Obsidian Gate

Beyond that black gate lies the kingdom of death. All must pass through it once; the holy and purified may pass through twice and thrice and again, making pilgrimage 'twixt the eternal and ephemeral.

  • the Pale Land Scrolls.

An insidious cult of necromancers secretly dedicated to the human god Zix, the Obsidian Gate is spreading its bony fingers throughout the Clashlands, gaining adherents and growing in influence and power. So far, it has gained little notice amongst the secular authorities of the region, consumed as they are with the possibility of civil war and certainty of goblin insurrection, but some priests have begun to be concerned about the rumours of heretical activities, and the sorcerers of Zaguristra have sent an legate oshoras emissary to investigate the stories of the cult.


The Obsidian Gate is a resurrection cult, offering its members a chance at everlasting life. They speak of two worlds; the mortal realm of Zenth, the Ephemeral, and the land of the dead, the Eternal. They teach that death is a kingdom with a benevolent lord who can grant safe passage to those who know the correct rites and make the correct offerings. In order to attract new members, the Obsidian Gate targets those with a fear of death, or those close to the end of their lives; the aged, the sick, the mortally wounded, priests plagued with doubts over the afterlives promised by their religions and wretched slaves who hope for freedom in death that they were denied in life. All of these have their uses, but the cult's strategy is to target the wealthy and well-positioned, so that they may become agents to further the Obsidian Gate's reach and goals. Sorcerers exploring the arts of necromancy are also prime candidates for recruitment.

Plying them with false love and stories of the kindly King and how the enlightened may pass from the Eternal to the Ephemeral, dwelling in paradise or the mortal world as they see fit, the priests of the Obsidian Gate gradually work the prospective member's mind into a suitable frame. The priests can grant a boon to the affiliates of the cult - the Blessing of the King - providing them with health and strength that can prove irresistible to the afflicted. Then they are invited to join the cult if they can produce a payment of gold, favours to prove their devotion, or oaths of undying service.

The King is a mask worn by Zix, and the paradise the Obsidian Gate offers is a lie. Those who fall or fail are given up as sacrifice or are cast into the benighted abyss, where the carrion-god tears apart and feasts on their souls, while their corpses are reanimated to serve the cult as undead drudges and footsoldiers.

Rite of the Sixth Day

Once the affiliate is determined to join the Obsidian Gate, they are taken to a hidden shrine or secret temple and subjected to the Rite of the Sixth Day. With great ceremony, the prospective member is washed, dressed in robes the colour of clotted blood, blessed and anointed by high-level cultists and recites scripture and sacred oaths. Then they are taken to an altar of obsidian, given a draught of herbs and made to lie down. The drink is a poison, which combined with the incantations of the cultists anchors the affiliate's soul to their body as they fall into a deep slumber - and die. For five days, the soul remains trapped in the cooling, rotting corpse atop the altar, as hallucinatory visions of transmigration to the Eternal and a welcome into the court of the King run through their dreams.

On the sixth day, the affiliate is reborn as an initiate. They awaken, no longer exactly alive or dead, but caught in between. Their flesh is renewed and they no longer need fear ageing, poison or sickness. However, if they do not regularly receive the blessings and sacred oils of the Obsidian Gate, their bodies will begin to wither and decay, and their unnatural status will become obvious to all… so they must work to maintain the favour of the cult by furthering its goals. This is the Obsidian Gate's most powerful and insidious method of maintaining control of its spies and agents, by keeping them virtually addicted to their restorative rituals.

Rite of the Earth


Initiates who are selected to advance further within the Obsidian Gate may be called upon to take the Rite of Earth. The procedure is much the same as the Rite of the Sixth Day, but more intense and demanding. Instead of poison, the initiate must open their veins with an obsidian dagger and bleed themselves to death, and then they are buried. The visions they receive are a darker indoctrination into the Obsidian Gate's mysteries, and the power they receive upon their rebirth more significant. After clawing their way out of their own grave, they are anointed graveborn, and are stronger than mortal men, with skin as resilient as the earth. However, they also tend to have more difficulty operating in society, as they become gaunt, dessicated, slightly mouldering or otherwise unwholesome in visage.

Rite of the Gate

Graveborn with the intellect, devotion and success to attract the hierarch's attention may be elevated to the rank of gatekeeper. They are brought to the holy of holies, the obsidian gate itself, hidden somewhere in the Clashlands. By passing through it, they are given greater knowledge and power, though their bodies become decidedly undead in appearance, with hard pale skin, gaping tooth-filled maws, raw exposed sinew, missing flesh or a skeletal aspect.


Little is known objectively of the man who would become Nurul - founder, spiritual and temporal leader of the Obsidian Gate. His form has become so warped and infected with the malevolent energy of the human god he serves that it is uncertain even to what race he belonged when he was mortal.

