Friday, May 31, 2019

The Fire Cults

Although most of the world doesn't differentiate between the various Fire Cults, they are quite different from each other.  Even discussing them under the shared heading of "The Fire Cults" is misleading.

Just the same, the Fire Cults can be defined as the various local religions that existed on the continent of Centerra prior to the ascension of the Church.  They have been utterly extirpated since.

There are exceptions to all of these rules, but generally:

1. Fire Gods weren't especially focused on fire.

This is probably the greatest misconception.

It was the Church that first started calling them fire cults, which served to describe them as primitive and illegitimate.  The label stuck.

The prophecy has become somewhat self-fulfilled however, as the only living branch of the fire cults is the Vincular Cult, which can be considered an arm of Zala Vacha.

2. Fire cults were intensely local.

The forces that fire cults worshiped were usually bound to a particular location (or more rarely, a bloodline).

We might think of gods as having a particular portfolio (e.g. the God of Waterfalls and Assassins) but the Fire Gods were defined according to their location (e.g. the God of Poplonda Swamp).  Within this domain, they were everything.  Outside of it, they were nothing.

The god of a fire cult usually lived in its shrine.  They were as invisible and as intangible as any divine, but their shrine was their literal home.  They occupied a very specific space.

If you were travelling, it would be important to learn the names of the gods whose territory you would be crossing, and how best to placate them.  This was considered to be more important than actually learning the geography.

They usually shared a name with their location.  Many of the names on the map of Centerra are the names of dead gods.

It is sometimes necessary to differentiate between a location and the regional deity.  In this case, the convention is to terminate the deity's name with a capitol letter ('BosperO') while the location's name is written normally ('Bospero').  I won't do this to you (since the context is usually clear) with only one exception.

3. Many fire cults were associated with volcanos.

Volcanoes were common in Centerra at the time.  As their cults fell silent, so too did their volcanos.

The Church teaches that this is because volcanoes formed a conduit to Hell, and the fire gods were all demonic spirits of earth.

4. The gods of fire cults were usually defined around a duality.

We are used to thinking of a God of War who exists in opposition to a God of Peace.  But the fire cults usually had only a single god that they prayed to, and so that god must be an entire pantheon unto itself.

And so there was Gadrium, God of War and Peace.

OmO, God of Wisdom and Foolishness.

Patra, God of Drowning and Birds.

Meltheria, God of Gold and Lead.

by Kalen Chock

The Quendian Cult

The only surviving fire cult with any significant membership is the Quendian Cult.  They are one of the primary reasons why fire cults are known as fire cults.  The Quendian cult is a binary cult--they worship two gods, one better known than the other.

Quen is the God of Flame and Darkness.

Marsaat is the God of Slavery.

It's not quite that simple, though.  Fire cults existed as binaries, so Marsaat is the god of masters, slaves, and free people.  It doesn't endorse any of these positions, though.  Neither slavery nor freedom is preferable to the other.  Marsaat doesn't advocate any particular course of action as much as they inhabit the decision.

They are married, but their genders are never specified (except during certain feast days when the gods are thrust into certain roles.)  Feminine depictions of them are becoming more common, though, probably as a response to the overt masculinity of the Authority.

Aspects of Quen

Fire: Revelation

Just as fire can reveal, so can Quen.  Pushing back the darkness, Quen can banish ignorance and secrets.

Darkness: Privacy

In a world dominated by a hostile Church, privacy is much more valued than revelation.  Because of this, most prayers to Quen are for privacy.

Antipode: Rebirth

A fire burns and leaves an object transformed.  A fire can burn away dead wood and leave room for new growth.  The ability to discard your old life and start anew is part of Quen's portfolio (and Darkness ensures that your secrets are hidden).

Aspects of Marsaat

Mastery: Self-Interest

Yes, this includes slavemasters.  But more broadly, it is also dominance, confidence, and self-interest.  It is widely agreed that most people should be less self-interested.  Too much self-interest is evil, and people are prone to it.

Slavery: Public Interest

This includes any action taken for the benefit of other people, even caring for your family members.  More broadly, Marsaat is the ability to look at the world through the lens of power.

Antipode: Freedom

Of course, neither dominance or submission matter when you are alone.  The absence of relationships is also the absence of power dynamics.  Like everything else, this is neither good nor bad.

Fire Cult Cleric

This is how clerics work.  They all have different rules to follow (strictures), temples, and methods of divination.  These have various pros and cons.  For example, clerics of the Church have churches available to them at every town, no matter how small.  But clerics of Zala Vacha can build their own temporary temples by making bonfires, which is something that clerics of the Church cannot do.


learning, forgetting, sight, fire, privacy, secrets


If you agree to keep a secret, then you must keep it.
Allow no one else to carry a torch unless you are also carrying a torch.
Do not betray those who serve you willingly.


By default, a city will have a temple hidden somewhere.  The faithful can find it by blinding a cat and then following it.  It will always be underground.

By default, a town will not contain a temple of Zala Vacha.

Alternatively, you can construct a temple in the wilderness by building five large bonfires.  The space between the bonfires counts as a temple for as long as the bonfires burn and there is no sun in the sky.  Collecting sufficient wood takes about 36 hours of labor in an average forest.  Logging tools allow a laborer to be twice as efficient.


You must sit in a perfectly dark room and gaze into the darkness for 1d6 hours.  Images will come.  The perfectly dark room must be underground.


When clerics roll triples on a casting die, they gain something.

1 or 2 = Eyes turn black.  5' darkvision.
3 or 4 = Any light source you hold turns deep crimson.  Fire resist 6.
5 or 6 = Your skin turns black as soot.  If you hold perfectly still for at least 1 minute, you become shrouded.


Spells 1-6 are available at level 1.  Spells 1-8 are available at level 2.  Spells 1-10 are available at level 3.  Spells with asterisks are explained below.

  1. control fire
  2. darkness
  3. forget*
  4. heal
  5. bend light*
  6. lock
  7. shroud*
  8. suggestion
  9. freedom*
  10. room*

Legendary Spell 

Legendary spells are only obtained by doing some great quest in the service of your faith.

  1. disintegrate
Bend Light
R: touch  T: object  D: [dice] rounds
Object appears to be displaced a few feet to the left of where it appears to be.  Attacks against that object have a 50% chance to miss.  Creatures automatically make an Int check after each attack; if they succeed, they figure it out and this spell affects them no longer.

Alternatively, you can use this spell to see around corners.  Once per round, pick a place in your field of view--you can see as if you were standing there.  You can make multiple jumps this way if you are investing multiple dice.

R: touch  T: object  D: instant
Touched object takes [sum] damage as it falls apart and dissolves.  If this is enough to destroy it, the object is utterly removed from reality.  
  • 1 MD is enough to disintegrate a skull or a wooden weapon.
  • 2 MD is enough to disintegrate a wooden door.
  • 3 MD is enough to disintegrate a metal weapon or bar.
R: touch  T: creature D: instant
Target forgets the last [dice] rounds.

R: 50'  T: creature  D: instant
Creature immediately makes a free attempt to escape whatever bonds are restraining it with a +[sum] bonus.  If an creature would normally have no chance to escape (shackled, etc) it is still allowed an attempt anyway with a -10 penalty.

R: touch  T: wall  D: 10 minutes
You create a door on the wall that leads to a 20' x 20' room.  This is actually a conjured pocket dimension that matches the rest of the dungeon thematically.  The door is just a regular door, and no stronger than wood (although it may appear different).  The room improves the more dice are invested.
  • 2 MD = lasts 30 minutes.  (Long enough to eat lunch.)
  • 3 MD = lasts 8 hours.  (Long enough to sleep.)
  • 4 MD = lasts 24 hours and contains a helpful occupant who matches the dungeon's theme.
R: touch  T: object  D: 10 minutes  (splittable)
Target will not be noticed as long as they don't do anything suspicious.  An action is suspicious if it is something that is not regularly done by regular people.  

Walking past a guard is not suspicious because people regularly walk past guards.  Putting a grenado into a guard's pocket is suspicious (unless people regularly slip things into that guard's pocket.)

Sidebar: HD Limits

Remember that spells don't affect a creature if its HD is greater than [sum].


  1. Bend Light is my favourite, Room is highly interesting, does the same room always open each time?

    1. I'd think not, considering the theme is always changing, and if so, that's an large bag of holding you can't access all the time, so still interesting.

    2. I kind of like the idea that it's a large bag of holding that's bound to the current dungeon or building.

  2. Now I want to fight the Zala Vacha. Or be the Zala Vacha. That third transfiguration + large group of ZV clerics + statue filled room = ambush.

  3. Walking past a checkpoint of secure facility would still be suspicious, yes?

    1. Nah, because people do regularly walk past a checkpoint of a secure facility. Basically, if it's something that multiple people do every week, you can do it.

    2. And even if the checkpoint was stringent you could still mime the process: show a badge, say any phrase for a password etc.

    3. You nailed it exactly.

      You're a hacker, aren't you?

  4. I have a vision in my head of a long campaign arc in which the players join Zala Vacha, infiltrate the Hesayan temple city, steal all the hostage gods, repatriate them, then take the Hammer of Iconoclasm and use it to assassinate Zulin, returning the world to its pre-Hesayan henotheism.