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An Easy Guide to Cult for Struggling Players

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Preface: The cult antagonist is one of the most difficult antagonist types in the game whilst still remaining one of the most powerful antagonists, largely due to the large skill floor requirements necessary for any antagonist, and for other mechanical things special to cult. There are also external factors such as active areas of surveillance that will easily get you caught and shut down in the round if you are either foolish enough to operate in those areas or are ignorant of such areas existing. Furthermore, a semi-competent AI player can shut down an early-game cult and thus shut down any roleplay stemming from an early-to-mid-game transition failing to kick off.

This guide is being written strictly to give mechanical insight on how Cult works and how to gain the best possible advantages to set yourself up in addition to other cultists. If you don't learn how to be robust as a cultist, you're going to have a very difficult time getting consistent and decent roleplay out of this antagonist type, because it requires very specific demands of knowledge: that being the exclusive strengths that cultists have. Likewise, the intention of the guide is to give basic skills and insight to the fresher players who likely have no idea what they're doing otherwise, but get a better idea of how to play with a proper guide.

If you're someone who already knows this information and is gonna attach a reply along the lines of "Well I don't play that way nor do I have to, because I know what I'm doing", good for you, gold star. But this guide isn't for you, and the topic isn't based around being able to improvise. This topic is about being able to play cult at a basic level that doesn't pressure the learner into prioritizing more than they initially should.

And let's be honest, I have personal motivations here. I'm tired of facing off against unskilled cultists and hopelessly crushing them because I have more experience with this game on various servers. In the event myself and some others are actively competing for their own roleplay goals and their character's right to survive in a round, I personally want to feel challenged so I can find ways to screw up even with my tried-and-tested efficient methods of cult-busting as security, and likewise I also want better teammates when I play cult so I don't feel pressured like I need to carry the entire cult on my back to make the round interesting. This paragraph could've not made it into the final draft because this post is gonna be riddled with snark more than just on occasion. You, the reader, may have to contend with this anyway. tl;dr I want a challenge, so I want newfriends to grow and be that brick wall I hit.

Oh no! I'm a cultist? What is my purpose, what do I do?: Slow down there. Yes, you are a cultist. Specifically, you're a blood cultist that serves a blood god whose demands center around forcible conversion, subjugation of the masses to worship a single eldritch deity who grants their followers immense amounts of power. This is all you need to know lore-wise, but feel free to make crap up if you wish, but it's best to use AOOC to get a consistent idea of who/what Nar'sie is and what their goals are. If nobody in AOOC at the time knows anything to make being a blood cultist sound edgier or deeper, defer to this paragraph. 

Above all else, you are part of a team. This is the one time where fucking over your team is absolutely a bad and potentially bannable thing in this game. Do not fuck over your cult team. Ever. You are a literal brainwashed cultist. Your prior character relationships do not matter, Nar'sie's will overrides your past motivations. Do not argue this, you will get fucked if you screw with another cultist without good reason (it is, however, okay to execute a cultist who intentionally behaved to the detriment of the cult, such as people who intentionally do nothing after being converted).

Your in-game purpose is indeed, to convert people, and once you gain an overwhelming number count, you should go loud with the rest of your cult and start converting others. You can also sacrifice and kill them. It is generally preferred by the consensus of the playerbase that you should try to convert someone if at all possible. You can kill them if this is either not possible or someone resists conversion attempts to try and waste your time. There are other ways you can exploit the corpse of someone who chose to spite you by resisting, by the way. More on this later.

Okay, so how do I do that?: Relax, really. A single cultist has many tools at the start of the round, though it does not seem like it. When you are a roundstart cultist... let me just split this down into sections below.

The Talisman
Your Talisman looks identical to a cult paper. Do not dispose of this under any circumstances, unless you need to hide any proof you're a cultist. In which case, ensure you have this again! Your talisman always has several options of things it can do for you. If you are converted to the cult, you (should) always spawn with one of these in your bag, so this should help mid-round cultists who don't know their responsibilities either.
These are listed as follows, you get five charges of the talisman:
Spawn Tome
imbued paper (Teleport, EMP, conceal, communicate, stun, and armor cultspells; respectively.)
Spawn soul stone
Spawn construct shell

What should I spend my talisman charges on?: Always, always, always, ALWAYS get the tome first. There was a not-so-recent change that allows cultists to have all cult words roundstart. No more do you need to do time-consuming and RNG-based research anymore and you never need to ask for someone's power word again. The tome allows you to write literally any rune anywhere, except the chapel, obviously.

