This little bit can be used to provide some in-character information, printed as is. It also provides an example of how the cult of Mormo looks from the outside, to those attempting to investigate it. In the game I am running, the party cleric's research will uncover this letter.A Letter from the Warden Banashur, to the Hierophant Tan-Gilil
To the dawn I send my hopes, and this letter to you, who calls down the secrets of the Sun.
It is true that my home city is plagued with the wretches who worship the Ghoul Mormo, and I am honored that you prevail so upon my wisdom to allow my words into the Archive. Here, I have enclosed all that I have discovered about the First Ghoul and his ways.
Know too that though we have caught and punished many of the First Ghoul's creatures, some yet prey on our people. We believe that a great shrine to this monster rests under the necropolis, defiling the rest of the dead, and soon I shall lead a mighty force to purge the place of it all.
Here then, are my accounts. Though being witness to such as this has blackened my heart, I know that in time and faith the blaze of the Fire Scorpion will purify me and make me whole again. Send what blessings you are permitted, O Renewing Light; I shall send word again as soon as may be.Of the First Ghoul
Those who are blessed with understanding know that even among the Gods, some stand greater than others, and though the First Ghoul is a cunning and obscure creature, it is believed that he is a Godson, a monster of power beyond that of mortal life who nonetheless lives in the mortal world. Like other such Godsons, this implies that he is immortal, yet can die at the hands of a mighty hero. Such has been known to happen in the past.
It is an assurance, that the First Ghoul is so weak in compared to our own lofty deities, yet it is also a horror that he can walk among us freely if he chooses. And what can the common man do to withstand him? Nothing, or so we believe. He is a potence beyond the strength of even a well-blessed priest or faithkeeper.
The First Ghoul likely fears the judgment of his betters, however, and this is why he himself acts as do the most craven of his followers. He hides his power, and rarely emerges from his secret lairs, which must be horrible beyond belief, yet none of them have ever been found. Though we know little more of him, we know much more of those who besmirch their souls and follow his way.Of the First Ghoul's Servants
So long as the monster lives, there will be men to follow him. It is a bitter drink for those of us who strive to promote peace, harmony and prosperity, but it is truth. So long as one man is willing to hurt another man, the First Ghoul's whispers might bind him.
It is important to distinguish the degrees of binding. There are many who serve the First Ghoul and do not know it, for his priests are subtle and full of cunning. It is their way to bait a man into sin by his own will, and then to confront him with the fear of justice or guilt, and so lead him further into the influence of their foul master.
As reported last season, we had captured an acolyte of Mormo, who has understood the depths of his villainy, and has chosen to redeem himself. His information comes to us freely now, and we have found it most instructive. In particular, we have received from him ample information on the recruitment and organization of the First Ghoul's servants, and what they are named by the priesthood.Of the Corpses
The penitent reveals to us that grave-robbing is the term used by the priests to find Corpses, which are the lowest of the First Ghoul's followers. Corpses are pawns, often unaware of who they are being used by, and usually thugs or other low creatures paid to particular purpose. Alas, the vermin of humanity are always for sale, and they receive their just wages: such unfortunates are often left to take credit for the priest's foul plans, and suffer while he escapes.
Corpses are likely named as such for that reason.
Some Corpses are recruited through their own discontent, bitterness or hatred. The priests find them and take time to befriend such a person. They encourage the Corpse into doing what they wish; the penitent states that they will tailor events to spur their target into action. A man, fearing infidelity from his wife, might be incited to injure or even murder her, spurred on by false evidence.
The favorite poison to press innocents into service is blackmail. It is a dreadful thing, for he who works with them gives them more weight to press him down with. It is noted that they prefer to work quickly, fading like shadows afterwards. Those who resist their attempts at corruption for long are often killed.
The hope of the priest is to break their morality or their sanity, and make them into Flies.
For clarification, I note that cult refers to the actual practice of grave-robbing as 'finding dinner'.Of the Flies
These poor creatures are those who believe they can do nothing else but what the priests of Mormo tell them. They are utterly bound, by blackmail or guilt or occasionally some curse or enchantment. In their fear and desperation, they will do whatever the priests tell them to do, in order to buy a chance at being free. Perhaps they have been given false promises; our penitent tells us that there is nothing the priesthood enjoys more than using what we love against us, to force us into evil in thinking it must be done to protect our own.
