Death Stuff in Glorantha

From: Carlson, Pam (carlsonp@wdni.com)
Date: Thu 09 May 1996 - 21:28:00 EEST


Martin Laurie (who now graces British Columbia and is a mere 90 miles from
Seattle - as if the earthquakes weren't dangerous enough;-), summarizes
some good questions from the "Big O" debate. And Michael R. replies
beautifully. A few of my comments:

Michael R:

>If the character is acutely tied to Death, then Bless Crops (and fertility
>spells of all sorts) will falter, fail or be warped, pregnant women will
>miscarry, the defenses of fertility temples will trigger, plants may wither
>and die, animals may sicken and possibly die, people will experience the
>Chill of Death down their spines and Resurrection won't work.

Hear, Hear! I fully support the concept of the taboos that this leads to.
MGF _and_ magical Gloranthan ecology. Note that this would apply on several
levels; avatars, like Onslaught, might be steered away from whole villages,
but Humakti initiate PC's might simply be refused hospitality in a stead
where someone was pregnant.

Social Roles for Humakti:

Michael R:

>The only societal functions for Humakti i can think of is Temple Guardian,
>Executioner and Oath Witness, and i can think of none for Avatars of Death.
>In a War Tribe i guess the Avatar of Death can be used as Champion and to
>curse the enemy.

Agreed.

I see people (by which I mean farmers, of course!) joining Humakt when they
are desperate for vengeance or combat magic. Given pantheon initiation, I
think many Humakti are folk who join after great trauma - (like most Clint
Eastwood characters). They dedicate to Humakt for a specific purpose.
 They take restrictive geasa as part of their vows, giving them extra power.
 Because the situation is only expected to last for a short time, geasa like
"never sleep" become somewhat manageable. Once the vengeance is achieved,
the purpose is over. The initiate either dies, or (possibly) undergoes an
intense ceremony to return to his old life. Some may remain closely tied to
Humakt, but their lives are usually violent and short. I think a Sword of
Humakt is a very, very rare indiviual.

Michael R:

>This is written with a bias on Humakti. I guess Axe Maidens, Hunters and
>Death Lords might work similarily but with important differences as well,
>Axe Maidens should be Death-in-service-of-Life, Hunters are
>Death-in-Harmony-with-nature, Death Lords are Death-for-Disorder. Then
>there are all the other cults with Death Runes.

Also much agreed. (But Death-for-Disorder? What kinda cause is
"Disorder"?)
I would reserve the killing-aura effect for very powerful Humakti and
Zorak-Zorani. The other "death" cults are more directed and dedicated to
other issues. Indeed - they are only "death" cults because the Godlearners
described them that way. (Even they felt that Humakt was so different that
he needed *two* death runes.)

>(4). Is Death really the opposite of fertility for without Death would
their
>be room and materials for new growth? I think that pre-death fertility was
>_different_ to current fertility. Any ideas anyone?

Micheal R:

>Death is not objectively opposed to Fertility. They are mutually dependent.
>Without Death, no Fertility. Death is the end of a Mundane Life, but not
>the end of Existence, which is Chaos. The Dead live on in the Underworld or
>Afterworld, whence they can be resurrected. Death is merely the separation
>of your existence from the world of flesh.

I think most cults operate this way, but Humakt may be different. They hate
Resurrection, which may be another reason they are "outcast" from Theyalan
thought. I doubt Humakti think of Death as a pre-cursor to life. I think
they think more of a gathering of the Dead for a Ragnarok-style battle
against... whatever it is they are against. Perhaps they feel that both
sides of the spirit world need to have warriors.

Michael R:
>Death-in-the-service-of-Life and Death-in-the-service-of-Society are
>accepted in society. Death-in-the-service-of-Death is not. Every individual
is a member of a larger community - their society - even outcasts, for they
join another society, create a new society with other outcasts or die alone
and unmourned.

Hurrah! Yes! And that is why I think there are so few Humakti. Maybe
there are more in Esrolia because they have tied Humakt more closely to the
Earth cults, and put Humakt somewhat in the service of Life. (That is
certainly the case with Yanafal Tarnils in Peloria.)

Of course the best example of Death in the Service of Life comes from
Peloria, Land of Enshrined Opposites. Shargash the Destroyer obediently
kills the enemies of the All Father. As the Purifier, he destroys rot
and evil to make it new again. As the Lord of Ashes, he is the Protector of
the Dead on their Travels to and from Life. As the Preserver, he kills the
things he loves to keep them safe and bring them back again.

This is a "death" cult which greatly supports society and Life.
IMO, even high level worshipper would not have the "aura of death" that
Humakti or Zorak Zorani would. And if you consider Tolat, (Shargash in
Trowjang), fertility is as much embedded in this deity as destruction.

Pam

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End of Glorantha Digest V2 #552
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