The Cult of the Deathbringer

The Cult of the Deathbringer is a term given to those individual groups of individuals scattered across Faerun (and beyond) that choose to engage in the worship of Bhaal the God of Death.

History

The Dark Three understood, much more than any other before or since, what it means to become a god, one requirement for becoming and maintaining divinity is the accumulation of worshippers.

Tharlagaunt Bale, known as the Deathbringer, was very active in Netheril, and created a cult of personality about himself through his actions in defying and often slaying some of the great Archwizards of the Exploration and Shadowed Ages of Netheril. This collection of disenchanted outcasts in Netherese society was one of the first origins of the Cult of the Deathbringer. 

Following the Fall of Netheril, the survivors carried this cult of Bhaal across the North (the Savage Frontier, the Moonsea North), while Bhaal and the Dark Three journeyed south to Jhaamdath and established cults with a more religious bent to worship them as the divine beings they were well on their way to becoming. Unfortunately Jhaamdath survived only a century longer than Netheril before it too succumbed to a calamitous destruction that scattered its people and the cults across southern Faerun.

And so Bhaal, Bane and Myrkul came to Calimshan in search of even greater power, and again gathered a following that revered them as gods in human form. The cults of Bhaal in Calimshan remained the strongest and spread slowly outward from there. The completion of the great trade roads of Amn in 1182 DR connected the southern nations of Amn, Tethyr, and Calimshan with the likes of Baldur’s Gate, Waterdeep, and Westgate. This led to an explosion of overland trade and huge increase in thieves (and assassins) spreading to and from the great trade hubs along these routes but most concentrating in Amn which became the centre of this trade.

The 13th century Dalereckoning saw the Black Horde of orcs in 1236 DR reach as far south as Calimshan, and the Amnian trade wars of 1238 DR led to an increase in lawlessness as well as many Amnian noble merchant families moving elsewhere to escape the troubles (like Waterdeep).

1254 DR saw the power of thieves guilds and assassins reach its zenith, and resulted in subsequent events such as the Crusade of Slaughter, where cultists of Bhaal rampaged along the trade route between Amn and Westgate, sacking the city of Torlathan in Amn and attacking the walls of Westgate itself before being broken by mercenary forces. The Shadow Thieves of Waterdeep were also founded by cultists of Bhaal whose families had fled Amn earlier and been recognised as merchant gentry in 1248 DR.

This diaspora led to a uniformity of worship in Bhaal across Faerun but not an organised church. The Cult of the Deathbringer is not a single, monolithic organisation spanning the continent of Faerun, instead it is a number of much smaller cult cells that all loosely follow the teachings of Bhaal. There are plenty of regional variations in titles, festivals, and even dogma, but most follow a similar ethos to those cells from Calimshan which was by far the most numerous and has been spread far and wide through trade.

Every assassin at least offers a prayer to Bhaal before attempting a murder, most form cult cells with other assassins within whatever organisation they work for, and or other assassins in the nearby area. Thus the cells of the Cult of the Deathbringer are an ever evolving membership, constantly recycling the teachings of their elders to new members as they move into the area and join the cult.

Organisation

Headquarters: None, each cell is independent

Members: 5,000+

Leader: None, each cell is led by a Primate

Religion: Bhaal

Secrecy: Medium

Symbol: A white skull (face on), surrounded by tear drops.

The Cult of the Deathbringer is made up of a large number of independent cells that all follow a very similar dogma based upon ancient teachings of Bhaal that have spread across Faerun. A cell usually arises in any settlement or area where more than a handful of professional assassins gather (chances are at least one will favour the worship of Bhaal). These individual cells however, have no connection to any other cells (beyond trading information and membership occasionally).

This situation is not entirely true for the entire of Faerun, in Thay the cells of this cult have gradually banded together to work against the influence individual Red Wizards and the powerful factions in that country. This fledgling church is led by a High Primate who has overall control of every member in Thay, and is powerful enough to disobey the commands of individual Red Wizards (although they are more than happy to assassinate on behalf of Red Wizards in return for reward, as long as agreed upon rules are obeyed).

