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Cauldron is a secret immanent to the Parahumans setting.

Modus operandi[]

The ultimate goal of the organization was to kill Scion - the path to completing that goal involved building an army of parahumans able to combat him. In order to do this, long-term stability needed to be maintained, which meant shutting down certain threats before they became a problem[1][2] and ensuring that Earth Bet was welcoming to all parahumans and superhero culture.[3]

Cauldron was a capable organization due to the manufacture and development of the vials. This made numerous superpowers available to its members of "staff", but the unpredictable process and side effects also made them highly morally questionable. These powers included interdimensional transport and memory erasure.[4] It used this to keep its operations hidden.


Cauldron is constantly on the lookout for new customers, having landing/mock-up sites for those looking for power related technologies or services.[5] They favor motivated and skilled people. Strong social connections or a background in law enforcement are a plus.[6]

When selling powers to people they go out of their way to up the price of the vial, partially to weed out those who do not have sufficient commitment to a parahuman lifestyle and partially to get people into Cauldron's debt by agreeing to favors in exchange for a more powerful vial.[7]

Social engineering[]

They went out of their way to set up several powerful parahuman groups around the world,[8] to keep make sure there were united fronts.

Nemesis Program[]

A Case 53 with a trigger phrase (or something similar) that makes sure that they lose, they also released nemeses that were perfectly normal.[9]

Terminus Program[]

Based on projections everyone will eventually end up with powers.[citation needed] To preempt this cauldron tried to set up precedents of good parahuman leadership to serve as an example for others.

They were ready to brainwash capes to do this.[10]

This was a high priority project[11] that outweighed many other concerns.[12]


Doctor Mother largely made decisions for the group, with advice from Contessa and others.[13] She acted as the spokesperson when talking with leaders of various groups.

Cauldron has many human and parahuman personnel in its internal staff, including parahumans that are effectively acting as tools, carrying out roles and functions like pieces of a greater machine.[14] This approach also applied when operating outside, when needed they would tap a decentralized network of agents to handle operations.[15]

PRT Response[]

Cauldron was largely ignored under Chief Director Costa-Brown's tenure. After she was replaced, given the circumstances of her stepping down, the policy changed. Cauldron capes in positions of leadership were removed and any heroes found to be doing business with Cauldron were effectively frozen from advancing in The Protectorate.[16]

Following revelations during S-Class threat action, the PRT took a more direct stand against Cauldron influence. Cauldron capes were removed from leadership positions.[17]

With the death of Alexandria the PRT started removing Cauldron connected capes more fastidiously.[16] What Case 53s that remained were not screened.[18]



Doctor Mother and Contessa formed Cauldron after Eden crash-landed near Contessa's home and was killed by Doctor Mother. They learned that the Entities' cycle would lead to the end of the human race and began formulating plans to defend humanity, including reducing conflict and maximizing the number of parahumans present for the final confrontation.[19]

By extracting and refining parts of Eden's corpse, Doctor Mother and Contessa were able to produce vials that granted powers. After Scion appeared on Earth Bet in 1982, they began to more widely test those vials on terminally ill patients. Hero and Doormaker both triggered in the founders' first batch of ten vials.[19] This process could also cure subjects of their illnesses, and Cauldron subsequently provided vials to Alexandria, Eidolon, and Legend.[20]

Cauldron expanded its operations throughout the 1980s and established a headquarters that spanned several dimensions. During the mid-1980s, it recruited the Number Man and William Manton as full-time staff. Alexandria stayed with them for two years after she gained powers and helped to implement Cauldron's plan for integrating parahumans into society by forming the Protectorate alongside Hero, Legend, and Eidolon.

William and Balminder's separate betrayals changed their operating protocol.[15]

Cauldron also created Gray Boy, and it allowed him to exist as he was the most viability as an anti-scion contingency after Eidolon. When the Slaughterhouse Nine began killing more parahumans than Gray Boy was theoretically worth, they manipulated Glaistig Uaine into killing him and taking his power so it could be used later if needed.[21]

Cauldron was targeted by The Simurgh during her attack on Madison, Wisconsin in 2009. The Simurgh used Professor Haywire's technology to break into one of the dimensions Cauldron was located in, costing Cauldron a stock of formulas and releasing several Case 53s. The Travelers triggered using the lost formulas, and Noelle Meinhardt's rampage in Brockton Bay led to Cauldron being publicly outed and the creation of the Irregulars.[22]

Story Start[]

Was backing Coil and his work.


