- "The Brethren of the Shroud are not here to replace or destroy humanity. We see humans but no humanity. We intend to fix that."
- ―High Prophet Noah Bollinger
|Brethren of the Shroud|
|Type of Government:||Hierarchical Theocracy|
|Location(s):||Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama|
|Population:||30,000 (direct control)|
|Goals:||Punishment of all non-mutants and redistribution of power|
|Enemies:||Klansmen Confederacy, The Royaume, Various swamper clans|
A collection of almost every single kind of mutation there is to find in the wasteland, the Brethren of the Shroud serves no other cause than that of mutants, and they would rather see the human race destroyed before ever lending it a hand. Dissidents and outcasts, the lifeblood of the Brethren lies in destruction: their clerics preach, their soldiers burn, and they will forge a new world from the ashes of the old one.
To investigate the origins of the Brethren of the Shroud, one must understand its founder and where it was formed.
Noah Bollinger, a pre-War mathematician and theoretical physicist, hid from the Great War in the basement of the RobCo. building in Meridian and was stuck there until 2079. In the darkness, him and the other RobCo. employees all began to ghoulify. To try to calm down his fellow employees, Bollinger performed Anabaptist services he had seen in Switzerland as a child. It became comforting to both the RobCo. employees and Bollinger himself, who fully realized his hold over his fellow employees. However, the services soon turned into a weird doctrine endorsing mutations as blessings and saying that world above should belong to them. After two years, Bollinger lost a lot of rational thought and began to believe his own words. It was then in 2079, that scavengers went into the RobCo. building and let out the ghoulified employees in the lower levels.
The world they emerged to was vastly different from the one before. Meridian, an important city with a military supply yard, was wrecked thoroughly by the Great War. The East End and Highlands districts especially suffered heavy damage. Most of the inhabitants of the city were ghoulified, but the U.S. Army soldiers from the supply yard had managed to establish a sort of marshal law over Meridian, securing the city.
The former employees of RobCo, now a ghoul cult, kept to themselves and became more fundamentalist as time went on. Humans fear us, Bollingers preached, but men always fear what they do not understand. By 2150, Bollinger had already created the Brethren of the Shroud and was openly advocating mutant supremacy, preaching that the "Shroud" of God had gifted those worthy with gifts and immortality and those people should rule. This attracted ghouls of all walks of life as well as other people with severe mutations.
While the Brethren of Shroud had some clout in Meridian, the people in control of the town were the ghoulifed U.S. Army soldiers, and the Brethren remained a minority.
Fall of the Republic (2218-2225)
In 2205, the soldiers in charge of Meridian created the Mutant Free Republic in response to the chaos occurring to the south. Bollinger and the Brethren supported this but were disappointed when the Republic offered membership to towns controlled by humans.
However, the good times did not last. The people of Hatt wanted a name change to the Republic, removing the Mutant part, and Slidell fell to a petty tyrant. In 2224, (human) raiders attacked a laser weapons caravan near Hatt and stope all the contents. Meridian accused Hatt of stealing the weapons for themselves so they could arm themselves for a rebellion, which Hatt denied. Before long, a real civil war broke out. That, combined with a spike in deathclaw attacks, caused the Mutant Free Republic to splinter apart.
In the chaos that consumed Meridian after the collapse of the Republic, the Brethren of Shroud emerged as the dominant faction. Rallying many former Republic ghoul soldiers through blaming humans for betraying the Republic, Noah Bollinger made his move and took control of the city in late 2225. The Brethren of the Shroud's expansion began there.
Mutants Unite (2225-2256)
Upon taking power, Noah Bollinger decreed that all baseline humans must leave Meridian immediately or face execution. The few humans that resisted were crushed by the Brethren, and Meridian fell under full mutant control.
Appointing himself Prophet of the Shroud, Bollinger decided to make Bishops and Deacons in the style of the "old church" in early 2226. These appointed clergy set to work enforcing their rule, soon creating several small fiefdoms in Meridian and the surrounding area, summoning levies and redistributing land to mutants.
After the Bishops and Deacons had settled into their respective fiefdoms, Noah Bollinger set about setting up Meridian as a power base for the Brethren of the Shroud, as he meant to expand further. Demolishing many dilapidated ruins in Meridian, the Brethren built new, stronger buildings out of concrete and wood.
As the Brethren built Meridian back up, Bollinger plotted revenge against the town of Hatt. Although Bollinger never bore any love for the former Republic, the Prophet of the Shroud felt Hatt's victory over Meridian in the civil war was a slight to mutants everywhere and must be avenged. Also, as many of the mutants in his army used to be part of the Republic, playing on the tragic loss benefitted Bollinger. So in 2227, Bollinger started recruiting former Republic soldiers, ghoul mercenaries, and skilled levies to raise a "professional" army. Soon enough in 2230, a hundred or so soldiers made up the Brethren's "professional" army.
Now with sizable armed forces, Bollinger felt confident enough to begin imposing the Brethren's authority over new settlements aka conquest. The first settlement to fall prey to the Brethren's advances was Mudpie. A small town in central southern Mississippi, Mudpie had been a part of the Republic but had remained neutral during the civil war, drawing the Brethren's ire. The Bishop of Meridian led his levies into battle and handily beat Mudpie's sheriff and militia. Most of the town, consisting of shacks and pre-war ruins, was demolished, and new buildings were built. Power was given to the mutants, and the humans accepted their fate as practically serfs. Soon, afterwards, the Brethren pressed on to Laurel and Hatt and took the towns easily by 2232.
The message of mutant supremacy was not only spread by warfare, but also through missionary work. The Brethren Missionaries were created in 2230 amd almost immediately went north, south, east, and west to not only to spread the Brethren's message but to also help rebuild a new world.
No missionaries going west on I-20 ever came back alive, so the Brethren decided to stop going that way. Brethren missionaries going west from Hatt arrived in the Florida Parishes and set about converting swampers to the Brethren of the Shroud, some successfully, some not. Ghouls were taboo in swamper culture and this caused Brethren-converted swampers to become pariahs in their own community.
The ones going east from Meridian forged east into Alabama and found vast communities of hillfolk, people who were similar to swampers but were much more accepting of Brethren doctrine as they had no taboos against ghouls.
The missionaries going south from Hatt came upon more swamper communities but these ones were more resistant to conversion than the ones in the Florida Parishes. Also, some Brethren missionaries going south eventually made it to the Big Easy and tried to spread the word in the big city, even building a small compound there in 2234.
To the north of Meridian was the unforgiving Golden Triangle. Brethren missionaries decided to steer clear of the Golden Triangle, as the place was simply too hostile to convert at the moment.
Finding large numbers of swampers and hillfolk now under the sway of the Brethren, Noah Bollinger experimented in using proxies, creating the Swamp Brethren Confederation and the Hill Brethren Confederation respectively. This did not go unnoticed, and a nation to the west went to war with the Swamp Brethren Confederation in 2239 and burned down some swamper parks. Bollinger chose to deal with this later and focus on other plans: conquest. The swampers could deal with their own enemies for now.
Soon enought Brethren clergy and missionaries traveled unharmed in the wasteland, since ghouls did not trouble them and raiders were too scared to attack them. The Brethren took this oppurtunity to futher spread their word, taking it to places as far away as Georgia and Florida.
Now fully armed and prepared, Bollinger gathered his armies, wanting to forcibly convert the lands to the north (Columbus Gate) and south (Slidell). However, gathering the forces needed for these offensives would take time and resources. Luckily, the Brethren had both.
To All Corners of the Earth (2256-2268)
In the spring of 2256, the offensive north was ready with one of the minor Deacons leading the Brethren army. Going north, the Brethren bloodlessly conquered Scooba and took Boardtown by force, gaining a footbold in the Triangle. Columbus Gate managed to stop the Brethren's expansion north in late 2256, but the campaign was still deemed a success and the Deacon won great acclaim. Bollinger celebrated in Meridian and promoted the Deacon to be the Bishop of Boardtown.
