Sunday, March 11, 2018

Silent Legions: Cult Actions

I ran an extended Stars Without Number a few years ago, but I never used the faction rules very much. My players caused enough trouble, combined with my own metaplot ideas, that they weren’t really necessary. When I started my current Silent Legions game, though, I was dedicated to giving the cult rules a fair spin.

I haven’t found any examples of the Cult Turn on the internet (not surprising, given the general dearth of SL session reports), so I thought I’d go through my Cult Turns here on the blog. This Cult Turn takes place during the 2-3 weeks of downtime after the Khamsa Society burned down the Old Penderghast House.  This is the first Cult Turn of the campaign, so there’s not a lot of action just yet, mostly the different factions setting up for future endeavors.

Right now, there are four factions of interest in the Washington region. Not all of them are on the PCs’ radar yet.

The Cults
  • Rite of the Gray Truth: A cult based in Seattle dedicated to Dagh-Othyg-Zoag and the House of Broken Glass. It’s a technologically saavy group, that includes many rich and powerful people among its membership. (Muscle: 2, Sorcery: 4, Influence: 5)
  • The Garibaldi Syndicate: A crime syndicate, also in Seattle, that moved in after the feds busted the Colacurcio family. They’ve been pretty subtle so far, and have only just started to experiment with occult assets. (Muscle: 5, Sorcery: 2, Influence: 4)
  • Blood Message of the Shadowed Fellowship: A cult based in Yakima dedicated to K’Thoth-Iä, the Hungering Dark. This is a cannibal death-cult based out of a trailer park with a couple of survivalist militia camps at their command. (Muscle: 4, Sorcery: 5, Influence: 2)
  • Circle of the Dreaming Mother: A cult based in the ghost town of Millstone dedicated to Hothiaiq, the goddess of dreams, memory, and telepathy, and Dagh-Othyg-Zoag’s consort. While not antagonistic towards the Rite of Gray Truth, the Circle isn't really allied with them either. Currently they are responsible for the production of distribution of the drug “black sugar” that is infecting Seattle and other cities. (Muscle: 1, Sorcery: 3, Influence: 2)

Drawing Power
Seattle is a Power: 4 location, but since the Rite of Gray Truth and the Garibaldi Syndicate both have strongholds there, the factions can only draw 2 power from it. Right away we have a conflict set up between the two most powerful cults. They both want that power!
  • Gray Truth draws 5 power from its various sources and has a total upkeep of 4, for a net gain of 1 power.
  • The Syndicate draws 4 power from its resources and has 3 upkeep, also giving it net gain of 1 power.
  • Blood Message draws 5 power and only has an upkeep of 1. It also doesn’t have to share its power with anyone. The cult nets 4 power.
  • The Dreaming Mother is smaller than the other three cults. It only draws 2 power, and also has an upkeep of 2. The cult's total power gain is 0.

Cult Actions
This is the first Cult Turn of the campaign, so everyone’s assets are hidden at the start of the turn.

For this first turn, I’m not rolling initiative. I’m going to have each cult take their action in the order of how entangled they currently are with the PCs’ actions. I’ll have the cults roll off initiative in future turns.

Rite of the Gray Truth
They want to find out who’s competing with them for power in Seattle, so they take the Investigate Location action in that city. Gray Truth and the Syndicate roll Influence vs Influence, and Gray Truth wins. All of the Syndicate’s assets in Seattle (which is most of them) lose their “hidden” status.

To spin this into the campaign’s fiction, I have a news report come out in the local papers. Investigative reporter Kim Frost (an NPC connected on my list of actors for the Rite of Gray Trurth), has confirmed that a new crime syndicate has moved into the city. Local businessman and land developer Donatello Garibaldi is rumored to have several unsavory connections to the local police. Reports of graft and corruption abound.

They do not have the spare power to use for the free Create Asset or Improve Stronghold action.

Garibaldi Syndicate
They also want to find out who’s leeching Seattle’s power, so they take the Investigate Location action. Unfortunately for them, they also lose the Influence vs Influence roll, so the Gray Truth’s assets remain hidden. If the PC’s draw too much attention with their occult investigations, maybe the Syndicate will approach them and make a deal with them to look into the rival faction.

They do not have the spare power to use for the free Create Asset or Improve Stronghold action.

Blood Message of the Shadowed Fellowship
They’re setting pretty right now, as the only occult power in Yakima. They decide to lay low and build their power base before stretching their tendrils elsewhere. The take the Serve Cause action and gain another 2 power (6 total) as they perform their unspeakable ghoul orgies.

For their free Imrprove Stronghold action, the cult spends 4 power to increase one of their stronghold from level 1 to level 2. What was once a simple hunting lodge (over an old Indian burial ground) has now become a fortified survivalist compound.

Circle of the Dreaming Mother
The smallest faction is hurting for power, so they take the Serve Cause action. They gain 1 power as cult psychonauts ply the realms of nightmare and harvest black sugar from alien spider-wasps.

They do not have the spare power to use for the free Create Asset or Improve Stronghold action.

That’s where things stand for now. Like I said, it’s mostly just quiet set-up this round. The second Cult Turn should be coming up shortly with more action. I expect the Gray Truth will make a strike at the Syndicate, while the Syndicate desperately tries to hide its assets. Already we have some drama unfolding between some of the factions. My goal now is to suck the PCs into the mix.


  1. Hi Joshua - this is very helpful as I attempt to get a mental grasp of the SL Cult Turns protocol. Question: how can the Syndicate and the Gray Truth draw 4 and 5 power, respectively, in the Drawing Power phase, if Seattle can only offer up 2 power, since both cults are operating in Seattle? What am I not understanding? Thanks for your guidance! - Brian C.

    1. I'm glad you found it helpful.

      I maybe should have spelled this out clearer. While based in Seattle, both Syndicate and the Rite of Gray Truth have smaller strongholds in other locations.

      So let's look at the Rite of Gray Truth. They have a level 3 stronghold in Seattle, a power 4 location reduced to 2 due to the rival faction. They draw 2 power at the start of the turn. They also have level 1 strongholds in Mt. Rainier (power 2) and Centralia (level 2). Each of these draw 1 power per turn. The cult also has a “profitable business” asset in Seattle that gives them an extra 1 power. All together this gives them 5 power.

      Likewise, the Syndicate has a level 3 stronghold in Seattle (drawing 2 power) and level 1 strongholds in Spokane and Leavenworth (drawing 1 power each). A total of 4 power.

  2. Hi Joshua - thanks for spelling all of this out for me. I notice in the above report, the individual assets of each cult are not identified. How did you go about choosing assets for each cult? Was this a labor-intensive process? Every time I’ve approached creating cults in Silent Legions, I get a bit overwhelmed choosing the assets that each cult might possess. Have you noticed this too? Or ??? Thanks again!

    1. Thanks Brian. I think in my next Cult Action update, I'll show the entire "stats" for the cults.
      Choosing the assets for the cults wasn't too hard. The main problem was restraining myself. The rules say a cult can only have X levels of assets.I had to choose the ones I really wanted each cult to have and which ones to set aside as future goals.
      Being imposed by the rules like that forced me to be clever with what each faction can do.

  3. Hi, Joshua! Thanks for these write-ups! There is so not enough Silent legions actual play material online, so your posts really help to put the game in perspective!

    1. Thanks Tamas! I wish I had kept up with them properly. The write-ups kind of petered out towards the end of the campaign. (But the campaign DID have a proper ending!)