@Joerg referenced my "downsized version of Orlanth" in my Imther mythology published in New Lolon Gospel. With the help of Martin Crim and the late James Polk, I actually did a full RQ3 writeup of this cult. So here's that bit from the archives.
The Cult of Orlantio
By Harald Smith, Martin Crim, and the late James Polk (1956-2016)
Mythos and History
Orlantio is one of the seven storm sons of Umath. His is the West Wind, which often brings change and disorder to Imther. Orlantio is also the Merrymaker of the Gods, the Secret Helper, and the Hidden Lover. Without Orlantio, the world would be a dreary place indeed.
Orlantio has always shown his wisdom. While the serious gods (Yelem, Arahar, and Khelmal) busied themselves with Judgment, Protection, and Leadership, Orlantio brought Joy and uncertainty to everyone. Some of the gods did not appreciate his efforts, and so he was rarely invited to dinner. Orlantio didn’t mind, though, because the attentions of the goddesses he charmed more than made up for the missed dinners!
Orlantio was always ready to help his friends. When Teliska was consumed with the illness of Lethargy, Orlantio secretly helped Khalana find the cure. And when Khelmal and Nealda were to be wedded, he gave them the best present ever made. Orlantio knew he had to do this, because at this time Khelmal didn’t love and cherish Nealda.
Orlantio began giving this gift by pretending to kidnap Nealda, with the help of Khalana and Nealda herself. After that he arranged for his nasty brother Orak, known as the Hellwind, to kidnap Nealda for real. Then Orlantio showed Khelmal, through Khalana, how to free Nealda from her foul captor. Khelmal was forced to worry for many days, fight two battles at the Hill of Gold, suffer terrible wounds and lose some of his powers. Yet, when Khelmal rescued Nealda, he felt great joy at seeing her and knew that he loved her above all others. After the whole affair was over, Orlantio realized he had also created Hope and was very pleased with himself.
Orlantio was invited to join the Lightbringers' Quest only because Nealda, Khalana, and demanded it. Orlantio’s role was to bolster the questers’ spirits and to use hope when it seemed necessary.
Orlantio told funny stories, sang ribald songs, and created several running gags. Some of the company found Orlantio’s cheerfulness annoying, and some were jealous of the attention he received from Khalana. Not daunted by this hostility, Orlantio also ensured the quest would be successful by causing Lagavar to be taken. Then Orlantio caught Lagavar’s spark of life and kept it safe. (As all know, it was this spark which Khalana later nourished until it grew to become Dawn, the reborn world.) Near the end of the quest, Orlantio was tried before Yelem. Due to Khalana’s masterful Defense of Orlantio, which is known to every student of Oration, Yelem judged Orlantio Not Guilty.
The beginning of Time showed Orlantio is still needed. His followers carry his wisdom and will across the world, seeking to change or discredit those who would banish joy and laughter.
Orlantio has the runes of Storm and Disorder.
Orlantio disrupts everyday routine in Imther, sometimes causing adversity and sometimes causing laughter and joy. Because of him life is rarely dull.
Imtherians accept Orlantio’s followers (known as Orlantics) as kin and neighbors, but always view them with a watchful eye. Not for nothing do Imtherians say, “Befriend Orlantio, but never turn your back on him.”
Some Orlantics live their whole in their home villages and are known to worship Orlantio. Others wander through Imther and adjoining lands as minstrels, players, merchants, beggars, etc., seeking to spread the benefits of Orlantio without revealing themselves as his worshippers.
Orlantio has no regular seasonal cult holy day. Instead, each Orlantic chooses a day to celebrate with a trick or lesson. If the trick or lesson goes well, the Orlantic may regain his current divine spell. Orlantio’s true High Holy Day is actually two days during Holy Season. These days are known as “Party!” and “Surprise!”. During Party!, Orlantics celebrate Orlantio’s manifestations during the past year. During Surprise!, Orlantics reveal, albeit as vaguely as possible, Orlantio’s manifestations for the upcoming year.
From the notebooks of Wealix Holayfield, Irrippi Ontor sage, fourth class, of Mirin's Cross (with marginalia by Thelix Mightypen, Priest of that temple):
I was assigned the study of Orlantio after the recent peaceful transfer of sovereignty of certain lands of southern Imther to the Queendom of Holay. Through study of captured Orlantics, interviews with elders, and research in the library of our temple in Mirin's Cross, I was able to make a definitive study of that peculiar cult. (Peculiar research methods!) My results may be summarized under three points.
