Numenera: Shadows of the Past
The Order of Truth
Almost certainly the strongest and most dominant organisation in the Steadfast—and possibly the Beyond—the Order of Truth was established by the original Amber Pope, High Father Calaval, about 400 years ago.
Its members are called Aeon Priests, and they are the most trusted experts in handling, identifying, and using the numenera and other lore. In most communities, Aeon Priests are the local “wise folk,” looked upon with respect as leaders and advisers in the important facets of life. Although the Order of Truth seems like a religion, technically it’s not one. The papacy has a structure like a priesthood and calls its members priests, but it’s not a religion—it’s a veneration of intellect, understanding, and the wonders that arise from such things: science, technology, and the numenera.
Still, many people treat the order like a religion regardless. These people are not members, but rather “adherents.” In their eyes, the order is focused on worshipping the past and the ancients who created the fantastic devices and strange discoveries that fill the Ninth World. And over the last century or so, the order has done little to discourage this idea. In fact, under the current Amber Pope, Durranet VI, the Aeon Priests have discovered that the people of the Steadfast are more likely to respect, admire, and obey the Order of Truth if they think of it as a religion.
Thus, in larger cities, the order has begun holding quasireligious services to encourage this idea. They ritualise their teachings to respect and understand the numenera as the key to advancing humanity into the future. They praise the past and those who lived in it for their intelligence and understanding.
The order maintains a small army, as well as a large organization of agents, observers, clerks, scribes, and other personnel. The headquarters lies in the city of Qi, in a complex known as the Durkhal. They also have a secret fortress called the Citadel of the Conduit that lies in a parallel dimension and can be accessed by any high-ranking Aeon Priest.
The influence of the organization—and in particular its head, the Amber Pope—has become clear in the Steadfast. Arguably, the Order of Truth holds the Steadfast together.
The Amber Pope uses all the pressure his influence can muster to keep the so-called Nine Rival Kings from warring among themselves. To this end, he has called for a crusade against the recently discovered people in the far north who live beyond the Cloudcrystal Skyfields. These people call themselves Gaians, and they are animists, believing that supernatural spirits inhabit all natural things.
They revere these spirits, an act the order believes to be an abomination of truth. Nine years ago, when Gaian explorers first ventured into the skyfields and the northern parts of the Steadfast, the Amber Pope branded them enemies of truth and declared a holy war against them.
The first conflicts of this war, waged in the Cloudcrystal Skyfields, were small skirmishes. However, the order has commanded a large force of warriors to go north and defeat the Gaians in their homelands—and in so doing, divert any interest or ability to wage war far from the Steadfast, for peace is the best way to foster the truth.