An introduction to cults? Help!

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  • An introduction to cults? Help!

    Hi guys. I impulse bought over 100 poor Dread Elves and are now studying ways to field them. Coming from an non-WHFB background I have literally no clue what the different cults are meant to represent and what their trademark/signature are.

    I can read the special rules and try to understand the background from there, but it would help immensely if you guys could help me draw an outline of the different cults, to have a framework to put all the special rules.

    Doesn’t have to be anything official, just your thoughts and general feel of the signatures of each cults.
  • From my own perspective

    Nabh: Hatred and murder are the first that spring to mind. Devotion to the cause of inflicting pain without much order

    Cadaron: mainly found in the raiding units of the DE book and should be the ruthless takedown of prey (anything that moves) from a distance. Think of a raiding party of corsair shooting down any fleeing targets.

    Olaron: the backbone highly diciplined trained army which are placed in a more strategic setting. Would rather prefer to take a more strategic tactic over impulse aggression such as Nabh

    Yema: no idea, they're fast i guess. Devotion to sonic
  • I think Yema was originally intended to be the lust cult. You say you don't have a background in the before time, so as a quick explanation, warhammer dark elves had one cult, the followers of khaine the god of murder. (Represented as nabh in 9th age) but in the fluff and some extra campaign books, there was an offshoot outlawed cult that followed slaanesh the chaos god of lust/pleasure.

    In the beginning of 9th age when having their own background wasn't so critical, the basis of these two cults in the previous background was more obvious. Now I can't really speak to to wether its the same or not. But since in the new warriors of the dark gods book, lust followers still get movement bonuses for being lusty, I'd say its a pretty good guess.

    As for the other two cults, all we have available to hazard a guess is the representation in the rules. So for all we know cadaron is a god that demands you spend your free time at target practice shooting close up targets and olaron is a god of listening to your general.
  • I have a different idea about the whole cults thing.
    I will try to write a whole post about if I can, but ,
    my idea is based on the item `seal of the republic`, meaning DE are a sort of republic.
    We have legionaries and auxiliaries which give it a Roman feeling as well.
    They are also a sea faring nation, due to corsairs, and sea faring republic reminds me immediately of Venice.
    And the flag of Venice is => basically a golden manticore over red.

    So Dread Elves are a cross between Rome and Venice.
    This puts the cults => social classes, which we would understand today as political parties, but people from empire of sonnstahl could very well misunderstand and try do define as cults.
    Cult of Nabh => the landless, penniless citizens, the plebs, that fill the streets (and fleets) of the Republic. Basically, they are the angry, unruly, vengeful mob. They are the ones whose popular vote will decide the next councilor. It is they, too, who will burn his house and murders his bloodline on the next election. While they are completely OK with killing each other over the daily payment from their current senator-employer, they all unite under one thing: Their sense of superiority over every other race. Hence, hatred.
    Cult of Yema => The artists, who are the actors, musicians, dancers, gladiators and other entertainment classes. Considered little better than prostitutes by the senatorial classes, who still cannot live without their services, especially in gaining the people`s favor. Now to find why so many of them are also magicians :)
    Cult of Cadaron => The slave masters in service of the great land owners, the senatorial classes, who themselves reside in the magnificent and miserable dread elf cities. Out in the country, where huge estates are populated mostly by slaves, their word is law, and the law is there is no escape. A living slave is more valuable than a dead one, so they prefer to catch it alive rather than kill. Meaning +1 to hit at close range is somewhat meaningful. Obviously, they are much fewer in number in the cities and raiding armies than other classes..
    Cult of Olaron => The house folk of the senatorial classes. They are usually people with long, long lines of affiliation with the ruling classes. Basically, Senatorial families are a public mafia, and the Don is the current senator. A member of such an organization can only rise up in society by serving his lord. In extremely rare cases, such house folk have managed to rise to incredible heights, even marrying in to family or getting elected to the senate. Only if they can sufficiently impress their lord... As such, these men and woman are capable of incredible feats (shows) of loyalty to their lords. Because it is only a show however, and these people are just as self serving as their masters. So their discipline bonus is only limited to a point where their lord can see them.
  • @Eymuster
    Your description of the various cults create stronk pictures and fresh ideas.

    Eymuster wrote:

    This puts the cults => social classes, which we would understand today as political parties, but people from empire of sonnstahl could very well misunderstand and try do define as cults.
    I may add another idea/elaborate:
    The cults are alien to the perception of the imperial chronist/explorer. He projects his resentments, his general lack of understanding or he may even be in thrall to a political agenda to define the social fabric of the Elven Republic(s?) on purpose as backward and wierd 'cults' in order to fortify the idea of 'superiority' of the Sonnstahl empire.

