Cult Following – Bravely Told Games
Title: Cult Following
Publisher: Bravely Told Games
Do other party card games leave you feeling… empty inside?
Cult Following is a storytelling game where you convince your friends that the eternal truths that you just made up should command devotion, while their fanatical ravings are just plain ridiculous.
Choose ideas from a hand of cards, bind them together into a ridiculous cult and pitch it to your friends. Answer pointed questions from potential recruits, defending your own ideas while attacking the lies of the other cultists. Describe how your cult ascends into fame and fortune, while others languish in obscurity!
Will your friends heed your warning about timid forest creatures, shapeshifting and unspeakable horrors, or will another cult steal your rightful followers?
Do you seek order in this chaotic world? Looking for an escape from it all? Look no further, friend: our new movement has just what you need. Join one of our communes and we’ll assign you a number. Everyone gets a number, free of charge. But that’s not even the best part! When your number is chosen, that’s when you get to die. It couldn’t be simpler…
Sound like a movement for you? This is a close approximation of a pitch I gave to my fellow players, extolling the benefits of joining my new cult as part of the hilarious party game Cult Following. Created by Bravely Told Games, the game is part storytelling, part improvisation, and part petty arguments (with the latter aspect, as with most games like this, being the most entertaining).
Players assume different roles for each round of play in Cult Following, either becoming representatives of an upstart Cult, or prospective Cult members seeking the perfect organization for them (our group was rather large, so we didn’t abide by the standard play size outlined in the rules). The round starts by the representatives each selecting three purple cards, with each card containing two potential characteristics of their new Cult. The representatives then select one characteristic from each card, for a total of three, and then take a moment to devise how their organization combines all of them into the perfect Cult movement (for reference, in the example above I was combining communal living, voluntary human extinction, and something about taking numbers). Once everyone is prepared, each representative then gives their most spirited sales pitch about their exciting new Cult, with the intention of outselling all the other representatives.
It is then the turn of the prospective Cult members to ask three questions about their movements to the representatives (they choose these off of white cards, in a fashion similar to how the representatives selected their Cult characteristics), while the latter answer them in character. I enjoyed this part of the game the most, as each question sparked a pseudo-debate, forcing the representatives to navigate tough questions like sleazy politicians, while at the same time continuing to extoll the importance of their Cult’s (for the most part quite silly/horrific) core characteristics. Once the rounds of questioning are complete, the prospective members select the ‘winning’ Cult that they’ve decided to join, and a new round of play begins.
As with any game with narrative delivery at its core, it is essential to play with the right group of people. If any participants aren’t willing to assume the characters they’re assigned for whatever reason, I can see the game quite quickly grinding to an awkward halt, though thankfully this didn’t happen with my group. I also recommend abiding to a strict time limit for each phase of the game. This may intimidate players newer to story-telling games at first, but it’s essential to keep things moving along (especially in larger groups), and encourages the nonsensical improvisation environment in which this game thrives. Next time you’re at a party, I recommend giving this game a spin with your silliest friends—just maybe avoid drinking the Kool-Aid…
Nicholas is a writer from Port Coquitlam, British Columbia with a penchant for both digital and analog game design. He justifies the time he spends gaming as study, but suspects he isn’t fooling anyone.