PDF, rules for game. http://www.sjgames.com/illuminati/img/illuminati_rules.pdf
ABOUT THE ILLUMINATI
The Bavarian Illuminati
Formally known as the “Ancient Illuminated Seers of
Bavaria,” these are the original Illuminati. Many consider
them to be the prototype of all subversive secret societies.
They were indicted three times by the Spanish Inquisition
but largely protected by their vows of secrecy each time. In
1776 the Bavarians were thought to have infiltrated the
Freemasons, planning to conquer that organization from
Power and Goals: The Bavarians’ goal is simply raw
power. They can win by controlling Groups with a total
Power of 35 (including their own Power of 10). They are
subtler than the other Illuminati; their special ability lets
them make a privileged attack each turn at the cost of 5
Playing the Bavarian Illuminati: You have the highest
Power, a good Income, and a special power that makes it
hard for players to defend against you. Remember your
special power and use it! Furthermore, your Goal is directly
related to the strength of your Power Structure. When you
build up your position in the game, you are also moving
directly toward your victory!
Your best strategy is to play firmly, but conservatively.
Don’t make waves or antagonize the other players. If they
combine against you, they can bring you down. If they leave
you alone, you have a good chance of moving steadily
toward victory – or toward a sudden coup, like taking over
a whole arm of someone else’s Power Structure, that will
give you the Power you need. The most desirable puppets
for the Bavarians are the high-powered Groups: the
Mafia, the International Communist Conspiracy, and so
Opposing the Bavarian Illuminati: Good luck! The
Bavarian Illuminati have no particular weak point. Your
best bet is to watch them carefully, playing on the other
Illuminati’s fear of the Bavarian power and abilities.
Together you may be able to bring him down, or at least
keep him too weak to win.
The Bermuda Triangle
Sinking ships is just a sideline with these people. Their
philosophy is to ensure control by taking over many different
types of Groups. They are so shrouded in mystery
and fear that others are always taking the blame for the
unexplained happenings around their headquarters off the
Power and Goals: The Bermuda Triangle player has the
ability to reorganize his Power Structure freely at the end of
each turn. The Triangle wins by collecting at least one example
of each of the ten different alignments. If a Group has
several alignments, it counts for each of them.Playing The Triangle: Your enemies will be continually
looking over your shoulder, counting alignments. Once you
get six or seven, they’ll make it hard for you to add more.
Often your best bet is to deal with another player – an
exchange that gives you two or three Groups at once, sealing
your victory, while giving him what he needs for his own
The Triangle is the most likely of all the Illuminati to
benefit from making a deal. Keep your lines of communication
open, and always have a little spare cash and a Special
card or two, to improve your bargaining position.
Alternatively, if your enemies are obsessed with counting
alignments and keeping you away from your special victory,
you can make a quick stab at a regular victory. This
often works, and your rivals will hate themselves for letting
you get away with it.
The most desirable target for the Triangle are those combining
many different alignments: the Semiconscious
Liberation Army is the biggest prize of all! And the Orbital
Mind Control Lasers can give you the victory by changing
an alignment at the right time.
Opposing The Triangle: First, make absolutely sure that
he doesn’t get the SLA. If you can, keep him away from the
IRS and KGB, too; though they have only two alignments
each, they are comparatively rare ones (and, unlike the SLA,
the Groups themselves are useful).
Pick one relatively rare alignment, like Communist or
Weird, and make sure that none are available for the Triangle
to pick up. The Discordians will happily help you keep the
Weird Groups out of circulation, but don’t let them get too
far with it!
The Triangle will want the Orbital Mind Control Lasers.
You must keep them out of his hands.
In general, watch the Bermuda Triangle closely, but
don’t just concentrate on how many alignments he has picked
up. Look at which ones he still needs. If he is still trying for
a Communist, he can be stopped. But if all he needs, for
instance, is a Violent Group, look out! There are Violent card
everywhere, and many of them are fairly easy to capture.
The Discordian Society
Worshippers of Eris, the Roman Goddess of Strife and
Chaos, they delight in confusion. The Discordians seek to
bring all the strange and peculiar elements of society under
their banner, and especially delight in confusing the
“straights” around them.
Power and Goals: The Discordians can win by controlling
five Weird Groups, and they get an extra +4 on all
attempts to control such Groups. Because of their chaotic
nature, they are immune to attacks from Straight or
Government Groups. No Straight or Government Group
may attack the Discordian power structure in any way, or aid
such an attack.
