Tips for making a Cult Leader BBEG?
Tips for making a Cult Leader BBEG?
Make him charismatic, and not overtly evil until you do some digging.
I mean, your pic is a pretty solid example.
I find cults are often absolutely wasted in most stories and games. Usually they're just a bunch of babbling lunatics in robes for you to plow through before they summon some monster to fight.
I find IRL cultists are far creepier. They're usually normal on the surface but once you start talking to them you see the crazy. Fantasy cults often overlook the harsher elements of cult life like drug trafficking and child abuse, but that may just be because it's too mundane and/or grimdark. And cult leaders are normally quite charismatic. But not in the JFK winning smile way. They have that dark charisma you find in serial killers: obvious predators who are magnetic to the maladjusted weirdos who join cults.
And of course, breaking into the compound and finding they all drank the Kool-Aid is far more chilling than whatever bargain brand Cthulhu monster they could potentially summon.
He probably doesn't believe what he preaches. He preaches it because people will do incredible things in the name of the word of God.
Give him a Thulsa Doom speech. "You think steel is power?" As one of his followers takes their lives for him, "THIS is power." Make them possess full control on their sensibilities, while being so far up their own ass that they simply can't process anyone being above them. The old "There's only one God, ME" speech for instance.
No one follows a legitimate psychopath or a raving lunatic. Even Heaven Gate's Bo preached something that he himself believed was truth, because of his experiences.
No one follows a legitimate psychopath or a raving lunatic
You know, if God really grants you powers, are you still a cult?
Modern connotations of a cult have more to do with the organization's structure and behavior than its beliefs. Scientoligists could be actual space wizards for all it matters. Wouldn't change the fact it's a predatory scam.
In the end, aren't all religions just really popular cults?
Yes. A cult is defined by the type of influence it has on people, not the religion it portrays.
Make sure his most devout followers or the enforcers in his cult are interesting and not just disposable mooks. Some of the best BBEGs are memorable because of the buildup their minions create before the main showdown.
These minions are also able to act as mouthpieces for the leader's intents and philosophies without the leader himself having to go on big long monlogues, and serve as an example as to why people might join the cult whether it be out of fear, a chance at wealth, devout belief, ect.
They are, in the literal sense. There's actually a lot of controversy in academia over imthe term's definition. Strictly speaking it's just an organization with religious devotion to a person or concept. I.e, virtually every religion ever.
But because of stuff like Manson, Jonestown, and the Branch Davidians the term is synonymous with apocalyptic child-molesting murderers who like to kill themselves.
Charismatic, everything he says makes sense in SOME kind of a way... also, for real bullshit, he donates a lot of money/gold/whatever to the local governments/kingdom and so the player's have a hard time just "fighting him"
Read up on cults like the Ant Hill Kids or Rajneesh.
It turns out cult isn't really a useful term.
No, most religions lack important aspects that are considered hallmarks of cults by academics. One major aspect that most mainstream religions lack is strict information control, so only religions like Mormonism and Jehova's Witnesses that teach every book that disagrees with them is "apostate lies" are cultish.
This is the cultist who really worships the Great Old Ones, in a literal, religious sense. He prays to them for power and protection, and he conducts rituals and makes sacrifice to draw their favorable attention.
Why do such people believe as they do? Do they believe that Shub-Niggurath or Cthulhu will reward them, or even spare them, because of their devotion? Some do, perhaps, absurd as such a belief may be. Other true helievers are more pragmatic, thinking that if they can prove useful enough slaves of the Great Old Ones, they may learn to prolong their lives centuries beyond the normal span. They may perhaps be kept around even after the rest of humanity is destroyed - or at least they may be devoured last. There is some evidence that the Great Old Ones do sometimes empower their most evil and devout worshipers with a greatly - perhaps infinitely -extended lifespan.
For others, the very thought of power may be enough. Such worshipers aren't like the opportunists (see below) who may desire power in order to accomplish some overriding goal. They just want the power for its own intoxicating sake. There me even a few true believers who serve simply because they have found the Great Old Ones to be real. Such a cultist finds nothing behind the faith and ritual of organized religion, but when he calls out to the Great Old Ones, something answers. He cares nothing for his own empowerment - he simply feels that it is his proper place as a mortal to live or die at the whim of the gods, no matter how horrible they may be.
I play with people who instantly assume everyone is out to kill them. It's impossible to make characters they're kind to. I have to say shit like "You know, just like in real life, you'll get on better with people if you're kind to them" but they just shrug it off.