Though the methods of the Resurrection Men have not changed since the time of the French Revolution, their aims have. During the Revolution they had a political agenda: the overthrow of the bloody affair by the people whose blood had sustained it. Now they simply offer a chance to avenge one's death by one's own hand, regardless of the reason for dying.

For some of those wraiths - particularly those with a Passion such as "Avenge my death" - the deed can lessen the amount of time they must spend in the Shadowlands. For others it simply offers a chance at vengeance from beyond the grave. Those who agree are inducted and trained; Those who refuse done away with as soon as possible, usually by proxy.

 

Organization:

The Resurrection Men were once a tightly-knit web. This ran from their leader - Henri LeRoux - to his Captains, and then down to individual Cells under a Captain. This allowed for efficient communication of information and orders, and kept everyone under control. However, it also allowed for a near-collapse of the group when Henri was captured.

After the purging, those Cells which survived decided that they should never have such an arrangement again. From that day forward - known as the Emigration - each Cell has operated as an independent organization. They claim no territory, and attempt no communication; other than some shared, time-honored values and their name, they have nothing to do with one another at all.

The only exception to this rule is when a "lost" Cell is discovered. There were some Cells who, after the purging, ran too far afield to be included in the discussion that led to the Emigration. When these are found, the Cell who discovers them are charged with bringing those Wraiths up to speed with what's changed, and how business should be conducted, now.

If they agree, then the Cells go their separate ways. If they disagree, the "lost" Cell is to be destroyed to a Wraith. There can be no breaking of this rule: the desire for secrecy and security is too great. However, by anyone's reckoning, the last "lost" Cell was discovered in Madrid in 1856. By now, it is highly unlikely this rule will need to be enforced again.

The Cells vary in internal organization. Some are led by their Gaunts, and some are democratic collectives. A premium is placed on the opinions of the Wraith with the most knowledge of Croques Morts, but this tends to be the oldest Wraith, anyway.

Once inducted, the Wraith is expected to remain a Resurrection Man for the length of their stay in the Shadowlands. The help of the Cell has two prices: the first is silence, as their very reason for existence is both a blatant violation of the Dictum Mortuum, and a clear sign to their enemies in the Puppeteers. And even though the Hierarchy no longer exists, the Resurrection Men still desire no contact with the Guilds.

The second charge to find at least one other soul who needs vengeance and pass on the lessons learned. In this matter, new members replace old in a constant cycle of renewal. The Resurrection Men continue.

 

Locations:

The Resurrection Men are mostly European, though some have been known to work in both Russia and the Americas. They are also there for wars, revolutions and struggles. Anywhere that innocent people are murdered by the dozen for someone's "great cause" or personal gain is a ripe field for recruitment.

They tend to frequent areas with a desperate feel to them, looking for Skinlanders with murderous passions. Such monsters usually breed ghostly hangers-on, and the Resurrection Men try to recruit those unfortunates to their cause. They rarely have anyone who says no, and if they do, they won't "live" to tell about them...

The Renegades are often on the move. Custom has it that one should spend no more than a week in any one Haunt, and no more than a month in any one Necropolis. During Great Maelstroms, this rule is relaxed by necessity, with the clear understanding that no Croques Morts Arts are to be used until the Cell's mobility is regained.

 

Methods:

The Resurrection Men practice a branch of the Puppetry Arcanos that they claim to have developed themselves. Over time, it has become known as Croques Morts, after the name given to French undertakers - the "Crunchers of the Dead." They take over the bodies of corpses and pilot them around, usually leading to frenzied acts of revenge on their murderers.

Due to the high personal cost of riding a corpse, few Resurrection Men do it on a regular basis. They prefer the normal Arts of Puppetry for their less-destructive trips into the Skinlands. Cautionary tales are told of Resurrection Men who fell too much in love with Croques Morts, and are now Spectres.

But they still have their reasons for using Croques Morts, instead of the normal arts of Puppetry. One reason is purely practical; Utilizing a corpse invokes The Fog on any mortals who realize they've seen a dead man walking. This makes certain that few witnesses will remember enough to be a danger to them.

The other main reason is more philosophical; While the Resurrection Men believe in vengeance at all costs - and will kill to retain their secrets - they recognize that the lives of bystanders should not be taken unless absolutely necessary. To gain the level of control needed to use a living body to gain revenge, they must either destroy that body's soul, or ruin its life ever after. To them, that is clearly unacceptable, hence their use of dead bodies.

As for Rising, the Renegades recognize this as a tool that can be used, but they consider the risks too high. It also requires that one pay the Puppeteers for training, or else cut a terrible deal with one's Shadow in order to learn how on your own. To the Resurrection Men, that sounds like a process too fraught with peril to bother with. It also takes time to achieve - something Wraiths do not always have in abundance.

 

Appearance:

The Renegades can be identified by their looks, provided you know what to look for. They often wear the same clothes as the mortal Croques Morts do. This is a black suitcoat and black tophat, with a red length of fabric loosely wrapped around the middle of the hat, one end hanging down behind the left shoulder.

