The Cult Of The Mystical Tyrant

The Cult of the Mystical Tyrant draws its roots from the ecstatic cults of the Ranathim, the Divine Masks. Just as those cults worship the manifestations of the various paths of Dark Communion, such as the Rebellious Beast and the Beautiful Fool, the Cult of the Mystical Tyrant ostensibly worships the path of the Mystical Tyrant. In practice, the Cult of the Mystical Tyrant is an ideology of "Will to Power" and transcendence. Those who embrace this former imperial cult of the Ranathim worship not some ideal of statecraft, but themselves. A nihilistic philosophy, the followers of the Path of the Mystical Tyrant seek to pull away from their eyes the cobwebs of moral illusions crafted by other philosophies and religions and to see the world for what it is: a cynical whirlpool of formless chaos upon which will can, and must, be imposed. They see themselves as the bringer of self-imposed order. They seek first to order themselves by understanding their own passions, choosing the most powerful and vital one, and using that as the fire to cleanse away all uncertainty. Once they have that internal order, they seek to impose it on the outside world through psychic power and through their mastery of Dark Communion.

The rest of the Galaxy, if they even know the secretive cult still exists, tends to regard the nihilistic and cynical philosophy of the Mystical Tyrant with apprehension and dread, especially their traditional foes: the Knights of Communion. They see the philosophy as amoral, cynical and power-obsessed; the Cult replies that just because one does not believe in universal morality does not mean that one cannot abide by one's own moral code, that just because one chooses to see the world without delusion does not make one cynical, and that every ideology that claims to not be power-obsessed is lying to you or, worse, lying to itself.

A secretive cabal of the most powerful Tyrants work behind the scenes to maintain their imposed order upon the Galaxy and atop them all is its current greatest living incarnation (or so he would like to believe): Ren Valorian, Emperor of the Galaxy.

The Principles of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant

  1. There is no truth; the true nature of reality cannot be understood by mortal minds, nor express with mortal language.
  2. There is no morality; morality is a lie told by the weak to the weak to justify their weakness, and to the powerful to hobble them. The only true “good” is power. True power lies in the knowledge of what you want, and the strength to seize it.
  3. The world has no purpose; The world is chaotic, primal and unfathomable, and it is the only world that exists; there are no supernatural worlds, nor an afterlife. The only purpose the world has is one imposed upon it through will.
  4. All that matters is power; power is the expression of will and knowledge; All living beings have the ability to express will; the greater the being, the greater the will. Thus, psionic beings are inherently better than non-psionic beings (they have “greater will.”)
  5. Passion and pain indicate our true desires desires and thus our will. True power requires the alignment of all desire and will in the same direction; to impose your vision upon the universe, you must first impose your vision upon yourself.
  6. Those too weak to impose their vision on the universe crave having the vision of others imposed upon them. Through the power of the state and the submission of the people to the vision of a powerful tyrant can order be brought to a disordered universe.

The History of the Cult of the Mystical Tyrant

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant has its foundations in the Divine Masks philosophy of the Ranathim tyranny. Early in Ranathim Culture, the race of psychic vampires stumbled across the phenomenon of Dark Communion and began to embody and worship the various archetypes, paths, of Dark Communion as gods. Among these paths was the path of the Mystic Tyrant, and the ritualistic priesthood of the Mystic Tyrant became indistinguishable from the rulers of the Ranathim people, forging the role of the God-Emperor of the Ranathim ultimately codified by their greatest ruler, Ozamanthim.

The original conception of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant was largely no different from any other Divine Mask cult. The Mystic Tyrant had oaths that his servants could take and laws that they must follow to avoid His Divine Wrath, and the head of the cult would physically embody the Mystic Tyrant, becoming its divine avatar. But where the other cults were strictly supernatural, the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant blurred the lines between physical and supernatural. The Mystic Tyrant did not “draw down” the supernatural into himself so much as elevate himself into the ranks of the divine. The cultists did not worship some ethereal “ruling god” that each Emperor embodied, they worshiped the TYrant himself. The oaths they swore were to the state, and the laws they obeyed were the laws of the state, and the wrath they risked was the punishment meted out by the state. Nonetheless, this created a deeply ritualistic rulership, where the role of the divine emperor was as much ceremonial as legal or political. He issued edicts and sat in judgment, true, but he also ritually married the high priestess of the Cult of the Beautiful Fool, ritually dined with the Cult of the Rebellious Beast, and governed over his own rituals. The merging of the political with the religious allowed the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant to merge the competing faiths of the Ranathim people and their conquered subjects into a single, unified system: the Divine Masks.

