The Cult of Vivamort
This contains some parts from Chaosium's Cults of Terror, namely Sections I, II and III and assorted parts of the rest.
Any material not from Cults of Terror is Copyright (c) 1996,1997 Simon Phipp.
I. Mythos and History
Vivamort was a Darkness spirit of the labyrinthine halls and ways of Hell, placed there to stand eternal guard over the Terrible Secret. But Vivamort was curious about what the secret was, and when Eurmal crept into Hell, Vivamort betrayed his trust to learn the secret. There they discovered Death.
Vivamort aided Eurmal again when he and Humakt came to carry Death to the surface world, helping them past Death-hound and Bimbaros, Hell's porter. Vivamort knew that all those slain would come to his realm once their souls had met Death.
Grandfather Mortal was the first to die and the first to come to Vivamort. He also was the first to understand Vivamort's soul-greedy treachery, and great hatred stood between the two. When the Sun later came to Hell, Vivamort was burned and had to flee, hurt and disfigured, to the now-darkened surface. (When the Sun learned of Vivamort's role in the release of Death, he sent curses upon hum.)
Reaching the surface, Vivamort sheltered for a while with Mallia, Mother of Disease, trading secrets of Darkness and Death. He stalked the world for Power. As he went, he learned more of Death, and began to fear what he had unleashed, for he recognised Chaos as an extension of Death. The knowledge froze him with terror.
Soon the Devil attacked and wounded him. The wound would not heal, and his Power drained out thru it to the Void. Vivamort faced not just death, but annihilation from this chaos wound. Since he wished above all to preserve himself and his vile deeds, he begged help from his chaos foes and made evil pacts with them.
The Devil allowed him a hollow existence. Vivamort was cut off from the mystic Unity of the world and from the universal flow of Power, and cast apart from both Life and Death. From that agreement onwards, Vivamort would need to drain life from others and embrace Chaos. Faced with complete annihilations or acting as an agent of entropy, he chose the latter out of pride and fear.
Some write that he found this new manner of existence acceptable, because of the determination with which he took up the cause of Chaos, roaring through the Great Darkness. He used his demonic abilities to rip Power from the harried gods, and soon he was able to destroy totally. Vivamort slowly gained allies, and he made others like himself. Once, Vivamort and his Undead allies caught Arroin and broke his spirit, but could not kill him.
News of Vivamort and his transformation reached Hell, there carried by spirits whom he had attacked but not annihilated. Many there cursed him then: the Sun's curse came into effect; Ty Kora Tek, Queen of the Dead, was incensed when Vivamort stole souls who were hers, and she set the Earth against him; the River Styx heard of Vivamort's betrayal and swore he never would cross her waters again, and to this day a drop from the Styx will destroy any vampire it touches. All the waters of the material world followed Styx's vow, and they remain a prime enemy of Vivamort.
Since the Dawning of Time, Vivamort has been hated and feared by most, and embraced by few. Those arrogant few are vain enough and fearful enough to want to maintain their present consciousness forever. It has little history in Time since it infests the outer edges of civilisation and cloaks its activities in utter secrecy. During Time, the Hero-Priest Delecti has grown to great power and fame in the Upland Swamps of Dragon Pass. Additionally, some tenuous connections with a few other cults have been made.
Vivamort's vampire cult offers continued awareness in the same body and warped soul. If the cult member is a vampire and is destroyed, he is annihilated, he does not enter the cycle of rebirth. Since the higher aspects of his spirit, his mystical essence, already has been sacrificed to become a vampire, the vampire has willingly removed himself from the universal cycles. Vivamort offers life eternal for the highest price - the soul.
Despite the enmity of most of the other gods of
Darkness, Vivamort retains his origin in Darkness. His Runes are
Chaos, Darkness and Undead (Hunger).
Vivamort's Virtues are Pride, Cruel, Arbitrary, Vengeful and Selfish.