Playing Discordia: Your special powers are of no use
offensively, and your Power and Income aren’t especially
good. But hang in there! The other Illuminati aren’t likely to
see you as a threat. Enlarge your Power Structure gradually,
picking up Weird card when you can. Be sure to get a couple
of Groups with two or three control arrows, because few
of your Weirds will have any control arrows at all.
To reinforce your “harmless” impression, you may even
want to pass occasionally. By the time your foes see you as
a threat, you should be able to deal with them . . . and when
they attack, they will have to do it without some of their
most powerful Groups, because Straight and Government
Groups cannot affect you in any way.
The Secret Masters of Fandom (S.M.O.F.) and the
Science Fiction Fans are useful puppets for you.
Opposing Discordia: Since very few Weird Groups have
Power, they cannot be destroyed (except with the
Whispering Campaign card). The few Weird Groups that do
have power are very valuable to Discordia. Destroy them or
take them over yourself. The International Communist
Conspiracy, the Mafia, and the CFL-AIO, which are neither
Straight or Government, are good tools to use against the
When Discordia gets three Weird Groups, be careful.
When he gets four, act!
The Gnomes of Zurich
This is the old nickname for the Swiss bankers who are
reputed to be the money-masters of the world. Not only do
they have huge amounts of money, but they can transfer it
quickly and easily, and they have a finger in every financial
Power and Goals: The Gnomes may move money freely
among all their Groups at the end of a turn. They win by
amassing 150 megabucks – not just on their Illuminati, but
in the treasuries of their whole power structure.
Playing the Gnomes: Try to take control of high Income
cards like the IRS, the Multinational Oil Companies, the
Republicans, the Democrats, and the International Cocaine
Smugglers. However, if you openly move in on the superhigh
Income Groups, your foes are likely to target you for
Trying for a larger number of moderately lucrative
Groups is often more productive. Your overall income will
be the same, and your Power Structure will be dispersed and
harder to hurt.
If you get the Market Manipulation card, hold it until
you can win at one stroke by cashing it in. Meanwhile, don’t
be reluctant to spend money when you need to. Don’t attack
indiscriminately, but defend your income-producing
Groups. If you lose them, you might as well give up.
Opposing The Gnomes: Keep track of their overall
income – the amount of money they make each turn. Whenthe Gnomes’ income gets to the 25-MB range, Zurich is
probably close to a victory. Attack! A coalition is probably
your only chance; attack either to control or to neutralize,
even if the attacks are hopeless, to bleed the Gnomes’ treasury.
Attack puppets that don’t have much money in their
own treasuries, to make it more expensive to defend them.
Whenever they try to make a deal, demand that they give
you more money “because they are so rich.”
The longer the game runs, the richer the Gnomes get. To
stop them, play aggressively.
Some say the Network is a conspiracy of the world’s
computer programmers; others believe that the programmers
are merely the pawns, and the computers themselves have
taken over. Either way, they are rich and powerful, and they
are probably watching you right now. The Network knows
everything, and it knows it first.
Power and Goals: The Network player draws two cards
every turn. The Network can win by collecting 25 points
worth of transferable power, including its own 7 points.
Playing The Network: Your special ability is a very good
one. It increases your chance of getting good cards of all
kinds. Try to keep at least one Special card in your hand;
these cards can provide excellent bargaining leverage.
However, your Special Goal is tough, since few Groups
have a high Transferable Power, and such Groups are valuable
to everyone. Often your best bet is a regular victory,
unless the right Groups come up, but this is easier for you
than for some of your foes.
Opposing The Network: Don’t destroy Groups with
Transferable Power (unless you’re Cthulhu); take them over,
protect them, and use them. Maybe you can sell one to theNetwork for more than it’s worth. If he gets several Special
cards in his hand, you can make the other players paranoid
about them and put together a coalition. Otherwise, try to
play him off against Bavaria, who will be after many of the
The Network has an extra advantage in a game with
inexperienced players, who are less likely to go after the
Groups with transferable power.
The Servants of Cthulhu
These are the students of those things man was not
meant to know. They seek to master arcane powers and inhuman
forces, though they risk their own lives and souls.
Power and Goals: The Servants of Cthulhu seek to
destroy, and they are good at it; this player gets an extra +2
on any attempt to destroy any Group! Their objective in the
game is to destroy eight other Groups. If they knock another
Illuminati out of the game by taking away its last Group,
the destroyed Illuminati counts toward their total, too.
Playing Cthulhu: Start destroying Groups early, or
you’ll never get your goal of eight – but don’t overdo it.
Whenever the other players want a Group destroyed (especially
early in the game, when your Goal is far away and you
don’t look dangerous), offer to do their dirty work for them.
If they will help pay for the destruction, so much the better!
