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Comments: 21
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Rating: 4
Condition: Normal
ID: 2323

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December 8, 2007, 9:08 pm

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Cheka Man

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Vephelot's Milk

By:

Destroyer of Dynasties, Killer of Kings, Bane of Broods, Curse of the Ruling Elite!

Full Item Description

A colorless and odorless liquid with an ever-so-faint taste of puss, Vephelot’s Milk is a poison used by the Demon’s followers in achieving their nefarious goals. Once harvested it can be stored in any simple glass vial. The poison itself is harmless to most. It is completely harmless to males of the human species, or any other species for that matter. In fact, unless one specific criteria is met, it has no effect whatsoever on anyone. That criterion is pregnancy.

History

Many folks are known to pay homage to patron saints, but a small, sinister, cabal of insidious men and women pay homage to a patron demon…Vephelot. A minor entity in the abyssal hierarchy, Vephelot’s existence and sole devotion revolves around the extinguishing of royal bloodlines and breaking the chains of dynastic succession in the nations and kingdoms of men. Unlike many other demons, Vephelot’s appearance is unknown, as he has never been seen by anyone of the human race. This is not a demon you can meet in battle. He is HIDDEN. His followers learned of his existence through clues in an ancient manuscript, now destroyed, called "The Gossamer Veil and Other Tales." You will never know a devotee of Vephelot by his or her appearance or manner. They look and act like anyone else.

Vephelot’s Milk is in essence the Demon’s ichor. Once a year, when the Star of Vephelot can be faintly seen in the southern sky and a gibbous moon emerges, his followers gather in a desolate wilderness location, far from prying eyes and "prepare" the earth beneath them to receive the Milk of Vephelot. This complicated preparation involves one human sacrifice and the repetitious recitation of the ancient ritual gleamed from "The Gossamer Veil and Other Tales". If the words are spoken even slightly incorrectly, Vephelot will not give up his milk. Once a successful preparation is complete, the faithful await their bounty.

After some time, and only by carefully peering at the ground at eye level, the devotees begin to see clear drops of liquid slowly oozing from the earth. These they immediately gather in glass vials, and the "harvesting" is complete.

Once the Milk of Vephelot is acquired the agents of the cult begin to plot and conspire. This will undeniably entail finding ways of slipping the practically undetectable and unidentifiable poison (which is to be digested) into the food or drink of whichever noblewoman, princess, or queen the devotees have targeted. Almost always this will involve those women who are pregnant with an heir of a great kingdom or dynasty. (Insert your own campaign notes here).

Of course, nobles and ruling families are not completely unaware of Vephelot’s cult, and will therefore often go to great lengths to hide the pregnancies of key woman in the royal fold. Undeterred, the devotees of Vephelot will go to even greater lengths to learn of these secretive pregnancies, through various nefarious means, not the least of which is good old fashioned spying, usually accomplished through a well placed and respectable agent somehow close to the royal line, or at least the household.

An interesting twist is that as one might suspect, Vephelot’s followers do not consider themselves evil. Well…most don’t anyway. They think of kings, queens, and all rulers in general as abusers of the great unwritten, universal Human contract. "No one has the right to have power over anyone else."

Rulers are the disease, Vephelot’s Milk is the Cure! (warped early Marxists?)

The effect of this awful practice is two-fold. One, it kills the child (see below). But secondly, it serves as a subtle but powerful way for the devotees to "enlighten" and remind the populace that there is nothing special about royal blood. Needless to say, the deaths of future heirs have a crippling effect on the continuance of the royal lines, and chaos often ensues. This greatly pleases Vephelot the Vile, who lies deep beneath the earth, pining for the Days of Anarchy to take hold in the lands above.

