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Thaz

So whats up with the Cults of Orlanth and Ernalda?

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8 minutes ago, Jeff said:

... including at every convention I've ever been to ... one-shots, etc ...

I've never had the joy of going to a RQcentric 'Con.

Of the Con's that I *HAVE* been to, pretty much always a "smaller" or "niche" game will have (and generally use) pre-gen PC's.  Ditto for one-shot games.  So I'm unclear that these data-points are valid.

Got no disagreement with the rest of your argument (and data-points), though!

 

Edited by g33k

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Since the early days of RQ2, I can say that none of my players (nor myself) have ever had an Orlanth cultist PC, nor an Ernalda cultist PC.  Orlanth was always seen as "Too Establishment" or even the bad guys cult (I have had a number of Lunar based or Lunar friendly parties).

I find that cult choices fall more along the lines of the "type" of player or type of PC that the player is looking to play: Storm Bull (the barbarians), Lhankor Mhy (the sages/mages), Issaries or Etyries (the traders), Chalana Arroy (the healers), Yelmalio (the knights/soldiers), Humakt (the fighters),  7 Mothers/Red Goddess (the Lunars), Aldrya (the elves/roleplayers), Mostal/Flintnail (the crafters), Kyger Litor (roleplaying traders), etc.

There has always seemed to be a kind of Orlanth bias in RQ that seems even more predominate in RQG that has never sat well with my players...  

Edited by Fedman Kassad
crappy spelling

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57 minutes ago, Jeff said:

You are totally running in different groups than me, including at every convention I've ever been to, on-line games, one-shots, etc.

Shucks, maybe I need to get out more.

!i!

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1 hour ago, Fedman Kassad said:

Since the early days of RQ2, I can say that none of my players (nor myself) have ever had an Orlanth cultist PC, nor an Ernalda cultist PC.  Orlanth was always seen as "Too Establishment" or even the bad guys cult (I have had a number of Lunar based or Lunar friendly parties).

I find that cult choices fall more along the lines of the "type" of player or type of PC that the player is looking to play: Storm Bull (the barbarians), Lhankor Mhy (the sages/mages), Issaries or Etyries (the traders), Chalana Arroy (the healers), Yelmalio (the knights/soldiers), Humakt (the fighters),  7 Mothers/Red Goddess (the Lunars), Aldrya (the elves/roleplayers), Mostal/Flintnail (the crafters), Kyger Litor (roleplaying traders), etc.

There has always seemed to be a kind of Orlanth bias in RQ that seems even more predominate in RQG that has never sat well with my players...  

No thieves? Orlanth is a good choice for a thief, ok, with Pavis you get Lanbril but if you want a non-city tied thief, Orlanth is really good. That's where at least half my PC Orlanth cultists come from.

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2 hours ago, Jeff said:

You are totally running in different groups than me, including at every convention I've ever been to, on-line games, one-shots, etc. At least one Orlanth cultist is pretty much always a given, unless the game is set in the Lunar Heartlands or in some weird exotic location like Brithos or Kingdom of Ignorance.

It would be interesting to figure out how these differences in cult selection come about. What is it that puts the two of us having something in common while others have very few Orlanth cultists?

BTW, I get, if you play Lunars, you aren't going to see many Orlanth PCs... And maybe that's some of the difference.

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In the RQG game that we are presently playing there is an Ernaldan entertainer(dancer)/leader, a Storm Bull bandit/meatgrinder (weilding twin battleaxes with high dmg bonus), a Yinkin herder/sniper who plays the flute to charm female herders (Krishna-style), a Yelmalio cavalry warrior/strategist and an Orlanth townsman/thief/rebel who’s almost trickster-like.

This group works really well: the Ernaldan is doing most of the talking, enough healing, a small bit of reading and lore, the Yelmalion is managing combat situations and doing the planning,  the Stormbull is grinding meat and providing a neat fixation point for the Yinkin "sniper" to compete with him on body count, and the Orlanthi is attempting the most dangerous, brave, and sometimes harebrained maneuvers.  Everybody has some time in the spotlight, the characters interact constructively, and we have tons of fun. So far, they have managed not to get killed or maimed.

