Monday, 12 October 2015


Damaged Dara Happan Sculpture of Yelm
Mythos and History
In the beginning was the One, the great being who created the world. He created the Celestial Court to rule his creation along side him, and all was perfect. Then, the Celestial Court had many children, so many so that the One could no longer be part of the world. He went among the gods to choose a successor, to rule in his stead. He chose Bright Yelm, the shining child of Aether Primolt, one of the Celestial Court.
The One and the Celestial Court got together, and combined their powers to create the Staff of Justice, which the One gave to Yelm, giving him the power of Divine Order to rule the world.
As the leader of the gods, Yelm proved himself wise and powerful. He filled humanity with fire so that they might be worthy; he tamed the dark dragon, turning it into his throne; he married the goddess Dendara, bringing unity to the world; and he bore a son, Murharzarm, who was the Best Man.
Murharzarm tames Nestendos
When Nestendos the serpent rose against Yelm's kingdom, it crushed all gods who tried to oppose it. Yelm himself went forth to confront the serpent, but could not, for it was as corrupt as he was pure, and his purity prevented him from being corrupted by touching it.It was then that Yelm's son, Murharzarm proved himself worthy, because he confronted Nestendos. He broke the serpent's teeth with his scepter, he stared it down, and bound it with the sacred tools of the Working God, his uncle. The serpent was bound into the earth by the workers, who sang songs to please her, and in this way Nestendos became Oslira, the Great River.
Yelm, seeing his son do what he could not, was pleased, and secretly arranged for Murharzarm to complete Ten Tests which could not be done by anyone who was not the rightful Emperor. When Murharzarm completed these tests, he became the First Emperor of the Rich Land, Dara Happa, and became his father's successor.
Murharzarm ruled for fourty thousand years of peace, and none troubled Dara Happa during his reign, until the end. Some of the gods despised Yelm and Murharzarm, and denied Divine Order. They gathered in secret, and created Death. Creeping into the royal palace, they struck down Murharzarm, piercing his body and sapping his blood.
When Murharzarm was killed, the world was broken. Yelm could not bear to see his son die, and so broke himself. The rebels despaired at what they did, but could not set it right, so fled.
When Yelm was broken, his many parts separated. Some became worshipped as gods, such as Vrimak the Eagle of Heaven, and Antirius who was Yelm's staff.
Without an Emperor, the people of Dara Happa despaired, and they named the son of Murharzarm in his place. But now Death had come, men were mortal, so each Emperor lasted for only a while before another must be chosen. These Emperors always bore Antirius, so they were the rightful Emperor, but none were as great as the First.
After a myriad of years; after great Emperors, and poor Emperors, and even the Empty Emperor; after even the light of Antirius had been lost; came Khordavu. He was born with no shadow, and reclaimed the lost divine regalia of the Emperors, which had been lost.
So great was Khordavu that he united the fractured lands, and dismissed the false Emperors, showing himself to be the True Emperor blessed by Antirius. He became the Emperor, and Yelm rose once again in the sky, united once again.

Nature of the Cult

Yelm is the Sky Father, the Sun who crosses the sky each day and rules over all. He is the Fire of Life, the Source of Warmth, the Lord of the Above. Even amongst those who claim the sun is their own, lesser godling, they still know of Yelm, and fear or respect him.
Yelm is the Dispenser of Power, the Highest Lord, the Keeper of Order, and the Maker of Classes. He wields the Divine Order which governs all life, naming and taming the lawless who seek to bring down the social hierarchy, and bringing them to heel. He dispenses justice, and is the perfect ruler.

Yelm is always shown as the perfect Dara Happan Emperor, usually sat enthroned, and holding the Staff of Justice and the other regalia of the Dara Happan Emperor. As the earthly manifestation of Yelm, any depiction of an Emperor is also a depiction of Yelm, and the two are not easily distinguished.
Plentonious identified the central figure of the Solar Court on the Gods Wall as Yelm.

Yelm is the owner of the Sky Rune and is also strongly associated with the Mastery and Stasis Runes. As such, Yelm is one of the Great Gods of Glorantha, acknowledged even by many cultures that do not worship him.

Sky Rune
As the owner of the Sky Rune, initiates of Yelm can make the broadest possible use of the powers of Sky. A very incomplete list of the abilities Yelm initiates have been to use the Sky Rune for include: burn trolls; blind foes with bright light; command and heal birds and horses; enchant gold; illuminate their surroundings; improve their spear, mace, and bow fighting; make their weapon erupt into magical flame; protect themselves against defilement and temptation; purify themselves and others; raise themselves into the air; and summon and command lesser Sky gods.
The Sky Rune aspect of Yelm is called Yelm the Warrior, and those with a strong affinity with this rune are loyal, honest, and pure.

Mastery Rune
Yelm, as the Emperor of the Universe, is the source of the Mastery Rune within Dara Happan religion. An incomplete list of the abilities Yelm initiates have been known to use their Mastery Rune for includes: awe crowd; bless citizens; command followers and citizens; command griffins; convince citizens; inspire courage; inspire loyalty; name enemy; and summon citizens.
The Mastery Rune aspect of Yelm is called Yelm Imperator, and those with a strong affinity with this rune are proud, just, and authoritative.