II. Nature of the Cult
The cult exists because the cosmic duality established in the Godtime allows it to exist, and arrogant people exploit that chance to slake their fears of unbeing. A deadly few will always seek out the vampire cult, with its promises of unlimited existence on the material plane, and risk quick death at the fangs of the vampires in return for the chance of undying. Those who live by accident near temples of the cult may aid the cult out of fear, or find that co-operation with it gives some distinct advantages over their fearful neighbours. So long as such weakness exists in the world, the cult will have many applicants.
Vivamort requires many horrors and absolute loyalty of his worshippers. Long Initiate service is required before reaching Vampire status.
The cult holds little openly-acknowledged position or power in Glorantha. There is some acceptance of it in the Lunar Empire (usually along a contested external border), but the cult is detested by most peoples and governments.
For that reason, the cult locates beyond civilised areas, and its small temples may be located anywhere, frequently operating out of chaos nests. In the Upland Marsh, Delecti and his cult rule a wretched kingdom. In the mountains of Carmania, the noble houses worship the Wounded God in their remote Cassirs and the hereditary Lords rule for centuries. In Dorastor, a council of Vampires rule over the necropolis of Neverdead.
The cult operates secretly, preying upon nearby environs and remaining hidden so long as possible.
Vivamort is friendly to certain sub-cults of the Red Moon (the Crimson Bat in particular) and tolerates Mallia. Daka Fal and the associated cult of Grandfather Mortal are specially hated. Eurmal and Humakt are hated intensely due to the dealings they had with Vivamort in the Godtime. Vivamort always dislikes and fights any cult which actively fights chaos and sees Vivamort as the harbinger of chaos.
The various temples have little contact. A mysterious council, composed of the oldest and most powerful heroes is rumoured, but nothing is known beyond this. A few temples keep ties with parent temples, if the respective vampires are friendly.
A Vivamort temple will have one to five Vampires in most cases. The most powerful Vampire is the High Priest, who runs things as he wills.
Vivamort allows no direct struggles between his Vampires, but Vampires are arrogant by nature and tend to dislike even each other, feeling cramped and confined by too many members in a hierachy. If too many Vampires have been created, the most powerful and ambitious of the lower Vampires will break with his own temple and set out to colonise a new area and found a new Temple of Vivamort. In departing, the priest usually takes a Magus or Adept and a few initiates to aid him.
The Vivamort Centre of Power is the Plateau of Terror, where Vivamort died and was reborn under the terms of his pact with chaos, and where the first Vampires came into being. The Plateau of Terror now may be underground or on another plane of existence - as with the god, now there may always be a Centre of Power "where life has failed, fear prevailed, and chaos is seeping in".
Freeze Night is the Holy Night for Vivamort cultists, especially in Death Week of each Season. The High Holy Night is the night of Wild Day, Death Week, Dark Season.
IV. Lay Membership
Almost anyone can be a lay member, because almost anyone can be a scared person accidentally living near an active Vivamort temple, giving Power to Vampires in hope of avoiding becoming a victim. Vivamorti demand secrecy, and betrayal of their existence to civil authorities or chaos-fighting cults is severely and swiftly punished. Only the close-mouthed lay member's family will be safe.
Lay members may never refuse an invitation to feed the Vampires, to do so means death. Offers of sentient sacrifice will gain favour and permanent lay membership. Lay members may have to do work for the temple, though this is rare. Vampires and lay members rarely interact, except perhaps in the obvious way. High Priests of the Vampires vary in their attitudes towards the lay population: some respect the safety of the "pool" as the flock is sometimes known, but others regard the lay members as cattle, and do so as they wish. Any lay member betraying the existence of the temple is punished severely and swiftly.
Lay members have the benefit of providing sustenance for Vampires. Vampires usually do not victimise lay members. They generally will not kill lay members unless in a feeding frenzy.
V. Initiate Membership
Vivamort prefers to corrupt those of the lineage of Grandfather Mortal - humans, ogres, trolls, ducks, elves, baboons etc. Such candidates for Initiate status must have brought victims to the temple. If hard-working, loyal, quiet, eager, vicious, being may quickly gain initiate-hood.
