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Song of the Forests In the beginning was the One. Boundless and, yet, constrained, it contained the limitless All. All that was, and All that was Not. Being and non-being. This paradox, the Paradox of Self, fragmented the One, and it became Two: Grower and Taker. The Grower contained within it all potential. This potential took the form of the Seed. This was the beginning of the First Plantings, the Age of the Grower. From within the One, the fluid parts separated, and thus came the soothing waters, Eron. The waters were changing and fluid, containing within her nature almost all potential. Eron encircled the Seed of the Grower to provide nourishment. Next, the heavy parts of the One accreted together, forming the solid earth, Gata. The earth was dependable and stolid, locking her potential within in security for the future. Gata supported the Seed of the Grower to provide sanctuary. Next, the light parts of the One arose together, rising to form the warming sun, Halamalao. The sun was generous and wise, and gave of his energy to all who would see. Halamalao provided the Seed of the Grower with life. The Seed of the Grower sprouted, and this was the Great Tree, Falamal. Nourished by Eron, he sank his roots deep in Gata and received the lifegiving rays of Halamalao to grow mighty at the center of the Universe. Falamal is the father of all, the bearer of the life force, the unifier of spirit. Falamal produced, in turn, seeds of his own. The first seed fell upon loving Gata, and produced Aldrya. She is the mother of all plants grown upon the land, and is also the all-encompassing mind which includes all born upon Gata, both those growing and those taken. The Brown Elves, the Green Elves and the Yellow Elves are all part of Aldrya. The second seed fell upon nurturing Eron, and produced Murthdrya. Murthdrya is the mother of all plants grown in the sea, and is also their communal consciousness. The Blue Elves are a part of Murthdrya. The third seed was borne aloft to benevolent Halamalao, and produced Halamdrya. Halamdrya is the mother of all plants grown upon the Sun, as well as their collective soul. The White Elves are still a part of Halamdrya, though they are now gone from the world. All grew until Glorantha, the Universe, was covered with Life. As a tree’s roots will crack stone, so, too, did the overabundance of Life push at the boundaries of the Universe. A crack formed and something came in. The elves were the first to recognize this intrusion. They called this Oblivion. While Grower and Taker are parts of the One, both necessary parts of Life, Oblivion is from outside. Things taken by Oblivion disappear from the Universe and are never seen again. The arrival of Oblivion broke some of the elves who found it. They were severed from connection to the One, the All, and became lost. Some elves, still, are born without this connection. We call them Rootless elves. They are to be pitied, for they do not experience the boundless of Joy of Belonging. With the arrival of Oblivion, Taker stirred into consciousness. It had hibernated throughout the Age of Growing, for before anything Grew, there was nothing to Take. The Taker contained within it all endings. These endings also took the form of a Seed. This was the beginning of the Second Plantings, the Age of the Taker. Halamalao rejected the Seed of the Taker. He turned his face from it, creating Darkness. The Darkness provided the Seed of the Taker with cold. Gata rejected the Seed of the Taker. She buried it in the cold, dead parts of herself, called Akem, or Stone. The Stone provided the Seed of the Taker with distance. Eron rejected the Seed of the Taker. It took away its healing waters, leaving only the burning waters of spite, called Harakakara. Harakakara provided the Seed of the Taker with pain. The Seed of the Taker sprouted, and this was the Zazakzor, the Hater. Zazakzor moved across the Universe, taking all he could see. He took Halamalao, the generous sun, leaving everything in Darkness. He took gentle Gata, who could not protect herself, leaving only cold, unfeeling Stone. He turned on nurturing Eron, taking the life-giving parts and leaving only Harakakara. All good things became bad. Water turned to fire, earth turned to stone and light turned to darkness. In the Darkness, Taker spread his own seeds, and these became a race of Takers, called the trolls. First among them was Kygor, and she and her children ate everything they could find. Akem, the Stone, tried to make new life, but without the nurturing part of Gata these were sterile and lifeless creatures, called dwarves. First among them was Mostal, and he and his kin did not understand the powers of Growth and tried only to work with what was dead and cold. Harakakara burned everything it touched, but even it tried to make new life to replace the old. Promalt was the first of these, a race of flame men who strode the cold, dead world, conquering the ruins to spread the power of flame. The burning men must have succeeded in spreading their destruction, for there are none of them left. In its unchecked excesses, Taker was as bad as Grower. Its relentless Taking allowed even more Oblivion to seep into the Universe. The entire world was dying, but not the good death of the Taker, rather the bad death of Oblivion. If Oblivion killed a thing would never be reborn again. Many heroes arose in the Age of the Taker: High King Elf, Elder Sister, Chalaneron, Vronkal, and many others who are now lost to the world. But all eventually fell. All the product of the Age of Growing was dead, and with nothing left the children of the Taker began to Take themselves. Deep within the ruins of the Universe, two Seeds that no one had known existed until then began to sprout. These were the Seeds of Grower and Taker reborn. This was the beginning of the Third Plantings, the Age of Cycles, the Age of Time. The reborn Grower and Taker sprouted together. This time Grower and Taker would work in harmony. Taker was reborn as Bebester. She was changed now, containing some Growth. She accepted this, taking that which was unrecoverable so that new Growth could occur. Bebester destroyed all that was left of the old world. Grower was reborn as Sanarana. She was changed now, containing some Taking. She accepted this, knowing