Bell Digest vol10p05-1.txt
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Date: Mon, 20 Dec 93 00:10:33 +0100
Subject: Volume 10, no 5: Paul Honigmann update (includes quiz)
Resent-Date: Sun, 19 Dec 1993 19:06:08 -0800
Resent-From: Shannon Appel
Paul Honigmann - Elves
Fire/Sky religious knowledge test
cult of Yara Aranis
thoughts on White Moon
Forwarded through Mark Buckley (Mystic Musk Ox).
Notes on RQ-Tekumel:
I've received Sandy's Ascii-script. It is *long*,
and when we can resolve some copyright issues, there
may be even more (this involves monster descriptions
During the next week, I will reformat the text as
appropriate for the Digest.
It appears most of you can't read... I asked for
response from those people who did NOT want to receive
these rules. Instead, the daily and my mailbox overflow
with responses from people who *do* want to receive it...
So far I did receive two exclusion requests. If
you definitely do *not* want to receive 100kbytes -
five full-size daily/digest parts - say so now.
May your gods be with you,
From: Paul Honigmann, Oxford, UK
Date: 2 Dec 93
COMMENTS FOLLOWING FROM REPLIES TO LAST RQ DIGEST ENTRY:
Graeme Lindsell - I like your Elf Antibody idea. Also, your point
that elves' metabolisms are much faster than plants', so they should have
vital organs, is much more reasonable than my "plants can take more damage
than animals" argument. Thanks for the feedback.
David Dunham - you spotted the flaw in my "Aldryami don't like straight
lines" concept, ie, arrows need to be straight. Actually this had occurred to
me, but I decided not to complicate the flow of my last RQ Digest entry by
bowing to mere logic as I liked the idea so much! Sometimes one can carry
consistency a bit far, like when it contradicts your own argument. Perhaps my
nom de plume should be Legion.
The point about "towering trees" is good, can I plead poetic license
Further thoughts on Aldryami: Dryads probably double their body weight
in Autumn as they stuff themselves stupid preparing for their Winter Sleep.
"What's that snuffling noise in the bush?" "Only a dryad foraging." In Spring
they emerge, slim and sprightly again, from their tree, and 'in Season'.
Also, It struck me that a Black Dryad, related to Dark Elves, might be
an interesting NPC. Can anyone suggest any really weird personality traits,
or powers such a creature might have? I don't mean combat powers, but ones
that PC's might notice if they were trying to figure out what this "woman"
FIRE/SKY RELIGIOUS KNOWLEDGE TEST
[this was written before FGS introduced the Yelmalio / Elmalio heresy.]
Your name, cult & level:
1. Who are Yelmalio's siblings?
2. What was Rashoran's other name?
3. Who was Yelmalio's mother?
4. Who are Yelm's brothers, sister and father?
5. What is Lux?
6. What is the Sun Dragon?
7. Who was Basko?
8. What relation to Yelmalio is Dendara?
9. Name the Lowfires and their properties.
10. Who was Yelm's steed?
11. Who was Yamsur's steed?
12. Who was the founder of the cult of Yelmalio?
13. Who enslaved Lodril?
14. Who was Togtuvai?
15. What was the Sunstop?
16. What was the Yelmalion attitude to the Empire of the Wyrms Friends?
17. What was the Yelmalion attitude to the Dara Happan Empire?
18. Who is Jokbazi?
19. Who shattered Yelm's Shield of Purity?
20. Who struck the Three Blows of Anger, and what happened?
21. What were the 5 phases of Yelm's life?
22. What is the Yelm / Yelmalio attitude to Xiola Umbar cultists?
23. What is the Yelmalio cult attitude to Humaktis?
24. Which musical instrument is most closely associated with Yelm?
25. What are Caladra and Aurelions' favourite gems?
26. What kind of gem is most sacred to Yelmalio?
27. Which races may join Yelmalio?
28. Which spells are prohibited to Yelmalions?
29. Can a Light Son wear red underpants?
30. What happens when a Light Son meets a Wind Lord?
31. A Yelmalion sees dwarves fighting trolls. What does he do?
32. You are a Sun Dome Templar guarding your temple when an injured
Jack'o'Bear runs into the temple with some Storm Bulls after it, and
asks for help. What would you do?
