The flag of the Totenkopfs
|Symbol||A flaming white skull on a field of black|
|Title of leader||Master|
|Title of lieutenant||Blessed|
|Other strongholds||Alent, Maar Sul City, Ravensworth, Trinity Gask|
|Member races||Humans, Elves, Dwarves|
|Allies||Crimson Coalition, Dwarven Triad (occasionally)|
|Enemies||Demons, Grand Alliance, Grey Cult, Magicracy of Alent|
The Totenkopfs were one of the Third Age manifestations of the enigmatic True Cult of Death. The members wore distinctive black robes and skull masks and became prominent in world politics after the Cataclysm. Their sole purpose was to plunge the world into chaos by disrupting the world's governments from within. The Totenkopfs were led by Kamen Grimgaze, a mysterious masked mage who was referred to as the Master.
- See: Keepers
Long before the Great War, a Syndicate of elves existed in the deepest jungles of Khrima Island in Aison. They conducted amoral experiments on the nature of magic to understand it. One of the Syndicate members, a Dark Sage, became even more involved in the study and travelled abroad to carry out his experiments. He helped spread the Blood Fever, a mysterious disease of an unknown origin which was fatal to elves, in Folsworth Woods in Remon. He also manipulated events so that the union of an infected elf and a mutated human led to the birth of a half-elven boy whom he took as his Dark Disciple.
The Dark Sage and his Disciple travelled back to Khrima, but after a few years it became evident to the rest of the Syndicate members that he was going too far even for their standards. A battle ensued, after which the Dark Sage and the Dark Disciple were banished, and the Syndicate was all but crippled afterwards, fading from memory as its members vanished, never to be seen again. The Dark Sage had left an ominous prophecy in his departure: his work would be carried on by his Disciple and the Disciple's descendants until the world would come to an end.
Centuries passed, and the existence of the Dark Sage and his involvement with the Blood Fever was all but forgotten. However, the Blood Fever would emerge again and again every few centuries or so, only to disappear after infected elves had been purged although dark figures were nowhere to be found during each of these isolated outbreaks. The teachings of the Dark Sage would live on in the shadows, however.
The lich Drishnek appeared to be connected to the forming of a cult which would arise from these teachings although the true extent of his involvement and role has remained shrouded. This cult would end up becoming one of the Third Age manifestations of the True Cult which had existed in earlier incarnations throughout the ages.
Rise from the ShadowsEdit
The first notes about the existence of a cult named Totenkopfs were from the Cataclysm when many members of the Clergy of Mardük wandered aimlessly after witnessing the death of their god Mardük. A mysterious figure referred to as Kamen Grimgaze, also known as the Master, appeared to several of these clerics and other disillusioned people in their darkest hour, using their despair, anger, fear and loss of purpose to recruit them into the cult which was centered around Death.
The numbers of the Totenkopfs grew steadily over the following decade, and the information provided by each member was used to infiltrate into all levels of society in different nations as the cult began to carry out the Master's complex master plan which involved a new outbreak of the Blood Fever as well as unleashing its more dangerous, mutated variant which became known as the Plague of Undeath.
The cult made itself known to public during the Second Battle of Remonton when it unleashed an elemental to wreak havoc on Remonton. A year later the cult approached the Proninist Party and the Rebels, offering to form an alliance with them to combat the newly risen Grand Alliance which threatened all of their interests. This alliance became known as the Crimson Coalition where Totenkopfs were more than happy to stay in the background, manipulating events from the shadows as they had done for so long.
Totenkopfs continued with their plans while the Coalition focused on wars on several fronts. They managed to recruit several prominent faction leaders into the Coalition, thus strengthening the Coalition's numbers, while also receiving aid from Drishnek who helped create the Plague of Undeath from infected blood samples. They set several schemes in motion simultaneously in various locations, wishing to profit from other factions' doings for reasons they kept to themselves.
The Totenkopfs' complex, interwoven schemes ended up becoming their undoing as several of their equally ambitious co-conspirators turned against them one by one. While the Totenkopfs had expected some of these betrayals to occur, they did not have contingency plans for all the wild cards which ended up influencing the outcome beyond their control.
The meddling of gods, demons and other entities led to several casualties on the Totenkopfs' side, reducing their numbers. By the time their treacherous nature became known to the Crimson Coalition during the Battle of Alent, they suffered even more setbacks just in time for the Grand Alliance to make its move.
By the time the Third Age ended in the Catastrophe which ushered in the Fourth Age, the Totenkopfs had fallen into disarray. Most of them had perished in Alent, and their leaders Drishek and the Master, as well as the lieutenants known as the Blessed, were nowhere to be found and were presumed to have perished in the Catastrophe that swallowed Alent. The rising powers of the Andarian Empire and the Holy Inquisition of Cardia, which had been founded for the sole purpose of hunting down Totenkopfs and like-minded conspirators, made sure to hunt down what Totenkopfs they could find, and the cataclysmic changes to the world cut off the few who had successfully evaded capture from one another.
The surviving Totenkopfs who were not captured stayed in hiding, either creating new identities for themselves and becoming members of communities which were oblivious to their history or retreating into secluded locations where bounty hunters and inquisitors could not find them. The cult fell apart in the aftermath of the Catastrophe due to the sudden lack of centralized leadership which had left each cell to survive on its own.
Armor and EmblemsEdit
The Totenkopfs often wore black cloaks and skull masks, although they could often appear as ordinary citizens in order to not draw attention to themselves. Ordinary Totenkopfs wore skull masks, the Blessed wore animal skull masks (e.g. Cain's horse skull mask), and the Master was seen wearing an actual skull of a demon. The flag of the Totenkopfs was a burning white skull on a field of black.
The Totenkopfs believed in salvation through death and wished to exterminate all life by causing as much chaos as possible. They used the Blood Fever for this purpose; over time scholars began to suspect that some early Totenkopfs might have been the ones who had created the Blood Fever in the first place, although these claims could never be verified.
There was very little information about the organization of the Totenkopfs, but adventurers learned that the mysterious Master operated through higher-ranked Totenkopfs who were titled as the Blessed. Each group of Totenkopfs was always led by a Blessed or at least a Totenkopf who was close to one of the Blessed. If anyone had seen the face of the Master, it would surely have been a Blessed, although even these claims were never verified.
The Totenkopfs also seemed to know much about what was going on in the world, and this eventually proved that they had agents in high places and had proper connections to some corruptible authorities. Weeding them out was thus extremely difficult, but factions such as the Blades of Vigilance did what they could to stop the Totenkopfs' nefarious schemes and to reveal their existence to the public.
- Cain Highwind - former hero of the Grand Alliance and one of the Master's Blessed (dead)
- Drishnek - lich and co-leader with the Master (presumed dead)
- Izael Korath - minion of Cain
- Jacob Seneron - one of the Master's Blessed (dead)
- Kamen Grimgaze - Master of the Totenkopfs and co-leader with Drishnek (presumed dead)
- Koschei Dravaris - one of the Master's Blessed
- Simon - one of the founders of the Crimson Coalition, the Master's spokesman in the Coalition Council (dead)
- Zenobia - minion of Cain who also worked for Jacob
The Totenkopfs were highly destructive and skilled in manipulation. They caused many major and minor conflicts and even toppled some governments from within, and this made them antagonists to any other faction in the years following the Cataclysm. They were allied with the other factions of the Crimson Coalition, but their later actions revealed that they were just using the Coalition for their own nefarious ends, which made the Coalition turn on them and contribute to their downfall.