[4E] Expert Dungeon Master Competition #7: Design a Cult!

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Expert Dungeon Master Competition #7
Design a Cult!


[highlight]Caution! The judging criteria for the competitions have changed.[/highlight]
[post=16059666]>>>You can read the complete contest rules here<<<[/post]



[indent]Fanatical followers of strange philosophies and obscure gods can be a goldmine for story ideas and campaign settings. But creating a believable cult that can represent a challenge (or an ally) to player characters requires true expertise. In this competition, you should create a cult that other DMs can use to enrich their campaign worlds.[/indent]

Welcome to the seventh Expert Dungeon Master Competition! The primary purpose of the Expert Dungeon Master Competitions is threefold:
  • To create a resource for new Dungeon Masters drawing on the vast talent pool of the experienced Dungeon Masters of this forum.
  • To create a fun and vibrant competition that is sportsmanlike and friendly.
  • To showcase the creativity and talent of Dungeon Masters like you.


In order to enter the competition, your entry must fulfill the following required elements:
  • Name the cult.
  • Describe generally the history and philosophy of the cult and the god or gods (if any) the cult follows.
  • Describe the current cult leader (if any).
  • Describe generally the organization and membership of the cult.
  • Describe one or more encounters that a DM could use to introduce the cult to an adventuring party.
  • Describe what information characters could learn with a successful History, Religion, and/or Streetwise check.


In addition, the entry must meet at least three of the following ten optional elements:
  • At least one encounter is described for each tier of play.
  • Cultic worship causes a physical transformation in some of its members
  • Cultists all have a permanent feature (tattoo, aura, haircut, etc.) that lets people who know the secret identify members of the cult.
  • If a player character cleric joins the cult, they will gain access to a unique Channel Divinity feat detailed in the entry.
  • The cult can be an ally or an enemy to the party, depending on the context.
  • The cult is well-respected and special laws have been enacted to protect its cultic practices from nonmembers.
  • The cult knows a unique ritual described in the entry.
  • The cult leader's identity is hidden from everyone but the highest-ranking cultists.
  • The cult leader is an influential member of the nobility or traditional clergy
  • The cult seeks an artifact.


Following are some general rules of the Expert DM Competition.


  • Code of Conduct. All entries must comply with the forum's Code of Conduct.
  • Contest Duration. Contests usually run for two weeks, beginning with the post announcing the competition. The Coordinator may extend the duration of the contest at his discretion after consulting the other judges for that competition. However, such extensions should be done very rarely.
  • Edits After 15 Minutes Prohibited. Applicants may not edit their entries more than 15 minutes after submission. This includes editing done by forum moderators, unless the moderator specifically states that the entry had not been edited prior to the moderator's action. If the entrant submits an entry before the contest closes and then edits the entry after the contest closes, but within fifteen minutes of submission, the edits will be considered valid. Entrants should use the forum’s “preview post” function or an off-line text editor to check the entry before posting. Once winners have been announced, entrants may edit their entries.
  • Multiple Entries Prohibited. Each applicant may only submit one entry prior during the period in which entries may be submitted. Submitting multiple entries disqualifies all entries. Additional entries may be submitted after the competition closes, but they will not be judged.
  • Multi-Post Entries Prohibited. Each entry must be contained within a single post. The judges must ignore any subsequent posts.
  • Outside Links Prohibited. Entries may not include material hosted on a website other than the post on which the entry appears. Images hosted on, or links to, other websites will be ignored by the judges when scoring.
  • Plagiarism and Previewing Prohibited. All entries must be the original, exclusive work of the applicant. Entries found to be copying the work of another, or that have been posted for review prior to the close of the competition, will be disqualified.


The contest will run from today through Friday February 13, 2008. All entries must be submitted no later than 12:00 midnight on that day (Eastern Standard Time). The judges of this contest are BraveBoudica, mccowen, Nyarlathotep, TwinBahamut, and wrecan, and the coordinator of this contest is wrecan.

Good luck and have fun!!

