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Cult For Everyone (Again): Open Invite

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  • Cult For Everyone (Again): Open Invite

    So, in light of the news that Deviant is getting rules on how to craft different organizations to oppose its protagonists, generally the ones that created them in the first place, I've decided to resurrect a project of mine that hit a dead end, as presented here:

    A lot of the inspiration comes from Mummy: The Curse, Werewolf: Blasphemies, The Pack, Mage: The Awakening Second Edition, and Leviathan: The Tempest by The Kings Raven. The rules presented here aren't just intended to represent stereotypical Cults, but also any sort of organization you'd want to run in a CofD game. Anything that wasn't originally my idea is credited to the original author to the best of my knowledge- if anyone notices otherwise, feel free to point it out in the thread and I'd be more than happy to correct it.

    As it stands, all of this content is only being handled and written by me, and that's no way to create good content; you need input from other writers, other fans, and I know that the idea of making a bluebook fanbook about Cults has been bandied about several users on the forum. So, to that end, I'm going to be putting everything I have here on the forums- use it if you'd like, change it if you want, but the best thing I can hope for is criticism, commentary, and further discussion with the community at large. I think this could be something great, but I don't think I'm the person to take it all the way by themselves.

    Tell me what you like, what you dislike, and what you'd want to see from Cults ran either by antagonists or by players. I could use all the help I can get.



    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 three sub-Merits; Reach, Grasp, and Benefits. 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. 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 (specifically Reach and Grasp) to substitute for other Social Merits, such as Allies, Contacts, Resources, Retainers, Safe Place, Library, or Staff. The exact composition of these ‘ghost’ Merits that represent the Cult’s influence but must be within reason, given the Cult’s Foundation and their specific theology.

    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, just like benefitting from any other Social Merit, 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. You also gain a Long-Term Aspiration related to the activities of the Cult.

    When Cults Roll: Normally, all the actions of a Cult can be represented by the ‘ghost’ Merits standing in for the Cult’s social and political influence, in which case you roll them as per the Merit being represented. However, you can also use Reach and Grasp directly, if using a more simplified method based off of Service Availability. Reach is a rough measure of how widespread and efficient cultists are. It’s used to do legal things to ease the Cult’s passage through the world. How ruthless are the cultists? Answering “very” indicates they have high Grasp. It’s not good for getting access to the benefits of ordered society. In fact, Grasp often isn’t “good” at all. Sometimes, however, the Cult needs something that is not available within the rules, so they take the rules and they break them instead.

    Roll Results
    • Dramatic Failure: Impose the Rogue Cult, Civil War, or Hunted Condition.
    • Failure: Impose the Watched or Contender Condition. Lose a dot of Reach or Grasp, which is subject to Sanctity of Merits.
    • Success: You accomplish whatever task you set out to do, but pushing your Cult to the limit causes some of your followers to fall away. You lose a dot of Reach or Grasp, which is subject to Sanctity of Merits.
    • Exceptional Success: In addition to being successful, you are able to maintain your Cult without straining it, and gain the Inspired or Steadfast Condition.
    Social Maneuvering with Cults: This isn’t so much trying to get someone to do what you want as it is performing acts of diplomacy. Declare a Goal and decide Initial Impression as normal. A Cult possesses Doors equal to the lower of their Reach or Grasp. If the action would be considered a Breaking Point, add two Doors. Use the Cult’s Aspirations as necessary- Virtue and Vice should be based off of Touchstones and Complications, respectively. Going against or appealing to these traits adds and removes Doors normally. When rolling, use Reach or Grasp depending on what’s appropriate. Factor in the benefits of the Leverage and Conspirator Merits. (Note: A Cult can also engage in Social Maneuvering with a single character, but that generally entails the Cult Leader or a Conspirator approaching them and rolling normally. Benefits from Leverage and multiple Conspirators in one organization apply normally.)

    Holy Wars: Cults can always just go to war directly, miniature crusades in back alleys, bombs in mailboxes and Molotovs through storefronts and safe-house windows. In such a case, roll Grasp vs. Grasp as an Instant Action, as combat is always a fickle and unpredictable situation. Much like Down and Dirty Combat, state an Intent going in- that you want to destroy weapons stockpiles, for example, or assassinate a particular Conspirator. If successful, the result depends on your dots of Grasp. If you have lower Grasp than your opponent, nothing serious happens, and the reprisal is likely to be swift. If you have higher Grasp, then you destroy a Merit dot per dot of Grasp that exceeds that of your opponent.

    Such an action could outright destroy Reach and Grasp through killing Cult members, destroy Lore by killing the right people, defacing altars, burning books, destroy Benefits by shaking the reputation and mindset of the enemy Cult (Mystery Cult Initiation is immune to this), and stranger things besides. An assault upon a powerful gang could lead to a loss of Home Turf as people recognize they don’t totally control the streets. Conspirators die, Leverage is lost, and Legitimacy could collapse under a ‘False Flag’ operation or a frame up to discredit the enemy Cult. When Cults go to war, nothing is truly holy.

    Investigating Cults: The number of Clues you need to Uncover the Truth about a given Cult is equal to their dots of Grasp.

    Building Equipment: Cults can use the Building Equipment rules, adding Reach or Grasp to the dice pools as appropriate. The equipment thus established can benefit the whole Cult, but generally goes away if it is targeted in an attack (see Holy Wars above. Each piece of equipment counts for one point).

    Optional System- Torches and Pitchforks (Adapted from the Hurt Locker Spoilers)
    Most people tend to have a bit of an instinctual response to the ebbs and flows within their own communities, and that extends to violent or unusual behavior. Eventually, people are going to notice something is up, and they’re going to take action. Whenever your character, or their Cult, takes visible supernatural or hostile action, this tension rises. Eventually it will boil over into a witch-hunt, or the character will find a way to cause everything to simmer down. Whenever a character or a Cult leaves behind evidence of their activities, add a die of Tension, and whenever Tension increases the Storyteller rolls it as a dice pool penalized by the Cult’s Grasp. Tension starts with a dice pool equal to their dots of Reach- being ingrained in a community can leave you exposed -but is suitably reduced by Merits such as Anonymity, Occultation, or Enigma.

    Cults can, however, make cover-up efforts. Once per Chapter they may suppress a number of Social Merits equal to their current Tension pool to reduce the pool by one die, permanently.
    • Dramatic Failure: The community finds another outlet for their frustrations, blaming it on everyone and anyone but your Cult and your cultists.
    • Failure: Tensions remain high, but no one is on to you… yet.
    • Success: Someone has found out about your supernatural nature, or the Cult’s nefarious activities. Gain the Watched Condition. If this is followed by another successful roll in the next Chapter, it resolves and upgrades to Hunted.
    • Exceptional Success: Your cover has been completely blown and now someone is after you. Gain the Hunted Condition.
    Building Your Cult

    Step 1- 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 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 Social action in a Chapter, roll the dots in that trait, whether it would be Reach, Grasp, or one of the Social Merits that Cult can stand in for. Apply suitable penalties or bonuses if the action would normally be a Breaking Point. On a Failure or Exceptional Success, gain the Watched 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, Tension Successes count as Exceptional Successes.
    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.
    • Complications: Violence seeps into everything a Gang does, and they will often resort to it when playing nice doesn’t work out for them. Every time you benefit from the Cult’s stand-in Social Merits add a die to Tension.
    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 Cult 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 - 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 Watched 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 2- Establish Aspirations, Touchstones, and Complications: Every Cult has a reason for existing; even if that reason is simply they have no one else to turn to and no one to rely on. Establish three Aspirations for the Cult, one short-term, one medium-term, and one long-term, these will help guide their motivations. Provide two Touchstones, these serve the same benefit as Touchstones for characters do, and are just as varied. A Touchstone can be a person, place, thing, or even an idea, so long as it is a symbol the group can draw upon for strength. Once per Chapter you can add +2 dice to a roll where the Touchstone is relevant, and always gain a +1 bonus defending the Touchstone itself. Finally, establish Complications, these will serve as sources of Beats and story hooks. Complications can represent challenges in the environment, personal struggles, or more specifically the traditions and codes of belief of the Cult. This is best represented with one or more Persistent Conditions.

