Holy Time and HHDs ++

From: Stephen Martin (ilium@juno.com)
Date: Sun 02 Nov 1997 - 20:20:06 EET

Nick said:
> (There was one odd time when Greg said that only the Rune Level HQers
> got to participate in the Lightbringers Quest ritual in Sacred Time --
> the rest of the clan see them fly off and then hang around hoping
> get back safely -- but that sounds like what happens in a real"
re-enact - -
> ment like Argrath's, not the annual Shorter Lightbringers Ritual [cf.
KoS ].
> Otherwise, how do normal initiates and laity learn the myths? Answer:
> through temple reenactments and ritual dramas, which is to say, through
> temples' static, ritual heroquests).

I agree with Nick completely here. What little there exists of Harmast's
Saga bears this out as well. When Harmast is initiated, he actually goes
to Orlanth's Hall (if I remember correctly) and sees his father, who has
been dead for a number of years. Also, somewhere Greg has a list of all
the places Harmast went during the High Holy Day rituals each year (HHD,
note, not Sacred Time) as an initiate. One time he went to a Godtime
battle, I don't remember any others.

Also, the Eiritha station of Biturian's Travels (on the Chaosium web
page) is a station Nick left off in his discussion, which also shows that
even the 'mere' initiates can see the "inner secrets" of the rites.

Patrik Sandberg
>I also think that in some clans there might not even be enough Rune
levels to fill >all the major roles of the Short Lightbringer Quest

I think Patrik is correct here. In a place like Apple Lane, for example,
most of the roles will in fact be filled by initiates. And, just as many
Christian churches do in America each year with their Christmas pageants,
I also think it is likely that children will either fill some of the
roles or, more likely, be coached into giving their own holy day
performance. At least in some religions, such as Ernalda's or

(especially) Voria's.

>But the feeling was just quite not there. It was hard to pick
>the players interest. A strong feeling of pre-determination set
>the mood for the session. It was as if the players felt that
>they didn't control their own characters, they had no choices.
>This was pre-arranged and stiff.

It occurs to me that this probably ran very much the way it was supposed
to. Remember, most heroquests are NOT God-Learner/Arkati heroquests. They
are very set and structured passion plays. If the players had felt any
inkling that they had some control over their characters, they might have
improvised. And in this type of quest, improvisation is NOT a good thing.

>The overall feeling the session left was that it is very
>difficult to make this ritual stuff into interesting
>role-playing challenges for the players. I wonder if this is not
>also a potential problem for HeroQuest and its playability...

The interest comes, I think, in the way you interact with foes, and in
the small bits you can throw in which are not a set part of the rite. For
example, certain stages have chaos foes in one version of the quest,
trolls in another, and maybe something else in a third. Trickster is
always a good source of trouble. Although the general nature of the foes
and locales is known, specifics will always differ, even if the quest is
run in the same place. C.f. the quest of Leika Ballista in Wyrms
Footprints -- she enacts her quest in Snake-Pipe Hollow, but it is
nothing like the normal chaos-infested haunt everyone knows, in part
because of her quest (IMO).

When the players are hit with unexpected events, they may have to
improvise just to stay alive. As long as this is done within the context
of the LBQ (in your example), they should still be within their

(see King of Sartar pages 165-169)

So, in The Westfaring, have a stranger arrive with a bucket as the "Army
of the Sea". The players must choose whether to let him fill the role, or
whether to have the prepared villagers do it (and thus risk ruining the

In The Descent, "the known tests" are Knowing, Healing, Fighting,
Communicating, and Riddling. But there may be different local traditions.
Also, the nature of these tests is not always obvious -- it does not have
to be Lhankor Mhy who does the Knowing, Chalana the Healing, Orlanth the
Fighting, Issaries the Communicating, and Eurmal the Riddling. There
could be more obscure or hidden tests for Flesh Man -- the entire quest,
riding on joe everyman!

At The Obsidian Palace, surprise the players by having morocanth, members
of the Torkani, or darkness-worshiping ducks represent the trolls. When
Orlanth is Alone in Hell, the Hidden Spark does not have to be a fire. It
can be a matrix for the Light spell, a sparkling gemstone, a mirrored
shield, or even a white dove.

Also, what happened to the other Lightbringers when Orlanth was Alone in
Hell? They were alone in hell, too, and might have their own cultic
versions of the trial. Thus, Chalana Arroy may find herself among a field
of wounded, all of whom need her to heal them, but only one of whom
represents her son, Arroin, who is the one she must try to heal. Lhankor
Mhy might find himself searching for the Mistress of the Light of
Knowledge, and have to face Tien. Remember -- just as many of Orlanth's
myths are seen as occurring as part of the LBQ, so too are many of the
other Lightbringers' myths.

