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Old Cults and early cultures?


Pathfinder Campaign Setting General Discussion


While going through some old modules and material looking for something to run for a new group I've ran across the whole kellids connection to the old cults. Am I the only one who notices this? How deep does this influence goes, I remember mention of backwood kellids worshiping strange gods and of ruins of kellid origins that hold dark secrets. Being a fan of the kellid ethnicity this made me wonder about how close did the kellids in the past get to the old ones, I know the other groups who lived on Golarion at the early years of mankind had connections to the Dark Tapestries, the Thassilonians had a group of conjurers who called up creatures to impress their masters, the osirians had the whole dominion of black and crawling chaos connection, Azlant was 'uplifted' by the Aboleth, the Shory had power over strange magics that 'might' have been powered by Azathoths primal energies.

what are other examples? Not to mention what other examples are in Golarion solar system! I love Aucturn and how its the planet of the old cult worship that may even be alive.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber

No, you aren't the only one whose noticed this. The Kellids in question are those who lived in Ustalav, and as far as I can tell, the ancient Kellids from other regions had no significant ties to the Old Cults. Ustalav has always been a hotbed for Old Cults activity - especially the county of Versex.

Another culture with heavy ties to the Old Cults is Ancient Osirion. We'll learn a lot more about it in the upcoming Pathfinder Campaign book Lost Kingdoms, but we know that they have some connection to the mysterious Dominion of the Black.

Additionally, a great many Darklands races love propitiating alien abominations. Troglodytes, neothelids, cloakers, derros, and aboleths, for example.

There's a whole article on the Old Cults in Wake of the Watcher (Adeventure Path #4), and some extra details on Old Cult gods and their worshippers in Faiths of Corruption.


Generic Villain wrote:

No, you aren't the only one whose noticed this. The Kellids in question are those who lived in Ustalav, and as far as I can tell, the ancient Kellids from other regions had no significant ties to the Old Cults. Ustalav has always been a hotbed for Old Cults activity - especially the county of Versex.

Another culture with heavy ties to the Old Cults is Ancient Osirion. We'll learn a lot more about it in the upcoming Pathfinder Campaign book Lost Kingdoms, but we know that they have some connection to the mysterious Dominion of the Black.

Additionally, a great many Darklands races love propitiating alien abominations. Troglodytes, neothelids, cloakers, derros, and aboleths, for example.

There's a whole article on the Old Cults in Wake of the Watcher (Adeventure Path #4), and some extra details on Old Cult gods and their worshippers in Faiths of Corruption.

The Dark lands are always inhabited by the strangest things which is why I love the fluff for psionic Duergar, though I still wonder about the Vaults and their little self contained eco-systems and the natives and ruins on Aballon and other planets. What about Bokrug? His entry in the Faiths of Corruption says most of his worshipers begin as Erastil followers or rural folk who become infected by Bokrug seed/spawns.

Also where are the Old Cults more active at and which Great/Old One seems more active on Golarion? And how to worshipers of the old cults compete against actual gods who have similar portfolios.Do they fight or work together?

Paizo Employee Creative Director

There's a big article about the Great Old Ones in Pathfinder #46...


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber
Freedom16 wrote:
Also where are the Old Cults more active at and which Great/Old One seems more active on Golarion?

Really this is a matter for the GM to decide. The short answer: Ustalav, the Darklands, and anywhere a small group of cultists can gather. The Mwangi Expanse, Osirion, the Sodden Lands... all would make great haunts for Old Cultists. As for which ones are most active, there's no real answer to that. Whichever ones work best for your campaign really.

Freedom16 wrote:
And how to worshipers of the old cults compete against actual gods who have similar portfolios.Do they fight or work together?

I seriously doubt Old Cultists would ever work with "normal" gods, or even other Great Old Ones/Elder Gods. Essentially, to be a genuine Old Cultist, you have to be nihilistic, insane, demented, and otherwise not play well with others. No sane religion would ever willingly work with Old Cultists - and the insane religions (Rovagug, Groetus, et al) would be just as happy slaughtering Old Cultists as anything.


Generic Villain wrote:
Freedom16 wrote:
Also where are the Old Cults more active at and which Great/Old One seems more active on Golarion?

