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Mystery Cult

 Mystery Cult
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 Mystery Cult
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Mystery Cult
 Mystery Cult
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Popular in ancient Greece and Rome, Mystery Cults are ultra-exclusive "clubs" that require total secrecy on the part of participants and may tell new members little or nothing about their ethos before they join, and often long after. Generally speaking only long-time members will know what the cult is actually about, and even then the "Inner Circle" will be the only ones who know everything. In this respect they are the opposite of some religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Buddhism, which are more evangelistic and make materials relating to their beliefs freely available and are happy to explain what they believe.
Advertisement:propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_mobile_ad_1'); })As a general rule initiates don't have a clue what they have gotten themselves into and the inner circle won't be keen on telling. This is often a lead in to a really obvious Religion of Evil. The Path of Inspiration is a particular type of evil mystery cult which employs trappings of a benevolent religion to disguise itself. Compare and contrast Ancient Conspiracy. See also Secret Circle of Secrets. A joke version is often a Brotherhood of Funny Hats.
Incidentally, the formal term for an initiate of a mystery cult is "mystes" (plural "mystae").
Note: As a general rule this trope only applies to things that are described as a cult, religion, or sect, etc, In-Universe or by Word of God.
 Mystery Cult
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DBTropes
 Mystery Cult / int_20e955d2
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Mystery Cult
 Mystery Cult / int_20e955d2
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Leviathan: The Tempest has this as an upgrade you can purchase for your cult that provides improved defense against investigation. Any investigation will first find the reasonable, sane people you've put in the outer layers, and unless they already know what they are looking for they are unlikely to dig further. The downside is that your outer-layer cultists are sane and lack the fanatical devotion of your Beloved, so there are a lot more limits on what you can demand of them before they walk away.
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Mystery Cult / int_20e955d2
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Mystery Cult
 Mystery Cult / int_2a1325f2
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In An Epic Comic, the Society of the Free Mind's inner circle is only accessible if you become a free mind. The reason for this being is that you can't actually fully comprehend the true intentions if your mind is limited to the comic.
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 Mystery Cult / int_2ade1ae9
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Mystery Cult
 Mystery Cult / int_2ade1ae9
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Mystery cults are common enough in the Nobilis universe that they're available as starting contacts on the lifepath system.
 Mystery Cult / int_2ade1ae9
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 Mystery Cult / int_2ade1ae9
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 Nobilis (Tabletop Game)
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Mystery Cult / int_2ade1ae9
 Mystery Cult / int_36ee2abe
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Mystery Cult
 Mystery Cult / int_36ee2abe
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The Secret Societies in Paranoia play with this trope to various degrees, with the Illuminati being the textbook example. Members know almost nothing about the group, and typically their only contact are random visits in the middle of the night by a single masked stranger delivering inexplicable orders. This being Paranoia, it is entirely possible that the inner circle of any given society is just as commpletely clueless as the new recruits...
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Mystery Cult / int_36ee2abe
 Mystery Cult / int_3b73c4a0
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 Mystery Cult / int_3b73c4a0
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Monotheism in Caprica is this by necessity: monotheism is illegal on Caprica.
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 Mystery Cult / int_3e8c09b9
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Mystery Cult
 Mystery Cult / int_3e8c09b9
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Attack on Titan: The "Wall Cult" believes that the huge, circular walls that protect the last of humanity were a gift from God, even yelling at people who touch or get near the walls. Eren notes that even just putting cannons on top of the walls took way longer than it should have because the government had to work around the cultists. Most of the members are simply religious people, but the inner circle seems to know more about the walls than it seems, including that there are Titans within them.
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 Mystery Cult / int_5e59ce49
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 Mystery Cult / int_5e59ce49
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In Elantris, the aptly-named Mysteries is an enigmatic cult with a very unpleasant (and largely deserved) reputation. Turns out that it's a corrupted knockoff of the peaceful Jesker religion, but where Jesker is dedicated to living in harmony with the Dor, the Mysteries is just about hacking into it to gain supernatural powers. King Iadon of Arelon is a follower of the Mysteries, and when he's caught in the middle of sacrificing a servant as part of a ritual, his already-shaky reign outright collapses.
