“Were they around before the Fall? That’s kind of a good question. I mean, one that totally doesn’t actually matter and we’ll never know, but it makes you think…”
Theurgists are a diverse group united in one thing only: all of them believe in something greater than themselves and worship it as such. Whether it is a concept, idol, or deity of some sort doesn’t seem to matter — their belief is actually a real, powerful thing to them and grants them abilities above and beyond most people. Some theurgists worship more generalized ideas and concepts rather than more specifics things like individuals, while others latch onto things from the the time before the Fall, obviously important things like popular figures or literature, and create their belief system around them.
Like the concepts they worship, Theurgists come from diverse backgrounds and faiths. Some form communes where they can be around others who believe. Others are nomadic, travelling as a sort of religious pilgrimage, searching for meaning in the trackless Wastes, or becoming wandering missionaries to spread the word.
The Brotherhood of Saint Gregory
“I don’t know how they do it these days. I mean, sometimes I think I’d kill my own sister for a can of cat food, but those guys… they’re just so… Nice.”
In these tough times, sometimes the hardest thing to do is to show mercy. The Brotherhood of Saint Gregory may then be some of the toughest people in the entire Wastes, not because they fight, but because they choose not to. The Brotherhood is rigorous and unyielding in their beliefs and has turned mercy, self-sacrifice and kindness into a lifestyle. While many see them as easy targets, a condition the Brothers accept with stoicism, a reasonable amount of people respect the Brotherhood and their vows. Brothers are welcome most everywhere, as they are both keepers of knowledge passed down through their order and potent Theurges capable of healing.
The Brotherhood’s beliefs stem from the mythical Prince of Peace and the man said to be his prophet on earth, Saint Gregory. Saint Gregory was said to be one of the original followers of the Prince of Peace. Through boundless mercy and compassion, he walked the Wastes unmolested and protected by all. When he died, he imparted simple instructions unto his followers: never raise a hand in anger, practice self-denial in all things, always heal and help those in need above yourself, let your actions speak louder that your words, and, finally, search for The Book of the Prince of Peace. The Book of the Prince of Peace is an ancient tome of parables and knowledge that is said to be what inspired Saint Gregory himself; while the original was lost in the Fall, he did the best he could to pass on its teachings. All Brothers seek to follow his example.
Saint Gregory died barely five decades ago, martyred at the hands of particularly vicious Raiders for the crime of healing the sick in a settlement they had targeted. He was buried in a salt mound and smeared in Mut-Ant pheromone; it took three full days for him to die. Brothers carry a pouch or glass vial full of salt as a reminder of his sacrifice.
Despite its morbid foundation, the Brotherhood has grown quickly. It attracts only the most dedicated followers since its extreme stance toward mercy and non-violence polarizes many in the difficult post-Fall times. Brothers are predominantly male; while there are female members, they are still referred to as Brothers. The Brothers have no central organization but can be seen wandering the Wastes in their distinctive brown robes belted with beaded ropes, practicing healing and asking for charity just about anywhere.
“OH YEAH, whatcha gonna do, brother?!”
Loud, ostentatious, and boastful, the Federation is known throughout the Wastes despite its small numbers. A warrior cult said to revere ancient war gods who did battle in the huge arenas of the world before for public amusement. The Federation is easy to spot as its members wear loud, colorful spandex costumes and speak in loud voices about their accomplishments and how much their opponents suck.
The Federation doesn’t just venerate these war gods; members seek to emulate them through voice and deed. Warriors all, they fight for their own ideals, whether they be that of colorful heroes or dark brooding villains. While it may seem simple to outsiders, the Federation follows a strict code of honor at all times concerning how to behave, and their beliefs demand that they never back down from a fight. The Federation is also rather strict in its prefered fighting style: members use their fists, feet, and various holds and throws almost exclusively, only occasionally using weapons. Even then, they only use improvised items like chairs. Guns and anything approaching a real weapon are strictly forbidden.
The Federation is both loved and hated throughout the Wastes. While they believe in fighting the good fight and protecting the weak from harm, they are also very prideful and prone to taking offense at the slightest provocation. While they rarely fight to the death over such real or perceived offenses, it does get old having to deal with the constant battles and screaming. Few parties in the Wastes are complete though without a few members of the Federation getting into a battle. Popular Federation fighters are spoken of in song and deed, along with their various battles and long standing rivalries. While many may not understand the purpose of the Federation, all have heard and appreciate the tales that have been told about it.
The Followers of M
“They’re the one nice thing left out here. We don’t let folks mess with that, so you best watch yourself.”
Deep in the valleys north of Lost Angels lies the small town of Ojai Grahla. One of the few places left in the Wastes with a semblance of natural beauty and fertility, it is also populated by a cult of theurgists called The Followers of M. The Followers maintain Ojai Grahla as a verdant paradise and retreat away from the unrelenting hardship that is most of Sokal.
The Followers don’t ask for much from those who visit their town. Trades of skills, food, and knowledge are all acceptable. For that small price, they will see to a weary travelers every need — mental, physical, and spiritual — for a reasonable amount of time.
The Followers themselves are far more complex than many give them credit for. While the specific details of their belief — including what the “M” in their name actually means — aren’t well understood, the Followers are more than happy to give a brief explanation to anyone who asks. While many claim to pursue enlightenment, the Followers are a little more straightforward. They believe in the pursuit of pleasure in all its various forms. Dance, games, songs, and numerous and varied types of drugs — any of these and in combination are all within their purview.
What they are best known for, though — and what perhaps overshadows all other aspects — is their services as concubines, paramours, and companions. The Followers have become famous throughout the Wastes for the sexual proclivity and skill of their members. The Followers do so because they view pleasure, intimacy, and enlightenment as sacred rights: while no stay can be permanent and the Followers cannot take care of everyone as they would prefer, they do what they can to remind the Wastes that better things are possible.
It is pretty unfair to classify them as a sex cult given the multi-faceted nature of their beliefs, but that is what stands out to the physically starved population. The Followers don’t deny this as it is, after all, part of their belief structure. They just try not to get to exasperated by others’ narrow mindedness.
The Salt Eaters
“Look, I’ve seen some shit in my time. But walking through that valley man. I don’t even know. Sometimes I hope it was dream, a bad one. I’ll never forget it.
Deep in the desolate salt flats of the northeastern Badlands. Legends speak of a narrow canyon guarded by hundreds. But the guardians themselves will not move to challenge, speak, or even breathe as they are inert, mummified corpses. Nevertheless these mute sentinels are more than enough to deter most interlopers. The canyon contains hundreds, maybe even thousands of these standing mummies. They are preserved by the dry, salt laden air and maybe other means. Their faces twisted into horrific grimaces by the primitive embalming process.
The canyon isn’t solely occupied by the dead though. Their caretakers are a group of strange people who usually dress in bandages and loose robes. They venture out infrequently, offering their strange Theurgy in trade for necessities. They are widely known for this strange magic though, as it is extremely powerful and somehow straddles the borders between life and death. Little else is known of them. Even their name, Salt Eaters, is a colloquialism used by outsiders to describe their bizarre behavior of eat handfuls of salt with every meal as well as finding salt in the mouths of their dead guardian effigies.