“All hail the Demonlord Belzenlok, Evincar of the Stronghold, Scion of Darkness, Doom of Fools, Lord of the Wastes, Master of the Ebon Hand, Eternal Patriarch of the Cabal…”
This week I’m continuing with Dominaria content, this time with a look at the Cabal.
Themes to use when implementing the Cabal in your games:
- Revisionist History. One of the main focuses of the Cabal is their obsessive revisionist history – putting the Demonlord Belzenlok in the place of any historical figure they see fit. For using this in your own games, perhaps the players encounter the Cabal when they are investigating an ancient tomb or ruin – in any social encounter in such an environment, the Cabal would be difficult to ask about useful information, they could be aware of the location’s layout but would be useless for knowing about its actual history, and tell the same story that it was Belzenlok.
- Pit Fighting. The Cabal have, throughout their history, been notorious for the pit fights that they oversee. In the past these were perceived as little more than sporting events of gratuitous violence, but now they also have a ritualistic twist to them, as they are watched by Belzenlok himself. To implement this in your own games, player characters on Dominaria could be captured by the Cabal, and forced into a pit fight against one another, only for them to take the opportunity to team up and fight their way out! A group of captives being brought for a pit fight could even be a way to introduce a party to each other at the start of a Dominaria campaign.
The Cabal’s most infamous magical ability aside from their grasp of more common necromantic magic, is their dementia magic – a dark school of spellcasting used to overwhelm their enemies with confusion and terror. These spells draw on the fears of both the caster and the affected, to create visions that appear as as manifestations of affected creatures’ fears, such as creatures that they are afraid of, dead loved ones, or creatures in forms that recount a moment of horror in an affected creature’s life.
When building Cabal spellcaster enemies, focus on enchantment and illusion spells that affect creatures in ways that confuse and terrify, as you can see on my design for the Skin-Witch.
Undead horrors formed of coalesced black mana, Dread Shades are one of the most powerful troops at the Cabal’s disposal. Their ability to shift in size allows them to become small enough to enter and animate a corpse from within, or large enough to tear through enemy warriors or fortifications. As a result, the Cabal utilise Dread Shades on the front lines when they engage in large-scale warfare.
Skin-witches are skilled dementia-casters, whose powerful magic is bolstered by their use of reanimated skins of the faces of their previous victims, the moans of which are enough to hold back their foes through psychic pain, before the skin-witch can kill their foes with their own magic, or the help of other cabal minions.
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