33. What is the Yelmalion attitude to bats?
34. What would a Fire/Sky cultist think of a black flame, and why?
35. Where is the Land of the Bright Dead?
36. Where are the Halls of Light?
37. What is the cult rune metal for Yelorna?
38. What does a Light Rune look like?
39. Describe the Yelmalio cult's burial customs.
40. Name the 4 most important priests in a Sun Dome Temple, and briefly
describe their responsibilities.
41. What is special about Bikhy?
42. What are a Light Son's dietary restrictions?
43. Describe Yelmalion table manners when rune levels are present.
44. What are the marriage restrictions on Light Priests?
45. What is a Shanasse?
46. What do Yelornans worship?
47. What is a Lightfore?
48. What are Aether's properties?
49. What are the benefits of Illumination?
You ask if there's a cult weapon for Storm Bull. The answer is, not
really, but as SB is normally followed by Barbarians, and the deity is meant
to be almost animal-like in its appearance (and arguably intelligence - it
always relied on sheer raw power and determination in its fights) most Storm
Bull PC's I've met used their tribal weapons. This tends to preclude high-tech
items like well made swords, the majority have axes and/or spears. I've also
seen maces used by SB's. Scimitars are definitely out.
I've also known one or two who liked to use the horns traditionally
fixed to their helms as a backup weapon at close quarters, even one who got
into a butting contest with a broo after being disarmed. He was losing,
however, until others came to his rescue.
NPC / MONSTER IDEAS
Here are some ideas you may care to develop for your own campaign:
- a SIZ-Tapped giant, looks like a normal human (perhaps with very
wrinkly skin) but has unforeseen combat abilities.
- a SIZ-Tapped Orlanthi priest, rides around on his Shadow Cat looking for
sorcerers to Teleport 1 mile into the air, from ambush.
- Intelligent Krarshtkids (it's only in RQ3 that they're nonsentient) who
have spells - Ironhand, Protection, Healing, Chomping and Venom Bite... they
might also join the associate cult Primal Chaos and sacrifice for Chaos
Feature / ability to control nonsentient chaots, though if you consider them
as part of Krarsht herself that's going too far.
- A Witch, 7th daughter of a 7th daughter, who has few normal spells but
can do magic by entirely RQ-unconventional means: sticking pins in dolls is a
bit stereotyped, I suggest she simply *wills* something (healing, commanding
animals, whip up rain, exorcise spirit, summon something, freeze PC in place
if they attack) - I tried this with a nice witch, she had a POW% chance of
most effects working. She was viewed with great suspicion by the cults &
authorities because she was not controlled by them - she was some upstart
peasant who could do things they couldn't. Also adds flavour to Romany types.
A useful contact if you have an incurable disease, need to find someone, want
to remove a curse.
- A vampire dragonewt with a zombie tyrannosaur steed
- A Chalana Arroy healer who is only in it for the money
- A vampire trollkin who particularly likes preying on trolls
THE CULT OF SLIMESTONE
Someone once told me of a campaign where they fought the inhabitants of
Slimestone, in Dorastor. I hope they don't mind me repeating the ideas here,
but I thought they were worth recording for posterity:
Slimestone is where the biggest gorp in the world lives. (These days
one would immediately think "Pochargno!" but I was told about this long before
I saw any reference to that cult; the GM of this campaign had to think up
things for himself.) The gorp is worshipped as a god to propitiate it by the
broo village nearby. If anyone wanders by, they are thrown into the "lake" by
the village if the broo need a sacrifice. Should the passersby prove tougher
than expected, the villagers cast a Divine spell and jump into the "lake".
Their POW and HP are added to its. Out it rolls, spitting spells (it now has
lots of spells) and bears down like a wall of acid on the victims. Later, it
spits out the worshippers unharmed.
