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  • [CofD] DIY Mystery Cults

    So in our brand new Chronicles of Darkness corebook we have Mystery Cult Initiation and rules on making some Cults for the games. We have only two example in book, so this topic is for your own creations or helping others to made there own.

    And here are guidelines on creating the Mystery Cult Initiation Merit itself from the CoD corebook:
    • A Skill Specialty or one-dot Merit, pertaining to the lessons taught to initiates.
    •• A one-dot Merit.
    ••• A Skill dot, or a two-dot Merit (often a supernatural Merit).
    •••• A three-dot Merit, often supernatural in origin.
    ••••• A three-dot Merit, or a major advantage not reflected in game traits.

    So I will start.

    Good Christians ( a.k.a. Knives of Abraham )
    In our New England (pre)Mage game we have loosely defined cult few characters are part of – it’s Christianity-based local church that believes they are freeing humans souls from prison of this world trap to the Heaven by killing as sacrifice those that are willing. Cultist sometimes even goes with those unwanted sacrifices, if they think it will serve “Gods will”.

    Any help with them will be appreciated. Name was just made by me now, maybe it will be change later. And no, I do not want them to be connected to God Machine. Other forces of CoD universe are invited.

    Purpose: Freeing souls of true believers, to end their suffering in this wretched world. Lord has spoken to our Prophet by the Angel and we must do what needs to be done, like Abraham needed to sacrifice his own son, Isaac. ( In reality: Maybe collecting souls for something? Sinister agenda? )

    Relic: Blade of Abraham - Holy knife that severs souls with each cut.

    Doctrine: For most time, cult looks like typical small town Christian church. They goes on masses, take communion, listen to their Reverend's sermons. It only become apparent if you see when they go. Most attended masses are just after sunset, on Sunday night. Church is then locked from the inside. Usually it’s just closed ceremony. But ones a month ( and in major holidays, another time ) there are people sacrificed by the Reverend – most time it’s one person, chosen from congregation. On those special nights only most dedicated and loyal are invited. But on the major festivities ( like Easter or Christmas ) some tourists passing by the town or people from neighbor communities are taken and freed from the shackles of the life in the name of Lord!

    Those that study history of the Knives of Abraham know their roots are in Cathars Heresy, from X century France and Italy. They believe that flesh is corrupting spirit and only way to purify soul is only by separating that holy part from it's meat container. Then truly freed soul can goes straight to Heaven. To achieve this, some need to be in this world and free souls of others, withstanding wickedness and corruption of world - those are true Samaritans. Good Christians.

    Cultists: Paragon Christians, Soul obsessed sinners, Religious sadists

    Initiation Benefits
    - Gain an Weaponry Specialty in Knives.
    •• - Gain Tolerance for Biology Merit.
    ••• - Gain Closed Book (••) Merit.
    •••• - Gain Inspiring Merit.
    ••••• - Hand of the God: Ability to sever souls from the living through a dark gnostic ritual (Extended action, Occult + Resolve, costs one willpower point to even attempt, successes must exceed the victim's Resolve + Composure). Souls could possibly be 'consumed' for Willpower or placed into soul jars.

    Edit: Used propositions below to the MCI Merit benefits itself. Will refine a text even more later.
    Last edited by wyrdhamster; 01-03-2016, 03:27 PM.


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  • #2
    First dot could easily be Weaponry (Knives), if their religious rites involve handling them often.


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    • #3
      Here are a few ideas for each level, focusing on what you've got so far.

      1 dot - Allies (Knives of Abraham) Merit, perhaps a Sacrifice Specialty in Occult.
      2 dots -The Allies Merit is now two dots. Interdisciplinary Specialty (Sacrifice). Tolerance for Biology. A two-dot Mentor.
      3 dots - A dot in Subterfuge or the Closed Book Merit (one or two dots). Access to the cult's resources (2 dots in Resources, perhaps,or Library or even a dot of Esoteric Armoury)
      4 dots - The Inspiring Merit, 3 dots of Staff. Inverted Virtues and Vices (refreshes entire pool through Vice), possibly with the Vice-Ridden or Virtuous Merit thrown in.
      5 dots - The Numbing Touch supernatural merit, Lay on Hands or the ability to sever souls from the living through a ritual (Extended action, Occult + Resolve, costs one willpower point to even attempt, successes must exceed the victim's Resolve + Composure). Souls could possibly be 'consumed' for Willpower or placed into soul jars. Or both.


