The Church of the Gravedigger

Church of the Gravedigger

Members of the Church of the Gravedigger infiltrate the Darklands and the surface world with gifts and honeyed words among wealthy and wretched alike, protecting their members from retribution with their enigmatic death magic. Meanwhile, they work behind the scenes to cultivate political power and prosperity for their friends. Their demagogues wield the power of the mob; their emissaries consolidate support through extortion and enforce loyalty through magic and mind-altering drugs when ordinary persuasion and intimidation prove insufficient. Faction missions typically involve gathering resources or contacts to establish footholds and recruiting bases in new areas, strengthening and supporting the cult’s allies, and thwarting the efforts of established religions and other enemies of the faith.

Goal: Become the Undead

The Church of the Gravedigger seeks to advance the cause of the Living God, the only deity willing to walk and dwell among humanity, spreading the gospel of his greatness and his superiority to the distant and uncaring “weak gods.”

Members seek to undermine and defame other religions and their adherents, exposing other deities and their servants as corrupt, greedy, and self-serving. They show their loyalty to the Gravedigger by becoming like Him and grow their flock through charity, bribes, and persuasion—and when that fails, through threats, drugging, kidnapping, murder, and even threatening undeath against unbelievers.

Alignment: LE

The cult prizes obedience and loyalty in members, allies, and subordinates; the litany “the Church is death, the Church is undeath” punctuates every rite and prayer. Cult members take what they can when they can, but they are careful about violating local laws and risking exposure and bad publicity for the cult. Cultists are extremely secretive and willing to lie, but if forced to swear a pact, they keep their word. Working covertly behind magic of good works, the cult uses any means to discredit and destroy enemies; it is merciless in punishing failure and pitiless when harm comes to those in the way of its goals.

Leader

Alvanna Du’Vir (LE female drow cleric 5 / wizard 5 / mystic theurge 10) has glossy white hair touched with purple and keeps her intent hidden behind a beautiful grin. She speaks in a silken purr as she oversees the recruitment, training, and assignment of new acolytes at the cult’s fortress, known as First Step. Alvanna’s goal as Vision of the Fifteenth Step is to recruit and train bards in the Gravedigger’s service, not only to increase the healing power wielded by the cult but also to make use of their powers of persuasion and calumny to sway the common folk to see the joys of following the Gravedigger and the folly of opposing him.

Good Class Choices: Bard, Monk, Cleric, Warpriest, Wizard, Sorcerer

Challenging Class Choices: Druid, Paladin, Barbarian, Ranger

Headquarters

The Church of the Gravedigger has its public center in Lake Nirthran, where all wait on the pleasure of the Living God. However, the true headquarters of the cult is the labyrinthine extra-dimensional fortress of First Step, beyond apparent reality of Sekamina. Here willing supplicants and unfortunate captives alike submit to a soul-crushing indoctrination that strips acolytes of independent thought and identity, making them one with the will of the Gravedigger, though exceptional individuals become subtler instruments for removing obstacles to the Gravedigger’s divine design. In the fortress’s deepest cells, the cult’s secrets and treasures are kept secure and its prisoners languish.

Joining

The cult accepts anyone willing to work for the glory of the Gravedigger, though a show of faith or a series of indoctrinating/brainwashing tests are normally required before an applicant is fully accepted.

Gaining Prestige

Because the organization is based on funneling wealth toward the upper levels of the church, the easiest way to gain status is to donate money and goods—a character can literally buy his way into a better status within the church.

Donating 190 gp worth of money, goods (especially healing items), or services earns a character 1 PA. Converting others into believers is another common tactic, yielding a PA value that depends on the “value” of the person converted (typically a number of PA equal to the convert’s level divided by 2 for PC-classed recruits, or the convert’s level divided by 10 for recruits with NPC classes).

Finally, killing unbelievers—mainly clerics of other religions—is worth the same as converting them to the Gravedigger’s faith, but only if their level is equal to or greater than the cultist’s level.

