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 Nightbane - History of the Future

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JulianAmici
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PostSubject: Nightbane - History of the Future   Wed Nov 17, 2010 8:35 pm

Bane of Night — An Overview
Welcome to Nightbane. Nightbane is a dark fantasy game, set in a world beset by inhuman creatures that threaten humankind. Ironically, some of these creatures - — the Nightbane — have become the defenders of the world. Feared and despised by most normal humans, the Nightbane struggle to survive and to fight the true monsters who have taken over the world. In this game, the monsters have quietly seized control of the government, the police, and the military. The average person does not realize this, however, and lives out his life without suspecting that he or she is nothing more than cattle for evil entities. The themes of this world are war and horror. War against the looming evil, and horror from within as well as from without.
The Nightbane grew up as normal humans, until the fateful Dark Day when their alien natures were revealed. Most of them are teenagers and young adults who now have to deal with the fact that they are superhuman beings, blessed with great powers and yet cursed to become outcasts. And on top of that, they must face the true inhuman evil of the Nightlords and their minions. This game tries to combine heroic and horror role-playing. The Nightbane have strange and supernatural powers, but their enemies are just as powerful, if not more so. The player characters are scary and monstrous-looking, but may have more compassion and humanity than some of the humans they meet.
Ultimately, they face terrifying foes in the guise of the Nightlords, vampires, demonic entities and, in many cases, their own inner demons, fears and desires. Their struggle promises to be long, and perhaps doomed from the start. Against all odds, they must expose and destroy the evil threatening the world, or die trying.
The Wanderer Diaries
The Wanderer Diaries is an underground publication, which claims to be the writings of an ancient immortal being from a race of supernatural entities known as the Nightbane. Believed to have been published with frequent updates since the late 20th century, the first copies of the Wanderer Diaries were released into the Internet in 1997. Hundreds of fragments, excerpts and quotes from the Diaries can be found on the Net today, many of them written after 1997; many people doubt that the more recent writings belong to the same person. Below are some excerpts from these books:

June 11,2005
I look into a world of shadows tonight. Not five years before, the city would have been alive with light and noise. Technology had banished the fear of the night, the times when people would huddle inside their houses and pray to their gods to prevent the things that walked the night from coming into their fragile domain. Now the few street lights shine upon mostly empty streets. One or two people walk hurriedly, nervously looking around, hoping they will make it home. I mutter a silent prayer for their safety. A few neon signs still glitter, but almost everywhere they are out, reminders of a happier time. I will soon go out into the darkness. I have tasks to perform, and although I know monsters walk the streets tonight, I will not falter. For I myself am a monster.
I am Nightbane.

What We Are
(First published on May 8th, 2001)
It's been a year and a day since Dark Day, the coming of the Night into this world. Before then, our kind were few and far between, hiding in the shadows, or in plain sight, hiding our True Form from the eyes of unsuspecting mortals. A Neophyte could expect to be recognized and helped by an older Nightbane. Not any longer. So many of us have now appeared that there is little hope to educate them personally; not like the old days. For this reason, I am consigning these documents to the wondrous electronic network where information flows as freely as water. My younger friends will make copies everywhere, hoping that they will reach those in need. Do you know what you are? Allow me to tell you.

The Becoming
You were — you thought you were — a normal person, just one more among the huddled masses of Humankind. Until the time of the Becoming. One day, your shape shifted and you became the stuff of nightmares and forgotten horrors. Maybe your form became animal-like, or grotesquely deformed, or some twisted fantasy of flesh and scrap metal. That day, your life changed forever.
The Becoming comes at different times for each Nightbane. For most, it occurs in the years spanning the time when you are no longer a child, yet not fully an adult. Sometimes, it occurs at a time of need — an accident victim, pinned beneath a carriage (or a car); a terrified child, facing death at the hands of a stranger; or a soldier at war, seeing the enemy coming over the barbed wire. More often, it happens at night, sometimes during your sleep (did Kafka know about us when he wrote Metamorphosis! I think he might have). Unlucky ones change in front of others and are branded monsters and freaks. In the old times, they were burned as witches or slain as demons. In the years before Dark Day, they were taken away by unsmiling men in dark suits and glasses, never to be seen again. Today, they risk far worse.

As to the rest — you all know the panic, the disbelief, the creeping insanity that comes when you see in the mirror the face of a stranger, an inhuman, misshapen stranger at that. Many a Nightbane has been overcome with madness, going off in a murderous rampage or taking his own life. The rest have managed to cope, and soon afterwards made an important discovery. The Becoming is not absolute. One can shift back to one's original, human shape. Most of us do so and try to forget what happened. But sooner or later, the Morphus will manifest again, in times of need, or when the power of that form tempts us into using it. Some of us choose to embrace our monstrous form and become true monsters, preying on the helpless until we are destroyed.

Shapes and Masks
All Nightbane are two in one, one mind inhabiting two shapes. We call the human form the Facade, the Lie, the human masque we thought was real until our transformation. The other one, the alien form that you will come to accept as your true shape, is known as the Morphus. Over the centuries, I have come to feel that these names are themselves a lie, but they are convenient labels for something we cannot explain. Our Facades retain most of the frailties of being human. They heal faster than a normal human and are highly resistant to normal maladies like disease, poisons and the elements, but by and large, they are not invulnerable to all normal dangers. The Morphus shape, however, is powerful beyond measure. We can rend flesh, stone and metal with our hands, claws and teeth. We heal from injury almost as fast as it is inflicted and are impervious to most disease. In my time, I have fought on after having been shot multiple times, bayoneted by a dozen terrified men, even after losing a leg, sheared off by a cannonball. Except for the leg, all trifling matters — quickly passing discomfort, and even the leg grew back not long afterwards.
No two Morphus are exactly alike. We are a race of strangers, each a new surprise to us all. Many of us believe that the Morphus is a twisted reflection of our lusts and fears, of the good and evil in our soul. A pure soul, perhaps, would have a Morphus of perfect beauty; the rest of us wear our flaws and foibles in the way our flesh is shaped.
Once the Becoming occurs, neither the Facade nor the Morphus ages as mortals do. At the time of my Becoming, a Pharaoh ruled in Egypt and my own people hunted wild boar with firehardened wood spears. Today, I appear to be a man in my early sixties. We age only a year or two for the passage of every hundred, maybe even less.
But we are not immortal. We can die, by violence or accident. Although our Facades are frail and would seem to be our most vulnerable aspect, we can be killed in Morphus form as well. If the cannonball that took my leg had hit me in the chest, I would not be telling you this story. Many a Nightbane has died a horrible death at the hands of the Roman Catholic Inquisition, for we healed as we burned, and took a long time to die. Since then, science has forged chains strong enough to bind us and weapons powerful enough to kill us. Magic has spells and rituals to imprison us, harm us, enslave us and finally destroy us. If you die while wearing the Facade, your body corrupts and decays like that of any mortal human. If killed as your Morphus, your shape dissolves in shadows like a mirage, leaving no blood, dust or stain. So perhaps the Morphus is the illusion, and the Facade real. Or maybe the Morphus, not being from this world, leaves as soon as our wills are no longer there to force it to remain.

The Lands of Night
Over time, we discovered another world, apart from and yet linked to this one. This land of eternal night lies separated from the Earth by what we call the Mirrorwall, for mirrors are the gateway therein. All Nightbane can cross over by stepping through a mirror. At the other side lies a land where no sun or stars ever shine. Some of us believe that this is our home, the place of our birth.
But we are not wanted there.
Beware of the Lands of Night, for the Nightlands are grotesque mockeries of the cities of Earth. True monsters live therein, monsters and their victims. Unlike the Nightbane, they live for destruction and torture and they hunt us down whenever they find us. They are Hounds that wield cold Darkblades and Hunters that sweep down on the unwary. They are the minions of the Ba'al, the Lords of Night, who rule the Nightlands with an iron fist and hatred for our kind. Still, some of us find reason to go there. Ancient Artifacts of great power can be found or stolen in the cities, as well as the answers to many dark questions. Between the cities lies the Waste, a barren desert where some of us have tried to make a home. The Waste is a dangerous place, full of strange monsters and beasts, some of whom belong to neither world. Yet, it is easier to live in the Waste than in the cities, although some Nightbane have made their home in both — but most prefer the empty plains of the Waste to the horrors of the cities or the dangers of Earth.

The Lords of Night
Cruel and heartless are the rulers of the Lands of Night. They are the Ba'al-ze-neckt, the Lords of Night. I have heard stories about their origins — but they must wait for another time. Suffice it to say that they bear Humanity — and our kind — nothing but hatred and malice. They wish to destroy the works of Man, to grind us into the dust, enslave us, and then sacrifice us to increase their power. And I say "us" because, in the eyes of the Nightlords, we and normal humans are the same, enemies to be subdued, enslaved and destroyed.
The Ba'al have great powers over the forces of nature, over cold earth and metal, lightning and fire. They can create avatars, lesser versions of themselves, and send them out to do their biding. They are ageless, and perhaps immortal, but they fear the Nightbane, and from this fear I draw the hope that we may have the power to destroy them. They are our eternal Enemy.

