A new setting I’m working up for some old and new players…
Inspirations: Donnie Darko, Videodrome, the works of H.P. Lovecraft, Altered States, the poetry of William Blake, Se7en, Zodiac, various cults and cultists (Jim Jones, Heaven’s Gate, Charles Manson et al.), Chris Carter’s TV series Millennium, the works of Philip K. Dick.
A contemporary setting.
Sorcerers are... the people who can see the hidden meanings behind things, who expand their sense of truth by studying patterns and connections, leaving behind the mundane, concrete reality the rest of us see.
Lore is… seeing the meaning in everything, building logical understanding of coincidence, struggling every second to see the secret truths revealed. It is getting lost in symbols, patterns and coincidences.. Lore is expanding one’s senses and perceptions toward the edge of insanity.
Demons are… the servants of old gods who want to return. They are things a sorcerer can see and/or hear that no one else can: a guide or conduit into greater perception: a man or a woman only visible to the sorcerer; a pair of glasses that enhance perception; a growth that only the sorcerer can see or touch that leads him forward toward the truth (think of the “water creature” that flows from Donnie’s chest in Donnie Darko.)
Humanity is… appreciating and focusing on the concrete — the day to day, the actual people in your life, the mundane details of the world.
Rituals… involve building elaborate patterns with objects, studying maps or photos for hidden meanings, gathering significant objects and building dioramas until they reveal their truth. Art, sex and psychotropics and all serve as gateways to the “higher” order of meaning.
There are several “factions” of cultists. Some cultists believer they are the gods they hope to summon (or, at least, will become them). Others see themselves as merely servants and hope to curry favor before the coming apocalypse arrives. Some people work for their own personal gain, gathering in loose knit cabals for their own purposes.
An option for Player Characters is to start outside of a cult. For whatever reason the characters has been pursuing an understanding of the Lore: Perhaps a loved one was murdered by the cult. Perhaps they noticed strange coincidences and studied further, pursuing a path to greater and greater understanding of how to tap an understanding of the world no one should ever have. For whatever reason, the Player Character has a stake in what’s going in the realm of Lore. In this case, there his no need start with a bound demon, but its certainly an option. A demon would be of great help in the fight against the cultists.