magical dagger awared to a long-standing member who has reached master status. The Thief's Point is rendered invisible to everyone except the thief and other master rank or higher members of the Masquerade. The Thief's Point is represented in game by a dagger covered in plaid tied with a plaid ribbon. A Detect Magic will not reveal the invisible dagger, but a Detect Invisibilty will show an area of magic. The Thief's Point inflicts Mortal damage.
The Thief's Medal is a magic talisman given to protect the highest members of the Masquerade. The player must wear a small medallion designed with a symbol of the organization. While wearing the Thief's Medal, the thief cannot be normally or magically bound, tied, shackled, or netted. The magic of the medal even protects the thief from the Plant spell Entangle and similar magics that tie or bind. However, the medal does not prevent the thief from being caged, locked in a room, left in a pit, or similarly entrapped. The medal does not protect the thief from the Water spell Frozen Tomb, the Earth spell Quagmire, the Body spell Touch of Paralysis, or similar effects. Only the thief gains the benefits of the Thief's Medal.
Kindred to the Masquerade, the Occuso or the Midali Underground finds its home in Midal City. While the larger Masquerade gathers wealth in the west, the younger Occuso gathers a different kind of power in the east-the power that comes from knowledge and information.
The Occuso have developed very specialized skills to serve very specific interests. They are mainly spies, information gatherers, secret messengers, subversives, blackmailers, and saboteurs. In fact, those of the Masquerade who show unusual aptitude in the spying arts are sent to train under the Occuso. Therefore, the two organizations share close ties and value one another's interests. Many Occuso serve as the watchmen and informers of not only the Masquerade but of the many governments across the realm. Trading secrets, falsifying information, and covering or uncovering intrigue are the mainstay of the Underground.
Like their Masquerade brethren, the Occuso demand of their members completely fealty, secrecy, and a share of the gathered information. The Occuso, though, never share all of their information even amongst themselves. They live by a simple principle--"There is no complete truth." The Occuso live cloaked and disguised lives always hidden in the shadows and invisible to everyday eyes. They are observers and rarely participate lest it make their presence known.
Members are usually garnered through the ranks of the Masquerade or through careful invitation. In fact, the Occuso have often approached those in positions to acquire the information they seek--a chamber maid, a bodyguard, a personal servant. To become part of the Occuso, characters must meet the following requisites (calculated for Rule of Skill):
FAVORED LORES: History, any Lore
The full description of the Occuso can be found in the full-version of the Archaea sourcebook.
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