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SO MANY CULTIST


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion


previous campaign i got to fight cultist, and current campaign i got to fight cultist again.

damn, why cultist everywhere ? or i just get unlucky campaign involving them ?


There's only so many plot bad-guy archtypes honestly; and they're all cliches of some kind.

I have cultist types in my campaign, but they're actually LN and it's actually a form of possession caused by their religion that's a problem (causing them to go insane, become violent, mutate, etc..); so there are ways to avoid the cliches and also cause your players to interact with them differently.

Before this one I've run 2-3 other campaigns where people started off fighting lots of Goblins/Orks (with a 'K' man!) and I decided that I was going to try really hard not to bombard them with what they've encountered a ton of before. So I've also been avoiding Skeletons and whatnot despite my model collection and affinity for them.

Funny enough, because I'm avoiding those archs, I've gone to Troglodytes and Cult problems.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
hellatze wrote:

previous campaign i got to fight cultist, and current campaign i got to fight cultist again.

damn, why cultist everywhere ? or i just get unlucky campaign involving them ?

Because there are more evil gods than good gods.

Yeah. just look at the number of gods with the good domain (93) vs. evil (200). Even if you include the various alignments neutral on that spectrum, and it is still 175 vs 200.

Of course, most of the evil religions tend to be petty and/or self destructive. Ergo, they rarely get widespread acceptance, which means most evil religions are forced to hide in the shadows. Thus cults.

There are more evil things than anything else because this is a game designed for combat, and it has only two main categories- things the players use, and things the players kill. Everything else is fluff, and most players only use so much material at a time (ie- one player is a cleric that only uses their one god's stuff at a time). But there is always a need for new, disposable evil creatures- they are basically a rapidly used commodity. Thus there are tons of unique evil things that come in different flavors like chips come in different flavors.

It is also thematic, since having a world that is constantly on the verge of destruction due to the over abundance of evil forces means that singular, powerful heroes can swoop in and save the day.


Should we point out that, pretty much by definition, cultists are not accepted religions and a part of society, so it is OK to kill them? Most games the Cultist is always in seaon and there is no tag limit on them.

More seriously, cults, secretive groups with mysterious goals, are a natural threat in this kind of milieu.


Daw wrote:

Should we point out that, pretty much by definition, cultists are not accepted religions and a part of society, so it is OK to kill them? Most games the Cultist is always in seaon and there is no tag limit on them.

More seriously, cults, secretive groups with mysterious goals, are a natural threat in this kind of milieu.

sometimes i really wish to kill a king or mad scientist or anything that not cultist

razmir is cultist in my book >:(


Iron Gods or Reign of Winter might have the foes you seek.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Maybe your GMs just like demon lords? You can't really do fiend demigod plot without cultists :p

Anyhoo, just to note since someone claimed there are only so many bad guy archetypes, you can actually use cultists in multiple variety of ways without making them feel the same, though I assume most GMs just like the classic "human sacrifices, mysterious chanting, robes and daggers" thing. One of fun ways to use cultists is to basically model them on real life cult behavior xP

(as bit off topic sidenote, In general, I'm weirded out by people being "hey if I don't use orcs/goblins/kobolds, I instead over use this type of enemy!" thing. Like when I designed my homebrew campaign, it didn't even enter my mind that lich BBEG would be necromancer, players are the one that keep for some reason expecting necromancers on island with undead mist monsters. Its more about being creative how you use them rather than how often/what you use them really.)

^Isn't Iron Gods kind of bad example even if "cultists" in Iron Gods are more gang members than cultists? :D

Anyhoo, speaking of adventure paths, I don't think most APs actually have cultists are main villains. Like, I think some of them do feature them as villains in one of the six books, but thats it.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
hellatze wrote:
Daw wrote:

Should we point out that, pretty much by definition, cultists are not accepted religions and a part of society, so it is OK to kill them? Most games the Cultist is always in seaon and there is no tag limit on them.

