You have been chosen to see what should not be seen. You must prepare...and you must survive...
Other Cultist Simulator Guides:
- How to Survive as a Cultist.
- Quick Guide to Rites.
- Quick Lore Study Reference.
- Guide to the Mansus.
- How to Make Money & Earn Promotions.
For this guide, we'll assume you chose the Aspirant background. This is the default start for all first-time players.
These blocks are called Verbs. They will be how you interact with the world. This is the Work Verb. It governs both paid labour and personal projects (more on the latter later). Each verb has its own timer, and they all run independently of each other.
First, work a shift at the hospital as a porter. Feel free to take time to read the flavour text, as there won't be any time pressure for a little while yet. After your shift, you will receive one Funds and one Health, and gain the Sleep Verb.
The Sleep Verb will tell you of a dream, of an old man you worked with at the hospital. The clock will then start, as the Time Verb is added to your desk. At first, the clock will cost you nothing and will give you the Study Verb, along with an inheritance from the old man. Thereafter, it will cost you one coin per minute, as the cost of living. If you cannot feed the Time Verb, you will gain hunger. Hunger will cost you funds to remove, and will cost you your health, which can lead to a Game Over. Money will be very important very soon, but first you must study your bequest.
Study the bequest with either Reason or Passion. Choose the one that most appeals. You will gain a Notion card, which you should put aside for now, a book for skill training (more on that later), and two other cards that you can run on the Study Verb. The Notion card will be important later, but you have more pressing concerns at the moment. Concerns like making enough money to keep the Time Verb happy...
Feel free to run the other cards on the Study Verb if you want, or feel free to ignore them for now. Pause is your friend if you choose to multitask (Shortcut: Spacebar) and you can always queue up any actions you like while the game is paused. Though whatever your choice, your first priority will be finding a steady source of Funds...
You can make money in one of four ways:
- Use your health card with the Work Verb to do manual labour. This isn't recommended long-term, as this has a slight risk of turning your Health card into an Injury card, which will cost one Funds card to turn back into a Health card. Funds you won't be able to afford. Your game will likely end soon after.
- Use a Passion card with your Work Verb to make a painting. Sometimes this makes money. Sometimes you only get contentment. Sometimes you paint the Mansus, and that's not a painting you want to show to strangers...
- Use a Reason card on your Work Verb. This will open up the opportunity to work at Glover and Glover as a Junior Associate. In the long run, this is your best option for making money, but not if you stay in the Junior Associate position. To gain a promotion, you will need to run the Glover and Glover card in the Work Verb, open the Work Verb and then place a Reason card in the slot in the centre of the timer. From that point on, you'll need to keep using a reason card alongside your Glover and Glover card in order to keep making the same amount of money, which in the early game can tie up your Reason. But sometimes you will earn Erudition, which can be turned into more Reason (more on that later).
- Sell Spintria through the Work Verb. This requires money to get started, and thus is not suitable for the early game. However, it can be very profitable once you've got the money to invest in buying books.
Probably the surest start is to use Reason with the Work Verb and get the Junior Associate card from Glover & Glover. You can get by for a bit with just that, but you won't have much of a safety net if things go wrong. You should endeavour to build up your reason. Once you have two reason, you can rise up the ranks and start building up your nest egg.
Reason and Passion are renewable resources. If you plug them into anything, most of the time they will return to you upon completion of the work. However, while they are working, they will be tied up.
Warning: if you make a painting, don't put anything into the Inspiration slot that you do not want to lose. This includes Health, Reason and Passion. They will be destroyed. Don't put irreplacable cards in the inspiration slot either. You're probably best leaving the Inspiration slot blank if you're just looking to make money, as putting an inspiration there will just result in a non-monetary reward. This might unlock new cards later, but for now, just ignore it. And definitely don't plug Health, Reason or Passion into it. Not until you can spare them.
You can think of Health, Reason and Passion as stats. You can gain more Reason by using an Erudition card on the Study Verb and spending one Funds. You can gain an Erudition card by using a Reason card on the Study Verb, or it can show up randomly. The same is true for Passion and the Glimmering card, and for Health and the Vitality card. Thus you can train any of your faculties to be greater by studying them, studying the resulting card and spending Funds on their study. No funds, no stat upgrade.
