The Abyssal Research Bureau

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The Abyssal Research Bureau has 5 tiers (equivalent to the five dots of Mystery Cult Initiation):

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Assistant Researcher
Research Fellow
Lab Director

Observers are generally expected to act as the name implies – they’re given a deeper foundation into understanding the Abyss, but fundamentally the Bureau doesn’t allow them to conduct or participate in experiments as a safety precaution. Generally they get the “behind-glass treatment”; if someone is engaged in research they get to watch from behind glass but not interact with the people in the room.

Students are generally attached to shadow an Assistant Researcher or Research Fellow for more participatory learning, but are still kept buffered from the dangerous experiments.

Assistant Researchers are generally attached to a Research Fellow as an actual apprentice. They participate in but do not oversee experiments. At this rank, initiating new lines of research is allowable with permission (and oversight) of a Research Fellow or Lab Director.

Research Fellows are those members who can be trusted to manage their own research. They have full access to the Order’s Occult library. They report to their local Lab Director.

Lab Directors are those members of the Bureau who oversee a lab. Currently there is only one Lab Director, but in theory additional Directors would have the authority to establish a new branch lab and oversee the goings on at that site. Additionally, it’s the Lab Director’s duty to make sure that their Lab’s members are sane and safe.

The Abyssal Research Bureau exists to assess and study in a clinical and scientific fashion the biggest threat to all mages world-wide: the Abyss.

Most major Orders both disapprove of Abyssal research (often with extreme prejudice) and also tend to pursue a political agenda which slants any legitimate research they might be attempting. The Bureau was founded to side-step both issues and provide clean and shareable information on the Abyss and more specifically how to combat and contain it.

The Abyssal Research Bureau's existence is entirely unknown to the wider mage society, except for the occasional guidebook or informational pamphlet bearing the omega-hazard symbol with the letters "ARB" stenciled underneath which gets circulated amongst Nameless communities. Members of the Bureau view revealing the existence of the Order to non-members to be a major security breach requiring immediate addressing.

The Bureau

Established in 2011, the Abyssal Research Bureau is the brainchild of an ex-Seer. Unable to find membership in the Pentacle but still seeking to combat both the Seers and the Abyss in his own way, this mage sought help of sufficiently skilled Apostates and Nameless who might rally to the cause of eradicating the Abyss entirely.

Members of the Bureau (or ARBies as they commonly refer to themselves) who aren't directly attached to a superior member in a training capacity are given to wide-ranging travel to locate new material to study. Any material that can be transported with minimal threat to others is brought back to the central lab space that their branch operates out of, but where this is not possible ARBies will use their central lab as a resource to establish an on-site research facility at the site of Abyssal infection.

Given the nature of their research, the Bureau puts a premium on health and mental stability. Higher ranked members routinely give lower ranked members mandatory downtime (and are expected to take some themselves) to maintain good operations and long-term safety.

Key Teachings

The Abyssal Research Bureau's philosophies are based entirely around the harsh practicalities of what they are attempting to do. The Order views the safety of its members and any individual in proximity to an Abyssal incursion as the primary concern above any research. Additionally they view succumbing to the Abyss as a failure of both methodology and mental fortitude.

For ease of use, the Bureau boils these stances down to two simple principles:

  • Containment first, research second
  • Oppose the Abyss

Violation of either principle is grounds for being pulled from active duty. Further any member found to actively indulge in Left-Handed practices is required to be put into containment immediately for study - or failing the possibility of containment, terminated.


The Abyssal Research Bureau maintains a very high recruiting standard. Much of the higher level Order operations revolve around vetting and skill training to make sure its members are capable of safely carrying out the Order's duties.

ARBies never recruit from the newly Awakened, as this is exploitative and they're rarely skilled enough or mentally prepared enough. This leaves a very short list of possible candidates at any given time; most of whom are either already members of the Diamond or Free Council or else long-term Apostates of notable experience.

Given the low probability of recruitment from these particular sources the Bureau maintains a very slow and fastidious methodology for recruitment which tests both the psychological viability, skills and interest of the individual to a degree that provides one hundred percent certainty of safety in making the recruitment offer before they will extend anyone an offer of membership.



NB: As per the Nameless sidebar on M:tA p80, Nameless Orders do not use the Status merit (meaning members cannot requisition occult resources as a mage in one of the larger Orders can), instead they use Mystery Cult Initiation in place of Status. MCI does confer bonus Social dice as though it were Status. As normal with MCI, duplicated benefits (ie, Rote specialties for a former Pentacle mage, etc) or inapplicable benefits (ie, High Speech/Rote specialties for a Sleepwalker) can be substituted with a different benefit of equivalent MCI rating value. For more details on the Mystery Cult Initiation merit, please check M:tA p106.

Mystery Cult Initiation (Abyssal Research Bureau):

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Skill Specialty: Occult (The Abyss)
High Speech
Rote Specialties: Investigation, Occult, Persuasion
Library 3 (Occult)
Unintended Applications 3 (requires Top Approval)