And, if you have a chance to eliminate another player entirely,
the rest of the Illuminati will probably help you, even
though the destruction counts toward your own Goal. After
all, knocking someone out of the game helps everyone else.
After you destroy six or seven Groups, the other players
may get so paranoid about your Special Goal that they will
lose track of the number of Groups you control – letting you
win an easy regular victory.Take over a couple of low-power Groups instead of
destroying them; you can use their income during the game,
and later, when you need more victims, there they are!
To make your job of destruction easier, you need Groups
with money and power. Also useful are those Groups that
give their possessor a bonus to destroy (like the Cycle Gangs
and the Semiconscious Liberation Army). But don’t go out
of your way to take one – they’re not that much better than
a Transferable Power Group, and they make you look dangerous.
Remember that if you knock a foe out of the game,
by capturing, neutralizing or destroying his last Group, the
destroyed Illuminati counts as a kill!
Opposing Cthulhu: Start while he’s small; when he gets
powerful, it will be too late for anything but luck to help you.
There are two strategies you can use.
The first is to take away his prey . . . a Group cannot be
destroyed if it’s already gone! When a low-power Group
comes up, grab it and protect it if it is useful; if the Group is
not useful, destroy it yourself before Cthulhu can get to it.
Alternatively, you can conspire with the other players to
deliberately leave low-power Groups vulnerable. If Cthulhu
spends his first few turns gleefully killing small fry, he won’t
be controlling very much . . . and he can be eliminated completely
by a concerted attack on the fourth or fifth turn, just
when he thinks victory is within his tentacles.
The Society of Assassins
Arising in the Middle East, the Assassins were a secret
order of the Ismailite sect of Muslims. They attained the
height of their power during the Middle Ages but continue
even today. Often they do not need to act . .
. the mere hint of their displeasure is enough
to intimidate a foe. The ancient warning of
the Assassins, the dagger left on a rival’s
pillow, has made kings tremble.
Power and Goals: They win if they control
six Violent Groups. Their special ability
is an extra +4 on any attempt to neutralize
Playing The Assassins: Your special
ability is purely an offensive weapon. Use it
sparingly; it is a powerful threat. Others are
likely to support you in an attempt to neutralize,
since you don’t benefit directly. (Of
course, you can neutralize a Group, and then
attempt to control it!) Your foes may even
be willing to bribe you to leave them alone.
To win, you need Violent cards. Build
up a reserve of cash to increase your
chances of getting good Violent Groups
when they come along, and of keeping them after you get
them. Your very best cards are those that, like Texas and the
Mafia, are both powerful and Violent.
Opposing The Assassins: Whatever you do, don’t let the
Assassins single you out as a foe! With their ability to neutralize,
they are a very dangerous enemy. Offer to help them
in an attempt to neutralize someone else’s Groups; that way,
the Assassins don’t benefit directly, injure someone else, and
make enemies elsewhere.
A subtle and powerful Group, the Assassins are best
opposed with guile and indirection. You may be tempted to
destroy Violent cards – but be careful; this a very obvious
ploy. Watch their Power Structure. Once they get five
Violent Groups, it is time to abandon subtlety and attack.
Are they creatures from outer space, or human superscientists?
No one knows. These are the most elusive of all
the Illuminati. Their aims are shrouded in secrecy and
Power and Goals: The UFOs’ advantage is speed; this
Illuminati Group may attack (or aid an attack) twice per turn.
No other Group may do this. Their Special Goal is chosen by
the UFO player himself, at the beginning of the game. He
picks any of the other seven Goals and writes it on a piece
of paper, secretly. He may reveal it at any time, but will usually
not do so until he has achieved it!
Playing The UFOs: Your biggest advantage is that your
opponents don’t know what you’re trying to do. Keep them
guessing! Destroy a Group or two to make them wonder if
you’re really Cthulhu (and to keep the real Cthulhu from
getting them). Money is always useful, and a big pile of it
will make them wonder if you’re Zurich. Take over a couple
of Weird Groups, and you’ve made
Discordia’s life miserable. And so on.
If you need an extra negotiating
tool, you can offer to tell what your
Special Goal really is. You might
even tell the truth!
Your special ability to act twice
can be very powerful if used properly.
Rather than acting directly, you
may want to let the UFOs aid twice a
turn, adding their power to that of
other powerful Groups in your control,
for devastating attacks that don’t
cost much money.
Opposing The UFOs: First, you
have to figure out what they are
doing. Watch carefully! Then proceed
as indicated for that particular
Goal. If you see that the UFOs are
very close to any Goal, start worrying.
