The Mind of a Hunter

From: John Hughes (nysalor@spirit.com.au)
Date: Sun 11 Feb 1996 - 10:43:05 EET


THE MIND OF A HUNTER

Howdy folks

My Tovtaros are by no means a typical Sartarite tribe. Their history, and
the overwhelming impact of the wilderness itself (the gors and the gallt)
have seen to that. In choosing to explore the northern-most of the Far
Point tribes, I hoped to gain a little freedom in developing my own vision
and campaign themes without worrying too much about being Gregged.

How are the Tovtaros different? Well, all of the clans (a Lunar, Orlanthi
AND Solar *all*) have been decimated by generations of Elmal/Yelmalio
kinstrife, culminating in the ill-fated Righteous Wind and the devastating
Solar reprisals. This aspect is well documented in the sources.

The other aspect is the wilderness itself. Wild wet uplands, few roads, few
towns or villages and a vast uncharted forest teaming with natural
resources. The Far Point tribes have made their homes here only over the
last two hundred or so years. Mainly refugees from Tarsh, Saird and Imther,
these Orlanthi and Yelmalian* herders and farmers have had their customs,
mythologies and very identities radically reshaped by confrontation with
the raw power of the gors and gallt.

[ *I firmly ascribe to the Hall Heresy when it comes to Yelmalio.]

This is one of my major campaign themes. Generation by generation, the
wilderness is claiming back the tribes. In the uplands, farming has become
a secondary pursuit. Even cattle herding (the life and soul of an Orlanthi
culture) is becoming less important as greater numbers each generation turn
to direct exploitation of the wilderness through hunting, fishing and
trapping.

And the wilderness brings isolation. With few formally trained priests and
few formal temples, the religion of upland Far Point has become more
intuitive and personal, emphasising direct experience with the powers and
spirits of the wilderness. The Lady of the Wild (who is increasingly
conflated with Ernalda) holds all secrets and all wisdom. Everything can be
found in the gors and the gallt; you only have to seek it. Hence the
Gifting Way, the Walking Journey to seek a vision of the Sacred Mountains.
Walking is worship. Pilgrimage is Power.

The animal tribes themselves have an important part to play in this
evolving spirituality. Totem animals bring power and wisdom, and certain
animals are noteworthy priests and shamans. The animal and human tribes are
equal under the guidance of the Lady of the Wild, and all share the compact
of Harmony out of Death, the bond between hunter and hunted.

All of these themes come together in the cult of Odayla, the son of
Orlanth, hunting god of the uplands, Binder of the Three Element Dance,
Bringer of the Harmony that Comes out of Death.

Now most of the above has been stated before, on the Digest, in Questlines,
and in my game-card and campaign notes. What I am now attempting in the
section below is expand upon the world-view of the typical Odaylan hunter.
Comments, additions, and criticisms are most welcome.

*******************

HUNTERS OF THE FAR POINT

The hunters of upland Far Point worship Odayla Orlanthson, the Great
Hunter, and the Lady of the Wild, Odayla's mother and spouse, who is in one
sense the spirit of the land.

Odaylans share the steads with their cattle-herding and farming kin through
most of Dark Season and Sacred Time, but with the coming of spring scatter
to hunting camps and lodges throughout the uplands.

Odaylans share Far Walker ancestry and Orlanthi custom with their kin in
the steads, but several important factors mark them apart.

1. They have no concern for material possessions. They always travel light,
and carry everything they need on their backs. For an Odaylan, the best
place to carry a tool is in your head. While, they occasionally participate
in the cattle-gifting ceremonies so important to upland Orlanthi, they have
little enthusiasm for them.

Surprisingly, the Odaylans are the custodians of most of the great
treasures of Far Point - those items collectively called the Ten Shields of
Odayla*. Hunters of previous generations have taken them into the gors and
hidden them, confident that when they are needed, they will be found and
used.

[ *The Shields of Odayla are Great Treasures/Creatures/Resources/Secrets
which uphold and protect the land. In some cases, exactly *what* these
treasures are is a cult mystery or secret. The Shields are: the Four Stream
Voices (spirit helpers), The Spear "Courage", The Cloak "Persistence", the
Three Feathers of Vision (these three all heroquest items used by Odayla),
The Thunder Bird's Nest, Theya's Dance ( a ritual?), The Orm Sword (long
ago stolen from the Youf), The Mask of Taros RidgeLeaper, The Dragon Seed,
and the the Staff of Justice.]

2. Odaylans are intensely egalitarian, even by Orlanthi standards. They
have no time for the hierarchy of the stead and tribe; titles and honours
mean nothing to them. Their leaders, in so much that they have them, are
first among equals. Because of this, Odaylans also tend to be intensely
individualistic.

