Clerics and followers of the Beastfouler practice fasting as a way of life. They sacrifice food and fast to appease their god. To spread famine, the Gaunt will secretly destroy a town’s food source. This usually involves the poisoning of livestock and the burning of crops. Then, when all seems lost, the evil clerics march into town leading carts laden with food. Under the guise of saviors, they attempt to become town council members or officials. If successful, they soon gain control of the town’s food supply. Slowly they cut back on the food, telling stories of failed crops, locust swarms and diseased livestock.
When the townsfolk become weak and dependent, the Gaunt begin to actually starve them. This, of course, causes anger, usually to the point of revolt. The Gaunt handle this rebellious behavior by agreeing to redistribute the available food. They give no food at all to the biggest protesters and give the dissidents’ shares to the others. The Gaunt take the main protesters captive and secretly starve them as a sacrifice to the Cropslayer. They inform the others only that the naysayers departed for greener pastures and that those remaining may help themselves to the deserters’ food, land and valuables. Most townsfolk neither complain nor dare question this new boon.
When rebellion becomes inevitable, the Gaunt destroy whatever is left of the food stores and flee. Done properly, the Gaunt depart just before winter, leaving the town with no food supplies during the upcoming cold season.
Adventures: The Gaunt adventure to despoil the bounty of The Raiser, and to eliminate stores of foodstuffs harbored for later. They attack merchants who carry food, farmers who produce food and enemy clerics that create food magically.
Characteristics: The Gaunt respect the ability to go without food and, by extension, self-restraint of many kinds. A smooth tongue, the ability to gauge the emotions of a mob, and the ability to judge a threat are useful talents. The Gaunt play a dangerous game with their victims, and walking the thin line between unhappy and violent peasants requires a delicate touch.
Background: The Gaunt usually come from impoverished backgrounds, where a lack of food is commonplace. Choosing to revel in their lack instead of wallowing in self-pity, they spread their misery among others.
Races: The Gaunt can come from any race, but hobgoblins, half-hobgoblins and half-orcs are the most common. Gnomes and halflings are rare, and dwarves and elves of any type are hard to find among the faith as well. Of the humans, the Dejy seem to be the only ones found among the faith in any numbers, and they are usually from the smaller, poorer tribes.
Relations With Other Classes: The Gaunt respect a monk’s iron discipline and ability to survive without life’s luxuries. The paladin’s restraint earns similar respect, although the paladin’s ideals are totally without merit.
Relations With Undead: Clerics are encouraged to animate or create undead in their attempts to further the faith. If intelligent undead must be controlled, the cleric must free them of control as soon as possible. Clerics may freely destroy undead created by junior clerics of their faith, but should not those of peers or higher-ranking clerics. A cleric is allowed to destroy undead created by another faith, if those undead hinder an act that furthers the faith. Violating these restrictions may cause the cleric to lose temple rank, or undergo a quest to atone.
Role: The Gaunt serves as advisor, when plans need to be made, and divine spellcaster, in defense of the party. In any group, the Gaunt insists on being in charge of food and drink. Naturally, those who delay the Gaunt in his goals receive less food, if any.