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 Judge groups.
Terrence slammed his beer stein on the rough wooden table. He glared at us through thick tobacco smoke and growled. “We all know what’s going on here. This isn’t shaking down a merchant for a few drafts. This is disgusting.”
“By the First, Terrence, keep your voice down!” Shay’s brows furrowed. We were sitting in The House of Hammers, amid the din of conversation, argument, and laughter. Nearly everyone in the pub was a Judge.
She leaned forward. We all did. “Alright, alright,” Terrence hissed, holding up a placating hand. He swiveled his head, looking at each of us in turn.
“I know I shouldn’t be saying anything in here,” he said softly. “But look, charging the survivors of a Cockroach attack with cowardice and locking them up… that’s… that’s not taking some off the top. That’s not giving a thief an extra lump on the way to the Cleft. I mean, who the fuck does that? And more importantly, how are we supposed to defeat the Cockroaches if every time a village falls, we make criminals of the survivors?”
Arnaud, who had been disinterestedly chewing on a cigar, visibility snapped to attention at the mention of Cockroaches. “I doan give a crap about some rat’s ass villagers, but you gots a point there, Terrence. Ain’t no way to win a war.” He was a talking bit too loud, which was about as quiet as his voice could get. “These villagers ain’t stupid, an’ they gossip with each other. Word spreads. The last thing we need is the rabble doubtin’ the intentions of us Judges.”
Terrence nodded in assent, but Shay was still unconvinced. “Fine then,” she said under her breath. “Protector Carruth and his crew went too far. They’ve been riding roughshod over villagers out west for months. They’re protected by someone in the Judiciary. Everyone knows it. And come on, we all know the unwritten rule: We’re Judges. We protect our own.”
She had a point. We looked at each other wordlessly for a moment. Arnaud leaned in further, and we joined him, almost touching foreheads over the center of the table. “Sure, we protect our own, but erreyun knows about them Black Judges. They clean up what needs cleanin’. And nobody knows who they are. Which means if we do it right, we can take care of Carruth and erreyun’ll assume it was the Black Judges.”
Maybe it was the beer deciding for us. Maybe it was the fact that Terrence’s plans, no matter how wild, usually worked. Perhaps a bit of guilt was at play. Regardless, we all nodded silently. Enough was enough.
Characters with the Concepts of Traditionalist, Righteous, Zealot, and Protector have Affinity with this Dogma-driven group, while Aversion greets those with Heretic and Visionary Concepts.
The bare briefing room was cold, but for the hot air radiating from the man standing in front of your little group. “Nobody escapes from the Cleft!” The veins on Advocate Romini’s red face threatened to leap out, and his bloodshot eyes bulged. “Nobody! And if they do, we find them. We hunt them down, we bring them back to justice!”
Crowley raised a hand. “Sir, if nobody escapes from the Cleft, how is it that we’re being tasked with hunting down an escapee?”
Romini glowered up at his lanky subordinate. “That’s quite funny, Crowley. You’re funny. You should be in the circus.”
He aimed a pudgy finger up at Crowley. “Speaking of which, if you want to stay in the Judges, you’ll catch Kyra Bloodclaw. She’s clever. She was in for theft, but based on her reputation in Apocalyptic circles, we know she’s a killer as well. You and your clown brothers here will probably have a tough time catching her. And even if you do, well… . Anyway, if you return to Justitian without her, dead or alive, well don’t bother coming back!”
Crowley cracked a grin and was about to raise his hand again, but I stopped him with a look. Romini threw spiteful grins in our general direction, then stormed out of the room, slamming the door behind him.
Breck shook his head, eyes closed. “You know he is blowing steam, but he’s afraid. He picked us for this mission because he knows we’re the most capable crew he could assemble on short notice.”
Crowley smiled. “Damn straight!”
Breck held a folder in his hand — the dossier on Bloodclaw. “We had better get moving,” he said. “It says here they eventually figured out that she went through the South Gate on horseback. Her flock was last seen in northern Purgare. She’s obviously going to disguise herself and try to make her way through Hellvetic territory to Bergamo or perhaps Lucatore.”
Max grunted. “Yeah, and she’s got a day on us.” Then he rubbed the thick stubble on his chin. “But hey, where’s Lucatore? Never heard of it.”
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.
Jurymen are the worst, because they have so much to prove. They puff up their chests before speaking. They throw little bits of nonsensical Latin into their jokes, thinking that makes them more “Judge-like.” They threaten prisoners and trash-talk civilians.
Looking through the thick rain at the bedraggled clot of mounted figures slumped and dejected gave you a small measure of Schadenfreude. At least the little twerps were suffering as much as you. It hadn’t rained every day of this weeks-long journey, but it sure felt like it.
Laütner disturbed your reverie with a toe boot to your calf. He brought his horse up next to yours and asked with mock seriousness, “Hey, what did one Chronicler say to the other Chronicler?”
You rolled your eyes and shrugged absently. “I give up, Laut. What did he say?”
“Ahem. Gentlemen.” Protector Capper’s clipped voice. How was she always in the wrong place at the wrong time? Somehow she had trotted up to you silently.
“Ma’am, uh, we were just…” Laütner scrambled.
“Yes, yes, I know,” Capper cut him short. “This has been a long journey,” she said. “But we’ll be working with our Chronicler colleagues to gather intelligence on the goings-on in Toulon soon enough, and we should clear our minds of any preconceptions, don’t you think?”
“Yes, Ma’am,” he murmured.
“Very good,” she smiled in that wooden way of hers before cantering up to the front of the formation.
“She creeps me out,” Laütner told you for the fifty-fourth time. “This Operation Mirage business all smells funny, if you ask me. For instance, why, if all the Chroniclers do is spy on people, are we being brought along to help them spy? That makes no sense. And what are we doing so far away from the Protectorate? I mean, the filthy Clans aren’t getting any more peaceful, and we’re all the way down here? I’m telling you, we’re fucking mushrooms, man.”
You shrugged. They give you orders, you follow the orders. That’s the way it is. But Laütner wasn’t wrong. You were being kept in the dark and fed bullshit, just like mushrooms.
Characters with the Concepts of Adventurer, Travel, Disciple, and Mediator have Affinity with this Chance-driven group, while Aversion greets those with Hermit and Destroyer Concepts.