Word Dump, Lulz. I'll clean this up later, but here's all the setting information from my Order of Illumination game.
Order of Illumination
The Order of Illumination is non-denominational, and has no patron deity, although it has ties with all the major and most of the minor religions. It's existence is somewhere between 'Religious Organization' and 'Secret Society'. Your boss is a Council Member directly beneath Tameson Silverslip, the man in charge. The Order's 'Headquarters' doesn't really exist, although your group certainly has a home base. But let me explain the world a little bit first.
For as long as anyone could remember, the Dark Lich-King Venca has ruled his Immortal Empire. Just over a century ago, however, the Kingdoms of Man managed to create an alliance between the Dwarves, Elves, Goblinoids, and the other races, and invaded the Immortal Empire in an attempt to destroy it once and for all. The Coalition of the Just, as they called themselves, managed to defeat Vecna's Undead armies, storm his half-dozen magically potent Towers of Shadows, surrounded his sprawling palace-complex, and eventually destroyed Vecna and his phylactery.
After cleaning up what remained of his army, the Coalition stayed together for a few years until it became apparent that Vecna was really dead, and not going to return, after which it disbanded. It wasn't for another 20 years though that it seemed to really sink in that Vecna was gone. The source of fear that had justified any actions by the authoritarian rulers and absolute monarches had disappeared, and Radicals began appearing amoung the younger generation, saying things like "The King has no divine right to rule" and "Government should represent the people". After a lot of violence and a few revolutions over the next 80 years, the dictators of old have been replaced with Consititutional Monarchs and a few Republics, although some Absolute Monarchs still exist.
During this time, Tameson Silverslip, a powerful Cleric of Olidammara, discovered that, while Vecna had been defeated and the blighted lands of the Immortal Empire were being cleansed, Evil had been truly destroyed. Demons and Devils were still recruiting hidden cults, and the scattering of Vecna's library had made tomes on Necromancy easier to obtain. As he began to come to terms with the extant of the threat, he came in contact with a new danger: Aberrations. Beings of incomprehensible power and nature existed just beyond the veil of 'Reality', and they had become increasing aware of this world. Already a few sanity-warping creatures had entered the world, and were working hard to make it more suitable to their needs.
Tameson decided to form the Order as he did for several reasons: he had studied the history of the Coalition, and saw how ulterior agendas had constantly undermined what needed to be done. He also believed that certain political groups would take advantage of the crisis to justify a return to the dictatorships of old, or would deny the existence of the threat, and actively try to prevent his organization from acting against the threats in their territory. Finally, a decentralized and secretive system had worked efficently in the Church of Olidammara, so why not stick with a winning formula?
Thus, the Order of Illumination has little in the way of hierarchy. Tameson is now the mostly retired leader, with various other powerful individuals working with and beneath him. These individuals, called the Council, recruit and support multiple Inquisitions, like yourselves (I haven't made your direct boss yet). Tameson also heads the Order's expansive intelligence network that covers almost the entire globe, and has connections within all the major cities, royal courts, and religions. The intelligence network keeps constantly on the alert for the signs of Evil or Aberrant activity, and reports them to Tameson. Tameson then gives the task to one of the Council members, who then in turn selects one of his Inquisitions to investigate and eliminate the problem.
The Order of Illumination sometimes has official recognition and support, sometimes is banned and must act covertly, or most of the time, has unofficial support from officials whom they have aided in the past or are part of the Order intelligence network. The common man usually doesn't know much about the Order of Illumination, and almost nobody outside of the Order realizes just how active it is or the size of the threat it battles.
Members of the Order Inquisitions are recruited in a variety of ways. Some Council Members open up 'schools' that in reality act as bootcamp and recruiting centers. Other Council Members have their Inquisitions keep an eye out for adventurers who waging their own private Crusade. An Inquisition will almost always offer membership to the Order to any capable person who substantationally support them on a mission. And sometimes, the prospective member seeks the Order out.
A Brief Description of the World:
The world is called, amoung other things, Vigal, Taripa, Strantos, and Gourd. Most refer to it as Rueda in Common, however, which means 'Wheel'. The name comes from the arrangement of the 6 continents: 5 are distributed radially around the 6th, Friolen. Friolen is the largest continent, but also the least habited for two reasons. First, it's located on the south pole of the planet, and is generally a cold and forboding place (think Canadian Tundra rather than Artic icebergs). Second, it was the location of the Immortal Empire ruled by Lich-King Venca. Because the undead don't mind the cold, and because Friolen is connected by thin land bridges to all of the major continents, Venca chose it as the center of his Empire. Since Venca's defeat, a colony of Cleansers have been established near one of his Towers of Shadows, and have slowly by surely removing the taint from the land. Because removing taint requires the ground be hallowed for a year and a day, the Cleanser colony has only managed to purify 100 square miles over the last century, although the rate should pick up as more land is opened up from farming and the colony becomes more self-sufficent.
When Friolen is placed in the center of the map, Pays is traditionally placed to the 'south west' part of the map. The nation of Lesgens occupies the majority Pays, which is connected to Friolen, Luete, and Verwoest by land bridges. The capital of Lesgens is Alamaison, the largest city on all of Rueda. Lesgens is a Human nation, and suffered the first, and most violent, transformation from an absolute monarchy to a republic. After a failed war with Luete, the monarchy attempted to consolidate its rule, and reform privileges given to the nobility. The land-owning nobility reacted with a coup with the plan to leave the monarch as powerless figure-head. The coup instead set off a civil war, in which the peasants and middle-class combined forces and seized power. After the war, the Monarch and the nobility that had failed to flee the country were beheaded and their bodies burnt to ashes. The Republic of Lesgens is rather unstable, due to friction between the middle and lower classes. Discontent has also been brewing among the mostly Hextorian peasantry over the decleration of secularism from Alamaison. Alamaison, as mentioned before, is the largest city on all of Rueda, and takes the form of a sprawling metropolis with residents from penniless beggers to businessmen who live like the decadent Nobility of old. The Order is officially banned Lesgens as 'violent religion-minded zealots and vigilantes', but enjoy extensive clandastine support from all levels of government.
All the head-chopping happened some time ago, your own neck would have nothing to worry about at the moment. But, Lesgens is also unstable, and you could see a return of regicide... or the crowning of a new monarch. Unless you're actively and publicly opposing them, most government officials won't care what your beliefs towards them is, and a few might even agree with you.
As for the Pelor/Hextor relationship, the two religions in the past have had outright wars, but now things are for the most part peaceful. Think Protestants living in Rome during the 1880s. There's no Inquisition going around torturing 'heretics', but Lesgens is a Hextorian Nation, and that's important to the more conservative elements. Paladins aren't outlawed, they just have no special authority, but if you start going on a crusade for Pelor in the middle of Alamaison, they'll probably be less lenient. Going on a crusade on behalf of the Order is a different story, of course.
Also, Hextor isn't all "BLACKGUARDS! EVIL! YAAARGH!". It's beliefs are essentially the same as Heironeous', but the religion takes a more authoritarian, hierartical approach to it's organization. Hextor has dogmas and catachism, while Heironeous doesn't.
A Brief Description of the World, Part II: In this installment, ELVES!
To the 'north of Friolen, lies the land of Duendes. A land covered in magic and old, majestic forests, it is the home of the ancient and mysterious Elves and Fae, as well as the majority of the Druidic Circles, collectively referred to as the Dueni. The Elves command magic far beyond what the other races have achieved, mostly due to the thousands of years an Elf can devote time to study. Elves are not renowned for just their magic, however. An Elvish warrior in his later years could have learned a hundred different styles, or devoted himself to the absolute perfection of a single weapon. Since the fall of Vecna, Duendes hasn't changed to the extent the other nations have, mostly because Vecna was never truly a threat to the Dueni, as their magic was more than capable of repelling his undead army. Despite their might, it took years of persuasion to convince the Dueni Elders to join the Coalition. Yet it wouldn't be unreasonable to say that the Coalition would have been doomed from the start without the aid of the Dueni. The Elves make up the majority of the Dueni population, and certainly dominate the Elders. Yet people from all sorts of races live live in Duendes, mostly as Druids. These other races are not prejudiced against by the Elves. The reason for Elvish predominance amoung the leaders of the Circles is due to the fact that experience is important to determining leaders, and the more experienced Druids of other races unfortunately die before their Elvish counter-parts. Their are Druidic Circles on other continents and nations, but almost all, with the very rare exception, maintain close ties with the Dueni druids. The Deuni have a very friendly relationship with the Order... outside of Duendes. Any Order Inquisition investigating a situation in Duendes will be working covertly, with absolutely no support from the Dueni, official or otherwise. As far as the Dueni are concerned, they have been safeguarding the forests of Duendes since The Time Before, and they certainly don't need any outsiders trying to help and making a mess of things. In fact, Duendes is the one place where Tameson Silverslip's spy network is completely inadequete. While he has connections with the Circles, and they're more than willing to share information, none of them would tell him about a situation inside Duendes. Duendes has no 'cities', per se. Instead, its citizens are live in organic structures like huge gnarled trees, sometimes spread out or clustered together, and are ruled by the informal gathering of Elders. Most of the truly ancient and mysterious Elves live deep within the Dueni Forests, where the tales of Fae abound, although they rarely travel out.