Really this is a matter for the GM to decide. The short answer: Ustalav, the Darklands, and anywhere a small group of cultists can gather. The Mwangi Expanse, Osirion, the Sodden Lands... all would make great haunts for Old Cultists. As for which ones are most active, there's no real answer to that. Whichever ones work best for your campaign really.

Freedom16 wrote:
And how to worshipers of the old cults compete against actual gods who have similar portfolios.Do they fight or work together?
I seriously doubt Old Cultists would ever work with "normal" gods, or even other Great Old Ones/Elder Gods. Essentially, to be a genuine Old Cultist, you have to be nihilistic, insane, demented, and otherwise not play well with others. No sane religion would ever willingly work with Old Cultists - and the insane religions (Rovagug, Groetus, et al) would be just as happy slaughtering Old Cultists as anything.

True an only two groups I could see working together are Rovugog and Mhar since they both seek destruction. Do old cults exist any where other then Golarion? Do cults hide among the ruins of aballon or Aktion? How about Eox or any other planet?

Shadow Lodge

Generic Villain wrote:
Freedom16 wrote:
And how to worshipers of the old cults compete against actual gods who have similar portfolios.Do they fight or work together?
I seriously doubt Old Cultists would ever work with "normal" gods, or even other Great Old Ones/Elder Gods. Essentially, to be a genuine Old Cultist, you have to be nihilistic, insane, demented, and otherwise not play well with others. No sane religion would ever willingly work with Old Cultists - and the insane religions (Rovagug, Groetus, et al) would be just as happy slaughtering Old Cultists as anything.

I can definitely see Nyarlathotep working with the worshippers of any/all religions. Admittedly, it might only be "in disguise" for the majority of the non-Mythos religions, but that's kind of his thing...he's "the soul and the messenger of the Outer Gods". And Cthulhu is referred to as a priest of the Outer Gods. So there may be a bit more interaction between the Mythos deities than you have implied.

Freedom16 wrote:
Do old cults exist any where other then Golarion? Do cults hide among the ruins of aballon or Aktion? How about Eox or any other planet?

Oh, they're definitely found outside of Golarion. However, outside of Golarion you're less likely to think of them as a cult, and more likely just to think of them as strange aliens worshiping strange alien gods. But the overwhelming majority of the Great Old Ones are from places other than Golarion, as are most of the Mythos races. So to paraphrase the X-Files: The blasphemous truth is out there.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber
Kthulhu wrote:

I can definitely see Nyarlathotep working with the worshippers of any/all religions. Admittedly, it might only be "in disguise" for the majority of the non-Mythos religions, but that's kind of his thing...he's "the soul and the messenger of the Outer Gods". And Cthulhu is referred to as a priest of the Outer Gods. So there may be a bit more interaction between the Mythos deities than you have implied.

Old Cultists may infiltrate other religions for their own gain (especially sneakier gods like Nyarlathotep, as you said), but never for the betterment of the other group. A priest of Cthulhu won't buddy up with the church of Erastil because he wants to help them - he's doing it to further his own ends. When the Cthulhu priest had everything he needed, he'd move on, probably fater murdering as many of his erstwhile "allies" as possible.

As for Cthulhu being the "priest of the Outer Gods," that may be, but it certainly doesn't mean his worshipers are suberservient in any way to other cults. It states in sources such as the Factions Guide that the Old Cults are incredibly disorganized and tend to have a lot of infighting. Two typical priests of the same Great Old One can barely get along with each other - they certainly wouldn't take a servile role to a worshiper of, say, Azatoth, just because the latter priest worships an Outer God.

Of course that leads to potentially interesting plots in and of itself. A leader with the foresight, charisma, and power to unite multiple Old Cults would make for a great campaign. Indeed, it's hinted that Carsai the King of Aucturn, who is probably one of the most powerful Old Cultists in Golarion's solar system, may not even be a follower of the Old Cults. This makes sense to me - the only one capable of actually leading a group as disparate as the Old Cults, would be someone who doesn't actually serve any of the Outer Gods/Great Old Ones. Sort of like if the real-world pope was actually Hindu or somesuch.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting Subscriber
Freedom16 wrote:
True an only two groups I could see working together are Rovugog and Mhar since they both seek destruction. Do old cults exist any where other then Golarion? Do cults hide among the ruins of aballon or Aktion? How about Eox or any other planet?

