The Cult of the Watch “Only through vigilance, decisiveness and a steady sword arm can we truly become one with our God. The lost sit and wait while the blessed take action. We are the blessed!!!” Aarvis Gesing
Summary The Cult of the Watch is a new cult that was began by followers of the deity Helm. A small cult who has recently began to grow, much to the dismay to the church of Helm; the Cult of the Watch is much more aggressive than their former brethren. The cult members hold a deep belief that transcendence to the afterlife can only be achieved through aggression.
History The idea of the Cult of the Watch began on a cold day during the Battle of Strake Ridge where a young Aarvis Gesing watched as his church simply did not move forward to finish the invading force of gnolls. He cursed at the inaction of his church. The church promised the citizens of the surrounding mountains that they would stay and watch over them. They didn’t. The gnolls, as the church found later, came soon after and finished off the simple farmers that inhabited the area. Aarvis could feel his church lose grace, actually saw it, when people began to pound on the church doors. Aarvis knew that the reactive actions of watch that his church had been doing was not what Helm wanted. Helm wanted action and results. Helm wanted vigilance and vengeance. So, after time, Aarvis gathered like minded followers and left under the cover of nightfall. Days later the church of Helm heard of the massacre that had taken place at Strake Ridge. The Cult of the Watch had made their first strike. Since that time the Church of Helm has been trying to undermine the Cult of the Watch. However for every action that the church takes against the Cult it strengthens the people’s belief that the Cult is acting in the people’s interest more so than the Church does. The Cult of the Watch is accepted by the young mostly and even more so by the young on the frontier towns that primarily the Cult operates.
The Cult of the Watch today Wherever a small town lies that the only thing between her and her enemies is distance or when a small caravan cannot afford protection you can surely find members that hold the tenets of the Cult of the Watch. The Cultists numbers are not recorded and truly anyone can become a member of the cult if they are recognized and take an oath to follow the tenants set by Aarvis. Since it is taught that there is strength in both mobility and familiarity Aarvis Gesing can be found on the border of any civilization, always moving. The Cult has no formal church structure and their rituals are always done in the wild with only cultists being in audience. For major decisions that are deemed most important by the areas most prominent cultist or for major invasions, messengers are deployed to border towns to seek the advice of Aarvis. The Cult of the Watch attacks any threat whether it is perceived or actual in any area that they operate in. A typical member of the cult has to be tough and ready to act at a moments notice. Therefore Rangers, Fighters and even a few Monks can be found within the ranks of the Cult. Although rare, there are also a few Sorcerers and former Clerics of Helm that follow the Cults more aggressive view. Many a commoner try to enter the ranks but they are better at being protected than being protectors. All Cult members can be identified by large grey sashes worn around their waist. All members wear a silver gauntlet and have a tattoo of a small eye placed on the back of their neck. All cult members, once sworn in, must follow certain guidelines and beliefs which can be found in the Oath of the Vigil. Oath of the Vigil - Keep your weapon sharp, your senses keen and your spirit true to those you protect - Intermingle with civilians in a professional manner. You will not marry, fornicate or engage in any relationship with those you protect. - Never shy away from battle. When in battle kill all who stand before you for that is the only way you will have a pure soul. Those who shy from battle or falter in their protection of those weaker than themselves shall forever be dammed. - Never speak ill of your fellow brothers - Always be on the offensive. Never wait for the enemy. If the enemies flee, give chase. For their deaths vindicate your purpose - Always keep on the move but know your charges well. Strength comes in mobility and familiarity Ritual of the Watch The Ritual of the Watch must take place within the wild or any secluded place so that only those within the Cult can be privy to it. To perform the ritual a large drawing of an open eye is drawn on the ground. Those being inducted kneel at the center of the eye and swear to follow each tenet of the Oath as each is read aloud. The master of the ritual, usually the recognized leader of the area, then carves a small eye into the base of the neck of the inductee. Ink is then applied into the skin to complete the tattoo. If the recipient does not die of infection then he is meant to be a part of the Cult of the Watch. There is no limit on the amount of entrants that can be part of the ritual. The ritual material cost is 100gp. Items Cult members receive their grey sashes and silver gauntlets upon completion of the ritual or if the ritual is scheduled shortly. The Oath of the Vigil must still be recited and sworn upon before items are received.
Usually there can be as many as 30 Cultists operating in one town and as few as 2. Depending on location reserves can be brought forth in as little as 2 days. Of course this is the DMs discretion.
The Cult of the Watch in Your Campaign The Cult of the Watch can be introduced into your campaign anytime the PCs find themselves on a frontier area that they are helping to protect. Alternatively, if the PCs are there to attack any person or persons obviously weaker than them, they can be assured that a few of the Cultists will be there to help protect the PCs quarry. The PCs may learn or study about the Cult of the Watch by making a Knowledge Local check which may be read or paraphrased by the DM. DC 10:“The Cult of the Watch is a secretive but personable cult that is dedicated to watching over the weak. The Cults numbers are not recorded.” DC 15:“The Cult of the Watch was begun by former members from the church of Helm. They are signified by grey sashes and wear silver gauntlets. They are a reactive force that attack threats of the towns they protect.” DC 20:“The Cult of the Watch primarily operates on frontier regions and are protectors of regions that cannot protect themselves. Although nobody can track his whereabouts it is said a former member of Helms church was the founder of the cult. His name is Aarvis Gesing. Typically there are around 15 Cultists located in every town. ” DC 25: The PCs learn of communications and signals taught to other Cult members by Cult members. Such communications include a crossed set of twigs with grey cloth which means that there have been Cultists in the area or a dozen set of regional flowers wrapped in grey silk which marks the death of a Cult member. When a member of the Cult covers his eyes and points, he is usually pointing out an unenlightened one, a follower of Helm. Of course, the DM may make up any he/she sees fit. DC 30: A ritual action may be given or a piece of the Oath may be discovered.
The PCs of course, and at the DMs discretion, may give misleading, or even wrong, information to the PCs. There is more of a chance of this in larger cities and, of course, when asking a member of the church of Helm. Typically the DC of each check rises by 5 in those conditions. Introducing the Cult of the Watch into your Campaign As stated previously the Cult are the self proclaimed protectors of border and frontier towns. While they are primarily Lawful there are those who view the Cult as little more than glory hounds or warmonger zealots. It is those people who might offer a bounty to the PCs to capture a Cultist. Alternatively the PCs may encounter a group of Cultists when they are helping to defend a town on the frontier or are merely at a bar in one of the same kind of towns. The church of Helm at times sends out spies to watch over and gather information on their “lost” flock so that may act as a job for PCs to handle. Many times the Cultists will act as guides or scouts for PCs if the Cultists gathered are friendly to the PCs.
Founder of the Cult of the Watch Aarvis Gesing S:15 D:10 CON:12 INT:10 WIS:16 CHA:14 Human Cleric 4/ Cultist of the Watch 3 CR: 7 Medium Humanoid HD: 7d8 +7 HP: 45 Initiative: +0 Speed: 20 (4 squares) AC: 20 touch: 10 flat footed: 20 (Breastplate +1, H. steel shield +1, Ring of Natural Armor +1) Base Attack: +6/+1 Grapple: +8 Full Attack: +10/+5 melee (Bastard Sword +2 1d10+4 19-20/x2) or +6 ranged (Light Crossbow, 10 bolts, 1d8 19-20/x2) Punch +8 (Gauntlet 1d3+2 x2) Special Attack: Turn Undead 5/day, Spells Special Qualities: Rally Cry 1/day, Teamwork (Hear/See Allies), People Skills, Group Defense, Domain (Protection) Protective Ward, Domain (Strength) Feat of Strength +4, spontaneously heal AL: LN Languages: Common Saves: Fort: +8 Ref: +4 Will: +8 Skills and Feats: Concentration +11(+15 Combat Casting), Diplomacy +12, Gather Information +5, Heal +8, Knowledge (Religion) +2, Listen +5, Spellcraft +3, Spot +5 Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Bastard Sword), Alertness, Combat Casting, Leadership Spells (usually prepared): 0 level (5) (DC13) – Create water, Detect Magic, Light, Read Magic, Resistance 1st (3+1) (DC14) – Comprehend Languages x2, Remove Fear, Shield of Faith, Sanctuary (domain) 2nd (2+1) (DC15) – Aid, Calm Emotions, Enthrall, Bulls Strength (domain) Bonus spells due to high Wisdom included. Domains: Protection (+4 bonus on saving throw) pg. 188 PHB Strength (+4bonus to Strength for 1 round) pg. 188 PHB Possessions:Bastard Sword +2, Breastplate +1, Heavy Steel Shield +1, Ring of Natural Armor +1, Ring of Sustenance, 2 potions of Cure Moderate Wounds, 1 Scroll of Divine Power, Potion of Blur, Silver Gauntlet Aarvis Notes and Description: Aarvis is quick to action and is inspiring. He leads with action and words. Aarvis is kind to all newcomers and thinks himself a pretty good judge of character. In your campaign Aarvis does not have to have the prestige class levels and can be a 4th level Cleric although he will not have the Leadership feat.
Typical Cult Member Josef, male human Ftr1: CR 1; Medium Humanoid; HD 1d10+3; hp 13; Init +4 (+4 Improved Initiative); Spd 30 ft.; AC 15 (Chain Shirt, Light Wooden Shield) 10 touch, 15 flat footed; Attack +3 melee, or +0 ranged; Grp +3; Full Attack +4 (Longsword 1d8+2 19-20x2) or Punch +3 (Silver Gauntlet 1d3+2); SV Fort +5, Ref +0, Will +1; AL LN; Str 14, Dex 10, Con 16, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 12. Languages Spoken:Common. Skills and feats: Climb +4, Intimidate +3, Gather Information(cc) +2, Knowledge Religion(cc) +1, Listen +3, Ride +3, Spot +3, Swim +3; Improved Initiative, Alertness, Weapon Focus (Longsword) Possessions: Longsword, Light Wooden Shield, Chainshirt, Silver Guantlet
Any 1st-3rd pre-generated NPCs found on tables 4-12 through 4-22 (DMG pages 112 to126) can be used as well. Of course levels in the PrC given below can be used as well.
DM Notes The deity Helm can be found in the Forgotten Realms Campaign Sourcebook on page 242. However the teachings of the deity St. Cuthbert, 3.5 PHB pg. 108, can be used as well. If running an Eberron campaign the Cult may be the more aggressive brethren of the deity Boldrei which can be found on pg. 69 of the Eberron Campaign sourcebook. The PrC given below is optional and is meant to be taken at low levels so that the average NPC can realistically be an “actual” cultist. If a NPC or PC wishes to be a member in the Cult of the Watch he or she does not have to take levels in the PrC to become a member. The prestige class given is more for flavor and can be illustrated as a representation of those Cult members who are closely trying to follow in the training of Aarvis.
Cult of the Watch Entry Requirements Race: Any Alignment: Any Non Evil Base Attack Bonus: +2 Skills: Gather Information 2 Ranks, Knowledge Religion (Helm or deity used) 2 Ranks Weapon and Armor Proficiency: All Cult of the Watch members become proficient with simple and martial weapons and are proficient with light and medium armor. They gain no shield proficiency. Feats: Alertness Special: Any PC who wishes to be a member of the Cult of the Watch must take the Oath of the Vigil and be willing to defend a town or a Cultist when asked.
[b] BAB Fort Ref Will Abilities[/b] 1.+1 +2 +2 +0 Rally Cry 2.+2 +3 +3 +0 Teamwork (Hear/See Allies), People Skills 3.+3 +3 +3 +1 Group Defense
HD: d8 Skills (2+ INT modifier per level): Concentration, Diplomacy, Gather Information, Heal, Hide, Intimidate, Knowledge (Local), Listen, Move Silently, Ride, Sense Motive, Survival Rally Cry (Su): Once per day as a free action a Cult of the Watch member may utter a powerful shout that grants a +2 morale bonus to attack and damage rolls to all allies within 60 ft. The effect lasts equal to the PCs Cult level plus his Charisma modifier. Teamwork (Hear/See Allies) (Ex):A Cultist of the Watch get a +10 bonus to Listen and Spot checks to keep an eye and ear on allies. People Skills: A Cultist of the Watch has to work with various sorts of people and monsters. All cultists become aware of body language and group dynamics as well as when and how to speak to certain people. Because of this all Cultists gain a +2 to competence bonus to Diplomacy, Intimidate and Sense Motive checks. Group Defense (Ex): Cult members are trained to defend people who cannot defend themselves. Any person(s) standing in the immediate 5 ft. square can get defensive aid. When aid is given by the Cultist he can aid up to two people as long as they are standing within 5 feet of him/her. The bonus is +2 to AC to each person and cannot be given if the Cultist is flatfooted or otherwise is denied his Dexterity. The benefit does not apply to more than two people. If there are more than two people surrounding the Cultist at any given time than he at the beginning of his turn can designate whom he will give aid to. At the beginning of his turn the Cultist can change those people that receive the +2 benefit. If anyone leaves an adjacent square he/she will lose the AC benefit.
It has been more than 400 years since The Founder’s passing. In that time, the world has seen his cult grow ever stronger…
THE SOCIETY’S BEGINNINGS Ages ago, an orphaned human child named Ashur Alasam appeared at the doorstep of a local monastery, begging for food and shelter. The monastery’s abbot took pity on the child and, as was their custom, the monks took Ashur in, adopted him as their own, and began to teach him their ancient traditions.
Ashur proved to be an excellent student and, before long, he secured the rank of spiritual master. However, Ashur was growing increasingly dissatisfied with traditional monastic life. In his quest to achieve the highest state, Ashur felt he had reached a plateau. His daily meditations were becoming less and less productive and he began to search for other ways to reach a higher level of consciousness. In secret, he began to study the arcane arts, but they proved somewhat disappointing to him. He then looked to the traditional faiths but, again, he was unable to find the path to transcendent wisdom. Finally, Ashur turned to the field of alchemy. There, he found his answer.
After many years of experimenting with nearly every substance known to man, Ashur eventually came to focus his studies on the more common poisons. He self-administered small doses of each type of poison, relying on his monastic training and great fortitude to protect him from harm. He then combined the various substances, hoping to produce a desirable affect. His diligence proved quite valuable, as he finally discovered a poison which he named brain fungus.
BRAIN FUNGUS – THE ENABLER General Description Brain fungus is a mushroom which combines the effects of two common poisons; carrion crawler brain juice and striped toadstool. In their isolated forms, carrion crawler brain juice causes paralysis, while striped toadstool damages both wisdom and intelligence (see DMG, page 297). Ashur’s key discovery was that when the two substances are combined and administered in precisely the right amount, the negative paralysis effect is lessened, while wisdom and intelligence actually increase.
These effects were exactly what Ashur had been searching for and he began to use the fungus as part of his meditation routine, which went as follows. First, he would voluntarily suppress his immunity to poisons so the substance could take full effect. Next, he would consume a small amount of the mushroom and allow his body to go numb. Ashur believed the paralysis effect was quite liberating, as it “freed him” from his body and enabled him to concentrate more deeply. He would then experience an almost euphoric increase in intelligence and wisdom. Ashur would remain in this frozen state of heightened awareness for up to four days at a time, pondering his own existence, disciplining his mind, and exploring the deepest recesses of his soul. Eventually, the effects of the poison would wear off, leaving him completely at peace with himself and the world.
Brain Fungus Toxicology and Game Rules The initial effect of brain fungus is paralysis. However, when correctly administered, the paralysis is only temporary and lasts 1d4 days. The secondary effects of a precisely measured dose are twofold. First, the user gains 1d4 points of intelligence. Second, the user’s wisdom increases by 2d6 points. The secondary effects are also temporary, lasting for the same duration as the paralysis. Finally, the poison is unique in that prematurely ending the paralysis effect (e.g. through magical healing) also dispels the secondary effects.
To achieve beneficial results, the poison must be precisely administered. An untrained user has a 99% chance of either over or under dosing. In either case, the results are identical to poisoning from both carrion crawler brain juice and striped toadstool. Fortitude saves are allowed as normal. In other words, to escape any harm, the user must make three successful fortitude saves; one save (DC 13) immediately to resist the paralysis effect from the brain juice, another immediate save (DC 11) to shake off the initial damage from the toadstool, and one save a minute later (DC 11) to resist the toadstool’s secondary damage. Note that even a trained user has a 25% chance of administering an incorrect dose. However, a monk with the Diamond Body (Su) supernatural ability is able to detect an incorrect dose immediately and can activate the ability, thereby preventing any negative effects from the poison.
Brain fungus is an ingested poison. To experience its full effects, the mushroom is first dried and then sliced into thin wafers. One wafer is placed on the tongue and allowed to dissolve, thereby releasing the poison into the bloodstream.
Long-Term Effects Ashur discovered one unfortunate side effect to the poison; continual use eventually kills the tissues of the tongue. Ashur first noticed this effect after about a month of use, when his tongue began to turn black. Shortly thereafter, he lost his sense of taste. After about five years, Ashur became unable to speak, as the poison had severely damaged the nerves and muscles in his tongue. At approximately ten years, full necrosis set in and his tongue started to wither. Despite the near complete loss of his tongue, Ashur continued to use brain fungus until his death almost 25 years later. When he died, all that remained of Ashur’s tongue was a blackened shriveled stub less than one half of an inch long.
Cultivation Prior to his passing, Ashur revealed the secrets for cultivating brain fungus to a small group of monks who shared in his passionate search for transcendent wisdom. To grow brain fungus, a dead carrion crawler is carefully dissected and its brain is removed. The brain is then placed in a dark area, preferably underground, where it begins to decompose. Spores from the common striped toadstool are then sprinkled over the decomposing brain matter. Using this “compost” as a natural fertilizer, the spores germinate quickly, usually within 24 hours. As the fungus develops, it assimilates the carrion crawler’s brain juice into its flesh. Note that carrion crawlers are inherently wise creatures and it is believed the toadstool absorbs the creature’s natural wisdom as it grows. This changes the mushroom’s chemical composition to produce the positive effects seen in brain fungus.
THE BLACK TONGUE SOCIETY After the Founder’s death, a small but devout group of followers carried on Ashur’s practice of growing brain fungus and using the substance to aid in their meditations. Eventually, an entire system of beliefs and practices developed around the use of the poison. That system combines traditional monastic teachings with the untraditional practice of “pharmaceutically enhanced” meditation.
Name and Membership Those who subscribe to Ashur’s beliefs are called Black Tongues and, collectively, they are known as the Black Tongue Society. The society derives its name from the telltale blackening of its members’ tongues which occurs as a byproduct of using brain fungus. Membership is limited to those of the monk class, and Black Tongues are almost exclusively human (although some half-elf Black Tongues are known to exist). Cultists also share common alignments; either lawful neutral or lawful evil. To qualify for membership, a monk must be able to demonstrate a level of control over his metabolism. Accordingly, a monk cannot join the society until he has achieved Purity of Body (Ex). Similarly, it is thought to be too dangerous to allow children to experiment with brain fungus. As such, a monk must reach the age of adulthood before joining the Black Tongues.
Core Beliefs Black Tongues share many tenets with ordinary monks, although their fundamental beliefs differ in some significant respects. Similar to others of their class, Black Tongues strive for purity of mind. Their ultimate goal is to achieve a mental state beyond the mortal realm. However, unlike common monks, Black Tongues believe mortals are incapable of attaining transcendent wisdom as long as they are “trapped” within their bodies. Accordingly, they use brain fungus in an effort to “step outside” the body and free the mind.
Like other monks, Black Tongues also believe in disciplining the body. However, Black Tongues are convinced bodily perfection can only be achieved after the mind has been fully trained. Once ultimate wisdom is achieved through “still meditation,” Black Tongues feel they can gain complete control over their body with relatively little effort.
Training the Mind – An Anonymous Exercise Black Tongues prefer to remain anonymous, even from other members of the Society. The reasons for this are many. First, most believe meditation is a solitary exercise. Black Tongues have a saying, “To truly know one’s self, one must first be alone.” Second, brain fungus is a poison and, like all poisons, possession and use of the substance are illegal. Anonymity helps keep the membership out of prison. Finally, Black Tongues are helpless when they are under the influence of brain fungus. To ensure their safety, most Black Tongues retreat to a remote and secure location before beginning any meditation session. This also helps avoid detection by the authorities.
Black Tongues meditate frequently, as often as six days per week. The day (or days) between meditation sessions are spent in physical training or honing their skills with weapons. Some Black Tongues also spend a few hours per week teaching (see below).
It should be noted that all Black Tongues risk an over or under dose of brain fungus. Furthermore, inexperienced members (i.e. those without Diamond Body (Su)) risk poisoning. As such, an inexperienced member meditates under the supervision of his master until the student gains complete control over his metabolism. In the event the student self-administers an incorrect dose of brain fungus prior to meditation, the master will bring the pupil back by forcing the student to swallow a potion of Remove Paralysis. During this time of training, the member and master swear an oath to one another to never reveal the other’s identity.
Anonymity is perhaps the most strictly enforced tenet of the Society. Any member who knowingly identifies himself or another member to outsiders or other Black Tongues is immediately expelled from the order and marked for death.
Vow of Silence As noted above, continual use of brain fungus eventually leads to members becoming mute. To prepare cultists for this eventuality, the Society requires all members to take a vow of silence. Additionally, if members were to speak, others would see their blackened tongue and their identity would be revealed. The vow of silence helps ensure anonymity.
Diet Essentially, the only time outside of meditation a Black Tongue opens his mouth is to eat. To keep others from seeing their tongue, Society members always eat alone. As noted above, the use of brain fungus eventually leads to a loss of the sense of taste. As such, Black Tongues derive no pleasure from food. They eat for sustenance only. Because Black Tongues cannot taste, their diet is extremely bland and consists primarily of rice, white potatoes, blanched vegetables (e.g. cabbage), and bread. Seasonings or spices are never used in food preparation. To add liquids and protein to their diet, Black Tongues drink watered down goat’s milk.
Money in Black Tongue Society Unlike other monks who may take a vow of poverty, Black Tongues need money. Gold is used primarily to purchase Remove Paralysis potions for more inexperienced members, and all Black Tongues are required to contribute to this cause. Evil Black Tongues generally obtain gold by killing criminals, dishonest businessmen, or corrupt government officials. They then steal their victim’s gold and sell their valuables. Neutral cultists rarely kill to obtain the funds they need. Instead, they spend a few hours per week teaching martial arts. They also use this opportunity to select that rare and promising student who would likely be interested in joining the Society.
Brain Fungus Farming and Distribution The Black Tongue Society has no “leader,” per say. However, one more experienced member per geographic region is responsible for the farming and distribution of brain fungus. This individual, known as a Care Taker, performs the following tasks.
First, Care Takers ensure a continual supply of carrion crawler brains by breeding the creatures. To accomplish this, a dominant female (known as a Carrion Crawler Queen) and two to four males are designated as breeders and are kept alive in captivity. The Queen reproduces rapidly and continuously, with a gestation period lasting approximately 14 days. Her offspring, usually 2 to 4 per clutch, are live-born. Immediately after birth, the Care Taker removes the offspring, slaughters them, and extricates their brains. Carrion crawlers are content as long as they are kept well fed and Society members are responsible for supplying the Care Taker with carrion. Evil Black Tongues have no trouble in this regard, as they simply donate the bodies of anyone they have killed for gold. Neutral Black Tongues have somewhat more difficulty here. Some resort to robbing graves, while others scavenge dead carcasses from the wilderness, city sewers, etc.
Care Takers also farm brain fungus. As noted above, the mushroom grows best in darkness. As such, Care Takers generally work and live in underground caverns. The members usually visit these caverns once every seven days to pick up their weekly supply of brain fungus, exchanging carrion for the mushroom at this time. To prove they belong to the Society, members simply reveal their tongue to the Care Taker. Note that Care Takers are strictly bound to maintain the anonymity of all members.
THE BLACK TONGUE SOCIETY’S WORDLY INFLUENCE The Society’s influence on the world is negligible. As previously discussed, Black Tongues spend most of their days meditating in isolation. They eat alone, never speak to others, and do not interact socially (either amongst themselves or with outsiders). Black Tongue membership requires anonymity and the monks work very hard to remain inconspicuous. In fact, they are so inconspicuous, most people look right past them, just as one might look past a vagrant on the street. Martial arts students who go to members for training simply view them as ordinary monks trying to eek out a living. Unless the Black Tongue selects them for membership, the students remain unaware of their teacher’s “alternative lifestyle.”
On rare occasions, a member will get into trouble with the law; either for possession of an illegal substance, for murder, or grave robbing. Members who are convicted and sent to prison generally commit suicide, as they prefer death over life without the ability to meditate.
AUTHOR’S NOTES AND ADAPTIBILITY The Black Tongue Society would fit into essentially any campaign, as its members are a core class and as most template and home brew worlds include humans. A plot hook involving the Society would likely involve a murder or grave robbing investigation (see the sections labeled Money in Black Tongue Society and Brain Fungus Farming and Distribution).
A PC could also join the Society, but the other party members must not be aware of it. In this case, the DM will also have to decide whether or not the PC gains any special advantage from meditating under the influence of brain fungus. As designed by the author, no changes to the standard player progression would be necessary because any advantage gained from periodic increases in wisdom and intelligence would be offset by spending less time training physically. Also, the PC would have to fit adventures in between meditation sessions. Note this back story might work well for the player who consistently misses gaming sessions.
Finally, as interpreted by the author, the rules allow a monk to voluntarily suppress the Diamond Body (Su) supernatural ability (similar to the ability to suppress Diamond Soul (Ex)). If the DM disagrees with this interpretation, a Black Tongue would meditate in an antimagic chamber (paid for as discussed in the Money in Black Tongue Society section). In doing so, he could no longer spontaneously activate his immunity to poison and he would risk an over or under dose just like any other trained user. In this case, the DM may wish to have all monks meditate under the supervision of the Care Taker. Additionally, the Care Taker’s cavern should include isolated meditation chambers to maintain anonymity.
STAT BLOCKS Care Taker Any lawful neutral or lawful evil adult monk of 11th level or higher can serve as a Care Taker. They are similar in every respect to other monks, except for their skill set. Care Takers receive the following as class skills: knowledge – carrion crawlers ( or dungeoneering, if the DM does not allow unique skills); knowledge – brain fungus (or nature, if the DM does not allow unique skills); and profession – farming.
A sample 15th level Care Taker’s stat block would look identical to the stat block of the 15th level NPC monk presented on page 118 of the DMG, except the monk’s skills entry would be replaced with the following:
Typical Member Any lawful neutral or lawful evil adult monk of 5th level or higher can join the Society. The stat block of a member is similar in all respects to the block for any other monk, except that lawful neutral monks may take profession – teaching as a class skill. For the stat block of a typical member, see the sample 5th level NPC monk presented on page 118 of the DMG (change the alignment of the sample monk to LE).
Carrion Crawler Queen: CR 7; Huge Aberration; HD 8d8+32; hp 68; Init +2; Spd 30ft. (climb 15ft.); AC 19 (-2 size, +2 Dex, +9 natural), touch 10, flat-footed 17; Base Atk +6; Grp +20; Atk Tentacle +11 melee (paralysis); Full Atk 8 Tentacles +11 melee (paralysis) and bite +5 melee (1d6+3); Space/Reach 15ft./10ft.; SA paralysis (Fort Save DC 18 – Con based); SQ darkvision 60ft., scent; AL always neutral; SV Fort +6, Ref +4, Will +9; Str 22, Dex 14, Con 18, Int 1, Wis 16, Cha 6. Skills and Feats: Climb +18, Listen +9, Spot +8; Alertness (b), Combat Reflexes, Track, Weapon Focus (Tentacle) Environment: Underground Organization: Solitary, with 2 to 4 breeding males Treasure: None Advancement: 9 HD (Huge)
Carrion Crawler Breeding Male: See MM1 page 30 for a typical adult male.
History The Garandian war was a mainly cut-throat event, with many spies and torturers used to discover enemy tactics and plans. in the end, many of the high officials were killed and the war was all but forgotten. During this war, many excellent torturers were discovered, many of whom would use the aid of magic abilities, latent or other to become some of the most effective interrogators ever. After the war, they were mostly forced into hiding as outcasts, but one of the more prominent figures in this ring formed a cult in the name of torture. The leader's name has since faded into obscurity, but the cult persists today. Cultist cells are split far apart, and it is not uncommon for them to have no knowledge of other cells.
Beliefs/ Tenets All members of the cult are worshippers of Lestus, the god of torture. The cult believes that torture is an art form, and only they can appreciate it to it's fullest. Meetings of the cult usually include the torture of a randomly kiddnapped victim, often ending with their death or loss of sanity. Of the few who have ever survived such a "probing" often are unwilling to talk about what happened to them. Torture sessions can last up to weeks for the strongest willed victims, every moment in excruciating pain. While many members see the victims chosen to be killed as totally random, many of the leaders of cells blocks are tremendously bigoted against elves, and thus, more killings are of elves and half-elves.
Influence on the world The cult of torture has relatively little power, as it is a secret organization, however, many of the members are also high ranking government officials, or other positions that do not attract much suspicion. Public killings by this group are very rare but exceptionally horrible, such as skinning a victim alive. The cult's existence is known by very few, except in certain communities where killings by the local cult cell are common. In these communities, many of the officials are cult members and use this position to lessen the amount of attention paid in the investigation of the cultists.
Current Leader The overall leadership of the entire cult is disputed, but scholars and investigators have often proposed Geirstein von Kaufmaus is the most powerful of these "leaders". the following is the stat block for Geirstein.
Geirstein von Kaufmaus male human Sor8/Nob4: CR 11; Size M (5 ft., 4 in. tall); HD 8d4+16 + 4d8+8; hp 62; Init +0; Spd 30 ft.; AC 10; Attack +6/+1 melee, or +7/+2 ranged; SV Fort +5, Ref +3, Will +12; AL CE; Str 8, Dex 10, Con 15, Int 10, Wis 11, Cha 18.
Languages Spoken: Common.
Skills and feats: Alchemy +10.5, Craft +11, Forgery +7, Hide +0, Knowledge (arcana) +7, Listen +6, Move silently +0, Perform +7, Spellcraft +10, Spot +0; Craft magic arms and armor, Craft wand, Iron will, Leadership, Maximize spell, Point blank shot.
Possessions: Dagger, Various torture devices, 25,998 gp in gear.
While many facts relating to Geirstein's rise to power are unknown, it is believed he used part of his family's fortune to buy his way into politics. Those who knew him as a child often say that he had a slightly disturbing taste for torturing animals. Shortly after he entered politics, he started learning about his latent magical abilities, and used them to enhance the fear generated by his tortures. After he had earned a name in the underground as one of the best interrogators around, he was approached by a member of the cult of tortures. Soon after entering the cult, Geirstein disposed of the leader of the local cell by a 4 day long torture, using his new method using illusions to enhance the sensations of pain. When he became the leader of his cell, Geirstein only accepted new members with magical abilities, to aid in his method of torture.
Typical Cult members Cult members are mostly all human, with the rare dwarf and even extrodinately creative orc and half-orc torturor. Many of the cult members are upper-class and use their job (often in governments) to disguise their bizzare "hobby". Cult cells that are under Geirstein's control make it imperative to have magical abilities to join, while others that are further away often only require excellent torture abilities. Here is the stat block for a common cultist
Strybyorn, male human Sor2/Nob1: CR 2; Size M (6 ft., 2 in. tall); HD 2d4+4 + 1d8+2; hp 13; Init +1 (+1 Dex); Spd 30 ft.; AC 11 (+1 Dex); Attack +0 melee, or +2 ranged; SV Fort +2, Ref +1, Will +7; AL CE; Str 9, Dex 12, Con 15, Int 14, Wis 14, Cha 16.
Most cultista also have unique ways of identifying themselves, the most common of these are a series of back peircings running down from the center of each shoulder blade. Cells farther from major cells often only use tattoos to identify themselves to each other.
Code of the cult Cult rules and laws are very vague, and often not enforced by the officials. The basic code discusses how torture is an art form, not a method for extorting information, and that a longer torture is better. Also, it is considered poor form to kill a victim before they have been tortured. The one rule that is always followed by all cult members is that the existence of the cult is to be kept an utter secret, to help this, many cells do not use names to identify themselves, merely words relating to their favorite means of torture.
Meeting Places The meeting places for the cult of torture are often tightly packed with various odd, and arcane torture devices. These "torture rooms" are hidden in one of two places, homes of members, and various magic shops. The homes of many of the richer members have their own personal torture rooms in the back of their house, often behind a secret door, or under the whole building. Other meeting places are hidden in the back of stores that torture devices would not be considered out of place, such as a magic shop or the like.
New Equipment Torture Bed- This ingeneously designed torture device both restrains the person being tortured, while pumping specially made serums into their body. To use the table, first the victim must be strapped in (if they are still concious then strength checks msut be made to push the victim in). Then as a full round action, a liquid may be poured into a hole in the side of the table, which the table's workings proceed to pump into the victim's bloodstream. Any effects of the liquid are then resolved, as if the victim had ingested them of his or her own will. If an item such as alchemist's fire is used, the effect is centered on the victim. While it would seem that this creation is magical in nature, in reality it is created using a series of complex hydrolics created by a disturbed gnome mage. Cost: 25,000 GP Fluids for the torture bed. Blood Boiler- This reddish liquid, when injected into the bloodstream makes the victim feel as if his or her skin was being burnt by some outside force. Tingle Skin Fluid- This liquid makes the victim feel as though small needles are being placed into the most painful pressure points on their body. Companion Juice- This fluid, upon entering a person's bloodstream, causes a hallucination of a small demon to appear, this demon mimics the words of anyone one in the room who speaks, but in a terrible voice. this being is often created in a form that the victim finds especially terrifying.
Most of the members of the Baraka Natala do not know of the origins of the cult. One theory is that they are the result of an extraplanar rivalry seeking to control the material plane. Other theories are that they were originally extraplaner creatures using mortals in the material plane. That they used their extraplaner powers to force the creatures of the material plane to worship and fear them. How widespread this influence was it is unknown.
When the portals between the worlds closed the influence on the material plane waned. Cult leaders died in their post without replacements. The Baraka Natala was thought to have disappeared off the face of the world.
Another theory based on based on the one before is that it was the discovery of magic by the denizens of the material plane. When the mortals realized the gods that controlled them where not powerful, but only manipulating planar magic’s, the mortal overthrew the gods and imprisoned them in a very power magical extraplanar prison. This theory is the closest to the truth.
When the cult was at it peak it was a chaotic time of upheaval where only those in the favor of the Baraka Natala were allowed power. Then as quickly they were viciously removed from power, by the mere whim of the cult leaders because they saw stability.
Now several years later only small sects of the cult exist in secret. They work to bring chaos to the world. Some members do it on a small scale while others do it on a very epic scale. Such is determined by the power of the sect.
Major Tenets and Beliefs:
Although none of the members know what the other sects current goals are they all work to restore the gods of old. They do so in hope that when they do they will be in the favor of the gods and will be given power. Otherwise members work to overthrow governments and centers of lawfulness in a desperate attempt to gain favor from their superiors and gods.
There is only one physical manifestation of the god’s favor that powerful members of the cult know of. Across the outer planes the gods created what are known as the “Experiences.” Members of the cult work their lives to gain favor then travel to one of the Experiences and are given the gift of the gods. Nobody ever talks about what happened to them in the Experiences. In game the favor of the gods is the Anarchic Template
The main overall tenet is to cast the world into chaos to gain favor of their long gone gods so when they return they will be rewarded.
Influence on the World:
They only work to sow chaos; from small towns to large cities they work where they can do the most damage. For example they work to constantly inflame a battle between the usually peaceful orc and human settlements. In larger cities they work to keep the government is a constant state of flux. They accomplish this by placing a member of the cult in power, or any other means to keep the city always on edge and never in a stable system. Pitting Nobles vs. the Royalty and creating fighting among the politicians.
They attempt to do all these things while staying out of the public and private eye. They remain hidden. When exposed they disappear. The Baraka Natala to the world is only a rumor.
Information of the existence of the Baraka Natala is not hard to find they were once a prominent religion in some parts. Although it is nearly impossible to find out if the cult is currently active unless you talk to a loose tongued cult member.
The cult is too chaotic is have one stable cult leader they basically only pride themselves on being the most powerful cult member in the sect. The cult is loosely organized into sects. They consist of about one to five members, sometimes there are more. The leader is the most prominent or oldest member of the sect.
The most powerful leader is a person who has gained the favor of the gods. An example is Avencorax; he traveled to the outer planes and gained the favor of the gods. He came back to the material plane and now he is a powerful dragon that was corrupted by chaos.
Early in life another member of the Baraka Natala attempted to raise the dragon as a pet. When Avencorax was old enough to kill his master he did. He used his master's research to find a ways to find an Experience and gain the favor of the gods. Now he controls a small sect of the Baraka Natala. He answers only two the gods themselves, He is one of hundreds who feel they are in this position.
Now as a member of the Cult he pays people to do his dirty work. As a dragon he has plenty of money to do so. He usually has a powerful wizard second in command that helps him with the normal populace. When the wizard is out doing cult business he hides and waits to betray his current second in command.
A Blue-ish dragon almost 3 times the size of a human. His scales are not that of a normal blue dragon. His scales range in color from dark navy to teal. They are randomly colored all over his body. It is a bizarre effect that almost hurts the eyes. In all other ways he is like a normal blue dragon except two places. Where he has symbols etched into his body. They are on the large scale on his chest and on his single horn. Each is the three pointed symbol of the Baraka Natala.
JUVENILE ANARCHIC BLUE DRAGON Large Dragon (Earth, Extraplanar) Hit Dice: 15d12+45 (142 hp) Initiative: +0 Speed: 40 ft, fly 150 ft (poor), burrow 20 ft AC: 23 (-1 size, +14 natural) touch: 9, Flat footed: 23. Mage Armored: 27 Attacks: Bite +18 melee, 2 claws +13 melee, 2 wings +13 melee, tail slap +13 melee Damage: Bite 2d6+4, claw 1d8+2, wing 1d6+2, tail slap 1d8+6 Face/Reach: 5 ft by 10 ft / 5 ft Special Attacks: Breath weapon, create/destroy water, Smite Law(+15 to damage 1/day) Special Qualities: Sound imitation, immunities, blindsight, keen senses, darkvision DR 5/magic, Fast Healing 5, resist Acid, cold, elec, fire and sonic 5, Immune to petrification and polymorph Saves: Fort +12, Ref +9, Will +11 Abilities: Str 19, Dex 10, Con 17, Int 14, Wis 15, Cha 14 Skills: Bluff +17, Concentration +18, Diplomacy +17, Escape Artist +15, Listen +17, Search +17, Sense Motive +17, Spellcraft +17, Spot +17 Feats: Hover, Flyby Attack, Power Attack, Cleave Challenge Rating: 10 Alignment: chaotic evil SA–Breath Weapon (Su): Line of lightning, 80 feet long, every 1d4 rounds; damage 8d8, Reflex half DC 20. SA–Create/Destroy Water (Sp): 3/day, this dragon can create or destroy water. It works like the create water spell, except that the dragon can decide to destroy water instead of creating it, which automatically spoils liquids containing water. Magic items (such as potions) and items in creature's possessions must succeed at a Will save (DC 19) or be ruined. SQ–Immunities (Ex): Immune to electricity, sleep, paralysis. SQ–Sound Imitation (Ex): Mimic any sound heard; Will negates DC 19. SQ–Blindsight (Ex): Dragons can ascertain creatures by nonvisual means (mostly hearing and scent, but also by noticing vibrations and other environmental clues); this dragon's range is 120 feet. SQ–Keen Senses (Ex): Dragons can see four times as well as humans in low-light conditions and twice as well in normal light. They also have darkvision (range 400 feet). Spells Known (cast 5/4; as a level 1 sorcerer): 0–detect magic, resistance, detect poison, read magic; 1–endure elements, mage armor.
Anyone can be a member. They are anyone from powerful destructive wizards like Avencorax's right hand to your local barkeep. They are usually people who believe the cult can give them power. They are greedy. They are low-lives with no station in society hoping the gods will make them one. Or powerful wizards that hope the gods were truly powerful and can help them attain new heights of power. That is what Avencorax believes.
Normal members blend into the population. They act as normal people except when they can create chaos. While the people that made it though the Experiences are different. They are always dressed in chaotic colors, they twitch, or they speak sentences without any grammar. They all have an outward sign of their anarchism. The rest at best can only carry the symbol of the cult. Which is to remain hidden except at cult meetings.
It is the fact that a cult member can be anyone, which makes the cult dangerous. They are undetectable and stealth.
The symbol is three rays connected at one point at the end. The lines angles from each other are usually close to around 60 degrees but are not forced to be so.
The leaders will never gain favor from the gods because the only gods left one whatever plane they live on only wish to see everything on the material plane destroyed. Their imprisonment has left them with such rage that they condemn all who live in that "reality."
If the cult members do revive gods look out. Their only thought for the cult would be to use them to destroy the cult. Members of the cult who travel the planes never actually meet the gods only ancient temples set up by them centuries ago. These are all the Experiences really are.
Certain powerful members of the cult do know a little of the gods will to destroy the plane. They only know of elements of the plan. Simple thinks like the gods wanted them to open a portal to the abyss. They don’t know why, and are usually blind to the fact that it will flood the material plane with lava. Such plans usually fail and only kill the cult members and create trouble for the surrounding area.
The whole endeavor is a sham because nothing they do will get rewarded in the end. The gods never tell the followers that from their prison. The gods care very little of the cult except when they are contacted with powerful magics in their prisons. Then they give quick commands and wait for release.
Still all the followers follow their superiors in hopes that their leader can appease the gods.
This leads greatly to this fact though very limited ability to communicate with the member so the cult the members are unknowingly attempting to destroy everything and everyone on the material plane. In fact if they had their way the gods would wipe the plane out of existence. They know it may destroy existence itself but after being imprisoned as long as they have they no longer care. The destruction of everything would be an escape for them.
It is the powerful members of the cult that is unwittingly trying to commit genocide on a very broad scale. They are trying to eradicate existence itself.
The Members do have a way of identifying themselves to each other. With multiple variations on the cult’s symbol it is sometimes hard to spot. They also use a three finger wave that extends the thumb, pointer and middle finger, in an attempt to make the cults symbol.
Members who need to make there presence known to another member do use this style or somehow flash the cults symbol by slipping the person a piece of paper with only the symbol on it. They do so discretely, thus contact other members of the cult. No member of the cult signs his name to a document with official cult business only the symbol is on the documents. That tells the receiver that the document is official and is to be destroyed after it is used.
Other Info about the Cult:
The cult is never organized and never has more than one member in any sect with the gift of the Experiences. That would be a conflict of egos. Five members is a large sect of the cult. A sect will have hundred of contacts they manipulate and use. Although their pawns never know they are dealing with members of the cult. They see them as anything from kings to thieves. Be assured that wherever they are there is trouble brewing. And they usually can make it look like someone else’s fault.
And if one sect of the cult is defeated remember that does not mean the cult is destroyed. They are splintered and celled. If one cell is destroy is does nothing the whole. With out a true head to the cult there is no way to actually destroy the cult without exposing them in an area.
It is obvious the cult until now has kept there secret pretty well, that is when the players in your adventure step in and expose them. It is up to the DM how to deal with it. The cult members will flee if not killed. Most NPC's will be skeptical of the existence of the cult, smarter NPC's will know better.
As for what the gods are or what plane they are from, that is up to the DM. Since they can be very dynamic and worlds often have very mixed versions of planer existence. The DM just needs pick a chaotic plane and a very innately magical race. And fill in the blanks.
A normally friendly neighboring tribe of Orcs have suddenly begun to amass for war. They claim that a nearby village has dishonored them. When the PC's settle the mess with the orcs, a small Orc attack party hits the village. Now the Village is furious and prepares to fight the orcs. The orc leader claims he told his men not to attack the town. His men defend him. But are lying, there was a member of the village that paid them to attack. Only there is a member of the cult sowing chaos between the two enjoying the squabbling. Make it someone simple like a butcher in the village.
Kevin Flynn was living a luxurious life of fame and leisure until something happened that brought him to a life-changing decision. Raised as the youngest child of a very wealthy noble, Kevin had invested his time, resources, and natural charisma into a career as a stage actor. In that role he earned great notoriety as a performer, and in his personal life he also developed quite a reputation as a very eligible and sought-after bachelor. His name and face were easily recognized in most major cities in the region.
Kevin has always been good-natured and playful, generous with his money but also very dependent on the lifestyle that his wealth provided him. In an instant, however, he gave up the only life he ever knew and dedicated all that he had to helping the less-fortunate. For unspecified reasons, Kevin liquidated all his assets, bought and renovated a large warehouse in a squalid inner-city, and began distributing food and other supplies to the poor and frail. When asked about why he made such a change, he tends to avoid the question or will simply say that while on one of his travels “the plight of the poor and needy all around me became overwhelming and I just had to do something.”
Like many average human-folk, Kevin had always acknowledged Pelor as his deity of choice, but had never followed through on any real intentional acts of service. With his dramatic change of heart, however, he fully embraced the teachings of Pelor to “overwhelm evil with acts of goodness, cruelty with acts of kindness, and poverty with acts of generosity”. Therefore, while Kevin’s growing organization is not associated directly with the official church of Pelor, they nonetheless shamelessly name Pelor as their inspiration, guidance, and patron deity.
Because of the Peloran church’s loose hierarchy and decentralized leadership, different clergy have widely different views of this developing group. Some are very suspicious of its motives, especially since none of the leaders are clergy and they have no formal training in theology. Other clerics of Pelor instead embrace the sect and its actions, some even going so far as to join its ranks.
Many have flocked to Kevin’s cause. Hordes of those he has helped – the poor, homeless, and disabled – now take up the simple brown robes of “the Path” and serve others in the same way. In addition, Kevin’s moving and emotional appeals have similarly inspired many from the middle and even upper classes to lay down their materialistic lifestyles and join him in his crusade to eliminate destitution and suffering.
In addition to regularly helping with the actual distribution of supplies to the needy, Kevin now travels from city to city building support and securing resources for his organization. He is working on finding a location in these other cities to open other shelters and distribution centers, in order to spread his group’s helping hand to the underserved everywhere.
While Kevin never actually sought to name his movement, the name “Path of Light” was attached to it by a bard not long after its inception. The reference came from a formerly homeless man in describing to the bard how Kevin had helped him, when he said, “they were like the light when I was lost in the darkness.” Being quite appropriate, the name is now commonly used both inside and outside the organization.
Beliefs and Requirements:
Anyone is allowed to volunteer in the Path’s distribution of supplies to the needy, and many local politicians and clergy can often be seen making very public shows of doing so. To actually unite with the Path of Light, however, is quite costly.
Those wishing to join are required to sell all of their earthly possessions and give all of the money to the group. This pool of money is handled by a select few members hand-chosen by Kevin, who use it to purchase the food and supplies distributed to the needy while also ensuring that all the essential needs of the members are also being met. Initiates then live in a communal dormitory with the other members and are supplied with all clothing (simple, brown robes), food, and other needed items as required.
In addition to their financial obligations, they are also held to a very strict code of behavior. They are required to do daily chores in the maintenance of the dormitory and communal buildings, are mandated to help with the feeding of the needy, and are obligated to help distribute supplies to the shut-ins and disabled. Finally, they are also to revere and exemplify through their actions the ideals of the Path of Light.
The essential values upon which Kevin started the Path are equality, kindness, gentleness, peace, and love. It is a belief that no person is any greater or more deserving than any other. It is also a conviction that the individual is obligated to do whatever they can to even out the inequity that exists across society. This equates to taking a vow of poverty, in which members give all that they have to the communal treasury and then trust that it will be able to meet all of their true needs. The focus is taken off of self and placed on the other, and members’ lives are dedicated to service and hard work in trying to balance the inequality around them.
Because of the steep entry requirements, few members stray from these doctrines or seek to leave the order. Those that do so are privately counseled by Kevin and to this point all have either reconsidered their thoughts of leaving or have gone away on solitary pilgrimages where they could better consider the future direction of their lives.
As was mentioned above, the Path of Light was begun by Kevin Flynn, who continues as its unofficial leader to this day. Born a wealthy noble and trained as a stage actor, something then happened to radically shift Kevin’s outlook on life and society.
The event that changed his life was a vision from Pelor himself, in which the deity condemned Kevin for his avarice and egotism and offered him a way to make penance. Pelor then sent an invisible ally to help and guide the young man, who is still there by his side. Pelor also told him that no one else should know of this vision, and that only what was in peoples’ hearts would determine whether they followed this new teaching. This invisible ally gave him a simple steel ring as a token of his allegiance to Pelor and the new path he was shown.
Kevin is charismatic and passionate, kind and gentle, loving and playful. He is ambitious, but only that he will be able to reach out to new places in order to help more people who are poor and needy. He speaks tirelessly to the same upper class in which he used to live and move, hoping to convince them of the truth that he has been shown. He fully believes all that he espouses, and his conviction shines through in the intensity and passion with which he carries out his work.
Kevin Flynn (Human Aristocrat 6) Medium Humanoid (human) CR:5 HD: 6d8-6 (21 hp) Init: +1 Spd: 30 ft. (6 squares) AC: 11 (+1 Dex)touch 11, flat-footed 10 Base Atk/Grp: +4/+5 Atk: Unarmed strike +5 melee (1d3+1) Full Atk: Unarmed strike +5 melee (1d3+1) Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft. SA: - SQ: - SV: Fort +1, Ref +3, Will +0 Abilities: Str 12, Dex 13, Con 8, Int 14, Wis 10, Cha 16 Skills: Bluff + 7, Diplomacy +14, Disguise +6, Gather Information +10, Knowledge (history) +5, Knowledge (nobility & royalty) +8, Knowledge (religion) +4, Listen +6, Perform (act) +15, Perform (sing) +8, Sense Motive +11 Feats: Improved unarmed strike, Negotiator, Skill focus: perform(act), Leadership AL: NG. ---Possessions: Ring of the Weak Mind (cursed, -5 to all Will saves).
Things in the Path of Light are not quite as loving and wholesome as most would think, however. The real inspiration for and power behind the group is a Neogi sorcerer named Jinnik Vraal. Jinnik worships Tharizdun, a dark god of decay, entropy, and ruin that was long ago imprisoned by the other gods (Lords of Madness p.178). Unbeknown to all of its membership, the true purpose of the Path is to bring about this entropy and ruin as it seeks to destabilize and if possible, even bring about the collapse of all human civilization.
The Neogi (first seen in the MMII and most recently detailed in the Lords of Madness) are a race of small-sized spider-like aberrations known as scavengers, merchants, and slavers. Physically, Neogi bear most resemblance to gigantic wolf spiders. They have eight two-jointed legs, and the front pair each has a set of claws that allow for moderate fine manipulation. From their hairy, flattened barrel-shaped body sprouts an S-shaped, eel-like neck ending in a small head featuring beady eyes and a mouth full of tiny, needle-like teeth. They secrete a potent poison through their teeth, which can be delivered in a bite or isolated and used on a weapon.
Neogi are ruthless, cruel, and brilliant. In addition to their natural persuasiveness and stealth, they also have the power to enslave other creatures with potent psychic influence. They also raise Umber Hulks (Monster Manual p.248) almost like pets, which due to their training obey all commands without the need for any mind-control measures. In addition to the normal traits of his race, Jinnik is also quite gifted in the use of arcane magic, which is both rare and highly respected in Neogi society.
Jinnik stays hidden most all of the time in the central, guarded treasury within the Path of Light building. He remains invisible when humans are around, or uses an illusion if necessary to mislead them. Worst case, he enslaves or charms any that find out his true nature.
Jinnik Vraal (Neogi Sorcerer 8) Small Aberration CR: 10 HD: 5d8 + 8d4 (43 hp) Init: +6 Spd: 30 ft. (6 squares) or Climb 20 ft. AC: 22 (+2 Dex, +1 size, +4 mage armor, +3 natural, +2 ring of protection), touch 15, flat-footed 20 Base Atk/Grp: +7/+1 Atk: Bite +9 melee (1d4-2 plus poison) or +2 Light Crossbow +11 ranged (1d6+2/19-20) Full Atk: Bite +9 melee (1d4-2 plus poison) and 2 claws +4/+4 melee (1d3-2) or +2 Light Crossbow +11 ranged (1d6+2/19-20) Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft. SA: Enslave, poison, spells SQ: Darkvision 60 ft., Immune to all mind-affecting spells and abilities SV: Fort +3, Ref +5, Will +14 Abilities: Str 6, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 18, Wis 18, Cha 22 Skills: Bluff +18, Climb +14, Concentration +8, Diplomacy +14, Disable Device +8, Disguise +10, Hide +10, Intimidate +14, Knowledge (arcana) +12, Search +12, Spot +12 Feats: Ability Focus (enslave), Combat Casting, Improved Initiative, Silent Spell, Spell Focus (enchantment), Weapon Finesse AL: LE. ---Enslave (Su): Three times a day, Jinnik can try to enslave any one living creature within 30 ft. This ability functions similarly to a dominate monster spell (caster level 16th, Will DC 20). The subject obeys Jinnik's telepathic commands to the letter, but may make an additional Will save every 24 hours to break free. Otherwise, this effect is broken only by a remove curse, dispel magic effect, or if Jinnik travels more than 1 mile away from the enslaved creature. Jinnik may have up to 7 creatures enslaved at one time. ---Poison (Ex): Injury, Fortitude DC 15, initial damage 1d4 Dex, secondary damage 1d4 Wis. As a standard action, this poison may be applied to a weapon, which then remains active for 1 minute. ---Spells: 8th level sorcerer. Spells Known (6/8/8/6/4 per day, save DC 16 + spell level, *DC17 + spell level): 0 – acid splash, dancing lights, daze*, detect magic, ghost sound, light, mage hand, ray of frost; 1st – expeditious retreat, mage armor, magic missile, obscuring mist, protection from good; 2nd – eagle's splendor, invisibility, touch of idiocy*; 3rd – major image, lightning bolt; 4th – charm monster*. ---Possessions: Cloak of Displacement (Major), +2 Ring of Protection, Wand of Scorching Ray (30 charges, CL 7).
Jinnik Vraal’s plan is essentially a Trojan horse. He tried to think of the most innocuous, even desirable, cover organization possible for his plan. He then found the perfect pawn to work through in Kevin Flynn. Kevin was charismatic and bright but not especially wise, rich and influential but had no real responsibility, and generally spiritual and principled but not overly committed to any particular church or philosophy.
Jinnik then engineered the “vision” by creating an elaborate illusion of the deity Pelor, and named himself as the angelic “invisible ally”. Using his powerful charm monster spell, he then gained Kevin’s unwavering trust and now controls his new friend through misinformation and persuasion. Giving him the Ring of the Weak Mind was a final insurance policy that Kevin would never happen to suddenly question his new friend or his adopted cause.
Jinnik has never needed to enslave Kevin, and instead uses that power to maintain total control over the “hand-chosen” members responsible for the handling of the food and money stores. These enslaved “supply stewards” are very important, because the storeroom is the only area of the Path of Light buildings to which access is limited. And that is so important because the food is the key to Jinnik’s plan.
As the Path of Light spreads to other human cities, one or two other Neogi will secretly travel with it and enslave a few dedicated “supply stewards” in those storehouses as well. Umber Hulks will then be used to burrow up from the below into these treasuries, bringing with them reinforcements that lie in wait in subterranean lairs.
Once the cult is well-established in most major human cities, a date will be chosen for an event Jinnik refers to as the “fall of man”. On that date, Jinnik will have Kevin use all of his popularity and influence to convince as many important political leaders and clergy to participate in the distribution of food to the needy. All of the food supplies in every Path of Light storehouse, however, will first be tainted with a potent plague that Jinnik has named Entropy(ingestion or contact, DC 18, incubation 1d6 days, 1d8 Con damage and the victim must succeed at an additional save each day or one point of the Con damage is permanent). All of the food workers and recipients will therefore be exposed to the plague, and due to the virility of the disease most will be successfully infected. Since Entropy’s incubation takes a few days, it will be some time (and several more days of distribution) before people begin to make any connection between the food and the plague. By that time, secondary infections will be taking place as those already afflicted will begin to pass the disease on to others.
The disease will rapidly spread to outlying towns and villages, hopefully decimating the human population and making it ripe for invasion, conquest, and ultimately complete destruction. Neogi and their Umber Hulk pets will then pour forth from their lairs beneath the human cities and make short work of the remaining citizenry.
Jinnik’s response to inquiry into or discovery of his plan depends on how far along it is. Very early on (while still only established in one city), he will flee the scene altogether if he begins to feel threatened by too much inquiry into the Path, choosing to escape rather than risk injury or death. In all cases, the sly but physically weak Jinnik will avoid direct confrontation and combat at all costs.
Once the Path of Light has begun its spread into 2-4 other cities, he will be a little more resistant to flee. Instead, he will trigger a premature release of the plague, infecting whatever food supplies they have for regular distribution. This will hopefully destabilize at least those cities and could possibly even spread to other regions due to trade and travel.
As the plan nears its fruition, however, Jinnik will do whatever possible to preserve his plan. He will use all resources available to him to silence anyone asking too many questions. He can even influence Kevin to believe falsehoods about them and bring his considerable political clout to discredit them. If he gets the chance, he can obviously charm or enslave them. At the most extreme (and desperate), Jinnik can order an Umber Hulk attack on his targets, then work to cover up the incident with magical and political means. Once again, however, if there aren’t others around to do the fighting for him in a combat situation, escape will be his primary objective.
Adult Neogi Small Aberration CR: 3 HD: 5d8-5 (18 hp) Init: +3 Spd: 30 ft. (6 squares) or Climb 20 ft. AC: 17 (+3 Dex, +1 size, +3 natural), touch 14, flat-footed 14 Base Atk/Grp: +3/-3 Atk: Bite +7 melee (1d4-2 plus poison) or light crossbow +7 ranged (1d6/19-20) Full Atk: Bite +7 melee (1d4-2 plus poison) or light crossbow +7 ranged (1d6/19-20) Space/Reach: 5 ft./5 ft. SA: Enslave, poison SQ: Darkvision 60 ft., Immune to all mind-affecting spells and abilities SV: Fort +0, Ref +4, Will +6 Abilities: Str 6, Dex 17, Con 9, Int 15, Wis 14, Cha 16 Skills: Appraise +6, Balance +7, Climb +11, Disable Device +7, Intimidate +7, Jump +7, Move Silently +7, Search +6, Spot +6 Feats: Dodge, Mobility, Weapon Finesse AL: usually LE. ---Enslave (Su): Three times a day, a Neogi can try to enslave any one living creature within 30 ft. This ability functions similarly to a dominate monster spell (caster level 16th, Will DC 15). The subject obeys the Neogi’s telepathic commands to the letter, but may make an additional Will save every 24 hours to break free. Otherwise, this effect is broken only by a remove curse, dispel magic effect, or if the Neogi travels more than 1 mile away from the enslaved creature. A Neogi may enslave up to 1 + its Cha modifier number of creatures as one time. The save DC is Charisma-based. ---Poison (Ex): Injury, Fortitude DC 14, initial damage 1d4 Dex, secondary damage 1d4 Wis. As a standard action, this poison may be applied to a weapon, which then remains active for 1 minute. The save DC is Constitution-based and has a +3 racial bonus.
Using the Path of Light in your Campaign:
The Path of Light can be easily dropped into almost any campaign, but will work best in more urban-based storylines. It would be best when introduced very slowly, starting maybe even with the party first seeing Kevin Flynn as an actor. Then following adventures could further its development with small sub-plots, perhaps involving such things as hearing a speech given by Kevin after his “conversion”, beginning to see the brown-robed members around town, and then finding that they are present in nearly every city they visit. It could prove to be even more interesting if some or all of the party members join the Path and really get behind its purpose, that way the sense of betrayal and outrage would be even more personal.
In a "core-only" campaign, Mind Flayers could be used instead of Neogi as the true power behind the cult. Since Illithid are innately more powerful than Neogi, however, a Mind Flayer spellcaster capable of creating the needed illusion would have a significantly higher CR than does Jinnik Vraal. This could be alleviated somewhat if the Mind Flayer had a human (or other core race) illusionist as one of his minions who could then produce the necessary illusion.
History]The Hand of civilization first started as a means of discussing politics, poetry and music, in a civilized manner. The unhindered barbarism of the outside world made some prominent personalities within the upper echelons of society rather queasy. Aristocrats, merchant lords, compositors and poets first and foremost were disgusted by seeing the lower classes and the, the other … wrote:
The Hand of civilization first started as a means of discussing politics, poetry and music, in a civilized manner. The unhindered barbarism of the outside world made some prominent personalities within the upper echelons of society rather queasy. Aristocrats, merchant lords, compositors and poets first and foremost were disgusted by seeing the lower classes and the, the other …you know, races and all their uncivilized manners and cultures and the like. It was not proper. Being so…so…low was just, outrageous! So, these prominent figures wanted to have a society, a secret one, for the purpose of spreading what true civilization was to everybody. Civilization is always needed, right?
So, a secretive group of the most gifted members of human civilization started their work. They needed cover organizations, gifted people and people who had earned the barbarians, and other races trust. In a lot of embassy’s, theatres and the like was erected, to serve as a reminder of the glory of human civilization, even if they were sometimes dwarfed by the architectural glory of the foreign culture, but simply put, narrow-minded fools do not see it that way. In these halls, everybody who paid a visit was noted down as a possible subject for Humanification, and for the ability to be made into a civilized being. They tried to convert anyone, not seeing the misery they wrought, in the way of separated families, and inner strife. Humanification was all that mattered. Some uncivilized means to ensure the goal could also be mentioned as noteworthy.
To the people to whom buildings of civilization and glory would be wasted, they sent envoys. Envoys carrying gifts, looking for gifted people, and trying to civilize as many people as they could find.
As time progressed inevitably, as it has to do, the organization spread to other countries, as ideologies rarely are blocked by borders and barriers. This forced the organization to hide in secret, because of that even if they only wanted to spread civilization, rulers of different nations oft happen to come to the same conclusions about shady multi-national organizations like this. Spies. While this in most cases was just lies, espionage was not unheard of. Some scandals caused the organization to hide and lie low, for so long that the hand of civilization as they now called themselves only became a whisper of hope for the enthusiasts of human culture, and a espionage network in the eyes of most in power. It is now about 240 years old, and as such, even the civilization they once so adored have become a bit flawed, leading to sub-sects within the main organization. In any case, wherever culture and advancement has become a bit stagnant, some people might like to point it to the cult’s guiding hand.
Simair Hamene, scribe.
Beliefs: Civilization is everything, and it must be spread. The barbarians must be saved, because they are wrong and outdated, and in need of a cultural upgrade. The lower classes have not understood the genius of culture, and the geniuses it contains, because they cannot comprehend true beauty. They must be schooled or be punished. The other races are wrong. Why try to build homes in the trees like the elves when true beauty are found in stone, or why build homes in the ground like the dwarves, when you must have light to understand the magnificence of living aboveground? Why live carefree like gnomes and Halflings, when the truly civilized way is the best way to gain acceptance. Such things must be corrected.
Influence on the world: while influence might seem great at a first glance, it’s not. The cult is in reality quite small, and even though it has lots of members, they do not always cooperate. The cult is deeply unpopular with governments, which tend to see the cult as a spy’s nest, due to the multi-nationality of the cult. The cult exercises its power in small scale, due to all politicians within it, and some member is probably in every human embassy, everywhere, to spread their beliefs.
About the leader, the Guider of the hand. The leader of the Hand of civilization is elected by the Advanced council of civilized people, a council of ten, sitting for life. As guardians of civilization, they have to guard the future upholders of it. In this case, that means brilliant young children. The choosing process is as follows: When the sitting Guider of the hand (as the leader is called), becomes too old to be a guideline for other brilliant youngsters in the society (12 years), the searching starts. Some trained members of the society walks around in the cities, searching for young geniuses, using tests to check for intelligence. When they find one, they immediately try to indoctrinate his/her parents into the teachings of the society, if it doesn’t work, they bribe, subdue, or in some cases use magic to make the parents let go of their children. The children should preferably be between 7 and 10 years old. When they find enough people (15-20), the selection starts. In competitions the children are tested against each other for their defining talents, music, math, or other skills. After having found a winner, he/she is elected to Guider of the hand, and all the other genius children are his/her friends and advisors, the so called council of minds. Of course, thorough indoctrination and brainwashing are performed beforehand. When everything is finished, the Guider is presented to the society, and he/she can start giving orders. Of course, even though the leader is a genius, he/she is still a child, and the most stupid orders are stopped by the Advanced council of civilized people.
Current leader]The current Guider of the hand is Temar Vima. This boy came from a poor family, who gladly sold their son to the society for the money they gave. Temar is truly brilliant, as the Guider of the hand should be, and he is a brilliant compositor of songs for his lute, he also writes his own lyrics, and performs them brilliantly. As a leader, his style is a bit too carefree for the Advanced council of civilized people, but he behaves. Mostly. He is right now 11 ½ and therefore, the society has started their search for the next leader. Temar doesn’ wrote:
The current Guider of the hand is Temar Vima. This boy came from a poor family, who gladly sold their son to the society for the money they gave. Temar is truly brilliant, as the Guider of the hand should be, and he is a brilliant compositor of songs for his lute, he also writes his own lyrics, and performs them brilliantly. As a leader, his style is a bit too carefree for the Advanced council of civilized people, but he behaves. Mostly. He is right now 11 ½ and therefore, the society has started their search for the next leader. Temar doesn’t really care about this, but he likes his current life rather well, and is not all that happy about seeing his position go. Temar is quite tall for his age, has curly, black hair, and brown eyes. He generally prefers blue clothing.
Introduction into the cult: To become a member of this much distinguished society, one must be able to perform.
The society uses many theatres as a front, and on the so-called amateurs night, held once a month, unknowing, mostly young people perform (acting, singing, playing), before a chosen audience. The audience is of course chosen by the society, and if it deems a performer suitably impressive (Perform DC 20), he/she is invited to join.
Competitions are also rather often held by the society, math competitions, board game competitions, sometimes jousts. All of these events can produce a person suitably impressive.
When it comes to nobles and aristocrats, suitable members can be recruited from the more socially adept in the court, and membership is oft passed down in the family
Non-humans are also able to gain entry into the cult, but the dc to impress is heightened to 25, and they must make an extra pledge to uphold the standards of the true civilization.
Alignment doesn’t matter, all that matters is the will to uphold the values of civilization. Religion matters only in that only the gods commonly to be worshipped in a civilized city are included. So while Heironeus or Hextor might work, barbarian gods such as Kord or Gruumsh, and gods of nature like Ehlonna does not.
The cult. When a new member is introduced, He/She must swear to uphold the standards of the society, pledge allegiance to the Guider of the hand, and to tattoo in the symbol of the organization, the quill pen and the lyre, on their ankles
The code]I, (insert name here), hereby swear to uphold the banner of civilization, and to follow the code, until my spirit leaves my corpse, until my bones are dust.
1.Behave politely. You are a civilized being, behave like one. 2.Spread the word of true civilization, and accept no rejections. You are right. 3.Follow the Hand of the guider, and accept his guiding hand. 4.Speak not against another fellow society member, settle things civilized
The three questions: As a means of identifying another society member, the cult first only showed the quill pen and lyre. This was too easy to copy for infiltrators, so the council of minds devised three questions that only a society member could know the answer to. In order to not having any leaks affecting the organization for long, the three questions are changed together with the council of minds (when the current hand exceeds twelve years of age). The current questions are as following:
What is your motivation?
-It is to enlighten the uncivilized.
What is your greatest fear?
-That our culture will decay.
What do you follow in times of darkness?
-My mind, guided by the light of the hand
Different sub-sects within the main organization:
The conservatives: All should be as it was once. The old civilization 240 years ago should be what’ wrote:
I, (insert name here), hereby swear to uphold the banner of civilization, and to follow the code, until my spirit leaves my corpse, until my bones are dust.
1.Behave politely. You are a civilized being, behave like one. 2.Spread the word of true civilization, and accept no rejections. You are right. 3.Follow the Hand of the guider, and accept his guiding hand. 4.Speak not against another fellow society member, settle things civilized[/quote] The three questions: As a means of identifying another society member, the cult first only showed the quill pen and lyre. This was too easy to copy for infiltrators, so the council of minds devised three questions that only a society member could know the answer to. In order to not having any leaks affecting the organization for long, the three questions are changed together with the council of minds (when the current hand exceeds twelve years of age). The current questions are as following:
What is your motivation?
-It is to enlighten the uncivilized.
What is your greatest fear?
-That our culture will decay.
What do you follow in times of darkness?
-My mind, guided by the light of the hand
Different sub-sects within the main organization:
The conservatives: All should be as it was once. The old civilization 240 years ago should be what’s right, not the nowadays civilization. It isn’t right.
The theatre of chains: Convert the barbarians, with force if needed to, make them believe! This sub-sect, consisting mostly of depressed envoys, those that failed to convert people, and those that might have seen relatives go away in barbarian rituals, often fall to this sect. The sub-sect employs many professional torturers, and uses theatres as a front. They often capture people, subject them to torture and brainwashing, and all in the name of civilization. When their projects have rejected their wicked ways, they are taught to read and write, civilized manners, and possibly poetry and music. Then they are cast away, in big towns, with as erased memories as possible, and sometimes checked in upon to reassure they are living “civilized”. The sub-sect derives its name from the performances some cult-members do in front of the tortured, the so-called theatre in chains. This is done to show the freedom of civilization compared to the shackles of barbarism. The society frown in general upon this sub-sect, while some of them view the sect as something necessary.
The Teachers: The teachers is generally the most popular sub-sect to the outside world, because they endeavour to teach barbarian tribes and other barbarian races to read and write, and show the joys of knowledge.
There might also be some others, but that is up to the DM to decide.
Adaptability and plot hooks:
When bringing this cult into your campaign, there are some points to consider. The cult is very open for different cultures, no matter what they are really based on, so what is the civilization? No matter what the culture is, it should be the main, established, human culture. Adapt sub-sects as needed. Some are provided more explanation than most, some are almost self-explanatory.
1) Espionage: The PC:s are contacted by the government to search for and kill a spy in the aristocracy. When they discover his/her identity, they learn of the existence of this mystic society and that he/she is a member. The society will work to protect one of their own, so what are the PC:s going to do?
2) The searching: Children have gone missing in the city. Geniuses. Some parents are willing, and some parents are unwilling to cooperate. All evidence points towards a certain group.
3) Racial relations: While on a visit to a city belonging to another race, they learn of the strife that a certain theatre owned by the embassy have caused. What are the PC:s going to do? (Recommended to use the Theatre of chains sub-cult).
4) The envoy: While hired as bodyguards to an envoy to a barbarian tribe, the PC:s learn of the plans to more than just ally with them, it is a grand attempt of civilizing the heathens, more alike religious zeal than diplomacy. If this envoy actually gets there, it could spell disaster.
5) The envoy pt.2: as an offspin on the before mentioned idea, the disaster could already have happened, and a war with a barbarian tribe is at hand. The government wants those responsible.
Knowledge about the Cult can be gained by making successful knowledge (local) checks or gather information checks: DC 15: The name of the cult, and that they worship civilization. DC 20: They often use theatres and competitions to recruit new members. DC 25: They have sub-sects, that not always act rationally DC 30: Their leader is a child, and sometimes, they change leader during a time called the searching.
This is only what normal people might have a chance to know about the cult. Everything else is cult-members only.
Stat blocks]Temar Vima: Level 4 bard. Small Humanoid (Human) Hit Dice: 4d6-4 (12 hp) Initiative: +2 Speed: 20ft Armor Class: 14 (12 flat-footed, 12 touch) Base Attack/Grapple: +3/-3 Attack: Masterwork dagger +2, d4-2 Space/Reach: 5ft Full attack: Masterwork dagger +2, d4-2 Saves: Fort -1, Ref +6, Will +7 Abilities: Str6 , Dex14 , Con8 , Int19 , Wis12 , Cha16 Skills: Concentration +6, spellcraft +11, perform(string instruments) +13(15 with masterwork lute), perform(poetry) +10, perform (sing) +10, knowledge (arcane) +11, knowledge (history) +11, knowledge (nobility and royalty) +11, diplomacy +10, bluff +10, sense motive +8 Feats: Skill focus (perform: string instruments), Iron will, spell focus (enchantment) Challenge Rating: 4 Possessions on person: Masterwork lute, wand of cure light wounds, scroll of charm person, Ring of deflection +1, masterwork dagger, 350gp. Alignment: TN Spells (3/3/1) Spells known: Lvl 0: lullaby, prestidigitation, light, message, detect magic, summon instrument (dc 13, 14 for enchantment) Lvl 1: charm person, sleep, cure light wounds (dc 14, 15 for enchantment) Lvl 2: suggestion, invisibility (dc 15, 16 for enchantment)
Noteworthy is that although this is the “archetypical” member, civilized members of the fighter, paladin, cleric, sorcerer, rogue and wizard classes are also common, having gained entry in the society by different means. Monks are unusual, but not unheard of. Barbarians, rangers, druids are NOT welcome. Society members should be around level 5, as that is probably the minimum level to do an impression on the sitting members.
Among the npc classes, only experts and aristocrats are welcome. Members of the aristocrat class number only second to bards in the society.
Authors notes: So, this is my idea this time. Twisted, really twisted. The only problem during the writing process was for me this: A cult is a relatively small group of individuals sharing a closely held belief, such as veneration of a particular person, object or goal, considered strange or sinister by most people outside the cult.
They are in most civilized areas, but there are not many people in the same place at a given time. Their object of veneration is the abstract principle of civilization as something corporeal, and having a real shape. People have always forced unto other people their beliefs and culture. This cult is the manifestation of that ideal.
A rules note: the leader is a genius, and his stats do NOT confirm to any regular method. In effect, it is a 34 pt point buy. I know this is weird, but see it in the context. He is also reduced to small size using the guidelines from the MM. he’s a kid after all. He also has full hp for his first hit dice, unlike the typical cult members, who are made using the elite stats and average HP all around.
The Circle of Tooth and Claw A Chaotic-Neutral Cult of Obad-Hai by Devilfish
This cult goes by many names: "The Cult of Culling," "The Compassionate Killers," and "The Givers of Strength." This is a cult devoted to what modern people would call evolution: survival of the fittest and strength through competiton and hardship. It was founded by the hardened survivors of a genocide of the weak and comfortable by the strong and desperate, and the cult's core belief is that the universe is always waiting to ill the unprepared, the comfortable do not survive, and that the most selflessly loving and compassionate thing one can do is to force strength upon the weak through pressure and the thinning of the herd. Their philosophy is at once insane and deeply realistic.
Origin: A utopia, where Elves and Humans lived in harmony with nature under Elhonna, was destroyed by ravenous Orcish barbarians almost two decades ago. The few survivors fled to the mountains, where only the strongest and most desperate survived. Realizing how much stronger they had become at the brink of survival, compared to when they were successful but weak and happy, they forsook Elhonna's view of nature in favor of a strange twist on Obad-Hai worship, and formed the original membership of what would become a bizarrely successful creed. They vowed to never allow weakness, and the resulting genocide, again, no matter what they had to do to make people grow stronger and less content. Since then, the cult has evolved and grown, and now comprises many budded-off independent cells as well as its main branch. Cells ravage the wilds and the countryside, though some do enter towns and citites. The main branch, however, has shifted to an entirely urban mission: they actually dwell in a city, seeking to bring nature's harsh way back to its comfortable citizens. They are occupied with causing hard times and survival-of-the-fittest upon a highly civilized society they see as being too weak and comfortable to survive.
Tenets: 1) The world is always waiting to kill the unprepared; the weak and comfortable are in constant danger of extinction. 2) "Strength in Numbers" is good in the short term, but the short term only. Cooperation eventually leads to comfort, and competition leads to strength. 3) The extinction of large groups of sentient beings, be they towns, nations, or races, is a great and lamentable tragedy, not a fact of nature as most followers of Obad-Hai would believe. Everyone who might one day learn to be capable of survival, should survive. 4) To cull and pressure the weak is an act of selfless compassion and a hard labor of charity. Do not hate the weak-- pity them, as you force them to grow strong or die. Any member of the Circle of Tooth and Claw must always give this great service where it is needed; the cult is bound by an oath to never withhold precious hardship from the needy weak. 5) Raw power is not the same thing as survival. 6) Those who do not wish to be culled or pressured are being naïve. 7) Practice what you preach—cultists must live harshly and remain strong and full of motivation. 8) In the course of testing, fortifying, and culling the weak, if a few unlucky individuals who were in fact fit to survive are killed, that is simply unfortunate and it is to be expected. 9) In the next world, things are unlikely to be different. There's no "heaven," or if there is, it is a doomed place of weak happiness. We will always have to survive. 10) To join the Circle of Tooth and Claw, one must spend a vision/survival quest in the harshest environment available until one is exhausted unto delirium. One must participate in rituals including scarification by a wild animal and cannibalism, and one must vow to forever uphold the ideal of evolutionary pressure, never quitting or retiring. (In reality, though, if a few individuals do fall away from the cult, that just keeps it leaner and healthier as a whole, so who cares?)
Influence: The cult's existance is known, but its extent is underestimated because no low-level member knows the whole story, and all the weakest and supidest members get caught first. This, along with a significat rate of attrition to death or quitting, is seen as the cult's own internal thinning of the herd. People mostly wish to see this known menace gone, especially the true church of Obad-Hai and the church of Elhonna. However, the strangely realistic, sensible side of its exaggerated philosophy is often a topic of hushed discussion-- none can deny that the Circle of Tooth and Claw is right about weakness and comfort being dangerous in a world of dungeons and dragons. Tactically speaking, small cells prefer to be agressive and open compared to the main branch. They are known to directly attack and openly challenge society, almost like guerillas or terrorists, but with twisted compassion instead of hate. They attack defenseless villages in groups of fifteen to forty, and lovingly kill those who run slowest, including children whose parents fail to protect them. They burn crops, plague wells, that kind of thing. They normally live alone in the wilderness or pose as travellers in the countryside, moving quickly to avoid justice. The main branch does more subtle things and on a larger scale. It also starts disease epidemics, as well as performing many "eugenic assassinations," using druid-magic to create storm or droubt, and even setting fires. By far, its favorite trick is to lure monsters to attack society-- there's currently an infestation of hungry oozes in the city sewers, attacking people in the streets or their own homes without warning. Members of the main branch may live in small groups posing as normal citizens, or may live like rats in sewers and alleys. Some even live alone; the strength of the vision/survival quest experience is sometimes anough to keep a person's mind bound even if he is not immersed in the group mentality. The cult's inner circle has a hidden underground temple connected to the sewers, the location of which is known only to a few cult members, and to the rats. An important note: the Circle sees the loss of some trivial members to death or simple quitting as a matter of its own internal "thinning of the herd." It doesn't care if it loses people here or there; that's cult evolution.
The Leader: The leader is a druid known as "The Savage," whose real name was Parel Cydexi in the happy days when he and his people worshipped Elhonna in their flowery utopia. He was the strongest of the survivors, having truly amazing base abilities, and led those he could gather to survive in the mountains, moving from rocky hole to icy cave, surviving on lichens and rat-bones. He fought and angry battle for every life his people lost in their harsh refuge. It was during the first winter in the mountains that the remaining thirty hardened survivors, exhausted and on the brink of starvation, were attacked by a White Dragon. It seemed like the end—their nation had been helpless to defend itself even at its peak of success. How much more hopeless, then, were a few starving stragglers in the icy rocks? Many despaired—but not the future cult leader, Parel Cydexi. He rallied with him those few who would stand, and in an amazing feat of endurance, fought the dragon and drove it off. All but Cydexi, who had already begun to understand, were amazed. How could it be so? Were they not the crying, fleeing victims of a land of burned flowers? It seemed that there could only be one possible conclusion—that, as Cydexi said, they had indeed grown strong through pain. He told them how only the strongest, fastest, or wisest could have escaped the cataclysm, and only the strongest of those could have lived in the mountains, and how their constant struggle had further hardened them into ruthlessly evolved survivors. That very night, the Circle of Tooth and Claw was born. Parel Cydexi renamed himself “The Savage,” smashed every holy symbol of Elhonna that they still carried, and raised aloft an idol carved of bone, depicting a version Obad-Hai with sharp teeth and stout horns. He called the twenty-seven survivors to join him on a new path in life—a path of strife and endurance. They had already seen the dreadful fate of the comfortable as their nation was ravaged, and all were still wounded and crying inside because of it. He proclaimed that they would never again allow the weak to remain soft and invite destruction at the hands of the hard. They would bring Obad-Hai’s brand of nature with them wherever they went, and test those who needed testing, forcing peoples who they did not wish to see driven to extinction to thin their herds and forge new survival skills in trials by fire. Under their new leader and their new god, they would punish those not able to survive, not out of hate, but out of harsh love. They would fight and kill not out of selfishness, but out of a selfless charity of strength, assuming the added pressure of their mission upon themselves and making their own survival more difficult. They would recruit anyone who saw things their way and was capable of their kind of harsh living and of carrying out their mission, and thus the cult of evolution would survive long after the original refugee founders had died. Only one refugee refused to join, and in tears of delirious exhaustion called them all mad, and begged for mercy from Elhonna, and to have her old life back. She was killed and cannibalized in the first ceremony of the cult, as The Savage marked his followers with scars inflicted by a wild beast. Alone and strong in the high mountains, they began the journey of evolution-bringing that would one day, years later, lead them back to civilization, and into conflict with the forces of law and goodness.
Parel Cydexi, "The Savage." Drd 10, CR 11. Half-Elf, Chaotic-Neutral, Obad-Hai. Medium-size, 57 years old, Male, 5'5, 140 lbs, Brown eyes, thin wiry black beard and hair, light but rough skin Str 15, Dex 14, Con 17, Int 13, Wis 16, Cha 16. Total: +15! HP: 103. AC: 20 (+3 for +1 leather armor, +2 Dex, +2 Masterwork Large Wooden Shield, +2 Ring of Protection), touch 14, flat footed 18. Init: +3, Speed 30 feet. Saves: Fort +11, Ref +6, Will +10 BaB/Grapple: +7/+2, +9. Attacks: +1 Antler-Club, 1d6+3 bludgeoning, melee, +10 to hit. This heavy elk-antler club drips blood constantly. Skills: Concentration +9, Diplomacy +12, Gather Information +5, Survival +21, Knowledge: Nature +16, Spot +11, Listen +10, Search +2, Handle Animal +10, Swim +8 (zero Armor check penalty) Feats: Improved Toughness, Skill Focus: Survival, Track, Leadership. Special Abilites: Followers (cultists) and cohort, Animal Companion (Advanced Dire Wolverine "Winterjaw" with 8 HD), Nature Sense, Wild Empathy, Woodland Stride, Trackless Step, Resist Nature's Lure, Wild Shape (Large, 4/day), Venom Immunity, Immune to Sleep effects, +2 bonus on saving throws against Enchantment (stacks with Resist Nature's Lure). Languages: Common, Elven, Sylvan, Druidic. Spells:0--Purify Food and Drink, Resistance, Know direction, Detect Magic x3 1--Cure Light Wounds, Endure Elements, Magic Fang, Speak with Animals, LongStrider 2--Barkskin, Animal Messenger, Spider Climb, Fog Cloud, Flaming Spherel 3--Neutralize Poison, Water Breathing, Wind Wall, Dominate Animal 4--Control Water, Flame Strike, Scrying 5--Insect Plague, Baleful Polymorph Treasure: 50 silver, magic Club, magic Armor, Ring of Sustenance, 2 potions of cure serious wounds, and Ring of Protection +2.
