|Leader:||Martin Wheeler (2123-2148), Martha Wheeler (2148-2163), Abigail Doyle (2217-2269), Gavin McGregor (2269-Present)|
|Headquarters:||Hell's Gate, Oregon|
|Location(s):||Northern California, Oregon|
|Founded by:||Tejesh Arinkindular, Martin Wheeler|
|Goals:||Complete destruction of all life|
|Enemies:||New California Republic, The Flames, The Tree Shepherds|
Founding and Early Raids
The Purifiers were founded in 2123 when a group of wastelanders fleeing from a local raider gang stumbled upon a cave in the Sky Lakes Wilderness in Oregon containing the effects of Tejesh Arinkindular. Among the effects that they found there was the Nayavishv Kavinaash, a treatise that Arinkindular wrote that translates from Hindi as “A New World of Destruction.” Influenced heavily from his native Hindu upbringing, the tome asserts that existence is cyclical in nature, and that the Great War represented the end of the last aeon, and that the futile rebuilding efforts of those that survived are simply the death throes of a dying world. Only by completing what was left unfinished- the total and complete extinction of all life- can the last, dying aeon end and the new aeon begin.
While most of those wastelanders were more interested in the handful of effects that they were able to scavenge, a handful were intrigued by the thoughts contained within the tome. Among those individuals was a charismatic man by the name of Martin Wheeler. Like most wastelanders, trying to eke out a meager existence, Wheeler was sick and tired of being harassed by raiders, mutants, and other creatures on the west coast. Unlike most, Wheeler had had enough of it. He rallied a handful of men and women who were wandering with him to take up arms and attack the raiders that had been harassing them. The attack was successful, and the wastelanders killed the raiders that had been terrorizing them, seizing their camp and equipment. Empowered, Wheeler and the men and women that followed him began taking revenge on others that they believed had wronged them: other nearby settlements that had shut them out when they needed help, local traders that ripped them off when they were at their weakest by gouging the prices of their goods, and others.
After a few years of such raids, the small group of thirty or so had become raiders of a kind themselves. What differentiated them from other small-time raiders was the semi-religious aspect that Wheeler had spread among the people that he led, that he had extracted from the Nayavishv Kavinaash. Rather than attack others for profit or entertainment, Miller convinced his followers that they were attacking others because the world had wronged them, and everyone and everything in it were to blame. Every time they eliminated a raider gang or a small community of farmers, they were purifying the world. And thus, the Purifiers were born.
In 2130, Wheeler and his rag-tag bunch of followers found refuge from the Great Winter in a volcanic cave at the base of Mount McLoughlin, a volcano in the Cascade Range. During Pre-War times, the volcano was inactive, but thanks to shifting tectonics in the area due to the Great War, the volcano became active once again, bleeding molten hot magma and fire from vents, caves, and fissures along its slopes. They would stay in the cave even after the snows melted, calling it Hell’s Gate.
In 2148, Martin Wheeler died. The men and women who were following him turned to his daughter, Martha, to lead the community, but she was not up to the task. She was not as charismatic or intelligent as her father, and had trouble leading the community. In 2160, an envoy from the Children of the Cathedral found their way to Hell’s Gate and were able to convince Martha to join the cult. The envoy spoke of a nuclear holocaust that came about due to the failings of humanity and that the Children of the Cathedral were looking to usher in a new world without such things. Mistaking their ideas with those her father espoused, Martha moved that the Purifiers join the Children of the Cathedral. The community was divided on the issue, but it would all prove moot when the group disbanded in 2162 following the defeat of their leader by The Vault Dweller.
Descent into Irrelevance
When faced with her own ineffectiveness and failure as the leader of the community, Martha fled. One winter night in early 2163, she simply upped and vanished. The community organized searches to find her, but her whereabouts were never ascertained and she was never seen or heard from again. During the search, Purifiers uncovered a buried cache of spark, a chem formed from Pre-War waste. This would be a pivotal moment in their history, as the group would become associated with the use of the drug going forward.
The use of spark began with a few members of the community, but within a few years, almost all of the 100 or so members of the Purifiers became hooked on the substance. Members functioned normally at first, continuing with their raids in the area, but by the end of the decade, the Purifiers had all but succumbed to the highly intoxicating effects of the drug. Men and women in the camp at Hell’s Gate would simply lounge around, tripping on the drug and engrossed in the hallucinations and euphoria it would cause.
