From: Martin Laurie (102541.3423@CompuServe.COM)
Date: Sat 25 Jan 1997 - 13:14:35 EET

Stephen Martin comments:
>Shargash worshipped through Yelm?!? This is not true at all - they are
>entirely different dieties and Yelm is purely a noble cult when worshipped at
>initiate or higher level whereas Shargash is _the_ cult in Alkoth.
>As I understand it, from GRoY, discussions with Greg, etc., neither of
>these is likely to be true. At least not in the Third Age, because the
>cult is not acceptable most of the time. The Yelmic authority suppresses
>it, and allows very few people to become priests, whatever. Because
>Shargash is not just a war god -- he is the god of destruction. He
>destroyed the world in the darkness, and he tries to destroy it every
>time he gets loose. He is a cannibal, a monster, a necessary evil at
>times, but a caged entity at all others. Note in GRoY that he is only
>able to act after all of the other good/acceptable gods are dead.

Ah but this is a non-Alkothi view because the non-Alkothi don't understand the
whole world view of Shargash at all. To a Raibanthi a Shargashi is walking
horror and they would feel terribly uncomfortable in Alkoth but the people there
have lived with this entity for millenia and know him intimately. They accept
the will of Yelm and all house leaders are Yelmic and have the power of Command
thus Shargash is chained by duty as always.

The way we have seen it, the cult _is_ suppressed to a large degree and I talked
to Pam at length (I'm sure she'll comment on this when she returns from Chicago)
about the nature of the Empires control over Shargash and I think it boils down
to this:

(1). The Red Emperor keeps proving himself to be Yelm by completing the Ten
tests thus he has the power to chain Shargash as is mythically determined and
true to the Shargashi. There _are_ Shargashi elements that dislike this
intensely but are bound in this way too - they follow the Dark Path.

(2). The Empire has actively been strengthening the "New" Shargashi houses in
Alkoth by giving them key posts, trade deals and political positions frex the
Emperors guard unit of Shargashi is all recruited from the "New" houses and not
the older Eusibus influenced houses. Eusibus is a serious hero in Alkoth and
his example of loyalty to the Emperor is taught often and long to the Shargashi

(3). There is a quota on Rune Levels in Shargash. Its like a kind of critical
mass. Too many Shagashi leads to bad things and the Empire keeps them under
strict control as a result. The Red King of Alkoth is resposible for enforcing
this. However the cult gets round this by having many high intiates who are
at Rune level. If Shargash were unleashed there would be a very large increase
in their Rune Levels in a _very_ scarily short time.

(4). Socially the Lunar faith has had a strong influence on Alkothi politics
with all the house nobles at least attending the odd service to the Goddess.
They have affected the womenfolk too (scandalous!).

>People who worship Shargash do terrible things. A war regiment dedicated
>to Shargash would consider it their duty to massacre every living thing
>in their way -- women, children, animals. Then they would destroy the
>village, burn all the crops, and raze a few acres of the surrounding
>forest. They cannot be controlled.

Well said! I do think they can be controlled just like a nuclear reactor until
Yelm releases them and BANG the world becomes an Enclosure. The Empire has
survived them being around for centuries and they know how to control them.
This is why Shargash was released so little during the Dara Happan empire period
but when he was it was messy.

>As Greg once said to me, (paraphrased): when the troops start worshiping
>Shargash, the officers all know they have screwed up badly, and it is
>time to lighten up in a major way, let them have liberty once in awhile,
>don't kill so many of them as examples, etc.

Yes this is in units from beyond Alkoth and it ould happen that Dara Happen
regiments start along the Path to Shargash but I think the Alkothi are already
there - they live with him every day after all!

>The "Shargash" cult in Alkoth, IMO, is so watered down by now that it
>bears little resemblance to the original; I think the description in GRoY
>is very old, and not so much the case nowadays. It is truly a cult of
>Alkor, the City God.

Shargash is controlled but can't be watered down because he is _there_! he was
there from the beginning and is still there now. How can you ignore him? Alkor
is important as a social force but is the Son of Shargash and is secondary to
the greater gods role. While the Empire is at peace though his role is
emphasised but I believe that the Shargashi are a waiting power, they wait for
the time to be unleashed and as it says in GRoY, they are alrways learning more
about war and are always ready. However I don't think there have been any real
Shargash campaigns for a long long time so though they _look_ like they are
obscelete, they are still there and still strong, just not fashionable.

This will and does change in the Hero wars IMO.

>I understand that much of what Martin says comes ultimately from Greg,
>but so does much of what I say. Much of this I chalk up to
>interpretation, some of the rest to Greg's mood at a given time. I agree
>with Peter Metcalf that most "worship" of Shargash currently is through
>the Yelm the Warrior "subcult" of the primary Yelm cult. If there is such
>a thing anymore, it's hard to know anymore....

I think you are right, its largely interpretation. I think that Shargashi
worship is possibly through Yelm the Warrior outside of Alkoth but is largely
pure within its domain. There has to be a clear distinction between the green
walled city and the rest of Dara Happa as they are not the same at all. Even
their cultural heritage is different and certainly their history.