In the meantime, try to keep them away from Groups
with especially high Power or Income, just on general
Conspiracy is an ancient pastime; so is the study of
conspiracy. Secrecy in itself is harmless, but it
always attracts attention. And many “known”
secret groups are powerful indeed! Try to envision
the criminal world without the Mafia, the American civil
rights movement without the Ku Klux Klan, or an American
college campus without Greek-letter societies. An estimated
15 million Americans are involved in secret (or at
least secretive) groups of one kind or another.
A number of excellent sources are available
for those wishing more information
about (a) the Illuminati; (b) people who
believe in them; and (c) people who
enjoy leaving false trails to confuse people
who believe in the Illuminati.
Any good encyclopedia will include
articles on the historical Society of
Assassins, Bavarian Illuminati, and
Freemasonry, and the connections, known
and speculative, between them.
The Illuminatus! trilogy, by Robert Shea and
Robert Anton Wilson, is required reading for any conspiracy
buff. Wilson is this century’s foremost public authority
on the Illuminati, though his books conceal their information
within great masses of humor, lies, and philosophical
speculation. His Schrodinger’s Cat trilogy is entertaining but
relatively uninformative. Cosmic Trigger (Final Secret of the
Illuminati) is scientific/philosophical commentary, laced
with discussion of conspiracy and Strange Coincidence.
Masks of the Illuminati is fictionalized history (or historicized
More recently, Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum
illustrates the folly of looking too deeply into any conspiracy
. . . or into your own mind.
A History of Secret Societies, by “Arkon Daraul,” is an
interesting primer, discussing many Illuminated, pseudo-
Illuminated, and totally unconnected Groups. It should not
be taken as gospel, but makes a good research guide.
The Crying of Lot 49, by Thomas Pynchon, is a classic
study of alienation (and a lot of fun!). If one accepts the
Illuminati, can the sinister minions of Tristero be far behind?
What Pynchon does not say here is far more important than
what he does.
Principia Discordia, by “Malaclypse the Younger,” is
the bible of Discordianism. More entertaining than most
holy books, it also contains a number of interesting truths,
not all of which were intended by the authors. SJ Games
publishes an edition of the Principia, and will gleefully sell
you a copy!
The Illuminoids, by Neal Wilgus, is an examination, not
of the Illuminati themselves, but of the men and women who
study and believe in the various conspiracy theories.
Holy Blood, Holy Grail, by Michael Baigent, Richard
Leigh, and Henry Lincoln, argues that an unrevealed conspiracy
has, in fact, been working among us for 2,000 years.
That’s all I’m allowed to say.
Alan Moore’s brilliant graphic novel Watchmen
mingles superheroics with conspiracy. Power can indeed
corrupt, no matter what its nature.
World Revolution, by Nesta H. Webster, is a
turgid text written by a woman who was chasing
Illuminati long before most of us were born.
She takes the Bavarian Illuminati very seriously,
citing them as the guiding force
behind Communism, the French
Revolution, and so on. A bigoted and
alarmist book, which strongly warns of
“the danger now threatening civilization.”
Rare, but available in some large
Also from the 1920s, Charles Fort’s
The Book of the Damned and Lo! cite numerous
cases of the strange and inexplicable: showers
of frogs, vanishing men, impossible coincidences.
His favorite theme: factual reports suppressed by “authority”
because they cannot be explained. A typical conjecture:
“I think we’re property.”
Another early piece of conspiracy literature is the
Protocols of the Elders of Zion. This is an anti-Semitic hoax
first propounded early in this century; it purports to be the
minutes of the meetings of a Zionist conspiracy to (what
else?) take over the world. Oddly, many “conspiracy buffs”
still take the Protocols at face value.
Martin Gardner’s Fads and Fallacies in the Name of
Science contains detailed, if unsympathetic, treatments of a
number of “fringe” cults, pseudosciences, and peculiar phenomena.
It could well inspire a reader to invent groups
stranger than anything in the game.
Finally, the writings of the survivalist/financial author
Howard Ruff contain many references to (or debunkings of)
modern theories of economic conspiracy. What really happened
to silver prices in 1981-82? Why did the stock market
crash in 1987, and why doesn’t it crash now? Why does
inflation keep on inflating, and who benefits most?
Those who remain interested in the mystery of the
Illuminati will no doubt go on to more serious research
involving the works of Aleister Crowley, Abd al-Azrad,
Tirion Palantir, “Bob” Dobbs, O.K. Ravenhurst, Kilgore
Trout, and so on. Please don’t write to tell me what you
learn. I don’t want to know. And don’t blame me if you vanish
on some foggy night, never to be seen again. After all,
it’s just a game . . . isn’t it? Fnord.
– Steve Jackson