Sunday, September 10, 2023

The Cult of Flesh (and the Three Great Gifts)

The Third Age 

In the Beginning was the Authority, and his house was the Throne. In the First Age he created the stars, but their songs disappointed him. In the Second Age he created the Holy Mounds, but they also were found to be lacking.
In the Third Age, he created Man.  And Man was given eyes, so that he could see the Authority, whose light pierced through all things.  All other things were not visible. 
And Man was given a voice, so that he could praise the Authority, his sole purpose.  No other words were possible, or even conceivable.
And the Authority was pleased.

The Fourth Age

In the Fourth Age, the Three Great Gifts were given to the race of men.
The first gift was the Gift of Light, so that they could see all lesser things.  The Authority was always visible and bright, but now he created Light, which illuminated the lesser things–the mountains and valleys and the other First Men. 
He took from them their eyes--the eyes of the Third Age. In their place, they were given the Eyes of the Fourth Age.  And the First Men looked around and saw that the world was beautiful, and they gave new praise to the Authority.
The second gift was the Gift of the Word.  The Authority had always spoken to them, but now the words were given to them.  Their minds were open, and they could speak of lesser things, not just of the Authority’s grace and majesty. 
They spoke of new things, food and animals, and gave these things names.  And from these Words came new poetry and praise for the Authority, and He was pleased.
And the third gift was the Gift of New Life.  The First Men were unchanging and undying.  The world had become stagnant, and their praise unchanging.  They had been allowed to create sons, but there was no place for them in the world.  The sons would always be servants, never allowed to grow or to inherit.  And so the third gift was mortality.  The First Men would live long lives, but they would grow old and die eventually. They would pass from this world and into the next, where they would sit beside the Authority, and dwell in his House.
And as the First Men realized that they would someday die, they began to love the world more the world more. Sunsets became more beautiful because they were temporary. Loves became deeper because they were fleeting. Gone was the cynicism of a timeless world. And the First Men found that Life was more beautiful to their new mortal eyes, and they gave praise to the Authority for His wisdom.
Their sons would inherit, and eventually go on to rule.  They would have their chance to become their own masters.  They were no longer condemned to be eternally subordinate.  And women were created, to ease the process of creation.  And as the sons grew and inherited, they gave new praise to the Authority, as was deserved.
Thus with wisdom was justice met.

The Cult of Flesh

Eons passed.

In the city of Sennerva, there arose a great blasphemy.

The third “gift” was no gift of all.  The “Gift of New Life”?  It was Death, and to call it by any other name demonstrated nothing but slavish blindness.

It was Death, and it was Sickness and Decay and Old Age.  All of the things that had been “gifted” to the race of man in the fourth age.

And so the city of Sennerva went about the process of curing all of these things.  Sickness was cured.  Old age was seiged.  And in the end, even death was conquered.

Marmoth later spoke of the process.

The only surprising thing about Immortality, he said, was easily it was achieved.

It was as if some vast conspiracy worked tirelessly to keep it from us.

The natural state of man, he said, was not mortal and sickly and failing.  We were meant to be strong, tireless, and immortal.  

These were shackles that had been placed on us by an Authority that feared us.  (The vaults of Heaven had already been breached once.  The Authority was wise to fear what He had created.)

Marmoth had achieved his goals.  He was strong, tireless, and immortal.  And then the city of Sennirva began to sell these things, or to gift them to their allies.

And it was that the Fourth Emperor of Man led his armies to Sennirva.  The towers were toppled, and the city was cast into the earth.  Its cursed corpse now lies beneath the Ratskin Gap.  The people that could die were put to the sword.  The people that could not die were neutralized in other ways.

And in the passing of long years, the Fourth Emperor of Mankind did pass from life, believing the whole time that he had extinguished the cult beyond memory.  He was wrong of course.

There are many other parts to this story, but I do not have time to tell them.

I do not have time to tell you of the Mountain of Blood, nor the Mountain of Flesh.

I do not have time to tell you of the creation of the dopplegangers.

I do not have time to tell of how the god Elcor was killed and was reborn, or where the 16 women simultaneously gave birth to Elcoroth.

But the Cult of Flesh exists still, and the heart of it is Elcoroth, the Infinite Pillar of Flesh.


Those who are unfamiliar will often assume that the Cult worships Elcoroth, but this is not the case.  The cult gave flesh to a slain god–they were able to craft him as they wished.  And so it is that Elcoroth worships them.  Its ten thousand eyes gaze at the cultists with love, and its three thousand mouths gratefully licks up their spilled blood.

Elcoroth is stronger than you, a twisted spiral of blended flesh that arcs across the sky like a rainbow.  And Elcoroth is more intelligent.  It has many brains–perhaps all of the brains of those that it has ever devoured.  And Elcoroth is more loving than you, because it was born pure, from the blood of those who had mastered their craft long ago.

The love of Elcoroth extends to all of those who accept his teachings and who drink his blood.  They are bound to each other, then.  

It is not clear if the Cult has centralized leadership, or if Elcoroth is merely the common link between several separate cells.

It has also been said that one of the First Men was involved in the creation of Elcoroth, pining for his lost immortality, but it is hard to believe that.  Still, if true, such an individual would possess all the powers of mankind in the third age, and would be central in the innermost circles of the Cult.


Zala Vacha is a (very loose) collection of all of the evil organizations antithetical to the Church.

Within Zala Vacha, the Fleshcult is the most well-known, most respected, and (debatably) the most powerful.  This is all because they are the richest.

The cult sells healing and youth, and there are no better healers in the world.  

The Church may be better at healing diseases (as each disease is, in fact, a type of demon) since it lays closer to their specialty, but when it comes to healing injuries, disabilities, and missing limbs, the Fleshcult cannot be beat.

They also do cosmetic improvements.  They can cure old age.  According to them, immortality is only of a middling difficulty, among the various services they offer.

And for these services, they charge a fortune.

They cannot cure death, although they can shape newly dead flesh into something new.  (And in fact, they do this thing often.)  They can create beauty, as well as monstrosity.  Their power is in their blood.


For a long time, the Cult of Flesh and its Biomancers struggled mightily against the Church.  Like all of Zala Vacha, they searched for a way to overthrow the Church, and free mankind from its shackles.

But now, such a thought is widely considered impossible.  If a century of effort couldn’t do it, why would future attempts be any different.  Even Shadoom couldn’t achieve it, a man who was more powerful than most of the things we call gods.

And so most of the machinations of the Fleshcult are now bent towards diplomacy.  They need allies.  They need good public relations.  They need patrons and sponsors among the aristocracy.  They need a respected member of the Church to become their advocate.

This last desire is one that will probably never happen.

The Cult of Flesh is heretic.  Immortality is a sin–it mocks the Authority’s rightful judgment of the soul.  Seeking immortality is sinful.  So is tolerating immortality.

This new approach has already created tension within the Cult.  If the followers of Elcoroth achieve the legitimacy that they desire, what exactly will happen to Kormok, the God Butcher, and the Eater of Elephants?  They made themselves into weapons against the Authority.  They are utter monsters, no matter what bit of poetic drivel the Eater likes to whisper to his elephants before he swallows them whole.

The New Cult is opposed by those monsters, and monsters like Grandfather Oshregaal, who still seek the old goals.

But Elcoroth loves them all.


Regenerate Missing Body Part, Cosmetic Transformations, Eternal Youth, Immortality

These are all services that can be cast on allies of the Cult of Flesh.  Eternal Youth and Immortality are only available to full members, whoever, who have sworn the Vows and eaten the Blood.

Elcoroth’s Trick

R: 50’  T: creature  D: [sum] rounds

Pick a body part.  You control the target’s.  The target controls yours.  Targets take 1 round to figure out what has happened (or 2 rounds if they fail an Int check).

