If the world is a dark mystery, let us build a fire.
This article (Order Faction Bible), is part of the Faction Bible series, and shows the inner workings of the faction so writers can better understand it. It is not to be changed in any way, as it is from the ample genius of one Open Sketchbook.
By its nature, it's also one large spoiler to the lore behind the Paradox universe. Read no further if you prefer the mystery.
The Order of the Talon is a secret, worldwide extra-governmental religious organization with intelligence, disinformation and military focus.
They are based on real-life conspiracy theories, particularly those surrounding Freemasons in contrast to the Black Hand as the Illuminati.
The military power of the Order of the Talon is difficult to gauge; most of their military force, particularly their infantry, are based in cells which temporarily meet on the field of battle, with Crawlers transporting officers, specialists and equipment. Thus, their abilities in battle fluctuate depending on the location, how much warning they have before battle, and their goals. The idea of mobilising the entirety of their military is out of the question. Worldwide, they have roughly fifty thousand "members" who can be relied upon in some military fashion, an "officer" core of less than five thousand, and an ever changing number of informants, agents, double agents, puppets, etc forming their intelligence gathering branch.
The overall attitude of the Talon is stoic endurance.
Talon morality is based in their own religious beliefs and their organizational goals; it is frequently inconsistent, hypocritical, or just plain nonsensical to outsiders. They reject moral relativism in favour of absolutism based on their doctrine and protocol. Despite this, however, they are goal-oriented; they will perform any action, no matter how distasteful, if it brings them closer to their goals. This will lead them to overlooking, ignoring or rationalizing breaches in their moral code in a fairly arbitrary fashion.
The primary goal of the Order of the Talon is to destroy the Cult of the Black Hand, and minimalize the influence they have on the world. All other concerns they have are secondary, or serve this goal.
However, due to the nature of the Black Hand, the Talon can makes enemies of almost everyone. They are institutionally paranoid and see plots everywhere they look; guilty until proven innocent is standard procedure. In their ranks you will find factions who see the touch of the Black Hand in any or all other faction's leadership, or even in their own. Thus, the Talon are no-ones ally; at best, they are tools, at worst, potential enemies.
The Talon consider fighting the enemy personally a last resort; they are more likely to try and manipulate another faction to fight on their behalf. However, this attitude meets increasing resistance as it is unreliable and potentially corrupted by the Cult.
Unlike the Cult, the manipulations of the Talon are more institutional, slow changes, rather than the Cult's bold manipulations. They prefer things like starting religious revivals to drum up future membership, getting local authority to ignore their actions, covering up evidence of their own and the Cult's battles, and worming into intelligence services to broaden their knowledge.
High ranking members and branches have "pet projects" as well; protecting religious instutitions, settling religious conflicts, and other side goals not directly related to stopping the Black Hand, but which benefit the Talon as an organization and increase stability in a region, which the Black Hand wouldn't much like anyway, and which makes it hard for them to operate.
That said, they are responsible for certain large scale manipulations in the background. Because we operate under the assumption that the Order of the Talon and the Cult of the Black Hand existed pre-divergence points, real life events which actually occured are fair game for Talon plots.
They prevented the assassination of President Kennedy by a Black Hand sniper.
Through puppets, they proposed and helped to form the League of Nations, hoping to make it more difficult for the Cult to spark wars; this laid much of the groundwork for the Allied Nations.
They suppressed anti-semitism in the first half of the 20th century to make Zionism obsolete, so as to prevent the disruption of their home base in Palestine.
They backed the White Army in Russia during the revolution, and their agents fought and killed Grigori Rasputin, a famed Black Hand agent.
Typically speaking, the Talon are trying to maintain the status quo, not destroy it, thus, they don't tend to engage in actions that would destabilize. However, they have mechanisms in place to severely destabilize the Allied Nations and Soviet Union, as well as several of their member countries, should the need arise (for example, if it is proven the government had been infiltrated by Black Hand agents to a degree that was impossible to remove.) Generally speaking, however, the Talon doesn't care about the world's conflicts unless the Cult of the Black Hand is behind them, which is why they involved themselves so deeply trying to stop WW1, but let 2 and 3 run their course.
It is not that the Order does not understand new technology. It's just that they don't have the resources to keep updating everything in pace with new discoveries, and to be honest they didn't really need to until a few decades ago. Working in Talon Steel is expensive and time-consuming, and they can't be constantly replating their tanks every time a new method of armour arrangement is invented.
Additionally, though, say, steam or clockwork power may seem crude on the face of it, Talon Steel allows them to push the limits of engineering in these things, with springs holding insane mechanical energy or boilers under unbelievable pressure.
Worst comes to worse, they'll go out and buy small pieces of tech they can't make easily themselves, like radios. They prefer to stick to their old ways mostly because they see no reason to fix what isn't broken.
Additionally, while the Talon used to be innovators and inventors in the past, widespread adaptation of the scientific method and general infrastructure for invention has resulted in them playing catchup. Again, relative to their history, this is something of a new thing; some older members of the Talon still remember when they were considerably more advanced than everyone else.
Areas of Talon strength include general engineering, metallic material sciences, craftsmanship, steam power, hydraulics and pneumatics, clockworks, computer theory, espionage, history, and armourworks. Weaknesses include ballistic sciences, electromagnetic sciences, physics, aerospace engineering, rocketry, biology, modern material sciences and chemistry, and moral relativism.