Unknown Organization in Excilior | World Anvil


Information is the ultimate asset

A more appropriate moniker has never been crafted. Where are they? Unknown. What do they do? Unknown. Do they even exist? Unknown.
Lei Zyuhan, Hetmaan alchemist, 2263 AoR
he Unknown are a shadow organization of spies and bounty hunters. They are renowned for their vast information network that allows them to transfer messages far faster than most traditional means. They pride themselves on being the eyes and ears of all that takes place in casterway society - especially in the lower reaches of society. Some are explicitly criminal in nature and actively participate in illicit transactions. But many ardent, long-term members avoid any illicit engagements. Instead, they are constantly listening, talking, and passing information amongst their own inner circle of trusted peers. While this process of underworld gossip may seem haphazard on the surface, the Unknown are infamous for the amazing speed with which critical news can travel through their networks.

Public Agenda

n organization committed to extreme secrecy can hardly have a "public" agenda. But many profess to Unknown connections and claim to know (at least some of) their objectives. Even if those voices are not to be trusted, a gaggle of cognoscenti have tried over the centuries to gain some kind of substantive knowledge about the Unknown. There have even been some who swore that they were previously part of the group, but subsequently abandoned the guild. By patching together these disparate sources, some rough outlines can be surmised about their agenda.
The first theory of the Unknown's goals is that, at times, they have no goals. Specifically, they seem to harbor many with an anarchist bent. So while it's tempting to point to the Unknown's supposed-aid in toppling a ruler or assassinating a given target, and then extrapolating a political agenda based on those actions, such judgments are often confounded when the next confirmed action of the Unknown seems to be in direct opposition to the last confirmed action. For this reason, it's not just a campy play on words to define the Unknown's political or social objectives as truly unknown.
The group's seemingly-anarchist tilt is probably exacerbated by its organizational structure (or lack thereof). It's difficult to have any kind of coherent agenda when the "organization" itself is barely organized at all. Rather than being a formal "order" of any sort, the Unknown seem to be more akin to a loose collective of local cells, each operating in an incredibly insular fashion, paranoid of outside influences, and extremely difficult to infiltrate (or even, to join, for those who are so inclined). Some incredible tales have emerged of individuals who earnestly wanted to be part of the Unknown but, after extensive (wasted) effort, realized that they couldn't even find them. In other scenarios, would-be candidates found that there was nothing they could say or do that would convince the local Unknown representatives to grant them access to the club. There have been scattered accounts of the Unknown recognizing internal leaders, or even organizing cross-regional gatherings. But it's usually near-impossible to verify even the smallest details in these reports and some of them have a strong scent of legend about them.
If there's any universally-acknowledged goal of the Unknown, it is the shear flow (and acquisition) of information. Some have scoffed at the Unknown as nothing more than a glorified gossip network whose faux-secrecy lends an air of self-importance to those who would flap their gums, whether-or-not there was any so-called Unknown order under which they could conduct their activities. And indeed, most cognoscenti believe that the "average" member of the Unknown is little more than a shopkeep or a fowlmonger who passes little nuggets of information to trusted colleagues as they conduct the dreary tasks of their daily lives. But a careful accounting of Unknown reports provides a strong indication that, for at least some of them, there are broader motives at play and coordinated objectives being pursued. With this in mind, it's entirely possible that the peasants in the Unknown's lower levels are indeed a "formal" part of the network - but as the lowest rung on the ladder they may be the least-privileged and their banal activities may not be indicative of the Unknown's full scope.
The unfettered flow of information - without regard to religious, political, or ethical restrictions - puts the Unknown in idealistic alignment with the Agnoscio. And there is little doubt these loose-knit orders certainly do cooperate from time to time. But it's questionable that this cooperation frequently rises beyond the realm of convenient, ad hoc partnership. While it's easy to connect the dots between some Agnoscio and Unknown activities, there's little evidence that they have ever formed a cohesive partnership through activities that are orchestrated at a higher level.


The prisoner kept screaming that his contact was unknown. After I removed his third knuckle, I realized he was trying to tell me that his contact was an Unknown.
Lenuo Thao, Quitan torturer, 2558 AoR
s an underground and unacknowledged organization, there is no "official" founding date for the Unknown. The first reference to the murky guild comes from the Rinenmaan high court in 1382 AoE. Two would-be assassins were thwarted in an attempt to murder the Rinenmaan king while his royal caravan was enroute to the holy city of Asjar. Their attack was sprung near a sidepool off the Shawmark River when the royal party stopped to feed the livestock and replenish supplies. When officials investigated the failed attempt, it immediately became clear that the saboteurs had been waiting at this spot well in advance of the king's arrival. When the court asked the assassins how they knew that the royal caravan would be taking this route and stopping at this particular waypoint, they both responded that the intelligence was provided by the Unknown.
Despite this fleeting reference, it took several more centuries before any "official" entity - the political powers, the cognoscenti, the general population... anyone - would even admit that there is such a group as the Unknown. Of course, they had not a single soul who would identify as a member of the Unknown. And any understanding of the secretive guild had to be gleaned or inferred from rumors and circumstantial evidence. But by the latter stages of the Age of Expansion there was no longer much doubt as to if the Unknown actually existed. The more pertinent questions revolved around the Unknown's identity and its goals. On some level, those questions have not been thoroughly answered to this day. Since their discovery, the Unknown's influence is believed to have remained steady, or even grown, over time. They have become a silent force constantly waiting and watching in the shadows.