The offensive south was supposed to begin in 2257 but was stalled by a short internal struggle within the clergy of the Brethren over the postion of the leader of the campaign. Bollinger resolved this by making a group of clerics the leaders of the Brethren army and the offensive began in 2260. Navigating the bayou using swampers, the Brethren discovered the town of Slidell divided and attacked. After a drawn out siege with the forces of the Royaume, the Brethren took Slidell and claimed victory. In response, the Brethren compound in the Big Easy was stormed by Gendarmerie.
Hearing of the victory in Slidell, Bollinger and his Bishops drew up plans for expansion farther north and south, to crush the heretics in the Golden Triangle and Ewing Bay once and for all. To solve their armies' numerical disadvantage, the Bishops even began to draft swamper and hillfolk auxiliaries from the Brethren Confederations to join. However, Slidell fell to internal rebellion in 2264, and Brethren forces were split up. As a result, Slidell was retaken, but the Golden Triangle remained unconquered and the attack on Ewing Bay never even materialized. This did not bother Bollinger, as he could afford to play the long game.
In the years following the last campaign in 2265, Bollinger worked on consolidating his gains in the north and south and not provoking any more conflict. In 2266, Bollinger sent a new message out to his missionaries: oppressed mutants of all stripes were welcome in the Brethren of the Shroud, no matter their origins or crimes. Upon hearing this, mutants from abroad began to migrate to Brethren lands, including a small group of Mariposa super mutants in in 2268. Bollinger quickly recruited these mutants to become part of his own army, as the Brethren vaguely reminded the super mutants of the Unity in its vague promises of mutant brotherhood.
Crucifix War (2268-2275)
In 2268, some younger Brethren clerics heard word from a caravan that there was a ruined city at the end of I-20 full of ghouls. Unaware of the danger of the area and eager to serve the Brethren, the clerics headed west in 2268. They assumed nothing bad would happen, as it was common knowledge it was foolish to attack Brethren clergy.
What they met at the end of the road astonished the clerics. The ruins of Jackson were indeed full of ghouls and the clerics set about converting them, but someone else was there. Jackson was also the hunting grounds of the Klansmen Confederacy, who had been watching the outsiders ever since they entered the city. A week after the clerics entered the city, the klansmen ambushed them and killed all but one. The last cleric, mortally wounded, still managed to bite and crawl her way back to Meridian and described what happened to her group to the Bishop of the City. The Bishop of Meridian, angry at this sign of disrespect, insisted on an offensive to avenge the murdered clerics.
Bollinger was reluctant to open up a front on the west, but after a year of the Bishop's demanding, finally wore down and allowed the Bishop to marshal an army and march down I-20.
The Bishop did rally an army and marched in 2270. Arriving in the Jackson ruins, the Bishop drove the klansmen out and set up a base of operations. Things seemed to be looking up. However, the Bishop overreached his bounds and marched on the klansmen's home in Barnett later that year. That battle he lost and the Bishop was forced to retreat back to the Jackson ruins.
The fact the Bishop lost the battle against this enemy in the west alarmed Bollinger and other Brethren, and forces were mobilized to aid the Bishop so as to save face. However, full mobilization would take time and for the time being, Bollinger contacted his allies in the Florida Parishes to keep the Klansmen Confederacy busy in Lincoln. Small numbers of Brethren reinforcements were sent to Jackson but none large enough to turn the tide.
The Siege of Jackson strained the Bishop's forces, who nearly broke after a particulary bad skirmish in October 2273 and decided to orchestrate a breakout of the city in December 2273. The breakout was sucessful and the Bishop and his forces fled back towards Brethren territory.
Initially, Bollinger was relieved that he did not have to send an army to fight a full scale war. But surely enough, radio reports from the Bishop's retreating forces indicated that there was large army of klansmen following them back west. Fearing an attack on Meridian, Bollinger put the town on high alert and the armies of the Brethren marched west to engage the enemy.
In the summer of 2274, the two armies met, and the Battle of the Wild was fought. The UCK and Grand Wizard Manning emerged victorious, and the defeated Brethren forces were once again forced to flee back down I-20, humiliated.
From there, Bollinger became desperate, using his last reinforcements from the Hill Brethren Confederation and camping at the eastern end of I-20 so as to take the defensive position against the UCK. What happened next confused the Brethren to no end.