Questions & Answers
(questions posed by potential entrants and the coordinator's response)



Q. May the entry contain a deity specifically designed for the contest?

A. Yes, though it need not. (Be mindful of your Usability score.)



Q. May the history of the cult be inconsistent with historical events established in the "Point of Lights" setting?

A. Yes, though it need not be. (Be mindful of your Usability score.)



Q. May the membership of the cult be given stats?

A. Yes, though it need not be. (Be mindful of your Usability score.)



Q. Can the cult worship an entity other than a deity, like a primordial or spirit?

A. Yes, though it need not. It can also follow an ideal or a philosophy and have no religious connotation whatsoever. (Be mindful of your Usability score.)

Entry List



  • [post=17855153]AceRumble's Hanged Men[/post] [highlight](gold medalist!)[/highlight]
  • [post=17838862]Furious D 18's Foretold[/post] [highlight](silver medalist!)[/highlight]
  • [post=17849184]Lord Ventnor's Seekers[/post] [highlight](bronze medalist!)[/highlight]
  • [post=17770916]Mechalibur's Children of Frost[/post]
  • [post=17777145]ilikefrogs' Doghood[/post]
  • [post=17811650]Veok's Dreamwalkers[/post]
  • [post=17825754]Koradzi's Cult of Lies[/post]
  • [post=17827333]Keiichi m's The Ascended[/post]
  • [post=17827886]nezumi45's Lightsworn[/post]
  • [post=17829576]Zillah's Elemental Soldiers[/post]
  • [post=17839342]JayJian's Cult of the Blight Bringers[/post]
  • [post=17854530]burkoJames' Children of the Rend[/post]
  • [post=17856942]Nani?'s Kin of Karley of Cartis[/post]
  • [post=17858240]ff6shadow's Brotherhood of Bonds[/post]
  • [post=17858392]Durendal mn's Confederacy of the Untamed[/post]
  • [post=17858526]dulsi's Eight Sided Star[/post]


Disqualified or After-Hours Entries:
  • [post=17823419]JectMoors' Brotherhood of Shadows[/post]
  • [post=17858908]Barmp's Society of Anar[/post]

Medalists





[Deck=The Silver Medal Goes To...]

Furious D18 with "The Foretold"!!

[/deck]

[Deck=The Gold Medal Goes To...]

AceRumble with "The Hanged Men"!!!

[/deck]

Congratulations to all of you!

The gold medalist, AceRumble, is eligible for the custom title of "Heroic Dungeon Master" (if so desired) and is also now eligible to judge future competitions! If AceRumble wins subsequent competitions, the custom title can be changed to "Paragon Dungeon Master" and then "Epic Dungeon Master".

Thanks also to my fellow judges, BraveBoudica, mccowen, nyarlathotep, and TwinBahamut who did a great job judging the competitions. I am so very grateful to them for volunteering.

Again, congratulations to everyone for such wonderful entries and thanks for making the XDMC a continuing success!

I must note, however, that Mechalibur's entry received a Themes score of zero because it neglected to describe the philosophy of the primordial the cult worshiped, meaning the entry was missing a required element (B). Please don't let that discourage either of you from entering future competitions. Just a word of caution that people should be careful to dot the 'i's and cross the 't's.

Stay tuned for XDMC #8 to begin (hopefully) in a few weeks. In the meantime, enjoy the carefully tabulated scores below.

