The Idols of Na'Shithiran
Each new home prides itself on its idol and as each new home receives its idol, the power within them grows, glows and connects. ...They are the bringers of wonderment and gifts but little do the townsfolk know, for the Shithiran are the takers of everything.
"Greetings friend I notice you wear the necklace of our good saint Escafe, I too am a follower of the humble saint of earth working men. The evening is long overdue I walk from my tenured plot and back into town. You look burdened by your tools, here let me help you."
This simple chance meeting along the road into town is all that is needed. The burdened man is helped and then shown the idol of NaShith. To the earthworker the idol is beauty itself, a perfect representation of his favoured saint Escafe. The idols workmanship feels so smooth, so warm, so comforting. The good Samaritan is such a helpful fellow, helps him with his burden , he is repaid with a meal in the earthworkers home. During the meal the Samaritan places the Idol of NaShith on the table. The burdened man longs for it, must have it and is surprised and overwhelmingly pleased when the Samaritan places the idol above his fire place as he is leaving.
"It is yours to keep my good friend, a gift that we may all remember the humble works and comfort of our good saint Escafe. But take good care of it, show no one for it is a pretty item and even the best of men can turn to thievery."
The turning point has past, the NaShithiran have entered.
They come, they give, they take
Ifrengal is a self pre-eminent master of sorcery. Abandoned by his fraternity he has worked at and failed many attempts to show the world his power. He is no failure, he will triumph, he will claim their fear if not their respect. He hid himself from the pointing fingers of failure in the caverns of Alentine. These caverns are centuries old. Where once walked dwarves now rubble lays. The mithril mines are long lost to time and ravaged by the Umber Hulks constant wanderings. But Ifrengal has found a home here, a place he can practice his arts, a safe heaven where he can scheme. He has gathered a few followers and at his bidding they steal and cheat; spells, mystic artefacts and supplies. Alentine caverns lie around the dormant volcano of Mt Ispan. Some of the rock here is special. Ifrengal has discovered such a rock, with strange properties. After many years working on enchantment spells, which seem amplified by this rock, he feels it is his time, his world, surely now he must succeed.
A special rock, a specific spell and he has created idols. Idols of great beauty, to the eye of the beholder. Almost as a reflection of Ifrengal's menace, these idols are, like him, not what they seem. On the surface they radiate class, workmanship skill and perfection. Deep down, under the covers we see a con, a fake, exaggeration, deception, nothing more than a charlatan. As luck would have it however, this sorcerer has found his gold mine. The idols are hard to describe, for it depends on the viewer. What the viewer wants to see, they see. In the likeness of the viewers god, whatever and whomever that might be. Once it is touched, like a drug, the owner must possess and worship it.
The take over
With his band of disciples, a religious cult has formed and grows. The Na'Shithiran, the salt of the earth, soldiers of Ifrengal, deliverers of the Na'Shith Idols. They infiltrate the town seeking out simple folk on their own. The idol is referred to as a simple ornament but once shown the owner is consumed by its subtle power. They see their god and will find a prominent place for it in their humble dwellings. Slowly, like some disease the idols find their way into homes. Each home prides itself on its new idol and as each one is received, the power within the idols grows, glows and connects. Eventually enough idols are delivered and a web of energy and interconnections takes form that allows Ifrengal to look, listen and silently, sub-consciously, indoctrinate villagers to his will. With internal knowledge now, he knows their desires, he knows their most precious possessions. He feeds them trinkets of life through acts of god, only to gain their faith. Subdued, happy and comfortable he now has the lambs in his hands and takes from them their possessions and sometimes their very lives.
The idols possess strange enchantments and powers. When touched they give the holder a feeling of peace and protection and ultimate comfort. But they quickly get warm, too warm to hold for too long. This helps them find a place on a shelf or shrine within the home and stops them being carried about. A perfect place for Ifrengal to observe from. When two are within 50ft of each other they glow a deep indigo blue, and using an energy un fathomed communicate the scenes from one to another and finally make their way, through this network, back to Ifrengal. Within 5ft however lies danger, if the idols come too close to each other the energy reaches critical mass and they explode, devouring lives and surroundings in its wake. Ifrengal must be very careful with his idols, they can not be stored together, once the spell is cast it can not be revoked. He therefore can only safely produce and distribute one a day.
