It’s like build a bear, but with more [redacted]!
To introduce some collaborative world-building, we’re going to be running a build a cult session. This will let you- the players- have a hand in the world your characters will inhabit. Before we get into the nitty gritty, a brief explanation of cults in Scion is in order.
Gods, Cults and You
In Scion, cults have continued worshipping the gods for centuries. These cults have always been reclusive, although some take that further than others- the witch-cult of Selene chose death over discovery, while an old boys club devoted to Hades might operate in the open. Unlike other games, the gods don’t empower these cults or their cultists. Worshipping Kali isn’t going to get you pyromancy and grand rituals serve to evoke awe among worshippers, not to open gateways to hell. They do provide a purpose however, especially to Scions.
In game, cults provide a level of support to Scions. They can provide allies, cash, housing and contacts. Cults have been around for decades, infiltrating society and wrapping themselves around potential resources. They justify characters having access to resources, and can act as resources in themselves. They also mean you don’t need to worry about how your character pays the rent- you can be a full-time Scion, whatever that means to you.
The session itself is going to mix the Scion: Hero cults with godbound’s cult generators. We’ll start by deciding on its type, then personality- cults are essentially characters in themselves. Next we’ll pick a resource they’re invested in, and their patron.
With the framework in place, we’ll then start fleshing them out. Festivals, religious requirements, prohibitions, founders and historic events can all be added. By the end, we’ll have a fleshed out cult ready to be interacted with in play.
To whet your whistles, here’s the cult types from Scion: Hero. Have a think about which you’d like to interact with in play.
The most secretive- and dangerous- form of cult, covens exist to utilise power for their own ends. Like the Brigmore Witches, they often have a specific goal in mind- a throne, a relic or the death of a foe are all possible. Their worship is perfunctory and transactional- they invoke the gods to gain their blessings, not out of devotion. Some covens maintain pacts with gods that Scions must uphold- to do otherwise can bring a curse down, or create some nasty enemies. A coven’s theology justifies this- think of the Aradian cults, who threaten their goddess with burns and pain if she doesn’t power their magics, or ceremonial magicians compelling angels and demons to do their bidding.
Gods often favour professions, and cults arise in response. Warrior Brotherhoods and Dionysian Drag Houses alike, Guilds are as much about the skill as the worship. Sometimes ancient, sometimes new, Guilds are professional associations that provide skilled allies to Scions- weekly worship is an excellent networking opportunity. They can be the most overt cults, hiding devotion behind layers of initiation and ritual.
In the wild and remote places, the Gods’ touch has lingered on. Often presided over by a matriarch or patriarch, these traditions bind families together across centuries. The mix of family and faith can produce strange results, as social mores get left behind in pursuit of the divine. These traditions can go unnoticed for centuries, allowing Scions access to powerful families- Chosen Scions may even hail from these families, rewarded for centuries of devotion with the gift of divinity itself.
Ancient pedigrees can help connect people to their heritage, or give them a context to ground themselves. Reconstructing ancient beliefs lets people feel connected to the Gods in- what they believe- is a more authentic manner. Elder gods are inaccessible to most, and the pursuit of primeval divinities can satisfy people in a way modern worship can’t. Sometimes worship is a secondary concern, with academic debate and research being the true focal point of a historic cult- what better way to justify that classics degree than start a cult?
People love an exclusive club, and mystery cults are the most exclusive of all. They offer immortality, rebirth, enlightenment and ascension- just so long as you pass the tests. Like the Eleusinian mysteries, these cults can be both massive and invisible, operating through secret signs and coded messaging. As the Gods became more subtle, so has much of their worship- mystery cults are a favoured way to honour the cryptic omens heaven provides. Some also contain Denizens, who use them as proxies to aid their own secrecy.
Some places in The World ooze power, turning the land around them into semi-mythical Strange Place. Hidden behind tree arches or waiting in the full moon’s reflection, temple cults are dedicated to a place, not a deity. They protect their holy site from invaders, businesses and hungry sorcerers, devoting themselves to the defence of their little slice of heaven. Temples are the cults mostly likely to have full-time priests, as someone must maintain a vigil and be prepared to sound the alarm. They can also be shockingly remote- the mythic bleeds into the World in strange places, without regard for human necessities.
That’s all for now- I’ll see you all soon!