5e SRD >Backgrounds >Petersen Games >

Mythos Cultist

Serving the insular cult of a Great Old One or Outer God was a defining feature of your life before adventuring, regardless of whether you remain involved with the group.

As a cultist, you served the interests of a cult leader or the greater power that leader served and might have little apprehension of the true nature of the religion. Due to the social rejection or at least suspicion surrounding their cult, your fellow cultists were secretive and inducted only those they felt they could trust or readily eliminate. You might have willingly served in exchange for gifts from the cult, or you might have been coerced into service. You may have been raised in the cult or joined as a youth, but you’ve escaped as an adult.

Perhaps you left the cult after you glimpsed true horrors lurking under the surface of a group that at first seemed strange but sympathetic. Alternatively, you might have simply fled from the awful acts without ever understanding why your fellow cultists did the deeds. Finally, you might have been a lonely survivor of a cult broken up by the authorities or adventurers who spared you due to your youth or ignorance. Leaving makes you a target for your former fellows to kill or at least blackmail, if they remain at large.

When you choose this background, work with your GM to determine what cult you were or are affiliated with and whether they remain active. If you did not sever all ties with the cult, talk with your GM about what contact you still have and how the cult’s interests can contribute to the story without putting you unduly at odds with the other players. For example, a cult that placates a monstrous force out of fear or that doesn’t truly understand the danger of its patron might include members who are not villains but rather sympathetic characters who might be helped out of a difficult situation.

Skill Proficiencies: Choose two from Deception, Religion, and Yog-Sothothery

Tool Proficiencies or Languages: Choose two from disguise kit, forgery kit, poisoner’s kit, thieves’ tools, Thieves’ Cant, and a language spoken by the cult’s allies

Equipment: An unholy symbol (from your initiation), vestments, a set of traveler’s clothes, a text containing coded details on the powers and goals of the creatures you served, 5 candles or sticks of incense, a tinderbox, and a belt pouch containing 50 gp

Feature: Revelation As a Mythos cultist, you were initiated into some secret beyond normal humanoid experience. You might have deduced the secret yourself before the cult was willing or able to initiate you formally, or you might have earned the trust of a high priest or alien entity and been deemed worthy of the secret. The nature of the secret reflects how the object of the cult defies known reality. It might be a revelation about the origin of your people, the fate of the world, the laws of nature, looming threats to known life, or the details about an Elder Influence’s current fate and disposition. You might have found evidence that disproves common understanding of the planes of existence, the movement of the stars, or the course of history. You might have learned to use alien technology or even the location of a cache of such treasures hidden in a dangerous and hard-to-reach place.

Work with your GM to determine the nature of your revelation and its impact on your adventures.

Suggested Characteristics: Mythos cults often attract people with extreme personalities and encourage them to become even more extreme, unbound by the restrictions of outside society but often also constrained by the obsessive nature of the cult itself. Cultists’ traits tend to be shaped by their isolation from society and the idiosyncrasies of the cult. Cultists tend to cling to common ideals but take them to unusual extremes or view them from an unusual perspective. Cultists’ bonds are often what motivated them to leave the cult, although by the same token, a bond might keep cultists involved with a cult. Cultists’ flaws are often related to how they were inducted in the first place or the terrible things they did while in the cult.

d8 Personality Trait
1 I fumble for socially expected niceties and use arcane figures of speech.
2 My first response to anyone who speaks with an air of authority is emphatic deference or contrariness.
3 I routinely work out code phrases and meaningful gestures with those I trust to ensure we can communicate without eavesdroppers understanding.
4 I habitually guess at cosmic connections between everything that happens and tie them back to the teachings of my cult, even if I no longer really believe in it.
5 Knowledge is only for those who are worthy. I test others relentlessly before sharing what I know.
6 I have known people to overlook blatant falsehoods for the sake of their own comfort. I don’t trust what I can’t personally verify.
7 Religions have done nothing but seek to control or bribe me with promises that come to disappointment. I have little faith or respect to spare for gods and those who follow them.
8 I constantly try to do what I’m told not to do.
d6 Ideal
1 Transformation. I will become more than a common mortal, reinventing myself as something different but greater. (Chaotic)
2 Discovery. Mortal comprehension is a pitiful thing compared to the Great Old Ones and Elder Gods. Learning secrets like theirs is the only way for we mortals to become more than clever monkeys. (Any)
3 Rebellion. Laws, norms, and taboos hold us back from our full potential. (Chaotic)
4 Belonging. We deserve to feel like part of something greater. (Neutral)
5 Power. Only those with the power to save themselves deserve to survive the callous forces of the universe. (Evil)
6 Redemption. I might never be able to make up for my mistakes, but I try anyway. (Good)
d6 Bond
1 I won’t let someone else be charmed or trapped as I once was.
2 I left a dear friend behind when I escaped the cult’s grasp. I search for a way to free them, but fear that they might not even want to be rescued when I am ready.
3 The mentor that inducted me into the cult is unwilling or unable to see how dangerous it is. I remain nominally affiliated and do the bare minimum I must to stay in the cult’s good graces for my mentor’s sake.
4 I got someone I cared for killed, and I will never let it happen again.
5 I was drawn into the cult by its tantalizing knowledge or gifts. Now, I am sworn to destroy all traces leading to them to prevent others from being indoctrinated.
6 I will be forever grateful to the friend or relative who steadfastly supported me for as long as it took me to leave the cult that had drawn me in.
d6 Flaw
1 I habitually lie about minor details of my life to make myself seem more interesting or to prevent others from getting closer to me.
2 I almost never question those who claim to know more than I do.
3 When I make a mistake, I double down rather than admit it.
4 I like to break things.
5 I will pay any price to learn secrets kept from the world at large.
6 I am certain doom hangs over all mortal hopes and am willing to take extreme risks to escape mortal limitations.
Section 15: Copyright Notice

Sandy Petersen’s Cthulhu Mythos, © 2018, Petersen Games; Authors: Sandy Petersen, David N. Ross, James Jacobs, Arthur Petersen, Ian Starcher.