20 Things to Find in a Cultist’s Lair

Cultists’ lairs and homes contain strange items and objects related to their aberrant faiths, giving possible clues to their motivation or plans.

By Kay Nielsen

By Kay Nielsen


Some of the objects below might be displayed prominently in a cultist’s home while others—particularly the more gruesome—may be hidden. Use the table below, to determine what objects of note the PCs discover:

  1. A large map of the nearby local populace. A number of houses of prominent townsfolk are circled though several have Xs through the circle.
  2. Ten strangely feathered animal masks—each one as unique as its corresponding robe.
  3. A small library of strange, forbidden, and in some cases heretical, books. To the right buyer, the collection is worth 200 gp.
  4. A collection of five ornate knives (worth 50 gp in total) with strange creatures worshipped by the cult engraved in the blades and hilts.
  5. A large straw effigy of a prominent local. Parts of it have been singed with fire.
  6. A large, human-sized cage. Spots of dried blood stain the metal floor.
  7. A long scroll displayed prominently inscribed with the cult’s ideology.
  8. A small alchemist’s lab with the ingredients to create five doses of a sleeping poison (save against poison or fall unconscious for 1 hour). The ingredients are volatile and likely to explode (4d6 points of fire damage) if not handled properly.
  9. Six sets of well-used manacles stained with old, dried blood.
  10. Three fine silk robes (worth 25 gp each) emblazoned with holy symbols relevant to the cult. The robes belong to the cult’s highest ranking members.
  11. A collection of fine silver and golden religious objects (worth 50 gp total) stolen from a local temple.
  12. A crudely sketched floorplan of a nearby garrison. Notes detail several possible scenarios to surreptitiously gain entrance.
  13. An exquisite noble’s outfit (worth 50 gp). In the pocket is potion allowing the imbiber to change their appearance (as disguise self or similar illusion spell).
  14. A mummy wrapped corpse with an amulet (75 gp) displaying a deity or creature important to the cult. The mummy’s funerary wrappings indicate it was once a prominent member of the cult, now revered as a holy figure.
  15. Four sets of uniforms belonging to the nearby town guard or local militia replete with the appropriate weapons and armour.
  16. An eight-piece silver dining set (worth 40 gp) inscribed with images and motifs important to the cult.
  17. Fifteen plain holy symbols hanging from a series of pegs. The holy symbols depict symbols and images meaningful to the cult.
  18. Seven sealed scrolls containing missives to seven different people. The missives are written in code and need to be deciphered.
  19. A long, rambling pamphlet describing daily religious routines for the cult’s members to conduct and penalties for not doing so. Studying the pamphlet gives the PC a +4 bonus if attempting to disguise himself as a cultist.
  20. Eight vials containing human hearts floating in a preservative fluid. Each vial contains a label with a name written on it belong to a missing person in a nearby settlement.

20front_8_220This article will appear in 20 Things #8: Cultist’s Lair and  GM’s Miscellany: 20 Things II, available in March 2017.

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Guest Designer

John Bennett makes his lair in the tree-cloaked hills of New Hampshire. He enjoys heavy metal, beer and cigars as much as he enjoys playing RPGs. John has been writing since the age of 6 when he would narrate stories about dinosaurs and robots to his mother. He has a degree in film production and a pile of reject letters to go with his scripts. Currently, he is pursuing his Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership. He is also striving to achieve at least one skill rank in Perform (guitar) but too little avail. Coerced into playing 1st edition D&D by an older (and bigger) kid in the neighbourhood at the age of 8, he would like to take a moment to thank his friend, Danny, for introducing him to the world of gaming many long years ago. While his friends and players know what he is talking about, John has been unsuccessful in explaining what bugbears are to his family and co-workers, the latter fleeing his office when he begins rambling.

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