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Experiences of playing Chalana Arroy cultists


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One of my players has stated his intent of making a Chalana Arroy cultuist for a campaign. After giving some thought to the restrictions listed in the core rulebook (page 290) and the fact that this person is new to Glorantha, I'm worried he might be underwhelmed and bored because his character will not be able no particepate in any combat (they can attack, if under desperate conditions, non-sapient species, and ofc chaos beings, but given that that don't have any offensive magic and probably won't have high combat stats, I don't think that can go well). 

Do any of you have any feedback for CA cultists (that you have played, played alongside, or mastered for)? What I'm seeking to know precisely is, is combat something that takes you out completely from the fun, or are your other abilities able to make up for it and let you have a different yet entertaining experience? 

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This is well articulated and reflects our own experience.   Focusing on combat is a mechanistic approach and if that is the style of game desired by the GM and players, then having a pacifis

A straight up anything is boring. "Straight up" is another term for "stereotypical". Stereotypes are boring because that's the whole point of them.

Yeah but that's a bit like a nun accompanying a bunch of bikers on their rampage across the country in case they need some help. It's hard to justify a CA accompanying a band of murderhobos. There are

In most games the CA is delegated to field medic which is boring and unoriginal. So ask your player how they envision their character. Why are they adventuring? What are their personal goals? Then include those own your campaign (you should really do this for all your PC's). There are equally exciting 'games' to be had with contests of charm, stealth, or battles against the elements. Make use of all the other skills and passions on the character sheet. Finally, what is that players personality? Does he/she regularly take the lead and drive the session? 

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Personally, I see adventuring CA's in the "combat medic" role.  You don't stay out of combat, you're right in the thick of it!

I don't see this as "boring" per se, albeit "unoriginal" is a fair criticism.

Use a shield & parry like crazy -- even carry TWO shields (a great big pavis deal (prominently marked-up with CA's runes) that you hide behind to advance, and then set down to protect the fallen while you treat them (or load them onto the shield, as a stretcher to carry them off the battlefield); and a little buckler you use to bat aside occasional "oops" attacks & errors.

But if "your side" doesn't get any serious injuries, then yeah... it may be pretty boring for them.

Also, there's a fair potential for CA characters to piss off other players:  don't forget how hardcore CA's get about those under their protection.  Many groups get more than a bit salty when a CA goes to heal the Other Side *again,* and won't ever just let you do the "convenient" thing (an execution, or stripping all their gear and leaving them in the wilderness in civvy clothes + zero gear, or etc... ) .   Make sure your entire group of *PLAYERS* is down with playing the downside of CA, not just the one player!  Session-Zero the hell out of this one!

Psullie's other notions are spot-on -- lots of other realms for excitement & conflict, it's not ALL about the combat (unless, for your group, it IS (YGMV)).

 

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You can always throw a henchmen at that player so that he isnt overall useless in combat. Say that this hench fell madly in love with the priestess after he got saved by her and now is obsessed with protecting her or something. A sort of lover-protector.

Bonus points for player not actually wanting anything to do with that hench.

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the main issue I see with chalana arroy PC is a lot of opponents will not attack him/her. The only opponents attacking the PC will be the same that the PC can attack (chaos...)

I think here the role of GM is primordial (like with any pc without fight skills) to mix activities for every character.

 

so for CA :

Fight: excluding chaos attack, you could manage a night skirmish where opponents attack every one without seeing there is a CA, then the CA has to dodge/ parry

Curse / charm / spirits : somewhere the pc are attacked by some spells and the only one who is not "touched" is the CA (imagine a reason why) and has to do something to save the others

Mission : the land is facing a great disease, the CA temple order the pc to lead an expedition to understand / fix / ... the reason. of course they will fight (for the other) but a large part should be cult lore/ investigation / ...

Personal goal / history  : some news about a lost sister, meeting an old ennemy with a feud (how will you peacefully manage a feud ?)