[b]CONSOLIDATED SCORES BY ENTRY[/b]<br /> [b]Entry Creat'y Usab'y Theme Clar'y Bonus Total Author's Entry[/b]<br /> 1 8 8 1/3 0 7 2/5 23 3/4 Mechalibur's Children of Frost<br /> 2 11 1/3 9 1/5 3 4/5 6 1/3 30 2/3 Ilikefrogs' Doghood<br /> 3 12 9 4/5 6 4/5 5 4/5 34 2/5 Veok's Dreamwalkers<br /> 4 9 4/5 9 5 1/2 6 4/5 31 1/9 Koradzi's Cult of Lies<br /> 5 12 1/3 9 2/5 6 2/5 6 1/3 1 35 1/2 Keiichi m's The Ascended<br /> 6 11 1/5 9 1/5 4 2/5 3 1/5 28 nezumi45's Lightsworn <br /> 7 10 1/5 7 4/5 6 5 2/5 29 2/5 Zillah's Elemental Soldiers<br /> 8 13 11 4/5 8 1/5 8 41 Furious D18's Foretold<br /> 9 8 10 2/5 6 1/9 7 2/5 32 JayJian's Cult of the Blightbringers<br /> 10 12 1/3 12 8 8 40 1/3 Lord Ventnor's Seekers<br /> 11 9 1/5 8 2/5 5 2/5 6 2/5 29 2/5 burkoJames' The Children of the Rend<br /> 12 12 5/9 11 2/5 8 2/5 9 41 1/3 AceRumble's Hanged Men<br /> 13 12 4/5 10 4/5 7 1/3 7 4/5 38 3/4 Nani?'s The Kin of Karley of Kartis<br /> 14 12 5/9 10 8 1/5 7 1/9 37 7/8 ff6shadow's Brotherhood of Bonds<br /> 15 12 2/5 11 7 2/5 5 1/5 36 Durendal mn's The Confederacy of the Untamed<br /> 16 13 11 1/5 7 2/5 6 1/9 37 5/7 Dulsi's The Eight Sided Star<br /> <br /> <br /> [b]CONSOLIDATED SCORES BY RANK[/b]<br /> [b]Entry Creat'y Usab'y Theme Clar'y Bonus Total Author's Entry[/b]<br /> 12 12 5/9 11 2/5 8 2/5 9 41 1/3 AceRumble's Hanged Men<br /> 8 13 11 4/5 8 1/5 8 41 Furious D18's Foretold<br /> 10 12 1/3 12 8 8 40 1/3 Lord Ventnor's Seekers<br /> 13 12 4/5 10 4/5 7 1/3 7 4/5 38 3/4 Nani?'s The Kin of Karley of Kartis<br /> 14 12 5/9 10 8 1/5 7 1/9 37 7/8 ff6shadow's Brotherhood of Bonds<br /> 16 13 11 1/5 7 2/5 6 1/9 37 5/7 Dulsi's The Eight Sided Star<br /> 15 12 2/5 11 7 2/5 5 1/5 36 Durendal mn's The Confederacy of the Untamed<br /> 5 12 1/3 9 2/5 6 2/5 6 1/3 1 35 1/2 Keiichi m's The Ascended<br /> 3 12 9 4/5 6 4/5 5 4/5 34 2/5 Veok's Dreamwalkers<br /> 9 8 10 2/5 6 1/9 7 2/5 32 JayJian's Cult of the Blightbringers<br /> 4 9 4/5 9 5 1/2 6 4/5 31 1/9 Koradzi's Cult of Lies<br /> 2 11 1/3 9 1/5 3 4/5 6 1/3 30 2/3 Ilikefrogs' Doghood<br /> 7 10 1/5 7 4/5 6 5 2/5 29 2/5 Zillah's Elemental Soldiers<br /> 11 9 1/5 8 2/5 5 2/5 6 2/5 29 2/5 burkoJames' The Children of the Rend<br /> 6 11 1/5 9 1/5 4 2/5 3 1/5 28 nezumi45's Lightsworn <br /> 1 8 8 1/3 0 7 2/5 23 3/4 Mechalibur's Children of Frost

Does the cult have to worship an established deity, or can I create my own? I have an idea, but it doesn't fit any of the existing deities.
Does the cult have to worship an established deity, or can I create my own? I have an idea, but it doesn't fit any of the existing deities.

general truth for all mdmc/xdmcs:
if there ain't a restraint in the required elements, you are free to do whatever you want.

got a cult to banjo or fluffy the bunny? go ahead and do so. making up your god might be a good way to get some more creativity points. just make sure it does not hamper your clarity, theme or usability.
Here be dragons: IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cydyvkj/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/c54g6ac/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/csw6fhj/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cbxbgmp/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cz7v5bd/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/ccg9eld/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/c8szhnn/.gif)IMAGE(http://tinyurl.com/cp68b5u/.gif)
56767308 wrote:
Sadly, I don't think this has anything to do with wanting Next to be a great game. It has to do with wanting Next to determine who won the Edition War. [...] For those of us who just want D&D Next to be a good game, this is getting to be a real drag.
57870548 wrote:
I think I figured it out. This program is a character builder, not a character builder. It teaches patience, empathy, and tolerance. All most excellent character traits.
I didn't see it up there, but should we stat out the cult members (especially in the encounters/leader portion) or leave it nebulous?
Resident Shakespeare
Does the cult have to worship an established deity, or can I create my own?

