Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Cult of the Mystic Tyrant Schisms: the Cult of Anthara

Schisms of the Mystic Tyrant

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant has changed many times over its long life, evolving from an imperial cult to its modern incarnation as a nihilistic philosophical doctrine, with its share of heretics and ideologues over time.

Each schism has its own take on the Mystic Tyrant philosophy, which acts as a lens on the original philosophy. Each is similar enough that Comparative Philosophy is unnecessary to use Philosophical Arguments against fellow adherents. Nonetheless, each has access to their own new skills, perks, etc, which can be layered atop the default version of Mystical Tyranny.

Each schism presented below has two optional “masks.” These represent conspiracies that the schism might use as a catspaw for advancing its own agenda and for recruiting while hiding its own presence or its true agenda. They do not present an exhaustive list, and schisms tend to borrow from one another, so a similar conspiracy might be found among other schisms.

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant submits to no rules not of its own devising, and in their pursuit of transcendence, they redefine their relationship with the Path of the Mystic Tyrant. This takes the form of unique signature path symbolism, which they may use in addition to the noted path symbols. Those presented are optional ideas, and some schisms have successfully created unique paths!

This list of schisms is not necessarily exhaustive. Often, a Tyrant who achieves Trasncendent Masterhood ends up creating their own vision of Mystical Tyranny and thus creates their own schism. At the same time, some or all the schisms below might be historical footnotes, swept aside by more dominant sects or lost to the sands of time. The ultimate nature of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant is up to the GM. This is critical, and this work will not define the actual composition of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant so that its nature remains a murky mystery to the players in whatever campaign they join. Thus, each schism has suggestions for handling them, including default assumptions and alternate takes.



The Cult of Anthara and Domen Meret

The legendary Ranathim sacred emperor, Anthara, founded the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant. He used his connection to the Mystic Tyrant archetype to forge both an Empire and a religion, the Divine Masks, which served as a tool for controlling his people, and remains a powerful influence to this day. Within the system of the Divine Masks, the Ranathim Emperor wore the mantle of “Reluke Lithe,” literally the Divine Emperor, the “God who Ruled All Gods” and served as the ultimate authority of the Divine Masks system: Sefelina Midra married him, Kheme Lashafra whispered advice in his ear, and Thamet Sonostra slaughtered those who defied his will. Those who served as the priests to the divine emperor became the chiva, priests, of “Domen Meret,” or the Imperial Cult.

With the fall of that Empire, the Cult of Anthara fell out of favor and the philosophy of Satra Temos supplanted it. Nonetheless, the followers of the Divine Masks remember Domen Meret and still worship it. Indeed, a new “Emperor” has arisen on Sarai, the closest the Ranathim have to a homeworld after the death of Ranagant, who follows all the old rituals and wields all the old power. Whether his cult is just an empty, Divine Mask ritual, or a real facet of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant remains a mystery (one left to the GM to solve!)

The Cult of Anthara is an exclusively Ranathim philosophy; it has very few alien followers and allows no aliens into the actual Cult itself as anything other than admirers or followers.

The Laws of Reluke Lithe

Like most Nadomen, Domen Meret has vows that the chiva can take to gain access to Learned Prayers. Those who take a Communion Oath perk generally take the Destiny (Suffer Humiliating Misfortune); Mitigator, stay true to the Laws of Domen Theret -65%) disadvantage as their “divine wrath” disadvantage. This tends to manifest as little tweaks of fate that ensure that the character’s failures are as humiliating as possible, as fate makes the character such a laughing stock that political and economic power stay forever beyond his reach.

Vow (Obey all commands from the Ranathim Emperor) [-15]

Vow (Obey the letter of all laws of the Divine Masks) [-10]

Vow (Never violate the letter of a deal) [-10]

The Superstitions of Reluke Lithe

The followers of Domen Meret are rarely superstitious. They serve as the foundation of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant and so understand that Reluke Lithe is a metaphor for their own power. Nonetheless, they cultivate rumors of divine power that aren’t true, for their benefit, and often Ranathim followers of the Divine Masks take these superstitions seriously!

Reluke Lithe is not a being, but a mantle, and as such, even if you kill the Ranathim Emperor, another will always take his place in due time. The Cult of Anthara certainly pushes this idea, claiming that Anthara has the power to reincarnate and that he shall return (or that he already has and secretly works to restore his reign). Ranathim who take such claims seriously have Delusion (“Anthara will return”) either as a quirk or as a [-5] disadvantage; the latter are especially gullible to claims that he has returned and has a secret mission for them...