The Servants of the Lords
The Ba'al have minions, countless hordes of them. Lowest of all are the Shades of the Living, called Dapple gangers, each the double of one man or woman in our world. Then come the Hounds and the Hunters, merciless metal-clad warriors who slay on command, or for pleasure. Over them rule the Ba'al-Zebul, the Night Princes, lesser Ba'al with the power of illusion, the tempters and deceivers of legend. Many strange creatures from alien worlds also serve the Nightlords, but the most dangerous are the Ashmedai, the Crawling Horrors, whose swiftly-changing shapes conceal a monstrous form. And then are the Nemtar, small insects filled with malicious intelligence and able to create Hollow Men which they ride in like grotesque mounts. All these, and many more, call the Nightlords their Masters. Even humans are counted among their throngs. Greedy and cruel men and women who have pierced the Mirrorwall separating the two worlds, and have made a pact with a Nightlord, exchanging their humanity for power. The worst are the Nightpriests, fanatical, evil beings, dangerous to all.

The Invasion
A year and a day ago, the skies of the world darkened unnaturally for an entire day and night. During that time, the Earth became as unto the Nightlands, and many a Nightbane endured the Becoming. Dark Day was no accident, no freak of nature. It was an invasion, an attack led by the Nightlords. They have struggled to control of all the kingdoms of this world and make them their own. Now even the land of the free and the home of the brave is their playground. The chaos of today's world, the fear and repression and senseless violence, they are the result of this invasion. Humans must fight or become victims of merciless monsters, both human and inhuman. Nightbane must fight or hide, or die at the hands of these true monsters. Perhaps, humans and .Nightbane can join forces and battle this common enemy. Perhaps, one day we can even win. Perhaps. I look at the dark streets below, and mutter a prayer of hope.

Millennium of Shadows
Nightbane takes place in the near future, the early years of the 21st Century. The world is very much like our own, or at least so it appears to the average person on the streets. In this world, however, supernatural beings have invaded and covertly taken over every major government and many corporate powers on the planet. In this world, thousands of young men and women have discovered they can transform into inhuman creatures of great power. Most live in hiding, their existence denied by the authorities and the "mainstream press," although not by the tabloids — in the 21st century, some of the tabloid headlines sharing space with UFO and Bigfoot sightings contain more than a grain of truth.
Dark Day
"It's... incredible. Ladies and gentlemen, night has fallen in New York City in the early morning hours! Uh, I can't see stars or the moon, just a solid sheet of darkness across the sky. I can't BEEPing believe it! It's not an eclipse. It's... it's the BEEPing end of the world, that's what this is! Hey, they ain't paying me enough money for this. I'm getting the BEEP outta here!"— Anchorperson Mark Smith, Channel 7 Action News. Smith fell off the roof of Channel 7's building in his haste to run away. He survived and successfully sued Channel 7 and the City of New York.

Excerpts from DARK DAY AFTERNOON, by Greame Rogers
. . . . Some say the riots were the worst part. Suddenly overtaxed by having to deal with both daytime and nighttime energy needs, electrical power systems without sufficient resources failed in several cities, causing brownouts and blackouts through the U.S. To make matters worse, most power outages occurred in the poorest sections of cities; people already deprived of hope were plunged into terrifying darkness. It's not surprising that so many people decided to take action against the system, the government, the laws of Nature, and even against themselves — all of which had forsaken or failed them once too often. The people whose power did not fail had the privilege of seeing night occur simultaneously around the world, from New York to Los Angeles, from Paris to Tokyo ... Newscasters in a hundred cities babbled incoherently about chaos and anarchy.
. . . . In New Berlin, Connecticut, fully one-third of the population committed suicide or murdered each other over the twenty-four hour period of darkness. The subsequent investigation (hampered by the fact that the chief of police shot himself after murdering his entire family) revealed that in most cases the victims watched the news of the blackout and then calmly switched their TV sets off and took their own lives, or slaughtered their friends and family. Similar incidents occurred in quiet suburban communities in the U.S., Canada, Europe....
. . . . Then there were the monster sightings, the most widespread wave of reports of supernatural activity in recorded history. The overwhelmed (and themselves panicky) police departments and 911 dispatchers recorded thousands of calls claiming that inhuman creatures were prowling the streets. Seven videotapes (all later proved to be forgeries) depicted freakish creatures running, climbing walls and (in two very graphic tapes) attacking and tearing apart screaming people. Dark Day precipitated the largest case of mass hysteria ever known; even respected members of the scientific, military and government community "saw" these occurrences. Noted pop psychologist Dr. Rachel put it best: "Plunged into darkness, thousands of people reverted to their early childhood, when they needed the closet light left on so the 'bogey man' wouldn't get them. Deluded by fear, they started seeing bogey men everywhere. Things weren't helped by the twisted pranksters who put on rubber costumes to help fan the flames."
. . . . The scientific community remains divided about the causes. Three top astronomers committed suicide over the following month. One resigned his tenure and became a pig farmer, saying "All I knew turned out to be a lie. At least pigs don't do anything you wouldn't expect them to." More sedate scientists tried to come up with an explanation. The most popular theory claimed the blackout had been caused by the release of some sort of opaque gas into the atmosphere, perhaps the handiwork of terrorists. The theory has raised as many questions as it answered, and nobody has been able to explain the satellite photos showing the entire planet had been covered ("shrouded," if you will) by a sphere of total darkness for the entire twenty-four period.
Dark Day occurred on March 6, 2000, at 6:02 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. The planet was enveloped in unnatural darkness for twenty-four hours, without warning or explanation. The darkness wasn't night, either, because neither the moon nor the stars were visible for the entire period. Panic broke out throughout the world, leading to the deaths of over 600,000 people. In the U.S. alone, an excess of 20,000 people died in riots, fires, car accidents and suicides. Millions of others suffered from both physical and mental trauma. TV newscasters babbled incoherently for several hours, until all radio and television stations were seized by the government and made to broadcast messages instructing people to remain in their homes and stay calm. A curfew was established in all major cities, but enforcing it became impossible. In many places, the police, National Guard and military were just as panicked as everyone else and complete terror and anarchy reigned.
By noon, six hours after the freak "eclipse" had started, most U.S. cities had suffered major fires and rioting. Many believed it was Judgement Day. It wasn't until the late afternoon that some measure of control had been reestablished. Even after the riots had been suppressed, reports of demons and monsters terrorizing the streets continued to pour in to the police departments. The government was quick to claim that all such "sightings" and "alleged incidents" involving monsters were either the product of mass hysteria or the actions of malicious pranksters or looters wearing costumes. It was later pointed out that many god-fearing people believed it was the end of the world, and therefore, it was natural for them to see demons and avenging angels, especially in a state of panic and hysteria. Yet many who claim to have witnessed carnage inflicted by monsters insist otherwise, and cry "cover-up" and "conspiracy." However, the majority of people cling to the theories of hoax and hysteria, preferring not to believe that such creatures could really exist. They and countless others, take solace in the fact that not one monster, living or dead, was ever found, making the claims by governments around the world more believable.
The next hours were spent in quiet, fearful vigil around the world, as people waited for the darkness to end — or to continue. Would the sun ever rise again? Was this the end of the world? Many suicides and other acts of desperation occurred during this period, as the hours slowly ticked by and the unnatural darkness lingered for what seemed to be an eternity rather than a mere 24 hours. Then, at 6:02 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, the sun (or moon and stars depending on one's geographic location) shone again. People cheered and cried with relief everywhere. Spontaneous parties and prayer broke out to celebrate the fact that the world had not come to an end. The crisis, they thought, was over.
They were wrong.

