Cultists follow a fringe religion, often one deemed dangerous or even illegal by the surrounding society. However, many other cults exist, worshiping such diverse entities as archdevils, demon lords, and alien Outer Gods.
Regardless of the object of their worship, cultists must operate in the shadowy parts of society where their unwanted or illegal activities can go unnoticed. They lurk in frontier areas without strong authorities, or behind innocent-seeming fronts within settlements or on space stations. Many stalk the poorer districts, hiding within the multitudinous population and taking advantage of disaffected citizens.
A particular large and brazen cult might be more blatant about its activities, though the members still hide themselves away behind fortified walls and laser turrets when the authorities wish to speak to them.
A single cultist can be an isolated villain, but most work in concert with their fellow cultists to spread the “good news” of their faith, often through grisly or sadistic means. Almost any weak-willed NPC might be tempted into a cult by a persuasive enough initiate or cult leader, making for widely varied cultist encounters in addition to those listed here.
Teacher and Student (CR 7): One cult initiate, one cult killer.
Small Cell (CR 10): Three cult initiates, one cult killer, one cult leader.
Death Cult (CR 12): Four cult killers, two cult leaders.
Three example cultists are presented below, along with advice on how to use them as various sorts of NPCs.
Adaptation: The following cultists worship a god of undeath, but by adjusting their spells and abilities and changing how they are presented, you can use their stats to represent almost any sort of cultists. A lone cultist can also represent an overzealous fan taking her love of a particular media personality to an extreme degree, even going so far as to commit crimes to get her idol to notice her.
Cult Initiate CR 4
Cult initiates see to the basic needs of the cult, quietly acquire resources, and mislead or kill those who ask too many questions about the cult’s activities. They also learn about those who are interested in the cult, deciding whether those people should be inducted, thrown off the trail, or quietly eliminated. Sometimes initiates lead their own small groups of impressionable street gang members. Not all initiates are true believers, and they might be shaken out of their allegiance by persistent dialogue from the cult’s enemies, but many are too committed to let go—often because they have already done terrible things in the cult’s name.
Adaptation: A cult initiate can be the envoy of any religious order with a need for secrecy.
CE Medium humanoid (human)
Init +5; Perception +10
EAC 16; KAC 17
Fort +3; Ref +5; Will +7
Speed 30 ft.
Melee survival knife +8 (1d4+4 S)
Ranged frostbite-class zero pistol +10 (1d6+4 C; critical staggered [DC 15])
Str +0; Dex +1; Con +0; Int +3; Wis –1; Cha +5
Skills Bluff +15, Diplomacy +15, Intimidate +15, Mysticism +10, Sense Motive +10, Stealth +10
Languages Common, up to 3 others
Other Abilities cunning liar, envoy improvisations (clever feint, quick dispiriting taunt)
Gear casual stationwear, frostbite-class zero pistol with 1 battery (20 charges), survival knife
Cunning Liar (Ex)
The first time a creature would succeed at a Sense Motive check to disbelieve the initiate’s lie, treat that creature’s result as if it had rolled a natural 1 on its Sense Motive check.
Cult Killer CR 6
Cult killers obsess over how they can use death to further the interests of their grim deities. Many see their mystical training as being connected to the dark teachings of their patron deity, but some simply enjoy having an excuse to use their abilities to their full, lethal potential. In serving a cult, a cult killer tracks down and slays the cult’s enemies, hopefully before those foes can interfere with the cult’s actions. Cult killers also guard unhallowed sites against intruders and have the honor of killing sacrificial victims. A cult killer’s solar weapon generally resembles a weapon the cult’s deity favors.
Korasha lashunta solarian
CE Medium humanoid (lashunta)
Init +3; Perception +13
EAC 18; KAC 20
Fort +8; Ref +6; Will +7
Speed 30 ft.
Melee solar weapon +16 (1d8+1d4+11 S; critical wound [DC 14])
Ranged corona laser pistol +13 (2d4+6 F; critical burn 1d4)
Offensive Abilities stellar revelations (black hole [25-ft. radius, pull 15 ft., DC 14], defy gravity, stellar rush [3d6 F, DC 14], supernova [10-ft. radius, 7d6 F, DC 14])
Lashunta Spell-Like Abilities (CL 6th)
1/day—detect thoughts (DC 13)
At will—daze (DC 12), psychokinetic hand
Str +5; Dex +3; Con +2; Int +0; Wis +0; Cha +2
Skills Athletics +18, Mysticism +13, Stealth +13
Languages Castrovelian, Common; limited telepathy 30 ft.
Other Abilities solar manifestation (solar weapon), stellar alignment
Gear freebooter armor II, corona laser pistol with 1 battery (20 charges), least gluon crystal
Cult Leader CR 8
A cult leader directs a particular cult, although she might answer to a distant organizer within a very large sect. A cult leader is always an exceptionally manipulative individual, often drawn to a dark patron as a shortcut to power or as a refuge from a world that doesn’t recognize her true glory. Most cult leaders become addicted to abusing the near-absolute control they enjoy over cult members, either through direct orders on behalf of their deity or indirectly by carefully phrased teachings that cultists obsessively follow. This is especially true in the case of shirren cult leaders, who find deciding what lore to teach and what to save for themselves physically intoxicating.
A cult leader generally doesn’t directly confront potential threats, preferring to have initiates and killers do the dirty work. Larger cults sometimes revolve around a circle of several cult leaders who protect one another only until one shows weakness.
Adaptation: A cult leader can also function as an influential evangelist serving a public religion.
CE Medium humanoid (shirren)
Init +1; Senses blindsense (vibration) 30 ft.; Perception +16
HP 105 RP 4
EAC 19; KAC 20
Fort +7; Ref +7; Will +11
Defensive Abilities share pain (DC 18)
Speed 30 ft.
Melee carbon staff +14 (1d8+9 S; critical knockdown)
Ranged red star plasma pistol +14 (1d8+8 E & F; critical burn 1d8)
Offensive Abilities backlash (8 damage), sow doubt (4 rounds, DC 18)
Spell-Like Abilities (CL 8th)
Mystic Spells Known (CL 8th)
3rd (3/day)—fear (DC 20), mind thrust (DC 20)
2nd (6/day)—fog cloud, hold person (DC 19), inflict pain (DC 19), status
1st (at will)—charm person (DC 18), lesser confusion (DC 18)
Str +1; Dex +1; Con +4; Int +2; Wis +6; Cha +2
Skills Bluff +21, Culture +16, Diplomacy +16, Intimidate +16, Mysticism +21, Sense Motive +16
Languages Common, Shirren, up to 2 others; limited telepathy 30 ft.
Other Abilities communalism
Gear silver travel suit, carbon staff, red star plasma pistol with 2 batteries (20 charges each)