|“||The secret factions sneer at Venice. They make us the butt of their quick wit. And yet it is the Council that sets the foundation that gives the factions the luxury of their clever poses and vapid humour. I wish you could have seen the Council as it was. The shining promise of it. What you see now are the ruins of a grand idea. But even ruins can inspire greatness in others. And so, we hold up the pillars.||„|
|~ Arturo Castiglione|
The Council of Venice are a central peace-keeping force in the M.M.O., The Secret World. The Council of Venice composed of high-ranking bureaucrats from the Templars, Illuminati and The Dragon and conclude with each-other in order to keep their root factions from fighting each-other, throwing the world out of balance or exposing the secret world to the general public. While all three factions are playable and thus may be backing for the Player's various good deeds, all have alternative motives. The Council of Venice, unlike the factions it is built out of, is entirely dedicated to protecting the common man from the machinations of the Secret Societies and the various hidden evils they fight. However despite their altruism the Council of Venice are in-fact seen by The Big Three as an incompetent leader skilled only in applications of red-tape and not in solving any on-the-ground problems.
The Council of Venice was founded some time between 3,000 B.C.E. and 1,300 C.E.. although as The Bees refer to them as ancient by mortal standards the early 3,000 B.C.E. is probably closer to the exact date. The Council was founded in Jerusalem, Israel, but later was moved to Venice, Italy during the early thirteenth century (likely the source of the wide time-range). The Templars, Illuminati and The Dragon had all come to re-discover each-other, much of their history having been lost even to them. All three tied back to a prehistoric cabal called the Four and Sixty, which they all fractured from. By the time all three met there was conflict for supremacy. The details of the conflict are unknown but it was nearly world-ending. The conflict could have been easily avoided in retrospect and so the societies decided to form an official treaty organization - The Council.
All three main societies have representatives on The Council, but they also humor representatives from other societies such as the Phoenicians, The Druids and official unofficial overseers from the Orochi Group. Once a member of one of the societies rises high-enough in their society they are given an option to be transferred to the Council of Venice - however no such figures are anyone who has risen due to field-work but rather paper-work, in essence making the Council of Venice bureaucrats that have transcended their root factions due to the amount of thankless busy-work often over-looked but still essential to keep each faction running. As their positions were largely benign yet their seats on the Council are near beyond reproach, the Council of Venice members often quickly lose touch with those they are supposed to represent. They have back-log that stretches as far back as the Classical period, one which gets swept further and further back by additional busy-work used by rivals to delay decisions that would be unfavorable to them. As the Council can not refuse any action taken they are often kept to busy to even address any real problems, let alone solve them. Months after Tokyo is attacked the Council of Venice are still in deliberation on if they should send help or not, to say bother of what form that help would need to take. Though nearly all members want to help keep the people safe their complex policies delay them from acting for so long that their Faction members ignore the official need for sanctions and simply go to address the problems themselves, unofficially.
The Templars have been around since the time of Babylon, actually founded by Abel after his brother Cain tried to kill him. The Templars were created for the express purpose of vanquishing evil, earthly monsters, extra-dimensional demons, the undead and exceptionally cruel human-beings. Arrogance caught up with the Templars and through a series of poor choices they ended up inadvertently empowering the Illuminati and going from the strongest of the secret societies to one kept afloat by little more than it's massive military. Past glory day aside, the pedigree of the Templars keeps them as decorated members of the Council of Venice. Despite the polite smiles the Templars put on for people deemed their treaty keepers the shear amount of time it takes the Council to do anything often tests the patience of the Templars and they are known to act before having Council sanctions for action "assured the Council will eventually approve them" of-course.
