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Jeff

Yelmalio again or Why I Ruined Your Glorantha Redux.

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Greg once told tell me that to keep the goddess Glorantha alive and eternally youthful, he needed to be an Arkati Trickster Shaman. Now that that duty has fallen to me, I've donned my coyote mask and taken on the role. It is fitting that I've decided to revisit Greg's heroquest to discover Elmal, only this time to reject that god in favour of restoring the god he had supplanted - Yelmalio.

Elmal was discovered to answer an important question for Greg's Harmast novel, a book that he worked on fitfully from 1989 until 2009 or so. Harmast was set in the late First Age, some 400 years after the Dawn. Greg posed himself the question - who was the Orlanthi Sun God before the Orlanthi encountered the Yelm-worshipers of Peloria?

In the early drafts of the novel, the answer to that question was Yelmalio. Yelmalio was the last light that survived the Darkness. He held out throughout the Greater Darkness, although he became weaker and weaker, after being robbed by Orlanth, Inora, and Zorak Zoran, and then savaged by Chaos. But he endured and was not extinguished and was there to greet the Dawn.

But that's the Third Age myth - what was the story at the Dawn? Greg concluded that the Orlanthi recognised this god as Elmal, who loyally protected the people of Dragon Pass throughout the Greater Darkness. When Orlanth left on his Lightbringers Quest, Elmal remained behind, "the loyal thane". At the Dawn, Elmal took the Sun Disk and carried it through the sky as the Sun God. Presumably, he is also Lightfore, the "little sun" that appeared in the Grey Age and who rises when the Sun sets, and sets when the Sun rises. This might mean that Elmal never died - he is always in the Sky. When he sets in the West with the Sun Disk, he immediately rises as Lightfore in the East, and vice versa.

Let's fast forward to the late Third Age. We know that there is Yelmalio all over the place. Sun Domes in Sartar, Prax, and all over Genertela. We know he is the main Fire/Sky god worshiped in Dragon Pass - heck, he is in White Bear Red Moon and his most famous initiate Is Rurik Runespear. 

So where did Yelmalio come from? Greg's answers were properly contradictory, as is the nature of such things. He came from the elves. He came from Monrogh's Vision of the Many Suns. He was revealed by Nysalor at the Battle of fNight and Day. All are correct, all are partially false. Or least not entirely true. But equally, all contain some truth. 

Then came the real tough question - what is the status of Elmal in the late Third Age? And by that I mean Hero Wars Sartar. Greg let others answer that question as his interest was in the First Age. He didn't know.

David Dunham tried to answer it in his amazing computer game, King of Dragon Pass. Elmal is one off the main gods in that game, and Yelmalio is nowhere to be seen. But like a number of elements in that game, that never seemed right to me. And later Greg let me know that he agreed with my doubts. Note: that is not a dig at KoDP which I consider to be the best introduction to Glorantha ever made. But there are elements of the game that never set right with me. Elmal. Anglo-Saxon clothing and skin colour. Etc. These are tiny critiques of a master piece, and pertinent only in an essay like this.

As I worked on the Guide to Glorantha with Greg back in 2012, Greg hinted that we should be reconsidering Elmal. Vinga had already been revealed to be the female incarnation of Orlanth, and not merely another Thunder Brother. Yelmalio, Greg suggested, was the main Sun God of the Third Age Orlanthi. And so Yelmalio got much more attention in the Guide to Glorantha than Elmal did.

As I started putting together RuneQuest, Greg and I talked about the player character cults. "Gotta have Yelmalio," Greg said. "We've always had Yelmalio in RuneQuest." The elemental progression wheel and the conflict between Air and Fire are hard-wired into the rules. The Storm fights with the Sun. That's a driving theme in the setting and the game mechanics reflect that. But where does that put Elmal? We didn't even include poor Elmal in the book.

In the Cults Book, the time to evade the question is over. This is a game book, not a speculative collection off essays. So here's the answer: Yelmalio is the Sun God of Dragon Pass and the Lunar Provinces. The Yelm cult among the Grazelander Pure Horse People is the exception that proves the rule. Since the 1550s or so, even most of the solar worshipers among the Sartarites have agreed that Yelmalio is the god of the Cold Sun. 

Elmal is still present - as a subcult of Yelmalio. If you want to have your Elmal cultist who is allied to Orlanth and the loyal defender of the Orlanthi clan, you can. He just has the ignominy of being treated as a member of a special Yelmalio subcult. And the even greater insult of being largely ignored by the Sartarite Orlanth cult.

But Elmal can endure. And who knows, he might endure long enough for Arkat to need to betray his gods and become a passionate devotee of something old, something new. Who knows - I mean it has happened before!

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But the fact of Elmal worshipers making up the majority of the Quivini Cold Light worshipers remains until Monrogh makes the transition and leads the mass exodus?

This was described as a Kethaelan peculiarity, surviving mainly because of the isolation by the Inhuman Occupation, and a distinct dislike of Palangio's form of the cult in the south.

 

1 hour ago, Runeblogger said:

What % of Harmast's novel was finished?

I was part of the Friends of Glorantha initiative which basically was a Patreon (before that platform existed) during Greg's Mexican stint, producing about a chapter a month for the supporters under the heading "Ten Women Well Loved". I recall Greg reading from other, older fragments on conventions in the nineties which had no relation to this project, and played sometime later. There is the strange fragment in King of Satar describing the crossing of the Western Ocean from a first person perspective which may have been part of one of Harmast's quests. (Argrath never sailed on Sofala, using Ygg Seastorm as his ride to Luathela.)

Ten Women Well Loved covers Harmast joining the Hendriki rather shortly after his impossible initiation, and then takes him across the Mirrorsea Bay into Nochet, where his Kodigvari alterations to his original Berennethtelli tribal tattoo cause panic among the Grandmothers. It explores Harmast's unique Niskis talent (and sacred duty) of causing rainfall out of blue skies during intercourse, and the high demand of this service during the time when Lokamayadon's Tarumath High Storm prevented the Orlanth strom to provide its regular rainfalls. While Harmast loved his Hendriki wife dearly, he had un-numbered sexual partners performing this duty, something which strained his marriage (although the cabbage fields around his cottage were always well-watered).

This might be the longest continuous fragment of Harmast's Saga (or indeed any novel) that Greg ever wrote. Back in the early seventies, fantasy novels of 180 pages were considered the long form of the genre.

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7 hours ago, Jeff said:

As I worked on the Guide to Glorantha with Greg back in 2012, Greg hinted that we should be reconsidering Elmal. Vinga had already been revealed to be the female incarnation of Orlanth, and not merely another Thunder Brother. Yelmalio, Greg suggested, was the main Sun God of the Third Age Orlanthi. And so Yelmalio got much more attention in the Guide to Glorantha than Elmal did.

Huh, that sounds interesting. Given the guide describes Elmal as the main Sun God of the Orlanthi, and separate from the god of the Lightfore.

Of course the guide also treats Kargzant as the main god of the Pentans, and describes the god as having a cult progression that wouldn't seem to apply.

Honestly I'm beginning to suspect Yelm is just another name for Yelmalio.

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1 hour ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

Wait so who is gonna be Heler's best friend?!?!?!

Someone will have to discover the myth of how Yelmalio Got Wet. And then discover that Sparkling Dew Maid is their daughter.

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39 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

Someone will have to discover the myth of how Yelmalio Got Wet. And then discover that Sparkling Dew Maid is their daughter.

Yelmalio has a lot of things, but friends isn't one of them

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Sure he does. Yelm, Ernalda, Aldrya, Hyalor, Vrimak, Yelorna - and the descendants of those he protected in the Great Darkness. 

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5 hours ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

Yelmalio has a lot of things, but friends isn't one of them

 

57 minutes ago, Jeff said:

Sure he does. Yelm, Ernalda, Aldrya, Hyalor, Vrimak, Yelorna - and the descendants of those he protected in the Great Darkness. 

 

Maybe some of them regard him as a friend

Yelmalio_Mates.jpg

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On 8/24/2019 at 7:26 AM, Jeff said:

Greg once told tell me that to keep the goddess Glorantha alive and eternally youthful, he needed to be an Arkati Trickster Shaman. Now that that duty has fallen to me, I've donned my coyote mask and taken on the role. It is fitting that I've decided to revisit Greg's heroquest to discover Elmal, only this time to reject that god in favour of restoring the god he had supplanted - Yelmalio.

Yep, folks, YGWV, inevitably & as We Are All Uz... Jeff's Glorantha Will Vary! Also. Just as inevitably.

OK, kidding aside, some of you might be interested to know that this post was first published on Facebook where people also commented.

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I dunno about others, but IMG I always treated Elmal and his worshippers basically as being some weirdos in their strange tiny clans up in the hills.

Oh, and some of them in the Pol Joni, but they're weirdos anyway.

I could never work out how to put Elmal worshippers anywhere except in the fringes, as it's abundantly clear from all of the published sources that of the two of them, Yelmalio is clearly dominant in Sartar proper.

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Or... Elmal exists not as some grand hero but a loyal servant. Elmal did  not go in the light bringers quest,  he was stuck keeping the hall and making sure Orlanth had a throne to come home to. His is the god servants and stewards. Loyal but often forgotten till needed.  The position is important but never wins honor.  Yelmalio cults arrival and importance in Sartar is only because of diplomacy. What about Heortland or other Orlanthi civilizations? Would Elmal not have a place at the table then? Plus one can assume not every Orlanthi in dragon pass was ruled by Sartar or his short lived dynasty (almost a century) beyond name. Plus what about the Ducks. Dont they hate Yelm and his progeny,  I could definitely see them being Elmal hold outs.

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Hmmm, interesting my last attempt to start a campaign (that fell apart as all my life did at that point, my gods, all the prep work we did together ... just lost) was a small remnant almost-a-clan of Redalda worshipers caught up in a Yemalio/Elmal theological tiff among the clans below Six Sisters.

The vague outline was the players being at the crux of going east to Pol Joni or getting assimilated into another clan (the clan was seen as very primitive, almost hsunchen by the others in the Tribe.

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I used to think the whole Elmal - Yelmalio nonsense was the 2nd silliest thing on Glorantha.  ( After Ducks).  Now I think it's the Vinga is Orlanth "reveal".  All the wonderful myths of Vinga striving to prove herself to the Storm Brothers now make no sense at all.

@Jeff Is there a discussion / thread on why this change happened?  Plus, just have to ask, were games of Credo involved?  Is there going to be a new Orlanth's Holy Spirit reveal?  🙂

i am really glad that Greg insisted that you gotta have Yelmalio.  It's such a wonderful, rich, PC cult.

p.s. I mean "silly" in a good Arkati Trickster way.  On rereading my post, the initial tone might come across as too negative.

Edited by Rodney Dangerduck
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On 11/22/2019 at 4:29 PM, Rodney Dangerduck said:

I used to think the whole Elmal - Yelmalio nonsense was the 2nd silliest thing on Glorantha.  ( After Ducks).  Now I think it's the Vinga is Orlanth "reveal".  All the wonderful myths of Vinga striving to prove herself to the Storm Brothers now make no sense at all.

Oh, come on. During the Exile Orlanth imposed on himself, he repeatedly visited the Storm Village and his queen in the cunning disguise of Niskis the Lover and made it rain out of a clear sky whenever he visited. And nobody recognized him!