The Cult of Anthara worked very hard to convince his subjects of his divinity, and his acumen with Dark Communion certainly helped their case. Even today, many Ranathim worship the descendants of Anthara (or those who claim to be his descendants) as gods. They refuse to meet their gaze or to go against them in battle. If people find some ways to prove that their divinity is false (“See? He bleeds!”), they’ll find an excuse to explain it away (“He is but testing us!”) They have Delusion (“Anthara’s descendants are literally divine”) [-10].

If your ruler is a literal God-King, then his laws and edicts are the literal word of God! Some Ranathim continue to take the old laws of the Ranathim Empire very seriously, and carry a copy of Codex Anthara with them at all times, referring to it as one would a religious document. Delusion (“The Law of Anthara is Divine”) [-15] tends to manifest as a quirky form of Honesty, strictly enforced, and sometimes hostile to the local law of the land.

Domen Meret as Mystic Tyrant Lens; +4 points

The Cult of Anthara is far more exacting than the philosophy of Satra Temos. It requires detailed understanding of the Divine Mask system, as well as how to rule, layered atop the intense need for self-knowledge that the Mystic Tyrant philosophy is known for. Those who follow the path of Anthara must be both kings and philosophers.

However, it offers benefits to those who master all aspects of the Cult of Anthara; like all Divine Mask systems, it offers deeper insight into psionic abilities, especially Telepathy and Psychic Vampirism. Note that the Zathare and Navare esoteric styles can and do “borrow” the techniques and miracles of Domen Meret justnas they would with any Divine Mask cult. Indeed, most practitioners of Zathare feel that the wisdom of Domen Meret is the most coveted of all Nadomen.

Replace the Mystical Tyranny Required Skills with the following and add the following traits:

Required Skills: Hidden Lore (Communion), Meditation, Philosophy (Mystical Tyranny), Politics, Law (Ranathim Religious), Religious Ritual (Divine Masks), Theology (Divine Masks).

Additional Psionic Skills: Aspect, Drain IQ, Instill Terror, Mind Shield, Suggestion,

Techniques: Aura Extension (Aspect), Expansion (Mind Shield), Independent (Suggestion), Group Scare (Instill Terror), Mass Drain (Drain IQ), Pressed Attack (Suggestion)

Secret Technique: Empowering Drain (Drain IQ)

Signature Miracles: Curse, Dark Charisma, Dark Majesty, Dark Power of the Id, Desecrate Ground, Primordial Expertise (Intuitive Statesman, Occultist), Lesser Avatar of the Mystic Tyrant; Greater Avatar of the Mystic Tyrant, Wisdom of Dark Communion.

Perks: Avatar, Communion Oath, Demonic Contract Lawyer, I Know What You Mean, Intimidation Factor, Presence, Psychic Symbolism (Mystic Tyrant, Psychic Vampirism or Telepathy), Signature Miracle (any Domen Meret Signature Miracle), Symbolism Mastery (Mystic Tyrant), Secret Miracle (Voice of God), Social Vampire, The Buzz.

Optional Traits: Telepathy Talent.

New Traits

Perks

Communion Oath: Provided the character has an appropriate disadvantage that is mitigated by following an oath, the character may purchase Learned Prayers directly, at full price, with an additional limitation based on an appropriate vow.

Demonic Contract Lawyer: You always read the fine-print of an agreement, and you always word agreements as much in your favor as you can. When there is ever ambiguity in wording, assume the character has worded his side of the agreement as tightly as he could.

Presence: Pyramid #3-69, page 7

Psychic Symbolism: You may add the symbol bonuses and penalties from a specific Path to the skill rolls of a specific power.

Signature Miracle: Gain +1 to Communion Reaction rolls when calling on one specific Specified Miracle (Leveled, to a maximum of +4)

Symbolism Mastery: You may invoke 4 symbols for +4 to reaction rolls for your path, or +2 to a miracle outside of your path.

The Buzz: Pyramid #3-69, page 7

Miracles

Techniques

Empowering Drain

Hard

Default: Drain IQ-8;

Prerequisite: Drain IQ; May not exceed Drain IQ.

See Pyramid #3-97 “Strange Powers” page 9.

Electronic Repair (Psychotronics), Engineering (Psychotronics), Occultism

The Masks of Anthara

The Order of Hidden Knights (Nasatemo Khetar)

Sometimes called “Anthara’s Secret Army,” the Order of Hidden Knights is a Mask of Anthara that integrates itself into Ranathim military organizations, typically the Knights of Rage or mercenary groups or pirates. The Order of Hidden Knights preaches that when Anthara returns (or when his heirs are found), that he needs a “Hidden Army” to rise up and overthrow those who oppress the Ranathim people and to help restore the glory of that Empire, and that those who serve the Hidden Order will enjoy positions of power within the new Empire (the “Marete Navelor”). As such, the Hidden Order regularly plans seditious actions against both the slaver Empire and the human Empire.

