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Gerendetho in HQG/QW


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So, while reading Griffin Mountain (and probably influenced in no small part from my playing Six Ages), I had this vague idea of a character pop into my head which prompted some thoughts that I figured might be worth sharing. To anyone who doesn't know, Griffin Mountain was an old sourcebook on Balazar, a paleolithic land of dog-loving hunter-gatherer clans in the Elder Wilds that are (very) loosely unified under three tribal kings ruling from citadels of cyclopean stone built by a Yelmalian hero named Balazar, and who get a lot of their food from raising pigs since agriculture's mostly a no-go in this area (and it's pigs specifically because Balazar brought his people an idol of Mralota the Sow Mother). One of those citadels is under Lunar rule with a puppet king, another is playing host to Orlanthi exiles, and the third is sticking to tradition so far.

The concept I had started with some idle questions popping into my head as I read, the first being, “Kingdom-building in Balazar would probably involve bringing a new livestock animal like Balazar did. Maybe goats?” and the second, “So there's this female Yelmalian devotee of a royal family who's sworn to love only Earth cultists, but those are thin on the ground here. You know, I've wondered, do guys like Lodrili count? I'd imagine they do.”

Those questions were ultimately what led me to come up with the character concept of a goatherd from Kostaddi who was enslaved as the result of a revolt that was put down (perhaps even the very revolt that got Duke Raus exiled?), but managed to free himself and ultimately fled into the Elder Wilds, where he found refuge and a new home with the White Goat clan of the Balazarings (who are in an actual list of clans, which I thought a nice bit of serendipity; maybe he convinced them to take him in because he charmed their wyter? Or whatever totemic spirit Balazaring clans might have). Said character would be an initiate of Gerendetho (I know that Peloria has relatively low rates of initiates; if needed, I'd probably explain it away as just as a matter of practicality, since a goatherd spending a lot of time alone out in the hills can't exactly rely on a priest to worship and use magic for him as needed like a city-dweller or even a village farmer can. Or maybe he worked for the cult, guarding its sacred flocks?). And that led to the reason why I figured this might actually be worth posting here: I started brainstorming on what my idea of the cult of Gerendetho in a HQ/QW context would look like that would best suit this character concept and campaign idea (not that I think I'll be playing it anytime soon, if ever), which perhaps someone else can make use of.

Now, I believe the official word on this (expressed by Jeff in a RuneQuest thread on this very topic, IIRC) is that Gerendetho is a local name/form of Lodril, and that his cult would thus be the normal Lodril cult (or a subcult thereof) with some local flavor. But while I'm still going with Gerendetho being an aspect/son of Lodril, for my own purposes with this particular concept I'm going to say that, at least in HQ/QW terms, it's one of those things where Gerendetho can function as both his own cult, with his own unique powers and attributes totally separate from Lodril's, but also as a local subcult of Lodril that gives worshipers a few (but not all) of said features. While I'm at it, I should bring up that there was some HQ1 material on Gerendetho (specifically a brief write-up on pg. 124 of Heroquest: Roleplaying in Glorantha), and while I am going to take quite a bit of inspiration from that, it's not going to be a wholesale adaptation. So, let's (finally, I know) start actually trying to detail one idea of the cult of Gerendetho... In a separate post, because this one's already getting kinda long, and my WIP write-up is probably going to end up even longer.

In brief, though, currently my take on Gerendetho is mostly a mythos of survival and protection (with powers for his worshipers to match) in a more hill-bound, pastoral way than the usual Lodrili manner; the general thrust of what I have so far is that Gerendetho taught men how to make spears and javelins (which he may have learned or even stole from his father, depending on who you ask) to hunt with, then tamed goats and taught them how to herd, then tamed barley and taught them how to farm ("tamed" here might perhaps mean "seduced/captured a goddess"). Then, since his people were now tied to the land and possessed things others wanted to take, he taught them how to fight to protect themselves and their livelihoods, and that's where you get his fight with Granite Man (and probably others) and the land of Gerendethlia that was the God Time precursor to Kostaddi. Compared to Lodril, he thus has much less emphasis on intensive, irrigation-reliant agriculture (the parts of Kostaddi where that predominates are where you'll mostly see Gerendetho as a Lodril subcult) and also lacks most - but perhaps not all - of Lodril's fiery attributes and powers (both destructive and fertile), but has some powers of survival that Lodril doesn't that are more useful for pastoral hill folk (or a fugitive stuck in a region with virtually no agriculture). His runes are Earth and Life (I'd have liked to include Disorder, but I want him to be a more minor, limited god than Lodril, so he doesn't get the full suite of three runes that the major gods get).

