Sunday, September 13, 2020

Spoils of the Gorgon Coast: The Cult of Chalices [Randomizers]

Continuing on from yesterday, probably the hardest thing to cut from Spoils of the Gorgon Coast were the randomizers for the Cult of Chalices; the horrible cult which exists to support the Inheritors in their quest for monstrous divinity. The Inheritors in the book ended up getting more focus, as the direct antagonists; but the Cult of Chalices are the intended bad guys to fight and contend with. In all honesty I should've freely published these earlier, I was sort of holding off on it because I put out an offer for anyone who reviewed the book online to receive free further content from me; but that never really took on. C'est la vie.

Having gotten to write a bit of the setting material for Best Left Buried: Deeper, the Cult of Chalices do appear in some mentions, as does the Gorgon Coast; but they are contained to broader Maignish territory ceded in the collapse of the Imperium. I actually enjoyed writing some non-Italian/Spain inspired items away from the monstrous attitudes of the Gorgon Coast; but it is my hope that some folk might run campaigns and use my work to tarnish, invade, and destroy that broader, more beautiful world.

Blasphemous is a good tone to think on this from.
Blasphemous is a good inspiration.


As the state religion of the Coast, the Cult of Chalices influence much of the culture present in these modern days. All but the most outlying hamlet has at least one shrine dedicated to their bloodletting rites, all of storied history and some importance to the greater schemes of the faith. From the vaunted cathedrals of the city-state to the petty road shrine in the southern mountains, the influence of the Chalice is ever present.

[d10] Why is this site sacred to the Cult of Chalices?

  1. An ancient Chalice-Bearer was exsanguinated where this structure now stands.
  2. An Inheritor, first of their line, was birthed in this spot.
  3. A martyr of the Ordo Mourner-Stigmata died defending the Chalice faithful here.
  4. This was the site of an ancient purge against dissidents and heretics.
  5. A terrible monster was blooded here, bringing safety and prosperity to the land.
  6. The Basilisk was driven back from this site nearly a hundred years ago.
  7. A false Inheritor who denied the Chalice was tortured to death here.
  8. A mighty Chalice-Bearer who rose to the rank of Archon was born here, their afterbirth still stains the ground.
  9. The Ordo Parasitium purged the last of a strain of vile blood at this location.
  10. A wayward pilgrim's chalice was blessed by miraculous blood here, not emptying til all had their fill.

[d10] What else is of importance at this site?

  1. An ancient chalice is enshrined within, stained red with age and use.
  2. Xiphos swords from a more primitive age are held here in reliquary.
  3. A pacified monster, brutalized docile, serves here.
  4. Many ancient scrolls are held at this site, such is their importance.
  5. Hidden catacombs beneath the site hold blood of ancient servants.
  6. An adjacent wine cellar holds blessed sanguine from the days of imperial splendor.
  7. Enshrined within is a gilded scroll that Chalice-bearers make pilgrimage to read.
  8. A ritual room is attached, for rites of passage and fouler acts.
  9. The ceiling of the site is a detailed painting of the night sky, with astrological signs painted in red.
  10. Brass grotesques of agonized bulls and hateful men line the outside of the site.

[d10] Who is in attendance at this site?

  1. A group of silent mendicants ...
  2. A throng of scab-coated flagellants...
  3. A few dozen parishioners in their sanguine finest...
  4. A trio of Chalice Aspirants...
  5. A few candle-lighter boys...
  6. A cadre of peers from the Ordo of the Mourner Stigmata...
  7. A heretic and a legalist, both of the Dissident Choir...
  8. A dozen anemic blood letters...
  9. An exorcist and apprentice of the Ordo Parasitium...
  10. A red deacon and their congregation of the humble poor ...

[d10] What is it they are doing?