Stasis Rune
Yelm is the bringer of Divine Order and Justice, preserving the universe from those who bring disorder and change. He also showed people the correct way to act in life. An incomplete list of the abilities Yelm initiates have been known to use their Stasis Rune for includes: calm anger; calm winds; control flood; drive away clouds; extinguish wildfires; protect weak; recite poetry; and slow enemies.
The Stasis Rune aspect of Yelm is called Yelm the Teacher, and those with a strong affinity with this rune are stubborn, inflexible, and exacting.

Particular Likes and Dislikes
As the head of the Celestial Pantheon, all other sky gods respect and pay homage to Yelm; who responds with grace and honour to each. His sons often try to outdo each other to earn their father's respect, which Yelm encourages, for he enjoys seeing his sons perform great deeds to help his people.
Yelm is often opposed by those who reject the social order, such as the gods of Storm and Darkness. These monsters refuse him his just due, and are so banished to live outside the Rich Land of Dara Happa. When their worshippers attack, the worshippers of Yelm are well prepared to send them back to where they belong.

Cult Organization
Despite Yelm's paramount status in Dara Happan religion, he is viewed as too pure and glorious for most to worship directly. For that reason, most nobles are only lay members of Yelm's cult, worshipping the Allfather through his tangible incarnation, the Emperor of Dara Happa.

Despite Yelm's importance, he has only a few hundred priests devoted to him. These Sun Priests spend almost all of their time running the temple in each Dara Happan city, devoting themselves entirely to Yelm. They rarely congregate, and when they do it is for matters of grave importance, where the Emperor of Dara Happa himself conducts the rituals.

Centre of Power, Holy Places
Every city or town in Dara Happa possesses a temple to Yelm an their centre, which will be the largest and most impressive building in the settlement. This temple will be surrounded by those of other gods, acting as attendants and protectors, just as their gods attend and protect Yelm himself.
The greatest and most ancient temple of Yelm is the Tower of Yelm in Raibanth, the earthly residence of the sun god. The Tower is too holy to rest upon the ground itself, so Yelm raised a mighty ziggurat beneath it, so that his followers could approach him, although he has not descended there since his son's murder.

Holy Days and Sacrifices
Yelm has four holy days throughout the year, each marking a significant point in Yelm's history.
On the first day of the first week of Youth Season (Freezeday, Disorder Week, Sea Season), Yelm's return is celebrated. This day ends the long winter, and signifies the coming of warmth and light. The Emperor Khordavu, who was enthroned when Yelm returned, is remembered at this time, and it is also known as Khordavu's Day in his honour.
His High Holy Day, known as Enthronement Day, takes place on the eighth day of the sixth week of Youth Season, on the Summer Solstice (In the Theyalan Calendar, this would be Fire Day of Harmony Week in Fire Season). This day naturally celebrates his enthronement, when Yelm became the dispenser of Divine Justice. The cities of Dara Happa throw great rituals of celebration, proclaiming the greatness of Yelm and his manifestation in the Emperor. The streets throng with people, with nobles of all standings making their way to Yelm's temple to boy down in homage. Despite this, to non-Dara Happans, it seems rather sombre, with the celebrations restrained, and often likened to a funeral.
Other, lesser holy days are held on the fifth day of the first week of Harvest Season (Fireday, Stasis Week, Earth Season; also known as Marriage Day) celebrating Yelm's marriage to Dendara, this is often an auspicious day for marriages; the eighth day of the sixth week of Harvest Season (Fireday, Movement Week, Dark Season; called Doomsday) mourning Murharzarm's death, Yelm's disintegration, and the start of winter; and a final one on the third day of the third week of Dying Season (Fireday of Death Week in Storm Season). On this day, known as Ash Day, everyone in Dara Happa paints themselves in ash and mourns the loss of Yelm and the Emperor, who is traditionally kept within his chambers on this day.

  • All initiates of Yelm must possess an affinity with the Sky Rune.
  • They may approach Yelm in any of Yelm's three Aspects, choosing either the Sky, the Stasis, or the Mastery Rune to be their Divine Rune affinity.
  • Only male members of the Dara Happan nobility may join Yelm's cult, although in practice this means any male citizen of Dara Happa.

Yelm had many children, siblings, aspects, and heroes whose worship are connected with his. Although some are worshipped as independent deities, others act as subcults of Yelm.
Antirius is the Divine Order, which manifested in Yelm, but was also present in the regalia of the Emperor. He dispenses wisdom and justice, allowing all to know the true way to behave. Members of this subcult can use the Mastery Rune to dispense justice, and to know justice.

Arraz is Yelm's brother, and servant to the celestial gods. Many foreigners assume that this makes him low in rank, but nothing could be further from the truth, for Arraz rules the people of the sky world, and many celestial beings serve him as he serves others. Members of this subcult can use the Stasis Rune to ensure their masters wishes are done, and command other servants.

When a decadent Emperor took the throne of Dara Happa, Avivorus rose up to oppose him with the blessing of Antirius. He struck down the Emperor, and for his great purity, was taken up to serve Yelm as his Hastatus, or Spear Bearer. This subcult provides the Sunspear Feat.

Also known by some as Yelm the Musician, Hyraos Truetune was appointed by Yelm to care for the Harp of Harmony. He taught the children of Yelm music and joy, and his skillful playing brought joy to the Emperors. This subcult provides the Song of Laughter Feat.