A Brief Description of the World, Part II: Filling in the _____________s
Besides Lesgens, which before its current unstable state was by far the single most powerful Human nation, the other major 'Human' nations are Ctpaha, to the "north-east" and Luete, to the "south-east".
Ctpaha is not actually a single nation. Instead, it is a confederacy of smaller nations that had banded together on the continent of Tremar, first to protect against the attacks of Vecna, then later against the encroachment of Luete and Lesgens. The capital, where the representatives of the numerous member states meet, is Aponcho, in the Human state of the same name. Another important city is St. Cuthbert, named after the Pelorian saint that supposedly provided the first laws to humanity after a vision from his god, and Nuvgarod, the capital of the Goblinoid nation Oe (Oh-Eh). Oe is considered by many Goblinoids to be their 'homeland', despite being born and living in Lesgens or Luete. The land for Oe was given as a gift to the Bugbear commander who had risked the destruction of his entire people during the war with Vecna to ensure the Coalition's success. Since its creation, Oe has turned what was originally a mostly undeveloped tract of land on the bridge into Duendes into small but power land of warriors and farmers. Other states of various degrees of power and influence exist under the Ctpaha banner
Militarily and physically, Ctpaha is the weakest of the major nations. On the other hand, it is also the cultural and intellectual center of all of Rueda. It is regularly said that any new idea is uttered in jest, considered in Aponcho, and built in St. Cuthbert. For example, most of the academic thought behind Radicalism originated in Ctpaha, and all of the Ctpaha states have made the move to democracies and constitutional monarchies, with none of the violence that accompanied the Luete and Lesgens revolutions. As another example, Ctpaha began the organization of the Coalition of the Just, and it was the Ctpahan representatives that finally convinced the Dueni to end their policy of isolation.
Although the situation is different in each member state, Ctpaha as a whole is very friendly to the Order. Ctpaha has given official recognition on the federal level to the Order of Illumination, and attempts to give what support it can. However, each state within Ctpaha has jurisdiction over itself, so the level of support the Order enjoys varies from state to state. More importantly, perhaps, Nuvgarod is where Tameson Silverslip has settled down, claiming he enjoys 'watching the adolesence of a nation, a people, and a culture." If the Order has a headquarters, the Goblinoid city of Nuvgarod is it.
EDIT: Almost forgot religion. Each state choses its own religions, originally based on the religion of its king. This meant that, for a period, the religion of a state would change every time a new king was crowned, and a general lack of respect that came with such rapid change. The most common religion is Heironeous, with Hextor being the second common (mostly the states closer to the border with Vecna), and a few Pelor states mixed in between the two. Before Ctpaha came together, there was a long religious war between the various states, which is generally attributed as the cause of the rather casual nature towards religion: all the fanatics killed each other. Thus, almost all of Ctpaha is a "Equinox and Solstice" sort of worshipper ("Easter and Christmas" is the idiom)
A Brief Description of the World, Part IIII Luete: the other white __________
Between Ctpaha to the 'north' and Lesgens to the 'west', lies Luete. Unlike the Hextorian Lesgens and the mostly Heironeon Ctpaha, Luete is Pelorian, and rather upfront about it. Despite the mostly loving nature of Pelor, Pelorians considered undead an abomination before their god, and are much more vocal in their opposition. Because of this, Luete, as a society, has been much more focused on defeating Vecna than most other nations. In fact, all of Luete can be considered to be on a 'war' footing with Vecna. Unfortunately, this military mentality has a deterimental effect on Luete's relationship with other nations. It wouldn't be unfair to call Luete xenophobic.
