The Disciples of Morgana
The Disciples of Morgana are a non-player faction. They are the wicked followers of the mythical sorceress Morgana, who was banished to the demonic realms in the conflict that tore Albion asunder, ages ago. Some of these power-mad fanatics seek a way to bring her back, while others only seek to gain great power for themselves. Both are blind to the consequences of actually succeeding.
During the great war, Morgana used her magic to pierce the veil between the worlds and channel demonic power in a number of ways. She used it create special armor and weapons for her knights, as well as summon demons into the world to do her bidding. But this was only the beginning of her work. At the height of her power, Morgana created a bridge between the worlds, allowing favored demons free access to Albion. By controlling the bridge, she became the ultimate gatekeeper, exchanging time in our world for favors, binding every demon that used it to her will.
Merlin’s ritual changed all that. As the mists descended and the bridge crumbled away, every demon was thrown back through the hellgates and the splits in the veil sealed shut. When the dust settled, Morgana was gone, dragged into hell by the very demons she’d summoned. Most of her followers had been slain by the magical energies of the ritual: indeed, the ritual sought them out, ripping the demonic magic from their clothes and from their very blood. Needless to say, it was a terrible way to die and some claim that the screams of those taken by the ritual still echo in the darkest valleys of Albion.
Only a handful of knights and cultists survived, and they were the weakest of the group, saved by their own inexperience. Merlin, Arthur and his knights were gone, but the Keepers remained, and the remaining Disciples knew they were no match for the tribes. For years, they hid in Albion’s darkest corners, scrabbling in the ruins of their castles for scraps of old knowledge. Very slowly, they began to piece together something of what was lost while, on the other side of the veil, the demons were listening, ready, hoping for another chance to cross the realms.
For many years, their efforts were frustrated. The Disciples that remained were an impoverished shadow of what had come before and the mists that shrouded Albion were a further barrier. But they persevered, practicing the arts they knew and experimenting in the areas they did not. Through years of ritual and sacrifice, and assaults on ancient places of power, the cultists worked to erode the mists. At first the going was extremely slow but they persevered until, at last, the power that had suppressed theirs for so long gave way. The cultists all felt it immediately. When they walked through their rituals, they no longer felt empty. On the other side of the veil, demons howled in glee, for they knew that it would not be long before the first summoning. Since that day the Disciples have grown tenfold in strength, their greatest cultists striving to emulate Morgana’s glory, their champions marching a different but equally dark path.
Finally, they dared to venture back into the rest of Albion, sending out spies. They found much to their liking. Morgana may have been lost to them, but Merlin had not returned either. Excalibur’s power was broken. Arthur and his knights were no more. Their enemy had no descendants to oppose them, and new people had come from across the sea. A strange and desperate bunch; greedy, ripe for manipulation. In closed councils the Disciples smiled to themselves and began to plan…
The cult’s primary objective is to find a way to bring Morgana back from hell. However, they are also keen to conquer Albion. And ultimately, the rest of the Old World.
The Demon Princes
A union of the mightiest of the cult’s Champions and dark rituals, Demon Princes are terrifying to behold. They are more human in appearance than a Demon Lord, but still stand at two or three times the size of a normal person, with a face disfigured by fangs and horns, and a body twisted by demonic power, with giant wings sprouting from their backs. They also possess a link to the Demonic Planes, being able to summon bound Imps and Fiends to their side should it please them.
A broad group that encompasses all members of the faction that are not empowered by demonic energy. This includes knights, soldiers, crossbowmen, servants, crafters--all the people required to meet the basic needs of the faction. They are united by a belief in Morgana’s path and, in most cases, a desire to ascend into the ranks of the Cultists or Champions. Even the greatest of the knights of Morgana pales in comparison to an empowered Champion. Unfortunately, very few are chosen, leading to a very competitive attitude among the regular Disciples and a tendency for Cultists and Champions to demand outrageous favors in return for their patronage.
At their lowest level, the Champions are just that: the greatest of the Disciples’ warriors. However that soon changes as you go up the ranks. To begin with, the Champions wear armor enchanted with demonic magic and wield weapons with similar power behind them. What effect this has on their minds over the long term is unknown but is almost certainly detrimental. Like the Cultists, the Champions maintain that they have control over these weapons and are strong enough to resist any temptations the magic may try to weave over them. Get far enough up the chain of command, though, and something changes.
Back in Morgana’s time there was a problem in using summoned demons as troops. Though a demon can be extremely powerful, it is also alien and will, at some point, be forced back to hell. Magic can extend its time in Albion but only temporarily. Morgana’s solution was to channel demons directly into her people. The process was dangerous and would kill all but the strongest, but for a few it produced incredible results. At the highest levels, the Champions are living conduits for demonic power. This means they are bigger, stronger, harder to kill. They begin to take on the fiery aspects of a demon in addition to its features. In some cases hands become claws, eyes start to flame, or wings sprout from backs. But what happens is more than just a change in size or shape.
The Champions that come out of the ritual are never quite the same people as the ones that go in. They become more arrogant, more violent, less human. Ultimately, a Champion can ascend to join the ranks of the mighty Demon Princes of Morgana. The title of ‘prince’ is chosen deliberately, as such individuals consider themselves superior to the other Disciples, with those outside the faction beneath contempt. The Champions believe that just as they lead in battle, one of them should be named overall leader of the Disciples. The Cultists may work the rituals, but they are the ones who walk the path. Who can understand the demons better than one who feels the fire in his blood? Who else but them?
Morgana only allowed women to become cultists. Whether men are incapable of mastering her branch of magic or whether this was just personal preference is unclear. Either way, the rule is adhered to without exception. The Cultists are the magical leaders of the Disciples. It is their power that allows contact with the demons, their skills that enchant the armor and weapons of the Champions, and their rituals that imbue a select few with pure demonic power. They enjoy many benefits from their association with demons. They are beautiful without exception--though this beauty borders on terrifying in the wrong light--and they would tell you that the years touch them but lightly. Certainly, there are no old-looking cultists, but whether this is due to immortality or the dangers of the profession is a matter for debate.
While the Cultists share similar goals, there is nonetheless a great deal of rivalry and competition among them. Such infighting is managed through a series of complicated laws. This means that conflicts can take years to resolve, stopping civil war within the faction but prolonging disputes. This is an important point if one is to understand the Disciples, as it reflects their attitude to all things; namely that everything can be managed with the right discipline.
The Cultists believe that they alone have the power to bring back Morgana, and that one of them should be named as overall leader in her absence. They have yet to agree on which one of them it should be, however.