30 Members of the Players Cult
A set of whackos, nutjobs and other dangerous NPCs
1) Player One (aka Jared Oswald): The founder of The Players Cult, Player One disappeared five years ago and is by now a near-mythical figure within the cult. Some say that he discovered the way Out, and has left clues for the devout to follow. Still others say that he will return one day, and bring about the End Game. The only people who know for sure what he looks like are Mega, Meta and Exodus, and they have little motivation to go looking for him.
2) Player Two (aka Scott Inskeep): Cofounder of the cult, Player Two was also the Cult's first casualty. In life he was the glue that kept the first group together -- the heart of the cult even as Jared was the brains. Pictures of him still exist on the obituary profile his family keeps up on several social networking sites -- a spindly, gray-eyed man with a shock of dark hair and a winning smile. Oddly, cryptic comments and links will sometimes be posted to his old profiles, leading some to believe that his accidental 'death' may not have been what it seemed.
3) Mega (aka Josh Norris): At just under six feet, Mega is somewhat shorter than his name would imply, but has more than enough combat skill to secure his position at the top of the Power Gamers Guild. An army brat and ROTC student before joining up with Jared and Scott, he knows the value of properly applied force. He keeps his head shaved and sports several Cult tattoos that he commissioned after his first stint in prison -- one of several he's served since joining the Players.
The experience has hardened him. He runs his guild like a gang, and will not hesitate to move against anyone that threatens his new 'family'. Expect him to have three weapons within reach at all times (a main sidearm and two holdouts) -- even while he sleeps. He knows how to use them, too.
4) Frag: One gets the sense that Frag played with a lot of fireworks as a child. Probably illegal ones, at that. His passion for explosions is unrivaled among his peers, and he always seems to know the right type of charge to use in a given situation. Always carrying at least three types of grenades on his person, Frag is the go-to choice when the Players need a more violent distraction.
5) Gank: Unlike the better fighters, Gank can't hold his own in one-on-one combat, and he knows it. His small size is a disadvantage that he wasn't able to overcome with training. Luckily, his brain has no such handicap. Able to quickly analyze the tactics in any situation -- even an all-out slugfest -- Gank inserts himself into combat where he can do the most damage. A knife in the back or side of an opponent while they are engaged with one of the other Players may be all it takes. And he will always remember to take the second shot once an opponent is down.
6) Gib: Boasting the best hand-eye coordination of the Power Gamers, Gib spends his days shooting. Shooting at people on screens, shooting at targets on a range, shooting darts, and shooting off his mouth. Mega tolerates his attitude because he's the best sniper the Cult has got -- Gib has proven that his talents are transferable to real-life assassinations on more than one occasion. Still, if he keeps shooting looks at Meta, Mega may arrange for Gib to have a range accident.
7) Grind: What Grind lacks in natural talent, he makes up for in sheer determination. He has spent hundreds of hours on the shooting range and in the Power Gamer's dojo, and as a result is surprisingly competent in just about every combat skill they teach -- just not a master of any. Still, don't expect him to be out of the fight after a few punches. He has a great ground game, and is not above tripping an opponent to get him into a grapple. The choke hold soon follows.
8) Bane: Unlike most cult members (who are usually ex-college students or clueless high school dropouts), Bane was a violent convict before his indoctrination. Recruited in prison by Mega, Bane had no great difficulty passing the recruitment phase. Rather, the Players had a more difficult time finding someone that Bane still cared about. In the end, Bane killed his own sister in under five minutes -- a record that he still holds today. He is unnervingly intelligent, unwaveringly loyal to Mega, and willing to kill anyone that Mega orders him to, including former Players.
9) Lobo: Another former convict, Lobo has some truly sick appetites that he is now able to enjoy on a semi-regular basis, thanks to the Cult. He rapes and murders NPC prostitutes for the thrill he gets as they scream and struggle. Sometimes, he even lets them run away with gaping wounds in their legs and hindquarters, shooting them in the back just as they reach the door. Other Players privately wonder if he is insane. His favored weapon is a long, curved knife that he uses with suspicious skill.
10) Zerg: Zerg doesn't have a death-wish, but his propensity to charge head-first into fights makes some of the other Power Gamers cringe. He's one of the newer Players, in that dangerous phase between accepting their life is a Game, and learning they are not invincible. Zerg is worshipfully loyal of Mega, and obviously spent a lot of time playing fighting games -- he prefers theatrics and big, one-liners to common sense and stealth. Lobo finds him amusing. Expect to see him on the front lines, swinging around a freaking katana instead of using a more sensible (and less cool) pistol.
11) Rodeo: So named for his love of vehicles, Rodeo can drive just about anything if you give him a minute to figure out the controls. He has hijacked construction equipment, light aircraft and even a few military grade vehicles that were under-guarded. Rodeo has an easy-going personality that most Power Gamers lack, and is often sent out on recruiting missions to college campuses in one of the more flashy (legal) vehicles. His stories of wild chases and adventures (some true) usually manage to draw a few curious souls into the fold.