Magic/Cursed Properties

The Milk of Vephelot, once ingested by a pregnant woman, regardless at which stage of the pregnancy the poison was imbibed, begins to do its work. The victim exhibits no symptoms and no adverse effects occur, but when the child is born, the virulent poison is unstoppable and incurable (?). Within one to three days after birth, the newborn tragically dies of seemingly natural causes. The poison can only work if given to an already pregnant woman. One cannot simply poison a woman, hoping she gets pregnant eventually!

Vephelot’s followers can harvest enough Milk per Harvesting, that is to say annually, to poison two to three victims. However, if the concoction is not imbibed by a pregnant female within Eighty Eight Days of the Harvest, the poison dries out (even if properly stored) losing its potency permanently !

The role-playing plot ideas are pretty much self-evident and easy to come up with based on the specific campaign.

- Is there, as of yet, an undiscovered cure?
- Can the PCs find it in time?
- Is it possible to slay Vephelot?
- Is the Royal Chef an agent of the cult?
- Did the King’s son die from Vephelot’s Milk or not?
- Are these loathsome demon followers for hire?!

End Note: Why go through all this trouble if you are a devotee of Vephelot, one may ask. Why not just plan assassinations of young children instead?
To them I say, in the real world, some people will and have gone through a lot more trouble to accomplish a lot less!

Not sure if this entry needed to be submitted as a Secret Society or an Item.



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Comments ( 21 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted Roack
February 13, 2006, 23:42
0xp
I like it, though the overcomplication does irritate me a bit. I think you should write up Vephelot though, he (she?) sounds interesting.
Murometz
February 13, 2006, 23:51
0xp
"over complication" from a person who names his beasties Baha'raha'ha ra. I jest of course!!! but explain if you would re: over complication. I keep reading posts and everyone preaches maximun detail?
Roack
February 15, 2006, 21:07
0xp
The overcomplication of obtaining the milk and assasinating an unborn ruler with it, why not just use normal poison on the queen, taking both her and her child out in one fell swoop?
Voted manfred
February 14, 2006, 3:42
0xp
Interesting: violent anarchists with a hardly detectable poison. I would imagine they would be also interested in other poisons - causing abortion/premature birth/weakening small children; or even poisoning adults, but that is risky. While their main tool is very effective, there is a limited amount of it and it may not be at hand at the right time.

Also, is there by chance some antidote?


There could be less empty lines towards the end, it is too strawn over. As for the categorization, it is on you, but you can certainly split it and make the group a Society of its own. Or Vephelot, the merciful spirit that wants people to be free... that is how a demon should be seen by its followers. The bloody chaos they create is just an accidental by-effect of their noble cause.
Voted Scrasamax
February 14, 2006, 15:52
0xp
I like this submission, both as an organization of religious fundamentalists and their unifying agent, the harvested essence of a minor demon. It is a mistake to try and rationize the thoughts and actions of a zealot, as by their very nature they will defy common logic and 'your' basic beliefs. Why would they go to such extremes to kill an infant? Because giving an expectant mother a dose of poison six months before birth isn't murder, it's just a religious devotion. Six months later the child is born and quickly dies, no one knows how, or even when the poison was delivered. It also goes to say that killing an infant is an evil act, but by use of the poison, the evil act is the work of the demon's milk, not the hand of a Follower.
Murometz
February 14, 2006, 19:44
0xp
Manfred- I guess they could be interested in various poisons, but I see them more as specialists. Otherwise they devolve into a Poisoners Guild. Also, the beauty of Vephelot's Milk is that you can never tell (unlike other traditional poisons) if the baby sipmly died (quite common in real world history) or was poisoned. Having said that I still think your take on it would work! and most importantly THANKS for caring. I still can't get over the fact that I found this website and like-minded INTELLIGENT individuals such as yourself who like what I like!! *gushing* ...bare with me I'm new. I'll get jaded later.

antidote- yes and no. I'm guessing somewhere out there is an antidote or cure (there would almost have to be I think), but for now there isn't. My players have decided that the best way to deal with this villainy, is either to infiltrate the cult, or find some way to actually kill Vephelot. They understand that this can't be done in a "put-up-your-dukes" kind of way, so I can't way to see what they come up with.

