Secret Societies

There are many secret societies in Penglai, some dedicated to change, some to seizing power, some to unionising, some to martial arts. It is not a question of whether a person is a member of a society, but rather of how many. Players are encouraged to have their PCs approached by society members, to have their plots entangled with the movers and shakers, and to make as much use of the societies as possible. Below is a rundown of how the Mandarinate organises its files on societies, but this should be considered only one facet of what such societies do.

Societies are broken down into Destroyed, Illegal, Forbidden, Out of Favour, In Favour, and Elite, among many other fine grades of definition. Yes, they may be in more than one category. If this sounds complicated, bear in mind that the complication in Pengali is in the words, not in sentences. So the history of an entire society may run, The Elite Order of the Ebony Fingers was discovered to be Mocking the Heavenly Mandate, and was by its own actions Illegal. Three years later, it was deemed Destroyed by the Imperial Censor. A clever reader will note why it was Elite, as well as understanding why it became Illegal without further documentation.

Destroyed Societies

In general, destroyed societies have had their names struck from history, for such crimes as Rebellion Against Stability or Mocking the Heavenly Mandate.

Illegal Societies

These have the full force of law upon them. Discovered members will be executed in a variety of ways, and it is likely that a society that is illegal is on the road to being destroyed.

Forbidden Societies

Although there is no Vermillion Word against these societies, they have the displeasure of custom against them. Good Fathers Do Not Allow Children To Join, and so forth. These societies are borderline immoral, and may have dueling, sex, or extreme danger involved.

Out of Favour

The face of the dragon itself has turned from a society that is out of favour, and they are generally one in decline. Their lucky sign may be dipping from the zenith of the heavens,

In Favour

This is a society that for no apparent reason is on the rise. A charismatic leader, a lucky set of circumstances, or just the favour of the heavens may be behind it.


This is a society whose name, and often members, are widely known, but which does not take applicants. Rather, it selects those whom it wishes to honour with joining.

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