What Nurul tells his closest followers in sermons, and what is recorded in the Exodus Of The Flesh, a history of the cult meant for internal circulation and so probably laced with misinformation, is that a man once lived in the Clashlands during the orcish invasion. He was a lost soul, always seeking for adventure and excitement, exploring the caves of ruins of the land in an effort to uncover something to give his life meaning. And indeed, he did, for in a dry, elevated cavern in the Ramze-Ka, sealed behind a wall of stones he came upon a curious set of scrolls, written in gold on what seemed to be strips of white, living flesh. These ancient documents came to be called the Pale Land Scrolls, and they form the nucleus of the cult's teachings, though explorations, elaborations and interpretations have been scribed by Nurul and other priests since.

The Pale Land Scrolls tell of the kingdom of death, the falsity of this mortal world, the truth of the Eternal and callowness of the Ephemeral. They describe of the bliss that lies in the King's domain, and the freedom of traffic that can be granted to his illuminated supplicants - and point the way to the obsidian gate where the barriers may be traversed. Translating the scrolls filled Nurul with joyous energy, and he quickly set out to follow the path it described. Undergoing many symbolic trials of mind, body and spirit (including the Diet of Dust, the Flensing Price and the battle with the Visceral Dragon), the petitioner came at last to a vast and jagged arch of volcanic glass, dimly reflecting the images of the kingdom of death in its black surface. Nurul's account says that he crossed through the gate and paid homage to the King for six years, six months and six days, before emerging renewed and transformed, the King's messenger and avatar upon Zenth, with the intent of spreading his message and reign across the land.

Nurul wandered the Clashlands at first, seeking out those with an affinity for death and preaching to them the mysteries and gospel of the Obsidian Gate. These first converts became his lieutenants if they were adept, spies and agents if subtle and well-placed, or sacrifices if no other use suited them. Around the gateway to the kingdom of death itself they constructed their sanctum sanctorum, a mausoleum-fortress to store their greatest treasures and most forbidden lore, a secret redoubt from which to plan the conversion of the world. Since then, a few new temples have been built, mostly in remote villages that have fallen under the sway of the Obsidian Gate's teachings and become devoted servants of death, and shrines have been built in caverns, crypts and the basements of villas in a dozen or so places. Nurul's followers seek out the rich and powerful, those with connections and authority to tempt with the sweet promise of enjoying their status for all eternity… and many fools willingly consign themselves to darkness and oblivion at the urging of the Obsidian Gate.

Significant Members

Hierarch Nurul


Whoever and whatever Nurul may have been once, now he is a being of nothing but power and horror. His own claims are described above, but others suggest that he was a power hungry necromancer, a reincarnated wight warlock, or even that he was once three individuals merged into one.

What is certain is that Nurul has become as physically abominable as he is spiritual abhorrent and mentally corrupt. The undying thing sands between nine and twelve feet tall, a giant of pallid flesh that scorns the bite of unensorcelled weapons. Four arms encased in gauntlets of blackened bone sprout from his distorted torso, wielding claws, hellfire brands and, by some accounts, the legendary Spinal Staff. Three hideous heads allow Nurul to watch in all directions at once, and to call down three invocations from Zix at the same time. One head gibbers a continuous stream of madness; one speaks dark whispers of guidance from the carrion-god itself; and one relays orders and delivers sermons to the cult.

Nurul is vile, depraved, and infinitely patient. Death is his beloved regent, not his fate, so he believes he has ample time to spread the power of the Obsidian Gate to encompass the entire Clashlands, and beyond. For all his corruption and evil he is a surprisingly pious figure, as wise as a monk, willing to engage in intense religious debate with other priests - not that that stops him from eviscerating them in a moment if they cross him. The hierarch treats the majority of the cult as what they are: dupes, pawns, and expendable minions and vessels. Yet when they are to be sent to their deaths or given up as sacrifices he truly believes they are spending their worthless lives for a greater cause, the glory of Zix, and honours them for it. Aside from those moments, though, only those with great sorcerous or priestly power and knowledge are worthy of his attention, a modicum of respect… and careful watching, less they challenge him.

The Slaves of Sabaqhan

Sabaqhan was a small town in the midst of vast plantations of olives, lemons, dates and figs. The owners of the crops worked their slaves hard in order to harvest the sizeable fields, and the seeds of rebellion grew in the same soil. Cultists of the Obsidian Gate came amongst the slaves, preaching to them of immortality and eternal freedom, that they could escape their chains if they succumbed briefly to death, fooling their masters into releasing them. Most of the slaves agreed, and on the appointed day drank the poison the cultists prepared for them. The plantation's masters were alarmed by the mass death, fearing a plague had spread amongst the slaves, and prepared a mass pyre for the bodies. Before they could be burned, however, the cultists reanimated the slaves as the walking dead, and they fell upon their former masters and the still-living slaves who had refused the 'generous benediction'. Sabaqhan is now an abandoned ruin, its fields overgrown and still stinking of death, and the slaves are now trapped in a bondage for more arduous and ever-lasting than before. The cult uses the horde of walking dead as a weapon to spread fear, to slay its enemies and guard its strongholds.