Each individual cell is ruled by a Primate, a word believed to have derived from an ancient title Bhaal used for himself, possibly derived from the loross word Primarch.

Each cell has its own hierarchical structure, with regional and local variations for titles. Most cells are led by a Primate, beneath him is often the most accomplished assassin known as the “First Murder” (sometimes known as Death’s Head). Other senior members of the cult are known as Cowled Deaths (sometimes known and Reapers) and then everyone else is referred to as Deathdealers, or Deathbringers, or Nightblades depending upon the region.

Dogma / Motivation / Goals

The Cult of the Deathbringer is outlawed in almost every society in Faerun, with the possible exception of Thay. In those few places where worshippers of Bhaal are allowed to preach to the laity, they teach that murder is part of the natural order, everything living thing kills other things in order to survive and improve their chances of survival. In order for people to survive and prosper they must eliminate the competition. Mercy and kindness are just excuses for the weak, either you permanently end any risk to yourself (by killing it) or you will be killed.

The Cult of the Deathbringer is home to the most successful assassins in Faerun, and in return for a boon they can help eliminate the competition. Cultists of Bhaal congregate in secret areas hidden from the authorities, and arrange meetings with potential customers through their contacts. Sometimes cultists of Bhaal join larger organisations and gain regular employment as a professional assassin.

Dogma: Cultists of Bhaal are charged with committing murder as often as possible, at least every tenday. They are to help others commit murder (or commit it on their behalf), and ensure that murders go unpunished (this includes rescuing murderers from justice).

Canon: The Baleful Word is a reproduction of the remnants of tomes and papers and fragments that were supposedly written by Bhaal during his lifetime. They were collected in Calimshan and assembled into a book that forms the basis of the dogma of every cult cell in Faerun. The trade routes of Calimshan and abundance of thieves and assassins has spread this work far and wide, where it was taken up by pre-existing cells that previously followed their own abridged versions.

The teachings of the Baleful Word are roughly as follows:

  • Murder is the natural way of things.
  • Kill when you can, kill them quick, and try and obtain a reward for your kill.
  • Every murder should be a challenge.
  • Where possible, make sure your victim knows who killed him.
  • Ensure you are not punished.

This is usually interpreted by cultists of Bhaal so that they murder people as often as possible (every day ideally, but at least every tenday). When they kill it should be for personal gain (wealth, power, position). Killing should be viewed as an artform, every murder should be challenging, and the killer should hone his skills as much as possible. At the moment of death the assassin should ensure the victim knows the identity of his killer. Lastly, because murder is the natural way of things, no murderer should be punished (more appropriately no murderer should get caught).

The Cult of the Deathbringer often becomes a home to those with an uncontrollable impulse to indulge their darkest nature. Their motivation is to kill as an artform, and to use that artform to better themselves. The Cult of the Deathbringer cells often form around a core of assassins in any criminal organisation, or criminal organisations use an existing cell to augment its membership with skilled assassins.

The most skilled assassins of the cult bring in large amounts of wealth and power in return for the hired murder of requested targets, and a portion of that wealth is taken by the cult in return for services to assist the assassin (cult members running interference or distractions, helping cover up murders, providing equipment, gathering intelligence on targets, etc).

Individual cultists are often members of local society that have used assassins from the cult to further their own aims (by eliminating rivals) and are then drawn into the cult (using blackmail if necessary) and become members themselves. These murders are all performed with an end goal in mind to increase their position in life, the goal then becomes to indulge their murderous fantasies and acquire more wealth and power in the process, but balance that against the need to not get caught and risk the life they have worked for. Often the desire to murder eventually outweighs the need to escape punishment.

Ceremonies / Festival / Rituals

Bhaal’s Rest: Every cult safehouse has a secret room or compartment that houses a steel sarcophagus with skull head, large enough to fit a tall human. This secret room is known as Bhaal’s Rest, in homage to Bhaal’s ascension (or burial according to sages) casket. Bhaal’s Rest is a ritual obeyed every month whereby the Bhaalyn with the greatest kill count or most prestigious kill is rewarded by filling the sarcophagus with the blood of sentient beings and the winner then lays down in the sarcophagus and is shut in for the night (a practice Bhaal was said to enjoy on occasion).