Peter Metcalfe:
Me>>However I think that most people in Alkoth worship Shargash
>>through the Yelm Cult as waffled about above.

>Shargash worshipped through Yelm?!? This is not true at all - they
>are entirely different dieties and Yelm is purely a noble cult when
>worshipped at initiate or higher level whereas Shargash is _the_
>cult in Alkoth.

>Firstly I should make it my opinion plain that Alkor is considered
>by many to be Shargash in his civic capacity (or protector dance
>to use your terminology). Thus when an Alkothian is initiated into
>'Yelm the Youth', he has also become a soccer hooligan of the
>Shargash Cult.

Yes this is how we see it too, Alkor is the civic side of Shargash though the
big S is the protector of all. I like the soccer hooligan thing which is
particularily amusing as the game in Alkoth is Polo and I play my polo fanatic
character to be rather thuggish - sort of a _really_ violent rugby player -
you're from New Zealand - you know what I mean there!

>I don't consider the fact that Shargash and Yelm are 'separate
>dieties' to be relevant in terms of cults. The cult of Yelm
>has maintained its position in Peloria by literally incorporating
>whatever local gods it can into its mythology. Look at the
>cult of BernEel Arashagern in Darsen. If you were to tell a
>God Learner that it is a Sun Cult, he would consider you stark
>raving mad. Yet it quite happily is part of the Yelm Cult.

Yelm is certainly the controlling force in Shargashi minds but beneath the thin
veneer is the whole spectrum of the Shargash cult. Shargash is definately part
of the pantheon but is a major god in his own right and has far more initiates
than the Seven Mothers or even Yelm though I agree that Yelm is venerated by all
as the Emperor, its not the same as a full commitment as initate - its an
ancestor cult after all and needs blood to be proof and thats hard to come by.

>To many in Alkoth, Shargash is an Aspect or Mask of Yelm (like
>Krishna is considered an avatar of Vishnu) and so there is no
>conflict between worshipping Shargash and worshipping Yelm (like
>there is no conflict between the Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ).

I disagree, in Alkoth Shargash is _real_, he's really there and felt by all. no
body thinks in that way except philosophers: "Yes I worship Shargash but of
course I understand that he is merely a metaphysical mask of Yelm which is all
part of the holistic worship that makes up the Empire" I exaggerate but no
common or even noble Shargashi is going to think like that.

Also remember that to the Shargashi they obey Yelm but they also ruled
themselves too. Many times Alkoth has been without an Emperor in Raibanth and
they just keep going, making their own Kings or Emperors (Eusibus being the
classic example). Alkoth has a massive history of being itself and alone and

this is not to be washed away easily. They are an independant lot and think
very differently to the rest of the Tripolis. This diversity is very
interesting though and important to Dara Happas strength.

>The People of Raibanth also worship Yelm but they do not
>worship a Mask of Yelm as well as Yelm himself. Thus they
>have nothing to guide their own hearts and are prey to foolish
>notions at best or the Kazkurtum at worst. The Masks known
>by other cities are not Proper Masks...

Hmmm, this is too complex for the man in the street. Nobody would think like
this. Shargash is there, you can _feel_ him, you can hear his drumbeat in the
wind. He's _there_. you can't say he's a mask any Shargashi in the street
would laugh at you and say "Look around you and tell me thats not real!" Then
he'd hit you for being a daft Yuthuppan in the wrong part of town!

>Lastly I don't consider Yelm 'initiate' status to be solely noble
>as it applies to citizens who join the Army. Methinks however that
>a distinction is made between commoners and nobles in these stages
>(much like senatorial classes in the Roman Army).

Uurk, but Yelm is a noble cult and a very small one at that (the last figures I
saw were maybe 10-15,000 in the whole Empire - though these may be changed by
Greg, they were fairly recent). Yelm is not worshipped anywhere near as much as

Lodril who packs a huge number of initiates, even Biselensib is worshipped far
more than Yelm and massively so in the Alkothi region as the swamp supports
Alkoth as Alkoth protects the swamp.

The whole Empire is completely diverse yet maintains control via this veneer of
Yelmic authority - the Lunars merely adopted themselves into this system with
the Red Emperor becoming Yelm.

>>They DON'T get berserk as they are never Berserk in that sense. Instead
>>they gain the ability to dance the path of Shargash that they follow.

>If it looks like a berserk, foams at the mouth like a beserk, and
>fights like a berserk then it should be treated as a berserk. I
>don't consider the philosophy behind why he howls to be important
>for distinguishing a Shargashite from a Uroxi.

Well it is of course because the appearances are totally different. Shargashi
don't foam, they are in control, actually they are also possessed by Shargash
and their movements are fluid, powerful and look like a dance. If you saw an
Uroxi filled with the Bull and a Shargashi filled with Shargash they would fight
and move in totally different ways. Hence the philosophy behind is very
important to me as I've roleplayed both and the way they are played is vastly
different in style and composition. I need to know this or I cannot roleplay
effectively and I can't see how anyone else could either. Roleplaying
accurately a violent and fanatical character is tricky without these things to
guide you.

Martin Laurie


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