Conventicle of Affliction
Worship: Followers of the Rotlord meet to worship in sewers, dunghills, dumps and refuse piles, at the waning quarter of each moon. The steps of the sacrifice (see Sacrifices, below) are carried out in measured steps, each of which is preceded by prayer and recitation from the faithful.
Grooming and bathing of any sort is considered scandalous behavior among the faithful, and the use of perfumes and soaps is a violation of the faith. Similarly, cleaning of the home or the washing of clothes, bedsheets, cups or silverware is also considered sinful. In short, these filthy individuals avoid any activity that could inhibit the spread of illness and disease.
Unholy Symbol: A rotting, worm-eaten head.
Unholy Days: The unholy days of The Pestilent Ones vary by region, and are usually associated with a great plague that swept through the land or a sickness that killed all inhabitants of a small village.
In Zazahni, for example, the Feast of the Otyugh requires worshippers to dart in and out of a captive otyugh’s tentacles, snatching food from the beast’s mouth and eating it. The Reanaarian Celebration of Swarms is a ceremonial baptism in a living swarm of cockroaches. The Brandobians even have gone so far as to practice the Hour of the Wolf, in which a werewolf or other lycanthrope bites each worshipper.
Unholy Colors: Drab yellow and sickly green.
Unholy Animal: The rat is the unholy animal of The Pestilent Ones, and rats are often seen within their homes or places of worship.
Raiment: Clergy of the chaotic evil god of disease, plague and vermin seem to have little use for nice clothing. These Pestilent Ones, clergy of the Conventicle of Affliction, prefer to dress in filthy, rotting garb covered with offal. Higher level clerics prefer drab yellow or sickly green colored robes.
Advancement: The Pestilent Ones’ main ceremony of advancement requires them to be cured of all diseases and then infected with at least one new one. Pestilent Ones have no rank designations among themselves, and their name varies from region to region and race to race. In all cults, a Pestilent One must possess, have survived, or been cured of a number of different diseases equal to the rank he wishes to attain.
When Pestilent Ones advance within the Conventicle, their superiors cure them of their maladies and inflict them with new diseases. If a cleric does not advance fast enough or please his superiors, he will eventually die of his disease. Because of this situation, low-level Pestilent Ones are the most fanatical clerics found on Tellene.
Many of these ailments are outwardly visible, often causing large boils and open, oozing sores. The mere sight of some of the higher level Pestilent Ones inspires fear and revulsion.
Sacrifices: Pestilent Ones sacrifice healthy individuals or animals every waning quarter moon (all three moons – Diadolai, Pelselond, and Veshemo). Typically, the sacrifice is tortured, horribly disfigured, inflicted with a rotting disease, and then left to decompose in a cell.
Temples are small culverts, with little more than an altar and maybe a dry spot for a handful of worshippers to collect. In the case of cities without a sewer system, The Pestilent Ones meet as near the city’s water or food supplies as possible. They might share the temples of the House of Hunger; if the city only has one limited supply of food, it’s easier for The Pestilent Ones to taint all of it. An aqueduct, silo, or at least a midden (a dump for domestic waste) is always within 100 feet of a temple.
Where they can, The Pestilent Ones build large, ornate underground cathedrals accessible only via secret doors within a city’s sewer system. Because of the danger to the faith if the city’s authorities discover the temple, the Conventicle of Affliction is slow to build these cathedrals and draconian in their maintenance of secrecy. They usually represent the work of generations and a long history of faithful following rather than the efforts of a single ambitious cleric.
The faith has no holy seat. If any cathedral could be considered singular in its fame or prestige, it would be the hidden Palace of Filth below Svowmahni. The fetid air in the Palace’s halls leaves worshippers retching and rubbing their burning eyes for days afterward.
The cleric who leads services at this temple is a yuan-ti halfblood named Silerisk. Silerisk’s origin has brought an eclectic mix of worshippers to Svowmahni. Its success despite its nonhuman membership has caused other temples to seek out exotic worshippers of their own.
|Friends and Allies:|
|The House of Hunger: “Hunger makes disease so much easier to inflict, and often brings about the same result…”|
|The Congregation of the Dead: “The dead spread such wonderful diseases…"|
|Foes and Enemies:|
|The Temple of the Three Strengths: “They are so focused on health and power that they rarely become ill – they do not understand the spiritual value of disease."|
|The House of Solace: “They heal all illnesses, without acknowledging the value of the illness itself.”|
|The Church of Everlasting Hope: “Hope is not what the diseased should feel, if they are to understand the true nature of their illness…”|