Civilization Wiki

BackArrowGreen Back to Game mode (Civ6)

Secret Societies (Civ6)

Secret Societies game mode icon

Secret Societies is the second game mode in Civilization VI, introduced in the Ethiopia Pack. It includes four different Secret Societies that players can join, each of which has its own perks for members (including new resources, buildings, tile improvements, units, and city projects). It requires either the Rise and Fall or the Gathering Storm expansion to play.


The Secret Societies game mode introduces four Societies: secret organizations with unique abilities which players may use to their benefit.

To join a Society, a player must first discover it. This is achieved via a specific gameplay action, which is different for each Society:

The chance of discovery is not always 100%, however - you may need to perform the necessary action several times in order to discover a Society.

Once discovered, a Society will send you an invitation to join them. Note also that the first time you discover any Society, you will earn 1 Governor Governor title. A new Governor will appear in your Governor screen - a representative for the respective Society, which will be your liaison with them. You join the Society simply by choosing to promote this new Governor, using one of your Governor titles (hence the free title you gain when discovering the first Society). Once you go through this initiation process, competing Governors from other Societies will disappear - you may not join more than one Society. You can still discover new ones by performing the corresponding action listed above, but all you can do now is simply observe their secret signs and learn to recognize them in other players (that is, learn which Society they are members of).

The new Governor has four unique titles, does not need to be assigned to a specific city, and has bonuses that apply to the entire empire. If you unlock a replacement building, the original buildings that were already built will be replaced but those that are being constructed will be destroyed and you have to restart building the replacement building. You can unlock these titles by earning Governor titles like normal, but tier 2, tier 3 and tier 4 titles can be unlocked only by reaching a certain World Era:

  • The first title is unlocked at the beginning of the game.
  • The second title is unlocked in the Medieval Era.
  • The third title is unlocked in the Industrial Era.
  • The fourth title is unlocked in the Atomic Era.

The four Secret Societies from which you can choose in this mode are as follows:

  • Owls of Minerva (Civ6) The Owls of Minerva are puppeteers who mastermind plots behind the scenes and use espionage to achieve their goals. Joining their ranks grants access to an additional Economic Policy Economic Policy slot, as well as bonus Envoy Envoys from Trade Route Trade Routes to city-states. Later on, members receive access to the Gilded Vault, a new building that replaces the Bank and also provides Culture Culture equal to its Gold Gold adjacency bonus and an additional Trade Route Trade Route for cities with a Harbor.
  • Hermetic Order (Civ6) The Hermetic Order values alchemy and occult science above all else. Their success comes from theories and inventions that other societies dismiss as mere fairy tales, such as Ley Line Ley Lines. Ley Line Ley Lines are a new map resource only Hermetic Order members can see, which give major adjacency bonuses to all specialty districts. They also grant bonus yields whenever a Great Person Great Person is earned. Members of the society can eventually build the Alchemical Society, a University replacement building that has all of the base University effects, plus extra Great Merchant Great Merchant points, Great Engineer Great Engineer points, increased Production Production, and Gold Gold.
  • Voidsingers (Civ6) The Voidsingers follow a dark religion of ancient gods and sow chaos to control adversaries. Joining them unlocks the Old God Obelisk, which replaces the Monument. It has all of the Monument's base effects, and provides additional Faith Faith and Great Works slots. The Voidsingers also have a unique unit, the Cultist. Purchased with Faith Faith, Cultists can spend a charge to recruit followers in enemy cities, reducing the target city's Loyalty by calling its citizens to madness.
  • Sanguine Pact (Civ6) The Sanguine Pact is a militaristic regime known for sapping enemies of their will to fight, shunning the sunlight. Joining the pact unlocks the unique Vampire unit, which gains Strength Combat Strength when adjacent units perish. Instead of dying, Vampires retreat to safety with 1 HP and can be healed back to full by pillaging. Vampire Castles can be placed in any empty tile in your territory or in neutral territory and grant defensive bonuses and extra yields. In later eras, Vampire Castles allow you to teleport units between them.