that some Taking would bring better life. Once Bebester had cleared the remnants, she recreated the Universe. Grower and Taker worked in balance. In the cycle of the seasons, the Universe remains in harmony. For five centuries, it was so. In one place, the elves were very friendly with the other races. They thought that they were working with the forces of Growing and Taking. When Oblivion threatened, they joined with the others to fight the Unity Battle. Their trust seemed to work, for they joined with others in the Unity Council. Despite the fact that it was guided by a grandchild of Kygor, the Unity Council grew and grew. Some elves thought that they could initiate a Fourth Planting. The Council formed plans to form a balance between the All and Oblivion, in the same way that the Third Plantings brought a balance between Growing and Taking. This was the Grafting Experiment. The effort failed. Most elves at the time thought that it was misguided, and most elves today still think so. Since then, the Aldryami have continued replanting and defending the forests. Entry Requirements: Aldryami such as pixies and runners join as soon as they can speak. Almost all elves do, too, but some are born without Elfsense; these elves cannot form the bond necessary to join. Dryads are members from birth. Beastmen, dragonewts, ducks, and humans must petition a Gardener to let them join the Tradition. Other races are never allowed to join. Core Practices: The Children of the Forest Practice is the core practice of the tradition. Other important practices include Elder Sister, High King Elf, and Seyotel. Bebester, Eron, Gata, and Halamalao are among the many helper practices known. Many practices are regional; others are secret, known only to a few. Abilities: Aldrya Tradition Knowledge, Elfsense, Worship Aldrya. Virtues: Cautious, Patient. Tradition Spirits (members usually start with 5 charms): [Plant] Plant spirits—Bear Fruit 6 to 5W, Change Paths 14, Deflect Weapon 7 to 15, Ever Green 9 to 16, Flexible 18, Remain Unseen 12 to 5W, Shade from Sun 10 to 20, Tall 15. Great Secret: Part of the One. Charms and Fetishes: Aldrya charms and fetishes are grown rather than made. While they may not be rooted in the ground, they remain alive and in bloom so long as they touch a spirit of Aldrya. Manifestations: Humans often think of Aldrya as the goddess of the forest. Her worshippers know this is not true, and that Aldrya is the forest herself; without her worship, the trees themselves would sicken and die. Amongst elves, Aldrya is represented by a tree bearing many different kinds of leaves and fruits. Humans instead depict her as a dryad of some local tree. Holy Days: Aldrya has three High Holy Days over the course of the year. The first falls on Water Day of Fertility Week in Water Season, which is a joyous time celebrating the awakening of the forests. The second High Holy Day is on Clay Day of Fertility Week in Earth Season. An ecstatic celebration just before the Green Elves and dryads must sleep for winter, by the end of the day only Green and Yellow Elves remain awake. The last Holy Day occurs on Wild Day of Truth Week in Storm Season; only the Yellow and Green Elves are awake to perform these rituals. They march around the forest, performing the dances and songs to begin the awakening of the forest while fending off attacks by their enemies, especially trolls. Other Side: In the Spirit World, Aldrya is present in every forest and tree. Her primary domain there is Aldrya's Forest, located on and around the First Mountain. In Aldrya’s Forest are both Shanasse, her lover, and Aldrya’s own tree. Other Connections: Earth cults, such as Ernalda, and earth-related spirit practices, such as Eiritha, are usually friendly to Aldrya spiritists. They also have friends among Yelmalio worshippers, and are usually on neutral to friendly terms with sea gods. Disadvantages: A few rare elves are unable to initiate into the Aldrya Tradition. These rootless elves do not have the Elfsense which allows communion with nature and so are outcasts, even when they have not left their communities. Rootless elves sometimes join allied practices or cults, fulfilling some role that other Elves find taboo. Others leave the forests, becoming wanderers and vagabonds. Notes: Instead of providing the Spirit Face ability, the Aldrya Tradition provides the Elfsense ability, which as well as allowing you to hear, see and communicate with spirits, also allows you to sense the health and emotions of plants, including Elves. Non-Aldryami heroes cannot improve Elfsense as a standalone ability. Core Practices The Children of the Forest The Children of the Forest is the core practice of the Aldrya Tradition; most members belong to it before joining any other spirit society. The Children of the Forest deals with the spirits of trees and other residents of the forests. This practice is not very demanding of adherents. They must try to live in harmony with the forests and the cycles of life and death. The Plant Brother spirits provide small benefits, and in return spiritists must sing the Food Song over every plant they harvest, which guarantees the spirit will find its way back to the bosom of Aldrya. The various Animal Brother spirits generally provide their charms to those who promise not to take the lives of their type of animal. Entry Requirements: Aldryami who are part of the tradition may join automatically. All stationary plants, sentient and non-sentient, are also automatically a part of this practice. Non-Aldryami must have an Aldrya Tradition Knowledge of 17 or higher. Abilities: Children of the Forest Practice Knowledge, Find Water, Food Song ceremony, Know Direction, Open Spirit World, Plant Lore. Virtues: Joyful. Practice Spirits: [Beast] Animal Brother spirits—Ancestor spirits of small forest creatures (Bite Hard 15, Command [Woodland Animal] 11 to 3W, Hide in Undergrowth 16 to 4W, Scamper Through Undergrowth 12 to 2W). [Plant] Plant Brother spirits—Progenitor spirits of the various forest plants (Appear Nonthreatening 12 to 2W, Send Alarm Through Forest 12 to 18, Remain Motionless 16 to 6W, Speak with [Plant] 11 to 3W) Spirit Ally: None usually. Occasionally, a particular plant or animal spirit that befriends a runner or pixie will become a spirit ally after many years of friendship. Secret: None. Charms and Fetishes: Charms and fetishes are living plants, which remain alive and in bloom so long as they touch a spirit of Aldrya. Other Side: The Children of the Forest are the most basic part of Aldrya and in the Spirit World inhabit many of the Forests there, including the Forest of Four Winds and the Wild Wolf Forest. Elder Sister Elder Sister spiritists bind themselves more tightly to the spirit of Aldrya. This has an immense effect on the individuals by linking them directly to their goddess’ subconscious urges, and their daily lives are in unity with nature. This spiritual contact also forces the deciduous tree dryads into the same seasonal cycle as Aldrya. They will sleep all winter, wake in the spring for a full summer life, and fall asleep again in the autumn so their souls can rest in the Underworld. Non-dryads of this practice have several options open to them. They may occasionally inherit a tree from a dryad who died in some way or another, thereby preserving the tree’s life. More often, though, they form a group of wandering spiritual guides which move through the woods as the Spirit of Aldrya moves them. They go where they feel needed, and are called Wandering Dryads. Entry Requirements: Elder Sister membership requires a special connection to plants inherent in dryads. This empathy is also often found in female elves, occasionally in male elves, beastmen, and dragonewts, but rarely in any human. Non-dryads must also have an Aldrya Tradition Knowledge of 11W or higher. Abilities: Elder Sister Practice Knowledge, Find Healing Materials, Follower of Elder Sister, Food Song ceremony, Plant Lore, Read Aldryami, Write Aldryami. Virtues: Nurturing, Protective. Practice Spirits: [Plant] Healing Tree spirits—Tree spirits that despise the White Lady (Drive Out [Disease] 18 to 1W2). [Plant] Warrior of Wood spirits—Tree spirits that defend the forests (Fight [Specific Enemy] 20 to 2W2, Tanglethicket 12 to 8W). Spirit Ally: Dryad Elder Sisters always have their bound tree as their spirit ally. If a dryad dies, it is possible for an Elder Sister practitioner to attempt to bind her life force with the tree; those who succeed immediately receive that tree as a spirit ally. Secret: Aldrya’s Sleep (A follower who dies of injuries can attempt to heal herself and return to life, if her tree remains intact. In the wilderness, normal animals will not disturb an Elder Sister corpse, for they know it is not food. If she succeeds, over a few days to many weeks [depending on the body’s condition] the corpse heals completely, at which time the follower awakens. Until her body recovers, her spirit sleeps in Aldrya’s Forest in the Otherworld. Some followers know to begin certain heroquests with Aldrya’s Sleep, dying and then continuing the quest on the Otherworld before returning to their bodies. They must be cautious, for anything that happens to the quester may affect her body’s ability to heal and thus cause true death.) Practice Secret Requirements: Elfsense 1W2, Follower of Elder Sister 1W2, Plant Lore 1W2. Charms and Fetishes: Fetishes are fashioned from natural plant materials, freely given to the dryad. Many remain alive so long as they remain in the dryad’s possession. Other Side: The Elder Sisters tend the trees in Aldrya’s Forest. High King Elf The liberation of Falamal is sometimes called the “Secret Quest” of the Lightbringers, or the Greater Bonus by some. However, even his return to life would have had far less meaning without the long struggle of the Protectors on earth to save the sleeping form of their wards. The Protectors were led by High King Elf, the leader of his race from among the undying Green Elves. He led a beleaguered band of elves through the whole of the Age of Taking, ever struggling to protect the empty bodies of the forest from their foes. In this he was aided by the spirits Eron and Halamalao, another wounded survivor, but he hated the great spirit Harakakara who devoured the once-magnificent forests of Prax and slew almost all there. High King Elf was among those beings present in Dragon Pass for the I Fought We Won Battle where chaos was turned back upon itself. Entry Requirements: Must have an Aldrya Tradition Knowledge of 1W or higher. Abilities: Archery, Camouflage Self in Trees, Food Song ceremony, High King Elf Practice Knowledge, Read Aldryami, Shortsword Fighting, Spear Fighting, Write Aldryami. Virtues: Dutiful. Practice Spirits: [Death] Arrow spirits—Special spirit seeds which grow into living arrows (Growth In Flight 15, Heartseeker Arrow 20, Many Arrows From One 18 to 12W). [Defense] Bark spirits—Special spirit seeds which grow into a barklike covering that can be worn (Absorb Charm 15 to 8W, Absorb Feat 12 to 2W, Absorb Spell 15, Deflect Missile 12 to 3W, Deflect Weapon 16 to 4W) Spirit Ally: Followers of High King Elf can receive a Bow Seed. Planted on the High Holy Day, it takes a year to grow into an Elf Bow, a living weapon. A spirit ally for its bonded elf, it functions only as a normal bow for any other member of the Aldrya tradition. If a non-Aldryami takes it, it withers and appears lifeless and dead; however, if the husk is replanted in an Elf forest in any season except Dark Season and tended for a season, it springs to life once more refreshed and new. The taboo of this ally is Use No Other Bow. Secret: Arrow Trance (The practitioner enters a state in which he merges with his bow, and receives an automatic augment of ¼ the secret’s rating to any ability used during the combat. While in this state, the only things that exist for him are the bow and his targets. This ability can also be used to augment spirit combat, if it is initiated while he is in the Arrow Trace.) Practice Secret Requirements: Archery 1W2, Elfsense 1W2, Follower of High King Elf 1W2. Charms and Fetishes: High King Elf chaarms and fetishes are usually copper axes and shields, or bows and quivers. Other Side: High King Elf can be found patrolling Aldrya’s Forest on the First Mountain. Followers can join his band in defense of the Grower until it is time to be reborn. Seyotel (Shamanic Practice) Seyotel is the Song that binds the Aldryami together. She is the source of Elfsense, and the universal subconscious that all followers of the Aldrya tradition share. She arose during the Age of Growing, but did not truly awaken until the