Deity – Bhaal, God of Murder (NE, Death)
Cult Name – Bhaal’s Gentry
Symbol – A skull with the hilt of a dagger below its mouth and the tip piercing the top of the skull
Any drunken halfwit with a blade can murder an unsuspecting person. There’s no sport, no challenge, no mystery, no tension. Bhaal rejoices in the delicious lead up to murder almost as much as the act itself. While Bhaal takes notice of all murders, he does not offer favor to any normal murderer.
Those who wish to become something more than a servant of Bhaal must walk a different, far more dangerous path.
There are two stages in Bhaal’s Gentry. The first is the Adorned. All members start as Adorned. They serve as information hubs as the cult leaders scatter them to specific cities and towns around the world. When a place seems ready to hear Bhaal’s message, they inform the cult leaders and the leaders ready missionaries to influence the people.
The second step is becoming an Initiate; the true face of Bhaal’s Gentry. Once you enter phase two, there is no returning. The rules are simple: if you murder another member, you gain favor with Bhaal. If you die by any means other than someone who wasn’t in Bhaal’s Gentry, you lose favor, thus having a member of the cult near you can be both a blessing and a potential curse. They could murder you to gain Bhaal’s favor, but if they’re not there to finish you when your end comes… Either choice offers a level of uncertainty.
Adorned are safe from The Trial. Initiates use them to gain information, send letters to the cult leaders, and confide in who might be the only person they can be honest with. The Adorned are often watched carefully by the Initiates who use them. The Adorned know sensitive information, and the Initiates keep a watchful eye on them to make sure they stay safe and can fulfill their duties to the cult. In addition, anyone talking to an Adorned is a potential member of Bhaal’s Gentry, and as such, a possible target.
With murdering one another as the most important aspect of the cult, they need a way to find each other. However, it is never easy.
The first order of business when becoming an Initiate is to choose a code name and a token. The code name has to matter to the Initiate in some way, no matter how obscure. The token can be anything, chosen for any reason, but they must display it whenever dressed and always keep it near them. Rusulla chose an auburn feather, and until her death in the lair of a dragon, no one ever figured out it was the quills of her arrows. Soschos chose a dagger. A seemingly easy tell, but he was also a city guard, all of whom were required to wear their dagger whether on or off duty. Triltol’s token was a single coin from a far kingdom, though as a professional dancer, she always wore a coin skirt made of exotic currency.
The initiate writes their code name and token into the ledger, a book that holds the code names and tokens of all current- and departed- Initiates.
The Order of Three- three high priests of Bhaal’s- witness the writing. They are the only ones who know the identities of each member. When someone brings the head of a victim and their token, it is the Order of Three that confirms whether or not the victim was truly a member, and if they will then gain favor with Bhaal.
The reward for becoming a part of Bhaal’s Gentry is not of this world, it is in the hereafter. The more favor they gain in the cult while alive, the greater their position will be in Bhaal’s ranks when they reach the next life. Rumors say that the figure that sits at the right hand of Bhaal was once a mortal. Through their devotion and skill, they overthrew Bhaal’s first commander.
Where they can be found – Because members may go years without finding a fellow cultist, Bhaal’s Gentry live most of their lives outside of any churches or religious centers. They have complete lives as city guards, adventurers, teachers at mage academies, or any other imaginable occupation. The private nature of the cult means anyone could be a member.
What are they – They are cautious, always trying to learn who else is in the cult without being found out. Anyone who brags about being in Bhaal’s Gentry won’t do so for long. They tend to work alone or in small groups with an uneasy alliance.
How – Plot Hooks
Two Bhaal’s Gentry members who know each other hire the party to assist them in a treasure hunt. They hired the party to make sure one doesn’t back stab the other.
A player is mistaken for a member and finds a note in their pocket “I’ve come for your token. Bhaal will speak my name in thanks before the next full moon.”
A hotheaded group of young Bhaal’s Gentry initiates grow tired of the slow pace of the hunt. They make a deal to all meet in a populated city and hunt each other down until there is only one left. All casualties are simply additional sacrifices to Bhaal.
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