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Resistance and Madness: The Council Fights Back

Slowly, so slowly that they didn't realize what was happening, the Masquerade became what they were fighting. Instead of encouraging people to discover their own power in logic and science, the Order of Reason came to make humanity dependent on the master scientists and planners for the boons of technology. The Eternals came to love their power and prestige, and many lorded over their domains with colossal arrogance. Kindred, of course, had every reason to want their natural prey weak and vulnerable, at least to their own depredations. The Fifth Age, which had dawned with so much promise, was quickly becoming as oppressive as the Fourth.

When they realized both their danger and their folly, the many wizards and shamans who were weakening realized that they needed to band together and oppose what was happening. The Exalted and the faerie also did the same. Unfortunately, each individual alliance was fractured and fraught with infighting, and there was never any real chance of a greater union as the forces within the Masquerade had done. Indeed, the Order or Reason and Camarilla easily turned wizard against Exalt, which kept them weak and divided against the unstoppable advancement of "reason."

Meanwhile, all were victims of a greater conspiracy. During the Second and Third Ages, the memory of betrayal had kept the forces of corruption (as embodied by the Wyrm) at bay, as all other forces would immediately drop any grievances to battle the power of imbalance. The corrupt had grown subtle, however, and its enemies arrogant and complacent. Certain of their own rightness, they were easy prey to infiltration and misdirection by the Wyrm's minions.

Within all of the darkness and fear, however, a new hope arose. Heroes could no longer count on these great organizations for support, but the idea of the crusader(s) of justice and rightness became highly popular. From Arthur and El Cid to Robin Hood and the Three Musketeers, these semi-fictional heroes inspired real people to take up the battle against tyranny. Larger movements had more mixed success, as shown by the American and French Revolutions. While the Masquerade could direct these new democracies, they could not control them as they had the monarchies. Better yet, the magickal beings saw the power in these legends and began to sanction heroes in their own ranks. Even some Eternals joined the fun, though the Society of Aeons was quick to move against any who displayed their powers openly.

All of this, of course, was intolerable to the Wyrm...

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