Submission for Digest

From: Brian Hebert (hebert@uclink.berkeley.edu)
Date: Tue 11 May 1993 - 22:32:33 EEST



Hello. I would like to offer the following cult write-up. It is obviously unofficial and slightly satirical. It is a Duck cult and reflects my views of ducks in Glorantha; as comic/tragic figures. Weak and maligned, they generally do their best to stay out of everyone's way. But occasionally a core of dignity and greatness gleams through. Make of it what you will.

The Cult of Dha-Naald and Dha-Fhee

I. Mythos & History

The origins of the Duck race are shrouded in obscurity. The prevailing opinion is that they were cursed for their cowardice in the war against Chaos, but there were no survivors of the Great Darkness, divine or mortal, who would swear true knowledge of their creation or nature. All that is known for sure is that at some point during the Godtime, the Ducks appeared.

While it was clear to all that they were formed of the runes of Beast and Man, no measure of debate or inquiry could determine which was ascendant
(and certainly no one tried very hard to discover the truth). Were the
ducks Men who had been tainted with the nature of beasts or beasts who had risen to the stature of Men? Which came first?

Opinions on the nature of ducks varied widely and were largely dependant on local circumstance and prejudice. If ducks, through some act of valor or grace, were held in favor at the moment, then they were considered to be Men and treated with due respect. When, through some error or iniquity, they lost this favor, they were persecuted and hunted as beasts. Because of the volatility of these opinions Ducks were always dependent on the patronage of friendly gods or tribes to protect them from the wrath (or indifferent hunger) of those who would prefer them out from underfoot (and on a platter). The Ducks were tossed by the winds of fate from safe haven to safe haven, never sure of their status or future.

This deep uncertainty and division of identity has plagued Ducks to the present day. Never taken seriously by any other race and lacking a historical sense of their own identity, all Ducks, to a greater or lesser degree, suffer from insecurity and anxiety. While, most Ducks waddle stoically through life, accepting its shortcomings and indignities as a matter of necessity, there have always been those whose sense of pride or desire for acceptance have driven them to extremes. Such were the Duck Heroes, Dha-Naald and Dha-Fhee.

Dha-Naald and Dha-Fhee were nest-mates, hatched during the Second Council of the First Age. Both were exceptional individuals given to extremes of ability and behavior at an early age.

Dha-Naald, faced with the humiliation of his kin by a tax collector of the local human chieftain, went into a rage. He slew the tax man and his guards and fled into the wilds. There in the wilderness he had a vision and was seized by the certainty and dignity of his Beast nature. Swearing never again to bow his head to any Man he became an initiate of Humakt. Through devotion to truth and mastery of death he would earn the respect of all, not as a diminished man, but as Beast triumphant.

Although Dha-Fhee grew up in the same circumstances, suffering the same provocations, he drew very different conclusions and turned to an entirely different path. It was his belief that Ducks were fallen Men, cursed by the mingling of beast influence, but that this curse, if acknowledged and exploited, could lead to redemption. He joined the cult of Eurmal the Trickster and with his clowning and self-abasement found great favor in the lands of Men. He served as court jester in the houses of the mighty and wandered widely with the Puppeteers. Though playing the Fool, the respect he earned was genuine and his name was known and honored throughout many lands.

As the two nest-mates grew in stature and fame a secret ambition grew within their breasts. Each stepped firmly onto the Hero's Path, questing again and again to gain the knowledge and skills required to survive upon the higher planes of existence and achieve their aims. Dha-Naald's  hope was to return to the moment of Duck creation and, serving as hatching-helper, bind the Air Rune to (or prevent its departure from -- he was never sure which) the ancestral ducklings. It was his dream to restore flight to his people so that they could fulfill their Beast nature and become the equals of any of the races of Men. Dha-Fhee, though happy in his work, knew that many of his people would never be satisfied in the role of Fool. He set out, like his brother, to find the Duck genesis and intervene. Using what he had learned in the lands of Men, he would strengthen and nurture the Man rune within the ancestral ducklings, removing all doubt of his people's nature. Man would treat with Duck as equals ever after.

In order to accomplish these goals, they were forced to strike away from the Path's of Humakt and Eurmal into the uncharted realms of myth. Many and great were the dangers. Dha-Naald was forced to slay so often that he grew sick of death. Dha-Fhee used all his Trickster powers to negotiate the hazards he encountered until he was weary and without any remaining guile or wit. Finally each found the place they sought -- simultaneously. They faced each other over a nest of four eggs ready to hatch. Dha-Naald  made as if to slay Dha-Fhee but could not. Dha-Fhee plotted to lead his brother away from the nest but could think of no suitable subterfuge. Each settled down to a single egg and began to work the magics they had prepared. Dha-Naald's egg hatched first and from it emerged a perfectly formed water fowl, no larger than a hare. It leaped upward into the sky and flew away. Dha-Fhee's egg hatched nex

They sat then and watched the birth of Father and Mother Duck and rejoiced in their perfection. Their questions over duck nature remained unanswered, their private hopes denied, but the two brothers reached a pact there at the birthplace of their race. They forged a bond of harmony between them and took it within themselves where it worked great good at healing all their buried pains and fears. They returned to the mortal world and founded their cult together.

II. Cult Ecology

The cult's main purpose in Duck society is to ease the pain of uncertainty and humiliation which has been the burden of Duck-kind forever. The Founders serve as archetypes of the two competing tendencies in all ducks; to lash out at humans and earn their respect through strength and honor, and to play the fool, to abase themselves and earn the liking (if not often the respect) of Men. The priests and lords of this cult have learned to accept their dual nature and forge harmony between these competing influences. Theirs is the voice of moderation and wisdom and they hold many positions of influence within Duck society. They also commonly play the part of emissary or spokesduck when dealing with strangers. Their relative self assurance and dignity makes them well suited to this task.

While too well respected (and powerful) to be openly challenged, there are many ducks who do not embrace the cult's platitudes of acceptance and harmony. Occasionally these ducks will mount opposition to the influence of the cult, but more often these rogues will simply leave to join a foreign cult and never be seen again. There are many stories of such hotheads returning many years later, chastened, to seek solace in the uncritical acceptance of Dha-Naald & Dha-Fhee.

The holy day of Dha-Naald & Dha-Fhee falls on Godsday, Harmony Week, Earth Season. The cult is associated with the Man, Beast and Harmony Runes.

III. The Cult in the World

Temples are found only in areas where ducks congregate (although wandering Dha-Fheeni troupes can be found just about anywhere that Ducks are tolerated.) The largest temple is located in Duckpoint. Temples follow no set rules on design, but are generally built in three sections. One section houses the priests and contains worship space open to the public. Another section houses the Dha-Naaldi initiates and their Lords. The last section houses the Dha-Fheeni initiates and their Lords, though they are frequently absent and the space may be converted temporarily to other uses.

All temples are answerable to the High Priests of Dha-Naald and Dha-Fhee. These important personages reside at the Major Temple in Duckpoint.

 Shrines teach Smoothfeathers.

IV. Initiates

Initiates of the cult are generally duck extremists who have finally grown weary of their struggles for external acceptance and have turned to the cult to be taught the techniques of internal peace. Applicants generally fall into one of the two behavioral archetypes and are segregated by the cult to avoid unnecessary conflict. The Dha-Naaldi initiates continue their training in arms and other physical skills and serve as a militia base for the cult. Dha-Fheeni initiates are encouraged to develop their skills as performers. They routinely travel in troupes led by a Lord and attempt to generate income for the cult.

Life for initiates is difficult as they must continually master their extreme impulses. Dha-Naaldi are taunted by non-cult rogues and feel humiliated by their formal association with the undignified Dha-Fheeni. Likewise the Dha-Fheeni feel debased by their association with the bestial Dha-Naaldi. It is the Lords who serve to temper these feelings and bring harmony and acceptance.

Training available to initiates depends on the masters who belong to that temple. These skills are segregated by initiate type. Initiates of Dha-Naald will be taught weapons skills and martially oriented agility, manipulation and perception skills. A typical temple might teach One-Handed Spear, One-Handed Sword, Climb and Scan. Initiates of Dha-Fhee are taught performance skills as well as performance oriented agility, manipulation and perception skills. A typical temple might teach Sing, Jest, Acrobatics, Conceal and Disguise. Cult-provided training is offered at half price. Initiates are also allowed to pursue, at their own expense, any similar training outside the temple but must petition their Lord for permission. This training can be used toward advancement to Rune Level. This is a common way for initiates of small temples to advance.

