Hell on Earth: Gimme Shelter
Cult of Doom
In the name of the twisted
In the image of the deformed
In the fury of the atom
In the glow of the bomb
The new age arose.
- First Canticle of the Cult of Doom
The story of the Cult began in 2083 with a wanderer named Silas Rasmussen. He was once a young physics professor at MIT. Unfortunately for the rest of the world, he survived Judgment Day and staggered around for a few years, trying to get over the whole “the world just got stepped on by the Four Horsemen” concept.
When Silas finally stopped wandering, he realized he’d picked up a fast-moving case of "The Glows", conventionally known as radiation sickness. The former professor shrugged his shoulders, decided to make the best of it, and walked smack into the nearest radioactive ruins he could find: Las Vegas, Nevada.
There, Silas found a huge conglomeration of Mutants. Most were bald, missing teeth, deformed, or deranged from the hot zone they called home, but they weren’t dying. After a tense first encounter, Silas was welcomed into the community and quickly learned that some of the mutants even had incredible powers. In fact, many of them could absorb radiation as a tasty after-dinner snack to supplement their normal diet of… ahem… mystery meats.
Silas decided being a mutant with incredible powers was better than being a glowing corpse, so he started experimenting on his new friends. After a few short months, Silas developed powers of his own.
Maybe he’s a lunatic, maybe he’s deranged from rad sickness, or maybe… just maybe… he’s right, but Silas believes mutants are the forerunners of a new race, the next evolution of humanity.
Utilizing his new powers, Silas vanquished a monstrous creature called "Grendel" that had been lairing in the depths of the Tropicana casino. Upon emerging with its head, he proclaimed himself the Mutant King and Prophet. It was his duty, he told his subjects, to lead and protect mutants from the “norms” and usher in a new age of humanity. The mutants of Las Vegas, who were mostly simple folks thrown out of their old settlements because of their disfigurement, disease, or derangement, liked what they heard and bowed down to their new king. A few thought this was nonsense and mistakenly said so. They stopped doubting Silas’s power when their heads exploded.
Over the next few years, Silas declared his teachings and followers the “Cult of Doom.” The “doom” business refers to the doom of normals and the rise of mutants. At first, it didn’t mean the cult would actually cause the doom, just that the “poor” normals were heading down the evolutionary exit ramp.
Silas made the most powerful and intelligent mutants his high priests. Others were sent out as “Doomsayers,” missionaries tasked with finding enclaves of mutants and teaching them the ways of the cult. They also recruit any mutants with particularly incredible abilities and send them back to Las Vegas to be studied, used, or made into Doomsayers.
During this time, Silas shared his abilities with his followers. Soon, most every member of the Cult of Doom could fire blasts of radiation, warp metal, heal wounds, and wield many other strange and amazing powers.
Silas and his Doomsayers worship the powers of radiation and the Apocalypse. Individuals may or may not believe in God. They just think that after the Apocalypse, supernatural radiation is the true master of humanity’s destiny.
Marie Curie, Darius Hellstromme, Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, and others who worked with radiation, bombs, and irradiated Ghost Rock are something like revered apostles. The Doomsayers don’t worship them, but they do respect them. They’re especially excited about the disappearance of Hellstromme. They think he’s on a pilgrimage somewhere, and when he returns he’ll share some startling and apocalyptic revelation with them.
By 2085, Silas’s cult boasted hundreds of priests and thousands of followers, both in Las Vegas and across the country. His mutants had phenomenal powers, equipment scavenged from cities no one else dared enter, and a whole lot of anger against norms who shunned them.
Then, after several Doomsayers were murdered preaching to the norms of nearby Virginia City, Silas decreed there would be retribution. He assembled a horde of mutants and Doomsayers and attacked. The norms, all hard-bitten survivors of the Apocalypse, fought back much harder than Silas had ever imagined and made the horde look just a little bit silly. Enraged, the Mutant King gathered even more forces and threw them up the steep, desert slopes to the spiked walls of the norm settlement. After an arduous and bloody month-long siege, the town finally fell to a massive assault.
The slaughter on both sides was incredible. The bodies of scores of norms and mutants lay baking in the hot Nevada sun, waiting for the circling buzzards to pick their corpses clean. Not surprisingly, Virginia City became a Deadland.
Silas, furious and more insane than ever, declared that Virginia City was only the beginning of a new and bloody crusade. It was now the Cult of Doom’s mission to destroy all norms.
A handful of Doomsayers refused to take part in the crusade. They believed in that business about mutants being the next evolution of man, but they didn’t want to kill those “poor” norms who were doomed anyway; especially when half of Silas’ new mutant hordes were flesh-eating, violent lunatics instead of misunderstood outcasts looking to save the world.
Silas rounded up these “heretics” and tortured them until they saw things his way or kicked the depleted-uranium bucket. Most did not survive the “Inquisition,” but in 2086, a group of priests led by a woman known only as Joan escaped.
Joan and the others fled to an old missile silo somewhere in southwestern Nevada. There they established a secret base and sent word to others who felt as they did to come there. While waiting for other heretics, Joan experienced an incredible vision.
She dreamed that the dawn of the next generation would be heralded by a mutant known as The Harbinger. This mutant would be known by its pale skin and “blazing-red third eye.” Through this third eye, the Harbinger could see the future and lead humanity to a brilliant and peaceful new age. Most importantly, the Harbinger would replace Silas, the “false prophet,” and become the new leader of the mutants.
Joan had thought to use her small army to attack Silas directly, but the dream of the Harbinger changed all that. She knew that if her handful of Doomsayers lost their battle, there would be no one left to protect the Harbinger. Worse, once Silas found out about the Harbinger, he would make sure it did not replace him—by slitting its frail throat.
Joan and her inner circle gathered the other heretics and tasked them with a mission. They were to venture out and carry the word of the true Doomsayers to the world. Their first goal is to find and protect the Harbinger. Joan doesn’t even know if it’s been born yet, but she believes the future depends on making sure it survives long enough to replace Silas and usher in a new age.
The second goal is to show norms the Doomsayers are not their enemies—Silas is. Though all Doomsayers believe norms are doomed to extinction, they have no desire to hurry the process along. In fact, if norms aren’t made to accept “good” mutants (generally those who aren’t trying to eat you), they may actually wipe them all out.
Of course, the deranged, violent mutants might also wipe out those with warm, fuzzy mutations, so the “evolutionary failures” must be culled by whatever means necessary. That means violent muties: bad; peaceful muties: good. Heretical Doomsayers protect mutants who aren’t doing any harm, but they’re the first to wade into a den of the bad kind and start blasting. Any muties allied with Silas are first addressed with the hope of conversion, but, if they don’t see the light, the Doomsayers nuke ’em ’til they glow.
The heretics also prove themselves by doing good deeds for benevolent mutants and norms. They protect villages, cure rad sickness, heal the wounded, and—most importantly—lead the resistance against mutant attacks. It’s a brilliant public relations move, and, increasingly, many settlements welcome Doomsayers in purple robes.