The Cult of the Dragon, also known as Keepers of the Secret Hoard or, more recently, Wearers of Purple, was a semi-religious evil organization in Dungeons & Dragons franchise, a cult venerating undead dragons, or dracoliches.
In Neverwinter Online, the Cult served as the secondary antagonistic faction of Neverdeath Graveyard and the main villains of the first half of Tyranny of Dragons arc. They were outranked by Tiamat in the second half of Tyranny of Dragons arc and became the secondary villains.
The Cult of Dragons was founded by Sammaster, a powerful wizard. Sammaster possessed great power, in a manner similar to Elminster and Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun. In Sammaster's case however, the additional power brought delusions of godhood and madness, and he came to believe in time that "dead dragons shall rule the world entirely" and began to work toward that goal, fighting the several Chosen of Mystra and even the god Lathander along the way. While Sammaster has died, risen as a lich, and fallen again, his cult lived on, and continued to threaten the Western Heartlands.
The Cult of the Dragon venerated dragons, evil dragons in particular, and specifically dead evil dragons. They reanimated the gargantuan corpses as powerful and fell dracoliches. The Cult acted as an information network for its draconian "masters", brought gems and riches as offerings, and encouraged evil dragons to become dracoliches. Their belief was that dracoliches were destined to one day rule Faerûn and beyond. They could become inhabited by objects which were created in their image especially with the image of the skull.
After Sammaster's destruction in the late 14th century, the cult had no true leader, although, as of the year of the Ageless One (1479 DR) it revered Anabraxis The Black Talon as its ultimate authority. The cult was organized into semi-autonomous cells, each led by one or more "Wearers of Purple".
The Cult was active throughout the Realms, but was especially powerful in the Cold Lands and the North, where dragons were particularly abundant. Cult member activities included gathering information on particularly rich caravans to be raided, stealing unique items to be offered to their masters, and leading raids against their enemies (who, in their minds, were all those who might oppose the rulership of the dragons). Senior members of the Cult of the Dragon were given the secret of creation of dracoliches and each was also in possession of a ring of dragons. The keepers used these to protect themselves against assailants.
The cult was not against legitimate commercial activities, and as such it had several merchant members who used their well earned money to fund cult projects.
The Cult of the Dragon had a following in the Shou enclave of Xiousing in Marsember in the late 15th century DR. The Shou traditionally venerated dragons and the cult found they could operate more openly among the Shou than among other cultures.
In the late 15th century DR the cult operated openly in the dragon dominated realm of Murghôm. The cult owned a building in the city of Skalnaedyr known as Dragon House and maintained a fortress on the edge of the Plains of Purple Dust known as the Tower of the Talon.
As of 1368 DR, the commander of the guard in Daerlun, Sembia, was in control of the city through manipulation of the elderly merchant and official ruler Halath Tymmyr. The organization used Daerlun as an arms store and to heal wounded members, preferring to keep activities low-key.
The cult maintained a citadel near the Sunset Mountains known as the Well of Dragons. The site was a legendary graveyard of dragons and as of the late 15th century DR some old dragons continued to make pilgrimages to the site to achieve immortality through dracolichdom.
In Neverwinter Online
Due to Valindra Shadowmantle's plot, undead had begun rising out of their graves in Neverwinter's graveyard, leading the Doomguides who watched over the graveyard to call upon the Heroes of Sleeping Dragon Bridge lest they be overwhelmed. In another region of the graveyard, the Cult of the Dragon was searching for something. It turned out they were interested in the Waterclock Guild Crypts, in which a former high-ranking guild member and secret dragon cultist had secreted the blue dragon Azharzel and the ritual of the dracolich upon the occasion of his death. Unfortunately, Valindra and her Thayan allies were also seeking the crypts, and when the Cult of the Dragon broke in Valindra killed them and claimed both the dragon and the ritual as her prize.