Do not get the imbued paper charges. I mean, you can if you want, but there are better methods right now that they are unnecessary, due to the existence of Imbue Paper Spells which render the above redundant. More on this later.

Save your last 4 charges for 2 soul stones and 2 construct shells. USE THESE LATER, NOT WHEN YOU SPAWN IN. Always, always, always save them for the mid-game transition when you are going to start creating bodies from people who resist conversion. Or dead cultists if you're too lazy to revive a cultist the proper spell way.

How about my tome? How do I do the things?: Now that we're here, we can finally discuss how to do the thing. Cult spells are the LIFEBLOOD (see what I did there) of any decent cultist player. These are ultimately how you get robust at being a cultist. Their mastery can make for a very slippery AND extremely fucking dangerous player. Seriously, it is goddamn scary to go against a cultist who knows what they're doing, and security mains get especially salty when they get taken by surprise by a single cultist, because that is all it takes to flip the entire round on its head. If you're the kind of person who likes to 'carry' in video games, a single cultist has the capacity to do so with relatively flawless play. It's ultimately because of being able to overcome impossible odds that makes cult rounds very interesting to watch and be a part of.
In short, you take your tome, write a rune on the ground then you can click the rune to activate its spell effect. Some are consumed upon use, others require more than 1 cultist near it.

