The Cauldron is an entirely mercenary faction, whose work is frequently motivated by the political ambitions of unscrupulous men the world over. But not always. There have been surprising turns, twists and reversals of these same men's plots over the years. The one consistent element is the lining of Cauldron pockets with gratuities for jobs well done. And so their work goes on...
The Cauldron began as an offshoot of the servants of the Immortal Lisirra. Hundreds of years ago, when she unleashed these servants, called The Plague Bearers, upon the world, many of them died along with the targets of the epidemics and toxins that were the manifestation of Lisirra's curiosity and experimentation. Those that survived did not hold this unfortunate detail against their goddess, thinking that it only culled the weak from their ranks. For this was the basic rationale of their adherence to her schemes; that their work ultimately strengthened the lines of mortals.
But one growing talent within their ranks questioned the necessity of such harsh methods of purification. Hovis Colomar was the first to discover the interplay between the two toxins "Buzz" and "Fuzz", finding it suitably ironic that they were derived from two contentious species of insects. What served to be at odds in the insect kingdom turned out to be at odds in the chemical world of mortals as well. It brought him to the belief that such chemical reinforcement was all that mortals needed to be strengthened.
This did not sit well with their matron Immortal, and Lisirra challenged the man to attempt to counter her powers with any kind of medicine he wanted. She then instructed one her Plague Bearers to sabotage the medicine with an additional toxin as punishment for his betrayal. Hovis Colomar died slowly and in paralyzing agony as Lisirra's "true" followers looked on without sympathy. But, perhaps unexpectedly, the agent that had performed this sabotage now felt a twinge of doubt. His name was Allorin Trikke, and he was destined to found The Cauldron.
Trikke still felt complete agreement with the policy of strengthening the mortal races through purging of those not strong enough to endure. But he could not put side the troubling knowledge that his Matron, Lisirra, had felt compelled to hedge her victory over Colomar with this act of treachery. It ate at his beliefs far more effectively than anything Colomar might have said. But he stayed quiet with his doubts.
As the years progressed, so did his expertise with compounds. And this led to a second epiphany regarding the so-called "purity" of Lisirra's agenda. Many of his toxins now had long-lasting secondary effects, some even becoming permanent. Trikke felt that this stood against everything that had justified the work they were doing for their goddess. Survivors of these toxins had always been the point of their efforts. But now many of these survivors were now stricken with permanently debilitating results. They were not stronger as a result, but rather, the opposite.
Were they then still to be counted among the weak? Or was Lisirra's method not as rational as it had seemed up until now? Trikke's thoughts were tormented by doubt. He finally approached a few other followers that he believed to harbor similar conflicts of belief. They conferred in secret and found an accord in their disagreement with Lisirra's aim. They no longer believed that she truly shared their belief in the benefit of affliction to promote ultimate strength.
When the opportunity presented itself, they fled her domain and established their own school of chemistry, calling it The Cauldron of Ultimate Strength. But as is so often the case with human endeavors, ambition, propaganda and hidden agendas undermined this program, reducing its purity to mere mercenary drive. Those that adhered to this new approach felt that the old school were fooling themselves into thinking that there was any sort of benevolence in their initial agenda, and that it was more honest to acknowledge the true mercenary neutrality of the fellowship and their practices.
A rift formed and the two schools split company, the new group cutting short the name to simply "The Cauldron". They knew they would need to stay hidden, and avoid not only their deluded counterparts, but also the Plague Bearer purists. They have come to believe that these devouts of Lisirra eventually eradicated the original Cauldron adherents, and that they alone remain. They hope that Lisirra is satisfied with the destruction of the old school, and might possibly be ignorant of their existence. Only time will tell.
The Cauldron is currently headed by a man named Kerbalas Goriaft. Little is known of this man, as any that come to learn personal history or tendencies of his will find themselves in peril of their lives. All that have done so thus far have disappeared. Efforts in this direction are no longer being made, the ranks now content to simply follow orders and enjoy the wealth he has brought into the faction's coffers.
Poison - 92 / Disguise - 88 / Politics - 73 / Stealth - 68 / Interrogation - 69
Melee Combat - 70 / Unarmed Combat - 65 / Ranged Combat (blowgun) - 77
Herbalism - 81 / Medicine - 57 / Brewing - 60 / Espionage - 83
The Cauldron have cells in numerous cities, doing their lab work in secret and making connections among those on the rise, staying ready to apply their talents for considerable pay. They do not cloud their professionalism with religious fervor and will not accept any members that have marks that would stand at odds with their agenda. Nor do they take beginners into their ranks. The cells themselves do not know where their leadership is based, but hints suggest Etzos.
The requirements to become a member of this secretive group are not prohibitive, but are above what a player may start with. A PC must be at least competent in poison, as well as some peripheral skill, suited to illicit tradecraft; be it Stealth, Disguise, Deception, Lock-picking, or what have you. It's possible that all-purpose fundamental skills like Endurance or Logistics could fill that requirement with some good, devious plotting. He must also wield a competent weapon skill, and acquire the knowledge of this faction's existence, and contacts enabling his introduction.
He must then be prepared to accept whatever position The Cauldron sees him fit to fill. This will most likely not be some glorious assassin position. It is more likely to be a lab assistant spot, general laborer, soldier, or maybe liaison with one of the legitimate organizations in the city that gain from the work. One must work their way up in this organization.
Pay will be based upon a comparable vocation in the wage list; or may be on a "per job" basis. That too, will be decided once acceptance has been confirmed.