To understand life and its meaning, you need to understand death and the afterlife.
In the war between Aesir and Vanir, Hel fought against the Vanir. She got her throne and give her name to the land of dead, Helheim. While Odin is collecting his army for Ragnarok in Valhalla, Hel has plans to destroy his reign. She collects vicious and wicked armies in Helheim for the end of times.
Being a warrior of Hel is challenging duty, she often tortures her own troops to create tough and brutal armies. Most of her warriors spread terror to all Svilland. They are training and waiting for Ragnarok to march into Valhalla.
Hel’s Influence in Svilland: Children of the Cold Mother
Before the first age, before Svilland, in the north, in the abandoned rotten soils, a man helped his cold mother to make Balder fall. A man who killed hope by condemning the god of beauty.
This is the story of a man, who betrayed his kind, a man whose name is already forgotten, a man who is sitting in the ice throne with the endless pain. This is the story of a betray and death of the beauty.
The cult is one of the oldest in Svilland, its origin dates back to before the First Age. Many of Svillanders believe that they helped Hel to make the Balder fall, and the cult boasts of this as well. They see themselves as a god-killer.
They don’t have a headquarter or any kind of regular gathering. Its members work alone, and from time to time they may meet in a random tomb, discussing the executions of their plans.
Most of the cult members are educated and well-positioned people. They are advisors of rulers, captains of armies, and members of local governance. They use their titles to ease the plans of Hel and prepare Svilland for the invasion.
The Children’s ultimate goal is to prepare Svilland for Ragnarok and the fall of Odin’s reign with it. They work on schemes large or small to increase the influence of Hel in Svilland through their various agendas.
As a Dungeon Master, if the party encounters a cult member, you can roll 1d6 and determine which scheme the member is on:
(1) Rite of Desecration. The cult member is working with followers throughout the region to make desecrating murders. They murder without preference and gather the corpses. Eventually, they will make a pile of these corpses and perform a ritual of desecration. This will make the souls of these dead desecrated, condemning them to Helheim. Hel uses these people as her servants and converts the worthy to her warriors.
(2) Rite of Disgrace. Before Ragnarok, Hel often prioritizes sabotaging Odin rather than challenging him head-on. The cult member selects and murders those who are close to Odin in the region. Performing a rite to make their death dishonorable and thus preventing them to be sacrificed for Odin or going to Valhalla.
(3) Rite of Passage. Although the Nine Realms and Svilland are apart from each other. Hel finds ways to open small passages to Svilland. The cult member will or did perform a ritual with followers to open a Helheim passage. Some draugr or Hel’s Spring which passed through may be in the region.
This ritual often requires a great sin against Odin to be done, a sin that is so disgraceful that Helheim and Svilland merge together in a small spot for an instance. A person who is devoted to Hel can also sacrifice itself with this ritual to open such a passage.
(4) Rite of Rotten Blood. Although it is rare, some believe that the souls of some nobles and rulers reincarnate within the bodies of their grandchildren. With this ritual, a cult member tries to find and reincarnate a diseased noble or ruler who was devoted to Hel into a newborn in the family’s lineage. Thus making the lineage serve Hel when the time of that newborn comes.
When such a ritual is successful, the cult member must find and protect the newborn, making sure its time to rule and influence the land will come.
(5) Rite of Disease. It is believed that the breath of Hel brings disease, and she breathes to the land when a plague occurs. The cult member aims to make a ritual to release a new plague to the region.
(6) Rite of Cold. The cult member makes a ritual to bring famine and cold to the region. If the ritual is successful, the climate in the region remains cold, unnatural to the natural cycle of the seasons. Resulting from this, the harvest may be bad and people may suffer from the cold weather. Such a ritual is especially powerful after harsh winters, in which people consume more of their reserved food and fuel than usual.
The cult quite hostile to other cults, but its members tend to keep their identity secret to not to draw attention unless they are recruiting. On the other hand, it is friendly to the cults of Fenrir, Loki, and Odd. This is because such cults usually work for the sabotage of the Allfather as well, and probably they will be allies when the Ragnarok comes.