  1.  ...holding sallow candles of ox-fat and singing the chant.
  2. ...polishing knives of elegant silver and hornwood.
  3. ...engaged in silent prayer, whispering over empty stone chalices.
  4. ...looking upon the splendorous displays of the faith.
  5. ...engaged in hushed talks of politics and war.
  6. ...contemplating the vintage of a phial of blessed blood.
  7. ...speaking the ills of the world and who is to blame.
  8. ...spilling crimson blood into a grotesque ritual basin.
  9. ...donning the Regalia Gorgoneia in preparation for a ritual.
  10. ...singing the chant of blood and truth, loud and wild.

[d10] Who is the Chalice-Bearer of this locale?

  1. A lesser sibling to the local Inheritor...
  2. A castrated Inheritor searching for purpose...
  3. A zealot who drinks too deeply of vile blood...
  4. A retired exorcist who holds the chalice for fear of demons...
  5. A boisterous chaplain of the Inheritor's army...
  6. An atavistic anchorite, blooded of the Dog-Men...
  7. An eel-throated chanter of the Dissident Choir...
  8. A flame-scarred theologian who fears the eschaton to come...
  9. An emaciated martyr, bedraggled by botflies...
  10. The flayed child of an Inheritor, destined by prophecy for the Blackened Throne...

[d10] What is it that makes them unique?

  1. ...they have fangs like a crocodile and the wild hair of a beast.
  2. ...they seek the offal of a basilisk to perform a sacrament of stone.
  3. ...their body is host to many parasites, slowly turning them to stone.
  4. ...their hands are clawed like a vulture and their voice is like the breaking of bones.
  5. ...a third eye upon their head bleeds with beatific stigmata, a mark of greatness.
  6. ...they wear a stone mask, grotesque; their inner truth made outward.
  7. ...they wear a raiment of crimson, dyed with the blood of a hundred "lesser beings."
  8. ...they clutch tightly an ancient Imperial blackware chalice.
  9. ...they deeply fear loss of influence in the coming war, that they will be usurped.
  10. ...they have begun to pen their grand works in virgin blood, binding a terrible spell to the page.

[d6] The Cult of Chalices perform many profane rituals. What is the catalyst of this one?

  1. Demands the sacrifice of wild bulls...
  2. Commands the drowning of a child in monstrous blood...
  3. Calls for the bedding of a virgin and a vile monster...
  4. Demands the consumption of ancient blood...
  5. Calls for slathering oneself in the ashes of charred royalty...
  6. Commands the consumption of a warrior's heart…

[d6] What will result from this ritual succeeding?

  1. will produce an Inheritor of great value in the coming age.
  2. will provide insight into dweomers that prevent the coming age.
  3. will mantle the ritualist with monstrous mien.
  4. will enkindle the soul with mastery of immolation.
  5. will be the cause of calamity against hated foes.
  6. will bid the Imperator's genus loci to inhabit a new Stone Herald.

[d10] In places of splendor, what treasure does the Cult of Chalices display?

  1. A grand tapestry, dyed in the sanguine blood of martyrs and monsters.
  2. A stained glass window depicting the Chalice casting a red glare on the world..
  3. Blessed candles rendered from the fat of fallen peers of the Ordo Mourner-Stigmata.
  4. An ancient chalice of clay, cracked with age and stained deep blackish red within its basin.
  5. An altar of simple stone with a deep basin so that all may drink from it heartily.
  6. A grotesque teapot of scowling monster faces, large enough to hold a beating heart.
  7. A set of small onyx statues depicting pilgrims carrying chalices.
  8. Resplendent painting of monsters and heretics drowning in a sea of boiling blood.
  9. A carpet, stained red and woven from the hair of the fallen faithful.
  10. A set of red-bound books concerning the nature of contagions and purification rites.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Spoils of the Gorgon Coast: Contacts in Fallen Taurochtalia

While I do eventually intend to compile the whole of my cut content from Spoils of the Gorgon Coast into a proper module featuring the Ashen City and the fallen capital in all its glory, it feels beyond pointless for me to keep materials I had cut from the original draft of the book in some dropbox. For those not in the know, Spoils was nearly double the length we ended up going with; a mixture of cut content and my own purple prose. Those of you who enjoyed it, I suggest you indulge in Best Left Buried: Deeper when it comes to kickstarter within a week or so; as I was given a chance to write much of the geographical/faction/setting details and they're of my brand. 

