MasterArminas writes "Psionic powers and the practitioners who use them are not unknown in the World of Greyhawk. Often referred to as mind-mages by the common people . . .
many who view the wielders of these mental arts as heretics and witches.
Organized religions especially have rather harsh strictures regarding those who
exhibit powers owing nothing to the Gods and requiring little—if any—formal
training. Founded to protect young psions and psychic warriors from the
Inquisitors, the Order of the Illumination of the Soul seeks to shelter,
nurture, and encourage men and women who discover the Gift of psionics. From
their base at the mighty Crystal Keep in the Griff Mountains, the adepts of the
Illuminati seek out psionic characters and offer them the opportunity to master
their Gift in peace and safety.
Amelia struggled against the rough grip of the two burly Hextorian guards as
they dragged her through the cobbled streets of Greenswath. She was
pelted by clumps of mud, rotten fruits and vegetables, and stones as she went;
all of these items flung by her fellow villagers. Gagged, and her head
covered, she couldn’t cry out, but she could hear those who had once been among
“Witch,” sneered one.
“Cursed heretic,” said another.
She shivered and she shook; this couldn’t be happening! Not to her!
She hadn’t meant to harm the smith—but he had tried to force her, and she had
just lashed out in pain and fear. But the village elders had not believed
her story, and the smith denied lusting after her. And then the
Inquisitor had arrived, and it all turned ugly. Her trial has lasted just
two hours, with the smith and his son and many of those Amelia had called
friend testifying against her; and her protests of innocence rang false among
those who saw the raw burns covering the face of her victim.
Finally, the two soldiers came to a stop and forced Amelia to her knees.
They tore off her hood, and she saw the Inquisitor standing before her—and
behind him the pile of kindling that surrounded the tall wooden stake; the dry
kindling upon which barrel after barrel of oil was being poured. She
cringed in fear and she struggled, but the guards held her fast.
“Amelia of Greenswath,” the Inquisitor intoned in a stern voice. “You
have been charged with foul witchery; your assault upon Jon the blacksmith
having resulted in serious injury. Renounce your allegiance with the
powers of the Abyss, child, and beg The Tyrant for his mercy and succor—for
your soul lies in the balance here today. Renounce your evil powers and
recant your heresy, or you shall burn on Oerth before you burn in Hell.”
Tears streamed down her face as she struggled in vain, but the gag kept her from
speaking—from answering. And the Inquisitor smiled.
“She refuses to recant her heresies! Her perversions to the will of
Hextor continue despite the evidence of her crimes! So be it, witch,” he
finished as he nodded to the guards. “Place her upon the pyre.”
Desperate, Amelia reached deep within herself and concentrated on the
Inquisitor—but one of the guards slammed a mail-clad fist into her belly and
she doubled over in tremendous pain. And then the Inquisitor stepped
forward and back-handed her.
“Your petty tricks will not work on me, whore. We know well how to deal
with your kind.”
He nodded, and the guards hauled her to the stake, and hung her on an iron
spike by the chain that dangled between her manacled hands. The guards
quickly moved away and the Inquisitor took a burning brand and lifted it
high. “In the name of Hextor, and the Overking of Aerdy, I find you
guilty of these crimes, witch, and condemn you to a fiery end. Suffer, as
you have made the people of this town suffer!”
Amelia tried to scream as he dropped the brand, and the oil caught, igniting
the kindling. But even as the flames erupted the flickering tongues
altered color to a bright blue and then suddenly died—snuffed out.
“I think not,” spoke a voice from the crowd.
The townspeople stumbled away from three men wearing robes who had just
appeared in their midst. Two of the men bore slender swords in the hands,
but the speaker was unarmed.
“What is this?” snarled the Inquisitor. He gestured towards the
strangers. “Take them!”
The guards began to move forward—and the first managed to take three steps
before he screamed in pain, dropping his mace and sinking to his knees.
The mournful scream caused the townsfolk to panic and run, and then blood began
to stream from the guard’s nose, ears, and eyes—and he collapsed lifeless to
The second guard rushed forward in a charge, but the speaker made a gesture
with his hand, and the guard emitted a squeal of surprise as unseen forces
grabbed him and flung him high into the air. The squeal became a panicked
cry as he reached the apex of his arc and plunged into sheer face of the local
quarry with a dull thud, his broken body then falling with a splash into the
pond at its base.
