This month’s mini-dungeon is my Cultist’s Lair which, now that I’m looking at it, looks rather like a night club…
Well, lair or night club, I hope that its rooms provide your players with plenty of intrigue and challenge. There are blood pools, laser-eyes, occult tomes, and an iron prison, not to mention its dangerous denizens!
My inspiration for this map began with human anatomy. See, that large central chamber originally contained a huge, beating heart (you can still get this in the $2 asset pack) but I changed my mind when the current pandemic began to spread. It didn’t seem in good taste to push the human anatomy angle when one of the “lung” rooms is clearly infected by something.
So, whether you revive my original plan of a cult building their god back to life from the inside-out or you come up with something else, I hope you have a great time with it! I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas in the comments – what do those eyes shoot? What lurks in the blood pool? Who is the leader of this strange group? You may enjoy Troy’s interpretation below…
“Go out and meet people; make friends!”
“Get a job.”
“Make something of yourself.”
“Get out of the house and experience new things!”
“This was probably not what they had meant,” Andros silently admitted. Maybe they were referring to working on the orchards, traveling to the city, or even being some kind of adventurer. Surely they could not have expected this.
To Andros’s credit, he had fulfilled many of those wishes. He had traveled to a place few knew even existed and found people who seemed to value his input. Sure, there had been downsides. But nothing’s perfect, right? He did what they had wanted. All those kind words and the way they degraded to tired, frustrated pleading over time. Well, now he had done it all. They should be happy! He even felt a tiny spark of satisfaction, in fact, to have followed their instructions in the worst possible way.
At least, that was what Andros tried to tell himself. Against the pouring sweat and pounding, terrified heart, he clawed for any shred of reassurance. The reality was hardly as confident. His path had felt so right in the beginning. How could it have gone this wrong? When had it gone this wrong?
His mind flashed back through the moments that had led him to his current situation. It had all began when the recruiter arrived in town, looking for aids in an expedition. Father Bromley seemed a perfectly nice man and his excitement over uncovering a ruin in the northern mountain was infectious. The contract required no prior experience and included regular food and pay. Andros might have taken it even without the insistence of his parents. With it, he had no choice.
Next was once the excavation was complete and Bromley’s associates joined, Andros supposed. Their sudden arrival was unexpected, sure. But it had made sense at the time, that Bromley would want to share his accomplishment. They had no further need for workers, so those that wished to leave were sent home. The new additions were so nice that Andros hadn’t questioned the sudden, hushed departure of so many others. “Gods,” he panicked, “I knew some of them as kids.”
Time had flashed by since then. Andros slowly accepted it as the new direction of his life without much critical thought. Studies of the texts and murals led to them recreating certain traditions. None of the violent or bloody ones, but small things like recited vows or teachings from Bromley. The robed uniforms that were handed out weren’t exactly Andros’s style but were comfortable and seemed expensive. Having everyone match gave him a warming sense of place. His eclectic little group developed into a family, led by the charming Father Bromley. Finally fulfilling his parent’s wishes had only proved them right, Andros had thought at the time.
He was wrong. Andros was wrong and his parents were wrong and he wished he could blame them. As his body shook and paled, he wanted more than anything to blame anyone but himself. His stomach tried over and over to vomit but was already empty from days of fasting. Every pore exuded sweat under the layers of sweltering robes. His lungs struggled to find air in the vacuum. And his eyes could only stare at the ritual before him.
Andros’s new ‘family’ were congregated around the central chamber’s basin. The ‘high faithful’, as Bromley had called them, chanted over the pool of blood and viscera; remains that could only have come from one place. Andros himself stood some rows back, watching aghast and wondering if anyone had recognized the abject terror paralyzing him. Fortunately, most were joyfully fixated on the enormous, pulsing heart that was slowly rising from the crimson liquid.
Andros sighed with manic resignation. Why could he not have just gone to the orchards?
– by Troy McConnell
More content by Troy
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