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Carmichael
2006-08-08, 08:52 PM
An order of cannibalistic druids who practice forgotten arts of anthropomancy and sympathetic magic. *They fanatically hunt down, burn, and devour apostate druids and offenders against Nature Herself.

Put another finger on the barbie, mate. *I've got some magic a la The Golden Bough to do.

Carmichael
2006-08-09, 07:01 PM
Sect of the Burning Feast

Deep in the strange lands to the East, past the kingdom of Fatima, even past the orcish ruins of Throne-teeth, where the forest bleeds into mountain, there are druids who practice profane rites of fire and the feast. *Sages say they are cannibals, that they are madmen who practice something called anthropomancy – the magic of human sacrifice. *But every druid who has forsaken his oaths and the land Herself has something to fear from the Sect of the Burning Feast.

The Sect of the Burning Feast – also known variously as the Order of the Crimson Bough and as anthropomancers – is a fringe druidic sect that organizes itself around the mystical and (to them) the sacred significance of the feast. *Although this sect is centralized to one druidic circle, its members can be found among other druids, leading druids outside the Sect, or traveling with fellow adventurers. *Past the veil of bloody and fiery rituals, the sect has garnered some legitimacy by its dedication to slaughter ex-druids to the last. *Where they are known, members of the Sect – who call themselves Man-eaters – are regarded anywhere from backwards oddities to vile madmen to a necessary evil. *If for nothing else, they are feared for their near-fanatic resolve and esoteric sorcery, which delves into the most profane parts of sympathetic magic: the sacrifice and eating of one’s fellow man.

Purpose: Divine the future through sacred cannibalism. *Additionally, kill ex-druids. **It’s unknown where the former tradition started, but it probably originates from ancient sacred rites revolving around symbolically (or literally) eating humans. *

Alignment: Neutral Evil (All). *For most members of the Sect, cannibalism is the only practice makes them fall in this alignment category. *As a result, the Sect is open – even welcomes – individuals of different alignments, although many good characters will likely find themselves at odds with the Sect’s means, if not their goals. *

Resources and Economics: The sect is fairly loose outside of the primary druidic circle. *The primary druidic circle has substantial resources – from about 25,000 to 50,000 gold pieces in coin and treasure (not including magic items). *To finance itself, the sect sells potions, scrolls, and other magic items with some success, and high-ranking Man-eaters have access to fairly powerful magic items. *Members might be able to purchase items at a slightly reduced price, so long as they make themselves useful to the Sect. *The Sect isn’t very well-received by other organizations, even by other druids. *Even so, the Sect tries to hire capable individuals who won’t ask too much about the organization’s nature.

Membership Requirements: There are two conditions an eligible member must have. *First, she must respect nature, but she needn’t be a worshipper or fanatic of nature. *(Most but not all members are druids, so the Sect doesn’t hold members to druids’ standards.) *Second, she must show a willingness to hunt down and kill ex-druids. *Optionally, she must show a willingness to kill and practice cannibalism, and members who do not do so are not seen as “true” Man-eaters, but more as petitioners or close allies. * (Such members have little hope of advancing in the Sect.) *Initiates become Man-eaters after anywhere from a week to a few months.

Loyalty to the sect is highly regarded. *Raving fanatics will find themselves useful, but Man-eaters in truth find those with a firm and pious regard for the Sect and its practices far better. *Man-eaters do not promiscuously recruit or advertise their presence; doing so is considered foolish. *Members of the Sect should seek to continuously seek out and punish ex-druids. *(Many Man-eaters infiltrate other druidic circles to accomplish this.) *Druid members who become ex-druids will quickly find themselves in dire straits. *

Advancement in the Sect can be made through killing ex-druids, especially those who are especially powerful or knowledgeable of druidic practices. *Also, Man-eaters who make allies or recruit new members for the organization will be well-respected. *It must be noted that only characters with the druid class can expect to advance to the higher echelons of the organization; others may be underlings or trusted lieutenants, but never real leaders. *Naturally, the oldest and most experienced Man-eaters have at least some influence in the Sect. *
An ordinary member of the Sect is known as a Man-eater. *A member who leads other druids (of the Sect or otherwise) in a region is known as an Ouroboros. *A member of the highest rank is known as a Grand Ouroboros; these Man-eaters lead the central circle of the Sect.