Luete is also the only major nation to maintain its absolute monarchy over the years. The High-Lord still rules under what technically is a feudal system, but large number of urban middle-class business owners and entrepreneurs means that this system is in reality only applicable in the rural areas, and even then a serf could chose move to the city and work his way up through a business. Technologically, Luete is the most advanced, and has recently began building steam-powered 'clipper' ships, crafts that can sail against the wind. While in a straight military conflict, Luete would lose to the superior Lesgens military, the Lueten Konig used Luete's superior transportation infrastructure to force the Lesgens into a costly war. This was the war that would eventually lead to the Lesgens Revolutions, which most Luetens generally view proof of the insanity and inferiority of the Lesgens people. Luete has used its new position of power as a bargaining chip, and as a club. Luete has recently annexed several nearby nations and placed Luetens in power, and has established friendly regimes in nations farther away (with the unstated threat of "...or else" keeping those regimes friendly).
The capital of Luete is Stadt, and it is where the Konig rules. The Konig is friendly to the Order and its mission, but if an Order member challenges the Lueten government, raises vocal dissent, or just causes too much trouble, the member might just... disappear. If the Order or other members of the Inquisition really put pressure on Lueten government, they'll learn that the Order member was tried by a secret tribunal for various crimes against the state, and most likely transported to a hot, dry desert of an island to the north: Devil's Island. More rarely, a convicted person will simply exiled with no required destination, or executed.
A Brief Description of the World, Part V Dorfs Dorfs Dorfs
On the continent of Verwoest, the mostly dwarven nation of Dwerg eeks out a rough existence at odds with the strong proud history of Dwerg the mighty power. The reason for the sad state of affairs is the short but brutal invasion of Verwoest by Vecna nearly three centuries ago. The dwarves, long believing their borders to be invulnerable thanks to the fence of powerful totems crafted in dwarven forges with the aid of elven magic. Yet, the totems did suddenly fail, just as Vecna's undead army crossed the land bridge to Verwoest. The dwarves, with a standing army incapable of halting the evil flood, desperately requested assistance from the fellow designers of the totems, the elves of Duendes. Their requests, as the dwarves are quick to remind any elves they encounter, was ignored, and countless communities were slaughtered.
Unable to defend themselves, the dwarves resorted to a "guerrilla" existence. Any dwarf captured or killed by Vecna's roving undead were themselves raised as an abomination in Vecna's employ. The dwarves began living precarious existences underground, constantly moving their communities to avoid the undead. Using Delvers, large, intelligent, dirt-eating creatures, the dwarves would quickly carve out caves to live in, stay for a time, dig out a new network of caves, and move into the new cave system after blocking off the old. The dwarves lived like this for nearly 50 years, with almost the entire world considering Verwoest to be just as dead and off-limits as Friolen. Then, suddenly, the totems reactivated, again making the borders of Dwerg impregnable. The dwarves destroyed the undead still within Dwerg, and reclaimed the surface.
Even now, 250 years after Vecna's invasion, Verwoest still bears the scars of Vecna's reign. Below ground, an incredibly intricate network of tunnels and caverns burrow across the length of Verwoest. Although the Immortal Empire didn't control the continent long enough for the taint to spread into the land itself, it was more than long enough to pick the surface clean of all but the hardiest living things. The surface of Verwoest has been recovering, but its still barren and populated by shrubs and weeds. A few feral human and goblinoid tribes have moved into the 'empty' land, and have posed a difficult problem to the dwarf communities that wish to leave their subterranean dwellings. Most of the dwarves don't particularly care about the surface, however, and question the wisdom of returning to the style of living that left them so weak to Vecna in the first place. A few, more radical dwarves even encourage the barbarians to live on the surface, considering them a 'natural' deterrent to any other would-be invaders (accompanied by their often oversize dwarven armies, of course).
The Order has a 'varied' relationship with the dwarves of Dwerg. Some communities welcome the Order, seeing as any allies against the multitude of enemies both above and below ground. Others see the Order as unreliable allies, allies whom trusting in could result in treachery like that of the Elves. Despite this, Silverslip has allocated the lion's share of the Order's resources to Dwerg, where the deep, dark tunnels have proven to be a spawning point for the aberrations that threaten this world. The Order sometimes even acts proactively, patrolling tunnel systems that have been 'too quiet'.