Greetings Kultists! I have mentioned before that I love the Kult tarot deck (in fact, I have a category on the blog specifically for it!). I wrote a post detailing a method for creating characters for Kult using the tarot deck, and last week I sat down and did this with the wife again! I performed the reading, we both came with suggestions and ideas for how the cards might be interpreted and what stories one might tell. Once the reading was done, we picked a Dark Secret, Disadvantages and Advantages and created a more or less complete character, ready to be played! This is her.
Core Characteristic – Four of Eyes (Distractions)
Core to the character is the concept of distractions, things we’d rather do than face the truth of a situation, or the truth of reality. This is early in the reading, but we immediately understand that whatever the character is going through, they don’t want to face it.
Past Event – Togarini (Compulsion)
Togarini is a fun and versatile card. While normally associated with creatives and artistic pursuits, Togarini also represents the wider concept of being fully consumed by something. We are making an Agent, so my wife suggests that this is an obsession with an investigation. Losing oneself in work, hunting for some deeply rooted truth despite everything else… That is Kult!
We decide here that, since this is the character’s past, they must have uncovered something truly horrible or strange, and the discovery changed them. The details of this are left open, since the reading is far from complete.
Ambitions – Four of Crescents (Transformation)
We see now that this character wants to be an instigator for change. We read this card as her being ambitious, always aiming to make things better. A few discussion points were brought up on how this might tie into Togarini and (more importantly) the Four of Eyes. At this point, the character is starting to shape up and we get a grasp on how they might approach situations…
Weakness – Chokmah (Submission)
And then the deck throws us a curve ball. Chokmah represents submission, cowing for the superior force, obeying orders and listening to convention. Since our character is supposed to be an agent for change, we have to reassess their methods and ideals. Perhaps they are proponents of positive change, but not someone to take a fight? Advocating for change consentually, but hesitant to make a fuss. This will work.
We also realize now what happened when they discovered the truth of whatever they obsessed about in the past. Their superiors shut down the whole thing, and cowed her into submission to them. She must have found some real dirt.
Strength – Thaumiel (Power)
Another curve ball… I was briefly tempted to switch this card out, I just couldn’t see any possibilities here. My wife convinced me to hold on to the card, though, and I am happy for that!
Thaumiel represents Power, and either an alignment or opposition to the principle. For this character, we decided that they have power, but perhaps no will to use it. She was promoted to captain, but her power only extends so far and only in the directions that her corrupt superiors allow it. It is her strength, but it doesn’t allow her to strive for her own ambitions.
After the reading, we sat down and discussed more free-form what to do with this character concept. The cards were left on the table for easy reference, but now we moved on to a more traditional way of character creation. The concept was ready to be fleshed out.
In this specific case, we didn’t assign a gender, name, or much of any personal characteristics to the character to keep our options open. We later decided on making the character female, and named Joanne. I will refer to her as such from now on.
Dark Secret – Forbidden Knowledge
Joanne discovered something truly upsetting in her investigation. Her superiors don’t seem fully human, and have criminal ties and yet more seem powerful in ways she cannot even grasp. While bent and broken, Joanne still has a desperate wish to reveal the truth to the world. She just needs to find a way.
Rival – Joanne has a rival in the police force. Someone as ambitious as her, who resents her for receiving her promotion and vicious enough to fight her authority and sabotage her where possible. We leave this character open to be discussed at a later time.
Nightmares – Living through the situation Joanne is, nightmares seem only appropriate. In her dreams, she’s haunted by her boss’s watchful eyes and his long, slobbering tongue.
Analyst – She’s a good, ambitious cop, and all that comes with it.
Field Agent – She’s a good, ambitious cop, and all that comes with it.
Endure Trauma – Joanne manages her life with beer and mindless entertainment. Boring as it is, it helps her disassociate and deal with the madness at work.
Joanne is a police officer… well, captain now, she supposes. She tries not to think too much about her work, preferring an endless stream of bad TV to keep herself busy. She used to be happy, an enthusiastic force for change and goodness. Now, she doesn’t know what she is. Nothing good, certainly.
When she started her job, Joanne pushed for positive change in any place she could. She was a well educated police officer, expertly trained, and ambitious. If she saw something that seemed inefficient, abusive, or just slightly off, she would encourage her colleagues to work towards changing it. Small victories, certainly, but if her and her friends at work have a slightly easier time doing their jobs, that’s enough for her.
The details of the job that cost her everything aren’t important, not right now. It started with the implication of a human trafficking operation, but what it ended up as was worse than anything she’d known before. Joanne worked her ass off to get to the bottom of the rabbit hole of crime she’d found, and despite dwindling resources and other things demanding her attention, she knew that this was big. She worked days, nights, and would’ve continued beyond the twenty four hours allotted her in a day if it were only possible. It had to be done, something was wrong, more wrong than she could put to words.
Once Joanne discovered the connection, as she inevitably did, her superiors contacted her. They knew what she had found, almost the second she did. Brought into a private room, with men in suits waiting for her there, she was told on no vague terms that she would stop immediately, or die. She’d found ties between people who should by no rights have them, people within the government and even her own organization. They couldn’t have that, and so they ensured she would shut up.
Joanne was cowed. She had no other option, she knew there was no fighting this. She campaigned for change, but this? She could not possibly go up against these people, if they even were people. They defeated her, and once they’d squashed her will they raised her. It would have looked really bad if she’d turned down that captain’s position, would have been suspicious. She took the role, and remained in the force as an obedient pawn for the watchful eyes above her.
In this new position, Joanne has influence… to an extent. She sits as an intermediary between the monsters (and she’s sure by now that they are monsters) that rule her and the blind, naive police below her. Still, she has no idea what to do with the power she’s been given. Any work she does is, in the end, either approved or not by the powers that be. She sees their manipulations in ways both direct and not. Reallocating resources and staff, ‘adjusting’ paperwork, nudging people away from what they’re not supposed to know. Joanne has to take part in this, she has to conceal the truth to keep her own life.
So after a long day, Joanne escapes the office and all its pressures and vile secrets. She hurries home, picks up a six-pack of beer on the way, and just… shuts down. She doesn’t want to think about her work, doesn’t want to think about anything. It feels like it keeps getting bigger, the secrets and the lies and the intrigues. How long can she keep up this facade?
That’s it for now! Hope you found this excercise in character creation interesting, I’m likely to make this a recurring segment of the blog because I find it so much fun. If you want to see the work notes I had while doing the reading, here they are. On a final note, due to personal circumstances, Jessy’s Story will be another week delayed. The goal is to have it posted next Saturday. See you then!