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Cults for Everyone

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  • Cults for Everyone

    So, I've been working on this for a little while now, seeing as Mystery Cults and other organizations like them feature peripherally in most, if not all, of the CofD games, with a strong focus in a handful of them. (Looking at you, Mage and Mummy) The idea here is that this system can be used to model any sort of organization, depending on the Merit dots invested and/or the Foundation chosen for the particular Cult. There will, eventually, be a section on how to use it across different gamelines. Most of the material below is plucked and edited from original content in Mummy: The Cure, and TheKingsRaven's Leviathan: The Tempest. Some of the flavour text is taken from Werewolf: Blasphemies. The base mechanics designed by both teams are extremely elegant, and very fun to work with. Fortunately, as this project continues, a lot more of it will be my own original content. I think this pairs quite well with my universal Pact system.

    Criticism, comments, concerns, and contributions are all greatly appreciated.


    Generic Cults

    The word “cult” evokes a very specific image of, potentially unhinged, isolated people performing terrible acts for reasons incomprehensible to outsiders, and in the Chronicles of Darkness this is no different. You’re just as likely to run into a group of Jonestown-style fanatics as you are a group of cloaked individuals chanting unspeakable things to an eldritch abomination, but how common are cults, really? More common than you’d think. The isolated but visible groups who eventually go off the rails and end up on the news are a pretty small percentage of groups exhibiting cultic behavior. Companies, sects of mainstream religions, social clubs, fraternities, political movements, and more could all be considered cults in the right set of circumstances.

    The rules presented here are meant to be used across games in order to represent everything from street gangs to government agencies, and all the weird and wonderful supernatural examples in between. They can be a great vector for handling the power of abstract organizations, or be an important part of the story as the PCs establish religions, develop conspiracies, or set up public enterprises. Each and every Cult should be a unique part of the Chronicles of Darkness, whether it’s a troublesome Hunter cell and their allies or the mysterious servants of the God-Machine and the Deathless. Everything below is subject to Sanctity of Merits.

    Cult (Social Merit) [o - ooooo +]
    Effect: Dots in Cult may be distributed amongst one of four sub-Merits; Reach, Grasp, Benefits, and Lore. Reach represents the pull the Cult has in the regular world, their ability to navigate political and legal situations. Grasp represents the ability of the Cult to operate outside the law and keep it quiet. Benefits represent intrinsic features of the Cult that grant boons to its members. Lore is their pull in the supernatural world- anything from summoning rituals to wards, abjurations, and rituals, Lore covers it. All Cults also intrinsically have a Foundation, and may have other Merits that build off of it.

    Additionally, the Cult Leader may use their dots in Cult to substitute for other Social Merits, such as Allies, Alternate Identity, Contacts, Resources, Retainers, or Staff. The substituted dots are equal to the higher of Reach or Grasp minus one. Further systems for Cults are described in greater detail below.

    Drawbacks: Cults require maintenance, they can draw attention, and the Cult is loyal to the Cult, not necessarily to you personally. Leaning too heavily on a Cult means that if and/or when it collapses, you could be left high and dry. More importantly, in order to substitute dots in Cult for other Social Merits, you will need to do something on behalf of the Cult. Exactly what this act entails is in the hands of the Storyteller, but it usually fairly equal in terms of significance. Also, once per Story you must pursue a Long-Term Aspiration related to your Cult.Building Your Cult

    Step 0- Choose a Foundation: These are the ways your Cult is structured, and should guide the way they act and what they believe from then on. A Foundation is more than a nifty mechanical benefit; it is a statement of how your Cult goes about realizing its goals.