Raharash Madaud

Raharash lived a simple and serene life, tending to a small road-temple to the caste-gods of merchants and caravaneers along the highway through the Clashing Flats. That was until a roving mob of priests who venerated a different subset of the same pantheon came along in the midst of a drunken celebration Taking exception to the blessings Raharash offered, they stoned him half to death, trampled the idols he had lovingly cared for an burned all the trappings and furniture of the temple, leaving it a charred stony shell. Raharash's faith went up in flames along with his home, his heart broken as his bones. He skulked off, becoming a drunkard and charity case until he discovered a copy of the Pale Land scrolls a cultist slipped into his belongings. Feeling his spirit suffused with hope for a new religion to devote himself to, Raharash pursued the path of the Obsidian Gate and became one of its most influential evangelists. He is a gatekeeper and one of the hierarch's chief lieutenants, always seeking new converts, advising aspirants and directing the cult's most important plans for Nurul.

The Sword Shayk

People observing the Sword Shayk for the first time might be forgiven for thinking he was a vagabond madman or wandering leper - rather than one of the deadliest warriors in the Clashlands. Clad in filthy rags and a torn, stained cloak bundled around his gaunt frame, the elf lopes all across the region as a beggar, spy, and assassin for the Obsidian Gate. His skill with the thinblade - a two-handed rapier of goblin design but elven craftsmanship - is formidable, yet he also manages to avoid attention through his repellent yet apparently harmless demeanour and odour. Rumours about the Sword Shayk say he was once a mercenary hired to kill Nurul, but fell before the hierarch's power… and was resurrected by it to serve the cult. Other stories claim he was a gladiator and sword-master who sought immortality in order to truly perfect the art of swordsmanship by becoming an initiate.

Avzar of House Qorayfah

In his fifties, Avzar knew his life was coming to its close, and as he looked around his children, grandchildren, he saw none worthy to take up the mantle of House Qorayfah, which he had made into the most profitable and influential masonry and architecture concern in the Clashlands. His kin were all wastrels and fools, content to spend the house's wealth gambling at the fighting pits, on courtesans and wine. In his frustration, he was approached by Rahrash Madaud, who told Avzar that he need not surrender his position merely due to age. The patriarch accepted the offer and was given the sacrament of the Sixth Day. Avzar felt as if the years simply fell away from his body and mind. Revitalised, he cursed and scourged his worthless family, driving them out and resuming full and daily control of House Qorayfah's affairs. He is now a major backer of the Obsidian Gate, tithing to the cause, sheltering cultists in secret boltholes he has his builders construct, and using the work his house does to provide cover for them to infiltrate settlements. In a nest of concealed cellars beneath the opulent Qorayfah Manor in Aqamenad, Avzar has constructed one of the largest shrines in the region for his benefactors.

Bayhara Shirard

The headwoman of the village of Ruydjar in the Clashing Flats, Bayhara is also a graveborn priestess of the village's cult cell. She has spread the teachings of the Obsidian Gate throughout Ruydjar, corrupting traditional orcish ancestor worship into a death cult and slowly indoctrinating the entire population… sacrificing those who resisted. She only awaits Nurul's command to repeat the actions of Sabaqhan, commanding a mass suicide and ceremonially raising the villagers as undead minions, bolstering the cult's forces.

Bao Othae

The goblin Bao Othae had four brothers and sisters, but he was the only one to survive the rigorous - brutal, in fact - training their parents put them through as children. Psychologically scarred and alone, he nevertheless possessed an aptitude for magic and was trained by a renegade sorcerer named Golamech that had taken refuge in their hidden city. Bao had no desire to put his skills towards serving the community whose traditions had stripped him of siblings, however, and set off into the Clashlands. He was drawn to the Obsidian Gate, and used their teachings to contact his brothers and sisters… or perhaps simulacra of them created to delude him… and work an unwholesome necromantic family reunion. In gratitude, he uses his powers at the cult's command as an affiliate.

Cult Affiliate Gifts

  • Blessing of the King: This gift suppresses the effects of old age, injury, poison and disease in the affiliate. The wizened feel young, clear of mind and hale of body again; the symptoms of the sick vanish overnight; the burdens of the crippled are lifted. This gift can be rescinded at any time, however, making affiliates dependent on the cult's good graces.

Initiate of the Sixth Day Gifts

  • Black Nativity: A reborn initiate no longer ages and is immune to poison and disease. They need only sleep half as much as a mortal, and severe wounds are likely to leave them at death's door rather than prove fatal.

Graveborn Gifts

  • Skin of the Grave: A graveborn retains some of the power of the earth they were buried in. They are unnaturally strong, and their flesh is numb and resilient. They no longer require food, water or air to survive in their half-dead state.

Gatekeeper Gifts

  • Principality of Death: Gatekeepers are granted the powers of shepherding the living, dead and undead. They can inspire fear in the former; coax the recently dead back to life or exile them to Zix's untender keeping; and bind spirits into corpses to create the walking dead. They can command the walking dead and are allowed a certain diplomatic status with wights, as well.

Hierarch Gifts

  • Black Sorcery: The Hierarch, Nurul, has been granted terrible arcane powers through his communion with Zix. He can conjure and control great gouts and walls of hellfire that sears away lifeforce, summon and weave darkness, divine the future in obsidian mirrors, travel through mystic pathways from altar to altar and more besides.