Mar 5, 2012

The Wards of the Orthocracy: Greyward

Greyward is the factory of Kaddish. Almost a fifth of the city's population is crammed into the mere eight km^2 it occupies. Tenements crowd together, holding one another upright through the resistance of their mutual collapses. Almost every free space is filled with a shack or lean-to. Workshops, smithies, warehouses and lumber mills crowd the banks of the North Canal, presenting an impassable wall of industry. Most of the city's halfling population lives here, working in tiny airless rooms too small for humans, sharpening spear heads, sanding barrel staves, weaving cloth and attending to hundreds of other products. The great fires whose smoke gives the ward its name turn raw wood into charcoal for the blast furnaces, and light the entire ward at night. The district extends downwards as well as upward, and many buildings collapse as their foundations are mined out for new living quarters or work space. Slave labour, including press-ganged citizens from other districts, is common.

The southern boundary of Greyward is the North Canal, the largest active canal left in the Orthocracy. Greyward is alone on the northern side of the canal from the rest of the city, though multiple bridges cross over to it. There is a partially complete wall being built around it to block it off from the rest of the city and the outer plantations, and this physical separation is a representation of the psychological separation that the residents of Greyward feel for the rest of the city.

Greyward is ruled by alliance of several guilds, its native college(the College of the Righteous) and Marcion of Greyward, high priest of the Black Vermin Gods, who has enthusiastically taken over responsibility for keeping the peace. Lone dragonmen are killed on sight and their heads are posted at a spot on the North Canal that can be seen from Snakes Ward as a warning to the rest. The Greyward is by no means safe, but citizens may walk the streets without having to worry about encountering slavers and gang wars around a corner.

The Cult of the Black Vermin Gods

The Black Vermin Gods are the newest major religion introduced to the Orthocracy, with their temple having been built less than a decade ago. They are a group of powerful devils capable of possessing vermin, who manifest as swarms of rats or flies or fouler creatures. They use this power to spare their followers the scourge of these creatures, in exchange for sacrificing criminals to them. This has trod on the traditional prerogatives of the priests of the Screaming God, but the priests of the Black Vermin God have made it known that they do not care. The cult is also an enemy of the Cult of Red and Blue Snakes, the patron cult of the Snakes Ward. The temple of the Black Vermin Gods is a massive hall of white marble, the only such building in Greyward.

Worshippers

The Black Vermin Gods are the patrons of Greyward, and everyone who lives or works in the ward is expected to pay homage to them and acknowledge Marcion as an orthocrat. Even outside Greyward, the Black Vermin Gods have been growing in popularity, as people who live in rat-infested hovels pray to them for relief. There are perhaps 100,000 people, mostly halflings, who can be said to be part of the cult, and another 50,000 who will at least utter a prayer to them.

Type of Cult

Powerful Devil Cult - The Black Vermin Gods have a devoted, organised cult structure with a professional priest class several hundred strong. The faith is charismatic and proselytic, and actively recruits from amongst the urban poor.

Cult Skills

Religion (Black Vermin Cult), Resilience, Streetwise, Trade

Worshipper Duties

All: Sacrifice criminals and the cult's enemies to the Black Vermin Gods by casting them into open pits filled with vermin.

Lay followers: Follow the commands of the priests of the Black Vermin Gods.

Priests: Do not harm insects, rats and other vermin (pray to the Black Vermin Gods to deal with them instead); Follow the commands of Marcion; Preach the message of the Black Vermin Gods that deliverance from the petty ailments of the flesh depends on their mercy; Build pits for the vermin the Black Vermin Gods possess to be stored safely and into which criminals may be flung; Administer justice in the Greyward.

Battle Magic

All

Divine Magic

All common spells plus Berserk, Call Elemental, Fear, Shield

Special Benefits and Notes

When battle magic and divine spells taught by this cult have a cost in gold ducats in the rules, the cost must be replaced with the sacrifice of one or more humanoids who collectively have a POW equal to the number of gold ducats required. These humanoids must be devoured by insects, rats or other vermin.

The Find spell included in this cult's common spells is Find (Vermin).

There are only two levels in this cult, lay follower and priest. To become a priest, a lay follower must spend 5 IP and have Religion (Black Vermin Cult) at 75% or better.

The elementals priests of the Black Vermin God summon are made of swarms of vermin, but otherwise act like normal elementals. The terrain they may blend into is the urban environment of the Orthocracy itself.

Rather than waiting for a specific holy day to replenish their spells, priest must immerse themselves bodily in a swarm of insects or other vermin while uttering prayers to the Black Vermin Gods. While doing so, the creatures they are immersing themselves in will not harm them or sting them even if they are normally dangerous.

Marcion Trin Greyward, High Priest of the Black Vermin Gods

The man known as Marcion of Greyward was born Marcion the Beggar to a family of poor day labourers living in a shanty built out of rotting planks dug out of the North Canal. When he was a boy, he went into the sewers underneath the Greyward, went missing, and was presumed dead until ten years later, when he emerged in a splendid black cloak and wrappings that covered his entire body. He announced that in the darkness under the  city, he had traveled to another realm, that he had met the Black Vermin Gods there, and that he had persuaded them to return and help him purge Kaddish. His former friends laughed, said he had gone mad, and left him to wander the streets of the Greyward as another lost soul.

Marcion Blackcloak wasted no time demonstrating his power, summoning swarms of centipedes and spiders to devour the fools who mocked him. He declared himself an orthocrat, and began recruiting other beggars and outcasts, who he made votaries and priests. Soon he had a large organisation that had thoroughly infiltrated the factories of the Greyward, challenging the guilds that ran them. He seized control of the College of the Righteous with masses of voter-converts and sacrificed the guild masters in the Great Gate, the first pit to the Black Vermin Gods. He replaced the guild masters with ones loyal to him, had them reward his flock with preferential pay over nonconverts, and quickly had the entire district in his pocket. Since then, he has ruthlessly crushed all opposition, even amongst his own followers. He was instrumental in crushing the North Canal Work Riots five years ago, the greatest strike in the history of the Orthocracy, for which the guilds of Greyward voted him the unique honour of taking the ward's name as his own.

Marcion Greyward is the second most powerful politician in the Orthocracy, and he is keenly aware of it. He and Cassius, the master of the Snakes ward, are moving towards open civil war, with each faction sending raiding parties across the North Canal. The other wards are being pushed to ally themselves with one of the sides for the coming conflict. Whispers are already circulating that whichever one wins will declare himself King of Kaddish, though no patriot has successfully managed to kill either man yet.

STR 12
DEX 11
CON 13
SIZ 8
INT 17
POW 14
CHA 16

DM +0
HP 12
MP 14
MV 15

Dodge 21
Persistence 50
Resilience 51

Close Combat 73
Ranged Combat 28
Unarmed 23

Culture (Kaddish) 54
Language (Kaddish) 90
Natural Lore 27

Athletics 23
Craft 27
Deception 78
Driving 28
Engineering 27
Healing 27
Influence 100
Mechanisms 28
Perception 56
Performance 26
Riding 25
Sailing 28
Streetwise 100
Trade 27

Religion (Black Vermin Cult) 100

Battle Magic: Call Spirit, Countermagic, Create Magic Point Store, Demoralise, Detect Enemy, Detect Magic, Dispel Magic, Disruption, Drive Out Spirit, Enhance Skill (Influence), Enhance (Perception), Enhance Dodge, Fanaticism, Heal, Light, Protection, Second Sight, Slow, Spirit Shield, Vigour

Divine Magic: All Available to the Black Vermin Cult