The klansmen sent an advance force to take the Brethren controlled town of Forrest. Confident, the disgraced Bishop of Meridian moved quickly and surrounded the town. Using his superior numbers, the Bishop massacred the klansmen to a man and in the process won back his honor.
In response to this massacre, the UCK army advanced on Forrest. Bollinger moved his army forward to Forrest, and it was in those smoking ruins that the two nations fought. The battle was costly but inconclusive, and both armies withdrew from the field.
After the Battle of Forrest, the Bishop wanted to attack the UCK camp, but neither army was in a mood to keep fighting. Egged on by the levies and his other Bishops and Deacons, Bollinger strong-armed the Bishop of Meridian into forging a peace with the UCK, the Treaty of Forrest. Signed in the smoking ruins of Forrest, the treaty gave the Brethren control of the town but gave the Klansmen Confederacy free reign over all of I-20. Bollinger, relieved that a sack of Meridian was averted, respected the treaty and officially ended the war. However, the Brethren did not explicitly tell their swamper allies in the Parishes to end the fight, and the Crucifix War continues there (for all intensive purposes) right into 2287.
Modern Times (2275-2287)
Since the Crucifix War, the Brethren have been working on fortifying their western border while also trying to protect their gains in the north and south. The Bishop of Boardtown has his own plans and wishes to conquer the Golden Triangle without outside assistance.
Meanwhile in Meridian, the Bishop plots his revenge on the Klansmen Confederacy while Bollinger desperately tries to rein him in so as not to start another war. The Bishop in Hatt and the Deacons in Mudpie and Laurel fully support Bollinger in his efforts to maintain peace with the UCK. The clerics in Slidell continue their war to hold the city and also raid settlements in uncontrolled rural Mississippi and Louisiana.
The Brethren of Shroud is still expanding east and hold much of east and south Mississippi directly with parts of west Alabama, west Mississippi, and the Florida Parishes held by proxy. The Brethren's hold on most of these regions is forceful and as an occupying force, so their control is tenuous but at the moment, unchallenged. It is to be seen if the Brethren's conquests will last.
The culture of the Brethren of the Shroud is one of renewal and piousness. Mutants under the Shroud come from all stripes and walks of life, but are united under the creed of mutant supremacy under the Shroud or God. This has resulted in a patchwork culture of pre-War practices and post-War tribal behaviors, as well a few influences from the Unity due to some super mutant soldiers. This vision of mutant supremacy does not include feral ghouls however, who the Brethren regularly cull within their own territory to make it clear that all ghouls should be sane and in control.
Un-mutated humans under Brethren rule are reduced to the status of second class citizens and serfs. However, after more than two generations of Brethren rule, most human settlements are docile enough.
The economic model of the Brethren of the Shroud is an equal mix of feudalism and capitalist enterprise. The Bishops, Deacons, and clerics operate as feudal overlords to their mutant and human subjects, taking a portion of their harvests and products as "taxes". However, the Brethren readily allow caravans in their territories and merchants thrive in large cities such as Meridian.
Scavenging and farming are common professions in Brethren territory. Also, the Brethren of Shroud are able to export food, since (most) mutants need less.
Noah Bollinger, Prophet of the Shroud, technically rules over all the Brethren of the Shroud, but the real power lies with the Clergy who do much of the day to day administration and governance. As most of the Clergy are ghouls, their positions are by appointment by their predecessor or Noah Bollinger and are for life. When the Clergy take their positions, they give up their former names to show their dedication to the Shroud.
The government of the Brethren is a feudal setup, where the Clergy provide security to their people in exchange for resources and levies. In turn, the Clergy bow and scrape to the Prophet of the Shroud to curry favor. If Bollinger wants advice on a decision from his Clergy, he will have the Bishops and Deacons assemble a council to advise him.
Relevant members of the Clergy include...
- Noah Bollinger, High Prophet of the Brethren of the Shroud and Prophet of the Shroud
- Bishop of Meridian
- Bishop of Hatt
- Bishop of Boardtown
- Bishop of Ham
Deacons are also members of the Clergy that hold land but only hold sway over city districts and small towns. Clerics usually don't hold land, but they do in Slidell due to a special commission from Noah Bollinger.