But it could not last. Eventually, with the destruction of their homeworld, the rule of the Ranathim collapsed. The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant, stripped of its political power, lost its power and prestige, but the truths uncovered about the Mystic Tyrant remained. No longer could he be the ceremonial ruler, but instead, a secret master who transcended law and limitations. Where the Mystic Tyrant had once welded together a new paradigm, the Cult needed to do that again, but for itself. Thus began the shadow reign of Satra Temos.

The fall of the Ranathim Empire resulted in the eruption of long simmering resentment and rage at Ranathim excesses. With the shattered hyperspace routes and the lost base of the Ranathim homeworld, the Ranathim had no hope of reforging their empire and an entire generation vanished in the chaos of the collapsing empire. In this storm of anarchy, a warrior-sage Satra Temos acquired the secrets of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant, both through careful investigation and archeology and intense introspection. He restored the Cult, but with his own, deeply cynical and deeply ambitious take on power. Rather than rule the Galaxy openly, the Mystic Tyrant would rule it in secret. His cult forged a criminal empire of slavers and gangs all beholden to their terrifying new masters who silently killed those who opposed them, or twisted the minds of their enemies. Anyone who encountered this shadowy power even in passing was either destroyed or inducted into its ranks. The Cult of Satra Temos accepted Ranathim and alien alike, even inducting the first few humans into its number.

The tendrils of Satra Temos extended even into the Galactic Core and, on its boundary, finally exerted power over the homeworld of True Communion and, in so doing, unwittingly triggered a crusade from the Alexian Dynasty, where knights and commoners alike who had come to believe in True Communion rallied in defense of those sacred worlds and cast off the puppet empire of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant and triggered a new shadow war as the new Knights of Communion began to unravel the conspiracy of their enemy.
Eventually, the two sides destroyed one another in the climactic cataclysm that ended the Alexian Dynasty. The Cult managed to corrupt some of the members of the Knights of True Communion, the traitor Revalis White, but not before the Knights scattered their numbers and managed to destroy the inner circle of Cult of the Mystic Tyrant and shattering its powerbase.

And so it remained for centuries, the Galaxy thriving in the newly born federation while the Cult regathered its strength and explored new ideas, always wary of the possible return of the Knights of Communion, until one day, they came across a young officer serving in the war against the Galactic Scrouge, a psychic with the sort of insight and wisdom not seen since Satra Temos. The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant forged this young officer, Ren Valorian, into the new Galactic Emperor and once again, rule the Galaxy.

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant and the Galaxy

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant has few visible adherents. The Ranathim world of Sarai has a Mystic Tyrant in the classic mold of the sacred king Ozamanthim, but the followers of Satra Temos and other great Mystic Tyrant philosophers tend to keep their head down and exert their power silently. Thus, one cannot find a temple to the Mystic Tyrant in the galactic capital of Sovereign, but even so, most people are at least dimly aware that a shadowy and powerful force exerts considerable conspiratorial influence.

Many in positions of power have heard whispers of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant. Sometimes, a criminal organization will adopt the legendary trappings of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant to evoke the fear that its name carries, but the true Cult usually destroy those who seek to steal their name. Those who seek, instead, to join the Cult may find themselves inducted into some secret organization where they can rub shoulders with other prestigious men, but only a few ever slip past this conspiratorial curtain and find themselves counted among the true ranks of the Mystic Tyrants.

Generally, though, the Cult manages to silently infiltrate organizations or philosophies that interest it, where they find useful members to induct into puppet-organizations a few steps removed from the true cult, and when those new recruits prove sufficiently resourceful, they may be inducted into the cult itself. Generally, the fresh recruits of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant don’t even know they’ve joined until the truth is revealed to them and they become the apprentice to a powerful master.

To make matters more confusing, there might be more than one cult of the Mystic Tyrant. While Satra Temos’ vision of the Cult is by far the most prevalent, it is not the only. The Cult of the Emperor is another such Cult, with its own vision and take on the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant, and all such cults are mutual rivals and allies. Taken together, they represent a formidable conspiratorial force throughout the Galaxy: while they surely do not run everything, their influence can and does shape Galactic politics.

Schisms of the Tyrant-Cult

The Cult of the Mystical Tyrant, despite its name, manifests more as a privately-held philosophy than as a nation-spanning ideology or religion. Thus "schism" may be a strong world, but distinct schools of philosophy do lurk under the shadowy umbrella of the Cult of the Mystical Tyrant.

