Created By: KoverasOctober 11, 2012 Last Edited By: KoverasFebruary 8, 2013
Troped

Impartial Purpose-Driven Faction

They do their thing and don't take sides.

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An organization whose non-political purpose takes complete precedence over power-plays and diplomacy. Where most factions are interested in increasing their power by building alliances, The Code of these people mandates to either avoid contact with others completely or accept any help unconditionally without taking any obligations. Their neutrality is often safe-guarded by their purpose being beneficial to everyone in long-term.

Said neutrality often doesn't sit well with other factions' leaders, who will try to put "nobody's" resources to their own use (especially if its members are trained in some Secret Art). The Conflict commonly arises when members of the organization are manipulated or forced into breaking their neutrality, which ultimately leads to its downfall. Such conflict may be a sign that their purpose is no longer taken seriously.

In Dark Fantasy, this organization often takes form of The Order whose superhumanly enhances members defend Puny Humans from monsters. Although "Thou Shalt Not Kill (Humans)" may be included in The Code to enforce Pro Human Transhumanism or at least stave off Transhuman Treachery, Fantastic Racism often plays a role in the interaction between regular humans and their Not Quite Human defenders, especially if the transformation makes them half-monster/Half Human Hybrids, gives them a Superpowered Evil Side, or infects them with The Corruption. Attempts to exploit them as a sub-human shock troops and outright Super Human Trafficking may be common dangers.

Odd Job Gods and their followers occasionally fall under this, as well. As does the Time Police that is more concerned with dealing with Clock Roaches or preserving the time stream than good and bad.

Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • The eponymous warriors in Claymore have been created to fight the demonic yoma and are actually hybrids with human and yoma DNA. They are forbidden to get involved in human affairs and even wield their blades against baseline humans. Clare's Origins Arc is rooted in this prohibition, since her mother-figure Theresa killed a bandit to protect Clare and was, in turn, slain by fellow Claymores for breaking the rule, motivating Clare to become a Claymore herself.

Film
  • Technically, the Jedi Order from Star Wars becomes this without an Evil Empire to fight, such as during the prequel trilogy, when their sole purpose is upholding the Republican law. However, when the Jedi allow themselves to get entangled in the Republic politics, it becomes their undoing.

Literature
  • The sworn brothers of the Night's Watch in A Song Of Ice And Fire exist solely to defend the realms of men against the Others (and wildlings beyond the Wall, but they are secondary). This means that they leave all political ambition and allegiance behind and will take help from anyone they can.
  • The eponymous witchers in The Witcher series were invented to kill the monsters that invaded the world after the Conjunction of the Spheres. Although they have no universal code of conduct, taking sides is bad for their business, so most avoid it. The entire Blood of the Elves saga spans from the fact that the witchers (Geralt in particularly) get involved in the power-play around Cirilla.
  • The History Monks of Discworld are mostly concerned with fixing/protecting time and space, as well as patching up Continuity Snarls and do not interfere with business that doesn't concern time travel. In Night Watch, Lu-Tze is even called out by another monk for helping Vimes (though he got away with it), and in the only other book where they feature prominently, they avoid contact with any factions they aren't already fighting.

Tabletop Games
  • In the sixth edition of Warhammer 40 K, the Necrons exist only to kill all organic life in the universe and never interact with them in any other way. One of the more hilarious moments in 40K canon happened when a Tau world was under attack by a Tyranid fleet. A Necron armada appeared and slaughtered the Tyranids, then made planetfall. The Tau sent a delegation to their saviors, ready to embrace them into the Greater Good. The Necrons slaughtered the delegation and the rest of the planet.

Video Games
  • The Keepers in the Thief series are hell-bent on recording history without interfering with it. Enter Garrett, a failed Keeper trainee with a knack for getting involved with history-changing events.
  • The Grey Wardens in the Dragon Age series were produced to fight the Darkspawn and don't take sides otherwise, e.g. in Dragon Age II, a group of Wardens refuses to get involved even as Kirkwall is being torched by the Qunari. The reason for that can be seen in the Soldier's Peak storyline, which reveals that the Wardens were banished from Ferelden for involving themselves in dynastic struggles and left the country unprotected in the face of a Darkspawn invasion.
  • The Greybeards in The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim are an Ancient Tradition of monks who believe in enlightenment through mastering the dragon magic (thu'um). Because of that, they are above any and all power plays, despite every one of them being a Person Of Mass Destruction.

