Friday, January 25, 2019

Nameless Cults VII

This is one I've had on the back-burner for a while. It goes hand-in-hand with the next article which I hope to put up next week, if the Emperor and homework permit.

*****


CULTISTS OF ABRAXAS, 
Master of The Final Incantation, The Cruelty of the Heavens




No. Appearing: 1d4
Alignment: C
Move: 120’ (40’)
Armour Class: 12
Hit Dice: 4
Attack: kris (1d4+1) or spell
Save: MU
Morale: 9
Hoard Class: special
Experience: 245


Librarians, lorekeepers, thieves, treasure hunters and finders of secrets, the cultists of Abraxas hoard lost knowledge. Each one hopes to amass enough information to be one day raptured away to the demon lord's long-lost dimension of secrets where they'll study forbidden tomes eternally at the grandest library in creation. 

Each cultist (they call themselves "scribes," which has led to confusion a few times) has his own field of literary interest and spends most of his time amassing a collection, sometimes travelling around the world to search out unique volumes. That makes every member of the cult a sage in his own right, and usually a seasoned thief. Forming a relationship with an Abraxian coven is a great way for adventurers to get questions answered. 

Devotion to their lord is measured by secrets learned, books acquired, and personal information stored. Cultists tattoo or even carve words all over their bodies: important secrets, passwords, names, spells, titles of books they've found, things they don't want to forget but are too sensitive to write down anywhere else. High-ranking cultists get completely covered in writing over the course of years. There is a story (maybe apocryphal) among scribes of one who sold his skin as storage space to two kings to save state secrets - many like to speculate on what happened when each monarch found out about the other!

In their private gatherings they wear as little clothing as possible to better showcase their piety but when encountered outside their lairs they are usually in disguise with as much skin covered as possible. Unlike many of the Nameless Cults who come around the corner yelling "WAAAAGH!" hacking and slashing, you might meet an Abraxian and have no idea whatsoever until it's too late.

While they do technically worship a Chaos lord, they aren't all that dangerous unless you have a book they're interested in. Experts at tracking down scraps of lost information, they'll find out all your secrets and sell them back to you to get what they want.

Most scribes aren't well-suited to battle, preferring the routes of knowledge and stealth. Their master's favour does lend them some assistance though: they have inhuman vision, especially in dim light (double the normal distance of whatever light source you're using). Their exotic, wavy kris knives are imbued with a portion of Abraxas' hunger for information: on a successful hit, save vs. spell or 'forget' a random memorized spell up to a level equal to the damage dealt. The scribe gets +1 to hit on his next attack roll with the kris per level of a spell stolen in this way. Once a scribe is killed, his kris will remain powerful for 24 hours before becoming a normal weapon again.


Fleshly Magic

When scribes are pressed, they can use some of their lost & secret knowledge to cast spells. Consuming their tattoos (burning them with fire, flaying the skin, etc) will invoke powerful magic. Roll a die sized equal to the HP damage the cultist takes (ie. 6 damage, roll a D6). The result is the level of spell the cultist manages to cast. DM's choice, or roll randomly on a spell list from a brand-new supplement you just bought or totally different game to really give your players a shock.

No scribe wants to do this, and will resort to it only having exhausted all other options.

Cultists that are killed or captured can be valuable sources of knowledge & arcane power. Flaying their skin and treating it with special preservatives can render some (very gross) spell scrolls. Roll a die sized using the scribe's remaining hit points if alive, or 1d3 if you're scrounging from a dead one. This gives the combined spell levels of scrolls you can salvage. Again the spells are rolled randomly from your list (cleric, MU, whatever feels appropriate). This renders any secret knowledge the cultist scribed on his body unreadable - you can't have both.

Abraxian covens have been known to pay enormous ransoms for hostages for this reason. Even a dead but intact scribe is worth more to them than a living prisoner missing some of his text...

*****

Also: I just discovered the Mud & Blood podcast. Really cool stuff if you're into Warhammer, or dark fantasy in general. Give it a listen!

Dig into this album for the next time you run Death Frost Doom or the PCs make an unschedule stop in R'lyeh:


2 comments:

  1. Can I add your blog to https://campaignwiki.org/osr/ ?

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    1. Yeah of course! I could have sworn I was already on there actually

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