Throughout Glorantha, people worship the ever-compassionate Goddess of Mercy. She’s known by many names – Erissa, Serelaloon, etc., – but she’s known best as Chalana Arroy. Her worshipers practice TOTAL non-violence and take an oath never to harm a living creature. They are total vegetarians and not sacrifice animals to the gods. Heck, one of their divisions is between whether it is acceptable to accidentally step on insects and spiders, or whether they need to be swept out of the way.
Chalana Arroy shows no favorites, and is friendly towards everyone from Babeester Gor to Wachaza. Heck, about the only non-Chaotic cult she is hostile towards is Zorak Zoran – she’s Neutral at worst towards the Lunars.
But Chalana Arroy has great magic. Heal Body, Healing Spirits, Cure All Disease, Cure Poison, Comfort Song, Regrow Limb – if you have an injury, disease, or whatever, she can treat it. She’s especially good at curing injuries caused by Chaos. And even if you are dead, she can restore you to life! Chalana Arroy is the only cult with reusable Resurrection! Offensively, her two spells are Harmony and the spirit magic spell Sleep – both are of non-violently overcoming foes.
Chalana Arroy’s mercy is how people survive in Glorantha’s deadly world. It is why mortals have not been extinguished by disease, war, and monsters. Her cult is probably one of the most challenging for players – total non-violence is not an easy thing in a roleplaying game – but can be incredibly rewarding. And will keep your companions alive!
Chalana Arroy’s presence in Orlanthi society is often overlooked. In all of Sartar’s cities, we have hundreds of white robed pacifist healers. In Boldhome there’s some 750 Chalana Arroy initiates! Sacred and holy people, whom it is sacrilegious to harm, singing, chanting, and dancing around about peace, love, and kindness.
So if we imagine that in most of Sartar’s cities, there are about 75-150 initiates of Chalana Arroy, with 750 in Boldhome, and then another 50 in the average tribe, we can start thinking through the implications of this.
In the tribes, no doubt there are Chalana Arroy initiates that reside in villages and forts, and more that wander from place to place offering help. In the cities, we have hospitals where the injured and diseased may go. Infant mortality is lower than that of our ancient world’s and people can live to a ripe old age if they have access to the Sisters of Mercy and they don’t get killed otherwise.
That being said, there is enough war, evil spirits, magic, and monsters to make Glorantha an even more dangerous place than our world. And it is still a world where people must live through agriculture, herding, and other hard work that wears people out (and is harder to heal away!). So population growth tends to be low (if at at all), and people are still lucky to make it to old age – it is just that those demographic curves likely look different.
The path of Chalana Arroy is very difficult – total non-violence (on the part of the initiate), vegetarianism, and distribution of the Goddess’s blessings to all who need it. But she is indispensable for survival in this hostile world, and is loved by Orlanth, Yelm, and Storm Bull alike, not to mention her fellow Lightbringers.