Cultist Clutter

November 26th, 2015

Alex Riggs

Magic Market Archive

                Cults tend to accumulate a lot of interesting items. Whether it’s because of all of the symbolism and rituals that cults seem to favor so highly, or the fact that many cultists actively seek out the strange, the esoteric, and the mystical, or possibly just because cultists enjoy collecting things, a good cultist’s altar should be covered with lots of exciting and mysterious memorabilia whose purposes and origins aren’t quite clear. But coming up with fun and exciting cult objects on the fly is hard, so here are 10 suggestions that can be fairly easily dropped onto any cultist’s altar.

1. A golden idol of a bat, roughly 1 foot in height. The idol has small rubies for eyes, and holds a larger emerald clasped in its gleaming golden fangs. Its wings are furled tightly around its body, with hook-like claws extended upwards on either side of its head. The bat stands perched on a small stand, also made of gold, and shaped to resemble a tree branch rising up out of a flat, round base. Close examination reveals a switch on the bat’s feet that allows it to be detached from this perch, though the reason for doing so remains a mystery.

1. An ivory sickle, carved to resemble a blowing gale. The handle of the sickle is made in the shape of a willow tree, bent and crooked in the overwhelming wind. The blade of the sickle is engraved with wavy lines showing the wind blowing, and is dotted with occasional images of objects swept up in the storm. The top edge of the blade is lined with engravings of storm clouds, and is somewhat darker than the rest of the blade. At the very tip of the blade is a jagged lightning bolt, extending from the last such cloud, which forms a serrated point.

3. A brass lantern, with decorative images, 18 inches tall. This lantern is made entirely of brass, with the light escaping through holes engraved on its sides. In the center of the lantern is a bowl, also made of brass, for burning special ritual oils or incense; a faint residue of previous offerings can still be found. Each of the lantern’s four sides features a different image. The first side shows an image of a coiled serpent, ready to strike. The second side features a depiction of an owl, staring serenely from a perch in a tree. The third side bears the shape of a wolf howling at the moon, and the fourth side shows a fish swimming in the ocean.

4. An emerald wand, carefully crafted in the shape of a striking serpent. This delicate wand is six inches long, and is carved from a single sliver of emerald, into the shape of a serpent, its mouth open and fangs bared. The level of detail is exquisite, and the entire wand is scored with tiny engravings that delineate the serpent’s scales. The wand is cold and slightly clammy to the touch, and when it is held, the wielder’s vision takes on an ever so subtle tint of green.

5. An ancient scroll containing a list of names. The scroll is old and musty, bound to two wooden handles and rolled together from both ends. Much of it is written in an ancient dialect, making it difficult to decipher, but over time the writing, which has been written in many hands, throughout the years, becomes more modern and understandable, and one of these more recent authors has gone back and written translations of some of the older text. The scroll claims to be a list of names of exalted ones who have died, and who have been embraced into “the bosom of our faith.” Interestingly, a small checkmark has been placed next to two dozen or so of the names on the list (which contains hundreds, perhaps thousands of names total). The checkmarks are scattered throughout the list, and appear on both some of the ancient names, and some of the most recent. But what could they mean?

6. A sacrificial dagger with a copper blade. The dagger’s blade is carved to resemble the shape of a tongue of flame, giving it a slight curve and numerous points and edges. About two thirds of the blade are stained with a faint reddish brown, although it is clear that the blade is well polished and taken care of, indicating that it may have been stained over and over and over, until nothing can clean it completely. The dagger has no crossguard, and the handle is wrapped in high quality black leather. The pommel is decorated to resemble a fiery bird—perhaps a phoenix—with rubies for eyes.

7. A clay tablet, bearing a depiction of an imp and mystic texts. This clay tablet is 30 inches tall, just over 12 inches wide, and about two inches thick. Its main feature is a primitive engraving of an imp (or, at least, an imp-like creature; it could easily be a quasit or mephit). The drawing appears to show the flow of energy through the body of the creature. Surrounding the image is a large amount of text, which forms a spiral extending outward from the image towards the edges of the tablet (or possibly inward to the image from the edges; it’s impossible to say without deciphering it). The text is in an ancient and unknown language.

8. A silver candelabra, with five arms. The main stem of the candelabra is engraved to resemble a tree, with the arms each being branches stemming from that tree. About halfway up each of these arms, however, the motif gradually shifts from a tree to one of five different things: air (with clouds and blowing gales), earth (with rocky texture, gems and cave mouths), fire (with dancing flames and curling smoke), water (with waves, fish, and rain), and the central arm of the candelabra shifts to a skull and bones motif. If a candle is lit and placed in one of the arms, the color of the candle’s flame will change to white, green, deep blood red, blue, or purple, depending on which arm is used.

9. An amethyst pendant bearing a dragon’s eye. This rough amethyst crystal is two inches long, and about an inch in diameter at the base, with edges that are uneven and natural in shape, but have been worn smooth by time and careful polishing. The gem has been set with a small tin cap at one end, which has a small loop that allows it to hang from a leather thong. Inside the amethyst is a small sphere which resembles a reptilian eye, roughly the size of a human eyeball.

10. A pewter goblet, carved to resemble a purple worm. The goblet’s stem is thick, and the cup is stylized to resemble the gaping, open maw of the beast, with glittering emeralds spaced equidistantly around its circumference serving as eyes. The inside of the lip of the cup is lined with numerous needle-sharp, teeth-like points, facing inwards, which makes it almost impossible to drink from the goblet without cutting one’s lip. Close examination of the goblet’s base reveals a small panel that can be slid aside, revealing a hidden compartment, which contains a tiny pouch filled with white powder.