    I was thinking about this while reading:
    (Rome's imperial power, however, was also derived from an important psychological reality. Civis Romanus sum - "I am a Roman citizen" - was the highest possible self-definition, a source of pride, and an aspiration for many...) [quoted from Brzezinski's The Grand Chessboard]

    Nabh and Cadaron may be enriched by incentives of Black Metal (hatred), the historic Russian Mafia(coping with oppressive government), 'native elves' ("landless, penniless"; Pashtuns). Olaron - Machiavelli. Yema - the Roma.
  • Thanks guys! This is a good starting point to have in mind while reading the book. Both the origins of the "cults" and some refreshing interpretations of them.

    I really like your connection to old guilds or classes @Eymuster . And in a polytheistic society I guess that each of these classes probably have their own god or goddess they see as "theirs" and are devoted to, making it even harder for an outsider to distinguish between cults and classes..?
  • I will add some more thoughts.

    It is said Roman republic collapsed after they defeated all their enemies. For one, huge influx of slaves, and long wars on distant lands, undermined the usual social structure of mostly farmer citizens who went to war on a national crisis. While these former land owners fought, their lands were bought by the richer class, who used their slave armies to do the same work. The legionaries had to go to cities and survive by doing whatever they can. In tüme this created and incredibly disilusioned, vengeful population. power seeking elite strived to harness this resentment for their own and we have endless civil wars ending with dissolution of republic.

    In my idea, this is the state of the Dread elves, and has been so for countless centuries. The fact that they have outside enemies (highborn elves) is in fact the only reason they havent fallen in to each other. There is a lot of revolts, attempted coups, power grabs and political mass murders but as soon as an outside force tries to intervene, they unite against it.
    To keep this delicate balance the lowest class, Nabh, has to not only be tolerated, but cultivated.

    Rome was generally not a very religious people. Up until byzantium at least. Even during Byzantium it was always state>church, and patriarch were state appointed officials. As a People they were superstitious, but the gods and temples, and the fact that were multiple religions practiced troughout their lands, created a kind of indiffirence I guess. Remember Ceasar was elected pontifex maximus. Also there were a lot of roman emprerors venerated like gods. Leading me to believe we may still not have a full understanding of how they saw religion, gods, etc..from an insiders point of view they might as well have been ideologies taken to extreme propaganda level. Cults to an outsider

    For nabh, again I see similarity between these guys and, say, the revolutionary tide of 18th and 19th century sans-culotte. People with nothing to loose, have everything to gain. However dangerous they are though they usually end up loosing because they lack leadership, they are usually pawns in some power-players greaterplan.
    They are tricked in to this by the class Yema, who care only about fame and fortune. The elites provide the stage and cash, the lower classes provide the applause, and the stage and the crowd can change but Yema is always in the center.
    Yema, I can also add chariot races, which were a huge deal up until Justinian, well into christian era! Remember Nike revolts which nearly decimated Constantinople, started in the Hippodrome. There were two chariot teams that were very important in public life and once they combined forces, the emperor could only run for his life. Imagine Real Madrid and Barcelona uniting against the government :)
    Real life is more surprising than fiction: Justinian’s wife was a dancer girl in the hippodrome - the lowest class women possible.
    So possible yema upgrade to chariots?
    Also, why not a olaron choice for the hunting chariot? They would not only race but also try to hunt monsters in the great hippodrome I believe.

    I learned nearly everything I know about rome from Histpry of Rome and History of Byzantium podcasts, so I am sure there are people who can add a lot more.
  • I think it's supposed to be more Rome crossed with the United States than Rome crossed with Venice. Because we also have 'rebelled from Great Britain HbE' and 'are in the new world'. And if we need to choose a naval power, I don't think Venice is the go to source there, I think it's more Morocco/Algiers - the barbary coast is where we get the word corsairs from.

    Venice is contra-indicated by several things, not least that DE's external relationships are belligerent. Venice was a merchant republic, a major trading nation. DE's idea of 'trade' is piracy.

    And there's a little bit of North Korea here as well - because their enemy is the world's sole super-power (HbE). DE commits huge amounts of resources to constant military readiness because that's the only way to convince the superpower who hates them that starting an all-out war is too expensive to contemplate.
    Just because I'm on the Legal Team doesn't mean I know anything about rules or background in development, and if/when I do, I won't be posting about it. All opinions and speculation are my own - treat them as such.

