Thursday, July 4, 2013

The Worm Prelates

The Anubian Ambassador

Last night, as I was admiring the lovely FATE Core print edition, the Anubian Ambassador became very animated. She isn't a book collector, so much as a book navigator and interpolator, a skilled navigator of the Ways Between The Book Obelisks.

But something on p. 214 got her attention. Her full attention: nose twitching and growling, followed by an utterance: "Rrrrwurm Prrrrelates!"

She nosed at the illustration on p. 214, and began to tell the story of these terrible creatures.

The Worm Prelates

A species or a disease? It matters not. Once infection has occurred, the resulting species-being becomes a Worm Prelate: an infectious, malevolent hierarch of any one of a number of the Great Galactic Faiths.

Many are no doubt familiar with the transformative affects of certain religious epiphanies. Either reading and grasping the meaning of a horrible and forgotten text, or direct illumination by an otherworldly qlippothic entity can result in hideous physical and mental transfigurations of the subject.

Less recognized is the fact that religious hypocrisy - as embodied in the attitudes and behaviors of worldly clergy and in the high-handed hierarchical and authoritarian practices of any number of the Great Galactic Faiths - can produce the same effects.

The most common teratological effect is an explosive proliferation of wormlike evaginations from many different body orifices including the eyes, ears, and mouth. Because the disease transforms the sensory and communicative organs, Imperial physicians often refer to this disease as the "See No Evil" syndrome. In spite of the disease's name, a Worm Prelate's sensory and communicative organs continue to work, even as their appearance is transformed.

Those most likely to become infected are hierarchs who ignore or cover up a range of abuses perpetrated by clergy, as well as those who take advantage of their status and privileged access to institutional resources to live a life of leisure while the common folk suffer. The "See No Evil" disease is most common on worlds where empaths constitute 5% or more of the general population. Clerical pogroms against psions, empaths, and witches are particularly common on such worlds, especially on planets under the sway of hierarchs of the Great Galactic Faiths.

The infection can be hidden for a little while. When a cleric becomes infected, they frequently go into seclusion. This absence is justified though a range of plausible excuses, such as "His Holiness Is On Retreat". Sooner or later, however, the infection runs wild, and the hierarch loses the ability to conceal the malady. They end up as a shambling mass of worms. When that Omega point is reached, the Inquisition is forced to turn on itself.


Worm Prelate
Worm-infested hierarchs

  • High Concept: Hypocrisy in human form
  • Trouble: Vulnerable to empaths and psions
  • Aspect: "See No Evil" is a disease
  • Aspect: Infection must be hidden
  • Aspect: Worms that speak, hear,and see
  • Careful: +2
  • Clever: +2
  • Flashy: 0
  • Forceful: +1
  • Quick: +1
  • Sneaky: +3
  • Cunning as Serpents: +2 to Clever Approach to use Church resources and positional power to Create an Advantage.
  • Take to the Catacombs: +2 to Sneaky Approach to hide from adversaries in a secret sanctuary within or below a temple or church.
  • Worm's Touch: +2 to Forceful Approach when Attacking an opponent in the same zone with a mass of terrible worms. This is the equivalent to a bite attack, since the worms are on the prelate's head.


  1. Gruesome. But also pretty cool. :)

    1. Yeah, the illustration was pretty gross and really begged for an explanation.