Elcoroth’s Harmony

R: touch  T: creature  D: special

A willing creature of the same species as you fuses into your body.  Your mass increases by ~10% of theirs.  You are now a combined creature.  Use the best of both ability scores and HP.  The combined creature cannot take more physical actions per turn (although you can take two mental actions per turn, since there are two minds in the brain).  You must act in harmony.  If there is a disagreement about what to do, one mind can assert dominance with an opposed Cha check.  If someone wants to exit the fused body, they can attempt it 1/day with an opposed Cha check.  If you attempt to add more than 2 creatures into a single fusion, the one with the lowest Charisma must make an Easy Charisma check or “dissolve” into the other personalities, essentially dying but with fragments of their memory and personality assimilated into the others.  The duration of this spell varies based on MD invested.  1 MD = 30 seconds.  2 MD = 10 minutes.  3 MD = 1 day.  4 MD = permanent.


R: 50’  T: creature  D: [s] ends

Target creature becomes a monstrous version of itself.  Its level increases to at least [dice] and its maximum HP to [sum], unless those numbers are already higher.  It gains a natural attack based on how many its level are spent.  1 MD = 1d6.  2 MD = 1d8.  3 MD = 1d10.  4 MD = 1d12.  It loses its previous biologic abilities (unless the DM wants to keep them), but gains new abilities based on this chart:

At least Lvl 2: 1 ability

At least Lvl 4: 2 abilities

At least Lvl 6: 3 abilities

Potential random abilities: regeneration 1, breath attack (random: fire/acid/lightning), flight, compressible body, second head (and a second natural attack).  However, if the creature already has an iconic ability, the first ability it gains should be a reflavored version of the same ability, per the DM’s discretion.  (For example, a dragon would lose its fire breath but gain fire blood, bursting out in a cone whenever it takes physical damage.)

The monster is only able to take violent actions, although it retains an animal-level version of its memories and objectives.  After 10 minutes, the creature must make an Int save.  If they fail, they lose themselves, forgetting their prior memories and becoming a true monster.  If they succeed, they retain their memories and objectives, although they remain at animal level intelligence and become an NPC (if they were PC prior).  If they caster succeeds on a Fleshcraft check while they cast this spell, they can make the Int Save Easy or Hard (their choice).

Give Life

R: touch  T: object  D: permanent

Target object comes to life, gaining both flesh and blood.  1 MD is enough for a teapot, 4 MD is enough for a wagon.  If you fail a Fleshcrafting check, things tend to gain bodyplans similar to either snakes or starfish.  For example, you might make an extremely detailed clay horse and then bring it to life, but it will still move like a starfish, eating and excreting from its basal mouth/anus.

Note that humanoid corpses brought back in this “failed starfish” fashion are called slithermen by the Cult.  Humanoid corpses successfully brought back as humans (essentially a whole new person with no memory) are known as triumphs.  They are appreciated within the cult, but many suffer from defects.



Lvl Def leather  “Tentacle” 1d4 + Grapple

Move slow  Str ogre  Int starfish  Dis hungry

Bite - Grappled opponents are automatically bitten each subsequent turn for 1d10 damage.

Stench - The first time each day that a slitherman is injured, it releases a stink cloud.  All within 30’ must make a Con save or take 2d6 nausea (non-lethal) damage.  (Instead of killing you, this damage makes you unable to take any actions besides vomiting.  Lasts until you exit the stench cloud and make a Con check, attemptable 1/round.)

Memories - Captured slithermen can be “interrogated” by subjecting them to things that may remind them of their previous life.  Phrases, objects, locations.  At this point, they may say things related to their past life–typically things that they would normally think but now say out loud: secrets and outrageous opinions.

Elder Doppleganger

Lvl Def leather  Natural Attacks 1d12 or special

Move fast Str ogre  Int human Dis varies

Doppleganger - All the basic powers of a doppleganger.

Monstrose - At the beginning of each of its turns, it selects two creatures it can see. It can make attacks identical to their attacks, including weapons and unused weapons (so if you have a bow in your backback, it can attack you with the same bonuses and damage as if you were attacking it with the bow). At the end of each of its turns, it selects two damage types (e.g. slashing, fire, etc) to be immune to for 1 turn. At the end of its turns, it also selects one ability from the following list: +4 defense, flight (as vulture), regeneration 1.