Also called Raiba, this god is the governer and protector of Raibanth, the greatest city of Dara Happa. All inside the city pay homage to him, but those who join this subcult are counted as guardians of the city, and may use the Stasis Rune to protect Raibanth.

Ulkamoon is the fearsome god of the Mace. When the Griffin and the Bear sought to steal the sacred Yarm Tree, Ulkamoon drove the Griffin away with his terrible strength. This subcult provides the Jugger Feat.

Urengerum was once the god of the lost city of Elempur, before it was destroyed by the Ram People, He was saved by the Emperor, who named him Saggitus, and given a place as Yelm's Bow Master. This subcult provides the Bow of Dominion Feat.
Sculpture of Urengerum from ruins by the Hydra Mountains

  • An initiate of Yelm with a rating of 11W in their Divine Rune Affinity may dedicate themselves completely to Yelm and become a devotee.
  • Devotees are subject to the usual restrictions.

Devotees of Yelm may perform magic feats, repetitions of their gods' mythic deeds. Some feats are universal to Yelm's cult, others are associated with specific subcults.
Bow of Dominion
The Bow of Dominion connects the fires of Yelm, with the ground Below. With its power, all those in the air who deny Yelm, may be sundered, and sent crashing down to the ground below. Wielders have used its power to drive off false suns, bats, and unruly winds, driving them down, never to rise again.
The Jugger is the Mace of Yelm, a brutal weapon that cleanses the heavens of the impure. Anything the Jugger strikes is shattered, falling broken in pieces to the ground. Even the planets and stars fear the Jugger, for its appearance signifies the anger of Yelm, and they will move to avoid his wrath.

Song of Laughter
By weaving together a trio of tunes, Hyraos could cause anyone, from Emperor to barbarian, to know joy in their heart. No one who hears this song can resist smiling, and even the most heartless barbarian will be filled with laughter and joy, rendering them unable to fight.

The Sunspear is the cleansing ray of light which burns the unworthy. When thrown it seeks out those who place themselves above others without the Divine Order, and pierces their hearts. When held it burns all unworthy materials, and pierces through even the thickest of armour.

Lesser Sky Gods
Yelm is emperor of the sky, and so commands all lesser Sky Gods. Most never leave the sky world, prefering to remain in that land of purity, rather than risk contamination with the ground below. Those that do are either summoned by a follower of Yelm, or are sent for some divine purpose. The most common of these are the Certami and the Furies.
These mighty beings are also known as Arrazites, Luxites, or Shanasse; and resemble winged Dara Happan noblemen clad in clothes of gold. While most are simply citizens of the sky world, those in the lower world will only ever see the warriors. Clad in radiant armour, these warriors are armed with flaming spears, maces, and bows.

At the wedding of Yelm and Dendara, the monstrous Gorgorma gifted Yelm with her furies. Yelm would have refused this gift, but could not see them, for only those who have transgressed against Yelm can see their horrific visages.
These demonic beings act as Yelm's agents of reprisal, tracking down those who have committed crimes against Yelm, and tormenting them.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Homeland: Esvular

Esvular Cultural Keyword
Bronze statue of an Esvulari Thane
The Esvulari are, much like the Esrolians, a civilized Orlanthi culture, dwelling on the southern Heortland Plateau and the neighbouring Bandori valley. Their culture is a mix of Heortling and the Brithini, and Esvulari are divided into three castes: the Carls, rich farmers and crafters, and the headsmen who manage the heortling cottars of the countryside; the Priests, who appease the visible gods, and work the sorcery of the Invisible God; and the Thanes, the nobility who rule and protect the others.
Descended from the Ingareens of God Forgot, the Esvulari are much shorter than their Theyalan neighbours, although centuries of interbreeding has resulted in their their skin being the same olive tone of the Heortlings and Esrolians. Hair is not braided, but instead cut at eyebrow level all around. Often beards and moustaches are shaved, although this is done merely to mark them apart from their neighbours.
While the Esvulari still worship Orlanth, Ernalda and their kin, they claim that their gods are emanations of the Invisible God of the Malkioni, and they mix initiation into Runic cults, alongside a priestly caste who use sorcerous grimoires.
The Esvulari speak a language related to Esrolian and Heortling. The Priest caste maintains a monopoly on literacy, and also know the ancient Brithini tongue kept from their ancestors which they use for their most sacred of mysteries.

Sample Female Esvulari Names: Aperenia, Earena, Elfine, Lisith, Mesinthe, Tathorine

Sample Male Esvulari Names: Aeoling, Andric, Banfred, Challath, Chotaran, Danshavlas, Durith, Eperandal, Haurstan, Parsovil

Heortling Cottars of Esvular:
Even in their home province, the Esvulari are outnumbered by their Heortling cousins, with the average village consisting of the clustered squarehouses of Heortling cottars being administrated by an Esvulari Carl in their longhouse. The free Heortlings of the north see these cottars as little better than thralls, slaving for their sorcerous masters; but in truth, life is little different for cottars in Esvular than it is in Heortland or Sartar.
The single great difference is that to be accepted as an Esvulari citizen and join the ranks of the Carls, one must join the Aeolian sect of Malkionism.
Few do so, preferring the faith of their ancestors, but the Aeolian temples are always open to those who wish to learn of Aeol and the Invisible God.
Heroes drawn from the ranks of the Heortling cottars use the Heortling keyword from HeroQuest: Glorantha (page 37).

Aeolian Malkionism
In the Gods War, the land which would become Esvular was dark and desolate, inhabited only by small groups of people clustering for warmth and life. Their god (later identified with Malkion, Umath, or Grandfather Mortal) had died, leaving them abandoned and without hope.
Many turned to the gods of the Orlanthi for protection, sacrificing to them in exchange for blessings, which enabled them to survive. To their regret, this also pushed them further away from their ancestors, leaving them merely one of the peoples who served the Vingkotlings for protection.
During the Great Darkness, a stranger came to them from the west. He claimed to be a companion of their slain god, and called himself Aeol. When he proclaimed he was there to bring the Esvulari back to their ancient ways, the Vingkotlings grew angry at the prospect of losing the Esvulari, and sent their gods to drive off Aeol.
Aeol used his magic to reveal the true nature of the gods through their secret names, showing that they were parts of the One True God, who had made himself manifest in the world as them, to provide for his people. He bade the winds halt their assault with the sacred name of Worlath, blunted the swords of his foes by commanding Humct, and brought forth Ehilm the sun to be his light.
The Esvulari, recognising the ancient magic of their ancestors, left the Vingkotlings to follow Aeol. He took them to a safe place in the south, where Aeol  gave them good lands, showed them how to raise their cities, revealed to them how to honour the Invisible God's manifestations, and taught them sorcery.
When the dawn came, the Esvulari existed on the newly named Heortland plateau. And though they were often conquered by others, they still persisted in their ancient and refound worship.

The Examples of Karatch
This grimoire is written in the ancient Brithini script used by the Malkioni, making it unintelligible to most Esvulari, who must rely on their priesthood to read and interpret its words. From their readings of this text, the priesthood have deciphered several spells:
  • Communicate Peaceful Intent: This spell summons the Communication Rune within the priest, allowing them to make hand signs revealing their peaceful nature to others.
  • Communicate with Foreigner: This spell combines the Truth Rune with the Communication Rune to allow the priest to understand the tongues of strangers, allowing for clear communication.
  • Curse of Miscommunication: This spell dismisses the Communication Rune within an enemy, causing their commands to go unheeded, and their entreaties to be ignored.
  • Endure Wind: This spell combines the Air Rune with the Law Rune, allowing the faithful to resist even the most mighty wind and feel only the lightest of breezes.
  • Harmonize Joyful Song: This spell summons the Law Rune to fill the priest's songs and chants with the essence of the Invisible God, bringing joy to all who hear it.
  • Resist Pagan God: This spell combines the Magic Rune with the Law Rune, allowing the priest to dismiss the magics of pagan gods and spirits, halting their power.
  • See Potential: This spell combines the Truth Rune with the Law Rune, allowing the priest to see into the heart of others and see their true nature, expressed by the runes.

Friday, 3 July 2015

The Red Goddess

Mythos and History
The Red Goddess began as a daughter of Yelm, who resided in his celestial court, eternally in place and peaceful.
When the First Rebel entered the heavens she, in curiosity, moved to follow his path. When the Rebel revealed himself to be an enemy, and was driven out of the heavens, the goddess was driven out with him, for they feared she had been corrupted by his influence. In grief, she departed, and left only sorrow behind, which took the form of a bat and hid from Yelm's gaze.
Driven out from the heavens, the goddess came to rest over the lands of Mernita. Here the people pledged themselves to her, to follow her and accept her rule, and she went amongst them as the mortal Queen Cerullia.

Lesilla and Cerullia. Mernitan Ivory.
As queen, the goddess protected her people. When the floods came, she rose Mernita up above the waters, and when the people died, she took them to her bosom to protect them until they could be reborn.
When the flood-waters receded, a Mernita was greeted by the Emperor Lukarius. He was the son of the goddess, and claimed he ruled all the world, including Mernita. The goddess said that a son should never rule his mother, and in anger Lukarius took his bow and loosed an arrow at the goddess. When the arrow of betrayal struck her, the goddess fell to the ground, and she and her people were slain, leaving nothing but a blue corpse which was later infested by monsters.
When the dead returned to haunt the living, the goddess was released to, and sought out the people of Yelm. They recoiled at the sight of the dead goddess, and barred her way from returning with a massive dome. Alone, the goddess wandered, giving solace and suffering to those who deserved it.
When wandering the endless darkness, the goddess discovered a fragment of herself, who revealed that suffering was not existence, and existence was not suffering. With this revelation, the goddess Illuminated herself, and went out amongst the world to find and teach people how to live. She had many followers, who called themselves names like Davu, Nysalor, and many others. With their help, the goddess remade the world.
Despite remaking the world, the goddess was incomplete. She had been gravely wounded, and was in pieces. For most of time she remained in this state, but in the Third Age, things changed.
In the third age, a great empire had claimed the land, and was oppressing the people. Seven desperate people performed a great quest, heading into the darkness before time, to find their salvation. They found the Red Goddess and reunited her with her missing parts, becoming her Seven Mothers.
The goddess was reborn into the world, and united her people, conquered Chaos and accepted it, and fought the old rebels for her acceptance into the world. When they failed to oppose her, she rose a great orb of earth into the sky, and shaped it into a great sphere. This was her footstool, the Red Moon.
The Red Goddess had been reborn, to unite everyone and make them all us.

