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Sin-Eaters of Pholtus
Posted on Sun, November 23, 2008 by Dongul
wavescrest writes "Pholtus is well known as a highly critical deity whose idealistic moral code is nearly impossible for mere mortals to live up to in its entirety. When a high-ranking Pholtan nears death, it is usually a Sin Eaters that is called upon to perform Final Absolution. This article details these unique characters.

Pholtus is well known as a highly critical deity whose idealistic moral code is nearly impossible for mere mortals to live up to in its entirety. When a high-ranking Pholtan nears death, a Sin Eater is usually called upon to perform Final Absolution. According to ancient texts kept in the libraries of Ogburg, this ritual is said to bring a dying worshiper closer to acceptance by Pholtus through the taking of food and wine in their presence. This act is viewed as a symbolising the “eating" of their sins, allowing their spirit to ascend into the Blinding Light unblemished.

Sin Eaters are regarded as an oddity by others in the clergy of Pholtus. Their rites are not viewed as heretical, yet many of them are almost mystical in nature - lone, reclusive figures that are prone to “talking with Pholtus”. Indeed a lone Sin Eater has a sixth-sense of where Pholtus intends for him to travel in his duties.

The Four Deadly Sins of Pholtus

The Scrolls of the Sin Eaters also mention the Four Deadly Sins of Pholtus, and the Sin Eaters are quick to act either through sermon or deed of arms, to combat the spread of these iniquities.

Cowardice - One must have courage in the face of danger, and the strength to stand with valor against those who oppose the One True Path. To show a lack of courage in the face of adversity or to avoid exposing oneself to danger or pain when one is called to are considered terrible sins.

Avarice - Worldly goods distract one from following the One True Path. They are but temporal, while the Path is spiritual. In death, the spirit ascends to a higher plane, leaving all mortal possessions behind. To avoid wanton cupidity and material attachments, Sin Eaters usually possess little more than their robes, their holy symbol, their staff and accoutrements, as well as any equipment necessary for travel.

Self-Indulgence - The pleasures of the flesh are a distraction from the pursuit of perfection in Pholtus’s image. Indulging one's desires without thought for others is a great sin. Gluttony, promiscuity and so forth are all considered negative concepts and a true follower of the Path is expected to never fall prey to their clutches.

Self-Will - To flaunt the will of others, especially one's superiors, and carry out one’s one desires is a sin. Pholtus is a highly lawful deity. He expects unity in his followers at all times, and brooks no bickering when action is called for. A divided flock is easily subverted by evil and chaos.

Only truly devout followers of Pholtus become Sin Eaters. These are usually clerics, although a few high-level paladins and warrior-clerics have also answered the calling. Paladins of Pholtus may take this class without suffering the usual penalty for changing classes.

He reached into his pack and pulled out a flask of a golden liquid, and a loaf of bread. These he placed on the dying man’s chest, and he stood by Valdar’s prone body muttering words, which I made out to be of the Old Oeridian tongue. Somewhat fearful of what I was seeing, I felt I dared not shirk my duties to fetch the kindling for the dying man’s pyre.

The Greatest Sin Eater

Pholemius Brightmantle, a cleric of Pholtus based in the Theocracy of the Pale, is regarded as perhaps the most powerful and widely recognized of the Sin Eaters. While based in Ogburg, he could be encountered almost anywhere in the Flanaess on missions either for the Church in Wintershiven or for the Sin Eaters themselves. Recent rumors place him in the Domain of Greyhawk.

Pholemius is influential, and rarely travels alone. He stays away from the petty politics of the Council of Nine, yet he has many friends in the Pholtan Clergy across the Flanaess and in the Pale’s Church-Militant. His numerous disciples include Beramane (LN male human Clr8) and Ragaer (LN male human Ftr5/Clr5) a former member of the Church Militant who became a Sin Eater after a company led by Pholemius saved him from a fiend in the Gnarley Forest six years ago.


Pholemius Brightmantle, Male Human Clr 13: AL LN.