  • The Cult of Ozamanthim (Domen Meret): The closest to the original conception of the Cult of the Mystical Tyrant, Ozamanthim's cult resembles an actual cult of the Divine Masks, with ritual ceremony, oaths and ecstatic divinity. Where the rest of the Divine Mask cults wear their masks sincerely, the Cult of Ozamanthim does so symbolically, as a way to channeling the devotion of the people into personal imperial power. The ancient imperial cult of the Ranathim concerns itself deeply with symbolism, oath, and the bond between ruler and ruled.
  • The Cult of Satra Temos: The warrior-sage of the dark ages of the Umbral Rim forged a naked philosophy of "Will to Power," one with no morality, no spirituality and no illusions. Where the Cult of Ozamanthim ruled openly, the Cult of Satra Temos ruled from the shadows, using conspiracy to undermine their enemies and to elevate their own. When people speak of the Cult of the Mystical Tyrant today, with its conspiracies, its ruthless ambition and its embrace of dark powers, they speak of the Cult of Satra Temos.
  • The Cult of Revalis White: This mysterious figure, one of the last five surviving members of the original Knights of Communion, has a troubled legacy of moral treachery, for both the philosophies of True Communion and the Cult of the Mystical Tyrant claim him. Tyrants who follow the path of Revalis White reject moral nihilism: while they do not believe in moral universalism, they do not believe that this allows the cultist to abdicate the moral responsibility to have their own personal credo and stick to it. They believe Revalis White betrayed the Knights of Communion not out of ambition, but out of a realization that the strictures of True Communion would eventually do more harm than good and had a moral responsibility to end the Order and lay the seeds for a better, stronger and more wholesome Galaxy. They choose to use the powers of Dark Communion and their own transcendant principles to fulfill their own moral code and to "better" the universe (as they see it), rather than to allow themselves to be consumed by their own ambitions.
  • The Cult of Ren Valorian: The most recent and most politically powerful of the Cults of the Mystical Tyrant belongs to those who follow the ideology of the current Galactic Emperor. His cult moves in secret, ruling the Empire from behind the facade of the machinery of state. Ren Valorian's ideology shifts the focus of the cult away from the Ranathim and towards humanity; his code integrates the apocalyptic concerns of the Akashic Mysteries with the desire for progress of Neo-Rationalism; for Ren Valorian, nothing is sacred so long as it protects humanity and pushes the Galaxy out of its millennia long stagnation and into a new era of prosperity.

The Beliefs of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant on Morality

“The universe knows only power. Nothing else matters.” - The Emperor, Ren Valorian

At its core, the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant is nihilistic. It is defined not by what it embraces, but by what it rejects, and while it rejects a great deal, its core rejection is that of morality. It sees morality as a crutch used by the weak to justify their lack of strength, or to hobble those greater than themselves. Only when freed from the shackles of morality can men truly achieve greatness. From this, all other precepts naturally flow.

For the Tyrant, “good” is that which brings him power, and makes him better able to express his will and satisfy his desires. “Bad” is anything that weakens him or causes him problems, preventing him from being able to achieve his desires. The Cult is careful not to apply moral terms to these, often preferring to term them “fortunate” or “desirable”, and “unfortunate” or “undesirable.” What a tyrant, and all people, should seek is self-empowerment, and anything “good, desirable, fortunate” helps him achieve those ends. Note, critically, that what impact a Tyrants actions has on another is considered irrelevant from a Tyrant’s viewpoint. Let others worry about their own well-being; if they are too weak to take care of themselves, then they should either make themselves stronger, or accept their weakness and offer service to their betters in exchange for protection.

“The priest defies the king and says he does it not for his own glory, but for the glory of his followers, but is this true? No, all men lie! Then why don’t the whimpering masses question his lies? Because the priest’s lies flatter them, for he whispers that weakness is strength, which frees the lazy masses from all responsibility to better themselves. —The Tyrannical Manifesto, Satra Temos

According to the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant, all moral systems lie. They assign moral weights to actions for the explicit purpose of balancing your personal interests with some perceived metaphysical reward. Now, the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant doesn’t necessarily view deception as “bad.” The Cult views eternal or universal truths as impractical at best (They see them as unlikely, and if they exist, the mind is too limited to contain them and language too limited to express them), and sees, again, no moral weight in truth or deception; instead, it tends to view “truth” as things that useful models. Deception is a problem in so far as it prevents you from achieving self-mastery (and can be useful if that deception helps you achieve mastery, say, over another). This can be an external deception, but is most often an internal deception. The “evil” of morality is not that a priest will use it to advance his self-interests (the Cult believes that this is the fundamental purpose of religion: to advance the self-interests of its priests), but that people use it to deceive themselves.