The Secret Societies mode almost exclusively offers benefits (unlike some of the other modes, like Apocalypse): a set of bonuses for each different Society which are tailored to a particular gameplay style. The bonuses are well-suited for the particular moment of the game when they unlock, and subsequent bonuses often synergize with previous ones, or even enhance them. For example, the Ley Line Ley Line is the first bonus of the Hermetic Society, and initially all it does is offer a major adjacency bonus to all District Districts. Later, however, every Ley Line Ley Line becomes a workable tile, and its yields increase with each Great Person Great Person you earn (or have previously earned). Thus, initially the player uses Ley Line Ley Lines only as good locations for District Districts, but later may include them into its territory and reap great benefits by simply working them. The Vampire, on the other hand, becomes stronger with each unit it kills, and can build Vampire Castles to enhance the yields of your Capital Capital and teleport your units around the map.

Thus, joining a Society at the earliest opportunity is highly recommended. Of course, you shouldn't join the first society you discover - you need to decide which one will help you most in your chosen playstyle. Fortunately, discovering each Society shouldn't be much of a problem - the necessary actions are taken naturally in the first phase of the game. Still, if you plan to join the Hermetic Order or the Voidsingers you should concentrate on early scouting (so that you may find Tribal Villages and natural wonders); this may also help when joining the Owls of Minerva, since it increases the chance of you being the first to meet a city-state (which nets you a free Envoy Envoy, and fulfills the requirement). On the other hand, if you want to join the Sanguine Pact, you should churn out units and aggressively attack the nearest Barbarian outposts before another civilization or city-state manages to disperse them.

Basically, we can equate the Secret Societies bonuses to religious bonuses, and you should treat them as such. Of course, there is none of the added complexity of religious play, such as spreading religion, theological combat, or pursuit of victory - you only need to make a strategic decision in the beginning of the game. It is a very important decision, though, which Society you will join, because depending on your chosen playstyle you may reap great rewards, or simply waste the opportunity. Non-aggressive players will find little benefit in possessing Vampires, while players who haven't developed their Faith Faith generation and religion won't be able to make good use of the Voidsingers' benefits.

Of course, not all is roses in this mode: you will suffer a hefty diplomatic penalty with players who are members of a society other than your own. And of course, they will also reap the benefits of their respective societies, which will affect the overall balance in the game. Still, this drawback is quite mild compared to having comets destroy your cities at the end of the game.

Related achievements[]

Dead But Dreaming
Dead But Dreaming
Earn all Governor promotions for the Voidsingers Secret Society.
The Voidsingers are based on the cults from H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. One of the iconic lines from The Call of Cthulhu is 'In his house at R'lyeh, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming.'
The Mask of Baphomet
The Mask of Baphomet
Earn all Governor promotions for the Owls of Minerva Secret Society.
Baphomet is a deity the Knights Templar were accused of worshipping. The latter were once speculated to be instrumental in the origin of Freemasonry, and contributed to the Freemasons' symbolisms and rituals.
This Blood is the Life
This Blood is the Life
Earn all Governor promotions for the Sanguine Pact Secret Society.
A reference to the opening scene in the 1992 vampire film Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Voice of Aiwass
Voice of Aiwass
Earn all Governor promotions for the Hermetic Order Secret Society.
Aleister Crowley claimed to have heard a voice of a non-corporeal intelligence who is then named 'Aiwass.'
Civilization VI Secret Societies [edit]
Titles Special Unlocks
Hermetic Order NeophyteAdeptMagusAiwass Alchemical SocietyLey LineOccult Research
Owls of Minerva InitiationRitualIndoctrinationMaster Plan Gilded Vault
Sanguine Pact TasteRising HungerVoivodeEndless Night VampireVampire Castle
Voidsingers MelodyChorusCanticleSymphony CultistDark SummoningOld God ObeliskRelic of the Void
Civilization VI Game modes [edit]
Apocalypse1Barbarian ClansDramatic Ages1Heroes & Legends1Monopolies and Corporations1Secret Societies1Tech and Civic ShuffleZombie Defense1
1 Requires DLC