The Esoterrorists are not a conspiracy, per se. There’s no head of Esoterrorism, no command structure. It’s not that each cell is completely independent – you can make connections, follow the money, tap the phones, build up the webs and hierarchies used by counterterrorist researchers and investigators, but it’s not a conspiracy. Don’t think cell as in conspiracy, think cell as in cancer. Esoterrorism is a movement, or a disease of the mind. It can sprout almost anywhere.
There are warning signs. Genetic predispositions towards Esoterrorism. Ego, a lust for power, a fascination with the bizarre and the transgressive, a feeling of superiority towards those you see as ‘lesser’, and a willingness to inflict suffering – they all contribute towards potential Esoterrorism. Sometimes, all it takes is a tiny spark, a glimpse of the Outer Dark or even just the intuition that all this can be torn down and remade, and that’s the start of a new cell.
This series of articles presents four different ready-to-play Esoterrorist cells. Each cell’s described in the same format.
Ideology: The group’s animating philosophy, organisational purpose, or interpretation of Esoterrorism. Some cells are clueless – they’ve stumbled across the supernatural, but don’t understand it. Some are deluded, puppets of an Esoterrorist mastermind. And some are committed to the destruction of the Membrane.
Threat Assessment: The Ordo Veritas’ assessment of the degree of danger currently posed by the cell, and how likely it is to grow and spread.
History: A brief history of the cell.
Key Members: The leaders and important members of the cell.
Structure & Assets: How the group functions and what it has easy access to in terms of weapons, shelter, funding, or other notable assets.
Supernatural Threats: Any summoned Outer Dark Entities, magical devices or rituals associated with the group.
Nature of cell: Scavenging technosorcerers
Leader: Liza Kreel
Leader Psychographic Profile: Quisling
Groupies of Unremitting Horror, the Invisible Lighting chasers pursue rumours of ODEs across the country and try to make contact with the supernatural.
Mostly clueless; however, their techniques for detecting incipient breaches of the Membrane make them an unpredictable threat.
Invisible Lightning started out in the 1990s with a trio of students who practised storm chasing; they monitored weather reports and radar traces, and drove out into the desert to get close to powerful storms. They became interested in meteorological anomalies – lightning strikes from clear skies, unexplained sudden storms or blizzards, strange discontinuities. What they had discovered, in fact, was evidence of breaches and weak spots in the Membrane, manifesting as impossible weather.
The trigger for the club’s transformation into an Esoterrorist cell was the discovery of a magical diary. Liza Kreel and her associates were chasing an anomalous storm, and discovered six scorched and smoking corpses all struck by lightning. (Kreel had yet to learn who the deceased individuals were; five were members of an Ordo Veritatis investigative team, while the sixth was a notorious Esoterrorist sorcerer known as the Molochite; see file BEATEN POET). The diary contained cryptic clues and references to ‘weak spots’ in reality, and Kreel deduced the connection between the anomalous weather and these minor breachers.
Around this time, Kreel confessed to her comrades that she had been diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disorder, and that her condition was terminal. Medical science had given her no more than six months to live; magic, on the other hand, might be her only way to survive. (Note that none of Kreel’s medical records obtained by the Ordo contain a diagnosis or any evidence of such a disorder). With the aid of the other storm-chasers, Kreel performed a sacrificial ritual in a temporary area of low Membrane intensity, and successfully summoned one of the Practise into an abandoned hospital in Idaho.
Since then, Invisible Lighting continued as a secret cabal of sorcerers, taking advance of minor fluctuations in the Membrane to carry out their occult experiments.
Professor Liza Kreel: The founder and leader of Invisible Lightning, Kreel is now a tenured professor of meteorology at a small university. She uses this role to divert resources and funding to her Esoterrorist cell. Kreel rarely takes part in what she terms ‘field expeditions’, preferring to let her more promising acolytes take the risk. Kreel believes that she’ll attain immortality and near-divine power once she figures out a way to widen the breaches; she’s paranoid that one of her acolytes will get there first, and eliminates them if she suspects they’re going to overtake her.
Emmet Hauser: Kreel’s current protégé, a student she initiated into Esoterrorism. Hauser spends his days looking for anomalous weather patterns that signal the appearance of a Membrane breach. When he spots one, he races out there and attempts a summoning. As these breaches are often short-lived, Hauser’s turned to methamphetamines to stay awake for days at a time so he never misses the tell-tale fluctuation on the radar screen.
Anthony Brache: One of Kreel’s original associates, Brache threatened to report her sacrificial murders to the authorities. Kreel attempted to kill Brache with a death spell, but the spell misfired; Brache died, but comes back to life whenever there’s a thunderstorm near his grave. During his brief periods of animation, he struggles to claw his way out of his grave so he can take revenge on his former friend.
Structure & Assets
Invisible Lightning consists of a small core of Esoterrorist acolytes, and a handful of students, storm-chasers and eccentrics. Some of these may be initiated into the Esoterrorist cell if they prove worthy; others get used as human sacrifices to power rituals. Kreel’s cultivated friendships in the university bureaucracy, presenting herself as a helpful team player and serving as the faculty representative on various undesirable committees; she’s everyone’s best friend, the person you’d least suspect of being the murderous sorcerer-queen of a secret cabal.
The cell’s funding comes partially from Kreel’s (highly limited) academic budget, with periodic injections of dark-money from larger Esoterrorist cells.
Invisible Lightning’s other major asset is a collection of precisely calibrated storm-chasing equipment, tailored to pick up on the anomalous atmospheric conditions that herald the formation of Low Membrane Strength Location. This equipment would be of great interest to the Ordo Veritatis, as it could be deployed to pre-emptively locate and counter incipient breaches.
Highly variable. Invisible Lightning looks for newly-formed cracks in the Membrane, then does the occult equivalent of sending up a signal flare with a sacrificial ritual, inviting whatever’s lurking on the far side to cross over. They never know what, if anything, they’re going to bring through the gap. It’s spiritual Russian Roulette.
There appears to be a degree of volatility or mutability to the ‘cracks’ detected by Invisible Lightning; the first ritual enacted within the gap has special potency. Invisible Lighting sometimes allies with other cells, identifying the optimum location for a ritual. Most of the time, though, the cell’s like a bunch of rats gnawing at the drywall of reality.
Some reports claim that Kreel has transformed herself into a hybrid Creature of Unremitting Horror to treat her alleged neurological disorder, or is capable of commanding the weather. The Ordo has yet to verify these accounts.
The Esoterrorists are occult terrorists intent on tearing the fabric of the world – and you play elite investigators out to stop them. This is the game that revolutionized investigative RPGs by ensuring that players are never deprived of the crucial clues they need to move the story forward. Purchase The Esoterrorists in print and PDF at the Pelgrane Shop.