The year is 1897 and every group has received an invitation to send its most prominent and important members to a diplomatic summit where new and revised agreements can be created to bring the groups together in solidarity against outside threats. There will be discussions, but there will also be a banquet and a ball, to hopefully celebrate the newly formed alliance. The hosts of this gathering are the newest magical society in existence – the Esoteric Institute of Louisiana. They are currently unaligned with any other particular group, and many of the other organizations have been courting their technology-focused magicians in attempts to increase the power of their own factions.
Each player will receive a character from one of the following 8 factions, which they will receive well ahead of the game.
- The Esoteric Institute of Louisiana
- The Theosophical Society of New England
- The White Horse Adventurers Club
- Uncle Theo’s Cirque du Freak
- The Order of Cernunnos
- The Beacon Hill Players
- The Sentinels
- The Eclipsed
- Atlantean Accord
- The Delphians
The events preceding the signing of the Compact created more questions than they answered, and the arcane scientists of the Esoteric Institute have been hard at work researching these mysteries, testing new theories, and running endless experiments. Like their peers in the Club, the Institute has been actively seeking to understand the problems posed by daemons and the Others, albeit in a more controlled, scientific setting. They, however, are not mired by past politics and have dedicated themselves to being a neutral, mediating presence among the Arcanum so as to avoid such hindrances. Naturally, individual members maintain this ideal to varying degrees, but the Institute as a whole remains zealously devoted to the pursuit of knowledge above all else. And now, the marvelous miracle machines they have constructed in the last year have a more cohesive purpose—the brewing war with powers beyond their understanding.
As ever, there is society, and then there is the Society. The Theosophical Society of New England remains a haven for the wealthy and social elite among arcanists, who have, since their formation, ensured that they are among the preeminent movers and shakers in the newly reformed American Arcanum. To the surprise of many, as they once boasted the most restrictive requirements for membership, they have adapted well to the new, intermingled social structure of the Arcanum. In the months following the signing of the Compact, the Society has moved to rapidly expand their power-base beyond New York and the surrounding states. To help facilitate this, they have relaxed their previously strict provisions on new members, in order to keep up with the rat-race among their rivals in the Arcanum and fully prepare for the coming storm, in whatever form it may take. Their promise of elevation to the upper echelons of wealth and prestige for those with power, but not privilege, have been too tempting for many arcanists to refuse.
White Horse Adventurer’s Club
Freed by the Compact from the necessity of guarding their territory from expropriation, the sorcerer-pioneers of the White Horse Adventurers Club have returned in full force to their true passion: discovery. Driven by the revelation of daemons walking about in the flesh and the mysterious Others preying upon humanity at their whim, many members of the Club have taken once again to research and exploration with great urgency, hoping to find answers to how to fight these strange threats before it is too late. But time is not their only enemy. Old habits die hard, building trust takes time, and some among the Club are less than eager to blindly trust their new compatriots among the Arcanum. There are even whispers that there may be a fracture among the Club’s leadership, as some care less for discovery than for hunting the terrors that stalk humanity.
Uncle Theo’s Cirque du Freak
The more things change the more they seem to stay the same for Uncle Theo’s Cirque du Freak. The collection of performers, “freaks,” and entertainers has largely returned to the role it played before the Secret War between the factions as scouts, couriers, and information brokers. Their continued nomadic lifestyle, traveling along the railways of America, has ensured that they are often the eyes and ears of the Arcanum; a scouting and investigative force that has proved invaluable to their allies among that burgeoning organization. Strange events are on the rise, and more often than not, the Cirque is the first to encounter such mysterious happenings. They are still more prone to accepting those with Talents, rather than full on magical practitioners, but that does not mean there isn’t wonder to be found among the tents of the Cirque du Freak.
Order of Cernunnos
In the wake of the revelation of the true existence of their god and the loss of their leadership, the druids of the Order of Cernunnos have fallen into uncertainty. There are rumors that the Order has erupted into schisms and infighting between the rural traditionalists and the urban futurists, and the Order has definitely begun to withdraw back into secrecy and isolationism following the reestablishment of the Arcanum. The outsiders that have ventured into Philadelphia have returned with more questions than answers, and those few druids that have left Pennsylvania speak little of the divide among their ranks, leaving the fate of the Order largely unknown and uncertain. At this point, none in the Arcanum can answer the most basic question—how has the Order changed after a confrontation with their supposed deity in the flesh at the Armistice?
Beacon Hill Players
Even in the darkest and most uncertain of times, people hunger for entertainment, so business is good for the Beacon Hill Players, a group of artists, performers, and theater personnel whose grotesqueries and entertainments have long been staples in the Boston neighborhood. Following the Compact and the securing of their territory on the borders of Massachusetts, the Players have begun to take their act on tour, expanding their web of influence with the procuring of a handful of key locations in populous cities across America. Like their contemporaries among the Theosophical Society, the Players have been actively scouting new talent for their ranks to assist with their rapid expansion, and the two rivals are beginning to come close to testing the diplomatic boundaries of the Arcanum and the Compact. With their blend of Talented performers and dramatomancy, the Players are undeniably a powerful force.
Every governing body needs a policing force, and the soldiers and crusaders of the Sentinels are uniquely qualified for this task among the Arcanum. While still remaining true to the Compact, these hunters retain much of their previous autonomy. Accountability and due process are still somewhat new notions to the militants among the Sentinels, who were used to working on their own as the “boogeymen” who hunted down the supernatural. Thus far, however, a delicate balance has been mostly maintained within the Arcanum. The Sentinels can now hunt rogue arcanists with the full and open support of sorcerers on the straight and narrow, but are rarely allowed to engage in the wanton executions of the past, making their lives and jobs both more and less difficult these days.
Magic remains as unpredictable and unforgiving as ever to the unenlightened. Given leeway by the Compact to seek out those cursed, mutated, and scarred victims of the supernatural, the Eclipsed have become quite a strange and ubiquitous force of investigators, mediators, and advocates among the Arcanum. Those unfortunates, unalterably marked by the unnatural, who can be brought into the fold and integrated into the Arcanum are now found and educated by the Eclipsed, who maintain ambassadors among nearly every faction. They often stand in practical and philosophical opposition to the Sentinels on individual cases, and the balance these groups afford to each other is likely an essential reason that both are still present in the Arcanum, despite the lack of magical skill in many of their membership.
For many centuries now, a single, monolithic organization has held sway over the arcanists of Europe. The supreme arcane power on that continent, the Atlantean Accord has governed the lives of European sorcerers since the Inquisition. American arcanists have had little interaction with the Accord since its counterstroke at the end of the Revolutionary War doomed the old Arcanum to destruction. For nearly a century it appeared that the Atlanteans had judged America not worth the trouble, but their spies and agents have revealed themselves following the adoption of the Compact. Now it seems that the Accord’s leadership, the mysterious Council of Nine, has decided that the Arcanum could be too dangerous for the Americans alone to handle, and they have sent an advisory council to help prevent disaster, or perhaps to lead the Arcanum in a more suitable direction. Most arcanists, of course, believe they are as much spies as they are ambassadors, and they are viewed with suspicion by most of the other Factions.
Whispers the world over speak of a fabled organization of seers, oracles, and prophets that secretly pull the world’s strings from the shadows. Most arcanists consider such reports to be myth at best or paranoid delusions at worst, but a rare few know that there is some truth to these tales. Holding the story of Cassandra as a cautionary tale, the Delphians have typically avoided direct intervention in the events of the world, preferring instead to manipulate circumstances and actors to achieve desired outcomes. But something has changed. Dire portents have brought the seers out of the shadows to take a more active role in shaping the future of humanity.
Themes of the Game
The Armistice Arcane is a game of intrigue, high politics, gothic horror, and magic. We explore themes that are both light and dark in nature – friendship, alliance, working with our enemies, diplomacy, paranoia, fear, and anger. Many of these characters are outcasts from society, and some of them have lost everything they love. We also look at the nature of good and evil and ask questions about what truly makes a person a monster. This is not a game for children or for those who are easily disturbed by exploration of any of the above. The Armistice Arcane aims to see what happens when we push the limits of “acceptability” set forth by society, and what happens when our actions come back to haunt us.