America After Dark Day
Things did not go back to normal after Dark Day. In fact, some-commentators took to calling the year 2000 "the Year One,
AD" — that is, year one, After Dark. Although the light of day seemed to disperse most peoples' fears, many remained terrified of the night. Some would not even venture out of their homes after sunset. Furthermore, monster sightings increased in frequency, particularly at night. Psychologists and government officials explained that the fear of darkness and "seeing monsters" that weren't really there, was an after-shock of the intense fear and violence that occurred on the Dark Day. That many people were still suffering from a mild form of post-traumatic syndrome, paranoia, phobias and numerous other maladies resulting from shock and mental trauma. They insisted that these fears would subside and that the monsters were not real. They were wrong, at least about the monsters.
Starting at Dark Day, hundreds, perhaps thousands of people had become monsters. Most of them were young, ranging in age from thirteen to twenty. All of them were orphans, raised in institutions, foster homes, or adopted by normal families. They had led normal lives until their true forms manifested themselves. Each of these "monsters" had a unique form, always inhuman. Many were killed by terrified people, or killed themselves due to horror or panic. The rest were able to run away, hide, and later discovered that they could return to their normal human form. However, they would also learn that during times of stress, fear or desire, the change could reoccur spontaneously. They also sensed that they were not alone. That during the Dark Day, other "monsters," like them, appeared on Earth. Even in human form, these "gifted" youths could sense the presence of others of their kind whenever they were nearby. They came to call themselves the "Nightbane" because it was at night that they were transformed — reborn.
Some of these inhuman survivors were able to forsake and contain the monster within, hide their nature from others, and lead a normal life. Yet somehow, even they were discovered and destroyed by either the police or other monsters that were systematically tracking down all are Nightbane. Running seemed to be the only way to survive, so the young Nightbane left their homes and fled into the cities, where they could hide better among the teeming millions.
The atmosphere of fear and chaos brought about major political reform in America (and around the world). A new political group, the Preserver Party, took advantage of the situation. The party's platform was, "the preservation of American society at all costs." It claimed that the current government had failed to protect the American public. Before Dark Day, Preserver candidates for the Presidency, Congress, and State positions had been running way behind in the polls. None had ever captured more than a 12% share of the voting public. After Dark Day, this changed dramatically. The Preservers' numbers swelled as fearful people, including many who hadn't bothered to vote before, joined the party. The majority were inspired by the Preservers charismatic leader, Presidential hopeful Douglas Carson. Meanwhile, the officers and candidates of other political parties seemed to be plagued by scandal, including the suspicious suicide of a major presidential candidate.
When November, 2000 rolled by, Douglas Carson had been elected president with 39% of the popular vote and carrying 31 states. Candidates from the Preserver Party managed to gain roughly one-third of Congress and became dominant in several states in the South, Midwest and Northwest. For the first time in the history of the U.S., a three-party system was firmly entrenched and a president from that "dark horse" group stood as the leader of the country.
Political analysts predicted that the government would become frozen by "gridlock" as the three parties all pulled in different directions. However, shortly after the new government got underway, many Republican and Democratic members of Congress and the Senate fell into line with uncharacteristic meekness, voting the way President Carson wanted them to vote, time after time. Rumors of blackmail, bribery and corruption soon swept the Capital. Reporters who tried to investigate the matter were frustrated by a lack of any evidence to support any such claims of impropriety. However, the situation became increasingly troubling when a number of investigative reporters met with accidents, madness or simply disappeared; more strange coincidences in a long string of unlikely happenstance.
Meanwhile, the new Congress started passing a number of laws designed to "reestablish order." The new laws greatly reduced individual rights and included expanding police discretion to conduct searches without a warrant, a national ID card, gun registration and ownership restrictions. The new Congress also restructured the Secret Service, disbanded the NSA, and created a new security agency, the National Security Bureau (NSB), with extremely broad powers and expansive jurisdiction. Less than a year later, the NSB "discovered" a massive plot by the FBI, CIA, and DBA to overthrow the U.S. government. The National Security Bureau's probing investigations indicated that Dark Day and the growing crime-rate around the country was also part of the same plot. They also uncovered acts of alleged insurrection by, or corruption within, other government agencies.
The public, long-accustomed to stories of government abuse and desperate to find somebody to blame for the Dark Day, believed the story. The NSB purged those agencies of "conspirators," with scores of (innocent) government agents convicted of terrible crimes and executed as traitors or imprisoned. Others resigned and many vanished — fleeing justice and evidence of their guilt, according to the NSB. Some really did "vanish," whereabouts unknown even to old allies and loved ones (presumed dead or imprisoned somewhere), but several hundred went underground, to be later featured on America's Most Wanted as "Enemies of Society."
In the year 2004, President Carson was re-elected with an amazing 76% majority of the popular vote. A number of newspapers and news agencies claimed that the elections had been rigged. Civil liberties continued to be restricted. Gangs of Preserver Activists (later known as "Preeverts") started acting as unofficial terror squads, bullying and sometimes attacking people who made too much noise against the government. The National Rifle Association was one of the organizations to fall. The NSB continued making arrests left and right.
By 2006, President Carson announced he'd be seeking a third term in office, claiming that the current situation needed stable leadership, and drawing comparisons between him and Roosevelt in the 1930s and 40s. Reports continued pouring in about strange goings on in the White House and the Capital, despite increased repression and news control. And monsters continued to walk the streets after dark.

Forbidden Truths
An overview of dark dreams
What caused Dark Day and the chaos that followed? Where do the Nightbane come from? Most people don't have a clue. Furthermore, most would not believe the truth even if someone told them. This disbelief is one of the "enemy's" most powerful weapons. By feeding unsuspecting humans logical, believable lies, and pandering to their fears, they can keep them ignorant and therefore, helpless. Even many Nightbane do not fully understand the situation — until it's too late for them.

What's Going On?
The rise of the Preserver Party (and similar movements and organizations around the world) was not an accident, but part of a complex plan for world domination. Most of the people involved are unknowing puppets of inhuman beings from another world. A number of occultists, rebels and Nightbane have discovered where the conspirators come from and have some theories as to what they want.
The first discovery was that the alien world where the invaders originate is a lot closer than anyone would imagine. The Earth and the world, known as the Nightlands or Darklands, are like two layers of the same onion, touching but separate and independent from each other. For centuries, magicians and Nightbane had made contact and crossed over from one world to the other, but always in small numbers and with great difficulty. Dark Day weakened the barriers between the worlds, making the invasion easier.

The Nightlands
Bull sessions — all right, they call them "conferences" — at any Seeker gathering can be entertaining, especially if you keep your mouth shut and listen, like I was doing that night. The topic today was the Nightlands.
"Let's go over your ideas once more, shall we?" Doctor Rigauld said in an even tone. "Father Connally?"
"My gut feelings to the contrary, the Nightlands are not Hell, or a part of it," Father Connally's statement surprised all of us. After taking one look at the place, he had been convinced he was in the land of fire and brimstone. "The fact that these — Dapplegangers that live there seem to be replicas of people living on Earth indicates that this is not a place of the afterlife. Even my Baptist colleagues agree."
"And it's not any kind of spirit realm," said Hiroshi, our resident anthropologist. "The cosmology is all wrong. The inhabitants assume a physical form when entering our world. They are not insubstantial ghosts, kami, loa or any form of spirit."
"At first I thought it was some sort of 'dream world,' a creation of our own subconscious mind," added Professor Englund, shaking her head. "The place is too solid and complex for that, although the relation between our collective psyche and the place seems to be..."
"Gentlemen," Doctor Rigauld interrupted. "And ladies, of course. So far, all you seem to be able to tell us is what the Nightlands are not. Can anybody give us any ideas or theories as to what it is?"
I cleared my throat and got a dozen scientists, philosophers and occultists staring at me. Oh well, I thought as I spoke, that's what they get for getting a smartass as their token Nightbane. "I'd say," I said. "That it is a nasty place to visit, and no way would I like to live there."
They were pissed, but they had to agree.
The Nightlands is a place of darkness and fear, much worse than Earth has become — although some fear that the goal of the invaders is to turn Earth into a place just like the Nightlands. It appears to be a cruel mockery of our world, with the same cities and places, even some of the same people, but all twisted and perverted. Monsters walk freely there, and humans are slaves and victims.
At first glance, an accidental visitor to the Nightlands might think he is looking down at the normal world sometime in the late evening. Cities sprawl much like their Earthly counterparts. But unlike normal cities at night, there are few lights. The sky is a solid sheet of blackness, just as Earth's was during Dark Day. This being the case, the land should be lost to pitch blackness, but somehow there is enough light to allow sight and to cast long shadows — a sort of dark twilight world. The humans and humanoids living here are pale and sickly-looking. Many seem to be in a daze or lost to apathy. Horrible creatures randomly hunt them down and slay them, sometimes for food, more often for sheer pleasure.
Although nobody seems to know how, the Nightlands are so closely linked to Earth that most of the humanoid inhabitants of that dimension have a counterpart, an identical twin, living on Earth. Some occultists believe that the "humans" of the Nightlands took their shape from the dreams and thoughts of the "real people" in our world. They claim that the Nightlands are merely a reflection of our nightmares which have somehow been brought to life. Regardless of what they are, the Nightlands and their inhabitants are real enough to cross over to Earth and kill and terrorize just as they do on their homeworlds.

The Nightlords
The rulers of the Nightlands are called the Ba'al, or the Nightlords. The Ba'al are sadistic, megalomaniacal beings with enormous power. Like the Nightbane, they have a Morphus or true form (always a nightmarish, alien shape), but they can create multiple incarnations (called Avatars) which operate independently, and can assume any shape at will. These creatures have masterminded the conquest of Earth.
Their ultimate goals are a mystery to humans and Nightbane alike. They seem to draw strength from the Nightlands, and as the Earthlings become more frightened, paranoid and anarchistic, the Nightlands become stronger. It is possible that by making Earth more like their dark homeworld, they gain more power. It is also possible that they feed on the fear and emotions generated by humans. Or perhaps they are tired of ruling only the Nightlands and wish to expand their control over this new world called the Earth. It is just as possible that each Nightlord has its own goals and agenda.
Their major weakness is their fierce competition and paranoia. The Ba'al worked together to launch the invasion of Earth, but once it was completed, their cooperation ended, with each Nightlord carving his or her own kingdom on Earth. Back-stabbing and conspiracies between the Ba'al are common enough to have come to the attention of the Nightbane and human resistance movements. They have found that sometimes the best way to destroy the Ba'al is to turn one against another.

