The Scars section of Artifacts (p.24-41) provides tools for building cohesive player character groups. It also describes how player characters of the same Cult can come together as a group. Taking Scars as a start point, this and other Cult Campaign Seeds posts explore ideas for campaigns built around a single Cult.
The aim is to provide gamemasters with ideas that can be expanded, grafted into other campaign seeds, or otherwise altered as needed. With that in mind, here are some ideas for Scourger groups.
The day started for all of you before dawn. You ran barefoot over the packed earth of the ring path that surrounds the farmers’ fields. You alternated between grappling, knife, and close ambush drills for hours. With the sun blazing, you fought in small group skirmishes, moving slowly and quietly through the brush, waiting patiently, then erupting in fierce attack. It was all training, of course. But every Scourger knows sweating in training prevents bleeding in actual combat. And sweat you did.
So now it is time to relax, to breathe in deep as the sky reddens and the day slowly gives way to night. You’re all sitting atop a watchtower, looking out over the farmlands that stretch to the outskirts of the bustling city. Beyond the city, the sea reflects the unfolding sunset.
Adcheze lifts his cup. “I’ll say this for the Crows, they make good distillate.”
“Well, sure, but with the distillate comes the Burn,” sighs Keke. His nickname, “the Melancholy” is well-earned. He looks down into his cup, swirls it slowly. “I’m going to say it.”
Yared looks around nervously, even though there’s nobody on the platform but you four. “Careful, careful.” He closes his eyes. “Ah, hell. I’ll say it. We all know it’s true.”
Adcheze puts his cup down with a snort. “No, I’ll say it. Chaga Kwame is being paid off by the Apocalyptics. We all know it. We all know why there’s so much Burn coming through the port these days.” He spits. “The Chaga of our Pack is a traitor to his own people. He’s worse than a Neolybian—at least they wear their loyalties openly.”
The four of you exchange relieved glances. The bandage has been ripped off the wet, pus-covered wound. Finally.
“We’ve all known this for months. We averted our eyes from the truth. But we know our higher duty is to the people. So what do we do with this knowledge?” The words surprise you, especially because you didn’t prepare them before they escaped your own lips.
All eyes turn to you. “Well if Ekeele, by far the wisest of us, says we must do something, then do something we must,” says Adcheze. His smile usually verges on mockery, but not now. Yared and Keke nod in agreement. Adcheze’s gaze turns serious. “So how do we take our city back and take down our Chaga without winding up dead at the hands of Apocalyptics or a tribunal?”
Characters with the Concepts of Traditionalist, Zealot, Righteous, and Protector have Affinity with this group that is united by Dogma, while Aversion greets those with Heretic and Visionary Concepts.
Everyone knows the story of Dumisai Zubari. He suffered grievous wounds during the Assault on Cuenca. But somehow, near death, he rallied the Pack and personally led the counterattack that crushed the Guerrero attack. When he finally fell, he was taken by a Hecatean. For burial, it was assumed.
But he was brought back from the edge of death somehow. On the one year anniversary of the battle, word came to Cuenca that the great Dumisai was alive and somehow fully recovered. The Scourgers of the garrison shouted in triumph. Stuck in that outpost of civilization amid forests full of savage Guerreros, word of Zubari’s recovery put iron in their spines and smiles on their faces.
Two years later he has returned to Cuenca. He arrived hours ago with an odd entourage and took command, reviewing the troops with Yousef, his loyal Chaga. Now your team stands in front of him. He paces the small austere, dimly-lit audience room. He could be twice your age, but because of how he moves excitedly, it’s hard to tell. He’s not a tall man, nor terribly muscular. Wiry, one might call him. His eyes are clear, focused, moving rapidly as he examines you each in turn, taking the measure of you.
“This is possibly the worst place in Hybrispania to be stationed. We must defend a city and don’t have enough men to create a strong perimeter. The people here do not love us. The forests beyond are crawling with Guerreros who know every fold of the earth, every fern, brook, and stream. The Guerreros also have another advantage—something I learned of during my convalescence. They have allied themselves with Psychonauts that help them see into the future, that help them know our plans even before we have made them.”