Anything below tagged with (T) can be put on an imbued paper similar to a talisman, so, onto your Tome Runes;
Teleport/Teleport Other (T) - Bread and butter mobility spells. Extremely strong when used correctly, will fuck security's ability to coordinate against you, and as such is a must. Set a teleport rune somewhere and then pick the third word for it, make sure to communicate that word's destination. Any rune with the same word alongside teleport will create a connection. If there are 2, you just TP between the two teleport areas. If there are 4, you cycle through all of them. The Teleport Other variation teleports items and people on the tile of the rune, against their will. They will take a small amount of damage, of course. S tier spell, you can put the basic version on a talisman for a non-rune based escape.
Summon Tome (T) - This is like the talisman version, except you need a tome to write a rune somewhere to summon this, so... uhm, this is nice if you lose your tome and a buddy helps you out, but under normal circumstances, you won't use this. B tier spell. Situational usefulness.
Convert - Necessary for gameplay. S+ tier spell. You need to drag people over this rune in order to convert them as cultists and otherwise create an additional pair of hands, eyes and ears to help out the cult. Never underestimate the power of a small cult because it can blow up in size real quick if the starter cultists get to work fast enough. It is not gank to stun talisman someone after a brief amount of roleplay as long as you intend to convert them, because you're playing within in-character antag motivations to self propagate. Please try to execute this considerately, though. If they resist, then obviously you kill them. Maybe sacrifice them for a murder scene, if you have friends nearby?
Summon Nar'sie - Needs 9 cultists. 1 on the tile where the rune is, 8 surrounding it. One person should occupy every 1x1 of the 3x3 space. This causes an end-game where Nar'sie eats everyone and converts the station into an eldritch brothel. Not really, but still. A tier spell, it's not necessary to be done in a round but it's fun if you want to prevent the round from stretching on too much. This essentially forces a shuttle call and will inevitably end the round. ICly this ends all existence, so, there's that. This is technically the ultimate goal of the cult.
Blood Drain - Victim goes on the rune, you stand near it. This is how you heal yourself, but you should have a live subject or it won't help you. You can also use this to quickly kill someone. It drains their life to regen yours. It's pretty good, but situational. A tier spell, does its job. Careful not to use this too much or you may get into a Blood Addicted loop which deals periodic damage to you.
See Ghosts - Labelled something else, I'm sure. Use this spell to see ghosts around you until you step off the rune, you usually will, given ghosts are always watching for cultists in deadchat. If they get next to you, slap those ghosts with your tome to bring them into common view for everyone. Has hilarious potential results depending on the image of the spectre. B tier spell, good RP spell, not crucial for gameplay. Although it does have synergy with another spell...
Raise Corpse - USEFUL AS HECK. A+ tier spell, it's good. Basically, put a body on the rune, and put another body near the rune. The body to be sacrificed will be used to raise a ghost standing over the body of the person to be raised. That person will be a cultist upon this funky thing happening, working similarly to a conversion. You can also do this to revive previously dead cultists to full health.
Hide Runes (T) - Useful for the early game. A+ tier spell. Use this to hide your rune shenanigans if you want to cover your tracks, because the blood on runes can be traced back to the DNA of whoever wrote that rune. The talisman saves you time, as it is an instant use.
Astral Journey - This is a riskier version of the scrying orb. You briefly turn into a ghost for a time and then can use ghost verbs to jump to literally anyone to know where they are. Use Re-enter Corpse afterward, and do it quick. If you die, you die. S tier spell, the information this spell gives you is literally so powerful and an excellent trade-off of taking periodic, mild increments of damage for not being in your body. You can seriously dick on people with the information you get from this rune, and they can do nothing to stop you besides kill you before you get the chance. I've been accused of metagaming so many times because of using this rune, it's honestly hilarious when someone who's obviously fuming gets told I used a rune to access information I wouldn't normally have as any other antag short of a wizard.
Manifest - This is an awful spell, from my experience. Essentially you raise a ghost in place to do the thing except they spawn naked, feel no pain and while they are slaved to do as you ask, you have to stay over the rune to keep the manifested person alive. They can still use runes, sure, but they're a pain in the ass to maintain and counter-intuitive to the cultist playstyle. C tier spell, has its uses but really counter-intuitive in general. You need mobility and presence to do anything, and I don't find any of the possibilities that Manifest Person can do for you as at all valuable. Sitting in place waiting for the manifested ghost to HOPEFULLY be robust enough to kill or maim someone is not something you should incorporate into your gameplay. Besides, you're missing out on the roleplay they're getting in place of you. Avoid using this as a new cult player, and as an advanced player too. You will never find this useful.
Imbue Paper Talisman - This is distinct from the Greater Talisman you spawn with, which is intended to give you early game power. Write another nearby rune that can be written to imbue Lesser Talismans, as I shall christen them from now on. Want 10 hide rune talismans? You also need blank pieces of paper on the same tile as the imbue paper rune. After that, write as many Imbue Talisman runes as you need around the spell you want imbued to a piece of paper. You only need 1 rune of the other spell you want that can be imbued into Lesser Talismans. Carry them in your bag and I suggest labelling each of them so you know what lesser talismans do what.
Communicate (T) - Functions as a global announcement to all your fellow cult buddies to learn themselves some information. YMMV, but I'm still gonna rate it S tier. Nice on a talisman too.
Sacrifice - Fun to use, not necessary for gameplay. Needs 3 herded cats- I mean, cultists, surrounding the rune, living or dead person or robot on the rune. Kills the victim instantly and gibs them. It dusts robots, do not worry about their brain being left over. B tier spell, not crucial for gameplay but it's great for style points in the late-game transition.
Reveal Runes (T) - This is the opposite of hide runes. As it says, it reveals any runes in the vicinity to be used again. A+ tier.
Invisible Wall - Write rune on floor, activate rune, impassable wall. Blocks all manner of projectiles and cannot be removed short of a chaplain's null stick, or a re-activation of the rune word. Combine this with Hide Runes and you can literally confuse the shit out of people. Keep in mind you need to use Reveal Runes to undo those walls, because they block you too while they are up. S tier, it's great for cult bases.
Free cultist - Needs 3 cultists around a rune. Frees any cultist that is bound by cuffs or buckled into things. This may be useful were it not for how situational it is. Still, it's a free cuffbreaker. Use this in tandem with Astral Journey to bust your cult lads out. A tier. Would be higher if it didn't require 3 cultists and good coordination.
Summon cultist - Needs at least 3 cultists to operate. Use this for a LITERAL get-out-of-jail-free card for your pals. This is literally the most hilarious spell in the Cultist's arsenal. Use free cultist first on the person you wish to summon, then use this for an immediate BREAKOUT. Careful, you and the other 2 may be mildly hurt for using this part of the spell. It's better to have four cultists use this second part. S+ tier spell, it's literally so fucking good.
Deafen (T) - Gimmicky, useless, even for a rune that deals it in stronger AOE. D is for dogshit.
Blind (T) - Good on a talisman. Doesn't blind other cultists. Is actually really strong in the right situation. The rune form is stronger. Use the blind lesser talisman first then write blind rune somewhere in a corner in the same rune to combo this with a heftier blind duration. Use this to win a fight in a crowded room, cus stun talismans only work on single people. A+ tier. Great disruptor. Has 7 range which is roughly within sight.
Blood Boil - Oh boy, this rune is so notorious. It holds some risk of gibbing anyone around it and occasionally causing an explosion. But it will often instantly put anyone surrounding the rune who is not a cultist into hardcrit if they are already mildly wounded, or paincrit otherwise. Needs 3 cultists to activate. S tier, but risky.
Stun (T) - Put... put this on a talisman. Please. It's awful in the rune form. But anyway, it's great! Almost too great. It will stun all singular humanoids including IPCs, and will also stun silicons. That means borgs are vulnerable to this if they dare get into melee. Still, there's a talisman that does that job better. You need to be in melee range to apply a stun talisman to stun someone. Once you do, though, the victim is stunned for a very long time, cannot speak and cannot resist. Take that what you will. S++ tier, borderline overpowered.
Summon Arms (T) - Use a rune or put it on a talisman, does the same job. Make sure to make your hand, feet, and coat slots open. You'll get full cult armor which is robust vs. melee and lasers and tasers, but not that strong versus bullets. You don't get cult gloves for some reason. Odd. You also get a robust claymore that can't be used against you. Anyone who tries gets fucked by eldritch mind games and stunned. A+ tier, but not very subtle. Good for the late game transition phase, however. The armor is nice.

