Bell Digest v940628p4

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From: 100102.3001@CompuServe.COM (Peter J. Whitelaw)
Subject: Taskan Empire Notes pt 6
Message-ID: <940627205109_100102.3001_BHJ83-2@CompuServe.COM>
Date: 27 Jun 94 20:51:09 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 4869


Part I

Taskan religious practices commonly combine Sorcery, Divine and occassionally
Spirit Magic.  The fulfillment of ritual is very important, even for those
rituals from which no magical benefit comes.  A Taskan would argue a ritual has
to be performed because it always has been, and there could be terrible
consequences if it is neglected.  

Tarsenian Gods

With one or two exceptions the gods of the Tarsenians are formalised and
immutable entities. Their myths are fixed in a legendary past, and retain their
relevence because they explain the nature and purpose of each god and show how
the various forces at work in human society ineract with one another.  The myths
foster the rituals which are the centre-piece of public festivals.  In these
rituals humans take on divine roles in acting out the myths and in this way the
truths that myth convey are reinforced in the minds of participants and

The Tarsenian fire-god, and patron of the crafts which fire makes possible.  He
is also a death god since the Tarsenians almost without exception cremate their
dead.  He thus presides over the last rites on a corpse before a dead man's
spirit is sent on its way to the halls of Gomorg.  Thesh is the tutelary god of
many guilds of craftsmen, chiefly metalworkers, armourers and blacksmiths.    He
is the patron god of Taskay, and a regiment of warriors made up of acolytes in
his cult guard the Emperors palace there.  Initiates in his cult take only half
damage from fire, although the the Initiation ceremony itself involves a
fireshock attack for 3d6 damage.  This process is known as Immolation.  

Tarsen is the mythological father of the Tarsenian people.  He is regarded as
the founder of civilization, and credited with the giving of laws and the
invention of trade through which men learn to how to live together and get what
they need for survival without resorting to violence.  Tarsen is the patron of
merchants, shopkeepers and scribes.  There is usually a statue to him in a
city's most important meeting places.

Hoonvel is credited with persuading the earth goddess Samanse to part with her
daughter Kait, a grain goddess, for two thirds of the year to be his wife.  Thus
mankind learned to till the soil and harvest crops for food.  Hoonvel is patron
god of farmers, represented as a cheerful and bawdy fellow whose rites are
usually drunken, riotous affairs.  Hoonvel has no temples as such but is
worshipped at rustic altars.

This is the Tarsenian version of the eastern earth goddess Tolat.  She is one of
the few divinities of the Tarsenian pantheon to whom permanently staffed temples
are erected.  The women of a city elect honoured matrons from among their number
to administer the temple, who preside over many of the important festivals in
the life of the community and its citizens.  There is always an altar to Kait
within the precincts of her temple.

Kait is the barley - goddess of the Tarsenians.  She is most commonly
represented in the persons of the young virgins who attend upon Samsanse's
priestesses, and at the appropriate festivals, of brides-to-be and expectant
mothers.  In ritual and myth she is closely tied to the farmer-god Hoonvel.

Machank is the favourite Tarsenian war-god.  He gifts his devotees with great
courage and skill-at-arms.  Only those who are willing to risk mortal danger
should seek initiation into his cult, as he blesses his followers with a divine
madness that compels them to seek out the point of maximum danger on the
battlefield and never to flee before the enemy while there is still some goal to
be achieved.  Machank's worshippers always recieve extra pay and an extra share
of any captured booty.  Those that survive more than a year or two in his
service usually feel they have earned their renown and retire from active
participation in his cult.   

Jarmost is the patron of seafarers, travellers and astrologers.  He taught men
how to navigate by the stars and how to use a compass when the stars are not
visible.  He is also credited with invention of the wheel, the first boat, and
the yolk - which he first used to pull a cart, but later showed it to his
brother Hoonvel who used it to draw a plough.  Jarmost is also credited with the
invention of numbers, which he placed upon a wheel to measure distance.
'Jarmost's Wheel' refers to an astrological device, which demonstrates the
movements of the heavenly bodies and is a useful tool in navigation.

Sumis is a goddess of forest, mountain and other wild places, of hunting and
survival.  Her worshippers are often those who wish to explore their primal
instincts, and understand their place in nature's grand scheme.  Some are
hunters and woodsmen by trade.  She has no permanently staffed temples, but many
holy places inhabited by unpredictable spirit guardians.  Sumis can save those
whom she loves from the dangers of the wild, or she can unleash those same
dangers upon those she despises.      

