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 Intriguing Factions

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Join date : 2010-08-10

PostSubject: Intriguing Factions   Thu Sep 09, 2010 2:43 pm

The Benson Foundation
Ian Grey introduces the World of Darkness to the ELN Mythos Project with The Benson Foundation, introduced in Ian's short fiction.

A decade ago, forces beyond comprehension tragically destroyed one man’s life. That hasn't kept him from seeking vengeance. Now, after years of preparation, he and his allies are ready to strike...
The Public Eye
For almost ten years, the Benson Foundation has sought to help the less fortunate through a multitude of fundraising projects. It has practically become a corporate entity in the course of these pursuits, taking over businesses like Sammachi & Sons or supporting projects such as the West Medical Group. Originally a non-profit organization, it slowly shifted gears over the years, facing its most noticeable expansions first by purchasing a controlling stock interest in General Products Ltd., then later buying up much of the fragmenting business empire of Sammachi & Sons. Now Richard Benson, the organization's founder, is one of the wealthiest men in America (if not the world).
Already wealthy by way of inheritance, Benson had spent his life before marriage exploring portions of Central & South America, as well as adventuring about other less-traveled parts of the world. He gave it all up for Miranda Cunnings, and his life became complete when his daughter Claudia was born. In 1989 he & his family were kidnapped by a radical doomsday cult. Although the Police arrived in time to save him, Miranda & Claudia were not so fortunate. Unable to deal with his loss, Benson was committed to Elysian Fields Asylum for six months. He left it a changed man. Richard Benson started the Foundation after the tragic deaths of his wife & daughter as a form of therapy. While not exactly avoiding the high society of his earlier life, he has instead taken to becoming an eccentric recluse of sorts. His associates, business partners & companions now tend to come from more esoteric circles. Though no hint of scandal has come to light, a few voices have noted his strong support of local law enforcement through fundraising activities, and the occasional "disappearance" of those who pry too deeply into his affairs (ignoring the fact that some of those "missing" have reappeared to defend him, often finding work with the Foundation thereafter)...
Hidden Truths:
A short history of the Foundation and its founder
Secret Beginnings
The cult responsible for Benson's personal tragedy was more than a simple sect of Satanists, despite what any police report might say. This group worshiped the Outer Gods, and to that end Benson & his family had been marked as sacrifices for beings to which humanity are but gnats. Benson watched helplessly as his wife & little girl were thrown each in turn into a pit to be devoured by immense monstrous grub-like THINGS, only to be snatched away from the abyss by the arriving police raid. The authorities wrote reports of a mass suicide the likes of which would not be seen again until the Waco massacre - a lie of convenience to cover the unexplained collapse of the cave-network where the cult was holding their rite. His hair white from the shock of events, Benson's trusties had him placed in the care of Elysian Fields Asylum until he recovered. Tormented by nightmares of the horror he had witnessed, Benson was compelled to seek a way to stop such monsters & those mad enough to serve them.
The Vorhese Affair
A year later, after much training & research, he was ready. Pulling together a circle of like-minded hunters & investigators, he set to breaking up another cult - this band being a group of terrorists claming to be descended from the Hassassim of old. Though the rank and file of this cult proved blatant and relatively obvious, their leader - Robert Vorhese - was a sorcerer well versed in the darker magics of the Mythos, and far more dangerous. After a few run-ins with the cult and Vorhese's monstrous allies, Benson judged a retributive strike was in order. Benson & his companions broke into Vorhese's estate and took the wizard by surprise. Somehow, in killing Vorhese, Benson gained insight into his power. After a brief bout of amnesia, Benson recovered not only his sense of purpose but also an understanding of Vorhese's dark magics, and the dark powers he had served. Using an ancient ritual, Benson had a five-pointed star, marked in its midst by a flame, tattooed and enchanted on the palm of his right hand. Those who had survived this initial mission followed suit and so formed the inner circle of what would soon be known as the Benson Foundation. Properly speaking, the Benson Foundation came into being to support their activities, though as time wore on it became in and of itself a subtle tool in Benson's crusade. Over the next few years, Benson would add to this circle. Initial recruits came from those policemen who had survived the raid that had taken his family & seen the horrors that were responsible. After the Vorhese affair, a number of the self-styled Hassassim turned from their brethren to serve Benson and his private crusade. As time wore on a collection of dabblers in the paranormal, mad (& not-so-mad) scientists, monster hunters, and even the rare monster came to join the quest.
