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Eleven Lights Question


Bohemond

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My campaign is getting close to 1621 (Spoilers ahead!) so I need to figure out something about the campaign that absolutely baffles me every time I read through it--the stuff around Minaryth's Belts. I have a LOT of questions: 

1) What are these belts? Where did they come from? Why does the LM cult happen to have a series of apparently unrelated belts that act as a roadmap to the never-before performed quest that will save Sartar? Why does Minaryth think they are all about the same quest? I mean, if I grab 7 random articles of clothing (or even books), I wouldn't expect them to form a hero quest, so why is Minaryth so sure these belts have any connection at all? Or did Minaryth have these belts woven just to provide a handy portable copy of the info he's found, and if so, why did he have them made into belts instead of just writing them down on parchment?

2) If Minaryth has these belts, why does he need to send the PCs to the Orlmarth tula and Boldhome to examine the imagers there? What additional information do those two scenes provide that's not in the belts? 

3)  11L, p. 114 says that the the Picture Door has details from the 5th belt. Is that a typo for the 4th belt? Because the 5th belt doesn't match the description Minaryth gives just 2 paragraphs later or his explanation of the 5th belt on page 116.

4) And what the hell do all the symbols on the belts actually mean? If I give these images to my PCs, which seems to be the point of having them, I will get minutely cross-examined by the PCs who will want Minaryth to explain, in detail, everything he sees in those symbols. If I don't give the PCs these images, what's the point of having the belts at all? Why not just have Minaryth say "here's the stuff I've figured out"? Bands 1, 2, and 6 don't make any obvious sense at all. 

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Hi Bohemond,

If you're the Bohemond1 on ObsidianPortal, your Coming Storm pages encouraged me to run the 11L for my group, so thanks for the inspiration !

I don't think the LM cult had the belts lying around. From the "These were created under my direction" bit on p.115, I took it that Minaryth has had the belts made very recently, integrating the lore found from the PC's Indiana-Jonesing to the Cinder Pits etc.

I imagine the LM might have sub-contracted the job out to some Ernaldan loom-house, to weave "Crazy LM Plan formed from a Hundred Different Fragments" into "Something Potentially Achievable in a sturdy form that can be carried to the Other World."  

I have no idea what the symbols actually represent, but I can also picture my player group scrutinising every last marking on them. If anyone can think of a way to creative incoprorate the designs and their interpretation into play, I would love to hear ideas.
 

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On 1/20/2020 at 10:18 AM, Bohemond said:

1) What are these belts? Where did they come from?

p.115 Minaryth says "the Lhankor Mhy cult has been working since the crisis began to put together this information"

The Crisis is the beginning of the Great Winter (aka "Orlanth is Dead"). They've been scouring the Jonstown Library, and other sources to put together the outline of the myth.

On 1/20/2020 at 10:18 AM, Bohemond said:

Why does the LM cult happen to have a series of apparently unrelated belts

They are not unrelated. They are stages of a heroquest. And as above, they have them because they've been working to figure out how to stop the Great Winter.

On 1/20/2020 at 10:18 AM, Bohemond said:

Why does Minaryth think they are all about the same quest? I mean, if I grab 7 random articles of clothing (or even books), I wouldn't expect them to form a hero quest

They haven't grabbed at random. They've been piecing together how this quest might be done.

Think of these more as pieces from several sets of maps which have common intersections.

On 1/20/2020 at 10:18 AM, Bohemond said:

Or did Minaryth have these belts woven just to provide a handy portable copy of the info he's found, and if so, why did he have them made into belts instead of just writing them down on parchment?

Yes. Belts may be more likely to survive the Godtime, or they may be less likely to be read and interpreted by the "enemy", or they may be easier to "read" for those not literate or not skilled in mapreading. They tell a story. As Minaryth says on p.115: “No one has done this before; you will be cutting a new path, assembled from fragments of other myths. These were created under my direction, and they are all our knowledge of how to perform this quest.”

On 1/20/2020 at 10:18 AM, Bohemond said:

2) If Minaryth has these belts, why does he need to send the PCs to the Orlmarth tula and Boldhome to examine the imagers there? What additional information do those two scenes provide that's not in the belts? 

