Cults and secret societies can be used as adversaries or allies, either encountered in the player characters travels through different ages or in campaigns centring around them. Consisting of many chapters around the world they can persist for centuries, returning to plague the heroes again and again.
Presented here are some ideas for these organisations, based around entities from the Doctor Who mythos. For simplicity sake these cults are referred to as Houses. There can be houses that are dedicated to the same entity, standing together against opponents but also competing to prove they are most worthy of the house name.
Although written from the perspective of the time period presented in ‘The Adventuress of Henrietta Street’ there is no reason you can’t use these houses in earlier or later periods, showing how they develop and change over time.
A cult may dedicate themselves to one particular being or build connections between them, establishing their own cosmology. A cult could learn of these alien beings either through direct contact or through glimpses from the future.
In most of these examples the species will rarely be actively involved with the organisation. Just as the Time Lords are now Elementals of Time these beings act as representations of specific ideas or notions, more gods than living creatures.
The Daleks represent death. This isn’t to be confused with combat or some notion of survival, all that is important is the killing. The more people who die the better. The Dalek cult glorify them, making sacrifices in their name.
It is said that in the catacombs beneath Paris, where the ground is choked with dead, the insidious cult has sculptured a Dalek shell out of human bone. They worship it, chanting ‘exterminate! exterminate!’ during their midnight masses.
Those who are truly dedicated drink deeply of a liquid which robs them of their personality. Clad in black they are the unfeeling zombie army of the cult, carrying out their orders without a moments hesitation.
The cult is driven to find ways to produce a large death toll, through whichever means possible. Only their desire for secrecy has kept them from making any overt attacks. Their goal is to achieve the word they have seen from the future, genocide.
HOUSE CYBERMEN –
Humanities lost brothers, the cybermen are living embodiments of a mechanised future. Their cult is dedicated to industrialisation and the transformation of weak flesh into invulnerable metal.
At their secret meetings the cultists wear metal masks, both concealing their identity and representing their shedding of identity. Their membership consists of doctors, scientists, engineers and inventors, all seeking ways to make their dreams of becoming machines come true.
Metals are sacred to House Cybermen, each type holds its own significance. Only gold is shunned, seen as unholy. Traitors are often despatched by pouring molten gold down their throats.
Astrology plays a large part in their organisation, the stars giving them insight into when the cybermen will once again return to Earth. They hold that silver giants once visited the planet from Earth’s twin, giving secrets of technology to the founders of the house.
The House steer society towards industrialisation, continue to develop their philosophy of cold logic and the rejection of emotion. They have also been known to test their primitive artificial limbs and implants on unwilling subjects.
HOUSE REPTILE –
Long ago the planet was ruled by a race of humanoid reptiles. They sleep now, in the shadows of the world, and on the day they reawaken House Reptile will be waiting for them.
Based around the wisdom of the Silurians the cult values knowledge above all else. They scour the globe looking for their ancient relics and even search for the hidden Silurian cities, hoping to awaken their gods.
The House Reptile is motivated by fear. Some primitive part of them remembers the terror and the pain the race brought to humanity but they feel it is inevitable that they will return. They hope that they will be looked on favourably for their actions and spared further torture.
House Reptile hold antiquity in high esteem. They surround themselves with antiques and shun anything new or modern. Not only do they want to stop progress they wish it regress. The majority of the members who join House Reptile are elderly, using their power and influence to further the Houses goals.
Certain fanatics believe that the Reptile race are already awake, disguising themselves as humans and watching the actions of the House. Some even believe that this transformation works both ways and they can ascend to join their masters as creatures of scale.
Skilled practitioners of arcane rituals can enter the astral plane. There the chosen few are able to hear the words of the Great Intelligence. It brings enlightenment and in return can act through them.
One of the oldest Houses they are said to have a hand in every major event of human history. There are many legends about the gifts bestowed upon the members of the House, from summoning fur covered monsters to the ability to temporarily raise the dead.
What is agreed upon is that the House gains its name from the webbing that often appears with the cult is involved. It fills the rooms and corridors of their meeting places and can even be used as a weapon. It is common knowledge that one of their enemies was found dead after he’d gone horse riding in the forest surrounding his manor, both he and his steed bound tightly in cobwebs.
From time to time a charismatic speaker will emerge, spellbinding the local population with his words. It is often revealed that this person is a member of House Web and the rival Houses must take action before they to are swayed by his speeches.
Silver spheres and crystal prisms are symbols of House Web. These totems will be kept on display, even if a member of the House is trying to hide their allegiance. It is simply to much for them to keep these items out of sight.
HOUSE SONTAR –
Throughout human history there have been encounters with the warrior race from Sontar. These Sontarans have tested themselves in battle and found humanity lacking. House Sontar are dedicated to finally meeting this challenge.
Their members are soldiers, hunters and fighters. They drill themselves in every form of warfare and seek out greater and greater challenges. The rival Houses believe that House Sontar members have manipulated political events to provoke confrontations, to provide the wars they need to hone their skills.
The more active members of House Sontar search the planet for other worldly predators to test themselves against. Those who survive wear their scars with pride and mount their trophies on the walls of their meeting places.
House Sontar has earned the enmity of House Dalek after a hunting party killed a time lost Dalek. First damaging the Dalek’s weapons the House Sontar members beat on its shell with rocks until it finally cracked and they feasted upon the fleshy centre within.
House Sontar also has an agenda of seeking out any Rutans that might try to gain a foothold on Earth. They have learnt of the Sontarans ongoing conflict with their shape shifting enemy and do not wish to give their gods any more reason to invade.