Orlantio is a composite of four different spirits. At one stage in the cult's history, they were recognized as the sons of Orlantio. Since the -io ending indicates that Orlantio is a child, however, it is absurd to think he had sons. These four spirits, in any case, included a wind spirit, a classic trickster, a god of wild music perhaps related to the satyrs who formerly infested Imther, an ancient Theyalan culture hero, and a mysterious spirit. (Sloppy so-called scholar! Orlantio is a plain Theyalan buffoon, and anyway Wealix has listed five spirits, not four.)
Orlantics claim Harmast Barefoot as one of their own, an absurd and bald-faced lie. Harmast was an Orlanthi of Holay, as is well known. Imtherians co-opted Harmast into Imtherian mythos as a misguided Orlantic who first brought the avatar of Orak, Arkat, into the world and then went back to find Laughter and Joy in the form of Talor, an avatar, in the Imtherian view, of Khelmal. (Such a peculiar and self-serving view is typical of the mountaineers of Imther.)
The role of village Orlantics has balanced the centripetal tendency of the solar Khelmali culture. Thus, Imtherian culture has experienced a greater level of spiritual freedom than lowland solar cultures. In this way, they foreshadowed Lunar freedom, and were excellent ground for the seed of Lunar wisdom to grow, as Hwarin Dalthippa found. Today, all the Lunar cults make excellent progress, and the country will soon be ripe for full inclusion into the Empire. (Wealix always has talked too much, and written too much. Make sure nobody from Imther sees this document.)
The Cult in the World
Orlantio is a primary figure in many public myths as an irresponsible joker, an angry child, or a thorn in the side of Arahar, Khelmal, and Yelem. But in the secret myths of Nealda, Lokarma, Teliska, and Khalana he is portrayed as a fun companion, a secret helper, or a hidden lover. Orlantio is worshipped almost exclusively in Imther and its immediate neighbors. Villages in this area acknowledge his presence and include a designated Orlantio in most rituals. Most villages would never think to erect a statue to him, and those that do often wish they hadn’t.
Orlantics fashion personal talismans instead of shrines, although a few well hidden and carefully guarded shrines do exist. Freed from a fixed place of worship, Orlantics generally find it easier than most to travel or change villages.
Orlantics blow in many directions, but only one direction at a time. Each direction is chosen for them by Orlantio, and most Orlantics neither know nor care whither he blows them since enjoying life is all they desire.
There is no priesthood within the cult of Orlantio. There are whispers of secret leaders, but who would believe such a thing? Surely to them Orlantio would give answers and tasks such that they would wish to be simple followers again!
All the people in the villages which recognize Orlantio in their rituals are considered his lay members. The villagers gain joy, laughter, jokes, humility, and luck from this association. In return, they give Orlantio the audience he craves.
When a village or clan has no Orlantic, the leaders choose a person to become Orlantio for a particular ceremony. Children are rarely chosen for this role since the leaders fear that child will become permanently affected by Orlantio. Yet even an adult who has filled this role only once can be charmed by Orlantio into following him. As with most things involving Orlantio, there is no uniform, safe decision which can be made.
Initiate Membership (Orlantics)
Initiate membership is open to anyone chosen by Orlantio. Sometimes he chooses an obvious candidate and sometimes he baffles everyone with his choice. Even those who are initiated into another cult are not safe, although this is an uncommon event (due, no doubt, to some unheard argument between Orlantio and the other god or gods). Orlantics are usually those who have been Orlantio during a ceremony or those men who have refused initiation into Khelmal. Most Orlantics are men, but his women followers often serve Orlantio best since their gender often disarms those who would be suspicious of a male worshipper.
Initiation takes place in a dream which usually lasts one night (but can continue on successive nights for as long as year). In this dream, Orlantio closely questions his chosen candidate. This test covers Ceremony, Communications (any skill of the candidate’s choice), Perception (Listen, Scan, or Search), Manipulation (any skill) and Stealth (any skill). Anyone who succeeds in at least three tests becomes an initiate.
Orlantio immediately places the new initiate into a subcult and extracts his 1 POW. Sometimes Orlantio chooses a subcult related to the skills demonstrated by the candidate and sometimes he does not.
Unsuccessful candidates wake with a vague sense of loss, but with no other memories of their dream. Newly-accepted Orlantics wake knowing of their success, and needing to create or find their own, personal talisman.
Orlantic talismans often differ greatly from each other, as each is a reflection of the personality of its creator. Some are crafted (a pipe, a drum, a carved symbol), some are found (a water-smoothed stone, a wind-blown feather, a staff), and some simply appear (a new belt, a broach found in the mud, an old drum). Once the talisman appears, the Orlantic must fill it with a Spirit of Orlantio. Filling a talisman is simply a matter of spending a day and a night alone, sacrificing 1 point of POW, and successfully rolling against the Ceremony skill. At that time a Spirit of Orlantio slips into the talisman and teaches the Initiate the spell Worship (Orlantio).
