The Pestilent Ones
The vile, revolting physical appearance of a Pestilent One is but a small glimpse of the evil that festers in his heart and mind. All clerics of the Malignant One are infected with a contagious, terminal disease. Those not already afflicted with such a malady are secretly contaminated during initiation. Aside from the obvious intent of spreading pestilence in the name of the Rotlord, this infecting ceremony serves a very important purpose: it insures obedience and loyalty throughout the ranks of the Conventicle of Affliction. Lower level clerics must show proper devotion to the Bringer of the Plague and do the bidding of their superiors, or they will not be cured of their affliction when it becomes life threatening.
When Pestilent Ones advance, 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.
Lycanthropy (from wererats) is very common within the Conventicle of Affliction. It is rumored that the Malignant One grants lycanthropy only to loyal followers who have done some outstanding deed or service. To become so inflicted is considered a great honor among the Pestilent Ones; thus, a cleric of the Rotlord never willingly spreads this disease.
Adventures: The Pestilent Ones travel the lands inflicting disease on others. They typically dwell in large cities where they inhabit the sewers. There, they set up foul altars and spread their maladies among rats and other sewer vermin. Ultimately, the Pestilent Ones will strive to gain access to and contaminate the city’s water sources.
Characteristics: Clerics of the Lord of the Putrid are cowards when it comes to personal combat. They prefer to ambush their enemies or weaken them by contaminating food and water supplies or by spreading disease in their foe’s camps.
Background: Clerics of the Bringer of the Plague are often people who were once shunned by society because of an already present malady. These people seek the clergy for various reasons: in hopes of being cured, to find companionship among others with similar disorders or, most often, to exact some measure of revenge on those who have rejected them.
Races: Half-orcs and half-hobgoblins, and those rejected by society and forced into a life on society’s edge, are possible converts for the faith. Dwarves, whose ability to resist a disease’s effects impresses the Pestilent Ones, are recruited eagerly.
Relations With Other Classes: Pestilent Ones routinely attempt to kill good-aligned clerics, and hunt paladins without mercy. Pestilent Ones detest monks and their ability to seemingly ignore diseases. Other classes all fall before the onslaught of the Rotlord’s might.
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: Pestilent Ones usually work by bringing others to them, either by placing themselves at traffic choke-points (such as bridges or intersections) or by offering a much-needed service (such as healing wounds or enchanting magical items).