Day’s Farewell: This is a personal ceremony observed by all Bhaalyn at the end of the day or before setting out to commit murder. The Bhaalyn give thanks to Bhaal while washing their hands in blood (any blood will do). In a cult safehouse the Bhaalyn often meet for evenfeast and perform the Day’s Farewell as a large group.

The Blood Telling: This ceremony occurs on the Feast of the Moon, where all members of the cult meet and tell stories of their greatest kills.

Membership / Recruiting

In every region; except Thay, the Cult of the Deathbringer is unwelcome in society (being closely watched and not allowed to practice their beliefs) or is completely outlawed. As a result, recruiting into the cult is performed in secret from those people who have beliefs in alignment with the cult.

There are typically two avenues into the cult, either the potential recruit commits a murder and is hidden or rescued by the cult and given the option to join, or the potential recruit approaches the cult to assassinate someone and is then gradually drawn into the cult membership through favours, blackmail and an increased requirement for assassination or an increased interest in performing the murders themselves. In Thay, recruitment is more usual for an established church, with people expressing an interest at a temple and training as a priest and assassin in a formal manner.

Regardless of the method of recruitment, all members are required to have committed or been directly involved in the death of another sentient beings. This stringent requirements mean that the membership of the Cult of the Deathbringer is almost uniformly filled with psychopaths and social deviants who delight in murder (although torture and inflicting suffering is not a part of the dogma of the cult it is generally widely practiced). Not all members are completely out of control and commit murder with even the slightest provocation or opportunity, many of the most successful members of the cult are successful members of society in important positions of power (which they obtained through murder), they use murder only when absolutely necessary or when almost free of risk, and they use it to improve an aspect of their life, it is very rare they will risk being caught in order to indulge their pleasures.

Allies

The Cult of the Deathbringer is regularly used by the Churches of Bane and by the Church of the Bone Lord to eliminate potential threats (in particular anyone that harmed a priest of Myrkul can expect death swiftly and painfully). In return the Cult of the Deathbringer often works closely with followers of Bane and Myrkul in many endeavours.

Important NPCs

Carzakh “Deepshadow” Halandir (Evil, Human – Tethyrian, Expert 12): Carzakh Halandir of Waterdeep was one of the original five founders of the Shadow Thieves in 1255 DR, the Year of the Raging Flame. Carzakh was the only original founder to escape Lhestyn Arunsun’s infiltration and destruction of the guild, forcing Deepshadow to flee south to Calimshan with his few surviving agents.

Carzakh has re-established the Shadow Thieves in Amn, and helped it to grow from just another guild of thieves and assassins, into the major criminal organisation of the Sword Coast, being involved in over half of all criminal activities along the Sword Coast. Carzakh did this by reorganising the Shadow Thieves into an organisation of magic users supported by thieves and assassins, led by the Shade Council (3 magic users that control all the activities in Amn, Tethyr, and Calimshan) who report to Carzakh.

Carzakh has long since retreated into the shadows of the Shadow Thieves,where he is known only as a mythical leader called “Deepshadow”, leaving the day to day running of the guild to the Shade Council while he supposedly dwells in the “Shadowhouse” in Amn. There are no current members of the Shadow Thieves that know of Deepshadow’s true identity, and few beings still alive today are aware that Carzakh Harandil was in reality a pawn of the magic user Marune, who now uses Carzakh’s identity to pull the strings of the organisation he helped to create (Carzakh is little more than a mind controlled mannequin that obeys Marune’s every command).

Carzakh is rarely seen by the Shadow Thieves today, and if he appears he is always masked and cloaked by magic. He exists purely to act as Marune’s mouthpiece in commanding the Shade Council to perform his bidding. Carzakh is a devout follower of Bhaal and a skilled assassin, the Shade Council is likewise peopled by those who worship Bhaal.

