Approximately 10 miles northwest of Rome lay the former Etruscan walled city of Veii. Located on a plateau overlooking the right bank of the Tiber, the region had been settled by successive cultures since the Late Bronze Age until finally being by conquered by the Romans in 396 B.C. Within this city can be found a unique cult called the Sororum ex Noëma (Sisters of Na’amah). Ostensibly an offshoot of the female-only Bona Dea cult, which at first glance it closely resembles, it is in fact far older, predating the one in Rome by many years.
The Sisters of Na’amah are comprised of several hundred local women of all classes, ranging from simple servant girls to the city’s matriarchs. Most members are completely unaware of the darker aspects of the cult and would be horrified to learn the truth. Only a trusted inner circle of approximately two dozen priestesses have actually witnessed Na’amah appear during their clandestine rituals. These inner circle members are trained in the arts of stealth and concealment, as well as hand-to-hand combat with knives and clubs, skills which they use to defend themselves andprocure sacrifices for the cult.
Places of Worship
The Sisters have a large temple on the edge of the city open only to women. The high priestess and many of her inner circle permanently reside there. The temple contains a herbarium, with which the Sisters create medicines to treat the sick or injured. Inside the sanctum is a statue of a beautiful woman, apparently meant to be a divine representation of Na’amah, seated on a throne with a cornucopia cradled in her left arm and the severed head of a gorgon in her right hand. Worshippers are encouraged to leave offerings at her feet to receive her blessing.
Hidden in the temple’s basement is a tunnel leading under the city wall. The Sisters use this passage to exit the city unobserved. To the west of Veii is a section of the Silva Ciminia (Ciminian Forest) still left undisturbed by the Romans, concealing the entrance to a small underground grotto. It is here that members of the inner circle bring sacrificial victims on nights of the new moon.
In additional to performing important charity work in the city and sponsoring innocuous religious festivals at various times of the year, the inner circle alone knows that the cult also practices child sacrifice. Every few weeks, a young boy, typically an orphan or street kid, is abducted and eventually taken to the secret grotto.
There in the darkness of the new moon, the inner circle performs an ancient chant while attending the high priestess as she goes into a trance. This ritual summons forth the glowing goddess Na’amah, who then feeds on the life force of the unfortunate youth offered before her. Once finished, thedesiccated husk is left to rot in a pit at the back of the cave along with those of hundreds of previous victims, while the Sisters quietly return to the city.
Tanaquil, age 24, High Priestess and Host of Na’amah
STR 10 CON 8 SIZ 14 INT 18* POW 20*
DEX 10 APP 13 EDU 14 SAN 0 HP 11
* only while being possessed by Na’amah.
Damage Bonus: none.
Weapons: Sacrificial Knife 55%, 1D4.
Skills: Art(Singing) 45%, Cthulhu Mythos 50%, Insight 45%, Listen 75%, Occult 55%, Own Language(Latin) 70%, Persuade 55%, Potions 36%, Sneak 45%, Status 55%, Write (Latin) 51%.
Spells: Augur, Fist of Yog-Sothoth, Power Drain, Soul Singing.
By all appearances, Tanaquil is an attractive and charming Etruscan woman, well respected among members of the community and unusually influential with the ruling classes. Much like the sibyls of Greece, she is known to possess the gift of prophecy, able to predict future events with uncanny accuracy. She uses these advantages to aid and expand her cult following throughout the city.
However, the priestess is much more than she seems. In reality, Tanaquil is the current host for the Old One, Na’amah, something even her inner circle does not know. When Na’amah visibly manifests, she leaves Tanaquil’s body behind in a catatonic state, the woman’s own mind long since consumed by the Old One. Should Tanaquil be incapacitated or killed, Na’amah remains unharmed, but will be forced to find a new host with which to lead her cult.
Na’amah, Old One
INT 18 POW 20 MOV 20 (flying)
Weapons: Steal Life (as spell, no cost).
Armor: none, but not harmed by physical weapons.
Spells: Augur, Fist of Yog-Sothoth, Power Drain (if target loses all magic points, can become host), Soul Singing.
Sanity Loss: 1/1D10 Sanity points to see her visible form.
In her natural form, Na’amah is both immaterial and invisible. However, in order to feed (via Steal Life) the Old One must temporarily assume a visible form resembling a golden shining woman, with four slender arms, gossamer wings and facial features obscured by a brilliant radiance. Her lower torso gradually fades into mist, leaving behind a trail of slime wherever she goes, gliding gracefully above the ground. Na’amah can effortlessly switch between these forms at will in a single round. Even while visible, she is completely impervious to physical weapons.
Na’amah is briefly mentioned in the Jewish religious text, Cabala of Saboth, where she is described as both a female demon and one of the lilim. Her exact relationship to the Biblical Lilith, if any, is unknown.
One of Rome’s Sons is Missing. The young scion of a visiting Roman patrician family has been mistakenly kidnapped by the Sisters and is now being held captive in the basement of the temple. Unless rescued, he will soon be spirited out of the city and brought to the grotto to be sacrificed at the next new moon. His father would pay handsomely for his son’s safe return.
Still Waters Run Deep. A team of engineers have recently arrived in Veii to begin a survey of the local area, initial planning for the construction of a new aqueduct to supply Rome with water from Lake Bracciano. The proposed route runs uncomfortably close by the sacrificial grotto. The Sisters will attempt to use guile and treachery to either divert or sabotage the team’s efforts without drawing attention to themselves.
The Apostate Sister. One of the junior members of the inner circle supposedly wants to leave the Sisters, disgusted by the ritual sacrifice of innocents. She claims to need help to first kill Tanaquil in order to disrupt the cult and successfully make her escape. In actually, she schemes to usurpthe high priestess’ position and intends to betray her accomplices afterwards to prove her loyalty and leadership ability to the others.