I have a section in my notebook from the tail-end of April that reads:

The cult, as in “to cultivate,” comparable to cultivating crops, is at the core of religion. Impiety (literally to neglect care of the gods) was a crime against the state. Gods of the state were considered to watch over its rulers, so the idea of anyone banning or driving out the “caretakers” of a particular god, especially ones important to the care and maintenance of a city or culture, was unconscionable.

A cult is a faction subtype that can be applied to any of the six factions, as they stand. You can have cults appear among Guilds, Pirates, Tyrants, Pilgrims, Tribes, or Nobles. Anywhere you have a source of worldly power, which can be consolidated in one person or a group of people, you’re likely to have a cult dedicated to preserving and/or appeasing a god through worship and sacrifice.

I had an interesting conversation last night about how pensions and retirement funds began, and how they’ve changed over the years, which I thought tied into the above concept very well. Consider that for a time, only specific individuals could communicate with the gods, and they fulfilled all the necessary duties to see to that god. After a fashion, it became more efficient for individuals to form relationships with the gods.

(You can thank the spread of knowledge and learning for that last one.)

Most of the cults that appear in Rumors of War and related stories are treated very much like businesses. They have rules and regulations that must be followed, and they perform a very real service for both rulers and commoners alike. Without the services provided by the priests and cultists, the very real (if perpetually off-screen) gods would turn their attention to other followers.

Currently there aren’t any cults that play a huge part in either the Rumors of War comic or “To Catch A Goat,” but I’ve laid some of the groundwork for them to play important roles later in the stories. Aspects and avatars of the gods may appear at some point, as well as big, scary monsters and other horrible abominations, but I’ll probably stick to their mortal adherents and secular problems more often than not.

Cults will play a larger role in the game system I’m designing, as part of a campaign to develop facets of the world more cleanly and evenly.