Well, we talked about the death cults, so I guess we should talk about the sex cults too. Yeah - I know - pretty sensational topic, but I think it’s fairly valid.
Do you have sex cults? Do you have a love god(dess)? What kind of love do they support? In my main pantheon, I have a goddess of marriage, who although she does cover some manners of sex is certainly not supported by sex cults. I have a goddess of beauty, but again, she’s a muse and not a supporter of sex cults. There is a goddess of prostitution. She has a sex cult! There is another “love” goddess from a different pantheon - OK, a lust goddess. She has multiple sex cults supporting her. So I don’t want to imply that every pantheon has sex cults or that they are completely mainstream. I think even in a fantasy world, most sex cults would be considered abnormal by the “regular folk”. (Sort of like the Bacchanalia were not acceptable to the average lowly citizens.)
Just like we did with the death cults I want to think about some of these things in our world. I watch a lot of wacky stuff on TV, and I’ve seen sex cults depicted on what claims to be reality TV. (That was my warning that you need to take this with a dose or seven of salt.) There seem to be two main types of sex cults. The first is where the leader of the cult is abusing other members of the cult, most typically the young girls. In these cases, the leader is typically a charismatic brain washer who convinces the members of his full or near divinity and then leads through fear. The members here, especially the men who are doing the abuse, will likely be fanatics. Their brains are so mixed up, that they will do what the leader says, even to the point of entering battles they know they can’t win. But it is also important to think about the fact that they should be considered mind controlled. There are a lot of magics that affect things like this, so whether the mind control is magical, mental or just mundane, there may be ways that the good guys can reverse the affects.
The other type of sex cult is one based on money. Here it is effectively organized prostitution. Here most of the “members” have no faith. They pay their donations to the temple in order to get sex. The whole religion thing is just a rationalization. Here the members and the “clergy” are going to be vastly less interested in taking any risks. Now their money will have bought them power, both military and political power, and that is not useless, but don’t expect the faithful to rise up in their fanaticism.
Who are these people? Well, the ones in the mind controlled cult are typically pretty normal. Too often they are the most simplistic folks who are being taken advantage of. From a straight up adventurer status, this typically means they are easy to defeat. (Does your game support evil priests having mind control “spells”? It really would make sense if it did. Since Legend Quest doesn’t use classes, priests in our game can be anything.) After the bad guys (leaders) are defeated, what do you do with the members/victims? For the monetary ones, you’re talking about some guys who have deep embarrassment of what they are doing, but overwhelming desire to still do it. That’s why they wrap themselves in these excuses of religion. Who are these guys now? Well, they are the creepy guys. The quiet, timid guys who never dated and likely live in the house they inherited from their parents. No, not just any shy guys, the creepy ones who need to fulfill their sexual desires by visiting the temple of the love goddess. Again, don’t expect them to either be able or willing to put up a fight. From an adventurer’s point of view, it is only the hired help that should be a threat.
I don’t know if this helps anyone in the planning of their missions, but it might help you plan out some of your cities. Then again, good characters may see either the young girls or the purchased slaves of these cults as people who need saving, so this may just be next week’s urban adventure. Then again, the comments here probably cover more than just sex cults, and may be useable for other cults as well.