This change of style came well after the Emigration, around the turn of the 20th Century. One of their more flamboyant members - a former Captain who'd survived the purge - was caught Skinriding by the Hierarchy. He wore that dress during his trial for Skinmurder, and refused to confess or name his confederates - even under torture.

Those who saw his public trial resolved to wear similar clothing in his honor. The fad slowly made the rounds; Now, it's a rare Resurrection Man who won't at least wear a tophat. And if you ask them if having a uniform is bad for their security, they'll just smile and say 'It makes us work twice as hard to remain unseen.'

Besides the unusual dress the Resurrection Men favor, those who use Croques Morts can be identified by the thin, weathered look their corpus assumes. This side-effect is a mutation of the behavioral patterns the use of Puppetry accrues. No amount of Moliate can ever hide this appearance, and after a few centuries spent using Croques Morts a Resurrection Man will resemble a gaunt, emaciated corpse.

 

Relations With Others...

Nonexistent, at best. But they have had to talk to others from time to time, and this has caused problems.

  • The Hierarchy: Fear and loathing - pure and simple. The Hierarchy would make them wait for justice until their killers had come across the Shroud, but what if they never did? And then they had the arrogance to imprison, try and impose a sentence worse than death on those disobeyed? Those whose only crime was doing what their hearts dictated?

    For that - and for the Purging - the Resurrection Men have always held a burning hatred for the Hierarchy. One of their proudest moments was then they discovered that Stygia was no more. But then...

  • The Renegades: ... they don't like the Renegades too much, either - even if they are technically Renegades, themselves. They saw the old order of Renegades as being a fractious bunch of children who'd rather fight one another than gang up on the schoolyard bully. And the modern mold of "Renegade" - territory-taking gangbangers with more weapons than sense - are simply pathetic. There's no more cause to ally with them than there was to ally with the others.

    There was also another, more personal reason for their dislike of the Renegades: Maximilien Robespierre. After his execution, he disappeared for some time, and then resurfaced as one of the Renegades' best-known leaders. They're not sure if he knows about them or not, but they'd rather not take the chance. They'd also rather not be in a position where they have to sit at a table with the man, either.

  • The Heretics: Given that the Resurrection Men's mission was to let people avenge their deaths, so as to spend less time in the Shadowlands, the Heretics are good people to work with. Often, the Renegades have masqueraded as traveling Cults, and done their best to work in peaceful tandem with some of the less aggressive Heretics. They will never tell them who they really are, of course.

  • The Guilds: Much as with the Renegades, the Resurrection Men try to avoid contact with the Guilds. Each Cell member is urged to learn the Pardoners' Arts, but they would rather face Catharsis, or a Harrowing, than risk going to a Pardoner for a Castigation. The secret must be kept, even if it means their own destruction from within.

    Of the Guilds, only two are worth mentioning: the Proctors and the Puppeteers. The former are seen as worthless sensualists, and - much like the Puppeteers - the Resurrection Men try to avoid "stooping" so low as to use Embody. They are also very wary of the Proctors' presence in the Skinlands, and try to avoid any contact with them.

    As for the Puppeteers, the secret's been out for some time with them. The Resurrection Men aren't sure how the Guild found out, but they did, and there's been a high priority set on capturing the Renegades for interrogation. The Cells figure that the Guild is trying to both maintain its "monopoly" on the Arcanos, and find out how Croques Morts works. They'll just have to wait until Doomsday for both.

  • The Risen: The Resurrection Men know about the Risen, of course, it's just that the Risen tend not to know about them. The standard procedure with Risen is to leave them alone. They'll bump into one another now and again, while going about their business, but the Resurrection Men are usually able to get out of the situation without tipping their hand too much.

  • The Walking Dead: Since the 6th Great Maelstrom started, a large number of Wraiths and Spectres have been flung into corpses. These "walking dead" have then run rampant in the Skinlands, causing untold damage and confusion. It makes the work of the Resurrection Men both easier and more difficult in some cases, but while the Renegades are curious about how they came to be here, that's not enough to break silence.

    Yet.

 

... And Other Relations.

The Resurrection Men tend to be a source of many rumors, given the nature of what they do, and how quietly they do it. But they have their own secrets to mull over as well. And one such secret has frustrated them to no end: a question of possible links to something from another Dark Kingdom.

Over the years, word has trickled across the Atlantic about Voodoo practices in the Caribbean. There, the dead are known to walk the earth in great numbers, even before the coming of the 6th Great Maelstrom. The reports are sketchy, due to the nature of the Tempest Storms in that area, but if the stories are even partially true, the dead's numbers are far greater than the Risen could account for.

Since the Resurrection Men were purged, there has always been talk of Cells who hid themselves so well, or so far away, that they could never be found again. There is speculation that some of the more enterprising Cells might have fled to other Dark Kingdoms. And given the ties between France and Haiti, even after the island country's revolution, might not some of those Cells have hidden there?

A trip there to investigate would be in order, one supposes, but the storms are said to be incredibly difficult to get through. They make regular travel and communication nearly impossible. And with the 6th Great Maelstrom raging, the chances of getting though is less than that.

So, it will remain another mystery for the near future.