Nature of the Cult
The Red Goddess is the deity of the Red Moon, a great celestial body which appeared in the sky in the Third Age. She is also known as the Sister of Chaos, Lurker on the Veil, Rufelza, Sedenya, and a host of other names.
She is a goddess of mystical enlightenment, commonly known as Illumination, which her worshippers can learn as part of their goddess' goal of healing the world.
Despite being a great goddess, few Lunars worship the Red Goddess directly, preferring to instead follow other deities or immortals who have been healed by the Red Goddess' power.

The Red Goddess is typically shown as a woman with red skin and hair, sat with crossed legs and making signs of welcome and peace with her hands. Upon her brow sits her mystical third eye, revealing her nature as an illuminated being.

The Red Goddess is the owner of the Moon Rune, and is also strongly associated with the runes of Life and Chaos. This makes her one of the Great Gods of Glorantha, acknowledged by many cultures that do not even worship her.
Life Rune
The Red Goddess is the great cyclic power of life, who was slain many times in the Great Darkness, but returned each time in a new form. An incomplete list of the abilities her initiates have been known to use the Life Rune for includes: banishing hunger, bringing contentment, driving off sickness, healing madness, making others happy.
The Life Rune aspect is associated with Rufelza, the common name for the Red Goddess, and those with a strong affinity with this Rune are generous, loving, and open-minded.
Moon Rune
The Red Goddess is the source of the Moon Rune, and has immense powers of creation. Those initiates who have awakened their Seventh Soul through the kindling rites may possess a Moon Rune Phase.

Chaos Rune
The Red Goddess is associated with the Chaos Rune through her acceptance of Chaos. An incomplete list of the Chaos features that may afflict those initiates with the Chaos Rune includes: being highly flammable, growing a valuable gemstone somewhere on their skin, explodes on death, corrosive touch, cannot be healed by magic, easily surprised, large horns.
Those with a strong affinity with this Rune are hateful and self-loathing.

Particular Likes and Dislikes
The Lunars pride themselves on the inclusiveness of the Red Goddess, who they claim has no true enemies. Even the rebellious gods of the Air and the monstrous forces of Chaos are not her foes, but merely forces to be healed of their hatred.
Despite this inclusiveness, the Red Goddess does treat some more equal than others. Those cults who adopt the Lunar way of inclusiveness and cyclism are viewed as closer allies than those who merely begrudgingly accept the goddess' existence.

Cult Organization
All members of a Lunar cult are also lay members of the cult of the Red Goddess, joining in her worship on her holy days, and visiting her temples to pay her homage. Despite this, and her popularity and ubiquity in the empire, only one in a hundred Lunars ever joins the cult of the Red Goddess as an initiate.
The goddess' old incarnations, the seven Ancient Goddesses of the Moon also have shrines across Peloria. often inside the larger temples of the Red Goddess, or their ancient temples still in use after the Red Moon rose into the sky.

Center of Power, Holy Places
The cult's most sacred place is the city of Torang, in the satrapy of First Blessed. Here lies the first Lunar Temple, built on the site where the Red Goddess was born. All other Lunar cults hold this temple sacred as well, and it receives many gifts and tributes from across the entire empire.

Holy Days and Sacrifices
The Red Goddess' holy days vary by region, for they are held weekly when the Red Moon is full. For most of the provinces of the Lunar Empire, the holy day is on Wildday, but in Carmania, it takes place on Freezeday.
The High Holy Day of the Red Goddess takes place on Godsday, Disorder Week, Dark Season. This is the day that the goddess was born in Torang in the Lunar Empire, and great festivals are held all across the empire on this day.
The goddess cares not for the sacrifice of material objects, and prefers her followers spend their holy day celebrations in aiding others, through teaching, mission, and revelation.

  • All Initiates of the Red Goddess have a Moon Rune phase at a minimum of 1W.
  • Those who do not have a connection to the Moon Rune must undergo kindling, as mentioned in HeroQuest Glorantha page 190.

Rufelza means "Red Moon", and is a common name for the Red Goddess in Peloria, for it is the great orb they see above them. Those who do not possess the Moon Rune may initiate to the Red Goddess in this aspect, even if it is looked down upon by those who worship the Red Goddess in her true cyclic aspect.
To initiate to Rufelza, the initiate must have a Life Rune rating of 1W or greater. This rune serves as their divine Rune affinity until they choose to awaken their Moon Rune with the kindling rites.

Chaos and the the Red Goddess
The Red Goddess is also known as the Sister of Chaos, and all Lunars are tempted by the power of Chaos. Those Lunar initiates who swap their Moon Phase with the Chaos Rune (as described in HeroQuest: Glorantha, page 186) and lose their connection with the Moon, may initiate to the Red Goddess' cult if they have a Chaos Rune rating of 1W or greater. This grants them no magic, but allows for a certain measure of protection in Lunar society.

The Red Goddess has many subcults, the most common being those of the Ancient Goddesses, those incarnations of the ever-changing Moon throughout the Gods' Age. Any initiate of the Red Goddess may join the subcult associated with their Moon Rune phase. Those initiates who have been Illuminated may join any subcult, for they have awakened their mastery over all phases of the Moon.
Verithurusa was the first incarnation of the Red Goddess, the innocent and pure Red Moon. She was part of the Perfect Sky of the Golden Age, but descended from the heavens when her curiosity overcame her fear.
Verithurusa is associated with the Full Half Phase of the Moon Rune, and her followers can create glamours designed to avoid danger or resist impurity without them being considered stretches.
Common Strictures of the Verithurusa subcult include: Never Use the Moon Rune as the Chaos Rune, Remain Chaste, Never Deny Love.