He lets the words sink in.
“I’ll say it again. This is the worst sort of situation. So why have I returned? Because I have a plan for securing Cuenca and pacifying Hybrispania. And you are part of that plan.”
His teeth flash in the lantern light as he smiles. “There is a small lake 22 clicks to the northwest. An Enigmate lives there. She is a form of Pregnoctic, a Psychonaut. The Hybrispaniards give her offerings, and in return she tells them about the future. Your mission is to observe at a distance, to find out where the locals set out their offerings. Do not attack, do not be seen. When you have gathered enough information about their patterns, return and report.”
You are dismissed, and as you all walk out into the afternoon light, Jobani motions to a cluster of four hooded Anubians standing alone under an awning. “Who wants to bet they have something to do with this mission?”
Characters with the Concepts of Seeker, Chosen, Zealot, and Martyr have Affinity with this group that is united by Destiny, while Aversion greets those with Traveler and Adventurer Concepts.
The vaulted chamber drips with gold. It glistens on the gilted, arching ceiling beams. It’s woven into the enormous tapestries that hang on the walls. It takes the form of gleaming chalices and figurines atop polished marble shelves. As the midday sun streams through the windows, patterns of gold wink from lapis floor tiles.
The Ambassador takes a leisurely drag on a cigarette, pinches the tip, then carefully sets it down on a tiny gold cradle that must be designed just for this purpose. His desk is, unsurprisingly, enormous. Crafted of mahogany with a polished onyx top, it had to have taken many crafters months to create.
He stays seated, perhaps embarrassed at his loose bulk. No amount of elaborately-patterned dark robes can conceal it. You stand before the Ambassador, a small team of Scourgers dispatched by your Chaga to do this Neolibyan’s bidding… discreetly.
“What do you know about the Northern Adriatic Basin?” he asks, pausing only a moment before answering. “It’s good farming land in Purgare, just south of Hellvetic territory.” He’s looking up at the ceiling, as if purposely avoiding locking eyes with his lessers. His voice is wistful. “It’s a beautiful land, not unlike our own in some respects. Though less civilized it has its charms.”
He coughs wetly, pauses to take another drag on his cigarette and set it down again. It must be a ritual he performs a thousand times each day. “Anyway, Purgare is a land rich in economic opportunity. The Bank of Commerce has a great deal of money invested in concessions throughout that land. And we don’t want anything to put those concessions in peril. Purgare is a foundation, you see. If we can make Purgare work, we can make inroads back into Balkhan, and from there more easily bring commerce to Pollen and Barca.”
“But we have a problem. In a small hill town south of the Lombardi Bog, a Magnate who styles himself Nnamde the Fearless has established an unsanctioned operation. And,” he coughs, pauses to take another drag, “there is no Magnate Nnamde. The man is a fraud.” The Ambassador drops the cigarette onto a tea saucer, not bothering to put it out. He sighs, then quickly sweeps his eyes across you and your comrades before cranking his neck back and gazing back up at the ceiling.
“This Nnamde the Fearless has assembled a strange mixture of local Clanners, disgruntled Hellvetics, even some Spitalians and Judges. He’s operating like a warlord, making the locals pay protection money as he expands his influence. But…” He coughs again, looks down and fumbles for the cigarette, and takes a long drag. He looks down at his desk now.
“But here’s the thing: the people, by all reports, the people in his zone of control treat him like a conquering hero. It’s vexing. Hard to understand. Anyway, the long and short of it is the this Nnamde the Fearless must be eliminated. He must be killed. That is your mission. Should you succeed, the rewards will be great. You will be given ample means to carry out this mission, but nobody must know of it during or after its completion. Once you’re in Purgare, you’re on your own.”
Characters with the Concepts of Adventurer, Traveler, Disciple, and Mediator have Affinity with this group that is united by Chance, while Aversion greets those with Hermit and Destroyer Concepts.