Bell Digest v931028p3

From: RuneQuest-Request@Glorantha.Holland.Sun.COM (RQ Digest Maintainer)
To: RuneQuest@Glorantha.Holland.Sun.COM (Daily automated RQ-Digest)
Reply-To: RuneQuest@Glorantha.Holland.Sun.COM (RuneQuest Daily)
Subject: RuneQuest Daily, Thu, 28 Oct 1993, part 3
Precedence: junk


From: (Chris Pearce)
Subject: Nysalor riddles
Message-ID: <>
Date: 25 Oct 93 08:36:28 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 2109

Allan Henderson asks:

I have recently been running a game where Gabji riddlers have been appearing and
attempting to spread the word covertly. This is all very well and makes for an 
game of intrigue and suspicion, but the one thing that lets me down is inventing
the riddles. All my recent attempts could be used as light humour rather than 
the spread of an evil(?) god. Does anyone have good riddles out there ?.

I reply:

In the campaign in which I am playing, Nysalor riddles aren't riddles,
per se, but rather mind puzzles to be contemplated in the search for
enlightenment. As such, there is a ready-made real-life source--any of
numerous books about Zen Buddhism that present koans. 

Koans are mind puzzles that Zen masters use to free the minds of their 
students from preconceptions. They don't really have correct answers,
but they must be understood in order to achieve enlightenment. That
seems like a contradiction, and it is. Zen thrives on inherent
contradictions. How can one pass through a gateless gate? What is the
sound of one hand clapping? 

Zen also holds that enlightenment cannot be communicated through
words. In part, the riddles are meant to teach students to forsake logical
thought based on the constraints of language. A Zen riddle is like a poem.
It communicates more than its words convey.

Here is another famous koan:

Does a dog have Buddha-nature?

Mumon's annotation:

Does a dog have Buddha nature?
This is the most important question.
If you answer yes or no,
you lose your own Buddha-nature.

Because of the contemplative nature of these riddles, they don't really
adapt well to a GM-player adversarial or challenge format. You'll get
strange, slightly offended looks from your players, if you present a koan
as a standard riddle, in all likelihood. If you have
players who are interested in following(?) Nysalor, then it would be best
to present the riddles in one session and then see what the players have
figured out about them in another session... 

Anyway, I think that the Nysalor riddles were meant to have been
interpreted as Zen koan all along, though I wonder if any RQ source
material has explicitly indicated so. My character, Naiya, has been
contemplating several Nysalor riddles. Manidea Kar, the newly installed
Lunar High Healer at Pavis (Bloodletter calls her the High Chaos Healer)
enjoys asking these kinds of questions to anyone who will listen. Naiya
has understood some of these questions (and the GM rolls dice every time
Naiya figures out another one! *shudder*), and Bloodletter, in relating
one of Manidea's riddles to Naiya (who is presently in Horngate) had the
earth-shaking experience of *understanding* the riddle he was relating
even as he was telling it.

I have no idea what Illumination is, but it sure is fun to tempt Chaos!

Chris Pearce --
How do you say delicious?                          How do you say delovely? 
How do you say delectable, define?             How do you say - deGORgeous? 
How do you say dewith-it?                            How do you say Delite?


From: (David Dunham  , via RadioMail)
Subject: Vikings Sartar
Message-ID: <>
Date: 25 Oct 93 18:53:08 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 2110


(I couldn't reach you at this address)

>I highly recommend the Usbourne
>  'time-traveller' book of Vikings for sheer character (and characters!)
>  and the How-would-you-survive-as-a-Viking book which is immensely 
>  detailed. (if anyone want's ISBN no's just let me know).

Is Usbourne a publisher or an author? (ISBN number doesn't help me find it
in a library.)

There really don't seem to be many lakes in Sartar. Why this is, I don't
know. There's Skyfall lake, but that's special.

There are hillforts. I believe these have wooden walls.

