Monday, January 16, 2023

The Red Brotherhood: A Brotherhood of Steel faction for the Fallout Roleplaying Game.



(A quick note: This was a bit of a doodle brought about by a post on twitter about creating a communist/anti-fascist splinter group of the Brotherhood of Steel for the excellent Fallout: The Roleplaying Game from Modiphius Entertainment. This faction was created as a lark and is presented for free. No infringement of copyright or trademark is intended in any way, and if asked I will pull the piece immediately. I did this purely for fun. So without further ado, let's begin!)

The Red Brotherhood: A Brotherhood of Steel faction for the Fallout Roleplaying Game.

A Tale of Rebirth:

    Many in the Commonwealth have heard the story of Arthur Maxson's rise to power in the Brotherhood of Steel: his upbringing in the Capital Wasteland, coming of age in the fractious period under the leadership of Elder Owen Lyons, and Arthur's ascension to the role of Elder in the wake of Owen's death and the death of his Daughter Sarah. The tale has Arthur bringing the order together under his sterling leadership, saving the Brotherhood from destruction at the hands of incompetent leadership. It's a good story, and it wins a great many potential initiates applying to join the order after the arrival of the Prydwen. But it's not the -entire- story, and the Brotherhood's status as a unified whole is a carefully constructed lie. 

    The truth resembles the official narrative to a point: Arthur Maxson's ascent to the position of Elder of the East Coast Brotherhood and his approval from the West Coast chapter did ensure the Brotherhood Outcasts of the Capital Wasteland returned to the fold, mollified that the Order would return to it's original mission to safeguard (hoard, if you're more critical) the technology of the past. But not every member of the order was satisfied with the new direction the Brotherhood was undertaking in the wake of Sarah Lyons' death. One of those individuals was Paladin Morgan Mattick. Mattick had been a member of the Lyons Pride, the elite squad hand-picked by Sarah Lyons to combat the various threats in the Capital Wasteland and ensure the safety of the populace there. Mattick had taken a great deal of pride in the work the Pride had accomplished, and was a loyal follower of both Lyons.

     Heartbroken by Owen Lyon's death, Mattick was ready to serve Sarah and continue the East Coast Brotherhood's mission. . .only for Sarah to be killed in battle shortly after her father's passing. The battle itself had been a debacle, with the Lyons Pride and two other squads fighting a pitched battle with raiders. When the smoke cleared, Sarah's body was found, her armour scorched by laser fire. She had been shot in the back. The other squads swore it had been a surprise ambush from raiders hidden nearby, but Mattick and the other survivors of the Pride were less certain. Mattick, a true believer in the spirit of the Brotherhood's mission over the letter of its dogma, began to have doubts. 


    Arthur's ascension initially quelled many of Mattick's doubts: unlike the succession of incompetents that had followed Sarah's death, Maxson was a dedicated leader, a father to his men, and had a vision of continuing Owen and Sarah Lyons protection of the citizens of the Capital Wasteland. But Arthur's vision of 'protection' clashed with the Lyons Doctrine: it felt less like protection of the helpless and more like a monarch's rule. That, combined with Maxson's increasing human supremacist views (Lyons Pride had worked with non-feral ghouls and Super Mutants in the past and found them worthy allies), and his increasing obsession with synths worried Mattick. And then the Prydwen project was announced. 

    The Prydwen was the most ambitious project the Brotherhood had undertaken: a massive mobile base dedicated to the purpose of expanding the order's reach from the Capital Wasteland to the Commonwealth. The only problem was power: the Prydwen's specs called for a fusion plant, and while the Order had no small amount of technology from the old world housed in the Citadel, a fusion plant wasn't one of them. The only viable fusion plant to be found was the one powering the community of Rivet City, a human settlement built in the ruins of an old world aircraft carrier. Maxson made plans to obtain it: by diplomacy if possible, by force if not. Mattick argued fiercely for the rights of the people of Rivet City to the source of their power. The Lone Wanderer may have been able to provide clean water with their sacrifice, but didn't the people of Rivet City deserve light and heat as well?     Maxson heard Mattick's arguments, patted the older Paladin's shoulder and promised him that they would explore other alternatives. Proctor Quinlan offered a potential site for another aircraft carrier further up the coast. Maxson assigned Mattick and his squad (comprised of Lyons Pride survivors) to obtain the fusion reactor for the Prydwen. Relieved, Mattick and his team started north along the coast to find the abandoned carrier. They found a wreck at an old naval base. . .but it had been picked clean decades ago. Radioing back, Mattick received orders to return to base, as an alternative had been found. As Mattick's squad entered the capital wasteland, they saw smoke in the distance. 