The cult need not worship an established deity.

Should we stat out the cult members (especially in the encounters/leader portion) or leave it nebulous?

That is up to you.
I'm a little confused. What makes a cult... a cult? There's no criteria concerning alignment or intent -- would perhaps a better descriptor for the contest (albeit much less interesting) be "Design a Mildly Religious Organization"?
If you look past the plot and the voice acting, Metroid: Other M was an okay game. Not a great game, but an adequate one. Not using the Metroid item collect jingle though? That, was a mistake.
I'm a little confused. What makes a cult... a cult? There's no criteria concerning alignment or intent -- would perhaps a better descriptor for the contest (albeit much less interesting) be "Design a Mildly Religious Organization"?

I don't think it neccesarily needs to be religious to be a cult. There are cults of personality that have little to do with religion. As well as cults of extreme philosophy.
Resident Shakespeare
My point was that nothing in the required elements signify's "CULT" -- it seems pretty generic for an organization -- who's the leader, what is their organization trying to do, etc.
If you look past the plot and the voice acting, Metroid: Other M was an okay game. Not a great game, but an adequate one. Not using the Metroid item collect jingle though? That, was a mistake.
I don't think it neccesarily needs to be religious to be a cult. There are cults of personality that have little to do with religion. As well as cults of extreme philosophy.

I would add to that another version; A cult is religion with has fewer "0"'s in its membership numbers then the major established religions and because of that, rumor and inuendo can spread easily, regardless of any truth behind it.
Examples:

Christianity: 1st century=cult of potentially dangerous weirdos who might be dangerously subversive. 13th century=established church on the lookout for potentially dangerous wierdos (i.e. cultists) to go after.

Or it could be defined geographically.

Hare Krishna in America= Mostly harmless weirdos who hand out flowers in Airports. Hare Krishna in India= Much closer to the mainstream or druids at the time of Christ. Persecuted in Gaul=cult. In Britian, the established religion.


All the Best,

Nani?

Edit: Three Kinda cool historical cults.
My point was that nothing in the required elements signify's "CULT" -- it seems pretty generic for an organization -- who's the leader, what is their organization trying to do, etc.

The description is open to give you leeway in devising a cult. Generally, assume we're using a colloquial definition of the word if it isn't defined for a contest. Using this dictionary definition, I think I'd accept anything that fits the first seven definitions.
Sweet. Looks fun, and I'm getting a few ideas...
Interesting... I have a question, however. Can this cult be based upon events that may not be part of the 4E "canon", such as a war between gods not chronicled, or a devestating magical armageddon (comparable to the Tiefling/Dragonborn wars) and such, as long as the pertinent details are chronicled?
What was the old saying about the definition of pornography? "I can't define it but i know it when I see it". I think that applies to what constitutes a cult too. ;)

As Wrecan said, it is loosely defined. Plus its really subjective anyway. I would say go with whatever YOU think constitutes a cult.

And as for deviating from D&D Canon. I would say go for it, but mind the Usability score.
4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same ideal.

That is the icing on the cake for me then.


Eeeexcellent... 157
If you look past the plot and the voice acting, Metroid: Other M was an okay game. Not a great game, but an adequate one. Not using the Metroid item collect jingle though? That, was a mistake.
Can this cult be based upon events that may not be part of the 4E "canon"?

Yes.
Can optional elements two and three overlap (e.g. once having undergone a physical transformation for the first time, or x amount of times, a permanent feature appears)?

Just curious.
New to this thing: Do I post my entry here?
Shaman: "Why doesn't the squirrel shoot the wizard?" DM: "Because the last squirrel who tried to shoot the wizard missed, then was pulled out of his tree and incinerated." Wizard: "He has a point."
You post the entry to this thread, yes. But do not post your entry by editing the post you just made. Submit your entry in a newpost to this thread. Be sure to read the rules so you aren't accidentally disqualified for something.

