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: Serial killer groupies
Leader: Detective Gerald Coppinger
Leader Psychographic Profile: Dominant.
The Methodology copies and reinforces the patterns of infamous serial killers. They surf the waves of psychic trauma and terror generated by serial murders, channelling that power into the Outer Dark.
Moderate; the Methodology’s caution and understanding of both Esoterrorism and law enforcement techniques make them dangerous despite their small size.
The Methodology began with two FBI agents, Gerald Coppinger and his partner John Kraznisky. They were on the trail of a serial killer nicknamed the Collector, who preyed on artists, dealers, gallery owners and other members of the arts world. Kraznisky noticed that the value of pieces made by victims of the Collector skyrocketed after their deaths. The pair studied the patterns and techniques of the Collector in such detail that they learned to replicate them, and then murdered three more artists after buying several of their works for cheap. The Collector was blamed for the murders; the two detectives sold the art through a friendly dealer and made, er, a killing.
Incensed at being copied, the Collector targeted the detectives. The Collector murdered Kraznisky, but Coppinger then shot the Collector in self-defence.
Only he didn’t die. The Collector’s corpse was inhabited by a Creature of Unremitting Horror, which claimed that the murders committed by the Collector had generated enough fear and doubt that it was able to cross over. It could tell that Coppinger had a hand in its emergence, so it not only spared him – it rewarded him, gifting him with supernatural awareness.
After a leave of absence, Coppinger returned to his job as an FBI profiler.
The Methodology was born.
Gerald Coppinger, still a serving FBI agent and leader of the cell.
True crime podcasters Glenn and Susan Erlich.
Fringe psychologist Marla Fender.
Ex-cartel hitman Luis Toleco.
Structure & Assets
The Methodology might be termed a distributed cell; Coppinger is based in Washington, the Erlichs in a small town in Indiana, Fender in Los Angeles, and Toleco lives in Atlanta. They communicate through encrypted channels online, and rarely meet in person except when preparing for an invocation. They all have deniable connections to each other, mostly through Coppinger – he consults occasionally with Fender, has been interviewed by the podcasters about old cases, and he was part of an investigative team that targeted the cartel (and it was only thanks to Coppinger’s careful destruction of evidence that Toleco avoided arrest). Coppinger is an experienced investigator, and has trained all his followers in ways to avoid detection and surveillance.
The cell has little in the way of financial assets, beyond the personal resources of its members, although the Erlichs are making lots of money from their podcasting business. Both Coppinger and Toleco have access to considerable stocks of firearms; the Erlichs have a compound on their isolated property that includes secure storage including underground rooms usable as cells or ritual spaces.
Fender has contacts with the wider Esoterrorist movement, and channels assistance and occult knowledge to the Methodology cell as needed.
The Methodology works by amplifying and shaping the psychic turbulence caused by serial killing. Unprovoked ritual murder has a potent quality that attracts the attention of the Outer Dark; the Methodology builds on that. When Coppinger spots an active serial killer who fits that ritual profile, whose killings are correlated with supernatural manifestations, he has the other members of the cell boost the works of that killer. The Erlichs start a podcast, making that killer famous; Coppinger gathers full details on the killer’s methods and passes them to Toleco, who commits more murders in that exact style – giving the impression that the serial killer has a much wider range.
There’s a feedback loop – the more Toleco (and the original killer) kill, the more material there is for the Erlichs to broadcast. The Erlichs make the killer more and more notorious; Fender assists in shaping public perception and adds occult elements to Toleco’s work. Coppinger co-ordinates everything and ensures the authorities don’t spot the Methodology’s interference.
The final part of the Method is the ritual murder of the original killer. Think of the serial killings as building up psychic pressure inside a vessel, and the ritual as uncorking it. The psychic energy rushes out, hungry for form, and the Outer Dark obliges.
So far, the Methodology has not hit on a way of summoning specific entities; they’ve invoked savage monsters like Torture Dogs, but also more subtle creatures like Sisterites. Fender believes that she is close to mastering techniques for bargaining with the Dark, trading passage through the Membrane for supernatural gifts.
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.