The Cult of Zariel has many different groups, organised into cells, working within Baldur’s Gate. Each of these are being coordinated by Amrik Vanthampur, working under the orders of his mother Thalamra.
In theory each of these cells is independent of each other, unaware of each others locations or memberships. This helps to protect the cult from infiltration, the leaking of information, or leading the Flaming Fist to each other. In reality however, this isn’t quite working to plan.
The Hamhock Slaughterhouse cell is made up of 3 key members, each a worshipper of one of the Dead Three. See the Adverary Rosters in Part 2 for full NPC numbers.
Pasque Enrial (Bane)
Appearance: A lank man with long black hair. He wears a hooded robe, held together with black chord through two skull broaches. HE wears a single black leather glove.
Quote: “Tell me. Do you have any siblings? Answer my questions and I will stop this pain and you can leave.”
- Pushes the black leather glove further onto his hand very deliberately, flexing his fingers as he does so.
- Goes from calm and collected to crazed and furious in a heartbeat.
- Neutral Evil. Takes great pleasure in seeing the suffering of others.
Background: Leader of the Hamhock Slaughterhouse cell of the Dead Three Cult. Worshipper of Bane lord of fear, hatred, tyranny.
Pasque was married to a Manorborn wife who kiicked him out after discovering his worship of Bane.
- Tortures his victims about their family history and relatives, seeking to find leads to other Elturian Knights for Amrik Vanthampur.
Stat Block: Cult Fanatic NPC but with shadow blade spell instead of hold person. Has an AC 17 from green Ankheg Plate and a +2 Dex mod (Ankheg Plate is half plate which weighs only 20 lbs and is worth 500 gp.)
Jaemus Exheltarion (Myrkul)
Appearance: Unkempt and wild looking, this old man smells something awful. His long white hair and beard are matted together and his head is permanently bowed due to a hunched back.
Quote: “You’ll be maggot feast in the end. We all will. But allow me to speed up your journey.”
- Scratches and itches at his body frantically.
- Fed up with life but knows his soul is corrupt and forfeit. Wants to live as long as possible, no matter the cost.
- Neutral Evil. Considers himself more important than anyone or anything else, believing himself destined for greatness.
Background: Officer of the cult cell, serving under Pasque. Worshipper of Myrkul, lord of the dead.
- Works at the front desk of the Hamhock Slaughterhouse. Reads from occult tomes even while working, making poor attempts to hide them from customers.
- Mad Morgane has seen his occult tomes and thinks he might be the summoner of “The Sickle Man”. She sells him roadkill peacocks in the hopes that her ‘usefulness’ will mean he does not send the creature to kill her. Jaemus just thinks she’s a mentally broken vagrant and pays her little notice.
- Jaemus created a Ram-Headed Golem that is chained up in the basement, an amalgam of various slaughtered creatures and bodies he stole from the Cliffside Cemetary. He sees it as an escape plan – realsing the monster into the Outer City and fleeing during the chaos. If Jaemus thinks their cover blown he will misty step to go and release it.
- Kidnaps victims with Corian Khee and is the one who carefully carves Gargauth’s unholy symbol upon their chest after death.
Stat Block: Skull Lasher of Myrkul
Corian Khee (Bhaal)
Appearance: Shrouded in black robes that entirely obscure their face, this person moves with an almost unnatural grace and fluidity. Many daggers glint in a belt around their waist.
Quote: “Don’t struggle little bird, it will all be over soon.”
- Moves with controlled fluidity, every movement deliberate and precise
- Takes great pleasure in being the one to murder victims.
- Lawful evil. Never one to fight fair or talk on even terms, they will use any advantage they can gain – yet always upholds their word.
Background: They are gender neutral with a feminine body under their black robes. Worshipper of Bhaal, lord of murder.
- Corian kidnaps the targets along with Jaemus. They use charm person and disguise self to better position themselves to take the targets somewhere secluded.
- Corian is the one to murder the victims, after Pasque tortures them for information. Corian slash the victim’s wrists along the length of their forearms.
- They drop the body alongside their Night Blade apprentice, uner the cover of a darkness spell cast on Corian by Jaemus. They leave them in the alleyways behind the Smilin’ Boar Tavern.
Stat Block: Reaper of Bhaal
A weaker version of a Flesh Golem, made from a combination of humanoid and animal parts by Jaemus. He took the humanoid bodies from the Cliffside Cemetery.
That’s it for the Hamhock Slaughterhouse! It plays quite a major role in the Outer City Murders, so obviously takes up a lot of the content.
As a DM preparing to actually run the Baldur’s Gate part of the campaign, my main steps were to get my head around the 4 ‘arms’ of the cult: the Vanthampur’s, the Bathhouse, the Poisoned Poseidon and Hamhock’s Slaughterhouse. Beyond that, I was able to run each of the locations just off the cuff from my notes, making use of the random tables in the back of the DIA book for random encounters.
However, you don’t need to do all of this at one time – after all there is both a literal and narrative separation around each of these sections. The PCs will start outside the city and not allowed in, so will only be able to deal with the Hamhock cell for now. Each of the others is likely to take up one or more sessions each, giving you time to prepare for the next by asking the players “Where are you heading at the start of next session?”
Next up will be some short optional nodes, the Cliffside Cemetery in Outer City and the Shinre of the Suffering in Lower City. Both of these locations are where the bodies from the murders are interred.