OSR: 1d8 Gonzo Cults

Here, have 10 high-energy gonzo cults. Stick these on the tail end of the random encounter table or deploy them when a situation is going little too well. Heist progressing without a hitch? The Cult breaks through the wall. Diplomatic endeavour nearly complete? The Cult rides into town. Set up an ambush? The Cult blunders into it. They're designed with my anticanon UVG game in mind, but should work well elsewhere.

Each Cult is designed to create a unique combat scenario. Using a grid is probably a good idea.

The Generic Cult Lair might also be useful.
Sam Carr

1. Chainsaw Necrocult

Good body parts are hard to find. Necrocultists have transitioned from grave robbing to active inhumation.

Generic Chainsaw Necrocultist

Wears: Black leather straps and patches, gore-proof glass goggles.
Wields: Throwing Chainsaw on a chain. 30' range / melee. 2d8 damage. If thrown, takes 1 round to reel back in. Wildly dangerous. On a critical failure, hits Cultist.
Special Ability: Injects Combat Drugs before a fight. Provides immunity to pain, fear, and mind-altering magic for 1 hour. Also, the first hit that would normally kill a creature on combat drugs reduces them to 1 HP instead. Carries a spare dose.

Leader Chainsaw Necrocultist

Wears: Black leather straps, a steel mohawk, gore-proof glass goggles.
Wields: Giant Circular Saw. 1d4+1d6 damage, both dice explode (if the highest value on the die is rolled, roll and add an additional die of that type). Belches smoke and sparks.
Special Ability: Combat Drugs. Also, can ride the Giant Circular Saw into battle. Moves as a horse, or make a 50' charge attack. Shoots sparks everywhere.

Chainsaw Necrocultist Ethos and Shouting

Life in death! Only the pure survive the trials of necro-revival! Stitch and suture, flay and fuse! Your limbs, give them to me! What a wonderful discovery! You think this is my real head!?
Konstantin Kostadinov

2. Blood Cult of Satur

Satur the Blood God has a simple tenet: blood is fertility.  All those fat lazy bastards living in cities, doing nothing of value? They're the reason your crops fail and your children are small and sickly. Satur lives in the ground, so all you need to do is spill their blood and...

Generic Blood Cultist of Satur

Wears: Loincloth, old scarf, piercings, embedded knives, elaborate scars. Patchily shaved.
Wields: Twin Daggers of Satur. Normal dagger damage, but chance (5%) of tetanus. Two prongs, like the horns of a bull. Rusty and badly made.
Special Ability: Blood Sacrifice. If a living creature (including a Blood Cultist of Satur) dies messily, all Blood Cultists of Satur who saw the death heal 2 HP.

Blood Cult of Satur Leader

Wears: Loincloth, braided chains, frill of bones, embedded needles, elaborate scars. Completely shaved and lightly oiled.
Wields: Executioner's Axe. 1d8+1 damage. On a critical hit, severs: 1d6: 1-2. Leg, 3-4. Arm, 5-6. Head.
Special Ability: Whirlwind of Death. Attacks twice per round. If an attack severs a limb or kills an opponent, may immediately attack another adjacent enemy.

Cult of Satur Ethos and Shouting

Your blood nourishes the earth! Accept Satur or die! You blood-filled bastards! Why should you live while others suffer?
Stepan Alekseev

3. Ascending Flame Cult

There is only one path to heaven; ascend in flames. The Cult has prepared the way. Anyone they can bring with them, willing or not, will be saved as well. The cultists will act as a guide through the perilous upper air to the blessed afterlife. To burn with you is their sincerest wish; if you burn alone, you may not make it to the correct heaven.

Ascended Flame Cultists try to stand at least 30' apart. They attack from multiple directions.

Generic Ascending Flame Cultist

Wears: Thick red robe concealing a bandolier of vials, sturdy boots.
Wields: Pyre Vials. Cultist can activate on their turn. At the start of their next turn, they immolate . 20' radius, 2d6 fire damage, Save for half. Everything that fails its Save catches on fire.
Special Ability: Charming Words. Surely they're not about to set themselves, and you, on fire. Right? If the Ascending Flame Cult hasn't attacked, reasonably moral people must Save to attack them.