    Legal

    Playtester

    Chariot Command HQ

  • I see similarities to USA but, lets not immediately disregard similarities to Venice (I am trying to explain this as a not very well expanded topic, which could beintegrated to DE lore)
    Venice was a co-partner/subject of byzantium, but they were alao selling weapons to theie arch rival, caliphate. There were times Roman emperor had to issue decrees to stop this trade => showing that Venetians were utterly shameless in the pursue of profit
    Venetians were the prime organizers in the 4th crusade which ended up raiding Constantinople instead of going to the holy lands as planned. This is how venice got really, really filthy rich. Again showing their treacherous nature.
    As opposed to US, venetians were a naval power in the middle ages, closer to our setting
    Venetians, like all naval powers up to 19-20th century, were involved in privateering.
    There was, if I remember correctly, a gold book, recording all the members of noble families suitable for government, and a silver book, recording all other venetian families not noble but were allowed to work on the very closed, shipbuilding industry, and in the fleet etc.. -showing they are also a closed society.
    Sure, I am not saying DE is same as Venice, but there are some avenues to use as fluff. Like the winged lion on their flag, some things just fit.
    Their splendid city, right inside marshland, which smells horribly and is a nightmare to navigate. Is how I imagine a dread elf corsair port city could look. It could be the point of entry to the dread elf lands. The city itself could be a collection of huge, town sized vessels that join together. The whole layout of the city could change from one visit to another.
    Imagine from a distance, countless ships and sails, almost obscuring the huge floating city nestled deep within a foggy swamp. Swamp itself is very hard to navigate, any captain not knowing can get their ship grounded. Not sunk, since the Dread elves enjoy using it again.
    Among those anchored Some are elven and human ships that dread elf “merchants” use to trade.. as they can pose as elvish merchants easily. May be they have decades long trade deals where noone knows they dealing with evil elves.. remember they are a race espionage and subterfuge.
  • DE don't trade. Pretty much at all. They don't do diplomacy, even treacherous diplomacy. They're isolationist in the extreme (North Korea was not chosen at random). The battlefield, the pirate attack, and the slave raid is pretty much the only interactions they have with other races. This is why Venice is an especially poor fit, because Venice was intimately tied to diplomacy and trade.

    Any subterfuge is pretty much internal only.

    The capital city is not in a marsh either, although it is hard to sail to. So I'll give you that similarity.
    Just because I'm on the Legal Team doesn't mean I know anything about rules or background in development, and if/when I do, I won't be posting about it. All opinions and speculation are my own - treat them as such.

    Legal

    Playtester

    Chariot Command HQ

  • I see what you mean, and I see this is how they were in the old cannon, which was murder frenzy blood elves.
    I must say while visually it is striking, I think as a whole army to build fluff on it is a bit too narrow?
    North Korea is trading a lot with china, some say it is sustained by the PRC. Also They are standing up to the US, but really, they are not really fighting them. Back in the day they could win the war because China helped. So another greater player is helping the Dread Elves in their fight against the HBE?
    Simply, such an isolationist state cannot be a competitor to the HBE... Unless you also weave a huge plot armor around it like in the old canon. (Undefeatable undying warrior wizard king and his domineering evil mom) I see 9th age is trying to go on a more subtle route, but I haven`t read all the scrolls.
    I must say I am also inspired by Lord Drakon`s threads :)

    As far as subterfuge, I think they must have some, even in the old canon they used to instigate cults in elven cities. Act as assasins and secret agents etc..

    I think we should also try to think a bit on medieval society terms.
    DE could come and go on a quite fishing town many years before raiding it. Probe its surroundings. Learn about whats deeper up the shore. May be even establish a colony. Before finally their fleets show up one night and everyone is chained without being able to sound the alarm, where the greater DE forces land to push inwards.

    I think with their much longer life spans, and being cunning, they can play the longer game unlike warriors of the dark gods.

    Again, just trying to come up with some new ideas.
  • Maybe there is a political body which we loosely refer to as 'the DE-republic' or the Daethen Republic, which radiates from a center and projects its lifestyle, culture and governance in a distinct area or dominion. Surpassing these borders are cultural traits like the cults or its archetypes. Therefore we have some kind of DE-pole and a, lets say HBE-pole, with many gradations and nuances in between; one of them may be an entity inspired by venice and pirate-ports, where cultures merge.