The Conquest of the World
Dark Day was no freak of nature, but the prelude to a secret invasion. Even before Dark Day, the Nightlords had secretly placed their agents on Earth. The Preserver Party was infiltrated and controlled by agents of the Ba'al almost a year before Dark Day. President Carson and most of his political appointees are not human beings at all; they are Dopplegangers: Nightlands bred counterparts to men and women living on Earth. The real Carson was killed and replaced years ago. In the months following Dark Day and Carson's election, more Dopplegangers were brought across and into towns and cities throughout America (and the rest of the world). Key people in the police, military and government were murdered and replaced with look-alike Dopplegangers.
Where no Dopplegangers matching the victims could be found, Night Hounds, other Nightlands monsters and even the avatars of the Nightlords took their places, using magic and natural abilities to disguise themselves. In addition, many humans have been bribed, coerced or intimidated into servitude.
The Preserver-controlled government became more repressive and authoritarian than any previous U.S. administration in history. Claiming to be fighting crime, the National Security Bureau (NSB) became incredibly intrusive and powerful; it has become a form of secret police not unlike the KGB of Communist Russia or the Gestapo of Nazi Germany. "The Feds are watching" has become a fearful catchword in everyday life. The free press is also a thing of the past. Most news agencies are controlled, influenced or manipulated to release only what the government (and the Nightlords) want. Some news reports have been suppressed in order to "prevent riots and civil disorder," others squelched in the "name of national security." Still others have been discredited with sudden and suspicious confessions, eyewitness reports, facts, and revelations that revealed the original report to be "incorrect" or "false" (in fact, many top reporters have had their careers ruined when they were "proven" to be unreliable, irresponsible, or downright liars). Many of the more outspoken reporters and journalists have been replaced with Dopplegangers, discredited, or killed in sudden "accidents." By the time of the Carson re-election, the U.S. was firmly in the grip of the Nightlords. The Federal Government was in the hands of King Moloch (see the Life After Dark Section). Local control over the U.S. is divided among three Nightlords subservient to King Moloch but often at odds with each other. The goals of the Nightlords remain unknown. For the time being, they are content with securing their dominance over their new domain. Meanwhile, people keep disappearing or dying. This has led some occultists to speculate that many of these victims are being used as slaves, or perhaps sacrificed to an even more horrible entity: maybe the Nightlords serve some unknown power that demands such payment in pain and blood.

The Nightbane
"Let me tell you what I think we are," Paulus, the oldest Nightbane in the group, said. "We are dreams made flesh, nightmares come to life. We are the walking embodiments of Humankind's lusts and fears. They call us inhuman, but in some ways we are more human than they are, for we wear our true nature on the outside."
"I respectfully disagree," said Katya, absent-mindedly flapping her gossamer wings. "We are the bastard children of the Nightlands, and our power is to give shape to our souls. Our Morphus is a pure soul, in all its beauty and horror, released into the world to do God's work."
"Bull. I'll tell you what we are, kid," said Creepshow. He flexed his hands and six-inch razor blades sprung from his leathery fingers. "We're badasses."
Only a few facts are known about the Nightbane. They are shape-changers, with a human form known as the Facade, and a monstrous form called the Morphus. No two Nightbane have the same Morphus; in fact, a few are beautiful in an inhuman way. All Nightbane are adopted children or orphans. Who their parents are, and where they come from, remains unknown to them. They are" supematurally strong and resistant to damage, have several different supernatural powers, and have life spans measured in centuries. They are able to travel freely into the Nightlands, either by walking through mirrors or through magical gates. They can also sense the presence of others of their kind, which is good because the Nightlords' minions mercilessly hunt down the Nightbane, neither giving nor asking for any mercy. There are many theories and rumors about the Nightbane, especially among their own kind. Some say they are beings of pure energy that take human form in an instinctive effort to blend in. When a Nightbane is killed in Morphus form, his body dissolves into a pool of black light which dissipates in a manner of seconds, lending credence to that theory. When he dies in his human form, the Facade decomposes like a normal human body. Other occultists think the Nightbane have the power to manifest their soul or their personality in the Morphus. Their proof is the fact that the Morphus' shape is typically related to the fears, likes or dislikes of the Nightbane. Nobody knows whether either theory is right; a few think that maybe both are right and wrong at the same time.
Nightbane have existed for centuries before Dark Day. Some students of the occult believe that they were the result of accidental cross-overs. They were foundlings, children who were sometimes adopted by human families or even animals. Most Nightbane lived out their lives without suspecting their inhuman origins; they lived and died as normal humans, and their Facades decomposed with the passage of time. The few who had their identities revealed gave rise to the legends of demons, werewolves, changelings, and faerie children. These Nightbane discovered they aged very slowly and learned to use their supernatural powers and monstrous visage to their benefit; some for good, others for evil. In the dawn of history, some of these beings were worshipped as gods on Earth, and founded entire empires. Some of the animal-headed gods of Egypt and the mythical god-kings of Mesopotamia are believed to be Nightbane whose powers manifested themselves.
Eventually, awe gave way to fear. By the Middle Ages, the Nightbane were considered to be demons and hunted down everywhere. The ones who survived persecution lived in hiding, often traveling the world never staying in one place for long, especially as the passage of years did not tarnish their physical appearance. Some Nightbane formed secret societies and established a system of mutual assistance. The rules for these organizations were usually simple: Hide your Morphus from humans, do not harm humans unless absolutely necessary, and help any Nightbane you encounter. Safe houses, usually in the countryside, away from towns, were built by these refugees. Any new member of their race was approached quickly, usually as soon as his/her powers manifested and offered shelter and protection. Those who were Nightbane but whose nature had not been awakened were watched but left alone, since chances were they might never transform, especially if the change hadn't occurred by age 24.
Dark Day changed all of this. Before that time, there were only a few hundred manifested Nightbane worldwide. But the coming of the Dark and the mystical energies unleashed during the process caused every potential Nightbane in the world to be revealed through transformation. Thus, the number of Nightbane has increased a hundredfold. However, their awakenings did not all occur simultaneously. Throughout the Dark Day, approximately half of all the Nightbane in the world had manifested, while the rest remained unaltered. These late bloomers would "awaken" over the next year or so. Furthermore, since Nightbane abilities appear only after puberty, there are still thousands of unsuspecting children who will become inhuman beings over the next several years.
From the beginning, the minions of the Nightlords have tried to destroy the Nightbane. Even those Nightbane who made contact and offered their services to the Ba'al are usually eliminated! Many consider this policy to be insane, since such aggression leaves the Nightbane no option but to oppose the Nightlords and their hellish minions. Perhaps the Ba'al fear the Nightbane so much that they dare not allow them to live even as slaves or loyal soldiers at their side. This has led some to believe that Earth's salvation may lie in the hands of these unwanted children of the night.

_________________
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PostSubject: Re: Nightbane - History of the Future   Wed Nov 17, 2010 8:57 pm

Nightbane Factions
At first, the Nightbane were disorganized, traveling alone or in small groups, hiding from the authorities and giving little thought to anything other than their survival. Some of these independents are still out there, but they are the most vulnerable and short-lived, falling easy prey to the Nightlords and their minions. Eventually, however, the "newbies" or "nightbabies," as they are sometimes known, run into one of the larger groups of Nightbane . These groups, commonly called "the Factions," are loose organizations that operate on a regional, national, or even world-wide scale. The Factions vary widely in power, numbers, and goals. Some of them include humans, sorcerers and even vampires and other supernatural beings in addition to Nightbane.
Note to the G.M.: In a Nightbane campaign, the Factions can help provide focus and goals for the adventuring party. If all player characters belong to a Faction, they have a reason to work together and help each other. The Faction will provide the characters with a home, base of operation, allies, and missions. Of course, a particular Faction may have old enemies as well as acquire new foes, which may put the characters in danger because of their affiliation with the group. The Nightbane characters in the player group could also belong to different Factions as well, especially those who have a history of working together. They might even belong to competing or antagonistic groups, which may lead to some interesting role-playing, but also to back-stabbing and bickering, so the game master should decide whether the players' temperaments are up to such a situation.