arrival of Oblivion caused all of the plants of the Universe to cry out as one in fear and horror; this was the awakening shout that brought Seyotel to consciousness. The potential shaman is taken to a celebration in a secret magical grove. They must then sing a complex song that harmonizes flawlessly with the Aldrya’s Song, which is the song of the forest’s life. The shaman must sing complex arpeggios, interval leaps and scales to weave together the different living songs, while leading the chorus to its conclusion. Typically, the shaman is assaulted in this task by the forces of Oblivion: the White Lady introduces discordant sections, while the Zazakzor’s wild passions threaten to take control of the song and turn it into a death chant. If the shaman is successful in dealing with these issues, they will find a counterpoint song, equal but complementary to their own, buried in the harmonies of the forest. When they follow it to its source, they will find a magnificent tree that is their counterpart in Aldrya’s Forest, the part of themselves that was with Aldrya all along. They will enter the tree, and emerge in the Mortal World. Forever after, their fetch will be there, with them, changing the song of their life into a duet. These shamans are important to the Aldrya Tradition, as they form the backbone of a forest’s song and are frequently found on the Council of Gardeners. A key component of this is their Song of the Spirit, which lets them weave their magic to affect large groups of willing participants. Entry Requirements: Must be a member of the Aldrya Tradition and have the capacity to become a shaman. Abilities: Follower of Seyotel, Food Song ceremony, Open Spirit World, Seyotel Practice Knowledge, Sing, Spirit Face. Virtues: Mysterious, Spontaneous Singing. Special Spirits: Seyotel shamans are the only ones who can contact the many specialized spirits of the Forest; for examples see HeroQuest, specifically “Great Trees” on page 149 and “Tree Spirits” on page 150. While a member of those helper practices, they often have exotic spirits serving them. Secret: Song of Life (When visible, the shaman’s fetch appears as an enormous magical tree, encased in glowing bark and surrounded by exotic plants, that emits a song that conveys the emotion the shaman is feeling.) Shamanic Abilities: Shamanic Escape, Song of the Spirit, Spirit World Travel. Charms and Fetishes: As with the rest of the tradition’s practices, Seyotel fetishes are made of living plants, surviving despite being kept in dark places away from the earth. Other Side: Seyotel is everywhere where the song of Aldrya exists. From the depths of the Spirit World to the far reaches of Glorantha, wherever the Song of Aldrya can be found, there Seyotel exists. Helper Practices Bebester Bebester is the Taker reborn, but as a part of Life. She clears away the debris of previous life so that new life can grow in its place; this keeps the cycle of renewal functioning. As death-in-the-service-of-life, she terrifies most Aldryami, but she is needed to keep the Universe going and avoid the destruction of the All by Oblivion. As such, some few Aldryami feel themselves drawn to her practices. Such followers as she has usually live apart from their fellows; they are a part of the community, but more of a necessary evil than a welcome part. Nevertheless, when the forests are threatened, they can be found on the forefront, Taking those who would Take from Aldrya. Entry Requirements: Membership in the Aldrya Tradition. Followers must take an oath to leave no injustice unavenged. Abilities: Axe and Shield Fighting, Bebester Practice Knowledge, Follower of Bebester, Throw Axe, Track. Virtues: Ruthless. Practice Spirits: [Babeester] Blood Vengeance spirits—Bloody spirits, each of which remembers some hurt done to the Grower (Follow Taker Anywhere 2W2, Sense Taker Nearby 12 to 2W, Sleepless Vengeance 15 to 2W). [Death] Taking spirits—Cold spirits of death in the service of life (Death Song 18, Enchant Copper ritual 12 to 18, Unbreakable Shield 18 to 8W, Wild Axe Swing 15 to 20). Spirit Ally: Only a practitioner who gave up membership in other practices and committed herself solely to Bebester can gain a spirit ally from her. Secret: Death In the Service of Life (Gives an automatic augment of 1/4 the secret’s ability rating to any ability used to protect the forest or a follower of any Aldrya Tradition spirit.) Practice Secret Requirements: Elfsense 1W2, Follower of Bebester 1W2, Ruthless 1W2. Charms and Fetishes: Charms and fetishes are usually in the follower’s axe or shield. Other Side: Bebester’s Glade is at the edge of Aldrya’s Forest, near the Screaming Valley at the top of the Knife Ridge. Other Connections: Bebester is thought by many to be an aspect of the Earth goddess Babeester Gor. Eron Eron was the first of the ancient Protectors of the Elves, said to be the Spirit of Falamal, a spirit of the soothing waters. As befits a water spirit, it was sometimes male, sometimes female, sometimes both or neither. Eron took Falamal’s second seed and produced the Murthoi, the many species of Sea Elf. During the Age of Taking, Eron suffered a Thousand Wounds, all taken in defense of someone else. As Eron’s wounds grew, their blood and tears fell freely to the seas and turned them salty. Finally, they suffered their thousandth wound from the Taker in defense of Falamal, and flowed into the Underworld. When the Third Plantings happened, Eron did not return to the Mortal World, but can still be found on the Spirit World. Eron's spirits are those of the cool water, providing succour and healing to those who need it. They also teach the art of finding healing plants and remedies to the other practices. Entry Requirements: Membership in the Aldrya Tradition. Followers must take an oath to harm no living thing. Abilities: Brew Healing Potion, Eron Practice Knowledge, Find Healing Materials, Follower of Eron, Treat Disease, Treat Poison. Virtues: Self-Sacrificing. Practice Spirits: [Arroin] Harmony Song spirits—Helper spirits who bind things together (Don’t Hurt Them 2W to 2W2, Feel Another’s Pain 14 to 4W, Feel My Pain 18). [Water] Healing Water spirits—Water spirits made from the tears of Eron (Drive Out [Disease] 2W to 5W2, Heal Wounds 20 to 10W, Wash Away Pain 8 to 2W). [Rain] Soothing Rain spirits—Rain spirits that sing