 

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1 hour ago, g33k said:

Personally, I see adventuring CA's in the "combat medic" role.  You don't stay out of combat, you're right in the thick of it!

....

Use a shield & parry like crazy -- even carry TWO shields (a great big pavis deal (prominently marked-up with CA's runes) that you hide behind to advance, and then set down to protect the fallen while you treat them (or load them onto the shield, as a stretcher to carry them off the battlefield); and a little buckler you use to bat aside occasional "oops" attacks & errors.

...

Also, there's a fair potential for CA characters to piss off other players:  don't forget how hardcore CA's get about those under their protection.  Many groups get more than a bit salty when a CA goes to heal the Other Side *again,* and won't ever just let you do the "convenient" thing (an execution, or stripping all their gear and leaving them in the wilderness in civvy clothes + zero gear, or etc... ) . ...

 

I've wrote up an NPC, for an upcoming adventure, who's a Chalana Arroy follower. Her schtick will be to use her staff to defend any on her side that fall or are seriously wounded - parrying and maybe disarming with gusto. But once the fight's done, she'll insist on healing the wounded Lunars too. One thing I'd tell players regarding this is that anyone a CA follower deems worthy of protection is also worthy of ransoming. Plus, in some situations it might be easier to engage in diplomacy with an antagonist, if the PCs didn't just murder their way through the antagonist's henchmen, clan members, etc. in a previous encounter. And the CA will help limits wergild demands from survivors and their families! Spin the CA as Wade from Saving Private Ryan - and woe unto anyone who hurts them!

 

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I played a CA cultist back in the RQ 3 days, got him to rune priest level, it was great fun. Lots of complaining to other players about their obsession with violence and trying to show them the true way. Sleep is very powerful, combined with non chaos NPCs not wanting to hit you, gives the player a lot of choices. The other players put up with him because he saved them sooo many times. 

There is a lot of trying not to fight in RQ, having a player who looks for another way makes the game more interesting. When it does kick off the other players will quickly learn how useful a CA character can be. 

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This is one of those "advanced" options where the player must be able to rise to the adventure without using violence -- like Orpheus.  The GM must also be on his or her toes to make sure that plenty of "there is always another way" things are available to do in the campaign.  This doesn't require a withdrawal from heroic fantasy, but it does require an enrichment of the situation to include options for the 100% non-combat character.  The situations are the same, but the point of view must be made "sideways" from the usual hero's perspective. 

On rough dungeon type mission it can be very rewarding to play a healer, and some people favor the role.  I know I do.   It is the lack of options that hurt the CA player compared to a D&D fighting cleric, or video game healer.   But sleep can be a crowd control option, the players will get lots of practice with ransoms, they will become vastly more socially acceptable, and If played well, the CA character can easily be the most powerful thing about the party, and what really sets them aside from other adventurous groups.  This is very much like the Inara character from Firefly getting Mal and the gang into higher society adventures they would not have gotten to on their own.

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I think @Psullie really has it right: talk to the player about what they picture their character doing during the adventures, and ideally change the adventures to incorporate that. Maybe the GM had in mind a more combat-oriented campaign and they have to rethink this (less combat, or a lot more Chaos combat). Worst case, they have to tell the player what kind of campaign it is and put a veto on CA characters.

To me CA characters are like the Doctors Without Borders of Glorantha. So not only are most people friendly and happy to see them, they can use that to broker truce or get passage for their party. There might be many NPCs asking for their services as they pass by, which puts them in the character’s debt. That’s an asset to the party! Of course, on the grand scale of political landscapes, CA’s cult tends to be apolitical, but IMG they still “grease the wheels” quite a lot here and there. Their role in politics might be quite underrated...