Hobarth (Evil, Human – Calishite, Magic User 11): Hobarth is as grotesquely fat and foul on the outside as he is evil on the inside. He was once a senior figure in the Shadow Thieves of Amn but was forced to leave during the Great Amnian Trade War of 1333 DR after he used the chaos of that time to assassinate several more senior members of the guild including an attempt on one of the Shades of the Shade Council.

Hobarth spent a decade wandering the Sword Coast trying to evade the daggers of his former colleagues. Ultimately he ended up on the Moonshae Isles where he influenced the assassination and attempted assassination of the kings of the Ffolk in an effort to destabilise the region, then he and his allies attacked with an army of undead and other monstrous creatures.

Hobarth is believed slain by the hand of Grunnarch the Red.

Levanst Karlbach: One of the greatest of the faithful of Bhaal, active in the Dragon Coast in the 6th Century Dalereckoning. He co-founded the magical academy known as Darkbrantch in the tunnels of the Underdark somewhere between Westgate and Teziir, where a cadre of magic users known as Dread Necromancers were trained and became a scourge on the lands above.

First Murder Marchosias (Evil, Human – Calishite, Expert 15): Marchosias is said by many to be the greatest assassin in Calimshan, to some he is the greatest assassin since Bhaal himself, and many whisper Marchosias is one of the Bhaalspawn, a fact supported by his gold flecked eyes.

Marchosias, known as the King of Killers, is a senior member of the Cult of Deathbringers in Calimshan as well as an assassin in the employ of the Shadow Thieves, he is so powerful and confidant that he even ignores the commands of the Shade Council of the Shadow Thieves.

Primate Mericor (Evil, Human – Tethyrian, Magic User 7): Mericor was the leader of a Cult of the Deathbringer cell located in the decaying castle that would become the Friendly Arm Inn. This group would plague caravans along the Coast Way, luring them into the grounds and murdering whole caravans to a man.

In 1346 DR, Bentley Mirrorshade and his companions stopped in the grounds of the castle and were set upon by the cultists. After a number of battles the cult was decimated and Mericor was slain, only to rise the following night as a spirit. Mericor was slain again as the first rays of the sun appeared and Bently Mirrorshade decided to restore the castle to working order as a waystop inn, hiring a priest from Baldur’s Gate to sanctify the entire castle grounds.

Unfortunately the hidden chamber known to Bhaalyn as Bhaal’s Rest was missed by the sanctification and Mericor returned again inside the sarcophagus (for he is a poltergeist bound to the castle). Mericor can only venture into the sanctified castle grounds for short periods of time and even then he is only able to move small objects, he tries to lure people to the hidden chamber where he can slay them.

Rethekan (Evil, Human – Calishite, Magic User 15, Expert 5): Rethekan; the Avenger of Bhaal, supposedly one of the first generation of Bhaalspawn, and a major figure in the founding of the Cult of the Deathbringer.

Rethekan was an accomplished magic user and warrior, like his father. He often used to masquerade as Bhaal to strike fear into his opponents, and is said to have murdered over 300 individuals during his lifetime

When Bhaal was betrayed to his death by Bane, Myrkul, and their followers, it was Rethekan who stalked the betrayers, slaying over a dozen leaders of the cults of Bane and Myrkul (and gaining the moniker Avenger of Bhaal) until he was blinded by one of his targets. Rethekan survived the attack and laid Bhaal to rest in a secret vault hidden in the mountains, where he underwent a transformation to become the eternal guardian of the vault known as Bhaal’s Rest.

Richtar the Red Man (Evil, Human – Chondathan, Expert 5): Richtar “the Red Man” was a well known assassin in the lands of Sembia, famous for witnesses being unable to recall his appearance or any significant detail about him beyond the colour red (an ability owed to the Red Mask of Leira that he always wore while on a slaying).

Richtar the Red Man has not been seen in Sembia for 6 years, owing to the fact that he fled those lands and joined with the fledgling organisation known as the Iron Throne as an assassin. Richtar is now known as Rieltar Anchev, and he is a rising star among the Iron Throne, owing to his keen mind for generating and exploiting business opportunities.