    Step 3- Spend Merit Dots: The core factors of a Cult are Reach, Grasp, and Benefits. 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. 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.

    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.
    • 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, Lunacy doesn’t send them into a panic, and general weirdness no longer fazes them. It’s up to you and the Storyteller to explain why.
      • Mystery Cult: The Cult comes with an appropriate Initiation Merit.
    • 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 and other Resolve + Composure rolls made in service to the Cult.
    • Paranoid: The Cult expects schisms, rogue elements, and compartmentalized cells. Should you gain the Rogue Cult Condition, or otherwise lose a Merit dot, 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/abjuring Ephemeral Beings equal to their Status/Initiation.
    • Storied: Good news! The Cult has a reputation. Once per Chapter you may benefit from the Cult’s reputation to encourage people to avoid looking further into your business, 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. Cultists working together in battle gain the 9-again quality to all combat rolls.
    Last edited by Arcanist; 09-03-2016, 09:11 AM.

    My Homebrew Hub

  • #2
    Interesting. I know Lex is very much into this. I hope it won't be restricted to just those lines, though.

    For example, cults are very much a part of Demon, too. You could probably have an entire section about Machine Cults- I might even write it if I end up having the time. I already have a few GM-compatible cult ideas, and I'm working on one partially based on the Society of Ether and the Lemurians from Genius. Basically, wannabe mad scientists who want their mechanistic cosmos back and a steampunk utopia to go with it. They're secretly being manipulated by a Ring of Integrators who are involved in a long and complicated plan to experiment with attempting to manipulate the Machine through its own cultists.
    Last edited by Geckopirateship; 09-03-2016, 02:35 AM.


    • #3
      This system is meant to model Cults and organizations for every gameline, in whatever combination you can think of. The aforementioned gamelines are simply the ones with the most fluff text and mechanical heft behind them to work with, and are the primary inspirations.


      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: Grasp at equal or higher level
      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 Watched 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 Social actions against the specific organization this Merit is keyed to, you may benefit from the Connected Condition regarding that group. Resolving the Condition to benefit from an Exceptional Success burns the Conspirator’s bridges, but your Merit dots are protected under Sanctity of Merits. Your Conspirator may also be considered a two-dot Ally or Contact from that organization, and can be used to block others attempting to benefit from Allies within that organization, as one would normally use the Ally Merit. Multiple Conspirators may be embedded in a single organization.
      Drawbacks: 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 organization achieves an Exceptional Success, you lose this Merit and gain the Watched 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:
      • Remove a die of Tension or resolve a Condition like Watched or Hunted.
      • 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.

      Army of One (o - ooooo)
      Prerequisite: Grasp at equal or higher level
      Effect: A Cult Leader with this Merit has a dedicated group of thugs and head-crackers available within their Cult. To activate Army of One, the character must make a roll or otherwise contact their cultists. Roll Presence + Politics + Grasp. In fifteen minutes minus the successes rolled, their backup arrives. They receive one Thug per dot in Army of One. They will fight for them, or contribute to Teamwork Actions. If faced with a deadly or overwhelming threat, they may flee unless they succeed a Resolve + Composure roll.
      Drawback: Should one of these backup Thugs die, the Cult loses a dot of Army of One, which is subject to Sanctity of Merits.
      (Note: Based off the Merit of the same name from the Secrets of the Covenants spoilers)

      Home Turf (o - ooo)
      Prerequisite: Reach and Grasp equal to or greater than dot level in this Merit
      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 bonus equal to their dots in this Merit to all 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. 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. Add the dots in this Merit to the Tension pool as a bonus. 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. Dots in Home Turf serve as a penalty to the Reach or Grasp of any organization attempting to influence the Cult’s territory- they have such an influence over the region that outsiders just can’t get a hold of them.
      Drawback: Isolation from society means being unable to properly function within it. Halve Reach (rounded up) when the Cult Leader or cultists are acting outside of their recognized Home Turf.

      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 their organization so much easier. When using Social Maneuvering on this specific character (or on their Cult) consider your Impressions to be one step higher. You may choose to spend this Merit dot (earning it back as per Sanctity of Merits) to benefit as though you resolved the Leveraged Condition.
      Drawback: Kicked dogs bite back. Sometimes, you can overstep the tentative hold Leverage gives you. Whenever you resort to Hard Leverage, Forcing Doors, or burning this Merit dot, gain the Watched 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: Army of One at equal or greater level, 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 your combatants. When you summon the Thugs to battle, each fighting minion will know that Fighting Style.
      Drawback: Whenever your Tension pool rises, the roll is made with the 9-again quality

      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.

      Territorial Advantage (o - ooooo)
      Effect: Everyone has an area of operations, and the Cult knows theirs intimately. Cultists may take advantage of this familiarity to inflict Conditions on intruders (or Tilts if in combat). The Cultist rolls a dice pool of Attribute + Skill + Merit dots. The player and Storyteller together decide what would be appropriate for the given situation. The intruder resists with a Resistance Attribute + Same Skill. If the character succeeds, they inflict the Condition. If they gain an Exceptional Success, they inflict two Conditions. This Merit may only be used a number of times equal to the dots invested per Chapter, regardless of which character carried it out.
      (Note: Adapted from the Merit of the same name in The Pack pg. 31)

      Advanced Cults

      Compartmentalized (ooo)
      Prerequisite: Grasp 5 or Gang
      Effect: The parts of your Cult that fight your battles are separated from the general membership of the Cult. They don’t really speak openly of their exploits. You don’t lose dots of Reach or Grasp for Cultists dying in battle, such as the Holy Wars mechanic.
      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 fatal conflicts.

      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, 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 - ooo]
      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.

      Grasp (Advanced) [o - ooo]
      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. Dots in Grasp (Advanced) do not contribute to using Cult for Social Merits.
      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.

      Militarized (o-ooo)
      Prerequisite: Militant at equal or higher value
      Effect: Triple the dots of Fighting Styles that Militant grants to combat Cultists. Additionally, you may keep dots in this Merit as free floating Fighting Style dots to be applied when combatants arrive to represent a specialist member of your Cult that you have called to battle.
      Drawback: Whenever your Tension pool rises, take the 8-again to the roll

      Army of One [Advanced] (o - ooo)
      Prerequisite: Army of One 5, Advanced Grasp at equal or greater level
      Effect: For each dot in this Merit, double the Thugs you can call up. Therefore, possessing three dots in this Merit would mean you can call up forty fighters. However, you also double the time it takes for the Thugs to reach you. With three dots in this Merit, it takes up to two hours for the Cult’s warriors to reach you.
      Drawback: Death of combatants still reduces dots in Army of One (they’re the most loyal fighters you have, after all), temporarily suppressing this Merit. Additionally, whenever the Tension pool is rolled, it is done so as a rote action.

      My Homebrew Hub


      • #4
        Ah, okay. My bad. So this is just crunch? There's no room for sample cults or hooks?


        • #5
          Oh no, story hooks and sample Cults are very much appreciated. If they use the crunch that's all the better, I'd like to see someone other than me pick up the system and see what they can do with it.

          My Homebrew Hub


          • #6
            Ah, so I could contribute some cults? Awesome. By the way, did you see the "101 Cults" thread?


            • #7
              I would also be curious if there's any room in this project for non-crunch content about how to design and use cults from a narrative standpoint/advice for storytelling cultist characters and cult scenarios. That's something I would be very interested in writing.


              • #8
                It is most definitely welcome. I've still got tons of crunch to post too.

                My Homebrew Hub


                • #9
                  Awesome! Send me a PM if there's anything else you'd like to ask about.


                  • #10
                    Hm... how about a "Zombies" option, for those rare times when you have a cult that is essentially made up of mostly brainless servitors whether they be literal zombies or robots with a few people who actually are able to have free thought? Maybe not a neccesarily part of the membership itself, but as a "cult merit". Trying my hand at this.

