Too much Yanafals

From: David Cake (
Date: Wed 10 Dec 1997 - 13:05:45 EET

>Dave Cake disagrees with Andrew and myself about likely sources
>of Yanafali/Humakti types.
>I think the cause of the disagreement is that he's supposing our
>"Yanafali Seven Mothers worshippers" to be Seven Mothers initiates
>who *wish* they were in the cult of Yanafal Tarnils proper.
        Well, I'm argueing against anyone adopting that point of view,
while I know that this is not quite what you mean. Thats my reading of what
Andrew actually said, though it may not be what he meant.

>In fact, I think they are members of a Humaktalike subcult of the
>Seven Mothers which gives out rather more specialist Yanafali magic
>and training (etc.). 7M types who "gravitate towards YT" can join
>this subcult, gaining more specialisation for reduced flexibility.

        I'd say associated rather than sub-cult, but that dichotomy is
hopelessly bad at representing the real Gloranthan religious situation
anyway, as endless 'pantheon initiation' debates have shown. Apart from
that, my only disagreement with this is that I think this 'frontier
Yanafals' cult and the Red Army Yanafals cult can be treated as
regional/cultural variations of the same cult rather than separate
entities, ruleswise. But I'll willing to grant that point to you (though
not Andrew) on two grounds 1) you've written the only
likely-to-be-available-soon writeup of the Red Army Yanafals cult and I
haven't seen it, so I'm argueing on the basis of what I THINK its like,
while you actually know, and 2) the rules don't actually cope with that at
all clearly,much like the sub/associated distinction presented above.
        Semantic quibbling like much of the above cannot really be solved
within the RuneQuest rules, IMO. And if think if we are not argueing rules
questions, we don't really disagree that much. The root of the disagreement
is is membership in the Yanafals cult synonymous with army membership, or
merely normally associated? I plump for the second, you jump for the first.
A lurking issue that comes up quite often in other forms (ie the Yelmic
initiation = citizenship? nobility? debate that Peter and Pam and I fall
into every so often has the same core issue of how social and cult rank

>Dave postulated the following "three alternatives":
>I think the first is the "Seven Mothers cult", the second is what I'm
>writing up as the Cult of Yanafal Tarnils, and the third is the one I
>*believe* Andrew and I are agreeing on as the "Cult of Yanafal of the
>Seven Mothers"

        Yes, though I'd rather have a less confusing name for this putative
third cult, and I'd especially like Andrew to say that if thats what he
means rather than just talking about 'the Seven Mothers' in a confusing
fashion - from discussion with Andrew in the past, I think what he probably
means is 'the Yanafals cult in my game', which is a perfect
        Personally, I think its an important distinction between this third
cult and the Seven Mothers - the 'switched blades' Humakti IMO have no
interest in indulging in Xaroni penitence, Jakaleel treachery, or Irripi
Ontor sophistry. They are warriors who have switched sides.

        And I think that we are all in complete agreement on one important
thing - whatever the frontier Yanafali did in your game, they can continue
to do. Don't let all this stuff mess with your Glorantha unnecessarily.

>a barbarian
>Humakti converting to the Seven Mothers might well become a scimitar
>swinging heroic adventurer, but is unlikely to immediately find him-
>self commanding a platoon of the Fourth Darjiin Foot.

        Sure, but a Yanafals initiate is more likely to find himself
seargeant of the native auxiliaries than his yokel compatriots who remain
with their original gods.

        I agree with both Nick and Sandy that all Lunar Army officers are
at least lay members of Yanafals, but in many (generally non-Heartland)
units, many remain only lay members. I also agree with Nick that in some
units, the degree of Yanafali membership is much higher. Though I think for
some elite units (mostly Imperial Bodyguard), Yanafals IS the regimental
god, and virtually all members are initiates.

>IMO the Rune Lords of the Seven Mothers cult are actually
>Priests of Yanafal of the Seven Mothers

        I'm not convinced.

>Ah, but the Austerites and Penances of Yanafal come from the
>resplendant Pelorian tradition whereas the primitive geases of
>the Humakt cult derive from some primitive barbarian folklore.

        I would have thought the Austerities and Penances of Yanafal came
from that so-much-like-Humakt-as-to-confused-in-early-sources Hazar mystery
cult that Yanafals was a member of, the cult whose god was summoned and
fought Yanafals at the battle of Four Arrows of Light. I generally assumed

that this cult was not particularly Pelorian, but came with Syranthir from
the West. What exactly a cult-very-very-much-like-Humakt was doing in the
West I'm not sure, but I'm not interested in having that debate again write
now (or particularly ever. I'm all for Nick and Loren and Greg, the
recognised authorities on Carmania, just working it out amongst
themselves). Some offshoot of post-Arkat (ie not Humath) Ralian Humakt
        But indeed, all reinterpreted through the sublime Lunar vision of
the goddess. Actually, gifts and geases seem so damn Lunar that I'd almost
suggest they invented them - gifts and geases are so Natha/ Gerra ish.

>A YotSM could take a Yanafali Austerity but he
>would have to travel to Peloria to learn how to do it.

        I would rather think that the numerous Lunar Provincial Army
Yanafali could be consulted. I'm sure that they would be happen to offer
advanced religious instruction when politically expedient.

>But would they be joining the Red Army? I do not see Red Army
>opening its temples to admit rustic 'civilians' into the prayer

        I think the Lunars would consider it quite appropriate for their
native auxiliaries to convert to their glorious religion. And don't get too
hung up on the Humakti barbarians vs Lunar Army toffs - a lot of the Lunar
army in Dragon Pass are going to be Tarshites who are quite definately
barbarians to the Heartlanders as well.

>Nor do I think the Lunar Empire have enough resources
>to maintain various temples of YT for those 'professional soldiers'
>who do not join the Red Army.

        No. I think a 'professional soldier' who, for some curious reason,
is willing to embrace the Lunar religion but not their service, must either
be content with befriending the local Lunar forces and accepting religious
instruction from them, or must content himself with prayers at the local
Seven Mothers missionary shrine, who can offer general religious guidance
but not the inner secrets of the warrior path.

        Of course, the Lunars do maintain a large number of temples that
are often used by their army, but are open to anyone who lives in that city.

        Anyway, I think the discussion (now that I have my rules pedantry
out of the way) demonstrates the clumsiness of the rigidity of the
RuneQuest cult structure. I have many suggestions for how they can be
improved, but they mostly amount to 'lets get a new set of rules', and I
fear I shall develop RSI if I type much more.




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