Group Seed: Factio Eximiae Ululae.

Factio Eximiae Ululae

Symbol: an owl, in flight and pouncing, superimposed over a stylized thunderbolt.

(Blame this.)

Well, it’s sort of a cult.  That is, the Factio Eximiae Ululae (“Society of the Superb Owl”) shows many superficial signs of being a High Fantasy cult (hidden rituals, secret lore, a certain obsessive focus common to its members, robes, chanting) while at the same time avoiding the more alarming personality flaws often showed by more unsavory cults (aggressive nihilism, apocalyptic goals, human sacrifice, dress codes that handily obscure cultists’ faces).  Members of the Factio only hide their identities because they like to go after the aforementioned unsavory cults, usually while carrying very heavy weapons and a quite remarkable amount of accelerants. The Factio Eximiae Ululae is apparently one of those cults that gives great weight to the supposed cleansing properties of flame.

It’s widely believed, among those research theurgists who study such things, that the Factio was originally created as a divine counterweight for the human tendency to generate those groups that, two or three years ago, were just another snake cult.  The deity that the Factio has worshipped at various times (under the name ‘The Wisest’) notoriously varies in appearance, dominion, influence, and even sex. What the various versions of the Wisest all do have in common is in its advocacy of fire as a disinfectant, and how it encourages its followers to adopt a certain uncritical willingness towards violently disrupting dark rituals.  Individual Factio cultists often don’t last long, but before they die they can rack up a body count that impresses even the most hyper-violent of adventuring guilds and holy orders.

Sensible authorities — and adventurers of all types — thus consider the appearance of the Factio Eximiae Ululae to be a mixed blessing.  On the one hand, they’re only there because there’s a nasty death cult also out there, and if that death cult isn’t immediately visible then it’s hiding, which is always worse.  On the other hand, the Factio will happily act as shock troops, inquisitors, and general assistants in any countercultist campaign.  Just remember: Factio cultists are not nice.  They are not evil, as it is commonly defined (including by alignment spells, should such things exist in a campaign), but they are most assuredly not nice.