Secret Society
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Basic Information

Secret societies are groups and organizations who keep their activities secret before non-members. Frequently, the identity of members is kept secret as well. Secret Societies are often implicated in Conspiracy Theory. A secret society with a religious bent will often be termed a mystery cult.

Historically, these sort of societies might not have been subject to quite as automatic suspicion as in the modern era - even the humblest craft guild would lay claim to its own "mysteries" that were hidden from outsiders and, in polytheistic societies, the aforementioned mystery cults can be quite normal. On the other hand, it is still quite possible for any secret society to develop a bad reputation and be suspected of things that can put an end to them extraordinarily rapidly (treason and witchcraft being typical charges).

List of Secret Societies

See Also:



Game and Story Use

  • Secret societies make great villains, since they can strike everywhere and you can never be sure that you have found and defeated all members.
    • Alternatively, in a region with an oppressive or authoritarian government, the player characters themselves might be members of a secret society in order to protect themselves and still pursue their goals.
      • Of course, the agenda of the player characters doesn't have to be benevolent - it can be a lot of fun to role-play belonging to a villainous secret society as well…
      • Frankly the two can be hard to tell apart - even allegedly benevolent conspiracies tend to be remarkably cavalier with the lives of "the little people1".
  • The Templars - as above - are a good example of a (not especially) secret society going from a well respected international organisation to a lot of dead men and a few fugitives within very short order.
  • Secrecy can be self feeding - perfectly innocent secrets can provoke suspicion which then leads to the society being wary of outsiders and so more secretive…
  • Another form of secret society may simply a social one: one where the rich and powerful gather to party and let their hair down without impairing their public dignity - even if that socialisation involves the crossing of caste or other social boundaries not usually permitted. That may be doubly important, for example, for groups like homosexuals and transvestites who would suffer ignominy if their predilections became public knowledge (the nineteenth century phenomenon of the molly house being a typical example of such a secret society).
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