Vephelot- "merciful spirit"...I like that a lot!

BTW- we are playing this weekend and if YOU have any ideas on what the antidote should/could be I'd greatly appreciate some thoughts.


Scrasamax- DANG! I could not have said it better myself.
Voted Pariah
February 14, 2006, 20:10
0xp
Cool. I like it. It is alot more subtle than some of the poisons I've seen. The One problem I have with it is the 44 day thing. If I was an evil demon intent on destroying civilization and was going to make my poison that hard to get I'd make the stuff last at least a half year.

Anyway good job. Keep up the good work.
Murometz
February 14, 2006, 20:27
0xp
you know what...you got me! the 44 day thing was off-the-cuff. I was just trying to give it a limited time for it's effectiveness. Since in every other way it's pretty freaking deadly! half year sounds good. Actually maybe 66 days
:)



Thanks!!
manfred
February 15, 2006, 7:30
0xp
Glad to be of help, Murometz. (Is that Ilya? :) )

---

Now, for the ultimate moral turn-around: they are actually saving the babies, because otherwise they will be raised to wield the ultimate power over others. And as everyone knows, power corrupts. And this way, they are saving the innocents. *shudders from disgust*

---

As for the antidote... I am not sure. There logically would be some natural means to fight it, get a probe, hire a dozen of alchemists, you'll get it eventually. But personally, I would consider it more interesting to first find out how (and where from) they recieve the poison, and counter it with some reversed means...
- a blessing from a deity of nature/youth/fertility or something like that?
- invoking such a spirit, and recieving the antidote in a similar way as the poison (it could flow out of flowers, or materialize as morning dew, or whatever)
- that ultra-rare healing plant mentioned in some legends and rumours
- other common items, dragon's liver and such ;)

But ultimately, I would go for something that is the reverse of the demon, and it's poison.
Voted Nobody
February 15, 2006, 10:28
0xp
I really like this. Poisons are rare enough on this site, but to have one made by a deity is a rare treat. A couple of things however.

1) This is an awfully limited poison. Once a year, with a time window of little over a month, only three uses, and of course, application of the poison into food or water (which royals are well versed in evading). A simple Cleric (or a few concubines) on the royal budget would make short work of purifying the food and water. I think that you should make it a contact/ingested poison. This is a poison created by a deity after all, it needs to have the potency of the divine.

I would also increase those 44 days (or 66) to maybe 99 days instead. that is a little over 3 months. With a 9 month pregnancy, that should give them an opportunity to poison a noble at any point in the year, however, with pregnancies going unannounced until late in the pregnancy, it would be hard to do in many cases.

Hard but possible is always a good rule in my book, espescially for a deity inspired quest.

2)The Order itself seems rather limited in it's focus. If all they do is poison pregnant nobles, then I have a hard time imagining that they have a wide-spread occult following. I think that you should have this group a little more versitile in it's focus. Every religious order has to have a range of incentives broad enough to keep members joining, and this one has to have a range broad enough to convert men and women who have been trusted by the royal family for years (A royal family would simply lock down the pregnant woman, admitting only trusted friends and servants).

I don't know what Roak is talking about with the overcomplications. The more interesting detail you put into this, the better (key word: interesting), and I stick by that always. I have seen posts that had only a mediocre item, but amazing backround and detail get 5/5 by everybody.

However, on that note, I think that you could use some anecdotes in there. Although I usually don't include this in my reviews, I will include it in yours. There are a lot of really good items out here that have gotten votes far lower than they should have for the quality of the submissions. However, these submissions rarely, if ever, include good solid hooks that bring the reader into the world.

Describe the occult practices of the order in graphic detail, describe how the nobles react, describe how the people see these miscarriages. And don't just describe the overall effect, but describe them in a way that makes the reader feel like they are there. Go down to an individual level and really make the reader want to keep reading.