Rieltar Anchev travels often between Cormyr and Baldur’s Gate, looking to expand the Iron Throne into the Western Heartlands, with himself as the head of the new Baldur’s Gate branch.

Rieltar was a member of the Cult of the Deathbringer in Sembia, and while not a truly zealous worshipper, he still offers prayers to Bhaal now and then (although he is careful to steer clear of the Bhaalyn in Baldur’s Gate), most of all though, Rieltar wants money and power and the life of a noble. 

During the winter of 1355 DR, Rieltar encountered a street urchin in the alleys of Baldur’s Gate, a ten year old boy whose visage had been haunting his dreams. Rieltar has adopted Sarevok and married the boy’s “mother” (not his actual mother, an 18 year old woman living on the streets that has cared for him since the age of 4), and is hoping to bring the boy up as his own son (and a loyal pawn in his plans). Rieltar and his family spend much of their time travelling between Ordulin and Baldur’s Gate as he makes preparations to expand the Iron Throne.

Nightblade Separ (Evil, Human – Tethyrian, Expert 3): A cruel and sadistic murderer with violent impulses who skulks in the back alleys of Berdusk.

High Primate Sharthane Zul (Evil, Human – Mulan, Magic User 12): Sharthane Zul is the leader of every Cult of the Deathbringer cell in Thay. Each of these cells all recognise the High Primate as the ultimate authority and obey all his orders, but so far his control has been fairly light, allowing each cell to run itself as long as there is no conflict with other cells and ensuring that all contracts on Red Wizards and their slaves are reported to his staff at Eltabbar for his approval.

Sharthane Zul is one of the most powerful men in Thay, rivalling even the Zulkirs for power. His church of assassins are called upon to kill on behalf of the Red Wizards and their various factions, allowing him great political leverage in exchange for the information he possesses.

Sharthane is very careful who is killed in Thay. Red Wizards and their slaves are off limits unless approved by himself (anyone disobeying that order is cast out of the church and usually quickly captured by the aggrieved Red Wizard or his allies). He has a huge palatial manse in Eltabbar with secret underground chambers and extensive orchards and slave farms in surrounding lands (gifts in exchange for information or mercy). Sharthane Zul is supposedly allied with a succubus that “visits” him on occasion.

Cowled Death Sieran (Evil, Half Human – Vaasan, Half Orc – Grey Orc, Expert 8): Sieran is an accomplished assassin in the Cult of the Deathbringer cell in Ravens Bluff. Like most members of his cell he carries medallion depicting Bhaal’s symbol but which remains invisible unless a codeword is spoken (“murder”). Sieran is one of the criminal elements of Ravens Bluff society and makes a living from crime, including pick pocketing, burglary, blackmail, and murder. The cult pays him well as a contract killer and to run interference for other assassins on contracts as requested.

Sieran maintains an alternate identity as Korblan, a sword for hire that frequents the seedier regions of the city. Sieran exhibits very little of his orcish heritage except for bandy legs and slightly enlarged incisors, this allows him to operate in Ravens Bluff without any additional hindrance due to his appearance.

Tyaral (Evil, Human – Mulan, Magic User 5): Tyaral is a mulan from Thay and a priest serving at the House of Splintered Bones in Bezantur. Tyaral is a fanatic, and steadfastly obeys the edicts of his cult, stalking and brutally slaying an intelligent humanoid every tenday (and not just purchased slaves like many of his colleagues, he even slays the occasional Red Wizard when the opportunity arises).

Reaper Tynnos Argrim (Evil, Human – Calishite, Magic User 7): Tynnos Argrim is one of the assassins of the Shadow Thieves operating out of Athkatla. Tynnos is an ambitious, controlling, and intelligent man, he uses his magic to assist his manipulations of people and events as well as to eliminate his targets, he is a rising star among the Shadow Thieves but has an intense dislike of people that do not show him the proper respect.

Tynnos Argrim trusts only one person in the entire realms, his younger brother who is a common cutpurse in the Shadow Thieves guild (and who Tynnos is educating in the ways of magic). Tynnos is not a particularly devout follower of Bhaal, nor is he a particularly committed assassin, he takes only those contracts that he believes will benefit him personally (delegating other contracts to his lessers).

