The Nurgle Cultist’s Family

You can guess from the title that we’re in Vestitas again. This time, in a remote hex on the eastern fringe of Imperial territory there is a lone and lonely Nurgle cultist who seeks to trade the PCs to papa plagues in exchange for having his dead family reanimated as zombies. Surviving the encounter isn’t difficult, but getting rid of the hideous plagues that might be inflicted upon you along the way can prove more challenging. Special bad luck to those who contract Creeping Buboes, which might claim your life long after the fight with the Nurgle cultist is gone. On the other hand, this encounter’s confrontation is one of the easiest to circumvent entirely, provided you’re nosy and/or paranoid.

Summary: A Nurgle cultist living far from home has been waiting for visitors so that he can lure them into becoming a sacrifice. For each new member of Nurgle’s family the man can provide, Nurgle will grant him back one of his deceased family. His father, mother, brother, and sister have all been killed, so the man seeks at least four strangers to bring into his house. Once they’re in the house, Nurgle will reanimate the corpses of the dead family members to help inflict a proper plague upon the visitors.

Hook: The Nurgle cultist has posted crude signs directing people to his remote homestead throughout the hex. The homestead itself is ramshackle but doesn’t show any major signs of decay, with broken windows properly boarded over and no holes in the walls. The crops nearby are clearly cultivated.

Exploration: The Nurgle cultist will happily usher in any characters who knock or otherwise approach normally. If the characters sneak or break in, he will initially be terrified and demand answers and explanations, but if the characters don’t act in an overtly hostile way, he will become apologetic and accommodating. He asks the characters to stay the night. He would really like them to stay the night. He’ll offer them food, a bed to sleep in, and he’ll ask if they need a guide to any location nearby and offer to lead them there in the morning if they stay the night. He isn’t really familiar with anything outside his home hex, but he’ll give vague descriptions and promise to lead the players to anyplace they say exists, even if it’s on the other side of the map or made up. If caught out in a lie or interrogated as to his helpfulness, he’ll say that he’s terribly lonely since his family died and just wants to have some people over for dinner again.

If asked for a description of the house, it’s a simple three room affair with a bedroom, a kitchen/dining room, and an entrance/living room. The entrance room also has a loft, which is where the Nurgle cultist will stay the night, leaving the bedroom to the characters. There is a storm cellar accessible from outside that’s been locked shut with a heavy lock, AP 16 though it takes only one point of damage through to break it, and the doors of the storm cellar itself are much more fragile, AP 4 and requiring four points of damage to hack a human size hole in it to climb through. The lock can also be picked as an Ordinary(+10) Security check, and the Nurgle cultist keeps the key in his trouser pocket, so if he’s searched or pickpocketed it will turn up. A Challenging(+0) Psyniscience check anywhere near the homestead will pinpoint the cellar as the location of some kind of psychic wackiness.

Within the cellar is the cultist’s shrine to Nurgle. It contains the shallow graves of all four of the cultist’s family, taken by illness, as well as a crude wooden altar with the symbol of Nurgle painted upon it. If the characters stay the night, the cultist will sneak down in the middle of the night (he is automatically undetected if the characters do not post a watch, otherwise roll his Stealth opposed to the Awareness of whoever is on watch) and entreat Nurgle to accept the characters into his family in exchange for bringing the cultist’s back. At this point a plaguebearer is summoned, and he calls forth all four of the cultist’s dead family as zombies and infects the cultist with several of Nurgle’s blessings, making him more resilient and more deadly. Then the six of them go to collect the characters upstairs and induct them into the family as well, whether as plague cultists or as corpses. If the players are cultists and were planning on being a Nurgle cult, now’s their chance to get in on it. If they were already a Nurgle cult, then the plaguebearer just laughs and hands out any plagues the characters don’t already have before returning to the Warp through the cellar – he’ll let the cultist keep his zombie family members. It’s the thought that counts. Another way of dodging the final confrontation altogether is by discovering the shrine early and either destroying it, apprehending the Nurgle cultist, or killing him, any of which will prevent the plaguebearer from arriving, raising the zombies, and blessing the Nurgle cultist with enough power to be any kind of actual threat.

Confrontation: If the Nurgle cultist’s ritual does go off without a hitch, then the Nurgle cultist, the zombies, and the plaguebearer will all attempt to ambush the characters and infect them without harming them. If the characters fight back, and especially if a watch wakes them and they start fighting before anyone’s been grabbed, Nurgle’s assorted minions will get nasty. The plaguebearer’s happy to add the characters to Nurgle’s family as zombies, the zombies will do whatever the plaguebearer commands, and the Nurgle cultist is desperate to protect his newly reanimated family.