CA temples have their own information network, supplied by all the wandering healers, and so a CA character will have access to news, gossips, and maybe secrets that other characters may not have. Most temples of any non-Darkness/Chaotic cult have a room for wandering healers, and CA healers often get invited to feasts and festivals and parties. Issaries merchants traditionally give passing healers a gift (generally healing plants). Lhankor Mhy temple can teach them how to read and write. CA cultists have friendly contacts with elves. Again, the CA character might turn out to be the party’s connection to many things.

If the PC isn’t a wandering healer, they might have a specialty (poisons, diseases, healing plants, etc.) which means they might go on adventuring as “field trips” to do research in these matters. This can put a spin or theme on the whole campaign, and help the GM better frame things so that the CA player feels included. Another possible campaign theme is that a CA temple might be in disrepair in a region of Glorantha, and the PC wants to re-equip and re-staff it.

Anyway... the Chalana Arroy write-up from Cults Compendium or Cults of Prax gives a lot of information, which can give some ideas.

Edited by lordabdul
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8 minutes ago, Dissolv said:

This is one of those "advanced" options where the player must be able to rise to the adventure without using violence -- like Orpheus.  The GM must also be on his or her toes to make sure that plenty of "there is always another way" things are available to do in the campaign.  This doesn't require a withdrawal from heroic fantasy, but it does require an enrichment of the situation to include options for the 100% non-combat character.  The situations are the same, but the point of view must be made "sideways" from the usual hero's perspective. 

On rough dungeon type mission it can be very rewarding to play a healer, and some people favor the role.  I know I do.   It is the lack of options that hurt the CA player compared to a D&D fighting cleric, or video game healer.   But sleep can be a crowd control option, the players will get lots of practice with ransoms, they will become vastly more socially acceptable, and If played well, the CA character can easily be the most powerful thing about the party, and what really sets them aside from other adventurous groups.  This is very much like the Inara character from Firefly getting Mal and the gang into higher society adventures they would not have gotten to on their own.

This is well articulated and reflects our own experience.

 

Focusing on combat is a mechanistic approach and if that is the style of game desired by the GM and players, then having a pacifist healer as a battle support tool is probably destined for boredom and failure and best avoided. 

 

My wife plays a Chalanna Arroy Initiate in our campaign. This is something we discussed at length and it was a welcome challenge to all of us. Combat is a central feature of RQG, a legacy of its RQII roots, and this can't be ignored.....but Glorantha offers so much more. For me the goal of my campaign and our story is to deeply explore two of the foundational elements of the Gloranthan experience.....the nature of community and the interaction of myth with the mundane world. This means that I have been able to tailor the campaign to her, offering roleplaying and narrative opportunity that she wants and that is not combat based, or that delivers options for combat avoidance. "There is always another way" is a central tenet of this approach and is actually one my explicit mythic themes, voiced frequently by one of the major NPCs of the campaign, an Ernalda priestess. Combat is still featured, the risk is ever present, it is still crunchy and dangerous, but it makes it more meaningful and exciting when it comes as dramatic high points in the narrative, when its impact is not diluted by making it the tedious Playstation dungeon crawl reason for playing.

 

We have done this by making our Chalanna Arroy character integral to the story, not making a story into which she is slotted. She is older than the other less experienced characters and they have been drawn into her orbit and her agenda for various reasons. This does not mean that the entire story revolves around her, but it gives us a coherent framework and justification for where they are at and why. Unforeseen advantages of this approach are that the greater experience of the Chalanna Arroy initiate does not unbalance the player group because her skills are not combat based; that she provides a survivability buffer for the other less experienced characters when combat does occur; and that her own improved survivability allows for a stable and credible centre of continuity for the grand narrative of the campaign.

 

So my advice is to embrace the roleplaying opportunities and to purposefully structure the story around the Chalanna Arroy character. If that's not the style of gaming the players want, then that's fine, but then I think this style of character is not suited to that type of gaming experience......and if a player still wants a Chalanna Arroy character, I think it would be appropriate to have an open discussion with the players about what their goals for the game actually are.

 

Brent.

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When our group starts playing mask to mask again we should be starting a new Glorantha campaign, with me not GMing!

