The Jeremiad [Contagion Chronicle]

Chronicles of Darkness

Hi all! It’s been a little while since our last Contagion Chronicle preview! This time we are showing off the Jeremiad, another of the Sworn factions from the game:

The Jeremiad

Contagion as Divine Retribution

Pray for you? No, you’re going to get off your ass and put your own house in order. Or else.

In my dreams I see Her words scrawled in my blood on the walls of my Lair. “Teach them,” She says. “Teach them to fear themselves, and you set them on the path to righteousness. Your family needs you. You are your brother’s keeper.” So I keep them, my siblings, in the name of our Dark Mother. I show them all the horrors they hide in their hearts, as I hide my own, and together we reach for perfection beyond the pestilence. And when they falter, I am there to remind them what awaits, should they fall.

What Is the Contagion?

Remember that time God sent ten plagues to punish Egypt for enslaving the Israelites? Frogs raining from the sky, rivers running with blood, the whole shebang? We’re the Egyptians here. The Contagion is our scourge from a higher power, whether you want to call it one God or many, karma, the Dark Mother, the Principle, or whatever else you believe in. When your own magic blows up in your face, when your prey turns into the predator, when water burns like fire — that’s retribution for your sins, a curse from an angry deity or a faceless force of judgment. We’re not worthy. We fucked up. Whatever’s spiritually expected of us, we’re falling short by a mile by the time the Contagion hits. We’d better get worthy, fast, before that higher power decides we’re beyond saving and condemns us forever. And we mean all of us. All night-dwellers need to atone, whether they know it or not. Otherwise, we’re all doomed.

What we stand to lose: Salvation. Hope. Our souls, if we have any to begin with. We have no shortage of damnations to choose from between us, and they’re all in our future if we don’t repent. It’s so much simpler than the other Sworn want to believe. The Contagion won’t kill us, won’t destroy the world. It’ll just condemn us to an eternity of this. Endless toil and suffering, until we die or worse, and the knowledge that we’ll never be anything but the scum of the Earth.

What we stand to gain: Mercy. Favor. A second chance to overcome the trials, pass the tests, and become more than we are. You want to ascend? Transform? Someday you might, but only if you don’t fall from grace first. The light at the end of the tunnel is faint to begin with; if we fail, it’ll sputter and go out. We need to better ourselves before we lose the opportunity to prove we ever can.

Where We Came From

In 587 BCE, the prophet Jeremiah warned the people of Judah that the Lord would send Babylonians to destroy the First Temple and lay waste to Jerusalem, if they kept worshiping false idols and espousing false prophets. The false prophets disagreed, and the people liked their message better. So they tried to kill Jeremiah to get rid of him, and when that didn’t work they imprisoned him, which only compounded their sins. Eventually, lo and behold, the Babylonians destroyed the First Temple and laid waste to Jerusalem, and Jeremiah wept for the ungrateful bastards.

The fall of Jerusalem didn’t herald a massive Contagion outbreak — that wasn’t our doing. The outbreak came over a millennium later; while Justinian’s plague swept the mortal empire of the Byzantines in 541 CE, we suffered our own epidemic, and sought explanation. We examined our sins and saw the writing on the wall that in our arrogance we had ignored for a thousand years. We had been Zedekiah, ignoring divine will to rebel against Babylon. We knew then we had to become Jeremiah instead, and we had to succeed where he’d failed.

We Sworn are still a bunch of recidivist assholes, so the Contagion keeps coming back. But as long as we’re around, we can work to uplift our brethren and purify ourselves to end each punishment before it descends into Final Judgment.

What We Do

We purify ourselves and embark on personal journeys toward a higher calling. Some of us call it a Pilgrimage, or sophia, or a Code. Others don’t call it anything, but we know when we’re on the right track and when we feel the lash of failure. We engage in mystical self-reflection, learning our flaws and excising them. Our infected isolate themselves in bands of ascetics, seeking purity by any means necessary before they return to the fold.

Our sacred texts and oral traditions comprise prophecies ancient and modern, foretelling future outbreaks and the coming of figures who will help or hinder our redemption. We follow the signs to seek them: saviors, antichrists, Judases, seers, spiritual guides, those chosen by higher powers and those cursed to tempt us into doubt. They sometimes come from within our ranks, so some of us seek divine power to transform themselves into the saviors — or martyrs — we need.