                    Disposables [o - ooooo]
                    Prerequisite: Grasp or Reach 3
                    Effect: This permits a Cult to essentially create and field a number of "disposable" units, the common theme of which is that these are not so much as members of the cult, so much as useful tools that might not even possess free will or initiative. Completely loyal and there is no reprecautions for any loses inured. These can be anything from mindless zombies or servitor drones, depending on the cult's ethics and practices.
                    Drawback: Being essentially mindless, they can be... challenged by complex tasks without proper guidance. Also, being caught can also lead to complications and questioning.

                    Probably an entire tree come to think of it.

                    If you wish for further development and refinement, I'll get to work on something...
                    Last edited by Almarck; 09-10-2016, 01:23 AM.

                    Mechs: Because even the Chronicles of Darkness needs robot fights.
                    DarkFrame: Crossover setting that puts Chronicles of Darkness in the far future that is Warframe.
                    Monarch: The Endless You are an alien ruler, charged with maintaining a people who you shape to suit your needs.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Almarck View Post
                      Hm... how about a "Zombies" option, for those rare times when you have a cult that is essentially made up of mostly brainless servitors whether they be literal zombies or robots with a few people who actually are able to have free thought? Maybe not a neccesarily part of the membership itself, but as a "cult merit". Trying my hand at this.

                      Disposables [o - ooooo]
                      Prerequisite: Grasp or Reach 3
                      Effect: This permits a Cult to essentially create and field a number of "disposable" units, the common theme of which is that these are not so much as members of the cult, so much as useful tools that might not even possess free will or initiative. Completely loyal and there is no reprecautions for any loses inured. These can be anything from mindless zombies or servitor drones, depending on the cult's ethics and practices.
                      Drawback: Being essentially mindless, they can be... challenged by complex tasks without proper guidance. Also, being caught can also lead to complications and questioning.

                      Probably an entire tree come to think of it.

                      If you wish for further development and refinement, I'll get to work on something...

                      Very, very cool. I would definitely love to see some more material based on this. Been busy getting university started this year, so I haven't had much of a chance to write or post content here. However, I have some stuff saved up. Here's some of the new stuff I've got.

                      Step 4- Populate the Cult (Partially adapted from the Zakmur-Dah rules in The Pack)

                      Reach and Grasp represent more than social or temporal power and influence, it represents the membership of your Cult and the rough numbers. Some Cults are extremely influential, but made up of a select few amongst the rich and powerful. It is worth noting that the general membership of the Cult, which is represented by Reach and Grasp, are not necessarily standout characters. Distinct, unique, members of the Cult are often better represented by Conspirator and the Merits that build off of it. For each dot of Reach or Grasp, you get 10 points to spend on adding secondary characters to the Cult. If you’ve hit the point of Advanced Reach or Advanced Grasp, this system doesn’t really apply anymore in any meaningful way.
                      Character Type Dice Pool (Best/Worst/Everything Else) Cost Antagonist
                      Low-Skilled Human 2 / Chance / 1 1 0
                      Skilled Human 5 / Chance / 2 2 1
                      Highly-Skilled Human 5 / 3 / 4 3 2
                      Minor Template
                      (3XP of Powers)
                      7 / 1 / 3 or Full Character 4 3
                      Ephemeral Being (Rank 1-3) Full Character 5 4
                      Other Supernatural Beings 10 / 2 / 5 5 4
                      Major Template
                      (Full Character)
                      Full Character 6 5

                      Consider, then, what Merits that raise effective Reach or Grasp are doing. A Conspirator isn’t just a lone individual; though that lone individual is generally the linchpin, but it’s also other people they’ve made contact with that they can influence who aren’t actually members of the Cult. Having Home Turf means that, in addition to your actual Cult members, part of the general populous of your Home Turf is involved tangentially in its affairs. Legitimacy means there’s laypeople, chartered accountants, contractors, ordinary employees, and others attached to your organization. It would probably be wise to keep a separate sheet documenting all the secondary characters in the Cult, or, should the Cult prove to be too massive, a short list of important reoccurring secondary characters.

                      Advancing Cultists: It is easy enough to show a gain in Reach or Grasp as a swelling of membership, an increase in the brute force of the Cult’s social influence, but perhaps using the faceless hordes of the general membership doesn’t appeal to you- perhaps you would prefer to tell stories about a core Cult that never really grows in membership, but instead becomes increasingly powerful. Instead of the Cult expanding, it becomes more experienced instead. Turning into a well-oiled social machine moving quickly, and hopefully quietly, through the shadows of the Chronicles of Darkness. If you choose to use this option, then character generation points for new dots of Reach, Grasp, Conspirators, etc. may instead be used as Experiences for established characters within the Cult. If you go this route, it is advised that you use Troupe Play to take full advantage of the expanding and evolving cast of characters.

                      Mortal Organizations: Cults can stand in for much, much more than mysterious fraternities and occluded networks of strange faiths. Cults can be governments, Cults can be militaries, Cults can be police forces and businesses. So, how do mortal organizations shape up? Despite conspiracy theories running rampant, world governments are generally not all that cloak-and-dagger. They can’t be, they’re just too big. A specific government agency may have Advanced Grasp in order to pull off mysterious black ops, but the government itself likely won’t.

                      This is, ultimately, in the hands of the Storyteller, but something small- like a Hunter Cell or a small town sheriff’s office -would probably have two dots to distribute between Reach and Grasp, focusing more on connections with the community (IE. Conspirators or Home Turf) to get stuff done. A citywide police force will likely have something more like four dots to divide up, and a national organization will likely have eight dots.

                      Corporations and governments favor Reach, militaries, intelligence agencies, and criminal organizations favor Grasp. Remember that their raw influence or member list might not be enough to get the job done, and plan accordingly with Merits like Legitimacy (which all government offices likely possess), Conspirators, Leverage, and Home Turf. In order to represent a large, inter-connected set of organizations- like a country’s government, a multi-national corporation, a global religion, or other such massive groups -consider building the pyramid, starting at the bottom with municipal governments and regional offices, and making them Splinter Organizations of a larger group. Guidelines for that will be provided below in the Crossover section.

                      Step 5- Determine Assets: Beyond the wealth, the warm bodies in the congregation, the weapon stockpiles and the blackmail resources, all Cults have Assets- this is generally in the form of specialized and powerful members of the group, or some form of supernatural lore that the group has acquired. Supernatural awareness can be a lifesaver in the shadowy world of the Chronicles of Darkness. Agents, on the other hand, are Conspirators who survive and thrive, becoming more than mere resources to their parent Cult, but vital and valuable parts of the organization as a whole.

                      Agent (o - ooo)
                      Prerequisite: Conspirator
                      Effect: As it stands, a Conspirator functions like a two-dot Ally, without the added benefit of the Connected Condition that comes along with them. By investing more heavily in one particular Conspirator, the Cult can make them an Agent- a formidable asset more than capable of acting alone. You may now treat the Conspirator as a Retainer, adding dots in Agent to the Conspirator Merit to calculate their final effective Merit rating. You may also treat them as the head of a Cult with a number of Merit dots dedicated to it equal to the dots in Agent. This illustrates the Agent’s personal level of influence. Agents can act as additional Cults, Allies, Contacts, or a Retainer.
                      Drawback: An Agent who acts alone can get themselves killed on a mission gone badly, and in acting alone they also get tagged with Conditions specifically to themselves, and not to their parent Cult. This is something of a mixed blessing, putting the Agent at much higher risk than before, while also providing the Cult with a bit more temporary security.