It is not guaranteed though that you will gain Reason from Erudition, Passion from Glimmering, or Health from Vitality. You can also gain Dread from Erudition, Fascination from Glimmering, and An Injury from Vitality. This is not ideal, but you can still rank up your stats with these cards.
Dread can be turned into reason by using it on the Sleep Verb. While it's ticking, add a Contentment card (Contentment can show up randomly or by using a Passion card on the Sleep Verb). When the timer is finished, you will have more Reason.
Fascination can be turned into Passion by using it on the Sleep Verb. While it's ticking, add Dread. When the timer is finished, you will gain Passion.
An Injury can be turned into Health by using it on the Sleep Verb. While it's ticking, add Funds for food and medicine. When the timer is finished, you will gain Health (extra health can keep death at bay, even if you're unlucky enough to get two illnesses in a row from the Time Verb).
If you run any of the above without its corresponding card, you will just waste 90 seconds of time on the Sleep Verb. It won't cost you anything, but you will also have gained nothing.
Now that you've got a source of funds, you must prepare yourself for what is to come. Studying the Bequest with either Reason or Passion gave you a book that will upgrade your chosen stat if you have enough Erudition or Glimmering. It also gave you access to two leads. Study them to unlock the Explore and Talk Verbs if you haven't already.
From here on out, try to keep ahead of your hunger. Always keep a few Funds cards in reserve to deal with unexpected expenses, like illness or injury. You don't want your only Health card to be used up when an illness comes knocking. Funds will help recover your health after an illness and keep you in the game.
Remember, you can recover your health while the Illness Verb is cycling. Be sure to recover your health ASAP when it is sapped by illness. Use An Ailment with the Sleep Verb and spend money on it. If the Sleep Verb finishes (and you claim it) before the Illness Verb counts down, the Illness Verb will grab your health and you will live. Always keep at least one Health card in play at all times.
Next, you can build on Reason to progress in rank and Glover and Glover, or make money off your art. Long-term though, you'll probably need to become a Senior Associate at Glover and Glover. You'll need two Reason cards for that, and both cards will be tied up when you're making money, but once you reach that point, you will have a very efficient source of Funds.
With a reliable source of Funds, you will be able to study the occult. When you studied the Bequest, you gained a Notion. If you studied it with Reason, the Notion will be Enlightenment. If you studied it with Passion, the Notion will be Power. Both are worthy goals, but have different requirements for victory. These Notions can be changed by plugging them into the Sleep Verb, which will change the victory requirements.
For example, the Enlightenment Notion requires knowledge of the Lantern. This is a Lore, and there are perhaps a dozen or so different sets of Lore. They are all esoteric, strange, and possibly forbidden.
Sometimes for good reason. Some knowledge is dangerous.
In any case, by examining your Notion, you will know what kind of Lore you need to found your Cult on. You...are here to found a cult, right?
Lore and Spintria
Of course, learning how to use Lore is its own subject. Gathering Lore is a necessary step to founding a Cult, but it has other uses as well...
Books will yield Lore, but you'll need to click each Lore card and read its description to figure out which Lore it is. Look for the icon with the number next to it. This icon will tell you which Lore is which...and the number will tell you how valuable it is. Some secrets are bigger than others...
Now, if you're a regular customer at Morland's Shop, you may occasionally come across books in Latin, Greek, or even Aramaic. None of these are languages you know, so to gain Lore from them, you will need to find tutors.
First, use Passion or Reason on your Explore Verb (as of the Neville build, you can also use Fascination). You will find one of three different scholars...assuming you don't find Notoriety instead. If that happens, just keep trying until you find one...or preferably all three, if you have the time and Passion/Reason to spare.
Once you've found a scholar, you can learn their language by dragging them to the Study Verb. But these scholars don't want to be paid in coin...
If you click on the payment slot, you will find that it only accepts cards with the Spintria aspect. This is a special currency of the underworld...not the criminal underworld mind you, the academic underworld...a place far skeezier and twice as dangerous...dealing in forbidden knowledge and dangerous ideas...