While never a particularly large group- the most members the group had ever had was roughly 150, in the 2130s and early 2140s- the Purifiers were feared by the settlers and traders of the area. As they succumbed to the powerful effects of the spark most were hooked on, the Red Men, as they had become known as due to their red eyes and bloody tears caused by the drug, went from being viewed as a threat to being viewed as a joke. Members would periodically attempt to extort outside settlements or raid passing trade caravans, but for the most part, the group was dormant.
Revival and Schisms
In 2217, a young woman named Abigail Doyle was able to rouse the 50 or so Purifiers living in Hell’s Gate, using her intelligence and charisma to snap them out of the collective malaise that had plagued the group. She had come to the group years earlier after escaping from the Den. For most of her life, she only knew suffering, anger, disappointment, and hardship. She was born to a prostitute working in New Reno. In order to satisfy her addiction to Jet, she sold her toddler daughter to the Slaver’s Guild, which transported her to The Den. For nearly the next decade, Doyle served Metzger and the guild, used as a prostitute to satisfy visitors with a taste for younger girls and adolescents. She eventually was able to escape, thanks to some meddling by a rival of Metzger, Rebecca Dyer, and fled the city, ultimately winding up in Hell’s Gate.
With a deep-seated hatred of the world for allowing her to have such a terrible upbringing, Doyle was a natural fit for the Purifiers. Tejesh Arinkindular’s Nayavishv Kavinaash honed her rage against the world and gave her life new meaning. The group had no clear leader, being run communally, and the young woman was able to charm her way into the role, inciting members of the group into action once again for the first time in decades. Rather than disorganized raids and haphazard attacks on nearby targets, Doyle was able to whip the Purifiers into shape, organizing raids and attacks that yielded greater rewards and extracted fewer tolls on the group. During the early years of her leadership, the rank and file of the organization flourished, and as many as 200 individuals called themselves members of the Purifiers.
In the mid-2230s, the Purifiers experienced a pair of schisms that cut their rank and file in half. In 2234, a handful of members left the group, forming the raider group known as the Flames. John “Flameskull” Lawrence, the leader of that particular group, had joined the Purifiers years earlier, and was roughly a fifteen-year veteran of the group. While he enjoyed the wonton destruction that had begun when the group became active again, he had never bought into the nihilism that the group had originally been founded on, that was forgotten but had been revived under Abigail Doyle. He was more interested in looting and pillaging, satisfying his lust for killing, chems, destruction, sex, and power rather than snuffing the flame of a corrupt world. Lawrence realized that Doyle had surpassed the level of violence that he was willing to be a part of when he received orders that he was to kill a group of toddlers and infants that had been captured in a raid. Gathering a small group of other men and women who felt similarly, that Doyle had gone too far, Lawrence simply left Hell’s Gate, heading north up U.S. Route 97 and setting up a camp in an abandoned rest area at Crater Lake Junction Travel Center, near the junction of Oregon Route 62 and U.S. Route 97.
Roughly a year later, another schism within the Purifiers took place. Unlike the schism that gave birth to the Flames, this schism was along philosophical and ideological grounds. A woman named Theresa Cunningham began challenging Abigail Doyle and the very ideology of the Purifiers. Whereas Tejesh Arinkindular claimed in the Nayavishv Kavinaash that the world needed to be destroyed in order for a new, purer world to be born, Cunningham believed that the old world was burned away when the bombs fell during the Great War, and that the Post-War world was the fulfillment of the cleanse Arinkindular was calling for. Instead of further destruction and devastation, Cunningham believed that the world needed to be nurtured and coddled. Like John Lawrence a year before, individuals sympathetic to her beliefs existed within the Purifiers, and left with her when she believed that there was no more they could do from within the group. Cunningham and roughly 30 former Purifiers members headed north to join with Lawrence and his Flames. The two groups quickly butt heads, and Cunningham and her followers left, heading northwest up Oregon Route 62 to Crater Lake, where they would form the Tree Shepherds.
Oregon Brush Wars and the Purification War
In 2253, raiders in the Mojave killed 38 NCR citizens living there, prompting NCR Congress to impeach and vote out President Joanna Tibbett due to her “timid” reaction to the massacre. In her place, Wendell Peterson was installed. One of his first acts as President of the New California Republic was to dispatch NCR infantry into problematic areas. Asides for dispatching NCR troops south, into the Mojave, he also dispatched troops north, into southern Oregon. While the official explanation was that the NCR was heeding the call from homesteaders in the area looking for additional protection against the various raiders and violent tribal groups in the area, many believe that the action was actually to allow NCR-affiliated factions access into the area’s many natural resources.
