Perfecti, Conquest, Honour

From: Nick Brooke (
Date: Wed 30 Apr 1997 - 11:36:25 EEST

Dave writes:

> At least all the deep sea sailors know of Dormal's ritual, though
> not all venerate him for it (the Vadeli, for example, learnt the
> ritual from Dormal but have not particular respect for him - or
> anyone else who isn't Vadeli).

"Oh no, good master: we Vadeli have the utmost respect for all you
fortunate and generous people, who bring us all the benefits of your
superior culture and religion. We weep -- oh, how we weep! -- that we were
born mere Vadeli, unable to profit from the great wealth of knowledge and
power to which you are the rightful heirs. Dormal the Sailor was a
wonderful man -- excuse me, of course I meant a god, kind sir -- who gave
us poor Vadeli the benefit of his great, his divine wisdom. We revere him,
as we revere all the generous benefactors of the Vadeli -- yourself
included, I reverently hope...?"

Frank writes:

> I've been thinking about the Loskalmi Perfecti. The approach presented
> in the Splintered Sects is good enough, but not appropriate to my
> campaign.

In that case, speaking as their inventor (or should that be "heresiarch"?),
*please* change it to fit! There's no point *at all* in our writing all
this stuff if it can't be used in gaming.

> I think a Perfecti modelled on Gandhis Satyagrahi would be a lot more
> interesting. A non-violent sect would be very interesting in a conflict
> with the KoW.

Certainly true! We see the White Moon Pacifists within the Lunar Empire as
similarly useful, though almost from the other side at the present day:
like having a non-violent sect *within* the KoW. Another interesting
parallel is with Zoria, the City of Free Love, believing itself (so far,
rightly) safe from the assaults of Lord Death.

I've just finished reading Amin Maalouf's novel "The Gardens of Light",
about Mani, the founder of the Manicheans. Jolly good, lots of tasty stuff
that you could borrow for a non-violent sect establishing itself within a
warlike but "decent" kingdom (I intend to steal chunks for Carmania one of
these days), and perhaps most especially for the relationship between the
pacifist/unworldly prophet and the Great King himself. Highly recommended,
along with the same author's "Samarkand" and "Leo the African".

> The sect could even be what saves Loskalm. Hundreds of thousands of
> farmers would die, but if they manage to stick to their non-violence
> they would beat the KoW.

"Lord Meriatan! Those damnable heretics must have spread their treacherous
poison here. *None* of these farmers is willing to fight! Even when their
families are butchered before them, they won't so much as raise an arm to
defend themselves! How shameful, how unmanly, are the effects of this vile
deceit, surely sent by Wakibopheles the Devil himself to plague us in our
hour of greatest need!"

> The sect should have some magic that enables them to preserve their
> souls from Tapping. Either they can invoke the sect (as a saint) to
> get immunity to Tap INT and POW...

NO! There should be *no* tangible/visible benefit to joining the Perfecti
heresy: it *has* to be an internal change. The heretics make converts by
demonstrating their faith and certainty in their own salvation: not by
showing that horrendous magical assaults bounce off them, but rather by
meekly succumbing to martyrdom -- "as Hrestol did" -- in the certainty of
attaining Solace in Glory

> ...or they could invoke it to get a reasurance of salvation no matter
> what.

Definitely. And it *is* a certainty. The Perfecti have rediscovered a Truth
about Hrestol's life and martyrdom which explains how, despite being
defiled and condemned in every imaginable way by the Zzaburi judges of the
City of Brass, their Prophet was able to ascend to Solace. By following
their strict ascetic path, including vigils and taboos and the like, they
can be certain of reaching Solace upon death.

For good information on the "real" Perfecti, get a copy of the phenomenal
history book "Montaillou", by Emmanuelle Le Roy Ladurie (don't worry, it's
in English): a vivid description of village life in early 14th century
Provence, in the peasants' own words. (BTW, it's absolutely *inexplicable*
that this book doesn't appear in the sources for any "Ars Magica" product,
AFAIK: it could have been written to support that game). Here's a chunk
from the introduction:

: Catharism was based on a distinction between a 'pure' elite on the one
: hand ('Perfecti'), and on the other hand, the mass of simple believers.
: The Perfecti came into their illustrious title after they had been
: initiated by receiving the Albigensian sacrament of baptism. In Cathar
: language, this sacrament was called the 'consolamentum' ("consolation").
: Ordinary people referred to it as "heretication". Once he had been here-
: ticated, a Perfectus had to remain pure, abstaining from meat and women.
: A Perfectus had the power to bless bread and to receive from ordinary
: believers the ritual salutation or adoration. He gave them his blessing
: and kiss of peace.
: Ordinary believers did not receive the Consolamentum until just before
: death, when it was plain that the end was near. This arrangement allowed
: ordinary believers to lead a fairly agreeable life, not too strict from
: the moral point of view, until their end approached. But once they were
: hereticated, all was changed. They had to embark (at least in the late
: Catharism of the 1300s) on a state of 'endura' or total and suicidal
: fasting. From that moment on there was no escape, physically, though
: they were sure to save their souls. They could touch neither women nor
: meat in the period until death supervened, either through natural causes
: or as a result of the Endura.

