Contrary to popular belief, the dead can talk — to those who can hear them. The Twilight Order has long been in communication with the Death Realms and the spirits who remain in our world. Most members spend much of their time in the “twilight worlds” between the lands of the living and the realms of the dead. Spirits of the dead are their subject of study, their occasional allies and friends, and their deadliest enemies. The members of the Order know that death is not an end but merely a new beginning. Strangely enough, this knowledge has not made them callous or morbid, but has given them a greater appreciation for their corporeal existence. In contemplating death, they have come to care for all life even more.
This society of Mediums and Necromancers helps protect the Lands of the Living from dangerous spirits, and the spirits of the dead from greedy or cruel humans who would exploit them. The Twilight Order is fascinated with life after death. They locate and appease restless spirits, banish or destroy hostile Ghosts, and study the Death Realms, the collections of shadowy dimensions where many spirits dwell as an alternative to going Beyond or returning to Earth.
Common members of the Order include scholars, who seek to increase their knowledge of death; Necromancers, who are inescapably drawn to the spirit world; and psychics, who can also perceive the spirit world, and whose powers can be useful in dealing with dangerous spirits of the dead. Many members experienced strange visions during their childhoods, and might have lost their sanity (or been treated as if they had) without the timely intervention of the Order.
The Order keeps its existence a secret, but it operates through several public fronts. These include several spiritualist organizations that help true believers contact dead loved ones and relatives. Some of these organizations even make money by charging people a fee to contact the spirits of their departed friends and relatives; they are far less successful than similar, but fake, organizations that specialize in telling the gullible exactly what they want to hear. Most members are involved in psychic investigation agencies -“ghost hunters” who help deal with such problems as haunted houses and poltergeist manifestations. The Mediums try to find and appease the angry spirit or, failing that,attempt to forcefully remove or even destroy it. Other Mediums are able to project their consciousness beyond their bodies, in effect enjoying all the powers of ghosts while still linked to their physical selves. These spirit travelers have ventured into the Death Realms and learned a great deal about the fate and choices awaiting on the Other Side.
Beyond its direct dealings with the dead, the Order and some of the institutions it sponsors spend some of their time helping the living. The powers of Necromancy can be used in many ways, both positive and negative. Among other things, the Twilight Order has learned many secrets through its history. Secrets that the ghosts of former government officials, criminals and security agents no longer cared to keep after their demise. As a result, the secret files of the Order contain some startling revelations about the history of the world. Occasionally, the leaders of the Order send some of their members out on missions related to this information. As a result, some Mediums have come into direct conflict with other agencies and organizations.
The Twilight Order is the direct descendant of the ancient Etruscan cults of the dead. These cults flourished on the Italian peninsula in the centuries preceding the rise of Rome. The Etruscans held a great deal of respect for the dead, and had complex funerary rites and monuments. People with the Gift of Necromancy became priests and diviners in that culture. After the fall of the Etruscan civilization, the cult carried on its mission, although largely in secret.
As the leadership of the Order changed hands over time, its goals and practices were modified. The trappings of priesthood were eventually phased out, reserved only for the most formal rituals and ceremonies. When Christianity became the official religion of Europe, the Order hid from persecution, and some of its members were victimized alongside the Wicce and other “witches.”
During the 19th Century, interest in communicating with the spirits of the dead became widespread and fashionable in some parts of Europe and the Americas. This Spiritualist movement exists to this day. Some members of the Twilight Order went public during this period, but most people only wanted to hear nice, unthreatening things about life after death, and some of the knowledge the Necromancers tried to pass on disturbed or frightened many away.
The Twilight Order has long studied the permutations of life and death. Death releases the soul from the body; what happens next seems to be determined by the person’s beliefs, choices and Karma, the consequences of one’s actions during the previous life. Some souls disappear into an exalted plane of existence from which nobody has ever returned. Others return to Earth and are reborn, for the most part forgetting most of their past existence, although retaining much of their personality, including the effect of past traumas. Some travel to one of the many Death Realms, otherworldly dimensions where the dead can recreate their past, endure punishments for their sins, or deal with a variety of spiritual entities, some of which are quite inhuman. A few refuse to relinquish their hold on their bodies and come back to life, as the undead. Finally, there are utterly alien beings who can twist the spirits of the dead, transforming them into monstrous and dangerous entities.