Community Feedback Replies: 25
  • October 11, 2012
    Khantalas
    Grey Wardens, with the British spelling instead of the American. There is no point I recall in the games they were ever called Gray Wardens.
  • October 11, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ Changed it.
  • October 13, 2012
    TBeholder
    also, Odd Job Gods and their folowers occasionally cross into this.
  • October 13, 2012
    Bisected8
    The Time Police often fall into this (being more concerned with dealing with Clock Roaches or preserving the time stream than good and bad).

  • October 13, 2012
    Chabal2
    Warhammer 40 K: The Necrons exist only to kill all organic life in the universe. One of the more hilarious moments in 40K canon happened when a Tau world was under attack by a Tyranid fleet. A Necron armada appeared and slaughtered the Tyranids, then made planetfall. The Tau sent a delegation to their saviors, ready to embrace them into the Greater Good. The Necrons slaughtered the delegation and the rest of the planet.
  • October 13, 2012
    m8e
    Might be related to Benevolent Conspiracy(right now a YKTTW).
  • October 13, 2012
    Koveras
    ^^ Have there been attempts to draw Time Monks into a conflict unrelated to time travel?

    ^ AFAIK WH 40 K has a huge mess of alliances. Have the Necrons never allied themselves with anyone against someone else?
  • October 13, 2012
    Chabal2
    In the new edition, yes (to no small amount of fan outcry). This happened in 5th edition.
  • October 13, 2012
    Bisected8
    @Koveras: No active attempts. But in Night Watch Lu-Tze was called out by another monk for interfering to help Vimes (but nothing came of it and Lu-Tze is acknowledged to be allowed to get away a lot more than other monks) and the only other book where they feature prominently doesn't really bring them into contact with any other factions (except for the Auditors of reality serving as antagonists, who were messing with time anyway).

    BTW, I had a bit of a brain fart; I meant to say the History Monks.

    Also, I doubt the Necrons would have allied with anyone; they just kill any living things they come across.

    EDIT: ^ Never mind (and what the hell O_o).
  • October 31, 2012
    Koveras
    YKTTW Bump. More examples?
  • October 31, 2012
    TheHandle
    What about the Order in Skyrim?
  • October 31, 2012
    StarSword
    ^Which order?
  • October 31, 2012
    mythbuster
    Is this a No Real Life Examples trope?
  • November 1, 2012
    Koveras
    ^^^ I have yet to play Skyrim, so I would like more context on that example. Specifically: what is the Order's full name, their purpose, and at least one occasion where they actively avoided involvement in politics because of their rules/beliefs.

    ^ Not per se but since this has to do with politics, I would prefer to keep RL examples to a bare minimum.
  • November 1, 2012
    0blivionmobile
    Whereas the three main factions of Fallout New Vegas are rife with political intrigue, land-grabbing and are in direct competition with one another, a Courier going for an Independant ending will reject all of them in leiu of making the Mojave a free land, cutting down anyone in his/her way, but also embracing those with the same ideals.
  • November 1, 2012
    Koveras
    ^ But that's a single character, not a faction, no?
  • January 26, 2013
    Koveras
    Well, I guess this one isn't going anywhere, so I am just going to discard this soon...
  • January 26, 2013
    StarSword
    Hatted. This is a perfectly good trope.
  • January 26, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ Not good enough for anyone else's hats, apparently. :D But OK, I'll give it some more time.
  • January 26, 2013
    aurora369
    2 Koveras about Skyrim: they probably mean the Greybeards, an Ancient Tradition of masters of dragon magic (thu'um). The Greybeards are monks and believe in enlightenment through mastering thu'um, and because of that are above any and all power plays (though every one of them is a Person Of Mass Destruction). The Greybeards and the player character helping them act as mediators in the Civil War between the Imperial faction and the Stormcloak separatists.

    Or probably they meant the Blades, dragon-hunters and servants of the Dragonborn.
  • January 26, 2013
    aurora369
    Another example is the Jedi Order in the prequel films of Star Wars. They are (superpowered) guardians of peace and law in the Republic; however, they are tricked into becoming soldiers for the corrupt government, and this leads to their downfall.
  • February 1, 2013
    Koveras
    Bump again...
  • February 8, 2013
    Koveras
    Tagging it with motion to discard.
  • February 8, 2013
    StarSword
    You know, you don't really need hats to launch it. This trope just doesn't appear to be attracting much interest.
  • February 8, 2013
    Koveras
    ^ Well, how do I attract attention, then? I am not fetishistic about hats, it's just that they are the only way for me to know that other tropers don't find any obvious flaws in my write-up.

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable