Thursday, November 30, 2017

Nameless Cults 666: Reflections of the Solstice / I'm Flaying Everyone

Here we go with some cultishness that for once isn't based in H.P. Lovecraft! 

I'll bet you thought it would never happen. Starting with the heaviest, nastiest, most Black Metal bad guy, the whole reason I'm using the classic demon lords in the first place:

AKA Prince of the Dead, The Goatlord, Yredelemnul, His Corpulence

Why even play Labyrinth Lord without Orcus? He is the game's mascot. The question is how to make him scary, dangerous and interesting? We already have Chthulhu, Azathoth and other extra-dimensional beings inimical to human life and sanity.

The difference has to be interest. Yog-Sothoth doesn't care about you and doesn't even notice its human worshippers, but Orcus Wants You to play Labyrinth Lord! (and for his army of the undying). He answers prayers, gives instructions and sends servants and avatars to Earth, just like normal D&D gods & demons.

If you don't want this guy in your game, then fuck you.

In classic D&D and Labyrinth Lord, Orcus is the lord of the undead, but I've already given some control over undeath to the Esoteric Order of Dagon, who raise the drowned from beneath the waves. Of course lots of people could learn to raise the dead, but I want more flavour.

Since I included muscled-up Chris Moyen goat monsters in my game, they naturally fall under Orcus' purview. Let's say their own legends place him as their ancient progenitor. If this is true, it means they are a race of true demons living on Earth, and should be vulnerable to banishment, holy word, etc, although few pious folks are interested in finding out. No musclegoat-women have ever been spotted, and nobody knows if they are created, summoned through gates from Orcus' realm, or born by some other means.

Orcus also resembles Baphomet, which is interesting. D&D and heavy metal already combine in a great way, but Baphomet means the occult is no longer implied, it MUST be involved. This gives Orcus domain over secrets, forbidden magic and maybe some groups worship him under the guise of some other being, never knowing who they really pay homage to? I see it as Orcus representing all the things your mom's church said D&D was about. Orcus' priests will have special spells, and I can try to base them on historical ceremonial magic to add that little bit of Extra.

The grand-daddy of them all.

To sum up:

Orcus is the demon lord of all black metal topics: undead, goatmen, spikes, whips, church burnings, human sacrifice, the occult and crucifixions. He opposes Christianity (unlike Satanism, which I'm placing alongside Gnosticism, etc as one of many choices in a MUCH more tolerant, polytheistic and unrealistic Judeo-Christian pantheon), countering the ideas of piety, meekness, martyrdom, and heavenly reward with: existing forever among the undead.

He is not charismatic, tempting or sly. He just sits around saying "Hey human, you wanna live forever? Well, here's the next best thing: lichdom, or if you aren't a wizard, maybe as a shadow or wight or something. We'll give you a bunch of skeleton slaves and you can keep all the goth girls to yourself."

"Don't like it? Finger of Death!!"


Placing the worship of Orcus in the setting should be quite easy: the historical Orcus was a Roman underworld deity. So I'm thinking Rome made dire bargains to preserve its power in the waning years of the corrupt empire. Along with Demogorgon and other demon lords, Orcus was invoked by the Romans during their withdrawal from the old city of Londinium. The disastrous results of that final battle can still be seen today by anyone foolish enough to venture near that cursed city (better believe we'll be seeing more of it soon).

Wherever decadent and corrupt Roman culture still lives in Albion, the worshippers of Orcus can't be far behind. They hate that they were driven underground by Christianity, and sometimes make temporary alliances with other forgotten cults to bring down the age of the Crucified One.

The other great thing about putting Orcus in the game is I can use all those Necromancer Games adventures I have, since they also love the guy and so many of the dungeons were built by his cultists. Holy fuck, should Rappan Athuk, the dreaded Dungeon of Graves, be somewhere in Albion? Maybe/maybe not, but there is a good stack of other great adventures to be used. The Crucible of Freya and The Tomb of Abysthor are both sweet low-level jams.

Flipping through these modules again is already getting me stoked to start hacking them up and shoehorning them into the game!


I was going to write up Demogorgon too, but I forgot about this! I simply can't come close to doing a demon lord like the aliens from Animal Man and referencing every band with that name from Metal Archives. I'll try and reinterpret some other classic D&D villains if I can.


Now here is a fat stack of Orcus-approved albums:

The main thing:

You have no choice but to turn this up loud:

Hella fast goat-grind, listen or be FLAYED:

Worth it for the atmosphere, vocals and guitar tone alone:

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Naming the Cults

It's snowing outside.
This is an easy one. A master table of all the religions in the game! I had a heck of a time adding and subtracting to this so that some might be familiar to my players, there aren't too many to keep track of (I'm looking at you Celts), few boring non-adventurer gods, and it still adds up to a number that we can roll on a set of dice.

I think this is a good balance. The other gods from the real-world pantheons are still around, but the priestesses of Hestia for example won't be encountered strolling down the highway on a quest.

You may note a great degree of... "ecumenism" in this setting. I'm definitely taking a more freewheeling approach to religious conflicts, where the temple of Satan can walk across the street to talk to the Christians instead of ally themselves with the servants of Orcus against all the forces of good, and where Loki's clerics could team up with Wotan's servants to help their culture conquer Britain and the forces of Lugh & Arawn. Plenty more combinations await!

Master table for rolling up random clerics/cultists
Where devotees of some of these "religions" get their spells is up to your own judgement.

D48 (d6 & d8) ROLL:

11 Jesus
13 Satan
14 Gnosticism
15 Pelagian Heresy
16 Baldr - the shining one
17 Bragi - skalds
18 Loki - trickster
21 Thunor (Thor) - storms, thunder, you get it
22 Tiw (Tyr) - glory, war, law
23 Wotan - wisdom, language, war
24 Eastre - spring, dawn
25 Freyja - love, fertility, sex, death
26 Frige (Frigga) - wisdom, foreknowledge
27 Hel - underworld
28 Arawn - underworld
31 Belenus - “the fair shining one”
32 Crom Cruach - “bloody crooked one,” human sacrifice
33 Dagda - druidry, magic, fertility, agriculture, strength
34 Lugh - skill, crafts, war
35 Manannán - sea
36 Brigid - spring, healing, fertility, poetry
37 Ceridwen - rebirth, transformation, inspiration
38 Morrígu - war, fate, doom
41 Apollo - sun, music, healing, truth, prophecy
42 Bacchus - wine, madness
43 Jupiter - sky, thunder, king of the gods
44 Mars - war
45 Mithras - secret warrior mystery cult
46 Neptune - sea
47 Pluto - underworld
48 Saturn - agriculture, wealth, generation, dissolution, time
51 Vulcan - fire, forging
52 Diana - hunting, the moon, nature
53 Minerva - wisdom, strategy, trade
56 Dagon
62 The King in Yellow
63 Thasaidon
64 Arioch
65 Orcus
67 Jubilex
68 Lolth


Now for something more relaxing: