I realized not long ago that most of my helpful little riffs assume that your minions are some sort of organization or army. It’s nice, I suppose, but I know we don’t all work that way; just because the Management is hip-deep in military and deeper in bureaucracy doesn’t mean she gets to jump to conclusions either. But what alternatives are there?
Well… there are cults. Particularly if you’re dealing with low magic overall, high magic disparity, high knowledge disparity (particularly if either of the latter two are in your favor, of course), just plain suggestible people, or a mixture of the above. You don’t need to have them worshiping you, either—as long as you’re the intermediary between them and whatever being it is they’re praying to (or you’re the power behind the intermediary, for added security when the heroes come a-knocking), they will follow the rules you lay down.
We Hands of Darkness like cultists for a number of reasons. First off is the fact that they’re pretty easy to mold into fanatics, and fanatics are, well, fanatically loyal, as long as you aren’t deviating from whatever they consider The Cause to be. They don’t expect pay as such, the way armies do, and it’s pretty easy to get them in on a ritual. They’re a lot less likely to ask why than paid employees are, and are statistically likelier to take the initiative than soldier-mooks when deprived of their immediate superiors. As an added bonus, they have an easier time switching in and out of uniform than most minions: the standard-issue cloak (usually black, as much to hide blood stains as to tell out their allegiance to the Darkness) and various occult accoutrements can be stowed in their gear when they need to be subtle, meaning that all you have to do is make sure that they know that proselytizing is a wait-for-later activity and that dropping the name of their god in everyday conversation where unbelievers can hear is probably a bad idea and they’ll blend in. Mostly. The mental instabilities many of them are prone to stand out, yes, but that obvious a mental instability is like blue hair; people notice it and forget the face that’s contorting with it.
Of course, the catch to this is that if they ever find themselves with divided loyalties between you and their divine figure (or if you’re claiming to be their divine figure and they catch you in the lie—we’ll come back to that in a later installment), the torches, the pitchforks and the ceremonial sharp things with the ludicrous curving blades are probably coming straight for you. Likewise, if they’re ambitious and they doubt your credentials, you have to worry about their attempting to request a promotion with sharp instruments and silver bowls. And if you ever find yourself needing to make an about-face on some point of order that you’ve made a part of Doctrine, you’re probably going to need an actual miracle to get it to stick.
There’s a lot more to the raising and feeding of cultists than this, but it’s best to know what you want before you start trying to implement it.