    Conspiracy: The name of the game is deniability. Passwords, dead drops, secret societies, backroom deals, masks, the whole long and short of it. If one element is compromised, the leaders can cut their loses and run, sacrificing their subordinates for the benefit of the Conspiracy as a whole. They are built, primarily, to hide but can defend themselves when they must, albeit rather slowly. People don’t usually join a Conspiracy for meaning, but for their own- usually selfish -motivations. So long as the Conspiracy helps them out, they’re content to provide cash, chores, and camouflage. The low-level dupes have no idea who they’re working for, and many prefer it that way, even if others have a few theories. Conspiracies start with +2 Grasp, and in the case of a Dramatic Failure may sacrifice a dot of Reach, Grasp, or a Merit like Conspirators to ignore a debilitating Condition.
    • Complications: However, when a Conspiracy acts without direct orders, things can go south quickly as the layers of secrecy confuse different elements of the group. Whenever you first take an unrolled Reach or Grasp action in a Chapter, roll the dots in that trait. Apply suitable penalties or bonuses if the action would normally be a Breaking Point. On a Failure or Exceptional Success, gain the Wronged or Admirer Condition. On a Dramatic Failure, lose a point of Reach and Grasp and gain the Rogue Cult Condition, as part of your organization breaks off with the intention of fighting its parent Conspiracy.
    Elite Club: The beautiful people, the ecstatics, the hedonists. The Elite Club is sexy, alluring, and famous, the crème-de-la-crème of society. They’re constantly advertising, constantly looking for bigger, better, more. They gain a Conspirator Merit per dot of Reach that they may change the placement of once per Chapter if another organization they come across is somehow better than the one the Conspirator would be leaving. They also gain the Glamorous Benefit for free.
    • Complications: There comes a cost with being in the spotlight- every move is being watched. Because the Cult is spreading its influence in places of wealth and power, Grasp Failures count as Dramatic Failures.
    Enterprise: It’s open to newcomers, pays taxes, has accountants on staff, and uses a logo on their letterhead. It might be an actual profit-generating corporation (though likely not publically traded), an NGO, or even just a social group with a charter and tax documents. It plays nicely with the government. People join an Enterprise for the paycheck or the cause- it’s the difference between joining a church and joining Doctors Without Borders. Higher-ups in the Enterprise generally know what’s going on, but their business savvy allows them to translate their mission into something less… fantastic for their employees. All Enterprises begin with +2 Reach, and you gain a free dot of Staff per dot of Reach. They’re great with money and walk the straight and narrow, but your average Enterprise isn’t going to be comfortable cracking heads without recruiting some very special employees.
    • Complications: Business means a paper trail somewhere. Any time you would gain a Condition representing either substantial success or horrific failure due to the Cult’s actions, gain an instance of the Record Condition as well.
    Gang: A gang may not seem like a cult at first, until one examines the minutiae and finds the Devil in the details. Gangs wear certain clothes and colors to identify themselves, and also use unique slang language and hand-signs to communicate. Once onboard, it’s also next to impossible to leave a gang. It’s blood in, blood out. Kill someone to get in, die to get out. A small Gang is little more than a group of street criminals, while a large one is more akin to a private army or a militia than anything else. Gangs gain the Obedient and Wrathful Benefits for free and never lose Reach or Grasp from cultists dying in combat.
    • Complications: Violence seeps into everything a Gang does, and they will often resort to it when playing nice doesn’t work out for them. All Reach Failures become Dramatic Failures.
    Personality: When a group of humans blindly follows the charismatic authority of an individual (generally still living) instead of a god or goddess, a cult of personality is born. These cults are not supernatural, at least not on the surface. A cult of personality can involve the worship of anyone from a celebrity to a politician; the individual at the center of the craze is often positioned as a hero, savior or liberator. He may place himself upon the pedestal, or others may put him there without his consent. At their most harmless, they’re celebrity followings, and at their most dangerous the worshippers of a dictator’s ideology, but the thing that unites them is loyalty to the individual at their core. When the Cult loses dots of Reach, Grasp, or associated Merits for any reason, the Cult Leader may roll Presence + Expression as an Extended Action, regaining a dot of the Merit for every five successes up to their former maximum. Such an Extended Action may also be justification for purchasing additional dots in Cult.
    • Complications: The Cult is loyal to their leader personally, and that’s the primary thing keeping them together. Strike down the shepherd and the sheep scatter, cut the head off the snake and the body just writhes in death throes. Should the Cult Leader ever be killed, the Cult immediately loses a number of points of Reach and Grasp (whichever is higher first) equal to their Presence.
    Tribal: The oldest model of Cult by far, the Tribal Cult is one based on worship, appeasement, or family, and the lines between these categories are extremely thin. The founder sets forth a pattern for behavior, explains how his strictures provide for a better life, and doles out rewards and punishments. Tribal cultists are in it for identity, for answers about right and wrong, and if they don’t like the answers, it’s not easy to walk away and say, “Hey, no big deal.” A Tribal Cult starts with a dot of Reach and Grasp, and you may gain a dot of Reach or Grasp for a Chapter at the cost of a negative Condition, or spend a point of Reach or Grasp to shed a negative Condition. Dots reset to normal at the next session. Basically, you can ignore a problem knowing it will sort itself out eventually, or you can make unreasonable demands knowing it will just cause a little bit of internal strife.
    • Complications: The politics in such communities are brutal. Nothing is more intimate than family, faith, or fear and the Cult will respond viscerally either to triumph or failure- either way it dangerously disrupts their groupthink. Take an additional negative Condition on a Dramatic Failure or Exceptional Success as someone in your Cult takes advantage of the high tides of emotions to make a move. Additionally, so long as you hold that negative Condition, all Reach and Grasp Failures are upgraded to Dramatic Failures.
    Unorganized: Decentralized and without a solid leadership, such Cults can easily avoid official scrutiny by virtue of their chaotic nature. You gain the Storied Benefit for free and may reorganize your dots in Reach and Grasp as you see fit once per session. Additionally, you need only minimal justification to purchase new dots in Cult or use dots in Cult to substitute other Social Merits- the Cult kind of does its own thing and handles its own recruiting.
    • Complications: Without middle management, there’s no one to handle the Cult’s behaviour in any way. The first time you use your Cult in a session, gain the Admirer or Wronged Condition. When an Exceptional Success or Dramatic Failure occurs, the Storyteller may rearrange dots of Reach and Grasp as the cultists redefine themselves in light of triumph or defeat.
    Step 1- Establish Purpose, Relic, and Doctrine: Cults don’t appear out of thin air, they have a reason for existing, something that anchors their faith, and traditions and rules they hold to and believe in. A Cult possesses a Purpose, something it was founded to accomplish. They also possess a Relic, something that acts as a symbol of their faith. This could be a supernatural artifact, something of their founder, or even something of an abstract ideal that they strive towards. Doctrine is the part that will really bring the Cult to life, as it establishes their rules, traditions, and more complex beliefs. These are things like the holy days a religion observes, the corporate policies of enterprises, and the signatures of gangs. Take the time to think through what your Cult believes, fleshing it out and bringing it to life much like you would an individual character.