Demography and Population

ne of the reasons that it's so challenging to gain any information about the Unknown is that it's equally maddening to simply figure out who is in the Unknown and who is not. In theory, anyone could be Unknown. Or everyone. Or no one. They have no uniform. No symbols. No tokens. No secret language. So anyone is fair game for Unknown membership. Although some of the criminal enterprises associated with the Unknown are most commonly pursued by young people - especially, young men - the information side (the side that probably comprises the majority of their "membership") can be fulfilled by absolutely anyone. In fact, the quality of their information is enhanced when they can recruit members who wouldn't "normally" be suspected as being part of such a vast underworld operation. The butcher in the town square could be Unknown. As could be the nanny. Or the priest. Or even the king's highest advisors. The basic fact is that, in most communities, most neutral observers simply have no way of distinguishing between the Unknown - and everybody else.


or the first seven-hundred-or-so years of the Unknown's existence, they were only a legitimate phenomenon across the Sontsu Peninsula, amongst the Sontsu people. But the cultural "exchange" that came with the constant wars of the Age of Rivals also seems to have spread the order's seed far and wide. By the 26th century, Inqoan accounts made mention of information networks facilitated by the Unknown. Since the Unknown first "went global", their influence has been rumored on every continent, and in every country, up to the present day.
An average greeting on Vectum Isle goes something like this: "Greetings. Welcome to my shop. My name is Haraga. And I've never heard of the Unknown."
Alihan Bortan, Enoerian boatswain, 1143 AoE
Vectum Isle
Regardless of the order's (putative) reach, they will always be most closely associated with Rinenmaa's Vectum Isle on the outer edge of Serpent Sound on Sinum Balaena. While any attempt to compile a "history" of the Unknown is probably a fool's errand, nearly anyone with even scant knowledge of the order points to Vectum Isle as the point of their origination and their "spiritual home" to this day. Of course, no one on Vectum Isle would ever acknowledge this. The Rinenmaans of Vectum Isle are notorious for their blatant refusal to acknowledge even the most obvious of empirical facts. And they certainly won't talk about the Unknown - or even admit that the Unknown exist. But Vectum Isle is always assumed to be the default location of Unknown activity (such that there is any such thing as "Unknown activity").

Trade & Transport

hat can actually be traded or transported with the Unknown is a matter of some conjecture, and it varies considerably from region-to-region, and even between individual members of the Unknown. Given their proclivity for information - in all its forms - it would be easy to assume that they can be leveraged to purchase information or to carry it from one place to another. But it's not nearly that easy. The Unknown are notoriously fickle about whom they will conduct business with, what kind of business they'll conduct, or whether they will agree to conduct any business at all. Even when one manages to identify an Unknown, acquiring any kind of assistance from that Unknown can be extremely frustrating. They tend to take only the jobs that they want to take, and even then, they will only complete them in a way that matches their own preferences. Those who have managed to make positive contact with the Unknown report that they seem to pursue their own objectives by their own chosen methods - and they rarely share those objectives or those methods with anyone else.
For example, it would not be uncommon for someone to seek out an Unknown looking for information about a loved one missing in a foreign war. They would presumably approach the Unknown offering payment for any details they can provide. But this is no guarantee that the Unknown would actually accept the "job". In fact, it's most likely that the Unknown would simply tell the distressed loved one that they can't help them - and go on about their business. If they did decide to take up this person's cause, they might actually agree to investigate the issue at no charge. Of course, depending upon their assessment of the customer, they may be more than happy to accept the payment in return for the investigation.
Illicit Services
The Unknown have acquired a sizable reputation as the source of various illicit goods and services. And there is no doubt that many Unknown have, at times, served as the conduit for these services. But there is great disagreement about the extent to which the Unknown actually provide these services themselves rather than just acting as middlemen. For example, there is little doubt that dethane can sometimes be acquired "from" an Unknown. But it's highly unlikely that this member of the Unknown actually manufactured and refined the dethane. It's far more likely that the product delivered by the Unknown actually originated from some partnership with an Agnoscio (or a small handful of other rogues with the knowledge and the means to accomplish such a feat). Some characterize the Unknown as an assassin's guild. And again, it's quite plausible that some people, at different points in the past, have managed to contract for such services through an Unknown. But even when the desired assassination is carried out, it's almost impossible to determine if the person who carried out the killing was actually an Unknown, or whether the activity was just coordinated through the Unknown.
We can put a price on his head and hope that someone drags him in over the next year. Or we can go find us an Unknown - and they'll drag him in within the next ten days.
Leandro Payim Tivaris, Sceraisian warden, 1479 AoE
Bounty Hunters
Perhaps the most common "product" associated with the Unknown is bounty hunting. It's doubtful that they think of themselves in this light, because when bounties are publicly announced, there are no (acknowledged) Unknown competing with the "regular" bounty hunters for the prize. But the Unknown have a reputation for bringing in bounties on marks that had previously eluded all of the standard hunters. And while there are certainly Unknowns with impressive martial skills, their proclivity for bounty hunting seems to arise more from their expansive information network than from their skills in capturing fugitives. Even when the Unknown are not specifically called upon to track these individuals, it's not unusual for the successful bounty hunter to have received key bits of information from their own discrete connections in the Unknown.

The Unknown never forget.

Founding Date
Information Network
Alternative Names
Parent Organization
Related Ethnicities


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