                      Attaché (o)
                      Prerequisite: Enterprise or Elite Club
                      Effect: Normally, Retainers serve a couple of functions, represented by dice pools. They don’t normally allow a character to access other things represented by Social Merits. However, Cults may choose to invest in their assets, making a more thoroughly loyal breed of Retainer. A Conspirator/Agent so invested gains any number of the following Merits equal to the Cult’s Reach: Contacts, Resources, Safe Place
                      Drawback: While the Cult may access these Merits, it must be done through an intermediary. This means it might take a bit of time, or cutting through some red tape to access them. At the very least, it will require a few inconvenient phone calls.
                      (Note: Based off the Merit of the same name from Blood & Smoke)

                      Social Network (o)
                      Prerequisite: Cult of Personality or Tribal
                      Effect: Cultists do not stand alone, because like everyone else, they generally know other people. However, membership in a Cult means that the Cult can often leverage those connections and relationships. Once per month, the Cult may access a number of the following Merits equal to the Cult’s Reach: Allies, Contacts, Safe Place
                      Drawback: These Merits are not yours; they’re very temporary, very superficial. You don’t get a house from Safe Place, you get a couch to crash on for a few days. Each use is a favor, and people generally expect favors to be repaid.
                      (Note: Based off of the Carthian Pull Merit from Blood & Smoke)
                      Friends in High Places (o)
                      Prerequisite: Conspiracy or Elite Club
                      Effect: Your Cult has their fingers in a lot of pies, and so do their allies, there’s nothing wrong with engaging in a little horse trading. Each month, the Cult may automatically open a number of Doors equal to their Grasp. This may only be used to target another organization or Cult. You could persuade a fire chief to ignore a series of arsons, but you couldn’t convince them to give you a personal loan.
                      Drawback: A favor for a favor. Be careful about who you indebt yourself to.
                      (Note: Based off the Merit of the same name in Blood & Smoke)

                      Social Engineering (oooo)
                      Prerequisite: Reach 4, Grasp 4, Conspirator & Leverage (appropriate group)
                      Effect: Your character is a master of digging up little private bits and personal information through manipulating associates, piecing together context, or baiting unintentional confessions. With an hour’s work, a point of Willpower, and a Manipulation + Investigation roll (or a Reach/Grasp roll) your character can machinate a social engineering effort that reveals extensive, damaging information about a victim. Every success offers one of the following, choose:
                      • A ten-minute window of unpenalized, safe access to the victim’s Safe Place
                      • A damning piece of information that, when used, removes a dot from the character’s Allies, Contacts, Status, or other appropriate Merits. The Merit is eligible for Sanctity of Merits.
                      • A +1 bonus to a Social roll against the victim, or -1 on one of their Social rolls. Another character can access the bonus or take advantage of the penalty if the information is shared.
                      • Knowledge of a weakness, including any Banes, Conditions, or other issues at Storyteller discretion.
                      A character may only be subject to one Social Engineering effort in a given story. The victim’s Safe Place and Anonymity Merits penalize the roll to use Social Engineering. If targeting a Cult or Cult Leader, Dissemination can reduce successes on a one-to-one basis
                      (Note: Based off the Merit of the same name from the Secrets of the Covenants spoilers)

                      Hidden Master (ooo, oooo, or ooooo)
                      Prerequisite: Reach and Grasp equal to or greater than Merit dots
                      Effect: Regardless of whether your character founded the Cult or simply joined it later, they managed to weasel their way into a position of great power, and then quietly receded into the background. Your character benefits from Status or Mystery Cult Initiation equal to their dots in this Merit. Additionally, you no longer suffer the Drawbacks of the Cult Merit; they have no formal ties to the Cult, and as such don’t suffer any Conditions that apply to members of the Cult.
                      Drawback: Without formal ties to the Cult, or standing in a position of visible authority, their means of manipulating the Cult directly are greatly reduced. They may only benefit from a number of dots of Reach and/or Grasp equal to their dots in Hidden Master. They can still gain the benefit of the Cult’s full authority by employing their own Conspirators, or engaging in Social Maneuvering with the Cult’s ‘leader’.
                      (Note: Based off the Mystery Cult Influence Merit from Mage Second Edition)

                      Temple (o - ooooo)
                      Prerequisite: Safe Place (equal or greater value)
                      Effect: The Cult, or your character specifically, maintains a place of worship exemplifying one aspect of their faith. Actions in support of the Cult’s Aspirations or Touchstones gain a bonus equal to the dots of the Merit within the Temple’s walls. For example, a Lancea et Sanctum Temple that espouses resisting the Beast would grant a bonus to resisting Frenzy. Additionally, those blessed by the Temple (IE. Those who participate in a service at the Temple) carry its benefits beyond its walls for a number of days equal to dots in the Merit. During this time, the Cult may use any Rites, Rituals, or other powers against the blessed character as though making physical contact.
                      Note: Like Safe Place, more than one character may invest dots in this Merit.
                      (Note: Based off of the Merit of the same name in the Secrets of the Covenants spoilers)

                      Altar (ooo)
                      Prerequisite: Temple 1+
                      Effect: A Cult with such an artifact, either found, made by hand, or otherwise acquired, may use the Teamwork rules to use Supernatural Merits or other powers of the Cult, even if they don’t possess any dots in the Merit, or the necessary metaphysical prerequisites to wield the magic in the first place. The Extended Action to use this Altar is generally 10 minutes per roll (or whatever the power normally uses), but this doubles if supporting actors don’t have all the necessary traits.
                      Drawback: You need time to gather the cultists necessary to perform a ritual together, and an Altar generally isn’t mobile.
                      (Note: Based off of the Merit of the same name in Blood & Smoke)

                      Ritual Savvy (oo)
                      Prerequisite: Altar
                      Effect: Even if the priests don’t totally understand why they’re gathering the tools and symbols you requested, they at least know what to look for. Roll an appropriate dice pool to gather ingredients or prepare the ritual space. Each success on the roll is considered a bonus die to using Rites, Creative Thaumaturgy, Blood Sorcery, etc. that the supernatural patron of the Cult may ‘buy’ with a point of Willpower. Mechanically, this may be represented by using the Building Equipment rules, or by using a Retainer. For maximum effect, get a high-level Retainer and roll it as an Extended Action.
                      (Note: Based off of the Merit of the same name from Mage Second Edition)

                      Lore (o - ooooo)
                      Prerequisite: Safe Place at equal or greater level
                      Effect: The Cult possesses a thorough collection of information about highly secretive supernatural topics. For each dot in this Merit, select a topic. This topic could be “vampires”, “mages”, or any other supernatural force in the Chronicles of Darkness. When your Cult consults the library on one of those topics, take the Informed Condition relating to the topic. You may do this once per topic, per story.
                      (Note: Based off of the Library [Advanced] Merit)

                      Archive (o - ooooo)
                      Prerequisite: Lore at equal or greater level
                      Effect: For each dot in this Merit, choose a specific topic or narrow subject that the Archive focuses on. Examples include Spirits of Death, local family genealogies, or Rites. When researching that topic in the Archive they gain the rote quality to their rolls, and the research time is halved.
                      (Note: Based off the Lodge Lorehouse Merit in The Pack)

                      Lorekeeper (o)
                      Prerequisite: Lore 1+
                      Effect: Your Cult has dedicated itself to the acquisition of ancient knowledge and occult secrets. Since most of this knowledge must pass through other hands, your Cult also attracts those like-minded individuals who also hoard mystic secrets. Whenever your Cult buys a dot of Lore, you also receive dots in Retainers and Contacts, to be divided however you wish.
                      Drawbacks: The Retainers and Contacts afforded by this Merit are lured in by the promise of forbidden knowledge. To maintain these advantages, the Cult must be willing to let at least some secrets slip to their retinue. The only problem is those outside of the Cult may not be quite as invested in keeping secrets.
                      (Note: Based off the Merit of the same name from Blood & Smoke)

                      Occult Alignment (o - ooooo)
                      Prerequisite: Temple 2, Lore 3
                      Effect: Your Cult has mastered the complex mathematics and parapsychology involved sufficiently that she can arrange the items in their Temple in order to focus its mystical energies to benefit those within. Choose a single Skill while purchasing this Merit. While in the Temple all characters gain your dots in Occult Alignment to that Skill.
                      (Note: Based off the Merit of the same name from the Secrets of the Covenants spoilers)

