Agnoscio Organization in Excilior | World Anvil


Knowledge at any cost

If we're to have any chance of succeeding, we'll need an entirely new poison. Something that's never before been unleashed. Find me an Agnoscio.
Murimo Konang, Enepian torturer, 2846 AoR
he Agnoscio are a shadow organization of researchers, scientists, and scholars who are generally seen to be in opposition to the cognoscenti. They are specifically dedicated to disciplines and techniques that the cognoscenti have disavowed. While the loose-knit order exists ostensibly for the pursuit of empirical/scientific knowledge, they are distinct from their more-respected brethren in their embrace of the occult, their disregard for societal norms, and their willingness to pursue research that may include rituals and "experiments" that yield data of little-or-no scientific benefit.


iven the secretive and often-criminal aspect of Agnoscio pursuits, they maintain no obvious appearance of an organizational structure, nor any outward-facing accoutrements of institutional hierarchies. Most Agnoscio work in solitary environments, or with only a couple of trusted colleagues. So they rarely create, or seek out, rigid managements structures. Nevertheless, most Agnoscio within a given region maintain a basic familiarity with each other. They may even facilitate clandestine gatherings on rare occasions. The end result is that there is a basic understanding within their order of the apprentices, the average practitioners, and the sage masters.
In Plain Sight
Of course, their internal organizational hierarchies have little bearing on their public persona. The average casterway knows little of the Agnoscio besides their name and a handful of exaggerated legends. It's quite common for an Agnoscio to spend decades in a given village without the townsfolk ever really understanding what he does - or that he considers himself to be an active member of the Agnoscio. To the typical layperson, the Agnoscio in the village is just, "The weird hermit who lives alone, in an isolated area, and seems to generate a strange array of aromas, sounds, and sights from in-or-near their abode."

Public Agenda

s a loose-knit and informal organization, the Agnoscio have no "official" public agenda. In fact, their greatest desire is typically to remain far outside the public eye. They really just want to be left alone to pursue their esoteric studies. With this in mind, they are rarely known to lobby for any particular course of action or outcome. But those who admit to maintaining a dialog with the Agnoscio confirm that their top priority is always quite simple - the unabashed accumulation of knowledge, accentuated by the occasional (but inevitable) scientific and technological advancement that follows from such pursuits. On the surface, this may seem to put them squarely in league with the cognoscenti. But the cognoscenti typically ensure their continued station in casterway societies by aiding the existing power structures and avoiding areas of inquiry that would alarm the general populace. The Agnoscio make no such accommodations.


lmost from the time of the first cognoscenti, there was a trickle of rogue researchers who occasionally ran afoul of cognoscenti guidelines. For those who find themselves disavowed and banished by the cognoscenti, they have two choices: They can transition into entirely different vocations. Or they can "go rogue". Over time, those so-called rogues came to be known, by the public and even amongst themselves, as the Agnoscio.
It is the judgment of this council that you have betrayed the sacred tenets of our profession. You are to leave the klyster at once, never to return. You are never to represent yourself again as cognoscenti. You are to remember every day, for the rest of your days, that you have failed all who gave of themselves to train and support you.
Ingrit Reis, Pozian cognoscenti, 1951 AoE
Every Agnoscio has not previously been a practicing and recognized cognoscenti. There are certainly known cases of individuals who never even tried to adhere to cognoscenti guidelines in the first place and gravitated to the Agnoscio from day one. But the early Agnoscio were all people who had been banished from the cognoscenti and even to this day, the majority of Agnoscio were, at some point, formally aligned with the cognoscenti.
There is no way to quantify Agnoscio membership or influence over the centuries. But the general belief is that their ranks have thinned during the Age of Gnosis. As casterway academia slowly graduates from legend and dogma into something closer resembling true scientific rigor, the role of the Agnoscio seems to slowly fade into the background. But there are still a host of scientific (and quasi-scientific) disciplines that simply will not be advanced if they are left purely in the hands of the cognoscenti. This ensures that, at least for the time being, there is still an ongoing niche to be filled by the Agnoscio.

Technological Level

espite their numerous flights of academic fancy, over millennia, the Agnoscio have acquired a great deal of scientific knowledge. At times, they have even made discoveries that have positively turned the fate of nations. They have also accumulated great libraries of scientific insight that have been sought after in times of emergency. Even the cognoscenti have "lowered themselves" to raiding Agnoscio archives when desperately trying to solve a critical problem (although they would never publicly admit as much). In keeping with their renegade research techniques, the Agnoscio have not always collected useful information - but they are always collecting information nonetheless.  
Although the Agnoscio cannot lay claim to the discovery of dethane (or its refining process), they have been nearly the only group - for millennia - working to improve the process and make it (marginally) safer for all involved. They have pioneered several techniques for harvesting, transporting, and storing the highly-addictive wyndleroot while minimizing the danger to those involved in the trade. Agnoscio were the first to publish highly-detailed accounts of the inner-working of casterway bodies (although they steadfastly refuse to provide any detail whatsoever as to how they acquired this information). This includes impressively-accurate diagrams of the nerve, digestive, and circulatory systems. The Agnoscio proclivity for carcasses and cadavers of any ilk has allowed them to discover several revolutionary techniques for the preservation of organic material. And their willingness to dabble in all manner of occult practices has led some Agnoscio to blow the lid off scandals that were orchestrated by those same occult practitioners.  
The Agnoscio knowledgebase on all things relating to medicine and human anatomy perhaps led them to pioneer the process of bomination. Like so many other Agnoscio "advancements", any credit (or scorn) due to them over this development is a matter of much debate. Although there have certainly been a handful of non-Agnoscio who have dabbled in the practice since its initial discovery in 2681 AoR, it's generally assumed that nearly all daemen walking the planet at any given point in time were originally created in the rogue laboratory of an Agnoscio.

