A few notes on the Red Emperor from the Cults Book.
The Red Emperor is the supreme high priest for the Lunar religion and for the Yelm cult. Within the Lunar Empire, all Lunar cults report to the Red Emperor and the leading priests of all Lunar cults are appointed (or at least confirmed) by the Red Emperor. Many Lunar cults require an oath of obedience to the Red Emperor as part of their initiation rituals.
It is very easy to become a lay member of his cult, and most cults in the Lunar Empire will include it without notice to their worshipers. The overwhelming majority of the Red Emperor’s worshipers are members of associated cults, such as the Seven Mothers, the Red Goddess, or Yelm. The Red Emperor is worshiped as part of every Lunar worship ceremony (just as the Red Goddess is). However, there are far fewer initiates into his mysteries. To become an initiate of the Red Emperor cult, one must already be an initiate of the Red Goddess. Initiates serve as priests for the Imperial Cult. Whenever the emperor is killed, the priests in Glamour begin the rituals that will allow them to aid the Red Emperor in regaining himself and the parts of his soul that may have been damaged by his death. They also guard the sacred portals that allow the Red Emperor to travel from the Red Moon to the earth intact. The Red Emperor does not provide any Rune magic, but initiates may learn any Rune spells offered by associated cults.
The Red Emperor is also the supreme leader of the Yelm Imperator cult in the Lunar Empire. He performs the Yelmic rites necessary for cosmic survival. Among the non-Lunar population of the Lunar Empire, the Red Emperor is still entitled to deference and obedience as the avatar of Yelm.
The Egi are those chosen by the Goddess to contribute to the Red Emperor whenever he changes his Mask. It is widely presumed that the Egi are all initiates of the Red Emperor cult. The names, precise number, and types of the Egi are a closely guarded cult secret, as is how they contribute to the Red Emperor. It is known that many Egi reside on the Moon and some have palaces in the Lunar realm.
In short, the succession process for the Red Emperor is cloaked in mystery. According to the official histories, it is as simple as discarding a mask and putting a new mask on.But there are whispers of Dart Wars, thaumaturgical battles, and even skirmishes on the Red Moon itself.
Is the Red Emperor also the supreme high priest for Yelm worshipers in Sun County? No. Nor is he the supreme high priest for Yelm worshipers in Pent.
But as an aside, there are Lunar theories that the Red Emperor’s Yelm connection is what allowed him to hide from Sheng Seleris, as the Celestial Emperor could not see his own shadow.
So how much are those oaths to the Red Emperor worth, given that all those priests are illuminated? Comparatively few initiates of most Lunar cults are Illuminated. The rank and file of Seven Mothers worshipers rarely achieve Illumination for example.
Was thinking more these guys: “the leading priests of all Lunar cults are appointed (or at least confirmed) by the Red Emperor.” those are dangerous folk, but they are hand picked by the Red Emperor. Hope he knows what he is doing. But not all social authority is granted by some kind of Command Spell. I expect that important priesthoods have lots of strings attached that the recipient needs to voluntarily accept in order to get the appointment. The recipient may be Illuminated and immune to spirits of retribution, but they might still be subject to a pact that they make, or have demons attached to them, or have to put their hand in the mouth of a crocodile, or whatever.
One of the best examples was Parg Ilisi. As per the Sourcebook:
At the Poralistor River she was met and engaged by Aronius Jaranthir, a Lunar nobleman commanding a company of heavy cavalry. Aronius was nearly killed and his cavalry thrown to the earth by her magic, and the priestess Erian lost a foot and half of her powers in the struggle. Parg Ilisi, a general noted for his skill in dealing with barbarian tactics, was dispatched with picked troops to teach the people of Twice Blessed a lesson. To combat the great magics of the land, several schools of magicians were also sent to accompany him.
In 2/31 (1332), after a year of fierce combat, the Eldest Elder of the Council of Queens offered herself as a sacrifice for her people. She promised that her people would give up all their lands, possessions, and lives, but not their beliefs or souls. Parg Ilisi proceeded to take all that was offered and, with a cruel twist of Lunar magic, stole their souls as well. Free to act as he desired, the demented general proceeded to rape the land, people, and powers of the region.The subsequent horror is a blot on the Lunar name, and an eternal shame that continued for ten years. By 2/41 (1342), the stories of Parg Ilisi’s horrors and debauchery began to spread to the other Lunar provinces, forcing the Emperor to act lest the provinces rebel. On touring the once-beautiful land, he was staggered by the destruction and personally dispatched demons to drag Parg Ilisi to the pits of perdition. The Emperor lamented and mourned for a week, then rose and granted all survivors of Twice Blessed these things:
1. Return and restoration of all bodies, souls, beliefs, and properties if possible;
2. Propitiatory sacrifice every eleven years, offered to the survivors or their descendants until the recipients should decide to release the Empire from this task; and
3. Imperial protection of lives, properties, and beliefs for as long as the Emperor shall live; and freedom from taxes.