Monday, November 16, 2020

Cults ... always with the cults

Why Cults?

Nameless mooks worshiping a demon god bent on destruction? How is this NOT a fun thing to have as your enemy - especially if they've got some NPCs with names backing them mup or an actual chance to summon the Pure Evil Whoever. Everyone loves cults for background material. They are always up to something and seem to attract members out of nowhere. And you rarely feel bad sticking them with a sword or blasting them to pieces with a fireball. Seriously - they are the nazis of the medieval fantasy world - fantasy Castle Wolfenstein.

But they can be more - so much more! They are an organization like all others - the individuals have motivations, the gods have motivations, allies, enemies, and all that good stuff. Cults in the Sorrow in Haven setting are always particularly dangerous because they could invite evil, actual evil, into the city. Even if they don't mean to. Corrupt one Templar and now the entire neighborhood might start getting weird. Summon some minions from the Gloom? Oh shit - Gloom Portals in every semi-abandoned alleyway.

The Tables

Roll 4d10 and read up on the Cult Basics table. With a generated Origin, Ideal, Lure, and Rites you have a framework. Now roll 1d10 on the Worship & Veneration table - but if the roll is higher than any rolled on the Cult Basics table, reroll it until it isn't.

Desperate Searching for Hope
Free Thinkers
Shadow-Corrupt Clergy
Pleasure Seekers
Adepts of the Old Ways
Destroy the Dome
A Prophet has Arisen
 Influence from Outside the Dome 
 Forbidden Knowledge 
 Blood Sacrifice 
Signs and Omens of the Sea
Decadent Lesser Nobility
Tradition of Bloodline
Blessed Lands
Offerings from the Gloom
Dreamvisions of the Underworld

Worship & Veneration
A complete fabrication - this cult is based on lies of the leader for their own purposes
The Cult Leader - perhaps delusional, perhaps not; has unwavering loyalty of the faithful 
 The Ephemeral - love, hate, joy, death, birth, or any concept beyond physical manifestation 
An Ancient Idol - discovered in the Undercity or recovered from the Underworld
A Broken Saint - a twisted aspect of the Church of Eternal Light, driven by the Shadow
One of the Dead Gods - Followers of the Old Ways worship a god thought long gone
Unclean Spirit - a lich, vampire, ghost, or something much worse with influence in Haven
Patchwork Demon - an unimaginable horror that may only partially exist in this reality
Gloom Entity - some powerful being of the Gloom has made contact and demands worship
The Underworld - the whole of the Underworld, each dungeon bloom is a sacred place

What's with the limited d10 for the last table? 
Good question. The higher the roll, the more seriously dangerous the cult is, so a little dice magic makes sure not every cult can bring about the end of the world when there are literally dozens of the things running around. Don't like that Rule? Ignore It. I don't care.

Why are some things so vague?
Because I don't know your game. I don't know what exactly you get up to or what gods or demons you have. Also, vague allows for creativity. Is that just lazy? No. Reading everything from a table and saying "Yes - this is exactly correct" is lazy. As I'm writing this I'm clearly not over some bullshit I read on Reddit and people whining about "incomplete" settings. Homebrew isn't a dirty word, it is the only word and everything else is just fodder for your homebrew game. Fuck those guys. Anyway...


This isn't going to be well thought out - just stream of consciousness so you can see how I putter around with these tables and results.

The Rolls
Origins [6]: Signs and Omens of the Sea
Ideals [7]: Immortality
Lure [2]: Purpose
Rites [10]: Demagoguery
Focus [7]: Powerful Unclean Spirit

Let's see here ... Unclean spirit that offers immortality to the followers. Vampire jumps to mind, so let's go with that to start things off. The lure is Purpose ... improving Haven - bringing it back the a golden age through ... demagoguery. OK. Politics. Some sort of vampire that offers immortality to those that show their purpose in the guild politics of Haven. But what about Signs and Omens of the Sea. Got it!

Soulgivers of Atosh
When the galleon Bonsuire was seen slowly drifting into the dome just past Elig Murr, there wasn't much stir. Things drift into Haven's waters all the time. But this ship was different. The tattered remains of the sails bore the symbol of the sun as king, the symbol Haven Nobility from ancient times. When the ship was approached a thousand crows took flight and spent 3 days in the air. Not a single body was found on board. No living thing except a baby lamb. The sea had dropped a big pile of omens into Haven's waters and to ignore them was folly.

When Atosh stepped off the ship, he didn't even need to use his ability to mezmerise the dock workers who saw him, they knew he was something special. A few years went by and Atosh had gone slowly been working his way off the docks and into some more respectable parts of society. He had a following. And he knew what to do.

Now, the Soulgivers of Atosh do their master's bidding of their own free will. The promise of not only making Haven a better place by re-establishing the noble rule of the city, but in doing so they can attain immortality and serve at the side of the their Immortal King Atosh. The Soulgivers have made their way into numerous guilds and act as pawns for Atosh. He has some plan that may take another decade to come to fruition - inciting riots, setting up alliances and trade deals, even brokering with some of the minor noble houses - inspiring them to "take back what is theirs".

How the party gets involved (d6)
  1. a guild asks them to investigate their political rival
  2. overhear the term while heisting some goods
  3. stumble across the murder of a splinter group - in progress
  4. suddenly a lot of goats are missing - get asked to help
  5. they are on the shit end of a seemingly mindless political guild maneuver 
  6. one of them gets asked to join

Mix it up

Throw in some stuff from the gang generator! If the Focus d10 is 1-4, they are "petty", 5-6 is "minor", 7-8 is "major" and 9-10 would be "serious". So in the example above 7 would be "Major", so I'll roll 1d8 for the goal and get a 1 ... survival. Leadhership produces Ruthless & Charlatan.

What does this mean? Atosh knows that if discovered he will be destroyed. He has no actual plans for the rise of nobility, he is just trying to get a secure place to spend his time while he figures out what to do. There is no grand plan - just a handful of ideas. Atosh lives in constant fear of discovery but will do anything to ensure his safety.


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