    My Homebrew Hub

  • #2
    This is very cool, I definitely want to use this as both a player and storyteller. But how would you say this interact with the Mysteries Cult Initiative Merit?


    • #3
      Also, what about the Cult having a Supernatural Patron (Spirit, Mummy, etc..) which may offer boons to its followers?


      • #4
        The Cult having a Supernatural Patron and/or being a Mystery Cult is actually handled (partially) by Lore and Benefits... which conveniently are the next thing I'm posting right here.

        Going into details on specific patrons, how they interact with Cults, and how they can participate in different gamelines, are for the Player's/Storyteller's/Crossover Section, which I'm affectionately calling "Pyramid Play" since that seems to be the preferred term in the Mummy Forums for a hypothetical bluebook on Cults.


        Step 2- Spend Merit Dots: The core factors of a Cult are Reach, Grasp, Benefits, and Lore. Of those traits, only Benefits are generally fixed- demonstrating something about the nature of the Cult that is incorporated into the mindset of its members. With Storyteller approval, Benefits may be added to the Cult after its foundation and as it slowly expands its Reach and Grasp. Meanwhile, Lore represents a Cult’s supernatural knowledge and can be used to represent rituals that the Cult can perform on its own. Other Merits build off of Cult, and are described below along with their core factors. The tables below describe acts that can be undertaken automatically with certain levels of Reach and Grasp. See the sidebar When Cults Roll for more information.
        Reach Example Actions
        1 Not a heck of a lot. The cultists are mostly laypeople without much understanding of politics or the legal system, or they just aren’t invested enough in the cult to care to apply themselves.
        2 Minor research (going to a library or using Google); the services of a chauffeur, secretary, translator, or guide. Speak to people on your behalf, distribute flyers, organize minor protests.
        3 Fill out complicated forms, like tax returns or loan applications. Provide moderately skilled services, gain access to cultural events and other minor official functions, upgrade transportation and accommodation without a fuss.
        4 Maintain modest institutional sources of income, enough to leverage private transportation or the use of a luxury apartment or hotel room for a few weeks. Set up a conference or other notable public event. Provide competent legal defense, grant access to minor public persons (City councilors, local news anchors, municipal police chiefs, customs officers, etc.)
        5 Maintain a successful business, lobby the police to open an investigation or lean on politicians to push through bills that support your interests. Maintain control of your public image, barring blunders.