We lead pilgrimages, purify infected Infrastructure, and send out missions to convert others to our cause — Sworn, False, and the undecided alike. The more our numbers swell, the easier it is to turn the tide toward salvation for all. Our sacred sites are churches, temples, shrines, Athanors, Hallows, places of resonance, tombs, and more. If one of these becomes infected, we scour the sickness out. And if we can’t, we eradicate it from the Earth with holy fire.

We cast down the Contagious wherever we find them, with cleansing flame and blessed ritual. They are the unrepentant, those who chose damnation and walk the Earth to drag us all down, and they deserve their fates.

How we organize: Our structure and trappings depend on where we are and who’s joined the local sect. If membership skews toward one belief system or kind of being, the others may adopt some of that group’s culture and practices. More often, though, everyone brings their own to the table and we share (and bicker over) them among us. We’re a syncretic bunch, though conflicts do arise.

When we swear ourselves to salvation, we undertake a guided journey into the depths of our dreams or our souls, and share our darkest secrets and greatest sins with one fellow Penitent. Thus, we know someone can always hold us accountable.

We value our diversity because the more of us there are among each group, the easier spreading our message to every corner of the supernatural world becomes.

Among the Sworn: It’s our duty to shepherd those who can’t or won’t help themselves. It does no good for the Jeremiad to purify itself while the others merrily pilot their handbaskets. Sometimes we preach and proselytize, but we can be subtler too. We take up roles as teachers, counselors, advisors, mentors, and companions to other Sworn, so we can nudge them toward enlightenment while they do their own good works to combat the Contagion.

Humanity is one gauge by which we judge our worth. How we treat them is a good indicator of how we’re doing on the cosmic final exam. An outbreak means we’re about to flunk out and get expelled to hell forever, so we pay attention to how the Sworn deal with mortals, and step in when things get out of hand.

We understand Zero Hour’s mission to restore the Contagious to grace, although we aren’t so naïve as to think it comes from a place of compassion or salvation; but it’s too late for those godless abominations, and sometimes we come into conflict with the operatives over it.

We get ourselves in trouble when: we throw out the baby with the bathwater. The others call us fanatics, and occasionally we live down to that name. Sometimes, we confuse betterment with power, and seek one to the exclusion of the other. Power is divine when it serves a higher purpose; power for its own sake is a trap we’re not immune to falling into. Our diversity leads to nasty infighting when irreconcilable beliefs or truths stemming from our differences divide us. What leads to purity for one is often at odds with what another must do.

When the Contagion is in remission: We’re less prone to mindless zealotry. We can afford subtlety, and without holy wars against the Contagious we gather our resources, focusing on recruitment and prophecy. We connect globally more easily, organizing gatherings to share what we’ve learned, and help each other with powers and insight unique to each sect. During an outbreak we have to concentrate on the infected and the most troubled or at-risk among us, but when the higher powers stay their hand, we attend to the entire flock’s needs.

Vector: Fervor

Who We Are

  • The Cathar who styles himself the Devil, tempting others to fall to weakness and depravity so they will better understand themselves and strengthen their resolve
  • The Su-Menent coroner who crafts uter from the bodies of dead infected and Contagious in the morgue, seeking to recover the shells of the unholy back into the Judges’ service
  • The Acanthus prophet who speaks revelations about future Contagions and uses Fate to find — or create — chosen saviors with much Wisdom and infected scapegoats with little
  • The Long Night scourge of the Contagious who delivers fire-and-brimstone sermons to the infected, promising redemption if they can cure themselves — and martyrdom if they can’t
  • The Notary judge who presides over trials and the fervent testaments of those who plead guilty, and offers her services to others to make them Sworn in truth as well as name

Nicknames: prophets, gurus, the Penitent, fanatics (derogatory)

  3 comments for “The Jeremiad [Contagion Chronicle]

  1. Isolde
    December 11, 2018 at 12:16 pm

    Take my money already and give me that book!!!

    Seriously, it looks brilliant and is the upcoming OPP book I’m most eager to lay my hands on at the moment. What a pleasant surprise to read that update on a grey Tuesday.

    Looking forward to that KS!

  2. Ryan Spinney
    December 11, 2018 at 5:44 pm

    Very interesting, lots of plothooks and other interesting opportunities. Of all the Sworn, it appears the Jeremiad is the biggest powder keg given all the potentially conflicting religions beliefs and adjendas within it.

    • SunlessNick
      December 16, 2018 at 3:06 pm

      I could see this one fracturing into several different groups very quickly.

Comments are closed.