Initiates must swear never to betray their Vampire masters. They must renounce family or clan ties, or bring them within the cult. They must bring in at least one family member as a feast for the Vampires. If they have no family, a friend will do. In return, the hierarchy agrees to assist the Initiate into the way of the Vampire should he later achieve the status.
A person will be accepted as an Initiate by passing a test abstracted as follows:
If you use the rules on Virtues, the person must succeed in 3 out of 5 Virtue rolls. Each victim supplied to the temple by the person can add 5% to one Virtue.
If you do not use the Virtue rules, the test is (INT + APP + 1 per victim supplied) divided by 2 and multiplied by 5. Roll equal to or less than the result of the calculation on 1d100. Money contributed will be gratefully accepted, but will not increase a candidate's chances.
Failure to be accepted means that the candidate is a traitor or prospective traitor, and will become the main course in the next Vampire feast. The character may be able to fight his way free, of course, but those who fail the test and fail to escape will be turned into zombie temple guardians.
Since Vivamort is an Undead God, he does not require a POW sacrifice. However, any initiate wishing to learn sorcery must undergo Apprentice Bonding with one of the Temple Adepts, at the cost of 1 POW.
There are two types of Initiates in the Vivamort Cult- Providers and Devotees.
Providers merely find victims for sacrifice and arrange for lay members to be used for feeding. They must provide one sacrificial victim per year.
Devotees are those who wish to advance in the cult. They are expected to provide magical support for the Vampires.
Initiates must attend services each Holy Night, when they must freely donate their Magic Points and Blood. They must give one third of their gross income to the cult, and do any work which the hierachy requires. They must put themselves at the Vampires' disposal when extra MPs are required (as in an attack on a Vampire or on the temple itself by an organised foe).
Providers must find victims when such are needed.
Devotees must give the temple one enchanted magic item every year, no matter how small. Such items normally include Binding Enchantments, sorcery matrices or strengthened weapons.
Although Vampires are not harmed by the Sun, they lose all their special powers so long as the Sun shines on them. Initiates are therefore their invaluable representatives during the day. Providers have much direct control of the lay population, thereby gaining fearful respect from that population. An Initiate has limited cult protection and a ransom. Vampires will treat their Initiates fairly, but always know that any Initiate is ultimately expendable. Devotees may live at a temple.
Initiates are encouraged to learn any other skills from outside sources.
Vivamorti use the Sword Biter as a cult weapon. This is essentially a light mace with a sword catcher arrangement. It is a shaped mace with a blunt fork at its tip and a sturdy protective hilt. The cultist will try to parry the blow of a weapon with the fork, then twist his weapon and so disarm the attacker. They generally use a shortsword in conjunction with the sword-biter, but the capture of non-believers is much more useful to the cult.
Since Vivamort is an Undead God, he does not grant Spirit or Divine Magic. He does, however, allow the use of sorcery. The following spells are allowed for initiates, but are not always available, depending on the size of the temple and the calibre of the Adepts and Magi.
Initiates may also learn Spirit Magic spells from outside the cult, as long as they do not fall within the prohibited list. Divine magic may also be sacrificed for, except enemy spells such as Turn Undead.
VI. Adept Membership
Adepts are the equivalent of Acolytes in a Divine Cult. They provide magical support for the Vampires and magical training for Initiates. They generally command the Initiates.
A candidate for Adept status must satisfy the usual Adept criteria in cult spells and have 50% in cult skills. He must have been a Devotee for at least a year (usually for much longer).
He must pass the same test as an initiate. Once again, failure means a horrible death.
An Adept must train Initiates in cult skills and spells. They are required to provide at least one minor magic item per season or one major item per year. This is because Vampires cannot manipulate POW, having none themselves, so they need others to make their enchantments.
An Adept has the usual benefits of the position. He may create a familiar, with bats and wolves being the preferred types. He may gain Initiates as apprentices. He gains command over some of the Initiates. He has control over the local populace, being seen as a mighty sorcerer, favoured by the Vampires.