There's a huge meteor mentioned in Distant Worlds that's honeycombed with passages, and strong implications that Hastur and his Yellow Sign "infect" the place. But yeah, as Ktulu said, the Old Cults are everywhere in Golarion's solar system. Actually, they're most likely everywhere in Golarion's universe. Purely speculating here, but the pantheon of Outer Gods/Great Old Ones is probably the single largest religion in the Material Plane.

To expand on cults working together, again, it just depends on what the GM needs. I'd say your typical Old Cultist is a gibbering psycho, but there are certainly also priests with enough self control to work with others as needed. And all it takes is one of those to gather of small army of the afforementioned gibbering psychos, and you've got a big problem.

There are two great sources I've found for what are essentially Old Cults, but nor by Paizo. The first is called Cults of Freeport, and features an in-depth look at a cult of Hastur and Azatoth (along with a number of other nasty gods). The second is Monte Cook's Ptolus setting. In Ptolus, there are things called Chaos Cults which worship all manner of alien horrors. Some very cool ideas there.


I see and I remember that asteroid is now a quarantined zone and a deadly place to go because the original inhabitant died from 'exposure to the dark between the stars' and those who visited to study the ruins went insane as well. I've had players in the past 'worship' great old ones especially when I ran temple of the frog set in Golarion, i removed the element of a cult breeding the 'ultimate frog race with Bokrug influencing a cult of people lead by a Numerian Priest who is mutating slowly to make his influence greater in golarion.

You've mentioned one of my favorite setting for the whole urban adventures, Ptolus was a big thing my players never saw as cool but my 'chaoticly aligned' players loved it. Though the cults do seem good as a example, what about chaositech in golarion? I can picture a technic league tinkerer attempting to take it apart but end up with it attaching itself opening its mind to outer influences.

As for the Freeport reference, I think I actually have that book some where with some old d20 stuff put up. I'll have to look later but if it describes a cult of yig and the yellow sign it might be a good addition to my supplies.


Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Freedom16 wrote:
Though the cults do seem good as a example, what about chaositech in golarion? I can picture a technic league tinkerer attempting to take it apart but end up with it attaching itself opening its mind to outer influences.

Chaositech just seems like a great fit with the Technic League in general.

I might actually use that for my version of Numeria. It ends up rather different than the "Expedition to the Barrier Peaks" feel, but is close enough outsiders wouldn't see the difference and fills a part of my gigantic Lovecraft quota.

Cheers!
Landon


Landon Winkler wrote:
Freedom16 wrote:
Though the cults do seem good as a example, what about chaositech in golarion? I can picture a technic league tinkerer attempting to take it apart but end up with it attaching itself opening its mind to outer influences.

Chaositech just seems like a great fit with the Technic League in general.

I might actually use that for my version of Numeria. It ends up rather different than the "Expedition to the Barrier Peaks" feel, but is close enough outsiders wouldn't see the difference and fills a part of my gigantic Lovecraft quota.

Cheers!
Landon

I like what your saying Landon, my Numeria is more Expedition to the Barrier Peaks and Blackmoor-ish with a hint of Egg of Coot. The league isnt just obsessed with skytech, they want knowledge of everything. I made party combat a group of mutated ghouls serving a numerian ncromancer fighting over a verces augmented with chaositech augments whose ship went into a zone where it was warped and mutated into a unearthly horror. When they ran through the ship ruins a member of the party whose a league apprentice found a suit of armor with the adaptation abilities and decided they were gonna send it back and it resulted in a aballonian machine cyst appearing in the numerian badlands with aballonians trying to adapt skytech for their own purposes.

I've even been tampering with a psionic cult dedicated to the great old ones, I can see them dedicated to Bokrug and Cthulhu easily and even Hastur possibly. I want to convert the 'dream-stained' items from Hyperconcious:Exploration of Psionics since the items are 'stained' by a outer influence so they would make great gifts for cultist. I remember in a past game we used dream-stained gifts for Bokrug in a homebrew setting and made it as sort of a progressive insanity and mutation chain.

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