Welcome to the XDMCs!!!
Cool, hmm... Never done one of the contests before so quick question regarding Usability, would something deal with Spirits and links to the Shadowfell and Abyss be to specific (since mentions; "Is the entry specific to an unusual environment or plane?")
Does the cult necesarily have to worship a god or gods? Can it be a primordial, or really powerful spirit instead?
Resident generic resident.
would something deal with Spirits and links to the Shadowfell and Abyss be to specific

Usability is scored on a range from 0 to 15. So there is no "too specific". The more specific it is, the lower it will score.

For example...
An entry that must take place in a desert environment will score lower than an entry that has no environmental restriction, but will score higher than an entry that must take place in the DarkSun campaign setting.

But no entry has no limitations. And having an absolutely generic setting may mean a lower creativity score. The trick is balancing Creativity an Usabilty.
Does the cult necesarily have to worship a god or gods? Can it be a primordial, or really powerful spirit instead?

No to the first. Yes to the second.
Can optional elements two and three overlap (e.g. once having undergone a physical transformation for the first time, or x amount of times, a permanent feature appears)?

Just curious.

Option two deals with something a little more dramatic and life changing than a tatt or a haircut. If the cult makes you sprout a tail or something like that, it fits element two.

Element three would be indicative of something that the people do themselves that alters their appearance, but can be replicated by anyone.

If one group is a cult of a demon lord, and once they are part of it's cult they grow little stubby horns, that would fit Option Two.

A different group follows a forgotten god and they all have his symbol tattooed behind their left ear, that fits Option Three. Anyone could get the cult tattoo, but not everyone can simply grow horns.

To fit both, they would have to follow a cult of a forgotten demon prince that urged them to tattoo themselves behind the ear, and once they were a fully trusted member, they would grow teeny horns.

Did I explain that very well?
Can optional elements two and three overlap (e.g. once having undergone a physical transformation for the first time, or x amount of times, a permanent feature appears)?

Sorry for missing this earlier!

The answer to your question is: Yes, the elements can overlap.
Another question... Does tattooing have to be a requirement for members, or can it be "most members choose to tattoo themselves as a mark of their membership."
Cultists all have a permanent feature (tattoo, aura, haircut, etc.) that lets people who know the secret identify members of the cult.

"All" means "All". It does not mean "Most"
Thank you both BraveBoudica and wrecan for answering my question.

Don't worry about missing it; I was bound to ask again sooner or later anyways. ;)
Short question about particular wording (which I believe I know already but want to be certain). Option 2: the wording implies that the transformation arises from the cultic worship. Now, this is a very minor question, but: Does this mean that the transformation is something that must be caused by an external force (such as a Deity) or can it be something caused by an internal force (such as the cultists transforming themselves).
Resident Shakespeare
Short question about particular wording (which I believe I know already but want to be certain). Option 2: the wording implies that the transformation arises from the cultic worship. Now, this is a very minor question, but: Does this mean that the transformation is something that must be caused by an external force (such as a Deity) or can it be something caused by an internal force (such as the cultists transforming themselves).

Either one or both.
Either one or both.

I could kiss you right now.
Resident Shakespeare
Thanks, but I have a cold... and a wife.
Children of Frost

The Children of Frost is a cult spanning through around half a dozen towns. The cult worships Vera'Shal the Primordial King of ice.

Entry
Initiates have a surprisingly easy time entering the cult. All an initiate must do is complete a minor request of a high-ranking member and have the Mark of Frost etched into the back of his or her head.

Mark of Frost: The Mark of Frost is a glowing rune on the back of a member's head. Unknown to most who bear it, the Mark of Frost also allows the cult's leader (see below) to know where all her cult's members are at any given time. This is done to root out any possible traitors from within the cult.

Create Mark of Frost
Level: 10 Component Cost: 400gp
Category: Scrying Market Price: (Cannot be bought)
Time: 5 minutes Key Skill: Arcana (no check)
Duration: Permanent

Creates a Mark of Frost on a humanoid. The caster knows the location of any person that he or she has used this ritual on. The Mark can only be removed by using a Remove Affliction ritual.

The Sacrifice
All members of the Children of Frost are recuired to make a sacrifice each week. All members participating in the sacrifice loose one healing surge which is released in the form of a blue-green mist.

Encounter - The PCs have heard stories of a blue mist exiting an abandon mansion at the edge of the town. When they investigate they stumble upon a sacrifice taking place.