12) Vertigo: Before joining in with the Players, Vertigo had been arrested several times for trespassing and reckless behaviour -- hazards that a Parkour hobbyist learns to accept. The Players offered her protection and acceptance, and she has developed her natural skills to an almost ninja-like edge. She can get onto (or into) any building or structure that doesn't have military-level security, and can even leave packages or messages behind. Vertigo acts as a special delivery service for the Cult, and often accompanies the Puzzle Gamers on field work, acting as general lookout and backup for the less combat-oriented Players.
13) Meta (aka Anya Smith): Double majoring in computer science and theatre before joining up with the Players, Meta is of average height and above-average looks -- an advantage that she shamelessly exploits when recruiting or pumping an outsider for information. She is the face of the Cult, though the most anyone usually sees of her is a darkened silhouette accompanying a steady, silken voice. Meta knows how to pull peoples' strings, has dirt on just about everybody, and knows many more things she shouldn't. What she doesn't know, she can usually find out.
As the leader of the Puzzle Gamers, she has a capable network of spies and hackers that are extremely loyal and protective of her. She has a love/hate relationship with Mega (they've had a series of one-nighters and short stints as a couple, but nothing that stuck) and thinks of Exodus as a close friend. Expect to find her in a slouch hat, baggy pants and a tight gaming t-shirt, in a dark room backlit by computer screens.
14) Switch & Flick: Also knows as the Tech Twins, Switch and Flick were interns in the IT department of a major university before joining up with the Cult. Gawky ginger-headed youths with little evident sun exposure, Switch & Flick enjoy playing the occasional tech prank on anyone who makes the mistake of calling them 'ginger' -- they've had Zerg's ringtone set to a Justin Bieber song for weeks now -- but refrain from really malicious stuff. They keep the Players' equipment running smoothly, and can fix, tweak, upgrade and build almost anything electronic.
15) Mana: Mana is convinced that he is capable of learning magic -- real magic -- if only he can figure out the way to unlock that potential within the Game. He's the Cult's primary investigator into the occult and has studied dozens of religions and mythologies. Mana has been pestering Meta to invest more resources in Cult activities regarding the Seven Ancient Wonders of the world. Perhaps collecting an artifact from each site is the key to unlocking Real Ultimate Power!
16) Patch: One of the more 'field-active' Puzzle Gamers, Patch knows networks. She maintains the Cult's internal and external communications, and is on call 24/7 to deal with emergencies. She can exploit security holes in a foreign network, and is responsible for opening and obscuring hidden access points in systems and locations of interest to the Cult. Often, this requires going to a location in person and Rodeo usually accompanies her as getaway driver. She has a huge crush on him, but hasn't worked out the courage to tell him yet.
18) Wiz: Wiz is brilliant -- he has an IQ bordering on savant and can divide his attention in a dozen ways at once. He is generally found in a special room of his own, along with a couple of whiteboards covered in cryptic shorthand and about a half-dozen computer monitors, all on different websites. Wiz is responsible for information warfare on behalf of the Cult. He spreads rumors about Cult enemies, manages online auctions of illicit goods, maintains contact with hundreds of informants and can either increase or decrease Cult visibility, depending on his current orders from Meta. Outside of his 'zone', Wiz is painfully shy and horribly awkward in social situations.
19) Poly: Poly has so many covers, it's hard to get a pin on what she's really like under the act. At one moment, she's a visiting VIP from a parent company, there to 'get to the bottom' of your team's apparent failings. The next moment she's an emergency responder, directing curious bystanders away from more conspicuous Cult activities. A consummate actress, Poly collects accents like they are playing cards and is one of the Cult's best spies (and distractions). She works well with Wiz, and the two are a bit of an item.
20) Enigma: The essence of a Puzzle Gamer, Enigma has a wild imagination and even wilder plans for the future of the Cult. She sees herself taking over after Meta one day, and is careful to insert herself into most of the planning & strategy meetings -- even when not invited. If she wasn't so good at sussing out emerging patterns in the currency markets (and making the Cult a lot of money in the process), Meta would probably have clamped down harder on her by now.
21) Crypto: Crypto is an ex-PhD student in mathematics and cryptography. He sees hidden connections and messages everywhere, and has a highly-developed sense of paranoia. Couple that with a fondness for hallucinogenic drugs that help him 'see' the hidden messages, and Crypto's predictions are often worse than useless. When down off his high, however, his perception and vigilance can pay off -- sometimes in a big way. He can be amazingly accurate, both in predicting anti-Cult activity and in deciphering hidden patterns in current events. Meta knows that if Crypto says something once, she can usually ignore him. If he says it on two separate occasions, something is probably up.