Called in a favor with Battery to save the Siberian and Shatterbird.[23]


Their position was exposed and Contessa was tasked with suppressing the information. Contessa was later retasked to the security of the Cauldron Compound after several prison breaks.


Helped the formation of The Slaughterhouse Nine-Thousand.[24]


Supported efforts against the same group.

Gold Morning[]

Many plans fell through.

Cauldron's headquarters were badly damaged in 2013 by Scion.


Cauldron is splintered into two notable rival factions – the one led by Teacher has occupied and fully staffed Cauldron's old facilities[25], while Number Man and Citrine maintain their own operations more focused on The City.


Name: Status:
Doctor Mother Deceased[26]
Contessa Captured[27]
Number Man Active[28]
William Manton Defected
Balminder Defected
Eidolon Deceased[20]
Alexandria Deceased[29]
Hero Deceased[30]
Legend Defected
Doormaker Deceased[31]
The Clairvoyant Active[32]
Custodian Defected[27]
The Slug Deceased[33]
Pretender Deceased[28]
Accord Deceased


  • In a note of ever present irony, Cauldron took Eden's position in the grand scheme of things,[34][35]
however they intended to help humanity, whatever the final result, compared to the intentional destructive testing.[36]


  1. Not to mention other roles, like giving Parahumans a brand as a whole, managing public perceptions (even to the extent of media), keeping things interlinked with local & federal law enforcement, keeping politicians on the municipal and federal level in the loop, ensuring everything is on the up and up in economy and politics (watchdog being under PRT umbrella, with some team involvement), and investigating weird shit/putting down potential S-class threats before they become bigger threats. That bogeyman does tackle some of that last one, but still, sometimes the path says the most efficient way is to send a group of squaddies at the problem. - Wildbow on Reddit
  2. Wildbow:[...]In canon, the Doctor is pulling strings and seeding groups with cauldron capes, which provides a steady body of capes, and Contessa is devoting attention here and there to controlling crises and removing threats/dissent. Once you have that stable body, and you're handling all of the big problems (we see Cauldron discussing the fact that they have to stop doing just this around the time of Number Man's interlude), you have a stable organization that can survive the loss of two or three key members, and you only need to step in every couple of weeks/months to keep things more or less running smoothly. Then you've got bastions of strength for humanity and civilization.

    Without Cauldron, you run into problems where all it takes for your new organization to fall apart is one incident, one bit of drama, one nutball cape crossing a line. You lose trust, your faction fragments in half, and the individuals involved in this crisis are very powerful - your government or organization or whatever has to devote horrific amounts of resources to understanding, mediating and controlling the problem. And it keeps happening. The larger your group, the higher the rate of incidents. It's a struggle to get off the ground, and once you've actually made it, you're one disaster away from crumbling and having it all be for naught.

    By and large, big groups aren't so sustainable, without outside help and a strong example to show it's worth the effort. - Conversation on Spacebattles by Wildbow
  3. With the PRT, even ~more~ behind the scenes, you've got Cauldron. Cauldron doesn't want people going out and pulling this for many reasons - capes strong enough to warrant a sniper instead of a normal beatdown are capes Cauldron wants in the final confrontation. This is the sort of thing Contessa is regularly tackling - figuring out how to shut down elements like anti-parahuman hate groups and people who start using snipers.

    So people try to pull this and events conspire against them and they miss the shot. The incident gets reported, the target lives, the PRT cracks down on them, and the gang leader who put the money out there gets crucified, so to speak. - Excerpt from a comment by Wildbow on Reddit
  4. - Excerpt from Interlude 21.x
  5. “I’d have to check my notes. We have ways of finding interested parties. If I remember right, you were browsing websites, researching ways to acquire tinker-made armor and weapons?”

    Jamie nodded. “I was. So many were fakes or scams that I wasn’t willing to trust the ones that did look legit.”

    “We own several of those sites. All are fakes. That might have been where we first noticed your activity.”

    “That’s a little creepy.”

