Good morning Adventurers and Dungeon Masters. Today we are taking a look at the Cult Fanatic. If you use them correctly, these humanoids make one of the best and most fun low-level bosses in Dungeons and Dragons. So, in this guide, we will teach you all we know about Cult Fanatics.
We will start with analyzing the cult fanatic stat block, then look at how you can use them in your campaign as a Dungeon master and how to fight them as a player. We will also answer a couple of FAQs you might have about these creatures.
Cult Fanatics Stat Block
The cult fanatic is a medium humanoid of any race and has any alignment that is not good.
- Armor Class: 13 (leather armor)
- Hit Points: 33 (6d8 + 6)
- Speed: 30 feet
|11 (+0)||14 (+2)||12 (+1)||10 (+0)||13 (+1)||14 (+2)|
* I love that Cult Fanatics’ best stat is their charisma. This stat makes a ton of sense, as they are some influencer that tries to convince others of the cause. If you use them as a boss, this stat also helps them to command their minions. INT being their lowest stat is also a kind of funny jab.
- Skills: Deception +4, Persuasion +4 and Religion +2
- Senses: Passive perception of 11
- Languages: Any one language, the most logical pick here is common.
- Challenge: CR 2 and 450 XP (the same as our monster from last week: Guard Drakes)
- Proficiency Bonus: +2
Actions and abilities
Cult Fanatics have some interesting abilities and strong spells to fight you with. If you are a Dungeon Master, study these spells well to get the most out of a Cult Fanatic boss fight.
Dark Devotion: the fanatic has the advantage on saving throws against being frightened or getting charmed.
Spellcasting: Cult Fanatics have access to a good amount of spells. Their spellcasting ability on their WIS (11 +3 DC). These are the spells they have access to:
- Light (cantrip)
- Sacred flame (cantrip)
- Thaumaturgy (cantrip)
- Command (1st level)
- Inflict wounds (1st level)
- Shield of faith (1st level)
- Hold person (2nd level)
- Spiritual Weapon (2nd level)
Multiattack: The fanatic makes two melee attacks
Dagger: +4 to hit, reach of 5 feet when melee, 20/60feet when trowing. Hits 4 (1d4 + 2) piercing damage.
How to use Cult Fanatics as an encounter
These creatures are fun and great villains for a campaign’s start. First, however, there is everything you need to work with. Cult Fanatics in 5e DnD have minions (regular cultists), exciting lore, a motive to do evil, need funds for the cult, and often have beasts, demons, or familiars to aid them in battle. So here are a couple of story hooks and ideas for your encounter.
Don’t underestimate their power
If you are an experienced DM and are DMing with some new players, do not underestimate the power of the cult fanatic. They have some pretty exciting spells to work with, and if they have followers, this creature can use some advanced tactics.
The average adventuring party of level 3 will have no problem beating one. However, adventurers of level 2 or 1 will struggle even more so when they can rely on loyal cultists to aid them in battle.
Throw in some cultists into the mix
A cult fanatic should not be alone unless you manage to surprise him. Regular cultists are a great way to make the fight a bit more challenging. The regular variant is weak and only uses melee, so often, they are nothing more than bodies to soak attacks and damages. However, nothing stops you from giving them buffs with weak cantrips like the Lightning Lure.
Have them charm innocent villagers to attack/harass, players
Cults are always looking for new members and funds to expand their influence. Often they use manipulation, violence, and even magic to gain followers. However, if they are starved for funds, they will not hold back and steal, deceive and sell illicit herbs and items into villages.
Have cult family members help your players
It isn’t farfetched that the family members of cult members detest what the cult has done to their family. However, if their sons or daughters have been recruited into the cult or they have had negative experiences with the cult fanatic pressuring them, they will surely aid you in taking down the cult.
How to fight Cult fanatics
Watch out for their spells
The main danger when fighting a cult fanatic comes from their magic abilities. They have access to many spells that they can cast from afar while their allies are holding you at bay. Having a solid frontliner that can tank the melee hits of multiple weaker cultists is essential here.
Get allies on your side
Cults are often not all that popular amongst those who have been in touch with them. However, the surrounding villages and those that lost family members to the cult fanatics’ wrath and recruitment will be more than happy to help with items, information, and maybe even combat itself.
Be smart about your surroundings
Cults will often have headquarters or a place where they gather. This location is sure to have at least some protection. They might have monsters there that could protect them and align with their cults like Fire Snakes. Regular guard dogs are also possible. It would not be too far out of the ordinary that there are multiple (magical) traps too.
What is a good background for a cult fanatic?
There are many fitting backgrounds for a cult fanatic in DnD. You can have one who is a true believer who was saved as a child by the cult or has been brainwashed for years. Of course, you can also have one with a charlatan background who uses the cult to amass power and coin for himself.
Can you use the cult Fanatic as a boss?
Yes, a cult fanatic makes an excellent first boss in a beginner campaign. They are not too powerful but still have fun mechanics and spells you can use as a DM. If you want to make the encounter more challenging, I suggest you give him 2 or 3 regular cultists to aid him in battle.
Final thoughts and advice
Using a cult fanatic as a Dungeon Master is as fun as fighting one as a player. While they are weak, many narratives can be told, and you can always give them a buff. Make sure you buff them by providing other spells that are not too strong or by giving them 2 or 3 other cultists.
Make sure that you also keep in mind the influence of the cult on nearby villages and the family members of cultists. Are they being negatively affected by them, or are they also believers?
Here are some other guides that might help you out when you are DMing for a beginning party or are starting your D&D adventure: