The Lens Maker Society
Symbol: A pair of spectacles; one lense is etched with a sword, the other with an eye.
Disciplines: Mithral Current.
Oath: It is quite possible to work with the Lens Maker Society and not be a member or a full member. An individual is only accepted as a formal apprentice and inducted into the secretive part of the organization after their mentor and fellows are absolutely certain of their discretion and loyalty. Once—and if—such a point is reached, the recruit is invited to a secret place at the witching hour, where a circle of Lens Makers induct him into the organization with a formal ceremony and ask them to swear the following oath.
“With word and deed, I will aid those weaker than myself against the corruption that threatens them. I will aid my brothers and sisters in guiding society to justice, in protecting it from exploitation, and in arming it with the knowledge it needs to shelter its citizens. In enlightening others, I become an ally of hope and a servant of others, and may my eyes darken and my tomorrows fade if I prove faithless.”
Allegiance Benefit: A Lens Maker gains a +2 competence bonus on Disguise and Knowledge (local) checks, as well as on Perception checks to find hidden doors, compartments, and traps. In addition, a Lens Maker needs only two rounds to make a Disguise check, rather than the normal time required. A Lens Maker with the Quick Draw feat can draw a hidden weapon (such as a sheathed sword cane or one hidden with the Sleight of Hand skill) as a free action.
A Lens Maker who violates his oath loses each of these benefits (but not access to the Mithral Current discipline) until he atones with a formal apology and a mission of penitence from a Master Maker, usually involving work to remind them of the principles forgotten or broken in their transgression. Lens Makers only rarely spurn or hunt those who were once part of the organization, though members leaving it may find themselves blackmailed if they accidentally (or purposefully) oppose the organization’s goals.
Description: The Lens Maker Society is a study in applied force and subtlety of purpose. The organization exists to promote the welfare of the culture it joins; its members vote to promote justice, aid the poor and downtrodden, and encourage the spread of education and innovations that improve quality of life for the common man. Its chapter houses are public, and the Lens Makers are unafraid to publicly support their pet causes and act as activists within their homes and further abroad.
Then, there’s the things that go on behind closed doors. The Lens Makers are a benevolent organization, but they back that benevolence up by exploiting the weak-willed and politically corrupt. Members gather intelligence on local politicians and community leaders. Where those leaders fail to protect and support the weak, the Lens Makers step in to force them into just action. The Lens Maker Society does not pretend to hold a moral high ground when it deals in blackmail, but it is also quite happy to cynically point to its results and let them speak for the organization. Actually assassinating corrupt leaders is fairly rare, and happens only when the Society uncovers sins that truly cannot be borne— diabolism, systemic abuse of their families, and murder among them. These truly unforgivable crimes aside, the Lens Makers take the stance that the corrupt are more useful as tools than they ever could be as corpses, a stance that can be seen in their recruitment. Often, the Society chooses to recruit members that are corrupt but controllable, in the hopes that a righteous cause to fight for will encourage them away from evil.
Individual Lens Makers balance their public activities with their secret ones. As spies, agents, and infiltrators, they provide the Society with hard data. As confidants, secretaries, and community leaders, they feel out the pulse of the populace. Adventurers and mercenaries are also trained and employed by the Society, both as muscle and in deference to those situations when problems arise in a community that can only be solved through violence, especially those cases where a seemingly benevolent leader proves to be a secret shapeshifter or spellcaster.
As a whole, the Society is led and controlled at the local level, with an individual Master Maker presiding over a Chapter, with Journeymen and Apprentices arrayed under him or her. Less settled Lens Makers are sometimes jokingly referred to as Peddlers or Glaziers, though these titles are frowned upon by the higher ranks. Once a year, the various Master Makers in a region assemble to discuss overall trends and share information, which is then distributed as it needs to be known through the organization.
Common Tasks: Settled Lens Makers are given many tasks and opportunities by the organization, which might arrange for anything from volunteer work to espionage. Burglaries, blackmail, and intelligence gathering are common requests, which are all aided by the Society’s common training in the art of disguise. These members tend to have public identities that are valued as assets to the organization, which is why the travelers get all the hatchet jobs.
A traveling Lens Maker may be contacted by messenger or magic and asked to come to a specific city to help with a problem. Particularly difficult burglaries, strong-arm blackmail, and assassination are all distinct possibilities. Sometimes there’s just a monster that needs putting down and none of the locals have the prowess for it, but this last situation is fairly rare. Travelers are called upon for the wet work because they have nothing to lose by being outed in the community, where established members may have connections, families, and businesses placed at risk if they get caught.
Available Services: The Lens Maker Society knows that they ask difficult and dangerous work of its members, and they compensate accordingly. At its most basic level, this takes the form of access to specialized resources like custom-made weapons (disguised as ordinary objects), spellcasting, and common magical items such as potions or scrolls. As a member becomes more trusted and valued, the Society opens to them, offering allies, contacts, hidden knowledge, access to potent magical items and weapons, and more. Trusted members, usually at Journeyman status, are furnished with a pair of earrings that the Master Makers use to contact them, though this requires that the Master Maker in question know the wearer’s name.
Path of War – Expanded, © 2016, Dreamscarred Press.