The Acumen of Maran has its origins in the rise and also the fall of Istar. In 765 IA (198 PC) Androsean I closed all evil temples and executed the clerics. Malendien, a Priest of Gilean began to see the power and corruption taking shape in Istar. Fearing an unbalance of power from the Kingpriest, he formed a secret order of followers of Gilean and named it the Acumen of Maran. The word "Maran", an ancient word roughly translated to "free-will".
The charge of the Acumen was to uncover and record all decrees, laws, and actions (open and secret) by the Theocracy of Istar but the hubris of the time seemed to have crept even into the Church of Gilean. The Acumen of Maran, in its creation comprised solely of priests of Gilean, believing there divine search for knowledge would bring success to their mandate, but in time, this would prove to be their downfall. At first the Acumen was quite successful in its uncovering and recording the events in Istar. At first they had a cordial relationship with the Kingpriest and his followers. Over time though, it became increasingly more and more difficult to get any information. The Kingpriest’s followers began to shutout any non-good priests. In 953 IA (10 PC) all neutral churches, including Gilean, were declared heretical and constantly harassed by the Knights of the Divine Hammer. Over the next few years trying to obtain information was nearly impossible. This effectively crippled the Acumen of Maran. When the Edict of Thought Control was enacted (Some say the Acumen helped bring cause to this edict) the Acumen of Maran was effectively crippled and were eventually driven from Istar.
Eventually the Acumen migrated to the lands of Ergoth and created a library in the city of Tuskanvil. Here the current head of the Acumen, Trinnas, documented their observations and failures with hopes of bringing this to the Knights of Solomnia to intervene and stop the Kingpriest. Unfortunately there efforts were too little, too late. The cataclysm came, wreaking havoc across the lands of Krynn and the gods left, in their eyes, the final failure of the Acumen of Maran.
During the Age of Despair the Acumen was all but abandoned and forgotten. Then came the War of the Lance and the return of the Gods. Soon after the war a young but wise priest of Gilean by the name of Vissionil came to the city of Gwynned, formerly Tuskanvil, to rebuild and re-establish the ancient library that was all but abandoned in the city. In time Vissionil discovered a small and secret alcove within the library. Within this library was the last tome of Trinnas. In it he detailed the Acumen, their purpose and there downfall. From this tome, Vissionil decided to reform the Acumen of Maran but with a few changes. The most important change is the inclusion of anyone that believes in maintaining the balance, and not just priests of Gilean.
"Law of Gilean – Both good and evil must exist in contrast."
-The Doctrine of Shadow
This principle is the driving force behind what the Acumen of Maran seek. Maintain the balance. If either good or evil tip that balance, use what knowledge they have to restore it. So now the Acumen uncover and find all information from lost history and current events involving politics and religion. They do not overtly present their information. Instead, through agents, they leak information to help guide people to "discover" what needs to be done.
Actual membership in this organization is very small and limited. There are three known members Vissioni, a priest of Gilean; an unassuming member of the thieves guild in Neraka that goes by the name of Korgun; and Alin, a Druid of Zivilyn. Rumors abound about other members of this group, including a member of the church of Paladine in Palanthas and even a dragon.
Despite these members, there are many who work for the Acumen, knowingly or not. Their list of contacts throughout Ansalon is strong and growing. The Acumen use their contacts to gather information. These contacts include a whole array of characters, including a variety of intelligent races and professions.
Headquarters/Areas of Influence
Though there is no official headquarters, the library in Gwynned where Vissionil resides could be considered one since most information uncovered is brought their. The Acumen’s area of influence is small, but this is intentional. The Acumen strive to not influence the world, except when needed and then, they only subtlety influence those that need there influence in order to maintain the balance.
Being a highly secretive group, the Acumen do not overtly align themselves with anybody. They tend to bring information to others who are in need of their knowledge. Overall their allies are anyone whose sphere of influence helps maintain the balance at the time. At times it could be the Knights of Solamnia, or a Black Robed Wizard, or a Gully Dwarf, or even a Kender.
Likewise those who seek absolute power and domination of the world tend to stand out as enemies of the Acumen. The lessons of the Kingpriest reminds them that those who do evil are not the only ones who seek those lofty goals.
To be a member of the Acumen of Maran is to never utter the name. As a member one is to never reveal their affiliation and maintain the utmost secrecy of this organization. If one must reveal or confirm fellow membership, they tend to work the word "maran" or a form of the word into the conversation, as this word is never used in the modern languages of Krynn. Most members communicate with each other using casual conversation or writing a pleasant letter, discussing the weather, for example. Within these communications there tends to be a key or cipher to help translate the communication. Most who have joined were previously contacts or informants that were used by other members of the Acumen.
Joining the Organization
Those who can demonstrate that ego does not drive them and show a profound understanding of the Laws of Consequence and act upon them are typically brought into the secret membership of the Acumen of Maran. Upon joining the Acumen, they are presented with the Tome of Trinnas and are cloistered with it. Once they emerge from this seclusion they become full fledged members of the Acumen.
Costs and Benefits of Membership
There is no price be it monetary, magical, or physical to become a member. Most that have joined have long proven themselves as able members who do not abuse there position within the group. Upon joining the Acumen, a well of information and current happenings among Ansalon is at their disposal.