We’ve been on something of a Cthulhu Mythos kick recently, what with the recent release of Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Horror Adventures, and the current official Paizo adventure path heavily featuring mythos elements. To me, nothing says eldritch and insane like cultists, and so it’s only natural that we once again provide a new cult for our cultist class. This time, the cult is one devoted to one of the Great Old Ones, and, specifically, to one of the stars of the current adventure path, the Great Old One Hastur.
Cult of the Yellow King
While most secret societies count the disenfranchised amongst their number, recruiting mainly from the fringes of society, few cults speak to the truly nihilistic and distraught as well as the cult of the yellow king. Devoted to the Great Old One Hastur, also referred to as the King in Yellow, these cultists seek to spread their hopelessness and utter despair, ultimately calling forth Hastur himself to bring an end to everything. Some believe that it was members of this cult who first penned the famous play The King in Yellow, but while these claims are difficult, at best, to verify, it can certainly be said that members of the cult have replicated and spread the play numerous times.
Alignment: Members of the Cult of the Yellow King cannot be good or lawful.
Restricted Spells: Members of the Cult of the Yellow King cannot cast spells that grant a morale bonus of any kind.
Channeled Energy: Negative.
Familiar: cacodaemonB2, ratlingB4, or zoogB3.
Sacrifice: Blood, life, profane, or soul.
Hexes: Members of the Cult of the Yellow King can select from the following hexes.
Channel Misery (Su): Whenever the cultist channels negative energy, he can expend two uses of that ability in order to suffuse the energy with psychic anguish and nihilistic despair. If he does, each creature that fails its saving throw to halve the damage inflicted by the channeled energy also suffers a –2 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, ability checks, skill checks, and weapon damage rolls for 1 minute. This does not stack with penalties inflicted by the cultist’s lesser yellow sign class feature, or a crushing despair spell. This is a mind-affecting emotion effect.
Enter the Empty City (Sp): The cultist can temporarily escape this reality, visiting an eerie, ochre-shaded reflection of the Material Plane devoid of most life. This functions as etherealness, except that each time the cultist uses the ability, he must succeed on a Will save (DC = 10 + 1/2 the cultist’s class level + the cultist’s Charisma modifier) or suffer 2d3 points of Wisdom damage (or 2d6 points of sanity damage, if using the sanity rules from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Horror Adventures). The cultist can use this ability up to three times per day. The cultist must be at least 6th level to select this hex.
Forbidden Name (Su): The cultist’s name carries power, and anyone who speaks it risks attracting his attention. Whenever a creature speaks the cultist’s name, it must succeed on a Will save (DC = 10 + 1/2 the cultist’s class level + the cultist’s Charisma modifier) or the cultist becomes aware of the fact that his name has been spoken. If the creature is within 10 miles per cultist level of the cultist when he speaks the cultist’s name, if the speaker fails this Will save, the cultist can cast scrying on him as a spell-like ability as a standard action on the cultist’s next turn. The cultist is treated as having firsthand knowledge of the target for this ability, and the saving throw DC is otherwise equal to 10 + 1/2 the cultist’s class level + the cultist’s Charisma modifier.
Mystery Shroud (Su): The cultist is shrouded in an aura of mystery. The DC of Sense Motive checks made against the cultist increases by 5. At 5th level, the cultist is constantly affected as though by the spell nondetection. At 15th level, the cultist is constantly affected as though by the spell mind blank.
Nihilistic Aura (Su): The cultist radiates an aura of tragedy, in which great victories are rendered as disappointing defeats. Any creature (including allies) within 30 feet of the cultist treats all d20 rolls that result in a natural 20 as though they were a natural 1, instead. The cultist can suppress or resume this ability as a standard action.
Create Yellow Sign (Secret of the First Circle) (Sp): Once per day, as a full-round action, the cultist can touch a surface in order to inscribe a lesser yellow sign upon it. This functions similarly to a symbol of death spell, except that affected creatures suffer a −2 penalty on attack rolls, saving throws, ability checks, skill checks, and weapon damage rolls for 1 minute, instead of dying. Unlike symbol of death, the lesser yellow sign can affect any number of hit points’ worth of creatures, but can affect only a number of Hit Dice worth of creatures equal to twice the cultist’s cultist level before the magic is discharged, after which the yellow sign becomes nothing more than a mundane marking. This is a mind-affecting emotion effect. The cultist is always immune to his own yellow signs.
Tattered Robe (Secret of the Second Circle) (Su): Beginning at 9th level, three times per day, the cultist can transform any mundane garment he wears into a tattered yellow robe as a move action. The robe’s tattered and frayed lengths wave about him like tendrils, increasing his natural armor bonus to AC by an amount equal to 1/4 his cultist level. Additionally, while the cultist cannot attack with these tendrils directly, they automatically lash out against nearby creatures that leave themselves open. Treat this as a primary tentacle natural attack with a reach of 10 feet, which deals 1d6 points of damage on a successful hit for a Medium creature (1d4 for a Small creature), and which can make any number of attacks of opportunity per round, but cannot be used to make other attacks. The tentacle uses the cultist’s base attack bonus and ability scores, and benefits from any class features, feats, or other bonuses the cultist benefits from. The tendrils attack any creature within range besides the cultist that provokes attacks of opportunity, even the cultist’s allies. Each time this ability is used, the cultist’s garment remains transformed for 1 minute.
Greater Yellow Sign (Secret of the Third Circle): Beginning at 17th level, the cultist can inscribe up to three yellow signs per day. Additionally, a creature affected by the cultist’s yellow sign must succeed on a secondary Will save at the end of the initial effect, or gain a permanent madness. The madness is chosen by the cultist when the yellow sign is inscribed, and cannot later be changed. For more information on madness, see Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: GameMastery Guide and Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Horror Adventures.
Ascension: At 20th level, when the cultist becomes an outsider, he gains the chaos and evil subtypes, and all traits associated with those types. Additionally, he takes on some aspects of the Great Old One Hastur, and becomes immune to aging, cold, death effects, disease, mind-affecting effects, paralysis, and petrification. Further, any creature that attempts to interact directly with the cultist’s thoughts (such as via detect thoughts or telepathy) must succeed on a Will save (DC = 10 + 1/2 the cultist’s class level + the cultist’s Charisma modifier) or be rendered permanently confused, as the insanity spell.