When a dark power or it’s servants manifests itself in our world the results are always tragic for the unfortunates in the vicinity. To behold such creatures is to become irrevocably changed, to lose the sense of complacency about the world and one’s place in it. Most people who witness this become tainted and die, go hopelessly insane, or become slaves to powerful entities. A few manage to survive with some remnants of their former selves intact. The Laughing Ones have neither fallen under the control of the darkness nor succumbed to total madness. Their first line of defense is the strength of will and their second one is sardonic humor. The Mockers laugh at the Universe, because they have seen it in ways no mortal was meant to. Some of those few have banded together. They call themselves the Mockers, and may be the most despised, misunderstood and isolated organization of all.
They have survived the being tainted by dark forces, causing a constant strain on their minds and souls, and so try to use their powers to fight those same creatures. They fight to prevent creatures from beyond reality from securing a foothold in our world. In the end, it is always a losing battle, for the Taint cannot be controlled forever. The Mockers have little choice, however. They simply make the most of the time they have.
They hold down menial jobs, read tabloids and cruise the weirder Internet newsgroups, and they have an odd, disturbing sense of humor. Something allowed them to withstand the mind-destroying influence of the taint. maybe love for a person or a place, or sheer hatred, or plain stubbornness. They must always keep that “anchor” firmly in their mind, using it as an amulet to ward off the growing madness.
The Mockers first appeared in the Dark Ages, the chaotic times that followed the decline of the Roman Empire in Western Europe. In this time of destruction and death, when many thought that the end of the world was at hand, some people turned to old, forbidden practices. The first Mocker rose from just such an encounter.
What the first Mocker had been before his transformation is a matter of speculation, but most believe he was either a warrior or a monk. The seminal event occurred in a monastery that was attacked by Viking raiders. In the middle of the fight, something rose from the earth, destroyed the monastery and the raiders, and vanished again. The first Mocker was the sole survivor. Something, maybe his faith or perhaps simple stubbornness, kept him from sinking into utter madness. At least for a while.
He went on to become a semi-legendary figure, a man who wore mail armor over a monk’s habits, a fearsome warrior that was believed to be one of the horsemen of the apocalypse by those who saw him too closely.
The first Mocker eventually found others like him. The group was small, no more than a dozen for several centuries, with new members never doing more than filling the place of those who had fallen or lost their battle with insanity. The Mockers traveled with pilgrims and participated in the Crusades. There some tales claim that they encountered both the Sentinels and The Knights Templar, and that members of all three groups, together with the Islamic Hashishin, stopped the incarnation of Gog-Baal. The alliance was short-lived, however, and the Mockers went their own way afterwards.
Centuries passed. Some Mockers were burned as witches or run out of towns. Their numbers remained small, swelling only during the ripple-reflections of the Times of Reckoning. The Black Plague was one such time and some of the dark humor of the time, the illustrations of bishops and merchants and beggars dancing merrily with Death and the sardonic literature produced by the survivors, bears Mocker influence. The American Civil War was another such time. Some Mockers claim that writer and journalist Ambrose Bierce was one of their kind, and, if nothing else, the tone of his writings reflects the feelings of cynicism and despair that often afflicts members of this group.
The 20th century has turned out to be the most active period for the Covenant. They found many new members among people exposed to the horrors of war. As well as to the horrors that prowled the battlefields in the dark.
The Mockers have experienced things no mortal should. They have learned to live with that trauma, and now know only one certainty: to allow the darkness to win means to suffer even worse horrors. Most Mockers fear that even death may prove no refuge from the torments of the beings from Beyond. The ones who do not often end up taking their own lives. Beyond that basic belief, the Mockers have faith only in their own strength, and occasionally the loyalty of their brethren. They all share a cynical, skeptical view of the world. They are often atheistic: as far as they are concerned, the only god-like entities that exist are monstrous entities with unfathomable goals and desires, who care for humanity even less than humans care for bacterial life. Their cynicism extends to most other things as well: politics, social issues, love, and war. Many of them admit that if they did not think doing nothing would just bring about worse ordeals for them, they would not fight the Darkness.