Carmichael
2006-08-09, 10:40 PM
Authority Figures: Most authority figures are medium to high-level druids.

-Eugenides (Male NE human Druid 15) is one of the three Grand Ouroboros currently in power. *A stern, old-fashioned adherent to druidic and Man-eater tradition, he is considered one of the most knowledgeable individuals on druidic history and secrets.

-Galadera de la Guardia (Female NE human Ranger 7/Druid 6) is a Grand Ouroboros. *Cunning and relentless, she seeks to further the legitimacy of Man-eaters in the eyes of druids, as well as to recruit new members to the Sect. *

-Dammiel Crossedbranches (Male N Druid 13) is the most progressive and open-minded Grand Ouroboros. * He favors sacrificing and eating “those already undeserving of the gift of life”, and secretly seeks to reform the Sect. *Congenial and affable, he is the leader most likely to hire adventuring parties to accomplish the Sect’s goals. *

Other Important Figures: Characters such as these may be well-respected and trusted, but as long as they do not have a level in the druid class, they cannot hope to become real leaders.

-Wellen Frazer (Male LN human Wizard 13) is a trusted ally, although he very hesitantly engages in cannibalism. *A wizard from a distant kingdom, Galader observes and examines the practices of the Sect in the hope that their rituals are a path to higher knowledge and power. *

-Semket Longfangs (Male CE human dire werewolf Barbarian 10) is a savage and cruel lycanthrope who relishes in slaughtering and devouring just about anyone. *He is kept on a tight (and only figurative) leash by Eugenides, and is often regarded by others as little more than a dangerous weapon.

Racial makeup: the practices of the Sect are strongly rooted in ancient human traditions; characters of other races are unlikely to join, although the Sect will not typically refuse them. *(Additionally, the sect is evenly divided between male and female members.) *It should be noted the Sect generally eats humans, but eating other humanoid races is common enough.

Humans: 93%
Half-orcs: 2%
Elves: 1%
Half-elves: 1%
Gnolls: 1%
Gnomes: 1%
Other (halflings, orcs, ogres, etc.): 1%

Class makeup: Most Man-eaters are druids. *Many are barbarians and rangers. *It’s unheard of monks and paladins joining, but it’s not an impossibility. *The statistics here do not take into account characters of NPC classes.

Druids: 60%
Barbarians: 10%
Rangers: 10%
Clerics (usually of nature deities): 5%
Fighters: 4%
Sorcerers: 2%
Other (bard, monk, paladin, rogue, wizard, etc.): 4%

Origins and History: In the region where the Sect of the Burning Feast originates, and still remains, cannibalism and anthropomancy (divination through killing a person) have intertwined to form ancient practices of eating people to predict the future. *Druids conducted these practices for centuries, but it was not after a revelation by a powerful druid named Jurundel that the Sect was truly formed.

On a summer solstice, Jurundel is reputed to have burned and eaten the heart of an enemy of his druidic circle. *The following evening, Jurundel experienced incredible visions of Nature Herself screaming and dying. *These visions faded, but resurfaced the next time Jurundel ate the flesh of another human. *After several months of blood, gore, and strange hallucinations, Jurundel compiled an extensive prophecy of what he thought would be the end times (at least with respect to druids and Nature). *A traitor druid, he claimed, would commit a grave offense – perhaps in revenge or simply inadvertently – to the “earth mother”, severely wounding or even killing Her. *The only way to prevent this, naturally, was to seek out and kill ex-druids anywhere and everywhere.

On the next summer solstice, Jurundel ritually conducted a great feast of human flesh, in which he and his peers took part. *Afterwards, every druid who took place in the feast experienced the same incredible visions Jurundel had a year ago. *The Sect was formally created and named the same day.

A massive pogrom and witch hunt of ex-druids was conducted by Jurundel and his fellow druids, with the support of the local villages and lords. *A number were tortured and burned alive, but the visions were experienced after the Sect’s cannibalistic feasts. *The task to eradicate traitors and apostates, it seemed, remained.

