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Lanbril and Eurmal


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Reading the RBoM I have discovered a God that I didn't know before, Lanbril. It is, according to the wiki "The Thief God oh the Heortlings", and this strikes me as very odd, because the Heortlings already have a God dedicated to thievery, and he is a Lightbringer no less! I'm talking of course of Eurmal. 

I would get if Lanbril was the local variant of Eurmal, but according to recent sources, there is a significant presence of the Eurmal cult in Sartar (there are both NPCs and mentions of a priest in Clearwine). And I know that Eurmal isn't exactly a full time thief, he does plenty more, but it is clearly stated in the rulebook that eurmali follow a certain aspect of him, one of them being Eurmal the Thief. Besides I can't find any links between the cults in anything written, when Lanbril is described there is no mention of Eurmal. 

So what are your thoughts on the difference of the cults? Why do you think that Lanbril should exist? 

(Of course as @Godweyn said in the Dumbest theories thread, I'm positive that if Lanbril existed he was Eurmal in disguise) 

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Love it. My other Dumb Theory on Lanbril is that these "skill based" or "professional" cults are the first expressions of cosmopolitan Glorantha's pivot out of "spell based" and largely initiatory con

We also have a third thief god - Orlanth. He stole the Sandals of Darkness (see Cults of Prax). I once asked Greg if Lanbril was actually a mask of Orlanth the Thief, to which he just laughed and said

Maybe I should post this in the Dumbest Theory thread, but if I take your statement and push it a bit more, I could come up with a theory that Lanbril is really just a crime organization that has been

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46 minutes ago, Jape_Vicho said:

Lanbril. It is, according to the wiki "The Thief God oh the Heortlings"

Lanbril first appeared back in the RQ2 Pavis book many years ago.  This was the original writeup for his mythos/history:

Lanbril was a son of Grandfather Mortal. In Godtime, humans came late among the other gods. While he claimed to be equal to the other gods, they rejected him as inferior because his father was killed by Death, the first sword.  Lanbril was enraged, and the rage warped his soul. If the other gods held him to be inferior, let them so believe. He would excel, and the excellence would be his own, something to be cherished because of its very privacy. Lanbril studied the ways of deceit, and perfected the techniques of seeming not to be doing what he was indeed doing. When other gods worked with magic and power, he rejected these in favor of physical skill and covert manipulation.
He cultivated Disorder, and worked to, attain the illusion that all was right until repair was impossible and he had made his escape. Through his mastery, he stole Rune spells belonging to the other gods, but despised some powerful spells as of no use to him. (It is speculated that the higher magics were too powerful for one who was practically a mortal human.) Lanbril did invent a magic of his own, to confound the pursuit of his victims, and to confuse those suspecting his presence.

After a while, Lanbril’s mad influence permeated the world. Some devout cultists go so far as to state that this influence inspired Eurmal to help Orlanth in stealing Death from Humakt. This story is rejected by most theologists. During the Darkness, Lanbril taught mortals to survive by skill and cunning, and by watching out for themselves first. In historical times, thieves and other self-seeking scum plague all communities, following Lanbril’s path. Lanbril’s gift is to help the guilty to avoid punishment, including death. Death is the final escape—punishment will not follow a Lanbril cultist past the grave, and Lanbril will ensure that the soul gets back into circulation, someday.

Lanbril encompasses the Runes of Mastery, as king of thieves and the exaltation of skill; of Disorder, practicing his trade regardless of consequences for others; and of illusion, masking facts which could lead to detection of crimes.

Lanbril is primarily an urban god who favors skills over magic, and in that sense Lanbril works best in societies where social order is fairly prominent.

The text also notes:

Many gods of Sartar and Prax have thieving abilities. Orlanth thieves follow the tradition of their god the Adventurer and often try especially daring malfeasance’s. Eurmal the trickster made the first theft, and many of his followers are also thieves. Eurmal thieves try to turn their crimes into exercises in the grotesque, and concentrate as much upon embarrassing their victim as on gaming wealth.... Other lands in the world claim similar gods to Lanbril under strange and exotic names. There are many thief gods,  but perhaps all are disguises of Lanbril, King of Thieves!

 

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My feelings on Lanbril, laid out as a set of dialectical syntheses:

Th. 1) Lanbril feels very generically high-fantasy-conceit in comparison to most other gods. 

Anth. 1) Other gods are more real because they have developed societies which give them intellectual depth. 

Synth. 1/Th. 2) Lanbril's off-putting aspects are primarily because he's not had an organic society to exist in, just the newly developed New Pavis. 

Anth. 2) The existing semi-detailed urbanized societies don't have much room for Lanbril as anything other than a minor or imported deity.

Synth. 2/Th. 3) Lanbril's cult must have its center or centers outside of these. 

Therefore, Lanbril seems likely to be Fonritian, Kralori, or Teshnan in origin, at least in my provisional Glorantha. 

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2 hours ago, Jape_Vicho said:

So what are your thoughts on the difference of the cults?

Lanbril is a god of thieves, He basically stole his place among the deities.

Eurmal performed the Great Theft, that of Death, so he is also a god of thieves.

There are also other deities of thieves. Not all thieves need to worship the same deity.

2 hours ago, Jape_Vicho said:

Why do you think that Lanbril should exist? 

Because he does.

Why are there several war gods or earth goddesses?

Glorantha doesn't just have one deity per function, most functions have multiple deities.

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2 hours ago, Jape_Vicho said:

Reading the RBoM I have discovered a God that I didn't know before, Lanbril. It is, according to the wiki "The Thief God oh the Heortlings", and this strikes me as very odd, because the Heortlings already have a God dedicated to thievery, and he is a Lightbringer no less! I'm talking of course of Eurmal. 

I like the intuition you display in picking at that particular line with its unusual syntax. He is "of" the Heortlings and his cult inhabits the outlaw umbra of Heortling society but he is not "the" Heortling Thief God. This is where he comes from . . . but he is not Our Guy.

IMG Thief and Trickster emerged historically as overlapping monomyth constructs. Some God Learner schools were invested in aggregating the Trickster cults into something that survives within modern Eurmal. Most died in the devastation of Slontos, hoist on their own gigantic final petard. (To risk an especially eccentric personal joke, other sources say "canard.")

Others focused on expressions of the Thief. While we know a whole lot less about their role in the Empire, it's not hard to imagine them as magical saboteurs and subversives who infiltrated the criminal undergrounds of rival cultures in order to disrupt the "normal" local magical economy, steal secrets, support friendly resistance movements and probably smuggle contraband drugs, skills and spells for profit. You come into a village, find the local outlaws, "convince" them that you're a co-cultist and ultimately if all goes well they work for you. Then you go on to the next village. You do it again and again, collecting local magic along the way.

Once you achieve a critical mass of expertise, you can go into a culture and set up your own Thief network that can operate within the local mythic landscape without too much resistance. You can use this quasi-artificial cult for various purposes, as above or so below. Some are hero cults built around a mortal exemplar. Others are constructed from useful fragments.

Whether this is where a "historical Lanbril" emerges from the Heortling mythic underground is not a question I am willing to entertain in uncertain company. I will say that his origin myth is very strange. Some western adept seeking immortality may have come to Pavis to start a mystery sect in the shadow of local eurmal. Imagine a century or two of shadow war between the cults leaving Lanbril in control of the Thief aspect and local eurmal "deciding' to get out of the way. 

Imagine loose threads tying back into niche cults like Black Fang, which preserve lore that no longer exists anywhere else and so are important enough to rate their own writeup despite completely negligible influence and initiatic population.

Imagine someone like Arlaten in Strangers In Prax coming to run a similar scam. Maybe in the fourth age there's a Cult of Arlaten and the boundaries of Lanbril have changed.

Imagine "Knowledge" Thieves with a more explicit parasitic role to play in the world's information economy.

As the Empire broke up various expressions of Pirate might have emerged as well. 

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Spells like Face of Lanbril and the Cults of Prax text leave me to consider whether the "primordial" form of Lanbril is that of a con artist (in RW history, this figure takes on an initial name of Confidence-Man or Confidence Trickster, the latter being a interesting synchronicity) and this could explain the seeming mythic lack- Lanbril's mythology is one of cosmopolitanism, perhaps dating back to the Bright Empire or Danmalastan or the Artmali, a primordial Vadeli, possibly. 

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6 minutes ago, Eff said:

Spells like Face of Lanbril and the Cults of Prax text leave me to consider whether the "primordial" form of Lanbril is that of a con artist (in RW history, this figure takes on an initial name of Confidence-Man or Confidence Trickster, the latter being a interesting synchronicity) and this could explain the seeming mythic lack- Lanbril's mythology is one of cosmopolitanism, perhaps dating back to the Bright Empire or Danmalastan or the Artmali, a primordial Vadeli, possibly. 

Love it. My other Dumb Theory on Lanbril is that these "skill based" or "professional" cults are the first expressions of cosmopolitan Glorantha's pivot out of "spell based" and largely initiatory consciousness. We were once defined as who we are. Now, in the cities, we come to be defined as what we do for a living. That's the future: autobiography emerges as myth recedes. The role of the Issaries, strangely subdued in the Lanbril context (what's their Compatibility Number?), is a factor here . . . and it's probably time to rejigger the narrative as personal passions and their magic emerge.

Vadel always a possibility, My Dumb Theory there completely unspeakable. I really like the Artmal Hypothesis because it then gives us materials we can retrofit into the archaic South, complicate them up. On the other hand we might be bringing them the plague.

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1 hour ago, David Scott said:

We also have a third thief god - Orlanth. He stole the Sandals of Darkness (see Cults of Prax). I once asked Greg if Lanbril was actually a mask of Orlanth the Thief, to which he just laughed and said of course not (make of that what you will).

Yeah, he's been the most popular criminal cult in my campaigns. His spell suit for burglary, cattle rustling, assault and armed robbery among other things.

e: and piracy too.

Edited by Brootse
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1 hour ago, Eff said:

Th. 1) Lanbril feels very generically high-fantasy-conceit in comparison to most other gods. 

Yup, exactly my thought. One of the first things that appealed to me about Glorantha is how well done was Eurmal in comparison with other fantasy trickster/thief/outlaw dieties. I always thought "why would thieves in this world have a god of thieves? Are all thieves clerics of this diety? But clerics and rogues have clearly different roles! Do thieves and assassins say prayers to his god when they do their stuff? It seems absurd", but with Eurmal it all makes sense: his "church" is a mockery of churches themselves, their cultist are usually excentric and close to mad to others, and he is so polyfacetic, a Eurmal cultist can be a regular thief, but also a idealistic anarchyst, a person that roams the land looking only to troll people that make bad acts, and even a bloody and sadistic murderer... Meanwhile Lanbril returns me to my first thoughts. 

 

33 minutes ago, soltakss said:

Because he does.

Why are there several war gods or earth goddesses?

Glorantha doesn't just have one deity per function, most functions have multiple deities.

I would like to turn that last phrase. Most deities have multiple functions. Eurmal does, he is, among others, thief, Orlanth is thief too, but he is also many others, meanwhile Lanbril is only thief. In Sartar, the Elmal cult almost died out because there were more powerful cults that had similar magic and mythology, why would then have Lanbril survived when Eurmal is clearly more powerful and as native as he is? 

 

33 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

IMG Thief and Trickster emerged historically as overlapping monomyth constructs. Some God Learner schools were invested in aggregating the Trickster cults into something that survives within modern Eurmal. Most died in the devastation of Slontos, hoist on their own gigantic final petard. (To risk an especially eccentric personal joke, other sources say "canard.")

Others focused on expressions of the Thief. While we know a whole lot less about their role in the Empire, it's not hard to imagine them as magical saboteurs and subversives who infiltrated the criminal undergrounds of rival cultures in order to disrupt the "normal" local magical economy, steal secrets, support friendly resistance movements and probably smuggle contraband drugs, skills and spells for profit. You come into a village, find the local outlaws, "convince" them that you're a co-cultist and ultimately if all goes well they work for you. Then you go on to the next village. You do it again and again, collecting local magic along the way.

Once you achieve a critical mass of expertise, you can go into a culture and set up your own Thief network that can operate within the local mythic landscape without too much resistance. You can use this quasi-artificial cult for various purposes, as above or so below. Some are hero cults built around a mortal exemplar. Others are constructed from useful fragments.

I always forget how different the world must have been before the godlearners. They might have be jackasses sometimes but their pragmatism is to be admired. 

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1 minute ago, Jape_Vicho said:

why would then have Lanbril survived when Eurmal is clearly more powerful and as native as he is? 

Because he was a mortal, and thus knowable and relatable by other mortals, whereas the Trickster is immortal and in many ways incomprehensible and unknowable.

Because he is social, and provides a fabric and framework and family for those who would make a living feeding upon others, whereas the Trickster is the ultimate anti-social being, outcast, and scapegoat of society.

57 minutes ago, Eff said:

whether the "primordial" form of Lanbril is that of a con artist

It's a means to survive in the world by hiding within the greater community, something the Trickster ultimately cannot do.  But the Trickster is far more powerful - the Trickster is a divinity and knows the secrets of Death, and also how to return to Life.

1 hour ago, scott-martin said:

He is "of" the Heortlings and his cult inhabits the outlaw umbra of Heortling society but he is not "the" Heortling Thief God. This is where he comes from . . . but he is not Our Guy.

While it is feasible for the "con man" to exist in more rural societies, I think it is far more difficult and most likely will be recognized as a form of Trickster.  But as communities grow larger and more urban, it is far easier to blend in to the picture and seems like Lanbril would most naturally fit into Nochet, Refuge, the DH cities, or the cities of the God Learners.

50 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

Vadel always a possibility

Or the "secret" child of Issaries!  The one who didn't want to share, or was envious and wanted the goods for himself.

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1 hour ago, John Biles said:

Also, he's an *urban* god and Gloranthan material has mostly focused on rural people so far.

The Pavis book being the exception. OK, and the Guide to Glamour. When the Nochet book is finally published, I guess we will get a description of the Lanbril cult in the city.

Edited by Runeblogger
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6 hours ago, Jape_Vicho said:

because the Heortlings already have a God dedicated to thievery, and he is a Lightbringer no less! I'm talking of course of Eurmal. 

I respectfully disagree.

Eurmal is not dedicated to thievery. Eurmal is dedicated to tricksters. And tricksters use sometimes theft. But for sure, using only RQG material, there is only one god appearing as theft god (and of course Orlanth the every one)

 

In my vision PC or NPC following eurmal should be played with a part of madness and high mind clarity, despair and joy, luck and curse, fate and hazard. Their purpose is not to gain money with theft. Their purpose is to destroy and to save, to give joy and to harm. Of course each trickster follows its own path but I cannot imagine an eurmali without a big flaw.

If you want to be a serious theft, you cannot be Eurmal. you can be Orlanth theft or Lanbril (or other maybe but I don't know them). Eurmali bear the misery of all the world on our shoulders

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1 hour ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

I respectfully disagree.

Eurmal is not dedicated to thievery. Eurmal is dedicated to tricksters. And tricksters use sometimes theft. But for sure, using only RQG material, there is only one god appearing as theft god (and of course Orlanth the every one)

 

In my vision PC or NPC following eurmal should be played with a part of madness and high mind clarity, despair and joy, luck and curse, fate and hazard. Their purpose is not to gain money with theft. Their purpose is to destroy and to save, to give joy and to harm. Of course each trickster follows its own path but I cannot imagine an eurmali without a big flaw.