The increased presence of NCR patrols had a negative impact on the Purifiers. Over the next few years, when the group attacked traders passing through the region, they were often stymied by NCR infantrymen, embedded with various caravans, particularly those belonging to the Crimson Caravan Company. As the losses in life and in captured bounty began piling up, Abigail Doyle began getting desperate. Discontent was brewing in the group, and she came to believe that there would be a large scale defection in the near future if nothing was done. Her solution was to attack the beast head on: in early 2258, she began planning a large-scale attack on Gecko Falls, a trading post roughly 50 miles to the southeast that served as the regional branch of the Crimson Caravan Company, and by proxy, the NCR.
Putting aside their mutual enmity, the Flames and the Purifiers joined forces in the assault on Gecko Falls, which took place in the summer of 2260. The raiders on the other side of Upper Klamath Lake were swayed to put aside their hate of the Purifiers thanks to the caps that were up for grabs, and the Purifiers were able to put aside their hate of the Flames thanks to their drive for revenge against the NCR for cutting into their caravan-raiding profits.
Using the tactics employed by the Flames, but on a much grander scale, the entire settlement of Gecko Falls was cut off from the outside world using a large controlled forest fire. Entering from pre-arranged choke points, the Purifiers entered the ring of fire around the settlement from the northwest and the Flames entered from the northeast. Even with a small NCR garrison on the premise, along with private-hired security personnel hired by the Crimson Caravan Company and other, smaller companies doing business in the town, Gecko Falls stood little chance. The siege lasted roughly a day, and when all was said and done, Gecko Falls was completely razed. Only a handful of residents or visitors to the trading post survived the assault.
The NCR was slow to respond to the destruction of Gecko Falls, and as a result, Abigail Doyle believed that the message sent to the nation to the south had had its intended effect, and that the NCR had been dissuaded them from involving themselves in the affairs of the Purifiers ever again. In reality, that was not the case. Litigation in NCR courts between the Crimson Caravan Company, other traders, and their insurers held the response up, as did the military endeavors by NCR forces in other parts of Cascadia.
The area simply was too profit-rich to be ignored, and within a few years, outsiders from California settled it once more. The Crimson Caravan Company, which still owned the land that Gecko Falls was settled on, leased operations to a third-party, the Thirsty Gecko Aqua Traders, in 2262 and they began resettling the ruins of the town. The NCR military, concurrently, began Operation: RED TRAIL, a campaign to remove problematic groups antagonistic to the NCR from the area.
During Operation: RED TRAIL, the NCR did not outright attack the Purifiers. Instead, they began collecting information on the raider cult, monitoring their movements, taking an inventory of their equipment and capabilities, and assessing their tactics and how best to neutralize their advantages. Most of this information came from a mole that was able to successfully infiltrate into the organization, one Sergeant Elijah White.
The attack on the Red Men was delayed as the NCR military had more pressing matters to attend to during the war plagued decade of the 2260's, but in the summer of 2269, NCR brass gave the green light to move on the Purifiers. A pair of NCR companies approached Hell’s Gate from the south, while a few score Free Northwestern Army militiamen and Twin Pines Pack Badlanders approached from the north, effectively trapping the Purifiers in their home. The cult was caught off-guard by the attack, and effectively trapped. The siege lasted five days in total, and ended with a victory by the NCR, albeit a pyrrhic one. When the realization hit Abigail Doyle that it was only a matter of time before the NCR claimed victory and that defeat was imminent, she put in motion a chain of events that caused catastrophic damage to the forces that attacked them, but at great cost.
She purposefully sabotaged the machinery in the bowels of Hell’s Gate that kept the molten magma in the volcano around them under pressure, preventing it from erupting. Suddenly depressurized, the volcano erupted, belching fire, ash, and molten hot lava. Doyle and the rest of the Purifiers were swallowed up, but so were most of the forces that had surrounded Hell’s Gate.
Few Purifiers survived. Gavin McGregor, a high-ranking acolyte that was previously captured by the NCR at the beginning of the conflict, was named the new leader of the group, mostly because the NCR wanted the PR victory that they had captured the leader of the cult. No others have come out to claim the mantle, as the few remaining Purifiers faded into the background of war-torn Oregon, assimilating themselves into other communities. While the group has effectively been broken, it would be a mistake to assume that they are gone for good. As long as a single individual exists with the nihilistic philosophy that the world needs to end, the possibility that the Purifiers may be reborn exists.
The Purifiers draw their beliefs from the Nayavishv Kavinaash, a treatise that a Pre-War survivor of the Great War named Tejesh Arinkindular wrote immediately after the bombs fell. Translated from Hindi as “A New World of Destruction”, the fifty-page document claimed that existence is cyclical in nature. The Great War represented the end of the last aeon of existence, and a new one would be born in the aftermath. The futile rebuilding efforts taking place in the Post-War world are the death throes of the dying aeon, and are preventing the new one from being born. Only by destroying everything in the Post-War world can the new, pure world be burn. The ideas are heavily influenced from Arinkindular’s Hindu upbringing, and the depression and nihilism he was feeling in his last days.