Sorry to go on so long, but I just wanted to show that, while I believe
the ritual HQs are very set and structured, as GM there are many ways
they can be livened up to interest the players, while still requiring
them to act in character. Imagine the dilemna of a Lhankor Mhy who has to
give away knowledge for free to a foe on the quest, because that is what

his god did. An Issaries who must drop his most valuable possession on
the run, because Issaries lost his goods at one station. An Orlanth who
must refuse to fight a foe, no matter how offensive they are, because
this is the place where Orlanth sought peace with his enemies.

>I think his
>background explains his ability to _see_ things normally hidden
>to a mere Lhankor Mhy. Geolgar is, or becomes, what could be
>called "emotionally involved" in the ceremony. He is in a border
>region between "lay member" and inititate, because of his
>background. Therefore, he can observe both the ceremony's
>mundane ritual parts (with masks and implements etc), and parts
>of its actual God-time contents (the voice of Orlanth,
>Flintslingers on the horizon, a brief glimpse of Aroka etc).

First of all, as an initiate of Lhankor Mhy, Geolgin is an initiate of
the Orlanth religion (usually), and so it is no mystery to me that he can
see most of the secret inner meanings of the Orlanth ritual. Remember
that the RQ representation of separate and distinct cults is quite
inaccurate in some ways -- this is The Religion of Orlanth and Ernalda",
after all.

Also, I do not think it is simultaneously possible for a person to both
see the sacred meanings and the mundane representations of a ritual.
Either you see a guy in a mask, or you see Orlanth. Maybe an illuminate
could manage to see both (but see below), but I think that is it.

I think the descriptions in Troll Gods are completely consistent with
those of an outsider, especially one observing troll rituals. If I, as an
outsider, viewed an Orlanth ceremony, I would still feel the winds raise,
and see the clouds gather, nd feel the rain. I might also feel the
oppressive humidity and air pressure as the ceremony's preparations
neared completion. If I viewed a Telmori ceremony, I would see most of
the participants turn into wolves shortly before I was devoured. Etc.

On Illuminates -- do people think they can still see the sacred meanings
of these rituals, or is that one of the things they lose. I have this
great image of the illuminated Orlanth priest officiating for years based
on his memories, because all he can see is the guys in masks holding
sacred implements.

As for Orlanth holy day correspondences, there is an old unpublished bit
at Chaosium I saw which talks about the Orlanthi religion more generally.

The Sea Season rituals for the Orlanthi center around Heler, God of Rain.
This takes the form of a planting ceremony.

The Fire Season ceremonies center around "Yelmalio" (now Elmal).

The Earth Season rituals celebrate Ernalda above all others (of course).
It is one of the most sacred times of the year, but takes different
aspects depending on the cult's specific form of worship. The Cult of
Young Varnaval (precursor to Voriof the Shepherd) is common to both
Ernalda and Orlanth Thunderous, and so it is a time of great sorrow over
his death. The worshipers of Barntar are joyful, however, and full of

In Dark Season there is no major holiday, though Orlanth, Ernalda, and
Elmal all have minor holy days. It is often propitiatory in nature.

In Storm Season, Orlanth's festival of course takes precedence. It is a
time of great celebration.

Keep in mind these are extremely old notes I am paraphrasing from, but
they give an idea of how it is the religion, not the cult, which is often
foremost to the worshipers. How many catholics are so devoted to one
saint that they cannot participate in a standard Mass?

Mr. Tines on Guilds
>About the time Cults of Prax came out, there was discussion
>in _Alarums and Excursions_ about how to fit guilds into the
>same environment; and one person proposed a "standard Guild
>template" to match the cult template.

The indefatigueable John T. Sapienza.

>The main stubling block
>was seen to be that of magic : in the theist part of Genertela
>which was all that was know about at the time, the monopoly of
>the cults upon magic and ceremony gave them a significant
>boost over purely mundane guild structures.

And in fact this was to some extent written into RQ2 -- the Alchemist's
Guild was seen to be an arm of the Lhankor Mhy cult. The Weaponmaster's
Guild was part of the Humakt cult.

But I agree that a guild-oriented system is bound to be quite weak in a
theistic culture where magic works, though published writings have stated
that there is a strong guild structure in Dara Happa.

What is the likelihood of powerful guilds in the West, however? There,
magic is the domain of the wizardly caste, mostly, not of any particular
group, and it is not as specialized as it is among the Orlanthi cults.
Should this discussion of guilds be moved over to the Hrestoli and

>Magic road heroquests have been mentioned in sources
>from way back - ISTR one mentioned in some of the
>house campaign write-ups in WF, lo these many years ago.

And actually, many of them could be constructed to fit the format of an
already known "heroquest". You could have a Magic Road in Sartar that
followed the path of Orlanth meets Elmal, and as a side effect (perhaps
not always beneficial) transport you 100 miles west. But even if the only
purpose is movement, these Roads are Heroquests, and the questors still
have foes and tests to overcome. If they don't do it properly, they may
not travel; might end up traveling somewhere other than where they
intended; or might find themselves stranded on the Hero Plane, having to
perform another (more dangerous) quest to return home. They are not to be
treated lightly, IMO.

Stephen Martin
- -----------------------------------------------
The Book of Drastic Resolutions


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