    Rivet City had fallen to the Brotherhood of Steel.

The Schism

    Mattick was furious. He stormed into Maxson's office in the Citadel, the Paladins on guard in the hall sprawled unconscious in his wake. Mattick spoke his mind and he spoke it truthfully: Maxson had betrayed the ideals of Owen and Sarah Lyons, his actions had spat on their memory, and he was a disgrace to all the Brotherhood of Steel had been. The two argued loudly, Maxson charging a physically restrained Mattick with insubordination and expelling him from the Brotherhood of Steel. Mattick's reply was cold and hard as the power armour the paladins stripped from him:

"If this is your Brotherhood, then I want no part of it."

    Morgan Mattick strode out of the Citadel with little more than the clothes on his back, a satchel of his personal effects, and a 10mm pistol. Arthur Maxson and the Brotherhood continued with their expansionist plans, confident that Mattick wouldn't be an impediment to the Brotherhood of Steel any longer, his death in the wasteland all but assured. They were to be proven very, very wrong.

The Exodus and a new direction

    Mattick wandered north, initially with the plan to warn the Commonwealth of the Brotherhood's arrival. As he left the Capital Wasteland, he found himself joined by the members of his squad, as well as a number of knights, scribes, and initiates who had been supporters of Owen and Sarah Lyons. The group moved quickly, having taken a number of scout reports from the Brotherhood's forays north. Using it as a guide, they found a military bunker south of the city of Boston. Upon exploration of the ruin a substantial cache of pre-war weaponry and armour was found, including a large number of laser rifles, powered armour, and vertibirds. Retrofitted from an abandoned copper mine the Bunker (as it came to be known) had hidden launch bays for vertibirds (two of the three remaining functional) as well as machine shops, living quarters, medical facilities, supplies, all the amenities the fugitive Brotherhood members would need. 

    On the journey Mattick thought long and hard about Maxson, about the Lyons, and about the Brotherhood's mission. A few of his squad and the other defectors believed they should strike back at the Brotherhood, gather allies from the Underworld and the survivors of Rivet City and take the fight to the order directly. Mattick disagreed. "The order is too powerful. For now, we will do our best to show another way, and hope that the others will join our cause and forsake Maxson's madness."

    Along the trek north Mattick had read the books Owen Lyons had given him as a young initiate: The Communist Manifesto, The Cry for Justice, Meditations, and The Art of Living. He meditated on the Brotherhood of Steel, on the nature of the order, and found that while there was much to be admired in its mission to act as steward to the technology of the past to protect humanity from another apocalypse, the temptation to sit on that technology and not use it for the benefit of the people had warped the order's purpose. A new path was needed, one that put the people of the Wasteland first.

    Mattick shared his vision with the others, and found them of a like mind. To his surprise, the defectors had elected him the Elder of this new group. Giving it the name the Red Brotherhood in partial mockery of the Brotherhoods' adherence to the iconography of the Western powers and as a nod to more communist ideals, the newly appointed Elder began his campaign to aid the people of the Commonwealth and help restore civilization according to the principles of Owen and Sarah Lyons.

