Adventures in Stormreach
Cabal of Shadows
“The Traveler comes. Choose to be the instrument of his change, or a victim of it.”
—Shadow Lupae, Child of Xoriat
Cast out from their homes, touched by darkness, or consumed by madness and rage, the members of the Cabal of Shadows are a diverse group of troubled souls. Not all of them can be called evil, but none of the Cabal’s goals could be considered virtuous. The Caldyn Fragments speak of a time of shadow and change when a dark prince will rule. The Cabal believes that Dark Six, or some agent of his, will bring this prince forth in this era and that it will rule under him.
The Cabal is made up of various cults, sects, and affiliations. Each sect has its own organizational details and character, but all follow the mystical force known as The Calling. This force binds the various sects of the Cabal together.
The few courageous scholars who have studied the phenomenon suspect that the Calling is a magical aspect of the Traveler that manifests in the dreams and unconscious minds of mortals. All Cabal members initially experience the Calling as a voice in their minds—an irresistible summons that draws them to Xen’drik.
JOINING THE CABAL OF SHADOWS
The various sects within the Cabal attract different types, but most commonly appeal to those willing to barter for arcane power or use it to manipulate others—including summoners (APG) and witches (APG). Still, anyone can potentially hear the Calling and be drawn to the shadows.
The Calling also appears to draw Cabalists to one another and to potential converts. New members in Stormreach are recruited right off the docks. A character who has experienced the Calling is likely to be approached by a small group within hours of arrival and taken directly before the Council of the Obscured.
Alignment: Any non-good.
Special: Must take a loyalty oath before the Council of the Obscured.
The following criteria apply to members of the Cabal of Shadows.
|CRITERION||AFFILIATION SCORE MODIFIER|
|Character level||+1 per 2 levels|
|Patron deity the Traveler||+1|
|2 or more ranks in Bluff or Stealth||+2|
|Alternate form ability||+2|
|Established identity within an organization useful to the Cabal||+4|
|Fail a mission for your sect||–1|
|Defeat or significantly impede rival sect’s operation||+2|
|Complete a mission on behalf of the Cabal||+2|
|Uncover information about the Caldyn Fragments||+2|
|Fail a mission for the Cabal||–2|
|Aid or show mercy to member of a rival sect||–4|
|Betray identity of another Cabalist||–4|
|Lose or surrender Cabal asset to rival sect||–4|
|Reveal your Cabal affiliation publicly||–4|
|Lose a power struggle within the Cabal||–1 to –4|
|AFFILIATION SCORE||TITLE: BENEFITS AND DUTIES|
|1–5||Recruit: The Cabal of Shadows recognizes you, and you are granted potions or scrolls of up to 50 gp/character level in value.|
|6–15||Shade: Purchase 3rd-level or lower potions and scrolls for 75% of normal cost. +2 circumstance bonus on Bluff, Sleight of Hand, and Stealth checks. Obscuring mist 1/day as a spell-like ability. You are assigned to at least one mission per month.|
|16–23||Gloom: Purchase 3rd-level or lower potions and scrolls for 50% of normal cost. +4 bonus on Diplomacy (gather information) checks due to underworld network connections. Darkness 1/day as a spell-like ability. You must command a small coven (2d4 1st-level NPCs) on at least one mission per month.|
|24–29||Shadow: Meld into stone 1/day as a spell-like ability. Trance of the Calling—as divination, 1/week, as a spell-like ability. You must organize 1d4 Cabalist missions per month and personally lead one per month.|
|30 or higher||Darkness: Greater invisibility 1/day as spell-like ability. You control your own sect. You gain a +2 bonus to your Leadership score. You can launch major Cabal missions at your discretion.|
PLAYING A SHADOW CABALIST
As long as you can remember, you have felt the Calling. In childhood it was only a whisper, there at the edge of dream or in times of peril. As the Calling grew stronger and clearer, you experienced vivid dreams of a faraway continent and of the buried power that sleeps there.
Eventually the Calling became irresistible, and you made your way to mysterious Xen’drik. You came to believe in the Calling as the true voice of the entity that some call the Traveler. But this power goes by many names, in many places, and its secrets are entwined in the arcane twistings of the draconic Prophecy. The Calling communicates its will to you in dreams, or in the occasional trancelike states that overcome you in waking hours. You know now that the Calling can be heard most clearly, most powerfully, in the special rituals of the Cabal of Shadows.
At times you feel hesitant and wonder if you are following the proper path. But then you remember your enemies, the defeats and humiliations of your past, and you know you have found your home and your master. The power promised by the Calling transcends childish concepts such as good or evil. You have heard the Calling, you have been chosen, and you cannot resist the thrill of its dark power.
As a member of the Cabal of Shadows, you venerate the powers of concealment and obscuration—both in the pursuit of hidden knowledge and in the resolution of conflict. Your methods vary, but in any conflict you tend toward subterfuge and deception. Effective weapons include spells and items that rob your opponent of his senses, or distort them in some way advantageous to you and your allies. You always use darkness and shadows when possible, along with illusions, invisibility, or simple physical cover.
Advancement and Missions
The quickest route to advancement within the Cabal is to complete missions for the leader of a sect, sometimes at the expense of other Cabal members. Such is the way of the Calling, that the foolish and weak should perish and the most skillful of deceivers should triumph. It is equally important to eliminate rivals—the holy fools of the Covenant, the thuggish sellswords of the Blackwheel Company, and the bookish children of the Crimson Codex. These impediments must be cleared so that the Cabal can achieve its ultimate goal: acquisition of the hidden mysteries of the Caldyn Fragments, and finally the power of the Prophecy itself.
THE CABAL OF SHADOWS IN STORMREACH
“Deceive me once, I shall learn; deceive me twice, one of us must die.”
Sects within the Cabal of Shadows can be quite different indeed—a sect of chaotic neutral changelings can work together with a cult of lawful evil tieflings, or even form an uneasy alliance with a pack of mad daelkyr half-bloods. But the Calling unites them all in fear and dread and hope for glory.
For the most part the Cabal is scattered throughout Xen’drik, but as with any organization on the continent, the Cabal has interests in and around Stormreach.
As the name suggests, the Cabal of Shadows prefers to remain concealed in layers of darkness. Of all the societies in the city, the Cabal is the most underground, literally and otherwise. Cabalists move in the deepest catacombs and ruins beneath Stormreach, the darkest places where even the Bilge Rats fear to tread.
Very recently, rumors have swept through the city underworld that the Cabal and the Rats are working together to an unprecedented degree. Many suspect a practical alliance has been forged. Cabalists care little for the material trinkets the Rats covet, and the Rats in turn have little use for the mystical artifacts collected by their smugglers and fences.
Each Cabal sect—and there are at least a dozen active in Stormreach—has its own take on the Cabal’s mission and how to achieve it. But four sects govern the overall direction of the Cabal through the Council of the Obscured, a ruling body in which the leaders of the four largest sects preside. These sects are the Mourners of Yore, the Defiance, the Instruments of Change, and the Children of Xoriat. The council, it is said, performs certain dark rituals below Stormreach and elsewhere in Xen’drik to channel the true voice of the Calling and direct the actions of the Cabal as a whole. Without these regular rituals, it is likely that the sects would turn to savage infighting, collapsing the Cabal from within.
Anyone candidly identifying oneself as a member of the Cabal can expect open hostility in Stormreach. Among the general populace, the Cabal lies at the heart of dark tales told around the tavern hearth at midnight. Although some of these are merely folk tales and legends, a surprising number are accurate accounts of the Cabal’s nefarious activities.