Once, no doubt, Ma-O had priests and priestesses and devout beleaviers like any other major deiety, and a few of these kept worshipping him when he turned to Evil. Centuries of often horrific persection have shaped the cult into what it is today.
At the bottom are the cells, between two and ten strong in any single group. Betrayal is very rare, and not only because if captured the betrayer will be sacraficed to Ma-O,
but because the majority of Ma-O worshippers are husbands and wives, daughters and sons, so to betray a member would often mean betraying ties of love that are far stronger then ties of fear.
Most recruiting is done when a Ma-O Child gets married to someone outside the Faith, and the two find they really, truely, love each other despite each other’s faults. Then the Ma-O child will divulge his/her religion and persuade the other to join too in the Ritual of Drowning. Under the light of the full moon, after the right prayers have been spoken, the new member is held underwater by two other members until they are on the point of drowning,and then he or she is let loose.
Every large island has between one and ten Priests-Banhoesea, due to it’s size, has ten-their initation is longer and potentaly deadly.The new Priest will be held under the water with the words “Do not fear child-of-land…breathe in Ma-o’s essence….yes thats it!” While swallowing salt water, he passes out after the water enters his lungs as his head is held forcibly beneath the surf… Then-“This one is ready to be revived. If he lives he will join us, my wet ones, if not his soul swims to Ma-O!” The vast majority of Priests do survive this ordeal and are given a blue silken band to put around their arm when conducting services and a staff of oak tipped with amythest.
The services are held every Sunday night in the houses of members. Something-normally a small bird or a stray cat, but any land animal up to-two or three times a year on the great Holy Days of Ma-O, a human-is sacraficed with an amythest dagger whilst the sacred prayers are read from the forbidden Bible of Ma-O, that only the Priests risk death by possessing, and the heart is cut out and placed into a bowl of clean water, before being cooked and eaten by those present. The body is thrown into the sea.
The few Cardinals of Ma-O-only three at any one time, the most devout of the Faith, are made Cardinal in a ritual where they are drowned beyond rescue by the faithful and then-if they are the right people-magicly revived by Ma-O’s power.A few times a year the God himself meets these Cardinals to pass on instructions for the rest of His worshippers.
Ma-O’s worshippers are married in the temples of Jove or Ulmania, but when they die, instead of the pyres of Joveian temples or the graves of the Ulmanian Isle of the Dead, they are thrown secretly into the sea in iron coffins. Should they be uncovered, they are normally burnt alive after prolonged torture to try and get them to inform on others.The exceptions are willing informers, who are given new names and jobs and posted far from the island where they informed to try and prevent brutal retaliation by the cult. What little is known about the cult has come out of the mouths of these informers.
The reason why they are hated and crushed in every country is because of what they do. They think that Ma-O will only return when the whole world above the sea is in trouble, and so they cause as much of it as they can. They spread nasty rumours, steal from people, indulge in necromancy,murder and maim, drill holes in Company and Kraken-ruled ships, and try to create war using members in high places.It is certain that some of the wars fought in the past are at least partly their fault.
Plot Hooks-OO7…the PCs are told to infiltrate this cult and track down the members before they manage to commit some terrible crime.
WitSec-The PCs are escorting an informer from Banhoesea to court and then to another island and a new identity and job, but there is a traitor in the witness protection program. Can they keep the witness alive?
The Depths of Evil-The PCs are part of the cult themselves and are ordered to kidnap an Admiral’s virgin daughter for sacrafice.