Level 5 encounter (XP 1000)
2 Human Berserkers (4 brute)
2 Human Mages (4 artillery)
4 Human Lackeys (7 minion)

The Leader
The founder of the Children of Frost is Asharzan, an ancient white dragon (MM 85), though few members know this. Instead, she prefers to let others rule for her. She created the Children of Frost not to give power to Vera'Shal, but to give power to herself. All sacrifices are directly transferred into her increasing her power, yet she always hungers for more. She is arrogant, and thinks herself to be a god. Though seclusive, she is never seen without a few powerful guards to protect her from potential threats.

Encounter - Defeating Asharzan

If the PCs discover the secret behind the Children of Frost, they must deal with both Asharzan and her guards.

Level 25 Encounter (XP 39,050)
2 Ice Devils (20 soldier)
1 Ghaele of Winter (21 Artillery)
Asharzan, ancient white dragon (24 solo brute)

Information (Streetwise)

DC 20: The Children of Frost is a cult that worships the Ice King Vera'Shal.
DC 25: All members of the cult have a unique rune etched into the back of their heads called the Mark of Frost. When a cultist performs rituals a blue mist is released from their body
DC 30: There are rumors that the true leader of The Children of Frost is not known by almost any of the cultist. The true leader is hidden and schemes in the background while the cultists do his or her work.

(Optional Elements used)
3. All members have the Mark of Frost etched into the back of their heads
7. A ritual is required to create the Mark of Frost
8. Very few know the true identity of Asharzan
Resident generic resident.
And Mechalibur draws first blood! Welcome to the Expert Dungeon Master Competitions!
Thanks

That was a bit shorter than I would have liked... I thought the character count was much smaller... heh, my bad.

I can't wait to see some other cults.
Resident generic resident.
I have an excellent idea for a cult, but I can't make it because i don't know the 4th edition rules.
No better time to learn!
Background

Karath Valk was a simple woodcutter all of his adult life. He knew the stories of great adventurers, but never had aspirations of doing such things himself. He had a small house, his ax and his dog, Pook, and that was all he needed.

His days followed a steady routine. When the weather was nice, Karath and Pook would head into the woods to chop trees and gather deadfall, which he then traded to the local villagers for food and supplies. When the weather was bad, they stayed inside, Karath sharpening his ax and Pook sleeping by the fire.

All of that changed with one swing of his ax. Distracted by the call of a strange bird, Karath missed the log he was chopping and sent the ax into his leg. Quickly bleeding out, unable to support his weight and with nothing to lean on, Karath was sure he was doomed. What he considered the final nail in his - literal - coffin was Pook appearing at his side and licking the blood from his leg. To Karath's shock, the bleeding stopped. By then, however, he had lost too much blood and could not stand. Then another strange event occurred. Pook took Karath's collar in her mouth and began to drag him! It took hours, but in all that time, Karath's leg never bled.

Karath had herbs and medicines in his cabin that he used to heal his leg. Throughout that time, Pook never left his side, and always seemed to know what Karath needed - love, kisses, a push to move on. Whatever it was, Pook gave it. By the time his leg was back to normal, Karath knew that he never would have survived without his faithful companion.

Many years went by, and as all know, we are doomed to outlive our pets. So it was with Karath and Pook. Karath buried Pook in his back yard, marking the spot as he would have the grave of a fellow human. And while Karath tried to move on with his life, he knew a part of him had died with Pook.

Gradually, the incapacitating ache passed, but left behind a goal in Karath's mind. "Our dogs give us love, loyalty, and companionship. All they ask in return is food, a warm place to sleep, and a pat on the head. From this day forward, I will live my life in honor of Pook, and all dogs everywhere. I will give my heart to my fellow man. I will do all that I can to ensure everyone around me feels loved. I will ask for nothing more in return than an occasional handshake. I will become like a dog."

And so it was. The villagers were amazed by the openness and kindness shown by the previously stand-offish man. As time passed, a few of them recognized the joy that such a life brought to Karath and those around him, and began to emulate his life.

One night, several years after the death of Pook, Karath awoke from a dream and heard the bark of a dog outside his door. Opening it, he saw Pook! After a shocked moment, he realized his beloved dog was semi-transparent. With a shake of her head, she bid Karath to follow her. She led him to her grave, then curled up on top of it. With another shake of her head, she bid Karath to lay beside her as he had done so many times before. Without hesitation, Karath lay down on the ground and wrapped his arms around Pook. He fell asleep in that position.