 

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On 6/18/2020 at 9:29 AM, Thaz said:

So how is it in your games and how do people feel about these two cults? Do you get players choosing the big two?

Orlanth has always been a major cult in my games since RQ2 (it being one of the few cults in the book). Ernalda cultists didn't really appear in my games until in the big writeup in the RQ3 boxed set. Orlanth cultists and humakti tended to dominate unless there were women players and they liked to play ernalda, vinga and babeester gor. Fringe cults were always chalana arroy, storm bull, and a few others. Fortunately things changed when heroquest came out and it made Humakt boring compared to many other cults and I saw a drop in violence orientated gaming and a real shift to story led games. Thieving was never really a thing in any games I played in, never any Lanbril, etc.

 I ran a long campaign where everyone was a Yelmalion, from different temples, so sartar (RQ2 version) Sun County (RQ3) and ostrich clan (Heroes). So no other cults. I've also run a lot of praxian games and had a fair few Praxian Orlanth adventurous initiates in my games

I ran another long campaign out of the Sartar triology, by the end of these Women Need Help (in book 1all of female players wanted to be Ernaldans as the major NPCs were excellent role models. The men were mainly Orlanth worshippers by then as well, as marrying a Ernalda priestess was now a life goal. By the time we reached the Colymar campaign, I think out of 20 players who played in it over time, only a few weren't Orlanth or Ernaldans. I had Ernaldans vying for Ernalsulva's suitors (who were Orlanth initiates), threatening to derail the plot (in a good way).

In Cattle Raid in the Gamesmaster Screen Pack, the fun in the game was the political wheeler-dealing of the aftermath in which Orlanth and Ernalda cultists are well suited to deal with clan and tribal politics. Were this a DramaSystem game, my players would have jumped straight to "after we have recovered the cows", ignoring the procedural bit completely.

At cons Yanioth and Vasana are very popular choices for demo games.

Fortunately my games don't suffer from mini-maxers optimising their characters for combat. In my case the pure fighting cults are rare and the cultural cults are much more powerful in the game. So in Sartar games, Orlanth and Ernalda are common, Praxian games, Waha and Eiritha, Yelmalion games, Yelmalio. I'm not saying that this is true for all games I run. But most of my players have figured out that the culture cults get you the most power in the end. 

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26 minutes ago, David Scott said:

But most of my players have figured out that the culture cults get you the most power in the end. 

I reckon this statement gets to the heart of the matter -- players will play what you present them.

Virtually all of my games -- as player or GM -- have taken place beyond the periphery of Sartar, so the presence of Orlanth has been...peripheral.  Focusing the current iteration of Gloranthan gaming on Sartar places clear emphasis on Orlanth and Ernalda, to little surprise.  And, of course, all evidence provided to date has been anecdotal.

!i!

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26 minutes ago, Ian Absentia said:

I reckon this statement gets to the heart of the matter -- players will play what you present them.

Virtually all of my games -- as player or GM -- have taken place beyond the periphery of Sartar, so the presence of Orlanth has been...peripheral.  Focusing the current iteration of Gloranthan gaming on Sartar places clear emphasis on Orlanth and Ernalda, to little surprise.  And, of course, all evidence provided to date has been anecdotal.

!i!

Ah, and perhaps therein lies the difference. If you're not playing in an Orlanthi area, then Orlanth should not come up much, though I would could Prax an an Orlanthi area...

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2 hours ago, ffilz said:

It would be interesting to figure out how these differences in cult selection come about. What is it that puts the two of us having something in common while others have very few Orlanth cultists?

BTW, I get, if you play Lunars, you aren't going to see many Orlanth PCs... And maybe that's some of the difference.

I would maybe base the cult selection "bias" on the source material available when you started playing RQ?  I had the RQ2 book, Cults of Prax, and the Pavis Boxed Set...  those three documents created a love of Yelmalio (Ruric FTW), Baboons and Daka Fal in me that has never left, and provided a setting that was obviously Prax biased.