The Brethren of the Shroud's military consists of two primary classes: the soldiers and the levies.
The soldiers of the Brethren are combat ready at all times and are well trained and armed. They are a small but respected group, mostly made up of ghouls and some super mutants. The soldiers are deployed only when the Brethren goes to war or is being invaded. They are under the direct control of Noah Bollinger, not the Bishops or other clergy.
The levies of the Brethren are recruited from average citizenry, voluntarily or forcefully. Bishops, deacons, and even clerics can rally, train, and fight with their own levies. The levies are a diverse group consisting of many types of mutants, from regular ghouls to hillfolk and swampers to even some super mutants. Levies' quality varies wildly, but they are still feared by outsiders for their viciousness and zealotry.
The Brethren of the Shroud's enemy during the Crucifix War, the Klansmen Confederacy is currently at peace with the Brethren of the Shroud. However, there have been border incidents recently that have tested the two nations' already tense relations. Both sides would preferably want the other to simply not exist and in accordance try to ignore each other.
The Brethren of the Shroud northern forces are currently engaged in taking over the Golden Triangle, something the people of Columbus Gate wish to avoid. Therefore, the two have been at war ever since the Brethren's arrival.
Although Ewing Bay is within the Brethren's general sphere of influence in Louisiana and rather large (around the size of Meridian), the Brethren have bypassed it in favor of focusing on the conquest of Slidell and breaking the Royaume's hold on the region. Though an attack was once planned, it was scuttled when Slidell became a priority. The populace is not militant, and the city was determined to be not "strategically valuable", at the moment at least. However, many Brethren clerics still salivate at the thought of eventually conquering the city and becoming a Bishop.
The Brethren clerics converted some Florida Parishes Swampers in the early 2200s who later formed the Swamp Brethren Confederation. However, this has made them pariahs in the rest of the swamper community and has made many other swampers enemies of the Brethren.
In western Alabama, hillfolk converted to the Brethren in greater numbers than their swamper counterparts and therefore have a stronger sway in the their communities. However, there are some Hillfolk that still fear the Brethren, but they do not dare to oppose them directly, fighting the Hill Brethren Confederacy instead.
When the Brethren first met the Water Tribals in Vermillion Bay, they tried to convert the mutants to their cause. The only response the Brethren got in response was violence and cannibalism. This led to Brethren covertly hiring Badlander and Swamper kill-teams to kill as many Water Tribals as possible, considering them a savage and untameable race and a threat to their hold on Vermillion Bay. This extermination has not been very successful yet but as with many other things with the Brethren, they can afford to wait.
When marching on Slidell, the Brethren bypassed Waveland and have ignored it ever since. This is most likely an oversight on the Brethren's part and hopefully not a costly one.
Surprisingly enough, the Louisiana Pack and the Brethren have relatively warm relations due to the Brethren giving steady work exterminating Water Tribals and enemy Swampers. The Brethren do not tolerate packs within their own territory however, seeing the Badlanders in Louisiana as a tool for their eventual conquest.
Republic of Slidell
The freedom fighters of Slidell want all foreign factions out of Slidell and fight everyone, including the Brethren, with little success.
Even though the townspeople have killed some Brethren in skirmishes, Pentecoastal is a low priority on the Brethren's goals of conquest and far enough out of the way to avoid attention. However, some Brethren clerics in Hatt fully intend on renaming Pentecoastal Pascaghoula in the future.
- "I once had to hide from a band of ghouls passing by my hideout. I could smell the stench of those walking corpses, hear the screams of the ones they'd captured; there was no hope for those damned souls. When they were gone, I just got up and ran as hard as I could."
- ―Alan Robinson, describing an experience outside Slidell
- "Their "phrophet" has got 'em so wound up they forget they used ta look like most of these guys."
- ―Hank Emvrew discussing the Brethren with other defenders of Columbus Gate
- "The Shroud will protect us, and we shall be victorious!"
- ―The Bishop of Meridian during the Crucifix War
- "We provide you security, peace, and prosperity. What more do you want?"
- ―The Deacon of Mudpie to a rebellious human serf
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