The Greatest Enemy: In 585 CY Pholemius was involved in the banishment of Xazivort, a unique Tana’ari unleashed on the Gnarley Forest by foolish adventurers. The party of adventurers, led by Pholemius, tracked the Tana’ari and found it had possessed Ragaer, the member of the Church Militant who had been dispatched from the Pale to investigate and deal with the fiend.

Although banished, Xazivort is not dead and certainly seeks a way back to the Prime Material Plane. If the Tana’ari achieves this he will most assuredly seek revenge on Pholemius, Ragaer and the adventuring group who were responsible for his banishment. Certainly enterprising DMs could engineer a scenario where the PCs either prevent his return or must save Pholemius and Ragaer from the Tana’ari. To go head-to-head with Xazivort, they would certainly need to be a high-level group, but this is definitely a scenario for would-be Sin Eaters seeking training.

Man Down: Sin Eaters are encountered all over the Flanaess, wherever followers of Pholtus have fallen. They are often eager to hire powerful bodyguards, especially if they are followers of Pholtus, or seem interested in being converted. Not being too interested in their temporal possessions, they often pay good money for what seems little more than an escort job. Of course, the Sin Eaters may neglect to mention what it was that killed the person they seek, and the people they seek were often powerful clerics and warriors in their own right.

Temptation: It is rare but some Sin Eaters are seduced by the very sins they are supposed to resist. The remaining Sin Eaters are often only too happy to offer large rewards for their treacherous brethren alive or dead. One such Sin Eater is Luther Brewent, who is believed to have struck a pact with a Tana’ari and become one of the Blackguard. It is said he has a lair in the Rakers. Parties are being sought in Ratik and the Pale by incensed Sin Eaters.

Join the Sin Eaters: A PC may wish to become a Sin Eater, or accompany a would-be Sin Eater. This involves a pilgrimage where the Sin Eater is to travel to a site of importance to Pholtus, along the way taking care not to commit any acts of the deadly sins. Enemies of the Sin Eaters, such as demons and devils would like nothing more than to see an initiate fail on their path and may arrange for several “temptations” along the path.

“You should not mourn your friend,” he said simply, “for tonight he is with Pholtus.”
He turned slowly, silently, and set his face southwards, into the deeps of the forest. In a hushed voice he muttered to himself and left our company. We never saw the fellow in this world again.

Requirements

To qualify to become a Sin Eater of Pholtus, a character must fulfill the following criteria:

Alignment: Lawful Good or Lawful Neutral

Religion: Pholtus

Race and Sex: Any (typically human or half-elf however)

Feats: Iron Will

Knowledge (religion - Pholtus) Ranks: 7

Spellcasting: Ability to cast 3rd-level divine spells

Special: The would-be Sin Eater must go on an extensive pilgrimage in the name of Pholtus. During this pilgrimage the Sin Eater must act with virtue in keeping with the tenants of Pholtus’s religion and strived to be pure of the four deadly sins of Pholtus.

Class Skills

Skill Points at Each Level: 2+Int modifier

Class Features

Weapon and Armour Proficiency: A Sin Eater of Pholtus is proficient in all simple weapons and with all types of armor. However, Sin Eaters are expected to wield only a staff, the preferred weapon of a cleric of Pholtus, even if not a cleric of Pholtus.

Continued Spell Advancement: The Sin Eater continues to gain new divine spells upon advancing a level as a Sin Eater. Thus a 13th-level Cleric/3rd-level Sin Eater gains the same number of spells as a 16th-level Cleric, while a 12th-level Paladin/1st-level Sin-Eater gains spells as a 13th-level Paladin. The Sin Eater does not improve his ability to turn undead.

Final Absolution (Ex): Through knowledge of the ancient texts the Sin Eater can perform the rite of purifying a person of their sins. The ability to perform this rite will earn the character respect among the clergy of Pholtus while it has no immediate in game benefit.