What follows is a list of contacts in Fallen Taurochtalia, though in theory you could put them anywhere on the Gorgon Coast. There is one for each archetype of the original edition, as well as little randomizers to determine what it is they are up to. 

Blooded Mother Sidania (Believer)

Martyr that she is, Sidania dwells among the parasite lepers of the Plaza Gorgoneia, calling the slowly petrifying masses to the daily chant and sharing sanguine blood with new aspirants to the cult. She is a tall and narrow maiden of advancing age, dressed in crimson robes and iron rings on each finger meant to allow for ease of bleeding. Always worn around her neck is a gilded goblet embellished with patterns of sharks devouring serpents. It is her most precious treasure, a gift from an Inheritor, and when she sips from it she is under the influence of bloodscent towards whatever type of creature’s blood was imbibed. She knows the rites of chivalry and hospitality upon the Gorgon Coast, as well as the layout of many a Chalice Cult site. Sidania will never assist in acts against the Cult unless given ample cause to believe the targets are in truth members of the Dissident Choir. If properly bribed with “donations to the Cult” be it high art or the blood of monsters, she can open many doors in even the most far-flung faithful hamlets of the region.

[d6] What is Blooded Mother Sidania doing?

  1. Writing correspondence to the Ordo Parasitium, offering tips on arson and fire starting.
  2. Whipping a recent convert to the Cult of Chalices and collecting the blood from their back.
  3. Throttling a Chalice Chanter, alleging them to be a Dissident Choir heretic.
  4. Proselytizing to mercenaries and deserters with little success.
  5. Warbling a song of prayer while peeling the skin from her fingers.
  6. Reading coded correspondence, bitterness in her twitching eyes.
The Herald of the White Tower (Cabalist)

The slave of the Wizard, no amount of gilded thread or silvered lace upon his regalia will convince others he is anything more than a thrall. Behind a solemn chorus mask is the traumatized face of a young man, beholden to mind-shattering sorceries and dark rituals which put him the least among his peers in the other Duchies. If not for the wealth he commands by proxy, he’d be treated as the craven lunatic others think him to be. But none would dare openly disrespect the poor boy, for he is the Herald of the White Tower, and to insult him would be to risk the wrath of the Wizard who usurped the godhead. Those who have witnessed the Herald’s magic might think him merely a conduit, for his spells are accompanied by agonized screams. He dwells in the Manor of the Dogaressa, finding comfort in the abandoned libraries where old truths are enshrined. On warm days he visits the Plaza of the Ten to watch philosophers preach their knowledge. He is charged by his master to ensure whoever seizes the Blackened Throne of the Gorgon Coast will bow to the law of the Wizard; but disillusioned by the mercantile aspects of warfare he has found his attention drawn more towards attempting to preserve the arts of Ancient Taurochtalia before they are lost to war. He will pay handsomely for items of antique vintage. 

[d6] What is Herald of the White Tower doing?

  1. Heading to the Tower Collegium as a puppet, eyes crackling with energy, 
  2. Gripping at his brow, as if fearing his head might explode.
  3. Wandering the streets in a frenzy, speaking in tongues, weeping.
  4. Protesting in vanity towards sellswords, against the cruelties of war
  5. Walking about and then immediately crumpling to the ground in seizures, their body rippling with white fettering energies.
  6. Disrobed, pale, tired, contemplating self-harm; masks himself if noticed, fears being seen as anything other than the herald, but desires being seen all the same.
Salamach the Cyclops (Cut-Throat)

