The most important war god in the Lunar Empire is Yanafal Tarnils. All soldiers in the Lunar Army are lay members and probably a quarter of the Lunar Army are initiates of Yanafal Tarnils, either alone or as part of the Seven Mothers. Almost every file-leader, captain, and commander of Lunar regiments are at least an initiate of Yanafal Tarnils.
Next most important war god is Shargash, who was the Dara Happan war god. However although many rank and file soldiers worship Shargash, particular in units from Kostaddi, Darjiin, and Sylila, he is rarely a regimental god. Shargash is often released by the Red Emperor (in his capacity as the Emperor of Dara Happa). Avivorus is often associated with Shargash.
Polaris is an important war god, and his star captains are regimental gods for many older Lunar regiments. Avivorus is associated with Polaris.
Avivorus is the most popular god of the rank and file, and more than a third of the Lunar Army are initiates of the Spear God (often through Shargash, Polaris, or Yelm).
Humakt is still a surprisingly important war god, particularly in the West Reaches and Sylila. Maybe 15% or more of the regular Lunar Army are Humakt cultists. Regiments with many Humakti are always officered by Yanafal Tarnils cultists – think of them like Gurkhas in British India. They were particularly useful fighting against Sheng Seleris and other Pentans, although such soldiers are less useful (or reliable) in Dragon Pass.
What about Alkoth regiments who worship Shargash? How are they different from other Lunar regiments? A lot of ordinary soldiers worship Shargash, especially in regiments mustered in Henjarl or Sylila, but he is not the patron of regular Lunar Army regiments. The Empire makes use of some “irregular” Shargashi militia, which I personally imagine are like the Kadyrovites, Wagner Group, or sōhei in pre-Tokugawa Japan, or as mercenary companies. I expect they get used a lot in Dart Wars, and against the White Moon Rebellions (where regular Lunar soldiers might prove unreliable).
Note that Hastatus is the common name for Avivorus, but as it literally just means Spearman in Latin, I am using Avivorus as the god’s name.
I thought about doing the same with Hippoi but she appears in so many places and so many different cultures, I decided to stay with the Greek name.
A recent post said that Humakti was hostile to the Red Goddess. Individual worshippers can obviously exercise choice on this issue. How does it affect Humakti in the Lunar Army? There is a reason that regiments with large numbers of Humakti are always officered and commanded by members of the Yanafal Tarnils. YT and Humakt are Neutral, and both cults are Honourable.
I imagine that the big battles of the Hero Wars must be like the Mahabharata’s account of the Kurukshetra War, where oath-bound Humakti on both sides face off against each other, and we have students fighting teachers. Wind Lords leap into the sky and duel with Sun Lords using Lightning and Sun Spears, and Scimitars of YT fight against Axe Maidens. Maddened Storm Khans ride down on spear men calling upon Avivorus and their Star Captains. Crater Makers hurl down meteors and Storm Voices summon massively stacked Thunderbolts.
This is nothing like the Roman legions. It something more like this:
If they’re just lay members of these war cults, does that mean that a group of Orlanthi would actually have a fair magic advantage over the Lunars? If the Sartarites tend to have a very high if not total percentage of people initiated but most (or at least the majority of rank and file) of the Lunars are just lay members? No, most adults in most cultures are initiates of cults. But ALL Lunar soldiers are lay members of YT, regardless of whether they are initiates of Shargash, Humakt, Yelm, or whoever.
Yanafal Tarnils is neither Mars (a traditional war god of cross-cultural origins) nor Mithras (a mystery cult within the army). He’s a deified historical figure (from four centuries ago), more Heracles or Guan Yu – but also a key pillar of the Lunar state religion. YT’s a fascinating figure, and I wonder if the mortal figure would even recognise what he has become as a god.