Since Minaryth hands out the belts AFTER they've gone to the Cinder Pits and Boldhome, clearly there are gaps in the story that have to be either filled or confirmed to complete the making of the belts.

From the Cinder Pits episode p. 113: "The PCs should be able to copy the images for the seventh belt from the Three New Stars episode below."

From the Picture Door episode p.114: "copy down the carving of the Cauldron of Pieces there. The Hellmouth, Cauldron of Pieces, and Fields of Plenty are emerging from the lead, which seems to have flaked away … The PCs should be able to copy the images from the fifth belt of the Three New Stars episode below."

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On 1/20/2020 at 10:18 AM, Bohemond said:

4) And what the hell do all the symbols on the belts actually mean? If I give these images to my PCs, which seems to be the point of having them, I will get minutely cross-examined by the PCs who will want Minaryth to explain, in detail, everything he sees in those symbols. If I don't give the PCs these images, what's the point of having the belts at all? Why not just have Minaryth say "here's the stuff I've figured out"? Bands 1, 2, and 6 don't make any obvious sense at all. 

Let's look at Belt 1 (and for a lot of these belts it helps to turn the picture so the belt is hanging downwards rather than sideways with fringe at the bottom). 

The text says: “The first and second belts are instructions for the ceremony to cross over to the Other Side. Inner Mountain and Air Man are the roles — Earth priestess and Storm Voice — of the ritual leaders. The amounts of sacrifice are shown. The second line shows the ritual must be performed at Dawn, and Air and Sky must be present to cross over. Kallyr will take the Sky role, and one of you must be Air. The participants must be Orlanth, Earth Axe, Spear, and Sword, with three others. The ceremony involves Inner Mountain and Air Man, and must use the Fertility snake rites and Invoke Doom."

Working down you'll see two big symbols. The first is like two upside down "V". That is a upside down mountain so the inner "V" represents the Inner Mountain. Next is a combination of a Death and an Air Rune and represents Air Man. So these two are the important leaders of the quest. The three symbols to the right with the bars next to them have to be the sacrifices and the bars represent the amounts. The one with the "U" on top suggests horns, so I'd surmise cows. The "Z" with the dot is suggestive of rising smoke, so maybe something burnt. The "M" with the underline suggests mountains, so I'd interpret as some sort of jewels or minerals from the mountains.

Then you get the Fire, Storm, and Dawn (Theya) Runes. So Sun and Storm present at the Dawn to cross over. The line of Storm runes below that is the threshold to the other side.

The last line are the required participants: the "3" is something like a broken spiral (suggestive of "dead" or "broken" Orlanth); then Death rune with an Axe top; then Death Rune representing the Sword or Warrior; then Spear symbol; finally three variants of the Man Rune which are the other participants.

11L-Belt1.JPG

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For Belt 2, it feels like it should be read sideways. It's about the actual ceremony/ritual: "The ceremony involves Inner Mountain and Air Man, and must use the Fertility snake rites and Invoke Doom."

There are a couple familiar symbols here: Inner Mountain (the upside down V's) and Air Man (Death + Storm). Note that are flanked on the outer band by Earth and Storm symbols. Reinforces the roles involved.

The first two dots suggest the Infinity Rune, so might be read as a symbol for the ritual.  It's flanked by a Power or Plow symbol on top. Not sure about the bottom symbol but it reminds me of a snake's head. There's a few of those. That symbol reappears on Belt 7.

The "h" could be a Resurrection Throne (two of those appear in Belt 7) so a signifier for the Heroquest itself.

The Fertility Rune with the snake above indicates the type of rites as noted in the text. It's suggestive of a sexual ritual invoking the connection of Earth and Storm, Ernalda and Orlanth. 

The symbol that looks like an asterisk is probably the invocation of Doom as it is similar to both the Death and Undeath Runes.

The six circles going down a slope suggests entering the Underworld, or may be related to falling or other doom.

Then there is a figure that looks like a Gateway. Could also be interpreted as a monster with horns. Both suggest entering the Underworld during the crossover to the Other Side. 

Three Movement Runes suggests having to cross through and move beyond the gateway and travel across to the next stage.

11L-Belt2.JPG

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Belt 4 looks to be read bottom to top. 

At the bottom is the Hellmouth. The scimitar indicates that a Lunar foe is likely there. One side has the Rune of Shargash, the other a spear, possibly a Power Rune. The Man Runes with swords suggests a fight to get through.

“The Hellmouth is always dangerous, and now the Lunars are usually there. There are two paths from the mouth through the throat, though the chomping jaws may mean only one is open."

From the Hellmouth are shown two paths. "One is the womb of the mother into the Fields of Bliss." I.e. the Green Age which looks to be the left hand side. (A rather squat figure)

The right hand side is the Cauldron of Pieces. "The Cauldron of Pieces contains chopped up pieces of gods; you need to choose from among the heads bubbling in the cauldron." So that's what you see a set of heads being stirred around.

In between are the parts of dead gods. From the Green Age, you need to name some of these figures. In the Cauldron route, you need to extract some. 

The large Cauldron above is the Cauldron of Ver, presumably recognizable by the Runes upon it (Storm, Man (or possibly a Star symbol), Fate(?, or possibly is Pole Star symbol), Earth, Fire, possibly Water(?), and an upwardly spiraled Storm/Wind rune). Out of that, on top, you can get up to three figures. That they are upside-down  (or a contained storm?) suggests they are still dead.

11L-Belt4.JPG

Edited by jajagappa
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“The fifth belt concerns using Lorion, the Skyriver, to reach the Sky World. The Resurrection Thrones are in the Sky World, so you need to reach them, after you have obtained the Corpse Stars in the Underworld. We needed a way to get you into the Sky from the Underworld. Luckily for us, this is something the Red Cow knows. The Red Cow have knowledge of Heler’s secret of the Golden Tear, which he taught to Sshorga.” and “This is the moment where the Red Cow must support you — otherwise you will not be strong enough to pass the barrier between the worlds. Everyone here will shed a tear for you when you ask it, and their sacrifice will help you cross to the Other Side.”

The shadowed Infinity Rune would appear to be the barrier between the worlds. 

The serpent is Lorion the Sky River.  Its tail is black, its head is pale, so it is the path out of the Underworld and to the stars which surround it. 

Once into the Sky, you follow the path of Orlanth's Ring moving towards the center of the Sky Dome.

11L-Belt5.JPG

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The Sixth Belt appears to be the most uncertain - the crossing of the Sky. It may be useful to review the Sky Map on p.136 (and maybe also the Guide v2 p.645)

“You must travel to the City in the center of the Sky World. The sixth are some steps that lead you across the Sky World. We only have guesswork for this part, though this is the myth of How Orlanth Conquered the Stars. You will arrive in the Heavens at the place of the Young God — we know this is the Great Port of Princess Starry Eyes, which lies on the boundary of the Middle and Other Worlds. From there, you must reach the City, for that is where Rigsdal will be.”

So the figures on this belt are constellations. This is also read bottom to top. The figure at the bottom would appear to be the same as the Young God. Note it's like a Man Rune with a Star for a head.

The next figure has legs/roots with four stars. Is it the Willows? Is it a Pot or a Cooking Fire? Open to interpretation.

The middle figure bears some resemblance to a bird head or an arm. Perhaps its just part of the Sky River and represents two bends on the river.

The "7" with two stars. Is it the Dragon Isles (a broken dragon with two islands)? Might it be the Steward at the gates of the City? You can probably interpret it in any number of ways.

The top figure suggests a Harp, but probably is supposed to be the City. 

11L-Belt6.JPG

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The Seventh Belt is the hall of Pole Star. This is depicted on the right hand side.  It's the hierarchy of the stars from a single point to the greatest star. Also reinforced by the bottom figure - the single point atop the "Spike".

The center shows the Resurrection Chairs where the dead stars must be brought. Note the symbol here at the bottom that appeared on the Second Belt. Here it seems associated with the Resurrection Chairs, so perhaps given the two "eyes" those suggest the second tier of the star hierarchy and the rise/resurrection into the heavens. 

The left hand side shows that the embers of the dead stars are held in Hell and must be brought to the top of the heavens to be reborn.

At the top are the warriors who will fight you there.  The scimitar suggests the Lunars may be there too.

And that's your quest!

Hope that's of help.