3. Odaylans are accepting of fate in a way most Orlanthi cannot understand.
Odaylans fight against Chaos and other enemies as fiercely as anyone, but
the wilderness has taught them an acceptance of life and death that most of
their clansfolk find infuriating. They act as though they are part of the
landscape, rather than seeking to dominate and control it. This they call,
"thinking like a mountain".

4. Odaylans place tremendous import on signs and omens in the landscape,
using the Powers of the Four Directions. Most Orlanthi would consider this
divination; to the Odaylans it is simply "listening to the land".

5. Odaylans seem stand-offish, smug, and superior. At least, this is the
perception that most stead Orlanthi have of them. They are certainly
quietly spoken, and not given to small talk. They watch and they listen, as
though they can converse without words.

ODAYLAN CAMPFIRE WISDOM

A great hunter can track birds across the sky. Even the air leaves tracks.
Every act has meaning. That's what tracking is all about.

A hunter must have hungry eyes - eyes that get hungry before the stomach.

A man's soul can only travel as fast as his feet can carry him.

All the tribes are kin. All the tribes are one: animal, human, plant,
element and spirit.

As you go upon the journey, you will see a great chasm.
Jump.
It is not as wide as you think.

Earth-reapers and cattle folk are always asking questions. They never just
watch and listen. You can usually learn what you need to know by watching
and listening. When questions pass through your mind like clouds across the
heavens, you have begun the wisdom journey.

How do you see a power animal? By not seeing it.

If an Odaylan misses, it means he likes you.

If you see with your heart and feel with your head, it does not matter if
your eyes are closed.

In the gors, cooperation is required for survival. An individual cannot
survive alone. In the gors, you must love one another or die.

It is only in the stopping, in the stillness, that you hear what is already
there.

It is the wise person - or clan - that listens when what we need is offered
to us.

Possession of anything is an illusion. Things belong to the universe. They
make their own journeys.

Sit still, face south and contemplate the sacred mountains. Let them teach
you. Breath in the air where Yinkin prowls in the shadowy darkness.

Survival is the second law.
The first is that we are all one.

The Goddess made time, and she made plenty of it.

The gors and the gallt are sanctuary - sacred ground. Always walk with
reverence.

The hunter is always the hunted.

The hunter never makes excuses for death.

The mountains circle their sacred arms around me. The gors and gallt
whisper the sacred music. The Four Winds provide.

The plants, rocks, fire and water all are alive. They watch us and see our
needs. They see when we have nothing to protect us, and it is then that
they reveal themselves and speak to us.

Think like a mountain.

Think with your stomach. Two bears live in your stomach. Their names are
jealousy and fear. One is jealously fearful, the other fearfully jealous.
They are there to protect you.

To accumulate, hold on to, horde or have more than you need is an embarrassment.

We can never dominate this land. We can participate in its bounty if we
revere and respect it.

We cannot depend on kings to heal our wounds. We must help each other.

Worship is listening.

*******************

Contrast these with more typical Orlanthi/Ernaldan sayings:

HEARTH WISDOM

A woman of power does the unthinkable because the unthinkable belongs to her.

Breathing is the best form of prayer.

If you are lifeworthy, you can endure *anything*.

Knowledge can be learned: wisdom must be lived.

Name is *everything*.

Never mock the storm! (If you do it is allowed to kill you.)

Orlanth learned from his mistakes. The path that we walk is a wide one, it
twists like the winds, and everything on it is sacred. What we do right and
well is sacred. But our mistakes are also sacred. An Orlanthi warrior will
make many mistakes, but like his Lord he must learn from them. That is the
way of the Storm.

The clan is everything. The honour of one is the honour of all. The hurt of
one is the hurt of all.

The day before yesterday and yesterday are not the same as today.

The easiest way to transform something is to change your perception of it.

The warrior's way is to say 'yes' to life. To all of it.

The Wind Warrior is the one who brings change. The Wind Warrior knows
respect. She knows the need to honour fear. She knows wakefulness - neither
living for the past nor yearning for the future. She has the inner strength
being to know what must be done.

To an Orlanthi, mistakes are *sacred*.

To understand others is wisdom; to understand yourself is a gift of the gods.

Violence is always an option.
There is always another way.

When Orlanth goes away, Elmal becomes important.

Wisdom is knowing when to speak, and when to be silent.

****************

These collected sayings are only a beginning. You can see the path I'm
exploring here. I'd be grateful for additions, comments and criticisms.

Cheers

John

______________________________________
    ... a flying arrow, a crashing wave, night old ice, a coiled snake,
    a bride's bed talk, a broken sword, the play of bears, a king's son.
                                                             Havamal 86.

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