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Yelmalio - the Beginning


Shimozakura

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I'm running a Fronelan campaign heavily featuring the plight of the Rathori after the death of their great spirit at the hands of Harrek the Berserk. My PCs and several other factions (also run by my players, it's complicated) are planning to resurrect God of the Silver Feet (the major Fronelan god of communication whose death triggered the Syndics ban). Against that backdrop, one of my PCs just got tasked with finding out how Yelmalio rose from the slain body of Yelm.

Any ideas how that happened, other than "he just did", which is best what I've got at the moment. Are there any sources you could recommend?

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11 minutes ago, Shimozakura said:

Any ideas how that happened, other than "he just did", which is best what I've got at the moment. Are there any sources you could recommend?

It's usually described as Yelm's 'disintegration.'  Elements of him that were previously combined into a cohesive whole are divided and disperse.  You've got Bijiif, the Dead Sun, who leads the first dead gods of the Solar Court down into the underworld (and drives Kyger Litor and her trolls out of there).  You've got Basko, Yelm's Shadow, who's found by the emerging trolls and worshipped into one of the primary gods of the Kingdom of Ignorance.  You've got Antirius (which I believe is the original Dara Happan understanding of Yelmalio), who hovered over Yelm's Footstool as the sun of Dara Happa during the Storm and Darkness ages but grew dimmer and lower as the world sickened and died; and others, Dara Happans believed the soul had six parts before the Red Goddess revealed a seventh.

Best source on all this is The Glorious ReAscent of Yelm.

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Basically what dumuzid said, though Yelmalio is also sometimes said to have been a captain of the sky who came down in the Darkness to defend the world. In that latter version of where he came from, he also usually wandered the world instead of just hovering over the footstool.

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Interesting. I wonder about the relationship between the Sun Domes and the cult of Antirius; or Yelm for that matter.

I know this subject has been discussed in other threads, but my question is a local one.  My game is in the Dona river valley, where the local Sun Dome and the Yelmic city of Eastbank are practically neigbors with a river in between. Not only that, but they've only made contact fairly recently after a hundred years of splendid isolation by the Syndics Ban. In my game the Yelmic Eastbank is isolationist and ties to build a magical wall in order to re-separate itself from the surrounding world (having the Kingdom of War pay for the wall would be ideal, of course). Because of Eastbank's reluctance to extend its influence, the two solar powers are having a tacit understanding where the Sun Dome shows filial deference toward Eastbank, provided that it doesn't try to make any actual demands.

So, how would this be if the ruler of Eastbank were to actually press some matters? Would Sun Dome have to submit to the local representative of their patron god Yelm, and if not, how would they protect their autonomy?  And how would the cult of Antirius treat my Yelmalian PCs when they finally get around visiting Southbank?

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1 hour ago, dumuzid said:

Best source on all this is The Glorious ReAscent of Yelm.

Definitely the best source.

When Yelm and/or his son Murharzarm are killed, Yelm shatters into his six parts.

"The dominant essence of Yelm was, at first, a blindingly bright glare of magnificence which radiated from Yelm like light from the sun. It drew itself aside, where it took the form of a new god. “I am Antirius,” said the god, “the pure and unsullied vehicle for Divine Justice.”

And "Antirius was a son of Yelm. He is pure, not born. He sprang from the everlasting bright glow of Yelm’s immortal inner self, emanating from his heart."

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Yelmalio was born when Yelm was murdered by Orlanth, as a blindingly bright glare of magnificence which radiated from Yelm like light from the sun. He became known as the Little Sun or “Yelmalio”, although he has been given many other names and titles. 

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3 minutes ago, Shimozakura said:

Because of Eastbank's reluctance to extend its influence, the two solar powers are having a tacit understanding where the Sun Dome shows filial deference toward Eastbank, provided that it doesn't try to make any actual demands.

Seems reasonable.

3 minutes ago, Shimozakura said:

how would this be if the ruler of Eastbank were to actually press some matters? Would Sun Dome have to submit to the local representative of their patron god Yelm, and if not, how would they protect their autonomy? 

Mythically, Yelm is always greater than Yelmalio/Antirius.  Yelm is the Sun, after all, while Yelmalio/Antirius is the Protector during the Night (aka the Lightfore planet).  Yelmalio guards and keeps the Divine Justice and the Light while Yelm is gone, but submits when his father Yelm returns each day.  

They would likely protect their autonomy through tribute.

5 minutes ago, Shimozakura said:

And how would the cult of Antirius treat my Yelmalian PCs when they finally get around visiting Southbank?

They would recognize him as a brethren, but likely the rites and rituals, perhaps even some of the magics will differ.  

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7 minutes ago, Shimozakura said:

Thanks! So I take it that the tribulations on the Hill of Gold are a central part of the mythos of both cults. Or is it only Yelmalio who is robbed of his fire powers?

The hill of gold is a central part of the little sun regardless of what he's called. They're all cold.

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How exciting! Please keep us posted as the campaign rolls on. The factional structure in particular sounds interesting.

3 hours ago, Shimozakura said:

Southbank

Thank you for prompting me to look here. The deep history of solar religion in Fronela turns out to be quite illuminating.

In terms of your question, Cold Sun worshippers can always challenge the authority of Imperial Sun on theological grounds. Maybe the entity they worship in Southbank after the Ban isn't the same as the one they started with . . . or the one the people in the Dome recognize as their mythic overlord. In that scenario, the Dome can simply defer to the Golden Tyrant for pragmatic reasons but in the event of a real conflict of interest are free to defy him. Then the Tyrant's problem becomes how to overwhelm the upstarts with philosophical grandeur.

Cold Sun can also develop real spiritual autonomy. While this rarely happens, this particular Dome's time under the Ban may have forced them onto an unusual maturation path . . . something like what happened to the isolated Dome in Prax in the Time of Testing. What's interesting is that in Fronela the Imperial Sun faces much more adverse environmental conditions than in the long Pelorian summer. He's a foreigner here, barely as bright on some days as a kind of auxiliary whitish "moon." Your players can exploit this if they're as creative as they sound, and if it makes your game more fun.

Maybe a useful angle to explore would be emphasizing the "dying god" side of the Yelm story and then letting nature take its course. Yes, the god of Southbank, no matter how fiercely the Tyrant protests, is doomed. But younger, better and stronger things are liberated in his disintegration.

The bear people will help. The sun god they grew up with is cold.

 

Edited by scott-martin
touches of clarity
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3 hours ago, jajagappa said:

Mythically, Yelm is always greater than Yelmalio/Antirius. 

True in RQ.

However, this brought me to an insight on RQ Mythology, gameplay, stories, and life in general.  A good friend in High School wrote in my Yearbook

"Becoming is superior to being."  (a Paul Klee quote)

Somehow, it stuck, and I really took it to heart.

Yelm is the Sun.  Humakt is Death.  And, frankly, neither ever really did anything interesting.  They never mythically changed or became anything.  Both are passive characters, best known for what others (e.g. Eurmal, Orlanth) did to them.

  • Orlanth screwed up mightily then labored to fix it.  He became king of the gods.
  • Yelmalio fought through the darkness, suffered greatly, lost much, yet made allies and triumphed by surviving.
  • Yanafal left Humakt, disobeyed His Prime Directive, and, largely through his own efforts, became an alternative god.
  • ZZ killed orders of magnitude more than Humakt and, by any objective measure, deserves to own the Death Rune.

These active gods are far more interesting to me.  You may disagree.  To each their own.

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49 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

How exciting! Please keep us posted as the campaign rolls on. The factional structure in particular sounds interesting.

It's actually the same campaign as the one in the link below (thanks for the help to all of you who helped me back then and now), but in a subsequent arc. In the first arc my original Rathori PC:s managed to intervene in the murder of God of the Silver Feet on a heroquest (in my game the perpetrators do this by transform his Communication rune into its opposite, turning him into a god of Death). The PCs could not stop the murder, but they managed to contain the emerging entity into a mortal shell (the NPC heroquesting as GoSF and a lover of one of the PCs), so that the resulting creature ceases to be a god and becomes "only" the demigod Lord Death on a Horse.

In this arc of the campaign, the PC in from the previous arc who was the lover of the questing NPC has become LD on a H's number one warlord, and has been tasked with taking the Dona river valley while the Lord herself heads west to Loskalm. However, the Dona river valley Sun Dome - through its access to unlikely magic - has used an ancient artifact rumoured to contain some of the powers of Arachne Solara to magically bind together four unlikely heroes for purposes unknown.

Structure-wise the trick is that I'm running a sandbox where all the factions are run by players. We still have a regular group of PCs (primary characters) with regular adventuring, but this is interspaced with dreaming episodes where one of the PCs connects - throught the magic of Arachne Solara - with one of the faction leaders (secondary characters) while the remaining two of my four players take the role of the faction leader's advisers or lieutenants (tertiary characters). During these episodes the secondary and tertiary characters (each of whom have their own goals and personalities, ultimate say in the control of one or several community resources, and a reward system that rewards you for yielding today for greater decision power in the future) decide what their faction will do, while the primary character throws curveballs into their decision making. My job is mostly to sit back and enjoy the show. The system is not without its kinks, but we're having a lot of fun with it (plus it saves me a ton of GM management) and I'm finding that HQ2 yields itself magnificently to this style of play.

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The bear people will help. The sun god they grew up with is cold.

You unadvertedly stepped on a big plot point in my campaign so let me hang on to this. I was under the impression that the sun in the Rathori creation myth is a plain old Yelm-equivalent and therefore warm. However, my rathori faction is re-enacting a series of deep heroquests of their creation myth in order to jointly raise the two oldest cubs of the White Bear to their father's status, and it just so happened that my Yelmalian PC managed to enter the first heroquest through her mythic connection with the quester, and sort of ended up taking the role of the Sun in the myth where the Earthmaker makes the Earth. I had totally not expected that to happen, but I figured that since it did they're now stuck with her for the rest of their endeavors, and since the Cold Sun is the best she can be, the bears are going to have to find some new source of fire for the fire-related parts of their subsequent heroquests (in my game there are quite a few). I'm thinking maybe Lodril or some equivalent spirit.

But are you saying that the Rathori Sun is actually Yelmalio? Or did you just mean that Yelm is weak in Fronela? Having it be Yelmalio would explain much of the Rathori's connection with elves, but wouldn't that also mean that they are quite new as a people since their creation myth would then be taking place in the Greater or Lesser Darkness?

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These active gods are far more interesting to me.

I wholeheartedly agree, the becomers are way more interesting. I think Yelmalio is especially so, as his becoming is about becoming weaker but gaining different kind of strength in the process.

Btw, I don't think your assessment about ZZ is quite right. I think we both agree that Humakt is a pretty straightforward embodment of death, and all his virtues are aligned or at least do not conflict with the Death rune. however, the way I see it, ZZ is a much more complex entity who uses death to vent his rage and create disorder. Not all his virtues are death-aligned; while death is cold and calculating he rages, for instance; and he even creates zombies which should be anathema to the Death rune.

Actually this distinction is also a theme in my game, as one of my PCs is an orphan Hsunchen child of the Owl people, who in my game are a bunch of disturbed psychopatic assassins who are having difficulty procreating due to extensive affiliation with the Death rune. The question of whether their Beast rune is actually just a close derivative of the Death rune will hopefully have some impact on the game, and I'm thinking of throwing my player some curveballs regarding the difference between gods who own the Death rune versus gods who use it.

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1 hour ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

And, frankly, neither ever really did anything interesting.  They never mythically changed or became anything.  Both are passive characters, best known for what others (e.g. Eurmal, Orlanth) did to them.

That misses the most important aspect of Yelm though.  In Hell, he becomes active.  He conquers Hell.  He meditates in Hell and comes to an understanding of the Other.  He summons his enemies to him, and proves his Justice, accepting that he cannot be All and must acknowledge the Others.  And, finally, he resurrects himself, gathering his parts to him and rising intact as the Sun.  Without the last, there is no Dawn, no Time, no escape for Life from Hell.  

11 minutes ago, Shimozakura said:

Structure-wise the trick is that I'm running a sandbox where all the factions are run by players. We still have a regular group of PCs (primary characters) with regular adventuring, but this is interspaced with dreaming episodes where one of the PCs connects - throught the magic of Arachne Solara - with one of the faction leaders (secondary characters) while the remaining two of my four players take the role of the faction leader's advisers or lieutenants (tertiary characters).

That's cool!

12 minutes ago, Shimozakura said:

But are you saying that the Rathori Sun is actually Yelmalio? Or did you just mean that Yelm is weak in Fronela? Having it be Yelmalio would explain much of the Rathori's connection with elves, but wouldn't that also mean that they are quite new as a people since their creation myth would then be taking place in the Greater or Lesser Darkness?

I would tend to say the Rathori Sun is Yelm, but that he is weak in Fronela (as he was never able to conquer the Glacier of Valind).  Yelmalio was very much present, though, in the Darkness, certainly aiding the elves, possibly aiding the Rathori at times, too.

There's an interesting parallel though of the Rathori sleeping through the winter/Great Darkness and Yelm being in Hell through the Great Darkness. Is there a story there?  Did Yelm send a spark to wake Rathor?  Did Rathor rouse in Hell to aid the Lightbringers in reaching Yelm and aiding in the Dawning?

18 minutes ago, Shimozakura said:

ZZ is a much more complex entity who uses death to vent his rage and create disorder. Not all his virtues are death-aligned; while death is cold and calculating he rages

ZZ was both burned by Fire (left scorched and raging) and also stole Fire from Yelmalio (and likely hid it away in Hell).  Does Yelm send Rathor to regain it - to find the Ember that lights the Resurrection Fire?  Or perhaps the Trickster is required to steal it from ZZ (and Rathor knows how/where to find Trickster)?

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1 hour ago, Shimozakura said:

It's actually the same campaign as the one in the link below (thanks for the help to all of you who helped me back then and now), but in a subsequent arc. In the first arc my original Rathori PC:s managed to intervene in the murder of God of the Silver Feet on a heroquest (in my game the perpetrators do this by transform his Communication rune into its opposite, turning him into a god of Death). The PCs could not stop the murder, but they managed to contain the emerging entity into a mortal shell (the NPC heroquesting as GoSF and a lover of one of the PCs), so that the resulting creature ceases to be a god and becomes "only" the demigod Lord Death on a Horse.

This is an incredible idea and one I will certainly adopt.

 

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2 hours ago, Shimozakura said:

It's actually the same campaign as the one in the link below

Oho! Happy to know you all are still in it. Sorry to misremember . . . long couple of years. It sounds like you are discovering amazing things. Look how happy we all are to hear them!

2 hours ago, Shimozakura said:

But are you saying that the Rathori Sun is actually Yelmalio? Or did you just mean that Yelm is weak in Fronela? Having it be Yelmalio would explain much of the Rathori's connection with elves, but wouldn't that also mean that they are quite new as a people since their creation myth would then be taking place in the Greater or Lesser Darkness?

The middle question is easiest. From a pure experiential perspective, this is not a part of the world where sun worship emerges or thrives organically. It gets cold and cloudy. While the sun is a source of light and heat, for much of the year that can feel like a tentative proposition. The sun might not formally "die" every winter, but sometimes it's hard to be sure. We don't trust the sun as much as we do in balmy Peloria or Pent, let alone the East where the sun is always being born. When outsiders tell us that sometimes sickly light up in the sky rules the universe, we need to be convinced.

Now we all know about the sun god who suffers. Where it gets complicated is that lists of the Rathori gods in the time of Jonat don't include any "sun" god at all. In his place there's a white "moon" who gives light and measures time but also participates in death. Depending on how weird you want your Glorantha to get, this might be the way they envision the cold sun up there in the far north. Maybe elements of that divergent religion made it into the local Sun Dome before the Ban and may even still be there. (But who ever knows with the Ban, you're free to throw out all history to suit you.) I don't think Monrogh got all the way up here, by the way. Whatever sun they remember in that particular Dome may come as a shock to the southerners and we can all look forward to new heresies and schisms.

(This comes up because I think the original solar religion brought into Southbank was heterodox by Seventh Wane standards and while they think they have a "Yelm" there now, traces of the separate evolution will persist into the Hero Wars. But this is only here for you as a story hook if you get bored.)

Now the last question, I think the Rathorites are about as ancient as it gets but they also recognize the sun as something that suffers and dies. Very few of the bear people have any experience of winter at all because they sleep through it. Only the White Bear knew the deep secrets of the dead sun and he himself is dead now, the wanderer took him away. (I hope your players have good luck with the cubs.) But the green elves who stay awake in the cold dark to guard the dens knew these things also. This is part of their "Yelmalio" mystery. Even in the south the elves of Rist, almost uniquely, seem to have abstained from getting in the Suffering God's face at the Hill of Gold. Maybe they even offered help.

 

 

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Yelm's passivity is sort of like Arthur's passivity in the few Welsh Arthurian stories that survive in the Mabinogion. What we have in Solar stories for Glorantha is only part of the story. We have the long middle age of Yelm and only hints about Yelm the Youth (or Brightface) who does all these fantastical cosmogonic acts that are reiterated in the Ten Tests and the Mustering (or assigned to Lodril in the later synthesis, etc.) and then overthrows the existing order in order to produce a new and better justice, etc. 

That being said, we have multiple faces of the Cold Sun. Some (Antirius, Elmal) are essentially stationary. Some (Kargzant, Yelmalio) are wanderers. Some (Lightfore) move according to a predictable pattern. What did the Cold Sun do in Fronela? The white "moon" of the Rathori certainly seems suggestive. 

To connect the two, the Cold Sun is frequently associated with austerity, justice, and purity. (With the exception of that lovable scamp, Kargzant!) One syncretistic way of reading the mythical pattern is that the Young God struggles against injustice, though without cognizance that what he struggles against is injustice in a broad sense. The Young God confronts the Tyrant. They struggle, and the Young God seeks out secret power, which he uses to overthrow the Tyrant. From the fallen Tyrant emerges the Light of Justice, who bestows himself upon the Young God, giving him the authority to rule justly. Then the Young God rules, and eventually becomes the new Tyrant, and a new Young God emerges... (I say "he" because this tropic cycle is pretty heavily gendered in existing Glorantha, but it really should be "they".) Now, different myths see only different parts of this cycle. The Orlanthi understanding follows the Young God but loses the direct connection between the death of the Tyrant and the Light of Justice descending, for example. 

In Fronela, they might well cut out a different slice of cake from this cycle. (And I omitted the long rule of the Young God as the King from my version, too.) One gnomic answer to that initial question of "how Yelmalio rose from the slain body of Yelm" may be this: "He was already waiting." 

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Though a Lunar through and through, she is also a human being.

Eight Arms and the Mask

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Perhaps muddying the waters, but if Yelmalio is Lightfore, then what are his myths about the activities of Kargzant in the Sky that seem to be the body of Lightfore myths? Kargzant originates as the southeastern of the Eight Planetary Sons of Yelm in the Copper Ledgers, and becomes mobile in the sky upon Umath's invasion, just like Shargash. Unlike Antirius, Kargzant wanders around in the sky, possibly without any fixed track until late in the First Century ST when Kargzant faces a deity in the shape of a Hill Barbarian warrior in the sky and gets bound to the Sunpath. Yuthuppan star lore claims that Kargzant too spent some time away from the sky dome, though it is not known whether in Hell or whether roaming the remains of the Surface World.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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58 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Perhaps muddying the waters, but if Yelmalio is Lightfore

There's also the section on the Young God in GRoY (page 69), where Lightfore's path through the heavens tells the story of the Young God, aka Yelm.

It does mention that the stories used to be told about Kargzant before the anarchy year "turned everything around", and that path is also the way of life for the Nomads.

The Perfect Sky (page 50) is even more interesting, as Lightfore and Kargzant are originally spaced out so that when one sets, the other rises, only to eventually merge into one. This happens in ST111, at the same time as Antirius is said to rise, suggesting the renaming occurs then.

And even more amusingly, that document doesn't record the actual dawning at all.

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5 hours ago, Tindalos said:

There's also the section on the Young God in GRoY (page 69), where Lightfore's path through the heavens tells the story of the Young God, aka Yelm.

Who was Lightfore/Yelmalio before the death of Yelm?  The heart (and justice) of Yelm.  So in that sense, their "youth" is coequal - what Yelm did as the Young God is what Yelmalio did as the Young God.

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I don’t buy the idea of Humakt as passive at all. He realises that misuse of the Death rune by others is destroying the cosmos, and sets out to reclaim it. He separates the living from the dead, which is necessary if the world is going to have Death in it and yet not be destroyed, and chaps Entropy down to size where it can be eaten by Arachne Solara and integrated into existence. 


Zorak Zoran doesn’t care about that -he is one of those who are breaking the world by his actions, and he doesn’t care, he likes it. He enjoys the dead and the living being drawn together, ZZ uses Death but he doesn’t respect it. in separating the living and the dead, Humakt is showing ZZ is unworthy to be the true god of Death. 

Yelmalio proves that ZZ has lost his full power over Death by living, by refusing to be killed by one who isn’t just. 
 

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On 1/16/2021 at 8:03 PM, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Humakt is Death.  And, frankly, neither ever really did anything interesting.

Humakt's story is becoming Death - after that, his story is mostly done. If you think he's uninteresting now, imagine him back before that when it seems he was just an unusually martial and possibly unusually honorable Umathson!

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5 hours ago, davecake said:

Yelmalio proves that ZZ has lost his full power over Death by living, by refusing to be killed by one who isn’t just. 

Interesting, I can buy it.  By that same logic, Yanafal proves that Humakt has lost his full power over Death.

Maybe I'm going by "old" material, but, in Cults of Prax, Humakt is quite passive:

  1. Eurmal found Death
  2. o.k., Humakt killed somebody (In some myths I recall, it was Eurmal as the killer of Grandfather Mortal, YGMV)
  3. Orlanth "borrowed" Death to kill Yelm
  4. Humakt dissociated himself and did absolutely effing nothing in the God's War.

I stand by my contention that Humakt is a dull boring god.

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On 1/17/2021 at 10:13 AM, Joerg said:

Perhaps muddying the waters, but if Yelmalio is Lightfore, then what are his myths about the activities of Kargzant in the Sky that seem to be the body of Lightfore myths? Kargzant originates as the southeastern of the Eight Planetary Sons of Yelm in the Copper Ledgers, and becomes mobile in the sky upon Umath's invasion, just like Shargash. Unlike Antirius, Kargzant wanders around in the sky, possibly without any fixed track until late in the First Century ST when Kargzant faces a deity in the shape of a Hill Barbarian warrior in the sky and gets bound to the Sunpath. Yuthuppan star lore claims that Kargzant too spent some time away from the sky dome, though it is not known whether in Hell or whether roaming the remains of the Surface World.

What really baffles me of the fact that Kargzant is Lightfore, and therefore a version Yelmalio, is why his cult is called Yelm (and describes as being so) in RQG. I get not calling it Yelmalio as the cult itself is really different but not only he is different to Yelm in his nature (bc Kargzant is a part of him) but the nomad Kargzant cult is extremely different to the Dara Happan Yelm one, which is the "standard" or "prestige" cult for that god. I mean I understand it's a design choice but really messes with you if you try to understand Yelmic deep lore (which I'm far from understanding yet). 

:50-power-truth::50-sub-light:

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16 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Interesting, I can buy it.  By that same logic, Yanafal proves that Humakt has lost his full power over Death.

Maybe I'm going by "old" material, but, in Cults of Prax, Humakt is quite passive:

  1. Eurmal found Death
  2. o.k., Humakt killed somebody (In some myths I recall, it was Eurmal as the killer of Grandfather Mortal, YGMV)
  3. Orlanth "borrowed" Death to kill Yelm
  4. Humakt dissociated himself and did absolutely effing nothing in the God's War.

I stand by my contention that Humakt is a dull boring god.

You're right up until Point #4, which is instead "Humakt spends the whole Gods War fighting to reclaim Death from the unworthy holders who are abusing it, and also separating the dead from the living."

Edited by Leingod
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