    “Creepiness is an unfortunate reality when you’re forced to operate covertly, without a steady customer base.” - Excerpt from Interlude 21.x
  6. Calvert did not trigger from the Nilbog attack - as suggested in his interlude, he's in debt to Cauldron because he bought his power. Cauldron often reaches out to the disaffected who are connected to law enforcement or otherwise dedicated and possessed of natural talents (Battery is a detective's daughter, Triumph was an athlete, Coil is an ex-PRT squaddie). - Wildbow on Reddit
  7. bramflakes:
    They don't need the money. The price they charge is an idiot filter, to weed out the ones who aren't serious about being a cape and keeping to Cauldron's terms. If a multi-millionaire applies, they'll ask for a billion.

    There's also likely a psychological element - in Battery's interlude, Doctor Mother starts out with a figure that she knows Battery can't pay, and then lets Battery haggle it down to something she can afford, in exchange for more favors. I suspect that Cauldron does this to nearly every applicant, in order to make them feel indebted to Cauldron before they even take the vial.
    • As for why they don't hand out all the powerful formulas, several reasons:
    • Powerful formulas are more likely to result in Case 53s
      There's likely a limited supply of the very best vials, so they'll only make them available to people that meet the most stringent psychological requirements (to avoid repeats of Grey Boy)
    • Fighting Scion is the main goal, but to accomplish that they need to utilize natural triggers too. This means creating and/or maintaining large organizations that natural triggers can join, and coexist with first-world institutions without everything descending into parahuman feudalism. That way, when the final battle comes, they have a few dozen organizations to rely on (both hero and villain), rather than thousands of independent cape micro-states. That means they need weak and medium-strength capes to fill out the ranks of the Protectorate, the Elite, the Guild, the Suits, and so on. Number Man's interlude shows him shoring up these organizations when they're facing financial difficulties, and Accord seems to be able to get vials to boost his ranks pretty easily too.

    Wildbow: Nice post. Right on the mark.
    On the subject of why they don't always hand out powerful vials - they don't always know the power level of a given vial. They've got this landscape of Eden, they take pieces of it, make it into concoctions and feed them to people. One vial might have fantastic results in one situation and peter out or end up horrific in another.
    So they've spent the last 30 years figuring it out, trying to get as many vials to people as they can in the most constructive way they can. When they do get a set of powerful vials, they try to hold on to them and give them to the people they can make the most use out of. Often those are people in power (ie. the mayor of a town with a lot of capes, who then gives it to his son), people with access (an ex-PRT captain with the potential to be Director), or people with money.

    eSPiaLx: But why would doctor Mother have those special vials locked away in Cauldron's basement? Weren't those supposed to be really powerful? If Cauldron had given them out earlier, wouldn't there be a decent (or heck, crappy is fine too) chance there would be anothe Legend/Alexandria/Eidolon?

    Wildbow:Just as much of a chance of there being a Grey Boy. Of the person taking the vial and losing their mind.
    It's a last ditch measure. - Wildbow on Reddit
  8. DoctorNobody: Absent Cauldron's meddling...
    Wildbow:Think bigger-scale.

    Absent Cauldron's meddling, there's no PRT for one thing. There's no Suits, no Red Gauntlet, no Elite Sentai group or whatever I called them, no Elite; all groups that Cauldron set up or supported.

    Non-parahumans in the West end up taking a more aggressive stance against parahumans, as certain voices aren't silenced, and without the Protectorate as an example, things are just more anti-parahuman around the world as a whole. Heroes are fewer and farther between than in conventional Worm - you've got an awful lot of shades of grey and people doing their damndest just to get by. The Chevaliers and Miss Militias of the world are staying right where they are, in small town X or Turkey-occupied Kurdistan, and they're helping their town/country and only their town/country. For the most part, parahumans are taking over where they can take over, and because the population is so hostile, they're forced to be a little ugly or harsh to quell dissent, or they're nice and constantly watching their back/focusing far too much on just keeping things functioning.

    Assuming that Cauldron's operatives maybe killed Eden but then just sat on their hands/died, the Endbringers don't exist, the cauldron vials aren't spread out, and there's less of the really powerful parahumans here and there who're capable of acting decisively. Gates to other worlds are left open, feeding into Cote D'Ivorie, spitting out more than a fair share of Case-53 like monsters, only in a very tightly occupied space. If West Africa survives, it's either as a world power or as a mutant-occupied area. If they find Eden's corpse, well, you've got a whole other mess, because they're going to be less careful and organized about it. Assuming they don't accidentally revive Eden, there's going to be a lot of failed doses.

    Further, the major threats that Contessa and Number Man deemed too dangerous to leave alone weren't necessarily eliminated (either because Contessa herself didn't pay a visit, or because Cauldron didn't contrive to have said parahuman put down), so there's more Ash Beasts, Blasphemies, Sleepers and the equivalent roaming around.

    There's no Parahuman Containment Center, so there's no place to put the really dangerous villains. What do you do with the villains who can't be killed, like Gavel? You maybe try to wrangle some giant-killers like Flechette/Foil, but how many of those guys are there, really?

    You're talking about infrastructure, but quite honestly, infrastructure wouldn't survive the 90's. By the mid-2000's, getting food from the agricultural states to the areas with the highest population density (ie. New york) is a struggle, because of bandits, threats, organized crime, disorganized crime and more. - Wildbow on Spacebattles
  9. Cauldron's habit was to take all of the human experiments that turned out well, brainwash them, and then place them in larger organizations to support said organizations, fighting the natural tendency for parahumans to seek conflict (and thus making forming large committed groups hard). Shamrock could well have been slated for the Protectorate, Red Gauntlet, the Suits, or even the Nemesis program (being brainwashed with an auto-lose trigger against one client who paid a good sum, so that client could get a better position and climb faster in rep). - Comment by Wildbow on Spacebattles
  10. If the Accord/Taylor/Coil types didn’t work out as leaders, they intended to brainwash -capes-. Probably capes in captivity. Thus ensuring they had cooperative leaders who would stay in bounds.. - Comment by Wildbow on Venom 29.4.
  11. “No, this means we simply need to step up our plans. If we’re going to go forward with the Terminus project, we need to advance the overall efforts with Cauldron. And we need the Protectorate effort to succeed on every count.” - Excerpt from Interlude 15.z
  12. shonkadice:I think that's the right answer, but why did they then allow Coil to have a whole squad of gunmen?

    Wildbow: Project Terminus. They were hands-off with Brockton Bay in a way they weren't elsewhere. - Conversation on Reddit
  13. “Okay. What if I made the decisions from here on out? You tell me if I’m going down the wrong path, give me direction where it’s needed. - Interlude 29
  14. PitaEnigma: So basically Contessa refused to talk to anyone other than Doctor Mother
    PitaEnigma: and people outside of Cauldron?
    Cyrix: eeeeh
    Cyrix: I am unsure how and why you jump to that conclusion
    Mishie: Uh
    PitaEnigm>: Because it's a funny mental image, mostly
    Mishie: Wat
    Cyrix: thats not a very good reason
    Wildbow: Not refused. Just wasn't necessary. The Triumvirate would've felt like their hands were being forced if Contessa got involved.
    Wildbow: Doctor Mother speaking is a little less threatening & a little more organic.
    abyssonym: that's right, they agreed to let her do most of the talking
    Wildbow: They're ~surrounded~ by mostly mute people acting as tools.
    Wildbow: The clairvoyant, doormaker, the custodian, countless deviants.
    Wildbow: The slug. - Wildbow on IRC, archived on Spacebattles
  15. 15.0 15.1 [Citrine] had seen and worked out the state of Cauldron over the years, after taking over Accord’s position as head of the Ambassadors. She’d known it to be a very large place with very little staff. That much remained true now. When they needed it, as they did now, they could tap their scattered group and make things happen. It was the nature of their group and the people they collected that when they gathered together, they worked together like a perfectly engineered machine.
    The thief, Jeanne thought. The Dealer. He absconded with as many vials as he could take. Kurt had said that along with Manton’s defection, it was one of a series of betrayals that led to Cauldron keeping their roster small and disconnected. - Excerpt from Interlude 5x II
  16. 16.0 16.1 But what can you do in their shoes? What would you do differently?

    The info about what Alexandria is was inevitably going to leak, even before she died, and the death could readily be a catalyst for many people talking about it. Only Contessa was really holding them back (and Cauldron, behind the scenes, decided to stop protecting the Triumvirate: see number man’s interlude). So it was bound to get out somehow.

    Alexandria dies, and you have to tell the public -something-. Chevalier makes the call to tell the public about her shady background, with the caveat that he has to reassure the public that the Alexandria situation won’t recur. He promises to vet the leadership, makes it public so the ones in power know to step down while there’s still an excuse.

