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This is the RuneQuest Daily Bulletin, a mailing list on
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From: (Joerg Baumgartner)
Subject: High Initiation Alex and me
Date: 25 Apr 94 12:44:10 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3800

Folks, if you think we are clogging up valuabe bandwidth, I'll continue 
this via private mail. Else I'll continue...

Alex Ferguson in X-RQ-ID: 3792
> Joerg:
>> Associate worship is ok with me if there is one overpowering deity and 
>> a bunch of associates, as seems to be the case with Pamalt. It fails to 
>> work when the side cuts develop a dynamic of their own, and a character 
>> who rightfully would worship both aspects because of his position in 
>> the world is punished rules-wise by having to spend double amount of 
>> time and income.

> Twice the gain, twice the pain, say I.  If two deities are worshipped
> together in an area a great deal, I think you have a point.  Some local
> hack would be likely to  `fix' this, I think.  But if someone is doing
> this for purely personal predilictions, more fool him.

Ok, first signs of agreement here.

>> The system breaks down in societies which demand specialisation, i.e. urban 
>> societies.

> Why?  I don't see this is the case at all.  More specialised roles surely
> implies more specialised worship, not more general worship.

Yes. To live in a Sartarite city requires a threefold religious 
specialisation of its citizens. First the religion of the clan and land, 
generally Orlanth, in Alda Chur Yelmalio, since 1602 alternatively the 
Lunar pantheon. Second one's personal professional specialisation, which 
includes a cultic component in any traditional craft. At least in Germany, 
although mightily obscured ever since the Reformation (1517-1530). Third 
the cultic connection to the city-god or sprits, and to the spirits of the 
land, Sartar for the political aspects, and the land spirits (Quivin, Grain 
Goddess) for the physical aspects.

City gods don't seem to have lay members which worship, as soon as you 
worship, you are acting as an initiate. Same for the country deity, Sartar. 
There is no organized cult except among his descendants in somewhat Daka 
Fal fashion, but the Orlanth Rex cult in Sartar does exactly this.

> My own hunch about  Heortland would have the Malkion and theist aspects
> of worship a bit more separate than this.  The Malkioni influence is
> fairly recent, and likely to be most evident in the upper echelons.
> (Cf. Norman Britain.)  Hence, I'd guess the peasntry would worship
> Barntar _qua_ Barntar, Orlanth, Ernalda, with only token Western influences,
> while the nobility (and social climbers) would consider them saints, or
> ignore them.

The Malkioni influence in Heortland is twofold. The more recent Rokari 
incursion of Richard the Tigerhearted has not yet left a deep influence 
except a strong dislike, in 1620 it must have been about as popular as 
the Lunar religion in Sartar 1605, also 3 years after the conquest.

The older Malkioni influence stems from Arkat's crusade against Gbaji. When 
his expedition fleet landed at the mouth of the Creek Stream River and 
moved against the main force of Palangio the Iron Vrok, the Hendriki 
bound the occupying forces in Heortland by raids, and in my history of the 
land also in a bold strike which eliminated a larger Gbajian troop at the 
first battle of Milran. This is the root of the Aeolian Church of 
Heortland, popular among the Hendriki, who inherited the rule of the land 
from Arkat the Liberator. They merged Hrestoli believes and Orlanthi 

>> a regular Orlanth (Adventurous) initiate

> Hmm.  Another candidate for the Americanisation Test, Inquisitor. }B-)

I try to keep my English as European as possible, but I treat some terms 
from American Tradetalk (English) as technical RQ terms.

> Perhaps this is sorta more "theist-flavoured" than the "usual" henothesist
> religions of Ralios.  Do you invisage this distinction, too, or do you see
> Heortland and the other "Stygians" as being similar?

Ralios has all possible stages of henotheism, IMO. Otkorion would be quite 
similar to Heortland, while e.g. Galin might have a Malkioni religion like 
the Solar result of Credo, with Ehilm as a major saint.

>> You become associate initiate member of the church either by joining as 
>> a youth, but not taking any patron saint/deity, with a _very_ limited choice 
>> of low sorcery and special divine spells, or by being an intiate in one 
>> of the theistic cults included as saints, see above.

> Right.  Isn't this what we were calling Low Initiation, before?  Sounds
> like it.  (Mind you, your term is not without logic.)