Vampires will normally not slay their Adepts, they see them as being too useful. However, an Adept who betrays the cult will suffer a long, lingering death and will continue to suffer afterwards as a ghost or zombie.
Adepts learn the skill of Summon, in addition to all Devotee skills.
They may learn combat and stealth skills, with no DEX limits.
If an Adept is the ranking non-Vampire in his temple, he will also learn the Create Vampire spell, which is usually the province of the Magi.
Magi are Adepts who have achieved mastery in magic skills, spells and cult skills. They are masters of melee and magic, rulers of mortals. They are the pinnacle of non-vampire existence.
A prospective Magi must have been an Adept for at least 5 years (usually longer) and must have 90% in all skills and spells available to Adepts. They must pass a test.
If you use the Virtue Rules, the candidate must succeed in rolling all 5 Virtues. He gains a bonus of 5% for each major magic item he has made for the cult. This bonus may be split up between Virtues as needed.
If you do not use the Virtue Rules, the test is (INT + APP +1 for each major magic item created for the cult) multiplied by 2, rolled on 1d100.
Once again, failure means a horrible, lingering death and punishment thereafter as undead.
Magi must create at least one minor magic item per season and at least one major magic item per year. They must provide magical support for the Vampires and must never refuse to create a Vampire if so ordered.
A Mage of Vivamort is considered a Prince amongst the local population. He is seen as being very powerful and is feared almost as much as the Vampires themselves. He is the ruler of mortals and the confidant of Vampires. He liaises with the Vampire masters and has the honour of creating new Vampires. As Vampires cannot manipulate POW, they need mortals to continue the line with the Create Vampire Spell. So, Magi are almost respected by Vampires and almost never killed out of hand, unless they betray the cult.
Magi have the eventual goal of becoming Vampires after some years of service.
Magi are trained in all Adept skills.
Magi may use any spells they can acquire.
Vampires are the mundane incarnation of Vivamort himself. They actively despoil the living, they personify the aggressive, grasping rankness of the grave, which seeks forever to drain life from the living. They consort with any sort of being, if they are particularly pleased with a worshipper or feast victim, they may sponsor them into the cult. They deal with the spiritual levels of Carnal Chaos and their plans are long-range, intricate and pervasive, always looking to the future and increasing the power of the cult.
The cult exists solely to serve an reproduce Vampires, and they know it.
Anyone who is ordered to become a Vampire by the Vampires in a temple has already met the requirements. There is no roll to make, no test to pass. People so ordered may be a Vampire's favourite, long serving Adept or Mage, cult enemy who must be perverted to the cause of Chaos, or whatever.
If you want more mundane acceptance criteria, candidates must have belonged to the cult for 5 years, must have mastered at least one cult skill and must succeed in a test, abstracted as follows:
If you use the Virtue rules, the candidate must succeed in all 5 Virtue rolls.
If you do not use the Virtue rules, the test is (INT + APP) divided by 2 on 1d100.
Failure to be accepted means instant death.
In my opinion, the only people who apply for Vampire Status are those who force the cult to make them into Vampires once made into a Vampire, the cult has to accept them. (One PC dragged a Vampire's coffin into the sunlight, put a silver stake against its chest and threatened to destroy it unless he was turned into a Vampire - fortunately, he was accepted on the spot.)
A Vampire is not restricted by the laws of the cult, except that he may not attack another Vampire. He is not bound by the laws of the cult, because the cult exists to serve him, not vice versa.
A Vampire is limited by the < ahref="vampire1.html">nature of his being.
Vampires rule the cult of Vivamort - Cultists obey them without question or die.
Vampires may learn any skill.
Vampires cannot sacrifice for Divine magic or cast Spirit Magic, having no POW. Any Divine Magic already sacrificed for from a cult compatible with Vivamort will remain. If the spell s were reusable, they remain so, as long as the Vampire regularly attends worship ceremonies and reprays used spells. Spells from incompatible cults become one-use.