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In HeroQuest/QuestWorlds, the powers a god can give its worshipers come directly from the deeds they performed in the God Time, so to get a good idea of what a worshiper of Gerendetho can do, we should expand on Gerendetho's mythos and deeds.

We'll start by saying that he's a son of Lodril and Oria (or some other prominent Earth goddess, if you'd like), so he's got an intimate relationship with the powers of the Earth. However, I'm going to strip Gerendetho as his own cult of most of Lodril's fiery powers, both destructive and life-giving. This is partly because Gerendetho is associated with distinctly non-volcanic mountains, and his titles suggest less of an intensive agricultural focus, so his main fertility "thing" isn't going to be warming the earth to grow crops like Lodril's is. Maybe he still has that particular power as a subcult for farmers.

Gerendetho is associated with earthquakes (and probably subsidence; you know, landslides and such), though, just non-volcanic ones (kinda like Maran Gor, though the similarities largely end there). Since the people of Kostaddi view him as their benevolent, fatherly protector, these are probably interpreted as collateral damage from his struggles with enemies who would harm them, and earthquakes or landslides are occasions where the people offer prayers and sacrifices to strengthen him so he can triumph over his foes; if the rumblings cease without doing too much harm, then it worked. If not, the foe was strong and Gerendetho had to fight long and hard, maybe even was hurt, which will probably presage similar incidents during the year. And maybe if it's just harmless tremors, that means he isn't using his mighty earth-shaking spear and is just wrestling. The spear itself might be something some say he was gifted by Lodril, others by Oria, maybe in some versions he beat his father (either in a competition or an actual fight) to get it or even just stole it outright, depending on who you ask. Perhaps there are even versions that don't account for Lodril at all and he wins/makes the spear himself.

Anyway, as I said before, his mythos is primarily centered around the people of Kostaddi, whom he protected and taught the things they needed to survive the Great Darkness. Perhaps he just happens across people in need after acquiring his spear, and in his mercy teaches them to make their own spears so they can use them to hunt. There might be a running theme of him acquiring knowledge of how to bring home food like this by seducing a relevant goddess; in this case, some equivalent to the Lady of the Wild. This being his first time, he forgets to bring her home as his wife, and that's why hunters still have to go out and hunt.

As time goes on, things get worse and hunting isn't enough, so Gerendetho goes out and this time encounters a goat goddess, whom he brings home as his wife, and thus his people become goatherds as well as hunters. This would probably be Uryarda (or some other local name for her). This time he brought her home properly, but made some other misstep that explains why goatherds need to spend a lot of time away from their normal homes out in the pastures with the goats.

Then we get the third time, where things continue getting worse and Gerendetho goes out once more and finds the barley goddess, and this time he gets it all right and so a farmer only has to go out to work the fields instead of spending a long time away from home.

Alternatively, some worshipers or subcults might reverse the moral of this “worst-to-best” narrative, so that with each goddess he meets, Gerendetho is actually losing more and more of his freedom and having to work harder and harder. Perhaps the hunters go with this version, the farmers with the former, and the goatherds say that their lot in life is the happy medium. Either way, this progression takes Gerendetho and his followers from hunter-gatherers to pastoral, goat-herding nomads, to mostly sedentary agriculture, but still with a mixed, pastoral lifestyle, rather than the intensive agriculture of most lowland Pelorians, with its extensive irrigation work and all that.

And throughout this, of course, there is fighting. It starts small, though; as hunters, they only really fight for their food, since they can run if they have to and have little anyone wants, but maybe there's a great hunt or a fight with a rival or something. As herders they have to protect the flocks, but goats are good at fleeing danger (even if you have to track them down afterward), especially when there's hills and mountains about, though maybe there's an epic fight with some predator god. But once you're growing barley you can't really just pick up sticks and leave anymore, so that's where the focus shifts from survival to protection, as Gerendetho and his people face greater foes; this is probably where Granite Man is fought and the Jord Mountains are created, as that seems like a sort of capstone on the story of Gerendetho's triumphs. Presumably things start getting worse immediately after this high point, as is the case in most Greater Darkness narratives, until they're just barely holding on by the Dawn.