a relaxing song (Quench Burn 16, Sleep Away the Pain 18 to 8W, Soothe Aches15 to 2W). Spirit Ally: Only a practitioner who gave up membership in other practices and committed themselves solely to Eron can gain a spirit ally from them. Secret: The Thousand Wounds (Automatically succeed at a single final action during any contest in which the hero is attempting to protect someone else, even if they normally would not be allowed a final action. The attack must be directed at a being on whom they have successfully used any charm or fetish.) Practice Secret Requirements: Elfsense 1W2, Follower of Eron 1W2, Self-Sacrificing 1W2. Charms and Fetishes: Charms and fetishes are typically placed into tattoos on the spiritist’s body. Other Side: Eron wanders the Spirit World, going wherever there is pain and suffering, in order to alleviate it. Sometimes they stop in Aldrya’s Forest, where the residents provide them with any support they can, before Eron moves on. Other Connections: Eron is thought by some to be the same as Arroin, a god connected to Chalana Arroy in the Orlanthi Pantheon. Gata Gata was the second of the ancient Protectors of the Elves, said to be the Body of Falamal. She formed from Eron, as resin forms from sap, to provide stability to the world. When Falamal rose to the heavens, his seeds fell upon Gata's body, producing the Green Elves and their goddess Aldrya. Later, the Green Elves were divided into the Green, the Brown and the Yellow Elves. But all revere their ancestor Gata. Gata's Spirits are those of the soft Earth, providing food and strength for all who want it. During the Age of the Taker, she showed those who sought her help how to hide, and when the Taker came she hid herself. It was not enough, and she was finally Taken, rendering the world cold and barren. She joyfully returns to the world every Spring but hides again the Underworld every Fall, to maintain the balance of Grower and Taker. Entry Requirements: Membership in the Aldrya Tradition. Abilities: Dodge Blow, Gata Practice Knowledge, Follower of Gata, Hide in Cover, Survive Hardship, Tend Plants. Virtues: Cautious. Practice Spirits: [Earth] Earth Power spirits—Earth spirits bear the greatest of burdens (Endless Endurance 14 to 4W, Strength of Earth 18 to 8W2). [Plant] Plant Blessing spirits—Earth spirits who nurture life (Protect Plants from Birds 18 to 8W, Protect Plants from Cold 12 to 18, Protect Plants from Disease 15 to 5W, Protect Plants from Heat 16 to 6W, Protect Plants from Insects 12 to 2W, Protect Plants from Storms 12 to 8W). [Earth Harmony] Healing Loam spirits—Healing spirits that reside in the earth (Find Medicinal Spring 18 to 2W, Healing Mud 15 to 5W). Spirit Ally: Only a practitioner who gave up membership in other practices and committed herself solely to Gata can gain a spirit ally from her. Secret: Bless Forest ritual (Allows the follower to ignore distance and area effect penalties when blessing a forest with her Plant Blessing spirits. It can also be used to augment any charms or fetishes used on trees.) Practice Secret Requirements: Elfsense 1W2, Follower of Gata 1W2, Tend Plants 1W2. Charms and Fetishes: Charms and fetishes are typically placed into tattoos on the spiritists body. Other Side: Gata was torn asunder, and so she may be found in many places in the Spirit World. Other Connections: Gata is considered part of the Earth Pantheon. Halamalao Halamalao was the third of the ancient Protectors of the Elves, said to be the Mind of Falamal. He formed from Gata, rising as light sparkles off amber, to provide hope to the world. When Falamal rose to the heavens, his seeds ascended into Halamalao's heart, producing the White Elves and their goddess Haladrya. The White Elves and their goddess were lost in the Great Darkness, as was Halamalao himself. The other Elves worshipped him still throughout the Darkness, and were rewarded at the Dawn when he returned. They hold out hope for the White Elves to return eventually as well. Halamalao's spirits are those of warm Light, providing protection and joy to all who ask for it. He must journey between the World and the Underworld every day, to maintain the balance of Grower and Taker. Entry Requirements: Membership in the Aldrya Tradition. Abilities: Archery, Endure Pain, Halamalao Practice Knowledge, Follower of Halamalao, See Far, Spear and Shield Fighting. Virtues: Brave. Practice Spirits: [Light] Light Child spirits—Light spirits of bravery and courage (Blind Foe 18 to 6W, Distracting Glitter 16 to 6W, Unwavering Light 2W2). [Death] Sun Spear spirits—Light spirits that took some of the power of Taking (Burning Arrow 18 to 8W, Light Beam 14 to 4W, Sunrise Glow 12 to 2W). [Light] Sun Follower spirits—Light spirits that always look to their father (Protect Plant from Cold 13 to 3W, Ripen Plant 12 to 18). Spirit Ally: Only a practitioner who gave up membership in other practices and committed himself solely to Halamalao can gain a spirit ally from him. Secret: Survive Defeat (When critically wounded during a combat in which he has used his Light Child or Sun Spear spirits, the follower can use this secret to change his condition from Dying to merely Injured. The secret must overcome the standard resistance for healing injuries or the rating of the magical ability that rendered the warrior Dying, whichever is higher. If successful, the follower appears to be dead to all forms of physical or magical inquiry, but awakens from false death when immediate enemies are gone.) Practice Secret Requirements: Elfsense 1W2, Endure Pain 1W2, Follower of Halamalao 1W2. Charms and Fetishes: Charms and fetishes are usually in the follower’s bow, spear, or shield. Other Side: Halamalao spends part of each day in the Spirit World, in a great procession across the Sky, then spends the next part of the day in the Underworld. Other Connections: Halamalao is thought by many to be an aspect of Yelmalio.