The Resistance

The Resistance is the largest Nightbane Faction, with members throughout the world and in nearly every city of the United States. The goals of this group are simple: To organize the Nightbane and oppose the Nightlords everywhere. They use sabotage, espionage and guerrilla tactics to achieve these goals. Many so-called "terrorist" actions against political targets are actually the work of the Resistance.
Originally, the founding members of the Resistance belonged to the Underground Railroad (see below). As the Nightlords continued their campaign of world conquest, however, they became tired of hiding and fighting only in self-defense. The rest of the group thought these radicals were foolhardy; what chance would they have against a powerful, well organized enemy? Better to protect oneself and let humans deal with their problems.
Eventually, the differences between the two became too intense, and the aggressive Nightbane left the Underground Railroad to found their own group, the Resistance. Two of the leaders (see the Campaigns and Adventures Section) were veterans of World War II, so they chose to call their organization the Resistance, in honor of the partisan groups that fought the Nazis in occupied Europe.
Over the years following Dark Day, the Resistance grew in numbers, drawing frustrated members from the Underground Railroad and recruiting more young Nightbane. A few of the "old guard" Nightbane had amassed a considerable fortune over the centuries, and they used it to help finance the group. Former soldiers helped train the new members in guerrilla tactics The Resistance is organized into "cells," small groups that operate more or less independently, and which do not know much about what the other cells are doing. This is a tried and true tactic to use in case they are captured and forced to give up information. Cells range in size from 3 to 10 members. The Resistance distrusts "norms" (as they call humans) as well as other supernatural creatures, preferring to rely on each other rather than outsiders who may have their own secret agenda. They are given missions and assignments through a complicated system of couriers, secret messages and codes. Resistance cells are also given a great deal of leeway to conduct their own raids and operations against the pawns of the Nightlords, or to recruit more Nightbane.

Campaign and Role-playing Notes
The Resistance is your basic "freedom fighter" group. Their missions and goals are simple: Destroy the enemy, disrupt the evil government, and save political prisoners (i.e. other Nightbane and those who fight for freedom). These goals are complicated by the fact that most Resistance members do not trust humans. Resistance characters can be idealistic or cynical, depending on their experience. Many feel forced into the war against their will and are bitter about it. Others learn to relish the violence and excitement, or are dedicated to destroying the Nightlords and restoring some semblance of true peace and freedom to the world. Having player characters join the Resistance works well for gung-ho players and characters. Action and intrigue will be the order of the day.

Relations with the Other Factions
The Resistance has a lot of contact with other Nightbane groups, but are always trying to recruit people away from the other organizations, which sometimes causes problems.
The Nocturnes: The Nocturnes have many non-Nightbane members, so the Resistance instructs its people not to trust them, despite the fact that they share a common enemy. However, many Resistance cells have found themselves working alongside the Nocturnes, so the relations between the two organizations depend on the individuals involved. Nightbane in the Resistance discovered giving information or overt aid to the Nocturnes (especially human operatives) can get in trouble with their organization's leaders.
The vampire presence among the Nocturnes is what worries the Resistance the most. Some Resistance members believe that the organization is nothing but a puppet of vampire intelligences. Most Nightbane rightly regard vampires to be just as evil and dangerous as the Nightlords.
The Underground Railroad: The members of the Underground Railroad are considered to be cowards, hiding out while the Resistance tries to save the world. The old guard Nightbane that control the Railroad are living in their own little world in the eyes of most Resistance members. Despite this animosity, there is a great deal of contact between the two groups. Recruits for the Resistance are frequently discovered or rescued by the U.R. before they move on to other Factions. Even the Resistance has to acknowledge the Underground Railroad's long history of helping young, terrified and confused Nightbane who have recently experienced the "Becoming."
The Warlords: This Nightbane-controlled gang is a danger to everyone. While the occasional Warlord gang will come to the aid of a Resistance cell, the Warlords are considered to be opportunistic criminals who won't hesitate to betray or attack their fellow Nightbane. Also, the illegal activities of the Warlords (including drug-running and protection rackets) only increase the fear and distrust humans feel towards Nightbane ,
which doesn't help the entire species. Since the Warlords often don't care to conceal their true natures, they are seen as violating the basic tenet of the Resistance (inherited from the Underground Railroad): hide yourself from humans whenever possible. Fights to the death between Warlords and Resistance members are not uncommon, especially when the two groups are competing over new Nightbane "recruits," or when after the same item or territory.
The Seekers: Since this group is controlled by human sorcerers, the Resistance has as little to do with it as possible. The Nightspawn do not usually attack the Seekers because they are known to be enemies of the Nightlords, but members are cautioned not to work with them unless absolutely necessary. Down "in the trenches," of course, Nightbane will often work with Seekers, and some strong friendships and alliances have been forged between them.
The Lightbringers: The Resistance knows little about the Lightbringers, and they do not like what they know. The mysterious Guardians represent an unknown force with undetermined goals. Yes, they are fighting the Nightlords, but the question is, will they turn against the Nightbane after they win? The fact that some Nightbane belong to the Lightbringers does not mollify the Resistance leaders; those Nightbane could simply be unwitting pawns.
The Spook Squad: Another human-dominated group, the Spook Squad is controlled by ex-members of secret and security agencies across the world. Some of the older members of the Resistance have bad memories about those government agencies, many of which persecuted, imprisoned, experimented on, and killed Nightbane in the years before Dark Day. The feeling is mutual, so contact and cooperation between the two groups is at a minimal.

The Nocturnes
The Nocturnes seem to have existed before Dark Day, but nobody knows for how long. They are enemies of the Nightlords and are constantly attacking their servants and minions, and disrupting their plans. Their membership includes not only Nightbane, but also human sorcerers, vampires, wampyrs and other supernatural beings, including some other denizens of the Nightlands like Dopplegangers (see the Life After Dark Section). In fact, the Nocturnes have the highest number of vampires of all known Nightbane Factions.
The Nocturnes claim to have been founded by an ancient wampyr (see the Vampire Threat Section for information about the Wampyr) called Iosef Pendragon. Pendragon supposedly used an ancient magical ritual to sever his dependency on vampire intelligences, and was then able to slay his former masters. Since then, the vampire has organized a loose network of supernatural beings, sorcerers and occult investigators. Vampire members of the Nocturnes have foresworn killing their victims, and drink blood only for survival. It is not easy to deny their needs, however, and tragic losses of control are all too common.
For many years, the Nocturnes fought the encroaching vampire intelligences in a centuries-long cycle of victories and defeat. There is a rumor that claims that losef Pendragon is not an independent vampire but actually the willing pawn of a vampire intelligence who was using the Nocturnes to eliminate the competition. With the coming of Dark Day, the Nocturnes found themselves facing a worse enemy than any vampire intelligence.
Many of the Nightbane who belonged to the group were killed during the first chaotic days. Fortunately, the organization's long tradition of secrecy allowed it to survive and strike back. The Nocturnes have even managed to disrupt the takeover of several cities in the U.S. and Canada, destroying the supernatural beings who had replaced key political figures, and doing so in such a manner that they could not be replaced quickly. Among their kills were two Avatars of Lady Nightmare and one of King Moloch's.
Over the years, the Nocturnes have gathered a great deal of occult knowledge. Most Nightbane sorcerers (see the Nightbane Characters Section) belong or used to belong to this group. They know more about the Nightlands than any other group and research/exploration teams often venture into that world to learn more, or to carry the struggle to the Nightlords' lair.

Campaign and Role-playing Notes
Mystery and paranoia are important elements among the Nocturnes. Added to the weirdness of the Nightbane and their enemies are new variables: vampires, human occultists, and other supernatural beings. Although the Nightbane are monstrous, they do not need to hunt humans to survive. Vampires are an exotic, suspicious addition to the group. Vampire player characters are easy to integrate in a campaign dealing with the Nocturnes, but there are always problems. Vampires cannot operate during the daytime, restricting the movements of the entire group. Although Nocturnes have sworn never to kill innocents, a vampire can always lose control at the worst possible moment. Consequently, some player characters will never fully trust the undead creatures, and might even try to destroy them.
There is also the fear that the organization might actually be a tool of evil vampire intelligences. The player characters should never be totally sure about the true goals of the Nocturnes (they don't have to be sure). For the time being, the Nightlords are so dangerous that it might be worth serving a lesser evil, like vampires, in order to get rid of them. Regardless of how a Nightbane or human rationalizes working with vampires, there is always likely to be a nagging suspicion about their allies and of what will happen when (if) victory against the Nightlords is achieved.

