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The Rauthtor was a tribe of Malar worshipers that claimed the southern third of the Border Forest in north Faerûn as their territory, from shortly after their founding until at least the Year of Wild Magic, 1372 DR.[1]

OrganizationEdit

The Rauthtor identified with the People of the Black Blood, but it was unclear if any of the members were lycanthropes because they hunted in human form wearing costumes and head-covering masks of wild animals. Some members made their home in the forest, some were foresters and subsistence farmers that lived in the Tesh Valley.[1]

Base of OperationsEdit

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A member of the Rauthtor wearing a beast costume, headdress, and claws of Malar.

Their most sacred site was the Bone Dance, a barren hilltop deep in the Border Forest. It had a circle of megaliths around a bowl-like depression at its summit. A stone altar used for sacrifices was at the bottom of this shallow pit. Near the base of the hill, the gravel, scree, and boulders gave way to underbrush and shrubs.[2]

ActivitiesEdit

Like all Malarite cult members, the Rauthtor celebrated the High Hunt once every season and, when new victims were captured, they often performed the Blood Chant—a prayer dance around their sacrificial altar[1]

Day-to-day activities included maintaining the trails around the Bone Dance; setting, clearing, and repairing the spiked pit traps (known as "fangfalls") on those trails; catching poisonous snakes to place in the fangfalls; and keeping a watch for intruders that got too close to their holy site.[1] At irregular times, those with the skill to create illusions would make the Bone Dance come alive with ghostly skeletons of giant monsters, some with extra heads or limbs, and have them parade in a threatening manner around the crown of the hill.[2]

TacticsEdit

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A Malarite cultist spies on a group of adventurers approaching the Bone Dance.

In addition to the dancing skeletons, the Rauthtor left skulls as warnings on various trails in their territory. They had a false altar near the base of the Bone Dance with an obvious trail flanked by boulders leading up to it. This stone table was surrounded by fangfalls, and the tribe placed the mangled bodies of recent victims there as both a warning and a lure to those that would attempt to rescue or avenge the fallen.[1]

The Rauthtor were well aware that their warnings to stay away were also what attracted some intruders. When unwelcome folk got too close to the Bone Dance, the skeleton's heads would snap around to focus on them, a tremendous roar would sound, and the apparitions would give chase. The illusions could do no harm except to instill fear and panic, but the Malarites enjoyed the hunt, giving themselves over to snarls of blood lust, running their prey to ground, and tearing into them like wild animals using claws of Malar, beast claw spells, and clubs embedded with real claws, fangs, and talons.[1]

PossessionsEdit

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A Rauthtor member wearing a beast head-covering and a spiked shoulder band.

The Rauthtor kept holy relics and regalia underneath the main altar atop the Bone Dance. These were dipped in the blood of a sacrificed person or creature and wielded during a Bone Chant ritual.[1] Some of the large but movable rocks in the area concealed caches of weapons, coins, and other valuables.[3]

Each member of the tribe made various beast-masks for themselves. These were created (with skillful assistance by senior members, if necessary) in the likeness of wolves, bears, and other wild beasts using real fur, pelts, ears, and fangs. They typically covered the entire head, giving the wearer the appearance of a half-beast. Members hid their masks a good distance from their domicile so as not to be associated with them in case of discovery. Masks were worn when performing rituals, hunting, defending the tribe, and when on guard duty around the Bone Dance.[1]

HistoryEdit

In the early 1260s DR, a group of Malarites fled Zhentil Keep because Manshoon was taking control with the help of Fzoul Chembryl and the church of Bane. They decided to fully embrace the tribal lifestyle and declared themselves a branch of the People of the Black Blood. They chose the name Rauthtor because they were inspired by the story of a local farmer who went feral (most said crazy) after his family was slaughtered by orcs. Rauthtor was a large, exceptionally strong man, and he relentlessly hunted down every orc involved in the raid that took his family and killed them single-handedly. He never returned to farming, but lived in the Border Forest alone, only emerging to sell owlbear pelts when he needed a new weapon or supplies. No one knew if he paid homage to Malar or not, but he had a reputation of stalking and killing anyone that did him wrong.[1]

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Another cultist wearing a costume and claws.

The farmers of Teshendale clashed with the Malarites and forced them to retreat north into the trees. Shortly thereafter, the Rauthtor established the Bone Dance as the sacred heart of their territory.[1]

In the Year of the Spur, 1348 DR, an adventuring group called the Brave Blade from Yhaunn were looking for a challenge in Daggerdale. A local furrier named Lhastral Darramooth hired them to investigate the apparently haunted Bone Dance hill and make the area safe for trappers and woodsmen to work their trades. The brash young group took the job and set off one morning with gusto, determined to route the dancing ghosts. Their pride and enthusiasm were not enough to compensate for a lack of numbers against an overwhelming force of blood-crazed cultists, and they paid the price that very night. The next morning, Lhastral found a trail of blood leading out of the forest and some gruesome trophies left on his doorstep. The blood and mangled limbs left an indelible impression on the locals, and from that day forward, any shiver-tale or tavern boast about the Bone Dance was sure to include an embellished retelling of the fate of the Brave Blade. The Rauthtor kept their skulls and occasionally placed them on prominent rocks or hung them from trees along trails leading to their sacred site, warning others to think twice before challenging the skeletal dance macabre.[2]

AppendixEdit

ReferencesEdit

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