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UristMcTurtle

Human sacrifice and other dark rituals in Orlanthi culture

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Well, reading throught the last Runequest core rulebook I came across an interesting fact about the cult of Maran Gor: Every male child born to the God Talker must be sacrificed. That small line reminded me that (and correct me if I am wrong) human sacrifice is still present in Orlanthi society to a certain extent, even if it seems rather reduced.

My questions are: How are Orlanthi human sacrifices carried out? Which Orlanthi gods accept human sacrifices? Is it something universal or only present in some clans?
 
As a side note, i really, really like the presence of this kind of stuff, and hope that Gods of Glorantha can give us more detail about it. Maybe is a bit unconventional or dark, but honestly, this really reafirm the bronze age feel arround the Orlanthi.

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It's done by the Orlanthi through the worship of Ana Gor, the Goddess of Death and Human Sacrifice, because only through her does human sacrifice not damn or destroy the soul of the sacrificed, and is thus a non-Chaotic act. Those sacrificed through her worship go to the Beautiful Place, an afterlife that's considered the most pleasant in the underworld as a reward.

Most worshipers of Ana Gor are temporary, only taking up her worship when their god demands that a life be taken, though I remember that there might be traveling holy people of Ana Gor that can be called upon for the performing of the sacrifice, and there is the Shaker Temple Ana Gor priestesshood. Yeah the Shaker Temple is a focal point of human sacrifice in Dragon Pass, it involved sacrifical Sacred Kings, and started up again once humans started returning to Dragon Pass in Tarsh since Arim the Pauper married the living incarnation of Ana Gor, Sorana Tor, which is eventually why Hon-eel found the Tarshites willing to accept blood rites.

For the gods that call for human sacrifice, Orlanth and Ernalda expressly forbid such for their own rites, but Maran Gor, Babeester Gor, Humakt, Ty Kora Tek, and Esrola (Yeah, Esrola's not completely the warm and fuzzy type as it turns out) are Orlanthi gods that on rare occasions demand for human blood to flow to be appeased. Outside the Orlanthi gods there are some more I can think of that probably also desire human sacrifices, Shargash, for Hon-eel's cult blood flows like water, Natha, Mallia if you clan needs to propitiate to her to stop a disease, Magasta, and Wachaza.

I excluded the Troll gods because well, human sacrifice is something they desire probably, but it isn't the same sort of taboo as when someone is sacrificing their own species, though Zorak Zoran, and Karrg definitely accept Troll sacrifice iirc.

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6 hours ago, UristMcTurtle said:

My questions are: How are Orlanthi human sacrifices carried out? 

I would think that it's blood sacrifice, with the victim getting slashed to bleed out over the altar stone or the ground.

6 hours ago, UristMcTurtle said:


As a side note, i really, really like the presence of this kind of stuff, and hope that Gods of Glorantha can give us more detail about it. Maybe is a bit unconventional or dark, but honestly, this really reafirm the bronze age feel arround the Orlanthi.

Agree - Glorantha sometimes leans into being a little too "nice".

5 hours ago, Mirza said:

I excluded the Troll gods because well, human sacrifice is something they desire probably, but it isn't the same sort of taboo as when someone is sacrificing their own species, though Zorak Zoran, and Karrg definitely accept Troll sacrifice iirc.

The Black Sun and The Blood Sun are all about human (well, non-human is fine) sacrifice too.

Edited by Akhôrahil
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There are different kinds of rationales and purposes for sacrifice. I'm pretty sure Troll gods want sacrifice because, well, they eat, and it's a kind of prestige food. I doubt that's why most Orlanthi gods require blood sacrifice. It can be a required restitutionary sacrifice, like someone being punished instead of the community as a whole (ie. a scapegoat), or, depending on the angle, nobly giving their own life instead of having the community suffer (ie. the lamb of God, as it were), and then there are sort of quid-pro-quo (I bet the yanks here are tired of hearing that phrase, my apologies) where someone is given great blessings, but will eventually have to return to their benefactor to repay them with their life. Earth is big on that last one, I believe.

Earth also has a - if I dare say - pseudo-incestuous thing going on with the sacrifice of kings who are sons of earth goddesses, but then also spawn the next generation of holy kings.

When looking at the section on Dawn Era Dragon Pass and its surroundings, I believe we already then find a number of survival settlements that practiced human sacrifice, and I suspect the eventual Lightbringer cult integrated those beliefs into the more coherent Heortling synthesis after a few decades/couple of centuries. To those settlements it was probably a survival secret for the Darkness (ie., in lieu of sun and the goddesses' natural vitality, one offers mortal blood as a substitute), but it probably goes back even further. Earth-cult human sacrifice is imho likely a Green Age practice, which took on a decidedly darker tone once true Death was released into the world (and the sacrificed husband-sons did not get reborn as reliably and completely as they once had). This is a bit up to interpretation, of course. This may or may not overlap with Green/Golden age Moon cult practices - but this leads us down the Entekosiad rabbit hole, which is deep and confusing, and not directly relevant to third age Orlanthi for the most part, so I won't dwell on that. 

I'm not sure whether the Orlanthi sacrifice war captives, a relatively common practice in the RW.

Edited by Sir_Godspeed
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In the Tale of the Arganauts, our last Gloranthan Campaign, the PCs were working to resurrect Genert. One of the steps was to sacrifice 1,000 people, making a 10x10x10 cube of their bodies. They took it in their stride and it became a logistics exercise about how to source 1,000 people to sacrifice, not whether it was OK to sacrifice them.

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1 hour ago, soltakss said:

In the Tale of the Arganauts, our last Gloranthan Campaign, the PCs were working to resurrect Genert. One of the steps was to sacrifice 1,000 people, making a 10x10x10 cube of their bodies. They took it in their stride and it became a logistics exercise about how to source 1,000 people to sacrifice, not whether it was OK to sacrifice them.

Murder-hobos taken to another level: murder-engineers.

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