The Red Brotherhood

    Not long after the Prydwen's arrival in the Commonwealth, rumours began to emerge of Brotherhood of Steel soldiers wandering the Wasteland protecting citizens. This wouldn't be anything new, except rather than the dull green of the standard Brotherhood squads the power armour, uniforms, and vertibirds of these Brotherhood squads were all bright red, a stylized logo of a Lion's head with it's jaws closing on a golden star emblazoned on the chest plates of their armour. These warriors called themselves the Red Brotherhood, and unlike raider gangs or even the Brotherhood of Steel they worked to not only protect the communities of the Wasteland, but provided technologies (medicine, improved filtration systems, and genetically modified seeds) to allow the communities to become stronger. It didn't take long for Maxson and the Brotherhood to realize who was behind this new power in the Commonwealth: Morgan Mattick left a statement for Publick Occurrences, which ran the following:

    "Greetings to the people of the Commonwealth. My name is Morgan Mattick, Elder of the Red Brotherhood. We are a group committed to the protection of the innocent and the restoration of civilization throughout the wasteland. We were once members of the Brotherhood of Steel but can no longer in good conscience serve that institution. It has fallen far from the vision of good people, people like Owen and Sarah Lyons. It has become an imperialist power which seeks to rule the people, not serve them. To that end, we offer an alternative. We offer our protection, our service, and our lives to ensure the Commonwealth prospers. That all people who live here: human, ghoul, and super-mutant who eschew the ways of violence and seek their own betterment will do so with our protection and our support. We ask that you join us in this cause. Together, we can throw off the chains of the old world and build something new. Something better. We are the Red Brotherhood, and we are here to help."

The Red Brotherhood today

Mattick has been very careful to avoid the Boston Airport and the Prydwen. He's made it clear to his paladins and knights that direct confrontation with the Brotherhood is forbidden for the moment. Instead, the Red Brotherhood patrols trade routes, making a circuit of communities that require assistance and offer whatever they might require. If raiders need to be taken care of, the Red Brotherhood gives them one opportunity to throw down their weapons before crushing them. Super Mutants? The Red Brotherhood will determine if they can be reasoned with, and utterly destroy them if they can't. Unlike the Brotherhood of Steel, the Red Brotherhood has opened its membership to non-feral ghouls and super-mutants. The one area where both the original BoS and the RB agree upon is the matter of the Institute. Mattick has made it clear that a goal of his Brotherhood is to destroy the Institute and their synthetics. He's extremely wary of the idea of liberated synthetics, and it would take a great deal of persuasion to leave the Railroad alone. To his mind each third generation synth is a bomb waiting to go off. He might be persuaded to leave them be if there was some means of tracking them, to ensure they didn't go rogue.

    The Minutemen are boon allies to the Red Brotherhood, but Mattick is dissatisfied with the organization as a whole. Their independent nature and lackadaisical structure irritate the older paladin, who prefers the simplicity and direct methodology of the Chain that Binds. Mattick finds Preston Garvey particularly grating, seeing him as more bureaucrat handing out missions for his CO to solve rather than effectively dispatching Minutemen operatives to resolve crises. Still, on an individual basis the two groups work well together, and the Minutemen have saved the Red Brotherhood from Brotherhood of Steel reprisals a number of times. 

    Mattick has no illusions however: Maxson won't stand for a rival organization, especially one allowing for the people of the wasteland to become less and less reliant on the Brotherhood of Steel's "benevolent" rule. A confrontation is inevitable, and it's one Mattick plans to win. While very much an idealist and a believer in the teachings of his beloved mentor and his daughter, Mattick knows the defeat of the Brotherhood of Steel is a long game, one that will require the assistance of the people of the wasteland. Eventually, when sufficient recruits have been inducted into the order and the people of the wasteland support the Red Brotherhood, he'll make his play. For now, he simply does what he can to help others today, and hopes when the time comes he'll have their aid when he needs it tomorrow.

