The Veiled Alliance
"We hunt down the hidden cowards because they can't be trusted. Only those chosen by the God-King Hamanu are worthy of wielding the power of the mage. Only they are controlled enough not to turn what precious little life on Athas is left into dust and ashes." ―Templar Distry Kentus, leader of Hamanuʹs antiwizard force
In most cities, there are secret leagues of preservers called the Veiled Alliance. The Veiled Alliances are confederations of preservers working together to protect their members from assassination and harassment by sorcerer-kings and other lieges. The members work together to shield each other’s identities from the authorities or to help those who have been discovered to escape persecution and are often involved in plots to overthrow their oppressive overlords.
It wasn’t long after the first battles of the Cleansing Wars scoured the face of Athas that the common people learned to fear all types of magic. This fear soon became a burning hatred, and that hatred was directed at wizards and suspected wizards in the villages and towns across the land. The fear and hysteria caused by the wars incited mobs to attack wizards—defilers and preservers both— who were seen casting magic of any kind. Accusations of wizardry spread quickly, and many folk without any sort of magical skills were killed due to ignorance, false accusations, or malicious lies. Many good wizards, whose only crime lay in trying to help their people, also perished at the hands of hysterical mobs.
To protect themselves against the crowds and the armies of the Champions, wizards learned to hide themselves and their art. Defilers usually chose the road of solitary study, while some preservers formed into hidden groups. These preserver groups were opposed to defilers, and especially to the Champions of Rajaat. They bided their time, learning new magic, becoming stronger, and searching for those who had the ability to learn the ways of the preservers. The traditions of secrecy and underground rebellion were thus set in motion thousands of years ago, eventually evolving into the organization known as the Veiled Alliance once the Brown Age began.
The Veiled Alliance on Athas
“We wear the veil to hide our identity, both from the enemy who destroys the land, and from the common folk, who we work to protect. Neither understands us. The world of yesterday was a verdant paradise, and it can return once we tear down the rulers of the city-states and their templars.” ―Yang’til Urgrant to his new apprentice
Sorcerer-kings send their agents to destroy potential rival wizards hiding within their cities. Nomad witchlords banish rival mages to the unforgiving sands of the desert. Halfling chiefs exterminate followers who show any sign of control over the supernatural. Even otherwise timid hermits have been known to risk their lives in an effort to make sure that no wizard enters their territory.
The Veiled Alliance is an excellent nemesis or potential ally for campaigns featuring arcane casters. Veiled ones can act as tutors and suppliers or as recurring foes, harrying PCs if they have an affiliation with defiling magic or the sorcerer-monarchs.
The Alliance uses a cell structure to ensure that no member outside the core leadership knows much about the organization, and cannot betray much under interrogation.
A cell typically holds three to six members, occasionally more. The cells are linked to the central leadership and each other by lines of communication. Cells pass messages back and forth through a long chain of cells in a bucket-brigade fashion. The leadership ranks cells according to how far from the Council they are along the chain. These do not represent military rank, power, or seniority, merely location. First-rank cells link directly to the central leadership. Second-rank cells link to first-rank, and so on. The link structure resembles a three-sided pyramid, with the Council at the apex, three first-rank cells just below it, and the rest arranged in ranks down the sides.
There is one major drawback to belonging to a Veiled Alliance. Membership is permanent. When someone joins the Alliance, he pledges to uphold its charter until death. Anyone failing in this pledge is cast out, and the alliance assigns one of its members to assassinate the outcast.
The common folk of Athas, especially those in the Tyr Region, are unfriendly or hostile if they know a particular individual is a spellcaster. Templars and other agents of the sorcerer-kings are always hostile. Veiled Alliance members from other chapters and druids in general, see other members as allies, being at least indifferent or even friendly.