The Order of Hidden Knights doesn’t focus on martial discipline or prowess like the Knights of Rage, though the order does offer training in force swordsmanship styles unique to the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant. Instead, it teaches its members the arts of strategy and leadership, and psionic and communion techniques that revolve around manipulating an opponent’s mind rather than defeating him in open battle. The typical Hidden Knight is an officer or a free agent, well-dressed and fashionable, rather than a dedicated fighting men, and often bring their own fighting men with them when called upon.

Most knights within the Hidden Order never rise above the rank of Initiate within the Cult and, indeed, have little idea of the existence of the Cult. Instead, they have their own hierarchy of leadership and prestige, with most members of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant “relegated” to “mere” advisory or religious positions, though naturally the top leadership always seem to fall in line with the will of the High Priest after private discussions...

The Cult of Order (Domen Meri)

Anthara forged all the pacts and agreements that made the Divine Masks a possibility and so, technically, all cults owe allegiance to him and his order. The exact specifics are complicated and often involve fulfilling bargains on both ends, but the core of this premise and an understanding of the laws and treaties that tie all Divine Mask cults together serve as the seed for the Cult of Order.

The Cult of Order infiltrates Divine Mask cults and seduces priests and priestesses away from their proper worship with careful legal arguments paired with the promise of deeper understanding of Litheja, the Divine. At its strongest, the Cult of Order acts as de facto leadership over the whole of the Divine Mask system via quiet cooperation, as it allows leadership from various cults to rub shoulders during conspiratorial meetings. They set, or at least attempt to influence, the agenda for their own cults based on the dictates of the High Priest of the Cult of Order.

In return, the members of the Cult of Order receive deeper knowledge of Dark Communion and greater facility with it, which tends to naturally improve their ability to call upon their Dark Miracles and, in turn, means they tend to be slated for high positions within their own cult.

The Cult of Order tend to be less coy about the existence of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant than most conspiratorial organizations. Initiates understand that they work with Domen Meret right away (though they may think of them as “just another cult within the Cult of Order” at first), though the Cult does tend to keep its more atheistic principles secret for all but the most “enlightened” of cultists.

Symbolism of Anthara

The Lash and Scepter: The Lash and Scepter, especially when held with the arms crossed over the body, is an ancient symbol of Anthara, representing his dominion over both masters (the scepter) and slaves (the lash). It remains the core symbol of the seal of Anthara to this day.

The Tetrahedron: The Cult of Anthara, as a public figure, embraced the building of great monuments, and their favorite was the three-sided pyramid. The tombs of the Ranathim kings lie buried beneath such pyramids, and the modern Cult still draws great power from the symbolism of the tetrahedron.

The Bones of Tyrants: The Cult of Anthara celebrate the descendants of Anthara, living or dead, and carefully place the bones of the dead in great tombs. Cultists may collect slivers of these bones and wear them in bags or amulets worn around their neck, or outright use those bones to empower their miracles.

The Cult of Anthara in the Galaxy

The GM has multiple options as to how to treat the Cult of Anthara. The default assumption is that it existed in the past, and served as a foundation from which the rest of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant sprang, but today is largely irrelevant except as a conservative splinter of the Cult that lingers on in the Dark Arm. In this vision of the Cult of Anthara, its adherents see Satra Temos as a heretic who corrupted the purity of their rituals and see Revalis White as an even greater corruption, as he injected alien philosophical ideas into the purity of the Cult.

This needn’t be so. The Cult of Anthara could also be dead, a bygone thing that fell with the collapse of the Ranathim Empire. It’s techniques and secrets might be passed down in ancient texts, picked up by Cultists and Zathare practitioners alike, but beyond a story and a hope of restoring the Ranathim Empire, it no longer meaningfully exists. In this case the Emperor of Sarai is just a symbolic figurehead, and attempt to recapture that old glory that is doomed to failure.

On the other hand, the Cult of Anthara could still rule the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant as a whole. In such a case, the immortal soul of Anthara might still rule as the Secret Master of the Cult. The Cult of Satra Temos was a conspiratorial puppet meant to help him regain control of the Dark Arm of the Galaxy via their shadowy methods, but at the heart of the Cult, the true and secret heart, the inner circle all embrace the original Domen Meret rituals and answer to Anthara. The Cult of Revalis might be either a heretic who learned the truth and betrayed both the ancient and sinister regime of Anthara and the calcified morality of True Communion and forged his own path, making him a danger to all of the Cult, or he might have been yet another move by the cunning Anthara to insert his philosophy more deeply into the human realm.
Pharaoh Vader by Mr Dream

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