11L-Belt7.JPG

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On 1/20/2020 at 10:18 AM, Bohemond said:

11L, p. 114 says that the the Picture Door has details from the 5th belt. Is that a typo for the 4th belt?

Yes, I believe it is a typo. The PC's should be copying down the images that then end up on the 4th belt. So when he gives them the belt, they should go "Oh! That's how those pictures fit in"

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I would point out for the second figure (as Jajagappa read them) of the Sixth Belt, the lower part of the symbol looks like the symbol of Alkoth, and that there are 4 participants that have a specific role from Belt One, Orlanth, Earth Axe, Spear, and Sword represented by the 4 dots. I would read this as warning that Shargash has continued to pursue the Heroquesters since the Underworld and now the Heroquesters must turn him away by some means. (I don't own Eleven Lights but I'm just cross referencing what I have from my copy of the Guide.)

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44 minutes ago, Mirza said:

I would read this as warning that Shargash has continued to pursue the Heroquesters since the Underworld and now the Heroquesters must turn him away by some means.

Seems like a good reading of it!

And that's the nice thing with the symbolic figures - there's room for GM interpretation and variation here. Maybe in the assembling of an unknown quest, or the reading of a symbol, Minaryth gets something wrong. What do the heroes do then? The earlier belts are likely to be more correct than the later ones, but even there the little symbols might turn out to be something new and different and unexpected.

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19 hours ago, jajagappa said:

p.115 Minaryth says "the Lhankor Mhy cult has been working since the crisis began to put together this information"

The Crisis is the beginning of the Great Winter (aka "Orlanth is Dead"). They've been scouring the Jonstown Library, and other sources to put together the outline of the myth.

They are not unrelated. They are stages of a heroquest. And as above, they have them because they've been working to figure out how to stop the Great Winter.

They haven't grabbed at random. They've been piecing together how this quest might be done.

Think of these more as pieces from several sets of maps which have common intersections.

Yes. Belts may be more likely to survive the Godtime, or they may be less likely to be read and interpreted by the "enemy", or they may be easier to "read" for those not literate or not skilled in mapreading. They tell a story. As Minaryth says on p.115: “No one has done this before; you will be cutting a new path, assembled from fragments of other myths. These were created under my direction, and they are all our knowledge of how to perform this quest.”

Since Minaryth hands out the belts AFTER they've gone to the Cinder Pits and Boldhome, clearly there are gaps in the story that have to be either filled or confirmed to complete the making of the belts.

From the Cinder Pits episode p. 113: "The PCs should be able to copy the images for the seventh belt from the Three New Stars episode below."

From the Picture Door episode p.114: "copy down the carving of the Cauldron of Pieces there. The Hellmouth, Cauldron of Pieces, and Fields of Plenty are emerging from the lead, which seems to have flaked away … The PCs should be able to copy the images from the fifth belt of the Three New Stars episode below."

I thank you heartily for a cogent explanation and the detailed exegesis of the belts. I'm still kinda puzzled why he commissioned a bunch of belts as the repository of this information in a highly symbolic way when a written text would be so much clearer. But at least I've got something to work with. 

But isn't this sort of Choose Your Own Adventure approach to Heroquesting very God Learner-y? 

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Just now, Bohemond said:

I'm still kinda puzzled why he commissioned a bunch of belts as the repository of this information in a highly symbolic way when a written text would be so much clearer.

Probably because the symbolic form is more flexible and can adapt to changes in the Heroplane.

It's like the difference between oral mythology and codified writings. The oral myths can still shift, be reinterpreted, adjust to changes. Once they are written in texts, they become very fixed. It's one of the things we see with the bible or other sacred texts - they get stuck at the point in time when they are written.

7 minutes ago, Bohemond said:

But isn't this sort of Choose Your Own Adventure approach to Heroquesting very God Learner-y? 

Yep! It's the Hero Wars, and suddenly all the traditional quests are not sufficient against the threat posed by the Lunars and Chaos.

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3 hours ago, Bohemond said:

But isn't this sort of Choose Your Own Adventure approach to Heroquesting very God Learner-y? 

The entire venture of ressurecting forgotten deities is arguably dangerously close to Godlearnerism. If it works, everything is a-ok, if it doesn't, well clearly you were a filthy G-L and need to be burnt!

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