Born of the Dog-Men, Salamach is a hulking brute of a man with teeth made for rending bone and hands made for throttling the innocent. He has a bounty on his head from several notable and rival Inheritors, having earned their ire after stealing a broken helmet from the tomb of a fallen Imperator. Crafted from enchanted bronze, the shimmering blue metal obscures half his face; displaying instead an armored mask of coiling snakes around a single gigantic eye. He is unaware of its monstrous power, that should someone try to take his head he will become a slithering mass of serpents (as beetle flesh). None have been bold enough to try. By strength of arms and many enemies, Salamach has postured himself into the position of a crime lord and loan shark in Fallen Taurochtalia. He doesn’t care for the city, and would flee to foreign shores if properly incentivized. He trades in favors, kidnappings and public beat-downs, employing protagonists and sellswords to shakedown non-compliant entities. He is effective, producing brutalized abductees for a modest price. 

[d6] What is Salamach the Cyclops doing?

  1. Throttling a smuggler with one hand, mocking their mother and crushing their windpipe, 
  2. Taking in a fight between protagonists, laughing obnoxiously at the sound of brutalized meat.
  3. Sleeping in a comfortable pile with several beautiful camp followers, their make-up smears staining him and one another.
  4. Strutting through town with bawdy concubines, two on each arm. 
  5. Ordering around smugglers while gnawing on a roast goose he holds in a single hand, 
  6. Brutalizing a deserter for some imagined failure, popping their bones out of place.
Rigamella DiLemel (Dastardess)

The troubadours have sung her deeds for the past three years, the dastardess who collects the jawbones of rakish men, the duellist who humiliated a Jerrodine lord by removing her false beard and revealing his false claims, the brazen knave who rode naked through distant Junkai with the head of an ogre as her banner. The truth of any such deed is notably hard to improve, embellished as they are. She has returned, they say, to the Gorgon Coast so she might usurp an Inheritor and claim her rightful place as a new Dogaressa of a city-state. Of course she doesn’t seem to know anything about the Chalice Cult, so she cannot be from the Coast. Just as well, she’d have to be twice her age to have bested many of the rivals she claims to have done in. What is certain is her cunning and her grace, for she is built like an amazon and quick with a rapier. She will pay well for stories of ancient tombs and derring-do, and in her web of lies there may be truth of use.

[d6] What is Rigamella DiLemel doing?

  1. Bragging proudly from atop a crate as troubadours sing of her deeds.
  2. Engaged in a daring duel with a protagonist, learned eyes can note dulled rapiers wielded with grace.
  3. Engaged in whimsical flights of fancy, generally involving leaping and laughter, 
  4. Making a show of speaking to beggars about mundane things, for she is of the people.
  5. Engaging mercenaries in braggadocios conversation about where she has fought before.
  6. Getting her boots shined while practicing the Chalice Chant, butchering some pronunciations. 
Ferdinand & Isolde (Everymen)

As a middle-aged couple backed by the Bank of Calmyn, Ferdinand and Isolde are a villainous sort. They’ve come to the Gorgon Coast to further their fortune, purchase art and antiquities from plunderers, and potentially carve out a place to retire. They are thus far unimpressed; the parasite lepers and slimegorged creatures of the neighboring shoals have curdled their appreciation for the region. An encounter with blood-drinking flagellants and chalice chanters have only furthered their desire to see the region broken by “a more polite and civilized society.” Ferdinand is a short, thin man with a broom-stick mustache and a charm befitting a financial venturer; the sort of sly voice that can sell you the shirt you’re already wearing. Isolde prefers wearing elaborate dresses of fine lace and brooches of polished sea shells. Neither are prone to combat, but Isolde has shot more than a few debtors who fell late on their payments. To the average cryptdigger, the pair are agreeable, they will fund most ventures in exchange for a notable cut, and will share tactical information they’ve earned to Calmynite expatriates or shareholders of the Bank.

[d6] What are Ferdinand & Isolde doing?