Ascending Flame Cult Pyrospecialist

Wears: Thick red robe, black ceramic mask with a square eye slit, glass tank backpack.
Wields: Unstable Flamethrower. 3 shots, 30' line, 2d6 fire damage, Save for half. Will try to hit (and immediately set off) other Cultists near to targets. If set on fire, the Unstable Flamethrower explodes at the start of its next turn. 20' radius, 2d6 fire damage, Save for half.
Special Ability: Smokesense. Mask allows them to see through smoke and flame.

Ascending Flame Cult Leader

Wears: Charred black fireproof robe, black ceramic mask with a round eye slit.
Wields: Sacred Oil Cannon. 5 shots, 50' cone of flammable oil starting 10' away from the cannon. Anyone covered in the oil automatically fails all Saves against fire-based attacks and is automatically set on fire by fire-based attacks. A cone of oil burns with rich scented smoke for 10 minutes.
Special Ability: Control Flames. 100' range. Can douse a 10' cube of flames per round, or move a torch-sized fire up to 10' along a solid surface.

Ascending Flame Cult Ethos and Shouting

Heaven is at hand! Rejoice, for soon we shall all be among the annointed host. Step beyond this vale of tears and into the light of redemption and glory!

4. Ravening Cult

Cultists connect their digestive systems to Sorg, the all-devouring hunger. The more the eat, the stronger Sorg grows. They are always hungry. Bribing them with food works... temporarily.

Generic Ravening Cultist

Wears: Sturdy leather apron, close-fitting leather cap.
Wields: Steel Teeth. Bite for 1d6 damage.
Special Ability: Gorge. Instead of making a bite attack, a Generic Ravening Cultist can make an attack roll to steal and devour 1d3 rations from an adjacent target's inventory.

Ravening Cultist Leader

Wears: Leather apron, cured pig-head mask.
Wields: Seasoning Shaker. Glass jar on a stick. 10 uses. Melee attack deals 1d4 damage and coats the target in delicious seasoning. Target must Save or be blinded for 1d4 rounds. Beasts and Ravening Cultists find the target irresistibly delicious and will attempt to attack them first.


Ravening Cult Ethos and Shouting

For Sorg! Your food or your life! Your succulent flesh is very appealing! Know any good restaurants?
Sean Andrew Murray

5. Cult of True Healing

All flesh is diseased, broken, and dying. Why should the body not obey the whims of the mind? The Cult of True Healing restores flesh to its true, vibrant, diverse form. They can control their mutations through meditation and training.

Generic True Healing Cultist

Wears: Creased white robes, white cap, silver rings.
Wields: Healing Touch. Heals 1d6 HP per round. If target is healed over their maximum HP, they must Save or gain a random mutation. Requires an attack roll to touch an unwilling target.
Special Ability: Mutation Burst. On death, a True Healing Cultist's flesh unknits. 10' radius, 1d4 acid damage, +1d4 acid damage per round until washed. Save to dodge.

True Healing Cultist Leader

Wears: Silver robes, fan-shaped hat, silver rings.
Wields: Healing Touch, but with a 20' range. Still requires a roll to hit unwilling targets.
Special Ability: The Flesh Reborn. On death, becomes a ravening Chaotic Psychoplasm or something equally hideous.

True Healing Cult Ethos and Shouting

Oh no, you've been wounded! Allow us to heal you. Yes, that's much better. Let your body relax and assume its true form.
Dirty Iron

6. Whack-A-Ball Cult

And now, we play the most dangerous game... Full Contact Whack-a-Ball. Cultists appear in two teams, with at least 3 Generic Cultists and 1 Goalchecker per team. Before battle begins, they will designate two distinct regions, or 20'x10' areas, as the "goal zones". People stapled to the ground in those areas will be left alone. The game ends when all non-Cultists are dead and/or in a goal zone.

Generic Whack-A-Ball Cultist

Wears: Thick leather padding daubed in bright colours, spiked steel cap.
Wields: Whack-A-Ball Hammer. 1d8 damage, flings a human-sized target up to 30'. Targets must also Save or fall prone.
Special Ability: Team Coordination. If a target is flung by a Whack-A-Ball Hammer to a spot next to another Whack-A-Ball Cultist, from the same team or a different team, the Cultist can immediately make an attack against the newly arrived target.