Primate Winski Perorate (Evil, Human – Tethyrian, Magic User 8): Winski Perorate is the Primate of a Cult of the Deathbringer cell in Baldur’s Gate that operates in an ancient temple to Bhaal hidden in the Undercity.

Winski uncovered a hidden message in an ancient copy of the Baleful Word, one that detailed the bloodline of Bhaal and his children. Winski was well aware of the prophecies of Alaundo, although he believed that the prophecy referred to Bhaal’s demise centuries ago and that his descendants would cause chaos in the present. He had spent decades tracing the descendants of Bhaals children and in 1348 DR he had his cultists kidnap many of these children and performed rituals on them with the ultimate intent to sacrifice them to Bhaal to augment his own power.

Unfortunately the Harpers attacked the shrine of Bhaal in the Forest of Wyrms and rescued all the Bhaalspawn except for one, a toddler by the name of Sarevok, whom Winski took with him when he teleported to safety. Winski realised he needed a plan far more subtle and more ambitious to succeed in imbuing him with the powers of Bhaal’s bloodline. He has created a new life for Sarevok, first finding him a home in a brothel in the back alleys of Baldur’s Gate, then he engineered Sarevok meeting a former Bhaalyn named Rieltar Anchev who worked for the Iron Throne.

Winski has now joined the Iron Throne himself and has seen to it that Rieltar has hired him to tutor Sarevok while the family are in Baldur’s Gate. Winski intends to influence Sarevok into committing murder on a grand scale, with warfare.

Spheres of Influence

Calimshan: This region and neighbouring Tethyr are the historical heartlands of Bhaals worship, being the final destination of Bhaal before his ascension, and not yet having suffered a calamity to decimate the the number of cultists as happened in Netheril and Jhaamdath.

During the Shoon Imperium worship of Bhaal was welcomed openly and developed into a fledgling church, expanding outward to cover all the lands of Shoon (from Amn to the Shaar and Tashalar). Bhaal’s worship was driven underground several times during the Shoon Empire and has been so since the fall of that empire.

Bhaal’s Rest: Hidden somewhere in the mountains of Calimshan is believed to be the final resting place of Bhaal (although the Bhaalyn maintain he ascended here rather than perished). After his betrayal by Bane, Myrkul, and their followers, Bhaal was slain and finally laid to rest in a specially prepared tomb known only as Bhaal’s Rest. Bhaal’s son, Rethekan the Avenger is the only person who knows the location of this tomb (him having slain the builders) and he underwent a transformation into undeath to become the eternal guardian of Bhaal’s Rest.

Memnon:

The Protector’s House: This unusual building is over 1000 years old and is carved from a distinctive emerald marble native to the Deepwing Mountains north of the Vilhon Reach. While this temple is now dedicated to Valkur, Shaundakul, Selune, and Ibrandul (whose likenesses form the four caryatid columns at the entrance, it was once a cult headquarters and assassins guildhouse that was cleansed over 130 years ago.

Teshburl: Like many cities in Calimshan, Teshburl was once home to a secret temple of Bhaal out of which operated a guild of assassins. This temple was destroyed thanks to the actions of the Red Rysal which revealed the followers of Bane and Bhaal as being behind the disappearance of children across Teshburl.

Cormyr:

Waymoot: A large thieves guild populated with numerous others with darker and murderous intent, is active in Waymoot. The Cult of the Deathbringer in Waymoot has remained active and hidden for the past 2 centuries since it was driven from the Hullack Forest by the Wanderers and their allies. Many of the senior figures in this cell occupy prominent positions in society to such an extent that half the town council in Waymoot have membership in the Cult of the Deathbringer.

Dalelands:

Vault of the Idol: Centuries ago a group of Bhaalists fleeing exile from Cormyr or Sembia stumbled across one of the entrances to the lore vaults of Uvaeren. By chance they happened to be in possession of a magic key needed to open the portal and access the vaults, and so gained a secret and well hidden base of operations from which to operate.