In the first age, the region now called Balazar was part of what everyone called the Elder Wilds. The indigenous people call their traditions the Elder Wilds Tradition, and it dominates the area. The people live by hunting and gathering. The primary female practice is Hearth-Mother. The primary male practice is Foundchild the Hunter, although some woman become hunters and join this practice instead of Hearth-Mother. Your hero is probably a spiritist of the tradition, and so gains the benefit of the Elder Wilds Tradition keyword, below. Most adults are practitioners of the Hearth-Mother Practice (if women) or Foundchild Practice. Since the arrival of Balazar, there have been additions to the magic of the region, namely the inclusion of the theistic cult of Yelmalio and the hero cult of Balazar. Due to Balazar’s marriage to Rigtaina the hunting nymph, following these specific cults does not impose any penalties to a follower of this tradition. Elder Wilds Tradition Keyword Abilities: Elder Wilds Tradition Knowledge, Worship Foundchild and Hearth-Mother. Virtues: Conservative, Tough. Relationships: to Spirits; to Shaman. Tradition Spirits (spiritists members usually start with 5 charms): [Life] Survival spirits—Spirits of those who survived the Long Night (Endure Elements 7 to 15, Find Shelter 6 to 5W, Resist Enemy Magic 9 to 2W, Sense Elder Races 2W, Sense Spirits 19, Withstand Damage 9 to 16.) Core Practices: The Foundchild and Hearth-Mother Practices the most common core practices for men and women, respectively. The tradition’s shamanic practice is Horned Man. Many other helper practices also exist, such as Brother Dog and Rigtaina the Hunting Nymph. Great Secret: None Charms and Fetishes: Balazarings usually produce fetishes out of wood, woven grass, and hide. Some may incorporate chips of stone or other strange materials from places of power. Other Side: Between lives, Votanki rest in the land of the wondrous dead called the Green Place with Hearth-Mother and Foundchild. The bodies of Hearth-Mother’s worshippers are buried in unmarked sites, whilst those of Foundchild’s followers are left on high platforms to be consumed by animals. Without proper rites the dead become hostile ghosts. Hearth-Mother Grandmother Sky During the Great Darkness, a band of survivors prayed for help from any who would listen. That night, a grandmother left her home in the Sky World and came to the people, giving them her gifts of hope and magic to keep them alive when the world died. Her name is Hearth-Mother, and is an ancient and venerated figure in Balazar myth and religion. The tribes strengthened under her guidance and leadership. Once, she found a young mewling foundling alone in the wastes and raised him to be a great warrior with her three famous meals. This was Foundchild, also called simply the Hunter. They had one child here, named Votank, who populated this region with the tribespeople. Hearth-Mother’s practice is restricted to the women of the tribes. She is the source of the crafts of cooking and sewing, and taught them the lore of plants, and the treatment of wounds and diseases. In general each clan has a single leading elder, called Grandmother. Magic knowledge is passed on in group ceremonies each autumn which are part of the women’s’ secret rites. Elder women form a band of teachers and officials for women and are always treated with care and respect. However, when an elder feels herself to be too much of a burden to her family, she will often go off into the grasslands to die. It should be noted that the Grandmother also sits on the clan council. The women usually gather about 60% of the daily food, except in Fire season when it is about 45%, and Dark season when it is about 15%. They also care for orphans and whelps Entry Requirements: Must be a woman who has come of age in the tradition. Abilities: Cook Meal, Follower of Hearth-Mother, Hearth-Mother Practice Knowledge, Open Spirit World, Sew, Spirit Face, Treat Disease, Treat Wounds, Weave Grass. Virtues: Caring, Prudent. Practice Spirits: [Harmony] Healing spirits—Healing spirits who show how to help people (Bless Mother 12 to 1W, Find Healing Plant 8 to 6W, Heal Child 14 to 1W, Heal Mother 9 to 4W, Heal Warrior 19, Restore Courage 17.) [Hearth] Hearth spirits—Fire spirits who show how to help people (Cause Spark 13 to 2W, Protect Hearth 12 to 18, Sense Invader 1W, Shielding Haze 7 to 8W, Sleeping Spark 14 to 4W, Summon Fire Spirit ritual 20.) [Life] Nourishment spirits—Life spirits who show how to help people (Enhance Food 12 to 4W, Feed the Hearth 16W, One Last Bte 18 to 5W, Preserve Food 19, Save the Children 16W.) Spirit Ally: A few practitioners awaken a spirit ally in the family’s hearth. Secret: Three Famous Meals ritual (Otherworld magic. This ritual uses three meals to heal any physical wound. On a complete victory it will even call a Votanki spirit back from recent death to inhabit its body again.) Practice Secret Requirements: Cooking 1W2, Follower of Hearth-Mother 1W2, Spirit Face 1W2. Charms and Fetishes: Fetishes are woven grass pouches, filled with ritual objects or items of personal significance. Other Side: Hearth-Mother lives with Foundchild and their son Votank in Grandmother’s Hearth in the Green Place. From there, practitioners can go to the Sky World or out into the Long Night. Other Connections: Generally received favorably by Earth worshippers. Foundchild The Hunter Foundchild was first discovered by Hearth-Mother during the Great Darkness, at a site in the Dog Hills. Though an infant when found, he rapidly grew to manhood. Upon reaching adulthood, he taught them the use of death as a tool to bring life. He also taught the songs to send slain beasts' spirits back to their ancestors. His practice has developed into a fraternal society in which the strong are respected, and the weak protected. His followers believe they will go to his Happy Hunting Ground in the Green Place after death. They will stay there for a time before again entering the cycle of rebirth. Foundchild's practitioners follow the burial customs of their tribe, or else place their dead on raised platforms. The greatest hunter of the clan is traditionally the head of the society. All others defer to him and show respect. He cannot command obedience, but he can request it. Each year, during the three weeks just prior to Sacred Time, there is a Great Hunt and all followers of Foundchild participate, attempting to bring in the most magnificent creature while hunting alone and unarmored. The winner is designated the First Hunter, those who bring in significant prey animals alive are designated Great Hunters, and the rest are accepted as Hunters. Hunters who bring in prey animals during the Great Hunt three years running are elevated to Great