Sory i was going to respond to you, but them i simply forget somehow. :-/
Maybe the lack of companions pulling for the cult path will change when more are introduced, I just find that odd since these are supposedly the evil companions that we have (or just evilest, since I don't think Gale and Wyll are all that evil, and to my mind, the jury is still out on Shadowheart being all that evil).
I dare to presume that sentence was suppose to continue and say something like "evil companions that we have ... dont encourage us to follow this path."
And i agree, as i said earlier there is lot of pressure on both Tav and Player to follow certain path (help the Tieflings) ... wich also come with zero consequences for us (i think both Lae'zel and Astarion should at least concider leaving us, i mean i would not mind if there would be persuation option to keep them, but they should be pissed off at least ... Lae'zel bcs we are wasting our time instead of pushing for Creche, wich is our only vital option in her eyes ... and Astarion bcs he hates the idea that we would be helping everyone and anyone on our future path).
The problem here is that i cant quite imagine any reasonable NPC that would encourage us. :-/
I mean i can ... but they are either Drow Male, or Goblinoid, or something simmilar ...
Most reasons i usualy use as an argument for following this path and join Goblins works only for main character and when used on NPC, they would imediatly give him "potential traitor" mark on his forehead.
As for your comment on character ambitions, my problem there isn't your character thinking you can outplay the cult, it's that what you stand to gain by outplaying them isn't at all clear. It doesn't entirely feel like you get to learn much about them until you're already there in their base doing stuff, and I'm not entirely sure how you could reasonably get there unless you'd already agreed to go find Halsin.
Well, yes ... you do get your informations when you get to the camp.
That a problem?
I mean you were quite oblivious, when you accepted this contract ... only when you enter the camp, and pray around a little you can fully understand how high stakes are here.
And about timeline, it fits to either after you either help Sazza or after you allready agreed to go find Halsin ...
Wich dont seem like and issue to me, since for powerhungry evil traitorous character, such agreement means as much as personal higiene for those Goblins.
After all, this is what being evil is (or rather can be) in my eyes ... see and opourtunity and use it.
Maybe if they tweaked that meeting with the True Soul and his followers from early on so that when you and he meld minds, you get a better sense of the cult, that would make more sense to me. I wouldn't want that mind meld to give you all the information, but having that be when you learn that True souls are respected in the cult, maybe get a vague sense of how far-reaching it is, and where their base is, that would give clearer impetus to go there. As it stands, you don't actually learn much from that encounter beyond the fact that the cult exists in some form.
Well, no, just no ... this asumption is wrong:
Its not explicitly said, that is true ... but once you are marked as "True Soul" the two followers are imediatly concider themself as your subordinate ... therefore you logicaly should presume that True Souls are supperior in this cult.
Also every single goblin starts to grovel, once your reveal your tadpole power to them.
Once you reach the camp, you find out there are 3 more True Souls, and they all are leaders.
Also if you listen to Gut, as she marks the followers, she litteraly tells them that they will not "hear the Absolute, since that would be too much for their weak brain ... only a True Souls are strong enough" or something like that, im only paraphrasing.
I dare to say that all informations you need are there, you just need to read the contexts.
Based on what you see, you don't have much reason to believe the group is meaningfully organized or powerful or a thing you can join.
Except they allready control Selune temple, Blighted Willage, and half of Underdark, they succesfully raided Waukeen's Rest and Tollhouse, and are threatening Druid Grove. O_o
Seems powerfull enough to me.
Especialy if you compare that to group of Tieflings and Druids that for one are trying to rip each other throat out ... and for two are hidint in their home hoping nobody will notice them.
About organisation ...
Im not sure why would you even care, what True Soul comand, they obey ... that is all organisation you need.
And about joining ...
I mean when you speak with Gut, Ragzlin and Minthara, they all presume you joined them allready ... i think this option cannot be clearer.
Basically you don't have much reason to seek them out and try to join them until you're already there, no reason to think that infiltrating and trying to take them over would be an excercise worth your time. It's all well and good to leave room for the player's imagination, but if you leave too much to the player's imagination then it's not going to be a coherent, cohesive story anymore.
Yes, i agree ... and that is what i like about it.
Its not like the world is full of signs "Uncle Dror wants YOU to join the Absolute cult."
So you indeed dont seek them out (unless you are metagaming) but once you get there, no matter why ... you can be searching for Halsin, you can be brought there by Sazza, you can just search for the Nightsong (aka entrance to the Underdark for the Nightsong), or you could simply take wrong turn when you were searching for Auntie Ethel, who promised to help you.
Possibilities are endless.
Also, speaking about Sazza ...
I believe she were advertising the cult quite well.
This also makes your comparison to the lack of guarantee with the Halsin quest weaker, because it's not as though you ever reach a moment where you have to stop and think "do I try and find Halsin or go with the cult?" It's more like "I could try and find Halsin. Also th goblins that took him turn out to be part of a weird cult I don't get any opportunity to learn much about."
Not sure what do you mean ...
But i believe i have seen both cases ... it all depends on how do you play.
You can either rush for Halsin and ignore others, or you can just mess around and gather intel first ... you also can totally free Halsin first and find out that he is certainly not willing to help you right now, actualy he is acting quite avoidable to be honest, take it to context with Lae'zel claiming that no druid great talent or healing skills would be able to help you ...
Yet another reason for you to try this other option is there.
You make some good points about why some characters would join the cult, but most of your points hinge on the assumption that the cult can actually do something about the tadpoles.