The cultists of Bhaal have spent years locating additional keys to the lore vaults and hiding them inside stonework idols that represent notable targets assassinated by the cult. These idols are then used to open portals to and from the lore vaults of Uvaeren in a giant nexus of hideaways that the Bhaalists use to appear all over the Dalelands.

Moonsea:

Phlan: A secret subterranean temple beneath Phlan, collapsed by the flight of dragons.

Thay: 

Bezantur:

House of Splintered Bones: This sprawling, many tiered structure looks like new layers have been piled on over the centuries, just like a pile of bones.

Eltabbar: Eltabbar is home to the headquarters of the Cult of the Deathbringer in Thay. High Primate Sharthane Zul makes the temple here his residence, where he is attended by hundreds of slaves and whispers of a succubus.

Western Heartlands:

Baldur’s Gate:

The Charnel Crypt: This ancient temple to Bhaal resides in the deepest parts of the sewers known as the Undercity, where the original foundations of Baldur’s Gate lie (although it is believed the temple was built long after the foundations became buried by layers of civilisation).

The Charnel Crypt has been abandoned and rediscovered many times of the centuries, currently it is tended by a powerful Cult of the Deathbringer cell headed by Primate Winski Perorate. Embedded in the walls of the temple are a dozen blood red gemstones believed to have been carried by Bhaal himself during his life. The gemstones pulse and glow periodically, and Winski believes they glow brighter with every murder that takes place within the temple, storing the life force within.

Friendly Arm Inn: This walled community is a former castle but now serves as a travellers waystop run by the famed illusionist Bentley Mirrorshade and his young family. Bently acquired the premises by clearing out the castle of a resident cell of the Cult of the Deathbringer ran by the Primate Mericor. Mericor was slain by Bentley and his companions, Mericor then returned as a poltergeist and was again slain.

While Bentley and his family and former companions work hard to make sure the Friendly Arm Inn is a safe haven for travellers along the Coast Way, there are rumours of strange events at the inn, objects moving by themselves, personal effects going missing and even people vanishing from the inn. These events are all down to Mericor who still survives as a poltergeist bound to the Friendly Arm Inn. Bentley Mirrorshade has paid to have the entire inn sanctified by a priest of Helm, but a hidden cellar was missed and Mericor survives in the chamber of Bhaal’s Rest. Mericor can leave the cellar for limited periods but is quickly weakened by the sanctified area meaning he can only move small objects, those victims he lures to the hidden cellar receive the full focus of his power and are quickly slain.

Allies

The Shadow Thieves: While the Shadow Thieves were originally founded as a guild of assassins in Waterdeep and was essentially a large Cult of the Deathbringer cell, its destruction and exile from that city has seen the Shadow Thieves evolve to be a large criminal organisation run by magic users that deals in everything from blackmail, drugs, theft, burglary, assassination, and any other criminal activity from which money can be made.

Today assassination is just one part of the Shadow Thieves’ business and the Shadow Thieves call upon groups of assassins (all of whom are members of local Cult of the Deathbringer cells) to carry out their contract killings. 

The Kaskers: This powerful guild of assassins has control of much of the contract killings in Ravens Bluff and the majority of their membership also share membership in the local Cult of the Deathbringer Cell. The Kaskers are so named for their tendency to hide bodies inside empty casks of ale, cider, or wine being transported about the city, poor spelling by a member of the watch led to the current name.

Resources

Magic Items

Bloodletters: These curved blades originate from the Calimshan but have long since spread across Faerun thanks to trade and their adoption by the Cult of the Deathbringer as the murder or sacrifical weapon of choice. Every Cult of the Deathbringer cell has at least one enchanted dagger known as a Bloodletter which is augmented to make it sharper and more deadly but also to inflict wounds that bleed violently and profusely, in homage to the weapons used by Bhaal himself.

Golden Eyes of Rethekan: These artefacts are believed to have been created from the actual eyes of Rethekan the Avenger, who was blinded while on a rampage to avenge the betrayal of Bhaal (during which he slew a score of high priests and high profile worshippers of Bane and Myrkul). The tales say that Rethekan plucked out his own useless eyes and stalked the last 3 of his targets without eyes (brutally murdering them with his bare hands). 

