CRB is a repository of all the creative things that float through my mind about the RPG Pathfinder. Two major features are random character generation and building characters based on the god they worship. Anything that seems like it adds to the creative aspects of the game will pop up from time to time, including location descriptions, adventure ideas and even short stories. CRB won't just be my own creativity, it will open the floor to anyone who has an idea sparked by what I present to you.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Not Just Another Pretty Skeleton - Ruzel the laughing skull

It’s Saturday and thus time to talk about a god. For those of you who haven’t been a part of my explorations into the religions of Golarion, here’s how it works:

Imagine, if you will, you're making a character for a group. Your only instruction is that you must be a worshiper of a specific god. You do not need to be a divine casting class, although you can be, but the party’s purpose is working toward the goals of this specific divine being. I'd like not just a race/class combo, but a little bit about why the character would choose to dedicate themselves to this particular deity. Feel free to make up secret or not-so-secret orders within the church, or even sects outside of the church that you think might be interesting. With only this one piece of information that must be true, let your imagination go wild with the rest.

Today's god
Ruzel, Lawful Evil Infernal Duke of blasphemy, humor and undeath
Ruzel’s Pathfinder Wiki page
Ruzel’s Archives of Nethys Entry 

Comedy and undeath, not two things you often see together. But is becoming undead the ultimate trick on life itself. It does fly in the face of the natural order; a cosmic joke of sorts. So are Ruzel’s chosen, the cults of the Sabletongue.

The Cackling Assassins

When the people of Golarion speak of the hyena-men known as gnolls, they most often tell tales of the savage beast-men that roam the wastes of Casmaron. Tribal and violent, these gnolls are known for attacking caravans and dragging merchants into the desert to consume their flesh. What few know is that perched on a mountain top somewhere in the deepest heart of the Zho Mountains of Qadira lies the sanctuary of The Cackling Assassins.

The Cackling Assassins are a pack of gnoll assassins renowned as some of the most deadly killers in Casmaron. No contract they have ever undertaken has remained unsatisfied. Their weapon of choice is a deadly poison that causes the victim's muscles to jerk and contract violently, cracking bones and pushing forth spastic grunts of pain that sound remarkably like maniacal laughter.  And, perhaps most disturbingly, every corpse is left with a  grin on their face. Part of the price they require for their perfect murders is another living being to be offered up as a sacrifice to their devil patron. The person given as payment must mean as much to you as the person being killed, love for hate.

The sacrifice is delivered to a labyrinth beneath the fortress, where they are harried into a wild hunt. The hyena-men’s mirth echoes off the blind corridors and long hallways as they pursue their prey to a horrific end. Those who hire them are often plagued with dreams of their sacrifice's fate, experiencing night after night in every detail, the horrible death they suffered. The gnolls get what they want, and both the client and the victim end up with nothing. The Cackling Assassins are the only ones that get the joke, and in this dark humor the goals of Ruzel are served.

The Immortal Brotherhood

Many people seek immortality but very few can find it. The sun orchid elixir is one path but with only one dose a year, those who seek to fight off the ravages of age grasp at any straw available. The organization known as the Immortal Brotherhood have cultivated a reputation of being able to grant men the ability to stave off aging. Little do people know that they are a front for a cult of Ruzel worshipers.

These ascetics reside in a monastery in Thuvia, perfect for scooping up those who fail in their quest for the sun orchid elixir. The monks are tended to by odd, almost human-like automatons. Supplicants spend months and even years following the whims of the masters in an attempt to cleanse their body for an immortal life.

What the supplicants don’t know is that this is a great trick by Ruzel’s chosen. Each monk takes their own supplicant and determines what they value most in life, then forces them to give it up as part of the path to “eternal life”. They also force them to subsist on a diet of various foul herbs and extracts telling them that it will “purify the body”. In reality, these treatments are intended to slowly twist and dement the supplicants in body and mind until they finally die and rise again as an undead servant, totally loyal to their mentor monk. The monks use these undead servitors to play out a complicated game of murder, espionage, and even outright warfare in the Undercroft; a massive cavern complex that spreads for miles through the earth beneath the monastery.  At the heart of this game is one simple fact: the quicker a brother can convert a supplicant the more pieces they can have in play, but the more thoroughly they corrupt him the more powerful the piece will be in the end.

The grand purpose behind these secret battles is the brother’s own shot at a sort of immortality. The automatons that move about the monastery are the true masters of the Immortal Brotherhood. Each of these clockwork bodies takes one hundred years to craft including dozens of complicated rituals designed to fortify them against damage both arcane and physical, as well as any sort of magical scrying. At the end of this time, the monk that has earned the highest rank in the games is ritually killed and, through the power of Ruzel, anchored to this world as a ghost. Incredibly cunning and wicked, these ghosts inhabit the golem bodies, thus granting the incorporeal brother a means to affect the corporeal world. This also allows them to progress the work of Ruzel both within the brotherhood, and via proxy servants, among the unsuspecting people of the world outside the walls.

The Cuckoos

Like their namesake, the Ruzel cult called the Cuckoos live and work among other groups. More explicitly, they worm their way into the churches of other gods in an attempt to corrupt their faithful. Although lay people are the easiest to lead from the path of their patron gods, the true prize is those granted divine power. The ultimate coup is to cause a paladin or cleric of one of the goodly gods to fall by their own free will. Such dangerous games can be difficult to pursue so more often the Cuckoos make up for quality with quantity, corrupting large groups of lay people and causing them to work towards goals at odds with the god they think they are serving.

The tools of their trade are twisted schemes and confusing propaganda. A Cuckoo might set up an orphanage in the name of Sarenrae only to subject the children to brutal discipline and near slave labor conditions. Some might even be sold into slavery, something that Sarenrae would truly abhor. Iomedae’s hospitallers might be used to sterilize entire groups of people because “the children would only be born into poverty and pain anyway.” Cuckoos might also convince money movers in the church of Abadar to embezzle funds while building a new holy site. Any time they can twist the followers of another god from the inside the Cuckoos smile at their grand joke.

So if you had to make a follower of Ruzel, who would they be? What would their goals be? What is his grand joke?

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