If you want to be a serious theft, you cannot be Eurmal. you can be Orlanth theft or Lanbril (or other maybe but I don't know them). Eurmali bear the misery of all the world on our shoulders

Eurmal also generally then loses what he stole OR it accidentally saves the day, though somehow goes wrong for Eurmal anyway.

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9 hours ago, Jape_Vicho said:

Reading the RBoM I have discovered a God that I didn't know before, Lanbril. It is, according to the wiki "The Thief God oh the Heortlings", and this strikes me as very odd, because the Heortlings already have a God dedicated to thievery, and he is a Lightbringer no less! I'm talking of course of Eurmal. 

I would get if Lanbril was the local variant of Eurmal, but according to recent sources, there is a significant presence of the Eurmal cult in Sartar (there are both NPCs and mentions of a priest in Clearwine). And I know that Eurmal isn't exactly a full time thief, he does plenty more, but it is clearly stated in the rulebook that eurmali follow a certain aspect of him, one of them being Eurmal the Thief. Besides I can't find any links between the cults in anything written, when Lanbril is described there is no mention of Eurmal. 

So what are your thoughts on the difference of the cults? Why do you think that Lanbril should exist? 

(Of course as @Godweyn said in the Dumbest theories thread, I'm positive that if Lanbril existed he was Eurmal in disguise) 

Easily a bandit can be a thief, even a warrior or a pirate can be a thief, many god fall in this archetypes, but a trickster?  that's another history.

I think that all tricksters can be thieves, but a thief hardly qualify as a trickster.

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I think that the Lanbril cult is really a collective of hero and/or spirit cults under a loose common roof. Lanbril thieves are organized, which makes them different from Eurmal. They don't bother with upholding culture or in fact anything outside of their immediate "family". (I co-authored a piece in the Tradetalk fanzine exploring variations in local thief gangs in Kerofinela and Kethaela.)

Eurmal has his reare moments when he cares for others - his titles of Firebringer and Friend of Men in the West make him a Promethean character (possibly one subsequently corrupted by the punishment inflicted n him for robbing the secret of fire for humans (humans not created by or descended from the fire gods, like Logicians or Hykimi).

Orlanth on the other side of the responsibility and organisational spectrum cares for a greater whole than just the most immediate followers. Also, he identifies as a warrior first and a raider and thief second.

 

So, what about Lanbril as the one common deity between those different hero or spirit cults? The Lanbril cult in the Pavis box has rune lords who can operate independently or attach local thief rings to their activities. How real is this overarching, singular cult?

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21 hours ago, John Biles said:

Eurmal also generally then loses what he stole OR it accidentally saves the day, though somehow goes wrong for Eurmal anyway.

With Eurmal, the important thing is the theft, not what was stolen. He stole Death but didn't care what happened to it afterwards, for example.

On 12/19/2020 at 7:20 PM, John Biles said:

Lanbril would probably seem more mythic if we had more myths about him. 

We have myths about Lanbril, but he keeps in the shadows and you cannot always tell that it is Lanbril.

 

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Just as there are multiple cults for warriors, with important differences between them, there are multiple cults for thieves. There are differences between the two. We'll see how GoG deals with this, but for me Eurmal steals for the fun of it, to cause disorder and trick people. Lanbril steals for profit and can be much more organized than you'll ever find Eurmali (for long, at least). A crime family in a city, for instance.

I suspect that Lanbril will be strictly Pavis, though with Eiritha being expanded across Sartar and the possibility of Argrath bringing it with him with all those people from Pavis, who knows.

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11 hours ago, Joerg said:

I think that the Lanbril cult is really a collective of hero and/or spirit cults under a loose common roof.

Agree. ”Lanbril” might even be a God-Learner construct, formed out of thief cults. It’s hardly surprising that criminals would form such cults - compare Latin American narco-saints like Jesús Malverde and Santa Muerte.

Edited by Akhôrahil
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