Days of High Adventure
Dungeon World: Welcome to the Dark Side

Chris Brackett | 17 Jun 2010 17:00
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In the last installment we explored the "living gods" of Dungeon World, and although we touched on the importance of their followers, we didn't explore any of them in depth.

This time around, we're going to take a hard look at just such a group of believers: the Cult of Phleebx.

A Cult Is Born

About five decades ago, at the tender age of eight, Malf Sertic had a vivid dream. In it, a constantly shifting shadow (perhaps better described as a levitating puddle of ooze) floated before him, and piping and burbling noises filled his ears. After a moment of confusion and fear, Malf realized that the shadow was speaking to him. Amidst the strange piping he began to discern words, then sentences. He conversed with the shadowy thing for what seemed like days.

The next morning, Malf told his father of the dream.

It's worth discussing Malf's day-to-day life at this point. Like most peasant children, Malf's life was no picnic. Aside from the daily grind of working in the fields with his father and tending their animals, Malf had to contend with the ever-present threats of disease, famine, and the possibility of his village being raided. (It was just such an occurrence that had claimed the life of his mother and younger sister - along with a good number of other villagers - three years earlier. A mob of savage green-skinned creatures - goblins, he was told - had swept through the region, and many of the local farms were still recovering.)

Malf himself was a lean child, partially due to the physical labor and partially due to the infrequency of and lack of nutrition in his meals. A good portion of the family's meager crops went to the local landowner, and most of their chickens and goats were bartered at market for other necessities. Malf and his father kept just enough to feed themselves.

Malf's father was a hard, world-weary man. He cared for the boy as best he could, but he was by no means a pleasant person. The loss of his wife and daughter had only served to further sour his disposition, and although he didn't take his anger at his station out on the boy, neither was he easy on him. His father was bitter, to say the least, and often said that the common folk of the world would be better off without all of its odd creatures, foolhardy adventurers, elves, dwarves, magic, etc.

It was with great interest that he therefore listened to the boy as he told of his dream conversation with the shadow-puddle-thing. Malf explained to him how the thing had told him that none of these things his father railed against regularly were natural. In its weird piping voice, the thing had told the boy that humans were the only true "race" and that the others were unnatural creations, as were many of the beasts that wandered the World. It also told the boy that magic was a sin against nature, and that its prevalence throughout the world was what caused all of the suffering he and so many like him endured on a regular basis.

Malf's father, Sertic the Elder, knew that this had to be more than a simple dream. Surely, some higher being had spoken to the boy through his dreams and confirmed what the man had been saying for the last three years. He began to preach the shadow-puddle-thing's words to the locals, telling all who would listen how the boy had been visited in his dreams.

Through his son, Phleebx - for that was the thing's name - had shined a light in the darkness, and Malf and his father were to be its messengers to the World.

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