Tasty, eh?

In discussion with Sandy, we agreed that one of the ways Perfecti could
annoy Hrestoli Idealist PCs in a Loskalmi campaign would be by disrupting
the rituals of class-advancement (Fairs, Tourneys, Examinations and the
like), perhaps suicidally (throwing themselves under the victor's horse),
protesting against the artificiality of this so-called "progression through
the classes". Of course, if anyone were to die during a Tourney (or if
something went blatantly "wrong" in an Examination, etc.) the results would
be invalid, however strenuous the testing; and the "refight" or "resit"
probably wouldn't happen for another year. (Imagine how pissed off your PCs
would be if some religious nutter put off their elevation to Rune Lord for
a year in a display of fanatic principle?). There's *loads* of ways in
which non-violent protesters could screw up the nice, clean and orderly
ritual life of Idealist Loskalm. (Again, I refer anyone to Michael
Moorcock's "Gloriana" for a view of real life in an Ideal kingdom).

Andrew/Rupert writes:

> Yanafal is also the Lunar War God; let's hear it for the Lunar Army!
> Praise and Honor to those brave men who conquered Dragon Pass!

Oh dear, time for a quick remedial lesson in New Pelorian. The correct
phrase is:

"Praise and Honour to those brave men who *liberated* Dragon Pass!"

The verb "conquer" *cannot* correctly be used to describe an action of the
doubleplusgood Lunar Empire, except in the phrase "Empty Conquest". In the
next edition of the New Pelorian Dictionary, this will be replaced with
"unconquest", which should clear up any remaining semantic and conceptual

NB: the gender-specific "men" is used instead of the more neutral "persons"
since this phrase has a military context. If we were describing the actions
of the Lunar College of Magic, we would have said "women" (just as all army
officers are referred to as "Sir" and all cult leaders as "Priestesses" in
New Pelorian).

        * * *

I'd like to add here that I completely agree with Andrew's formulation of
the difference between the Heartland cult of Yanafal Tarnils (army
officers) and the Provincial cult of "Yanafal Tarnils of the Seven Mothers"
(heroic individual scimitarsmen: "adventurers", for want of a better word).

We've been working on the Red Army Cult, understandably, but have no desire
to "destroy" existing Yanafali PCs and NPCs' raisons d'etre in the process:
in fact, some Yanafali will hate Undead just as much as any Humakti.
(Y'see, Yanafali can join many Humakti Hero Cults, if the Hero Cult is
willing to take them: they get the same additional magic and geasa as any
other Humakti would).

Dave Cake dissents (as usual): to explain a bit further, we'd see "the Cult
of Yanafal Tarnils of the Seven Mothers" as distinct from the Cult of the
Seven Mothers itself, probably a sub-cult identical to any Humakt-based,
non-Army-based cult writeup your campaign has been using for YT all these

We *aren't* saying "All Seven Mothers cultists are Yanafali specialists"
(daft!), or "All Seven Mothers cultists who specialise in Yanafali things
must become Lunar army officers" (weird!): we're leaving a wide niche for
the Yanafal Tarnils Humakti-style adventurer cultists many groups will
undoubtedly have met to exist *after* the publication of our Heartlands /
Red Army version. Minimal impact, and all that.

Peter writes:

> There are times when a leader _must_ turn his or her back. This happens
> when a more important loyalty is at a stake. In the case of Yanafal, it
> was love for his people, enslaved by the corrupt Carmanians, who drove
> him against his former master, not lust for power or hatred towards
> Humakt. In most cultures this would not be considered dishonourable.

I'll admit that we lose some of this excellent motivation using my account,
as I explain Yanafal as the (Carmanian) son of the (Carmanian) Satrap of
Yuthuppa, a city which at the time of the birth of the Red Goddess was
undoubtedly ruled by the Carmanian Empire it its last, belligerent and
decadent phase.

But... I think Yanafal was probably from one of the "old-fashioned" or
"noble" Carmanian families, the old nobility of the High Empire, and no
relation to the brutish barbarian Bull-worshipping usurpers who now ruled
it (except through forced and resented marriage-alliances). In which case
much of the "loyalty to people" argument presented by Peter still survives.

I *can't* see Yanafal Tarnils as a Dara Happan, let alone a Yuthuppan, by
anything other than conquest: too much dissonance!



End of Glorantha Digest V4 #374

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