Runequest Thursday #197 - The Cabal of Luck and Death - History, Part 2!

Clint Staples

In the final installment of this series on the Masters of Luck and Death, we learn the rest of the history of the cabal's formation via the confrontation between Delac the Undying and Rekkar, the upstart barbarian sorcerer and his demoness, Mordata.

According to the remaining lore of the cabal, Rekkar and Mordata fled Crossroads ahead of an army of Wasteland barnarians, for the City and a confrontation with Delac, who is said to have orchestrated the fall of Crossroads. Cabal scholars who hold to the notion of Coincidence suggest that matters were not so clearly defined - that the confrontation between Delac and Rekkar was not inevitable at all. They point to the intervening decades suggested by a number of chronicles of that bygone age, and to apocryphal tales of Rekkar and Mordata adventuring in distant lands, leading armies, raising kingdoms, and more - all to intimate that the actions that brought the two arms of the Cabal of Luck and Death together once more was mere happenstance. Other students of history, and especially of Destiny, claim that any intervening time and activity merely proves that the subsequent confrontation truly was inevitable. This doctrinal matter remains an open question, with the only answer being, appropriately - Death.

Whenever it occured, the records are united in certain details of the confrontation. Rekkar and Mordata, along with an army of Fata Mordata, entered the City surreptitiously. Delac, for his part, having learned of their journey and their clandestine arrival some time previously, had made preparations. Chief of these was his mastery of the Rune of Undeath, which had filled his aged form with immense unnatural vigor - so long as he could draw sustenance from living beings around him. HIs own followers paid the price for his unnatural vigor, and were then raised as similar though lesser creatures who must wrest life from mortals to sustain themselves. After some significant amount of maneuvering, raid and counter-raid, it is said that Mordata employed techniques known only to demonkind to breech the magical and mortal defenses surrrounding Delac, all but destroying herself in the process. Yet she somehow moved Rekkar and the Fata Mordata beyond Delac's wards, and into the presence of the Undying elite.

The battle was bloody, intense, and climactic. Cabalists of the Fata Mordata died in droves, in turn destroying the hordes of Delac's Deathless. The competing masters of Luck and Death wielded the vast energies released in the greater struggle, carving swathes though their forces and wreaking havok upon one another. Finally, with one decisive stroke, Delac tore through the magical defenses thrown up by Rekkar, then through the champion's body, only to find victory withdrawn as Rekkar unwove the last few instants of the fight - hurling the powers unleashed therein at his demoness, who reformed entirely. Together, they excised Delac's Fate from his body in a metaphysical decapitation far more devastating than it would have been were the necromancer's head actually removed from his deathless body. Unmoored of Fortune, much of Delac's power was beyond his reach for a critical instant - in which Rekkar matched the spiritual beheaded with the edge of his axe. Mordata consumed the fleeing essense of Delac the Undying, erasing it from existence, and died in the process.

With the destruction of Delac the Undying, The Cabal of Luck and Death was reunited, and the primacy of the Luck rune assured. The Age of Rekkar was one of change and growth, not only for the Cabal. The Master of Luck and Death lived a long, though not overly long, life - devoting himself to the codification of the strictures of the Cabal, making war on necromancy and those who pursued it, and encouraging the full integration of the Runes of Luck and Death. It is rumored that Mordata returned to him on his deathbed, and welcomed his essense into the afterlife.

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The power of the Cabal of Luck and Death has declined over the centuries. Some Masters maintain that this is deliberate - that no one should ever attain the powers claimed by Delac, or even the prominence of Rekkar. Others say that the Fortune expended in that ancient struggle weakened the Luck rune forever, or that the power of the rune is only now beginning once more to grow great. Such scholars have seen signs of greater fortune for the Cabal as well, and the possibliity of a returned rift among its members.

Currently, The Cabal of Luck and Death survives a network of separate schools, mostly far from population centers, intent on remaining beyond common knowledge. Prospective students demonstrate their dedication throught he act of finding a school, then impressing the Masters, who have little interest in proselytizing. A school is home to no more than a dozen Masters, as well as their students (who might number twice that). The notion of apprenticeship is not common. Instead students are taught by all Masters according to their interests and accomplishments. Along with runic study, students are taught history, especially that of the Cabal, languages necessary for scholarship, and necromancy - not to create undead abominations, but to better destroy them - for the Undeath rune has grown over the centuries, attracting adherents of its own. The Masters of Luck and Death are commited to eradicating Undeath in all its forms, and destroying the rune itself.

Yet these goals remain beyond the ability fo the Cabal. Some speak of potent forces manipulating Undeath, unseen by the Masters of Luck and Death, but glimpsed during the destruction of a powerful vampire or other abomination. Others whisper that perhaps Delac was merely defeated rather than destroyed, and is poised to rise as the god of the rune he discovered. Whatever the truth, new acolytes of Luck and Death are welcomed, and the Cabal seems primed for another transformation.

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Creating a player character Acolyte of Luck and Death

Background: Any

Profession: Runic Sorcerer

Skills: Sorcery, Runes, History, Cabal Lore, Necromancy, Language(s)

Feat of Arms: Runic Affiliation (Luck or Death)

Spells: 6 Ranks of Runic Sorcery spells

 

New Spell:

This is the spell that has come down to the Cabal, in imitation of the devastating spell Rekkar cast upon Delac the Deathless in the final confrontation. Though not as powerful as the one that inspired it, it is potent - especially against creatures with a connection to the Luck Rune.

Sever Fate [Luck]

Range – 10 Yards                 POW check – Yes                 Duration – 1 Round

Time to Cast - Reaction   Magnitude – Var                

The caster temporarily severs the target’ spirit from its body and its fate, possibly altering the fate that had been set out for it. On a successful Pow contest, the spirit of the target can no longer access any spell or ability linked to the Luck rune, and is temporarily unable to control its physical form. The spirit may still be resident in its body, but depending on its nature, it might also be cast out of it - essentially becoming a disembodied spirit for the duration of the spell. Regardless, it is incapable of physical action for as long as it remains discorporate. If it has the ability to attack in spirit combat through other means it may do so, but not to repossess its own body, only to attack another. Even corporeal, it cannot access any ability that relies on a connection to the Luck Rune.

Each rank of Sever Fate increases the Duration of the spell by one Round.

Spell Manipulation: Duration - Special, Range.