The Occult and Cultists

There’s only thirty rank positions in a Divine Order.

This is hard-coded in. No amount of begging, pleading, and even tricking a brief change through on Iosai (that broke everything) that was swiftly redacted, has won me any kind of slack in that realm. As I came to find out in the early days of working with my Order to form what would become the three central paths in canon, this may have been for the best. After all, each path becomes a bit of its own religion.

There’s a tacit understanding in My Order by this point about the status of additional paths. We tried a pilot of a new path three times, and each time, what I found out was that the nascent path didn’t tend to be well-populated. At the maximum, the Indigo Path, a fourth Order advancement track that focused on crafting and mysticism, had eight Order members. At the time, the Order rolls were 70-80.

At the rate of new investment in the path, or perhaps due to the lack of support players (most organizations in game need a minimum of three people to lock in the roleplaying flavor and evangelize their organization to other people), even this fairly successful example didn’t work in terms of splitting the Order.

What I did have was a lack of things to aspire to. There was a distinct lack of goals once one became Path Head – and Path Head was a hard role to keep active. For one thing, it’s not an elected position, and it has no power that much of the rest of the order has. For another, it’s a thankless job of making sure people do their tasks, asking people what they’d like to be doing, and sometimes becoming the RA for about 10-20 drunken college students that really just want to get wasted and smash some windows.

That’s not to say that I don’t love that aspect. A big feature of Gaudiguch, and especially the Mysraian Order is about passion. It’s about reveling and laughing and setting shit on fire. It’s also only inevitable that groups of people can build up personality conflicts. Sometimes, the windows being smashed are actually the ones in your local organization, though, which means bad will is born. Many people may have different, but similar ideas. And sometimes, they don’t want to deal with the interpersonal trouble of bringing those goals together.

There’s also those who want a role of their own – something they can feel good about. That’s good too – it’s actually really good – but hard to accommodate with ranks.

So, how to work with that?

The answer as I’ve come up with it involves cults. The first of these was the Cult of the Red Hand, which ended up shaping a fair amount of storyline and character drive in the Order. This worked out as a focused combat-driven Cult tasked with certain special duties reporting directly to me. This Cult came back online recently with a revamp in the hands of Altrea and Ardmore, who have been bringing it with some pretty excellent pairing of traditional PVP and PVE with a hard edge of ritualism and duty. They’re centered around venerating Mysrai’s aspect as the Scarlet Goddess. It’s pretty sweet.

The second of these has been the Cult of the Resinous Mysteries. Headed up by Viynain, it’s a nice nod to the fact that I’ve tried to design the Order to be as inclusive as possible. It’s got PVPers, crafters, socializers, politicians, ascendants, lower ranks… you name it. This one focuses on Mysrai’s aspect as the Thousandfold.

Third of these took a long time in coming. A lot of players got really into a darker notional path of rituals, sacrifice, passion, and visceral emotions they dubbed the Ebon. This ended up passing through a few hands – the original Ebon was Svana, which transferred to Aliod, then to Persayis before she finally officially venerated the Cult. We ended up dropping silphium balls, lotus eating, and harems into the cult thematics. This particular cult venerates the Black Star of Morning.

Fourthly: Ixchilgal’s kind of like a bad penny, one with a hilarious sense of humor and sharp edges. Who better to venerate the David Bowie aspect of the Beckoner Beyond the Maze? He’s got some pretty intense lore going on around the Maze, the Beast in the Maze, and his particularly unique role in the Order. Speaking of which, you probably don’t know that every Sacrosanct has a role inspired by the Major Arcana of the Tarot. His particular trump is The Devil, and the cult name is the Paradigm of Mu.

Fifth, we’ve got the Cult of the Scarlet Kantharos. While the Scarlet Path is notionally about bloodshed, inclusive of PVP and PVE, it also has a lot of lore around it as the path of passion in general. Dancing, laughing, carousing, sex, joyful veneration – this is all about the brighter side of the path. Aliod, under the trump of Judgement, leads up this cult under the auspices of the Moth With Scarlet Wings.

Some of these cults will become paths, or meta-paths – players have submitted proposals to me for such with tasks outlined and order rank naming schemes, along with their lore, much as they might submit similar systems to guilds for advancement. Still other cults are probably waiting in the wings to provide more of the high quality of experience my Inner Circle has been dishing out ever since the early days of the Order. I’m particularly excited about the people exploring the formerly defunct Indigo Path, the explorations of others into Saffron, and the ever-popular notion of an Ivory Cult to match the Voidcopper of Resinous Mysteries and the two existing Scarlet Cults.

Finally – the Order has become very player-driven with this design, which puts me in the happy role of making dreams reality in the framework of this fake religious movement. Thanks, guys. I couldn’t have done it without you.