I plan on playing a Chalana Arroy cultist, as I haven't played one before, so this thread is useful to me.

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A Chalana Arroy healer can be very effective in combat, if the rest of the party will let them! They have access to perhaps the most combat effective spirit magic spell in the game - Sleep. Anyone they overcome with it is taken out of the combat - but they are under the protection of the healer from then on, and the healer does not usually allow any harm to come to them. They act to defuse combats (and may even Sleep those on their own side), make peace, and prevent anyone coming to serious harm - which can turn combat into roleplaying opportunities full of intraparty conflict, but that's part of the fun. 

They can often have a lot to do in combat!

Of course, if Chaos is the enemy, then the healer is happy for them face violence. Sometimes the easiest way to fit a healer into the campaign is for the major campaign antagonists to be Chaotic. Especially Mallia and broos. 

But an Ernalda cultist or similar can often be an easier option - healing spells good, if not as good as CA, but also much more flexible, often quite happy to fully support their warrior companions, and with  a range of options for combat magic. 

Edited by davecake
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6 hours ago, davecake said:

But an Ernalda cultist or similar can often be an easier option - healing spells good, if not as good as CA, but also much more flexible, often quite happy to fully support their warrior companions, and with  a range of options for combat magic. 

We have an Ernaldan healer, and you don’t miss out on too much - reusable Resurrect and niche healing magic. Meanwhile, she can grab axe and shield and hold her ground in a fight, as well as have access to the simply ridiculously wide Ernaldan rune magic.

Edited by Akhôrahil
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10 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

I find a straight up Chalana Arroy terribly boring.

A straight up anything is boring. "Straight up" is another term for "stereotypical". Stereotypes are boring because that's the whole point of them.

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2 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

I find a straight up Chalana Arroy terribly boring.  YMMV.

Give them a fascinating backstory, and at least on other distinctive skill or role.  Amazing fiddler.  Used to race horses.  Her brother is wanted for murder.

STILL races horses!!

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13 hours ago, davecake said:

But an Ernalda cultist or similar can often be an easier option - healing spells good, if not as good as CA, but also much more flexible, often quite happy to fully support their warrior companions, and with  a range of options for combat magic. 

 

If I want to become healer, you absolutely right, I choose Ernalda, so many possibilities, so many freedom to change my play.

Chalana is like Humakt, a little bit more effective in one way (ok for Humakt, not a little bit) but less options in all other scenes than fight.

 

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3 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

If I want to become healer, you absolutely right, I choose Ernalda, so many possibilities, so many freedom to change my play.

Chalana is like Humakt, a little bit more effective in one way (ok for Humakt, not a little bit) but less options in all other scenes than fight.

I think you should only play Humakti or CA if you want to lean into the special restrictions. It tends to be a bit restrictive on the roleplaying as well, so you need to want those restrictions. Meanwhile, as Orlanthi or Ernaldan, your choices are wide open.

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2 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

I think you should only play Humakti or CA if you want to lean into the special restrictions. It tends to be a bit restrictive on the roleplaying as well, so you need to want those restrictions. Meanwhile, as Orlanthi or Ernaldan, your choices are wide open.

that is admirably what I tried to write but deleted... I was lost with my english words, thanks to recover the hidden part of my secret post ;)

 

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I had fun playing an evil Chalana Arroy.  It's a way to break the stereotype.  Her name was Milixia (pronounced Militia) the Deliverer, and she was from Nochet City.  She was in Prax to make her fortune on the frontier because everything in Esrolia was sewn up by big families.

