Humakt is a favorite player character cult in RuneQuest and no wonder! The cult is for the professional warrior, the mercenary, the holy killer, but is also tempered by a strict code of honor. The cult keeps its secrets to itself, is associated with none, and almost never plays favorites except towards Orlanth, Ty Kora Tek, and weirdly Yinkin.
The cult is more common than many assume. There are some 4000 initiates in Sartar, making Humakt the war god of Sartar (there are other martial deities of course – Orlanth, Storm Bull, Babeester Gor, and Yelmalio – but Humakt is THE war god). Most warriors are at least lay members of the cult.
Humakt has made a big impact on Sartarite society. The Orlanth cult leaders have largely adopted Humakt’s code of honor for duels and warfare (at least in part to maintain their access to skilled mercenaries). Swords are revered and popular weapons, and held in far greater prestige than spears or axes. His cult also enables the Sartarites to punch far above their weight in times of war – and cult members form a core of disciplined, veteran warriors around which rest of the Sartar Free Army is built.
So are there occasional Humakti that use spears or axes? The sword IS Humakt. Many Humakt cultists know how to use spears, axes, bows, whatever, but the sword is the cult’s preferred weapon. And if you want to advance in the cult hierarchy you better know how to use a sword! and remember every weapon skill counts for becoming a Sword! The sword exists only for the purpose of Death.
Most cults other than Orlanth, Ty Kora Tek, and Yinkin understandably fear Humakt. Even Zorak Zoran – despite his violent bravado – fears the God of Death and War. Many dislike Humakt because of the fear he engenders. Humakt brings Death and ended the Golden Age as much as Orlanth did. He throve in the Lesser Darkness and the Greater Darkness. He is acknowledged even among those people who do not worship him.
Can someone more experienced with the setting help me to understand why Humakt doesn’t hate Orlanth? I always figured that Orlanth betrayed him when he used his stolen sword to slay Yelm. Orlanth did not betray Humakt. That story is a way of separating Orlanth and Humakt, but the cults are about as friendly with each other as one can be without being associated.
At some level I suppose Humakt simply forgave Orlanth, who did, after all, go to great lengths to rectify what he had done. There’s no “forgiveness” (which is not a Humakt thing in any case). Humakt is one of the great gods and is part of the council of gods that made the world what it is. Orlanth is an honourable god, respects Death, etc. But he’d use Death for goals other than honourable killing in its own right (revenge, protecting friends and family, reviving the Sun, etc.). Humakt has no goals beyond being Honorable Death.
Besides Grandfather Mortal, is Humakt famous for slaying any other gods or Chaos terrors? He sent countless deities and mortals to the Underworld because they were no longer living. Arguably every god that got killed had Humakt present. Humakt fought and crippled the Monster of the Void itself, so that Arachne Solara could overcome the monster, binding it forever. That counts as a big one.
Humakt is recognized throughout Glorantha, but most people view him as a principle, rather than a being with a personality subject to worship. The Orlanthi, Carmanians, and Storm Pentans are his main worshipers and hold Humakt in high respect – most other human cultures view him as an evil god, the antithesis of Life.
The Orlanthi consider Humakt a force of nature AND an entity with a personality.
Why does Humakt have tusks in this image? Humakt has been depicted as being a black-skinned demon since at least the early Second Age. He has fangs, tusks, or whatever depending on the artist.
Death is a monster, after all.