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 Clanner groups.
Flaunting tradition is bad enough. And it’s what you’d expect of one of those boastful Digger Clan degenerates. But for your Clan’s own Speaker to let this slight go unanswered is too much to accept. Jahn is a coward and a fool. When a Digger draws a blade on Horace, one of your best fighting men, in a bar fight and kills him in cold blood, you have to act.
The clouds are thick tonight, and the moon is thin and weak. A cool breeze blows in from the east, toward you. Perfect.
In years gone by, the Cutters dominated these hills. Your people were strong. Respected. Sometimes feared. It should be thus, and could be again, but for Jahn. Ever since he became Speaker three seasons ago, the Cutters have been taken advantage of, disrespected, and laughed at by the Diggers. For some reason no one on the Council goes against his word.
So it is that your little band is racing along deer trails on a late-summer night, making your way to a Digger homestead. Old Man Tetz is one of the loudest voices among his Clan. He makes up insulting ditties about the Cutters, tells wild fictions about your people to the traders and Scrappers who occasionally pass by on the Big Road. You won’t harm his wife or children, just him. See how many stories he tells with is tongue cut out!
Jahn says he doesn’t want any conflict, says he wants to keep the peace. When the Diggers start making demands and yelling and threatening after Old Man Tetz loses his tongue, Jahn won’t last long. The Cutters will need real leadership, and your little band will be ready to fill that void.
Characters with the Concepts of Creator, Conqueror, Visionary, and Ruler have Affinity with this Ambition-driven group, while Aversion greets those with Defiler and Traditionalist Concepts.
Turn the Other Cheek
“Since before the time of our great-great-great grandfathers, we have fought with the Diggers. Brawls, fights, raids—it never stops. Well, until three seasons ago when I and the rest of the Council decided to try a new path. The constant fighting meant that traders didn’t want to come into the hills.”
Jahn rises from a squat, towers over you all. “I’ve been out into the valley, and the people in those lowland villages are healthier and more prosperous than us. I know those are hard words, but they’re true.”
The Speaker for the Cutters pauses, strokes his cinnamon beard slowly, looks at Dayv. “Go ahead, say your piece, son.”
Dayv is the biggest, the strongest, and the most impulsive of your little group. He’s also got the most pull. He speaks for all of you. “Jahn, your words about the lowlanders and our station compared to them are harsh.” Jahn opens his mouth to reply, but Dayv continues: “They’re harsh, but two moons ago we went down into the valley in secrecy to observe for ourselves. And you’re right.”
Jahn cracks a smile. “I didn’t think you lot had it in you. And what else did you observe?”
“They didn’t fight with each other. From village to village they traded. Vast quantities of wheat, barley, fruit, vegetables, beer, metals, anything you could imagine passed from one village to another freely in merchant carts.” Dayv’s eyes light up with the memory.
“So you’ll do as I ask,” Jahn ventures. “You’ll meet with Lyssa and pass to her my message? You’ll help me put this feuding to the grave once and for all?”
Davy nods. “If we can convince her to meet with you on neutral ground, I’m sure you’ll be able to convince her that peace and trade are the only sensible path. I just hope she’ll be able to keep that loudmouth Old Man Tetz from stirring the pot.”
Characters with the Concepts of Mentor, Protector, Martyr, and Healer have Affinity with this Loyalty-driven group, while Aversion greets those with Abomination and Ruler Concepts.
Go Your Own Way
The Cockroaches appeared without warning, in the depths of night. They slipped past your guard posts and set fire to the outermost homes, creating a circle of fire that gathered momentum as it swept toward the center of your village.
Like most of the other survivors, you were already awake for some reason when the attack started. For you it was a strange premonition that got you out of your warm blankets. So when the cries and howling and screams and fires broke out all at once, you got outside fast.
Silhouetted by the flames, you saw Cockroaches hacking down villagers. The Cockroaches moved so fast, struck mercilessly. They were everywhere. So you found a gap in the flames and ran. You’re not proud of yourself but you’re alive.
Now you’re part of a bedraggled mass of perhaps three dozen survivors, making your way through the fields as fast as you can, your bare feet crunching on a light blanket of early winter snow. Behind you the smoke and fire from your destroyed village rises into the night. The Cockroaches won’t let you escape. It’s only a matter of time.
Then you hear the hopeful voice of Tanya: “Listen! Judges!” A moment later you hear the clamor of hooves. In the dim moonlight you see riders approaching from the southeast. It’s a squadron of Judges! In awe you all draw close and watch as five of them ride up, resplendent in their thick wool coats and dashing hats, torches in hand, Judgment Hammers hanging from the saddles of their fine, strong horses.
Their leader barks at you: “Why did you desert your village?!”
Mattias stutters back from the crowd, “Sir, we were outmanned and they took us completely by surprise. There was no…” His reply is cut short by another Judge. “No backtalk, boy! Villages in this sector are under orders to resist to the last man, woman and child. You know that.” Confusion. Gasps of disbelief. Fearful murmurs ripple through the crowd.
“Come with us, all of you,” growls the first Judge. Without conscious thought, the survivors move together, into a more manageable cluster. The Judges are maneuvering their horses to form a perimeter around you. “We have to run, now!” a voice hisses. It’s Sylvia. “Now!”
You look over at Tanya, who is already on the move, pushing through the crowd. You hear the crack of a pistol and a man next to you—Henryk maybe?—falls. Your legs move of their own accord. You follow Tanya, Mattias, and Dieter, who are all running for the nearest copse of trees.
Panting, your heart in your throat, you keep running even as another pistol cracks, then a third. As you reach the protection of the trees, you see Mattias raise his rifle. He fires a single booming shot, and you hear a thud. Turning, you see one of the Judges lying on the snow twenty paces behind you. His horse is dashing back to the other Judges.
You all run. Into the darkness you run. You have to assume you’re now fugitives. Whether they want to or not, the other survivors will give the Judges your names. You’re on your own, stuck between the anvil of the Cockroaches and the hammer of the Judges.
Characters with the Concepts of Adventurer, Traveler, Disciple, and Mediator have Affinity with this Chance-driven group, while Aversion greets those with Hermit and Destroyer Concepts.