Just moments after light and dark separated there were two cosmic beings of force. One represented goodness and simplicity and the other represented conflict and a moral complexity that could described as ‘evil’ if one were prone to using such absolutist terms. The two forces locked in mortal combat and the forces of goodness and simplicity were either annihilated or corrupted by the Great Evil.
With the light abolished, the Great Evil created a pit. The Evil then cast down its rival’s favorite creations into the pool of liquid fire at the bottom. The Great Evil was never heard from again, but the Fallen—the corrupted minions of Evil’s once virtuous rival—were left to rule. And there were many of them in those times, twisted by the terrible sin that gestated inside them. They had to cast out some of that evil, so that it would not devour them from within.
Into the Lake of Fire, the Fallen spawned worthless chaff called Imps. The Fallen ascended the great spiral that is the Pit, but did not permit the Imps to leave the lowest levels. Yet a small few Imps exhibited behavior that pleased the Fallen and were permitted to ascend higher in the spiral. These Imps became Fiends and walked upright, but still knew nothing but murder and torment.
It was torment that lead the Fallen to elevate the Fiends once again. Some Fiends had discovered a means by which they could torture one another, such that delicious and potent nectar was produced. These Fiends became Soul Merchants and were elevated to a higher region of the Pit by the Fallen. Soul Merchants were elegant evils, measured in their moral transgressions and resolute in the face of their urges. The Fallen were pleased with this new creature, for they knew the secrets of how to retread the path that the Great Evil had taken in its wanderings. The Fallen could send Soul Merchants to gather souls and extract those delicious nectars. In turn, the Soul Merchants made contracts with the Fallen in order to travel to other worlds and thereby collect mortal souls for them to torture.
Soul Merchants are essentially eternal beings, so these contracts last for millennia at a time. In that time, Soul Merchants are expected to collect a handful of souls from the Truly Wicked and the Pure of Spirit. Bringing home lesser souls will quickly find a Soul Merchant cast into the Lake of Fire for seven thousand years. The Fallen are eager to send Soul Merchants to the Fracture, a very potent young world whose souls are ripe for harvest. Although nothing has been recorded about it, many Soul Merchants are willing to brave the unknown for an edge in establishing themselves over their rivals.
Soul Merchants can, as a matter of their nature, make contracts with the Truly Wicked and Pure of Spirit such that when the mortal dies, a Soul Merchant’s manifestation opens up and receives it. They will hold them, like a vessel or prison, until such time as they return to the Burning Pit to torture the soul for millennia.
While on a mission serving the Fallen, Soul Merchants are said to be the Vassal of that Fallen. As a Vassal, the Soul Merchant takes on an incarnation much like a mortal. Although a little demonic taint seeps through into this form, it is essentially human with all the weaknesses and strengths inherent. Soul Merchants’ natural forms are things of nightmare, like spirals of vulture wings or wraiths made of rotting gore.
There are but four Fallen left in the Burning Pit. Zeevuv (“The Swarming Carcass”) is lord of the flies, a god incarnating bodily death, the fall of empires, and entropy. Its gift is eternal life. Ororgorolestese (“The Terrible One”) embodies tyranny, bitter hatred, and greed. His gift is worldly power. Vil (“Corruption Incarnate”) is a thing made of subversion, karma, self-deception, and ill-gotten wisdom. Its gift is those perfect intangibles like knowledge, absolution, and happiness. Cacotrope (“The Devourer of Maladies”) is found in the evils of revenge and acts whose means are justified by their ends. Her gift is the power to perform acts of compassion or vengeance. There are rumors, however, that a fifth Fallen, a Breaker of Rules, has taken root somewhere…
The Soul Merchants employ a magical technique known as the Fruits of the Fallen, a cocktail of forbidden blessings courtesy of the Infernal Diaspora. The Fallen know the sinful urges of mortals and they impart this knowledge to those who call on them. They provide a host of benefits, both protective and utilitarian, to those willing to bargain for them. Indeed, the Fruits are designed to be indispensable in tough situations and the style can even render a user immaterial to physical threats. The rituals of this style involve monetary sacrifice, submission before supernatural evil, deliberate blasphemy, and of course of decadent acts of self-debasement.
The method most Soul Merchants employ when seeking a commission of souls is to quietly move into a region and slowly dominate it economically, politically, and spiritually over the course of centuries. To avoid being exorcised, Soul Merchants have an innate understanding of Diplomacy and receive the first level of this skill for 5 character points. The material world is often the best tool in a Soul Merchant’s toolkit and they consequently view economics as the means of dominating it. Consequently, Soul Merchants (unsurprisingly) receive the first level of Mercantile for 5 character points. Soul Merchants are descendants of the Fallen, and receive the first level of Fruits of the Fallen for 10 character points, not 15 like most characters.
Magic School: Fruits of the Fallen
Make-Up Requirement and Advantage
Players portraying Soul Merchants in their socially acceptable form must include a prosthetic element (such as spooky contact lenses, prosthetic horns, or prosthetic fangs) as well as a makeup element. This element, such as colored hands, vibrant eye makeup, veins of color, tribal designs, and the like should be done in red. Soul Merchants need no external means of resurrection once destroyed. Their soul remakes their physical manifestation with some measure of speed, but it reduces them spiritually. Soul Merchants who are destroyed too frequently can become Fiends and Fiends do not return if destroyed.
An Out of Play Discussion of the Burning Pit
Characters from the Burning Pit are intended to be characters with their wickedness behind and ahead of them. Rarely should they ever actively be villainous in game. Soul-Merchants are elegant evils, freed from the concerns of everyday mortal life. They have the luxury of being upstanding people or just enjoying their “vacation” away from the fires of the Pit. Soul-Merchants are intended to be alien things, imitations of the human form. Soul-Merchants can engage in combat only sparingly, lest they devolve into something primitive. Therefore, they are not intended to be combat-type characters. As a venue, the Burning Pit is a bit more competitive than others, as Soul-Merchants jockey for valuable Souls and snipe at one another. Those who reject their Commissions, although it might seem noble, will be marked for persecution by other Soul-Merchants.