Old Cults

The Old Cults have survived long centuries—their alien masters, known as the Great Old Ones, are patient and potent and can wait eons more for the stars to be right. Those who follow the Old Cults view themselves as chosen hosts, guided by nightmares and visions, stray thoughts of the aberrant divine, and things beyond rational explanation. These cultists live secret lives, drawn by voices of the void to seek out others of their kind.


Goal: Welcome the Great Old Ones

Disciples of the Old Cults seek to prepare the world for the end times—to ready Golarion for the return of its alien masters and to curry favor from these gods so that when the world is wiped clean, they might be granted places of favor in the new order.

To attain these goals, many Old Cultists quest for knowledge—lost magic (particularly magic associated with summoning alien creatures) and knowledge of the Dark Tapestry and of the powerful seals used to defeat and imprison the primordials they serve.

Others seek to bring about the horrid fate they believe humanity deserves; their primary goals include “awakening” mortals to madness through brutal surgery and using them as breeders for the spawn of alien creatures.

That the Great Old Ones would likely destroy their own cultists without a moment’s thought when the world is wiped clean escapes the attention of most Old Cultists.


Alignment: CE

At their core, the Old Cults serve primordial entities whose morality lies beyond mortal comprehension. Still, the behavior of their mad cultists is consistently destructive and violent, with little structure or purpose beyond conquest and domination of the unworthy. To cultists, all who fail to hearken to the call of the Great Old Ones are fodder or tools to be enslaved or manipulated, and they believe the coming apocalypse to be a time of initiation or passing into new cycles. Cultists bear a profound sense of entitlement that extends even toward other faction members. Regardless of their original alignment, most members become increasingly erratic and immoral in pursuit of the faction’s goals.


Leader

A collection of distinct and largely unrelated cults, the Old Cults maintain no formal, organized structure or unified hierarchy, and thus no single faction leader exists. Each cult operates under the autonomous control of its own leader, typically the individual who first awakened the other members of the cult.


Good Class Choices: Bard, Cleric, Sorcerer, Wizard

Challenging Class Choices: Druid, Monk, Paladin


Headquarters

The secret meeting places of the countless Old Cults are dispersed throughout Golarion. The most prominent are those scattered through Ustalav’s county of Versex (particularly in the cities of Carrion Hill, Illmarsh, and Thrushmoor), strange ruins lost in the Mwangi Expanse, small coastal towns all along the shores of Varisia and Cheliax, and certain remote enclaves in the deep deserts of Osirion. The Darklands in particular are favorite haunts of the Old Cults and the secret monstrosities they venerate.


Joining

As a secret society that worships things from beyond the stars that would snuff all life in the world as casually as a man crushes an ant, the Old Cults are very careful with their recruiting lest their activities draw the attention of the law or good religions. Most recruitment occurs within families, though several decadent circles of nobles are known to dabble in the rituals of the Great Old Ones. Scholars of magic who ask about forbidden works may attract the attention of the cultists and precipitate a meeting.


Gaining Prestige

Anything that advances the mysterious causes of the Great Old Ones earns prestige with the Old Cults. Different cells have different agendas. Some want slaves, sacrifices, or new people to brainwash into the cult’s teachings. Others want mortal women for unearthly horrors to breed with. Still others try to find lost fragments of magical writings pertaining to the Elder Gods (see sidebar).


Resources

Despite their diversity, each Old Cult possesses similar resources. Though geographical barriers have kept many of these cults isolated for centuries, cultists readily acknowledge those who share their beliefs and remain devoted to like causes. Faction members gain access to ancient knowledge, lore, and artifacts associated with the Great Old Ones, as well as materials and information crucial to ushering in their awakening.


5 TPA, 2 CPA

Learn Aklo, a strange language commonly used by creatures associated with the cults and related to the alien tongues of creatures beyond the stars. This benefit does not require the character to spend any skill ranks on the Linguistics skill.

10 TPA, 1 CPA

Borrow a rare spellbook or other magical document (see sidebar) for the purposes of learning or researching one spell. This benefit does not require a Spellcraft check or any additional transcribing costs.

Typical spells owned by the Old Cults involve conjuring or banishing strange creatures (banishment, gate, planar ally, planar binding, summon monster), physical and mental projection (astral spell, dream, ethereal jaunt, etherealness, magic jar, nightmare), and revealing the unseen (commune, confusion, contact other plane, insanity, invisibility purge, nightmare, see invisibility, true seeing).

Some of these writings contain versions of the spells that are 1–3 levels lower than the normal version of the spell (such as a level 3 version of contact other plane) or arcane versions of divine spells (or vice versa). Such versions are damaging to the mind, however, inflicting permanent Wisdom drain upon the reader, though some believe this is a small price to pay for the knowledge.

10 CPA

Change a sorcerer’s bloodline to aberrant or destined. This change requires an 8-hour ritual.

15 TPA, 1 CPA

Experience a prophetic dream. The cult arranges a mental link with an ancient, alien force, which implants the character’s mind with insane dreams that unlock a vision. The vision is entirely symbolic, but its purpose becomes clear at the moment the character most needs it. The character may add a +10 insight bonus to any single d20 roll; the character must use this ability before he knows whether the roll is a success or failure. Using this ability expends the power of the vision and inflicts 1 point of Wisdom drain. A character can only retain the power of one such vision at a time.

20 TPA, 1 CPA

Arrange a conjuring of a creature associated with the Old Cults as if using planar binding. However, in most cases these rituals are flawed and the creature arrives unbound and ambivalent to the desires of its mortal conjurer; unless controlled with additional magic, the creature acts upon its own whims and desires—typically feeding upon or breeding with the first available target, often times the conjurer unless a suitable sacrifice is offered. In many cases, the called creature may linger in the area for years or even centuries and becomes the stuff of local legend. Other conjured creatures are more tractable and are willing to bargain for their services.

20 TPA, 8 CPA

Open a portal. At the character’s request, this portal may act as a teleportation circle that sends him to an isolated, near-mythical, or lost magical location on Golarion (or even another planet), or as a gate to a nightmarish, otherworldly realm like Leng. The cultists’ control over such things depends on stellar conjunctions and the accuracy of their source spells; safety or even a return trip are never guaranteed.


Books of the Old Cults

Members of the Old Cults pride themselves on collecting and preserving forbidden lore. They keep these resources secure in secret libraries, and none are permitted to remove them from their places of safekeeping. Authentic copies are usually written in Aklo, ancient Osiriani, or Azlanti; inferior translations exist in other scholarly languages, but spells learned from these lesser sources may fail or function erratically. These books include Azlanti Neris (describing three pre-Azlanti sunken cities that supposedly imprison obscure Great Old Ones), The Book of Leng (discussing Leng, Sarkomand, and summoning rites), The King in Yellow, The Necronomicon, The Pnakotic Manuscripts, Preklikin’s Book of Cults (see Pathfinder Chronicles: Gods and Magic), the The Sarkoris Shards (rune-carved crystal shards from ancient Sarkoris that tell of mysterious witchwomen, snake-like beings, and cannibalistic rituals), Secrets of the Dreaming Dark (containing secrets of the Dark Tapestry), and The Xanthuun Tablets (which unveil forbidden knowledge concerning primordial forces and the construction of the ancient world).

Old Cults

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