Relations with the Other Factions
The Resistance: The Nocturnes wish to help the Resistance, but there is too much suspicion between the two groups to create a firm relationship. The Nocturnes content themselves with manipulating Resistance cells, leaving clues for them so that they attack selected targets and basically pointing them in the right direction.
The Underground Railroad: These two groups have very little contact, except when they both go after a new Nightbane. The Railroad shares the same fears and suspicion as the Resistance towards vampires and supernatural beings.
The Warlords: The Nocturnes often deal with the Warlords when trying to obtain illegal supplies, especially guns and military ordnance. The Warlords will deal with anybody for the right price; sometimes the Nocturnes have hired a local Warlord gang to provide extra muscle. A few of the more honorable Warlords have formed loose alliances and friendships with local the Nocturne groups.
The Seekers: The Seekers are the only group that has as much occult knowledge as the Nocturnes. On several occasions, explorers from both groups have been sent after the same ancient artifact or rare book; such races have sometimes become violent. The Seekers believe that the Nocturnes may be the pawns of a vampire intelligence, so their dealings with that group are cautious at best.
The Lightbringers: "Night and light don't mix" is the conventional wisdom among the Nocturnes. The Guardians seem to be tailor-made for destroying vampires, so the leaders of the Nocturnes are understandably reluctant to deal with them. Contact between those two groups is minimal at best.
The Spook Squad: The Nocturnes had run afoul of the Paranormal Activities Bureau long before Dark Day. Since many members of that agency now belong to Spook Squad, relations between the two organizations are not cordial.

The Underground Railroad
This is the oldest Nightbane organization known to exist. It has had many names over the centuries; the Underground Railroad was adopted during the 19th century, inspired by the network that helped escaped slaves in pre-Civil War U.S.A. Like that organization, the Nightbane version offers protection and shelter to their kind, while teaching them about their nature, talents, and how to survive (hide from) humankind. To this purpose, the group developed a network of safe-houses, sanctuaries and retreats where Nightbane refugees could be given aid. Some sanctuaries have been built on small islands around the world to provide isolated places where the Nightbane can live in peace. Some exist in remote areas of the Nightlands, where not even the Nightlords have been able to find them.
Dark Day shook up the group. The majority (about 68%) wished to continue leading quiet lives away from humankind. They pointed out that more than ever, newly awakened Nightbane needed guidance and safe places to learn about themselves and how to survive in a dangerous world. However, a growing minority (32%) felt the time for a quiet existence had come to an end. War had been declared, and they were being called to the front lines. Those who wanted to actively fight the Nightlords split up and formed the Resistance (described previously in this section). In the months (and years) to follow, even the Underground Railroad found itself forced to take action against the murderous Nightlords and their minions. With increasing frequency, rescuing a young Nightbane meant a bloody confrontation with the monsters of the Night. As a result, the Searcher Teams in charge of locating and recruiting new Nightbane (and hiding or rescuing Nightbane being hunted by the dark forces) have become experienced fighters. Yet despite the escalation of violence, the members of this Faction continue to believe that it is best to lurk in the shadows, waiting to offer a helping hand and a safe haven, than fight in an open and bloody war.

Campaign and Role-playing Notes
The Underground Railroad is likely to be the first Nightbane Faction the player characters would encounter in the course of a campaign. At first, the young Nightbane will be grateful to their rescuers, and glad to learn some answers about their origins and natures. Later on, however, they may decide that the Railroad is too cautious and even cowardly. This sentiment may entice them to leave the group and to operate on their own or to join one of the other Factions. The Underground Railroad works well for a "reluctant heroes" campaign. In this case, most or all the player characters simply wish to be left alone, just like most of the members of the Underground Railroad. Regrettably, the world keeps throwing dangers and challenges their way, forcing them to take action despite themselves.

Relations with the Other Factions
The Resistance: In the opinion of many Underground Railroad members, these headstrong would-be saviors are endangering all Nightbane. The U.R. believes they are fighting against hopeless odds, and turning the wrath of the Nightlords against all of them. Furthermore, they fear their actions may one day convince humans of their existence and create more havoc. Still, the two groups grudgingly respects the other's intentions to help others (despite their methods) and often work together to save Nightbane refugees and freedom fighters.
The Nocturnes: They are viewed with fear and distrust. Members are advised not to communicate with them.
The Warlords: Considered to be a dangerous corrupting influence over Nightbane. Some Searcher Teams have tried to save newly recruited Nightbane from life as a Warlord (by means of kidnapping, propaganda, or persuasive argument), which has led to some nasty fights between the two groups.
The Seekers: Since the two groups have little in common, they do not have a lot of contact. Sometimes, however, the Seekers stumble into a Nightbane sanctuary on Earth or the Nightlands, and the Underground Railroad reacts violently to such intrusions.
The Lightbringers: The strange Guardians are a source of fear and, interestingly enough, hope. The fear comes from the knee-jerk reaction and avoid the unknown. Many members of the Railroad believe that the Lightbringers will defeat the Nightlords on their own, without intervention by the Nightbane.
The Spook Squad: As far as the Underground Railroad is concerned, the Spook Squad is still the enemy, to be avoided if possible, or destroyed otherwise. Most faction members will kill or die before letting a member of the Squad near their sanctuaries and secret hiding places.

The Warlords
In most ways, Nightbane are still basically human. Nothing proves this more than the existence of the Warlords, a Nightbane-dominated street gang that has spread across North America. This faction does not care much about the war with the Nightlords or the presence of vampires or evil supernatural forces. Instead, they are out to defend and control "their" streets against all comers. The Warlords have developed a rough code of honor, but they are often involved in the drug trade, protection rackets and other criminal activities. Many are bullies and killers, but there are some who simply don't know better and even a few true heroes among them.
The first Warlords were Nightbane who had grown up in the violent slums of the United States. Some of them were already gang members when Dark Day and the change came upon them. Using their supernatural powers, they quickly clawed their way to the top of their gangs, and formed a loose alliance of Nightbane ruling over humans. In two or three years, the Warlords had taken over the Bloods, Gangster Disciples, Latin Kings and other nationwide gangs, and absorbed most of the smaller ones. The Warlords have no racial bias: "You're all red inside," is the threatening motto of the Warlords' leaders.
The majority of the Warlords are normal human gang members, cowed into submission by the savage Nightbane leaders and upper echelon. The Nightbane Warlords tend to refer to humans as "meat," even when talking about (or to) their own gang members. Meat members (humans) can be resentful of their inhuman leaders or too terrified of the Nightbane to do anything but be subservient. However, many are fanatically loyal and respectful of their supernatural leaders and obey them without question.
Stories of ritual torture and cannibalism are common regarding the Warlords. While most of these tales are lies and exaggerations intended to frighten and unnerve the competition, there is more than a grain of truth to them. The Overlord of the gang, Chow-Down (see the Campaign Section for details) is reputed to be an insane, power-hungry and sadistic monster who has been known to devour his opponents. Many local Warlord gangs have stopped obeying the commands of their national leader in an attempt to maintain a more civilized foundation. The Warlords go the whole range, from heroic defenders of their turf and homes to violent criminals without scruples. They are the only Nightbane Faction that frequently attacks and kills other Nightbane and molests innocent humans. The Warlords are still a thorn in the side of the Nightlords, because they reject all authority and violently attack any outsiders or intruders, including minions from the Nightlands. The Nightlords had planned to take over the local gangs, but they are so violently opposed to outsiders that they have rejected even the slightest overtures. Since these Nightbane cannot be subverted or manipulated, the only alternative seems to be complete extermination. For the time being, the Nightlords avoid taking any action against them.

Campaign and Role-playing Notes
The Warlords are more likely to be encountered as hostile non-player characters than as player characters, unless the Game Master wants to run a campaign focusing on crime and violence. It is possible to run a heroic and "good" Warlord-based campaign, but with a great deal of moral dilemmas. Such a campaign could start with the player characters joining the Warlords and then leaving after they become disgusted with their methods. Or some player characters could be Warlord members who are working covertly within other Factions (like the Resistance or the Nocturnes), using their street contacts to fight the Nightlords and to spy on other Factions at the same time. Others could be ex-gang members who are looking to do their part against the Nightlords either by working with other Factions or as independent operators, mercenaries or adventurers.

Relations with the Other Factions
The Resistance: The Resistance is seen as a rival gang, and a state of war exists between the two groups. Nightbane who refuse to join the Warlords are believed to be members of the Resistance and attacked on sight.
The Nocturnes: The Warlords do not like vampires, and hunt them down mercilessly.
The Underground Railroad: The Railroad is treated with hatred and contempt by the Warlords. Often, the gang will try to recruit young Nightbane for themselves and attack any Railroad members who oppose them.
The Seekers, the Lightbringers and Spook Squad: The Warlords have little knowledge of these groups. They are all considered to be part of the Resistance, and treated accordingly, while these groups tend to view the Warlords as dangerous sociopaths and thugs to be avoided.