Not the only thing Summon Arms does, as a small edit. It also allows cult constructs to use it and immediately pick a new class of Construct and get all their health back. This is S++ tier in that situation.


About constructs,

There are 3 types of constructs;
 Soul stone dead bodies and put them into construct vessels, then choose any of the below
Artificiers - notorious builders of cultbases. The only ones that can heal fellow constructs. They also can spawn more soulstones, walls, and construct vessels. Always make one or two initially if you can.
Wraiths - Hit and run cult constructs. These are horrible because they explode to pretty much anything, and require decent melee clicking skills to robust people with. Least you can phase through walls, the mobility is nice and all but god is it frustrating to survive as a wraith. Better off as...
THE JUGGANAUT, BITCH - Juggernauts deflect lasers, can drop walls to block projectiles and trap themselv- i mean, others in with the juggernaut. EXTREMELY ROBUST AT MELEE. Their role is to create bodies for cultists to put into the construct budget. They can use rune-based spells and also count towards the cultist requirements.

I forgot to mention the end-game one. Nar'sie transforms all cultists into harvesters.
Harvesters are suped-up mega constructs that can do a lot of spells. Just about all of them intrinsic to cultists, really, but the requirements for casting some rune spells are mostly the same.

The general construct strategy; Use artificiers to set-up a defensive position, dare aggressors to come after you, work with your constructs and your cultists to defend the base and roll over the aggressors, then turn their bodies into more constructs. Make sure no artificiers die, like, please. They are crucial to a cult run.

Pylons: Little known fact is that you can drag living small simple mobs (i.e., mice) into pylons to sacrifice them. The pylon then becomes a repeater turret that fires low damage, high fire-rate deathbeams at all non-cultists in range. The pylons can't be moved and get destroyed by ballistics, but become supercharged when shot by energy weapons. I suggest hiding them behind reinforced glass to tank the bullets so they can still get their damage off. Pylon turrets have massive range. You must construct additional pylons.


The Early Game, Squad Goals

1. Don't get caught.
2. Don't be suspicious.
3. Carry cable-ties or be charismatic.
4. Apply stun talisman to would-be conversion target, or convince them to be converted to the cult. 
5. Repeat 3 and 4, but remember...
6. Don't be suspicious.
7. Don't get caught.
8. And don't rat on your fellow cultists. Be a martyr if you have to.


Early-Mid Game Transition, Squad Goals

1. With a larger cult following (6-8), you should be able to start organizing how to convert outside your department and begin to work in partners or groups to get more conversions. Be bold and aggressive if you must.
2. Utilize synergy between cult talismans and runes, as well as establish a cult base as soon as possible.
3. Maintain discretion if you can, if you can't, just go loud but be smart. Don't take odds you aren't confident you can handle. Start stockpiling talismans of various types, offensive and defensive. Including teleport talismans for an immediate escape.
4. If there is an AI, plan on how to kill it or subvert it. It can ruin your chances otherwise.
5. Keeping command staff unconverted is probably a bad idea, since they can call ERT which may reduce your chances of survival, despite the power of your talismans and rune spells.