When Verithurusa descended, she became Lesilla, the loving and nurturing Blue Moon. She ruled the kingdom of Mernita, both above them as light, and amongst them as Queen, until her son betrayed and slew her, destroying both her and her kingdom.
Lesilla is associated with the Crescent Go phase of the Moon Rune, and her followers can create glamours designed to bless and heal family members or children without them being considered stretches.
Spolite Statue of Gerra
Common Strictures of the Lesilla subcult include: Never use the Moon Rune as the Chaos Rune, must not be a virgin.
When Lesilla was slain, she became Gerra, the mournful and tortured Black Moon. She did not abandon the world, even when it abandoned her, and went among the populace to teach them how to endure suffering.
Gerra is associated with the Dying phase of the Moon Rune, and her followers can create glamours designed to cause or relieve suffering in the living or dead without them being considered stretches.
Common Strictures of the Gerra subcult include: Never ignore suffering, Obey Dara Happans, never forget what you have lost.

When the world turned against Gerra, she became Rashorana, the illuminating and enlightening Black Moon. Whenever her foes defeated and destroyed her, she returned in a new form, as Illumination can never be truly eliminated.
Rashorana is associated with the Black Moon phase of the Moon Rune, and her followers gain no abilities to create glamours, or require the following of strictures. Instead the subcult of Rashorana teaches illumination to its members. (See HeroQuest Glorantha, page 202 onwards.)

When no one would listen to Rashorana, she became Orogeria, the seeking and hunting Blue Moon. She rose in the darkness, and sought for people to follow her, providing them with shelter and food so that they might oppose their enemies.
Orogeria is associated with the Crescent Come phase of the Moon Rune, and her followers can create glamours designed to track down and hunt enemies without them being considered stretches.
Common Strictures of the Orogeria subcult include: Never use the Moon Rune as the Chaos Rune, share your bounty with others.

When Orogeria had assembled an army, she became Natha, the avenging and balancing Red Moon. She opposed the gods who had destroyed the world, and forced those who should be dead into the underworld, and those who should be living into the mortal world.
Natha is associated with the Empty Half phase of the Moon Rune, and her followers can create glamours designed to avenge injustices without them being considered stretches.
Common Strictures of the Natha subcult include: Avenge injustice, be honourable in all thoughts and actions.

When Natha has balanced the world, she will become Zaytenera, the White Moon which is to come. She is said to be the original form of the goddess, even before Verithurusa, and when she rises the entire world shall be perfect once again.
Zaytenera is associated with the Full phase of the Moon Rune, and her followers can create glamours designed to discover secrets and reveal hidden truths without them being considered stretches.
Common Strictures of the Zaytenera subcult include: Never lie to others or yourself, never Use the Moon Rune as the Chaos Rune.

Lesser Moon Immortals
The Red Goddess is queen of the Lunes, minor spiritual entities of Lunar magic. These beings take many forms and colours, and some are little more than mindless concentrations of magic, while others are almost fully fledged New Gods in their own right.
Some of the recorded forms of Lunes are described below.
Madness Spirits
These are Lunes of the Dying and Full Moon phases, and are favoured by many Lunar Magicians for the sacred lunacy they bring. Madness Spirits appear as faces, eternally spiralling in the air and wracked emotions such as crazed laughter, fits of sorrow, or screams of rage. When summoned, Madness Spirits will attempt to fill a person with madness, driving them into divine passions which defy prediction or logic. Some Lunar demagogues willingly offer their bodies to Madness Spirits, believing they will gain a glimpse of the Red Godddess' nature through breaking the chains of sanity.

Vecors are Lunes of the Crescent Come, Full and Empty Half phases, and appear as humanoid warriors with red skin on their left, and black skin on their right. Their weapons, armour, and tactics vary, often resembling those of a particular people of the Lunar Empire, such as peasant spear-men, feathered Rinliddi skirmishers, or proud Yanifal Tarnilsi swordsmen. Vecors are often summoned by Lunar magicians to act as bodyguards or to fight the petty gods of enemies.
It is said that the Red Emperor is protected by a full regiment of Vecors, who descend from the Red Moon to protect him when he is threatened by danger.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Jack O'Bears

Chen Durelite Vessel in the form of a Jack O'Bear
Jack O'Bears first appeared in the Great Darkness, when many chaotic horrors roamed the land. Unlike many of these horrors, no single source has ever been found for the Jack O'Bears. Instead, they seem to have just emerged fully formed from the primal wellspring. Despite this, many peoples have come up with their own explanations of how the Jack O'Bear came to be.
The troll lovers of the Kingdom of Ignorance say that when the dark god Tien came to attack them in the darkness, their masters slew and devoured each and every one of Tien's soldiers. Alone and without any protectors, Tien stumbled into a bear-den while attempting to hide from his pursuers. Surprising the bears as they hibernated, he cut off their heads and bound their souls to him, and then raised their bodies as horrific monsters. To replace their heads he had them place a pumpkin atop their neck, and carved a fearsome face into its surface. He then set them loose to plague the world, while he fled back into the wastes.
In the west, it is popularly said that Jack O'Bears are the spawn of a hellish plant, created by the Devil to feed his army. The Jack O'Bears were its seeds, sent out to gather refuse and waste to feed this monstrous thing. The leader of the Black Horse Troop, Sir Ethilrist, claims he met this beast in his travels, and cut his way out when it swallowed him whole. Certainly his description of this devouring monster as a giant pumpkin would suggest a connection, but despite common folklore, the Jack O'Bear an animal, not a plant or hybrid of the two.