The Seekers

Human cultures throughout the ages have been fascinated by magic and the occult. By the end of the 20th century, most people thought that magic was mere superstition and fantasy. Unknown to them, sorcerers and arcanists had been practicing the mystic arts in secret. The Seekers are an ancient organization of sorcerers who are becoming active in world affairs for the first time in centuries.
Their membership is predominantly European or North American. For the most part, they began as a group interested in studying magic and learning all they could about strange and unusual things. The organization worked through research foundations, university departments (usually in the fields of archeology, history and literature) and other "respectable" institutions. Members were recruited from people with a talent for magic and those who were interested in studying the supernatural. They investigate all kinds of supernatural events and creatures, from freak occurrences to bizarre murders and reports of cult activities. Although most of those events turned out to be hoaxes or explainable events, the patient Seekers have learned a great deal about vampires, Nightbane, the Nightlands and the magical arts. In recent years, they have used the Internet and other computer services to establish a worldwide network of information on strange and unexplained occurrences.
The Seekers were not originally crusaders or would-be heroes. They did not pass judgment on supernatural beings and occurrences. In fact, some Seekers were Nightbane that were rescued by the magicians and inducted into the organization. The sorcerers fought only in self-defense, but when provoked they could be formidable.
Toward the turn of the century, some Seekers started seeing disturbing signs of supernatural activity. Magical places, such as ley lines and ley line nexuses (see the Magic Section) began to flare with magical energies. Their computerized search programs started "flagging" an unprecedented number of weird news reports about disappearances, monster sightings, psychic nightmares and other ominous events. A group of Seekers in Salem, Massachusetts wrote a report predicting a major supernatural event sometime in May of 2000, predicting Dark Day almost six months in advance. But other Seeker groups disregarded the evidence. Intervention was not their way. Instead of taking any action, the Seekers continued to watch and wait.
The horrors of Dark Day caught most of the Seekers by surprise. Later, many of them were racked with guilt because of their decision to remain silent and inactive. If only they had taken some sort of action, they might have delayed or even stopped the event. The Nightlords' steady takeover of the world convinced the group that the time of noninvolvement had come to an end. The Seekers now use their vast knowledge and resources to fight the Nightlords campaign to take over the world. They know as much about the enemy as anybody except the Nightlords themselves and they put that information to good use.
The. Seekers rarely attack the Nightlords with guns and bombs. Instead, they use spells to sabotage their plans, or quietly provide information to organizations that will use direct attacks, like the Resistance or the Nocturnes. Their members often go on expeditions into the Nightlands and to remote places on Earth, searching for ancient mystical artifacts (see the Magic Section) that can be used against the Nightlords. They are also very efficient in unmasking Dopplegangers and subtly destroying them. The biggest drawback of the group is their impulse to study rather than fight. Although they realize they are in a war, members still want to learn more about the supernatural, and often hesitate when they should act decisively.

Campaign and Role-playing Notes
Above all other things, Seekers love uncovering new secrets. Ancient mysteries, government cover-ups and conspiracies, and anticipating future developments before they completely unfold are all part and parcel of the Seekers' quests. In this organization, magicians, scientists, computer hackers and professional analysts pool their efforts and knowledge to learn new things. Even now, when the world is facing a deadly invasion, the Seekers put knowledge first.
Unlike other groups, Seeker player characters might find themselves traveling to a remote area of the world (the African jungle, perhaps, or the frozen wastes of Antarctica), examining ancient ruins or researching some unusual weather phenomenon. The result of their quest might actually be of more importance than breaking into an Avatar's house with guns blazing, and their mission might be just as dangerous. The Seekers are the group to use if the game master wants to run a game with a great deal of variety, intrigue, subterfuge and travel.

Relations with the Other Factions
The Resistance: The Seekers believe the Resistance is a valuable asset in the war against the Nightlords. Although the Resistance does not trust the humans who run the organization, the feeling is not mutual. Often, information is passed on anonymously to the Resistance, or through Nightbane who are members of both groups. These "double agents" risk expulsion or even death at the hands of the Resistance, despite the fact that they have never done anything to harm either organization. In recent months, the Seekers have been trying to make a formal alliance with the Resistance. Time will tell whether or not they are successful.
The Nocturnes: Many Seekers are not convinced that the Nocturnes are truly independent vampires and supernatural creatures. They fear these characters may be the pawns or even the soldiers of a powerful vampire intelligence, or something even worse. Sorcerers who are member of the Nocturnes have a lot in common with the Seekers and, as a result, informal alliances occur between those individuals more often than the leaders of the Seekers would like to see.
The Underground Railroad: In the past, some Seekers helped the Underground Railroad, but the organization was too paranoid to let human mages become very involved with their secret network. Today, there is very little contact between the two groups.
The Warlords: Considered to be dangerous, unpredictable criminals. Sometimes, the Seekers will try to manipulate a Warlord gang into attacking a target the Seekers cannot destroy directly. This is a very dangerous game, and many Seekers have paid for it with their lives. The Warlords do not like to be manipulated and react violently to any such attempts.
The Lightbringers: The Guardians fascinate the Seekers. They are constantly trying to learn more about them and to make contact with them. The Guardians remain elusive, although the two groups work together more often than anybody else. Some scholars have discovered many ancient stories about the Guardians/Lightbringers, and suspect these beings may be servants of an unknown higher power.
The Spook Squad: To the dismay of many Seekers, a number of human arcanists who belonged to their group have defected and joined the Spook Squad, taking with them a lot of valuable information. Most Seekers distrust government types (even former government types who are now in hiding). They believe the Spook Squad might turn against them and the innocent or well intentioned Nightbane after the Nightlords are defeated.

The Lightbringers

Ross tried to take the drink offered to him, but found that his hands were still shaking too badly. He leaned back on his chair and continued his story.
"There were six Hounds in the house. They caught Lydia while she was still wearing her Facade. She never had a chance. I managed to change, but six on one — I was a gonner, and I knew it. That's when the strangers came."
"You sure they weren't Nightbane?" Lloyd broke in. "You know, the pretty boy types that we get from time to time."
"No way. I would have sensed them coming. I never got a twitch. Two men and a woman, wearing trenchcoats. All three of them were platinum blondes — they looked almost like albinos. They walked in, and suddenly they started to glow, like they were on fire. It got so it hurt to look at them directly. The Hounds actually hesitated for a couple of seconds, but then four went after the shiny guys, and two stayed to tango with me."
"Four on three," Sergeant muttered, considering the odds. "Not impossible, if the three Nightbane know how to handle themselves."
"I'm telling you, these weren't our kind," Ross snapped. "The Hounds never had a chance. The three strangers just opened up with beams of light, like lasers! Even from where I was, I felt warmth, as if I was outside on a bright summer morning. They burned big smoking holes in the Hounds, and three of 'em went down before they even reached the strangers. The last one got taken out by a couple of fancy kung-fu moves. I managed to take out one of the two Hounds, and the other one ran. First time I ever seen a Hound run from a fight, too."
"Then what?" Lloyd asked. He looked worried.
"Well, one of the two guys looked ready to let me have it. Then the woman said, 'No, Gaius, he's not an enemy,' and they left without saying good-bye or anything. Truth to tell, I was too happy to be alive to really get mad at their manners."
"I've heard of them before," Lloyd said in a low voice. "The Guardians."
"You sure?" Sergeant said. "I thought they were a fairy tale."
"Sure. Like monsters, shape shifters, and people walking through mirrors."
"Fine, you made your point."

The Lightbringers are one of the strangest groups in the Nightlord-ravaged world of Nightbane. Their membership includes both Nightbane and humans, but the group is believed to be led by the mysterious Guardians. The Guardians, sometimes called Lightbringers, were a legend in the days before Dark Day. Old Nightbane whispered stories about these angel-like beings who would sometimes appear to destroy those who preyed on humans. In recent times, reports of Guardian sightings have multiplied a thousandfold. The mysterious beings are appearing in ever greater numbers, attacking the minions of the Nightlords, the growing vampire population, and those Nightbane who try to abuse their powers. Even more interestingly, the Guardians seem to be behind a Faction called the Lightbringers.
The rumors about the Lightbringers are true. This small Faction operates around the world, and the Guardians are firmly in control of it. Humans and Nightbane have been recruited into their ranks, where the three racial groups all work together. According to some occultists, most Guardians were normal humans who were somehow changed by an unknown power — maybe by magic, the Supreme Deity, or the life force of the planet. Nobody, not even the Guardians, seems to know with certainty. According to some Guardians, they were transformed after enduring a near-death experience; they conversed with a light at the end of a tunnel, and were offered a second chance at life with a new mission. In ancient times, the Guardians may have been mistaken for angels or divine beings. A few theorize that the Guardians come from the Lightlands, a mythical paradise that is the direct opposite of the Nightlands. If so, the coming of Dark Day might have triggered the "activation" of many more Guardians than ever existed before.
Besides the Guardians, the Lightbringers have many humans among their members. Priests, religious people, mystics, normal folks and even Nightbane have chosen to follow them. They have formed their own "underground railroad," protecting dissidents, helping political prisoners escape, and even physically or mystically attacking the Nightlords' minions. A lot of the guidance for the organization and affiliate branches comes from "visions" and premonitions experienced by the Guardians and a handful of their human and Nightbane allies. Occasionally, strange lights can be seen in the sky over remote farmlands where many Lightbringers settle. UFO sightings seem a lot more frequent near these locations too. A few of the human and Nightbane Lightbringers suspect that the Guardians are actually extraterrestrials! The Lightbringers are organized in small groups. Most of them are scattered in the Midwest and Northwest in the United States of America, and in lightly populated areas throughout the world (coincidentally, many of those areas have a long history of UFO activity). Some bands of Lightbringers operate in large cities, working directly against the Nightlords.

