Forsaken

Viewing themselves as the last bastion of organized society in a world populated by heretics and monsters, the Forsaken strive to defend their holy city of New Ashkelon. Led by the enigmatic Prevailer Council their troops and followers fight with a zealous resolve, clinging to the belief that their God has chosen them to combat the monsters and madmen of the wasteland and reclaim it for His holy glory. This belief is only heightened by the presence of the Saints: powerful individuals claiming to be of holy origin and who command whole legions and armies under their beck and call. Whether truly on a holy crusade from God or merely an army of fanatics, the followers of the Forsaken have readied themselves for war, and march forth willing to lay down their lives for their beliefs.

Models

Generic

Followers of Mark

Followers of Mary

Followers of John

Followers of Luke

Followers of Johann

Followers of Joan

Followers of Isaac

Prevailers

History

The Forsaken

Nobody knows who discovered the first religious texts, or who carried them on the trade routes across the wastelands to Port City. What is known is that the Forsaken people took to those words instantly and voraciously. The ideas contained within the ancient books and foil-scrolls sparked a revolution in Forsaken thinking and soon spread to consume every aspect of their lives and culture. Like a fire it warmed and comforted some, and destroyed others. For five centuries the Forsaken had been crawling back from the brink of extinction and now they were perfectly placed for fanaticism to overrun their society. Most were still poor and hungry and glad of the reassurance a watchful God brought. However they also considered themselves superior to those living outside the city, whom they named Outcasts, and a burning desire to be part of a whole, a new nation at last.

John 1:1 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Almost overnight priests appeared in every settlement, bringing God’s word to the masses. Those who did not believe must surely not want to be part of their new nation. “Traitor” and “Heretic” became synonymous in the minds of the people and angry mobs drove whole families out or even burned them at the stake. Some fought back but the revolution swept them aside.

Whilst the common man realized quickly that their options were conversion, exile or death, their leaders recognized this even faster. The people would not tolerate a heretic as a master, but equally they would follow his every whim if they thought his words were divinely inspired. The leaders of Port City and its largest allies from among the fortress cities and outposts had formed themselves into a loose trading alliance. Now this became a nascent church as each adopted the mantel of a Bishop, Cardinal or Magistrate. They now spoke for God, and the faith invested in them by their followers was total and unquestioning.

Travel between settlements was still difficult and even within Port City people rarely moved further than their homes and places of work. The wasteland was full of monsters, savage beasts and godless Outcasts and with any journey being hazardous the Forsaken began to stagnate over the next two decades. Each settlement adopted its own twist on the overall religion and thus, although the leaders still spoke to one another, their subjects became increasingly reticent about dealing with those whom they saw as dangerously unorthodox. Something had to be done, or within years they would crumble back into a series of small, warring states. The lords of Port City recognized this, but before they could act, something happened to force their hand.

The Division

In many outlying settlements armed combat was already common place, both between Forsaken villages and against local Outcasts. In these places the Forsaken military was vital to maintaining the peace, and as a result often commanded considerable power. Field officers were expected to subscribe to the new religion but some took this much further, realizing – just as the civilian lords did – its potential to cement their power. Andrew Mark, garrison commander for the town of Dresnyn, was one who took this step. Through careful planning, skilled acting and sheer force of personality he began to style himself as a Saint. All the while his agents spread the word that he was the reincarnation of Saint Mark, a holy figure mentioned in one of the scraps of ancient text. Far from Port City, and outside the predatory influence of her politicians, Mark was unopposed.

Mark 1:2 – As it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.

Soon other Saints began to appear in the more remote settlements. Some were little more than cult leaders, each with a handful of followers, but a few attainted truly impressive power. A name robbed from one of the antique manuscripts, combined with charisma and quick wit, became the recipe for success. Ironic though it may be, Saint Mark became rather obscure, though no Saint ever forgot that he was the first among them. The fringe location and small population of his territory limited the expansion of his power. Meanwhile others built massive keeps, trained elite bodyguards and styled themselves as much like kings, as holy men and, when backed up by technological or military might, became a force to be reckoned with. Seeking to demonstrate their power, each expanded their realms, absorbing nearby settlements hungrily into petty empires. Although each still controlled only a small area, their influence was growing, and could soon destabilize the Forsaken entirely.

All the while the search went on for new and rediscovered technologies. Scavenging through buried storerooms and tinkering with broken machinery became a lucrative business. During one such exploration the remnants of a long-forgotten cybernetics facility was unearthed. Inside, crude robotics used to augment beasts of burden and animals used in combat, were discovered amongst the long-abandoned holding pens and kennels. Referred to in old records as “grafting,” the technology was born again in the typical haphazard fashion of all new Forsaken discoveries, with livestock and wild animals used as test subjects. Several years of disastrous failures followed before grafting began to show any promise. However, among the religious masses, the new science was seen as highly controversial – even heretical – although its usefulness could not be denied.