Yup it is just assumption, even tho i would say its quite strong one supported by many unspoken but present facts ... but my point is that it should be just assumption, that is one of things i like about this most ... your character should be willing to risk it, when s/he will follow this path ... this isnt and never was ment to be path for people who want to see clear goal before they even start.
My problem with that assumption is that no one in the cult knows they've got tadpoles.
Yup, that is your advantage.
Just as Gale points out.
So there's no way to know if they can actually control it, if they're being actively used by Mindflayers or the Absolute, or if, like us, their tadpoles have just been postponed somehow and will still transform them eventually.
That is the risk of bussines.
As bodybuilders often say: No pain, no gain.
I mean we know they are controling it, since just as we do, they get special powers unrelated to their classes ... i mean, i believe that our characters should be able to figure out that some powers they are using are not standard.
So there certainly IS some power for us to take in game.
The risk of them being used by someone, or something ... yes that is certainly there, and its essential part in "outsmart someone in his own game".
You need some power character who thinks that s/he is controlling things ... otherwise there is nobody to outsmart.
So i dare to say that our characters should be counting with this option, but concidering it as "acceptable risk" (or be ready to faint away once it become unacceptable risk
Last point is little slipery ...
We dont even know if we will transform eventually after all ... i mean everyone presumes it (except Omeluum) but only bcs that is "standard progression" of our curent condition.
And they all admits (except Ethel, she just states she dont want to have any business with us) that our case is allready atypical, so its quite possible that same rules dont aply on us ... sometimes they even admits that they dont allready.
That is why my characters use other True Souls as "transformation indicator" ... i mean, they clearly have this tadpole longer than i do ... since i never seen them on the ship, and i dont quite believe that they would be able to create such powerbase in few days. Therefore ... while Ragzlin, Minthara, Gut and Nere are not turning, presuming that our transformation was only delayed, i should be fine.
I don't really think that it makes sense for most characters to fully disregard the threat of the tadpoles until they have some concrete answers as to what's going on with it.
I dont think they do ...
Its just different approach.
Like having a Tiger if your house ... you can either shoot him, or try to make a friend out of him.
One path is clearly much easier, and certainly safer.
But the other provides potential benefits the first one dont, but it certainly include some risks.
(Dont take it litteraly, its just example ...)
And the cult very specifically lack those answers.
And i think that is intentional.
And certainly hope it will never change, since it would ruin the whole scene.
I hate to bring real religion to this topic, but there is some example i think could be used here:
My favourite religion paradox:
Do you know what is the only thing that would completely destroy religion? Proof of Gods existence.
It might seem like a nonsence, but hear me out:
Base definition of believe is that you need to have option to doubt. You dont need to doubt actively, but the option needs to be present ... if you cant doubt, you dont believe, you know.
(This concept was greatly used in Constantine)
Therefore if anyone would give you undeniable proof that God never existed ... you can easily refuse it, claiming that they probably forget, or didnt concidered something (you dont even need to specify).
BUT! (And this is a big butt!)
Once that person would give you undeniable proof of existence of God ... you can no longer believe ... and you cant even deny it, since that would be the mentioned paradox. Denying proof of existence of entity in wich existence you believe.
(yes im aware that there is multiple religions in the world, but that is irellevant, this example logicaly presume that every person would be offered proof that HIS god is or was real)
And the same would happen here.
Once we would have those answers present and undeniable, we would no longer "try to outsmart someone in his own shady game" ... we would instead "follow different clearly marked road to certain goal" and that would be shame.
We do know that their mark allows access to extra powers, but we don't know why and we get no opportunities to try and figure it out beyond "it's the goddess."
We dont know that even in our own powers.
Same story as abowe.
Also i believe we will find out later in game, the question is whether it will not be too late to change your mind.
What makes it worse for me is that the circumstances of our infiltration make it to where we can't actually ask questions that would give us all this information. There should at least be journals and bits of text we can find that give us more insight.
I mean if you want clear path, you have it ... just help Halsin and Tieflings for your own selfish benefits and evilness of your character should be satisfied.
This path is not for "just evil" characters ...
Its more like for "intriguing, treacherous, backstabbing evil characters ... willing to risk everything, for option of their personal gain".
The fact that they're in the dark about being tadpoled means that it's even more likely they're being manipulated by some mysterious entity you know nothing about. If they did know they were tadpoled then that at least puts them in a position of potentially having more information than you, thus making them a somewhat reliable source of information. But as it is now, the information they actually have is shrouded behind superstition you have to work to uncover alongside all the other work you need to do.
I disagree here.
They do have more information mo matter how much you potentialy dislike it, the only difference there is that they are not telling your straight if you ask.
Minthara say: "Godess will reward us."
Tav hear: "My tadpole will become stronger."
And that is the cool part.
Of course Tav can missinterpreting, im really looking forward to if Larian will have guts to let some of us cross point of no return.
Infiltrating a cult is long term work, probably a project involving months spent ingratiating yourself, figuring out who you can manipulate and how.
But since you are concidered True Soul, you are litteraly starting in at least upper middle of food chain here.
Ultimately my issue with the Cult path is that it doesn't feel like a path written in a way that I don't find appealing, as someone who's encountered plenty of evil paths in games which didn't appeal to them, I can understand that. This feels like a badly written path.
Honestly, this is probably what i like most about it.
Not sure if that is bad writing, or brilliant one ... but it feels realistic and right to me that the path isnt actively appealing on us.
I mean in real cult they would also not offering themselves to us, we would either play along or being destroyed.