Re: Berserk OTT

From: John Hughes <nysalor_at_...>
Date: Sun, 23 Jul 2000 09:07:24 +1000

> My problem is understanding what the hell Humakt is doing with any
> berserk magic at all... couldn't understand the profusion of
> berserkers in HW, still can't

Humakt cult antics have always enjoyed a wide range of possible interpretations, and these seem reasonably to reflect the variations in worship 'on the ground', as differing cultic groups focus more on honour, death, separation, sundering or truth. Humakt doesn't have as many aged teachers spouting forth the wisdom of five generations, so cultic traditions are a little more fluid, and reflect the personalities of the current sword godar.

As far as berserk goes, I note that the feat is given as "Death Song Berserk", and here we once again come up against the inherent vagueness of the descriptor. Call me a boring old traditionalist, but IMG Humakti berserk is precisely that: a Death Song. It's awesome, its called down only once, and its terminal for the caster and about fifty others who may be stupid enough to oppose her at the time. Death Song Berserk is a spell cast when the humakti knows its time to die. This is how I play it and how I would enforce it in play.

An example, cut from a story of mine that will appear in the current Ybot 3, a chapter from "Fires of Mist and Wind-Blown Snow". It's a bit OTT, but is meant to be, this is the Cinematic Final-Climactic-Moment (TM).

"All down the blood-slick slope isolated groups stood defiant against the rout; Lunar veterans drawn into defensive circles. The fighting there was fierce; death given and taken freely. This was war in the Orlanthi-style: hero against hero in wild disarray....

All around me now the clatter of blades, shriek of sharp edges, scream of the dying. All around me severed heads, slaughterhouse of heroes, soil streaming blood. All around me the fierce confusion of Death.

My body faltered, failed me. Exhausted, I sank to the mud-stained turf, the sword kin streaming by. A blade had pierced my chest. It did not seem to matter.

Death stood at last in his true rank and order. It was time.

"Karis, I love you. Let's die."

I took two coins of bronze from the birch bark wallet corded round my neck. Kissing them, I uttered the secret name of the god, calling down my death song. "Darkness free me, cut me, bleed me." I felt the blood-spell take me, lift me, push me forward. Time to be complete.

Karis keened, something beautiful and wordless and holy.

The fit mastered me. I surged forth in fury towards the hated foe, death-ready and laughing. Laughing so hard my throat spewed blood....

I could see forgotten faces pass before my eyes. I heard them laughing, calling out my name. I could smell the sea wind, see the birds of another country, once my own, but in a foreign sky. Senses awash in ecstasy, I surged forward, the bloody sword play a slow motion dance on every side. I was complete in every way. He who gives the warcry has been born. The foe fell: my funeral sacrifice, my offering.... Blades flashed. Iron rang. I gave them what was due.

True liberation was upon me. The world was complete, perfect, keening a war-song in rhythm to my blade. Darkness beckoned. I was longing to die, perfect, complete, confident of victory...

So Death draws his darkness.

Complete. "


nysalor_at_...                           John Hughes

The heroes filled their drinking cups with wine Sainted with water, which is best, and sipped; And what in them was noble, grew;
And truthfulness, with many meanings, spread Over the slopes and through the leafy spears As Priam thrust the knife into the white lamb's throat.

                              Christopher Logue - War Music.

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