Fun with Cults

Hi all!

I just had a bit of an idea inspired from the Raising characteristics thread - what if we all put together a sample cult or two with a couple of initiation scripts? Then there'd be a heap of interesting cults for people to use :smiley:.

just realized I left my mysteries book elsewhere, so forgive me any breaches of the rule...

The Swordsman's School

The Swordsman's school could be located anywhere that a well paid and respected swordmaster might take employment; so usually near nobles or within cities to teach the middle classes who want to learn, or perhaps to train groups of militia. Note that these schools will likely advertise themselves, and often have fights for display or otherwise. They won't teach their mysteries for free, but they might give people a few sample lessons to interest people.

The Master will likely be respected for having either experienced and been celebrated in war situations, or perhaps might be well known on the tourney circuit.

There are likely a number of students that simply pay for Single Weapon, Athletics, Riding or Great Weapon instruction that recieve no further mysteries.

There are few ranks within the schools other than the Master of the school and a couple of assistant instructors. It will usually be the assistant instructors who recieve the benefits of any mysteries, and the Master being almost always the mystagogue.

The Master will almost never attempt to initiate virtues he doesn't himself know. He will restrict himself to virtues around his chosen profession; being a warrior.

Swordsman's (Or Warriors) Lore is the ability that is tied to the initiation process. Note that while some differences occur, travelling to study with another master will also gain Swordsman's Lore - while some differences in philosophy are there, they aren't different enough to warrant another ability.

Most Swordsmans Schools can at least initiate Puissant (weapon) and Improved Characteristics.

Script to come when I have my other book handy :smiley:.

Can't recall if msytagoge requires the Gift or not... serf's parma attack!

Anyway, here's one from me also missing initiation scripts because of serf's parma.

The Illuminati (or substitute a better name)

This cult believes that information is power, and strive to know everything that is going on everywhere. The cult itself exists in flagrant violation of the Code (especially the part about scrying), which is why it maintains its secrecy as much as it does and why its very existence is a rumour.

Probationers are selected for not just a gift with Intellego, but also for their general curiosity and ability to stick their nose in where it doesn't belong. Magi who are tried of the crime of scrying for minor offenses are observed closely and possibly offered membership once their dues are paid for their crime.

Early initiates learn the Art of Memory, being trained by what seems like well-meaning mundane scholars or even other magi to remember clearly. Scrolls with spells to aid in memory and recollection are loaned and, if the probationer takes them up with interest, an 'invitation' to join the cult may be forthcoming.

Virtues to be initiated include puissant intellego and a focus in scrying. Virtues to extend the ability of scrying magics (the one in Hedge Magic from the 'Folk Witch' chapter from initiating second sight, for example) are also initiated. Training in guile is also taught. In exchange for these secrets, initiates are expected to give up arcane connections to themselves to the higher ranking members of the cult, and to conduct surveillance on targets as required. Acquiring arcane connections to everyone is part of the cult's agenda, but they are careful not to use these connections except as required by the cult.

Cult members that are found guilty of scrying can sometimes receive help from the cult, but are sometimes simply left to hang. Rumors abound of magi being Marched only to disappear completely, with rumor that they have adopted an entirely new persona and are still living within the Order - a transition made possible by the machinations of the cult.

Story potential for player members involves getting them into trouble for scrying, or delivering interesting/damning information via their scrying that they now have to figure out how to leverage without showing their hand. Having to assist in 'resettling' cult members could also make for interesting stories.

As a cult to play against, these guys are dangerous because they know everything. Mundane spies and magical backup should be expected. Thankfully, the blatantly illegal actions of the cult mean that victories can be gained against members at Tribunal - or at least vindicated should the magi find themselves at blows with a cult member.

I've been holding off posting on this thread for a while because I wasn't sure which of my players read this and which don't. However, I've just posted all of the cults, up to the levels they know of, into my campaigns wiki.

Take in mind this is from a campaign not set in the standard Ars setting, its a high fantasy home brew world. But maybe it will serve to give someone an idea.

Here we have the cult of the Great Volcano spirit

The Great Ocean spirit's cult

And the Teachings of the Great Bear (aka a famous psychotic mage lord from centuries past who has under gone a rather transformative experience)

If you follow the link on those pages, it'll take you to another page with some more cults listed but alas no details as my players haven't yet investigated them. I'll be adding to these cult pages as my players go through more initiations.


Working off memory here, so just rough sketches. From a saga that was built on the idea of immortal magi waging shadow wars behind the scenes.

Tremere Necromancers
This is a secret mystery cult that controls House Tremere's higher echelons. It's outer mystery is the Leadworker virtue, and adds in suitable necromantic virtues like Second Sight, Spirit Familiar, Canaaite Necromancy (integrated from Ancient Magic) and the Living Ghost. The cult is secretly led by liches - living ghosts possessing a human, whose spirit returns to their talisman if their body is slain. The liches control House Tremere as well as (often indirectly) other magi and resources.

The biggest secret of this cult, however, is that it is actually waging a shadow war in Tartarus. Much of the raw vis and magical resources of the House are spent on this war; and as the liches are losing, they reach out to the PCs. What they are fighting is Tremere's Army - the army of ghosts, bound titans, and other fell beasts that Tremere the Founder - or rather, his ghost - marshaled in Tartarus after his death. He apparently didn't discourage of the idea of ruling the world; he just decided to rule the underworld first, and now he's just about ready to start on the upside again...

Renowned throughout Mythic Europe for their open schools on Artes Liberales (each master teaches once a year, free of charge, barring none from his lectures), these magi are seen as scholars employing Divination through Astrology to provide uncanny insights into the future. Many a king and wizard consults an Astrologer regularly.

The cult starts by teaching Affinity in Artes Liberales, then moves to Celestial Magic and a suitable Magical Focus (Sign); with Death Prophecy as an Ordeal. Only through long service can one then reach the second circle, which indeed teaches a variant of Divination, but also grants Visions.

The big secret of the cult, however, is that it is actually Infernal. The Visions are demonic, and allow demons to subtly corrupt the practitioner. Cultists are taught a cyclical-time heresy similar to that of House Criamon, but with en emphasis on the suffering in life and the impossibility of breaking the cycle. Cultists believe going to Hell in their afterlife is their Fate, and deny Free Will. The inner-most circle is taught Cthonic Magic and various Infernal tricks I never got around to describing. These should definitely include the ability to use Intellego to Hex, and do Premonitions.

They are basically bad-ass because they know everything that is about to happen in advance, and use various Infernal tricks and subterfuge to turn that to their advantage. They posed as allies, and were supposed to have been manipulating events to serve their Infernal aims in the big reveal - including the fall of the covenant and tribunal to the Mongol hordes.

A cult that teachers dream-magic. They have a bene-gesserit thing where a master (physically) steps into the dreams of his disciple, continuing to live in his dreams. They thus harbor immortal, ancient, magi inside them, which they can let possess them at their will. They are also heavily into the Shared Unconscious, seemingly engaged in a strange war that occurs in dream-time between the Jungian Archetypes across the dreamworld of all of humanity.

For the most part, they are simply crazily weird magi that can jump out of people's heads, turn into any archmagus type in an instant, speak in dream-logic ways (and achieve things this way!), and generally serve as as the wildcards and hail-marys to save the PCs bacon and be the "Yoda" of the saga.

Really nice cults. I specially liked the astrologers. Niuce twist and one that fits better with the way we use the infernal agents.


Oooh, nice!
I like that!