An imported Jekkarene goddess, whose initiates are young virgins dedicated to
serve in the temples of Zygas Taga and his consort Jekkara.  These girls perform
ritual dances at the major festivals, and live in strict seclusion overseen by a
moon-priestess.  Jezri is manifest as the evening star which accompanies the
moon in the night sky.  Often referred to as 'Night's Handmaiden'.

Temples to the moon goddess are associated with those of Zygas Taga.  Only
Jekkarene women of noble birth may serve her, and outside the cult's homeland
its only role is to add extra pomp and mythic importance to the rites of Emperor
worship.  The Goddess is the fount of women's wisdom, and is the patron of
secret knowledge and the power that it brings.  

Mansu is the patron god of the creative arts - music, poetry, drama and dance -
and also of the art of healing.  He is the patron god of Lagash.  Mansu is
usually represented as an adolescent with girlish features.  His male devotees
often disguise themselves as women, and the women as men.

This goddess is the Tarsenian personification of love.  She has a famous temple
in Zarina, where the temple slaves prostitute themselves in its courts.  Her
devotees are often wealthy urbanites who seek diversion through their sexual
liaison and build up complex social networks through which they indulge their

The Lord of Hell, who rules the underworld, a land of dust and ashes, through
his demon minions and keeps the dead imprisoned in his domain.  Gomorg is a god
who is very jealous of his rights and privileges, among which is the setting of
a quota of souls to be gathered in each year.  Gomorg's initiates are
necromancers and murderers, but he is also patron of gladiatorial games, through
which condemned criminals are executed under his auspices.  The Necropoleis in
which the Tarsenians interr their dead are sanctified in his name. 

Bast is the Tarsenian god of light, of healing, and of selfless devotion.  He is
the arch enemy of his brother Gomorg, whose underworld minions only dare invade
the world of men at night when Bast is at rest.  In mythology Bast has courted
Tethis with the help of Mansu's poetry and song, and fought for her hand against
her cruel husband Machank.  He has also pursued his sister Simis for love, and
rescued Kait from the underworld to restore her to his friend Hoonvel from which
deed spring's the cult's resurrection spell.  Bast is a popular cult among
soldiers.  His great festival is held at the city of Pryjarna.

Hamath is the champion of the poor, but because the Empire supports its citizens
who have fallen upon hard times, Hamath is left with the care of the rootless,
the oppressed, the enslaved and the outlawed.  He is hence also a god of
thieves.  The 'self help' groups which form under his patronage are notorious
for helping themselves to other peoples' property.  Hamath appears either male
or female, usually as a fat wealthy character in the act of giving out

Cults and Temples

There are usually many small cults dedicated to each of the major divinities of
the Tarsenian pantheon, and there may be several cults worshipping the same
divinity in different ways even within the same community.  In Zarina, for
example, there are said to be 8 different cults of Tethis, each with their own
membership restrictions, priests, rules, regulations and rites, only one of
which is directly associated with the goddess' temple there.  The number of
initiates in any cult could be as few as 10 or as many as 1000.  Most cults are
local foundations, and the god they worship therefor carries an epithet of the
place of worship or the occupation of the worshippers - such as Zarinian Tethis,
or Tethis the of the Water Carriers.  Even so, a cult might be particularly
successful, perhaps gain control of a temple of holy site, and thereby begin to
attract initiates from far and wide.  It is quite normal for cultists to choose
to exclude from their rites devotees of the same divinity initiated in a
different cult.  To gain acceptance there is usually some lesser form of
initiation ceremony that can be gone through which bypasses the POW sacrifice
normally required.            

Temples, Shrines and Holy Places
Temples are not essential to Taskan religious practice, and often are unstaffed,
being no more than foci for the public festival of the gods to whom they are
dedicated.  Some have caretaker-priests, others great numbers of attendants who
are organised into elaborate hierarchies.  They are built by wealthy individuals
who wish to demonstrate their piety, or by one or more cult organisations who
have raised the necessary funds between them.  The local cults of the god to
whom a temple is dedicated may look after it and contribute to its
embellishment.  In order to do this they might club together, or work on a rota.

Apart from the great festivals, most worship takes place in private.  A private
place of worship is termed a shrine, and usually each cult will have at least
one, probably in the house of one of the wealthier members.

A Holy Place is a traditional site where individuals can go and make their
sacrifice to a god, effectively initiating themselves without the intervention
of a priest leading a Worship ceremony. 

The Worship spell pertinent to a divinity is always available no matter how
small the place of worship or the size of the congregation, as long as it has
been consecrated.       

People make the pledge of devotion to a god known as initiation in order to
share in a little of that god's power or to receive appropriate help in the
pursuit of their ambitions.  Few Taskan gods offer magic to their devotees, nor
do they provide the benefits of Divine Intervention and an annual POW gain roll.
More commonly the gods magically enhance their initiates' faculties and
abilities, in a way appropriate to their respective spheres of influence.

Priests may be full or part time, depending on whether they are on the permanent
staff of a temple, making a living as wandering preachers, or leading worship
ceremonies for private cult meetings.  They have no political authority over
their congregation.  Taskan religion has no dogma to be inculcated and enforced.
Their only purpose is to see to it that rituals are properly performed at the
appropriate times.  In many cases it only requires that an initiate sacrifice
for the Worship spell and have a 50% ceremony skill in order to call himself a
priest.  More elaborate systems of qualification and candidature for priesthood
are self-imposed by the larger cult organisations in order to enhance their
prestige by insisting on a minimal level of professionalism.        

The two important exceptions in this scheme are the cults of Bast and Zygas
Taga, both of which have universal hierarchies.  Bast in fact provides most of
the standard initiation benefits to his worshippers, including Divine
Intervention.  Zygas Taga's cult brings only legal and social benefits to its
adherents, but it is the principal organ of the state, and its priests wield the
power of government.    


From: (Alex Ferguson)
Subject: Automatic for the Initiates?
Message-ID: <>
Date: 27 Jun 94 08:32:35 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 4843

Dave Pearton, pushing the Gods' buttons:
> While the gods themselves might not vet every single request for devine
> magic I tend to agree with the person (Devin?) who mentioned that if you
> were sacrificing for runemagic you are a de facto worshiper of that god.

It was one of the (many) people disagreeing with Devin, in fact. ;-)

This impinges on a discussion I was having with Sandy.  I tend to take the
view that you do: that POW sacrificed to you god isn't "gone", but rather,
it's off to be with your god, been transferred to the Godplane, or whatever.

As a spin off of this view, I tend to think that if you're later subject
to loss of all your "mundane" POW, you still may get to go to an appropriate
theistic afterlife on the strength of this (or so it may be believed, at
any rate).  Obviously, loss of all POW would certainly prevent a ghost
being formed, resurrection being carried out, etc.



From: (Alex Ferguson)
Subject: Sic transit gloria Loskalmi.
Message-ID: <>
Date: 27 Jun 94 08:37:38 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 4844

Graeme Lindsell retorts to my good self:

> >Replace it with a mediocre bunch of soi-disant "knights" and other Horals
> >of no particular martial virtue, yes.

>  Just like any other new army.

Except that: most of the population base are _forbidden_ from learning
martial skills, and so are rawer than most recruits; and that they are
supposed to be replacing "one of the best armies in the world".

> If the experience of the last 200 years is
> any indicator, for armies military skill is less significant than numbers 
> and discipline.

It isn't, entirely.  Technology changes the importance of individual skill,
as well as the nature of the skills reuired.  "The ability to fire three
rounds a minute in all weather, sah!"

> >Best organised for what?  The only war they've fought in the last century
> >was strolling in to western Junora, to (I'd estimate) zero resistance.

>  What about the KoW? The only war we know they've fought was strolling into
> Perfe, to (I'd estimate) zero resistance.

They've conquered all of their current territory, minus the Black Forest.
Probavly fought a cutthroat war against the trolls inside the BF during the
ban.  One might speculate as to the quality of the resistance, but they
certainly fought a war against their neighbours.  Pomons probably quite
literally just said "Come on in, boss."

> They been fighting each other,
> but I'm sure the Loskalmi do that all the time too.

Nope: "the long peace of the Syndics Ban"; "old castles [...] abandoned".

> Anyway, the KoW couldn't send all those 85 000 out, some
> of them have to stay home to oppress the peasants. The given Loskalmi
> army does seem to be their mobile force, though.

The Loskalmi army seems to be the Loskalmi army, full stop.  Other than
that, there are only provincial footsoldiers and irregulars.

> In fact, since none of the KoW's serf's are able to fight

It wouldn't be an impressive sight, but they could.  Perhaps the Warlords
might use the old fun troll tactic of herding groups out of them out in
front of the army in order to soak up enemy attacks...

> but all of Loskalm's male population are theoretically capable of doing so

By breaking class prohibitions?  With no training?

>  Seriously, the material we have on Loskalm and Fronela is so scanty that
> a GM can put almost any interpretation on them

Yup.  Which is why I keep carping at your predictions of a Loskalm walkover.

David Cake:
> No, they are suitably subservient modified Hrestoli. They are probably are
> rife with heresy, but as long as they keep grovelling, and stay over there,
> they are useful allies against the infidel.

And now that some of them are aiding the Kingdom of War?  Even if the
Jonatelan church is notionally subservient to Eccles, I don't think Loskalm
likes Jonatela.  Nor do I think Idealistic churchman like the liberties
the Jonating have taken with their class system.

> As long as the Jonatings admit the
> Ecclesiarch is the boss, and as long as Loskalm has far more important
> things to worry about and there are common enemies to fight, the Jonatelan
> church are an arm of the true faith

What's their common enemy?  I don't think the two kingdoms are allied in
any way, though they may be in future.  If (and when) Loskalm had the luxury
of disapproving of Jonatela, I bet they would (and may yet do so rather
vigorously, if they conquer the KoW).



From: (Graeme Lindsell)
Subject: Replying to Paul on magical unity, no, not really a flame...
Message-ID: <9406270843.AA26434@Sun.COM>
Date: 27 Jun 94 23:41:19 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 4845

Paul Reilly writes:
>Western culture is analytical
>and individualist rather than synthetic and collectivist (like the theistic

 Are you entirely sure about this? I've recently been reading Homo
Hierachicus by (name already forgotten), which is an analysis of
the Indian caste system. The author makes the point that hierarchical
systems tend to be less individualistic, since their purpose is to
give an individual a place in society. Given the class system apparently
taught by Malkionism, which seems very basic to their religion as it's
part of every heresy, I suspect they may be less individualistic than
the Orlanthi, say. Every human is at their correct place in society;
and unlike Christianity I doubt that all the classes are equal before
the Invisible God (one of the sources of European egalitarianism).

>He can be in the lodge telling his tribe of  his
>journey in the Otherworld even as he is accomplishing it; he has a full
>dual existence.

 Or, from the wizard's viewpoint, the shaman has gone stark raving mad,
and his tribe is sitting there listening to him babble. Sometimes they
don't even retain any shred of sanity, something they call "being
possessed by the bad man". And who's to say the wizard's wrong (apart from
the shamans that is)?

>The shaman jumps into the pool of water.

 And according to the wizard, promptly drowns. To the wizard, we're
here to live in this world, not to abandon it for a half-life in

 I know this is your letter from the shamanist viewpoint, but the
shamanic propaganda really ruined it for me.

>  This picture helps a lot.  I would be interested in your reactions.  It
>explains why Illumination led to such trouble in the West (but not in the
>East).  Also fits in with "immunity to spirits of reprisal".
>Also fits in with the Red Goddess and her special Magic and her paths.
>Also fits in with Arkat _the_Liberator_ and what he does.

 To me, this seem a bit too much on the side of "Everything the West knows
is wrong" that I get a bit sick of seeing. I'd like to think they've had
some insights that everyone else doesn't already know better than they.
The Kralorelans too, obviously. The Monomyth may be true, or may have been
true, but that doesn't mean that it's all of the truth.

 It does have some explanation as to why Illumination was so bad in the West,
but it could simply be due to it's solipsistic nature than any possession. 
A group of Illuminates could easily go down the wrong path, without some
kind of controls.

 I'd like to think there are some other philosophical insights in
Glorantha apart from Illumination: just cause it's the ony one we've seen
doesn't mean it's the only one there is. One thing about Illumination
as it's currently portrayed is that it basically effects theists only.

 The spirits of reprisal/Bad man stuff is good though. We haven't been told 
enough about the West to know if they have any equivalent, though (which they
wouldn't call spirits of reprisal, anyway). The only thing near to it is
the loss of Brithini immortality.

 Some more magical unity in Glorantha is important IMO, just to show
they are living in the same world.

Graeme Lindsell a.k.a
Research School of Chemistry, Australian National University, Canberra.
"I was 17 miles from Greybridge before I was caught by the school leopard"
Ripping Yarns - Tomkinson's Schooldays.