The first deception of morality is that self-interest is wicked. The Cult notes that history tends to label the ambitious and powerful as wicked. No emperor forged an empire without the slaughter of millions; no scientist ever achieved great discoveries without transgressing the boundaries of the well-understood or accepted; transformative leaders never accept the status quo. When the weak confront this fact, when they find themselves too afraid to transgress, or too weak to achieve their desires or to stop a great man from achieving his ambition, they label those ambitions as evil, and their own inability to achieve that ambition as “good.” The inability to get the girl becomes “chastity,” and the inability to get money becomes “prudence,” while the guy who seduces a woman is guilty of “lechery” and the business man who achieves success is guilty of “greed.” In this way, weakness becomes celebrated over strength, up becomes down, slavery becomes freedom.

The second great deception of morality is that pain and suffering are negative consequences associated with evil actions (that is, the lecherous man or the greedy man will come to suffer for their actions). Moral systems suggest that refraining from immoral action will lead to freedom from suffering. The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant reject this entire line of logic as backwards and counterproductive. First, one should understand the importance of suffering. Yes, one should seek to avoid it, but pain is important. Pain and suffering teach one what not to do, and goad one to action. Jealousy and loneliness reveal a need for companionship; greed and ambition reveal a need for power. Suffering ignites passion, and passion drives one to achieve greatness. That this greatness leads to more suffering is irrelevant. That is the nature of the world! Life is a cycle of achievement and then suffering and passion that points one to his next great conquest. Moral systems attempt to short-circuit this and place someone in a state of complacency.

This leads to the third great deception of morality, that the world is not as it should be. Moral systems point to the natural state of the world, where predator consumes prey, as wicked and point to a supernatural world where all is “as it should be.” The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant rejects this. They see the chaotic nature of the world, full of suffering and predation, as beautiful. What moralists call “predation” they call “competition.” What the moralists call “suffering” the cult see as a call to action. Moralists see a purpose to the world. The Cult sees no purpose to the world, other than the purpose you choose for it, and for yourself. Moralists demand a God or “destiny” or “Communion” that holds the secret purpose for everyone. The cult calls this self-imposed slavery and argues that once you accept that the world has no secret purpose for you, you realize you have the freedom to forge your own destiny.

“Mewling prey! You tremble before the predator and cry out for mercy from an uncaring universe! Why do you not save yourself? Do not condemn the predator that eats to survive, nor the pain that brings you to tears. Learn from them! Become a predator yourself, or suffer the fate you deserve!” The Tyrannical Manifesto, Satra Temos

So, the Cult calls upon all cultists to cast off the shackles of self-limiting morality, but to what end? Once a cultist has grasped the deep lie of morality, has seen his own weakness, has been made to face his own suffering and fears and grasps the futility of existence, then the true work can begin.

First, the Cultist must learn that he, like the universe, is a wild, chaotic mess of conflicting desires. A being has no singular “soul,” no “true core of consciousness,” but is instead a complex machine of parts that each have their own desire. The Cultist must learn to understand this and learn to understand himself. He must embrace the many conflicting passions within him, and choose the desire which he feels drives him the most. This passion must come to subordinate all other passions until it burns like a brand. Through the singular drive this passion (be it hatred, lust or ambition), he can achieve truly great things.

Next, the Cultist must embrace the doctrine of power. He must gain the skills of war, leadership, strategy and personal insight that will allow him to manipulate others and the universe itself to achieve the ends he wishes. He must cast aside that which holds him back or limits him. He must come to embrace the cycle of passion and success that drive all truly great men and in so doing, become great himself.

Finally, once greatness has been achieved, the Tyrant must grasp the ultimate virtue of self-direction. Morality, the Cult teaches, is a lie, but no one, not even the Cult, has the full truth. Lies can be useful, when you understand that they are lies. The Tyrant learns that if no purpose exists for the universe, he can impose his own; where no truth exists for the universe, he can impose his own. The Tyrant constructs his own code of conduct, his own morality, born of his own wishes and vision, and then imposes it upon himself and upon the world.

