In January of 2021, during his inaugural speech following the election to his second term, U.S. President John Abrams revealed the existence of magi on live worldwide television, and proclaimed his true name Caesar, Master of the Mastigos path.
They days that follow are shrouded in propaganda and wars so total that none remain to tell their story. But within just seven short years, opposition lay crushed, and the tattered world left behind raised the flag of but a single government: Hieraconis.
But while Hieraconis may rule civilization, by 2032 it can no longer be said to rule the world, not truly. The world is falling into ruin, as barriers between the Astral, the Shadow, and the Abyss collapse, leaving ancient and unspoken horrors in their wake that have seized much of the world in the grips of murder and chaos. Billions lie dead.
But Hieraconis remains, under the control of the magi, throughout 136 “safe zones” – urban cities around the planet that have been specifically warded and safeguarded by powerful magi within Caesar’s regime.
They are almost all that remains of the human race.
After 2021, the old orders began to fade away, Pentacle, Seer, and apostate alike all mostly agreeing to take up Caesar’s banner in the name of the end of Paradox and the open rule of the world. Those who resisted have been consigned to history, losers in the wars that followed. The victors, bereft of tribe, were given new titles and new purposes in Hieraconis: the four Ars, dedicated to practical purposes in this new world.
The remnants of what was the Giovanni Crime Family – and what became the command staff for Caesar’s armies during the last great war of the early 2020s – has by 2032 been trimmed down to its barest raw essence. A force of policemen, judges, and executioners, the members of the Ars Umbra are today to a man followers of the path of Mastigos, and to a man chained to some extent to the will of their Princeps and leader, Alastor.
Today, with Caesar all but silent within his White Citadel, the Umbra have incredible authority, answerable to no one.
The Ars Aranea, under the leadership of Princeps Mnemosyne, was founded with the goal of taking the principles of the old Free Council to their natural ends: in the absence of paradox, blend technology and magic so seamlessly together that they seem one entity, and take both further than they have ever been before.
And for a time, they did just that, but as civilization began to fail in the late 2020s, their mission changed to more urgent matters: the production of tools to keep the populace subjugated and peaceful, and – most importantly – the attempted construction of a new Celestial Ladder, to evacuate mankind from the failing Earth.
The Ars Mysteria, under the leadership of Princeps Asha’man, were a natural extension of the old Pentacle order of the Mysterium — possibly the only of the old orders to so naturally transition to the new — but with a greater scope and depth of mission than ever they could have dreamed of previously. They were tasked not only with digging up every last Atlantean artifact and openly recovering it, but with finding the ruins of Atlantis itself.
It is unknown if they ever succeeded in this task.
The Ars Legatus, now led by Princeps Mateus, have taken on a natural role as administrators of the 136 remaining human cities that make up Hieraconis. They work the most directly with the Sleepers of any of the orders – still employing some as militia forces, even, due to a lack of general manpower among the Awakened. In these latter days, as Caesar has retreated from view deeper inward in his White Citadel, the Legates who rule the many cities have nearly absolute authority within their own domains, acting as petty, brutal warlords or enlightened dictators in turn depending on their own whim. Princeps Mateus holds some marginal control over the lot, but he himself is rarely seen beyond his pleasure palaces within Rio De Janeiro (today possibly the most populous cities remaining on the planet).