The Inquisitor raised his holy symbol and began to chant the words of a prayer
to his god, but the speaker shook his head. “Burn an innocent child,
shall you? A girl who has seen only fourteen winters? Not while I
have breath remaining in my body; you will suffer in her stead, priest.”
The Inquisitor’s eyes went wide, and then he grimaced as his armor and
vestments began to smolder and smoke and his flesh ignited in a sudden flare of
flame. He screamed as the eerie black tongues of fire consumed him,
quickly reducing his body to a pile of metal and ash.
The speaker lifted his gaze and looked upon Amelia as she shook and shivered on
the stake, and he then he gently lifted his hand again and she floated over the
stack of wood to land on the ground—her manacles popping open and the gag fell
"Who are you?” she whispered.
The stranger smiled. “A witch, my dear. Just like you.”
“You are a mind-mage?”
“Aye, as are Pieter and Ian. I am Master Kelson Dyss, child, and I have
come to make you an offer.”
“An offer? What could you want with me?” she squealed.
“Oh, child, your mind burns bright and clear—but it lacks of discipline.
The Order to which I belong seeks to find youngsters such as yourself and give
them an opportunity to learn to how to channel and control their Gift, rather
than the Gift controlling you. I can offer you safety and security, far
away from the close minded bigots who seek to destroy that which they cannot
understand—and I can teach you to use your Gift so you never again need fear
men such as that foul priest. Or the smith.”
“They are coming,” interrupted Ian.
“Yes. But you must make your choice, child. Come with me, now, and
become a mind-mage in truth. Or stay here and make your own way in this
world. I do not desire to force you into a decision, but the people of
your village have run to the garrison, child, and an Animus leads them
here. We must not tarry.”
Amelia rubbed the red welts from where the too-tight manacles had held her, and
she shivered again as she looked back at the pyre which had nearly consumed
“There is nothing for me here,” she whispered. “And if I stay . . .”
“The villagers will finish what they began,” Master Dyss finished for her.
She looked back up at the stranger, her eyes growing wide. “You will
“Child, I will show you the reality of wonders you have only dreamed of until
Finally, she nodded. And Master Dyss extended his hand to her. She
took it, and the four of them vanished, leaving the village empty in their
Order of the Illumination of the Soul
Founded by Kelson Dyss in 544 C.Y., the Order (also known as the Illuminati) is
an organization of psionic-using creatures dedicated to protecting young
psions, psychic warriors, and wilders from commoners and religions that would do
them harm. Born in Medegia in the autumn of 512 C.Y., Kelson Dyss found
that his Gift was regarded as heresy and witchcraft by the devout
followers of Hextor. In his sixteenth year, he was forced to flee for his
life and made his way to Nyrond. Even here, he discovered that his use of
psionics alienated him from the general population. As Dyss grew in power
and ability, he became increasingly concerned over the treatment of young men
and women bearing the Gift.
In 541 C.Y., while on an adventure in the Griff Mountains surrounding Lake
Abanfyl, Dyss and his companions discovered an abandoned Dwarven fortress on
the shores of the Lake. Thirty-seven miles to the east of the City of
Pendleton, the ruin was isolated and in horrendous condition, but it’s basic
structure was sound. Once the beasts that had made the ruins their home
had been defeated, Dyss parted paths with his companions and set about
restoring the ancient fortress.
After two years of hard work, the renovations of the newly christened Crystal
Keep of the Illuminati were complete. Dyss next spent several months
empowering a series of permanent teleportation circles in a chamber deep within the
Keep. The Chamber of Portals links the Keep with the cities of Pendleton,
Nevond Nevnend, Rel Astra, Radigast City, Rel Mord, Greyhawk, Marner, Niole
Dra, Chendyl, and Irongate. A matching teleportation circle in those locations leads back to the
Chamber of Portals itself.
Keep is built into a spur of the Griff Mountains that is thrust out towards
Lake Abanfyl. Carved from the living rock two hundred feet above the
Lake’s waters, the Keep is accessible only through the Chamber of Portals and a
long winding road that rises over several switchbacks carved into the granite face
of the cliff. This road circles the Cold Marshes along the south-eastern
shore of the Lake and eventually connects with the City of Pendleton and the
Duchy of Tenh. A long tunnel bored through the base of the promontory
lets the road continue to villages and towns farther to the east in the Abanfyl
summit of the switchback access road, is the Keep proper. Twenty-foot
high walls (fifteen feet thick) surround the grounds, while the interior rooms
and chambers have been carved into the cliff. A sixty-foot tall tower
looms over the Keep, with the topmost level being capped by a hemisphere of
quartz crystals, lit from within. The light provided by the tower softly
illuminates the Keep grounds and is visible for miles around.
set about recruiting psionic-using creatures; with the stated goal of
transforming the Keep into a true Academy and safe-haven. Over the next
decade, the managed to assemble several dozen fellow psionics and prepared the
Order of Illumination for the next step.
One of the
items acquired by Dyss during his adventuring days was a minor artifact known
as the Crystal Ball of Shai’kar. Intelligent and psionic, the Crystal
Ball of Shai’kar allows Dyss to scry across the Flanaess, seeking out those who
are new to the Gift. Through the use of this device, he gains insight
into the future which might be as well as the present that is and the past that
was. He searches for untrained psions and (with the aid of the power of
the Crystal) homes in on their unique mental impressions. Once these
children are found, Dyss will travel to them and offer them a place within the
libraries and amply stocked classrooms fill the interior of the Keep.
Here, the cadets are trained in all areas of scholarship, their psionic abilities,
and with arms. Gardens and arboretums fill many interior spaces, along
with flowing fountains and tasteful murals. The overall atmosphere is one
of quiet contemplation and peace. This removes the distractions from the
minds of the cadets and allows them to focus on acquiring knowledge and
learning their own limitations.
there are three hundred and twenty-two permanent residents of the Keep.
This number includes Master Dyss, eleven mid-to-high level psions, fourteen
soul-knives, six psychic warriors, and three wilders—all of whom assist in
training and instructing the cadets. Many of these faculty members also
have families at the keep. There are forty warriors and fighters who
comprise the Keep’s guard force with the remainder of the staff consisting of
experts and commoners hired by Dyss under long-term contracts. At any
given time, there are forty-to-sixty cadets in various stages of their
instruction. Most of the cadets are pre-teens or teenagers when brought
to the Keep. In addition, many alumni of the Keep return for short or
In the wake
of the Greyhawk Wars, Master Dyss has taken more of an interest in the realms
of the Flaness. Disturbed by the uptick in assaults upon psionic-using
individuals, in 572 C.Y. he harnessed the power of the Crystal Ball of
Shai’kar, his own internal reserves, and those of every member of his faculty
to send a message simultaneously to every ruler throughout the Flanaess.
The message was simple, short, and extremely direct: persecute my people
at your own peril. Curtail your inquisitions or pay the penalty with your
alarmed at how the message penetrated their own defenses, many Kings, Dukes,
Baron, and Counts discounted the warning: until the Tyrant of Monmurg was
the recipient of a personal visit by Master Dyss. For a long time, the
Tyrant was one of the harshest persecutors of psions in the Flanaess, and he
ignored the warnings. His guards told the tale of how a dozen men
suddenly appeared in the throne room and paralyzed the guards and guests.
Once several psionicists in the dungeons had been freed, the leader of these
strangers, a man who called himself Master Dyss then sentenced the Tyrant to
suffer what he had intended for the prisoners. Unseen forces pulled
against the limbs of the Tyrant, as if he was being drawn and quartered, while
burning-hot brands marked his body from head to toe. Upon the Tyrant’s
Death, Master Dyss and the others simply vanished, releasing the guards from
Since then, the nobles of the Flanaess have taken the
warnings of the Illuminati rather more seriously. Unfortunately, it has
also brought the Order of the Illumination of the Soul to the attention of
several powerful individuals who are even now searching for the Order’s base of
operations. Recently, the Lord Mayor of Greyhawk City asked the Archmage
Mordenkainen to provide magical protection against the Order, but the Archmage
only laughed. He then told the Lord Mayor if you don’t bother the mind-mages,
then the Illuminati won’t bother you. It appears to be simple enough to
me. Still, rumor has that the Lord Mayor is seeking a magical means of
protecting his secrets from the Illuminati."