There are approximately 3 million people in Safelster. This politically decentralized area around Lake Felster in Ralios is one of the more densely populated areas in Glorantha. It is also one of the more religiously diverse areas in Glorantha.
About 10% of the population still follows the “Old Gods“. This is a hodge-podge of shamanic cults, spirit worship, ancestor worship, and the like. These cults have had syncretism with the Theyalan and Malkioni religions and barely resemble their original forms.
About 27% follow the Lightbringers and Earth religions of the Theyalans. These have also incorporated local deities and spirits, and have added many heroes, most recently Siglolf Cloud-Crusher, a subcult of Orlanth Thunderous.
About 20% follow Rokari Malkionism. The zzaburi look to Leplain for support and guidance.
About 5% follow other “orthodox” Malkioni sects such as the Boristi, Galvosti, and Old Hrestoli.
About 33% follow what is commonly called one of the Stygian Heresies. This includes the Chariot of Lightning sect, which some 8% of the total population follows.
The Stygian Heresies are esoteric syncretic cults that claim origin in the early Second Age, and incorporate elements of Malkionism, Lightbringers, and Troll religion. They have distinct and secretive theologies. First and foremost they all claim to be the inheritors of esoteric knowledge derived from the personal spiritual experience of Arkat, that is above any orthodox teaching, tradition, or authority derived from Malkion.
Secondly, they all identify Gbaji the Deceiver as the great moral evil of the world. Arkat’s struggle with Gbaji is the source of his spiritual authority (which all agree is of a superior authority to Malkion or others).
Beyond that, the sects are all over the map. Some sects openly display themselves. However, most hide and pretend to be orthodox Malkioni (especially Rokari) or are initiates of other local cults. As one hidden Archon is cited – “if any religion is stronger than you, follow it, but keep the secret truth in your hearts.” Many sects permit or even demand that members deny their membership to outsiders – such dissimulation was required for the survival of the sect during periods of persecution and have been maintained. Their beliefs are concealed from outsiders, and members are encouraged to be lay members of other cults Many sects forbid marriage outside the sect.
Here we have new prophets (Surantyr the Nonheretic), secret esoteric religions (the Stygian Heresies), extremely transgressive movements (Boristi, Chaos Monks), ecstatic religions (especially where the Old Gods meet the Lightbringers), and more.
There are also a TON of Issaries cultists in Safelster. Now doubt Issaries caravans still go from Safelster to Esrolia via the Manirian Road, to Noloswal via the Tanier River, to Loskalm across the Forest Road through the Erontree forest, and to Fronela over High Llama Pass.
A few more thoughts on Ralios. The Rokari rulers of Seshela ruled everything west of Lake Felster (including Dangim, Kustria, Tarasdal, and Daran) until 1515, and still have a lot of influence in the area. The Seshnegi often interfere in the politics of the city-states, supporting or installing Rokari rulers. Now that King Guilmarn has forced Nolos and Pasos into submission, it is expected that he will seek to impose his will on Ralios.
About 20% of the people in Safelster practice orthodox Rokarism, most of them are in western Safelster. But the Rokari community appears much bigger – maybe 33% or more.
Many Safelstran temples to the Invisible God make an outward appearance of conformity to Rokarism and often an orthodox zzaburi presides over rites and ceremonies to the Invisible God, while most of the worshipers also belong to an Arkati sect. “The Invisible God gets his due regardless of what the priest and the worshipers believe.” This allows the temple to profess allegiance to the King of Seshnela, often receiving gifts and support, and sometimes even Seshnelan aid against their political rivals.
Many Rokari wizards are aware of the duplicity, and “to lie like an Arkati” is a common expression in Tanisor.