Random Encounters
The Cult of Tharizdun
By Darrin Drader

Net of Despair

Magic items are a central focus of the cult of Tharizdun. Because Tharizdun is locked away in a plane from which he cannot escape, his connection to his followers is not as strong as that of most other gods. His clerics can cast divine spells, but only if they are in contact with an object or site imbued with some of Tharizdun's power. Portions of destroyed artifacts that were crafted in his name before his imprisonment are frequently worked into magic items to fulfill this requirement. The cult goes to great lengths to recover any remaining portions of these items by devoting months, if not years, scouring moldering texts to learn the history of their god's lost items of power. Remnants of once-mighty magic still possess an ember of their former power, and many consider them the most important direct link between followers and deity.

The magic items belonging to the cult include newly forged items as well as some items so old that they date back to the time when Tharizdun walked freely among the planes. The older the items are, the more powerful they tend to be, provided that they remain intact. Numerous wondrous items, magic weapons, armor, and rods have been passed down within the cult for generations, and all of them are identifiable by the symbol of the vortex etched into them.

The church commonly crafts the following item for its followers.

Net of Despair: This net is crafted from the silk of a drider. The silk is harvested, woven, and then blackened by infusing charred bone powder in with the fibers. The net absorbs light and has a visible aura of darkness. It continuously radiates darkness in a 20-foot radius as the darkness spell.

Creatures that the user catch within the net begin to experience rapid decomposition and decay as though they are aging at a massively accelerated rate (see page 117 of the Player's Handbook for net statistics A creature entangled in the net must make a Fortitude save (DC 15) each round or suffer 2 points of ability damage. The specific ability affected depends on the result of a d6 roll:

1 -- Strength
2 -- Dexterity
3 -- Constitution
4 -- Intelligence
5 -- Wisdom
6 -- Charisma

A creature caught within the net for 3 uninterrupted rounds suffers accelerated deterioration. Starting on the third round of entanglement, the entangled creature gains one negative level in addition to ability damage. The creature continues to take ability damage and negative levels each round the creature remains entangled. A creature that escapes the net is fatigued for a number of rounds equal to the number of ability points drained. A creature that survives entanglement in the net can heal ability damage and recover negative levels from the net in the normal manner. The save DC to remove a negative level is 15. In the hands of a nonevil PC, this functions as a normal masterwork net.

Moderate necromancy; CL 10th; Craft Magic Arms and Armor, darkness,enervation, ray of exhaustion; cleric must worship Tharizdun; Price 150,000 gp.

Bringing the Parts Together

The net of despair is a powerful item to use against mid- to high-level PCs. A war party that carries one or more of these items into battle is a force to be reckoned with, even by the most seasoned group of adventurers.

Coming in Part 3 of the Cult of Tharizdun

Lurking in the secret depths of the temples are legions of their secret weapons: deadly undead soldiers, called elhoriads.

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