Bhaalyn claim that Bhaal himself enchanted the golden orbs that were Rethekan’s eyes, making them able to see the weaknesses of any opponent, piercing illusions, disguises, and obscurement (the user need only have the target in sight). In order to use the eye, it must replace the user’s existing eye.

Most believe that Rethekan has both eyes with him in Bhaal’s Rest, but in truth he had it attached to an elaborate golden earring and gifted to one of his kin (a grand-daughter). The Golden Eyes of Rethekan possess a secret power, in that the “wielder” of one eye is able to see through the other eye providing he knows the mental command to activate this power.

The Wandering Knife: This curved dagger is believed to have been wielded by Bhaal himself, favoured before acquiring the Jathiman Dagger (and after since the Jathiman Dagger was left in the heart of Borem of the Lake of Boiling Mud). Its powers are legendary, said to be able to pierce any armour and deal wounds that bleed exposively, causing the victim to perish in second from the blood loss.

Bhaal was said to be able to throw the dagger with deadly accuracy and have it return to his hand at will, he could also split the dagger into two slightly less deadly version (that could not be thrown) so he could fight two handed.

The Wandering Knife was lost in Calimshan or Tethyr when Bhaal ascended to godhood. It reappeared in the annals of history in the 10th century Dalereckoning in the hands of Primate Othorgor who operated out of Murder Hall in Tashluta and turned it into the greatest deathtrap in the South. Othorgor and his followers were slain by the Griffons Away adventuring band of Baldur’s Gate who likely took the Wandering Knife to Griffon Hall in Baldur’s Gate along with the other treasure they recovered.

Griffon Hall became the target of every Bhaalyn in Faerun and within 8 years the Griffons Away adventuring band were lost (although there are rumours that a sorceress escaped into the sewers). The Wandering Knife has had unverified sighting up and down the Sword Coast over the centuries since then.

Orders

Bhaalspawn: The Bhaalspawn are scores of individuals that are believed or that believe themselves to have been sired by Bhaal himself for some unknown purpose. These individuals are not part of any organisation, and do not normally work together, nor are many officially allied with the Cult of the Deathbringers.

The Silvershields: This old and wealthy noble family of Baldur’s Gate is one of the few to contain more than a few Bhaalspawn in its bloodline, leading those obscure sages who studied Tharlagaunt Bale’s history to suspect they are related to the ancient assassin.

Brethren of the Keen Strike: An order of the most successful assassins in Faerun. Every member of this group must have over 20 confirmed and undetected assassinations (i.e the means of death is not believed to be murder, or the murderer is not believed to be a member of the Cult of the Deathbringer).

Those who join this prestigious group of assassins often treat themselves as outside any cell hierarchy, calling themselves Deathstalkers. These assassins move to wherever region they find the richest reward and are almost guaranteed to be given a warm reception at any Cult of the Deathbringer cell (who should have heard their name). In return for necessary resources, the Deathstalkers often take on the most difficult missions for a greater reward.

Dread Necromancers: The Dread Necromancers are a group of magic users that can all trace their magical traditions back to the four founders of the Darkbrantch; a magical academy hidden in the subterranean tunnels of the Underdark between Westgate and Teziir.

One of those four founders was Levanst Karlbach; a powerful magic user and one of the Deathbringers of Bhaal, and although Levanst later turned against the Darkbrantch, the teachings of Bhaal is still heavily ingrained in the education of Dread Necromancers today.

All Dread Necromancers learn to progressively suffuse their bodies with Negative Energy, making them more and more undead-like. While their numbers are limited, their abilities are exotic and powerful, and they are spread throughout the Dragon Coast and beyond. The teachings of Bhaal, Kiaransalee, Talona, and Yurtrus in the rituals and lessons of Dread Necromancers make them favourably disposed towards Deathbringers, and the cultists of Bhaal often work with Dread Necromancers to eliminate targets.

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