The Red Brotherhood in your campaign

    The Red Brotherhood serves as a potential ally (or character origin) for player characters in the Wasteland: their methods and tactics are similar to the Brotherhood's own, as well as their ranks and organizational structure (See the Brotherhood of Steel Entry in Chapter Ten: Denizens of the Wasteland on page 382 for stats, using the Paladin Entry for Mattick and his lieutenants). Mechanically they're no different than the Brotherhood proper (the Brotherhood Initiate Origin on page 51 of Fallout: The Roleplaying game may be used for the Red Brotherhood also), but in terms of methodology they're a throwback to the Brotherhood of Steel under Owen Lyons in Fallout 3. Simply put, they use their technology in the service of the people of the wasteland, and work to uplift them back to a level before the war, albeit one with socialist/communist ideals emphasized over the old world model of hyper-capitalism. They're by no means foolish about their sharing of tech (they're not about to give the residents of the wasteland their power armour or laser rifles) but they'll share medical supplies, engineering assistance, advanced agricultural techniques, all in the service of aiding the people of the Commonwealth.

Mattick is a compassionate man who legitimately cares about people, but he's seen what Maxson and the Brotherhood have planned for the Commonwealth and he won't stand for it. He does his best to have his people avoid the Brotherhood, but given the RB and BoS are both securing trade routes between settlements (Maxson to forward his expansionist agenda and have the settlements become reliant on the BoS and Mattick to legitimately help the settlers however he can) the clash is inevitable. Mattick's no fool: he knows that in a stand-up fight, despite their equal footing in gear and vertibirds the Red Brotherhood simply lacks the numbers to meet the BoS in a straight fight. For now, Mattick's standing orders for the RB is to avoid the BoS unless there is no other option, and even then retreat at the first opportunity. In an address to his people, Mattick made his intentions clear: "The time will come when we'll be in a strong enough position to confront Arthur and his cronies. But for now, we play the long game." 

    If the Red Brotherhood is a little too upbeat for your Fallout setting you can always have Mattick be considerably less noble in his motives: it wasn't that Arthur's plan was wrong, it was that the West Coast Brotherhood chose a boy over a seasoned soldier who was clearly next in the chain of command. Mattick's ego wouldn't allow him to take orders from Arthur, so he stormed off in a fit of pique. His rhetoric is a carefully constructed lie no better than the Brotherhood proper's mythologizing Arthur's accomplishments, and if given the chance Mattock and his growing band of followers could become a worse threat than any mere raider gang or band of super mutants. They could become the next Enclave.


*Red Sky At Morning: the PCs are wandering the wastes when suddenly they notice a heavily damaged red overtired crash in the nearby ruins. Upon reaching the wreck they find a group of Red Brotherhood soldiers doing their best to strip the wreck of anything salvageable. The soldiers are initially suspicious of the PCs, but if they look to be helpful they'll ask for assistance finding a safe haven. The engines of another overtired can be heard in the distance, and a pursuing squad of Brotherhood of Steel soldiers is closing in. Will the PCs aid the Red Brotherhood's escape? Will they sell them out to the Brotherhood? Will the gang of raiders that's been closing in on both groups attack? 

*Red Diamond: The Red Brotherhood has made inroads into the outlying settlements of the Commonwealth, but now they take a bold step: creating a chapter house in Diamond City. As part of an arrangement with the mayor's office the Red Brotherhood has converted a former residence into a combination recruitment centre/way station for travelling Red soldiers. Needless to say the Brotherhood of Steel is -not- impressed, and make their displeasure apparent outside the city. The mayor is in a bind: on the one hand the Red Brotherhood make for a wonderful supplement to Diamond City Security and they provide tech and assistance for free, but irritating the Brotherhood of Steel could cause real problems for the city. The mayor elects to hire some freelancers (the PCs) and gives them an assignment: either find a way to get the Brotherhood of Steel to leave the Reds in Diamond City alone (unlikely) or find a way to get the Red soldiers to leave. The Reds are willing to leave, if the PCs help them confiscate the tech of a local lunatic called the Machinist.. . 

*Red Heat: the PCs are Red Brotherhood members (or allies) charged with a mission: eliminate a band of Forged raiders who have expanded their operation beyond the Augustus Ironwork into a facility perilously close to the Bunker. The PCs have crate Blanche to deal with the raiders as they see fit, but when they discover that the Ironwork is vulnerable, should they risk it to eliminate the Forged once and for all? Or simply raid the raiders for much needed supplies for the communities of the Commonwealth? Either option opens up it's own set of risks and rewards.

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