Detect Sinner (Su): As per the Paladin’s ability Detect Evil, the Sin Eater may detect those who wantonly and intentionally commit acts of the four deadly sins of Pholtus. The exact sin is also specified, so for example a brigand who robs to fill his own coffers would show up as committing an act of avarice, a soldier who sows discord in the ranks of his unit would show as committing self-will.

Commune (Su): The Sin Eater may commune with Pholtus once per week as per the divine spell.

Stalwart against Sin (Ex): The Sin Eater opts to be impervious to temptation of one of the four deadly sins. The Sin Eater adds his level to any Will-based saving throw that would force him to perform one of these sins.

Cowardice –An example of this would be when a fear spell is cast on the Sin-Eater.

Avarice –An example of this would be when a disbelieving an illusion of a pile of gold, or resisting the effects of a cursed item.

Self-Indulgence –An example would be the charm of a succubis.

Self-Will – An example of this would be the charm of a mage if she to turn him against the rest of his group.

These bonuses are given at the DM’s discretion, and he has the final decision. The Sin Eater cannot receive the benefit of more than one Stalwart against Sin ability for any situation even if two sins are applicable7.

Detect Pholtan (Su): As per the Paladin’s Detect Evil ability, the Sin Eater can detect those who follow the tenants of Pholtus’s religion. It also reveals whether the worshipper follows the Lawful Good or Lawful Neutral schools of thought (though this is not necessarily indicative of the person’s alignment).

Smite Sinner (Su): Once a day when faced with one who has committed an act of one of the Four Deadly Sins and shows no remorse the Sin Eater may smite the character as per the Paladin’s ability to Smite Evil.

Preserve Body (Su): Some times the rites of the Sin Eater can go on for days after the death of the recipient. To prevent the decay of the body the Sin Eater may preserve the bodies of deceased worshippers of Pholtus with his touch, as per the spell Gentle Repose. This can be used to preserve the corpses of the faithful for Resurrection if Pholtus deems the person in question should live once more. This ability can be used on up to 5 bodies per day.

Locate the Dying (Su): The Sin Eater, through his closeness with Pholtus, can be made aware of the location to travel to where he shall encounter a dying follower of Pholtus. This location is within in a 100 mile radius per level. The Sin Eater cannot consciously elect to use this power however; the revelation of the location of the dying is given by Pholtus alone, as is the extent of the information the revelation gives (thus these are left to the DM’s discretion). However, if a revelation is given the Sin Eater is expected to act upon it if reasonably possible.

Atonement (Su): This ability is identical to the 5th-level spell Atonement. At will the Sin Eater may return the powers of a cleric or paladin of Pholtus who has been stripped of them because of committing an act of the deadly sins. He may only do so providing the recipient is genuinely deserving of it in Pholtus’s eyes, and if they have acted in a way that proves their repentance (a quest or act of pure virtue).

Resist Death (Su): Sin Eaters regularly deal with death during their duties, and develop an understanding of it unheard of in other Pholtan sects. Once a Sin Eater has become so experienced in the rite of Final Absolution they gain the ability to resist its call. As such, once per month, if a Sin Eater is dealt a lethal blow (one that reduces them to –10 hit points or below) they survive the blow, being reduced to –9 hit points and appearing dead to their attackers.

Sin Eater

Level

Attack

Bonus

Fort.

Save

Ref.

Save

Will

Save

Special

1

+0

+2

+0

+2

Final Absolution, Detect Sinner

2

+1

+3

+0

+3

Commune, Stalwart against Sin

3

+2

+3

+1

+3

Detect Pholtan

4

+3

+4

+1

+4

Stalwart against Sin

5

+3

+4

+1

+4

Smite Sinner

6

+4

+5

+2

+5

Preserve Body, Stalwart against Sin

7

+5

+5

+2

+5

Locate the Dying

8

+6/+1

+6

+2

+6

Stalwart against Sin

9

+6/+1

+6

+3

+6

Atonement

10

+7/+2

+7

+3

+7

Resist Death

"
 
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