In the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death, participants traveled the secret pathways of the Hero Plane that tied the Holy Country together. They defined and named the powers of each Sixth, and allied with such powers as they could and obtained magical weapons and treasures. Thus armed, they engaged in magical (and physical) contests with the other contestants and with the contestant’s own Shadow. This replicates the magical battles of Belintar, with each contestant magically identifying with and experiencing Belintar’s experiences, and with the final victor invoking Belintar as an additional subtle body (as Mister Bondaru wrote about). In the end, the victor of the tournament IS Belintar, but also still themself. Although there are analogies to the Red Emperor, this is a very different process than how a new Red Emperor is recognized. The Tournament replicates in the Hero Plane the key mythic moments of the original contests and struggles of Belintar – which the contestants experience but IN THEIR OWN manner. This is not a rote repetition of Belintar’s thaumaturgical battles, but a re-experiencing of them, with the same lack of knowledge, lack of script, and creative possibilities. And it should also be remembered that both Sartar and Tarkalor participated in these contests, as did several other members of the Sartar Dynasty, and other notables (such as Broyan of Whitewall if I recall). This magical experimentation and experience had a significant influence on the Orlanthi of Sartar, and may constitute one of the key reasons (along with Argrath’s incredibly diverse personal magical experiences culminating in the circumnavigation of the world) why they were able to contest with the Lunar Empire on equal terms in the Hero Wars.
One more important thought – if the tournament kicks you out, you lose but you still gain insight and experiences which you can carry with you. So you didn’t become the incarnation of the Holy Country, but there are consolation prizes.
Just to reinforce this, whenever a Gloranthan casts Rune Magic, they are the god. You don’t “learn” Rune magic – you become able to wield some fraction of the god’s Power by being an incarnation of the god if only for a moment.
And if that is experienced every time you cast a Rune spell, becoming Belintar is not that far off.
One of the really amazing magical things about the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death is that each time it is held, the Holy Country is magically remade through its contests. Gods and spirits are again named, and perhaps with more relevant and pertinent titles, old alliances reforged and new alliances made. Each time Belintar is invoked by the winner and the Holy Country’s magic and proximity to the divine realm restored.
Are some of Belintar’s trials recycled versions of previous heroquests from the time of the Only Old One, and the Shadowlands? Belintar did not recycle. He created.
How many Belintar were there? and what becomes of the old Belintars? There on Belintar. But he’s been worn by many who have managed to become him when his mortal body expires. Belintar has been worn by men, women, and even trolls.
How close to canon is the old “Masters of Luck and Death” supplement? the Issaries supplement? Not at all. Sadly the old Issaries supplement had nothing to do with the Tournament of the Masters of Luck and Death despite its name.