  1. Taking in a heavy, lavish meal and discussing business,
  2. Inquiring the prices for breaking various limbs with a protagonist, 
  3. Holding hands and acting obnoxiously coupled.
  4. Grimacing at the sight of beggars, parasite lepers, and Chalice Chanters.
  5. Engaging in ledger work and mercantile exploits with a quartermaster.
  6. Inciting small disputes between camp followers and mercenaries based on wage discrepancies.
Monzamere (Freeblade)

Though his reputation seldom precedes him, no living beast-hearted fiend may kill Monzamere of Norui. A freeblade who has seen the world and fought across its fields of battle, Monzamere is a nearly ancient man of nigh-Dwarven proportions, his skin a weather beaten ebony, and his expression eternally pensive. Those who do know his reputation know he was exiled from Norui for some blasphemy. They call his blessing a curse, a sign of a coming age of monsters. He has come to the Gorgon Coast to seek another war to pass the time; and he heard rumor that all beings native to the region are “beast-hearted” in some manner. Monzamere does not care about the petty posturing of local lords, and no one can afford his prices for more than a few skirmishes. He dwells in the upper city, occasionally being courted by monster hunters and Inheritors who have heard whisperings of his prowess. Monzamere would easily be won in by legalists, should they be versed in the laws of Norui and able to see him return home.

[d6] What is Monzamere doing?

  1. Commenting each move a protagonist will make in a street brawl right before they make them.
  2. Cringing in annoyance at the sound of the Chalice Chant.
  3. Grumpily eating a slice of fancy cheese on coarse country bread.
  4. Sleeping in a plaza, naked, with a sign next to him reading "I am Monzamere, strike as you dare."
  5. Effortlessly brawling with a gaggle of mercenaries, bashing them with ease.
  6. Speaking with camp followers in search of hard-to-obtain spices no quartermaster would carry.
Hecuba Enande (Outcast)

Had they been born of nobility, Hecuba Enande would be among the Ordo Parasitium; and if rumors are to be true, they’d be vaunted among the Knights Basilisk by now. But Hecuba was born low, a thrall upon the slave ship Enande which toiled for pearls along the Gorgon Coast. Further misfortune saw Hecuba subjected with the afflictions of the parasite lepers, and for this they were cast overboard and into the drink. How Hecuba survived is not known, they speak of being awash in red, in fangs, and awakened in the harbor. Hecuba Enande dwells in the Old Slave Warrens, an outcast even among the parasite lepers. They hear a voice that heralds in a new age, in dreams it beckons them, and in the waking life it thrums through their body; like writhing worms. Hecuba’s grasp on reality is still salient, and vengeance propels them when it can. They want the taskmasters of the Enande brought to them in shackles, and they desire balms so their petrifying flesh does not slough off as painfully. They could be of use to a cryptdigger, strange visions aside, Hecuba knows well the cruelties of this region and their fellow outcasts will serve them in fear if plied. 

[d6] What is Hecuba Enande doing?

  1. Ordering parasite lepers to attend to the Old Slave Warrens for "worship," 
  2. Vomiting up serpentine worms and gazing madly at them. 
  3. Gnawing away semi-petrified flesh off their person.
  4. Consorting with bounty hunters, paying treasures for information on a slave ship.
  5. Dragging a screaming deserter into a darkened alleyway.
  6. Conversing with mercenaries about alleged criminals hiding in the Ashen City.
Bona of the Red Blade (Protagonist)

A degenerate spawn of a neighboring city-state, Bona fled the abuses of her family and took up residence in the ancestral villa of her line in the upper city of Fallen Taurochtalia. Her form is not broken or malevolent, save that in place of her right hand she has a long cutting appendage of fused bone and raw red meat. She is otherwise unremarkable, perhaps a bit tall and jaundiced in eyes, but generally bland. Beyond pawning off family heirlooms and drinking with mercenaries, Bona spends most of her time engaged in brawls or games of chance. She often finds herself awakening from drunken stupors in some sort of criminal entanglement. Those who can assist her in enjoying a life of debauchery and combat will find themselves with a shared pool of enemies; but also with an asset who knows the who’s-who of important figures in a neighboring Inheritor court.