Hunter status. Entry Requirements: Must be a member of the Elder Wilds Tradition who has brought in a suitable prey animal during a Great Hunt. Abilities: Follower of Foundchild, Foundchild Practice Knowledge, Open Spirit World, Peaceful Cut ceremony, Spear Fighting, Spirit Face, Throw Javelin. Virtues: Aloof, Brave, Proud. Practice Spirits: [Beast] Beast spirits—Beast spirits of prey animals (Command [Prey Animal] 6 to 4W, Mimic Animal Sounds 7 to 19, Put Animal to Sleep 18.) [Hunting] Hunting spirits—Ancestor spirits of skilled hunters (Find Trail 12 to 4W, Javelin Help 12 to 19, Move Stealthily 19, Multiply Javelin 18, Sleep Safely 10 to 5W, Sure Javelin Strike 12 to 18, Winged Javelin 12 to 9W.) [Life] Survival spirits—Hard-bitten spirits of the wilderness (Call Spirit to Ward Camp 6 to 4W, Endure Pain 12 to 3W, Hurt Enemy 6 to 17, Hurt Otherworld Enemy 12 to 9W, Hurt Prey Animal 18 to 8W2.) Spirit Ally: A Great Hunter may gain as a spirit ally the spirit of an ancient hunter, who inhabits a favored javelin or spear. Secret: Take Prey's Seeming (This is Foundchild's ultimate tool for hunting. This secret allows hunters to adopt the appearance and mannerisms of a specific prey animal so completely that it will fool even the animals in question). Practice Secret Requirements: Follower of Foundchild 1W2, Open Spirit World 1W2, Peaceful Cut ceremony 1W2. Charms and Fetishes: Fetishes are typically either small medicine pouches of woven grass that are sewn shut and filled with prey animal parts, or are wooden masks depicting characters and creatures from Foundchild’s many myths. Other Side: Foundchild lives with Hearth-Mother and their son Votank in Grandmother’s Hearth in the Green Place, but spends most of his time out in his Happy Hunting Grounds, seeking prey animals to feed the people. From Grandmother’s Hearth, practitioners can visit the Sky World, or the Darkness Age. Growdrulf Brother Dog The loyal dog is an old friend of the hunters. It is said that Brother Dog approached Foundchild during the Darkness and said he’d prefer to be a friend than food. The two became brothers and have served each other ever since. One time, King Bear, tired of the people killing the animals in his hunting grounds, took the clan's children and hid them in his Cave. He hoped that with no more people, there would be more to eat. Foundchild and Brother Dog tracked him to his lair. While Foundchild distracted King Bear, Brother Dog sniffed out where the children were hidden and took them to freedom. Then he came back, and helped Foundchild defeat King Bear and made him promise to leave the people alone. The practice is open to men or women. The ceremonies are usually performed during the Fire season, which is sometimes called Dog-month, and is attended by young people and young animals both. During the ceremony the spirit of Brother Dog appears and after practitioners sing a magical song everyone can speak one language for a while, whether it is dog-speech or people-speech. This song can be led by any council elder or holy person and so there are actually many Brother Dogs which appear on this holy day. Even within a clan there are often more than one Brother Dog. At the yearly ceremony the practitioners bring some meat to feed the Brother Dog spirit visiting them. After the ceremony is over the participants eat the remainder of the sacrifice. Entry Requirements: Must promise to treat your own dogs as brothers (i.e., feed and heal them), to never willfully harm a domestic dog, and to attend the ceremonies once every two years. Abilities: Breed Dog, Brother Dog Practice Knowledge, Follower of Brother Dog, Hunting, Keep Up with Pack, Open Spirit World, Smell Prey, Spirit Face, Train Dog. Virtues: Honest, Playful. Practice Spirits: [Man] Brother spirits—People spirits who are like dogs (Keep Each Other Warm 4 to 4W, Lick Wounds 8 to 18, Speak with Dog 12 to 8W, Speak with Human 10 to 5W.) [Beast] Dog spirits—Dog spirits who are like people (Dog-Napping 12 to 2W, Find Sustenance 12 to 1W, Hunting 15 to 5W, Sniff Out Intruder 18 to 12W2.) Spirit Ally: Practitioners may receive a spirit ally in the body of a hunting or guarding dog. Secret: Unerring Stalker (Automatically succeed at a single final action during any contest in which the character has tracked a target and has used the powers of Brother Dog, even if he normally would not be allowed a final action.) Practice Secret Requirements: Follower of Brother Dog 1W2, Open Spirit World 1W2, Smell Prey 1W2. Charms and Fetishes: Brother Dog fetishes are made from the skins of prey animals, wrapped around bones. Other Side: Brother Dog hunts with his friend Foundchild in the Happy Hunting Grounds in the Green Place, but always has a warm spot reserved by Grandmother’s Hearth. From there, practitioners can go out into the Long Night. Disadvantages: Brother Dog followers smell like dogs so animals respond to them the same way they would respond to dogs. Votank The First Person Basically the same as the Daka Fal practice (HeroQuest page 145) with slightly different charms from the Ancestors. Mralota The Sow Mother In the Before Time, many spirits threatened others in their search for power. One of those was the Bad Wolf, who brought Death to the Sow Mother’s kin. When he killed one of her children, she found him standing over one of her children, red in tooth and claw, she felt rage fill her. She chased him, and his fear gave him speed so that he outran her. But still she raged and still she gave chase. To try to hide from her, Bad Wolf ate the Sun, plunging everything into the Great Darkness, but still she would not relent. Finally, Bad Wolf begged a Dragon to hide him. The Dragon agreed. “Run into my mouth, she will not be able to chase you there,” he said. Bad Wolf ran into the Dragon’s mouth and was eaten. When Mralota came, she asked Dragon where Bad Wolf had gone. “He is hiding in my mouth. You should pursue him,” he said. She agreed, and went into the Dragon’s mouth and was eaten. And there she remained, lost to the people, until Balazar stole her back from the Dragon. He brought her to the Citadels, and since then the spirit has allowed the people of the Citadels to raise those animals safely. Entry Requirements: Be a Citadel pig herder. Abilities: Follower of Mralota, Mralota Practice Knowledge, Open Spirit World, Spirit