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      • #4
        How about the 'Good Christians'? That's the name that the Cathars called themselves and your group's theology sounds very close to theirs. It's pretty innocuous that you could have the church publicly call itself that and few people would get the reference.

        Also, it'd be fun after the PCs do some digging to find out that their church is a revival of an exterminated medieval heresy.

        Relic: Holy knife that severs souls? Some kind of soul jar? Other ideas?
        How about an apocraphyl book of the bible, in which Abraham actually sacrifices Issac. (It kinda makes the rest of the bible not make sense, but hey, it's religion)


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        • #5
          Thanks for respons, guys! I edit the opening post with more details and advices I choose from you.

          Originally posted by Michael View Post
          How about the 'Good Christians'? That's the name that the Cathars called themselves and your group's theology sounds very close to theirs. It's pretty innocuous that you could have the church publicly call itself that and few people would get the reference.

          Also, it'd be fun after the PCs do some digging to find out that their church is a revival of an exterminated medieval heresy.
          Oh, gladly I will make this. When designing basic level of the cult with mine player, I called "maybe we will make a quasi-Cathars group about souls?" - so stealing they own name is very supporting. I even mention Cathars in their Doctrine now.

          Originally posted by Michael View Post
          How about an apocraphyl book of the bible, in which Abraham actually sacrifices Issac. (It kinda makes the rest of the bible not make sense, but hey, it's religion)
          From what I read in CoD corebook, the Relic should be item of real power. Like those in 1ED Reliquary book. Mystery Cult takes it power from occult forces of universe in Chronicles of Darkness - and Relic is both link and confirmation of this power the Cult is connected to. Of course, Good Christians will have their own version of Bible, with Abraham sacrificing Isaac - but it's nothing supernatural in the end. The holy blade that severs souls by each cut I think is much more.

          Originally posted by Eremite View Post
          1 dot - Allies (Knives of Abraham) Merit, perhaps a Sacrifice Specialty in Occult.
          2 dots -The Allies Merit is now two dots. Interdisciplinary Specialty (Sacrifice). Tolerance for Biology. A two-dot Mentor.
          3 dots - A dot in Subterfuge or the Closed Book Merit (one or two dots). Access to the cult's resources (2 dots in Resources, perhaps,or Library or even a dot of Esoteric Armoury)
          4 dots - The Inspiring Merit, 3 dots of Staff. Inverted Virtues and Vices (refreshes entire pool through Vice), possibly with the Vice-Ridden or Virtuous Merit thrown in.
          5 dots - The Numbing Touch supernatural merit, Lay on Hands or the ability to sever souls from the living through a ritual (Extended action, Occult + Resolve, costs one willpower point to even attempt, successes must exceed the victim's Resolve + Composure). Souls could possibly be 'consumed' for Willpower or placed into soul jars. Or both.
          General thought - I do not like when in Mystery Cult Initiation Merit there are Allies as benefit. Having this Merit in the first place marks you are entrenched in knowledge and high position in the Cult - it's obvious they will help you when you do thinks connected to their Purpose or Doctrine. Also, character can easily just get himself Allies for the Cult, as separate Merit.

          To me, Mystery Cult Initiation is about special knowledge or powers coming from being in Cult. Much happily I would see some techniques or small Mental Merits that typical background Merits like Retainer, Allies or Mentor. Well, last could be if it is supernatural being.

          We have MYSTERY Cult in this Merit name not without reasons, yes?