                      Guarded Precinct (o - ooooo)
                      Prerequisite: Temple at equal or greater level
                      Effect: Your Cult has managed to bend the occult forces of their Temple to protect them. With their rites, they have harnessed any dangers to harass those who fit specific criteria. If a character meets the Cult’s chosen criteria, the Temple lashes out to show them they are not welcome. This is different for every Temple, but as a rule, double the Merit dots to use as a dice pool to harass, assault, or otherwise imperil the character each turn. Successful “attacks” can cause bashing damage to the character, or cost the character a Willpower point. He may resist the assault normally, depending on the variety of attack.
                      (Note: Based off the Perilous Nest Merit from the Secrets of the Covenants spoilers)

                      Practical Application (ooo or ooooo)
                      Prerequisite: Lore 1+
                      Effect: An organization that cultivates this Merit does more than hoard esoteric wisdom; they also dare to put it into practice. At three dots, members of the Cult gain two Experiences worth of Supernatural Merits per dot of Lore, so long as the Merits are suitably thematic for the Lore being kept. At five dots, this increases to four Experiences of Supernatural Merits per dot of Lore. For the purposes of this Merit, Archive also counts as Lore. Retainers and/or Conspirators/Agents belonging to the Cult representing actual initiated members are considered eligible for these Merits.
                      (Note: Based off the Lodge Sorcery Merit in The Pack)

                      My Homebrew Hub


                      • #12
                        Appendix 1 - Conditions

                        Civil War (Persistent): Something has pushed your Cult to the tipping point, and now relatively normal tension or conflict has erupted into an outright war. You cannot use your Cult for anything so long as this Condition persists. Upon gaining this Condition, or at the beginning of the next session if it persists for more than one, roll Reach vs. Grasp following the sidebar Holy War above. If the sides are equal, or if one is higher than the other, then the other trait loses a number of dots equal to the difference (minimum 1)
                        Possible Source: Dramatic Failure on a Cult roll, Failure with the Contender Condition
                        Beat: You are severely inconvenienced by your lack of a cult
                        Resolution: Do something drastic to bring the Cult to heel- this usually imposes a Breaking Point on the Cult Leader.

                        Contender: Someone in the Cult is waiting in the wings to rise up in the ranks, and doesn’t mind stepping over their fellow Cultists in order to do so. Your next Failure with a Cult action is considered a Dramatic Failure- upgrade this Condition to the Civil War or Rogue Cult Condition as appropriate.
                        Possible Source: Failure on a Cult roll
                        Resolution: Find the upstart and take them out. Alternatively, give them what they want. Fail a roll and have this Condition upgraded to Civil War or Rogue Cult.

                        Hunted (Persistent): Your actions have tipped off the authorities or maybe they’ve just incensed the locals. Maybe one of your rivals has set them on your trail. Regardless, you now have to deal with people coming at you violently. The Storyteller has ten points to divide between your pursuers (see Step 3- Populating the Cult), meaning you could have a mob of generally ordinary people, a smaller collection of skilled hunters, or even a couple of people with serious supernatural clout. Remember to use the Antagonist costs.
                        Possible Sources: Dramatic Failure on a Cult roll, Exceptional Success on a Tension roll, the Surveilled Condition
                        Beat: Your pursuers find and attack you
                        Resolution: Kill you pursuers or permanently lose them. Permanently losing them is probably an Extended and Contested action, the details of which depend on the story.

                        Record (Persistent): You’ve dealt with the immediate fallout of a newsworthy event, or moved into the public eye, and now there’s a paper trail. Any attempt to investigate the Cult (not you personally) benefit, gaining an additional Clue on a successful Investigation action per instance of the Record Condition.
                        Beat: Once per session, the player of the Cult Leader whose organization gained this Condition may take one of the following to earn a Beat:
                        • Taking the Surveilled Condition. The Record has led someone to your doorstep
                        • The record successfully draws some kind of negative attention to the Cult at a highly inconvenient time.
                        • The Cult and Cultists gains a -2 penalty to all Social actions.
                        Possible Source: Enterprise Foundation, the Legitimacy Merit
                        Resolution: Become big enough to lean on the organization that previously tracked you, completely reorganize the Cult so that it has cut ties with its past.

                        Rogue Cult (Persistent): An organization has cropped up without your consent or knowledge and is causing trouble- affiliating themselves with you or your own Cult. Alternatively, part of your Cult has broken free and now seeks to oppose you. A Rogue Cult possesses a Foundation and all other basic parts of a Cult, and except in instances when a Cult breaks off from your own organization (outlined above) the Rogue Cult gains a number of dots to distribute amongst the various Cult Merits equal to the lower of your Reach or Grasp.
                        Possible Source: Dramatic Failure on a Cult roll, Conspiracy Foundation,
                        Splinter Organization Merit
                        Beat: The Cult causes a significant problem for you or your original organization
                        Resolution: The Rogue Cult is brought under control (requires either an Extended Action or a Breaking Point) or the Rogue Cult is destroyed or disbanded.

                        Surveilled (Persistent): Someone’s on to you. They’re just under orders to observe for now, but that could change at some point in the near future. Roll a dice pool equal to (10 + Tension Successes - Grasp), which is rolled at the beginning of each Chapter. Once the Storyteller has accrued a number of successes equal to your Grasp, upgrade to Hunted.
                        Possible Sources: Tension success, Cult failure, burning the Leverage Merit, losing the Conspirator Merit, Conspiracy or Unorganized Foundations
                        Resolution: Let the Storyteller accrue successes as above, or find and nullify the enemy’s means of surveillance.
                        Beat: Take a Beat whenever a success from the Tension pool adds to the dice pool for Surveilled, or whenever you take steps to act against your enemies.

                        Building the Pyramid- Storytelling, Players Guide, and Crossover

                        Cults can get a lot of mileage in the Chronicles of Darkness- they can stand in for just about any organization, and as you can see, come with a wide variety of options. So, how does one go about using a Cult in a story? What can it add to the game? Firstly, it fleshes out the setting. A Cult comes already packed with backstory, motivation, and plot hooks and it can help abstract the power of various factions at play in a given Chronicle. Conspirators and Agents are fleshed out characters in their own right, significant NPCs that act as the public face of the Cult and who make great antagonists or allies. If you’re feeling really ambitious, a PC could actually be a Conspirator or Agent. Technically speaking, if you’re a member of one of the various social Y-Splats, your character sort of already is.

                        It was mentioned above, but it bears repeating here, a Cult’s Reach or Grasp only extends so far. No Cult is going to be able to take over an entire country on their own. They can take over a branch of government, rule a small town, or something along those lines, but it will almost never take down an entire nation or something like a Hunter Conspiracy. Why? Those institutions are more than just a single Cult, they’re nested Cults. Imagine if you would, trying to take over Canada. There are ten provinces and three territories, plus one federal government. That’s fourteen Advanced Cults working together to govern a nation, just on the bureaucratic side. It’s a lot more if you factor in other agencies, police forces, military branches, etc. I don’t care how big your single Cult is, it is never going to take that down alone. This aspect of such massive Cults can be termed The Pyramid. The most powerful Cult in the organization sits at the top, and it branches out into smaller and smaller groups below it.

                        As an example, I’ll use Last Dynasty International, a corporation hunting the Deathless headed by three immortal sorcerers.
                        Last Dynasty International
                        Last Dynasty Pharmaceuticals Killwarden Memorial Conservation Fund Integrated Transport Solutions, LLC
                        As another example, I’ll use the Deva Corporation, the far-reaching God-Machine Cult that dogs the steps of the Unchained.
                        Deva Corporation God-Machine Manual Research
                        New Mason Architecture Butterfly Cryptozoology, LTD Apocalypse Clock Luminous Labs
                        Each of the above boxes represents a single, far-reaching Advanced Cult, with Conspirators and Agents fleshing out its membership, giving them more power in particular cities and particular sectors. Either way, in order to get through to the core Cult behind either of these continent spanning occult Enterprises you’ll need to Investigate, or manipulate, no less than three powerful Cults, after having Investigated or manipulated your way through to an actual Conspirator or Agent. Considering said Conspirators or Agents are liable to have their own Allies, Contacts, Retainers, and Resources, climbing to the top of the Pyramid is no easy task, and confronting those in charge of one of those organizations is a task worthy of a Chronicle. Much like with Investigation, you’ll want to plan out how long the Chronicle to climb the Pyramid will be based on how many Clues you can gather. This style of play won’t necessarily be for everyone, since it means uncovering layer upon layer of conspiracy and cover-up, but for some players and Storytellers Climbing the Pyramid is something that will make an enjoyable Chronicle, the kind that Demon: The Descent and Mage: The Awakening were made to handle. It’s worth noting here, however, that a Mage Chronicle climbing the Pyramid is probably going to be much quicker than a Demon Chronicle climbing the Pyramid, if only because Mage Sight can make Investigation superfluous.

                        Brick by Brick- Conspirators and Agents

                        Whether you’re building a Cult, or fighting against one, the public face of the Cult is always its outside contacts. The power of a Cult might be fairly limited, but a well-placed Conspirator can improve it several times over. Conspirators are blackmailed outsiders, true believer converts, bribed officials, traitors, and embedded contacts- when purchasing a Conspirator, think about who they are, and how they got there, not only will this help flesh out the character, but it will help establish guidelines as to how the Cult operates. Do they threaten those they want in positions of power? Do they send loyal members into gravely dangerous situations? Do they seduce and convert? Do they bribe?

                        A Conspirator isn’t, generally, an active character. They skulk in the shadows, they wield their limited influence, and they try and keep their heads down. If they refuse to talk to one of the PCs, are they frightened of retribution, wanting to keep their job, or does their master genuinely command their respect? Are they an irritating evangelist, constantly trying to persuade the party to join them? Do they believe in their mission, and consider the party a means to an end, or a threat? Do they see the PCs as a threat to their position?

                        An Agent is much more proactive. An Agent is more than just an extension of the Cult, but a power in and of themselves. They still owe their allegiance and their authority to their masters, but they have built up a lot more pull. An Agent can act alone, boldly, with the power and influence of a small Cult themselves. In some cases, a successful Agent might be as powerful as their parent Cult, in which case the risk of them going rogue is constantly on their master’s mind, but the Cult needs the power and influence of the Agent, and probably has several more. An Agent makes a good reoccurring antagonist- putting a face to the Cult paired with the power to make them an active threat, instead of just a looming shadow in the background. When designing an Agent, give a little more thought to their personal motivations and goals, because you can bet that they have an agenda beyond what their Cult asks of them. Alternatively, they could be a company man through and through, a true believer, loyal to a fault to their parent organization. When you need a starter antagonist to introduce a wider threat, an Agent is your best bet.

                        Agents as Player Characters: Can you play an Agent? Sure, no reason not to. The only thing separating an Agent from a full-fledged character is the decision not to make them one. Mechanically, an Agent is a relatively specific kind of play- you answer to a superior, you undertake missions from your organizations, but you also get a really rather nice Experience boost to begin the game (depending on the Cult’s associated Merits). This really isn’t all that different than playing a regular character involved in Covenant/Order/Tribe/Court politics, except that as an Agent you have a few more mechanical strings and boons attached.

                        Agents as Supernatural Characters: In non-mortal games, or a game where you are using Cult mechanics to flesh out different supernatural organizations, Conspirators and Agents are likely to be members of the appropriate kind of esohuman (thanks Mage Chronicler’s Guide for the awesome term). In that case, still follow the rules for Retainer when roughly determining their different traits, but take a look at the rules for the Cruac familiars in the Secrets of the Covenants spoilers. Following that same yardstick would be beneficial. What that translates out to in terms of power (for games currently updated to 2E) is outlined here below. As a rough guideline, they should have half the Supernatural Resistance Trait and powers (rounded up) of your PC:
                        • Vampire: Conspirator (1-2 dots of Disciplines), Agent 1-2 (3-4 dots of Disciplines) Agent 3 (5 dots of Disciplines). Spend Experiences from Practical Application on Disciplines, Devotions, Merits, and Blood Potency.
                        • Werewolf: Conspirator (1-2 Gifts), Agent 1-2 (3-4 Gifts), Agent 3 (5 Gifts). Spend Experiences from Practical Application on Gifts, Facets, Renown, Rites, Merits, and Primal Urge.
                        • Mage: Conspirator (1 Arcanum & 2 Rotes), Agent 1-2 (2-3 Arcana), Agent 3 (3 Arcana & 2 Rotes). Spend Experiences from Practical Application on Arcana, Rotes, Attainments, Merits, and Gnosis.
                        • Changeling: Conspirator (3-6 dots of Contracts), Agent 1-2 (9-12 dots of Contracts), Agent 3 (15 dots of Contracts). Spend Experiences from Practical Application on Contracts, Contract Clauses, Merits, and Wyrd.
                        • Demon: Conspirator (1-3 Embed/Exploits), Agent 1-2 (4-6 Embeds/Exploits), Agent 3 (7 Embeds/Exploits and a Merit). Spend Experiences from Practical Application on Embeds, Exploits, Merits, and Primum.
                        • Promethean: Conspirator (2-3 Calcified Alembics), Agent 1-2 (4-6 Calcified Alembics), Agent 3 (7 Calcified Alembics and a Merit). Spend Experiences from Practical Application on Alembics, Merits, and Azoth.
                        • Beast: Conspirator (1-2 Nightmares/Atavisms), Agent 1-2
                        • (3-4 Nightmares/Atavisms), Agent 3 (5 Nightmares/Atavisms). Spend Experiences from Practical Application on Nightmares, Atavisms, Merits, and Lair.

                        My Homebrew Hub


                        • #13
                          Disposable Servitors [o to ooooo]
                          Prerequisite: Grasp + Reach equal to 2 for each dot.
                          Effect: The cult has in its number a way to procure mindless and replaceable servitors. Whether these be the dead, auto mechanical constructs, incredibly weak and replaceable spirits, magical servants, these entities possess little free will of their own and exist solely to serve the cult and if need be, to die for them and absorb losses.They can be replaced, rebuilt, and so on. Their key weakness is an utter lack of drive and independant though, necessitating that full cult members lead them in tasks.
                          To use Disposable Servitors, declare an action which would involve them before being sent, effectively dispatching them alongside the appropriate personnel. Should losses incurred as a result of actions taken with Servitor assistance, whether be the loss of keys NPCs or a reduction of the Cult’s abilities, instead no loss is taken, the Servitors being used to shield more important assets and buying them time to escape..
                          The Cult may send up to this asset’s dot rating in Servitor assisted Dispatches every Story.

                          Drawback: Servitors are mindless and incredibly noticeable in the public. Even the most human seeming ones wouldn’t be mistaken for anything normal closer than 40 feet. This means that Servitor assisted actions in the public would raise questions, especially if the task is illegal.

                          Refined original idea. need ideas for more.

                          Mechs: Because even the Chronicles of Darkness needs robot fights.
                          DarkFrame: Crossover setting that puts Chronicles of Darkness in the far future that is Warframe.
                          Monarch: The Endless You are an alien ruler, charged with maintaining a people who you shape to suit your needs.


                          • #14
                            Steps on the Pyramid

                            First Tier: This is the Cult in its infancy, on the street. It doesn’t have any real pull, it doesn’t have any real friends, usually doesn’t have any real beliefs when you get down to it. A starting Cult generally piggybacks its faith off of something that already exists, and mutates from there. A small group of vampires might try to figure out what they are, and might go from “vampire” to “Strigoi” to “strega” to “Strix” to “Owl” to “Lilitu” to “Lilith”, and then next thing you know a new Circle of the Crone coven is born. One of the Unchained manages to present themselves as an angel to a small bible study group. An Awakened guru gathers several students to themselves. At this level, the Cult is something like ten to twenty people with their own brand of belief, or maybe a single esohuman with a couple hangers-on, an inflated ego, and some serious ambitions.

