Panopticon Ministry
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Nature: Mage Organization
Faction: Pyramid
Status: Greater Ministry
Patron Exarch: The Eye
Favored Prelacy: Vision
Arcanum Specialty: Space
Responsibilities: Surveillance, "Big Brother", Espionage, Intelligence agencies, Organized crime, official records, blackmail, gossip, secrets, shame
Soundtrack: Every breath you take (I'll be watching you) - Sting & The Police

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Rote Skills

  • Investigation
  • Stealth
  • Subterfuge
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Philosophy

Sleepers should never Sleep alone. They fear nonconformity and unpredictability, so if they believe they’re being monitored they’ll forego any behavior that might make them stand out. The Ministry believes that every time people intentionally monitor each other (as opposed to casually seeing one another), they sympathetically strengthen the Eye. They transmit information into the Pantognosis: the web of mystic information that orders the Fallen World.

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Teachings

The Eye is the god of espionage, and all spies and rumormongers unknowingly worship him. The watchers do this consciously, so they are privy to the Eye’s gifts. The Ministry breaks this down into the ''Three Gazes''. Each one is a manifestation of the Eye in a human soul:

The Gaze of Helios

Helios is the resonance of those who spy upon subjects over which they have power. When a rich man spies on his servants, a parent on a child, or police compile files on citizens, their ambitions and the satisfaction they feel upon uncovering secrets create a vessel for the Eye, which manifests like a sun: the emotional “heat” of being watched. To the Ministry, the sensation of being seen from behind is not a superstition or a psychic talent, but a manifestation of the Eye as Helios’ Gaze.

The Gaze of Pthonus

Pthonus is the envious gaze from below: what many Sleepers call “sousveillance” when it’s applied by the weak against the powerful. Panopticon manipulates the common belief that this can overthrow existing power relationships. Sometimes it does, but people under the Pthonus’ spell forget that the power of the Eye is more than uncovering unpleasant knowledge — it’s the ability to spur action, if necessary. Pthonus transmits rumors that enforce the social order. The powerful and meek both fear the masses’ judgment.

The Gaze of Hypnos

Hypnos is the resonance of shame and self-denial. It is the part of a person that watches itself for signs of deviance, foolishness or unrealistic-seeming ambition. It is roughly equivalent to the Freudian superego in the way it restricts impulses, but goes a step further by crippling desires that could lead to Awakening. Without elementary self-knowledge, magic is impossible.

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Rituals & Observances

Panopticon is the most informal Ministry because it does not rely on titles and social niceties to regulate its ranks. Watchers understand these things are important inside the Seers of the Throne as a whole and don’t reject the Iron Pyramid, but their cult is more of a brotherhood than a secret government. Watchers know that lies and omissions infect human interaction, and so they value facts over etiquette. The following customs enforce this:

The Tree of Eyes

This is a simple tradition: every watcher should spy on and be spied upon by one inferior and one superior. At the bottom, a neophyte doesn’t have an inferior to study, so she learns everything she can about her contacts and the organizations she’s infiltrated.

At higher ranks this isn’t strictly required, but most watchers keep tabs on “their” Sleepers anyway. In some tetrarchies every watcher knows who’s watching her. They perform rituals to formally adopt or change who they study. This sort of thing falls in and out of favor, because powerful Ministry mages often use threats and bribes to influence anyone observing them, leading to rogue branches of the Ministry. Elsewhere, watchers spy anonymously. This encourages distracting paranoia, but maintains loyalty to the Ministry.

Advancement Dossiers

To progress within the Ministry, a watcher has to prove that she’s ready for the job – or one of her superiors needs to step aside. An ambitious mage compiles a detailed dossier about the watcher she wants to replace, & asks a trustworthy ally to spy on her & testify to superiors that she’s competent.

This witness can’t be the one studying her under the Tree of Eyes because senior members of the Ministry need two points of view to study. (If the mage unknowingly picks someone linked to her by the Tree, that watcher should pass the job onto a third party.) The superior secretly reviews each dossier and grants Status according to his findings. Sometimes, the judge has to deal with blackmail; ambitious mages spy on them, too.

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View on Sleepers

They prefer for Sleepers to be consumed by paranoia, forever suspecting their neighbors of wrong-doing, while shamefully concealing their own sins, both real & imagined. While law enforcement professionals used to be almost exclusively claimed by Praetorian, Panopticon now employs far more Sleepers in that field, given the simultaneous rise of global policing and invasive surveillance.

Likewise, intelligence professionals and computer specialists have a special place in the Eye’s service, with access to information the world over, no matter how well hidden or precious. Of course, not all agents of Panopticon use the same sorts of Sleepers, and prison snitches, gossipy clubgoers, workplace snoops all have a place under the omniscient gaze of the Eye.

Even the most innocuous Sleeper can be made to serve without even knowing it: people will say all sorts of things in front of children, coma patients, the mentally challenged, and other people who are believed — whether rightly or wrongly — not to fully understand what’s going on around them. By tapping into the memories or senses of these people, Panopticon Seers turn them into living intelligencegathering stations.

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Ultimate Objectives

Panopticon’s mages aren’t interested in Thralls or converts. The Ministry’s philosophy is a pragmatic, absolute dictum: kill them all. The Panopticon’s obsession with knowledge determines the preferred form of extermination. The Ministry isn’t just interested in eradicating order mages wherever it finds them — that’s a futile strategy. The war must uproot networks and webs of influence. It must conquer every strand of them, from the greatest Masters to the most distant, unknowing servant. Panopticon strategists believe the best solution is to imprison Atlantean renegades, and interrogate them until they reveal every secret. All that will remain is a shell that submits to torturers utterly and accepts the death that follows. There will be no martyrs, because the victims won’t just die in secret, but will welcome death — and even believe they deserve it. Some say the Ministry already has its sorcerers’ prison and waits for the appropriate crisis to use it.

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Panopticon Seers

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