Anyway, that is my advice.

Good item, unusual origin, plot hooks, described pretty well. All in all I would say that it gets a 4.0, but the plot hooks push it up to a 4.5. Good work
Murometz
February 15, 2006, 19:10
0xp
Manfred- Yes that's Ilya ;) Named after Ilya Murometz, greatest of the Bogatyrs in Russian Mythology (which gives me an idea for a submission). I would of picked "Ilya" but you guys already have one of those apparently.

re: your feedback I LIKE how you think.

Nobody- Where to begin. First thanks for the detailed feedback. Let me try to address a few of your points

1- it's an awfully limited poison BECAUSE a simple cleric or gaggle of concubines can't do anything about it. Hence, " incurable and unstoppable". They can't "purify" the food or water. It can't be detected either. How do you detect a colorless, odorless poison, that has a VERY mild taste of pus if it's in a bowl of Borscht. If what you mean is clerical magic, this particular poison isn't affected. Thats the whole point. As far as "only 3 uses a year", how many future kings can there possibly be to kill off in a one year period?? 3 seems okay to me. I guess it's an opinion thing. Thats cool.

Basically, I think I'll need to add a creative antidote/cure. I'm working on it. Was hoping someone here can throw out some ideas (like Manfred did-Thanks)

Making it a contact poison is a fine idea i guess...but it's not a poison created by a "deity". It's created by a minor demon. So I am not sure about "divine potency". This might be a case of semantics however on my part, so I'll leave that alone. 99 days is good point. nuff said. "hard but possible" is a great point as well.

2- Somehow I don't see the order as limited. I mean killing off royal bloodlines is a pretty major gig. A LOT of planning goes into pulling off successes for this group. Maybe I should of made it clearer, but harvesting the stuff doesn't take all that long so they are spending the rest of their time doing three things 1- plotting on how get the victim to ingest the poison 2- constantly looking to "place" key (not many but key) individuals in positions of power and 3-living their regular lives. It's not a religious order really. They don't recruit heavily. And if they screw up a "poisoning", there's always next year, or another kingdom. It's not like they are always successful. (sorry I think I'm going off on a tangent). But basically they definitely don't have a "widespread following"!

However if you mean this:

Vephelot cultist #1- "Hey, I heard the prince is going hunting. Maybe we can take him out then"
Vephelot cultist #2- "Let's try it. I can talk to that mad druid who owes me a favor. Let's plan this out well, since we screwed up killing him when he was born"

then ABSOLUTELY YES, I should of expanded on what else they do. No argument there. Great point!


I don't know what Roack means either by overcomplication. Waiting to hear.


"anecdotes" and "reeling the reader in" are both great points! Will do in future.

argghh...more detail. Won't it simply be too long?

"Describe the occult practices of the order in graphic detail, describe how the nobles react, describe how the people see these miscarriages. And don't just describe the overall effect, but describe them in a way that makes the reader feel like they are there. Go down to an individual level and really make the reader want to keep reading."

There is no way around it. Your absolutely right !!! (re: your last paragraph). Detail, detail, detail. But how many pages of this stuff do actually want to read??

Anyway, THANKS for taking the time to critique this. I appreciate that more than a simple "it's good/it's bad" comment. I guess getting that last 1/2 sword form you will take a little more work ;)
Voted CaptainPenguin
February 15, 2006, 22:04
0xp
I like it.. Killing off progeny generally hasn't occured to me before. You've expanded my vision. ;)

4/5.
Voted Mourngrymn
February 23, 2006, 13:46
0xp
Here is my take on this.

1st) I like it. It is intereting enough for me to want to get to the end to find out the rest.

2nd) I like the fact that it works the way it does.
a. It doens't kill the mother, oh no. Draws to much attention.
b. It doesn't still born the baby, same reason.
c. It allows the woman to go through her entire pregnancy thinking that everything is fine.

