Below are the concept statements for the Hidden Cults found in the Golden City of Shanthopal, which will be a campaign hub for my own game. Shanthopal is a crossroads and a trading hub in the Ancient Earth, far in our own future, after the moon has cracked. The city rests upon layers and layers of older work, and, although one of the great metropolises of its day, much of it lies open and uninhabited. Well, uninhabited by mortal folk, in any case.
As always, feedback is greatly appreciated.
The Hidden Cults: There are several cults in Shanthopal which cannot reveal their existence, often upon the pain of death. They identify other cultists with passwords and hidden signs, and aggressively deal with any who would share such with non-cultists. They are feared and hated by the common folk, but not always actively hunted by the Watch, for they are afraid as well. Chief among the hidden cults of Shanthopal are:
- Bubonosis the Rat God: Envisioned as a lean rat of gigantic size, with black fur and red eyes, or as a creature half-man and half-rat, Bubonosis is the God of Vermin whose hidden cult infests Shanthopal. He holds sway over rats, cockroaches, silverfish, centipedes, ticks, bedbugs, and similar pestilent things. Although not a god of disease, His work and his followers bring sickness with them wherever they go. His cultists are ratmen and the downtrodden, and He is in turns placated and cursed by the poor and the wealthy alike.
Cthulhu: Hidden cultists within the city work at bringing about the return of Cthulhu and the end of the world of man. Their leaders know that the return of Cthulhu is inevitable; time is nothing to Dread Cthulhu, and when His Dreaming ends, surely He will Arise. Cthulhu values strength of will and purpose, the acquisition of power, and the subjugation of the weak to His service. Cthulhu has plans of his own, and sends demons even in his dreaming state to enforce his will upon the mortal plane. Cthulhu seeks neither to preserve or destroy the Dominion of Men. They are as nothing to Him. Those in His path are destroyed without malice or thought; those who stay far away from His minions and His schemes are left alone.
Dagon: An ancient and vile sea-god, Dagon still has hidden enclaves of worshippers in the Ancient Earth. They mate with the Deep Ones that come into the caverns below the city under cover of darkness. Dagon is not disinterested in the world of men, and actively seek the downfall of the human species. He is envisioned as a crowned man-fish, with a human torso and arms and two fish tails rather than legs. In times long past, folk worshipped Dagon as a patron of grain agriculture, and sacrifices of grain still play a part in His sacred rites. Cultists of Dagon remain hidden as best they can.
Hecate: This Goddess of Dark Magic and Witchcraft is often envisioned as a bare-breasted, comely woman of moderate years, but She can appear young or old as She desires. She often travels with a brace of hell hounds, whose tongues lap green fire. She brings dark secrets from beyond the stars, behind the moon, and beneath the earth, and Her messengers whisper in the ears of witches. Those who would call down foul curses, or seek traffic with the Dead, may belong to the hidden cult of Hecate.
Kallamourn: Known as the All-Mother, the Mother of Shadows, and Devouring Mother, Kallamourn represents both Creation and Destruction and the seemingly-random nature of existence (which her cultists know as “The Dance of Kallamourn”, whose steps, they believe, are known by the goddess alone). Her priests perform rites of human sacrifice, which alone would see her cult banned in Shanthopal, but Her cultists also set upon random victims (often, but not always, at the dark of the moon). These random victims are often befriended first, then strangled or stabbed from behind. Once a victim is marked to fall beneath the trampling feet of the Dance of Kallamourn, escape is not easy. The cultists will keep trying until the next new moon.
Mellythese: The Great Spider is the Goddess of Spiders, Treachery, Venom, and Deceit. She is depicted as a gigantic black and red spider with cunning, evil eyes. Mellythese is worshipped by the treacherous, by those bent to evil in their quest for vengeance, and by magicians who are seduced by the false lure of easy power.
Yog-Sothoth: An elder god with limitless knowledge, to which time and space mean nothing, Yog-Sothoth demands human sacrifices to fuel his eternal hunger. Yog-Sothoth knows and touches all points of the universe at all times, but he is locked beyond the confines of time and space, unable to manifest fully within the universe. Although he knows many ways to open the lock that bars him from our plane, none of these is safe or easy, and insanity is the lot of those who follow Yog-Sothoth’s tutelage too closely. He is described alternately as a collection of iridescent bubbles and appendages that radiate a dark malignancy; a flying monstrosity with thin, spaghetti-like tentacles; and a dark shadow of indeterminate shape, but colder than the spaces between the stars. His cult is illegal in Shanthopal, and remains hidden.