Yes. A low initiate in my book essentially is someone only assciated to the 
cults of his homeland. So the youths not having chosen a specific patron 
are low initiates, or associate initiates. The theistically initiated rural 
people, or members of other Heortland nations (called tribes in Genertela 
Book) are regarded as associate initiates as well if they accept the 
Aeolian Church as their clergy.

>> Hmm. The ordinary Sartarite will come from a clan which worships one or 
>> two preferred deities of the Orlanth Array directly, and the rest as 
>> associates.

> I think most worship more than two, and even if not, it's still a
> significantly different circumstance than a henotheistic situation,
> where for _everyone_ the IG is by the fundemental tenet of the religion
> the prime figure.

The Aeolians worship the trinity of Invisible God Creator, World 
Spirit (Glorantha = Ginna Jar = Arachne Solara), and Orlanth 
Lightbringer. Of these, only Orlanth also receives cultic or saint worship.

>> [...] the Vantaros and Tovtaros tribes of the 
>> Alda-churi seem to have disposed of Orlanth as a positive figure in 
>> their myths and have Yelmalio as their main male deity (according to my 
>> impression from David Hall's article in the RQ-Con booklet).

> My understanding is that this is something that the leadership (Ironfist
> and cronies) is trying to impose, not necessarily the situation on the
> ground.

The Elmali/Yelmalion Clans dissented already before the reign of Tarkalor, 
and continued to do so up to 1625. This indicates deeper roots than just 
the nobility - in Orlanthi society a foreign nobility (worshipping the 
wrong, i.e. a different deity) would have been deposed sooner rather than 

>>> I still wanna know why everyone is so convinced one can't become an adult
>>> without becoming (some kind of) religious initiation.

> Joerg quotes lots off stuff we've raked over before, much of which
> I'd previously quoted myself, and none of which actually supports his case.
> His emphasis deleted, and mine added.  (Dirty trick, I know. )

> RQ3 DeLuxe, Magic Book, p.23
> "In regions where gods are worshiped, every _responsible or respectable_
> adult will be an initiate of a religion."

I.e. in Sartar all but Tricksters, who are as well.

> RQ3 DeLuxe, Magic Book, p.24
> "In communities practicing religions, it is a _traditional sign_ of 
> adulthood to become an initiate of the appropriate religion or cult" 

Failing this sign, you fail the proof. Simple logic, as practised in rural 

> KoS p.245
> "Initiates in any cult of the pantheon are the next level. This 
> includes _almost_ every Orlanthi adult."

All but the Ancestor worshippers or otherwise shamanic adherents of e.g. 
Umath or Kolat, in my reading. Plus single Aeolian Malkioni in Wilms Church 
(the name tells, really) and recently aberrant Lunar worshippers.

> KoS p.239
> "Children become adults after a formal initiation ceremony"
>> This is to the Clan Secrets, including one's ancestors, and _is_ 
>> religious in nature, although not necessarily cultic.

> Sez who?
> What do we mean by `religious', anyway?  I think you're all
> too hung up on some subconscious reflex association of the form, "Ah, it
> says "Initiation" here, therefore we gotta sack a pointa POW to, err,
> something."

No. The whole point of my arguments is that you get certain intitation, 
some religious intitation included, without having to sack a pointa POW.

>> I agree with this. There surely are a lot of Cottar adult initiates of 
>> Voriof in his shepherd aspect. There might be as well an aspect 
>> "Orlanth the Youth", possibly closely linked to the Yinkin cult, but 
>> that's not documented anywhere, so I chose "Voriof" to describe the 
>> boys who had their communion but not their initiation.

> I'm mildly confused, are we speaking of things Aeolian, or (say) Sartarite
> here?  Insert, respectively, acquiescence or blustering rebuttal according
> to your answer.

Yes to both.
I'm speaking of things Aeolian and Heortling here, the latter including 
Sartarite as per KoS Jalk's book.

> Why would someone be considered a "Voriof initiate", when they don't worship
> Voriof, and they're not an initiate in any previously known sense? 

Because the cult structure is similar to that of Voria, and done in this 
sense. (Previously known...)

> What
> is the need for such a status, other than a (spurious, in my view) analogy
> with the structure of (say) the Yelm cult?  What do we "need" Low Initiation
> for anyway, other than filling the requirement (which I don't think is at
> all absolute) for Adults to be Initiates, which is in any case inapplicable
> here as we're speaking of non-Adults?

Voriof is the god of boyhood, according to KoS p.50-52. If the boys are to 
participate in rituals, they'll do so as representatiives of the boyhood 

> Surely any Orlanthi would call this person an "Apprentice [bone|red]smith",
> or an "Apprentice to Gustbran", or some other such comparatively non-God
> Learnerish term?

How much is this worth in a ceremony concerning frinst the fertilty rites 
for the whole commune?

>> How many sheep do you expect to be kept within a town of little over 
>> 200 houses, say the size of Runegate, or Jaransbyrig (my campaign 
>> setting)?

> Why do you ask this?  Whadya mean?  I'm not for a moment suggesting every
> teenage boy is a full-time shepherd.

No. But in my vision most town boys fail to be even part-time shepherds.

>> Jaransbyrig is too small to have its own city god,

> Oh?  I'm inclined to think all settlements, however small, can have
> a communal spirit of some kind.

Sure they have the spirit of the founder, and a few other minor local 
saints or spirits. Only you don't get initiated to such spirits.

But then City God initiation is an uncertain affair, too.

> Perhaps our essential disagreement is that you're looking for a handy
> theistic peg to hang the idea of "Low Initiation" on, while I'm trying
> to stamp it out, ruthlessly. ;-/  And aren't you using the term Low
> Initiation in a confusingly different way again?

I'm just trying to show all the aspects of the term as I see it. If I 
confuse you, this must be my Trickster strain.

> I don't think I follow your drift.  Are you suggesting that because
> Voriof "must" be worshipped, and there are too few people who'd be
> full-time shepherds, adolescents would be "co-opted" to make up the
> numbers?

Not at all. Voriof is sufficiently served by associate initiates from 
the cult of Ernalda, like the Paps spirits through Eiritha. Only in 
his other role as boyhood deity he is worshipped by boys.

In some aspects a Voriof adolescent initiate has a similar status to that 
of the trickster - he isn't held responsible for his deeds the way an adult 

>> The reason I 
>> ask is that I have seen a source which titles the Southpath planets 
>> Tolat and Artia (or at least similar-sounding names) as moons.

> Very weird.  In terran terms, they are the text-book examples of
> planets, moreso than the Sunpath ones.  (ie, they "wander" from the
> path of the sun.)

I looked up the meaning of planet. Webster's yielded (p.1101 unabridged 
1989 edition):
"c. (formerly) a celestial body moving in the sky, as distinguished from 
a fixed star, formerly applied also to the sun and moon."

This leaves me where I came from: what does make any celestial body a moon? 
Must it undergo phases? Does the Blue Streak?

> I'm guessing the Pelorian "Lokarnos" planet is the Theyalan "Mastakos."
> Dendara left me confused too, I have to admit.

In Elder Secrets, the planet Wagon is identified with Lokarnos.
--  Joerg Baumgartner


From: (charles gregory fried)
Subject: God Learner Lies
Date: 25 Apr 94 09:23:05 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3799

Greg Fried here.

I'd like to jump in on a theme being batted around by David and Bryan and
others: God Learnerism.

It seems to me that we need to develop some more distinctions in how we
classify the various ways which Gloranthans (and we!) attempt to make
theoretical sense out the multiplicity of the Gods.  Trouble is, I'm not at
all sure how to do this! (And the dearth of published material on the
GLs doesn't help.) But it does seem to me to be unfair to brand ALL
thinking which abstracts the nature of the gods as God Learnerism.

The God Learners went to the utmost extreme in abstracting the nature
of the gods philosophically, and they did this (I gather from the
existing propaganda about them!) in order to exploit ruthlessly the
mythological 'nature' of Glorantha.  In their arrogance, the God
Learners did as much damage to the mythic ecology of Glorantha as we
are doing to the natural ecology of our world.  So the GLs got
swatted.  (And we'll get ours, too, I imagine.)

But surely not ALL Gloranthans who try to think philosophically about
the gods are God Learners!  (Famous last words! -- not every paranoid
mob is going to pay much attention to the nuance of this distinction!)
Otherwise all the great work of HeroQuesting would not be possible --
and I mean 'great' like Arkat's: making connections at a very high level
in the mythic fabric of Glorantha, not to exploit her, but to heal and
preserve her. So I would say that one distiction to be made is that
between (in Stephen Martin's words) the "God Learner mindset" which
cannot "see the many differences between Gloranthan cultures" and
seeks only to exploit them, and the Arkati attitude of "no
experimentation without respect".  The "respect" is the recognition of
the importance of cultic specificity to the mythic life-cycle of
Glorantha; but the "experimentation" at the same time demands the
ability to abstract from that specificity in HeroQuesting to preserve
it BY changing it.  [I think I may have even lost myself....]

As David Dunham pointed out, this kind of distinction is at least what
the Lunars would CLAIM underlies their saying that Yanfal Tarnils is
the healed Humakt. (Um, David, I think the locals are getting the tar
and feathers ready....) Surely MANY Gloranthans argue this way about
their gods without being God Learners.  Surely _something_ like this
kind of argumentation took place (TAKES place) in the Yelmalio/Elmal

Here's an analogy: there's got to be a distinction between those who
use science and technology to rape and plunder the Earth and those who
think science can be used to heal, preserve and live in harmony with
the Earth. Just because you use the abstractions of science doesn't
mean you don't care about the specificity of THIS landscape or THAT
member of a turtle species which you are studying.  Both the GLs and
an Arkati HQer make use of abstractions about the nature of Glorantha
(though the Gloranthan abstractions are about mythic 'atoms', not
physical ones -- thus the GL's 'secret' and their RuneSight).  The
difference is then what USE they put these abstractions to and the WAY
they do it.

David hit the nail on the head again when he cites the Romans calling
the Celtic war gods Ares/Mars.  They absorbed the whole Greek pantheon
this way.  (Hm... maybe the Romans WERE God Learners!)  The Greek
historian Herodotus was fascinated by the question of making sense of
all the weird gods of the barbarians in this way. Ra is the Greek
Helios, etc.

Another issue: the "unreachable" Arachne Solara --
Someone brought this up.  At the RQCon I asked GS one of my several
questions for a buck: Can A S receive cultic worship?  No was the

But what about this: on page 78 of the "Elder Races Book" of _Elder
Secrets_ it says:

"All beast men worship Arachne Solara, creator of the universe."

And on p. 80, on centaurs (and what a lovely illo on that page, too!):

"Nature religion dominates, with worship of Arachne Solara as Goddess
of Nature practised in winter....."

Too bad Sandy has signed off, cause he and GS were the authors of this
book, and they were both there for the $-a-question session.  I find
these passages pretty weird, especially considering that the beastmen
are about the most unnatural critters around, being the results of EWF
experiments! (Talk about experimentation without respect!) But it
says the beasties worship A S as a nature goddess.  What
do they get in return for their cult practice?  Or is this religion
simply mystical meditation, with no manifest 'usefulness' to them
powergaming beastfolk?

Finally, I second Henk's motion regarding massively volitile RW topics.
I too have a great interest in these questions, but please folks, try
not to let your passions get away with you.  Common sense should
suffice to preserve OUR little net-lozenge from the incursions of RW
Chaos! (Henk, does this cast you in the role of the RQDaily's Urox?!)

Enough from me!

-- GF out.


From: (Jonas Schiott)
Subject: Just replies.
Message-ID: <>
Date: 25 Apr 94 17:46:04 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3801

Greg Fried:

>While I agree, obviously, that this is not the Moral Relativism Daily
>Bulletin, I think it is equally obvious that the issue of relativism has
>direct relevance for Glorantha, as someone's (sorry -- forget who! -- was it
>you even, Martin?!) excellent synopsis of a Illuminate Riddler's questions
>shows in the same issue of the Daily.

In fact, I wrote it. Thanks for the compliment.
Some comments about the 'relativistic' discussion. I don't really want to
go into _moral_ relativism, it's such a tangled issue, but I would like to
point out an alternative available for application to Glorantha.
It's called Historical Relativism. Simply put, it is the assumption that:
"The Aztecs probably had good reasons for believing what they did. Or at
least they _thought_ they had good reasons. These reasons might not make
immediate sense to us, but we shouldn't be so hasty to judge."
There is of course a stronger version, stating that we can _never_ judge an
historical agent; while this sounds perfectly reasonable to us ivory-tower
academic types, it probably sounds perfectly amoral to many others, and I
won't try to popularize it.
Taking this attitude (whichever version you prefer) towards _contemporary_
occurences, you get Cultural Relativism. This is espoused by fewer people,
as it's harder to maintain the appropriate detachment. It's much easier to
be clinical about people who have been dead for millenia.


>> "Worship Trickster"?!? What's that? Rhetorical question - I'd say the lack
>> of bowing and scraping for some divine bully ("Dear Orlanth: oooohhh, you
>> are so big...") is a major draw for the trickster cults.

>Trickster cults are clearly theistic, so would certainly follow the usual
>pattern of Worship being available (and necessary) at all temples.  And
>likely something like the usual numbers of worshippers at each shrine to
>make it "work".

I still disagree, but purely for what you might call aesthetic reasons. The
idea of tricksters holding worship ceremonies offends my sensibilities. But
of course, their 'ceremonies' might take the form of drunken debauches.
Now, that would be _cool_. We're there, dude...
I tend to ignore the rules for temple sizes whenever I possibly can.
_Especially_ when it comes to shrines. I mean, take for instance a town
that has shrines to all the Earth goddesses (not so uncommon in Esrolia, I
would guess): this town hosts a minimum of 75 undertakers, 75
axe-murderesses, 75 amateur seismologists, 75 primitive bankers... you get
the picture.

>Uh-oh, he's started talking in close-curly-braces and pipes...  ;-)
>Is gu the University of Go:teborg?

Guilty as charged. I promise not to do it again. If Joerg wants an internal
Scandinavian discussion, he'll have to send private mail.

>> [...] my completely irrational and prejudiced attitude towards Pamaltela.
>> I have no justification for this view, except that any place where
>> tricksters get such a raw deal is too grim for my tastes.

>You won't much like Dara Happa, then, or indeed anyplace much outside of
>the Barbarian Belt.

Well, that's partially true. I mean, I _was_ disappointed when several
people were kind enough to inform me what "GRoY" stands for - just a lot of
Stuffed Solar Shirts. But seriously, I think the subject matter of this
discussion is getting to me: I'm starting to see everything from a
trickster's viewpoint. Hope it's not permanent.


>Re: Stein Illumination
>IMHO, the Socratic method works better at exposing the
>inconsistencies and lack of grounding in people's beliefs.  I got
>a lot of this in law school, but the professors always stopped
>after you had successfully argued back to first principles.  But
>why do we have first principles?  Why do we value consistency? 
>Why am I asking so many questions?

I assume you mean that Stein does _not_ use the Socratic method, i.e.
quietly letting your opponent dig his own grave. I'll admit that the quotes
look like someone arguing fairly agressively - perhaps I should have
mentioned that to the GMs we stressed the necessity of adapting style of
argument to the specific group of players, the presentation given in the
text was just a way of explaining his theories in a
somewhat-less-dry-than-dust manner.
First principles? "Even regarding this we are sceptical." (or something :-)

>But, if you look at page 71 of GoG, you'll see "Strike (Murderer
>aspect)."  And on page 70, "a murderer" is listed as one of his "shapes."

Uh, yeah, but aren't the descriptions in GoG you refer to 'Generic
Trickster', not specifically Eurmal? Minor quibble, I know. Let's drop this


>What I'm suggesting is that rather than a test of skills - the 
>explicit game model - initiation is primarily a kind of self-
>transforming heroquest.

I agree. That is, our whole group agrees. We've made a shot at running a
sort of InitiationQuest, but it was much more low-key than your suggestions
- the basic idea was just to pop onto the God Plane and take a look around
to reaffirm your belief in things mythical. Your ideas are more drastic,
which in my book makes them more interesting.


>What John doesn't address, and what the daggers are out concerning,
>is the role of _religious_ initiation in becoming an adult. 

But of course you need a religious initiation to become an adult in a
theistic society. A stable (not too civilized) one, that is.

>But is this true of more religiously diverse social
>structures, such as an Orlanthi clan?  I don't believe so.

This has been discussed by a lot of people in the past weeks. Suffice to
say that I subscribe to the "join another cult from the Pantheon if you
really must, but dammit join _something_" theory.