The River Cult

Summary: A Chaos cult plans to flood the village and offer up the drowned corpses of its inhabitants as sacrifice to placate a summoned daemonette, whom they hope will join them as the guest of honor aboard the pleasure barge that shall sail across the submerged village and onto the Grey River.

Discovery: The site of the impending ritual leaves a strong impression on the Warp. An Ordinary(+10) Psyniscience check will lead the party to a small temple of Slaanesh as well as alerting them that there is active Warp spookiness ongoing inside, not just the kind of ambient spookiness you’d expect to get from drawing a Chaos symbol all over a building but a real ritual. Additionally, the townspeople will divulge after a dead simple Easy(+30) Inquiry check as to what’s going on around here that the local cult of Slaanesh seems awfully excited about something. If the party does neither of these things but does stay the night, the water level will begin drastically rising during the night as the town’s tributary of the Grey River overflows its banks by several hundred meters.

Exploration: The Slaanesh temple is built on a bridge that straddles the tributary stream, and as such is much wider than it is deep, about 10×3 meters. The whole thing is designed to flip onto its side and become a barge, and characters who succeed on a Difficult(-10) Awareness check upon entering will notice that absolutely everything is latched to the floor, walls, or ceiling, securely in place and yet capable of being unlatched and moved around later. The bottom floor is a ceremonial room where the Slaanesh sorcerer who leads the cult gives sermons to the people every six days, while the upper floor is split into three chambers. The one connected directly to the staircase in the center of the temple is the hidden ritual room where the cult does their serious occult sacrifices not meant for the eyes of the unenlightened. To one side of the ritual room is the barracks where the ten grunt-level Slaaneshi cultists sleep, while to the other side of the ritual room is the private quarters of the sorcerer and his concubine, the most vicious of all the cultists.

The Slaaneshi cultists will not divulge the secrets of their rituals to outsiders, but they will gladly explain their plan to anyone who is or successfully passes themselves off as a Slaanesh worshipper. The cult is currently split into two sets of six, with the sorcerer leading one and his concubine leading the other, and the sorcerer is more than happy to have a third set of six if the characters are interested in forming one. Everyone to survive the ritual must be a Slaanesh worshipper, however if there are too few characters to form a full set of six, the sorcerer will supply them with some fresh recruits from the town’s population. There’s always a waiting list to join the cult.

If the characters aren’t Slaaneshi cultists and can’t pass themselves off as Slaaneshi cultists, they can also discover the details of the ritual by abducting one of the cultists and succeeding on an Arduous(-40) Interrogate check. The cultists regularly torture one another for fun, so hurting them badly enough to get information out is difficult. The regular cultists have submissive personalities, the sorcerer is confident, and his concubine is aggressive. All start with a Disposition of 25, or 45 for Slaanesh worshippers. There is a -20 penalty to any Disposition check made to divulge the secrets of the cult, and any effort to build a bond with a cultist without joining the cult will be taken as an attempt at deprogramming or infiltration (even if the players are actually trying something else entirely), to which the cult will respond by imprisoning the targeted cultist (even if it’s the concubine, but not if it’s the sorcerer) and banning the characters from the temple’s premise.

If the characters break into the cult’s ritual room, it is a Challenging(+0) Forbidden Lore (Heresy) check to determine the purpose of the ritual implements of the room.

Confrontation: The Slaanesh cult can call upon a chimera full of renegade PDF from the Red Guard if they’re physically threatened, however the Red Guard are very much not invited to the drowning party (well, except for the drowning part), so if the characters can provide compelling evidence that the local cult plans on flooding the town, the Red Guard will help them wipe out the cult instead. Unfortunately, no one in the Red Guard knows a whole lot of heresy – they rely on the Slaanesh sorcerer for that – so unless the characters have trusted friends in the Red Guard from Imberkavitas to call upon or an alternative source on heresy famous enough for the local Red Guard to trust over their local Chaos pastor, the Red Guard will have no basis to tell whether the characters are telling the truth about the ritual’s intent whatsoever and will default to siding with their local sorcerer.

The Slaanesh cult needs only six surviving cultists to complete the ritual, which can be finished in just six rounds of combat with the minimum of six, or in four rounds of combat if all twelve cultists participate. Each round after the ritual is complete, the tributary’s water level will rise by one full meter. After the water level has risen by three meters, the temple/barge will be lifted out of its moorings to the two ends of the bridge and become wobbly. On the following round, it will tip over, knocking everyone inside off their feet unless they succeed on a Challenging(+0) Acrobatics check. By the time the water level has risen five meters, the town’s fishing docks and piers are completely submerged, and most streets, including those near the inns where the characters are likely staying the night, will be ankle-deep in water. When the water rise has reached six meters, most town streets require wading and qualify as difficult ground. By eight meters, most town streets require swimming, there is serious flooding throughout most buildings, and the entire town is being swept away. By ten meters, most of the town is under water, with only a few higher points and the fringes further from the river still dry. By fifteen meters, the water rise of the ritual is complete, the people of the town are mostly drowning, and not a single building remains above water level.

About two minutes after the water level reaches fifteen meters, if at least six members of the cult live, they will convert the ritual room in the barge to be used in its new orientation and summon up the daemonette. Just like the ritual to summon the water in the first place, this ritual takes six combat rounds if only six cultists are at work on it, and four if all twelve participate in the ritual. The Chaos sorcerer will take the daemonette as his second concubine, although he will be immediately beguiled by her and she will be the cult’s real leader from that point on. The cult will then turn its full attention to killing anyone still attacking the barge (hostile characters, Red Guard, whatever) before riding the barge out onto the Grey River, consuming ludicrous quantities of drugs, and having an orgy.

Rewards: If the characters side with the sorcerer and summon up the daemonette, then they can ride with her down the Grey River. Each time they come to a small town along the way (i.e. not Imberkavitas, the Enclave, Brandt’s Landing, or Echo Lake), the sorcerer (under the daemonette’s enchantment) will send cultists, including the characters, to scout the place for anything interesting, seeking especially drugs and slaves to keep the party going. When the barge reaches Brandt’s Landing, it will dock at Winter Harbor, the daemonette will sequester herself inside, and the cult will begin trying to subvert the town for Slaanesh. Whether they end up fighting with or aiding the Faceless Cult already present will depend largely on how initial interactions between them go. If the two begin to fight due to misunderstanding, both the daemonette and the Thin Man will attempt to carry that grudge through to completion, but if one determines the other also serves Slaanesh early on, the Thin Man’s Faceless Witch will attempt to make a vassal of the daemonette.

If the characters end up saving the town and either successfully persuaded the local Red Guard to help them destroy the cult or else destroyed the Red Guard in the process/in addition to the cult, they may install themselves or a friend as the town’s new ruler. Anyone installed as ruler gains 1d10 Influence, and anyone associated with the new ruler gains 1d5. Either way, they can levy the two for two Influence to automatically succeed on any Influence check in the town. The village can provide anything that’s common or cheaper, any solid projectile weapon or service that’s average or cheaper, any medical care, low-tech weapon, or armour that’s scarce or cheaper, and any drug or consumable that’s rare or cheaper.

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