Other spells in the cult's armoury turn a worshipper into an individual
gorp for 15 minutes, or double a gorp's acid potency.
LUNAR CULT OF YARA ARANIS
I've had a few ideas on Yara Aranis, the barbarian killer. First, the
Pent nomads are brutal and tough, but honourable. I suspect that some YA
cultists might respect them a lot - one of our NPC YA's has sat round their
camp fires, negotiating with them, and tells tales of their wild, raw nature
so perfectly suited to their land, backed by an iron code of honour. But he
still considers them deadly foes and has no qualms about killing them if
If Yanafil Tarnils is the honourable / disciplined war god, and Danfive
Xaron is the desperado war god, then in order to be a major cult YA must
fill some niche the other two don't. And, it is probably one more relevant to
the Eastern border than other areas.
I suggest that YA is much more involved with horses than the other two
war cults of the Empire. (Come to think of it, I always think of the Lunars as
being like the Romans, who were mainly infantry.) Horses are neccessary for
maneuverability on the plains of Pent, and mobility is a neccessary element
of strategy against the Pentans. This is a bit of a contradiction within the
cult, as one of Yara's titles is Horse Eater, but so what.
The Redlands seem to be a collection of farmers with a weak
government (if any). They can't support a highly organised army. This implies
to me that YA's cult is designed to work around small units of militia, only
occasionally organising into large armies. Thus far, it mirrors the Pentan
barbarians' own organisation.
However, the cult has been very successful against the Pentans, so it must
have some key advantage(s). I imagine the main one is metal armour. However,
too much will restrict maneuverability so it's only usually on torso and head.
Similarly, tempered scimitars will be a far superior weapon to wooden spears
and crude axes, etc in the Pentan armoury.
Yet the Pentans have advantages, too. They are better horsemen; they'll
likely have better horse archery skills; and better camouflage skills.
I suggest the YA's have a technique to upset the Pentans' horses -
YARA'S BREATH (Throw Horse, etc): Spirit magic, 2 points
This spell acts a bit like a Demoralise on a horse. The user must succeed
in a POW vs POW roll against the horse. Success means the horse becomes uneasy
and the rider must make a Ride roll each round to control it. The origin of
the spell lies in the fear of Yara Aranis, the horse eating demon, the equine
race has aquired: the spell recreates her smell to the horse.
LIMITATIONS: Only half chances of working against other animals. YA's
odour must have been 'recharged' within the last month at a YA shrine, in a
ritual lasting an hour, or the caster cannot bring it to mind. For this
reason, the spell is not often taught outside the cult, even to other Lunars.
Whilst I'm on about new spells, the Red Goddess used her
knowledge of Multispell to craft this spell for Yara Aranis:
TWOSWORD (Doubledge, Yara's Talons etc) - variable:
This is like Bladesharp, but it works on two scimitars simultaneously.
You need 2MP to power Twosword-1, 8MP for Twosword-4, etc. It only works on
scimitars. In addition to the Bladesharp effect, it raises your scimitar
attack in your 'off' hand to the same as that in your 'good' hand. Likewise
for parries - the lower is raised.
(The first few rounds usually decide the fight, the faster you can
cast your spells the better.)
Other YA spells: GLOWSPOT, like the Crimson Bat - after all, she is
Goddess of the Reaching Moon; SPROUT ARM, allowing the user to weild more
than two weapons, like YA.
The Redlands' lack of organisation means the Lunars there are unlikely to
have their usual organised magic advantage over the shamen of Pent. The YA
militia will have some rune magic (Shield, Truesword, Summon Lune, Multispell,
and Extension spring to mind; perhaps Spirit Block, to protect against the
shamens' spirits; Worship YA of course) and Spirit magic (as above and,
Mobility, Healing-2, Demoralise, Spirit Shield, Protection, Countermagic,
Detect Magic and Silver, Dispel Magic, Light, Multimissile and Bladesharp). I
doubt they have access to sorcerers, though they probably have a few
followers of the Red Goddess with her own brand of it.