As of the Neville build, you can only earn Spintria by completing academic commissions. To do this, plug your newfound friend into the Talk Verb. After ten seconds, they'll ask for a commission on a specific Lore.
As mentioned earlier, you can find Lore by studying books. Lore cards are easily reusable. Once you've got a broad collection of esoteric Lore, you can use them to earn as much Spintria as you might need.
But...books cost Funds, and to get the Lore requires you to spend time in the Study Verb. In the end, each book will give you a specific Lore, but you probably won't know which one until it's done. The book's description can give you a clue, but it won't exactly say Lantern or Moth or Secret Histories on the cover.
Keep investigating books until you get a Lore that matches the commission your scholarly friend gave you. Each lore has a type and a score, which you can learn by clicking the card you got from studying the book. Look for the icon with a number next to it. Click the icon to find out which type of Lore you have (Lantern, Moth, Grail, etc.).
The number next to the lore is its score, which indicates how important this lore is. It also affects the quality of the report you will write for your scholarly commission. A score of 2 will yield a Brief report, one of 4 will grant a Substantial report. The commission will ask you for a particular quality of Lore, but you can safely ignore that in the Neville build. An Extensive commission can be satisfied by a Brief report. Take the Lore and plug it into your Work Verb (be sure you have sufficient Funds to cover your living expenses in the meantime (it takes exactly 60 seconds)). You will gain a Report on this Lore.
Once you have your report, grab the Commission Card and plug it into the Talk Verb. Grab your scholarly friend too. If you've forgotten who commissioned this particular commission, click the Patron slot and it will remind you (click any slot if you're ever unsure what's supposed to fit there, and it'll (sometimes) tell you what you need (...sometimes)). Then fill the last slot with the report you just wrote. Cycle the Verb and you'll get a Spintria.
From there, you can either convert it to cash with the Work Verb, spend it on language lessons with the scholar of your choice, or just bank it for later use. Remember, Silver Spintria is worth more Funds than Bronze, which is worth more Funds than Iron. Also remember that the Academic Underworld does not give change...
...well, not exact change...change is probably inevitable when learning what must not be learned...
Founding Your Cult
Ahhh, now we get to the meat of the subject. Your own Cult. After all, this isn't Occult Academic Simulator, is it?
To found a cult, you will need either Mystique or Notoriety, and the right Lore. Be very careful with Mystique and Notoriety as it can be used to create evidence against you. If too much is accumulated you'll need a patsy to take the fall for you...all the more reason to found a cult, really.
You should have plenty of Lore from your academic studies, but for the best results it should probably match your Notion. Else, victory will remain ever beyond your grasp.
If you're having trouble finding the right Lore, you can also find Lore in dreams, usually by applying Reason to your Sleep Verb. This is also the way to explore the Mansus...I'll let you figure out how to do that yourself. Remember, it is the empty space that makes the bowl useful.
Once you have a Lore that fits your Notion, you will need the Found Cult Verb. Use Mystique or Notoriety on the Talk Verb to unlock the Found Cult Verb. Once that is done, you'll get a repeatedly counting-down Found Cult Verb. Don't worry about the countdown, that verb's not going anywhere. Destiny will not vanish on you unexpectedly.
Once you've got the verb, open it up and plug the Lore that matches your Notion into the slot, then wait for countdown to end. You will immediately gain a card with your cult's name on it.
Don't worry about losing that Lore. It will be returned to you unharmed.
Expanding Your Cult
Now that you have a cult, you will need followers. After all, without followers, you'd just be an unhinged hermit seeking enlightenment. And that's no fun.
To recruit a follower, drag your Cult card to the Talk Verb. Then plug in your would-be follower, one Funds, and either one Mystique or Notoriety. Don't forget, you can gain Mystique or Notoriety by talking to your associate.
Assuming you have everything you need, you now have a loyal follower.
Followers are great. They can do all kinds of illicit things for you. They also make great sacrifices...
...well, better them than you, right?
Well, now that you have the basics, you can explore all this game has to offer! Experiment with different cards on various verbs! Explore strange dreams! Study obscure Lore and uncover hidden truths!
(Well, if we're being completely honest here, those truths were probably hidden for a good reason).
I have nothing more to offer. I have given you a foundation. Build from it what you will.