2013 Previews #20: Cultic Cryptomancia

Yesterday we told you about the upcoming Cultic Cryptomancia and the horrors within, so today I thought would be a good time to give you a bit more insight on the character options present in this product. For your reading pleasure…

Cultists typically feature as adversaries rather than as legitimate options for play, but there is certainly ample room for PCs to engage themselves either with cult members as allies (especially in an “enemy of my enemy is my friend” or “lesser of two evils” situation), or may decide to directly involve themselves in the activities of a known cult. For that matter, an ambitious PC might even seek to found their own cult. Affiliation with a cult or creation of a cult is possible through simple role-play, of course, but those seeking a mechanical connection with their cultic background or delving into the deeper secrets of hidden societies. Some classes like the inquisitor are, obviously, well-suited for carrying out the work of investigation and (if needed), though inquisitors and investigators of all kinds must be careful of falling prey to a dangerous fascination that builds into an obsession with the very thing they sought to unmask and unravel. Some may become a cult’s most insidious allies. Clerics with the separatist archetype may subvert the normal teachings of their faith, weaving them with the rites of the cult, as may heretic inquisitors, while infiltrator inquisitors may be the leading edge of those trying to rend asunder the veil of secrecy surrounding a cult and exorcist inquisitors may trail in their wake in order to undo the lingering psychic damage inflicted by the cult upon its disciples.

Cult leaders themselves may not be spellcasters at all, and could have no supernatural talents or may have only what rituals they may have gleaned from a fragmentary mythos tome or blasphemous rite handed down through the secret lore of the cult. What a cult leader must have, however, is great force of personality, enough to convince fellow cultists that they are the chosen speaker for whatever their patron power may be, and to follow their lead even when that leadership leads into paths of once-unthinkable depravity. Some are charlatans through and through, confabulating entirely invented religions and driving others under their aegis through promulgating an apocalyptic message that suggests that only with them and their secrets can safety and surety be found. Some dispense with the theatrics and simply build a cult of personality around themselves. Most, however, pay genuine homage to otherworldly powers that are all too real, whatever their origin, and use their powers of persuasion to add to those gathered under their alien banner. Demagogue bards make excellent cult leaders of the former kind, often developing radical or hedonistic sects that lap up the demagogue’s every utterance as though it were truly inspired wisdom. For the latter kind of cult leader, true believers in their hidden patrons devoted to bringing their alien visions to pass, the class best suited to leadership is the oracle. With a heavy focus on Charisma and the revelation of ancient mysteries of all sorts, oracles have both the thematic and mechanical congruence with the idea of a cult leader. Any kind of mystery can serve a cultic purpose if pursued through a secret society or appropriate flavor text that shrouds it in primitivism, xenophobia, misinformation, or idolatrous trappings, but for those seeking a close alliance with alien powers from beyond, we present here the Eldritch mystery. Oracles of this mystery will stop at nothing to facilitate the return of their dread patrons, dragging the world screaming into madness and devastation that makes “hell on earth” seem like a pleasant fantasy and where the only hope is to be among the first to be devoured.

If that doesn’t whet your appetite a bit, just wait for tomorrow and bit of mechanical goodness for your reading pleasure!