How to write an Associate

Updated: May 14

This is a companion piece to what makes a good AoI Story with a Q&A at the end.



An Associate is a representation of the Association of Ishtar. Even though they are individual human beings with their own vices and virtues, they share a common mission that each of them takes very seriously. To Protect Atlas.

Therefore they share some common traits, such as a great distrust for any Outsiders and anyone dabbling with Outside Knowledge. And a near-fanatical dedication to their cause. In this blog, we will explore what makes an Associate, an Associate and how they interact with the multiverse. Realize this article will be updated in the future.


Public perception

In the 1870s, Rifts are a new concept on the Association's homeworld, which they designated 'Atlas'. People might have heard of these anomalies, or read strange reports of dinosaur sightings in the Spanish countryside. But for the majority of the reading public, these anomalies are works of fiction that only appear in penny dreadfuls and dime novels. That's because the Associates of Ishtar put them there in an ongoing campaign of misinformation.

To most the Association is like the Freemasons. A bunch of cranks dabbling in the esoteric inside of smoke-filled lodges. But officially, they are advisors and experts who consult the relevant authorities in regard to the Rift Related Activities.


The Association


The specifics of their founding are a persisting mystery. One theory states the Association was created to counter Napoleon's schemes involving Outsider technology, like his notorious V2 rockets. After the Napoleonic Wars, they continued this mission to stop anyone from doing the same.

On the other hand, the Associates might just have been eccentrics exploring the Multiverse. But during their excursions, they learned of the many threats lurking within. Then they discovered parties on their own Plane of Existence seeking to use the knowledge attained to shape their world according to their own vision. At some point, The Association decided to take a stand and resist these forces.


Each Associate, after assuming their number, takes a vow to protect Atlas. As is expected of any organization that suits the Status Quo, they are expected to perform their duties with a certain amount of decorum.

However, what they do on paper and how they perform their duties, in reality, are very different.

First, all Associates are not soldiers or government officials. They are volunteers who do not follow orders. Not of the Chair or any other organizations.

When the chair has been notified of Rift Related Activity by local authorities (bailiff, police, army) the presence of an Associate can be requested to 'advice' the responsible parties on how to contain the anomalies. It's for this purpose the Associates go out and explore the Rifts. Not to gather knowledge for knowledge's sake, or for other lofty goals.

The Associate will continue advising the officials until the situation is deemed to be under control.

This, however, is the public face of the Association. In reality, they take their vocation a lot further.


Let's have a look at their objectives.


Protect Atlas from Rift Related Activity

  1. by seeking, identifying, and analyzing any Outside threats to develop measures against them.

  2. by advising and collaborating with local authorities, if possible.

  3. by preventing the unauthorized acquisition and application of Outside knowledge, technology, or lifeforms.

  4. by Identifying and neutralizing any individuals who seek to use Outside knowledge or alliances for their own aims.

  5. by Identifying and neutralizing any individuals who refuse to act accordingly in the face of Outside involvement.

  6. by preventing any on knowledge Rift Related Activity to leak out to the public at large

  7. by preventing any Outside peoples, or beings, from discovering the existence of Atlas or Rifts leading to Atlas


When present near an anomaly, it's the Associate's job to ascertain the motives of the local authorities whether they take this task seriously, or if they have ulterior motives. In the latter case, the Associate is expected to take action, either by reporting this to RA (The International Committee of Rift Related Activity) or by getting personally involved. This can range from making citizen arrests to blunt executions and sabotage.

It's these types of actions which has made the Association notorious as vigilantes. Because Associates do not take orders, their decisions are their own.

For all intents and purposes, AoI is a clandestine organization. What separates the Association from so-called Rift Vigilantes is that Association cooperates with the authorities. They don't just sacrifice the local population for the greater good such as organizations like Invictus tend to do. The Association also has an agreement with RA demanding all Associates report their actions to RA's regulators. And the Chair will dismiss Associates if they do not submit to the rule of law, labeling them as Lost Numbers, and turning them into wanted fugitives.

What is and isn't allowed, however, is as much a matter of politics as it is pragmatism. The Association's legitimacy is based on the fact the great powers do not trust one another to refrain from acquiring Outside knowledge and consider the 'fanatics of the Association' to be reliable inquisitors to prevent just that.