Candidates for initiation must pass the standard tests, including success in three of five skill tests (four skills appropriate to Dha-Naaldi or Dha-Fhee plus Ceremony) and, if successful, must sacrifice a point of POW.

Spirit Magic is offered to Initiates on similar terms to training. They are taught whatever is deemed appropriate and is available to the temple's priests. A Dha-Naaldi might be taught Bladesharp, a Dha-Fheeni Glamour. There are no discounts available for learning Spirit Magic.

Divine Intervention and Rune Magic are not available to Initiates.

V. Rune Lords

The Rune Lords of this cult are those who have mastered themselves sufficiently to heal the breach within their nature. Their primary responsibilities include acting as mentors and masters to initiates and representing the community as spokesducks.

Lords who rose from the ranks of the Dha-Naaldi are assigned to one of the Dha-Fheeni troupes and Lords of Dha-Fheeni origin are commissioned as officers of the Dha-Naaldi troops. They are sophisticated counselors and spend a great deal of time getting to know their initiates and showing them, by word and deed, the dignity inherent in acceptance of the duck totality.

To become a Rune Lord a duck must have been an initiate in good standing for at least two years and have mastered three of the skills taught them as initiates. They may then make a roll, once a year against POW x 2 to  see if they have the inner courage for the next step. Once successful they begin training in one or more skills from the other initiate training list. As soon as it has been mastered they are accepted as Lords. They may not train in any skills from their original list until they have mastered three from the second list. After that they are free to train in any skills taught. (Example: Grimquack was a Humakt initiate who converted to Dha-Naald. After many years of service he has mastered One-Handed Sword Attack, Shield Parry and Detect Ambush. For three years he tries to overcome his revulsion at the thought of learning a Dha-Fheeni skill. Finally he succeeds and begins to study singing. Years later he is a master singer and is accepted as a Lord. He is assigned to work with a troupe which is just leaving for the Holy Country. While travelling he starts learning the lute and juggling. Once he masters these he will be free to study any skill he chooses, including his Dha-Naaldi skills.)

Rune Lords continue to receive training from other Lords at half price. They must also provide training in the skills they have mastered to cult members at the same price.

Rune Lords have standard access to Divine Intervention and may also sacrifice for one-use Rune Magic. Rune Lords dedicate 90% of their time and income to the Cult. Income donated to the Cult may be used to purchase training or spells.

VI. Priests

Those initiates or Rune Lords who choose to delve more deeply into the spiritual aspects of the faith may attempt to become Priests. Priests officiate at worship services, provide magical support to the cult and administer the temples. Though not as publicly visible as Lords they are still held in high esteem by those who value the cult's contributions.

A candidate for Priest must have been an initiate or Lord for at least five years, have a POW of 18 or more and have a skill of 50% or better in four skills appropriate to Dha-Naald or Dha-Fhee (at least one from each category) and in Ceremony. They must also pass the test of Holiness
(POW x 3).

Priests may sacrifice for the following common Rune Magic:

Divination, Sanctify, Spellteaching, Warding, Worship Dha-Naald & Dha-Fhee

In addition to this, Dha-Naald and Dha-Fhee devised the following special Rune Spell for the cult:

Smoothfeathers                                            1 Point
Temporal, Stackable, Reusable

When cast, every duck within range of this spell will feel a sense of profound well being and worth. They will feel united within themselves and within their community. Psychological spells directed at ducks under this spell (ie Fear Shock, Befuddle, Demoralize, etc) must overcome its power to have any effect. When confronting outsiders all bargaining and negotiating skills will be increased by half again their original values. Outsiders will perceive a sense of serenity, dignity and solidity within those affected. The spell affects an area 3 yards in radius. Each additional point stacked can be used to double either the range or duration. Multiple priests can cast this spell simultaneously and all of the points cast will be combined into a single stacked spell. This spell is cast at religious observances, celebrations, important negotiations with outsiders and contentious meetings of the duck community. The deeply pleasurable effects of this spell significantly contribute to cult recruitment.


   Brian Hebert, Technology Planning and Information Systems    Telecommunications
   UC Berkeley
   (510) 643-8353 (voice), (510) 643-8245 (fax)



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