By doing it that way there is NO possible way to tel lexactly when the poison was introduced, if at all, and who did it. It can be given in the early stages, or two days before the baby is born. There is no possible way to tell who did it.

And therefore I have an issue. A non-traceable poison that no one can find the cure for as it kills in three days. Not long enough to find a cure, not long enough to study for one, unless you infiltrate the cult and get a sample which is probably next to impossible.

No way to track who did it unless they are very boastful, which by reading this it doesn't seem like they are. If I were to complain about anything, it would be that. It gives no hope for the PC's to get involved to find a cure to save the child. Thats me being a parent I guess and not a fatalistic DM I portray.
Murometz
February 23, 2006, 13:54
0xp
Mourngrymn- I will be a parent myself (hope hope) in a month. In fact if my pregnant wife ever read this, she'd KILL ME! ;)

Your points/take on this is DEAD ON!

I guess in my game, the pc's simply decided to find a way to kill Vephelot in lieu of cure. They started last week, by poring over ancient dusty tomes in libraries, in an attempt to find mention and clues on Vephelot.
Voted Ria Hawk
February 28, 2006, 0:47
0xp
I like this idea, more for it's political implications than anything else. A few things off the top of my head: if an actual cure ever was found, I'd imaging that the nobility would just start dosing every newborn with it the day they were born. Assuming it's not some heinously complicated ritual (even that might not stop them) or dangerous in and of itself. Also, we've established the fact that you can't tell if a baby's death is due to natural causes or poison, and everyone's assumed that natural causes would be the default guess. But given the paranoia of the nobility, it's likely to be quite the opposite. Any death of a newborn, even if (maybe especially if) of natural causes will likely be blamed on this cult. Which could start a witch hunt-type panic, trying to ferret out cultists, even where there are none. Could degenerate into a Spanish Inquisition thing, where people are tortured into confessing. Which is only going to prove to the cultists that they were right in the first place, and things are just going to escalate.
Voted fenixphire
March 3, 2006, 8:12
0xp
I do like this quite a bit, and may use something like this in the future. My only concern has already been brought up, that there is not a whole lot for the PCs to do if there is no cure or even way to know it has been used until it is too late. They could hunt down the demon, but that is only if they know he existis. Though, I suppose there are ways to work that in, too. Perhaps an old follower who has "mended his evil ways" alerts the PCs, or maybe one of the followers is a woman who gets pregnant and accidently (or not) ingests the poision so she wants revenge.

A good concept, and with just a touch of modification, I can easily see using it in my game.
manfred
March 4, 2006, 4:09
0xp
"...a follower is a woman who gets pregnant and ingests the poison..."

Hm, hm, hmmmm...

One way to approach nobility, is to become a lowly servant that occasionally gets 'used' by the king or some other high-up. And if she gets pregnant, her co-warriors would not be above helping her to get rid of the child to not compromise her persuasion. Which of course goes against her mother's instincts.

What a NPC: a follower that was up to taking out the royal family, but has lost her child due to her revolutionary friends. And now she wants revenge.
Murometz
March 5, 2006, 12:09
0xp
Manfred- BRILLIANT!
Voted Ancient Gamer
April 18, 2006, 14:29
0xp
I liked this. I especially liked the cult and the book and how the Milk is used. The fact that is used on pregnant women was nice too. The whole Marxist crown killer thing was modern, but not as good as the rest.

The potential for a 5 is in the Milk itself I would think. Had the central story and the plot hooks been different you might well have scored higher.
Voted valadaar
November 19, 2007, 19:07
0xp
Interesting Muro!

Perhaps a properly accredited Midwife could get involved :)
You asked me what sinister plothooks could that school be involved with? Looks you had submitted one!
Voted Cheka Man
November 19, 2007, 19:27
0xp
A foul but useful thing-useful to an evil cultist that is.

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