United They Stood; Depraved They Fell
Templar Factions (Masons & Watchmen)
In this fantastical reality, the Knights Templar were a group of medieval knights that discovered an enormous collection of treasure, documents, and artifacts while on the Crusades. They decided it was too large for one man to keep, so they collectively vowed before God that they would watch over it together. This became their grand, yet secret, mission (I am taking much of my inspiration from the film National Treasure, with some influence from the video game Assassin's Creed III).
Over the centuries the treasure was added upon, and new members were inducted into the Templar to replace the old, taking the same vow as before regarding this precious treasure.
During the time of the Renaissance, however, some members of the Templar began to advocate for the free distribution and publication of the wealth and knowledge they watched over, believing that such treasures ought to be given freely to the people. Others were vehemently opposed, refusing to give to the world what they considered to be a most sacred and divine trust. This disagreement caused a great divide in the Templar, resulting in the creation of two factions: the Free Masons (named for their vision of common workers made free), and the Watchmen (named for their elitist ideals of protection and security).
Since that schism in the mid-1500s, the Masons had managed to smuggle all of the treasure onto the British Isles, so all the Watchmen eventually moved there as well. The treasure changed hands multiple times between the two groups, eventually ending with the Masons in the late 1600s. By using enigmatic clues and impossible puzzles, the Masons kept the Watchmen away from the treasure long enough to smuggle it into the Americas without their notice. In the meantime, the Watchmen began to train themselves in the arts of secrecy, subterfuge, and espionage, and put themselves up for hire by the British Crown to elevate their status and authority. This led the group to change their name to the King's Watchmen.
Now, at the start of this campaign, the King's Watchmen is a discreet collection of spies, assassins, smugglers, and masters of espionage. While they, like the Masons, trace their roots to the Knights Templar, they are also fully loyal to the British Crown. The Anglican faith sets the king on a divine pedestal, so he is often referred to as the "Lord" of England. The King's Watchmen continue to seek peace through control, continuing to oppose the Masons in order to spread their ideals and control the treasure.
The King's Watchmen have adopted a creed, a charge, and a blessing to give authority to their cause. They are each taken from a verse in the Holy Bible:
Watchmen's Creed: Ezekiel 33:6
Watchmen's Charge: Jeremiah 51:12
Watchmen's Blessing: Proverbs 8:34
On the other side of the pond, the Free Masons have become a discreet collection of intellectuals, including great minds in the fields of war, politics, and philosophy. Some also have skills similar to the King's Watchmen for their own protection. Some of the Masons have been digging and building an underground vault worthy of the now incredibly massive treasure, while others have been crafting more clues and keys to conceal the treasure's location. Some clues are true, while some are false, but all are cryptic or enigmatic. The Masons are loyal to the colonial cause, as it aligns well with their ideals of freedom of information and liberty for all people.
As this campaign begins, the King's Watchmen have encountered a new lead, just a single, cryptic phrase: "The secret lies with Charlotte." So far, they have been unsuccessful in finding out who, or what, Charlotte is. The word "lies" has led some to search cemeteries, while others have taken to stealing public records and spying on any suspicious person that may be the recipient of the name or title of "Charlotte."