    Considering the vast landmass of DE-influence, there have to be refined lines of communication and command, as well as culitvated diplomacy (e.g. to negotiate tribute) to deal with the various entities in between and on its borders. I agree that an isolationist state cannot compete with any organized competitor in the long run, depending on its environment.
  • I like to explore the idea of cult of Yema as cult of Victory
    Similar to Nike, it is a very brief fleeting thing. We think of it as a goddess today but probably it was a concept in the ancients’ minds. Actually it is not a god but that brief moment of triumph, when you “Win” and all the glory and praise is on you and you feel an intense rush like you are on top of the world... then it passes.
    Those followers “cultists” of yema can be seekers of this rush, and willing to take greater and greater risks and even consorting with dark forces to gain that edge.
    I am still fond of the idea of Yema as cult of artists and sportsmen too; and if we think of it as Glory along with victory, I think these two match.
  • Meant to get back to this awhile ago...

    Eymuster wrote:

    I see what you mean, and I see this is how they were in the old cannon, which was murder frenzy blood elves.
    I must say while visually it is striking, I think as a whole army to build fluff on it is a bit too narrow?
    North Korea is trading a lot with china, some say it is sustained by the PRC. Also They are standing up to the US, but really, they are not really fighting them. Back in the day they could win the war because China helped. So another greater player is helping the Dread Elves in their fight against the HBE?
    Simply, such an isolationist state cannot be a competitor to the HBE... Unless you also weave a huge plot armor around it like in the old canon. (Undefeatable undying warrior wizard king and his domineering evil mom) I see 9th age is trying to go on a more subtle route, but I haven`t read all the scrolls.

    So, you're absolutely right that in a modern global trade environment, an isolationist state cannot hope to compete with a superpower. But it's not a modern global trade environment. There's several factors that help:

    -HbE's trade relations aren't exactly open, nor are the rest of the races. Most of the others do conduct some trade, but the governing principles are mercantilism, not capitalism.
    -We're pre-industrialism. Societies are not very productive per capita.
    -That means most other societies have most of their population engaged in agriculture. DE by contrast have almost none of their elf population involved in agriculture - as no dark elf would till the soil by hand. DE's slave agriculture has better economies of scale than any other nation's agriculture system. This results in more DE being available for military service (per capita) than any other nation by ridiculous margins, and giving them the freedom to run full-scale military campaigns during planting and harvest.
    -The primary determinant of military power, pre-industrialization, is population. It's what made France the dominant power in Europe in the early modern period. And by population I don't mean raw numbers, but mobilizable population. DE has a clear relative advantage here.
    -It's physical remoteness makes it difficult to assault, especially when you basically have to fight the entire elven population. This is why military readiness is an effective deterent, because the perceived costs outweigh any benefit.
    -There's perfectly good late medieval through early modern exemplars in similar situations. The states of the barbary coast maintained independence in the face of the growing superpowers of Europe despite piracy being a dominant factor in their economies. Neither Spain nor France ever succeeded in crushing any one of them for long. It wasn't until 1830 (with the French conquest of Algiers) that the threat of barbary pirates was ended.
    -There's no economic concept of relative advantage yet, and most nations don't trust other nations enough to commit to such a system anyway.
    -Unlike the modern situation with the US, HbE's global empire is in decline. (Whether or not you think the US is in decline, it's economic and military power have not really decreased - any decline in US power is either in terms of relative advantage or in terms of influence, and while both are arguable, neither are analogous to the HbE situation.) Think more late British empire.

    Basically, like North Korea, DE are a relatively small state whose principal enemy is a global superpower. Unlike the modern situation, there's no such thing as sanctions, and no international effort to curtail piracy. So they can 'import' wealth via piracy and avoid the crushing economic reality North Korea deals with. They also aren't dealing with an economic regime in which industrialization has massively boosted per capita productivity, and capitalism has promoted relative advantage and relatively free trade. (The difference is truly stark. For example: per capita GDP in England is 37x greater today than it was in 1270AD. ourworldindata.org/economic-growth The difference in agricultural productivity is also stark, which has fueled massive population growth while increasing per capita productivity and decreasing the proportion of the population involved in agriculture. Total global productivity is about 250x greater today than it was in 1500).

    In short, when surrounded by medieval societies, the difference between a 'North Korea' and a 'Great Britain' aren't nearly as stark as they are today, and commitment to military training and readiness is far more important to power projection than economics. And it so happens that DE has a critical competitive advantage in a key sector - agriculture.
    Just because I'm on the Legal Team doesn't mean I know anything about rules or background in development, and if/when I do, I won't be posting about it. All opinions and speculation are my own - treat them as such.

    Legal

    Playtester

    Chariot Command HQ