Of course when he became she, nobody would recognize him.That's pretty much like the buxom BBC female actor in a Shakespeare comedy posing as her own brother, and nobody notices! (To be fair, in the Globe, it would have been a strapping young lad in drag playing that girl posing as a boy, possibly forced to put on drag to trick another character... this required quite a bit of immersion.)

Whenever Orlanth manifested a new persona as one of the Storm Brothers, he had to undergo all that nuisance to prove he was worthy of getting a seat on their table in the feasting hall. The trouble she had as Vinga was that she only came in second best at any single contest provided... and she was a girl. Icky.

 

On 11/22/2019 at 4:29 PM, Rodney Dangerduck said:

p.s. I mean "silly" in a good Arkati Trickster way.  On rereading my post, the initial tone might come across as too negative.

This is about myth. Among other things, myths are supposed to bring a certain amount of silliness, like that swan becoming sexually attractive to Leda, and the myriad of depictions thereof. Talking of a dangerous duck-like bird...

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None of this ruins my Glorantha, so no worries!

I'm waiting for Gods of Glorantha with bated breath, but it won't change my ongoing campaign or interpretation of the world in any way I don't want it to. I'll use the stuff I like and ignore the stuff I don't. Business as usual, in other words!

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On 11/22/2019 at 3:29 PM, Rodney Dangerduck said:

I used to think the whole Elmal - Yelmalio nonsense was the 2nd silliest thing on Glorantha.  ( After Ducks).  Now I think it's the Vinga is Orlanth "reveal".  All the wonderful myths of Vinga striving to prove herself to the Storm Brothers now make no sense at all.

The storm contains many winds.

All are part of the storm, all are separate, all are connected. They are both the storm and its children.

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On 11/24/2019 at 3:01 AM, Tindalos said:

The storm contains many winds.

All are part of the storm, all are separate, all are connected. They are both the storm and its children.

This sounds dangerously close to 'We are all us' my friend!  Every storm is a god, and each may be perceived in line with the prejudices of the observer. 

Vinga is Orlanth for those who do not see her unique features.  Some people probably think that Desemborth is Finovan is Helamakt is Vadrus. 

Doesn't make 'em right😁

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On 11/23/2019 at 9:01 PM, Tindalos said:

The storm contains many winds.

All are part of the storm, all are separate, all are connected. They are both the storm and its children.

Some people dig constant retcons and reimaginings.  Some people don't.

I will say that if you have any familiarity with Glorantha, none of this should be surprising.  Not the SPECIFICS, but that things change constantly.  (shrug)

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Real myth cycles are full of contradictions - they often seem to offer monomyths because they've been edited over the years (often centuries) according to the agenda of those transmitting them. Even so, despite what we have being a small fraction of what was, the Greek Myths that have come down to us have significant variations. Examples being: was Zeus raised either by a nymph or a goat; the sun is Helios or Apollo, and in one of his ephithets, Apollo is Helios... And for that matter, bright Apollo, who also brought (and cured) plagues may be derived from a Hurrian plague god and further back, Nergal, who in turn was related to Shamash, the sun god.

Having a mixed up mythology makes Glorantha myths more real, even if frustrating.

If you hold to one particular interpretation, then that's the one true to you, and perhaps your clan and tribe, but it isn't necessarily a universal truth.

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On 11/22/2019 at 9:29 AM, Rodney Dangerduck said:

I used to think the whole Elmal - Yelmalio nonsense was the 2nd silliest thing on Glorantha.  ( After Ducks).  Now I think it's the Vinga is Orlanth "reveal".  All the wonderful myths of Vinga striving to prove herself to the Storm Brothers now make no sense at all.

In particular, it is no great personal triumph or achievement for Vinga to do anything that Orlanth can if she is in fact herself Orlanth in a literal sense (rather than in the symbolic way that Barntar is sort-of Orlanth in some contexts). Orlanth being as awesome as Orlanth is expected, unremarkable. I like it better when she is simply that awesome in her own right.

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