Brotherhood of the Rose Cross
The highly-organized Order of the Rose Cross came into being before the Middle Ages, and has existed in secret for centuries, despite the claims of dozens of self-styled “Rosicrucian” organizations who operate in public. The true Rosicrucians are magicians who are concerned with the well being of all their fellow Order members,and with the acquisition of more knowledge. They are wealthy magicians, although they spend too much time in scholarly researches to become prominent businessmen or politicians. Of late, many Rosicrucians have become more concerned with the increase in supernatural activity creeping into the mundane world, and are trying to do something about it.
The typical Rosicrucian is a “mystic yuppie.” Like the Wicce, most Rosicrucians belong to a family line of magicians, but these families are much more structured. The average Rosicrucian grew up in an upper class background, attended an expensive private school, and went to college for at least four years, typically specializing in history, archaeology and exotic languages. Around her nineteenth or twentieth birthday, she was inducted into the Order after the Rosicrucians had determined that the candidate had the requisite thirst for knowledge, magical potential, and discretion.
The Brotherhood of the Rose Cross is an ancient Covenant of magicians whose main interest is the pursuit of knowledge and, to a lesser degree, the accumulation of power. This society has operated for almost eight hundred years, steadily growing in numbers. These sorcerers number many wealthy and influential people among their members, but they rarely concern themselves with accumulating mundane power, focusing instead on the mastery of magic. The experience of the Times of Persecution have taught the leaders of the Rosicrucians that the mundanes are always ready to destroy those they fear or cannot understand, so they prefer to carry on their work in hiding,using magic to help themselves in small,subtle ways, while unlocking the secrets of the universe.
In 1614, a pamphlet circulated around Europe. The tract described a mysterious organization of European mystics who sought to better the world with their ancient art and knowledge. According to the document, the Order of the Rose Cross was dedicated to healing all ills, and its members had tremendous occult powers. The pamphlet stirred up all manner of intellectuals, alchemists and charlatans. Thousands of would-be disciples wandered the continent, seeking to join this Order of the Rose Cross. Many self-styled “Rosicrucians” appeared all over, drawing converts and more often than not turning out to be nothing more than opportunists seeking to exploit the gullible. Years later, several scholars asserted that the pamphlet was little more than a work of fiction,and categorically denied the existence of such an organization. They were very wrong.
The pamphlet contained more than a grain of truth. There was an “invisible college”of philosophers and magicians, and they did have great power. Some “true” Rosicrucians believe that the entire incident was a test of the Masters of the Order to see if the time was right to emerge from obscurity. The test failed,and the organization remained in hiding.
According to what members are told, the Order of the Rose Cross was founded in France during the thirteenth century. The group was an association of the Gifted who sought to share knowledge amongst its members. Practice and the combined experiences of the members allowed for the development of new and better forms of magic. As time went on, however, the “old ways” became stagnant and fixed, to the point that most Rosicrucians still use ceremonies and rituals invented during the Middle Ages.
Some Rosicrucians claim their Covenant is far older than that, however. They claim that the core of the Brotherhood harkens back to the ancient Egyptians and the Persian Magi, not to be confused with the earlier African/Egyptian Magi, and that the reorganization in the 13th century was simply a move to draw in “lost brethren,”mystics who had drifted away over the centuries after such disasters as the fall of Rome (considered to be another Time of Reckoning) and the Dark Ages that followed. Whether this is a statement of fact or merely an attempt to glorify the Brotherhood remains a hotly argued question.
The organization evolved from one of scholarly research to an institution devoted to mutual assistance and protection. Like the trading guilds of the same period, members pledged their allegiance to the Brotherhood (originally, women were not allowed in the society) and in return were protected by it. To attack a Rosicrucian meant to attack the entire organization: other Covenants, supernatural beings and several mundanes learned this fact the hard way.
The Time of Persecutions did not catch the Rosicrucians unprepared. They had long held on to vows of secrecy to avoid being mobbed by would-be students. These vows helped keep them largely safe from the horrors of the Inquisition, although several Brothers were branded witches and tortured or killed. The organization maintained its secrecy up to the present, and continues to maintain it today. It grew in size slowly, finding and recruiting likely candidates from around the world, and now it is well-represented in Europe, the Americas and even some parts of Asia, although there the Rosicrucians have had to compete with strong native Covenants.
The primary goal of the Rosicrucians is the advancement of the human spirit through the mastery of magic. The Rosicrucians believe that magic is an expression of the human will over Reality. All humans, being made in God’s image, have the divine spark within them, which allows them to perform the act of Creation, although on a far lesser scale. This is only possible through the learning of occult sciences and disciplines that give the sorcerer a greater understanding of the universe. With understanding comes control: the Rosicrucians are more concerned with mastery over the Otherworlds (their term for all things supernatural) than with maintaining some sort of cosmic balance (the main purpose of the Wicce). Through the use of magic, an adept can manipulate matter and energy, and can also see and control a number of invisible entities, commonly called Elementals by the Rosicrucians, which include ghosts, nature spirits, and other beings. Some, like demons, are malevolent and should only be destroyed or, at best, enslaved. The others must be tightly controlled into doing the magician’s bidding. Unlike the Wicce,who concentrate on Balance,the Rosicrucians favor control and mastery over Nature. They prefer to bind spirits into their service through elaborate magical snares and contracts rather than depend on their good faith. In many ways, the Rosicrucians follow an ancient dogma of Western culture: Nature and the world are meant to be subject to the will of humankind. There is another side to this coin, however,one the Rosicrucians acknowledge (but Western civilization often does not): with power comes responsibility, and if humankind is meant to rule Nature, then it must also be responsible for its care and well-being. The Rosicrucians understand that their actions have consequences, and care must be taken to account for them — at least in theory. In practice, they are more likely to upset the balance of things than a Wicce practitioner.
