Taras writes "Years ago, the City of Greyhawk was wracked by a horrible series of kidnappings of the children of the city's nobility. Investigations led to the conclusion that the wizard Murq was behind them, although few realized just why he was having the aristocratic children of the city kidnapped, and what happened to them...few knew of the splinter cult Murq led, and what aberrant beliefs they held.
Author: Taras Guarhoth
The Cult of the Celestial Arch
(Splinter from the Church of Celestian)
by Taras Guarhoth (email@example.com)
Used with Permission. Do not repost without first obtaining prior
permission from the author.
Location: Greyhawk City
High Priest: Murq, Holy Prophet of Celestian
Holy Book: Liber Caligo
Symbol: An arc of 7 red stars, with a bright red circle
within the arc, all on a circle of black.
The Cult of the Celestial Arch is a splinter cult from the
Church of Celestian in Greyhawk City. In the year 561 CY, they
were outlawed for a number of atrocities committed upon the wealthy
and noble families of the city by their Prophet. Murq escaped,
and his current whereabouts are unknown. It is believed that the
cult fell apart after this, but, this didn't happen. Instead,
the cult hid itself, and has been in contact with Murq. It is
possible that the cultists have some kind of revenge planned against
the leaders of Greyhawk City...
History: The Cult of the Celestial Arch was formed in
527 CY, when a mercenary wizard known as Murq of Fax found the
Liber Caligo in the remains of an Aerdi temple of Celestian near
the Bright Desert. He then headed to Leukish, where he caused
a rift in the local Church of Celestian. After things started
to turn violent, in 531 CY, the cultists fled for Greyhawk City.
For many years, the cultists remained peacefully within the walls
of Greyhawk City. No one noticed if a few urchins disappeared
every now and then. In 561 CY, Murq interpreted a comet to mean
that Celestian would appear if the proper sacrifices were made.
The cultists then began to abduct the children of the wealthy
and nobility of the city. That is when the authorities cracked
down on the cult, and chased Murq out of the city. Many of other
leaders in the cult were rounded up and executed, but most of
the cultists managed to escape.
The Temple of the Celestial Arch
Clergy: Wizards, Astrologers
Clergy's Alignment: NE
All clergy of the Celestial Arch receive Astrology as a free
proficiency. Clergy are required to take Languages, Modern (Aerdi).
Dogma: In the past, the prophets foretold the coming
of Celestian to the Oerth, and a great cataclysm that would follow.
Those who believed were saved by Celestian, while those who scoffed
were destroyed in the Invoked Devastation. These same prophets
also foretold that in roughly 1000 years, another cataclysm would
occur, and that the faithful would have to prepare the way for
Celestian to come once again to save them. That time is rapidly
approaching, and Celestian needs sacrifices in order to open the
gateways between the Oerth and his Astral home. Once enough sacrifices have been made, Celestian will manifest on the Oerth, and save the faithful from the coming cataclysm. We are those faithful,
and we must keep making sacrifices to Celestian. He allows us
to interpret the signs in the sky, giving us glimpses into the
future. And only he can give us salvation from the cataclysm.
We must keep sacrificing to him, and continue to read the stars
until he gives us a sign that the time for his manifestation has
Day-to-Day Activities: The clergy of the Celestial Arch
spend their days employed as astrologers, professors, and diviners.
Important Ceremonies/Holy Days: Services are conducted
every Starday night, and involve charting the stars, making predictions,
and reading passages from copies of the Liber Caligo. On nights
when Luna is new, the cult gathers and a human sacrifice is made
to Celestian. A human sacrifice is also made when Celene is new.
When both Celene and Luna are new, 7 sacrifices are made.
Major Temple: The main (and only known) temple of the
Celestial Arch was located below the Grey College, but that was
sacked by Greyhawk's authorities and is currently abandoned. The
cult currently meets on a hilltop several miles outside the city,
where stone (bloodstained) altar is concealed, with the symbol
of the cult carved on all sides of it. Murq surely maintains a
sanctuary somewhere to the north, but no one knows where this
Priestly Vestments: The clergy of the Celestial Arch
wear black robes with the symbol of the cult (7 red stars arranged
in an arch, with a bright red circle within the arch) embroidered
on the front and back.
Hierarchy: Murq is the head of the Celestial Arch. Below
him are 2 priests, who are responsible for overseeing the cult
during Murq's exile. They are the ones who receive messages from
Murq, and respond to them. Other priests exist, but they mainly
perform menial tasks for the cult (such as copying the Liber Caligo
for new cultists). Recently, one priest left Greyhawk City, and
moved to Dyvers. It is unknown if he'll start a cult there, and
if he does, how it will interact with the Greyhawk City cult...
Liber Caligo and Expanded History: The Liber Caligo
is an ancient book, dating back to before the Twin Cataclysms.
It was written by an astrologer and follower of Celestian living
near what is now Ull. Shortly before the Invoked Devastation,
he wrote this book, based on visions he received, and then led
his followers to safety. This small group of refugees migrated
to the Abbor-Alz, within the boundaries of the Duchy of Urnst.
There, they remained, on the frontiers of the Aerdi Empire. When
the Empire began to crumble, the cult slowly began to dwindle,
until it was completely forgotten by 400 CY. The original Liber
Caligo was written in an obscure dialect of ancient Oeridian,
and is possessed by Murq. All priests have a copy of it, written
in Aerdi. Their copy is only partially complete. Normal cultists have copies written in Common, and theirs are very incomplete,
and incomprehensible in places (due to translation errors). The
original is a confusing work, rambling on, and containing bits
and pieces of history, myth, religious doctrine, star/planet/comet
information, and prophecy randomly mixed together throughout the
work. Intelligence checks are required to properly understand
any part that is read (at full INT for the original, if the dialect
it's written in is known, at half if just ancient Oeridian is
know, at one third for copies written in Aerdi, and at one quarter
for copies written in Common).
Note: Celestian, Greyhawk City"