Over the course of the next week, Karath noticed his eyesight was changing. It was subtle at first and he almost did not realize what was happening. However, when he found he could walk through the woods on a moonless night and still see the roots and underbrush, he realized he had gained the nightvision of a dog. As time passed, more changes became apparent. His sense of smell became much better, until he could track woodland creatures by scent. His body hair grew thicker until it formed a coat everywhere except the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet. His ears elongated until they resembled the ears of an elf.

The villagers were amazed by this transformation. Eventually, one of those who had chosen to follow his lifestyle, a young cobbler by the name of Eirk, decided to attempt the same transformation. He, too, spent the night sleeping on the grave of his lost dog. He, too, underwent the transformation.

This only served to prove to Eirk that this path was the right one, and he was determined to spread this message to the world. He packed his clothes and tools and set off for the city, both to earn his livelihood and to ensure all knew of this wonder.

Eirk found most city dwellers to be skeptical of his "good news," but they could not argue with the quite drastic transformation that he had undergone. Slowly, more people came to the path, now called Doghood. Devotees became known as Canus.



Current status

As years passed, Doghood spread throughout the world. Most large cities have at least one group of devotees, called a Pack. Unlike a pack of dogs or wolves, however, Packs of Canus do not have a hierarchy. Instead, they work together to spread the love and loyalty of their mascots to all who are in need of support. Even many smaller cities and towns have at least one Canus.


Becoming a Canus and the Transformation

Becoming a Canus
Anyone who has ever lost a beloved dog may become a Canus. Members take no holy vows. Their only oaths are to themselves and, if they desire, the spirits of their lost pets. No Canus is required to join a Pack, though many who can will. The only requirement is having a collar tattooed around the new Canus's necks. Below the collar, Canuses tattoo representations of all the dogs they have loved and lost. These representations are chosen by the Canus and may be anything that they feel represents their lost pet. Common representations are the pet's name, an image of their favorite toy, or something that symbolizes their favorite activity or location.

The Transformation
Any Canus who wishes to undergo transformation may do so. There is no formal ceremony. A Canus just calls to the spirits of their pets, sleeps on the grave of their dog and the transformation begins. Those who take that step are called Pooks.

Within a week of sleeping on the grave, Pooks gain low-light vision (if they did not already have it). In addition, those who did not already have brown or black eyes will have their eyes change to those colors. (Some Elves and Eladrin will develop pale blue eyes instead of brown.) The Scent ability (if they did not already have it) develops over the course of about 6 months. Within a year, all Pooks have elongated ears and are covered in a coat of body hair. Even races that do not normally have body hair will grow a fine, but clearly visible, coat. They gain a permanent +2 to Perception checks with respect to hearing.


Philosophy of Doghood

Love and loyalty are considered to be the highest ideals, and all members are bound to follow them. A Canus never accepts payment for the love and devotion they provide (other than a willing handshake or pat on the back), though they continue to work at whatever job they had before in order to pay their bills.



Party Interaction

It is not likely that a party member would be a Canus or Pook, though that would be an option for a Lawful Good or Good adventurer. If a Canus was an adventurer, he or she would more likely be an NPC connected to the party's current quest.

Adventurers could encounter a Canus if they are investigating the aftereffects of massive death, slavery, or anything else involving the dark side of human nature, as the victims of such call to the loving nature of Canus. For example, a Pack of Canus would be on-site after a major fire in their city; on a battlefield, comforting the dying; or taking in escaped or freed slaves and teaching them to function in society.

Because of a Canus's close interaction with their community, they could serve as sources of information. Their loose worldwide network would allow for the passage of information or personnel, if necessary.


Skill Checks

Streetwise 10: There is a group of people who model their interactions with others on dogs.
Streetwise 15: These people call themselves Canus and dedicate themselves to helping others while asking for nothing in return.
Streetwise 20: Some Canus willingly undergo physical transformation to become more dog-like. These people call themselves Pooks.
History 20: Pooks took their name from the founder of Doghood's beloved dog.
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