          So looking over to the particular dots propositions itself:
          1 dot - What could Sacrifice Specialty in Occult really do? Because from what I know this would works mostly as "know everything about myths with theme on sacrifices", not sacrificing itself - and this interpretation do not work for the cult of religious murderers.
          2 dots - Tolerance for Biology sounds good - all "higher acolytes" need to be psychical taught to do those things.
          3 dots - Closed Book looks as working power for covering tracks of higher ups cultist.
          4 dots - Inspiring Merit looks as something fitting for the sermons fervent Christians.
          5 dots - Hand of the God: Ability to sever souls from the living through a ritual (Extended action, Occult + Resolve, costs one willpower point to even attempt, successes must exceed the victim's Resolve + Composure). Souls could possibly be 'consumed' for Willpower or placed into soul jars.

          This list sounds good - only need to focus on the 1st dot ideas and 5th dot powers details.

          Once again - thanks for those ideas!

          Last edited by wyrdhamster; 01-03-2016, 12:37 PM.


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          • #6
            What's the Closed Book Merit? I can't find it in GMC, the CofD core, or the Hurt Locker drafts.

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            • #7
              Closed Book is Merit in mine copy of CoD page 50 - basically, it makes character taught to crack and uncover her motivations.


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              • #8
                The holy blade that severs souls by each cut I think is much more.
                There's a slight problem that severing the soul is invisible. Also, it's not really needed. I mean, if you sacrifice someone, then their soul goes free anyway.

                Of course, Good Christians will have their own version of Bible, with Abraham sacrificing Isaac
                Or... to keep the bible in basic continuity. Perhaps the Angel that stops Abraham is actually a servant of the evil false god.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Michael View Post
                  There's a slight problem that severing the soul is invisible.
                  I assume that those with 5th dot version that they can see the souls in rituals.

                  Originally posted by Michael View Post
                  Also, it's not really needed. I mean, if you sacrifice someone, then their soul goes free anyway.
                  From their perspectvie - maybe? But from Out Of Character - not so much. Good Christians may think they send all those souls to Heaven, but - in reality - they feed with them something...

                  Originally posted by Michael View Post
                  Or... to keep the bible in basic continuity. Perhaps the Angel that stops Abraham is actually a servant of the evil false god.
                  Now question is what could be this "evil false god".


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by wyrdhamster View Post
                    I assume that those with 5th dot version that they can see the souls in rituals.
                    I don't think that works. The point of the relic to ground the faith. I think that's meant to mean it's powers lends proof to the cult's viewpoint. If you need to be basically the leader of the cult, then that defeats the point of having a relic. I mean, it's stated to be as vital to creating a mystery cult as both purpose and doctrine.

                    From their perspectvie - maybe? But from Out Of Character - not so much. Good Christians may think they send all those souls to Heaven, but - in reality - they feed with them something...
                    What I mean is, you've given the group both a relic that severs the soul, and a power that does the same. If they're basically stealing souls for 'something', then why do they need the power? Surely the knife should just suck up the souls of the people they sacrifice.

                    Now question is what could be this "evil false god".
                    I'm meaning evil false god from the Good Christian's perspective. Basically, in the story, Abraham has faith in carrying out his divine order until an angel tells him to stop. But notice it's an angel, not God himself. There are gnostic stories that include situations not dissimiliar to that in which the angel turns out to be a fallen angel.


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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Michael View Post
                      I don't think that works. The point of the relic to ground the faith. I think that's meant to mean it's powers lends proof to the cult's viewpoint. If you need to be basically the leader of the cult, then that defeats the point of having a relic. I mean, it's stated to be as vital to creating a mystery cult as both purpose and doctrine.
                      No, no, no, no. Dagger grants powers to severe souls to anyone wielding it. The leader can on his own sever souls by ritual. On day to day basis, acolytes of Good Christians use Blade to send souls to the Lord. Each one of them. But cult leader has been ganted by the Lord the power to do this by his own prayer.


                      Originally posted by Michael View Post
                      What I mean is, you've given the group both a relic that severs the soul, and a power that does the same. If they're basically stealing souls for 'something', then why do they need the power? Surely the knife should just suck up the souls of the people they sacrifice.
                      To get as twice souls as will be granted in one way? To let the cult leader say "You see, I'm blessed by our Lord. Our mission is to send souls to Heaven - and each and every on of us do this. But I do not need even the Blade for this, mine prayers are enough."

                      But if it's still not work with you, I listen to you alternative for the 5th dot of Initiation.

                      Originally posted by Michael View Post
                      I'm meaning evil false god from the Good Christian's perspective. Basically, in the story, Abraham has faith in carrying out his divine order until an angel tells him to stop. But notice it's an angel, not God himself. There are gnostic stories that include situations not dissimiliar to that in which the angel turns out to be a fallen angel.
                      Oh, I understand this. I even got idea that the something that Blade and ritual sending the souls was this "angel" that did not stopped Abraham. Is it spirit, some supernal being or Horror from Earth is open to the interpretation.


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                      • #12
                        No, no, no, no. Dagger grants powers to severe souls to anyone wielding it. The leader can on his own sever souls by ritual. On day to day basis, acolytes of Good Christians use Blade to send souls to the Lord. Each one of them. But cult leader has been ganted by the Lord the power to do this by his own prayer.
                        Does it grant the ability to see souls as well when you're holding it? That's the thing I'm talking about. If you can't see anything, then it looks like you're just killing someone.

                        ]quote]To let the cult leader say "You see, I'm blessed by our Lord. Our mission is to send souls to Heaven - and each and every on of us do this. But I do not need even the Blade for this, mine prayers are enough."[/quote]

                        I think I get where you're coming from.

                        Oh, I understand this. I even got idea that the something that Blade and ritual sending the souls was this "angel" that did not stopped Abraham.
                        The thing in the knife would be God in that story. The angel is interfering with God's plans. Remember it's from the twisted perspective of the GCs.


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                        • #13
                          A Tale of Two Cults

                          Fellowship of the Framer's Fidelity (Founders of Longview, WA)
                          At the time of its conception, Longview was the only planned city of its magnitude to have ever been conceived of and built entirely with private funds. This private funding allowed the founders It rests at the confluence of the Cowlitz River, the Columbia River, and Interstate Freeway 5. The design of the streets with great hexagonal cement paving blocks is set in a great web around the city square. The town has a massive man-made lake in the rough shape of a crescent that arches like a hand sheltering the center of the town, and the foul lake is directly connected to the 120 miles of walkable storm drains under the city, even though the city only has about 60 miles of streets. Needless to say the design is odd and there are street intersections that regularly have accidents because of it. It seems like the town itself inflicts desperation upon those that stay there for any extended period of time, and some very unlucky visitors; in truth, it does.

                          Purpose: Prevent the unworthy from discovering the town’s secrets, that would allow them to master the mystical energies harnessed by the design of the Town, as set by the Founders. Guide the worthy through the mystical initiations after they’ve bypassed the trials and guardians that assail those that would progress.

                          Relic: The town infrastructure of Longview Washington

                          Doctrine: This town was designed for a purpose less benign than clearcutting lumber for financial gain. While the side-effects of this are unfortunate for most the residents of Longview, a select few whom master riddles of its existence, barter successfully with its hidden guardians, prevail in navigating its labyrinthine secrets , figuratively sell their soul, and not-so-figuratively damn themselves, can gain what is considered by some the ultimate prize: immortality. The cult is one of the guardians of this prize, but is also the gates through which must be passed to reach it. Only those with the proper keys may be allowed through to the next atrium towards the end vault holding immortality.

                          Cultists: Urban legend researcher, Civic engineer, Town Council member, Conspiracy theorist, 23 Club member, Urban spelunker, Longview founder

                          Initiation Benefits
                          • (Initiated) Specialization: Occult- Longview, WA
                          •• (Seeker) Merit: Interdisciplinary Specialist Longview, WA
                          ••• (Enlightened) Merit: Cursed •• (You find out how the abyssal tainted Town is going to devour you, either symbolically or literally)
                          •••• (Inner Circle) Merit: Mystery Cult Influence ••• (The Scarlet Brides of Adams) (MtA 2nd Ed Pg 103)
                          ••••• (Town Fathers) Special Ability: Bound to the Town (Longview, WA) (Bane: Cowlitz Tribal Crest)

                          Bound to the Town
                          This ability bars a character from ever leaving whatever Abyssal tainted small Town they reside, and makes some part of that town a deadly bane to them. While the price is dire, the exchange is not without its benefits. Anyone tied to the Town can never truly die. They gain a Ban against ever leaving the Town (which still allows otherworldly excursions that still count as within the Town's borders), a Bane appropriate to the history of the Town, but also the Immortal Dread Power which causes any Sleeper to experience Quiescence if they notice that affect. (Believing they didn't really see the person alive again, or the immortal didn't really die in the first place, however they have to justify either of those beliefs to themselves).

                          Daughters of the Wild Rose (The Scarlet Brides of Adams)
                          Thomas Adams was a hundred years into his Requiem when he stumbled upon a group of mortal businessmen in the lumber industry that had themselves discovered the secrets needed to turn a town into a mystical net of significant power. Using the power of Vinculum, and his coven of blood-wives he quickly mastered the men and turned their exploits to his advantage. The requirements for the town were quite specific and when the businessmen found the parcels with the correct attributes and enough lumber to fund the operation, Thomas had them liquidate their assets for the move. At that point his mystery cult of wives were not mystically empowered past The Marriage but upon Thomas taking the mantle as the most supernaturally potent of the Town Fathers in the Fellowship of the Framer’s Fidelity, his most treasured wives found reward for their devotion.
                          Purpose: Initially this cult’s purpose would seem to be to master feminine sexuality as a surgical tool to reshape the world to please the members of the solely female cult, but after the revelation of the Marriage it becomes very clear that it is to act as the symbolic and literal polygamous wives of an Invictus Vampire named Thomas Adams, serving as his proxies within vampire society.

                          Relic: The "Wedding Bed" (A large enchanted smooth granite altar, in an antechamber beneath the bronze Robert A Long Bust in center of Longview Washington, in which Thomas Adams resides via unmarked grave).

                          Doctrine: The lie of modern feminism is that women have been weak and subjugated by men. The truth is mortal women have the ability to twist men's minds with ease few non-female supernatural beings can match, and it has been so since before the dawn of time. While use of this power by immature women leads to haughty exploitation and mere hedonism, wiser woman realize that to fully reach their potential they must partner with a male powerful enough to require more than their pretty petty affections. Thomas Adams is one such male, rare and majestic as an angel among mortal men. He's only seen by those he calls his brides and no sane woman would deny him, if they understood the depth of his resources, power, and love. He inspires greatness in all his wives, beyond what themselves could imagine or hope for, which given the ambition of many women is significant indeed.

                          Cultists: Law-firm lioness, Tennis court tigress, Wanton black-widow, Exquisite escort, Machiavellian madam, Coed Concubine

                          Initiation Benefits
                          • (The Courtship) Specialization: Politics (Soliciting Favors)
                          •• (The Engagement) Merit: Striking Looks •
                          ••• (The Marriage) Merit: Invictus Status •, and Oath of Fealty • (Thomas Adams)
                          •••• (The Honeymoon) Merit: Etiquette •, Source Sympathy •, and Empowered to Speak • (VtM 2nd Ed pg 120, 299 & 300) (Alternate for Scarlet Brides that are Vampires is Etiquette • and Oath of Serfdom •• VtM 2nd Ed pg 117)
                          ••••• (The Covenant) Special Ability: Blood of the Master

                          Blood of the Master
                          Treat their Vitae as if they are Thomas Adams for purposes of Blood Addition, Blood Bonding, Siring, and Ghouling (Ghouls always lose two Integrity when using this ability to Sire and the result is always a Revenant, and lose an Integrity for creating ghouls in addition to normal costs, though this additional cost does not apply for maintaining ghouls -note Ghouls remain unable to transubstantiate blood to Vitae-) Also having others acts as his Vitae proxies is what Thomas Adams gains at this level, as the founder of this Mystery Cult. Please note this is not an optional ability that can be turned off at will.
                          Last edited by Pale_Crusader; 02-22-2017, 02:32 PM.


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                          • #14
                            The Chameleon Society

                            The Chameleon Society is a cult whose goal is to infiltrate other secret cults, steal their knowledge, and manipulate those cults all in the quest to find the real truth by combining the knowledge, secrets, and wisdom of countless cults, conspiracies, and so on.

                            • Occult Specialty: Cults
                            •• One Dot in a MCI merit of your choice in a cult you don't have a merit for yet.
                            ••• Subltefudge •
                            •••• Three Dots in the MCI merit for a cult or conspiracy you don't have any MCI merits for yet.
                            ••••• Three Dots in the MCI merit for a cult or conspiracy you don't have any MCI merits for yet.

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                            • #15
                              Cross-post, but I'll just give the executive summary. If you want to read more, it is here.

                              Singers of the Nuclear Song

                              Purpose: To study the mysteries of the Blind Idiot God, the Daemon Sultan, Azathoth; the Elder God known to the Prometheans and Pandorans as The Principle.

                              Initiation Benefits
                              * To understand the esoteric knowledge that the Singers possess, one must continually refine their musical talents. The Initiate gains an Expression specialization in Music or a specific instrument if the Music specialization is already possessed.
                              ** Even the music of the uninitiated is worth time and study to the Singers, so they aggressively network with other talent artists. The networking confers one dot of the Allies (Musicians) merit.
                              *** The mind of the initiate expands, becoming more capable of understanding the motives that drive other beings, even if they are completely alien granting the Mind of a Madman merit.
                              **** The initiate further develops their awareness of the occult world around them. This may take the form of musical notes only they can hear, a certainty of what the Principle requires, or mad whispers from Azathoth himself granting the Omen Sensitivity merit.
                              ***** The initiate has glimpsed far more of the universe than most people could hope to withstand, and amazingly, their sanity is still mostly intact. This rarified experience grants two Occult specialties, one in The Principle and the other in Azathoth. Once per scene, the initiate may reroll a single dice pool that uses either of these specialties, but must the initiate must accept the new result, even if it worse than the original. If the initiate already possesses one or both specialties, the Storyteller may allow a different specialty to be taken, but the reroll ability still only applies to dice pools related to Azathoth or The Principle.

                              Alternate Supernatural benefits

                              Promethean -
                              *** Promethean initiates gain two dots of the Driven merit.
                              **** Promethean initiates gain three dots in the Vivid Dreams merit.

                              Mummy -
                              *** The Mummy's mind expands, but instead of becoming more sensitive to the minds of others, it becomes more sensitive to the universe itself. This leads the Mummy to discover a two-dot Relic.
                              **** Rather than opening the Mummy's mind further, the notes of Azathoth's Court wrap themselves around the Mummy, veiling her from mortal eyes. The Mummy gains three dots of the Enigma merit.

                              Werewolf -
                              *** The Werewolf grows more aware of the heralds of Azathoth. She gains two Occult specialities, one in Prometheans and the other in Void Spirits.
                              **** Local spirits come to the consensus that the Werewolf is knowledgeable in a way most can never be. A Lune approaches on the spirits' behalf, allowing the Werewolf to increase their Wisdom or Cunning Renown by one dot. The spirits that appear to observe the ritual, however, have strange forms and don't seem to correspond to any Earthly phenomenon.

                              Wolf-Blooded -
                              *** The Wolf-Born grows more aware of the heralds of Azathoth. She gains two Occult specialities, one in Prometheans and the other in Void Spirits.


                              CofD booklists:
                              Beast I Changeling | Geist l Hunter l Mummy | Promethean

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