        Grasp Example Actions
        1 Nothing. You’ll have to roll for even the most minor crimes, like shoplifting.
        2 Dismiss misdemeanors out of court; commit basic crimes like theft against unsecure targets.
        3 Squash investigation into moderate felonies, like breaking and entering. Abduct or cover up the death of someone ‘no one will miss’ (drifters, homeless, etc.)
        4 Squash the investigation into serious felonies, like murder or arson. Successfully smuggle drugs, weapons, or ancient artifacts across borders. Get good false papers; cover up the death of an average citizen or a lowlife supernatural.
        5 Frame someone for a serious crime, like murder. Roadblock a lesser organization, either by adding red tape to the situation or by quietly alerting the authorities to their illegal activities.

        Using Lore: This Merit represents a lot of different things that ultimately amount to knowledge of the supernatural in the Chronicles of Darkness. Dots in Lore can be substituted once per session following the rules for Reach and Grasp in order to stand in for Supernatural Merits, Rites, Rituals, Miracles, Ceremonies, and other such things as is appropriate for the nature of the Cult in question. Eye for the Strange, Encyclopedic Knowledge (Occult), Library (Occult), Area of Expertise (Occult), and Interdisciplinary Expertise (Occult) are all appropriate as well. Actually using Lore is a little more difficult, and entails rolling either Reach or Grasp (depending on the nature of the action) + Lore as an Extended Action. This can be used to perform Summoning, Exorcism, Warding, and Abjuration as normal.
        Lore Example Actions
        1 The cult is only scratching the surface of the supernatural world. They know of blatant fakes, debunked stories, and more promising tales.
        2 They know a great deal about myth, folklore, and urban legends, and have enough experience to start picking out slivers of truth. They have a solid understanding of major stories and can identify and disregard many false claims. They might have contacts or allies amongst more experienced occultists or even supernatural communities, but they don’t share much.
        3 They’ve been working with weird things for a while, and are pretty good at sifting actual facts and useful information from stories. They also notice common patterns across myth and legend. Their occult contacts are more open and reliable, and the members of the cult are liable to have minor powers themselves.
        4 Your cult is very tuned in to the strange, knowing numerous pieces of useful and obscure information. They may well have pieces of the truth about many supernatural creatures, and are very good at putting those pieces together. The cult is quite liable to have some more serious power, like Psychokinesis, Omen Sense, Medium, or Aura Reading at their disposal.
        5 With this much Lore stored up, the cult is unfailingly able to identify occult creatures and phenomena. Even when running into something new, their instincts are impeccable. Some of the cultists are possessed of serious power, and have begun to maybe develop Style Merits based off of their talents. The cult may have an Ephemeral Being as a Retainer.

        Benefits: Becoming part of a cult is accepting a totally different mindset, with all of the attendant boons and drawbacks of such a drastic change. The change is, in some Cults, more dramatic than in others. You may buy different Benefits for one dot each at the time of the Cult’s founding, or afterwards as it expands with Storyteller approval. Alternatively, you may spend five Merit dots immediately upon founding the Cult to establish a Mystery Cult Initiation Merit for the Cult.
        • Blasé: The Cultists don’t suffer Breaking Points from most supernatural phenomena. Supernal magic doesn’t rip at their soul, Sybaris doesn’t set its teeth into them, and general weirdness no longer fazes them. It’s up to you and the Storyteller to explain why.
        • Glamorous: Something about the Cult is ostensibly sexy. So long as Cult members are within one another’s presence, they gain the Barfly Merit. They may also gain the Cult’s Reach as a bonus to Social Actions.
        • Intellectual: Academics, scholars, and researchers are all drawn to the Cult. So long as Cult members are researching or applying their knowledge together, they gain the 9-again quality to all of their Mental Skills.
        • Obedient: Cultists perform acts that would normally be Breaking Points as a matter of course and without question. Add the Cult’s dots in Grasp as a bonus to Breaking Point rolls made in service to the Cult.
        • Paranoid: The Cult expects schisms, rogue elements, and compartmentalized cells. Should you gain the Rogue Cult Condition, the Cult Leader may roll Intelligence + Politics as an Extended Action to restore Merit dots lost to the Condition as you coax rogue elements back into the fold by navigating layers of (in)security and doublespeak. Restoring a Merit dot requires five successes.
        • Ritualistic: So long as Cult members use imagery, symbols, and paraphernalia suitable for their Cult, they gain a bonus to the use of Supernatural Merits, powers, or researching Ephemeral Beings equal to the Cult’s Lore.
        • Storied: Good news! The Cult is a laughingstock. Once per Chapter you may benefit from the Cult’s bad reputation to encourage people to avoid looking further into your business, mechanically adding half of your dots in Reach (rounded down) to your Grasp. Dots in Reach and Grasp reset next Chapter.
        • Wrathful: Your Cult is militaristic and spoiling for a fight. When summoning your minions to battle, double your Grasp to calculate how many combatants show up to fight.

        My Homebrew Hub


        • #5
          Have you thought about looking at the Primacy/Influence system from VTR: Damnaton City book. It has a fair bit about how to run an organisation.

          Here a link to it.

          Last edited by Blakemikizuki; 04-03-2016, 09:49 PM.


          • #6
            Haven't had the pleasure of using (or having a copy of) Damnation City just yet, but I imagine it will be extremely useful. Thanks.

            My Homebrew Hub


            • #7
              Originally posted by Arcanist View Post
              Haven't had the pleasure of using (or having a copy of) Damnation City just yet, but I imagine it will be extremely useful. Thanks.
              Your quite welcome.
              I'm greatly enjoying the work you have put in so far, it definitely seems very useful. The influence system in my opinion is a great way to exercise your power over people and to highlight important members of your "Cult". So I hope it will be as helpful as I think it will be.


              • #8
                It's worth pointing out that most of what's here is from Mummy or Leviathan already. Cults of Personality and Gangs as Foundations are something I came up with totally on my own. From what I'm reading about the Primacy System, a lot of it seems to be handled quite smoothly by Reach/Grasp and the additional Merits tied to Cult as it is, but I'll see if there's some editing I can do. I am particularly intrigued by the idea of fleshing out Agents.


                Other Merits: The Cult is merely the core of the organization- much more can be built atop it. Converts, double agents, unwitting patsies, and other such conspirators can be acquired; the Cult may expand into the halls of power, or begin moving in public circles. They can control their public image, arm themselves, set up stockpiles and temples, or even create a compound where they may be separated from the outside world. Bear in mind that these are built off of the Cult, and not your character. Losing the Cult means losing access to these Merits.

                Limitations: Unless otherwise noted, none of the Merits below may take Reach or Grasp above five dots.

                Arsenal (o - ooooo)
                Prerequisite: Safe Place 1+
                Effect: You personally, or your Cult, has acquired a stockpile of (probably illegal) weaponry. Once per Chapter you may access the Arsenal for a single weapon with a Damage Rating equal to the dots in the Merit, two equal to dots in Merit -1, and an effectively unlimited amount of dots in Merit -2. This is the Merit you want if you expect Cultists to join a fight with something a little more significant than their fists or a few baseball bats.
                Drawback: You have a stockpile of illegal weaponry. If and/or when you gain the Flagged or Hunted Condition, the Storyteller has significant incentive to make your life much, much more complicated.

                Conspirators (oo): You’ve slipped an agent inside an enemy organization, attracted a convert, or simply have someone in your pocket. When taking Reach or Grasp actions against the specific organization this Merit is keyed to, consider both traits a dot higher. Once per Chapter, should the organization the Conspirator is embedded in take action against you, your Conspirator may act as a 2 dot Ally for the purposes of blocking enemy action. Multiple Conspirators may be embedded in a single organization.
                Drawback: Conspirators can be uncovered, traitors exiled, and bribed officials fired. Whenever you suffer a Dramatic Failure against the organization your Conspirator is attached to, or the enemy organization achieves an Exceptional Success, you lose this Merit and gain the Flagged Condition. If you make use of the Conspirator to block enemy action, roll your dots in Conspirators against the enemy organization’s Grasp. If you succeed, you may keep the Conspirator, but if you fail you lose the Conspirator. If you have multiple Conspirators in one organization, roll the total dots dedicated, but if you fail only one Conspirator is exposed.