More seriously, cults, secretive groups with mysterious goals, are a natural threat in this kind of milieu.

sometimes i really wish to kill a king or mad scientist or anything that not cultist

razmir is cultist in my book >:(

Burn that book!


This is a really funny thread for me.

Within my local gaming group, I've GM'ed several times and I've frequently used cultists as villains. Hobgoblin cultists of Moloch, cultists of Baphomet, cultists of Orcus, cultists of Dagon, and so forth. It's become an in-joke that I'm obsessed with cultists and always use them as villains. Or specifically "irredeemable demon-worshipping cultists who can't be reasoned with".


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Razmiran Priest wrote:
hellatze wrote:
Daw wrote:

Should we point out that, pretty much by definition, cultists are not accepted religions and a part of society, so it is OK to kill them? Most games the Cultist is always in seaon and there is no tag limit on them.

More seriously, cults, secretive groups with mysterious goals, are a natural threat in this kind of milieu.

sometimes i really wish to kill a king or mad scientist or anything that not cultist

razmir is cultist in my book >:(

Burn that book!

I approve this message.


I must admit, you sorta have to stop a minute and wonder at just how so many cults to so many obviously evil buggers are able to find ready and willing converts even before magically twisting them to their foul will or the like.

At least Ghlaunder likes to insidiously work by pretending to be a part of another religion and often the rank and file have no idea of their true patron.


When I first bought 3.0, I was shocked (shocked, I tell you) to find that the second level Cleric spell Chant was missing. How could I have cultists without Chant? They'd have nothing to do. This lamentable omission continued into 3.5 and then into PF. I naturally replaced it (and I see Frog God have done so too) so my cultists are gainfully employed once again.

Incidentally, if you like your cultists in black robes skulking about with daggers, you might like the Hecatean. /plug

Dark Archive

I've always said: "Starting a cult is more lucrative, but joining a cult is more fun."


Let's be honest though. Cult rage totem is friggan awesome


Axial wrote:

This is a really funny thread for me.

Within my local gaming group, I've GM'ed several times and I've frequently used cultists as villains. Hobgoblin cultists of Moloch, cultists of Baphomet, cultists of Orcus, cultists of Dagon, and so forth. It's become an in-joke that I'm obsessed with cultists and always use them as villains. Or specifically "irredeemable demon-worshipping cultists who can't be reasoned with".

Well, that is why they make good stock enemies.

There is no need to debate about with "Babby Skulls McGee" (head of a cult that wears the skulls of sacrificed babies as necklaces) is just conflicted and misunderstood. No need to bother with the order of the blue rose guy arguing that he could be reformed like random bandit #471 (who only turned to banditry because of the famine, which was actually the plot of the lich aiming to turn the kingdom into a large ritual sacrifice).

Nope- obviously evil and very on board for doing horrible, horrible things. They make a fairly simple 'shoot on sight' kind of target.

This means that you can very easily and cleanly move into the battle simulation roots of the game.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I find that concept bizarre though, since I think payers should roleplay even with evil foes. I mean how else you get their evilness through? :p


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Razmir, the Living God wrote:
Razmiran Priest wrote:
hellatze wrote:
Daw wrote:

Should we point out that, pretty much by definition, cultists are not accepted religions and a part of society, so it is OK to kill them? Most games the Cultist is always in seaon and there is no tag limit on them.

More seriously, cults, secretive groups with mysterious goals, are a natural threat in this kind of milieu.

sometimes i really wish to kill a king or mad scientist or anything that not cultist

razmir is cultist in my book >:(

Burn that book!
I approve this message.

by iomede order.

no


CorvusMask wrote:
I find that concept bizarre though, since I think payers should roleplay even with evil foes. I mean how else you get their evilness through? :p

fighting tyrant king, deadly monster terrorizing village, killing kraken, mad scientist creator, obsessed wizard for lust of power ?