Milixia had a number of personality flaws.  She was a malignant narcissist and something of a psychopath.  She was very good at taking people's hopes and dreams and turning them to her own interests. Milixia was utterly greedy, and would generally only offer up her rune magic if promised "a sufficient donation".  She went on adventures purely to get money and her attitude to cult duties might be called tithe avoidance... not tithe evasion, mind you.  In essence she spent a lot of time seeing how much she could stretch Chalana Arroy cult restrictions without actually breaking them.   She was a trader in favors, a loan shark, a book cooker, a drug dealer, a spy, a courtesan, a slaver (or an enthraller, being the term she preferred), and a gossip monger, both a destroyer and repairer of reputations. For example, she had paid for training with the Lhankor Mhy temple to learn alchemy, and picked up enough mathematics to calculate compound interest. Having arrived in New Pavis, she rapidly came to hate it passionately, and realized that she had made a huge mistake and set about acting utterly in her own self interest, as far as her vows allowed.  She was a mob boss who ran drugs in New Pavis.  She started with a huge pile of Hazia from Rabbit Hat Farm she was told to dispose of, so she figured out the market value and proceeded to sell it.  She parlayed this into a pile of money and extended some of the addicts a line of credit, which she then used to turn them into an income stream.  There was no known cure for addiction other than cold turkey which was torture, and thus she couldn't perform.  Those who couldn't cover their debts were eventually sold into slavery.  Naturally she had a number of members of the watch on her payroll, and the other players eventually became her bodyguards.  It became a very different game to the one the GM had envisaged.  The high point of Milixia's story was when she became the High Priestess of the Horn Gate Chalana Arroys.  Ultimately she discovered the Morokanths were going to betray her over slaves she was sending them, and when she set about a pre-emptive strike, things went awry and the party got captured.  What was even worse was the fact that the drugs of addiction that she used to keep the other players loyal wore off and they all went into withdrawls while in captivity.  The GM was quite prepared to play on from that point with an escape etc, but after a bit of a discussion we decided that this was a fitting and poetic end to Milixia and her gang.

She was a source of pitch-black comedy to play, and I had fun coming up with hypocritical  excuses for her dreadful actions.  Her most famous quote was "A lady always reserves the right to change her mind".

Edited by Darius West
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1 hour ago, Darius West said:

I had fun coming up with hypocritical  excuses for her dreadful actions.

Was she always like this, or did she start with good intentions and only got bad and twisted after a while?

7 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

I think you should only play Humakti or CA if you want to lean into the special restrictions. It tends to be a bit restrictive on the roleplaying as well, so you need to want those restrictions.

The only time I've seen someone pick Chalana Arroy for their character, the player said that it was indeed some "interesting" restrictions and wanted to see how it would play. Sadly, the games were short lived for boring organizational reasons so the player didn't get to try much (but still wants to).

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I think the big question is does a CA have a viable role in your campaign? I tend to run old school "adventuring" campaigns and I can no longer justify a CA being interested in doing that so I recommend against CA for PCs. If your campaign has a different focus, and as mentioned above, the other players are also on board with a CA putting restrictions on their actions, then there are some great suggestions in this thread.

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On 10/6/2020 at 9:14 PM, g33k said:

Also, there's a fair potential for CA characters to piss off other players:  don't forget how hardcore CA's get about those under their protection.  Many groups get more than a bit salty when a CA goes to heal the Other Side *again,* and won't ever just let you do the "convenient" thing (an execution, or stripping all their gear and leaving them in the wilderness in civvy clothes + zero gear, or etc... ) .   Make sure your entire group of *PLAYERS* is down with playing the downside of CA, not just the one player!  Session-Zero the hell out of this one!

One of the other characters will most likely be a ZorakZorani Uzko, so he'll most definitely be pissed off at her most of the time, but when are ZorakZorani not pissed off? Jokes aside, that relation might be dangerous, and both players will be informed tomorrow, when they will be making the PCs, but it also would let me explore the bizarre relation between Zorak Zoran and her sister Xiola Umbar.

 

Thank you all, I really like the idea of @Akhôrahil of "I think you should only play Humakti or CA if you want to lean into the special restrictions", that's the spot, and will be using it with my players to make sure they feel perfectly comfortable with what they choose.

 

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