The Rise of Karzoug
The Order of the Invisible Hand
After the death of Aroden and the collapse of Imperial Cheliax into civil war, some elites of the church of Abadar in Absalom began to discuss whether they were doing enough to further the cause of civilization. Was it really sufficient to provide support for existing governments, if at any time they could be destroyed by forces beyond human control—the death of a deity, an incursion of demons, unnatural disasters—or should the church take a broader role in shaping humanity generally? Ten thousand years of recorded history provided many examples of the rise and fall of great empires; some decayed naturally into irrelevance as they were out-competed by neighbors, as is right and good, but more often an outside calamity was the cause. It suggested a culture insufficiently prepared to cope with chaos: the ultimate market failure.
The church founded a new college devoted entirely to the comparative study of both current and historical civilizations. What forms of government were most resilient, most capable of quick recovery, most progressive? The Order of the Invisible Hand had as its mandate the promotion of civilization as a whole, rather than the individual governments that were, in a sense, merely experimental subjects. It would calculate a course of maximum utility for the world.
Of course, this lofty ambition bogged down in decades of debate over the correct cost-benefit analysis of slavery, democracy, diabolism, revolution, and almost every other subject. The only firm conclusion the Order could immediately reach was that monsters were the existential threat to human civilization. So while scholarship on more complex topics continued in Absalom, the Order also created its own inquisitors for fieldwork. Some are posted to courts, to influence governments to provide support to places like Mendev and Lastwall, and to promote any other agenda the Order can manage to agree on. Most travel more freely, often joining adventuring parties to put down monsters and pursue lost relics. All inquisitors of the Order are tasked with gathering information and providing regular reports for research purposes, combating antiutilitarian religious cults (Zon-Kuthon in particular is anathema to the Order), and taking possession of any powerful ancient devices they can find, to put them under the Order’s adult supervision.
Officially, because the Order is secret even from most members of the church, their inquisitors are empowered by the Bank of Absalom to examine the financial records of any branch in the world to ensure compliance with regulations. They are thus known by the title of Auditor.