Kult 101

I was asked in a comment what Kult is all about, what sort of characters you play in it, and what a game session might be like. There will be setting spoilers in the following, as well as comparisons with Call of Cthulhu (since it remains the big dog of horror rpgs).

The basic premise of Kult is that humanity were once gods. We were not constrained by time, space, or physicality. We were trapped into our present state by the Demiurge, a powerful but nebulous entity who has invented the world we know now, one in which we a limited beings.
We are our bodies, time is short, and we feel powerless in the face of laws of nature and convention. Since humans cannot really die, we are channeled into a gruesome afterlife and reborn, our memories scoured clean (mostly).

In Call of Cthulhu we're fucked because we're extremely insignificant. In Kult we're extremely significant, and fucked because of it.

However the Demiurge has vanished, and his lieutenants have turned on each other. The world-illusion is tearing itself apart, and some people begin to see our horrible jailers for what they are.
Kult was very inspired by Clive Barker, and several of the beings player characters encounter would not be out of place in the cenobites' Leviathan.

A cenobite.

Like early Barker, Kult scenarios often deal with the porous border between life and death, and the entities who cross over. 
The Taroticum campaign (the old 90s one anyway) dealt with ensuring that a magical child will be born, and this involves diving into a half-world of madness, into dreams, and into a primordial underworld for an encounter with the Beginning and End. 
Other scenarios deal with escapees from the Inferno going to ruthless lengths to stay in the land of the living (shades of The Hell-Bound Heart again).

 There is some investigation, but the player characters are often beyond the point of no return (or the point of calling the police) very early in the game.
Player characters are often seedy or damaged individuals. (again I'm mostly talking about the 90s game, but the new one seems to be similar). Muck-rakers, hit-men, grifters and shabby occultists are among the choices. Someone once said that a Kult PC is like a Call of Cthulhu investigator after a few games: unhinged, untrustworthy, and generally packing heat. 

I'm not going to say much about the rules. I did not care for them then, and I haven't revisited them. Suffice to say I've nevr heard anyone claiming that they played Kult because of the rules.

I hope this helps!

Comments

  1. This is perfect. What an interesting setting! I wonder if one could easily port characters from Kult to CoC or vice-versa. Maybe use CoC mechanics in a Kult setting?

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    1. You can use CoC mechanics for Kult, up to a point. The sanity-equivalent in Kult was mental balance, and as it increased or decreased the character would become less human (or more than human). You don't absolutely NEED that to play the game, but I think CoC could be made more Kult-y by making the effect of decreasing SAN more transformative and less like mental diagnoses.

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