I never got (and still don't have) a real love of the Dragon Pass and it's environs, and didn't often set campaigns or adventures there.

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1 hour ago, Fedman Kassad said:

I would maybe base the cult selection "bias" on the source material available when you started playing RQ?  I had the RQ2 book, Cults of Prax, and the Pavis Boxed Set...  those three documents created a love of Yelmalio (Ruric FTW), Baboons and Daka Fal in me that has never left, and provided a setting that was obviously Prax biased.

I never got (and still don't have) a real love of the Dragon Pass and it's environs, and didn't often set campaigns or adventures there.

Yea, that's a good point. I got my start with RQ1. I didn't play Balastor's Baracks much, but did play Apple Lane and Snake Pipe Hollow, plus I purchased White Bear & Red Moon. The very early play was without cults (RQ1 didn't have lay member status and really didn't talk about initiate status). But that early stuff set me up for Sartar play so when Cults of Prax came along, there was focus on the Lightbringers since they were the gods of Sartar. I did almost nothing with Prax, with the exception of an aborted run of Borderlands, until the 1990s and I may not have got Pavis until after that campaign wrapped up, though one of the players had Pavis so I did have access to some stuff, plus I was acquiring the RQ3 supplements as they came out. There was a bit of Balazar play, but I never found it as compelling as Sartar. I did start a play by post campaign in Pavis, and I love playing in Prax, but Sartar will probably be the start of most of my campaigns.

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3 hours ago, Fedman Kassad said:

I would maybe base the cult selection "bias" on the source material available when you started playing RQ?  I had the RQ2 book, Cults of Prax, and the Pavis Boxed Set...  those three documents created a love of Yelmalio (Ruric FTW), Baboons and Daka Fal in me that has never left, and provided a setting that was obviously Prax biased.

I never got (and still don't have) a real love of the Dragon Pass and it's environs, and didn't often set campaigns or adventures there.

As for me, I first got exposed through King of Dragon Pass, then years later discovered the tabletop stuff through Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes and then worked backward through older HeroWars stuff before ever touching any RuneQuest material, so it's perhaps to be expected that the focus on Sartar with recent material that some groan about doesn't bother me in the slightest, though I'm definitely appreciative of other locales as I've found them.

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I certainly get that some people or some groups might see Orlanth as being "too ordinary", some folks avoid the "default option". For instance, I don't think I'd play a straight-up Fighter in D&D. Maybe it's a more interesting option in newer editions, and I certainly don't want to open this thread up to that discussion, other that in so far as it's an example of "avoid-the-default-because-its-probably-boring". I'm sure it isn't, just like Orlanth isn't.

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1 hour ago, PhilHibbs said:

I certainly get that some people or some groups might see Orlanth as being "too ordinary", some folks avoid the "default option". For instance, I don't think I'd play a straight-up Fighter in D&D. Maybe it's a more interesting option in newer editions, and I certainly don't want to open this thread up to that discussion, other that in so far as it's an example of "avoid-the-default-because-its-probably-boring". I'm sure it isn't, just like Orlanth isn't.

Well, Fighters in 5e can now be gishes and so on without even needing to multiclass anymore (guess you could say they're finally catching up to RuneQuest in that regard 😉), so there's that.

That said, IMO Humakt is actually much more analogous to a D&D Fighter in that he strikes me as more of the boring default "I swing sword good" guy than Orlanth. The boringness of playing an old-school D&D Fighter isn't - to me, at least - in the fact that he's considered the default kind of build choice, but in that he's the guy that, when everyone is at 15th level or whatever with lots of new and exciting powers to play around with that greatly expand their available options in any given situation, he's essentially just gotten incrementally better at killing things with a sword.

And that's why I personally prefer Orlanth to Humakt, even if maybe the former is inferior in terms of raw combat potential to the latter (I really don't have enough experience or mechanical knowledge to say for sure). Because Orlanth's combat is all flying and thunderstones and summoning winds and throwing around lightning and stuff, whereas (to greatly oversimplify and exaggerate it, yes, but I'm just making a point here), the standard Humakti is down there just being Really Good At Swording Things Dead, with magic that makes him Even More Good At Swording Things Dead.