Foreign Relations

he Agnoscio are best known for two critical relations - one earned and the other greatly exaggerated. These relations typically shape their reception by the public - but the Agnoscio rarely make any attempt to correct outward misconceptions.
It's no secret that the cognoscenti and the Agnoscio are almost always in blatant opposition. These tensions rarely turn violent. But there is absolutely no love lost between the groups. Many Agnoscio were outright expelled from the cognoscenti, thus creating a natural apprehension between them. But even for those Agnoscio who were never actually part of the cognoscenti, they still draw the ire of the klysters because they practice techniques that are derided as ineffective, dangerous, or immoral (or all three). If the cognoscenti are not suspicious about the local Agnoscio's current projects, they still fear that the Agnoscio's wayward goals and actions will become confused with those of the cognoscenti. This fear is not unfounded, because the "average" casterway has a hard time truly distinguishing between the cognoscenti and the Agnoscio.
Dethane doesn't kill people. People kill people.
Arbner Marc, Ochebian Agnoscio, 2336 AoR
The Agnoscio bear an implicit association with criminal/underground elements, but this correlation is usually exaggerated. It's true that most Agnoscio have no qualms about coordinating with outlaws if it will aid their research. If a terrorist seeks to spark a dethane explosion, that dethane probably originated in an Agnoscio lab. If a new, potent, and exceptionally-lethal strain of drug is circulating through the arbyrs, that enhanced derivative was probably first synthesized in an Agnoscio lab. In fact, there are a great many products of Agnoscio research that have eventually been turned to evil purposes.
But most Agnoscio do nothing to foster explicit links to the criminal underworld. Criminals can be stupid and indiscrete - and those qualities don't mesh well with Agnoscio objectives. There are times when Agnoscio have found it advantageous to pair those those outside the law. But such partnerships have a tendency to fizzle over time, because the outlaws' long-term goals are rarely aligned with those of the Agnoscio. For example, an Agnoscio may have an unwieldy surplus of dethane stockpiled - and may be perfectly willing to sell this to discrete middlemen for a handsome profit. Yet those same middlemen may be quite annoyed when they come back wanting more supply for resale, only to find that the Agnoscio has moved on to other areas of study and has absolutely no desire to resume the dethane refining process.


gnoscio ethics are a subject of great contention. Most cognoscenti would accuse the Agnoscio of having no ethics whatsoever. From their perspective, the Agnoscio besmirch the reputations of science and academia merely so they can pursue their own selfish curiosities. Many religious leaders decry the Agnoscio as explicitly evil due to their frequent association with the occult. Layfolk who are not specifically beholden to the church or the cognoscenti often view the Agnoscio with a neutral (yet wary) eye. They don't much care what the Agnoscio do, so long as it remains confined to the dark corners and secret laboratories of their order. Political leaders also tend to look neutrally upon the Agnoscio - with the key exception that the rogue researchers have occasionally been embraced by rulers who desire technological advancements that no one else will pursue. In those scenarios, there have even been periods, in specific regions, where the Agnoscio were elevated to a quasi-legitimate status - much to the chagrin of their adversaries.
From the perspective of the Agnoscio themselves, they tend to see questions of ethics simply as non-issues altogether. To many of their order, there is no such thing as an "unethical" or an "immoral" pursuit. Theirs are simply pursuits of knowledge. And by the ethos of most Agnoscio, the pursuit of knowledge is never wrong or evil. By their worldview, the most tangible product of "evil" is ignorance, and all that they pursue in their studies specifically works against such ignorance (even when their studies yield no tangible discoveries and no new insights).
It's a special brand of cognoscenti ignorance to believe you can cure casterway diseases without ever having peered inside a casterway.
Amzi Sprongar, Poglian Agnoscio, 2055 AoE
Good vs Evil
It is overly simplistic to assume that the cognoscenti (or others in opposition to the Agnoscio) are ethical and the Agnoscio are unethical. Throughout their long history, the cognoscenti have been involved in their own share of scandals and there are even some who oppose both the cognoscenti and the Agnoscio. For example, the cognoscenti are known to conduct a large array of experiments on animals, which some casterways argue are immoral, regardless of the outcome or the insights pursued. But most cognoscenti will not conduct animal experiments for matters of simple curiosity, for "aesthetic" concerns, or in any manner that causes undue pain or suffering to the animal. On the other hand, the Agnoscio would condone nearly any experiment, on nearly any animal (or even - on humans), for nearly any purpose, so long as they believe the result will be increased knowledge on their part.
Trading Places
There have been brief periods of history where the relative roles of the Agnoscio and the cognoscenti (or the public perception of those roles) has actually switched. For all of their talk of "standards", "ethics", and "guidelines", the cognoscenti have occasionally proven to be too eager to conform to regional, religious, or political norms. This has created scenarios where the cognoscenti found themselves essentially supporting antiquated local customs, maniacal religious zealots, or despotic rulers. During some of those periods, when the public needs services that they would normally only associate with the cognoscenti, they find themselves with no alternative but to turn to the Agnoscio.

There is no right or wrong. There is only knowledge or ignorance.

Consortium, Research


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