Cowboy Cultists

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"I have not been a good father to them... they are just children, strapping on six shooters and wandering out into the snow to deliver justice that has no meaning. It was harmless... harmless for so long... but one of the older boys, Aatos... oh, Aatos... what have you done?"

Barend DeBerg, sole staff of Neuer Anfang Orphanage

Aatos stood before the collection of children lying on the floor.

"Cowboys, what is best in life?"

One child jumped up, barely older than five, and, with hands on hips and chest puffed out, declared:

"To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women!"

The other children giggled, for this was a line from one of the movies they rarely got to watch anymore. Before the kid had even stopped puffing out his chest, Aatos had his pistol trained firmly, and with a menacing click of the hammer he told his congregation, with a gut-turning finality:

"The real world won't fuck about, and neither will we"

Basic Information

The Cowboy Cultists, as they have come to be known, are bred from the Neuer Anfang orphanage. Over worked and in possession of a still working video player, a beleaguered Barend DeBerg turned to the television as a source of crowd control. The children spent day after day watching anything they could get their hands on; Gene Autry, The Magnificent Seven, A Fistful of Dynamite and other famous westerns. For a while, it kept the children entertained until one of the eldest kids, barely 17, spent almost all that the orphanage had on a bunch of old guns and some bullets. Aatos promised to make the wild, free dreams of the children become reality, and they followed his vision, taking up arms and wandering out into the snow to follow the old american way.

Now, cowboy cultists are hardly what you'd call...promising, being rarely over the age of 18 and having little practice to begin with, but they're not exactly a small cadre. No matter how many of them fall in gunfights (which they tend to start a lot of), there's always more, streaming forth from the over-crowded orphanage. Only one in ten Cowboy Cultists are still cowboys past the age of 18, having either died, settled down, or gone back to the orphanage to indoctrinate more children.

While the Cowboys have a reputation for getting into unnecessary fights and generally being.. well, children, you can tell by just walking into a town that the Cowboy Cultists are around; Ostling thugs pretend it doesn't exist, Savos know there's no work for them there and Stagsfire men just check now and then, waiting for the cowboys to be out of town.


The Cowboy Cultists, or simply Cowboys, as they refer to themselves, carry an array of weapons, both home made and purchased, with the ideal being western weapons. Aatos an the other lead cowboys carry fine Smith and Wessons, with quality and Western-ness decreasing the younger the cowboy is. The newest cowboys will caryy crossbows and hatchets, if they can get their hands on them. Bows are almost never used, because those are always in the hands of Indians in the movies. Black powder bullets, poorly made and ill fitting, are the primary ammunition of even those cowboys granted a gun. Perhaps a handful of expensive, pre-war bullets will be held back by the cautious for use in emergencies.


The Cowboy Cultists want different things, depending on their age. The youngest, between 10 and 12, are still just kids. They do as they're told by Aatos or the other older children.

The teenagers want, like all teenagers, to be adults and to rebel. Nothing makes rebellion quite as much fun as having the power to kill at whim. They're kept in line by older kids, setting themselves up as the rebellion to the elderly Barend's strict rule. They're not bloodthirsty, but when you're a teenager, that kind of power is intoxicating. The influence of older cowboys keeps them on the straight and narrow.

If they survive to 18, they've learnt most of the things that the world has to dispense, and are faced with the option of either joining someone with a more settled life, or joining Aatos in ruling over the other kids. The very oldest; Aatos and handful of others, keep the indoctrination going, finding new kids to join the cult and occasionally visiting local towns, where they're treated like old-time sheriffs.

Aatos is not a bad person. He's just really, really... fervent. He wants to do good, like the old cowboys did, but he's not entirely sure how it worked, exactly, so he's just figuring it out as he goes along, and the road to hell is paved with good intentions.


Another go at exploring moral dilemmas, bias and the issue of when justice takes liberties and at what point it stops being justice. Also, post-modernist conformist extremism in the context of a pseudo-feminist provocatism. Nah, I'm making that last bit up.

Explorations of:

  • Justice and law
  • How much respect to children deserve, and when do they deserve to have total control of themseves?
  • Corruption
  • How much do they owe to themselves and their foster carer?
  • Where is the divide between adopted cultural identity and the original identity itself?
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