“The universe has no order but that which I impose upon it. Then I choose to give truth to the lie of morality. And why not? Is my truth of a just universe less glorious than your truth of a cynical one?” -The Gospel of Revalis White

The Mystic Tyrant and the Nature of the World

Mei luimen medra moritelor je namereu melvet; mei nimen imatikta va shane “Je hem medra, mei marvania merielum.” I beheld a chaotic sea of writhing serpents; I raised my sword and said “With this sea, I shall forge the world.” -The Codex Ozamanthim

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant preaches a realistic vision of the world, one which embraces a harsh, chaotic and unrelentingly cynical view of the world. They categorically deny the existence of a “supernatural world,” of a God, or of an afterlife. All that exists to the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant is the world that they can touch, see, hear and reflect upon. The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant accepts the reality of psionic powers, of course, and practices them regularly, but they do not see them as “apart” from the physical world, like a supernatural overlay atop unfeeling, unthinking matter. Psionics, consciousness and physical material are all real and expressions of one another.

All things seek to empower themselves. Everything from the greatest mind to the lowest rock have either the ability to express will, passion and intent, or the capacity to do so if properly organized. They see the universe in a hierarchy. Base matter makes up the most fundamental layer, which contain within them only fragments and pieces of the possibility of will and desire, while chaotic chemistry has organized matter into life, which has the ability to express undirected will, and then sapient species have the capacity to express directed will (even if they rarely do so), and the greatest and most evolved of sapient minds have learned to direct all of their passion to a single goal and this manifests to the uninitiated as “psionic power.”

“Communion” to the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant is not distinct from psionic power, which to them is not distinct from thought and motion; all moves on a continuum of the expression of will and desire. The Cult accepts the notion that the universe brims with psionic power, but rejects that this somehow connects to the mighty power that brims from true Tyrants. The godlike power of the Tyrant stems from their supreme enlightenment and their transcendence of the limitations that sapientkind places upon itself.

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant sees no purpose for the universe. It churns unthinkingly like a boiling cauldron, or writhes and lashes out like a wild animal. The universe has no eventual goal, no underlying secret, no “true destiny” in mind for each person. It has only the raw material of passion and desire turning in on itself, unsated. The greatest Tyrants accept this and then forge meaning out of the chaos. The Cult rejects the idea of Destiny as something bestowed to one by the universe, and sees it as something one forges for himself.

Eventually, all things die, though the Cult rejects this as some predestined, fundamental truth. They see nothing beyond death. Consciousness is tied to the machinery of the body and it ends when that machinery breaks down. No afterlife awaits the Cultist. The Cult argues that one should not seek to live for rewards in the afterlife, but for rewards in the present. If they can find a way to transcend mortality, they do so, and according to Cult lore, all of the greatest Tyrants have done just that.

The Mystic Tyrant and the State

Mei hediren va dri sevene dudia mei I rose and all knelt before me –The Codex Ozamanthim

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant is fundamentally a philosophy of the state, at least in its original conception. It applies its skepticism on morality to all people and argues that all people act out of some mixture of ignorance and self-interest. The primary thing that keeps people from acting in perfect self-interest is a lack of knowledge about what course is genuinely in their best interest, or out of sheer weakness and inability to act out of one’s best interest. For example, if one makes a bad deal that loses money, this is either because one did not read the fine print (ignorance) or because the other party strong-armed you into accepting the bad deal (weakness).

The purpose of the state, in the eyes of the Cult, is to forge a code of morality for the weak and ignorant. This code, or laws, is not “true” in the sense of an inherently correct form of morality. Instead, it seeks to tame the wild mass of conflicting self-interest and ignorance of the populace and channels all of that self-interest in useful ways. In the same way that the Cultist seeks to direct and sate his own inner passion, the righteous ruler seeks to direct and sate the passions of the populace.

The Cult advocates outright deception of the population. To the Cultist, “the people” are fools, slaves to the Tyrant, but they are slaves by choice. True men, great men, would rise up against the Tyrant, or set out on their own to forge their own place in the galaxy beyond the reach of the Tyrant. Those who willingly suffer the scourge of the Tyrant ultimately accept their fate and even desire it. Weak men find it easier to accept the orders of others than to command themselves. The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant does not argue things like “Slavery is freedom, freedom is slavery,” but does note that many people happily enslave themselves to kings, priests and kindred and call it freedom. The Master simply seeks to exploit this tendency for his own purposes.