Most temples to YA will be widely separated: one large Temple to the
Reaching Moon in each country the Lunars have conquered. After conversion, the
need for her lesser temples in an area dwindles as it is a frontier cult, so
the only area where she has a substantial number of subsidiary shrines at
present is the Redlands, where her cult's skills are much in need. These
report to the Major Temple at Ularis, in the Redlands. This temple, of course,
is undergoing the ceremonies to extend the Glowline.
I've been toying with a full write-up of the Cult of YA recently. Anyone
want to see an unofficial Cult description?
NEW MONSTER: THE DRONE
This tedious creature likes to lurk in the deeper recesses of the
Internet. It worships a chaos deity called Rules and obeys the following
general principle: However much stuff of actual worth there is on the RQ
Daily, there is 10 times as much waffle about Rules to plough through.
There are various sub-cults worshipping different aspects: The Cult of
RQ4, The Cult of Heroquest, and The Cult of Sorcery Rules are the major ones.
Within these factions there is bitter infighting, which is probably why they
haven't produced anything concrete for years. The last great action of the
cult vomited forth the Curse of RQ3 (Yes, I am a member of an obscure sub-sect
called the Cult of the Invisible RQ2), though there are rumours that another
great Curse is to be visited on us for our sins. Repent, the end of the
world is nigh!
Ancient prophecy of Shub-Niggurath the Crazed, shortly before eating a
gorp and imploding: "When the ten-thousandth rule change has passed the gates
of Avalon and Chaos rules Glorantha, when the world has been overrun by
hordes of hobbits with chainsaws squeaking their loathsome war-cry "AD&D!" and
the honest Referee is lost in a maze of tables and dice rolls For Every
Eventuality, then will come a Hero by the name of troL Konens, who will set
the world aright." But will he grasp the opportunity and bravely hack through
the excess garbage to a simple, structured, playable rule system?
That's enough ranting from my RQ2 Liberation Front personality, now:
MYTHOLOGICAL ENGINEERING AND THE WHITE MOON
There's been a lot of noise in recent months on theological feedback, such
as the Yelmalio / Elmalio heresy: a group of worshippers of one cult decided
to change their god's nature, and by heroquests 'created' an alternate
cult mythos which resulted in a new version of the god, including
changes to his history.
Another example, is the changes in worshipped deities in Pent - after
the nomads' complete defeat by the Lunars, and retreat to the depths of Pent,
they experimented with new gods. Their shamen summoned new / forgotten /
previously despised spirits or gods, and some Yelm-based tribes began
worshipping them in hope of finding a more successful path to follow.
Curiously enough, a century or so later they reappear on the Lunar border, but
now the tribesmens' culture is so completely changed that they claim never to
have heard of the Nights of Horror. Sounds to me like some spirit(s) has been
raised to the status of a god, supplanting Yelm in the tribesmens' life, and
the whole legend structure / mythos / actual real history of the tribes has
changed to the new "cult's". (Don't take this idea about what's happening in
Pent as The Truth. It's a theory that fits the facts, but Pent is such a
complex mix of tribes, spirits, cults, and fluid politics that it may only be
true for some tribes, if any.)
I read a reference somewhere - I think it was that snippet on Heroquests
at the back of Elder Secrets - that mentioned the Lunars have changed the
'mythological landscape' of Peloria thoroughly. Another reference mentioned
the God Learners did a lot of this - swapping Earth goddesses springs to mind.
And everyone knows the Lunars use propaganda and heroquests to change the gods
worshipped in conquered provinces to non-hostile versions: the official line
is that the Goddess marries the deity, or accepts them into her pantheon, or
the people are taught how the god is in fact a 'partial' aspect of another
and the Lunars wish to heal them (into the complete Lunar version). And lo,
when the people believe this story, it indeed becomes so. Makes you wonder if
Deezola is the same human Mother she started out as, all this absorbing of
Earth goddesses must be a two-way thing affecting her personality.
