Period of Time
The Elders' Society is a loose network of mutual-support groups that draw their members from the notables of a given region. Geographically, the Elders' Society originated in Sìchuān and Dàlǐ, in reaction to the Tàipíng Rebellion (second half of the 19th century), then expended into the rest of China at the end of the 19th century. The aim of the Elders' Society groups is to maintain the traditional structure of rural society, and to fight off foreign influence, especially Manchu and Christian influence. The Elders' Society of a given area will 'protect' the local peasants by controlling the local Folk religion temples and the local village militia forces.
At the end of the Qīng, the Elders' Society engages in several uprisings across China, most notably in South China in 1870-1; in the 1890s, the Elders' Society fosters anti-Qīng and anti-foreign sentiment in the lower Yángzi region. The Gēlǎohuì organises abortive revolts in central China in 1900, 1904, and 1906.
As described above, despite its focus on the protection of peasants, the Elders' Society attracts wealthy landlords and prominent members of the local élite.
- Must be sponsored by someone who is already a member of the Elders' Society.
- The new member must qualify as a 'well-to-do person', either through his wealth, or through his profession, or through his status.
- A single Knowledge skill related with the region must be at least 60%.
- Help from fellow members: after his initiation, the new member is considered as kin to the other members.
- Connections in society, since most members of the Elders' Society are well-connected notables
- New skill: Knowledge (Group: Elders' Society) at a starting value of 25+3D6% - Can be used to find shelter, recognise fellow members, etc., but it only works in the region where the character underwent his initiation, as the various branches of the Elders' Society are quite independent of each other.
- Must help fellow members
- Must defer to the judgement of 'resident elders' (dāngjiā)
- Risk of death penalty if caught by government agents