Mid-Late Game Transition, Squad Goals

1. Kill only if you need to, unless you wish to make a point of killing anyone who deliberately stands in your way. "Join or die" is still a viable tactic as long as it's only practiced near the end-game phase.
2. Still, be merciless in dealing with your opposition. You're a blood-worshipping, abomination-praising, spooky eldritch-faith cultist, not a Tele-Tubby. Get those fangs out from time to time. Your time for deception is over by this point.
3. Be creepy, devout and weird. This is more of a roleplay tip above all else. See literally any video game with crazy evil cultists as a reference point for how your character should behave. You should try to behave a bit unhinged, but be as charismatic as you like while doing it. After all, you gotta be convinced what you're doing is right, right?
4. You don't NEED to summon Nar'sie to end the round. It's just an option if you feel like you stomped the round too hard, and it helps roll over to the next one faster.


The General Don'ts of Cult

1. Don't stealth-rush Nar'sie summon. This isn't fun especially when nobody knows it was ever cult. Don't tryhard like this. Tryhard in accomplishing anything else, but not this. Your role as a cultist is to make the round interesting, not just 'win'. Surviving is a nice perk and mostly is what this guide is all about, to help you succeed in making the round interesting by being robust.
2. This one is more of a guideline, not an actual "Don't". Avoid abusing the stun talisman just to kill people. If at all possible, use the other talismans to give people a fair chance if you're already too good at clicking people horizontally the normal way, because stun talismans end conflict in a single click. Use blind talismans instead if you really want to make a conflict skewed in your favor in a more interesting but more risky way. The stun talisman should ideally only be used to convert people. Obviously if they resist, execute them and turn them into a construct. Failing that, sacrifice their corpse!
3. Try not to get too carried away with having a sword and a bunch of talismans. Just because you have the means to robust a lot of people and hack off their limbs, does not mean you should do that to every non-cultist you happen upon. Generate roleplay and attempt to enable interaction first. You can play to be successful and survive without necessarily shutting others down the moment they appear.
4. Never rat on your teammates or pointlessly oppose them. I'm pretty sure this is an antag-bannable offense and there is no IC excuse to ratting on cultists. It's not fair to them because you're supposed to be ICly more dedicated than that, and one shouldn't promote this sort of thing among other antags. You'll be unpopular fast, if not already antagbanned if you get caught doing it. It's not worth the antag ban just to be petty to someone.
5. If you are a non-cultist and are in the process of being converted, do the person who's converting you a favor and just not waste their time. Be helpful and accept the conversion, who knows, you may make the round better by just cooperating with an overpowering eldritch blood-cult. Even if you don't know what to do... well, if you read this part of the guide, you should have some pointers from above on a general idea on how cult things work by now. Right? Right.
6. Don't be a bell-end as a construct. You have less free-will as a construct than as a cultist.


Hopefully this rather long primer guide was not as pointless as I feared it might be, but you miss 100% of the shots you don't take. Aaand post.

Edited by Scheveningen
minor detail adding
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On 12/02/2019 at 08:10, Scheveningen said:

4. Never rat on your teammates or pointlessly oppose them. I'm pretty sure this is an antag-bannable offense and there is no IC excuse to ratting on cultists. It's not fair to them because you're supposed to be ICly more dedicated than that, and one shouldn't promote this sort of thing among other antags. You'll be unpopular fast, if not already antagbanned if you get caught doing it. It's not worth the antag ban just to be petty to someone.

Confirmed. People have been antag banned for this. 

Good guide. Thank you delta! Very cool!

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  • 2 weeks later...

This is a good guide, but it skims over advice on how to deal with a fundamental issue with cult rounds by never mentioning it or potential solutions for it - people who hate cultists and cult rounds and rage-ghost or suicide rather than being converted/soul-stoned. EIther way, you are left with a corpse or useless soulstone.  You should address ways to avoid or fix this very common issue.

Also: You can put runes in the chapel, I have literally taken it over and walled it off with runes in a cult round.  The only thing holy ground does is block badghosts.

Also also: It should bear some mentioning that hidden runes can currently be revealed by pulling up a floor tile, due to an oversight in invisibility code.

Edited by Kaed
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2 hours ago, Scheveningen said:

That's not something within the player's control to be able to turn out positively in their own favor ICly, which is why I didn't cover it. The only way to deal with that is to adminhelp it, because that's a rare case of advanced shittiness.

It's actually fairly common in cult rounds, but point taken.


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