Cult of Pain
There is much suffering in the world. Everywhere, innocents are victimized, violated, scarred or destroyed to satisfy the depraved lusts of the powerful. Much of this violence is mindless, random and chaotic, a part of the dark side of human nature. A secret society has learned to draw power from the horrors of torture and murder. The Cult of Pain is a decadent, black magic Covenant whose members have banded together to protect themselves from those who would expose and destroy them.
The Cult was created sometime in 18th Century France, by a group of debauched French noblemen led by a renegade Rosicrucian sorcerer. They were contemporaries of those who would found the The Hellfire Club in England, a group they have much in common with. Some occultists believe their origins can be traced to much older groups, such as the child-sacrificing priesthood of Moloch or the worshipers of Xipetotec, the “Flayed Lord” of Aztec religion. In any case, the noblemen formed a pseudo-Masonic group that devoted itself to the torture and abuse of victims, most of them young peasants in order to attain magical power. After the French Revolution, the Cult spread to the Americas. Many Cultists made their way to the West Indies, where they purchased plantations and committed all manner of atrocities on their slaves. Members of the Cult may have been accomplices in such crimes as the Inquisition and the Holocaust, although the evidence indicates that they simply took advantage of the situation rather than served as direct instigators.
The Covenant’s purpose is twofold. First, it teaches members the secrets of Blood Magic, also known as Sadicas, a twisted form of sorcery which uses the Essence of victims of torture rather than that of the sorcerer to power its spells. Second, it uses its member’s skills and influence to procure victims and to cover up all traces of their crimes. For at least two hundred years, the Cult has been able to accomplish these goals and operate successfully with minimal disruptions.
The Cult is a loosely-knit organization, with four ranks: Torturers, Executioners, Master Executioners, and Priests. Torturers are the lowest rank, new members who are taught the secrets of the Craft by more experienced Executioners and Master Executioners. Both of which form the bulk of the organization. The Priests are the leaders. Each Priest is in charge of overseeing a large area, usually a nation or a large state or province. Most of the Priests are very old, many over a hundred years old. Some are far older. Their Blood Magic abilities help slow down the aging process. Mundanes who they would otherwise recruit are often guided into the ranks of the Hellfire Club instead.
New members are inducted individually, when a local Master Executioner or Priest finds a worthy candidate. The Cult of Pain’s favored recruits are serial killers, members of the most violent S&M underground circles, and other deviants and criminals. Most members are also wealthy professionals, with a large proportion of physicians, lawyers and programmers among them. They combine their mundane skills and their sorcerous abilities to achieve success. Many have become millionaires, elected officials, and important public servants, all the while torturing innocent victims to fuel their powers. Other members control prostitution, pornography and slavery rings through which they keep the Cult supplied with new sacrifices.
They have the most in common with The Hellfire Club and the two cooperate to some degree as they cross paths in their activities such as prostitution, pornography, underground S&M activities, and slavery. However the Cult has made sure the Club never suspects the magical aptitude they possess.
The Pariahs, some of whom are survivors of the Cult’s crimes, are aware of its existence and are always on the lookout for its members. The Dark Covenant has also unwittingly created many Vampires, Relentless Dead and Phantasms, all sacrifices whose suffering was such that they now seek revenge from beyond the grave. More often than not, however, the Cult has successfully dealt with these would-be avengers.
Skills and Abilities
While their members do need magical aptitude, even the smallest degree is enough to invoke Sadicas and utilize Blood Magic. They must perform ritual torture and abuse to drain victims of Essence, which they can then pool and use. Unlike conventional magic, the power drain through Sadicas does not recover naturally. It must be replenished through causing pain to new victims. A few Cultists keep one or two victims captive in their homes, and use them as needed. When a Cultist tortures somebody, or even if they are within a meter (a few feet) of somebody in great pain (a reason why some Cultists like to work in emergency rooms), they can absorb the Essence released by the victim.
The pools of power created through this skill counts as personal power, giving all the benefits that large pools of personal magical energy that would normally impart. However this energy drawn from others is marked with their pain and suffering, causing false memories and flashbacks at times. It also marks their auras, which become tainted and terrible things and disturb the people around them. Only strong shielding can hide their nature from anyone who can see magical energy.