Every star is a window to another world—portals that sit open on the edge of our plane—private verandas from which the deities and demigods rule from. Most are scattered amongst the heavens, maintaining a safe distance from their neighbors. Those controlling certain aspects of life arrange themselves in constellations, creating highways between their worlds. Depending on the season, some deities are tasked with shepherding the sun across the sky. Others are given the momentous charge of maintaining the moon and those in its confinement.
In their home planes, the gods exercise complete control, living forever in whatever paradise they see fit; their miracles and power charged by the worship of followers on the material plane below. To rise in strength, each must increase their influence over mortal souls. If a deity is killed, they simply reform over a period of time. For a god to truly be destroyed, any knowledge of their existence would have to be removed, including the complete genocide of their worshippers and culture.
Deicide is a rare occurrence, requiring systematic destruction of knowledge on a cosmic scale. The talk of such a practice among their peers goes beyond taboo. When an evil or rogue deity is apprehended, the gods instead imprison their captives and place these stars forever behind the moon. There, they are blocked from any interaction with the mortal world, warded every night by the gods that pass by the moon’s glow. Unable to enact their influence, their religions fall apart and their unholy names forgotten. Over eons, prisoners wither away, fueled only by mumblings of cults and madmen.
One of these cults is The Order of the Broken Moon, an organization comprised of souring acolytes of many different sects. With their masters locked away, they have forgotten who or what they pledge their devotion too. They remember their former power, filled with divine and evil purpose, and seek to regain this lost glory. Together, they curse the gods that stole it from them and seek to destroy the lunar prison.
Being primarily made up of former high priests and clerics, each sect of The Order is as unique as its leader. Some dedicate themselves to study, searching for a planar backdoor that might free their master. More turn to sacrifices, hoping to regain lost knowledge and bathe themselves in power once more. The largest denomination of all actively seeks the destruction of the moon itself.
Despite magic and sacrifices, the cult’s advancements in medieval rocketry have yet to dent the moon’s surface. However, each full moon, they inch closer to their goal. Every month, The Order gathers, channeling their misery and despair into onyx obelisks. When the moon is at its peak, they release their insidiously charged pylon from its bindings and launch it into the sky. As the cult grows, the obelisk makes progress. A small sect might launch their monolith some 10 miles, its landing point drawing to it local, evil creatures attracted by its aura. The largest sects’ obelisks graze the astral plane, returning with other worldly monstrosities baited by the villainous pillar. These obelisks can end up to 200 miles from their original launch point, tainting their new terrestrial homes with their corrupting consignments.
To the common man, The Order provides a release from the frustrations of daily life. These feelings are sometimes gathered in covert ways, hidden as a benign religion or onyx worry tokens sold and collected later. Those in the inner circles are promised a world reborn and infinite boons from their released masters.
Notes for DM :
The Order of the Broken Moon is my favorite fanatical cult. They work great as an ongoing side quest. As a background threat, each month they resurface, a little more powerful, but showing signs of any previous player entanglements. Perhaps they become more furtive or more hostile after having their previous plan foiled—or more bold in the face of victory. Either way, the players know that should they fail, a city, village or countryside will be ravaged by evil cosmic creatures, like aberrations or corrupted sub-types.
Introduce the cult by including a crater and downed obelisk in an offhanded way. Maybe while they travel from one area to another, they encounter one along the side of the road with a lingering creature still nearby. When enquiring at the nearby village, the townsfolk are blissfully ignorant, slothish even, having given their worries away at the local shrine.
Next week, I will go into a colorful cultist you can use to lead a small sect.