The Mocker’s symbol is the laughing mask of classical theater. A few members go as far as wearing clown make-up when preparing for war. They take very few things seriously. The Darkness being the only exception. Even then, they try to mask their true feelings by cracking jokes or taking insane chances. They can be unpredictable and even violent in their dealings with others, and sometimes extremely coldblooded about such things as innocent bystanders. If the incarnation of the darkness appears imminent, a Mocker will do anything necessary to prevent it. If doing so requires him to detonate a nuclear device in downtown New York, so be it. Fortunately, this type of situation does not come up often. In 900 years of Mocker history, there have only been a handful of instances where a major entity seriously threatened to manifest itself. Most of the time, they deal with temporary, but still destructive, manifestations. The appearance of minor creatures from Beyond or most often the activities of human cultists.
Beneath the cynicism and the skewed view of the world, however, the Mockers are a tightly-knit community. They all share similar experiences, pain and fears, and they try to give comfort to one another even while pretending they do not care. Unless the situation is desperate, they will never betray or deceive one another. Most also show some degree of concern towards others. Those who don’t eventually become psychopaths and lose their battle with Madness.
They do not recruit members. They look for other victims of the darkness, and try to reach them before it is too late. For every Tainted victim they rescue, they have to kill four or five others who are beyond help. More importantly, they try to make sure that what happened to them does not happen to others. There isn’t much of a leadership. Older and more experienced Mockers act as teachers or mentors to the new generation, and their lead is usually followed.
They work alone or in small groups, rarely more than a handful, gathering newspaper articles, net surfing, wandering through select occult circles, on the lookout for any signs of trouble such as strange disappearances, outbursts of madness or plagues, unexplained events. Often, they find something else. Such as a nest of vampires, a mundane serial killer, a pack of wildlings, or even a harmless gifted human who has inadvertently revealed their power.
The Covenant’s major source of income is a handful of foundations bequeathed to them by wealthier Mockers. They provide just enough funds for a few libraries and research facilities, mostly located in Europe and North America, as well as some money for travel expenses, expeditions into remote areas, and so on. Money is often a problem, however. Most Mockers hold down temporary and low-paying jobs. Even those who were professionals or academics are rarely able to maintain a normal life after their initial experiences. A few are career criminals, or use their powers to rob criminals to support themselves. Some literally live on the streets.
The Pariahs have endured horrible experiences, and thus have some common ground with the Mockers. The two groups often share the slums and homeless shelters, and some Disciples or Tainted people actually belong to both groups. The Mockers are often called when a Pariah surrenders to the lure of darkness and becomes a servant of the Darkness. The two groups have a good working relationship, although they often make each other a tad nervous.
Most groups tolerate them at best, and at worst targets for elimination. Since the Mockers are relatively few and spread out, they try to find out who else is in their local area. They use their skills and powers to spot other Gifted groups, sometimes uncovering Dark Covenants or Mad Cults along the way, and attempt to figure out a way to work together. Or to simply use the other groups as tools and weapons. This occurs on a case-by-case basis.
Skills and abilities
Occult Knowledge is held by almost all members. Combat skills are not unknown, but not widespread either. To many Mockers, violence is a last resort as they fear losing control of their Taint. Investigators will have a number of scholastic and research skills, to better detect signs of their enemies.
The majority of Mockers have a variety of Taint Powers. Some practice Magic, usually powered with Taint. Any other Gifted power is possible. Many Mockers also have the Disciplines of the Flesh.
The Mockers have a hard time holding down regular jobs. A few, especially among the untainted, work in academia. Most Tainted Mockers work only to get enough money to live on. Temporary work, or menial parttime jobs are the preferred sources of income. A few turn to petty crime.