Orlantics are rarely in a position to teach skills to each other. However, they are often able to convince their neighbors that it is bad luck to deny them basic training. Orlantics as a group do favor learning certain skills, these being Ceremony, Fast Talk, Human Lore, Listen, Play Drums, and Play Pipes.
Initiates of Orlantio also act as acolytes.
Orlantio provides the possibility of some spirit magic spells and one additional reusable divine magic spell to all his initiates. However, initiates may only renew their divine magic spells (except for Worship Orlantio) during Sacred Time or just after the conclusion of a successful celebration (see Cult Ecology).
Orlantics do not have the luxury of choosing the spells they wish to learn. Instead, they periodically learn from their talismanic spirit that a spell is available to be learned. The spirit does not reveal the type, nature or strength of the spell. Once notified, the Orlantic has fifteen minutes to decide whether to accept the spell, with the first decision being the only decision. (If the Orlantic does not decide within this time, Orlantio makes the decision for him.) If the Orlantic accepts, the spirit teaches the spell, and only then does the Orlantic discover what the spell really is. If the spell is a divine spell, the Orlantic must sacrifice the appropriate amount of POW, no matter how much he feels victimized by his god. If the spell is a spirit spell, and the Orlantic lacks the memory to learn it, he forgets spells at random until he has enough free INT to learn the spell. If the size of the spell exceeds the Orlantic's INT, he forgets all his spirit spells and cannot learn the offered spell. If he rejects the offer, he receives nothing but the mockery of the talismanic spirit.
Orlantio grants a maximum of one rune spell (in addition to Worship Orlantio) to each Orlantic at any one time. However, this additional divine spell can change each year because the initiate’s subcult can change. If the subcult changes, the Orlantic cannot regain any divine spell associated with the former subcult until the Orlantic goes back to that subcult.
The spells common to all Orlantics are:
Spirit Magic: Shimmer
Divine Magic: Worship (Orlantio)
Spell Strength Table:
Die Roll Spell Strength
99 Roll again and add 6
100 Roll again and add 8
Due to the low social status of Orlantics, they often find it difficult to learn spirit magic from associated cults. An exception is Khalana, who always makes Heal available and sometimes other spells.
All Orlantics belong to one and only one subcult at a time, and the subcult shapes their needs and actions. Each year, during Sacred Time, Orlantio reveals to each Orlantic his plans for them for the upcoming year (that is, to which subcult the Orlantic will belong). Those who resist Orlantio’s wishes experience a particularly difficult year. (See the Spirit of Reprisal for details.)
This is the largest subcult and is found mostly in villages. Members use anything at hand to trick (and sometimes punish) their neighbors. Desirable skills include Conceal, Devise, Hide, Scan, Search, Sleight, Sneak, and Throw.
In addition to Orlantio’s general spells, members of this subcult may receive:
Spirit Magic: Befuddle, Extinguish
Divine Magic: Summon Orlantic Spirit
Summon Orlantic Spirit 1 point
ritual Summon, stackable, reusable
This spell calls a Spirit of Orlantio (2D6+6 POW) to the caster. The nature of the spirit can be found on the table below. The summoner may try to persuade it to perform a task. If the spirit enters a keg or well, its influence is similar to the effects given below, but less severe. If the summoner fails at persuasion, the spirit will do what it wants, which can include attacking the summoner! Each point of spell summons an additional spirit.
If the spirit attacks, it matches its magic points against its target's. The target may attack back using normal spirit combat. If the spirit wins the round, the target suffers the effects outlined below for 1D10 rounds. If it loses the round and the target injures it in spirit combat, the spirit flees.
Die Roll Spirit / Effects
1-2 Spirit of Thunderous Belches (2)
3-4 Spirit of Breathtaking Hiccups (1,2)
5-6 Spirit of Awesome Farts (3)
7-8 Spirit of Horrible Itches (1, 2)
9 Spirit of Hysterical Giggles (1, 2)
10 Spirit of Agonizing Cramps (4)
(1) Target is nearly incapacitated, and can only parry or dodge at half normal effectiveness.
(2) Target is unable to cast spells.
(3) Anyone in range of the effects must make a CON x 3 roll (per round in range). Those who fail the roll suffer effects (1) and (2) for that round.
(4) Target takes 1D3 damage to a random body location (which cannot be the head), and suffers the effects of (1) and (2).
This subcult is found in both villages and towns. Members use music to please (and sometimes heal) their neighbors. Useful skills include Play Drums, Sing, Compose, Dance, Craft: Make pipes, Craft: Make drums, and First Aid.
In addition to Orlantio’s general spells, members of this subcult may receive:
Spirit Magic: Coordination, Repair
Divine Magic: Thunderdrum*
Thunderdrum 1 point
touch, temporal, stackable, reusable
This spell causes the drum upon which it is cast to become audible for a 1 keymile (kilometer) radius for each point of the spell.
This subcult is found mostly near people of importance (such as clan chiefs) and in towns. Members use language to seduce (and sometimes inspire) those around them into performing deeds they would not usually do. Favored skills are Fast Talk, Orate, Sing, and Read/Write Imtherian.
In addition to Orlantio's general spells, members of this subcult may receive:
Spirit Magic: Glamour, Mindspeech
Divine Magic: Charisma
Spirit of Reprisal
Orlantio acts as his own spirit of reprisal. When an Orlantic does not act in accordance with his subcult, Orlantio usually either offers him no further spells or offers him spells which, when accepted, drain an injurious amount of POW or prevent learning any further spirit magic. If the offender persists in ignoring Orlantio’s will, all of his divine magic except for Worship (Orlantio) becomes one-use. Should the apostate ever relent, Orlantio also may relent and return him to full privileges. Then again, Orlantio may not.
Few gods care to be associated with Orlantio. Some of the Lightbringers are still angry at him due to his “betrayal” of Lagavar, others simply don’t understand or trust him, and Arahar vetoed Teliska’s attempt to do so. Orlantio, in turn, spurns association with dismembered Ratslaff, untrustworthy Yurmalio, and gluttonous Alaczar.
Khalana is one of Orlantio’s three favorite women, and many stories link her with him. Khalana created a special divine spell for Orlantio which is available only to members of the Music/Healing subcult.
Duet 1 point
self, temporal, nonstackable, reusable
This spell allows the caster to sing in duet with a healer as she sings a spell. Any healer song assisted by this spell is doubled in power or duration (at the caster’s choice).
Lagavar and Khalana are the only Lightbringers who associate with Orlantio. Although betrayed by Orlantio, Lagavar understood his true purpose in the Quest, and remained his friend.
Some Imtherians reject Orlantio and follow trickster spirits instead. These foolish individuals worship one of the following spirits.
Alaczar the Toad Father is an ugly glutton. He fathered the infamous cliff toads as well as the many small, warty toads found near ponds. His appetite is insatiable, so he is blamed when cupboards run bare. He is also commonly blamed when cider, milk, or wine spoils. His cult teaches Spoil Drink.
Special Divine Magic:
Spoil Drink 1 point
ranged, instant, stackable, reusable
This spell sours the liquid in one container per point of the spell. The spell curdles milk, turns cider and wine to vinegar, and makes beer taste like wet hides. Even water is affected by this spell, becoming foul and undrinkable. An Alaczar cultist may still consume the liquid without ill effect if he makes a CON x 5 roll.
Ratslaff the Clown is a jester and merrymaker. He juggles, tumbles, makes faces and otherwise gets people to laugh. Ultimately, this power failed him in the Gods War. Seeing this convinced Ralaska to come to the earth. Later Ratslaff the Clown helped hide Khelmal from Orak. Some say that Orak later ate Ratslaff the Clown, but Ratslaff continued his merry ways, troubling the digestion of Orak until he found his escape. His cult teaches Group Laughter (see Gods of Glorantha). Ratslaff's Fist is a bandit and troublemaker. This cult is detailed in the companion to this book, Winds of Deception.
Yurmalio the Fox is a sly rogue, most known for stealing other people's luck or for treacherous acts of betrayal. Yurmalio went with Khelmal to the Hill of Gold as a companion, yet switched sides and joined Orlantio in the midst of the fight. No one ever trusts a Yurmali. His cult teaches Switch Luck.
Special Divine Spell
Switch Luck 1 point
ranged, special, nonstackable, reusable
If the caster overcomes the target's MPs, the caster and target switch luck rolls for the duration of the spell. The spell ends after the caster's next luck roll or on the death of the target, but not for fifteen minutes at a minimum. The spell may be dispelled at any time by casting Dispel Magic, Dismiss Magic, or Neutralize Magic at the target and specifying this spell. While the spell is in effect, the target can make any number of rolls against the caster's luck roll without causing the spell to end. The Yurmali can tell if the stolen luck roll is better than his own, but not necessarily how much better. The spell also carries a price. After each time the Yurmali successfully casts the spell, his or her own luck roll decreases by 1. This penalty does not apply to a stolen luck roll.