Jack O'Bears (Joannursus paralysis) resemble the brown or grizzly bear of western Genertela, at least for the most part. The Jrusteli Naturalist Ocran Everseer believed they represented an offshoot of brown bears, although so far altered by the touch of Chaos that they can no longer breed with any other bear. Certainly they share much of their range with the brown bear, the majority of Jack O'Bears being found in a band from Fronela, through Ralios, to Maniria. Despite this, a subspecies (Joannursus paralysis ignoramus) has been found in the Kingdom of Ignorance, north of Kralorela. Whether these are native, or the result of some chaos cultists spreading them deliberately, is unknown.
The most striking characteristic of a Jack O'Bear is its head, which is completely hairless, lacks external ears or lips, and only has a thin pair of nostrils. Instead of fur, the head is covered with a layer of leathery skin, beneath which runs a network of blood vessels, which gives the head a blood red appearance in infant bears, before paling to a vibrant orange colour when the skin thickens at maturity.
With older Jack O'Bears, the skin has instead been likened to that of a pumpkin or other gourd, giving rise to legends that the beast is part plant.

Found only in the most isolated and desolate of places, Jack O'Bears are solitary beasts, who view even their own kind as enemies and rivals. Only the Jack O'Bears of the Kingdom of Ignorance have been known to ever socialize, congregating along the great coast of Koromondol in great numbers. Magical observation has shown the beasts swaying from side to side and making a great sussuration, which has been referred to as "singing." The purpose of this act is unknown, but knowing their chaotic nature, it can be assumed to be a grave danger to Glorantha.
Elsewhere, Jack O'Bears can occasionally be found in chaos nests, where Broo, Ogres, or other horrors feed them with parts of their victims. It is likely that the Jack O'Bear merely tolerates their presence because of this tribute, while the chaotics feel this is a small price to pay for the protection the Jack O'Bear provides, for while they may ignore their chaotic "guests", they will attack all others who intrude, acting as guardian and protector for the chaos nest.

Although possessing of a certain diabolical cunning, the Jack O'Bear is rarely intelligent enough to worship the Lords of Terror, and so only the most extraordinary individuals have learned magic. This can be seen as a blessing, for they already possess an insidious Chaotic power, to freeze and stupefy their victims, making them unable to resist the Jack O'Bear's attacks. Although commonly held to be the result of meeting the creature's gaze, the Jack O'Bear in fact needs only to think about a nearby person for them to fall victim to their insidious gift.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

The Black Horse County

Black Horse County Cultural Keyword
The Black Horse County is a small civilized culture, derived originally from Malkioni stock. Unlike the Orlanthi, they divide their populace into four castes. The Curelan, or Workers, who toil in the fields, or craft goods in the settlements of the county; the Ridderan, or Warriors, who either fight as footmen, or ride the monstrous black horses; the Zoberan, or Sorcerers, who read grimoires and work acts of terrifying sorcery; and Herrelan, the caste of lords and rulers, whose singular member is the great Lord Ethilrist.
Black Horse County includes a wide variety of people, for Ethrilrist has united blond Sun Domers, olive-skinned Heortlings and Tarshites, clean-shaven Grazers, and even inhuman trolls into one mighty populace. Regardless of their origin, the inhabitants of the county accept each other as brothers, and have adopted a habit of cropping their hair to stubble, as a symbol of their abandoned pasts.
The dominant religion of the county is the Atroxic school of Malkionism. This is an ancient and near extinct school, which pre-dates the dawning, and is viewed as heretical at best by other schools of Malkioni thought. The Atroxic school is defined by its focus on discipline and obedience, and caste mobility is rare, and only occurs when Lord Ethilrist promotes a worker to the warrior caste, to join the ranks of his Black Horse Troop.
Most inhabitants of the Black Horse County speak a language related to Esrolian and Heortling. Only scribes and sorcerers can read; and they use a Ralian derived script.
Sample Female Black Horse County Names: Adelina, Aenor, Hild, Lutgardis, Odilia, Ragna, Solveig, Valdis.
Sample Male Black Horse County Names: Arminius, Berengar, Curelus, Cola, Gervasius, Gislenus, Hermanus, Milo, Rochus.

Common Occupational Keywords: Crafter, Farmer, Herder, Merchant, Scribe, Sorcerer, and Warrior (either Heavy Infantry or Heavy Cavalry).

The Black Horses
A Diokos Demon of the Black Horse Troop
The demonic horses of the black horse troop, also sometimes known as the Diokos, are not especially suited for play, given that they can not speak human tongues and lack the ability to manipulate objects.
They do, however, make suitable allies or companions for a character with the Warrior (Heavy Cavalry) keyword, or the occasional sorcerer.
When taking a Black Horse as a companion, they follow the rules for non-humans, and one of their three starting abilities must be their species keyword.