Campaign and Role-playing Notes
The central theme revolving around the Lightbringers is mystery. Nobody, not even the Lightbringers themselves, truly know who or what is behind the Guardians, or why. Lightbringer player characters may be the pawns of an alien force with unimaginable purposes, or they may actually be saviors of the world, guided and empowered by the Forces of Light. Many Lightbringers believe they are the warriors of God, and have a highly religious and/or mystical attitude. This often makes them self-righteous and quick to persecute non-believers or "demons," including Nightbane! A few are fanatics who believe the Apocalypse is at hand and who have little concern for their own lives — or those of others. Others are generous, selfless crusaders who accept one and all in the service of their cause and exhibit great patience and compassion.

Relations with the Other Factions
Many Lightbringers come into contact with other groups and organizations, often by helping them unexpectedly. Some groups are more willing to accept their charity than others, however.
The Resistance: Although the Resistance, by and large, distrusts the Lightbringers, these creatures of light have had visions that seems to point to them as the key to destroying the Nightlords and saving the Earth. As a result, most Lightbringers feel honor-bound to help the Resistance in every possible way. The more fanatical members of the Lightbringers consider all Nightbane to be hell-bound monsters, and either refuse to help them or actively attack or obstruct them on sight; this hasn't
helped the tentative relationship between the two.
The Nocturnes: In this case, the distrust is mutual. Vampires are perceived as a mortal threat, and all undead are considered to be damned souls that must be destroyed. In most cases, hearing that a group of vampires is operating in their area (whether or not they are associated with the Nocturnes) means that the Lightbringers will stop their war against the Nightlords and pull out their stakes and holy water — vampires are their sworn enemy.
The Underground Railroad: Since many of the Lightbringers are dedicated to helping hide victims of persecution, the two groups often cross paths. Some Lightbringers actually live right next to U.R. Sanctuaries! In most cases, the Lightbringers have established an uneasy truce with the Nightbane communities. On several occasions, former Underground Railroad members have actually joined their Lightbringer neighbors, converted by the apparent saintliness and dedication of their membership.
The Warlords: The Nightbane street gang is at best an annoyance and at worst, a threat to everything the Lightbringers work for. Many of the "anti-Nightbane" religious members see the Warlords' crimes as proof that all Nightbane are damned and should be destroyed. Fortunately, most Guardians do not share these prejudices, but they do not cut the Warlords any slack; more than once, cocky "gangsta-Nightbane" have gotten themselves killed by picking a fight with the strange white-haired "choir boys."
The Seekers: The two groups often work together, although their philosophies always clash. The Seekers want knowledge and information before they make any decisions. They hate to work in the dark and reject the notion of "blind" faith. The Lightbringers, on the other hand, are guided by faith rather than reason. Their visions and intuition are all they need. The Seekers' constant inquisitiveness often annoys the Lightbringers, especially because they do not have any rational answers to offer.
At the same time, the Seekers suspect that what the Lightbringers don't know may actually be a horrible and dangerous secret. Only time will tell.
The Spook Squad: This ex-government agency has very little faith in "angels" or glowing heroes. With the exception of a few religious zealots, most "spooks" believe the Guardians are aliens with dubious intentions, and their human followers are dupes and pawns. However, as long as a Spook Squad doesn't attack the Lightbringers, the Lightbringers leave them alone. Since the common enemy facing both groups is powerful and dangerous, the two organizations have better things to do than to face off against one another.

The Spook Squad
"I never thought I'd live to see this. Here they were, the former deputy director of the CIA, the commander of the FBI's Hostage Rescue Team, a three-star general, a local precinct captain, a young woman in black who introduced herself as "a practicing witch" and Professor Steuben, the wacko author of Monsters Among Us, all sitting together and talking business in an abandoned warehouse on Chicago's bad part of town. And the best part of it was, what they were discussing would determine where my strike team would plant the bombs. Welcome to the Twilight Zone."
—Lieutenant Arthur Doolittle, former Navy SEAL
The Spook Squad is the one group where Nightbane and supernatural beings (including magicians, arcanists and wizards) are in the distinct minority. In this case, the "spooks" refer to members of "special" agencies like the CIA, the NSA, the Secret Service, and the PAB, the very secret Paranormal Activities Bureau. These "spooks" have been forced underground by the machinations of the Nightlords, and are now fighting against them. These former spies, law enforcement agents, and soldiers know that alien beings have taken over the United States and other global governments. They know little about the Nightlands or exactly what the "aliens" are (many think they are extraterrestrial beings from another planet), which sometimes handicaps their efforts. Still, they are very well trained, equipped, experienced and dedicated.
The core of Spook Squad is the Paranormal Activities Bureau (PAB). It was founded in the early fifties, when the UFO scares and reports that the Soviet Union was conducting psychic research prompted a number of "Cold Warrior" politicians to push for the funding of a special agency dedicated to dealing with unusual events. The PAB also led programs designed to create "countermeasures" against the use of psychic powers and paranormal phenomena. This secret agency never had an official charter or funding; money was funneled to it through fake "agricultural subsidies" and other covert means. The PAB has diminished in size and importance by the 21st Century, even though it had made some important strides in the investigation of psychic powers and had managed to hunt down and capture several dozen supernatural beings.
Following Dark Day, the PAB was attacked by Hounds and other minions of Night. Many research centers were destroyed, but, surprisingly, the government agents managed to survive most attacks, and went underground. When the new tool of the Nightlords, the National Security Bureau (NSB), absorbed all other agencies and started to persecute former federal agents, these "Feds" also went underground, linking with the PAB and forming what is now known as Spook Squad.
Only a handful of Nightbane have joined this organization, largely because most members are prejudiced against supernatural beings. Although the human agents recognize the fact that some Nightbane are on their side, they prefer to keep them at arm's length. There are some camps in Spook Squad that think that all Nightbane, including those who work for them, should be destroyed. This makes life in the Squad difficult for Nightbane who join their ranks — they are not trusted and an accusing finger is pointed at them the moment something goes awry.
No vampires or other supernatural creatures have been recruited, but a handful of lesser magicians and psychics work with the group. The best agents the Squad has against the Nightlords are psychics who were "created" in a number of secret labs in the Mid-West. When the Nightlords took over, many of the labs' staffs and the young psychics managed to escape and made contact with Spook Squad.

Relations with the Other Factions
Spook Squad is in some ways the most intolerant faction involved in the war against the Nightlords. In the eyes of its leaders
(and many of its members), all supernatural beings are to be considered enemies until proven otherwise, and even then viewed with extreme prejudice and distrust. Many of the ex-government types that form this organization belonged to agencies that had been secretly hunting down, destroying or imprisoning supernatural beings for years. This hasn't made forming alliances any easier.
The Resistance: Although the methods and targets of both factions have a lot in common, any organization controlled or dominated by "alien monsters" (as they regard the Nightbane) is not a group the Squad is going to want to deal with. Often, the two groups end up stumbling into each other, usually when they are going after the same targets. These encounters have a fifty-fifty chance of turning into a temporary alliance or degenerating into a three-way firefight between the Squad, the Nightbane, and the Nightlords' minions!
The Nocturnes: If anything, this group is considered to be less trustworthy than the Resistance. At least the Nightbane are monsters who may still have strong ties to humankind; vampires and their ilk are supernatural predators — the only sensible thing to do is to destroy them.
The Underground Railroad: Only a tiny handful of Spook Squad members know anything about the U.R., the vast majority are completely unaware of the ancient network. If this organization and its history were revealed, paranoia about an ancient "Nightbane Conspiracy" would go rampant, possibly even leading to a purge of all Nightbane currently working within the Squad! For this reason, the few agents and analysts who know(or suspect) of the existence of the Underground Railroad keep this fact a secret.
The Warlords: Frequently touted as "proof that supernatural beings are a threat to humankind, the Warlords are often targeted for "termination" whenever a more important target cannot be found.
The Seekers: Many Spook Squad agents contemptuously refer to the Seekers as "the Bookworms." They consider these psychic investigators and mages to be pretentious intellectuals living in an "ivory tower," and too busy trying to learn forbidden secrets to take care of the important things, including the war against the Nightlords. Even former Seekers who have joined the Squad have not escaped this stigma.
The Lightbringers: The current "pet theory" among Squad members is that the Lightbringers are agents of extraterrestrials and were probably involved in abductions and cattle mutilations before, attacking the Nightlords. So far, no Guardian has been captured alive by the Squad, but the group's scientists are itching for a chance to get their hands (and scalpels) on one of those strange creatures.

_________________
"Be strong and do as you will. The swords of others will set you your limits." (Marauders of Gor, p.10)

After the lights go out on you/After your worthless life is through/I will remember how you scream
I can't afford to care/I can't afford to care ("Lights Out" Breaking Benjamin)
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