Resources

The Church of the Gravedigger has a vast network of clandestine contacts available to it throughout the Lake Nirthran region, maintaining open temples in Sekamina, the River Kingdoms, Nar-Voth, Molthune, and Ustalav. While the cult has agents and sympathizers outside the region, even in Druma, Kyonin, and Lastwall, CPA costs increase by 5 outside of the cult’s home area.

The Church of the Gravedigger employs many orators, demagogues, and missionaries who spread the gospel of the Living God, subtly impugn other faiths, and recruit among the populace through persuasion and tangible aid. Beyond the power of words and mobs, the cult employs many soldiers for protection and extortion, as well as inquisitors and interrogators of great skill. They also retain alchemists to design custom drugs, poisons and plagues.

5 TPA, 1 CPA

Slander a particular PC or NPC in a community, using the cult’s many contacts and outspoken barkers to spread rumors and lies. The slandered target takes a –5 penalty on Bluff, Diplomacy, and Intimidate checks in that community for 1 week.

5 TPA, 5 CPA

Gain the title “Acolyte of the First Step.” Acolytes may purchase mundane items at a 10% discount, and they gain a +1 bonus to saving throws against drugs and ingested poisons. Acolytes may demand food and shelter from any cult member. For this and the other title-based rewards for this faction, a character can “upgrade” his rank in the church by paying the CPA difference between his current rank and the desired rank.

10 TPA, 1 CPA

Hire a procession march, consisting of one 1st-level bard acolyte and 10 1st-level commoner acolytes, all wearing robes and leading a public worship service. The group clangs cymbals and loudly chants and sings the praises of the Gravedigger, asking for alms and sharing food with nearby beggars. In addition to the distraction this provides, the bard can use her fascinate ability (DC 12) if requested to by the character.

10 TPA, 3 CPA

Hire an enforcer (any faction-appropriate NPC with a class level equal to half the PC’s level, LE alignment, max ranks in Intimidate and Skill Focus [Intimidate]) for 1 week to assist with interrogations and intimidation. The enforcer defends the character if he is threatened, but she does not otherwise fight and does not fight to the death.

10 TPA, 10 CPA

Gain the title “Priest of the Third Step.” Priests may purchase alchemical from the church at a 10% discount. Priests also gain a +1 bonus on saving throws against poison (this bonus replaces the +1 bonus against ingested poison) and have free access to temple concubines and church-run businesses that require a cover fee (such as bars, brothels, clubs, gambling halls, or restaurants).

15 TPA, 5 CPA

Incite a riot, drawing on others in the church to mobilize a large group of commoners, bard acolytes, and other low-level but persuasive cultists. The cultists begin shouting and protesting, which can lead to vandalism and looting if the PC instructs the cultists to encourage such behavior.

20 TPA, 20 CPA

Gain the title “Herald of the Eighth Step.” The character is blessed by the Gravedigger with the gift of voice and can use animate dead 1/day as a spell-like ability. The character also gains a +1 bonus on saves vs. negative energy effects.

20 TPA, 3 CPA

Gain the temporary service of an undead of up to 12 HD, as if using create undead. The member of the faction must negotiate and pay for the undead’s service, though he can spend points from his CPA to have the cult pay the price for the service. If the faction member is a poor negotiator, he can pay 1 CPA point to hire a charismatic advocate to argue on his behalf.

35 TPA, 35 CPA

 Gain the title “Voice of the Twelfth Step.” Those with this title are allowed to wear silver robes, and they gain a +1 bonus on saves against negative energy effects. Those of this rank are blessed by the Gravedigger in a special ritual, granting them the ability to use create undead once per week as a spell-like ability (caster level equal to the character’s level, DC is Charisma-based).

50 TPA, 50 TPA

 Gain the title “Vision of the Fifteenth Step.” Visions are blessed by the Gravedigger in a special ritual, granting them a +1 insight bonus on initiative checks and granting them the ability to use create greater undead once per week as a spell-like ability (caster level equal to the character’s level, DC is Charisma-based).

The Church of the Gravedigger

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