The power of the state and the laws of the Tyrant forge order where none exists. Without the state, without the social contract, mankind falls into its natural state of anarchy. Just as the Cultist learns to impose his vision upon the shapeless mass of the universe by expressing his psionic will, so too must the Tyrant learn to impose his vision upon the shapeless mass of people by expressing his political will. Without so doing, neither mankind nor the universe has any purpose, direction or meaning, and mankind craves meaning.
And should the Tyrant take advantage of his position to enrich himself or indulge in his vices, is this wrong? No, because the Tyrant, and the leader of a state, defines what is right or wrong with his law. But beware! A tyrant who pushes his populace farther than he his power allows will find himself torn apart by the wild forces his will has unleashed. The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant does preach restraint but only when the Tyrant has reached the limits of his power, in which case the Cult expects the Tyrant to find some way to expand his power. War, taxation, slavery, executions and oppression are all justified if it serves the vision of the Tyrant and creates order and stability throughout the universe.

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant and other Philosophies

“The time for superstition has passed. The time for justice, equality and rational government dawns today. Henceforth, let us set aside the old ways and embrace a long forgotten future.” —The Emperor, Ren Valorian

Broadly speaking, the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant sees the other philosophies of the Galaxy as exercises in self-deception. Each philosophy believes it understands the truth of a world that nobody can ever truly understand, or even properly express, and seeks to express that truth using the fallible medium of language. Even so, while Cultists often express amused disdain at other philosophies, they do respect what they try to do, even though they think they go about it the wrong way.

The Cult seeks to forge order out of chaos, while other philosophies deceive themselves into believing that the universe has some fundamental order. If the philosopher can set aside this one fundamental misunderstanding and accept that the universe is fundamentally disordered, they can then go about applying the order they believe the universe should have. The Neo-rationalist can create a rational universe; the initiates of the Akashic Mysteries can create a universe where humanity survives; the Divine Masks can create their Gods and their Divine Wrath.

In this way, the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant can act as a parasite on other philosophies. While it believes that all such philosophies lie, and that they lie for their own cynical self-benefit (whether they admit this or not), the Cult sees itself no differently, just a little more self-aware. An astute cultist, then, learns the underlying beliefs of another philosophy and then either embraces them as the vision he wishes to impose, or twists them to serve his own purposes.

Only True Communion really falls outside of this vision. True Communion’s basic tenets of self-denial, elevating the other above the self, and ultimate unity of all beings stands in total contradiction to the tenets of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant. To believe one denies the other. At first, the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant just ignored the philosophy, but True Communion’s utopian vision of freedom and equality put it into direct conflict with the followers of the Cult when the Knights of Communion uncovered their machinations and waged holy war upon them. That secret war tore apart the Alexian Dynasty, and continues in secret even now.

The Cult does what it can to unveil hypocrisy it believes must lie at the heart of True Communion, and tries to draw away its members into the fold of the Cult, but the efficacy of True Communion and the purity of some of its members has shaken some Cultists to their core and made them question their faith in faithlessness.

The Symbolism of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant originally drew most of its imagery and symbolism from the Divine Masks system, though it treats its symbols as just that: symbols. For the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant, symbols exist to help frame your mind, or to fool the poor, ignorant masses. No true master of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant truly believes in the symbolism of the Cult.

Divine Mask Imagery

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant began as a Ranathim Dark Communion cult, and it tends to retain that imagery. The Ranathim have a powerful cultural impact on much of the galaxy and modern humanity tends to be impressed by their exotic, ancient imagery. That doesn’t mean that the Cult won’t co-opt imagery and symbolism from other philosophies; the Cult believes in focusing your mind, and symbolism acts as tools to do just that. If a different culture has different symbols that would better suit them, the Cult borrows those. The same goes for language: while many rites and rituals in the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant were originally in Lithian, the Cult translates them into other languages as necessary, and Galactic Common is, by far, the most used language of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant.

Common Divine Mask imagery includes:

  • Fire: The Divine Masks makes use of brazier and incense to represent the presence of the divine, preferring to light their temples with the “divine light” of fire rather than artificial, electric light. The Cult prefers this approach, but also use fire as a symbol for passion, and “burning away” distractions, or to teach lessons about the importance of embracing pain.
  • The Gate: The Divine Masks philosophy often has symbolic gates and doorways that separate the sacred space of the temple from the mundane space of the outer world. The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant is less concerned with the concept of “sacred space,” but uses gates, labyrinths and thresholds as metaphors for hidden self-knowledge and power, and the means by which one may acquire them.
  • The Lash and Scepter: Traditionally held in the hands of the divine emperor of the Ranathim empire, with his arms crossed over his body, the scepter represents power and the lash represents submission. The original imagery was meant to convey that the emperor represented both the enslaved classes and the master classes, but for the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant, they represent the fact that all men must choose between self mastery or service to another, and that both principles reside within all people.
  • The Crown: The Divine Emperor of the Ranathim wore a complex, composite crown that represented all people that he ruled. Since the fall of the Empire, the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant continues with the tradition of a crown, but typically simpler, usually just a circlet with a psionic-boosting gem, worn by those who symbolically represent the Mystic Tyrant, such as those leading an initiation rite.
  • The Psi-Sword: Originally, the royal guard of the Divine Emperor wore these powerful weapons, but after its fall, all members of the Cult began to practice with them. They represent a natural focus for one’s psionic potential, and directly manifest that as physical power. Those taken as an apprentice by a Tyrant, or inducted into the Cult directly, typically craft (or steal!) their psi-sword themselves. With the increasing inclusion of humanity into the Cult, the force sword, or the combined technology of both, has become more common.
  • The Tower and Throne: The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant never had an idol to their “God,”for their “God” was a living and breathing Emperor. Likewise, they lack temples and replace them with places of political power. The most iconic image of this is either a tower or throne (a tower or throne surmounted by a crown of fire is a common pictoral symbol for the Cult). Such towers tend to naturally accumulate sanctity to Dark Communion, and their thrones are often built with psi-booster technology.
  • The Bones of Tyrants: Because a tyrant is a living embodiment of the divine power of the Mystic Tyrant, and because the Cult seeks to find some means to transcend death, they often treat the bones of their dead with respect… and fear. Dead tyrants tend to be interred in strong, fortress-like mausoleums… often with safeguards meant to prevent some unexpected force from either getting in to steal those bones, or from the Tyrant using some means to rise again and getting out (especially if he was an unpopular Tyrant). Devoted apprentices and slaves often carry fragments of the bones of their masters in phylacteries worn around their neck.
  • The Many Worlds: The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant does not believe in supernatural worlds, but finds the imagery of the many worlds to be a useful parallel to self-understanding. Those who understand physics and mundane concerns have gained mastery of “Jenteku,””or the physical, while those who have mastered psionic power have gained access to “Akaleku,” or the “Astral, those who have mastered Communion have mastered “Falineku,”and those who have transcended all limitations to become a true tyrant are said to have mastered “Lithe,” to have become “Divine.”
  • The Labyrinth: The Labyrinth is unique to the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant and a late addition to its imagery. It represents the mind, set against itself in turmoil. The Tyrant must “delve into the labyrinth” to become a master of his own mind and passions, and finds at the heart of the labyrinth his truest desire, which becomes the burning flame the consumes all other passions and ambitions.
  • The Tetrahedron: Usually just called a “Pyramid,” the three-sided pyramid contains the rich symbolism of all three forms of Communion, each represented by a side, with each side containing three points, which represents the three paths of each form of Communion. The base of the pyramid represents slave and the masses and the pinnacle of the pyramid, where all forms of Communion join, which looks down upon all the rest, represents the transcendent master and the ultimate goal of all cultists of the Mystic Tyrant.

The Aesthetics of Power

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant understand that power is perceptual. If one believes that one has power, one does. They use their symbolism and their philosophical aesthetic to emphasize this. They build vast buildings with steps that raise the tyrant over those who approach him, surround him with banners and dress in garments that project their own majestic power.

Many adherents of the Cult of the Mystical Tyrant will dress in robes or sacred vestments or otherwise co-opt the symbols of other philosophies. While the Divine Masks is the most often co-opted set of religious imagery, it is not the only one. Cultists will borrow from any philosophy that suits them. A common theme is to profane the symbolism that they wear: to turn the modest robes of an Akashic or a True Communion monk into something revealing and salacious, or to wear religious symbols upside down; this is done to emphasize to the viewer the impotence of such imagery.

The Colors of Tyranny

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant uses color in its decoration and fashion both as a symbol for self-understanding, and to signal to others one’s level of initiation, or one’s purpose in the Cult.

  • Black is the color of the physical world and the color of shadows. It represents the lowest level of initiation and the blur of shadows that cloud the minds of men. It is worn by the lowest initiates, but also by those whose role is stealth, obfuscation or hiding the Cult from outsiders, such as enforcers or assassins.
  • Red is the color of the astral world and the color of fire and passion. It represents those initiated into the deeper secrets of the Cult, those who have gained sufficient passion that they can drive themselves towards greatness. It is worn by the apprentices of masters, but also those who wage war on the behalf of the Cult, its foot soldiers, agents and guardians.
  • White is the color of Communion and the color of clarity and ashes; it represents those of the highest degree of initiation, the leaders and masters of the cult, and whose wisdom has given them clarity to see the truth. It also represents those who keep or advance the knowledge of the Cult, such as archivists or archaeologists.
  • Gold is the color of the Mystic Tyrant, and the color of the divine; it represents those who have transcended the limitations of the Cult to become true tyrants. Cultists with a strong religious devotion to the Cult often wear gold as a reminder of their faith, but most who wear it do so to express power. They tend to be the absolute leaders of the Cult.