Whack-A-Ball Goalchecker

Wears: Thick leather padding daubed in bright colours, conical steel cap.
Wields: Whack-A-Ball Stapler. No damage, but can staple a limb or torso to the ground via a thick steel bracket. Very difficult Strength check to stand up and break free.
Special Ability: Dive. If a target is flung by a Whack-A-Ball hammer to a spot within 20' of a Goalchecker, the Goalchecker can immediately move to a space adjacent to the target and make an attack roll to staple the target to the ground.

Whack-A-Ball Ethos and Shouting

Game on! Look out, they're trying to flank you! Over here! Good shot! Hey, stop moving!
Yujin Kim

7. Zombie Drug Cult

Death is only the beginning. Zombie Drug Cults get into a very altered state on various chemicals, then raid catacombs and graveyards. They sometimes push wheelbarrows full of corpses into battle.

Generic Zombie Drug Cultist

Wears: Skintight pants, wrinkled jacket.
Wields: Death-Dealing Dagger. Does normal dagger damage but glows green.
Special Ability: Zombie Smoke. Can tear open a glowing green tube to fill a 30' cube with opaque green smoke. All mostly intact corpses in the area rise as Zombies at the start of the next round. The smoke dissipates in 1 hour. Zombies raised also fade in 1 hour. Zombies will attack non-Cultists if possible, but they are not under the control of the Cult.

Zombie Drug Cultist Leader

Wears: Skintight pants, wrinkled jacket, triple-decker hat.
Wields: Shrunken Head Grenades. 30' range, as thrown daggers. On a hit, they bite and deal 1d4 damage per round. It takes 1 round to remove a biting shrunken head. Shrunken Head Grenades in Zombie Smoke deal 1d6 damage per round instead.
Special Ability: Smokebomb! Three times per battle, the Zombie Drug Cultist Leader can fill a 20' cube with Zombie Smoke, vanish, and reappear up to 100' away.


Zombie Drug Cult Ethos and Shouting

Whooooooo! Zombie shuffle! Hey look at this! Smokebomb! Oh shit, run!

8. Cult of Geometric Alignment

Swarming, but with carefully measured steps and semaphore-gestures to prevent accidental alignment, the Cult of Geometric Alignment seeks to rearrange the world.

Generic Cultists of Geometric Alignment

Wears: blue robes, runic circular tattoos.
Wields: Stave of Smacking. 1d6 bludgeoning damage.
Special Ability: Shaped Spellcasting. If a shape can be drawn between Cultists, the shape's effects immediately take place. Only the most complicated shape's effects activate. Cultists can be up 50' apart. Effects are 10' high. Precisely measuring alignment during D&D is not practical, so eyeball distances and shapes.

  • Equilateral Triangle: Time inside the triangle is slowed. Creatures move at half speed and take a penalty to all rolls.
  • Square: Gravity inside a square is increased fivefold. Creatures are knocked prone and can only crawl.
  • Regular Pentagon: Magic flames deal 1d6 damage per round to anything inside the pentagon.
  • Regular Hexagon: No spellcasting is possible inside a hexagon. All enchantments are temporarily cancelled.
  • Regular Septagon: Everything inside a septagon is teleported 1d100 miles in a random direction.
  • Regular Octagon: Everything inside the octagon is immediately disintegrated. No Save.

Cult of Geometric Alignment Leader

Wears: white robes, runic circular tattoos.
Wields: Stave of Smacking. 1d6 bludgeoning damage.
Special Ability: Emergency Realignment. Once per round, can teleport up to 50', or teleport a Cultist within 50' up to 50'.

Cult of Geometric Alignment Ethos and Shouting

Fear the True Lines! Obey the Five Postulates! You, a little to the left.


  1. I think running the Cultists of Geometric Alignment would be incredibly fun - the rest of them are pretty cool too.

  2. I love it. Laughed hard at the examples of shouting.

  3. The shaped casting is really interesting. Going to put that in one of my upcoming games. Excellent as always!

  4. Really nice collection of bonkers people. They even would fit in an unknown armies world pretty well !

  5. Absolutely lovely!

    Unrelated side note: I really like your reviews for dungeons, would you be willing to do some for any free OSR dungeons you may have seen knocking around? I've been trying to game on a student's time and money and its really hard to find solid free OSR dungeons.

    1. Oh for sure! Did you see the Trilemma review? https://coinsandscrolls.blogspot.com/2020/01/osr-trilemma-adventures-vol-1-review_2.html
      A ton of completely free adventures, ranked and sorted.

      I really should try to go through the One-Page Dungeon Contest and look for handy dungeons.