                Dissemination (o - ooooo)
                Prerequisite: Cannot have Fame, Cult at equal or greater value
                Effect: Your Cult has gotten into the habit of spreading false clues about their actions. False evidence appears in their wake, leads hit dead ends, and they can appear to be somewhere they’re not. The following benefits may be used once per dot in this Merit per Story:
                • If the Cult is being investigated or manipulated as part of an Extended Action they may remove one potential roll from the pool.
                • They may Taint an existing Clue, including the Record Condition
                • When the Investigation seeks to Uncover the Truth, they may negate a single Clue, causing a complication.
                • Stonewall another Cult’s Social Maneuvering, adding a Door.
                These action points may be spent one at a time, or all at once, so if an Investigation has come close to Uncovering the Cult’s planned human sacrifice on a certain auspicious night, or even something as simple as black market deals, they may spend all five points at once, taking the Investigation from complete to grasping at straws in an instant as they negate all the Clues and in doing so make further action against the Cult risky via the ensuing complications.

                Home Turf (o - ooo)
                Prerequisite: Reach 3+ or Grasp 3+
                Effect: The Cult has an area to call its own, whether through legal or illegal means, where it becomes significantly harder to act against them. On their Home Turf, all members of the Cult gain a +3 bonus to their actions, and the Cult has dots in this Merit to distribute between Reach and Grasp to affect the Home Turf. This can take them above five dots in either trait (See Reach [Advanced] and Grasp [Advanced] below). At one dot the Home Turf is a place where only two or three people can live comfortably, like a house. At two dots, the Home Turf may comfortably house five to six people, something like a small business, a temple, or a large house. At three dots, the Home Turf is a vast private property, a small town, or even a decent-sized neighbourhood. Two members of the Cult might spend all day there and never see each other.
                Drawback: Everyone knows something about the Cult, seeing as how it has command over a decent area. Penalize Reach and Grasp (starting with the higher) by the dots in this Merit outside of the Home Turf. Every member of the Cult gains Notoriety as a Persistent Condition.

                Isolated (o)
                Prerequisite: Home Turf 1+
                Effect: Separated from regular civilization, the Cult’s territory is a strange place where normal laws don’t apply. Unable to interact with regular people all that much, the Cult is unconcerned with police or government action. Home Turf with this Merit may be on an island, in a rural area, in the middle of nowhere, or otherwise separate from the general society of their native country. Subtract dots in Home Turf from the Reach and Grasp (starting with the higher) of opposing organizations attempting to act on your territory.
                Drawback: Isolation from society means being unable to properly function within it. After apply the drawbacks of Home Turf, halve the remaining Reach and Grasp of the Cult (rounded up) outside their territory.

                Legitimacy (oo)
                Prerequisite: Cult 3+
                Effect: The Cult has gone public- they are now officially registered as a religion/business/charity/political party/whatever. This grants them an extra two dots of Reach for the purposes of things like applying for loans, days off, shutting down investigations by crying “discrimination” and starting investigations into crimes committed against the Cult. If this would take Reach over five dots, the police automatically begin investigating crimes against the Cult; they’re an accepted and well-connected part of the community now.
                Drawbacks: The Cult is now a matter of public record. They gain a Record Condition that is permanent- so long as they possess this Merit, the Condition stands, though the Condition will still generate Beats for the Cult. Additionally, most people just need to succeed an Intelligence + Politics (or Streetwise, or Occult, as appropriate) roll in order to know of the Cult’s existence.

                Leverage (o)
                Effect: You have dirt on someone and it makes manipulating the organization they belong to so much easier. When using Social Maneuvering against another Cult (see When Cults Roll below) you may apply Leverage on your contact in the Cult, or the Cult as a whole, to improve Impressions by a step.
                Drawback: Kicked dogs bite back. Sometimes, you can overstep the tentative hold Leverage gives you. Whenever you resort to Hard Leverage or Forcing Doors against the Cult you have Leverage on, gain the Flagged Condition. They’ve raised a stink about blackmail, bribery, or some such thing because the opposing Cult realizes you’re a threat more than a nuisance.

                Militant (o - ooo)
                Prerequisite: Grasp 3+ or Wrathful Benefit, Arsenal at dot rating +2
                Effect: You have managed to turn the thugs in your Cult from more than just over-eager brawlers, and instead have developed them into a serious fighting force. When purchasing this Merit, consider Fighting Styles. For each dot in this Merit, apply a single dot of a Fighting Style Merit that is known to every combatant in your Cult. When you summon the Cultists to battle, each fighting minion will know that Fighting Style.
                Drawback: Whenever you take an unrolled Grasp action, or take a general Success or Failure on a rolled Grasp action, gain the Flagged Condition. On an Exceptional Success or a Dramatic Failure, gain the Hunted Condition. Trained militants tend to gather a lot of attention from government agencies.

                Strong Foundation (ooooo)
                Effect: Your Cult has, effectively, two Foundations. You gain all the associated benefits that come with it, and it should significantly affect the character and actions of the Cult. An Elite Club/Enterprise is a luxury brand that caters only to the rich and powerful. A Tribal Gang is something like a mob family, a group of ancient guardians, or armed religious fanatics. This Merit may only be purchased twice (for a total of three Foundations), and may be purchased after the Cult is initially generated only with Storyteller approval. Takes a pretty dramatic event to cause a Cult to completely accept a totally different mindset into their ideology.
                Drawback: You get all the associated complications of the added Foundation as well.

                Advanced Cults

                Compartmentalized (ooo)
                Prerequisite: Grasp 5
                Effect: The parts of your Cult that fight your battles are secretive and separated from the general membership of the Cult. They don’t really speak openly of their exploits. Mechanically, you don’t lose dots of Reach or Grasp for Cultists dying.
                Drawbacks: Anyone who investigates the Cult is likely to find records of the casualties you’ve been keeping from the general membership. Make a note on the character sheet every time one of the cultists you call to battle dies. If their violent deaths ever come to light, you lose a number of points of Reach or Grasp (whichever is higher first) equal to the number of the dead.

                Splinter Organization (ooooo)
                Prerequisite: Advanced Reach or Advanced Grasp 1+, Strong Foundation
                Effect: Sometimes, running a massive Cult can be a serious drain on your resources, despite the benefits that come with it. Sometimes, a Cult simply operates better under smaller parameters. In either case, you can choose to cut an element of your Cult loose and turn it into an allied organization that is free to act on its own. This Splinter Organization gains the Foundation from Strong Foundation (which refunds you the Merit dots under Sanctity of Merits) and five Merit dots (from this Merit) to distribute amongst Reach, Grasp, Benefits, Lore, and associated Merits. If your new Reach and/or Grasp is too low to support Advanced Reach and/or Grasp with the loss of Strong Foundation, refund the dots in that Merit to buy additional dots of its prerequisite. It is generally well-advised to use the Merit dots from refunding Strong Foundation to establish Leverage and Conspirators in the Splinter Organization in order to keep tabs on it.
                Drawback: You cut a major element of your original Cult loose. Sure, it’s somewhat predisposed to like you, and can act autonomously in your interests, but it’s also free to do its own thing, can turn against you, and if they screw up it will eventually lead back to you. More importantly, the Splinter Organization will likely come to you for help in a crisis, heaping trouble on your head. You gain the Rogue Cult Condition, which persists for as long as the Splinter Organization exists. At Storyteller discretion, any negative Conditions relating to attention from opposing organizations that apply to the Splinter Organization also apply to the original Cult.

                Reach (Advanced) [o - ooooo]
                Prerequisite: Reach 5
                Effect: This permits a Cult to extend its power beyond merely municipal or regional, and start taking national or even global importance. Such Cults have transcended the limitations of smaller groups, and become real movers-and-shakers. Most Hunter Compacts and all Hunter Conspiracies are in this category.
                Drawback: A Cult this powerful in official spheres is really, really noticeable. For every dot of Advanced Reach, subtract an effective point of Grasp. These Cults have just gotten so big that it’s difficult to even attempt to hide their actions in the shadows, there’s just way too many people involved to effectively cover everything up.
                Reach Example Actions
                6 Completely control your public image, barring a screw-up. Establish a franchise. Pull of dirty legal tricks against competitors and get away with it. Indefinitely tie up lawsuits. Make the police do your bidding, so long as it’s legal. Govern a small town, so long as there isn’t a crisis and you aren’t unreasonable.
                7 Face time with Senators and millionaires, Scientology level shenanigans. Buy out a competitor legally and silence critics. Draft and pass legislation. Fund a political campaign solo. Run several smaller shell organizations. A religion with theological implications.
                8 Govern at a state/provincial level. (Could include smaller countries) Access to federal officials. Lobby the federal government directly. Run a successful propaganda campaign.
                9 Access to world-class movers and shakers. Actually run a developed country. Spread your brand, religion, or ideology across multiple continents.
                10 Storyteller purview