The Sect swelled in numbers the years following the inception of the Sect, but over time, the visions grew and weaker and more sporadic. *This became especially true after the founders of the Sect had all died, but the organization continued to survive, even up to today. *Man-eaters now practice cannibalism in the hopes of receiving visions and prophecies, supposedly handed from dark, unknown powers of the land. *

Today, no Man-eater is sure of the exact nature of the visions. *They ardently believe it has to do with cannibalism on the summer solstice, but the specifics to them are unclear – who should one eat, how should one cook the food, where a feast must be held, and so on. *Visions are less common now, occurring to a fraction of the members each year; they are thought to accurately portray the future, but whether the visions are symbolic or literal remains a question to be answered. *In any case, visions are recorded and interpreted extensively.

Man-eaters tend to vary in their cannibalistic practices, but make thorough notes and recordings of them. *The Sect holds several small ritual feasts (usually of one or two humans for food) each year, but holds a large feast (of five or more humans) on the summer solstice. *Solitary Man-eaters typically try to engage in cannibalism two or three times a year, and at least once on the summer solstice. *

The feasts are conducted communally, whenever possible, and very ritualistically; they also involve heat or the sun in some manner. *Some victims are tied up under the summer noonday sun for hours before being eaten; others are burned alive and then have their bodies cooked; very cruel Man-eaters cook their victims alive. *People of all kinds have known to be eaten: would-be heroes, criminals, foreigners, everyday commoners, and even children. *

It is important to note that most Man-eaters (there are aberrations and oddities among them) do not relish in eating people like thoughtless monsters or ghouls. *They behave as civil people. *To them, their feasts are necessary means to divine the future for the greater good of Nature; if a few lives must perish to reach the ends, then so be it. *Furthermore, the act of cannibalism is sacred, and is treated the same way pious people in the campaign setting treat church rites. *Man-eaters are devout, if not necessarily knowledgeable, about their practices, and treat their beliefs with a religious gravity. *While a few might be thoughtlessly violent and reckless, they are not representative of the organization. *

As a final note, Man-eaters do not kill and eat each other. *The exception is when a Grand Ouroboros grows old and weak; he lets a successor kill and eat him before taking his place.

Organization Lore: information on the Sect of the Burning Feast can be uncovered through a Knowledge (local) or Knowledge (religion) check.

-DC 15: The Sect is a sadistic anomaly among druidic sects; members capture, kill, and eat people for unknown purposes.

-DC 20: The Sect, in addition to practicing ritual cannibalism, typically on the summer solstice, has something to do with hunting down and killing ex-druids.

-DC 25: The Sect’s members, known as Man-eaters, treat cannibalism as a sacred method of divination. *They are bent on killing ex-druids, and are known to use strange magic to accomplish this means.

-DC 30: The Sect believes that an ex-druid (or ex-druids) will be responsible for a tremendous attack on Nature in the future, and seeks to avert it. *Their magic and customs are typically associated with cannibalism, but also with fire, cooking, and the sun. *After their cannibalistic feasts, members are said to sometimes have visions of the future. *

Carmichael
2006-08-09, 10:44 PM
Adventure Hook: A former friend or colleague of the player character beseeches the party for assistances. *The person in need of aid was a druid, but abandoned her sacred oaths several months ago. *Since then, strange people have been coming after her, and they apparently know a great deal about her personal past through strange divinations. *Can the PC’s protect their friend from the Man-eaters, or may they be convinced to betray the ex-druid for a greater good?

Spells: Magic of the Sect of the Burning Feast deals strongly with sympathetic magic and human sacrifice. *Most of their spells require a likeness of the target in order for them to work; the likeness might be a crude figurine of the target, or another person who looks like the target. *

Anthropomantic Divination
Divination [Evil]
Level: Drd 5
Components: V, S, M, F, XP
Casting Time: 1 minute
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No

With this spell, you ritually eat the flesh of a person in order to divine knowledge of someone else of your choosing.

To cast the spell, you must first have the corpse of a humanoid you have killed in the last 72 hours. *You and at least four other individuals then must participate in a ritual meal of at least 1 hour, eating at least a few pounds of flesh from the slain person. *(Cooking the slain is of course permitted.) *After these conditions have been met, you can cast the spell. *

The spell imparts knowledge about one creature you specify; you may know the answer to a number of questions about the specified creature. *Knowledge of the creature is limited to anything she would know about herself and her past; you cannot predict future events with this spell, although you can receive information about the past. *You can divine information about a dead individual, including the slain person himself. *Answers tend to be succinct, and complex questions will likely receive unsatisfactory answers. *(At the DM's discretion, a complex question might count as five to ten normal questions for the purposes of obtaining a satisfactory answer.)

