Ritual Roles, Death

From: Stephen Martin (ilium@juno.com)
Date: Wed 05 Nov 1997 - 08:48:09 EET

Patrik Sandberg

>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.

Ah, see, here's another place I can help. The best way to work this is to
have one of the PCs sort of walk into the job.

In part of Harmast's Saga dealing with his childhood, his "clan" is in
dire straits. Every time they try to initiate any boys, everyone involved
dies a horrible death. So, the few elders remaining get together, and the
storyteller goes into his trance, and they listen to him tell the story
of Orlanth's initiation. They are all listening very carefully for
anything he might say which is not part of the standard story.

And at one point, he mentions Harmast by name, instead of whoever it is
supposed to be in the story. He doesn't know he does this -- Orlanth has
the Lord of the Story put the words in his mouth.

And so the elders decide to try the initiation again (Harmast is one of
the boys who is then initiated), and they use a different tactic this
time. And it works -- this time, only most of the people involved are

The point is that the PCs can become involved even as low men on the
totem pole, if:

one of them is in the right place at the right time ("Damn, young Argrath
is too sick to play the part of Voriof. You there, boy, whatever your
name is, grab that shepherd's crook and get over here. And bring your
friends, they can be the sheep.");

one of them is in the wrong place at the wrong time ("What were you
speaking to my daughter about just now young Jonathan? Perhaps there is a
place for you in the rituals next week after all, you know the story of
Varnaval, don't you?")

or, best of all in a MGF sense, someone drops their name at the right
time ("Bart? Bart who? Are you sure I didn't say Yinkin then? Oh, Black
Krogar's oldest son's name is Bart? Must be an omen, then. Call him in.")

There are plenty of ways to get players involved. If all else fails,
someone has to play the part of the enemy gods, and troublemak..., er,
"adventurers" will often be the first ones thought of in this context.

Back up a bit, now.
>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.

I think this is exactly true. If the crop was bad the year before, the
priests and shamans are much more likely to enact the Marriage with
Ernalda than they are the Death of Yelm. But, if times are hard, and
there are invaders in the land, the various battles of Orlanth and his
sons are likely to be the most common myths remembered and replayed.

Remember too that occasionally an initiate, priest, or lord will
experience something unexpected. This can be a prophecy spoken by a
newly-gained allied spirit (c.f. The Travels of Biturian Varosh, "The
Spirit of the Wind Comes Forth" on Chaosium's Web Page), a sidetrip or
"chance" encounter during an otherwise well-scripted event, or going to a
completely different part of the Hero Plane than the rest of the
participants. Such is the stuff epic adventures are made of.

>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.

Such things surely exist, though. However, only the most basic magics
will be available. So, you would only have access to one each of each of
the gods' special spells, for example -- Lightning and Translate and
Lock, but no Thunderbolt or Cloud Clear, Analyze Magic or Mindread, or
Pathwatch or Spell Trading.

I think a Cult of the Seven Lightbringers has been popular among Bay Area
RQers for over a decade. And the Seven Mothers is an obvious example of
such a generalized conglomerated cult.

Lee R. Insley
> [I don't know the significance of the cypress, or if it was left
>outside the house after the body was removed]

I believe the cypress comes from Greek mythology -- they were the type of
tree most found in the Underworld, if I recall correctly.

I too wish that Harmast's Saga were published, or even closer to a
published form. But, like most of the material in Greg's files, it is
incomplete. Plus, there are actually two separate Harmast's Sagas begun
- -- one the one we would all expect, and one about his childhood and
initiation. Plus, a third one would seem likely to me eventually -- the
one where he tries after his failure (the one where he gained Arkat as
his prize), and succeeds less spectacularly by getting Talor the Laughing
Warrior instead.

For now, I'll settle for some positive, conclusive news about Issaries,

The Book of Drastic Resolutions, Volume Darkness is taking shape, I am
awaiting rewrites of some articles, and am anticipating a few new
submissions in the next couple of weeks. By now everyone should realize
that I ain't gonna make a January press date (my wife would kill me
anyways, besides, not enough issues of Volume Prax have been sold), but
things look good for this coming summer. Anyone out there with something
new to submit have until the 15th of November. People who promised me
articles a year ago, won't you please send them?

Currently, the contents of the book include an article on Dagori Inkarth;
NPC stats for a band of trollkin; a number of Cults, Spirit Cults, Hero
Cults, and Demon Cults; pages of Plunder items, dark elf potions, and
fungi; lots of myths; and much more.

I think it is safe to report that RuneQuest Adventures Fanzine #6 is also
being worked on again. This elf special will hopefully appear sometime in
the beginning of the year (this is my hope, not John Castellucci's). John
recently posted new versions of his Stinking Forest maps on his webpage:

www.ibar.com/rqa/rqa6.html (I hope I remembered this right)

Anyone who has any cool-looking fonts, I am trying to come up with a logo
for Drastic. I think I know what I want, but the font from the cover of
Lords of Terror is not available. Anyone who can help, you know where to
reach me!

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


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