Congregation of the Dead
Worship: Temples and altars dedicated to the Harvester of Souls are located in or beneath graveyards. The Congregation of the Dead makes their sacrifices during the full of Veshemo. Humans are preferred, but other races suffice if no humans are nearby.
Unholy Symbol: A skull and scythe.
Unholy Days: The high unholy day, known as the Soul Harvest, takes place on the night of the harvest moon (Veshemo, during the autumnal equinox). Celebrants bring a mass of captives for a communal sacrifice. The faith teaches that each worshipper gains credit for these kills, multiplying their value for the purpose of attaining greater undead status after death.
Unholy Colors: Black and bone white.
Unholy Animal: The unholy creature of the Harvesters is a skeletal dragon.
Raiment: The Congregation of the Dead’s clergy, like the image of their grim reaper patron, wear jet black, flowing robes generally made of linen or wool. All Harvesters, save for the Novitiates, also wear pendants whose color indicates their level within the church. The Harvesters adorn themselves and their weapons with skulls.
|2||Messenger||plain pendant with no gem|
|10||High Harvester||black sapphire|
To advance to any rank in the church beyond rank 1, The Harvester must have killed at least a number of intelligent victims equal to the desired rank number squared. Only victims killed while at the current rank count towards the new rank. For example, a Harvester who wishes to gain the rank of Fiend (rank 6) must have killed 36 victims (6×6) while he was a Malefactor (rank 5). Likewise, a Harvester seeking to become a Reaper (rank 8) must have killed 64 victims (8×8) while he was a Hellion (rank 7).
Advancement: Advancement within the Congregation of the Dead is by number of souls harvested, seniority and undead status. Level within the church is indicated by the type of gem worn on their pendant.
A Collector is given a dagger of venom for his magic item.
In order to advance to Fiend, The Harvester must be capable of creating skeletons or zombies.
To gain the rank of Hellion, a The Harvester must be able to create ghouls, ghosts, mummies, or mohrgs, must be an intelligent undead himself, or must have killed an additional 50 victims.
Even evil creatures have their boogeymen, the stories passed along that strike terror into the foulest hearts. For a growing number of Harvesters, that legend is the Grey Ghost. The Grey Ghost is rumored to be the soul of paladin once defeated by an undead vampire lord that retained his intelligence and soul. Over the centuries, his appearance has been attributed to the destruction of local Congregations of the Dead. When an otherwise prospering clutch of undead is suddenly wiped out, the Grey Ghost is often said to be the culprit. Until recently, most such assertions were dismissed as rumormongering. However, within the last decade, evidence has grown that this fable has some basis in fact. In part, this has been fueled by a sighting of the Grey Ghost by one of the High Harvesters, along with several other reports from other highranking members of the clergy. How the Congregation will deal with this presumed threat is a subject of no little speculation, but a Harvester who does so would surely advance in rank.
To become a Reaper, a Harvester must be able to create ghouls, ghosts, mummies, or mohrgs, must be an intelligent undead himself, or must have killed an additional 60 victims. A Reaper’s second follower is a rogue.
To take the rank of Harvester, he must be able to create shadows, wraiths, specters, or devourers, must be an intelligent undead himself, or must have killed at least an additional 80 victims over those normally required.
To become a High Harvester, The Harvester must be able to create shadows, wraiths, specters, or devourers, must be an intelligent undead himself, or must have killed an additional 100 victims over those normally required.
Sacrifices: Humans or other sentient beings are sacrificed every full moon (Veshemo). During the Soul Harvest (see Unholy Days, above), as many souls as possible are offered. Many congregations hold prisoners for months in anticipation of this day. In addition to the usual sacrifices, at least one cleric is offered up to the Harvester of Souls. The sacrificial cleric can be from any religion, and a member of the Congregation of the Dead is offered if no other cleric is available.
Temples of the Congregation of the Dead lie amid or beneath graveyards. Temples above ground are usually stone and designed like a mausoleum. These temples usually have underground levels, especially for the clerics’ personal chambers.
Cathedrals are windowless stone buildings with angled roofs. The front has four or six columns in the shape of flesh golems. Interior doors are always of stone. Decoration includes skeletal bas-reliefs and epitaphs taken from graves of the faithful.
The faith’s seat lies in Dynaj, where they have attained a legal, if not welcome, status. Their success in Dynaj lends them credibility in other cities. The seat itself is an immense structure, although the above-ground portion does not hold as many worshippers as the faith would like. The exterior is in the shape of a huge skull; the support and architectural needs are stone, while the decorative addition is a bone-white plaster. The faithful enter through the missing “teeth” into an antechamber that serves as the office for the faith’s mortuary services. Beyond that lies a bowl-shaped worship area for saying private prayers and making offerings. Six exits lead from this area to an underground cavern that can hold as many as 2,500 worshippers.
The faith’s seat stands in Dynaj, where it has insinuated itself into a government blinded by the constant warfare between the Church of the Silver Mist and the Temple of Sleepless Nights. The seat moved there from its previous location in Monam-Ahnozh after a thorough purging of its heretical members and realignment of its doctrine in 421 I.R. Since then, the faith has taken a less openly antagonistic stance toward other religions and has concentrated on growing its membership.
The vampire Semantoth governs the faith, and his government has been shaky. He has done nothing to bring the heresies and borderline doctrines into compliance. He has spent the last several years mostly securing his own place within the faith and making the transference to undeath. Clerical historians fear another internal conflict could set back their long period of growth by generations.
|Friends and Allies:|
|The Inevitable Order of Time: “Time, like death, is an unstoppable force. It should be understood as such.”|
|The Temple of Armed Conflict: “They bring death in multiples, with cold precision. They are the ideal army.”|
|The Way of the Berserk: “Bringers of death and destruction, they are powerful warriors.”|
|The House of Knives: “They kill without mercy. Bringing death to people with such precision is a wonderful thing.”|
|The House of Hunger: “Starvation is a most interesting method of causing death.”|
|The Conventicle of Affliction: “They bring about much random death, and create a better understanding of death through disease… An admirable goal, even if the methods are too slow for my liking.”|
|Foes and Enemies:|
|The Church of Everlasting Hope: “Hope should elude the fallen, because death and destruction befall all.”|
|The Church of the Life’s Fire: “Life is one side of the coin, and death is the other. Life is wasted on the living."|
|The Parish of Love: “Love is useless, and temporary. At its best, it only causes pain."|
|The Temple of the Three Strengths: “The Seekers focus on strength, power and ability – wasted efforts to stave off death for one more day.”|
|The House of Solace: “Healing the wounded only delays the inevitable.”|