Face, Swineherding. Virtues: Stubborn, Tough. Practice Spirits: [Beast] Boar spirits—Beast spirits of power (Boar's Strength 12 to 18, Charge Like Pig 1W, Grow Tusks 12 to 4W, Ignore Pain 19, Intimidating Display 17W, Thick Skin 17, Throw Off Exhaustion 15 to 6W, Virility 12 to 4W.) [Beast] Sow spirits—Beast spirits of kinship (Enhance Sense of Smell 11 to 3W, Pig Friend 15 to 6W, Resist Persuasion 16, Scent Predators 15, Talk With Pigs 12 to 2W.) Spirit Ally: A practitioner can get a porcine spirit awakened in one of their pigs. Secret: Carry On (Gain an additional final action in any contest in which the character is striving against difficult odds and has used the powers of Mralota, even if he would not normally be permitted a final action.) Practice Secret Requirements: Follower of Mralota 1W2, Open Spirit World 1W2, Tough 1W2. Charms and Fetishes: Mralota shamans make fetishes from bone and wood, and medicine bundles from pig hide. Other Side: Mralota dwells in Balazar's Citadel in the Green Place in the Spirit World. Here, the spirits of wild pigs and human Mraloti are as one and can take on either form as it suits them, and rapacious carnivores and wicked outsiders only threaten them at the very fringes of the realm. Disadvantages: Practitioners of Mralota are looked down on by other Citadel people as uncouth and lower status. Horned Man (Shamanic Practice) Father of Shamans I was puzzled by what the shamanic practice for Balazar would be, until it occurred to me, following the old RuneQuest "feel," that it would be the Horned Man (HeroQuest page 146). That guy gets around. Yelmalio The Brightness of Yelm, God of Light and War For Yelmalio, I used the cult as given in Sartar Rising 2: Orlanth is Dead! page 32. It's too simple a version (IMO) of the cult for Sun County in Prax or the Sun Dome in Dragon pass, but it's perfect for the three citadels of Balazar. Balazar The Founder The cult of Balazar is a hero cult. A foreigner, Balazar came to the region in the Second Age and made the kingdom his own. He built the citadels and left his children to care for them when he marched off with the True Golden Horde to plunder Dragon Pass. Like most participants in the Dragonkill War of 1100, Balazar was killed, but not until he had performed noteworthy deeds. Balazar stole the sacred image Mralota the Sow Mother from dragons, and since then the spirit has allowed the citadels to raise those animals safely. Balazar married Rigtaina, the hunting nymph daughter of the Wild Mother, and founded the dynasties which rule the three citadels, and so the nobles there and many common people, trace their lineage to Balazar instead of to Votank. Since Balazar worshipped Yelmalio, his followers do also. The cult of Yelmalio is strong at the citadels (though stronger at the two uncontrolled by the Lunars). Balazar is a hero cult of Yelmalio. Abilities: Horsemanship, Mythology of Balazar, Spear Fighting. Virtues: Ambitious, Proud. Affinities: [Mastery] feats: Aura of Righteousness, Lead Clan, Lead Tribe. Other Side: Balazar’s Citadel is between Sky Place and the Green Place, warding them both against invaders. From the Citadel, worshippers may exit to the Long Night or follow other doorways into the Sky Realm in the God World. Other Connections: Balazar is a part of the Elder Wilds Tradition as well as (distantly) the Celestial Pantheon. Disadvantages: The Balazar cult is only worshipped in the three citadels of Balazar. The Wild Mother The Untamable The Wild Mother is the Great Spirit of the untamed wilderness. She is unknowable and untamable. As a result, she is not directly worshipped but is propitiated and receives worship in almost all the important rites in the tradition. She does not respond to shaman attempts to contact her directly as she must remain untamed; it is unclear what powers such worship would provide. Rigtaina The Huntress The daughter of the Wild Mother and Genert, she is also the mother of Balazar’s children. She is the One Who Can be Caught and also the One Who Escapes. Balazar’s sacred marriage to Rigtaina provided him rulership of the lands, but when he died Rigtaina left once more; a child of her mother, she was never truly a part of the clans or citadels. She is the source of all the wild prey animals and nourishing plants the Balazaring clans depend upon for survival. She receives some worship at Foundchild ceremonies, and at the beginning of every Great Hunt the shamans call on her to bless the hunters. Entry Requirements: Membership in a tradition that knows the ways of contacting Rigtaina. Any Balazaring who follows Rigtaina must, a year after joining the practice, sever all ties with clan and family and live in the wilderness alone. The one exception is female followers who have children—they must sever all ties once their children have come of age. Abilities: Escape Restraints, Follower of Rigtaina, Open Spirit World, Rigtaina Practice Knowledge, Spirit Face. Virtues: Independent, Restless. Practice Spirits: [Hunting] Predator spirits—Beast spirits of predator animals (Sense Prey 18 to 8W, Sharp [Hand Weapon] 15 to 12W, True [Ranged Weapon] 18 to 8W2) [Wilderness] Prey spirits—Beast spirits of prey animals (Dodge Grasp 12 to 16W, Escape Trap 12 to 20, Fleetfoot 18 to 8W2, Undetectable While Motionless 16 to 6W) Secret: Never Tamed (Automatically succeed at a single final action in any contest in which the character has used her Prey spirits, even if a final action would not normally be allowed.) Practice Secret Requirements: Escape Restraints 1W2, Follower of Rigtaina 1W2, Open Spirit World 1W2. Other Side: Rigtaina spends most of her time in the wilderness surrounding the Green Place, but occasionally briefly visits Balazar’s Citadel on important occasions. Common Magic Survival Tricks During the Long Night, Foundchild and Hearth-Mother taught the people many small tricks to help them survive. These have passed beyond the Elder Wilds Tradition into the realm of common lore, and many people who have found themselves in Balazar have picked up a few. Not many people specialize in this religion, for its precepts are very simple. [Magic] Talents: Cure [Minor Disease], Fight Predator, Find Prey, Find Water, Hide Trail, Keep Fire Lit, Kill Bear, Kill Mosquitos, Kill Wolf, Listen Hard, Protect My Dog, Running, Smell Danger, Stop Bleeding.