That raises the question, though: Who's Granite Man? It might be a giant or something similar, but I personally like to think there's a link with the dwarves living in those mountains. Perhaps “Granite Man” is just what the people of Kostaddi call some prominent Mostali of that time, or a local name for Mostal (whom they confuse as being a conventional god), or even is just the dwarves embodied in a singular figure for Gerendetho to fight. You could take that in multiple directions, of course. Maybe there's a version where Gerendetho's spear was taken from the dwarves, and his title “Spear Shaper” comes from his stealing the secrets of working metal into spearheads from them. Maybe there's still mutual hostility over all this. Personally, though, I'd take the lack of mention of hostilities between the dwarves of Noastor and the humans of Kostaddi as evidence that some kind of accord was reached. Or maybe it was even that Granite Man was some malignant being who enslaved the dwarves, and when Gerendetho made the Jord Mountains out of the rubble it was to give the freed dwarves a new home?

 

So, with the basis of a mythos laid out, we come at last to Gerendetho's runes and the powers an initiate can use, maybe some talk about subcults and feats and such. As I mentioned earlier, Gerendetho's runes are Earth and Fertility; I'm figuring on him as still ultimately a lesser, local version of Lodril (at least, that's what he is by the Third Age), so he doesn't get three runes like Lodril does, and ultimately I decided Disorder was the one that could most easily be removed. Again, this is all very much WIP.

e Earth Rune

Gerendetho's powers over Earth mostly relate to feats of provision and protection. Initiates can use this affinity to: Hunt or fight with spears and javelins; protect pastures and fields; cleave through solid rock; make the earth shake or shift; draw strength from the earth; and summon and command lesser earth gods. Depending on the specifics of his relationship with dwarves, he might also have powers in this Rune related to fighting or befriending dwarves; also, depending on what his spear is made of and how he got it, he might grant the power to work a single specific metal (probably copper) into spearheads and/or enchant them.

x Life/Fertility Rune

Gerendetho's powers over Life/Fertility mostly relate to feats of survival and strength, though he does have some fertility powers. Initiates can use this affinity to: Find food, water, or shelter; eat almost anything; endure the elements; walk, work, or fight tirelessly for a day; seduce women and “feminine powers;” and fertilize pastures or fields.

 

For subcults, I'd want there to be at least three, to cover the three general aspects through which Gerendetho provides for Kostaddi (and each representing a goddess he seduced): Hunter, Herder (of goats), and Farmer (of barley). Right now, my general idea is that (these names are placeholders) Gerendetho Spearhunter can lure prey to him, Gerendetho Goatherd can move as quickly and sure-footedly over the Earth as a goat, and Gerendetho Barleycorn can keep the fields warm and protect them from frost and pests. There might be one or two extra things each, feel free to suggest any ideas, of course.

For feats, there's definitely at least two: One derived from his creation of the Hungry Plateau and the Jord Mountains, a breakout from the Earth Rune, and another derived from his seducing goddesses to bring their life-giving power home to his people, a breakout from the Life Rune.

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I use Gerendetho as part of the primary spirit society of Hungry Plateau Sables.

He and Pelora form the The Earth Guardians (Life / Earth / Death). Pelora (Life / Earth) and Gerendetho (Earth / Death).

  • Pelora is the land goddess here, she is a sister-wife to Gerendetho. She is not a grain goddess in this form. Eiritha defers to her in this land.
  • Gerendetho fulfills the role of dead Genert who would be his father - a "coming home" for any Praxian.  Waha defers to him in this land.
  • The society accepts both men and women, and has a shaman path.

This treated much like Prax was in the First Age when Orlanth and Ernalda were the main gods of the Praxians.

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23 hours ago, Leingod said:

Now, I believe the official word on this (expressed by Jeff in a RuneQuest thread on this very topic, IIRC) is that Gerendetho is a local name/form of Lodril, and that his cult would thus be the normal Lodril cult (or a subcult thereof) with some local flavor. But while I'm still going with Gerendetho being an aspect/son of Lodril, for my own purposes with this particular concept I'm going to say that, at least in HQ/QW terms, it's one of those things where Gerendetho can function as both his own cult, with his own unique powers and attributes totally separate from Lodril's, but also as a local subcult of Lodril that gives worshipers a few (but not all) of said features.

I came up with a lot of similar ideas when I used Gerendetho for my last RQG campaign, including the runes you chose. I also prefer him as a son of Lodril, rather than the man himself. I remember the God’s Wall described him as “raising mountains,” which is the most Lodril thing he did. Instead of giving him earth-shaking magic, I gave him a rockslide spell to represent his creation of the Jord mountains. I imagined Granite Man as some kind of Jolanti or giant, so I also gave him a spell for bypassing the armor points of rock. 

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