Blessings and sanctuary to those who are so afflicted!
Not all Flies are so hapless. Some are those used to indulgence in evil, or perhaps those with powerful hatred of their own sins and feel that it does not matter what they do. Whatever the case, Flies always know that they are being used, though they may not truly know by what, or feel they can do anything about it. Some of them, out of resignation or wickedness, choose to turn their backs on righteousness, and attempt to gain favor from the First Ghoul. These in turn become the acolytes of the cult, who are called Beetles.Of the Beetles
Here, the cult finally begins to teach the secrets and true tenets of the First Ghoul. Beetles are subject to much scrutiny and abuse, as the First Ghoul hungers for only the most vile, and no doubt punishes the priests if less is offered up to him.
The penitent was one such acolyte, and he tells us that the first training is recruitment. Beetles must go forth and find Corpses and Flies, and must dedicate themselves to debasement, both of themselves and others. They are constantly exhorted to greater acts of humiliation, violence and defilement. Many such take joy in it. Favor from the priests is arbitrary, but often dependent on the achievements of the acolyte.
In the matter of our captive, the penitent was full of hatred for the rulers of our people, and so he found power to express that hatred in joining the cult of Mormo. He has done many horrible things out of hatred, and was willing to blacken himself further to accomplish more, thinking he could strike out at what he believed to be tyrants and oppressors.
May the Sun grant clarity to those whose eyes are shadowed!
He returned to virtue when he refused the command to kill a child, testifying to us that the priest wished him to do so for no other reasons than the child was precious to someone, that he could, and that the child could not stop it.
From what we can tell, this manner of spite pervades the cult of Mormo. It is not enough for them to merely do injury, or rob, or murder. They must ruin what is precious to others, and dedicate themselves to breaking faith in anything but self-indulgence and, apparently, self-loathing.
The penitent does not know what transition promotes beetle to ghoul, or priest. Ordination (or defilement, perhaps) is a secret event, witnessed only by the priesthood of the First Ghoul, and presumably hidden away in one of his shrines. Only the priests know these secrets.Of the Ghouls
To know an enemy is to know how to destroy him, and we know little of the ghouls. The penitent tells us many things which are useful to know, but even that is little enough. What we may conclude is that these are the most disgusting and wicked of the First Ghoul's followers, and that they have chosen this. The penitent repeatedly testified that Mormo demands a conscious choice. Though his priests may go mad later, they must be in right mind when they swear themselves to service. Ghouls rarely work together, and it is implied that murder among their own is not uncommon.
Praise be to the Scorpion of Golden Virtue that evil turns on itself!
However, the First Ghoul is generous in his gifts to his priests. They are granted magical power, often to hide themselves and to harm others, and they are given power over certain crude forms of hungry dead. Indeed, some of them are ghouls in nature as well as title. The penitent testifies that a dead priest will often rise up again as a ghoul unless the body is burned, and many of the priests eat the flesh of the dead.
Though we do not yet know the truth, the penitent believes that on occasion, many priests will come together to desecrate a holy place in order to call their master to them and petition him for great favor. He believes this is the truth behind the words 'feeding the charnel pit', but he was not given to know these secrets. It was only through rumor.
I mention this because it may well explain why the cult has so persistently plagued this area for so long. Perhaps, in one stroke, we may make ruin of those whose creed is ruin.
O You who Bears the Morning Warmth, make use of this information as you may! I shall write again when next we have word.-Warden Banashur, Temple of the Builder of CitiesA brief message, arriving a week after the previous, also from the Warden
Blessed are Those who Carry the Fire
Lament, for the penitent is slain. A swarm of black beetles devoured him alive in his cell. May his soul escape the monster he chose to fight against. Say prayers for him, if you will, and say prayers and burn incense for our acolyte, who has been kidnapped.Cult of Mormo, part 2Cult of Mormo, part 1
Labels: Game Design, GM Toolbox