Feb 3, 2012

Warrens of the Leper Queens: Area 7

Area 7: The Outer Church

This area is the church where cultists come to pledge allegiance to Acephax and to hear the Brides preach and prophesy.

The ceiling is 3.5m high and the area is lit by two torches planted in the ground on either side of an altar set in the back of the room. The wall connecting it to area 6 is only a foot and a half thick, and is made of tight packed dirt, but PCs with shovels, hammers or picks could break through easily enough.

The only furniture is the altar, which is a 2.5m x 1.5m stone plinth engraved with the holy symbols of Acephax and dedicated to him. It is covered in blood, and there are four manacles to hold victims in place while they are dismembered by the Brides. The altar has a permanent magical aura of fear, which affects anyone who is not a member of the cult. Non-cultists must make a Persistence test when they approach within 10m of the altar or flee in terror for 5 minutes. For the purposes of countermagic, this counts as a magnitude 5 spell, and the aura may be suppressed temporarily through countermagic. The altar itself exudes the poisonous Spume of Acephax, and anyone touching the altar without protection will be affected. As well, anyone touching the altar must make a Resilience roll at -10% or contract leprosy.

There is a 10% chance of there being a victim strapped to the altar. They have a 50% of being alive and a 50% chance of having been dismembered and killed but left in place until they have rotted enough to be thrown into the sludge pits in front of the statue of Acephax.

There is a 20% chance of a religious service being in progress if the PCs have not raised the alarm. These are called at irregular intervals by the Brides. If a religious service is going on, there will be a victim on the altar. This will mean 1d10+10 cultists are in attendance and 1d10+5 Sons of Acephax, as well as 1d4 of the Brides. The Brides conduct the ceremony from behind the altar while the Sons ritually dismember the victim. The Sons will be the only ones armed with anything heavier than knives and daggers. Because of the state of religious hysteria accompanying these rituals, PCs' stealth rolls to avoid being noticed are at +10%.

Religious services last between 2 and 3 hours. Everyone consumes hallucinogenic and euphoric drugs (with a generous portion of alcohol, even by medieval standards, for the cultists) other than the Sons doing the dismembering. The victim is put in place and accused of committing various crimes against the cult and its followers (victims are often selected in the first place for having wronged a cultist in their aboveground life). They are then butchered slowly while the Brides proclaim the glory of Acephax and his servants, their eventual conquest of the world above, and the righteousness of their cause. Once the victim is dead, the crowd is sprinkled with blood while the Brides lead the cultists and Sons in a blood-soaked, incestuous orgy. Demons (leprosy spirits) are often conjured to participate by the Brides. Just about every taboo an ordinary Moragnian might have is violated during this bacchanal. Eventually, the Brides retreat, and the ordinary cultists go staggering back to their regular duties.

If there is not a religious service going on, there is a 25% chance of 1d3 cultists doing quiet devotional activities or cleaning the space.