                Grasp (Advanced) [o - ooooo]
                Prerequisite: Grasp 5
                Effect: The permits a Cult to extend its power beyond warning off the police and burying a few bodies. A Cult this powerful starts commanding the police, raising insurrections, and producing mass graves. Things like armies are in this category.
                Drawback: A Cult this powerful in the shadows tends to have… limited resources in legitimate business. Besides dedicating their resources to more unsavory activities, their fearsome reputation tends to frighten off any potential investors. For every dot of Advanced Grasp subtract an effective point of Reach.
                Grasp Example Actions
                6 Cover up a newsworthy event like a gunfight or a burning building. Use blackmail to force a lesser organization to do your bidding.
                7 Get away with the occasional brazen criminal act in broad daylight and squash the official response. Win an outright war against a smaller organization like a criminal syndicate or a police force.
                8 Hold out against a small army or a Hunter Conspiracy, orchestrate a rebellion, successfully run widespread guerilla warfare operations. Handle a pitched battle.
                9 Take over wide swathes of a less developed country. Face a Rank 6 Ephemeral Being in direct combat.
                10 Storyteller purview.
                Militarized (o-ooo)
                Prerequisite: Militant at equal or higher value
                Effect: Triple the dots of Fighting Styles that Militant grants to combat Cultists.
                Drawback: Gain the Record Condition in addition to Flagged, and gain the Wronged Condition in addition to Hunted. You’re being pursued by another organization, sure, but you’ve also managed to piss off someone in particular- someone with the resources to make your life difficult.

                My Homebrew Hub


                • #9
                  Love the fact that the Greater benefit of the Cult requires advanced merits to have access to it.along with the fact you need a lot of the merits to really have a powerful cult.
                  but you may want to down play some of the things your cult can do. Such as take on a Literal God and being more like shadow government.

                  Also why does the militarized have such a immediate and harsh drawback.
                  Never mind I got the gist of when the drawback of militarized happens.
                  Last edited by Blakemikizuki; 04-03-2016, 11:07 PM.


                  • #10
                    Generally, the idea of Advanced Reach is that you're probably public now. No more hiding, unless you've invested in Home Turf. I'm rather partial to the shadow government bit, if only because your opponents will be in similar circles. A federal government is best modeled by several nested Cults working together, and thus far beyond the power of any single Cult. I doubt people will be taking over the world, but they could run a successful corporation or start a new major religion.

                    Also, my phrasing on Militarized is just crappy phrasing. The idea is that it builds directly on Militant's Drawback, and functions with the same mechanic. So you don't just arbitrarily gain extra negative Conditions; Record is tagged to a Grasp success/failure, and Wronged to Dramatic Failure or Exceptional Success. I'll edit it to be more clear.

                    What do you think is the best Merit of the set?

                    My Homebrew Hub


                    • #11
                      Honestly I can't say for sure which is my favorite of the merits, they build off each other quite well.
                      But of all of the I'm partial to militants/militarized merits, if only because I love the idea of someone calling up a military hit squad.

                      If I might recommend to change militarized by instead of triple the fighting dots, have the dots add to the militant dots and let cultist arrive with better gear. Such as riot suits and assault rifles, being snipers from afar, or even come in from an attack helicopter (the example they have for deceived military cultist).

                      Maybe have the dots from militarized be free floating fighting merit dots, to show not only your guys are uniformly trained but you have specialty on call as well.


                      • #12
                        Although thinking about it "Isolated" might have a to harsh of a penalty. I mean at Best the Cults Reach or Grasp outside of their hometurf will be 3-4.
                        But its really good on the defense and thats something I always approve of.


                        • #13
                          This is some really great stuff and something I've wanted for a long time. I really hope that I'll be able to use it someday.


                          • #14
                            It's flattering to see Leviathan stuff inspiring other homebrew

                            “There are no rules. Only Principles and natural laws.” - Promethius
                            My Homebrew no longer fits in a signature, you can find an index of it here.
                            Full length fan-books I contributed too: Princess: the Hopeful, Leviathan: the Tempest, Dream Catchers


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by The Kings Raven View Post
                              It's flattering to see Leviathan stuff inspiring other homebrew
                              It pretty cool right. Also sense you came up with the "Improved" version of Reach and Grasp, what would you think an "Advanced Lore" be like?