Wednesday, October 7, 2020

The Cult of Kyuss - A Different OSR Ecology for the Sons of Kyuss for Your Old School Games

“This place had once been the seat of an evil older than mankind and wider than the known universe.”
― H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories

 This morning a player of mine approached me in the local coffee shop where we started talking about the Sons of Kyuss both the legendary monsters & the rock band. But more on the Fiend Folio monster of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons first edition legend. And it got me thinking about the Sons of Kyuss. After all Halloween is the perfect time for these things! 

Way back a fellow DM had a theory that Kyuss was a Greyhawk diety & possible priest of Orcus who rose up the ladder to achieve immortality through his service. These things appeared in Greyhawk Adventures & are as reviled in that book as they are in their early Fiend Folio appearances. 

Bell of Souls has an excellent article on the Sons of Kyuss but it doesn't really dive too much into the lore of the monsters. But dives into their background leaving fifth edition lore to sort out much of their mythology;" In 5th Edition the Spawn of Kyuss had its lore sorted out. They were created by Kyuss, who was a high priest of Orcus, the demon prince of undeath, and he created these walking plague monsters as an expression of Orcus’ intent to replace all life with undeath. They do not eat, do not sleep, they care for nothing save to slay the living and create more of their kind. Worse yet, creatures transformed into Spawn of Kyuss themselves have their souls trapped within the corpse, preventing the individual from being raised or resurrected until the body is destroyed and the soul released. In 5th Edition, these undead look much like an ordinary zombie from a distance, until you close with them, and then the mass of writhing green maggots surge forth, eager and hungry to create more of their masters’ dark creations.


For the mythology this get's away from the meat & undead heart of the Sons of Kyuss. The leprous mummy like undead  horrors from the depths of the Fiend Folio first edition. 

Now let's bring these horrors back to Greyhawk shall we?! The Kyuss entry on the Forgotten Realms wiki site  dives back into the various Dungeons & Dragons editions added on mythology. This  give the whole disease covered worm drenched horror added Lovecraftian depths ; "The true story of the being known as the Worm that Walks was a mystery to scholars, although some claimed that he was once a high priest of Orcus.[3] The only known fact all agreed on was that the Worm that Walks was originally a demigod called Kyuss, who had lived in the ancient past as a mortal necromancer and created many aberrant undead creatures,[2] such as the spawn of Kyuss that plagued the Underdark.[4]

Eventually, Kyuss's wickedness made his contemporaries to exile him to the fringes of society. Rather than languishing as an outcast, he became the prophet of a wicked cult who believed in the dreaded Age of Worms. During this time Kyuss discovered the ruins of a dead civilization in an island near Maztica, known as the Wormcrawl Island by the elves of Evermeet, and claimed the site as its own, where he ruled as a god-king. In the ruins, his followers discovered ancient metal plates, which held terrible secrets but also confirmed every prophecy he had spoken.[2][5]

Through these inscriptions, Kyuss discovered how to transcend mortality at a terrible price—the lives of his congregation. On one bloody night he instructed his priests to slaughter them all, and after that Kyuss murdered the priests as well. When he was finished, he fused his essence with the foul ruins, gaining and losing his divinity in one moment. He was neither mortal nor god, and he was bound forever to the ruins. However, he was transformed into something far worse.[2]

Some scholars believed Kyuss was related to the Far Realm-infested star Nihal. Either Kyuss was its brother or both were the same being observed from two different points in time.[6]

After the Time of Troubles, a coalition of banitesbhaalites and myrkulites uncovered ancient scrolls regarding to Kyuss, and tried to find Wormcrawl Island in hopes Kyuss would resurrect their respective gods"

Now personally as a DM I use some of this background but amp up the horror elements far more by having Kyuss as an apprentice to Orcus in some forgotten age of Greyhawk. Then having him contact the far realm as a short cut to both becoming a deity & short cutting with the Far Realms. 
Kyuss is a the infection that grows! His cult is a sort of quisi Egyptian or more like a Greco Roman Alexandrian cult that has spread itself across the planes! 

Kyuss achieved immortality at a terrible price for each of those worms bares a fragment of his undead soul. The cult has grown across the planes & is the abomination to the Egyptian  deities that it mocks through its trappings of horror. 
Where stalk the sons & daughters of Kyuss undead horror & plague follow in their wake! Originally the Sons were a plague upon Greyhawk but it wasn't long before they spread across the planes! 
How?! The far realms of course. Yes the demi god had achieved immortality but he was spread across the planes scattered to the four winds. His horror arrived on '
The World of Aihrde'. And it set to work spreading its leprous evil in spades. 

On the world of Judge's Guild Wilderlands of High Fantasy the plague that was Kyuss spread like a dark wind across the desert regions & beyond. There were however a great crusade to push the horrors back beyond the edge of the world. 

The priests of Kyuss still stumble through the dark nights of the Wilderlands spreading their plagues & horrors as they roam. The plague still crops up now & again with the stumbling & shambling of the cult of Kyuss. Now there are several minor orders of paladins & knights dedicated to eradicating the cult & its undead wherever they are found. 

On Hyperborea the Sons of Kyuss plague was actually checked by the arrival of the Green Death. The spread of the horrors beyond the Diamond Desert was halted & checked by the destruction of the Green Death when even death may die under the gaze of another god.In certain circles of Keltic & Hyperborean shaman's networks these horrors are known. The Druids know of this hate of old & they loath these things of the anti life. 

On  Kanahu the elves in their corrupted state were ripe for the message of the cults of Kyuss but the Greys would have none of it. They began a thirty year campaign against the cult which ended only with the complete destruction of two of their controlled capital cities & the razing of several massive ancient grave yards to no avail. 

All of this was for naught the worms & cult were entrenched on the far off world. There are those who insist that the Sons of Kyuss were gone but many reports come in from many corners of explosions of the cult's activities across the planes! 

Ten reasons Why The Sons of Kyuss are still active & dangerous! 
  1.  The sons are an invasive cult & infest any & all ruins that they can! The multiplication of their numbers are paramount to the interests of the cult. 
  2. Many times the Sons place themselves in around artifacts & treasures to spread the 'faith' of their numbers. 
  3. Kyuss & Orcus hate each other often battling for supremacy for their undead spawn. 
  4. The sons are pure evil & even the devils put aside their differences to eradicate them. 
  5. Those affected by the diseases of Kyuss can actively be sometimes controlled by the demigod itself. They are unwilling vectors of the cult moving from place to place. 
  6. Those within the embrace of Kyuss are aware of the demigod owning their souls & tormenting them. This very fact means that they are willing to do anything for temporary relief from the ancient horror's whims. 
  7. The cult actively steals treasures & artifacts to lure others especially adventurers into its clutches. 
  8. The sons have a sort of hazy collective undead consciousness that enables them to commune across vast distances & with their demi god master. 
  9. The worms are actively spread by cult members as a sarciment of immortality little knowing the horror that goes with them. 
  10. Every night the sons of Kyuss stumble across the deserts & wastelands of worlds spreading themselves a bit more to bring all under the will of Kyuss. 

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