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 Mystery Cult / int_6ac55ec7
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Mystery Cult
 Mystery Cult / int_6ac55ec7
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Most cults to evil gods in Dungeons & Dragons settings tend toward this in many good-aligned lands. It's when the evil god's cult becomes the state religion of a given land that open worship (with all it entails) becomes a thing.
 Mystery Cult / int_6ac55ec7
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Mystery Cult / int_6ac55ec7
 Mystery Cult / int_6cd819eb
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Mystery Cult
 Mystery Cult / int_6cd819eb
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Skulduggery Pleasant features so many that they might as well be the entire premise....and in fact may be. Villains in Skulduggery Pleasant books are almost invariably part of some evil cult bent on destroying the world or killing everyone in it. It's getting so it feels like that is the only possible motivation, out side of maybe revenge, which exists in this series.
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 Mystery Cult / int_73b4d4c1
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Mystery Cult
 Mystery Cult / int_73b4d4c1
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In Call of Cthulhu the cults that worship the Cthulhu Mythos deities are like this. They're intensely secretive because their abhorrent practices would get them imprisoned or executed in any civilized country. By the time a new member finds out what the cult is really up to they've probably been driven insane.
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 Mystery Cult / int_74c659e6
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Mystery Cult
 Mystery Cult / int_74c659e6
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There are a number in Rocket Age. Venus has several Thuggee-esque murder cults that operate completely underground and are exclusive enough that the induction can kill you. Martian faiths have several sects that fall into this as well.
 Mystery Cult / int_74c659e6
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 Mystery Cult / int_76e7de99
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Mystery Cult
 Mystery Cult / int_76e7de99
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Shar, one of the major deities in the Forgotten Realms is usually worshiped by secret cults instead of large public temples, being the goddess of Darkness, Secrets, and Forgetfulness. And the colors of her priests are black and purple.
Most cults to evil gods in Dungeons & Dragons settings tend toward this in many good-aligned lands. It's when the evil god's cult becomes the state religion of a given land that open worship (with all it entails) becomes a thing.
 Mystery Cult / int_76e7de99
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 Mystery Cult / int_8601c91f
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Mystery Cult
 Mystery Cult / int_8601c91f
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Olivia Pierce's demon cult in DOOM (2016) works a lot like this. There are multiple tiers of being an "Advocate" or employee of the UAC. The higher tier you are, the more involved you are not only in the inner workings of the corporation, but also in the cult that Pierce has gathered within.
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 Mystery Cult / int_9d34190a
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The Elder Scrolls:
Many Daedric cults are highly secretive and distrustful of outsiders, often because they fear being targeted by anti-Daedric vigilante organizations. In many regions of Tamriel, worship of certain Princes is outlawed, further driving these cults into secrecy. In particular, worshippers of Mehrunes Dagon, Molag Bal, Namira, and Vaermina are forced into hiding because their Princes demand something vile or unsavory of their servants.
The Dark Brotherhood are followers of Sithis, and work as professional assassins. By their nature, they are an extremely secretive group, with their own hidden rites and initiations. The Morag Tong, their assassin rivals in Morrowind who worship Mephala, are the exact opposite, with the nature of their operations and practices being completely public in order for them to be sanctioned as a tool to regulate the Great Houses.
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 Mystery Cult / int_9d47a2a2
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In the universe of A Song of Ice and Fire, the Free City of Norvos is ruled by the Bearded Priests, a religion so secretive that no one outside the Priests themselves knows anything about its practices. Not even the name of the god they worship.
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Futurama: The League of Robots - a secret society of well-to-do wealthy robots (that somehow ends up having Bender as a member), that ostensibly exists to mastermind the robot dream of killing all humans, but in actuality turns out to be more like a stagnant gentleman's social club.
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 Mystery Cult / int_a33e0c71
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The Systems Malfunction setting features dozens of Mystery Cults of varying size and power, all engaging in one massive Gambit Pileup.
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 Mystery Cult / int_a716d535
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Mystery Cult
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In Unlimited Fafnir, a dragon cult exists, which has been brainwashing Tear and causing her to believe she's really a dragon, not a human. Having horns on her head only further validates it as far as she knows. The main characters attempt to un-brainwash her, by having her live as a human. Unfortunately the cult leader, also a human, has instead chosen to live the life of a "dragon", hurting and killing people using their powers, much like the real dragons that showed up 25 years before the current events in the show.
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 Mystery Cult / int_af6a4464
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Mystery Cult
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The Morninglight of The Secret World; already distinctly reminiscent of Scientology, the cult maintains a level of uplifting-but-vague ideology that serves to hide their true motives and methods from outsiders. As such, initiates have no idea what they've gotten themselves into, and little chance to resist once the Mind Rape starts. For good measure, any defectors are labelled "Obstructive Persons" and quietly eliminated.
 Mystery Cult / int_af6a4464
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 Mystery Cult / int_c43df4d8
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Mystery Cult
 Mystery Cult / int_c43df4d8
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The Silence in Doctor Who is portrayed as a Mystery Religion dedicated to stopping the asking of a Question - though really it is more of a Single-Precept Religion than anyting.
Much later it's revealed to be a Renegade Splinter Faction of the Papal Mainframe, a far-future Catholicish-Anglicanish mainstream religion.
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 Mystery Cult / int_c74f2d3c
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Mystery Cult
 Mystery Cult / int_c74f2d3c
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The Triune from Diablo worked a lot like this. New initiates were led to believe that they worshiped benevolent Spirits of Determination, Love and Creation, before gradually being initiated into the true teachings of the Triune and the true evil of the Prime Evils who the Spirits actually were.
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 Mystery Cult / int_d461f757
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Mystery Cult
 Mystery Cult / int_d461f757
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Battlestar Galactica: Mithras apparently has an analog in the Twelve Colonies of Man, but given that they're referred to as "Mithrasaries" it's possible they're not as secretive as the followers of Mithras on Earth. Apparently, old-school religious Gemenon considers them something of a protected minority.
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 Mystery Cult / int_ebffc81f
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Mage: The Awakening has a number of mystery cults, often used by the Awakened to guide Sleepers to true power. The Guardians of the Veil tend to use Labyrinths, hidden conspiracies that guide the worthy to enlightenment while shunting the unworthy off into temporal power, whereas the Silver Ladder tend to use Cryptopolies, political groups and secret societies that blend mundane influence with Awakened symbolism.
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The following is a list of statements referring to the current page from other pages.

 Mystery Cult
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Religion Tropes
 Providence (Comic Book) / int_55c87054
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Mystery Cult
 The Protocols of the Elders of Zion / int_55c87054
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Mystery Cult
 The Warlord Chronicles / int_55c87054
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Mystery Cult
 TheDrunkAndOnDrugsHappyFuntimeHour
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Mystery Cult
 The Order / int_55c87054
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Mystery Cult
 Unsolved Mysteries / int_55c87054
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Mystery Cult
 Rocket Age (Tabletop Game) / int_55c87054
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Mystery Cult
 WitchCraft (Tabletop Game) / int_55c87054
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Mystery Cult
 Escape from Tarkov (Video Game) / int_55c87054
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Mystery Cult
 Godherja: The Dying World (Video Game) / int_55c87054
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Mystery Cult
 The Division 2 (Video Game) / int_55c87054
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Mystery Cult
 MURDER Sci 100 (Web Video) / int_55c87054
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Mystery Cult
 An Epic Comic (Webcomic) / int_55c87054
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Mystery Cult
 Erfworld (Webcomic) / int_55c87054
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Mystery Cult
 Huntik: Secrets & Seekers
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Mystery Cult