[d6] What is Bona of the Red Blade doing?

  1. Running from a gang of mercenaries; laughing madly, carrying a half-naked camp follower over her shoulder. 
  2. Drunk off her gourd and asking everyone she comes across if they want to fight.
  3. Passed out over a roast goose on the street.
  4. Drunkenly trying to get a Chalice Chanter to teach her to dance.
  5. Being too loud and obnoxious for this hour.
  6. Defecating into a public fountain while chugging a bottle of wine.
Adreme Soccio Verte (Scholar)

Adreme Soccio Verte, a noted academic, currently on errantry in Fallen Taurochtalia, constructing a thesis on the influence of philosophers upon teeming masses of the violent and desperate which she has entitled “Transitional Eschatological Ethics.” Mercenaries and freeblades find her silent observations in the plazas of town to be intolerable. She has a habit of staring daggers into folk without seemingly intending to, though she believes those who claim this are overly sensitive for their violent line of work. She seldom speaks at length of her studies in a collegium of the Ten Sages, as she finds it pretentious to rest on the laurels of her alma mater; something she believes most of her peers are guilty of. Adreme has yet to properly see the horrors of war, though she has done ample interviews and studies with those who suffer from petty skirmishes. She has a deep understanding of the human mind if one can break through her ego. Notably, prior to pursuing this latest venture, she was notable in assisting those suffering from afflictions by way of therapy, drugs, and esoteric techniques. She does wish to see a battle up close and personal, but would sooner befriend mercenaries than hire them.

[d6] What is Adreme Soccio Verte doing?

  1. Silently people-watching a group of mercenaries to their discomfort.
  2. Asking too many probing questions to military deserters.
  3. Interrogating the price of various "additional services" from camp followers, gets mad when they ask her if she's interested.
  4. Listening to philosophers in the upper city preach the same tired points of human ethics.
  5. Questioning a Chalice Chanter about rumors of a schism in the church, much to their anger. 
  6. Engaged in polite banter with a quartermaster about being "in the thick of it" until things become uncomfortable.
Iago Herelake (Veteran)

Noted among the Dogaressa’s Guard for having survived a venture into the crypts beneath the Palace of Blackened Horns, Iago Herelake was struck partially maddened from the experience. His hair is a shock white and his flesh has become albinistic from what he encountered beneath, He was placed into a position where he would seldom encounter his peers after an incident where in a somnambulist trance, carved open the throats of his barracks bunk mates and painted a labyrinthine map with their blood. Iago seeks answers to what he saw beneath the Palace and he is haunted by nightmares of what will come if an Inheritor takes the Blackened Throne. Though formerly Chalice faithful, he has begun backing the Dissident Choir; viewing his former faith as complicit in a coming apocalyptic event. To cryptdiggers and freeblades, Iago is knowledgeable on most unpleasant subjects; but so overcome with fear, he is more likely to dissuade others from delving the crypts than fighting the darkness. He also believes the map he produced is that of a mythic underworld where something hateful seeks to escape.

[d6] What is Iago Herelake doing?

  1. Nursing a bottle of wine and looking at the world through a deadman's gaze.
  2. Polishing immaculate armor, not worn in years.
  3. Errantly doodling a labyrinthine pattern in the margins of a book. 
  4. Being pestered by mercenaries who believe he makes treasure maps.
  5. Providing advice to military deserters and claiming they've made a wise choice.
  6. Staring at a water fixture and mumbling to himself about "how deep and twisting it all must go..."

An Attempted Framework Conversion for: The Hole in the Oak set in Dolmenwood

The Hole in the Oak is a low level adventure about venturing into the Mythic Underworld for Old-School Essentials , and though it features s...