Cohort and Second in Command of the Cult: Hiloeth Melluyin Ranger 8, CR 8, Elf, CN, Obad-Hai. Medium Size, 40 years old, Female, 5'3, 125 lbs, Brown Eyes, Light Brown Hair, burn-scarred tan skin. Str 14, Dex 17, Con 10, Int 8, Wis 12, Cha 10 HP: 51 AC: 19 (+4 Masterwork Chain Shirt, +3 Dex, +2 for +1 Buckler) touch 13, flat 16. Init: +3, Speed 30 feet. Saves: Fort +6, Ref +9, Will +3 BaB/Grapple: +8/+3, +10. Attacks: Masterwork Mighty Composite Longbow, 1d8+2 piercing, 110-foot range increment, +12 to hit. Masterwork Longsword, 1d8+2 Slashing, melee, +11/+6 to hit. Skills: Survival +12, Spot +16, Listen +16, Search +12, Craft(Trapmaking) +10. Feats: Point Blank Shot, Improved Toughness, Alertness, Track, Endurance. Treated as having Rapid Shot and Manyshot. Special Abilities: Wild Empathy, Favored Enemies: animal and monstrous humanoid, Animal Companion (tiny viper), Woodland Stride, Swift Tracker, Low-Light Vision, Immunity to sleep effects and a +2 bonus against enchantment spells. Languages: Common, Elven. Spells: Alarm, Pass Without Trace. Treasure: 15 silver, +1 Buckler, Mighty (+2) Masterwork Composite Longbow, 31 arrows, masterwork armor, masterwork sword, basket containing a tiny viper.
Typical Member: A typical member of the Circle of Tooth and Claw can be a ranger, barbarian, druid, rogue, cleric of Obad-Hai, or bard. Rangers are the most common, though. A typical low-level member of the cult might be as follows, though bear in mind that splinter-cell members are tyipically weaker and more direct than main-branch members. Recruitment is a big job; a cult this aggressive and demanding needs a big influx of talent. Typically, recruits are the weak and downtrodden, victims of tragedy, or the discontented youth. They are given a less-insane vision of what the culkt is about, and if they agree, are sent on their arduous vision-survival quest. Upon returning, few ever again turn away from the cult's ways, even if serving the cult requires them to live outside the group-mentality that normally holds a cult together. NOTE: no member of this cult ever has a lot of money. The tiny entries under "treasure" are intentional.
Ranger 6, CR 6, Human, CN, Obad-Hai. Medium Size, 16-30 years old, any size and gender, but definitely with a hardened appearance and possibly visible scars. Members aren't always aware of one another's presence, but can quickly make thier identity known by exchaning secret signals-- specifically, the innocent-looking scratching of a tooth, the sign of Tooth and Claw. Str 12, Dex 12, Con 14, Int 9, Wis 11, Cha 10 HP: 45 AC: 15 (+3 Masterwork Studden Leather, +1 Dex, +1 masterwork Buckler) touch 11, flat 14. Init: +6, Speed 30 feet. Saves: Fort +7, Ref +6, Will +2 BaB/Grapple: +6/+1, +7. Attacks: Masterwork Longbow, 1d8 piercing, 90-foot range increment, +8 to hit. Masterwork Longsword, 1d8+1 Slashing, melee, +8/+3 to hit. Skills: Survival +12, Spot +5, Listen +4, Hide +12, Move Silently +12, Climb +5, Swim +6, Craft or Profession (any) +9 Feats: Point Blank Shot, Stealthy, Skill Focus: Survival, Track, Dodge, Endurance. Treated as having Rapid Shot/Manyshot OR Two-Weapon fighting/Improved Two weapon fighting. Special Abilities: Wild Empathy, Favored Enemy: animal and humanoid(choose one other than Human), Animal Companion (usually a dog, rat, or snake). Languages: Common, Sylvan. Spell: Pass Without Trace or Cure Light Wounds. Treasure: 1d10 silver, 2d20 Copper, Masterwork armor and shield, Masterwork bow and sword, Camouflage or Urban Camougflage cloak (+2 to hide in chosen environment), 1d20 arrows.
The Hand of Heaven Orphanage was founded by a landed nobleman’s sister who was cursed with barrenness. Unable to have her own children, but longing to still be a mother, she opened a children’s creche on her brother’s land. Seemingly overnight, the creche was filled with children who were orphaned, abandoned, or runaways. Sophie Chaunteclaire realized the creche was too small after being open only a year. Sophie beseeched her brother, Henri, to give her more money to expand the orphanage. Henri was a stingy man, but could hardly say “No” to his sweet sister. After all, this children’s home made her happy, and he felt it his duty to make her happy.
Under one stipulation did Henri give his sister more money - he was to dictate the learning regiment for the children. Ever the business man, Henri was only thinking of his coffers when creating the new lesson plans. On top of Sophie’s basic reading and writing, Henri installed a program to teach the children artistry and craft skills. Within a week, the nobleman had brought in craftsmen and artisans. These seemingly good men and women began their new teaching positions at the orphanage with little guff from the children. The boys were hard at work, day in and day out, learning their crafts. They were making armor and weapons, while the younger boys took to weaving rope and canvas material. The girls were busily learning to make pottery, clothes, and how to quilt blankets, all the while, learning to cook and clean. The learning process for all the new students took months, but they were getting better with every day that passed. During those months, Henri had hired masonry workers to build the additional space for which Sophie had asked. Henri, of course, had designated the new addition as workshops for the children.
After six months of grueling labor, the orphanage was now equipped with firing kilns, throwing wheels, a large smithy workshop, another room for leather and woodworking, a room for weaving with looms lining the walls, and to top it all, the capacity to hold a hundred more children on top of the sixty-three already there. There were also guard towers added, a tall stone gate surrounding the orphanage, and barns. Sophie, at first, was excited that her once-heartless brother was taking an interest in the children’s future, but that soon turned to disgust as she realized that her brother had created a slaving community using her good intentioned orphanage! Henri Chaunteclaire had set up a veritable slave ring. He had a way to pay for the orphanage, and turn his investment back ten fold. He had free labor, and paid no taxes. This was his land. The only situation he had to take care of was to keep this a secret. No one could know what he was doing or he would lose everything: his money, his land, all his possessions, and his “dignity.”
The nobleman slept lightly that evening. He could not stop thinking about the orphanage. “What if a child escaped? What if the authorities found out? What if Sophie turned me in?” Those questions echoed incessantly through his head. He tossed and turned violently in his featherbed. The morning came after what seemed an eternity of night. Henri was still bothered by the previous night’s questions. As he hurriedly dressed, he could hear footsteps coming from the hallway nearing his room. Without hesitation or forethought, Henri grabbed the jeweled dagger that he kept on his dressing table and placed it in one of the folds of his garment. There was a knock at his door. It was Sophie. He opened the door, and motioned for her to enter. He could see the grievous look on her face. As she passed him in the doorway, and made her way towards a chair in his antechamber, he grabbed the dagger, and plunged it into her back. A shriek exited Sophie’s mouth as her shoulders pitched back from the sting of the dagger. She looked as if to move forward, but staggered only a foot or two before falling and twisting her body around to see the face of her attacker. Horror and confusion fell upon her face. Her mouth fell agape, unable to utter a single syllable. Whether it was the dagger wound or a broken heart, Sophie’s body fell limp. Henri watched as his sister breathed her last, and finally fell still...
After the “unforseen occurrence” that befell Sophie, Henri took control of the orphanage, as he had planned to do all along. Guards were stationed in and around the orphanage to make sure none would escape. Most of the children were too intimidated to even think of leaving. Little by little, Henri convinced the children that if it were not for his gracious hospitality, and good merit, these children would have nothing. With his charming turn of phrase, also considering the children’s innocence, he was able to fool the orphans into believing that he had their best interests in mind.
The orphanage has been open for two years now. Unbeknownst to the townspeople, Henri Chaunteclaire continues to ensnare as many children as he can fit into the orphanage. His business of slave labored goods is booming. He is supplying general equipment to stores within his land, and is expanding to other towns, all under the assumed name of Harlin Counter. The pseudonym is used so as to not raise suspicions among the people. Luckily, the orphanage was built close to his home. This way, no one from town would question the amount of noise and traffic coming from and leaving the nobleman’s estate. When the orphanage has too many children, Henri sells the expendable ones to other slavers. The ones too young to work or too old to continue in the orphanage (anyone over 18, unless otherwise noted) are typically sold. For the younger children he sells, Henri tells the others, still at the orphanage, that he has found someone to adopt those children, so they do not question Henri as to where the others are disappearing. For the older children that Henri sells, he tells the others that they have found a job away from the orphanage. The children believe Henri is looking out for them. Henri gives them hope that they may be adopted by loving parents, but if they are not adopted, he is preparing them for the world outside the orphanage, by giving them an education for when they are adults.
Information on Henri Chaunteclaire:
Henri Chaunteclaire, and his late sister Sophie, were part of a once noble house. Their mother died at Sophie’s birth and their father never recovered from the loss. Henri’s father had tried to forget about his dead wife through gambling and ale. Their father almost lost their very home to debt, but Henri stepped in and began to make executive decisions concerning what was left of the family money. Henri grew resentful of his father and had many-a-time cursed the very ground he walked on. It was late one summer evening when Sophie ran into the kitchen and found their father dead. He was sitting, with his face flat on the kitchen table in a pool of blood and a bottle of spirits in his hand. Henri walked in from the adjoining pantry wiping his hands on a towel. When he saw his sister standing there in horror, he ran to her and held her saying that their father had gotten drunk and hit his head on the table and died. Sophie knew deep down that Henri was not telling her the truth, but she felt that the situation was somehow good for them. She said nothing and continued her life as normally as possible. Henri, although a young man at the time, took over the household and built up the name Chaunteclaire to mean something once more in the upper crust of society. He started with what little gold he had inherited from his father, and began to buy land. Henri became a bitter man through the years, becoming more greedy and more determined than ever to not be poor as his father had forced them to be. Henri never touched alcohol, and never married. These were but distractions to his ultimate goal, making money. He made his fortunes as a land realtor, and as his coffers were overflowing with gold, his property multiplied. Henri took care of Sophie the best he could, but he was never good at hiding his true nature from Sophie, a cold, ruthless business man. The townspeople, on the other hand, were so impressed and overwhelmed by his “status” that they were blinded to his real persona and attributed any snobbish behavior to the “aristocrat” in him.
Despite his distant demeanor, the townspeople continue to praise Henri as a good man for keeping the orphanage open in spite of his poor sister’s untimely death. Henri is fooling the townspeople into thinking that he has an unshakeable fervor to better the lives of so many that the world has turned its back on. In fact, Henri has listed the pinnacle tenet by which his “children,” the orphans, live their lives. On well-crafted wooden plaques, which there is one above every child’s bed, it is carved: “By God’s good grace have we been given a loving Father, Henri Chaunteclair.” Several other teachings are also carved onto boards near the entrances to the workshops, such as: “Obey your teachers, the eyes of your Father are watching;” “Never lie, your Father will always know;” and “Strangers are dangerous and must be reported, your Father will protect you.”
Henri Chaunteclaire (aka Harlin Counter) CR 8 Description: Level: 9 Aristocrat Human Male NE Henri was handsome as a young man, but his looks have faded from stress caused by his merciless business ethics. His brown hair is slightly graying on the sides despite his young age of 34. His fair colored skin contrasts well with his ocean blue eyes. Henri has a stocky build (189 lbs; 5'7). Standard Creation: 4d6 drop low Str: 14 (+2); Dex: 18 (+4); Con: 13 (+1); Int: 15 (+2); Wis: 10 (+0); Cha: 19 (+4) Fort: 4 [+3 (Base); +1 (Con)]; Ref: 7 [+3 (Base); +4 (Dex)]; Will: 6 [+6 (Base); +0 (Wis)] HP: 53 [(9d8); +9 (Con)]; AC: 21 [+ 5 (Studded Leather +2; Light Fortification); +4 (Dex); +2 (Ring of Protection +2)]; Touch: 16; Flat: 17; Speed: 30 ft; Init: +4 (Dex) BAB: +6/+1; Grapple: +8; Melee: +11/+6 Rapier +1 (Keen); Melee: +11/+6 Jeweled Dagger (MW); Ranged: +11/+6 Mighty Composite Long Bow (MW; Mighty +2) Skills: Appraise: +14 [+2 (Int); +12 (Ranks)]; Bluff: +15 [+4 (Cha); +9 (Ranks); +2 (Feat)]; Diplomacy: +18 [+4 (Cha); +6 (Ranks); +2 (Feat); +6 (Synergy)]; Intimidate: +17 [+4 (Cha); +9 (Ranks); +2 (Feat); +2 (Synergy)]; Knowledge (Geography): +7 [+2 (Int); +5 (Ranks)]; Knowledge (Local): +7 [+2 (Int); +5 (Ranks)]; Knowledge (Nobility & Royalty): +7 [+2 (Int); +5 (Ranks)]; Profession (Merchant): +12 [+12 (Ranks)]; Sense Motive: +11 [+9 (Ranks); +2 (Feat)] Feats: Endurance, Negotiator, Persuasive, Weapon Finesse, Leadership (Leadership Score: 13; Ten 1st Level; One 2nd Level; One 7th Level Cohort) Equipment: Rapier +1 (Keen); Jeweled Dagger (MW; 500 gp value); Mighty Composite Long Bow (MW, Mighty +2); Studded Leather +2 (Light Fortification); Cloak of Charisma +2; Gloves of Dexterity +2; Ring of Protection +2; Cure Light Wounds Potions x4; Cure Moderate Wounds Potions x2; Quiver w/arrows x40 Speak Language: Common, Dwarven, Elven
Typical Cult Follower: There are currently eleven teachers, ten residency captains, one assistant to the headmaster, and one headmaster, who is Henri’s cohort. The teachers are hired craftsman. Henri pays them well to teach the children and keep their mouths shut. The residency captains are ten of the oldest orphans, aged 17-19, that Henri has trusted to keep the other children in line. They report to the assistant of the headmaster if there is a problem, and believe fervently in Henri’s lies, more so than the other children. These residency captains ensure that the children’s work is done, and done properly. The headmaster ensures that the quota for the goods is met, and takes care of the “school.” He is also the "school nurse," so to speak.
For protection of Henri’s “investment,” there are four patrols on guard duty at all times. There are also two more patrols making rounds within the complex, but that is only during the daylight hours. The four patrols switch off every 8 hours. So there is a total of fourteen patrols that live within the complex. The children have been told these guards are for their protection against monsters and evil people that want to hurt them. A ten foot stone gate surrounds the complex. There is a guard station at the front entrance of the complex and one at the rear entrance. The front entrance is wide enough to accommodate heavy wagons. The rear entrance is used mostly by the guards, (child) animal caretakers, and the (child) farmers. The fields behind the complex are kept in use as farmland. There are also animal pens with sheep and goats, with a nearby hen house. Two barns are also erected just outside the rear entrance. Scattered about the fields are five wooden guard towers with 2-3 archers in each. These guards will alert the others within the complex if people approach, and are used to watch over the children that herd the animals and farm the land.
Headmaster Clement Montrose (7th Level Cohort) CR7 Description: Level: 7 Cleric of Vecna Human Male NE Clement Montrose is an older man of 54, and a bit portly for his height (172 lbs; 5'5). His black hair hides his age rather well. Although his dark skin and black eyes give him a sinister look, the children react well to him. Standard Creation: 4d6 drop low Str: 12 (+1); Dex: 12 (+1); Con: 13 (+1); Int: 14 (+2); Wis: 18 (+4); Cha: 16 (+3); Fort: 6 [+5 (Base); +1 (Con)]; Ref: 3 [+2 (Base); +1 (Dex)]; Will: 9 [+5 (Base); +4 (Wis)]; HP: 42 [(7d8); +7 (Con)]; AC: 22 [+ 9 (Full Plate +1); +1 (Dex); +2 (Ring of Force Shield)]; Touch: 13; Flat: 21; Speed: 20 ft; Init: +1 BAB: +5; Grapple: +6; Melee: +7 Flail +1; Ranged: +9 Darts +1 (x25) Skills: Concentration: +11 [+1 (Con); +10 (Ranks)]; Diplomacy: +13 [+3 (Cha); +10 (Ranks)]; Heal: +14 [+4 (Wis); +10 (Ranks)]; Knowledge (Religion): +12 [+2 (Int); +10 (Ranks)] Feats: Combat Casting, Endurance, Blind Fight, Combat Reflexes Special Abilities: Rebuke Undead [+2 Rebuke Undead (Knowledge: Religion)] Equipment: Full Plate +1; Flail +1; Ring of Mind Shielding; Ring of Force Shield; Scroll of Darkness; Scroll of Hold Person Speak Language: Common, Abyssal, Infernal
Domains: Evil; Magic SPD: 0-6; 1st-5+1; 2nd-4+1; 3rd-3+1; 4th-2+1 Typically Prepared Spells: Orisons:Create Water; Cure Minor Wounds x4; Resistance 1st Level:Doom; Bless; Cause Fear; Cure Light Wounds x2; Protection from Good (D) 2nd Level:Cure Moderate Wounds; Lesser Restoration; Enthrall; Silence; Desecrate (D) 3rd Level:Animate Dead x2; Contagion; Dispel Magic (D) 4th Level:Summon Monster IV; Poison; Unholy Blight (D)
Assistant to the Headmaster (2nd Level Follower) This is a standard 2nd Level Rogue as noted in the DMG Pg 123. Residency Captains (Ten 1st Level Followers) These are standard 1st Level Warriors as noted in the DMG Pg 109-10. Guard Patrols [14 patrol groups (8 hour shifts); 12 archers (only daylight hours)] These are standard 2nd-5th Level Fighters as noted in DMG Pg 117. (Note to DM: To appropriately scale this adventure, select the number of warriors for each patrol group. Also, in each patrol group, including the archers, is at least one member with a signal whistle to warn of an attack.) Teachers (Non-combative) These are standard 5th-6th Level Experts as noted in DMG pg 109. (Note to DM: There are three weapon smiths, two armor smiths, two husbandry-men, two artisans (pottery and weaving), and one chef. All NPCs get standard equipment for free, since it is made at the complex.) Children (Non-combative)These are 1st Level Commoner/1st Level Expert as noted in DMG pg 109. (Note to DM: Although the children are non-combative, if they happen to find a PC breaking and entering the complex, they will alert the guards or any other authority figure nearby.)
Plot Hooks: • One of the children wanders off the complex and gets lost, only to be found by the PCs. The child tells the PCs that he/she is from the Hand of Heaven Orphanage and needs to get back before he/she gets into trouble. The child’s hands are noticeably blistered (if asked, it is from weaving cloth all day long.) • One of the teachers does not like the way the children are being treated. The teacher tries to send out a note calling for help. She sends her note with one of the older children from the complex, who has to sneak out. The messenger is intercepted by a random monster(s) and is slain. His body lies there, with the note still in his pocket. The note reads: “Please, alert the local authorities that the children of the orphanage are being used for slave labor. I cannot leave for fear of my life. Please hurry.” • The PCs can be hired from another town to travel with a caravan to bring raw materials to the Orphanage. • The PCs could see the orphanage from afar and seek refuge for the evening, but are rudely turned away by headmaster Clement. (Note to DM: Headmaster Clement has a ring of Mind Shielding, which leaves his alignment undetectable.) • Someone in a nearby town does not like Henri Chaunteclair and openly talks about a conspiracy theory of how Henri murdered his own father a long time ago to take control of the estate and then later murdered his sister to take control of the orphanage. Most people scoff at the old man for saying so. “Who knows what he’s havin’ those kids do,” the old man exclaims.
“Almost by definition, cults and secret societies maintain a shroud of mystery that cloaks their activities. It is nearly their nature to be dangerous, sinister organizations. They value their privacy and distrust outsiders. They also wield power. In piecemeal form, this power is rarely capable of any lasting effect; anything better than a decade is nearly unheard of. Were these shards of worldly influence forged into a unified whole, they would change the world overnight. The kingdoms of the world would allow this to happen lightly. The kings and emperors and petty princes enjoy too many luxuries at the cost of the commoner to allow change. Who, though, has the power to collect these shards under a shroud of secrecy the likes of which have never been seen and forge them, mould them into something useful? Why, I do.” --Paragraph 1 of The Grand Architect’s speech to newly inducted members of the Order of the Ivory Mask.
There are many secret societies, hidden orders, and shadowy cults strewn throughout the lands. Everyone knows this, though knowledge of any specific group is uncommon. Most of these organizations disagree with established authority or there would be little reason for secrecy. Everyone believes this, though few have any proof. Many of these groups actively work to undermine local authority. Some suspect this, though very few know with certainty. What some know, so few they could congregate in a single modest theater, is that leading or striving to lead many of these groups are members of a single insidious order with but one single purpose. They wish to bring down all authority and begin anew. These men and women are, unknown to their peers, members of the Order of the Ivory Mask.
Every member of the Order shares one common thread. They were each recruited by a shadowy man who spoke of the corruption of the nobility and their inevitable fall. He spoke of hastening that fall and creating a new order to rise and save civilization. He spoke of the danger such a crusade would mean and the need for secrecy. He struck a sympathetic note with each one. Or, more accurately, only those with whom a sympathetic note was struck are still able to tell their story.
The origins of the order are lost to history. As far as anyone knows, it has always existed. It has always moved softly below the surface of a social setting already swaddled in layers of secrecy and shadow. For all involved, save one, it may as well have existed forever. For the Grand Architect, the order is a creation approaching fruition. More than a score of centuries have passed since the first ivory mask was etched. The Grand Architect has guided the order since its creation and will continue to do so until its purpose is fulfilled.
Practices: Upon full admission into the order, members are given a bronze ring and a white mask etched with a pair of draconic symbols. They are instructed never to remove the ring and only wear the mask when called to a meeting. They are also instructed to acquire a long, grey cloak to wear at meetings. At irregular intervals, the ring becomes ice cold to the touch, a signal that a meeting has been called. Each member chooses a well-hidden doorway, archway or other portal to be used as a gateway to the order’s amphitheater. The portal only opens for a wearer of a ring and mask.
The portals open on a long hallway. Doorways pierce the walls every few feet on either side. Each portal opens onto into one of these doorways. The hall is damp and cool, filled with a thick mist. Following the hall leads members through a stone archway etched with arcane runes. The archway leads to the amphitheater.
The amphitheater forms a large, semi-circular cavern with a half-dome ceiling. There is room for two hundred to stand; members never sit. Each person’s place is marked by two symbols taken from the draconic alphabet. Each pair of symbols on the floor corresponds to the markings on a specific member’s mask. At all times, members are known only by their symbols and rank. Most meetings begin with a discussion of relevant business. Routine progress reports are not given at this time. Only items of particular note are discussed. Usually this will include the discovery of a new, promising cult or perhaps the destruction or persecution of another. Afterwards, there is always speech by the Grand Architect. Once the meeting has ended, members depart the way they came. Returning through the door they came through.
The order recognizes five ranks. Above all is the Grand Architect. He rules the order, dictating all its actions. Next are the Architects. These members each lead a cult, society, or organization somewhere in the land. Loss of position within their cults results in loss of rank. Next are the Foremen, those who are trusted members of a cult, society, or organization and aspire to leadership. No one of lower rank is given a mask and ring. Below the rank of Foreman are the Laborer and the Serf. Laborers are those who are aware that their orders are part of some grand plan. They know nothing of that plan and are unlikely to learn more. These people are the soldiers, scouts, quartermasters, and financiers of the order. The lowest recognized rank is the Serf. Serfs are fully unaware of the order, but belong to one of the controlled organizations. They serve unwittingly, yet there service will garner some reward when the new order arises. Lastly are the commoners; everyone else. To the order, these are simply chattel, pawns at best, eventual property and subjects.
The goal of the order is simple: Gain control of as many cults, societies, and organizations as possible. Rhetoric promises that at perfect moment, predetermined by the Grand Architect, each of these groups will rise up as one and bring down the leaders of society, placing the order in control and creating a new social order free of corruption.
Influence on the World:
The Order of the Ivory Mask influences hundreds of cults, secret societies, and organizations across all of human inhabited lands. About a third of these are actually led by members of the order. The rest include at least one member of the order among their number. The secrecy Vellian enforces means that no one with any power knows what any of the others look like. Vellian orders attacks on nobility, the rich, and even other cults. The members of the order believe they are carrying out the plans of the Grand Architect. Only Vellian knows they are simply killing humans.
Cult Leader: Vellian Ravenwing, Grand Architect of the Order LE Male Elf Lich Wizard 18; CR 20; Medium Undead; HD 18d12; HP 123; Init +6; Spd 30 ft; AC 36, touch 30, flat-footed 31; Base Atk +9/+4; Grp +8; Atk +19 (1d6+1d6+7 electricity+1 Con [+2d6 vs humans], 15-20/x2+1d10 electricity on crit), +5 Human bane, shocking burst rapier of wounding.); Full Atk +19/+14 (1d6+1d6+7 electricity+1 Con [+2d6 vs human], 15-20/x2+1d10 electricity on crit), +5 Human bane, shocking burst rapier of wounding.); SA: Fear Aura(Su) – 60’ Save DC 22, Paralytic Touch(Su) Save DC 22, Negative Energy touch attack, +16, 1d8+5, Spells; SQ: Familiar, +2 save vs Enchantment spells and effects, Low light vision, Darkvision 60’, +8 racial bonus to Hide, Listen, Move Silently, Search, Sense Motive, and Spot; Turn Resistance +4, DR15/bludgeoning, DR15/magic, Immunity to cold, electricity, polymorph, mind-affecting attacks, poisons, sleep effects, paralysis, stunning, disease, and death effects, Not subject to critical hits, nonlethal damage, ability drain, or energy drain, Immune to physical ability damage, fatigue, and exhaustion, Immune to any effect that requires a Fort save unless it also affects objects, Uses Cha mod for Concentration checks, Doesn’t eat, breathe, or sleep, An elf who passes within 5 feet of a secret or concealed door is entitled to a Search check to notice it as if she were actively looking for it; SV Fort +11, Ref +16, Will +19; Str 14, Dex 20, Con --, Int 20, Wis 16, Cha 16.
[Initial Stats were Elite Array with adjustments lists by level and race: Str:8(+6 Boots), Dex:12(+2 Elf,+6 Gloves), Con:10(-2 Elf, -- Lich), Int:15(+3 Lvl, +2 Lich), Wis:14(+2 Lich), Cha:13(+1 Lvl, +2 Lich)]
[IC/CC max ranks: 21/10.5; Skill point calculation by level: 1:16, 2-3:4@(8), 4-11:5@(40), 12-13:6@(12), 14-18:7@(35) Total: 111]
Languages: Common, Elven, Draconic, Sylvan
Spells: Vellian casts spells as an 18th level wizard (Spells/Day: 4/6/5/5/5/5/4/3/3/2) (Save DC 15+spell level) Spells prepared: 0 –Detect Magicx2, Read Magic, Arcane Mark; 1 –Comprehend Languages, Disguise Self, Feather Fallx2, Identifyx2; 2 –Detect Thoughts, Resist Energyx2, See Invisibility, Touch of Idiocy; 3 –Arcane Sight, Haste, Nondetection, Tongues, Wind Wall; 4 –Bestow Curse, Dimension door, Greater Invisibility, Shout, Stoneskin; 5 –Cloudkill, Cone of Coldx2, Dismissal, Hold Monster ; 6 –Chain Lightning, Create Undead, Flesh to Stone, Mass Suggestion; 7 –Forcecage, Mass Hold Person, Prismatic Spray; 8 –Create Greater Undead, Greater Shout, Trap the Soul; 9 –Shapechange, Weird
Spell book: Vellian has been seeking a hoarding spells for two thousand years. His library of grimoires contain all known spells in nine large spell-books, one for each level of power.
Possessions: Human-bane, shocking burst rapier of wounding +5; ring of protection +5; ring of spell turning; cloak of resistance +5; Arrow deflecting, ghost touch, mithral light shield of greater fire resistance +5; Bracers of Armor Class +5; Belt of Giant Str +6, Boots of Teleportation; +6 Gloves of Dexterity, Medallion of Thoughts, Mantle of Spell Resistance (SR21)
In addition, Vellian’s Amphitheater complex has the following equipment and enchantments: The hallways in enchanted with a permanent Mind Fog effect. The archway is inscribed with a permanent Symbol of Persuasion. A doorway behind the amphitheater’s dais leads to Vellian’s lair. Within, he keeps a Crystal Ball with the additional Detect Thoughts ability, an Amulet of the Planes, and his spell and notebooks. The entire area has obviously been sculpted with Shape Stone. Hidden in the back wall of the lair, Vellian’s Phylactery has been embedded two feet into the stone and covered, again with Shape Stone. In addition to his grimoires, Vellian’s journals and notebooks provide a +4 circumstance bonus to any knowledge check made while they are available fro reference. The collection consists of two hundred 10lb books. Because of well-notated cross references, if even one is missing, the circumstance bonus is halved. If more than 25% of the library is missing, the bonus is reduced to +1.
Vellian has the components and foci for all spells he has memorized. His lair contains a large supply of components for all his spells.
History: Vellian Ravenwing was once a typical adventuring wizard. Like most elves, he was a lover of life and nature and he championed causes that sought freedom. Unlike many of his kind, or any other, he also believed very strongly that all humanoid races were capable of living in peace. The occasional outbreaks of interracial violence always saddened him.
While hardly inexperienced, he often accompanied a group known as the White Arrow, who were each powerful heroes. Indeed, Vellian having just learned his first spell of the fifth circle when joined them, was the weakest of the four. Vellian and the White Arrow adventured for nearly two decades before confronting a great red wyrm that had laid claim to a nearby kingdom. The battle was ferocious and the adventurers were sorely injured and truly exhausted, but they were also victorious. They looted the dragon’s hoard and on the trip home, decided it was time to retire. Vellian was the only elf, the others being human or Halfling, so twenty years had taken a much greater toll on his companions.
Vellian took his share of the treasure home. He had not yet had time to truly examine some of the items, but with the gold he’d collected, he could afford a decade or so of idle study. As he studied a particularly interesting ivory carving, Vellian discovered a hidden opening that revealed a scroll. With great excitement, he discovered the scroll contained a Wish spell. Even after twenty years, the scroll was still a little bit beyond his capabilities, but that didn’t stop him from scribing the spell into his grimoire.
The next item proved to be far more sinister, though Vellian did not discover the fact until it was too late. He believed he had found a Helm of Telepathy and eagerly put it on to try it out. The effect was instant. The helm reversed every value and belief Vellian had ever held. Where he had once loved freedom, he now craved order, tyranny if needed. Where he had once believed the other races equals of elves, he now saw them as inferior. Instead of seeing past human attacks on his kind as mistakes of the past, he saw a string of insults from a people too crude and numerous to let live.
Vellian quickly decided that only he had the vision to see that the human race must be exterminated and that elves, superior in all ways, would take their place as lords of the world. However, he also recognized that those who held the power would never willingly give it up. It would take an army to openly force his vision into existence and Vellian was shy a few hundred thousand like-minded elves. Instead, he began recruiting those who would either agree or who would be directly opposed, but could be tricked into donning the helm.
Soon, word of a growing movement of villains wishing to destroy humanity reached the ears of the remaining members of the White Arrow. Though aging, they still retained a great deal of skill. They were alarmed by the description of the enemy’s leader, their friend, Vellian Ravenwing. The group gathered a few loyal followers and cohorts and went in search of Vellian. It was not hard to find him, at the head of a small army laying siege to a small city. The White Arrow attacked from behind and the battle was joined. By the end, Vellian’s army was gone and the White Arrow was no more. Vellian, however, survived to crawl away.
As he lay dying in a nearly ravine, he discovered the ivory carving with its precious cargo. He withdrew the scroll and began to recite it. He knew there was a chance the spell might fail, or even backlash. The blood soaking the ground, however, was his. There was no other choice. Upon completion of the incantation, Vellian wished for immortality and the power to defeat his enemies. The spell, pushed beyond its power by Vellian’s demand, granted the wish as best it could. It killed him. It infused his body with negative energy and turned him into a lich. As soon as he discovered what had happened, Vellian laughed. His wish truly had been granted.
Vellian rushed to complete his phylactery before the magic of the wish faded. Once that task was complete, he hid. He spent nearly a century contemplating his failure. He saw that to succeed, he would need to be much more secretive. He realized that humans did a great deal to destroy themselves if given the opportunity. He decided it was poetic justice to be the one who arranged for humanity to fade in a series of civil wars. He knew he needed a cover.
He searched the planes for an appropriate base of operations, finding a small pocket of air on the plane of earth that could be easily shaped to his needs. He carved out an amphitheater, entranceway, and lair. Then, he sought out those who hated authority. The reason for the hatred didn’t matter. He gathered them one by one and preached that all authority was corrupt. All of it had to be torn down. Small groups would never accomplish it unless they were forged into a single force. The people he had gathered would seek out the cults and secret societies of the world and turn them to the right cause. They would be masters of a new order. Thus was born the Order of the Ivory Mask.