The Shithiran, as they are spoken, his disciples, his workers, his thieves, play out the religious cult feel for all its worth. They distribute the idols secretly to the gullible. It is so easy, they do not enforce their god or some new religion on others. The Shithiran have no beliefs of their own but simply endorse those of the victim. At the beginning good things happen to owners of the idols, their faith is encouraged and rewarded. Before too long the owner is praying his desires and asking for the protection of his possessions and secrets are divulged. The more people, the more houses that spawn an idol the brighter the surrounding ones glow. It gently pulsates to the owners voice with a slight hypnotic effect causing them to seek its observance all the more. That ever present deep indigo blue. The Shithiran begin to move about the city at will, they are beloved by the simple peasants. They are the bringers of wonderment and giftsbut little do they know for the Shithiran are the takers of everything. The Shithiran must be careful tho, keeping the towns folk and their religions separate can be an arduous task. But most towns do not have too many differing doctrines in the one place.
Enter the players
Because it takes time to infiltrate the village our playing characters can arrive or be summoned/ hired at anytime in the story line. It could be a mystery to be tracked down and solved or simply a fight. They may happen upon the transaction of an idol from a Shithiran to a peasant. Be hired by a suspecting monk or priest who becomes aware of some underground religious movement. Or turn up when the town is well under the spell.
Cult or thieves
Its left open in a way that the cult aspect can either be enforced as a true religious movement or just simply a cover for thieves. The Shithiran themselves maybe under he influence of the rocks. Are they in on the deal or mere pawns on Ifrengals chess board. The battle can include or revolve around the villagers themselves who are under the influence, or against the Shithiran or of course against Ifrengal himself if they can find him.
Maybe the Shithiran slowly seduce the peasants into believing that their beliefs lead to one all powerful being. The nightly secret meetings of worship, the peasants see their gods but the one they are directing their worship to is in fact Ifrengal himself. Thoughts of underground temples in which the PC,s must fathom their way through perhaps.
The Idol of idols
I have not defined the idols too much and hope this allows their use to be expounded. The powers can not only be used to convey images and thoughts but might even provide a path for a monster or two. Although I have chosen to keep the usual fear of god factor out of this religious sect, having focused more on the isnt it all just wonderful aspect. One could easily use the energy to zap those who oppose or blaspheme against the idol. Another path this story could follow. Peasants found dead in their homes..
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? Responses (12)
Eerie cults run by weird sorcerers are always welcome in my book. :D
I like the idols. They're appropriately vague, effective for any setting. Ifrengal seems an interesting character. I'd love to read more about him. Why is he a master of sorcerery? Why does he have this desire to control people so? Background on him would be pretty sweet.
I'd like some more detail on the cult itself as well. What kind of pitches do the Shithiran use? How do they deal with existing religious groups? What exactly is Na'Shithiran? This kind of detail would really work well for this sub.
As a first sub, this one's got great potential. I won't vote just yet, but I'd be happy to once you can work out some more of this detail. Hope to see lots more like this, epsilon! :D
To my mind this reads a bit more like a society rather than a plot, so maybe it should have been posted there, but Ill not hold that against you.
Other than that I find myself agreeing with all of the above.
A pretty good first post with lots of potential. I look forward to seeing more of ideas.
Ill score it 3½ / 5 I think. A little more detail would certainly have earned you a 4, or perhaps even a 4½.
Keep up the good work.
Love the idea - feels vaguely Doctor Whoish - I will wait to see if you expand it based on the other feedback before voting.
A few minor grammatical problems, but I like it. As Dozus said, eerie cults run by weird sorcerers are always welcome!
What they all said. More details would make it shine even more, and weird sects are always a bonus.
And you can't help but expect the villain, after the heroes seemingly defeat him in this little village, will show up in a town far away, having perfected his little invention. So there will be The Idols II. as well. :)
Thanks all If only my fingers worked as quickly as my mind :) Id answer all your questions. For now let me say I have already started to edit my local copy, I will refresh as time permits. It turned out allot better than I anticipated and I feel, with your encouragement, its worthy of some polish.
I had "stolen" certain characters from a current campaign I'm running and yes Ifrengal is one of my "pops up" on various occasions villain. Starting life as a background filler NPC a few campaigns ago he has matured into a classic returning villain. (my players shudder when I drop his name) :)
Alas I waffle.
I intend to answer your thoughts, after I have had some of my own.
and yes feel free to point the submission to a better local, Im still learning the citadel labyrinth.
As for grammar, my humble apologies, you should have seen it before I ran it through word:) I will do better.
Updated: Added some detail and a little polish.
Updated: fixed freetext
Nicely atmospheric! Also, what they all said!
*wonder's what an athiest's idol would take the form of*
I promised five years ago to vote once you edited it, and now I shall fulfill that promise!
I like this. You did a great job expounding the the questions we offered. A neat little plot.