For me, when it comes to combat, I want something with flair. And Orlanth's got plenty of that.

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On ‎6‎/‎18‎/‎2020 at 9:55 AM, Thaz said:

I think that's a fair point for my previous campaigns. They were all 'Asterix in Sartar' or 'Asterix in the Desert' to some extent and therefore people were attracted to more extreme cults (Humakti, Storm Bull, Praxians). 

Also the campaigns I've played in and run have not been very settled and are prone to extensive road trips. In fact one campaign seems to be on a Grand Tour. 

Part of the issue with the new games I think is that RQG is too broad in its character generation(!) by allowing players to roll up characters from wherever they then tend to not want to settle down. 

 

Nowhere near as broad as RQ3 or Heroquest, but I solved that by telling my players they were starting off as members of the Ernaldori Clan.

They are an Orlanthi noble, Storm Bull bandit, Eurmal entertainer, and Ernaldan farmer who took the Red Vows and is trying to decide if she wants to stay an Ernaldan or switch to Orlanth or Vinga

In my very first campaign there was for a while an Orlanthi . There was also a dragonewt, an elf, a rhino rider called Ronald who mispronounced his 'r's as 'w's. Selection of race and cult was done on pretty munchkinny grounds but we came straight from D&D.

Edited by JustAnotherVingan

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1 hour ago, JustAnotherVingan said:

In my very first campaign there was for a while an Orlanthi . There was also a dragonewt, an elf, a rhino rider called Ronald who mispronounced his 'r's as 'w's. Selection of race and cult was done on pretty munchkinny grounds but we came straight from D&D.

My first RQ character was a centaur, yeah, and coming from AD&D it took a while to grok the nature of cults in play.  My second character, c.1981, was an interesting take on one of those "atheistic" western sorcerers mentioned in Wyrm's Footnotes, so I still wasn't grokking cults, though our GM was a big fan of Orlanth Adventurous.  By the time we headed up into Balazar in 1982, I finally got it, but it was all about Brother Dog and Yelmalio.  After that, it was life in the Roman-occupied Levant...er, on the Zola Fel.

Not to descend too deeply into My First Character, I suspect that our collected anecdotal accounts would generally converge on the trend that one's formative years have an enduring influence on our perceptions of Glorantha and its gods, evident in the cognitive divide seen in early editions.

!i!

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On 6/24/2020 at 8:27 AM, David Scott said:

The men were mainly Orlanth worshippers by then as well, as marrying a Ernalda priestess was now a life goal. 

My players all want to land a Chalana Arroy Priestess if they can regardless of their cult.  Ernaldans are kinda loose and unreliable, regardless of what downtime magic they bring to the table.  To each their own, of course.

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One thing I also forgot to consider in how different campaigns fall out. If you are RQ3 or a later system based, the mechanical advantages of Orlanth disappear without the reduced price skills and spirit/battle magic, and then yea, Humakt and Yelmalio have cooler rune magic.

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13 hours ago, ffilz said:

One thing I also forgot to consider in how different campaigns fall out. If you are RQ3 or a later system based, the mechanical advantages of Orlanth disappear without the reduced price skills and spirit/battle magic, and then yea, Humakt and Yelmalio have cooler rune magic.

My first character in RQ3, which ended up being my most famous, was a warrior through and through and as I was discovering the Gods of Glorantha box set, Humakt was a very compelling choice.

And how can someone resist the Lord Demon of the Legions of Death, who represents the mindless explosion of fear and frenzy against both law and chaos which finds its only justification and satisfaction in unlimited violence? 

ZZ for the win!

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On 6/18/2020 at 10:29 AM, Thaz said:

So how is it in your games and how do people feel about these two cults? Do you get players choosing the big two?

I mainly play and master in Western or eastern part, Malkioni or Vormain.

Most of my players know well nordic gods and Orlanth was never choosen, I only have an Issaries with variable affinity with Orlanth. Ernalda is not choosen either because her magic is nor very offensive / defensive but I really like Orlanth as my players Nemesis (Teleportation is an irritating spell) and Ernalda as schemer's goddess.

