This section helps explain some of the peculiarities of Orlanth warfare:
Some of the most important Orlanthi war gods demand that Death be wielded with honor and the Humakt cult upholds the code of honor in combat and war. This code is strictly adhered to by Humakt, but also generally followed by other honorable war gods such as Orlanth and Yelmalio.
Honorable combat is not fought for gain or selfish reasons. Although it is honorable to serve as mercenaries for pay, that payment is not supposed to be dependent on the outcome of the battle.
In battle, two warriors may duel or engage in prolonged personal combat. Both combatants must be armed and may use Rune or spirit magic, allied and other spirits, elementals, etc. Groups of warriors may fight approximately equal numbers of foes. However, multiple warriors or magicians must not gang up on a single warrior.
A warrior who surrenders becomes a prisoner of his capture and is under their protection. At the same time, a surrendered warrior must not flee his captor until ransomed or released.
Honor also dictates how warriors were to deal with noncombatants. No one should attack an enemy who has temporarily lost or dropped their weapon. The lives of noncombatants, prisoners of war, and farmers are also sacred. Pillaging the land is forbidden.
How about Praxian warfare? Does the unwritten rules differ? yes and no. Praxians will fight just for the looting rights and consider that honorable. The Bison, High Llama, and Zebra are otherwise very much like this, while the Impala and Sable are far less concerned about such matters.
This looks so far away from what we read in the Illiad. Your war gods – who unlike Zeus and Apollo and Ares say that Honor is EXTREMELY important – withdraw their blessings. And the other side wins. Guess you weren’t actually so pragmatic!
Humakt has his code. He considers following that code to be more important than your life. Orlanth largely agrees, which is why Humakt willingly serves Orlanth (and Orlanth is one of very very few cults that Humakt is friendly with).
Yelm, Polaris, Yelmalio, and Yanafal Tarnils all follow the same code. The war gods who do not are Babeester Gor, Storm Bull, Shargash, and Zoran Zoran. Babeester Gor is accepted because she fights for a single purpose – to defend the Earth Goddesses. Storm Bull is accepted because of his single-minded devotion to fighting Chaos.
Tangentially, if a drunken storm bull kills someone in a brawl, a family can demand blood money, right? Yes, but good luck collecting it. They are welcome to try to kill the offender or a fellow member of his temple, but good luck with that as well.
Unless you can appeal to someone with power that the Storm Bull respects.
Shargash and Zorak Zoran are despised by a lot of cults because of their cruelty and lack of honour.
Orlanth, could put SB in his place. Orlanth Rex is traditionally the one to do that. And the Storm Bull’s tend to be very cautious about being push the Plow Priests too hard – there are rumours among the Storm Bull cultists that they have magic that turn Bullmen into Oxen.
Storm Bull is welcomed in Orlanthi society because of his aid against Chaos. But if he doesn’t have Chaos to fight, he often wears out his welcome (of course Orlanth himself tolerates Storm Bull’s shenanigans – but the rest of the Lightbringers get sick of him pretty quickly).
One of my PCs were relieving a siege, and blundered into the enemy camp, a hospital. For broos. They slaughtered them all. A hospital? Was Chalana Arroy present there? If so, did they kill Chalana Arroy cultists? Chalana Arroy is not inflexibly hostile towards broo – we know of broo initiates of the Merciful Goddess. Although Orlanth HATES Chaos, he really really hates people who kill fellow Lightbringers. Especially the pacifist followers of the Merciful One.
Orlanthi can be dishonourable if there is an overwhelming higher principle at stake (like fighting Chaos), but they still are going to lose Honor for it. Humakti get visited by the Spirits of Retribution. There is no higher principle than Honor.
In the great Cult Compatibility table that currently has 99 cults cross-referenced with 99 cults, Humakt doesn’t have much of an issue with Chaos or not Chaos. He cares about how Death is used, and that is it. Except he is quite friendly with his brother Orlanth, with Ty Kora Tek, and with Yinkin.
So Humakt HATES Thanatar, Vivamort, and the Red Goddess. The Red Goddess violates the separation of the worlds and is thus his enemy. Ironically, he’s totally neutral on Yanafal Tarnils.
Primal Chaos? Pocharngo? Humakt is like “whatever.”
He doesn’t much like Krarsht, Krjalk, or Mallia – because they misuse Death. But they are in category like Zoran Zoran or the Seven Mothers.
Humakt is hostile towards Zorak Zoran, but an enemy of the Red Goddess. This comes from her resurrecting one of HIS cultists who was slain in battle by Death.
“Pillaging the land” is not the same as plundering a city or town or even a temple. The latter is fine (well depends on the temple) but the former is forbidden.
“Pillaging the land” is taking the crops, burning the fields, plundering the granaries, taking the women and children, etc.Now when Argrath takes Pavis he lets his army take stuff – gold, silver, buildings, etc. But he does not destroy the agricultural infrastructure, and establishes himself as the lawful overseer of the granaries. That stuff belongs to the goddess – he is now the representative of the Storm God, so has some lawful rights to it, but is supposed to protect it, not destroy it. And don’t take certain types of stuff, like grain, women, and children, and others in the protection of the goddess.
Of course mortals screw this up a lot. But the Gloranthan war gods in the main part expect their followers to fight honourably. And in the main part, human armies that follow those war gods do act honorably. At least in the main part. Of course evil things happen, humans lose it and do terrible things – but these things are often considered sacrilegious in a setting where that has serious implications.
Those who participated in the Duck Hunt – or passively watched as their kin did – now are subject to huge claims from the Ducks, who appeal to Kallyr Starbrow for justice and compensation.
Humakti are neither good nor evil. But they are dedicated to code of how Death is to be wielded. They are not Judge Dredd or Lancelot. Neither are dedicated to Death and Honor. Humakt is beyond things like concern for the social good. His is strict adherence to the Code of Honor, damn the consequences. But that also means that when the more pragmatic Orlanthi say stuff like we can’t accept the surrender of the Lunar assassin who murdered our kinfolk, he says, “you can and you will.” it is not the killing of the man that is honorable. It is the rules governing the use of Death. They are often torn – unlike their god, they are mortals. They often let their passions, loyalties, hates, and loves drive their use of Death instead of just honour. But that doesn’t mean their fierce and implacable god is cool with that.
As an aside, a huge issue of honour and vengeance that will disrupt Kallyr’s short reign (on top of the failed Lightbringers Quest) is the Duck Demand for Vengeance. The Ducks bring a claim to Prince Kallyr demanding compensation for the Duck Hunt. After all, the kin of all those dead Ducks are entitled to life price. Claims are made against the Balmyr, Cinsina, Colymar, Dinacoli, Locaem, and Malani for their participation in killing hundreds of ducks. And those life prices add up.
In early 1626, the Ducks brought a claim to Prince Kallyr demanding compensation for the Duck Hunt. Claims were made against the Balmyr, Cinsina, Colymar, Dinacoli, Locaem, and Malani for their participation in killing hundreds of ducks. Many refused or at least refuted the claims, and Boldhome was filled with dissension. Kallyr was said to have welcomed the news that the Lunar Army was seen marching again, as battle was preferable to the squawking of endless legal claims.
As an aside, it is worth keeping in mind that the irresponsible and reckless dissemination of Death to those who misused it is what weakened the structural integrity of the cosmos and allowed Chaos into the world. The Humakti agree fully with this, as do the Orlanthi, Yelmites, Westerners, and many others.
What about killing in self-defense? If you are defending yourself, it is always fair to say you are facing an “armed” foe.