SO MANY evilness.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Ah, you misunderstood me, I meant concept of "Enemy so vile that players won't even think of not fighting them!". Roleplaying with such folk is the most fun stuff if you ask me rather than just fighting them, ham is fun and all


CorvusMask wrote:
Ah, you misunderstood me, I meant concept of "Enemy so vile that players won't even think of not fighting them!". Roleplaying with such folk is the most fun stuff if you ask me rather than just fighting them, ham is fun and all

yes, but facing a lot of cultist every module making this game.

cultist hunter lol.


Turn "cultist" to "heretic" for a fun twist on a classic!

Take for example, the Golarion deity Pharasma. Now the obvious heresy would be undeath, but that's too easy. Instead, follow me on a journey...

You have a Pharasmin who somehow gets convinced that, in order to balance the scales of neutral and impartial judgment, when a death occurs a birth must not be far behind, or vice versa. They pray for spells each day and said spells are forthcoming. To that priestess it seems as if their interpretation of the cannon is being reinforced by continued divine support, so they spread their word.

This conflicts with the orthodox church. Its such a radical departure it is declared heresy. Inquisitors get involved, the cult goes underground, etc. Meanwhile the PCs are gaining levels fighting boring old kobolds and goblins and growing weary of the pablum.

Suddenly one of them is recalled to the town/city/local settlement for something innocuous: their sister is pregnant! Huzzah the players say as they prepare for some downtime. Returning to the settlement however there's a sudden death - a local is found smothered to death by his pillow. Despite this obvious foul play everyone in the community, even the PC's sister, is completely fine with it.

This puts the PCs on the trail of the heretics. What follows is a mystery investigation against "cultists" who are in fact trying to be good Pharasmin and see to the Ancestors and Healing of their community, except with this one little twist. If the party gets nosy they'll come to blows, but not only will they fight the "cultists" but there's an easy case for having the party run afoul of inquisitors or other church officials as well.


I'm getting into a rut playing my theist characters as heretics or schismatics. Next game, I'm playing a cultist. If you can't beat 'em, fhtagn!


Coidzor wrote:

I must admit, you sorta have to stop a minute and wonder at just how so many cults to so many obviously evil buggers are able to find ready and willing converts even before magically twisting them to their foul will or the like.

Here's the thing with my take: They're chaotic, not evil. It's hard to indiscriminately kill people who just want independence in their little cult; at least until they start rioting in anarchy and whatnot. Anything else is oppression of the worst kind, giving a nice moral ambiguity on how to handle the situation (until it's out of control.)

The fact mine tends to eventually drive them aggressive and insane makes it all the better.


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CorvusMask wrote:
I find that concept bizarre though, since I think payers should roleplay even with evil foes. I mean how else you get their evilness through? :p

I love being generic evil though? It allows me to be delightfully, apologetically evil.

i try my best to do a tim curry impression. My only real problem is trying to keep them alive long enough to get my lines out (note to self: create a cult of personality made of bards; make it so that every cult member is meant to 'perform' the role of the leader based off of a systematic script. This way, you can keep on the dialogue even after they die).

But if we have to get down to it- a good writer can make a character out of the setting itself. Paint a picture with the room, and have that tell the story.

Grand Lodge

Axial wrote:

This is a really funny thread for me.

Within my local gaming group, I've GM'ed several times and I've frequently used cultists as villains. Hobgoblin cultists of Moloch, cultists of Baphomet, cultists of Orcus, cultists of Dagon, and so forth. It's become an in-joke that I'm obsessed with cultists and always use them as villains. Or specifically "irredeemable demon-worshipping cultists who can't be reasoned with".

Try irredeemable devil-worshiping cultists who reason with you in order to take your soul, and offer you whatever you want in exchange. Should be an interesting change for your players.

Shadow Lodge

Cultists are definitely a common enemy type. I'd expect to fight them at least once in any campaign that runs long enough (say, level 1-12) and that has frequent side plots.