In the present, the order has existed for over two thousand years. Vellian continues to personally recruit new members who are either part of another cult or organization or could easily join one. The members of the order believe that are working towards a glorious revolution that will bring prosperity to all men. In actuality, Vellian uses the varied groups against each other and against any other settlement he can manage. The order’s goal is always referred to as just another decade away. Vellian’s goal of eradicating all humans is still far from complete. He is getting close to having the power needed to create a worldwide civil war. He is looking forward to striding forth, sword in hand, to cleave down his enemies like wheat before a scythe. He expects it will only take another century or two; an eye blink for an immortal lich.
Tactics: While the majority of encounters with the Order of the Ivory Mask should not involve an encounter with Vellian, adventurers will likely cross his path eventually. Vellian is very confident of his swordsmanship. In any encounter, he will begin with swordplay. If an opponent proves too tough, he will dimension door away and begin a magical assault.
Typical Cultists (see chart, pg 117 DMG, for initial stats, equipment may differ)
Architect Beta-Phi, known elsewhere as Lord Nerien of South Haven LN Male Human Fighter 16; CR 16; Medium Humanoid; HD 16d10 HP 16; Init +1; Spd 20 ft; AC 30, touch 20, flat-footed 29; Base Atk +16/+11/+6/+1; Grp +20; Atk +25 (1d8+11, +3 longsword,17-20/x2) or +18 (1d8+1, +1 light x-bow, x3) or +20 (1d8+4 Lance, x3; on horseback, x2 dmg, x4 crit); Full Atk +25/+20/+15/+10 (1d8+11, +3 longsword,17-20/x2) or +3 (1d8, light x-bow); SA: SV Fort +12, Ref +6, Will +6; Str 19, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 12, Wis 8, Cha 8
Possessions: +3 Longsword, +1 Lt X-bow, +3 Hvy Steel Shield, +2 Full Plate, Amulet of natural armor +2, ring of protection +2, Hvy Warhorse, Lance, ivory mask, bronze signal ring
Laborer Canris Leed CN Male Human Fighter 2; CR 2; Medium Humanoid; HD 2d10+4; HP 19; Init +1; Spd 30 ft; AC 19, touch 11, flat-footed 14; Base Atk +2; Grp +4; Atk +5 (2d4+3, MW Falchion,18-20/x2) or +3 (1d8, light x-bow); Full Atk +5 (2d4+3, falchion,18-20/x2) or +3 (1d8, light x-bow); SA: SV Fort +5, Ref +1, Will +1; Str 15, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 10, Wis 12, Cha 8
Skills and Feats: Intimidate +4, Climb +3, Jump +2; Power Attack, Improved Unarmed Strike
Use in a campaign: Due to the nature of the order, it can be encountered by any level group. Low level parties may deal with cults or organizations under the influence of the order. Higher level groups could discover an active plot and trace it back to the order. For a challenge appropriate as an epic quest, adventurers could track the Order back to Vellian and fight him in his lair, fully prepared, accompanied by his Architects.
The important thing to remember is that initial encounters will be with cults and organizations influenced by the order. Any time the party stops a cult or conspiracy, they could find a clue that points to someone or something behind the scenes. The masks owned by Foremen and above make perfect clues.
My name is Eldon Thomas. I am writing my memoirs because I fear my accomplishments will be lost to my infamous reputation. I always thought I wouldn’t mind being misunderstood and hated for all history, but as my life nears it last stages I find myself increasingly afraid of being remembered as a monster. It all started when I had recently finished my training as a City Guard some 25 years ago. I was assigned to the Dock Ward and soon became exposed to the corruption, which at the time seemed to infest every aspect of the City Guards. I resisted the peer pressure and did what I could to bring the corrupt to justice. This only ended in my near death at the hands of my fellow guardsmen. Severely battered, my faith shaken, and feeling all hope was lost I was ready to leave the city and make my way to my Uncle’s Farm on the border lands. The day I prepared to leave, the most righteous and just person I have ever met, Sir Galvin, approached me. Sir Galvin was a Knight and second in command of the City Guard. He had received a report of my supposed ineptitude from the Lieutenant in charge of the Dock Ward guard contingent. Sir Galvin knew of the corruption in the Dock Ward and suspected I had been a victim of it. Sir Galvin, with me as witness brought the corrupt Lieutenant and his fellow cronies to justice. It was the proudest moment of my life thus far, though I noticed Sir Galvin did not share my joy at the victory for justice. Sir Galvin explained how he was happy to put the criminals away, but that tomorrow more would take their place. Sir Galvin, though vigilant, was depressed by the relentless tide of corruption that never seemed to ebb.
I thought for a long time about what Sir Galvin had said, and eventually came up with the perfect solution. My Cult. I realized Sir Galvin was right, every time you removed a criminal another would take their place. I developed a way to track criminals and then remove the worst ones while leaving the others in place to keep new criminals in check. I changed my name and disguised myself. I then went to the Dock Ward and approached a minor hustler I knew him from my previous work and hired him to recruit for me in my disguised persona. His only job would be to find individuals whom were interested in corruption of the current order. When my recruiter located them, I met with them in secret keeping my identity hidden. I would enlist them in my Cult and ensured they kept their identities secret from each other. I named my Cult, The Cult of the Setting Sun, but explained to each member the name actually meant The Cult of the “Rising Darkness”. The name twist catered to their criminal hearts and they bought in. Using the funds and influence of my members I began having the recruiters, after a while I had three, spread rumors about The Cult of the Setting Sun. The rumors informed the public the Cult’s purpose was to give power to the setting sun so it could rise the next day. This was a complete sham but it had the desired effect. The false front actually attracted a few individuals who actually believed the falsehoods I spread about the Sun, lonely people without confidence mostly, and I gave them enough guidance to keep up the façade. I will refer to these people as functionaries. The general public considered them fools and left us alone. I was still concerned about the justice system though, I knew they might look into my Cult just to ensure it wasn’t presenting a false face. To hide its true purpose I invested the Cult’s assets into orphanages. The benefits of this were many, as you’ll see. Finally, I assured each true member, those who new of “Rising Darkness”, that the Cult’s true purpose would be to seed the current order with moles who would act on our behalf.
The first benefit of the orphanages kept the justice system from sniffing around us because of the benefits we gave the city through well-funded orphanages. Second, I assigned each funded orphanage to a single member and few functionaries. The functionaries actually worked in the orphanages, and being lonely people themselves they enjoyed sharing their lives with the orphans. The member was to act as a silent Trustee for the orphanage and to direct the orphanages staff, mostly functionaries, anonymously. Third, the orphanages served as proving grounds for people we would use in our Cult’s agenda. I directed the members to treat the orphans very well as we would need loyal and well-educated stock to be moles. I loved how the members foolishly followed this believing I would actually corrupt the orphans. I had the cities criminals raising healthy, educated, and happy orphans. I next directed the members to occasionally pick an orphan, no more than one a year, who showed promise. The members would falsify the orphan’s paperwork to show the child had been adopted from a family outside the area. This way no questions were raised about missing children. The members would then take the children to a secret location and leave them for me to pick up. I would pick up the children and instead of raising a corrupted mole, I would have my Uncle raise them as he did me. They grew up into champions of the order with no knowledge of my involvement with the Cult. The members never questioned why one of the children, when grown, showed up in the City Guard or on the City Council. And when the children acted on the side of justice, the members believed the orphans were acting to keep their cover. Whenever the members had good fortune, they assumed it was because of the efforts of their moles.
It took a long time to get the organization set up. By the time I was ready to act, the Cult had grown till I had influence throughout the city with the criminal element and with the current order. The Cult also branched out into surrounding communities and to two distant trade cities that regularly traded with ours. I then put my plan into full swing. By now I had many recruiters. Recruiters could not be members they were just paid informants. The recruiters were always minor criminals of no import, but they had one major asset to me. They knew the identities of the members they recruited. I never asked them to reveal these to me though, I just instructed them to forward certain members identities to the authorities with evidence of criminal activities. This was how I controlled the criminals. So long as members did not become a real threat to justice, I let them remain in power. If a member became too much of a threat to the order, they would be brought to justice. Since none of the members knew each other I had no fear of them finding out another member had been exposed. If the recruiters asked why I directed them to expose a member, I simply told them the member broke the code.
It has been 10 years since my plan has been operating with all fields plowed. It has expanded even further and has grown well beyond my original goal. I will soon ask the recruiters to turn over all the information to me, and I will expose all the members. I have no delusions that I will be exempt from prosecution. I am sure I will be caught up in the web of intrigue I have laid. Though it is a sacrifice I’m more than willing to make on behalf of justice. I just hope the blow I make will give the Sir Galvins of today a well-deserved break.
The Cult of the Setting Sun is not affiliated with any currently recognized church or deity of the sun. The Cult would be viewed by these organizations with suspicious curiosity at best, and condemnation at worst.
Occasionally the members have the need to work together. When done so, they are always in disguise, or otherwise anonymous. If directed to work together by the Leader, the Leader always gives them a code phrase to reduce possible confusion. But, if the members need to work together without the Leader’s direction they can identify themselves by wearing a yellow sash. Members seeing someone wearing a yellow may approach and say, “That black sash your wearing is quite impressive”. The sash wearer, (if they are a member), may reply, “You can see the coming darkness”. This standard code phrase allows members to work together without the Leader’s direct involvement.
Cult of the Setting Sun (Rising Darkness) - Code
1) No member shall reveal their identity, or endeavor to reveal the identity of another member. 2) No member shall reveal the identity of a mole to non-cult members. 3) No member shall reveal the true purpose of The Cult of the Setting Sun (Rising Darkness). 4) All contact with non-members about the Cult’s affairs will be done so anonymously. 5) Any members who must meet will do so anonymously. 6) All members must follow the direction of our Leader. 7) Each member must treat all orphans generously and must make regular donations to orphanages that have The Cult of the Setting Sun as a benefactor. 8) All members must work to improve their influence and that of the Cult’s as directed by our Leader. 9) Any violation of this code will result in punishment chosen by our leader.
The Cult of the Setting Sun – False Tenets
> The Sun is powered by the love of its warmth and light. If the sun is not loved it will set and never rise again. > The Sun is a jealous being and will stay away if it feels people love the Moon more. > To pray to the Sun each evening when it sets, just as to touches the horizon, and until it disappears below the horizon. > To give thanks to the Sun as is raises each new day. > Show your love for the Sun’s warmth and light by leaving a flame burning all night. > During an eclipse all Cult members must drop what their doing look up to the sky and will the Sun to break free of the chains of darkness. > On nights of a full moon, curse the cold light of the Moon or the Sun may become jealous. > On each equinox and solstice one must bare his / her naked body to the Sun for the entire day.
The Cult of the “Rising Darkness” – Tenets
> Order must be overthrown at all costs, as true personal prosperity may only be achieved within Chaos. > Using Orders own systems against it is the only way to defeat Order. > An organization of Chaos can only be successful by remaining anonymous to itself. > Chaos with no purpose other than to be chaotic only serves to strengthen Order, as it will draw attention and drive away those who do not understand Chaos. > True Chaos can only be achieved through strict discipline up until the moment of its release. > Our goals can be achieved only through the utmost of secrecy.
Human War 1; CR 1; Medium Humanoid (Human) HD 1; hp 8; Init +0; Spd 30ft; AC 14, touch 10, flat-footed 14; Base Atk +1; Grp +1; Atk +2 melee (1d8/19-20, masterwork long sword) or +1 ranged (1d6/x3, short bow); Full Atk +2 melee (1d8/19-20, masterwork long sword) or +1 ranged (1d6/x3, short bow); SA -; SQ -; AL LN; Sv Fort +0, Ref +0, Will +2; Str 10, Dex 11, Con 10, Int 18, Wis 14, Cha 17. Skills & Feats: Gather Information +7, Diplomacy +9, Bluff +9, Intimidate +9, Sense Motive +8, Disguise +7; Negotiator, Persuasive. Possessions: Masterwork Chain Shirt, Masterwork Short Sword, Short bow.
Eldon is fanatically driven to achieve pure Order. Though he strives in all his efforts to control crime and the chaos it creates, he is intelligent enough to go about achieving his goals using unconventional methods. You’ll notice the Tenets for “Rising Darkness” are written to require members to use Order to achieve Chaos. Eldon feels he is being very guileful by doing this. Eldon is charismatic and intelligent enough to organize and lead the Cult. He is a bit egotistical, but cunning and insightful. Because of his reputation Eldon receives a +2 situational bonus to any Cha skill checks while acting as the Cult Leader.
Human Rog 5; CR 5; Medium Humanoid (Human) HD 5; hp 20; Init +8; Spd 30ft; AC 16, touch 14, flat-footed 16; Base Atk +3; Grp +3; Atk +4 melee (1d6/19-20, masterwork short sword) or +7 ranged (1d6/x3, short bow); Full Atk +4 melee (1d6/19-20, short sword) or +7 ranged (1d6/x3, short bow); SA sneak attack 3d6; SQ evasion, trapfinding, trap sense +1, uncanny dodge; AL LE; Sv Fort +3, Ref +12, Will +2; Str 10, Dex 18, Con 11, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 10. Skills & Feats: Appraise +9, Hide +14, Spot +8, Listen +8, Move Silently +14, Search +9, Disguise +8, Disable Device +11, Open Lock +14; Improved Initiative, Nimble Fingers, Stealthy. Possessions: Masterwork Leather Armor, Masterwork Short Sword, Short bow, Masterwork Thieves’ Tools, 4 potions of cure light wounds.
A member may be built from any class combination capable of criminal activity. The sky is the limit on developing these NPC’s. Any contact your PC’s might have with the Cult will most likely involve one of these NPC’s. Members may be loners or even have their own criminal organizations. Though the members are not stupid, the perceived power gained by joining the Cult deludes them.
Human Rog 1; CR 1; Medium Humanoid (Human) HD 1; hp 6; Init +2; Spd 30ft; AC 14, touch 12, flat-footed 12; Base Atk +0; Grp +0; Atk +0 melee (1d6/19-20, short sword) or +2 ranged (1d6/x3, short bow); Full Atk +0 melee (1d6/19-20, short sword) or +2 ranged (1d6/x3, short bow); SA sneak attack 1d6; SQ trapfinding; AL NE; Sv Fort +0, Ref +4, Will +0; Str 10, Dex 14, Con 10, Int 10, Wis 10, Cha 12. Skills & Feats: Gather Information +5, Diplomacy +7, Spot +6, Listen +6, Knowledge (Local) +4, Sense Motive +6, Disguise +5, Hide +4, Move Silently +4; Negotiator, Alertness. Possessions: Leather Armor, Short Sword, Short bow.
A typical recruiter is a minor criminal the example above uses a Rogue Class built using mainly CHA skills, but any class capable of being a criminal potentially could be a recruiter. Only if your campaign calls for a specific case should a recruiter be over 2nd level, generally because above this level they would most likely move on to bigger things.
Human Com 1; CR 1/6; Medium Humanoid (Human) HD 1; hp 4; Init +0; Spd 30ft; AC 10, touch 10, flat-footed 10; Base Atk +0; Grp +0; Atk +0 melee (1d3 unarmed strike); Full Atk +0 melee (1d3 unarmed strike); SA -; SQ -; AL N; Sv Fort +0, Ref +0, Will +0; Str 10, Dex 10, Con 11, Int 10, Wis 11, Cha 11. Skills & Feats: Listen +4, Profession (Child Rearing) +7, Spot +4; Skill Focus (Profession), Alertness. Possessions: None
Typical Functionaries fill a role intended as flavor for the setting. Unless you have reason they shouldn’t be more than simple 1st level commoners.
The stats for this NPC are yours to make, but he should have some skill in Profession (Farming), and Profession (Teaching).
The Uncle raises the ‘chosen’ orphans with strong discipline and ethics, but he is not a disciplinarian. The Uncle will reward disciplined behavior and warns of the problems of undisciplined behavior. The Uncle, regardless of race, has the personality traits generally attributed to Dwarves, (showing a tough but very deep love). This along with the constant work required on the farm tends to raise children with strong morals and a healthy respect for justice. ______________________________________________________________________
The above cult may be placed into any current campaign containing a civilized society with an established justice system, and moderate to strong crime activity. It may be scaled according to your setting. The history above hints at a vast network spanning cities, but with slight adjustments the organization could easily be smaller, or even larger. For smaller towns or villages, simply give the cult a single orphanage and only a few members to work with.
An example of a smaller setting could be a small town in a larger kingdom. Sir Galvin could be a Knight from the capital. The Lieutenant could be the local official and Eldon could be a simple town militiamen. The Dock Ward may be a province, or an area of the town with a ‘reputation’.
The Uncle’s farm should be located on land bordering a hostile area but not overly risky.
The only NPC’s who need to be scaled are the Members. The Functionaries, Recruiters, and Eldon needn’t be adjusted regardless of the PC’s current level as they are specifically designed to be low level.