Are All Orlanthi Initiated in a Cult

Submitted by Monglo on Fri, 24/08/2012 – 14:41

Reading the text on page 209, it says that almost everyone is initiated in a cult. So following the rules of HQ all of them should be able to perform overt magic with their runes. This bothers me if every single orlanthi is able to fly, hurl lightning and command spirits and all the various fantastic magic. I was of the impression that that most people were lay members ans mostly ordinary people except for some talent or a couple of spells.

Submitted by soltakss on Tue, 28/08/2012 – 16:30.

To my mind, this is sympomatic of the problems with HQ2 magic.In the olden days, deities had powers based on their actions and histories as well as their runes. So, Storm Bull and Orlanth both had the Storm Rune, but had vastly different magics.Now, magic is rune-based, so anyone with the Storm Rune can fly, for example.Personally, I don’t like it, but I am in a minority and don’t want to derail the thread. The Old School answer would have been that most Orlanthi initiate to one of the mundane aspects, for example All Father or Orlanth Barntar, which didn’t have flying magic. Only Orlanth Adventurous had flying magic, and his worship was unusual even among Orlanthi. Simon Phipp.

Submitted by Markmohrfield on Tue, 28/08/2012 – 21:42.

The rules are very clear that that the nature of the deity constrains the magic they offer. In fact the description of Urox’s storm rune powers on page 175 of Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes specifically states “Urox lacks the the Air rune powers of flight, lightning and thunder.”

Did we read the same book?

Submitted by Charles on Tue, 28/08/2012 – 20:00.

S:KoH tells me that Orlanth is the source of the Air rune and of the Motion rune, and therefore worshippers have access to the broadest possible use of those runes. Worshippers of other Orlanthi gods with either of these two runes have access to a more limited set of powers. Similarly, Orlanth’s Mastery rune is stated to be more constrained (the source of this rune, at least in Dragon Pass, is his mother Kero Fin). On flight, the sidebar near the start of the description of the Orlanth cult tells me that most Orlanth worshippers can only fly under ritual conditions, such as the high holy days or with large special purpose sacrifices. Worshippers of other gods do not get to fly. Having said that, some Orlanthi people are born with the natural ability to fly.

Submitted by roko_joko on Tue, 28/08/2012 – 16:57.

Well for flight, I think you’re interpreting the HQ2 stuff not quite correctly.  S:KoH says Storm Bull doesn’t provide flying magic.  Kolat has the air rune, but no affinities.  Odayla has it, and although Sartar Companion doesn’t specify that Odayla Air powers exclude flying, it list some powers from the Odayla air rune, and flying isn’t in the list.  And then for affinities that are awoken by adulthood rites but not part of a cult initiation, S:KoH says you can only use them to augment stuff you could do anyway.Regarding what you said about Orlanth Adventurous, S:KoH does at least associate jumping magic with the motion rune, corresponding to the Adventurous aspect, rather than the air rune.  It associates flying with the air rune, but from other answers in this thread I think it’s clear that the intent was for flying to be uncommon magic.  I agree with your implication that it doesn’t express that idea clearly.It’s certainly a general pitfall of HQ, all versions, that descriptions of magic can be ambiguous.  I mean, a certain degree of ambiguity is the whole concept.  But that has pros as well as cons.

Submitted by Monglo on Wed, 29/08/2012 – 04:23.

Woah, this is not how i imterpreted it. So youre saying that the adulthood “initiation” doesnt have to do anything with being an Initiate and only gives you the ability to augment with your runes? Is that correct? What about the number of 40 000 initiates of orlath in KOH, what sort of initiates does it refer to?

First adulthood initiation, then cult initiation

Submitted by RoM on Wed, 29/08/2012 – 04:58.

First you have your adulthood initiation. That means you are an adult with all rights and obligations. It also means you worship the Orlanth/Ernalda pantheon as a whole. You can use magic only to augment mundane abilities. Later you can decide to initiate into a particular cult like Orlanth, Yinkin, Odayla etc. A prerequisite is that you have at least 1W in one corresponding rune. Only then you can use your runes for clearly magical deeds. I would say this includes flying. You can be a member of mutiple cults of the same pantheon. Later you can become a devotee if you have at least 9W in your divine rune. Devotees have to give up other cult memberships. In my Glorantha you have to be at least of this level to actually fly.Note: While it has many advantages being a cult member of Orlanth (or any other deity) it also comes with obligations. You have to act like your god and live the cult virtues and refrain from breaking any cult taboos. If you don’t you will get haunted be the agents of reprisal. Therefore there some people who may decide not to join a particular cult at all. However, most probably do when they can.

resources that describe Orlanthi initiation

Submitted by Charles on Wed, 29/08/2012 – 05:27.

Orlanthi Initiation Rites

Ernaldan Initiation Rites

Initiation is the norm for orlanthi

Submitted by Herve on Fri, 24/08/2012 – 18:26.

Among orlanthi, becoming an adult is called “Initiating” (note that “Initiation” means “beginning”). The God in you (your Main Rune) awakes. Only a few weirdoes follow the ways of the spirit. Still, it doesn’t mean anybody can fly or hurl lightning. Far from it. First, most of us have to work growing food and raising cattle so we don’t starve, so most of us awake Orlanthcarl or Barntar in them : Farmers’ Magics. No flying or lightning here, but Straight Furrows, Command Bull and the like. And so on for craftsmen, merchants and even most warrior: their magics helps them run faster and fight harder with their blades, but not to fly or hurl lightning. Only a few specialists can do these things, after many year of devotions and daring exploits. They are brave, awesome and we admire them much. They emulate our Great God, the Air and Motion Runes are very strong in them. Then often go airclad (naked) to honor Orlanth by exposing themselves to the Air. Often they have strong geasa and strange behavior, yet they are holy men. We paint our Clan Runes on Halls’ roofs so they can better orient themselves from the air. It is fortunate there are so few, for we must feed them and they recquire a lot of support for their Magics. But this is the Hero Wars. We Call the Hurricane to kill the red devils. Many find their Air and Motion, and Death, has grown Stronger. Many fly. Some hurl Thunderbolts. Some fire lightning Bolts from their speartip. All will fight.

Submitted by Monglo on Fri, 24/08/2012 – 18:52.

Thamka, Herve , for such an interesting response. I find you depiction of heortling magic very similar to what I envisioned. But returning to the Sartar book, the cults chapter counts there to be 38 000 of orlanthi initiates in Sartar. Im not sure what part is that of the whole population, but Barnsar only has 5 000.What am I getting wrong in concluding that there are 38 000 of flying, lightning hurling orlanthi all powerful with the Movement and Air runes? Im new to Glorantha and only famimiliar with the HQ version. Maybe that my source of confusion?

Submitted by roko_joko on Fri, 24/08/2012 – 23:30.

Monglo, I agree with you that Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes can very reasonably be interpreted as saying that most Sartarite Orlanthi can fly and throw lightning bolts.Glorantha writing in general usually implies that flight and lightning powers are limited.  For example, S:KoH says Sartarites fight with shield walls, which probably wouldn’t make much sense if everyone can jump around like Yoda.The cult numbers in S:Koh are a little borked, in general.  They add up to more people than there are adults.  And yes, it says most men are farmers and most farmers are Barntar initiates, but there are only 6000 Barntar initiates, which does not make sense.  So, one thing you can do is increase the Barntar number from 6,000 to a much larger number.Alternatively, you can say that farmers usually either worship Barntar, or an Orlanth subcult called Orlanthcarl.  That’s what Thunder Rebels did.  Thunder Rebels actually described Orlanthcarl as a subcult of Orlanth Allfather, the mastery aspect of Orlanth.You can also say flying and lightning are possible for many men, but difficult.  Maybe most men have to start by doing breath exercises for a half hour, and then they can only levitate a little.  Maybe they can fly in a circle, but only around the temple, on holidays, as part of a ceremony.  For lightning, maybe most men have to rub their hands on their wool kilts, and then they only get a little spark.  Maybe they can make lightning bolts, but only if it’s already raining, and a large group of them work together.For flight in particular, you can say it’s controlled by the motion rune rather than the air rune, and say that not many Orlanthi have a lot of motion power.  S:KoH already does that for jumping, so it’s not much of a stretch to apply the same idea to flight.

Submitted by Jeff on Sat, 25/08/2012 – 03:24.

>The cult numbers in S:Koh are a little borked, in general. They add up to more people than there are adults. And yes, it says most men are farmers and most farmers are Barntar initiates, but there are only 6000 Barntar initiates, which does not make sense. So, one thing you can do is increase the Barntar number from 6,000 to a much larger number. The cult numbers are supposed to add up to more people than there are adults. There is a significant number of Orlanthi who are initiated into two cults. Orlanth + something else, or Ernalda + something else is suprisingly common. And there are only 5000 Orlanth initiates who belong to the Barntar subcult. That’s about 13% of all Orlanth initiates, which does make that the largest Orlanth subcult (the next largest are Vinga and Heler, each with 1500 dedicated members). However, most farmers likely aren’t dedicated members of the Barntar subcult, but belong only to their clan Orlanth cult and worship Barntar as part of the ordinary cycle of festivals. If that seems pretty amorphous and not very cut and dry – again that is deliberate. Subcults are there to let players have plenty of minor variants of the cults if they want and to be a way that a Narrator can show of the diversity of worship that exists in a polytheistic religion if that is MGF for the group. At the same time, there are plenty of groups that drop subcults entirely and that is just fine!  Editor-in-Chief, Moon Design Publications

it’s more complicated…

Submitted by Charles on Sat, 25/08/2012 – 01:25.

Barntar is usually worshipped as part of the Orlanth cult and sometimes as an independent god. The figure of 6000 Barntar initiates may be inflated from “normal” because Barntar is seen as acceptable by the Lunar authorities. So when the authorities are around, the farmers (i.e. most men) say they worship Barntar, which will not trigger any lie detection magic because it is true (but incomplete). When not observed, the men will continue to worship Barntar using the rirtes of Orlanth rather than the rites of Barntar. Flying is explictly mentioned as difficult and most men fly only on the holy days of Orlanth. Most farmers will concentrate their magic on fertility and other day-to-day things rather than waste their effort on something they do for 2 or 3 days per year. I imagine that many would use their magic to augment the group to protect each other rather than try for flashy aggressive magic. And finally, some adults are initiated into multiple religions.

Submitted by roko_joko on Sat, 25/08/2012 – 01:42.

The figure of 6000 Barntar initiates may be inflated But we weren’t saying 6000 is too high, we were saying it’s too low, and that S:KoH doesn’t explain who all the other farmers worship.Flying is explictly mentioned as difficultNo doubt, but not in S:KoH.  Likewise with holy day flying.  What explicit mention are you referring to?

Submitted by Jeff on Sat, 25/08/2012 – 03:06.

Many Sartarite farmers worship Barntar as a subcult of Orlanth. See pages 15, 111, 125 of S:KoH.  They view Barntar an incarnation of Orlanth Thunderous who shows farmers how to approach the Great God of Storm. About 13% of all Orlanth cultists approach Orlanth through Barntar, making it the most popular of all subcults in Sartar. However, Barntar is also worshiped by all Orlanthi and Ernaldans, and many farmers have no more dedication to Barntar than that. About 1000 Sartarites worship Barntar as an independent god in his own right. Page 122 of S:KoH discusses flying. Ordinary Orlanthi fly using ritual magic (such as on holy days, or after sacrificing wealth to Orlanth, etc). The HeroQuest 2 rules system is not intended to be a modeling exercise in fantasy physics – if a character is an Orlanth cultist with a strong Air Rune and his player wants him to overcome an obstacle using flying, the default approach is to say that is permissible; remember only player heroes are statted up – if a Narrator wants to say most Orlanthi (except the player hero) can’t fly except on holy days, the rules also support that.Editor-in-Chief, Moon Design Publications


Submitted by Charles on Fri, 24/08/2012 – 21:47.

… is worshipped in several main forms: Thunderer, Larnsting, King and Lightbringer and each of these aspects can have further more specialized subcults. Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes describes Orlanth fully, here’s my synopsis. Thunderer is the god of the air, storms and weather with attributes of fertility and destruction. The most widely worshipped form, with a lot of emphasis on fertility for farmers. Larnsting (also described as Adventurous) is more focused on movement and change. Worshipped by young men before they settle down, warriors and lovers. King is worshipped for organisational powers and justice. Lightbringer is the mystical and heroquesting power of Orlanth with only a few permanent worshippers. [re-written after re-reading the relevant section of S:KoH]

Flight and Lightning Bolts, or Not ?

Submitted by Herve on Sat, 25/08/2012 – 06:19.

Well, you’ve heard what our Ancients say. In my Glorantha, most people focus on surviving and have no time / resources / magical energy for Flight and Lightning Bolts. They need Rain at the proper time, stronger or weaker winds, and from time to time a nice storm pounding their ennemies. The people focussing on personal exploits such as Flight and Lightning Mastery are a very special group : they’re PCs or adventurers. They are misfits who think more about exploits than surviving and prosperity. They worship weird cults (Orlanth Yavor the Lightning, etc). They can be useful to the clan, but most parents wouldn’t want their daugther to marry one – except once they have proven they ARE Orlanth in their ways. Then many women will throw themselves at them, always a good reason to learn to fly… Finally, we can say that “Barntar” is another name for “Orlanth the Plowsman”. Or Orlanthcarl. Or the Great Plowsman, Silkinister Big Hands, ancestor of your clan. What’s important is that about 90% of people are FARMERS, who don’t need Flight… or Bolts of Lightning!

Submitted by Monglo on Sat, 25/08/2012 – 09:08.

Thank you for your replies, everyone. So, if I understand correctly, the fluff answer is that only heroes are able to perform grand magical feats. But HQ rules say that every initiate with a rune affinity can, which means farmers can fly and hurl lightning as a innate ability, so you cant aaay that most just dont learn how. So, the answer was not to use HQ PC rules for NPC, I guess. Its just more difficult to totally wing everything when youre not very familiar with the setting. P.S. But still, EVERYONE has a divine rune affinity. Why cant they do all the amaziming thinggs this should allow them to do? My dnd riddled mind cant process it. …I guess they just cant, right?

the road less travelled

Submitted by Charles on Sat, 25/08/2012 – 09:31.

Most farmers have magic. But they don’t waste it on flashy stuff. They use it for farming, to feed themselves, their families, their bloodline and their clan. They use it for crafting, for trading, for all of the things that they do every day throughout the year. In my Glorantha, every sentient being has the potential for magic, even great magic. But most choose not to take that path because it is risky. Because they care about what their family think. Because they fear that they are not up to it, whatever. But some Gloranthans chase that risk and don’t care that others think they are not normal and ask themselves ‘why not’? And there are others, who would have chosen a quieter path, but are forced into adventure and the path to greatness or death. The heroes are those, who through choice or circumstance step on to the stage to make a new story. And they will meet others who are similar, for good or for ill. And many more who just fade into the background.

Orlanthi Flight

Submitted by Herve on Sat, 25/08/2012 – 17:48.

Oh yes, while we’re on this subject: I see “regular” orlanthi Flight more like a super-jumping / gliding ablity, à la “Crouching Tiger – Sleeping Dragon” than the flight of an airplane. You make great leaps, you run on treetops, you clan glide for a few dozen meters. But very few people can fly for hours, or for great distances, or very high in the sky. Or all three. That’s the stuff of Heroes, who concentrate their efforts on doing this.

Flying high

Submitted by RoM on Mon, 27/08/2012 – 04:42.

In my Glorantha most Orlanthi do fly – but only once or twice a year during high holy day ceremonies. There they experience flying as something divine. But it has no direct mundane benefit. So the rest of the year most Orlanthi won’t do it, because it’s difficult to plough the field and tend the cattle while you are airborne.Orlanth himself did both, he is the wind *and* the farmer. So one aspect of him is not less Orlanth-like than the other.

Submitted by Monglo on Mon, 27/08/2012 – 04:51.

I would strongly disagree that flying has no mundane benefits over ordinary modes of transportation. I know i would fly all the time if I xould.

Submitted by RoM on Mon, 27/08/2012 – 06:17.

I meant flying during a high holy day ceremony. Of course in Glorantha even worship ceremonies have consequences for your daily life. What I meant is that my Orlanthi fly not to get from A to B but to celebrate the King of the Gods and Liberator of the Universe.

Flying : useful or not?

Submitted by Herve on Mon, 27/08/2012 – 15:43.

This remark about “I’d fly all the time if I could” is very interesting. Allow me to answer as a (very conservative) orlanthi godi. “That’s a child’s answer, not a man’s. Your initiation should have taught you better. You have responsabilities to your clan as your clan has responsabilities to you. You must work to provide Protection, Sustenance, Justice (etc. – the seven commitments) and these things are not done by frolicking in the Air, just as you cannot spend your life carousing with women. Even our Heroes do not fly for their pleasure only. They fly off to fight gloriously our ennemies and vainquish demons. We experience the joy of Flying on our High Holy Days – that is enough for you. Now go back to your oxen and plow until you’ve grown some wisdom into that thick skull of yours”. (and the young orlanthi answers : “NO ONE CAN MAKE DO ANYTHING”. And he’s right. And he goes and becomes a PC.)

Submitted by Monglo on Mon, 27/08/2012 – 15:55.

Ah, I misunderstand you, RoM. That makes sense. And, Herve, thank you for your inspired responses – they were a joy to read!

Submitted by Herve on Tue, 28/08/2012 – 14:03.

It is me that thank you for giving me the opportunity to go subjective and present some corner of Glorantha as seen by its inhabitants. There is no objectivity in Glorantha, no good and evil, only US and them. PCs are weirdoes who straddle the borders between cultures. As such, their behavior can be un-gloranthan if players are more into PLAY than ROLE. Normal folks should throw stones and manure at such weirdoes to chase them off their lands – which they quite often do, in fact!

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