Merged Cults.

From: Alex Ferguson (
Date: Mon 14 Apr 1997 - 18:03:43 EEST

Stephen P Martin defends his "Many Rune Levels => Merged Cult" theory
against allegations of Silliness.

> We have two types of cults here -- Cults of Ruling Gods (Waha, Orlanth,
> Pamalt, Kyger Litor, Aldrya, Bagog); and cults which we _know_ are the
> result of two or more historical cults merging [...]

Exluding the "Ruling Gods" (though I'm not sure on what basis, nor am I
convinced Bagog is such in the sense that the others are), we're left with:
Seven Mothers, Thanatar, Yelmalio, Issaries and Yelm.

Two of these have structures which fairly clearly don't correspond
to their historical origins, though in Yelm's case what that origin
exactly is, is highly debatable. Yelmalio may be more or less
"made up of two parts" (one could also argue one-and-a-bit, or three
or so, according to tastes), but trying to match up its Rune levels
to its constituents really doesn't seem to work, either.

The cases in which I do believe Stephen's theory are Issaries and
Thanatar. Fairly convincing instances in themselves, but to claim
2/11 as strong evidence would be an extreme case of the Exception
Proving the Rule. Even in the Thanatar case, though, there's an
element of self-fulfilling prophesy, with Lords of Terror suggesting
a "fixed" version of the Thanatar cult (pretty much the RQ2 version,
to be fair).

> As for the ruling gods, I note that all but one (Orlanth) have shamans,
> and that none of the other cults have shamans.

You mean, none of the other "multi-RL" cults? Several other cults
have shamans as their single "priest" rank, so I don't see the real
significance of this. BTW, I think that Yelm might just possibly
count as a "Ruling" god, and I think numerously non-multis do too,
depending on your exact criteria.

> Personally, I believe that
> the Orlanth cult should include a shaman level as well.

I can see absolutely no Gloranthan reason for this, myself. Various
sources have mentioned Theyalan shaman, but none (that I'm aware of)
have suggested they have anything to do with the Orlanth cult. If
anything, quite the reverse.

> Orlanth in RQ3
> seems clearly a merger of two cults I feel are better left separate,
> Thunderous and Adventurous, plus the Rex "subcult".

The two Orlanthi "priesthoods" are effectively separate, but I think
the acid test is whether they have common Initiation or not, and I
think they do. I see no reason to suppose they were ever any _more_
separate than this; probably rather less so, becoming more
"specialised" over time. The Rex aspect is clearly an example of such
an "added feature", not a historically independant cult.

Mild soapbox: theorising about such things is all very well, but I become
uncomfortable when they're taken beyond mere speculation, and become
agitation for Glorantha to be "improved" to suit them better. It would

be just as artificial as the old RQ2 situation of _everyone_ having
a Rune Lord to insist that all these "odd ranks" be explained away by
some neat Glorantha-wide theory. One of the things I most liked about
GoG when I first got my grubby paws on it was that it tried to have
a cult structure determined by the habits and needs of the religion and
culture, _not_ some Universal Cult Format. (Now that's GoG has been

confirmed to already have become Out Of Print Forever, I suppose we're
allowed to become all moist-eyed and sentimental about it. (The Folk
Singer LBJ springs to mind here.))



End of Glorantha Digest V4 #339

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