The Atroxic School
The Atroxic School of Malkionism was founded before the dawn by Atrox the Stern. He was one of the companions of Malkion, and was a witness to the prophet's betrayal and death. Taking the knowledge given to him by the prophet, he wrote a great grimoire filled with these secrets, and of his interpretations of them, and went out among the people to educate them.
Atrox the Stern taught that the most important of Malkion's Laws was Obedience: to the Invisible God, to the Law, to their Lord, and their family. This, along with the ascetic practices supported by this school, has proven pleasing to Lord Ethilrist, who has made every effort to support the school, making the Black Horse County the last stronghold of the school in the Third Age.

Book of Betrayal and Murder
This grimoire predates the Abiding Book, and several sections of that great grimoire are identical to the Book of Betrayal and Murder. It contains several spells based on the Law Rune and Death Rune, focusing on obedience to the Law, and cursing those who defy it. These spells include:
  • Bless Corpse: This spell combines the Law Rune with the Death Rune to properly bury a corpse, preventing them from being raised in monstrous unlife.
  • Blinding Pain: This spell summons the Death Rune within a person, filling them with an agony that renders them insensate and helpless.
  • Burn the Unrighteous: This spell combines the Law Rune with the Fire Rune to fill a sinner with holy fire, burning them from within.
  • Determine Guilt: This spell combines the Law Rune with the Truth Rune, allowing the sorcerer to tell whether someone has committed a crime against the Malkioni laws.
  • Mark of Sin: This spell combines the Law Rune with the Stasis Rune, branding a victim with a sorcerous sigil, visible to all and marking them as a criminal and sinner.
  • Neutralize Poison: This spell dismisses the Death Rune from a substance, removing all traces of poison or other toxins, and rendering it harmless.
  • Prayer of Perseverance: This spell combines the Law Rune with the Stasis Rune, granting someone an inner reserve of strength that they may call upon to refresh themselves, and carry on in the face of adversity.
  • Shrive Sins: This spell combines the Law Rune with the Harmony Rune to cleanse a sinner of their crimes against their caste, allowing them once more to be affected by Malkioni blessings.

The Black Horse Order
This is a martial order, created by Ethilrist from the remains of his old White Horse Society, to be the foundation of his Black Horse Troop. Its members know many spells to aid the demonic seeds and the warriors they fight alongside. Membership in this order is a hard won honour, with prospective members often engaging in magical and physical duels to show their worth, and when accepted must swear an oath of fealty to Ethilrist, while their hands rest inside the mouth of Ethilrist's terrifying hound.

A History of My Black Horse Troop
While nominally associated with Ethilrist's lengthy grimoire, the Black Horse Order usually only studies from volumes VII and VIII, detailing Ethilrist's wars, and his actions taken within them. As these contain many spells related to the battles the order will find itself drawn to. A selection of the spells found within these volumes includes:
  • Cloak of Darkness: This spell summons the Darkness Rune to surround the caster with a cloud of darkness, spreading from him like a cloak, and concealing everything from sight within it.
  • Iron Hoof: This Spell combines the Death Rune with the Beast Rune within one of the demon horses, making their hooves as strong and deadly as iron, and able to crush their foes in a terrifying charge.
  • Lance of Agony: This Spell summons the Death Rune into a lance, imbuing it with the power to slay those they strike with but a single touch.
  • Resist Pagan Spirit: This Spell combines the Death Rune with the Spirit Rune, blunting a spirit's attempts to attack the caster, as armour blunts a sword blow.
  • See in Darkness: This spell combines the Darkness Rune with the Truth Rune to allow the caster to see in pitch darkness as well as he can in daylight.
  • Terrify Foe: This spell summons the Darkness Rune to cloak the caster with an invisible aura of fear, which terrifies beasts, and the weak of mind.

The Order of Damnation
This small order was founded from the remnants of a cadre of Furlandan wizards who accompanied Ethilrist in his journey to hell. Their magic proved invaluable to his plundering of infernal riches and the binding of demons to his service, and by the time they emerged from hell, they had changed. The order's purpose had become focused on the manipulation of the entities of hell, and of turning them to aid Ethilrist's will. The sorcerers of this order provide for the magical protection of the Black Horse County, and some select members accompany squads of the Black Horse Troop into battle.

The Book of Ethilrist in Hell
This is the sixth volume of Ethilrist's "A History of My Black Horse Troop", and is by far the longest. It goes into details of his harrowing of Hell, and the means that Ethilrist used to bind and destroy the enemies he found there. Some of the spells found within include:
  • Destroy Otherworld Foe: This spell combines the Spirit Rune with the Death Rune, enabling the sorcerer to slay a spirit or demon with a word and gesture.
  • Exorcism: This spell dismisses the Spirit Rune, severing the link between an otherworldly being and the material world, forcing it back to its hellish domain.
  • Harrow the Soul: This spell taps the Spirit Rune of its victim, plundering and ravaging their essential nature, causing them agony and providing a source of magical power for the sorcerer.
  • Shield of the Faithful: This spell separates the Spirit Rune from the Man Rune, rendering the sorcerer's target immune to the touch of spirits and gods.
  • Summon Goblin: This spell summons the Spirit Rune, summoning a Goblin, a form of monstrous Dehori from the underworld.
  • Travel Hell: This spell combines the Spirit Rune with the Movement Rune, allowing the sorcerer to travel freely through the infernal otherworlds without being blocked by barriers or guardians.