Genesis 2:7 –And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

The Saints joined the growing debate, keen to be seen as moral arbiters. In particular some saw great promise in the science as a means to extend their own influence. They threw increasingly large resources behind it, whilst others denounced it as an “abomination”. Many of those who decried it simply lacked the resources to pursue it properly, whilst others felt it was doomed to failure and were keen to be seen a prophetic when it did so.

With the public now bitterly divided and the Saints entering the wider political arena the lords of Port City understood that they must act, or find themselves sidelined.

The Prevailers

Worried by the escalating influence of the Saints, the church hierarchy realized that something must be done. They began meeting in secret to discuss what was required to swing the balance of power back towards themselves. It was now too late for multiple assassinations, and the Saints were too well guarded. With killing the Saints ruled out, a new direction was needed to rob them of their power. In a tense series of summits, spanning over six weeks, the most influential leaders from Port City met in the largest of the capital’s cathedrals. Also invited were their most powerful allies from outlying settlements, who themselves were under great pressure from the Saints’ followers.

The result was a new, unified church that introduced structure to both religion and government under the name “The Council of the Prevailers”. To further empower this new agreement they announced the start of a new calendar. All dates were now measured from the day they announced the formation of the Council, with any years previous to this designated ‘Pro Consilium’ and future years as ‘Secundum Consilium’.

Exodus 34:14 – For thou shalt worship no other God; for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

This Council was not as unified as they wished to appear however. Internally they had split into two orders. The Ordo Ecclesiarche, led by Bishop Joseph Manasses, made decisions on matters of doctrine and controlled the growing faith, ensuring that the masses grew ever more under their control. The Ordo Judicatores, under Lord Julian Albrecht, meanwhile enforced law and issues of government, as well as directing the military. These two orders and, more obviously, their leaders, circled one another beneath the veil of unity, each waiting for the opportune moment to do away with their rival.

Having taken control of governance the Prevailers first task was to bring the unruly Saints to heel. In a great speech to the people Manasses led the praise of the Saints, naming them Holy Champions blessed by the united church. The Saints reveled in the cheering of the crowds, but they would soon be choking back their horror and rage. Central to the belief of every Forsaken, Manasses said, was the understanding that – through hard work and devotion – they could ascend from this Hell and enter a new Paradise. God laid down the path, he told them, and showed them through his servants – the Prevailers – the way forward. Everyone must do their part in overcoming the demons and tempters that surround them; the sinful, lazy, atheistic and criminal who would otherwise carry them back into the Dark Ages that had gone before. For some, however, God kept a greater task. Great Crusades were being organized, journeys of exploration and discovery that would cross the borders of the known and march deep into the wastelands. Only the mightiest would go, and bring back the lost technologies the Forsaken needed. Then at last they would be ready to Ascend from Hell and begin the journey to promised lands.

Manasses was a showman and the crowd was in his hand. Who, he asked, could they trust to undertake this momentous task, who was so pure as to be entrusted with the hopes of all faithful men? The people spoke with one voice, baying the names of the Saints.

Luke 11:23 – He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth.

The Saints were trapped, unable to turn down the order to Crusade without losing all that they had built their power upon. Whilst lesser Saints were given lesser tasks the four most powerful were assigned, each to a point of the compass, to cross into the wilds and expand the Holy Empire. The Council could hardly have been more pleased, at worst the Saints were separated, at best they would bring back important discoveries from their travels. Should any of them die along the way, so much the better.

With this done, and the Saints effectively castrated, the Prevailers moved to organize their army. Some troops, from the elite Warknights to the common Militia, were placed under the command of Templars, the Generals of the Prevailer army. Each Templar served also as a bodyguard of the Council, as well commanded his own settlement or outpost. Other troops, the Banes and Coils for instance, were spread between both Templars and Saints. By equipping the Saints with the troops needed for their missions, this also allowed the Council to place spies in their ranks.

Meanwhile this issue of Grafting had arisen again. With so many vested interests the Prevailers had to tread carefully, this was not a subject they could overcome as easily as they had dismissed the Saints. Privately they believed the science would never bear fruit and had only condoned it so that some Saints might waste their resources upon something that could never be more than an expensive hobby. When it became obvious that some of them might be successful enough to become very powerful indeed it had to be stopped. Thus they ruled that grafting was acceptable on beasts, but never a human – God’s greatest creation. This edict went out to every Forsaken settlement and fell upon many interested ears. One man in particular did not receive the news well.