    But you get isolated cases like Pretender, who are too committed to their careers to leave, people who know they have immediate subordinates who are Cauldron Capes. Who find themselves between a rock and a hard place, in a situation where things were already strained at best (ie. Las Vegas). - Comment by Wildbow on Drone 23.2
  17. Worth stating that the PRT is outing Cauldron capes in positions of power. Team leaders, etc. - Comment by Wildbow on Drone 23.2
  18. They wouldn’t be getting screened.

    But it’s primarily capes in leadership positions who are getting attention, and Weld was the only one in a leadership position (up until he left).

    Some 53s stayed, like Hunch, but aren’t in a position to abuse their membership to the same degree a leader could. - Comment by Wildbow on Drone 23.2
  19. 19.0 19.1 Interlude 29
  20. 20.0 20.1 27.x (Interlude, Eidolon)
  21. Cauldron permitted Gray Boy because he was the closest thing to a weapon they had against Scion since Eidolon. When the S9 started picking up and more parahumans started getting removed from the fiend{sic}(field) than Gray Boy was theoretically worth, they moved in. Maneuvering Glaistig Uaine into taking him over, so the power would still be in play. - Comment by Wildbow on Spacebattles
  22. Migration
  23. Interlude 12.5
  24. Interlude 25
  25. "[...] a guy who wears fucking sweaters is pulling at the threads that are holding everything together while maintaining and expanding the institution side of the old Cauldron. A handful of others are running the ideological end of Cauldron. Both of those groups are strong in their own way and yet they aren’t doing a tenth what Cauldron used to do in forestalling disasters and containing the most… unproductive capes and cape-related messes.”

    “They’re rebuilding Cauldron?” Sveta asked, horrified.

    “The day the Cauldron cracked, they were there moving in with what would be hundreds of employees. You were there at one point. You had to have seen the empty offices and rooms. Every last one of those offices have people now. Are they doing things on the level of what they did to you guys? No. But only because they lack the opportunity.” - Excerpt from Pitch 6.8
  26. Sveta's tendrils continued to extend, stretching out.

    Each one chose the Doctor as the mark.

    "Had to pick someone," Sveta whispered. "Couldn't focus on him alone. I'm sorry, but you're the best choice."

    The tendrlis found points closer to the Doctor's midsection, crushing.

    The Doctor's screams became strangled.

    Sveta coiled around the Doctor, burying the woman beneath overlapping tendrils, until there was a cocoon and a girl's face, curled up on the stairs. Blood pooled beneath them. - Excerpt from Venom 29.7
  27. 27.0 27.1 Black 13.x
  28. 28.0 28.1 Speck 30.5
  29. Cell 22.4
  30. Interlude 15.z
  31. I appeared right behind the faerie queen.
    I seized her, and I seized the portal man she'd killed and claimed for herself. - Speck 30.6
  32. Speck 30.7
  33. Venom 29.5
  34. Above all else, it is an incomplete future because this entity has only the most minimal role in things, and the shards it saw were all the Warrior’s.

    The fact that it did not is a part of that future. This entity will arrive at the destination, and it will deploy shards to complicate a situation and break stalemates. Losing sides will be granted reinforcements through maturing shards. A different sort of engagement, a different way of testing the shards.- Excerpt from Interlude 29
  35. At the end of the day, the very reason the entities have a Warrior and a Thinker is that they exist to forestall unknown factors. In the absence of the Thinker Eden, Cauldron did arise and while their end goals are different their ultimate functionality is very similar to Eden.

    Eden exists to forestall those scenarios where people might figure out what's going on, band together, and work around the problem (as happened in story, more or less). We see her doing this in the alternate history where Eden is around. She also does the finer tuning of processes and adjusting of experiment/shard-host interactions as required to manage everything. - Wildbow on Reddit
  36. Things come to resemble the theoretical Edenverse, but you don't have Eden shoring up the population by putting tinkers and capes capable of reviving areas anywhere particular (you also don't have her sabotaging). Scion ends up playing a pretty big role in keeping society alive, more than before, with keen attention to the biggest threats and only those threats. - Wildbow on Spacebattles

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Leader Doctor Mother 
Members Alexandria Balminder Contessa The Clairvoyant The Custodian Doormaker Eidolon Harbinger Clones  (Harbinger I Harbinger II  • Harbinger III Harbinger IV Harbinger V ) • Hero Legend William Manton The Number Man Pretender The Slug