Creating Cults

K Peterson

Banded Mongoose
Lately, I've been re-reading Chapter 11 in the core book to get a grasp of the creation of cults. I'm in the process of writing up some Divine cults for my own (non-Gloranthan) campaign, and I've been making comparisons between the sample cults to find some common ground.

The cult of Orlanth the Dragon, for example, provides members with access to 3 Common Magic spells and 3 Divine Magic spells. Two of the Divine spells are available to Initiates, and the last restricted to Rune Lord/Priests. The Spirit and Sorcery sample cults follow a similar standard.

One question I have is whether I should use this as a guideline. 3 or 4 Common Magic spells, and 3 or 4 Divine Magic spells provided to Cult Members? Seems a little limiting, but there is the option for characters to join multiple cults (and sacrifice extra dedicated-POW). I did notice the blurb about some Divine cults allowing access to ALL Common Magic spells - that seems pretty generous.

I'm curious if other GMs have a baseline for the cults that they have created. Or generally how they go about the process.

I don't have a desire to balance all of the cults in my setting; I guess I just want to have a model to work from.


Cosmic Mongoose
Giving all cults All Common Divine is probably too much. I'd give all major cults All Common Divine. How you define "major cult" probably depends on your campaign/setting.

3 Cult Special Divine Spells seems reasonable for most cults. Deities with a lot of unusual powers might get more. Elemental cults should get some common elemental spells (Summon/Command [Elemental]) in addition.

3 Common Magic spells also seems reasonable. They would be spells that relate to the deity's sphere of influence. Cults wioth fewer Divine Spells might get more Common Magic spells to compensate.

Don't forget that major cults can have Subcults that provide extra magic/spells to initiates/rune levels. These can bolster the magic available to a cult.


I'm still clinging to Guilds, Factions & Cults even though it obviously needs some modification, especially regarding Spirit Magic.

I've also always wondered just what these "common divine spells" really are.
Surely not all divine spells listed in the Core book... surely spells like Resurrect would not be an option for every kind of cult !
So what do you mean, wehn you're talking about these common divine spells... ?

However, I'm having some trouble grasping Lore skills about cults. This is not to be confused with the Lore (xyz theology), which obviously is only required by Divine cults.

Guilds, Factions & Cults (Mongoose Publishing, 2009), page 9
Lore (Specific Association)
Used in precisely the same way as any other Lore skills, the Lore Capability is specific to that cult and is a measure of its history, depth of belief, customs, conventions, rites and practices. The higher the Lore (Association) rating, the stronger and deeper the richness of its cultural tapestry. Any character that takes the same Lore (Specific Association) cannot exceed the association’s own rating in this capability.

Guilds, Factions & Cults (Mongoose Publishing, 2009), page 68
Lay Members
Candidate must have at least a basic understanding of the beliefs of the cult

Runequest II (Mongoose Publishing, 2010), page 147
… the vast majority of a cult are Common Members, casual worshippers who follow the basic doctrine of the cult and attend regular ceremonies

Runequest II (Mongoose Publishing, 2010), page 148
Common Members
Candidates must have at least a basic understanding of the beliefs of the cult…

It's obvious that cult members need to have an understanding of the cult.

Just imagine taking part in e.g. a catholic ceremony with the specific responses of the members to the priest's *hints*, the specific prayers etc. These kinds of rituals have not really too much to do with Lore (Christian theology) but rather with Lore (Catholic Church)... so I do think that this skill is actually needed if you are a part of a cult.

This would then need you to acquire such a Lore (Specific Association) skill in addition to other cult skills and would not be limited to Divine cults but actually to all cults. Furthermore it would certainly qualify as one of the needed cult skill to rise in the cult's ranks.


The core rulebook does have some suggestions and advice on this issue in the few pages before the sample cults.

The amount of Divine Magic on offer I think would simply depend on the power and extent of the cult. More culturaly significant and mythicaly rich cults will have more Divine Magic. Spirit Magic is a little different because it's available outside cults as well. For cults that realy are the center of their culture such as tribal cults I'd expect them to offer a wide variety of common magic because the cult is likely to be one of the few sources of it. In urban environemnts there are likely to be more alternative sources of common magic so the role of cults won't be as important in this area. Just as labour becomes more specialised in cities, so will cults.