Any attempts to negotiate with the zombies will go nowhere, as they are zombies. The plaguebearer has a confident personality but a starting Disposition of only 10 for anyone who isn’t a Nurgle cultist. Those openly loyal to Tzeentch start with a Disposition of 1 with the plaguebearer, and those openly loyal to Nurgle have a Disposition of 45 to start out. The plaguebearer doesn’t make any distinctions at all between followers of the other two Chaos Gods or Imperial servants or any third way faction. They’re all Disposition 10. Any effort to avoid joining Nurgle’s family requires a Disposition test at a -30 penalty. Once the players have joined Nurgle’s family (i.e. been infected with the plaguebearer’s suite of plagues), the plaguebearer’s Disposition leaps up by 30 points for anyone who wasn’t a Nurgle cultist before, and by 5 points for anyone who was. At this point it’s a regular Disposition check to convince the plaguebearer to ally with the player characters so long as there will be opportunities to induct other mortals into Nurgle’s embrace.

The Nurgle cultist can also be negotiated with. He has a submissive personality and a starting Disposition of 35. His Disposition increases the same way the plaguebearer’s does if characters are infected. Any attempt to get the cultist to betray the plaguebearer comes with a -20 penalty, and any attempt to get him to betray his family comes with a -40 penalty, whether it’s a Disposition check to get him to actually do the deed or some manner of interaction skill check to convince him it’s a good idea. This includes efforts to convince the cultist that they aren’t his family, just shambling monsters made from their remains, even though that is absolutely true. If he is successfully convinced to turn on his family, the grieving cultist will do whatever the players tell him (up to and including commit suicide), and he retains all the blessings of Nurgle.

Rewards: The cultist has a shotgun, which is not a bad weapon. Other than that, the only rewards here are the plagues of the plaguebearer. A character hit by the plaguebearer’s vomit attack must make a Challenging(+0) Toughness check, and on a failure is randomly infected with one of the plagues from the table. If you roll a result you’ve already gotten, there is no effect. Each plague has a cure difficulty, which is the difficulty of the Medicae check needed to diagnose and remove it, and an incubation period, which is the amount of time that passes before its symptoms manifest. Do not tell the player what plague they’ve rolled, what the symptoms will be, or how long before they begin to suffer from the side effects. If they don’t immediately start rolling Medicae checks and/or retreat to a city that can give them proper treatment, they’re in for several nasty surprises over the next few days. A successful Medicae check against the difficulty shown will diagnose and heal a plague even if its symptoms have not yet manifested. All characteristic damage remains until the associated disease is cured, at which point it heals at the usual rate of 1 point per hour.

After symptoms have manifested, the difficulty to diagnose them is always Challenging(+0). A successful Challenging(+0) test made with Forbidden Lore (Daemonology) or Forbidden Lore (Heresy) will grant a +10 bonus to a Medicae test made to diagnose or cure one of the plagues. Both tests can be made, and the effects stack if both are successful. The person performing the Medicae check doesn’t necessarily need to be the one who makes the Forbidden Lore checks, so long as the one who made the Forbidden Lore checks can pass the information on (informing the town medicae in a nearby town to whom you’ve gone for healing because your party has no chirurgeon is heresy, but that information isn’t going anywhere if the party doesn’t spread it around).

Roll Plague Effects Cure Difficulty Incubation Period
1 Bulging Eye +1d10 Corruption, -2d10 Perception, -1d10 Fellowship Very Hard(-30) 1d5+1 days
2 Grey Ague +1d5 Corruption, -2d10 Agility, -1d10 Toughness Hard(-20) 1d5-1 days, minimum 1
3 Green Pox +1d10 Corruption, -2d10 Fellowship, -1d10 Toughness Hard(-20) 1d5 days
4 Crook Bone +1d10 Corruption, -2d10 Toughness, -2d10 Agility, -2d10 Strength Arduous(-40) 2d10+5 days
5 Creeping Buboes +1d10 Corruption, -1d10 Toughness* Arduous(-40) 1d10 days


*After the initial 1d10 Toughness damage, Creeping Buboes goes into another 1d10 day incubation period, and after that time it deals an additional 1d10 Toughness damage until the victim is dead.

Those who worship Nurgle (including by willingly accepting the plagues of the plaguebearer and joining Nurgle’s family) are immune to all stat penalties, but take double Corruption.

 

With this post, the Vestitas hex crawl is now 10% filled in. Of course, to say it’s 10% finished is a little premature, since we don’t yet have stat blocks for most of them and some of them require maps which are also missing. If you’d like to help us hire formatters, buy mapping software, and possibly hire a proper cartographer to make custom maps, please support our Patreon. Patrons get access to all our content a week early and can also get additional perks as described on the page, so click there for details.

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