If they're the only thing you're fighting in two campaigns in a row... might ask the GM(s) if they could mix it up a little.


Weirdo wrote:

Cultists are definitely a common enemy type. I'd expect to fight them at least once in any campaign that runs long enough (say, level 1-12) and that has frequent side plots.

If they're the only thing you're fighting in two campaigns in a row... might ask the GM(s) if they could mix it up a little.

They are easy to slot into any campaign, really. Even if your campaign does not focus on anything like that, they can pop up due to usual stereotypical relations to the underworld.

-The evil chancellor might hire them to try to assassinate the king.
-The thieve's guild wanted to make some money while silencing someone, and so they sold them as a human sacrifice.
-The cult practices various poisons, including the one that is killing the local dryads- break into the cult to find out who they sold it to.

And all of this comes in before you get into issues such as false leads (you decide 'hey, maybe we should check out the local cults first, they are probably behind all this'- even if they are unrelated) and random encounters (the dragon lives next to a well of power, and some cultists wanted to tap into it to help their summoning- you meet the cultists along the way to slay the dragon).

Shadow Lodge

Oh, I'm not saying you can't fit cultists into a short or tightly focused campaign.

I'm saying that as you increase the length of the campaign and the number of side plots, the odds of running into cultists at some point in that campaign become very high, simply because the GM will run out of new enemies. And at some point I start to be surprised if we haven't run into cultists.


I can't believe I am saying this.
A monster of the week/monster hunter game might be just what he wants.


CorvusMask wrote:
One of fun ways to use cultists is to basically model them on real life cult behavior xP

Any cultists that conduct secret meets that open with simultaneously pointing to unholy symbols with crossed fingers and saluting or have the weird titles real cults give are just going to be laughed at.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
deuxhero wrote:
CorvusMask wrote:
One of fun ways to use cultists is to basically model them on real life cult behavior xP
Any cultists that conduct secret meets that open with simultaneously pointing to unholy symbols with crossed fingers and saluting or have the weird titles real cults give are just going to be laughed at.

I was speaking more of the "brainwash people into believing nonsense and giving them all their money" kind of thing though :P


CorvusMask wrote:
Ah, you misunderstood me, I meant concept of "Enemy so vile that players won't even think of not fighting them!". Roleplaying with such folk is the most fun stuff if you ask me rather than just fighting them, ham is fun and all

Doesn't matter how evil you make a villain, they're got to do something that personally hurts the players I find. Build up a mentor and kill them, burn down the town they really got to liking, have them harried across the land, or simply - have them broken. Preferably kill the original party over time so that you don't get a campaign breaking TPK but at least give everyone some salt.

Or spend a campaign using a villain to deconstruct your friends' closely held beliefs because why not have no one to play with anymore?

OT: Sounds like your GM needs to vary it up a bit. Granted, it difficult to create villains that a) Are intelligent b) think themselves unimpeachable and c) Need to be stopped rather than ignored - if you don't have the confidence to write out more nuanced, complex villains.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Jess Door probably still remembers the adventure I wrote in which the murder cult they were investigating turned out to be an undercover black ops team. The stuff they were actually doing was worse than worshiping evil gods and making human sacrifices...


hellatze wrote:
Razmir, the Living God wrote:
Razmiran Priest wrote:
hellatze wrote:
Daw wrote:

Should we point out that, pretty much by definition, cultists are not accepted religions and a part of society, so it is OK to kill them? Most games the Cultist is always in seaon and there is no tag limit on them.

More seriously, cults, secretive groups with mysterious goals, are a natural threat in this kind of milieu.

sometimes i really wish to kill a king or mad scientist or anything that not cultist

razmir is cultist in my book >:(

Burn that book!
I approve this message.

by iomede order.

no

Iomede season ...

... Razmir season
Iomede season ...
... Razmir season
Iomede season ...
... Razmir season
Wabbit season ...
... Duck season
Fire!

/cevah

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