>I find you
>  cannot create anyone older than 30ish who isn't bordering Rune status.
>  Is everyone of status at least an acolyte? If so my stead ends up with
>  a heap-load of powerful people.

Sounds a bit like my PenDragon Pass campaign. It can happen. Of course, not
everyone becomes an acolyte because of the Test of Holiness (and having to
sacrifice 10 POW). More importantly there's not always a vacancy -- and you
must donate 50% of your time.


Subject: RE: Assorted stuff
Message-ID: <>
Date: 26 Oct 93 13:31:40 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 2114

Sam Phillips
Re: Beginning a Sartar Setting

Read with Great Interest. I'd also love titles and authors on the kid's books
on the Vikings, and ISBNs too, though I don't know if my library computer
accepts them as search keywords.

It is a Crying Shame we don't have a Sartar RQ book out after all these
years. Everyone essentially has to go it pretty much alone. I never had the
courage to do it. My local GM, Paul Harmaty, whipped up a Sartar campaign in
the 1500's but I never got to see the GM background materials on it; we
mostly skimped on setting and focused on action-adventure and clan politics.

Sandy Petersen
Re: Eminently sensible analysis of Gloranthan cults
   You sound so persuasive and coherent in describing Gloranthan religions in
a narrative-expository fashion, but the fact remains that the RQIII rules
imply certain rules-significant judgements to be made from the formal
structures of cults. This business of lay membership and pantheons has
certainly not been resolved to my satisfaction at the level of RQIII rules.
Admittedly, I lean toward the historical models of cults (like Roman
polytheism) and freeform roleplay models in my appreciation of Glorantha
nowadays. Certainly Greg's improvisations scarcely glance at the RQIII rules

Re: Atheists in Glorantha
   Currently I conceive of Vivamort cultists as being bona fide atheists in
Glorantha. In short, Vivamort cultists do not deny the existence of powerful
supernatural beings loose in Glorantha (how could they?), but they claim that
these beings are not gods, but daemons. The connotations of the word
"daemons" here suggest great big spirits that may be propitiated (like gods),
that may do the propitiators big favors (as do the cult gods of Glorantha),
but the Vivamorts say that on the moral level these "daemons" are not gods
because they are 1. moral frauds and 2. big fat liars.
   First, these daemons (Orlanth, the Red Goddess, etc.) pretend to bring
some special insight into morality by presenting ideal models for human
behavior. Vivamort says these squabbling supernatural clowns are no different
from mortals in their moral fiber -- just bigger, louder, and more
   Second, the extensive lines of hooey the various cults are pushing about
the history of the universe make no sense at all. A number of big-time
Vivamort cult figures claim to have lived since before the Dawn Ages and as
eyewitnesses can discount many events reported as truth by various mythos.
(The Vivamort cultists cheerfully admit that they don't have any more
coherent account of history -- not interested, actually.)
   The Vivamort cultists don't have any particular objections to worshipping
daemons; they just think it naive (or possibly hypocritical) to justify an
air of moral superiority based on a commercial transaction with daemons.
   I know, I know... Nobody in Glorantha seems to have heard much about this
particular point of view, but the Vivamort cultists only push this dogma on
prospective recruits.
   By the way, the Vivamort cultists do not deny that a number of persons
called God Learners have joined the Vivamort cult in the past. Vivamorts just
don't keep very good records, and they don't ask a lot of questions at
initiation time.

Ken Rolston


From: (Joerg Baumgartner)
Subject: Humakti=Templars, Alternate Earth
Date: 26 Oct 93 14:25:19 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 2115

Colin Watson in X-RQ-ID: 2086
>Subject: Sorcerous atheism; Humakti Templars

>Sandy Petersen wrote:
>>If the sorcerer is an atheist, he denies  
>>post-death survival, even the existence of a human spirit separate  
>>from the body.

>I find it hard to believe that anyone in Glorantha could be a true atheist.
>Atheism in the real world is based on the lack of (scientific) evidence
>for the existence of gods (as defined by religions). In Glorantha the
>evidence for the existence of Gods is very much In Your Face. It's tricky to
>deny the possiblity of resurrection when the person you saw dead last week
>is alive and well this week.

