View Full Version : Where do PCs confront cult?

2015-09-30, 06:30 PM
D&D 3x homebrew

One hot summer about 80 years ago the small city of Sylvandale was plagued by a series of ritualistic murders. The deaths continued unchecked throughout the summer then suddenly stopped. The man responsible was later found dead by his own hand. The killer is now known as the Blood Prophet of Old Town both because he scrawled cryptic prophetic messages in his victims' blood and for the rambling portents of doom found in his journals. His writings survived as a horrific piece of history in the hands of collectors. Most sages discounted the journals as the writings of a madman. About 20 years ago, a group of hills near the city were found to be burial mounds of some of the earliest human settlers in the region. Strange symbols were found painted in blood around horrific idols of a demonic shaman god.

Now another serious of murders has begun in Sylvandale. The ritual manner of the killings eerily imitates the work of the Blood Prophet. The PCs take up the quest to figure out who's at the bottom of this. The city watch is powerless and rife with political factions and corruption. The PC's meet with a wealthy collector and amateur historian who has the only full transcript of the Blood Prophet's journals. Having personally known some of the men who helped excavate the burial mounds, he is the only one aware of the fact that the killer used the same symbols and described a similar prophesy. The spear (the star, Ibis) would one day return to the hand of the demon/demigod Tsaag-Nalta (constellation) and he would lay low the blasphemous city that now stands where his faithful once lived and died.
(The city is descended from a people who drove out the original inhabitants)

The PCs have so far investigated the scenes of what was left of the recent murders. They've taken on a local thieves guild who they discovered has stolen the killer's original journals and the dagger he used to to slay his victims. Now they have found an undisturbed murder scene and have copied the symbols for the collector to translate.

Now what?

I'm thinking they should end up showing up just in time to stop some big ritual. I don't want it to be summoning the godthing into the marerial plane...I don't want it to usher in an apocalypse. I need to save those cards for later. But what are they doing? And more than that...where are they doing it in a city that can be played as a small dungeon without the help of the local authorities?

Sorry for the novel

2015-09-30, 07:10 PM
Perhaps theyre doing the ritual wrong? Instead of the apocalypse, all it will do is usher in some sort of local cataclysm like blowing up the town or something. Bonus points if its accidental because theyre imitators. And the translator could know because he is a reformed cultist?

2015-10-01, 12:11 AM
The current murders are nothing to do with the Blood Prophet's agenda - it's a complete red herring, put there purposely to confuse investigators and steer them down the wrong track. In fact the current killer is a common-or-garden necromancer, who is this >< close to figuring out how to create a Blood Golem. He'll succeed just about the time the party tracks him down.

2015-10-01, 12:57 AM
The small dungeon in the city is easy. It's a temple built by the original inhabitants in honor of Tsaag-Nalta that was discovered by the Blood Prophet 80 years ago. There's a hidden entrance to this structure in the basement of the Blood Prophet's house, where he found it by accident.

The Blood Prophet discovered that this event was going to happen very soon, but could be averted through a string of ritualistic murders to appease Tsaag-Nalta. So the Blood Prophet is actually a thoroughly twisted, ends-justify-the-means "good guy", who managed to postpone the apocalypse for 80 years. Even though he did the "right thing", he still felt terrible about what he had to do, and so he took his own life after leaving enough clues to warn of Tsaag-Nalta's return.

So now the PCs make it back to their collector friend and hand him the dagger and the symbols. He tells them he'll get back to them in the morning after he's had the night to look at it. That evening, a servant from the collector's house bursts into the PCs' house and says that his boss has been kidnapped. If they go back to the collector's house, they can figure out where the Blood Prophet's house is from the fragmentary notes the historian has already deciphered.

If they go there and find the dungeon (and you should make it urgent "He's going to be murdered at any moment, hurry!") they find either:
a. some cultists copying the Blood Prophet and have chosen the collector as the final sacrifice or,
b. The collector leading the cultists in the ritual to sacrifice some innocent young lad/lady as the final sacrifice

Whichever one you go with, have the lead cultist tell the PCs not to interfere, because if they don't sacrifice this person "Tsaag-Nalta will return and we wouldn't want that now would we?". Assuming your PCs do stop the murder, have nothing happen overt happen until they get outside. When they look up, there's a black hole in the stars: both the constellation Tsaag-Nalta and the star Ibis are missing.

The spear has returned to the hand of Tsaag-Nalta and he will lay low the blasphemous city that now stands where his faithful once lived and died.

2015-10-03, 05:46 PM
Good-guy cultists. Nice call.