If you wish, this information can be shared with anyone else who participated in the meal; the others receive the information the same time you do. *

Even if you cast this spell multiple times in the same day, you and the participants only need to spend at least one hour in the ritual meal. * However, you must use a different victim each time you cast the spell. *
Slain had no connection to the creature: up to 1 question.
Slain was of the same sex, same race, and of similar age: up to 2 questions.
Slain was an acquaintance or distant relative: up to 5 questions.
Slain was a relative, close friend, spouse, or lover: up to 10 questions.
Focus: The slain person, who you and at least four others eat, as well as utensils and dinnerware.
Material component: Oil anointed on the slain.
XP Cost: 50 XP

Poppet Charring
Transmutation [Fire]
Level: Drd 3
Components: V, S, F
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Long (400 ft. + 40 ft./level)
Target: One specific creature; see text
Duration: 1 round/level; see text
Saving Throw: Fortitude negates
Spell Resistance: Yes

To cast this spell, you must first make a small, crude wooden doll (also known as a “poppet”) of a specific creature you wish to target. *Creating the doll requires a Craft (woodworking) check of DC 15 and about 10 minutes of work. *If possible, you can carve the target’s name on the doll. *You then spend about 10 minutes ritually charring the doll.

When you cast this spell, the target’s flesh magically smolders and burns, even though the spell produces no fire. *The target takes 1d4 fire damage per round, for a maximum of 10 rounds. *Carving the target’s name on the doll increases the fire damage to 1d6 per round

Focus: the wooden doll of the specified creature. *

Poppet Cooking
Transmutation
Level: Drd 2
Components: V, S, F
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Long (400 ft. + 40 ft./level)
Target: One specific creature; see text
Duration: 1 minute/level
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: Yes

To cast this spell, you must first make a small, crude wooden doll (also known as a “poppet”) of a specific creature you wish to target. *Creating the doll requires a Craft (woodworking) check of DC 15 and about 10 minutes of work. *If possible, you can carve the target’s name on the doll. *You then spend about 10 minutes ritually “cooking” the doll, e.g.. exposing it to fire, boiling it, etc.

When you cast this spell, the target takes a -4 penalty on saving throws to avoid or reduce fire damage; the penalty also to saving throws against spells and spell-like abilities with the fire subtype. *Carving the target’s name on the doll increases the penalty to -6. *The effect of this spell does not stack with itself.

You can use the same doll for poppet cooking as you do for poppet charring.

Focus: the wooden doll of the specified creature. *

Note: these three spells do not comprise the whole of magic the Sect has at its hands; they are simply representative of the sort of magic only they perform.

The Glyphstone
2006-08-10, 07:40 AM
I still say my reclusive druidic organization burns and incinerates your creepy druidic organization.
*
Raaaaargh. Fire Resistance. Rooooar. Maximized Empowered Fire Storm. Snarl. Wildshape (into Elder Fire Elemental). Buuurrrn. *

(Gladly, not presumptuous at all. :) I did wait about 1/2 an hour after you added the second post, to give you a chance to add more. After that, I assumed you were done. If need be, I'll bump down further.) *

Carmichael
2006-08-10, 06:52 PM
Thank you! :D

Carmichael
2006-08-21, 12:08 AM
This post may as well serve as a shameless bump.

Commentary: Since being introduced to D&D, I've found druids among the most interesting of all classes. At least to me, they seem to be the most mysterious of the core types in the game. (Any group with a secret language of their own must be!) More than that, however, is my perception that what druids revere and worship -- "nature" -- is remarkably abstract and unknowable, just like much of what people revere and worship in the real world. It comes to me that in D&D, supplementary books throw new deities and domains at you left and right, which is a pity, since a single faith can be invariably complex and multifaceted. Druidic faith, I felt, had therefore the potential to be as complex and multifaceted as nature itself -- beasts and birds, deserts and glaciers, storms and summer solstices...

What has turned me off about the portrayal of nature-worshippers is that such worship too often gets portrayed as a good and positive thing. This perspective no doubt comes from the fact that today in the real world, there is an incredible amount of waste and pollution just about everywhere. But in D&D, where things are at the most barely modern, I think the dichotomy of city-nature, ignorant-enlightened, bad-good is primitive. Druids can be crazed and sinister fanatics fighting for a cause they only partly understand -- just like everyone else.