Callisto's Mirror (Numenera)
The Order of Truth
The Order of Truth grew out of a much older tradition, that of the Aeon Priests.
The Aeon Priesthood itself goes back to times immemorial, being originally little more than a term used to refer to those who seek to understand the prior worlds and recover their lost knowledge. As Aeon Priests grew in their knowledge and resulting capabilities, they gained the respect of local communities, and a tradition emerged of communities providing accommodation and subsistence to a small group of Aeon Priests in return for their help with all matters of everyday living, including law, education, and defence.
Many communities came to regard their Aeon Priests as the ultimate authorities in their community, while in others a quorum of townspeople, elected or hereditary served alongside the Aeon Priests as community leaders. These local groups of Aeon Priests became known as “Claves”, and the traditional number for a Clave became established at three. Claves of individual communities were usually only in intermittent contact with each other, although in some areas, they would organise regular gatherings of Aeon Priests in the region to share their knowledge.
Over the centuries an informal dogma began to emerge that was common to most Aeon Priests, usually involving a rejection of superstition and the supernatural, including religion of any kind, the primacy of the faculty of reason, a belief in progress through scientific inquiry, and a conviction that the survival of mankind was contingent on a society based on these values.
The first Amber Pope organised the Aeon Priests of the Nine Kingdoms into into the Order of Truth about 400 years ago. At this time, the kingdoms of the Steadfast began to
take the form that they have today, united by a common system of beliefs and a common vision for the future.
The Order of Truth has made many advances in the Nine Kingdoms, raising standards of living and healthcare for all citizens, opening village schools where even peasants can learn the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic.
Their understanding of the numenera has also improved the defensive capabilties of the Nine Kingdoms, and enabled the creation of elite military units armed with artifact weapons, making the Steadfast the most powerful political entity in the known world.
There is a frequently antagonistic relationship between the Order of Truth and the hereditary aristocracy of the Steadfast. Each regards the other as a necessary but undesirable and threatening aspect of the present social structure.
Despite its great achievements, the Order of Truth is not without its critics. Many consider it an oppressive regime which dominates every aspect of life, restricting individual freedom, especially in matters of spiritual belief.
Although there is an official policy of tolerance of diverse religions in the Steadfast, the Order of Truth is selective in those which it tolerates, and only those deemed relatively harmless are permitted to openly practice thier faith. They are nonetheless looked down on as primitive and counter-productive superstitions, and belief in them is discouraged and derided.
Even the language of the Nine Kingdoms is controlled – the official tongue “Truth” being a language created by the Order of Truth, which they claim has been designed for the most efficient expression of rational truth and scientific information. The original local languages are dying out and are not taught in schools. Modern citizens regard them as being spoken only by poorly educated “yokels” nowadays.
Though referred to as a religion, mainly to encourage the understanding that it is the replacement for other belief systems, the Order of Truth is really more of a philosophy, since it denies the existence of gods and spirits, or at least rejects any spiritual claims made for them and considers them them worldly phenomena subject to rational explanation.
By decree of the Amber Pope, the Steadfast and the Order of Truth wage war with the lands to the north, believed by many to be enthralled by a secretive and mysterious cult called the Gaians. Nobles in the Steadfast are called to the Crusades, making war against the infidels with ever-stranger weapons discovered or devised by the priesthood.