Thus a tense arrangement was established amongst the Forsaken. The Prevailers ruled, having total control of industry, trade and, through doctrine, the people. However through their exploits the Saints won a great deal of popular support and the Prevailers were wise enough not to antagonize them. They kept some control of their own outposts and were allowed to play out what their master’s regarded as fantasies of grandeur within their small, private kingdoms. One Saint alone remained deliberately aloof and unwilling to be brought to heel. Hailing from a remote mining outpost few Forsaken had ever heard the name “Saint Johann” but soon they would all know of the deeds of “The Heretic”.

The Great Crusades

Slowly troops were mobilized and the crusades began to advance. Only Luke seemed hasty, striking out to the East and into the wastelands. With everything else that was happening the Council had few resources with which to monitor him. In the South Saint John had quickly become extremely powerful. He was young and ambitious, with a personal fortune great enough to control the largest standing army after that of the Prevailers themselves. John was not above using this strength to apply force where his wealth and charisma failed. However the real danger in the region lay with the cruel and cunning Saint Matthew. The two men had been boyhood friends and an alliance would have toppled the fledgling Prevailers, but their egos had grown with age and a civil war was just as likely, and just as capable of tearing the Forsaken apart. Taking a bold step to avoid either outcome the Prevailers gave John the task of uniting the South and sent Matthew North to secure the trade in salt.

Timothy 6:12 – Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses.

Like many human civilizations throughout history the Forsaken of today walk a tightrope. On one side lies destruction from without, on the other destruction from within. They had reached the year SC10 and, with new buildings being erected on the centuries old ruins, the Prevailers have finally agreed upon a new name for their world. The ruins of Port City are being covered by the construction of New Ashkelon, whilst the planet has been rechristened Samaria. The Forsaken wore a unified face but internal strife still threatened them. They may appear powerful but they would need to be careful if they hoped to endure the coming strife and claim Samaria as their own.

Forces

Forsaken

With so many Saints possessing such great influence the power of the Forsaken political leaders began to crumble. Rather than let slip the reigns altogether these leaders banded together, forming the Council of the Prevailers. To rid themselves altogether of the troublesome Saints they declared the Great Crusades, sending each one into the dangerous wilderness areas of the planet in search of new discoveries. Secretly they hoped that the Saints would find simply their own destruction. They had no idea just how great the dangers beyond their borders were. Whilst the most dangerous missions are given to any Saint the most important are entrusted to those the Prevailers consider loyal, field commanders who appear to possess an impeccable sense of duty towards the Council. Of course not all of them are worthy of this trust, indeed some of them are so ambitious and power hungry they intend to declare themselves to be Saints as well, given time and the appropriate opportunity.

Saint Mark

The first of the Saints, Mark is an ambitious, cunning and charismatic individual. Regarded by some as an emissary of the Lord, by others as a ruthless brigand he now finds himself embroiled in a bloody war against the alien Dragyri. Nowhere are the casualties as high as in the Western Crusade and seemingly endless caravans of civilian fugitives flee for New Ashkeleon from the West. Mark’s elite Reavers and Shades are masters of subtlety, and when necessary these assassins can be backed up by the immensely powerful Junkers.

Saint Mary

Captured and tortured by the Skarrd, Mary escaped to swear vengeance. A fierce protector of all who are in need, Mary and her troops guard the northern border. In this remote region she is often denied much needed troops and so makes do by recruiting whoever is available: from barbaric former criminals such as the Flense to wandering holy men like Judah.

Saint John

Perhaps the most powerful of the Saints, John rules over a large swath of the south. Heir to an industrial empire of wealth and power, John realized at a young age that the mantle of a Saint was the surest way to gain his people’s admiration, and that their admiration was the key to power over them. He appreciates the value of human assets in his forces more than any other Saint, and goes to great lengths to keep them safe. This heroic solider scorns unnecessary sacrifice of his troops and so from the Bangers, which cut through swaths of the enemy, to the powerful Faithful, his is an army designed for durability. None, however, are as mighty as John and when this hero leads his army to battle they know they cannot fail.

Saint Luke

Based on the Eastern frontier of the Forsaken territories, Saint Luke is the most isolated of the Saints. His forces are situated far from New Ashkelon, on the edge of the vast prairie separating the Forsaken lands from the volcanic mountains beyond. Few soldiers volunteer to serve in such an obscure role, and Luke’s forces are often outnumbered in battle. He has developed one of the greatest tactical minds in the Forsaken armies, often needing to use surprise maneuvers and strategies to pull victory from desperate situations. Returning to the Forsaken after his brutal death however may require more than just his astute cunning, and to the Prevailers, may well mark him out as the most dangerous man alive.


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