For more on the Gollicking’s cult series, check out The Order of the White Rose and The Harvesters by u/Mimir-ion
Deity – Azuth, God of Wizards (LN, Knowledge)
Cult Name – Hum Alshirih (hum ah-l-sh-ah-re)
Symbol – A swirling length of hair with flames behind it
“Teach the wielding of magic and dispense learning throughout Faerûn so the use and knowledge of magic may spread.” – Azuth.
Azuth, the Lord of Spellcraft. The First Magister. Hand of Sorcery. His many names all contain the most common words for magic, truly making him inseparable from the craft itself. And that union of magic and the self is what Hum Alshirih strive to replicate. Most mages see magic as a tool. They can learn spells that aid them in some fashion. For Hum Alshirih, they wish to become magic.
Many people view Azuth’s religion as tradition-bound. So does the Hum Alshirih. Magic is about expanding, changing, evolving, and growing. No spell, no idea, no person cannot be made better with additional work. Hum Alshirih will forsake the old ideas when new ones allow them to delve deeper into making themselves into a truly magical being.
Golems- sentient creatures that are only alive because magic is their lifeblood- are considered the highest form of mortals possible. Azuth’s Favored are considered the highest among them. Many Hum Alshirih still search for a way to escape their mortal shell and live in the form of pure magic, as a golem or otherwise.
But those seeking to become magical cannot start with such a lofty goal. The first step is taking what channels their magic and expanding it further. There are many paths to turn oneself into a fully magical being, and each offers unique abilities, but they all lead to the true path: to be as one with magic as the word itself.
Like the power of magic itself, the number of paths available to the Hum Alsihr are infinite. Though there are a few common paths among them.
Paths of the Hum Alshirih
Hair has a long history with magic. Many spellcasters use hair for hexes and spell completion items, but witches started a more involved method of utilizing hair. They not only drew on the power of their own hair, they learned how to enhance it while it was still a part of them.
Hum Alshirih who draw magic from their hair grow it long, utilizing every centimeter to house more potential magic and never daring to cut a single one. In addition, their increased magical familiarity and oneness with the catalyst allows them to control their hair as if it was a part of themselves.
Their hair counts as an extra limb that has reach of 10 ft. Even if they are not holding a weapon, the cultists is always considered armed. Their hair has a strength score equal to the owner’s spellcasting stat (intelligence, wisdom, or charisma). When making strength-based checks, such as climbing or swimming, the cultist can use their hair, allowing them to use their spellcasting modifier instead of their strength modifier.
What holds more potential magic than lifeblood? Unlike hair, it is a part of the body that does not require time to expand. Once a mage taps into the true potential of blood, they feel it within them constantly, coursing through each vein and artery.
Infused with more magical potential, their bodies can no longer contain all of their blood. The cultists must ritually cut themselves: one wound for the blood to leave their bodies, and one wound for the blood to reenter it. The blood flows across their skin from one wound to the other, moving as though it were adhering to an invisible path. The ever-moving blood keeps the wounds fresh, never closing or scabbing. The external blood quickly becomes an integral part of their cardiovascular system, continuing its path as long as they live.
As the cultist gains more potential from their blood, they must open more wounds on their body. Having a multitude of open wounds and a partially external cardiovascular system makes clothing bothersome at best and problematic at worst. Most Hum Alshirih who delve deep into these blood arts wear little- or sometimes no- clothing.
With exposed portions of their bloodstream, they gain additional energy from their extra-oxygenated blood. They do not suffer any of the penalties from exhaustion. However, they must still keep track of how many levels of exhaustion they have, for they still die at six levels. In addition, their extra blood gives them additional temporary hit points equal to their constitution modifier times their level. Once they lose this temp HP, they cannot regain it until they take a long rest. Healing spells will only heal them to their normal max HP.
Some say life itself started in the first flame. Whether that is true or not, pyromancy has been a part of magic before magic had a name. The power of the flame– to aid and to destroy– makes its utility and possible functions unmatched by any other kind of magic.
For Hum Alshirih, that still wasn’t enough.
Using the flame makes it a tool. Being the flame makes each spell a part of you.
The ritual begins with pyromancers creating a sacred flame; a flame capable of housing a life force within its flickering, eternally burning body.
Once the flame is ready, the cultist must prepare themselves. Usually, this means being strapped to a cross or strung between two trees.
Once the cultist is prepared to receive the flame, the other cultists need to act quickly. They must open the receiving cultist’s chest and stomach, split their ribcage, and remove all of their organs. Once the vessel is empty, they must house the sacred flame into the cultist’s chest, close their ribs, and stitch their flesh back together.
Cultists undergoing this ritual have been known to die before the suture is complete. Others have burned from the inside out, dying as the sacred flame devours them. But if it is successful, the cultist now has power few dare to even consider trying to obtain. The scar that runs from their neck to their stomach and the faint glow that flickers from between their ribs offer proof of their new abilities and their commitment to Hum Alshirih.
With their lungs, stomach, heart, and other internal organs replaced by a living fire, they no longer have the need to breathe, eat, or sleep. They are also immune to spells with sleep effects as well as poison. They are still alive, though magic is what keeps them so. Without circulation, their remaining blood dries up inside of them. The dried blood toughens from the heat of the flame, granting them +1 AC natural armor. The flame also keeps them warm, granting them immunity to the effects of natural cold, though cold damage affects them normally.
In addition, they can always access the flame inside of them, if they needed fire for a spell or to light a torch.
Where they can be found – Given their violent rituals and often unsightly appearance, Hum Alshirih never live in cities and populated towns. They are nomadic, normally traveling slowly through rough terrain rather than utilizing roads. In addition, their rituals sometimes end in death. Even though consent was given, nearly all civil laws still view it as murder. Thus, they stick to the wilderness, avoiding contact with non-Hum Alshirih except when they choose to venture into civilized places. Their involvement with nature has influenced them to believe in the inherent magic in the natural world. Now, they tend to try and remain surrounded by it.
What they are – They often appear bizarre, eccentric, or horrific, thus always drawing attention when among non-Hum Alshirih. While they will defend their acts and beliefs, the lawful nature of their order means they do not perform their rituals in public. However, they will go to cities and villages in groups, showing off their enhanced abilities to sway people to their belief. Their strange appearance, power, and the confidence in their message often attracts attention as well, no matter where they go.
How to implement – Plot Hooks
- A parent claims their child is under the influence of mind-altering herbs and has gone into the forest to find the Hum Alshirih and join them. They demand you find and return their child, no matter what it takes.
- Crime was on the rise until a small group of Hum Alshirih came to town. Now, criminals are being beaten, strung up, recruited, or killed. The problem is that the punishment does not always match the crime, and the Hum Alshirih are more concerned with enforcing the law than getting it exactly right. In addition, they have no ties to the local law enforcement.
- Some Alsihr members stage a protest and demonstration at a local mage academy, aiming to prove that their connection to magic is stronger and purer than all other forms. Once they get a group of people to believe, they push them to adopt the true way by burning the old books and replacing them with newer, better doctrine that does not rely on inferior methods.
- Some Alsihr members begin breaking, sacking, and then burning churches associated with chaotic good and chaotic neutral gods, claiming their unlawful ways are truly evil. They’re using the goods stolen from the church to fund themselves, a worthy cause to support.
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