With the Tyranny of Dragons out everyone’s going to be facing down the cult of the dragons and fighting hidden enemies. We’re here to help.
There’s something about evil cultists and D&D that just fits. Whether it’s fighting evil cultists who are trying to steal an artifact, take over a town, or summon some otherworldly creature into the world that would be better off elsewhere, they are among the perfect villains. They have traded away their humanity for the promise of power, and they can be anyone. The knight who always wins the tournament, the simpering noble with a heart full of malice…
Or the Vecna, standing atop a pile of skulls
If you’re going to fight a cult, here are five things to keep in mind while doing so.
It’s all about disruption
Fighting a cult is a lot like working at a startup company. You’re not making much money now but there’s a lot of potential for success–in the meantime, everyone has to be scrappy, work long hours, and wear many hats. But most of all, it’s all about disruption. You’ll want to figure out what the cult’s overall goal is, sure, but we’re talking disrupting all their plans along the way. Figure out who their allies are and attack them. Who supplies them with their members? All those logistical considerations that it takes to run an organization? You’re going to be disrupting that.
Who knows you might even be disrupting an industry.
Show me the money
It takes money to get anything done in the world (even a fantasy one), and the cultists probably have access to a lot of money. You can find that and fix that. Because if you can take away their funds, they won’t be able to afford to hire assassins or pay for dark purple robes or silver-handled knives that glisten in the moonlight.
Who you know
Cults only work as long as they have members. But why should eldritch beings from whatever forbidden realms be the only ones offering power to unscrupulous members. Start your own recruitment drive. Figure out who the cultists are targeting–especially in terms of cannon fodder or muscle–and hire them out from underneath the cult. Everyone has their price, and if you’re hitting the merchants propping up the cult, your party is probably rich enough to stop them.
You might need a wizard or a cleric for this one–but cults often have to wait for significant celestial events or days of religious significance. You can use this knowledge to figure out when they’re going to be carrying out their dark ritual, but don’t wait until a few days before to try and stop them. Keep a list of significant celestial conjunctions handy and start looking to disrupt them months out. If you can stay ahead of schedule, you won’t be racing the clock when the stars finally are right.
Word of mouth
Finally, a counterpart to the recruitment campaign–if you’re going to stop the cult, you need to become even more respected. Once you’ve proven you can beat them, take a page out of Sherlock Holmes’ book and pay the urchins and beggars of whatever city you’re in to keep tabs on people acting all mysterious. With your own network of informants, you’ll be able to keep tabs on the cult’s activities without having to leave your house.
Once you’ve done all this, you’ll still have to be able to beat them in a fight. But these tricks should help make the cult feel frustrated and weakened before you kick in their door waving your broadsword.