The religious assassins known as the revenants are some of the most effective killers in Midian. As followers of a death cult, they fear neither dying nor living. The death-lord Bhaal demands total commitment to its service. Nothing is too extreme for them to achieve their mission: drugs with dire side-effects, implanted weapons, vile atrocities, are all within their ready repertoire. Even the threats of execution or life imprisonment will not dissuade them - as they are completely devoted to both living & dying for their selected mission. The task chosen for them by the high priests & priestesses becomes an all-consuming goal for a revenant. They will gladly sacrifice themselves for their assignment, but even the promise of blissful dissolution within Bhaal by dying in its service will not prevent them from accomplishing that goal - mission first, dying may come later.
The cult's symbol is a black skull, without the lower jaw, and often depicted stylised and somewhat wider than a normal skull. It is worth noting that the Revenants do not typically wear the symbol when on assignment, and will leave a marking or icon at the scene of a murder only if specifically instructed to do so. Few, if any, Revenants have the black skull symbol tattooed, scarred, burned, or otherwise imprinted upon their bodies. There are no required vestments or symbols worn when on assignment, and no visual way to identify the cultist as a Revenant.
Substance abuse is common among them. It is certainly possible that one encountered on a mission will be under the effects of at least one drug; even potentially lethal chemicals will be considered if it may aid them at their assigned task. One legend states how a team of revenants assigned to slay a paranoid nobleman saturated their bodies with slow-acting poison before acquiring access to the noble's kitchen - adding pieces of themselves to his meal over the course of many days. Revenants assigned a mission typically receive their choice of substances to use, however drug-use is considered a sacrament to them, rather than a recreational activity. In spite of their vast pharmaceutical reserves - and their collective knowledge & experience - they do not sell their drugs, nor do they share with outsiders - poison for the chosen target is a different story.
The exact goals of the revenants, as either a church or organisation, are unknown, even to the common member. One mission may be seen by outsiders as an act of mercy, euthanizing someone in mortal pain but helpless to end their own life, or the slaying of a tyrant - while another may seem to be senseless slaughter of innocents or to spread chaos & discord such as infecting a town's well with a terrible disease, or murdering the entire family of a monarchy. Some less scrupulous people may even hire them out for murder or terror. There seems to be no reasoning behind which commissions they will undertake, and no reasoning can change their minds - nor their chosen price. All such commissioning must be approved by a priest; a sharp contrast to the autonomy they are given on a mission. A prospective employer must be greatly cautious, once a revenant has been assigned, nothing will prevent the assassin from achieving her goal to the exact letter. It is worth noting that this is not a proselytizing religion; its adherents do not actively seek converts nor 'spread the word,' and yet somehow new followers will still gladly come. After all, everyone eventually finds their way into Bhaal's dark embrace.
The assignment process is one of their most holy (or is that 'unholy?') sacraments, second only to the act of dying in Bhaal's service itself. Revenants are under no more restrictions to remain at their basilicae then are members of other churches, in fact they are encouraged to go out into the world, but many remain, waiting, training, praying, working, hoping, for that fateful day when they will receive their own divine assignment. Some of these even have raised families at the basilica, their children growing up in service to Bhaal & becoming revenants themselves. The cult does take a long view at the world; an assignment may take many years, for example. This helps explain why they allow their members to travel freely; they insinuate themselves into other areas & cultures and are spread far & wide if a mission is needed in that area.
All known revenant basilicae are located within the Byzant Empire, but their blades may be felt all across Midian. The make up of this cult is largely Bizzannite Humans & Metas - surprisingly few Goths - but the Revenants of Bhaal readily accept all members; after all, even the longest-lived must die some day.
How does a large and well-known death cult stay in business? Some of their basilicae are considered sovereign city-states within the Empire; those that aren't are located in distant and hostile areas, and are relatively safe from prying legal eyes. In some areas, their status as a church affords a degree of protection; in others, bribes perform the same role. In some areas, the Revenants are sanctioned, officially or otherwise, by the local government by using the cult's services. From the perspective of the Empire as a whole, the revenants simply aren't a national threat, and at worst should be addressed locally. All this is not to say that a given revenant may kill with impunity, slaying someone openly could still bring about a death sentence, even if it was the local lord who placed the contract. From a law-enforcement perspective, even if it is common knowledge that the complex several miles into the desert or mountains houses a group of murderers, no crimes or evidence will be found there. Even encountering a revenant on the street isn't always a valid excuse to arrest them. Not only is it quite difficult to guess someone's religion while they buy groceries in the market, but they may not have actually committed any crime. Even those who advertise themselves as revenants aren't always on a killing mission, and even if they are, may not be killing someone within the local jurisdiction. In fact, many missions undertaken by junior revenants are supporting roles, and won't involve actually killing anyone. Not to mention that many people in authority turn a blind eye to the revenants and their basilicae out of fear and expedience - it's always useful to know exactly where to go if you need a rival discretely and permanently removed.
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? Responses (6)-6
These are a very well fleshed out group of assassins. I particularly like the reasons why they are not arrested and manage to continue.
They survive because those high in rank sometimes want to use them.
Wonderful contribution! My mind is racing with possibilities to include the Revenants in my RPG campaign. I love the justification, reasoning, and discipline that you include in their personalities. I can easily see how this 'society' of assassins could coexist with priests of my God of Death, and how governments would turn a blind eye to their existence.
I only wish you had included a bit more detail on the methods of execution, and perhaps some other pre-mission rituals. But I can always develop some of my own for my game.
A well detailed order, and it would an interesting world indeed that allowed them to openly exist at all.
Governments typically jealously guard the right to kill.