Culture & Practices
Members of the group are distinguished by their red robes, which is where the nickname for the group, “Red Men”, comes from. One of the side effects of long-term use of spark are so-called “red tears”, blood that seeps from the eye, eyelid, and tear ducts. According to tradition, numerous early members of the group had their clothing became stained red because of such red tears, and the group has been associated with the color ever since. The rest of their appearance is usually disheveled and unkempt, displaying their utter disregard for the world around them. Their clothing is usually ratty and torn, their hair is usually wild, matted with blood, dirt, and ash.
Membership into the Purifiers is open to anyone, provided they swear loyalty to the group and the truths contained within the Nayavishv Kavinaash. After swearing their loyalty with their hand on their heart and the book, they must pass a pair of ordeals, meant to determine how dedicated the candidate is to the group. Failure to pass either is a death sentence, so only the most dedicated approach the group to join. In the first test, the prospective member must willingly pick up a volcanic rock, burning themselves in the process. This test signifies their willingness to sacrifice themselves and their own bodies to further the nihilistic cause of the Purifiers. In the second test, the prospective member must burn something that is dear to him or her, signifying their detachment from the world and their desire to see everything burn. In most cases, this usually entails the destruction of a treasured possession, but in some cases, devotees have immolated friends, family, or pets. In the third and final test, a prospective member has spark grains sprinkled in their eyelids. They are kept under the influence of the chem until their eyes begin to tear blood. The red tears mark the devotees formal entrance and acceptance into the group.
Spark plays an important role in the social fabric of the group. While the Purifiers would say that it is because the crystalline chem gives them visions, it is really because most have become junkies, addicted to the drug’s powerful effects.
The Purifiers utilize Fire Geckos in a variety of manners, their innate ability to breath gouts of fire due to sulfur in their digestive system being what attracted the group to the creatures. The cave that the group calls their home was originally a Fire Gecko lair. When Martin Wheeler and the early Purifiers took refuge in the cave during the Great Winter, they killed most of the living creatures and took care over the next few years to breed them in such a way to produce docile, easily trainable, loyal creatures.
The Purifiers consider the New California Republic to be their greatest enemy. Ideologically, the NCR represents the Post-War world recovering from the devastation of the Great War and moving on, which the Purifiers consider blasphemous. More practically, the NCR is a political entity that exists that is in direct competition with the Purifiers. The two sides come into conflict with each other with regularity, with the Purifiers attacking NCR caravans and citizens in northern California and southern Oregon, and the NCR sending teams to attack Hell’s Gate. The fighting between the two sides generally has been low in intensity, similar to the conflict informally known as the NCR-Raider War, but during the Oregon Brush Wars, the two sides battled in full-blown warfare, along with other factions in the area.
The Purifiers have made many enemies outside of the NCR as well. Their primary non-NCR enemies are a pair of groups that were born out of the Purifiers themselves, formed from schisms from within. The Flames were born in 2234, and the Tree Shepherds were born in 2235. Members of both groups are attacked on sight by the Purifiers, who see the Flames as traitor sell-outs more interested in personal benefit than anything else, and the Tree Shepherds as blasphemers that have not only betrayed the cause, but are actively working against it. They consider Vault City to the southeast an enemy as well, due to the same reasons they dislike the NCR: it is an emerging city-state thriving in the destruction of the Post-War world.
Very few groups can say that they had an actual positive relationship with the Purifiers. The cesspool of vice known as The Den also enjoyed fairly normal relations with the Purifiers. The group, heavily addicted to spark, often made the trip to the south to purchase their fix from the chem dealers living there. The group periodically recruited from the town as well, convincing those down on their luck that nothing better awaited and that they should travel north to take revenge on the world. Periodically, the group even purchased slaves to add to their rank-and-file.
- "Hell's Gate
- Hell's Gate: An inactive volcano located northwest of Vault City now used as a base by death-worshipping raiders. The immediate area around Hell's Gate is infested by the death-worshippers and various splinter groups who are known as savage even to their tribal neighbors. All Vault Citizens should avoid Hell's Gate at ALL costs!
- Population: No current census, but rumored to be in the low hundreds.
- Government: Theocracy
- Background radiation count: Current readings are unavailable.
- Mutation rate: Unknown, believed low."
- ―Entry in Vault City Travel log from the early 2240's referring to the Purifiers' headquarters