However, this doesn't mean the Association is trusted. First of all, they only share what they want to. Few organizations have intimate knowledge of any weapons, projects, and alliances the Association has. Despite being distrustful of Outsiders is a policy the Association does have contact with other agencies in the multiverse. Either by accident, because they were contacted, or because they had no choice but to negotiate.

The Association even has some Outsiders in custody, for research and other reasons, that are secured in secret locations, like Sanctuary that contains a Pendelton Array which stops the effects of Traveler's Decay within its sphere of influence.


Want a proper introduction to the Association to check out The Wrench in the Machine on Amazon. our first published novel in the series that serves as an introduction to the multiverse of AoI. Or order the e-book or signed copies through our store.



Associates Archetypes

Here are some of the Association's archetypical Associates and associated traits and personalities.


Associate Consultant

Being the face of the Association, the consultants regularly appear unmasked be older with distinguished careers behind them and have a neck for procedure and etiquette. They are very familiar with past cases the Association has handled and often serve as mentors to their younger, and more hot-blooded, fellows.


Associate investigator

Tend to be einzelgangers performing independent investigations on Atlas in secret, even for their fellow Associates. Their findings they report to the Chair. They value facts, but in order to be an Associate, you have to be open to some cooky things. And they are prepared to go deep undercover to discover 'The Truth'.

They are often in search of secret societies, cults, or Outsider infiltration. They regularly join Consultants on their missions but more often serve as informants and spies. Associates should practice some level of skepticism toward their more Outlandish claims. But should also beware not to dismiss them at first glance.


Associate Explorer

These adventurous travelers go out into the Multiverse and explore various worlds. They tend to be curious, foolhardy, and often eccentric. They often have a passion for anthropology, biology or other sciences and traverse the Rifts to broaden their horizons.




Associate Agents

A kind word for enforcers, guards, and even saboteurs. Often the more fanatical members of the Association don't shy away from using force to defend their world from threats both within and without. They usually provide security to their more peaceful counterparts or people of special interest. But on occasion, they go out to hunt down treats be these Outsiders or otherwise. Although the Consultants might be the face of the Association. It's the Agents that give the organization its reputation.


Q&A

This section will be updated as questions are submitted


1. Do Associates work alone or in groups?

Both. The Associates often work together in so-called associations (original I know). These usually consist of a novice and a senior member.

More than two Associates on one assignment is pretty rare, and only happens when they have a particular mission in mind and cannot involve third-party reinforcements, like army or police troops. Or during missions taking place on other Planes.

Regardless, considering the rarety of Associates and how they operate, the Chair can't randomly open up a can of Associates.


2. Associates don't follow orders? What does that mean?

It refers to the fact that Associates are volunteers working toward a common cause. They aren't a military or police force with strict hierarchies. The Chair can't order their members to do anything. They request them to go on missions. And the decisions Associates make, and the consequences thereof, fall on them. in other words, the excuse "we where just following orders" does not apply.

In short, the Association is more of a Justice League and not an FBI or CIA.


3. Does the association have ranks or degrees?

This has yet to be explored, but the command is usually based on seniority. Regardless, this hierarchy is based on mutual agreement. So, a senior member might hand over command to a more specialized Associate.


4. How many Associates are there?

There are at least hundreds. As time goes on, this might exceed a thousand. They are rare regardless.


5. Can I 'red shirt' Associates?

The conventions of Cosmic Horror dictate that the death or loss of sanity is nearly inevitable. However, Associates are rare and killing off three or four every story will make the series, in general, look pretty unrealistic. Also, more than two Associates on one assignment are pretty rare.


In a situation where one needs to kill multiple characters, consider using non-associates, like police officials.


6. What type of weapons do Associates use?

Even though they are a clandestine organization, most Associates carry legal weapons for personal protection. Typically contemporary revolvers, knives, or holdout weapons. In some cases, they have concealed weapons, like sword canes.

When it comes to sci-fi weaponry or less conventional or military-style weapons. These are more commonly wielded by the 'Agent' archetypes. People within the Association with military backgrounds, and who operate in the shadows. The Association, or rather the Chair, only allows the Tier IV or more advanced weapons to be used by trusted Associates or in particular situations.


When it comes to the size of the weapons, the Association is not an army. Nor is it taxpayer-funded, etc. Yes, the Association has access to larger weapons, but they lack the ability to deploy them worldwide. Such weapons are usually the prerogative of the Airborn Dragoons, the International Penal Legion, or certain armies and mercenary factions.


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