Re: Initiation Rites

From: Paolo Guccione (teigupa@tss.tei.ericsson.se)
Date: Wed 29 Jan 1997 - 20:01:27 EET


Arf Wilson writes:

>Noone seems to have picked up my thread ( I guess it got lost among the
>truestone/shargash flames) so I'll post it again...

Not at all! I found it very interesting, but had no time to reply. As
you can see, my speculations about your posting are very long.

>In a discussion with one of my players, the subject came up of what
>exactly happens when an initiate is initiated. The player concerned has
>a Storm Bull character, and one thing we came up with is that as a part
>of the ceremony, the Initiate has one ear torn off (as per SB's battle
>with the devil described in CoP).

>The question I am putting to you more worldly (lozengely?) wise people is
>whom would the SB lose his ear to? Would he have to fight a chaos foe,
>lose the ear, nearly die, and be healed by an Eiritha priestess before
>whacking the foe and retreating? At this point, the Initiation begins to
>me to sound like a heroquest. Or perhaps that's the way Initiaion should
>be...

If we check the very basic form of worship, spirit cults, we see that
the initation ritual includes actual partecipation in the summoning of
the entity to be worshiped. In the cult of Cacodemon, a slightly larger
spirit cult, the applicants meet a fiend, the representative of the god
himself (unworthy ones actually meet his interiors).

When a cult grows larger than a small bunch of fanatics, the initiation
rites become a re-enactment ritual rather than an actual meeting with
the entity. The exact path that the applicant must walk is set by the
priesthood, now a well-organized hyerarchy. Essentially, the priests
become the mediators between the deity and the worshiper (does this
remind you anything about RW history?) and set an established "limited
Heroquest" whose results are always the same. The applicant walks the
god's path in a ritual fashion, and experiences Oneness with his God.
Keep in mind that performing re-enactment rituals in Glorantha does not
mean impersonating your god on a stage, they mean actually "being" your
god in his quest. So the rituality of initation ceremonies of organized
cults does not make them a less involving experience than the rites
performed by smaller cults in the actual presence of the deity. In fact,
they are heroquests, but their outcome is usually known in advance if
they succeed. The skill rolls required are a mere abstraction of the
actions taken by the applicant while emulating the deity's major deeds,
and I am strongly in favour of replacing them with a good deal of
roleplaying like you suggested for your Storm Bull.

As for the realism of ceremonies, I recall that Elder Secrets describes
aldryami Sacred Time ceremonies as including fights with live trolls. I
actually ran a scenario involving elves stalking a troll party in order
to capture live Uz for their rites. As a consequence, I suppose that
this sort of dangerous rituals are not uncommon in Glorantha, and the
only limit to them is the availability of live enemies. So in areas
where low-power chaos beings are readily available, it is quite possible
that the High Storm Khans demand that the applicants fight a real broo
(or worse) to be initiated. This may be different in other areas,
however. I think that the ear could be cut off by other SBs, though, not
necessarily lost through combat. The ritualized mutilation should be
enough to grant a complete re-enactment of the myth. Actually losing an
ear in ritual combat could be viewed as a very good omen for the new
initiate, however. I think this detail you worked out is very nice,
indeed!

I also suggest that you read the nice fiction written by Loren Miller
about the ritual for the new Sword of Humakt. It is available through
Delecti's Gloranthan Lore Library (at
http://www.aol.com/delecti/UpMarsh.html ). Although making a new Rune
Lord is less common than making a new Initiate, the initiation ceremony
need not be less involving than the ritual described in the short story.
After all, initiation costs POW, while becoming a Sword does not.

>Also, I am having difficulty converting gloranthan coinage, and I can
>find no sources that explain it - can someone tell me approxiamtely how
>many Lunars there are to a Wheel?

I remember the rate was 1 wheel = 20 lunars, assuming 1 lunar = 1p. The
information ought to be in Gods of Glorantha under the Coin Wheel
(Lokarnos) entry.

Paolo Guccione teigupa@tss.ericsson.se p.guccione@geco.it
                        http://www.geco.it/~guccione

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