Names

Names, in the Divine Mask system, have power. The Divine Emperor would take a new name upon his ascent to the throne, representing his ascension to a divine state. The Cult continues this practice: those initiated to a sufficient degree gain a new name from their master, typically a Lithian one, and the title “Thamet.” In this case, it represents his parting from mundane ignorance and his first steps onto a path of true enlightenment. Those who claim to have achieved transcendence take on a new name of their own, representing how they forge both the universe and themselves with their new vision.

Oaths, and Master/Slave relationships

The concept of slavery and mastery is central to the Mystic Tyrant ideology, as represented by the scepter and lash. Each Tyrant must make himself a slave to his own ambition and passion, and thus becoming his own master, and anyone who can master himself can master others. Slaves shelter in the power of their master. A master/slave relationship is one of patronage rewarded with obedience and vice versa. A slave bends knee to the master, and the master may do with the slave what he wishes. In turn, the master trains and protects the slave. The greatest of slaves is the apprentice (sometimes called a “prince” or “princess”), the right-hand of the master, who is groomed to take his place, or to join him as a master.

The Cult treats the master/slave relationship very seriously, and makes a show of dominance and submission. Those who are slaves often wear the sigils or names of their master and other items displaying submission, such as slave colors, chains or constricting (or revealing) clothing. They must supplicate themselves before their master and refer to him as “master” (or, in Lithian, “Thamara”) For his part, the master is expected to maintain an air of regal dignity, and to refer to his slaves by their position, rather than their name (the exception is the apprentice, who has earned a position of importance).

The Rituals of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant

Meditation (“Delving into the Labyrinth”)

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant concerns itself with self-mastery above all other things. Only those who master themselves can master others. They define this self-mastery as the elevation of one passion over all others, or the alignment of all desires in a single, central focus. This allows the achievement of greatness. The Cultist achieves this alignment through self-knowledge, which includes harrowing inner journey using meditation.

The Cult typically describes the journey as “wandering through a labyrinth.” The character confronts his own weaknesses and passions, often in vivid, hallucinatory detail, and must wrestle with them, flee from them or negotiate with them. They often describe some of their own passions as “monsters.” Some argue for battling and conquering one’s inner demons, but many suggest, instead, submitting to or sacrificing yourself to your inner demons; after all, they’re the most powerful passions and drives within you.
The exact experience varies from person to person and is entirely a metaphorical journey of psychological self-discovery. The Cult may speak of this as “a journey into inner worlds,” but they don’t actually believe this.

Rite of Initiation

The Cult has always kept secrets from outsiders, whether it was the political decisions of the Divine Emperor, or the conspiring of the cult that came after his fall. Those who wish to gain access to those secrets must prove their worth to the Cult through an initiation ritual. The exact parameters vary based on the specific cult and the level of initiation the initiate is achieving, but certain commonalities pervade all such rituals. First, the initiate is kidnapped and blind-folded and then brought to an undisclosed location where he is confronted by black-clad masters. First, they demand to know his name. Then they test the initiate. The exact nature of the test varies; at the lowest levels, these might be simple questions about Cult doctrines or tests of loyalty; at higher levels these might be extremely demanding riddles, extreme demands (such as killing a loved one) or extreme, nigh-lethal tests. Once these have been surmounted, the initiate is walked through a threshold and before a crowned master, typically with the lash and scepter and seated upon a throne. The crowned master issues an oath of loyalty (to the Cult) and secrecy to the cultist, and when the cultist has completed his oath, the crowned master grants him the color appropriate to his initiation and, if appropriate, pronounces his new name.

Oath of Submission

When a cultist swears an oath to the Cult or to a Master, this is called an oath of submission. To perform an oath of submission, the cultist kneels before his new master, or a crowned master representing the cult as a whole (depending to whom the cultist is swearing loyalty). The cultist states his name and makes a solemn oath (“upon punishment of death”) to absolutely obey the commands of their new master and to keep their secrets. They then make an offering to their master, typically an offering of their own blood, but possessions or wealth are also acceptable, or an offering of a symbol prepared for the occasion. The Master then accepts the offering, accepts, states his own obligations (to protect and guide his new slave/apprentice) and then offers a hand to lift the slave up.

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