Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Care & Feeling of Lovecraftian Cults & 1d10 Random Lovecraftian Cultists Encounter Table For Your Old School Campaigns

Adventurers lead lives of extreme danger and encounters with dangerous individuals are bound to happen. The Cthulhu Mythos is rife with weird cults of deranged and degenerate individuals, here's a random assortment of fanatical cut throats, lunatic fringe personalities, and simply the mad ones. Those that exist at the edge of so called sanity.

1d10 Random Lovecraftian Cultists Encounter Table
  1. A gang of 1d10 low level assassins on a mission of murder for the Church of Starry Wisdom. They have among themselves a devilish device of insane aspect.  20% of some minor random mutations among their number.
  2. A lone harvester of eyes collecting the souls of those who have sold their souls to the dark powers of the Mythos. A very high level assassin with minor telepathic abilities and a thirst for murder. 
  3. A group of 1d6  half amphibian human things with some minor energy weapons primed for mayhem. They are hopped up on some form of illicit substance. Out for sacrifices for their gods. 
  4. A big brute of a cultist wielding a scimitar on a mission to kidnap a certain heiress who is the reincarnation of the high priestess of Nyarlathotep. A fanatic of the deepest stripe of insanity with some minor magical abilities. 
  5. A group of living shadow beings made from the distilled madness and insanity of a thousand children's nightmares given form. Able to shape shift in an instant and very dangerous fighters. There are 1d20 of these nightmare things. 
  6. A demon guerrilla thing summoned from some forgotten nether underworld Hell, this thing is able to use a wide variety of weird and strange implements of devilry to dispatch its victims. A very fearsome fighter of a most insane aspect. 
  7. A gang of goat human things molded from the fabric of chaos and the Outer Darkness given human forms. This group of insane beings can meld with the shadows and uses wicked bladed weapons which they bless with their goddess's poison. Very dangerous assassin creatures able to meld with many different substances. There are 1d6 of these horrors, they mostly come at night. Mostly. 
  8. A group of all to human cat burglars and perverse freaks who randomly break in and murder folks at the command of their 'gods'. These insane beings have some minor magical ability and sleep potions. Armed with light daggers and quick garrotes that they use for the kill. 
  9. Cultists of Cthulhu who are actually the neighbors and business folks in the area. They have some major occult backing as well and use a variety of plots to get their sacrifices. 
  10. A group of 1d10 assassins who are actually low level demons hell bent on taking sacrifices for their masters. They have possessed and taken over the very cultists that summoned them from the Outer Darkness itself.

One of the real problems over the years I've had with many old school & OSR dungeon masters is how stupid that they seem to make Cthulhu & chaos cultists. These should be some of the most dangerous foes a DM can inflict on a party of adventurers. One of the things I've done over the years is used the dungeon setting as Cthulhu or Great Old One cult temple. The adventure location becomes the focus of devotion of the cult who go out into the countryside & raid as well as pillage villages, settlements,etc. Cultists are gonna blend into the fabric of a society & community perhaps they possesses rites allowing them to throw off spells such as 'know alignment' or the like.
These folks are your local farmers, black smiths, neighbors, etc. who have been warped by centuries of Lovecraftian gods influences. They use tactics, traps, dead falls, & all manner of cunningness to deal with adventurers. Yet ever since B2 Keep on The Borderlands & the Caves of Chaos I've seen dungeon masters simply deal with cultists as another 'monster' to fight. Cultists are some of the most down & dirty bastards when it comes to tricks & traps for adventurers.

The real problem is when you've got humanoid tribes & cultists/villager NPC's working together. Then the horror can really kick in & it will appear to the adventurers that there's no place to run or hide. Tactics, spying, etc. a bevy of dirty pool is on the menu for adventurers as their every move seems tracked by evil. Make no mistake if given over to a bit of Tolkein & Lovecraft(now I know that these two authors have little in common) but combined adventure elements & events can get very wicked indeed for our adventurers.
If a DM uses orcs & Cthulhu cultists for example aligned towards the Great Old One suddenly the dungeon isn't simply a place to loot but a place of sacrifice & chaos unbound. The cult maintains the tricks & traps as a part of its gospel & I've used this quite effectively several times.

Give cultists the brains that they deserve & use every trick in the book when it comes to these NPC's. Monsters are not simply experience points but NPC's waiting to spawn campaign side quests & off shoots. So often I see DM's use monsters as fodder & not the horrors they were meant to be. Cultists are the thinking man's monster & Cthulhu cultists are the cream. Yes degeneration & madness will happen eventually in the mean time these cultists are thriving on the occult power & cosmic revelations given to them by their unholy alien  gods.

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