Tyranny of Dragons
Soon, the Cult of Dragon seemly dissolved. However, everything changed when a rift had developed within the Cult of the Dragon. A new faction, led by the wizard Severin Silrajin, had come to believe that the future lay not in dead dragons, but in live ones. In the Neverdeath Graveyard, they began searching for the tomb of the famous elven adventurer Belast Messandar, intending to wrest from his spirit the location of one of his former companions, a barbarian named Cruven Gantara. They believed that Cruven's spirit could give them the location of a portal to the island of Tuern. The green dragon Charthraxis aided them in this endeavor. Though the Heroes of Sleeping Dragon Bridge hampered their efforts, the Cult ultimately learned that the barbarian was buried somewhere in the Ebon Downs. Recruiting the black dragon Vartilingorix, they began a concentrated effort to find the barbarian's burial mound.
Along the slopes of Icespire Peak, the Cult enlisted the aid of the white dragon Merothrax to help them plunder the mithral mines of the Icehammer Dwarves. The heroes worked to hinder them, discovering that the mithral was somehow key to their plans. In the Rothé Valley, the Cult had forged an alliance with the House Xorlarrin slavers in the area in order to gain unhindered access to the blue dragon Venfithar who lived there. The Cult was using the mithral from Icespire Peak to forge special jars to contain Venfithar's lightning, intending to use it to power some sort of cloud giant artifact. After gathering what they needed, the Cult relocated to an area of the Northdark near the Crags known as the Whispering Caverns. There they sought to unearth the ancient hoard of a dragon named Saphirax, and summoned the dracolich Vilithrax to guard the site. Though the Heroes of Sleeping Dragon Bridge destroyed Vilithrax, the Cultists got what they wanted from Saphirax: the location and activation sequence for the portal to Tuern.
In an unprecedented move, the Harpers joined forces with the Order of the Gauntlet, the Emerald Enclave, the Lords' Alliance, and even the Zhentarim to stop the Cult of the Dragon. They ascended the slopes of Kelvin's Cairn to the portal's location and opened it, hoping to secure a foothold in Tuern, but were betrayed by Rath Modar, who was secretly working with the Cult and granted Severin and a large number of cultists access. The five factions quickly secured their end of the portal, and sent the Heroes of Sleeping Dragon Bridge through to Tuern to follow the Cult. There, they discovered ancient draconic ruins in which the red dragon Lostmauth had made its lair, as well as native barbarians that worshiped dragons as gods. Though they slew Lostmauth, they were unable to prevent Severin from obtaining his true goal, the Red Dragon Mask.
The Cult's activities came to a head with the Siege of Neverwinter, in which they launched a massive assault on the city, breaching the walls with the aid of several dragons including Eziderax the Caustic, Kazlotar the Mordacious, Halectrizar the Storm Eater, Zavarak the Thunderous, Toxicallus the Despoiler, Venitaxis the Pestilent, Akregon the Pyre, Phlagethax the Cremator, Glaxenheim the Pale, and Ikzinfraxis the Glacial.
Rise of Tiamat
It soon became clear that the Cult of the Dragon's ultimate goal was to summon Tiamat herself from the Nine Hells. Unfortunately, it was also clear that it was too late to prevent this; the only solution, therefore, was to try and push her back before she fully entered Toril. Led by Elminster, the Heroes of Sleeping Dragon Bridge, Harpers, Zhentarim, Lords' Alliance, Emerald Enclave, Order of the Gauntlet, and Iliyanbruen banded together and traveled to the Well of Dragons to assault Tiamat's Temple itself, which had already erupted into the world. There they were joined by Linu La'neral, as well as a member of the original Cult of the Dragon who disagreed with Severin's new direction. There they faced opposition from not only the Cult of the Dragon and Thayan forces, but the five chromatic dragon heralds of Tiamat: Glycamerax, Rogrotus, Volzakaris, Kradazuur, and Hohengroth.
After defeating Tiamat's heralds, the alliance ultimately led an attack into the Temple of Tiamat, where Severin and Rath Modar were in the midst of summoning Tiamat from the Nine Hells. Though Severin and the rest of the summoners were slain, the heroes were too late to stop the coming of Tiamat, who began emerging into Faerûn. Fortunately, Linu La'neral was able to channel a spell to weaken her enough for their allies to defeat the dragon goddess, pushing her back into the Nine Hells and putting an end to the Cult of the Dragon's plot.