What I have seen from God Forgot, the atheist sorcerers there have seen 
the making and destruction of a god (Zistor, the Machine God), and have 
"learned" the futility of worship. There might be entities that other 
people worship as gods, but the atheist denies only their godhood, not 
their existence. They are natural phenomenons that happen. (What is 
natural is vewed differently on Glorantha...)

>Given appropriate evidence, I think that sorcerers are more likely to change
>their views than most people. And I think the study of magic would ultimately
>lead them to the truth regarding gods & spirits.

Which truth? The animisic one, or the theistic one?

>Loren J. Miller wrote:
>>Remember that Humakti are RQ's answer to Paladins from the D&D game,
>>and the Gloranthan analogue to Templars and Hospitallers and Teutonic
>>Knights, oh my.

>Your analogy comparing Humakti & Templars is reasonable up to a point, but I'd
>be careful about how much of the game-system you project onto the real-world:

>>If they [Templars] had divine magic they could recover it at any christian

>They never had *anything* remotely similar to RQ Divine Magic, so how can we
>say how things would have been if they did? A Templar could pray in a church,
>on a battlefield, in a barn, up a tree, or in a smoking birch-bark canoe; the
>effects (if any) would be exactly the same (IMHO). RQ characters get markedly
>different effects depending upon where and how they pray.

Why do you stamp down Loren's very sensible suggestions for an Alternate 
Earth background in Outremer? I think that most people on this list think of 
Glorantha as a (very different) Alternate Earth, and compare certain cultures 
on Glorantha with historical cultures of Earth. The Celts didn't have the 
power to call down lightnings, else the Romans would have been roasted. 
Still, most of us are happy to compare them to the Orlanthi culture.

>>[...]This is where I get into trouble with the all-or-nothing way that
>>cults work in RQ. Earthly polytheists will worship any god who can
>>satisfy their needs, and they're not monogamous at all.

>In gaming parlance I suppose they could be termed munchkins. Fortunately,
>the benefits which earthly polytheists gain from their gods are somewhat
>less tangible than the rewards of Gloranthan god-worship in RQ. If earthly
>theists got as much from one god as Gloranthan theists do then I'm sure they'd
>stick by that god as much as necessary. :-)

One fairly polytheist earthly society were the Vikings and their 
ancestors. I know of several incidences where before a battle one tribe 
swore to accept the other tribe's deity as a patron if they win the 
battle - surely a munchkin approach, but if it helped, they were also 
prepared to sacrifice their kings or have them sacrifice their 
children. Read the Vikings box article about the two Margyr summoned by 
one Norwegian king.

>>Initiates, who comprise the
>>vast majority of the adult population, may only worship one god each.

>I've seen several odd statements posted along these lines which I don't quite
>understand. As far as I'm aware there is nothing to stop a character
>from becoming an initiate of several cults so long as he can fulfil the
>requirements of all his cults. Have I missed something?

There is one thing to stop him: time and money. Remember that Bilini 
king from Cults of Terror? Still the number of gods an Orlanthi farmer 
needs to grow a rich harvest is vast Elmal for sun, Heler for Rain, 
Grain Goddess or Ernalda for Earth, Barntar for ploughing, Voriof 
and/or Eiritha for lifestock, Asrelia for storing the harvest...

>I think the best way to simulate pantheism in RQ is to assume that any
>character initiated into one (or more) cult(s) in a pantheon automatically
>has lay-membership in the other cults of the pantheon.

What benefits does this offer?

>Or has lay-membership fallen out of fashion while I've been sleeping?

In RQ3 it simply isn't defined for Glorantha. And see below on the 
question of the Deity/Sant for the job.

>Re: Shamanism FAQ

Henk Langeveld asked about objections vs. Shamanism FAQ?

>Does anyone have any objections against posting the Shamanism
>FAQ list?

Post it!

Sandy Petersen in X-RQ-ID: 2090

>Loren Miller says: 

>> The problem is that RQ cults aren't polytheistic, they're 
>> monotheistic. Initiates, who comprise the vast majority of the 
>> adult population, may only worship one god each.

>I doubt I'll be the only one who calls you on this, Loren, but I  
>don't believe this is so. In the first place, it is possible to be an  
>initiate of multiple gods in RQ (though not necessarily trivial).  
>Also, lay membership (which has somewhat gone by the wayside with the  
>lack of information on this status in RQ III) is mightily available  
>to everyone in the same pantheon. At Ernalda fertility dances,  
>everyone in town participates. When Heler, the puny rain god, has his  
>annual holy day, all the Orlanthi and Ernaldese show up, paint their  
>faces blue, and enjoy the celebration. This is all lay member stuff. 

Then why didn't we get it black on white with RQ3? This is important 
for playing the world, so a mention of these customs should be 
published somewhere. If the RQ4-list is still going, anybody 
volunteering to write up a bit about lay membership to be included?

>To make an imperfect analogy, worshiping Orlanth is more like having  
>a patron saint in Catholicism than it is like being a whole separate  
>religion. There are only a few Religions in Glorantha, these being  
>Orlanthi, Lunar, Praxian, Invisible God, Eastern, etc. 

Having a patron saint/deity: The catholic saints were "invoked" 
whenever their speciality was involved. To safely cross a river one 
prays to Christopherus, for defense against dragons one logically calls 
upon Saint George, etc. Even people "initiated" to one of these saints 
would call upon the Saint for the job rather than a patron, and if 
Divine intervention is asked for, the Saint for the job would have to 
perform the miracle.

>In the stereotypical barbarian family, you (if you're male) worship  
>Orlanth, your wife worships Ernalda. Your jerk cousin who's always  
>getting in fights is a Storm Bull. The town drunk is the Eurmal guy.
>When you go to market in the fall, you sing a hymn to Issaries along  
>the way, hoping to sell your food for a good price and not get  
>cheated in return. When you plant in the spring you worship one of  
>the grain goddesses, plus make a trip to the town Uleria shrine, just  
>to make sure crops are okay. When your son gets pneumonia, you pray  
>to CA, and also take your kid to the town's small Healer shrine. Your  
>clan leader's graybearded advisor specializes in Lhankor Mhy. When  
>you gamble away your money, you call on Eurmal to curse your  
>opponent's dice. When it hasn't been raining, you remember about  
>Heler, and donate a few clacks to his shrine. On dark winter nights,  
>when you're frightened and hear wolves outside, you pray to Argan  
>Argar for protection.

I had the impression that you worship all of them, although the rules 
don't say so. RQ2-Companion tells us that most farmers (and they make 
up ca. 90% of the population, herders included) worship Barntar in 
Esrolia and Heortland, two countries with Orlanthi societies. All 
farmers worship the Grain Goddess, without whom their crops would be 
hard to get. Only after this all male Orlanthi worship Orlanth, and 
possibly the other Lightbringers and Earth deities, too.

I have to stop now.


--  Joerg Baumgartner


From: (Sandy Petersen)
Subject: RQ Daily
Message-ID: <>
Date: 26 Oct 93 10:47:07 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 2116

Hey!? What happened to Tuesday?

re: the rarity of Humakti

The Zulus supported a large number of full-time professional  
warriors. The old Saxons had plenty of full-time housecarls. The  
Teutonic Knights were effectively all soldiers. During the summer  
months, all male Norse were effectively warriors, going i-viking for  
loot. There's lots of pre-industrial societies that supported large  
armed forces. Sartar could, too, but it doesn't have to!

My theory estimating Humakti population in Sartar to be as numerous  
as 8% was simply to show that it was possible for that many to exist;  
to show that there is ample evidence for a GM to use to support  
whatever interpretation he wishes. If a GM wants to have Humakt be an  
elite and highly restrictive sect, he can -- there's plenty of  
arguments to support his position. But if he wants to have lots of  
Humakti around, he can have that, too. 

Now, on to a defense of RQ III's restrictive temple requirements. The  
original purpose behind these temple requirements was twofold:

1. To give GMs a tool to help control players and mold storylines.  
Areas with few temples become a new and dangerous type of wilderness  
to the players. If a GM wants to limit temple availability to his  
players, RQ III permits it. But we foolishly did not realize (when  
writing the rules) that some GMs might feel constrained to afflict  
players with temple rarity at the expense of their campaigns. 

Hereby I state with what official power as I possess that IMHO you  
can run a True Gloranthan campaign with a rather wide variation in  
the numbers of Humakti (or whatever other cult) in any given area. If  
you had no Humakti at all, or if the majority of Sartar soldiers were  
Humakti, that would seem to stretch the campaign a bit beyond True  

Joerg Baumgartner wrote me, asking about the Aeolian Heresy, in which  
Orlanth is confused with the Invisible God. I started to write some  
stuff back to him, then decided that others might be interested. 

The Aeolian heresy, obviously derived from the Stygian Heresy, got  
its start in Ralios. Joerg seems to believe that this heresy is  
popular in Heortland. Since my stuff is packed away, he could be  
right. I don't recall. But it's certainly the case that when the  
Rokari Hendriki invaded and conquered Heortland, the Aeolian Heresy  
would make a sensible import. But Heortland's basic and original  
religion is still the Orlanthi culture, though more civilized than  
the norm.

Jeorg thinks of the Aeolian Heresy as teaching the Trinity of the  
Invisible God: Creator outside of Creation, the Guardian Spirit  
permeating Creation (aka Glorantha, Ginna Jar or Arachne Solara), and  
Orlanth Lightbringer, the Invisible God born into the world. I find  
this attractive. 

I regard it as also possible that the Aeolians confuse the various  
aspects of Orlanth with these. Hence, Orlanth Rex might be the  
Creator. Orlanth Adventurous/Orlanth Lightbringer the Spirit of Man,  
and Orlanth's storm aspect the Physical Universe. 

I'm sure the Aeolians also worship Saint Lhankor Mhy, Saint Chalana  
Arroy, and so forth. I expect their saint worship resembles that of  
the other Malkioni sects: to gain a patron saint, you must sacrifice  
POW at worship ceremony at an appropriate shrine to that saint. When  
you have sacrificed enough POW (the amount varies from saint to  
saint), you gain the ability to invoke that saint. Invoking a saint  
may also require you to adhere to some behavior, but it depends on  
the saint. Invoking a saint can be done instantaneously and  
repeatedly. Each invocation costs you 1 POW, and gives you a special  
magic. In general, this magic is superior to Rune Magic, though not  
as far superior as Rune is to Spirit. 

For instance, Saint Hrestol costs something like 8 points to gain as  
your patron (curse my lack of source materials). When you invoke him,  
your POW is doubled for the next 24 hours. I would expect Saint  
Issaries to cost something like 4-5 POW, and you'd get Create Market.  
No doubt if you fulfilled certain special qualifications you could  
get the result of Create Great Market instead of Create Market. 

The Aeolians do not consider Orlanth himself to be a Saint, of  
course. They practice the four-part division of Society common to the  
Rokari (farmer, warrior, priest, king), but have modified it to be  
more suitable for their deity. All four divisions of society get  

The Farmers get Ernaldaesque magic, but think of it as coming from  
Orlanth. Saint Ernalda is a separate entity in their theology, not  
related to Orlanth Homesteader. This fusion of Ernalda and Orlanth of  
the Aeolians is probably the most irksome one to "normal" Orlanthi. 

The Warriors get Orlanth Adventurous stuff. 

The Priests = Storm Priest.

The Kings = Orlanth Rex. 

Joerg has some fine ideas re: Aeolians and I hope he gets his stuff