So: if the Red Goddess is trying to geld Orlanth by subverting his
worshippers, she'll win the Hero Wars. Missionary priests are important to
cults, as is stamping out enemy dogma. It's another level on which the Hero
Wars are being fought. You can see why the Yelm pantheon is friendly with the
Lunars - if Orlanth is tamed, the Golden Age will return. Contrariwise, most
other gods revel in the freedom and power they have out of Yelm's control: so
there's a consensus among them to accuse the Lunars of meddling with chaos,
which is just about the only thing that can get some worshippers to work
together. This is the pot calling the kettle black! The Lunars are as keen to
stamp out destructive chaots as anyone, if they can't be cured (eg through
Illumination). They only allow chaos to live among them if it's harmless.
Isn't this exactly what the elder gods did in the Great Compromise? And before
you whinge that they were forced into it, remember that even their most rabid
worshippers will accept chaos as intrinsically harmless if they *think* about
it (ie, are Illumined). You next, Orlanth! And so what if the Lunars have
broo soldiers? The tribes of Prax form alliances with them too! (See note
But the Red Goddess isn't the only one to use mythological reality-bombs.
Someone has started the White Moon movement, which is a group of citizens
dedicated to the ideal of the Moon actually being a peaceful goddess forced
to defend herself. They believe if she stops her expansion through force, her
enemies will respect her pacifist intentions and she can then heal the world
through proselytisation, not armies. Presumably, as the movement gains
members, a spot of White on the far side of the Moon is growing... of course,
if the Empire stops attacking Orlanthis, the bandit king Argrath and his ilk
will be well pleased. I wonder who started it all? And isn't there something
called Invisible Orlanth gaining importance in that area?
If you don't believe the Praxians sometimes ally with the broo, I refer
you to the RQ2 boxed set Borderlands, Referee's Handook p.23, top right
corner. This article on broos is reproduced in the RQ3 River of Cradles
publication, p.30-33, but the relevant paragraph has been deleted in the RQ3
version. For the benefit of those without the Borderlands booklet: the missing
paragraph mentions that as the Tribes are always fighting each other, and the
broo packs are a significant force in Prax, and the tribes cannot afford to
have Mallians on their enemy tribes' side, they perforce make alliances with
I only noticed the change when I decided to check my statements above. I
wonder why this paragraph has been missed out? The rest of the article seems
intact, indeed expanded upon. But of late there has been a worrying shift in
published Gloranthan material: "Orlanth good, Lunars bad". The Praxians are
portrayed as noble savages rather than chauvinistic, uneducated, bigoted
berserking bandits who'd as soon cut your throat as say hello. Oops, did I
offend somebody? So tell me - where did 90% of your barbarian characters'
wealth and magic items come from?
This lack of flexibility in outlook is also seen in, say, the otherwise
excellent Sun County publication. Someone has given it a subtly different
slant to the one I would prefer. It's as if they've said, "here's a weird cult
you could try role-playing or interacting with"; the cult write-up and the
adventures are written as if by someone who always plays Orlanthis, has no
sympathy for the Sun Domers and finds their beliefs comical.
I think this gives readers a biased 'feel' for the cult. If you play a
Templar, their quirks are a matter of serious belief.
So what? you say. I am moaning because throughout the RQ3 world,
non-Orlanthis' motives and actions seem to be treated unsympathetically and
from a heavily Orlanth-biased viewpoint. That King of Sartar book didn't help,
I just hope FGS brings out the Lunar version soon to make people start
Further examples of Storm cultists using chaos are: Sartar allying
with the Telmori; propitiatory worship of Malia, eg in Cults of Terror;
cooperating with Lunars versus common enemies such as Thanatari; PC's who
keep gems found growing in chaots; Sartar rebels living in the Pavis Rubble
who kill Lunars entering instead of cooperating to exterminate the more
chaotic inhabitants, whom they use as a 'shield'; and many other cases of
expediency overcoming absolute cult dictates.
Rant, snort, RQ2 forever, old fogies unite! and throw off the yoke of
crypto-capitalist Storm cultist oppression.
If anyone wishes to send me a personalised threat in response to my views,
please E-mail it to Mark Buckley who has kindly put this on the 'net for me.
- Paul "Red is Right" Honigmann