                            Second Tier: This is the established Cult, spread across a city. They’ve made themselves some friends, either by spreading their congregation or through blackmail. They have a set theology, their faith is more than a pastiche of existing beliefs but has instead warped and grown into a twisted creed all of their own. When incorporating a Cult into a game, this is the standard set-up for the setting. It’s the base assumption for Consilia, Domains, Protectorates and Freeholds, but not necessarily for the Y-splats that make them up. Generally speaking, the various widespread organizations of the different esohumans of the Chronicles of Darkness generally run a spectrum from First to Second Tier.

                            Third Tier: This is the spider in a global web, the eldritch octopus with its tentacles in unexpected places. This is generally not the place of PC organizations and structures. Tier Three Cults are governments and corporations, global religions and conspiracies. They can crush those lesser than them in their grasp (or Grasp). This is the province of Seer Ministries and Tetrarchies, of Deva Corporation, Chiron Group, and Last Dynasty International. These are the secret masters of the world; the ones who run in the shadows and uphold what could be called the Masquerade.

                            What We Do In The Shadows

                            Supernatural Benefits: A Cult run by a supernatural being, or someone who has been touched by occult forces, comes with additional benefits representing metaphysical changes wrought by the bond between Cult, Leader, and the forces that empower them.
                            • Ephemeral Patron: Your Cult has the patronage of an Ephemeral Being, whether it happens to be a Spirit, Ghost, Goetic, Angel, or something stranger is up to you. You may create this patron using the rules in Step 4 or you may consider them a Totem, as outlined in Werewolf: The Forsaken. In the latter case, all members of the Cult to whom the Totem Merit would normally apply freely gain a number of dots in that Merit equal to their Status/Initiation. Using the Magnanimous Totem Merit from The Pack can provide the opportunity for a significantly stronger Patron. A Mage may use half their Status/Initiation (rounded up) as a Patron Yantra with an appropriate magical tool.
                            • Indoctrination: People who enter the Cult find it exceptionally difficult to leave, they’ve been love bombed and brainwashed into submission. They treat following the Cult’s teachings as a Virtue and fellow cultists as loved ones for the purposes of Breaking Points and Social Maneuvering.

                            Werewolf: The details of pack and Lodge as Cult is detailed by far better writers than me in The Pack, but the beings that frequently interact with the Uratha are just as inclined to start and maintain Cults. Some Spirits actively seek to become Totems, and some of those Spirits aren’t particularly picky about who chooses to join in the Totem bond with them. They don’t generally give as much as they get, but the bond between Totem and adherent is never strictly one-way. The Spirit needs the Cult a lot more than the Cult needs the Spirit. Some Cults actively seek out Spirits to bond with, which changes the relationship between the two considerably, often putting them on footing more similar to Pack and Totem than god and worshipper.

                            The Foundations of the Cult are generally reliant upon the nature of the Totem, but as a general trend Unorganized, Tribal, and Personality Cults are the most common. Their doctrine is generally some form of pantheism or animism- when you’re dealing with the Shadow it’s usually hard to come away with a different impression. A rare few Cults are proper polytheists, seeing the powerful Diharim as being a pantheon of sorts, making their worship of one Spirit in particular henotheistic. Whatever the case may be, it is rare that a Spirit Cult lacks at least a few members who know the occult, and even rarer that a few aren’t Mediums, some variety of Wolf-Blooded, or otherwise touched by the Hisil.

                            Cults dedicated to the shartha are strange, self-destructive things. The Plague King and Spinner Hag make excellent distant deities, and the Hosts are generally good enough at imitating the dead to make it look as though someone who had their brain eaten or their heart burrowed into is still alive and has just, gruesomely, absorbed a shard of the divine. Unless they are aggressive recruiters, or quickly become a proper hybrid instead of a Shard in a meat puppet, shartha Cults tend to burn themselves out- but not before doing terrible damage to the Gauntlet at large.

                            The Idigam, on the other hand, are universally predisposed to Cults. Never ranking below the level of an Ensih, they are movers-and-shakers in the Shadow, spirit gods with talents unlike anything else in the Hisil. The Pangaeans rivaled (and arguably exceeded) them once before, but all the Pangaeans that could realistically interact with them in a meaningful way are dead and gone. The Formless are curiously close to humanity- the Earthbound define themselves by humans, and the Idigam recently returned from the grasp of Warden Moon generally do so as well, albeit in oblique ways. It is worth mentioning here that three of the five sample Idigam in Werewolf Second Edition are said to be the object of worship for significant Cults (some of which may be Lodges) as well as another two Idigam from Night Horrors: Wolfsbane; Gamgur and Mussughana, specifically. Gamgur’s Cult is significantly smaller than Mussughana’s but the two represent interesting Cult dynamics. The Brotherhood of the Locust seeks to spread as far and as wide as it can, devouring faiths and social orders before them, while the church that now worships Gamgur as an angel is a small Cult that is quite happy staying small, thank-you very much.

                            In the Blood: The Wolfblooded make for fascinating cultists- in a Pack they are the glue that holds the core of Uratha with the human outskirts, the intermediaries who translate the worlds of Flesh and Spirit to inhabitants of one or the other as needed, even if they don’t fully immerse themselves in the two worlds as their Uratha cousins do. They have power, not enough to challenge the heirs of Wolf, but just enough to make themselves dangerous. In absence of the Uratha, they’re at the top of the food chain in their Cults and Packs, shamans and occultists who can deal with spirits in ways that others can’t. Unlike the Uratha, the Wolfblooded cannot find Harmony with their natures. They are constantly at war with themselves, and that can make them ambitious and dangerous; and a Cult of Wolfblooded with the backing of a Totem, even more so.

                            Vampire: While there could be dozens of reasons why a vampire would want a Cult, ultimately it all boils down to one thing in particular- blood. Almost the first thing young Kindred will use their Cult for is as a Herd. Vampires favor Grasp over Reach, taking the First Tradition with deadly seriousness and leaning on Conspirators and Agents (probably Dominated, Awed, or Blood Bound) to make their way in the world. When designing a local Domain, think of how powerful the Prince is, and how they maintain their power. Do they delegate to capable Conspirators and Agents, their advisors and courtiers? Do they wield raw influence? Do they lean on the Covenants? Do they mostly use servants outside the normal Kindred power structure, ghouling significant mortals? This will influence who the Prince is, and how they rule. One with less personal power is likely to be a perfect politician, dancing along a razor’s edge to keep the sharks at each other’s throats instead of theirs. One with a lot of personal power is liable to be a stereotypical tyrant Prince.

                            Because the Kindred rely on mortal agents to do their bidding during daylight hours and to reinforce the First Tradition, most of their Cults tend to rely on tight personal bonds and the insidious use of blood magic to establish ecstatic Cults of Personality, competent Conspiracies, close-lipped Tribes, and hedonistic Elite Clubs. This is no different for the Covenants. Each Covenant is designed to function like a massive Cult, though local branches will almost certainly be smaller. Traits dedicated to the Covenant itself are technically tagged to “the Covenant” but practically they are the purview of the Covenant’s local leader. Merits that rely on Covenant Status and access Covenant resources are effectively using Reach or Grasp to get what they want. Powerful Agents will likely be other high-ranking Vampires in its power structure, while Agents and Conspirators are either lower down on the chain, mortals under their thumb, or Ghouls. Consider, then, what the character of the Covenant is based on how their Cult is built.

                            Blood Will Out: Where are the mortal members in all this? As mentioned above, Reach and Grasp translates to more than just influence, it’s membership and contacts made. Simply put, for the Kindred, mortals are usually set dressing- food, resources, somewhere in the background. It wouldn’t be strange for there to be some silent humans, pulses racing, at Kindred functions- after all, everyone needs to eat and it’s an uncharitable host who doesn’t provide refreshments. However, for Cults with heavy amounts of Lore and Practical Application, it is not unusual to have several Ghoul Agents, or for the majority of mortal cultists to be Ghouls themselves.

                            The Ones Who Can’t Stop: Ghouls have an odd position in the Covenants. They are valued servants who are, typically, denied access to true positions of power due to their fundamentally human nature. Ghouls have the advantage of being able to move in daylight, while still being capable of wielding Disciplines. While unable to use Cruac, nothing stops them from wielding Theban Sorcery. They can move in the worlds of both mortal and vampire, and that gives them some serious power in the Danse Macabre. It is also worth pointing out that they are, more often than not, Vitae addicts blood bonded to their Regnant, valuable tools in the Danse for their master. For all the independent power of a Ghoul, that power still depends on the Kindred.

                            Demon: The Unchained live in the dark place where government agencies, corporations, and religions turn into Cults with sinister agendas. They used to serve the biggest manipulator of them all, and now they wield Its own strategies against it. The Unchained are willing to pick up any tools at their disposal, but for obvious reasons lean towards Conspiracies. Demon Cults are miniscule compared to those of other esohumans, primarily to preserve Cover and slip beneath the notice of the God-Machine. A cunning outcast relies upon Conspirators and Leverage, routing them through different Covers. The primary use of a Cult is resources, access, and security for one of the Unchained.

                            The Cults of the Unchained are all about utility, and their Foundations reflect carefully calculated decisions regarding how the outcast at its head is going to be moving things forwards. A Demon’s Agenda and personal ideal of Hell, exemplified by their Cipher, is going to heavily influence how the Cult moves forwards. Tempters may be predisposed to Enterprises and Elite Clubs, but that doesn’t mean that a Builder can’t be as much of a revolutionary as a Saboteur. In the same way, Inquisitors are notoriously paranoid, building spidery Conspiracies, but that doesn’t mean they don’t find the outright religious imagery that would be the hallmark of an Integrator without its uses or charms.

                            Agencies lean towards being a bit bigger than personal Cults, but are no less reliant upon their Conspirators, Agents, Operatives, or Leverage. The difference being their Agents and Operatives tend to be fellow Unchained or Stigmatics instead of regular humans. Free Agencies keep hold of a lot of Leverage, Temporal Agencies tend to stockpile Lore, and Insurgent Agencies maintain Arsenals and train Militant Agents. Pay special attention to Step 1 when designing an Agency, but also remember the inherently paranoid nature of the Unchained- how big can a Demon Cult get, how much trust can they invest in someone, before it becomes a security risk? What problems plague the Agency? How much attention are they willing to attract?

                            The God-Machine, on the other hand, has no such qualms about size or visibility. A Cult meant to maintain some Infrastructure or serve an Angel’s Mission will be as big or as small as it needs to be, and this is without the attention the God-Machine garners almost unintentionally. Far more often than not, however, God-Machine Cults are intentional projects built to accomplish highly specific goals. However the God-Machine, if it can be said to have a central intelligence, is… somewhat absent-minded. This tendency to not always send a Destroyer to eliminate defunct Infrastructure, or tools meant to maintain Infrastructure, means it can be hard to determine a God-Machine Cult that is actively part of the Machine’s plans, engaging directly in Infrastructure upkeep, has simply been forgotten, or sprung up without any God-Machine interference.

                            Those Who Can See: Stigmatics are the wild cards in this cold war between the Machine and its rebellious servants, recruited, groomed, created, and conscripted by each individual side for their power and knowledge. A Stigmatic’s identity isn’t at risk acting in an unusual manner, they can take risks the Unchained wouldn’t, and they don’t trigger Aetheric Resonance, making them the perfect infiltration assets for Angels. This puts a Stigmatic, any Stigmatic, under a lot of pressure to join one side or another, and the players in this game don’t have to play nicely. Stigmatics are indoctrinated, infested with programmable cryptoflora, embedded with enough wetware to make them a Lost Boy, conditioned with Numina and technology to become a Dreamer, or even worse fates. Stigmatics need to take decisive action, and they always need to do it fast. Remember rule number one.

                            Changeling: The Lost have an… interesting relationship with Cults. The attitude of most Cults often make them think of their Durance, of their servitude to the Gentry, and quite a few Lost would bristle at the comparison between the organizations they establish and the courts of Arcadia. But, the comparisons still stand. The Courts are the big ones, acting as support structures for their members with a heavy ritual aspect. There are excellent reasons for this, notably that it protects the city housing the Freehold, making it virtually impossible for the True Fae to act, and extremely tempting for any Huntsmen to follow the rules, but if people were to know the extent of their activities, the Courts would still look like Cults. The Entitlements even more so, being the more exclusive and even more ritualized groups that they are. The Lost are on the long road home, but they can also never go back. Faerie has etched its laws into their soul, and part of those laws is rite and ritual, and only like-minded individuals can understand.

                            When it comes to Foundation, it’s all about the story. A Court given to opulence and political power might be an Elite Club, while the Iron Spear is more likely to be a Gang. Is the Court centered on a powerful monarch, making it a Cult of Personality? Does the Court have the powerful ties of family and faith, making them a Tribe? Do they have their fingers in mortal businesses, spinning gold from straw in Enterprises? The Courts have their own rituals to assist in maintaining the Bulwark, and the Freehold as a whole has a larger system in place. They have their Mantles initiating them into the Mysteries of the Court, their Nobility enforcing their interpretation of the story, and the dangerous, careful dance between Huntsman and Changeling.

                            Consider the story of a Court, and how that influences their structure. Who are their Conspirators? What kind of Leverage do they hold? Do they have an Agent in certain organizations to help the Hedge-fresh gain new identities and get back on their feet? Do they have access to weaponry? Do they bribe the local Goblin Market for first crack at their goods? The Courts and Entitlements of the Lost are still Cults by definition, but they are generally benevolent ones. This isn’t to say that they are perfectly law-abiding or unattached to criminal elements- Faerie knows no law save the Wyrd, and the Lost have to play by those rules. The darker side of humanity can be an excellent source of Glamour, and the desperate are always ready for a Bargain. The Cults of the Lost are support structures first and foremost, and that means access to Glamour, Tokens, and mortals they can Bargain with in order to hide from the Huntsmen.

                            The Gentry can benefit from Cults as well, subtly influencing them through a Prop, speaking to them through their Wisps, seducing them away to Faerie or bullying them into gathering up soon-to-be slaves. Perhaps the Old God is even whispering to them from beyond the grave, through one of the Inamorata. Maybe the Stranger has ordered a Huntsman to command the Cult for them- an angry, cunning, vicious creature willing to do whatever it needs to in order to go back home. A group of privateers or Loyalists is just as much a Cult as a Goblin Market or Hob-tribe. This brings in an important factor of Changeling life- political concerns aren’t just on one side of the Hedge. If the Freehold needs to negotiate with a nearby Hedgetown or Hob-Kingdom, they’ll do what they need to do. A Changeling is part of two highly distinct worlds, and can disappear fully into one or the other, and that is dangerous regardless of whether they choose Faerie or Ironside.

                            The Oath Keepers: The Fae-Touched are home, they can go back whenever they want to; family, friends, a job, a home, it’s all there for them. But most of them don’t want to go back, because the people at home won’t understand what they’ve seen, what they’ve been through. The Lost can understand, the Lost can help them get through it, but even then the Lost have been through so much more. The Lost don’t want them involved any more than they have to, regardless of how much they might want them to be, either because the Fae-Touched can’t really understand, because they don’t want them involved in the society the Lost have built for themselves. Whatever the reasons, Fae-Touched crave the company of Changelings, partially because they need someone who they can relate to, but also because they have seen much of the wonder, and not enough of the horror, of Faerie. The Fae-Touched are living on borrowed time, wanting to plunge headfirst into a world that could swallow them whole. They can be liabilities as much as they are assets.

                            My Homebrew Hub


                            • #15
                              So, I've taken to reworking this project... again. I'm happier with how it's turning out, but I'd like some feedback on what I've got so far and what people think. It's a little more toolbox-like now, a little more crunchy, mechanically, without all the fiddly bits, and it's also heavily streamlined from the old version. Less number crunching now.

                              New document is here.

                              My Homebrew Hub