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  1. By definition, the Lanbril cult covers its traces and defies divination so a skeptical reading of the texts may be the surest approach to its inner mysteries and role in the larger cosmos. Officially, he's the thief god of the Heortlings -- the personification of a specific violation of the norms of Orlanthite society -- and his network largely extends across the southern barbarian belt, congregating in the towns and occasional city. Where do these people come from? How do they fall into this criminal way of life? In moments of social upheaval, the answers are obvious: pragmatism and the logic of survival push individuals to break the rules. Those who survive the spirits of reprisal become the seed of a persistent criminal counterculture, raising their children in the family business and initiating ambitious outsiders -- don't push, they'll get in touch with you -- within the framework of mainstream religious culture. When the upheaval ends, some thief cults may find their devotees in privileged positions in the new social order. Others remain in the shadows or die out. Obviously in Lunar Pavis the crime cults are in play. Official Orlanth degenerates under the occupation while Adventurous takes over, and then when all aspects of Orlanth die adherents are forced to convert or go underground, finding day-to-day support in the closest cognates they can find. Gods of Glorantha finesses the complications here: sure, Lanbril is the dominant crime cult in settled Orlanthite times but in times of stress we remember that "many accepted gods have thieving abilities. Orlanthi thieves follow the tradition of their god." In other words, when Orlanth is outlawed only outlaws will remain Orlanthites. Lanbril almost certainly forms part of the framework around Argrath's religious mosaic. It may even be an archaic native school of Heortling heroquest technique -- after all, anyone whose esoteric myth revolves around stealing the gods' practical magic (foreign and domestic gods, it seems to make no difference) knows a little something about getting around the wards, defeating reprisal and taking a little something secret back at the end of the caper. Theft is a marker of many successful "heroquest gods" -- marriage and trade are others -- and the RQ2 cult write-up is adorned with traits that probably originally belonged to other cults. Divination Block turns out to actually be the signature spell of the antinomian Selarnists of Afadjann. The controversies around Lanbrilite alchemy can be resolved by noting that mastery of this body of knowledge doesn't assist cult promotion: alchemy travels within the Lanbril complex but remains something a little separate. Lanbrilite alchemy, in other words, came from somewhere at a specific point within time. Religious authorities would say "it was stolen." Practitioners may say something else. They may even lie under interrogation. That said, esoteric Lanbril revolves around the pursuit of personal immortality and the ambition to compete with the gods. It's one of the few explicitly euhemerist cults we have outside the Lunar orbit. He was just a man, born before the onset of Death and resentful of his doom. Feign Death is actually recognized as a skill deserving of cult promotion, so there's a yogic, maybe even a tantric component to the cult's mysteries. It's probably no coincidence that Black Fang had access to Lanbril secrets before he became a very minor god within time. Argrath's relationship to Death is a little more obscure, but we know for a fact he becomes a god too. Maybe these secrets are stolen. If so, they're stolen from somebody. Lanbril also incorporates engineering processes that a casual observer would associate with the dwarves or, a little more hypothetically, the East. The dwarves are infamous immortals. If I were a cult dabbling in the defiance of Death I would want to pilfer as many of their secrets as I can, so maybe the fruits of that pilfering go into the criminal gizmos of Pavis. After all, the Rubble is full of abandoned dwarf gear ripe for the reverse engineering. The alchemy may also come from there or from misunderstood contacts with the esoteric alchemy of the mysterious East: if it wasn't immediately practical, Lanbril despised it as no use. The cult itself may have originated in the barbarian belt and evolved over the centuries. (Remember, "the gods don't change" but it's transparently obvious that cults within time DO.) Lanbril acquired spells and skills from foreign contacts or innovated internally, which within Glorantha is generally a similar dynamic. The Pavis circles in particular may retain archaic knowledge practically extinct elsewhere: perhaps a Sartarite alchemy (itself arising out of its own mosaic of dwarf and other foreign contacts), perhaps older things rediscovered in the Rubble or traveling in secret from even more exotic eras. Some deprecated sources hint that Lanbril was useful to the Middle Sea Empire, so there may yet be hidden "God Learner interactions" in play. In any case, that stuff, to use the vernacular, is tricky to fence. And so it accumulates, largely unused, dormant but not quite dead. At this point, Lanbril is whatever each criminal magician wants it to be. It's a moveable feast. What we know is that Lanbril is not quite Adventurous and not quite Eurmal. They either evolved separately and came together or diverged at various points within History. Cult dogma hints at a moment in the God Time when Lanbril "permeated the world," so this may simply be a vestige of an entire civilization that lost before time got started. This Lanbril moment may be in the background when Orlanth and Eurmal met. If so, he may be another of the buried gods of Slontos or the beast empire, but who knows. The farther west you go, the harder time they have keeping all these entities straight. Everything depends on the roots of Thieves' Argot. Either it's a lost theyalan dialect (perhaps a sister of what becomes Tradetalk), something that modern Teshnans would almost recognize or something else.
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