The Cult of the Dragon, also known as Keepers of the Secret Hoard or, as of around 1370 DR, Wearers of Purple, was a semi-religious evil organization venerating undead dragons, or dracoliches, founded by Sammaster, a powerful wizard. Sammaster possessed great power, in a manner similar to Elminster and Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun. In Sammaster's case however, the additional power brought delusions of godhood and madness, and he came to believe in time that "dead dragons shall rule the world entirely" and began to work toward that goal, fighting the several Chosen of Mystra and even the god Lathander along the way. While Sammaster has died, risen as a lich, and fallen again, his cult lived on, and continued to threaten the Western Heartlands.
The Cult of the Dragon venerated dragons, evil dragons in particular, and specifically dead evil dragons. They reanimated the gargantuan corpses as powerful and fell dracoliches. The Cult acted as an information network for its draconian "masters", brought gems and riches as offerings, and encouraged evil dragons to become dracoliches. Their belief was that dracoliches were destined to one day rule Faerûn and beyond. They could become inhabited by objects which were created in their image especially with the image of the skull.
The Cult of the Dragon lacked any formal headquarters or strong leadership, which causes the organisation to be disjointed and often in conflict with itself.
Although Sammaster was killed in 916 DR during an ambush by the Harpers and clergy of Lathander, Algashon Nathaire led the organization underground, and Sammaster gained lichdom, having prepared for the event of his death.
By around 1370 DR, the Cult had spread widely, and its own tenets had diverged, leading to members in different areas having different ideas of the Cult's formation and ultimate destiny.
After Sammaster's destruction in the late 14th century, the cult had no true leader, although, as of the year of the Ageless One (1479 DR) it revered Anabraxis The Black Talon as its ultimate authority. The cult was organized into semi-autonomous cells, each led by one or more "Wearers of Purple".
It was during this leaderless period that a cultist named Severin Silrajin decided that the Chronicles of Years to Come had been mistranslated by Sammaster, and predicted that the world would be ruled not by dead dragons, but by living ones. He quickly rose through the cult's ranks until he became its leader, at which point he refocused the cult's efforts to summoning Tiamat into Faerûn.
The Cult of the Dragon's main activities were to gather intelligence for the evil dragons of Faerûn, contribute treasure for their hoards, and aid them in any way possible, in an attempt to gain the cooperation of these dragons. They were also able to make preparations for these evil dragons to transform into dracoliches, and guard dragon lairs, sometimes containing dragon eggs or hatchlings, while these dragons went to hunt or raid.
In exchange, the members of the Cult of the Dragon would seek permission to use the dragons' lairs for shelter, and ask for help from the dragons if they were ever called upon using the rings of dragons.
The Cult was active throughout the Realms, but was especially powerful in the Cold Lands and the North, where dragons were particularly abundant. Cult member activities included gathering information on particularly rich caravans to be raided, stealing unique items to be offered to their masters, and leading raids against their enemies (who, in their minds, were all those who might oppose the rulership of the dragons). Senior members of the Cult of the Dragon were given the secret of creation of dracoliches and each was also in possession of a ring of dragons. The keepers used these to protect themselves against assailants.
The cult was not against legitimate commercial activities, and as such it had several merchant members who used their well earned money to fund cult projects.
The Cult of the Dragon had a following in the Shou enclave of Xiousing in Marsember in the late 15th century DR. The Shou traditionally venerated dragons and the cult found they could operate more openly among the Shou than among other cultures.
In the late 15th century DR the cult operated openly in the dragon dominated realm of Murghôm. The cult owned a building in the city of Skalnaedyr known as Dragon House and maintained a fortress on the edge of the Plains of Purple Dust known as the Tower of the Talon.
In 1479 DR a cell of the cult, led by Adimond Kroskas, worked in conjuction with Thayan agents of Valindra Shadowmantle in Neverwinter Wood, searching for a way to restore the dragon Lorragauth to unlife.
As of 1368 DR, the commander of the guard in Daerlun, Sembia, was in control of the city through manipulation of the elderly merchant and official ruler Halath Tymmyr. The organization used Daerlun as an arms store and to heal wounded members, preferring to keep activities low-key.
The cult maintained a citadel near the Sunset Mountains known as the Well of Dragons. The site was a legendary graveyard of dragons and as of the late 15th century DR some old dragons continued to make pilgrimages to the site to achieve immortality through dracolichdom.
In the late 15th century DR a secret cell of the cult operated in Djerad Thymar, the capital of Tymanther. The cult maintained its membership and beliefs secret, but had a public face called the Abeir Academy that welcomed dragonborn who have had hard times and were looking for a new start, as a way to cultivate potential new members.
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- Ed Greenwood (June 1986). “The Cult of the Dragon”. In Kim Mohan ed. Dragon #110 (TSR, Inc.), pp. 8–14.
- Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 272. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Wizards RPG Team (2014). Hoard of the Dragon Queen. (Wizards of the Coast). ISBN 978-0786965649.
- ↑ Sean K. Reynolds, Jason Carl (November 2001). Lords of Darkness. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 18. ISBN 0-7869-1989-2.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Dale Donovan (January 1998). Cult of the Dragon. (TSR, Inc), p. 5. ISBN 0-7869-0709-6.
- ↑ Brian R. James and Ed Greenwood (September, 2007). The Grand History of the Realms. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 109. ISBN 978-0-7869-4731-7.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 246. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- ↑ Dale Donovan (January 1998). Cult of the Dragon. (TSR, Inc), p. 4. ISBN 0-7869-0709-6.
- ↑ Dan Anderson (October 2011). “Backdrop: Xiousing”. In Steve Winter ed. Dungeon #195 (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 58–66.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 246. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- ↑ Matt Sernett, Erik Scott de Bie, Ari Marmell (2011). Neverwinter Campaign Setting. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 105. ISBN 0-7869-5814-6.
- ↑ Dale Donovan (January 1998). Cult of the Dragon. (TSR, Inc), p. 33. ISBN 0-7869-0709-6.