20 Vile Things to Find in a Cultist’s Lair

Cultists often seek out terrible deities and alien entities in their quest for power and to further their nefarious ends.  They often use profane and vile accoutrements in blasphemous rituals to venerate their terrible, fell masters.


Use the tables below, to determine what vile thing a PC finds in a cultist’s lair:

  1. Ten blood red candles containing teeth and fingernail clippings. When lit, the candles smell of fresh blood.
  2. Three suits made from humanoid flesh and decorated with animal skulls, fur and feathers.
  3. The faint outline of a summoning circle. Black, acrid smoke drifts up from it—seemingly from nowhere—and the air smells like tar.
  4. Four humanoid skulls inscribed with symbols pertaining to the cult. Slips of paper with names written on them are stuffed into the skulls’ mouths.
  5. Three golden statues of local, good-aligned gods stained with fresh blood.
  6. A gold encased skull of a demon or devil (worth 150 gp). The eyes glow dimly—and sinisterly—red.
  7. A 10-foot tall sculpture of a deity, entity or creature the cult reveres made from various parts of human limbs sown together. Smoke constantly drifts from the statue’s nostrils.
  8. A pool filled with a strange, red fluid gives off a silver glow. It’s not poisonous or magic but leaves a luminescent glow behind if smeared on anything. A horned, humanoid skull rests at the bottom of the pool.
  9. The burnt remains of sacred holy texts and items smoulder on an obsidian altar.
  10. This 3-foot tall idol of a squamous creature constantly oozes a thin, milky and slightly caustic ooze (and deals 1d4 acid damage if touched).
  11. The tattered wings of an angelic creature are pinned to the wall with black, metal spikes.
  12. A number of jars of various sizes containing the pulsating organs of a demon; all emit a stench of brimstone, if opened.
  13. Six corpses lying on slabs and awaiting reanimation—their hands have been removed and replaced with cruel looking weapons grafted onto the corpses’ arms.
  14. The skeleton of some giant, painted black and engraved with unholy rites. It occasionally trembles slightly.
  15. Two matching drinking vessels made from unicorn horns stained red with blood.
  16. A gorgeously illuminated holy text except the images of the good deity and its servants have been replaced with demons, devils or other strange creatures.
  17. An altar fashioned from the small skulls of numerous tiny fey. Bloody tears weep from their sockets and the air around it smells like spoiled milk.
  18. A pool filled with a green, viscous slime emitting a smell of decay and cinnamon.
  19. A skeleton, half-dissolved, lies within a summoning circle inscribed with pulsating runes.
  20. Four necklaces made from the teeth of an angelic creature and onyx (each 150 gp each; if worn by a good-aligned creature they emit a profound aura of sadness).

There is a 25% chance that touching a profane object has disastrous consequences.

  1. The PC is possessed by an alien entity until the next time he sleeps.
  2. A surge of profane energy envelops the PC, dealing 2d6 damage.
  3. The PC sees horrific visions for the next hour, taking a –2 penalty on all rolls.
  4. The PC’s alignment turns evil for 24 hours.
  5. An evil outsider (demon, devil etc.) appears and is quite angry.
  6. The PC can only speak in an ancient, alien language for the next 24 hours.
  7. Worms and insects crawl out from the earth and woodwork wherever the PC goes for one week.
  8. The PC learns the true name of an evil entity who now wants that PC dead.
  9. The PC has terrible nightmares of a vile, rotting city; he cannot regain hit points through rest for one week.
  10. An evil doppelganger of the PC appears in a nearby settlement and causes mayhem and chaos.

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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