22) Pseudo: Pseudo is an undercover outsider -- either an officer of the law, or a plant for a different power group, depending on the game. He makes himself useful by acting as a double agent within that group, 'spying' for the Cult on his real employers and feeding them misleading or unimportant data. Pseudo is such a good liar that Meta doesn't suspect him yet, but Crypto is beginning to wonder about the encrypted messages he sometimes sends from within the Cult's network.
23) Exodus (aka Joe Porter): Exodus knew both Players One and Two for years before they formed the Cult, and he was also their first recruit. A close friend of both, he was hit especially hard when Scott died and Jared skipped town. Afterwards, most expected Joe to abandon the Players or at least try to follow them by killing himself. He didn't. Instead, he hung onto the fringes of the Cult, fading into the background as the Players grew in number. Exodus eventually turned his grief over his friends' loss into a niche for himself. When a Player begins to lose hope, he counsels them through it or at least helps them find death in a 'meaningful' way. He's the closest thing the Cult has to a priest.
In time, Exodus built up his own small Guild comprised of death-seekers and the suicidally depressed, people the other Guilds are not equipped to handle. An unimposing man with honey brown hair and soulful brown eyes, he maintains an unwavering loyalty for the absent Player One. He rarely speaks, but when he does, the other Players listen -- even Meta and Mega. He helps to balance them, and his steady advice has saved the Cult from disaster more than once.
24) Shard: Shard passed the initiation phase of the Players Cult, but was broken in the process. He beat his then-girlfriend bloody during The Swearing, giving her brain damage from which she never recovered. At the time, he had been drunk on power and sadism. Afterwards, he couldn't bear the shame of what he had done. Shard wants out of the Cult, but is too cowardly to go to the authorities and too terrified of seeing his ex again. He spends his days as high as possible, not having worked up the courage to overdose.
25) Kluge: Kluge is one of those young veterans who fell through the cracks in the system. After receiving a disabling injury overseas, Kluge returned to lackluster veteran support and medical care that left him with a replacement arm and leg, but little else. Post-traumatic stress disorder ended his marriage early, and strained relations with the rest of his family. The Players offered him respite, companionship, and recreational drugs to help take the edge off his misery. Due to his prosthetics, Kluge isn't going on field missions for the Cult, but he does provide some much-needed tactical experience via walkie-talkie to the more reckless Power Gamers.
26) Phreak: A Player is a Player -- worthy of receiving help and guidance from the rest of the group. If that wasn't the case, Phreak might have been abandoned at a mental facility months ago. He was actually part of the original group that dropped out of university together, along with Players One and Two, Meta, Mega and Exodus. Back then he was much like Gib -- brash, confident and excited to be part of something so damned cool. A couple of years later, and his body has mostly wasted away from hard drug use. A series of bad trips screwed up his mind pretty badly, too. The Death Bringers care for him at Exodus' insistence, but his time is coming. Phreak doesn't have much strength left in him, but you may find him with a gun in his hand (or a bomb on his chest) and madness in his eyes, let loose in a situation where his death could provide the others with a meaningful distraction.
27) Demo: Demo wants to destroy The Game, and is willing to bring the whole world down to accomplish that. He's probably the most furious of the Players, nursing a deep-seated hatred for the imagined race of people who trapped him here. He sees every NPC as agents of his imprisonment, and derives no small satisfaction from inflicting pain and other suffering on them. As such, Demo is the Cult's chief torturer/interrogator. Exodus is worried about his mental stability; of the Death Bringers, Demo is the most likely to go rogue and piss off the authorities.
28) Worm: Unlike Bit, Worm actually has a great deal of skill in hacking, having written his first piece of software when he was still in grade school. Unfortunately, it's hard to get him to bother with much these days. Worm has become jaded and bitter after years of chasing false leads on the End Game. Every system he cracked, every bit of information he gleaned from secure sources, simply led to more disappointment. Worm couldn't know that Meta used a lot of his finds to blackmail and rob various officials and industry leaders. She would dearly love to have his skills back, but for now Worm is in self-imposed retirement.
29) Jinx: Jinx was a Power Gamer, back when she joined the Cult. And a damned good one, too. Though she wasn't much of a fighter, she had nearly completed and EMT certification course, and was the Guild's top scorer when it came to wilderness and survival skills. All that changed when a Cult raid of a private medical facility met with much stronger resistance than expected. The supposedly unguarded firm was crawling with private security goons, and Jinx's entire cell was cut down around her. She was the only survivor. Since then, she hasn't been any good for field work, believing that she is cursed somehow.
30) Sushi: No one really knows where the nickname comes from. He has enough scars covering his face and neck that some think he was 'carved up like Sushi,' while others believe that his silent exterior hides a cold-blooded murderer. Perhaps he cuts up his opponents into Sashimi and eats them raw. Sushi won't (or can't) say. The only certainty is that this small, unasuming Asian will do anything that Exodus asks of him, quietly and without any undue mess. Only Exodus knows what his real motives are.