As player, I prefer the versatility of Sorcery Magic (RQ3) or playing a Vormain's Bushi (like an Humakti with more color and style).

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You want to play a male fighter ?

1) a disciplined soldier, the one who succeed all the time  ? become a sword of humakt. (Yes there is Yelmalio too for discipline but I said "who succeed all the time")

Orlanth is not disciplined and not the best fighter.

2) a big barbarian, feared by all, doing what he wants when he wants ? become a bull warrior.

Orlanth is not enough brutal and is too sociable

3) a strong bowman, the one who hits every time ? follow an hunter god

4) a balanced warrior, able to manage very different situations but who is never the best, except to fly ? Yes Orlanth, but who wants to play the "not best in class" warrior ? (of course there are, I am, but if you present to non glorantha player the different options, what will be the first choice ?)

 

If you choose a god for its magic there is not a lot of room for Orlanth.

If you choose a god for its secular power, social role, ... Orlanth is a good choice, as Issaries (in dragon pass settings, not in Prax or lunar empire of course)

 

That is a little bit different for a female character.

I consider Ernalda as a very powerful goddess in play  (except for fighter) in a very large range of activities (heal, social/leader, farm...) I m not sure that I would choose  Chalana Arroy if I wanted to play a female healer for example.

The main issue I see is how Ernalda may be introduced. The goddess of women, earth, then farmer.

Of course it is not only that but it is the first sentence you will hear if you ask someone who is Ernalda.

So immediatly if you want to play someone else than a farmer, you put aside Ernalda.

 

I think the good reason to choose a god as the pc's god should be the behaviour the player wants to have, don't care if the power is lower than another god. Trust your GM to give for every player enough fun, based on the player choices. That means the GM should explain during a large time who are the gods, not just a sentence by god.

Edited by French Desperate WindChild

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Not a lot of room for magic in Orlanth? Geez. Orlanth has probably the broadest range of useful magic in the game. Air Elementals, Increase Wind, Thunderbolt, Windwarp for Thunderous,, Lightning, Fly, Mist Cloud, Shield, Leap, Shield of Arran, Sandals of Darkness, Leap, and Wind Words (along long-distance communication). From Rune Masters there are special enchants. Then add their associates - Charisma, Heal Body, etc. 

Thunderbolt is one of the deadliest spells in the game (3D6 directly to hit points, no need to overcome POW and armor does not protect), and is stackable! Lightning is not quite as good, but at high Rune point expenditures it is incredibly deadly (and doesn't need specific atmospheric conditions). Air Elementals are beasts!

Ernalda is incredibly powerful as well. She's not a combat character, but so what. I watched an Ernaldan take down a band of Tusk Riders with an Earth elemental and a few castings of Command Pig. Charisma, Inviolable, Arouse Passion - all are great in games with non-combat dimensions.

In comparison Humakt and Storm Bull are much more narrowly useful cults. Yelmalio is most useful when you need to fight the Darkness. But neither are as broadly useful as Orlanth or Ernalda.

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8 minutes ago, Jeff said:

Shield of Arran, Sandals of Darkness

Interesting, are these the flavourful versions of Shield and Dark Walk? Are we going to see different names for classic spells in the Gods book?

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9 minutes ago, DreadDomain said:

Interesting, are these the flavourful versions of Shield and Dark Walk? Are we going to see different names for classic spells in the Gods book?

Sorry look at Earth Shield and Dark Walk. Earth Shield, aka Shield of Arran, is an incredibly wonderful spell according to my players.

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9 minutes ago, Jeff said:

Sorry look at Earth Shield and Dark Walk. Earth Shield, aka Shield of Arran, is an incredibly wonderful spell according to my players.

Yeah, well, both Orlanth and Ernalda are packed with magic and then access more magic from associated cults. There is not much doubt in my mind that they are the most powerful cults in RQG. Maybe GoG will offer a different balance but so far, it's a no contest.

And yes Shield of Arran is pretty fabulous.

Edited by DreadDomain
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