Friday, December 18, 2015

Cults of the Forgotten Gods OR: SKULKING Fanatics in Our Very MIDST!

Adventurers and explorers of the unknown BEWARE! Even your home city is not safe! Hidden among us, everywhere, are secret worshipers of foul, ancient gods - meeting in secret, profane ceremonies filled with dark agendas and violent sacrifices! This week on Fridays in AEthrem, we observe the cults of the forgotten gods!

From their earliest, almost forgotten histories, human civilizations have always venerated a variety of deities - ranging from strange, animistic powers to beings with all the passions and desires of a mortal human. These practices changed during the long human enslavement to the ghond, but persisted, even under these circumstances. Once regaining their freedom, these faiths exploded along with the new, expanding human cultures.

This all changed when the Peloric Church became the dominant religion through most of the human world. The followers of Pelorus hold that all other deities are foul beings, working against the divine machinery at the heart of creation. As a result, other faiths and temples were crushed and scattered as the Church seized hold of the population of each new kingdom or territory. Those remaining faithful to these forgotten gods were driven underground, forced to practice their beliefs in secret at the risk of often-violent punishment from the Church and their own communities.

While many beliefs have faded into obscurity and eventually died out in the centuries since the initial expansion of the Church, a handful have survived into the modern day. Unfortunately, in most cases, only gods strange or dark in comparison to Pelorus have retained any followers - too twisted or stubborn to convert. The following are just a few of the most well-known examples.

The Enlightened of Pjmaal are a mystery cult, following a god of the ancient Ferridi highlands. Pjmaal is said to offer his followers knowledge at a terrible cost, and is depicted as a lurking shadow with a thousand eyes, each taken from a mortal in exchange for wisdom. The mad and apocalyptic are equally tempted into the ranks of the Enlightened. Most sanitariums have at least a single resident that claims a belief in bearer of light and madness, and the scrawling literature recovered from the site following gatherings of Enlightened frequently mentions an end to all things - and Pjmaal helping the Enlightened to bring it about.

Mareib had scattered worshipers through Pelifor in antiquity. A goddess of cunning and resolve, she supposedly birthed the first serpent into the world, and ancient mythology paints her as a clever but violently ruthless figure. Before the rise of the Peloric Church, many ancient kings and queens were chosen by Mareib's oracles - her calculating nature being a prized trait in rulers during this darker age. Modern worshipers still venerate her as a granter of authority and aide to the ambitious - small cults of Mareib have sprung up throughout Condrace during its recent turmoil, their ranks filled by aristocrats willing to even offer blood sacrifices if need be in order to gain the throne.

In modern times, it is believed that the spirits of the departed will either join Pelorus or be cast out of creation entirely, but this was not always the case. Rhion was one of many death gods, and remains one of the most well-known. His divine duty was to gather the spirits of the dead at his island home, lest they remain behind to haunt and torture the living. Small cabals of the Quieted, his followers, still operate throughout the world - meeting clandestinely in late-night meetings at cemeteries and in catacombs. They remain closed and secretive, and rumors persist that the Quieted have dark aims, making them suspect for any of a range of desecrations and offenses at burial sites across the globe.

Venture companies have often been drawn into the secretive world of cults. Guards at a remote archeological dig can run afoul of a cabal still employing a ruin in some strange ritual. Companies put on the case of a missing person may find them held captive, awaiting a celestial alignment necessary for a bloody rite. Even seemingly innocuous opponent could turn out to be a member of some mad, hidden sect. The secretive nature of these cults are their greatest threat; any normal-seeming person could be a member, waiting to strike.

COPYRIGHT NOTICE

Venture! Thrilling Adventures in the World of AEthrem and its associated characters are the property of Weird Science Games, LLC, Copyright 2015.

West End Games, OpenD6, and The D6 system are trademarks and properties of Purgatory Publishing Inc.