Pandora's Child
1994, All Hallows Eve... Sucked into a kaleidoscope of events even Benson found hard to comprehend, he found himself summoned to rescue a damsel in distress. He and a few others were drawn into the Near Umbra by Devlin, an immortal magician of alien heritage (others would argue he was of the Marauder faction, but that would impinge on his status as a "free agent"). His "wife" was the Methuselah Pandora, currently held in the technocratic stronghold of the SIGMA Project Research Center for dissection and analysis of the "Vampiric Equation". Despite bearing all the hallmarks of some twisted dream Benson freed the beautiful ancient from her strange prison, and was rewarded (?) for his pains: from Devlin he received the Banesword, and from Pandora the "Kiss"... Unceremoniously thrust back into the "real world", Benson struggled with adapting to the twin hungers of blood and battle, and it wasn't long before he had to acquaint himself with the local Kindred of his city. His initial claims at heritage ridiculed, his raw power (never mind the backup he held in reserve from the Foundation) gave him the space to carve out enough status to be left well enough alone. Labeled "Malkavian", the Kindred of his city dismissed him, a fact many have since come to regret...
Strange Days
While investigating rumors of a strange artifact recently come into the possession of the Brujah Methuselah Symmachus, Benson found his sire had fallen under the control of an even older Baali ancient calling himself Del Hevil. The mage Devlin had been embraced and staked by Pandora so he would neither stop nor be harmed by her dark master. The former mage, promising a cure to their vampiric state if Pandora could be reached, called on Benson again to ride to the rescue. They lost Pandora in New York when Del Hevil ripped open a hole in space, showing him the limitless depths of the gulfs beyond...and the immense things that lurked there... Eventually though they succeeded... & failed: Devlin diablerized both the ancients, took back the Banesword and disappeared, laughing...
Year of the Reckoning:
The Foundation in recent nights
Benson has since returned to his Foundation to instill his Inner Circle with an even greater fire for their crusade. With the fall of Symmachus to the Sabbat, Benson has snapped up much of the Elder's impressive resources (formerly held in trust by Sammachi & Sons). He has also begun to breed, choosing the best amongst his inner circle as his childer, teaching them his secrets... Few Kindred realize as of yet the threat his little organization represents. Surprisingly, the unity of Benson's organization is more threatened from within then without as a number of once loyal operatives have recently become "imbued", pushing them over the edge and causing them to turn on the more supernatural aspects of the Foundation (such as Benson himself). Only the secrecy and cell-based organization has kept word from spreading throughout, but Benson & his Inner Circle fear they may have fanned the flames a bit too much in some of their otherwise loyal fanatics.
Organization & Method
Following Benson's belief in secrecy, members conceal their numbers & strength by forming cells of five or so. Each cell holds a versatile pool of primarily human agents (though the all-kindred team is not unheard of). The cell leader keeps tabs with his superior or sire, and can usually expect a reasonable amount of support from the Foundation or one of its subsidiaries. One or more other members act as contact to lesser cells and so on. An average cell (if there is such a thing) might include a Vampire or Ghoul as acting leader (usually a member of Benson's Foundationer bloodline), a specialist in the Occult (often a Hedge Wizard, Sorcerer or the exceptionally rare True Mage), an assassin, an investigator (usually a P.I., cop, or reporter), and a scholar (doctor, professor or other learned professional). When a team is first given or discovers a target, they ascertain what they can before going in. Even then they rarely resort to direct confrontation, preferring to strike through more subtle means, leaving little or no evidence of their involvement. By assassin's trap, hedge wizard's curse, or Foundationer's summoning, the means by which any particular cell operates usually follows their own unique style. Some teams have found it far more effective to set one enemy against the other, dropping clues like a trail of breadcrumbs to lead their targets to mutual destruction. This level of subtlety has helped the Foundation as a whole keep its hands clean in the ever paranoid times of Jyhad that so envelopes modern Kindred.
Subsidiaries & Factions within the Foundation
Foundationers & Technothropes
Bloodlines of triumph & tragedy With care and training Benson has turned his powerful heritage to his advantage. With the mark of the Elder Gods emblazoned on his hand and the mixed blood of Pandora & the Baali in his veins, he has put the magic inherited from Vorhese to good use in forging his own bloodline. Calling themselves simply "Foundationers", these Vampires form the core of the Inner Circle & are essential to Benson's control of the cell-network that forms the basis of his operations. Using the sigil of the Elder Gods, the five-pointed star marked by flame in its center, Benson has developed the Discipline of Nigromancy based on what he's learned of Vorhese's & Devlin's 'Black Arts' (believing it best to fight fire with fire...). Only by proper indoctrination can this power ever be gained - if a Foundationer tried to embrace someone without the proper rites, the result would only be a Caitiff. The Technothropes were another bloodline of Benson's creation. Combining his own blood with that of a Gangrel Antitribu who'd broken from the Sabbat, Benson attempted to create a bloodline of masterful hunters to act as weapons in his crusade. The plan backfired. The Gangrel Antitribu had been infected by the touch of the Banesword, so he and his progeny would become Fomori. The infecting Banes & the Vicissitude in the Gangrel's blood created a new virus-like entity, causing those of the failed bloodline to merge with machines, and even in extreme cases, to become hideous mechanical monsters for short periods. Benson was forced to declare the project a failure and had all the test subjects destroyed. A few may have escaped however...
Vorhese' legacy Rather than stamp out the cult Vorhese had led, Benson turned their adoration and fanaticism to his own ends. Like the Black Hand of the Sabbat, Benson's Hassassim have their own line of command that cuts across the cell-structure of the Foundation, much to the frustration of some of its members. Although Benson claims total control of the assassins, some whisper perhaps Vorhese has found a way to control them from beyond the grave, and waits for the proper time to have revenge on the man who slew him and subverted his servitors.
General Products Ltd.
The Nephandi Connection One of Benson's early financial triumphs, General Products had been founded by a Nephandi cult known as the Black Brotherhood to further their plans to awaken the Great Old Ones and let through the far reaching power of the Outer Gods that lurked beyond the gulfs of the deep Umbra. Most of the Brotherhood died as a result of the mage Devlin's machinations, but the company lingered on under control of the canny Nephandus Joseph Tomblin. Benson, in the processes of cleaning up the remains of the cult, learned of the impending collapse of the company from Tomblin and with his aid the Foundation added General Product's assets to its own. Benson was wise to Tomblin though, and forcefully bound the mage as one of his first Foundationers. Able to roll with the punches, Tomblin has waited patiently, ever the loyal servant. But if the bloodbond forced on him should ever slip...
West Medical Group
The Mad Doctor's Agenda One of Benson's oldest allies and the first to join his inner circle, Dr. Hieronymous Gordon West followed Benson not out of faith in the crusade, but an intellectual obsession with death. Early in his career, West had come across the notes of his great-uncle Herbert West. The elder West had believed he'd found a way to reanimate the dead. West the younger became obsessed with finishing and validating his work. In return for lending his expertise to Benson's investigations, West was rewarded with financing for his research. As the years wore on he turned more and more towards analysis of the occult in an attempt to complete his findings. A whole new field was opened to him when Benson became a vampire, and he learned much from studying his patron. With the recent push forward in Benson's crusade, West has taken his 'initiation' as a Foundationer and with the Foundation's support has started the West Medical Group. Armed now with a host of labs, researchers, and cells recruited to acquire 'test-subjects' West continues his private agenda of discovering the secrets of life and death through the scientific method.
Sammachi & Sons
Kip Sammachi & the Brujah recruits The Sammachi family traces their line back to Symmachus, the last pagan senator of Rome. Turned around the 5th century by the Brujah Aukturas Brecheau, the former senator looked after his family for the next millennium & a half. Guiding their growth away from Rome as Mercenaries and later investing their resources in assorted merchant houses, the Sammachi spread across Europe and eventually to America. Control of this mighty dynasty through his children & his children's children gave him much respect from Ventrue & Giovanni rivals alike. All of it came tumbling down however when in his hubris he was taken down by a lucky pack of Sabbat. Benson, hearing of this misfortune, took steps to snatch up much of the elder's holdings before other rivals could clue in. Part of this success can be counted on by his recruitment of Symmachus' grand-childe Kip; a young Turk swept up in Benson's idealistic crusade. Bound to him by a fanaticism born out of idealism, Kip and his gang are isolated from many of the Foundation's darker truths by the organization's compartmentalization.
The Carter Initiative
The Hunter's Reformation Already an experienced vampire and were-wolf Hunter, Det. Ed Carter had learned his trade in the killing-fields of New York. Put in touch with Benson by a mutual friend, Carter continued his bloody business with the Foundation's help. He learned over time that some of Benson's allies were Vampires as well and found what was once a black and white cause was slowly filling with gray areas. All doubts were dispelled when those now referring to themselves as the 'Imbued' appeared on the scene. With their simple creed so much like his own, Carter was sure he could persuade them to join the Foundation. But except for a few, most refused to have anything to do with Carter, calling him instead a sell-out (a few even trying to kill him). Much shaken by this turn of events, he eventually concluded that Benson was wrong - one could NOT fight fire with fire. From that day forward Carter's personal crusade was clear: rid the Foundation of supernatural influences. To this task he has applied himself, first by cleansing his own cell, then by convincing other "untainted" mortals in other cells to do the same. Marked off as accidents or casualties of the crusade, few have noticed yet the slow cleansing of Carter's reformation movement...
The Foundation: Friend or Foe?
In the Final Nights, the Benson Foundation has become a deadly wildcard. Choosing to side with neither Sect, Benson's Inner Circle seeks to put down those who worship in dark places, Infernal or otherwise. Benson and his allies act as scourge to what they perceive as evil, all the while attempting to keep a low profile, keeping a masquerade to both Kindred & Kine alike. Through the Foundation Benson acts as both patron and mentor to those who hunt the night, and as such may make an ideal ally for player characters - all he demands in return is loyalty to the cause (and perhaps a bit of proof...). Just so, it isn't hard to wind up a target of the Foundation either. The Sabbat and Garou are obvious cult-like organizations, the Camarilla nominally less so. Tremer or Giovanni, Assimite or Tzimice...secretive, organized monsters with a taste for fell magic are clear threats to the Foundation. They may not be ready yet to take them on directly, but small broods or individuals make easy targets if they aren't careful...
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