Ghosts are pitied for the most part, and one of the purposes of the Order is to steer them into the Otherworlds or into the cycle of death and rebirth. Trafficking with the spirits of the dead is allowed,as long as they are treated fairly and not coerced. The undead are considered to be abominations and mockeries of the natural process of life and death; many Necromancers destroy those beings on sight.
New members are found among those who discover their Gift to see the invisible world around them. Many of them are recruited from insane asylums where they had been placed by uncomprehending mundanes. The more fortunate are discovered as children or teenagers by the Order’s agents, friendly spirits who spend much of their time searching for those who can “see” them. When the time is right, the young Gifted and their families are approached by doctors of the Order, offering “counseling” and therapy to deal with their “over-active imaginations.”The new Necromancers are trained to either suppress their powers (and lead a normal life) or to refine them and join the Order in its dealings with the dead.
The Order is controlled by the Pontifex, a council of seven to ten of the most accomplished Necromancers in the organization. The Pontifex approves the formation of new agencies and organizations and controls the sizable funds the Order has amassed over time. The average member works for one of the many agencies secretly controlled by the Order. Most agencies are small (three to ten people on the average); some are Order members with Gifted abilities, while others are mundane employees, many of whom have no idea for whom they are working.
The Order owns many fronts including:
Psychic Investigation Agencies. These organizations discreetly advertise in occult publications. They concentrate on “ghost hunting,” investigating alleged hauntings and poltergeist activity and, if the occurrences are genuine, dealing with them. This is one of the most dangerous jobs in the Covenant, because some spirits can be quite dangerous. Sometimes the supernatural event is being caused by beings far more malevolent than the spirits of the dead. Over a dozen such agencies exist in North America, with half again as many in the area of Western Europe.
Psychic Counseling and Spiritualist Centers. Most of these agencies are operated by Mundanes paid to pretend to be real psychics or mediums. People with truly serious problems, spiritual or mundane, are referred to Gifted members. This cynical exercise has been widely criticized by many members, but it brings in a lot of money into the Order; most customers are satisfied by the phony advice,and people who really need help are identified and assisted. Two large centers operate in the U.S.
Private Investigation Agencies. A few “normal” investigation agencies are owned and operated by the Order, and staffed by a mixture of Gifted and Mundane investigators. These agencies secure clients and use a mixture of normal and Necromantic abilities to get the job done. The Agencies are also used to investigate and locate possible members. Five small agencies operate in diverse cities of the U.S.
On more than one occasion, the Order has encountered beings who were not of the dead. Inhuman spirits with alien abilities and desires or even stranger beings. Necromancy was of limited use against them. If they find themselves unable to deal with such beings, the Mediums often call on their allies, which include phantasms who have pledged allegiance to the organization and other Gifted groups. The Order is one of the few Covenants whose members are not afraid of working with others, and who are willing to repay favor with favor.
The Twilight Order has many contacts with the Wicce on the local level. Typically, a Twilight Order covert agency makes it a point to contact any local Wicce and pagan groups in the area, and tries to establish a working relationship with them. The Mediums offer help and information in their area of expertise in return for assistance in dealing with any supernatural agency beyond a Necromancer’s power.
The Rosicrucians are well regarded, and informal exchanges of information and the occasional joint effort are not unknown, and have become more common in recent times.
Whenever it can, the Order will attempt to work with other Covenants, including Solitaire groups. It has a more strained relationship with other Necromantic groups. However the House of Thanatos is “infested” with undead, and thus suspect to the Mediums and The Covenant of Legba deal not only with the dead but with a veritable pantheon of spirits and “gods” with dubious goals.
The Twilight Order’s main adversaries are angry spirits and the occasional undead. The Order has accumulated a great deal of knowledge through its dealings with the dead. It knows where many bodies are buried, both figuratively and literally; it is rumored that included among the Order’s “confidants” are Lee Harvey Oswald, Jimmy Hoffa and several former U.S. Presidents.
Skills and Abilities
Most members of the Order have Occult Knowledge, including knowledge of Spirits of the Dead. Though no other specific skills are common.
Most Gifted members know the Art of Necromancy. Of the rest, the majority are Seers. Only a few have Magical abilities.
The Twilight Order is made up mostly of occult investigators, with skills geared toward detecting true supernatural activities and spotting frauds.