The Brotherhood is mostly secular, with no religious doctrines or biases (in the old times, Jews and Muslims were discriminated against, but that ended centuries ago). Most members consider themselves Christians, with even a few Agnostics mixed in.
The Rosicrucians will step in and deal with any dangerous otherworldly incident that they become aware of, but they have yet to formulate a strategy to deal with the Time of Reckoning. More and more members realize that the moment they started dabbling with the occult,they became targets for the forces that are gathering power and momentum.
This secret society can be joined by invitation only. Intelligence,dedication and culture are the main traits any would-be member must possess. Raw power in the magical arts is always desirable, of course, but it is not the only qualification. In fact, many prominent Rosicrucians only have basic levels of magical power. They more than make up for it through arcane skills.
People do not apply to the Rosicrucians. Instead, the organization itself finds and attempts to recruit likely candidates. Like corporations,the Rosicrucians do most of their recruiting on college campuses, concentrating on the most exclusive and prestigious centers of learning. They often work through campus fraternities, sororities and secret societies, where those with an interest in the occult and ancient mysteries are quietly contacted. If a candidate shows promise, she is led through a series of tests and minor ordeals, developed to confirm the dedication and loyalty of the would-be Rosicrucian. Those who pass are inducted into the Brotherhood (which, despite its name, accepts female members).
The Rosicrucians are organized into Shrines. Each Shrine controls a geographical area, ranging in size from a town or city to an entire nation, depending on the number of affiliated magicians living in the area. In the U.S., for example, there are Shrines in New York,Los Angeles,San Francisco,New England (located in Andover, Massachusetts), the Mid-West (located in Toledo, Ohio), and the South (located in Nashville, Tennessee). The New York Shrine actually has more members than the entire Southern Shrine, although the latter is in charge of a much larger area.
Within the Shrines are smaller units called Cohorts, based on the old Roman military unit. Cohorts are small groups of less than ten individuals. Members are assigned to a Cohort based on their proximity to each other. So, for example, a new member who lived in Connecticut would be assigned to the Cohort whose members lived closest to her. For most members, the Cohort serves little purpose other than to know who to call in case of an emergency.
The Ranks of the Rosicrucians are based on the medieval system of nobility, combined with ancient Roman social systems. They are, from lesser to greater: Page (one who is being considered for membership, usually without her knowledge); Squire (a probationary member who gets to learn the rudiments of magic and some of the basic secrets of the Brotherhood); Knight (a full member; the leader of a Cohort must be of Equestrian Rank); Tribune (the leader of a Shrine); Duke (leader of a regional area, usually comprising two Shrines, or a very large Shrine); Master (overseer of an entire area,responsible for the behavior of the Dukes); and Grand Master (one of the thirteen members who rule the Brotherhood). It is rumored that there are hidden ranks among the Masters and Grand Masters, and small sects or factions known only to those who belong to them. Given the secrecy that separates one rank from another, anything is possible.
The Brotherhood’s preferred method of dealing with other groups is to observe them from a distance, if possible, while keeping the groups existence a secret. This often proves impossible, however, and of late the Rosicrucians have had to admit that they remain a secret only to the mundane masses.
The Witches,as they are none too kindly referred to, are generally believed to be dominated by militant feminists and “tree huggers” with far more idealism than common sense. The power of the Wicce is not underestimated, however, and on occasion Rosicrucians have come to their aid, or even requested their help when no one else was available.
The Mediums of the Twilight Order are considered fellow truth seekers, and their knowledge of the ways of death is viewed with a mixture of admiration, fear and envy. The Rosicrucians are willing to exchange information and assistance with this Association.
In general, the Rosicrucians deal with other Covenants cautiously, and avoid direct contact whenever possible. Solitaires with the right mystical bent may be offered membership, provided they agree to subject themselves to the rules of the society, and that they bring with them some valuable skills or secrets.
The Brotherhood deals with the wealthy and powerful through its members, most of whom are at least well-to-do or highly respected professionals. Most mundanes are relegated to the role of servants, unwitting pawns, or dupes.
The Rosicrucians will move against supernatural predators and Dark Covenants when they directly threaten their members (or their friends and relatives) or other interests of the the brotherhood, but they do not go out of their way to confront them.
Abilities and Skills
Rosicrucians are all highly educated, and know a wide array of scholastic skills. Those who actively investigate the supernatural have learned a couple of combat skills for those times when spells are not enough. All Rosicrucians learn the Ritual skill to some degree.
The Rosicrucians consider Magic to be the most important Art; it is the source of their vaunted mastery over Nature. Most Rosicrucians are devoted Magicians. They rarely have any other Gifted powers, concentrating solely on the study of Magic. A few Rosicrucians with the Gift of Necromancy exist,as does the occasional Seer. Mundanes are retainers, servants or dupes, and most of them have no inkling about the true nature and purposes of the organization, believing they are agents or employees of an eccentric club.
Most Rosicrucians are recruited from the ranks of the wealthy and the learned. Money alone is not sufficient; the preferred Rosicrucian is a “Renaissance Man,” one who knows a great deal about a variety of subjects, above and beyond any chosen profession. For the most part, Rosicrucians make a living in the business world, as stockbrokers and traders or corporate executives, or in such professional fields as law, medicine and engineering. Unlike the Wicce in similar professions, Rosicrucians often work for corporations and the government. A few of them are even involved in the military, although usually in technical specialties.