Vampires do not have the ability to manipulate POW in any way, so cannot use most enchantment spells. They use Devotees, Adepts and Magi for this purpose.
IX. Cult Special Spells
The Vampires of the cult have access to the following
special sorcery spells.
This spell covers an area of radius 10m. It affects a number of people equal to its intensity. For the duration of the spell, those under the influence of the spell experience the most exquisite sensual joy when being drained of blood and magic points by a Vampire. Vampires always feel this joy when they drain others. Non-Vampires under the influence of the spell will be unable to respond to outside events until the spell has ended or until they are taken outside its area of effect.
Victims may attempt a saving throw of POW + INT. Those failing the throw must make another roll at the same chance or they will co-operate fully with the Vampires in addition to feeling ecstasy.
This spell is used at worship ceremonies and feeding times. It can be used outside the temple, but this is rare.
Steal Rune Magic
This spell must be cast on a single target. Its intensity must exceed the victim's POW or Magic Points, whichever is the higher. The Vampire must drain the victim of Magic Points before the spell ends. Once this is done, the victim will lose permanently the last divine spell he sacrificed for. If the last spell sacrificed for was a stackable spell, he will lose all the points of the spell. Thus, someone who last sacrificed for a point of Shield, taking his Shield to Shield 8 will lose all 8 points of Shield. The Vampire gains the spell as a one-use spell.
Create Henchman (All characteristics except POW)
This spell is used to create a special Henchman. It may only be used on a complete creature and may not be used twice on the same creature. It is similar to the Create Familiar spells in that it transfers characteristics from the Vampire to the Henchman, increasing the characteristics of the Henchman in exactly the same way as Create Familiar.
The spell also makes the Henchman ageless with resistance from disease and poison - the Henchman has twice the normal chance of resisting disease and poison and only takes half damage from them.
A Henchman is in permanent link with the Vampire and must obey the Vampire's commands without hesitation.
If a Henchman's Vampire is destroyed, he will lose the extra characteristics as does a familiar. He will also begin to age normally.
A Henchman can never become a Vampire. He has given up the chance to serve a master now. However, he has POW and is alive, so he has the benefits of immortality without the restrictions of Vampire status.
Those Vampires who do not fit in with temple ways tend to create Henchmen and go their own way. After all, he now has a servant who serves out of love and self interest, not fear- a great advantage.
The following spells have their properties changed
X. Subservient Cults
When Vivamort went to the surface world, he met and befriended a man from the Kingdom of Logic whose name was Mazoo. The two travelled together until Vivamort was wounded by chaos. When the Devil healed Vivamort by turning him into a Vampire, Mazoo asked for the same power, in return for his making available the powers of the West to the forces of Chaos.
Thus, Mazoo made sorcery available to those of Chaos and gained the ability to create more Vampires. He taught these skills to others and was eventually made a Vampire himself. He became second only in power to Vivamort himself, but became overly ambitious and challenged Vivamort. Vivamort won the battle and completely destroyed Mazoo. Since then, Vivamort has forbidden Vampires from attacking each other.
Ever since, Vivamort has tried to prevent his sorcery from being taught to outsiders, thus partially breaking Mazoo's bargain with the Devil. He also does not acknowledge that his sorcery came from Mazoo, not himself.
The cult has no spirit of reprisal save Vivamort himself.
If a Vampire attacks another of its kind, Vivamort will remove its ability to drain blood and magic points vampirically. It will also lose its other powers at the rate of one per day as if it had no earth in its coffin.
An initiate or higher who betrays the cult will find that he can no longer regenerate magic points, nor can he naturally recover from damage or regenerate fatigue.
In addition, anyone turning against the cult will be hunted down and slain by the cult.
XI. Associate Cults
Mallia, Mother of Disease
Vivamort maintains a connection with the being who sheltered him and who helped (inadvertently, some say) destroy him. Mallia has never shaken off these ties of old. Vampires are immune to her form of Death, but aid her and her followers on occasion. They are given the sorcery spell of Summon Disease Spirit.