Impartial Purpose-Driven Faction
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 Honour 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 enhanced 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. The Ancient Order of Protectors may also fall into as they will attempt to ward off anyone who gets too close to what they're protecting, regardless of which side they're on.
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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.
- The Jedi Order from Star Wars wants to be this, and sometimes manages it. Most ages of peace and prosperity occur when the Jedi are completely neutral, refusing to take political sides (usually acting as mediators in conflicts) except against any enemy using the Dark Side of the Force. However, they are often drawn into conflicts in both the movies and the EU. The movies present the worst case scenario so far; functional destruction of the Jedi Order. The EU, however, tends to do three things to them when they get involved in politics; massively knock down their numbers to a mere fraction of what they were, push them back to their positions of neutrality and semi-religious protection against the Dark Side, and then proceed to become very conservative, controlling as much of the order as possible. The last one is usually because their political meddling is a result of them giving a lot of freedom to their members; as opposed to the highly oppressed Jedi appearing in the movies, certain periods of republic history had active Jedi be land owners and even reigning monarchs, sometimes with families (usually justified as a political duty). There was, in fact, a 400 year period in which the leaders of the Republic (Supreme Chancellors) were all Jedi without exception.
- In the Expanded Universe, the Alderaanian Order of Extermination exists primarily to wage war against the Killiks when they periodically emerge from hibernation. To this end, the organization's recruits forsake any title or position in the planet's nobility, training solely for combat against the Killiks, and they are sustained primarily by donations organized by the noble houses acting in concert.
- A Song of Ice and Fire:
- The sworn brothers of the Night's Watch exist solely to defend the realms of men against the Others (and wildlings beyond the Wall, but they are secondary). This means that they— officially at least— leave all political ambition and allegiance behind and will take help from anyone they can. In practice, of course, this is more easily said than done, and stories and legends would indicate that this has been true for pretty much the Watch's entire history.
- The Maesters of Oldtown, similarly, are an order of monk-like scholars who officially serve only as advisers and are meant to be neutral in the politics of the realm. Opinions differ on how sincere their protestations of neutrality are, however, and there are several hints that the leadership of the order may be pursuing its own agenda.
- The Iron Bank of Braavos, the most powerful banking institute of the known world. It will lend its money to anyone as long as they pay it back, if a noble house doesn't pay their due, the bank will stop all transactions with said house, and pay another house to get eliminate of them. The Banks has a much more dreaded reputation, as Tywin Lannister dares not cross them. Cersei Lannister however was foolish enough to not pay the kingdoms dues, as such the Bank cancels all its deals with Westeros plunging the realm in debt.
- 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 particular) 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.
- The Silent Brothers and The Iron Sisters from The Mortal Instruments. They don't take part in the disputes of the Clave and Downworlders, instead the former devoting their time to writing all of it down, with the latter residing in Idris and forging weapons.
Live Action Television
- The Federation of Star Trek are supposed to be this, but are such a large organization that they are forced to be active participants in galactic politics. The Prime Directive states that the Federation may not interfere with the internal affairs of non-Federation cultures, and that they may not make any form of contact with, or interfere with the development of, pre-Warp civilizations. However, individual Starfleet officers have broken, bent or re-interpreted this rule when they see fit.
- This policy of neutrality goes so far that the Federation refuse to interfere with the politics of other cultures even if not interfering would likely result in all-out war in the Alpha Quadrant.
- Starfleet are pretty inconsistent on this policy, as there is an undercurrent of pragmatism in its upper echelons, as well as highly compassionate and capable members being the norm.
- In the third to fifth edition of Warhammer 40,000, 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.
- 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.
- Dragon Age:
- The Grey Wardens were created 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. This also forms part of the conflict in Dragon Age: Origins, where Teyrn Loghain refuses to let the Orlesian chapter of Grey Wardens into Ferelden to aid against the Blight because he has grown paranoid over the years, constantly expecting Orlais to try to re-conquer Ferelden.
- The eponymous organization of Dragon Age: Inquisition is supposed to be this as well. The newly-reformed Inquisition has no allegiances and is beholden to no authority except its own. Its only purpose is to restore order to Thedas in the wake of numerous different conflicts and disasters, repair an enormous breach in the Veil, and hunt down those responsible, by any means necessary.
- In the world of Starcraft, there's the Kel-Morian Combine. They remain neutral of the three major powers that war for the sector over the series, the Confederacy, the Dominion, and the United Earth Directorate, and occupy themselves only with living and expanding their mining operations. They went to war with the Confederates years ago, but signed a peace treaty and now operate independently of everyone. The reason is two-fold. On the one hand it'd just take too much time and resources to take over the Combine, and on the other hand, and more importantly, the Combine is very rich. They occupy some of the most valuable planets in the sector in terms of natural resources, so they stay out of wars by paying off the combatants to leave them alone.
- 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. This puts them in opposition to the Blades, the former Praetorian Guard of the Empire and an ancient order of dragon slayers, who believe that the Greybeards are wasting their abilities and strongly dislike the fact that their leader is a dragon. The Greybeards aren't happy that one of their former students, Ulfric Stormcloak, used the Thu'um to kill the High King of Skyrim as the prelude to his rebellion.