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.