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.
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.
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.