Kolating and spirits + Holy Days (HQ)

From: Kaselov-Sandberg (md24855@dredd.swipnet.se)
Date: Tue 04 Nov 1997 - 12:41:52 EET


Patrik here...

 David Cake wrote some fine comments on the shaman of Orlanthi
society - the Kolating (is this the same as being a "Breath
Shaman of Umath", as Bofrost of the Hillhaven clan was titled in
Tales # 5?) As one of the PCs in my Sartar/Culbrea campaign is
Gir the Spiritual Hobo, a Kolating, I thought I could add a few
things.

> So the best way to make a Kolating interesting is to give
them lots
> of lots of interesting wind spirits that they know of, know
how to summon,
> or whatever.

I play it that most of the spirits Gir know he meets on the
Spirit Plane (were he spends a lot of his time). Most spirits
are not very glad to be summoned now and again - better to visit
_their_ home.

Among his spirit aquintances are:

Zulp the laughing wind spirit. Can be contacted near Alda-Chur.
The Kolating who knows Zulp best is Kosylyn of Breezy Spring
from the Amad tribe. Zulp is very afraid of Tuskers and Boar
spirits (his eternal enemy who would like to eat him is a great
Black Boar Spirit with connections to a Tusker clan). So if you
search Zulp out he is often interested in assistance against
Tusk Riders.

Dot-Stone. A spirit of the Quivin mts, who has a weakness for
Golden flowers and beautiful spirit choirs. If his weeping tears
can be collected when he listens to the choirs they can be of
help on later quests on the Spirit Plane.

Caftali. The ghost of an old Kolating who resides on the spirit
plane close to Kolat's Castle of the Seven Winds. This spirit
knows much otherwise forgotten lore and the names of many
powerful and strange spirits which he may share with a shaman
who defeats him in spirit combat (Caftali still adheres to the
geas of always challenging other Kolatings to duels of magic).
Unfortunately he has a POW of 25 and knows much magic, so his
secrets are wellguarded. A rightminded Kolating would never
attempt to bind him since he is an important potential source of
knowledge for everyone.

 > A few spirit cults for Kolating are another logical area.
The
> extensive Praxian and Troll spirit cults add a lot to shamans
of that
> culture, so a few Sartarite spirit cults would help flesh out
Kolating
> considerably. Anyone got a list?

Well, not a list, but here's one from my campaign:

Aul' King Owl. This old and wise spirit claims to be King of the
owls, and this may be true at least as far as the local owls of
Sartar are concerned. (He takes the appearance of an extremely
old and wrinkled owl, standing 12-15 meters high, swept in long
layers of dust and dirt - think of the Great Owl in the film
"the Secret of Nimh".) If contacted with the right kind of
offerings he may command his subjects to search, view or guard
an area ("the owls are not what they seem"). Aul' King Owl has
access to the experience of the local owls and may report back
to the contacter. He can be worhipped in the normal spirit cult
manner and provides the following spell:
Owlsense
2 pts
ranged, temporal, nonstackable, reusable
This spell works exactly like a normal "command owl" with the
addition that the caster may perceive the world through the
senses of the commanded owl.
Aul' King Owl may be contacted at the Owlflight Crest the night
after Wildday, Movement week, every season. No one has bothered
to set up worship of this spirit since before Sartar's coming.

- ----

Stephen Martin wrote a very nice answer to my comments on Holy
Days (and in a sense; HeroQuest).

> 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.

Doesn't this all make us wish Harmas'ts Saga was published?
Harmast going to many different places on Orlanth's HHD when he
still was a 'mere' initiate seems to indicate that it is not
'only' the birth of Orlanth that is celebrated then (which the
Orlanth write-up in RoC indicates). The old Chaosium list
Stephen kindly supplied makes a good start, but I will gladly
extrapolate from that one. IMO mundane events affecting the
tribe or clan will to a greater or lesser degree influence the
HHD ritual. For instance, if winter keeps dragging on with
blizzards, snow and cold from early Earth to late into Storm, I
picture the tribes doing a retelling of
"Orlanth-battle-Valind-brother". Evidently, Harmast at least
didn't have to see Orlanth be born in Kero Fin's whistling cave,
or as a colt playing with Yinkin, year after year after year.

Stephen's little note on Harmast also explains another thing to
me. How to do the PCs first HeroQuests. Most, if not all, of the
HeroQuests I have seen published (printed or on web-sites), my
PCs would never stand a chance to accomplish (even though we
have one near-Rune Lord and one Storm Servant). If the PCs first
few encounters with the God Plane is visiting places, talking to
deities, make trait rolls, maybe get a special ability or two,
instead of combatting things - with the PCs having ridiculy
small chances to hit or win - then they eventually will be
better euipped dealing with longer (i.e. published) HeroQuests,
performed outside the HDs.
 
  
On the comments on the SLBQ: Thanks for your suggestions,
Stephen. I'm tempted to try and run it again... The only problem
is how to get the PCs into leading positions in the clan, so
that they can shoulder the role of the deities (especially
Orlanth) - but that is a problem for my campaign, not to your
ideas and suggestions.

> Sorry to go on so long,

Don't be sorry. If you got any more suggstions popping up, I
would be very glad to see them.

  
> 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.

Yes, I agree that other Lightbringers are capable of
participating in each others rituals. I think it is totally OK
with cultural "pantheon-religion". The sources seem to have
pointed this out ever since the old Wyrms Footnotes days, what
with the mentionings of an Orlanth Lawspeaker taking the role of
Lhankor Mhy, etc. And Orlanth as a farming religion is of course
deeply connected with Ernalda's mysteries (sometimes via the
Barntar link). But I also think that each cult should retain
mysteries, secrets and rituals who only the "proper" initiates
can see, realize, use, etc. OTOH, we have the fact that at least
half of Orlanthi society are initiated in more than one cult, so
sharing of secrets and rituals are likely more common than in,
for instance, Praxian society were the boundaries between the
Waha, Eitritha, and Storm Bull cults seem to be much more
clear-cut.

The only thing I wan't to avoid is "full-scale"
pantheon-worship, where every adult person can reap the
advantages of the initated in all of the Seven Lightbringers and
the Earth goddesses at the same time. During the spring, when I
sow, I get the magics of Ernalda. During summer when I raid the
neigboring tribe, I use Orlanth's battle magic, when I go to
town to sell the booty I sacrifice for Path Watch, etc.

This does not rule out the possibilty that I make a offering to
Issaries so that he will bless my journey and my trade, or that
I want the Ernalda priestess to bless my field after I've buried
a small clay statue of the Fertility godess in the four corners
of the field - just that the PC don't get any game-mechanistic
advantage from it.

> 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.

This is probably true, but if I, Patrik Sandberg, wants to write
up a description of a Holy Day I think that this "double
perspective" is a good and creative view-point. It makes the
description weird and mysterious. It is precisely this
"un-decidability" in the published texts that facinates me. On
the one hand we have very down-to-earth phrases such as (from
KoS, p166) "In this ritual, called the Sofalan Journey, the
quester must be carried upon a shield and never dropped". ON the
other hand phrases steeped in mysticism and magic (p167): "Being
lost in the Underworld, almost anything can occur. This is the
realm of the dead, unborn, unbodied, disembodied, and purely
spiritual. It is also the realm where nightmares come from..."
 
> I think the descriptions in Troll Gods are completely
consistent with
> those of an outsider, especially one observing troll rituals.

Maybe it is that the mundane representation of the ritual
_includes_ magical and mystical stuff? Symbolic visions
perceived even by the outside observer. (I.e. the stars of the
universe mirrored in Cragspider's soaring body.)

But I agree that the texts often contains up to 90% descriptive
material, handling the mundane, ritual side of the thing. And
this is probably a good thing. A descripion written from the
initiated, or priests, point of view would tend to be simply a
rendition of the myth ("I blew and blew and blew, and my brother
Yinkin whistled out of the cave....").

Cheers,

Patrik
kaselov.sandberg@swipnet.se

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