For more on the Gollicking’s cult series, check out Bhaal’s Gentry, Hum Alshirih and u/Mimir-ion‘s cults: The Unanchored,The Order of the White Rose, The Chicanery and The Harvesters
Deity – Leira, Goddess of Illusion (CN, Trickery)
Cult Name – Nal’s Hand
Symbol – An eye with lashes looking to the right (or looking to the left if they drew it upside down)
Worship is a strange and subjective act. Loviatar seeks praise in pain. Bhaal feels his follower’s devotion through acts of murder. Tyr demands justice. But pain, murder, and justice only affect a small group of people with each act. Nal, the leader of Nal’s Hand, believes the worshiping of Leira, the goddess of illusion, should be a far grander and more public affair. Nal and her followers do not concern themselves with what is good or evil.
Some see Nal’s Hand as large-scale pranksters, disrupting life to show off their power for a laugh. In Twentle, they forged the town’s votes so that a local horse won. No matter how many times the town’s officials demanded they vote again and that everyone should “take it seriously this time,” the same horse always won.
Others see them as dangerous, unchecked maniacs. During the Deadman’s Festival in Clendale, they spread rumors that the town’s wine supply was contaminated with a hallucinogenic substance. Shortly after, Nal’s Hand took on the appearance of townsfolk long passed. They spouted everything from scorn to nonsensical babblings at the traumatize people. Some took their own lives at the words of their dead relatives. Others admit- even after learning the truth about Nal’s Hand’s involvement- that they have never truly recovered from what they saw and heard that night.
Other times, Nal’s Hand work for a specific goal. In the battle for Spardana, Nal’s Hand made it appear that the city of Westfin walking on mechanical legs tall enough to trample the city of Spardana. While everyone was preparing for the attack, they didn’t notice the dense cloud cover, or that the actual city of Westfin was floating above them until they dropped their soldiers into the center of Spardana.
Unlike many religious groups and cults, Nal’s Hand focuses on it’s leader: Nal. Every public declaration, every appearance, every time someone from Nal’s Hand answers someone’s call, it is always Nal or someone impersonating her. The first step in initiation is learning to mimic her speech, image, and gestures. No one is sure where Nal is, or how many followers Nal’s Hand has. Depending on the act of worship, Nal’s Hand does not always feel the need to admit to their pranks if they go unnoticed. If the illusion was that convincing, they sometimes take that as a high form of worship.
Where – Anywhere people congregate, Nal’s Hand will eventually make an appearance. Usually more than one. Cities and large towns are their favorite spots to praise their goddess, but they can sometimes be found worshiping in smaller villages, engulfing the whole village in their act.
Tell me more – Nal’s Hand get their power from numbers. Thus, they are never alone and prefer to travel and work in as large groups. They pool their resources- magical and otherwise- to gain access to the best places to perform the most disruptive and amazing acts of illusion. Rumors say that mage’s in Nal’s Hand have the power to combine their magical talents, creating illusions on a scale unmatched by any single mage, regardless of their power.
How – Plot Hooks
Nal’s Hand has made illusions of a tourist-heavy section of a city. What a building looks like on the outside does not match the inside, making the entire area a disorienting maze. Folk either need a map of the current layout to deal with it while it lasts or find the culprits and make them break the illusion.
A week away from a vote that will have a major impact on the city, a city official suspects that five of their constituents have been kidnapped and replaced by members of Nal’s Hand. Five votes are just enough to sway the decision one way or the other. They hire the party to find out if their suspicion is correct.
A small but dense forest appears beside a busy town, taking up the once empty plains. The locals call it “The Forest of Piety,” for if the pious enter, they say they will see their god, and their god will tell them what they must do to please them. This has become a problem when gods start demanding “justice at any cost” and other subjective and undefined demands.
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