The Illuminati were conceived in Egypt as a shadow-government who put Pharaohs on the throne and ruled through them, often with Pharaohs themselves unaware of just how much power actually came from seemingly benign merchants, mediators and priests. When they encounter the Templars in Sumeria the two joined forces, with the Templars preferring to rule publicly and the Illuminati preferring to work behind the scenes. The two societies would eventually have a falling-out. The Illuminati avoided the attempted ethnic cleansing and would eventually go on to build their own empire in the Americas. In it's current incarnation the Illuminati are so focused on modernizing they have gone ultra-modern. The Illuminati at their core wanted power - secret knowledge, political influence, wealth, cutting edge technology, all forms of power the Illuminati hoard. The Illuminati have nothing but contempt for the Council of Venice, for indeed not only are the Council antiquated compared to the ultra-modernized faction but even the Templars, resent them - and the Templars still carry around swords. The Illuminati put-up with the Council of Venice, but contrary to it being a sign of respect it is a sign of pity - considering it is rude to make fun of the elderly.
The Dragon are a massive network of agents that can be traced-back to a tiny cult in main-land China, so old no-one is quite sure of the era. The cult started when a little girl had a premonition of a Dragon after a near death experience and began predicting vital areas to be at precise times - those who followed the advice of the girl were given fantastical positions of power. Rather than attributing this to divine intervention the members of the cult began to map out seemingly non-connected events to try to deduce the grand web of cause and effect. The Dragon have gotten to wear they are as one of the world's most influential societies by mapping-out and triggering butterfly-effects. Sometime The Dragon trigger seemingly innocuous events, and sometimes acts of what appear random terrorism, but all are inter-connected in the Dragon's grand quest to model the world. The Dragon are the most reliant on The Council of Venice of the three main factions as the official channels of the Council keep the Templars and Illuminati under so relative restraint, which allows The Dragon more operating room. The Dragon do not trust the Council of Venice to do anything practical however and see them mostly as just one of thousands of unwitting cogs in the machine of fate.
The Brotherhood of Phoenician Sailors
The Brotherhood of Phoenician Sailors, often simply shorted to "The Phoenicians" are the figurative black-sheep of the secret societies. They Phoenicians were founded by Cain. After Cain tried to kill his brother, Abel banished his brother and Cain brought with him his supporters to form the Phoenicians as a society with no one home, always on the move. The Phoenicians became pirates and worked as mercenaries through-out the secret history of the world, everything from armies for hire, to treasure-hunters, to assassins. The Phoenicians have kept up influence to mirror that of their brother society, the Templars, but use their might for monetary gain instead of any real cause, something which the Templars see as a perversion of themselves. The Phoenicians have official members on the Council but are seen as degenerates even in diplomatic company. Many a dangerous artifact has ended up in the hands of non-secret-worlders thanks to the Phoenicians willing to steal from any of their compatriots and sell them off for profit, and as such in recent days the Council have levied more and more sanctions against them, reducing their influence to little more than votes on matters than concern all societies.
The Druids are one of the lesser societies. Very little is known about them, and they are only referenced as a background society in three minor missions. They are very keen on magic and organizing small-scale spy-work but thus far they have not been documented as engaging in any major combat situations.
The Orochi Group was founded in 1940s C.E.. They control much of the public world from clothing production, to food distribution, to bio-engineering, to medical supply to media supremacy, The Orochi Group has built it-self a monopoly in every field, with each subsidiary existing under the massive parent company. The company C.E.O., Samuel Chandra, knows much about the secret world and has used his influence to catch empirical evidence of it. Though not an official member of the Council of Venice, Orochi has black-mailed it's way into representatives watching out for Orochi interests to any major decisions. Orochi largely simply wants to be left to conduct it's own business and maintains an non-interventionist arrangements with the societies, no official actions are ever taken against Orochi and Orochi refrains from exposing the Council of Venice and all it's society members to the public in a 60-minute exposé or viral web-video. Samuel Chandra claims to have treaties forged in blood binding the factions from interfering in his affairs. Though the Council is bound by their treaties with Samuel, the societies who make them up have no such patience for the contracts and attempt to under-mind them at every chance they can to test just what "interference" constitutes.