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Tell me about Elmal and Yelmalio


Eagle Talon

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Those two seem to be the same god but but I'm really interested about Elmal in Orlanthi society. Yelmalio has been well documented in many sources but Elmal not as much.

Do Elmal cultists behave differently than Yelmalions? As strict as Yelmalions or more Orlanthi-style? Perhaps there are no gifts and geases. 

What happened at the Hill of Gold? Orlanth battled and stole Yelmalio as an enemy. How is the myth different so that Elmal becomes the faithful thane? 

Does Elmal offer fire-based magic to his followers? 

I saw an old Elmal cult write-up and he seems a lot different than Yelmalio and his cult is more appealing. 

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The official answer appears to be that the cult mass converted when Monrogh spread his revelation of many suns and offered the chance to become a slave-owning land-holder in Sun County.

Elmal remains as an obscure tribal subcult in a few places. The HeroQuest write-ups had no gifts or geases, but also treated him as an extant and popular god as of 1618.

The Hill of Gold is a simile for the entire Gods War, much like the Sword Story. The encounters with Orlanth, the Winter (personified by Inora) and the forces of Darkness are the preliminary to the final stage, surviving the encounter with Chaos and the end of the world. If Elmal has a Hill of Gold myth, it would probably see him ignore Inora's cold and blinding Zorak Zoran while holding up the torch on The Mountain, which may well be Kero Fin.

Edited by Joerg
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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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2 minutes ago, Joerg said:

If Elmal has a Hill of Gold myth, it would probably see him ignore Inora's cold and blinding Zorak Zoran while holding up the torch on The Mountain, which may well be Kero Fin.

At least if we believe King of Dragon Pass, ’Elmal Guards the Stead’ might be the more defining Elmal myth though (it’s the one they went for there, at least).

And tons of non-Heortling Elmal stuff in Six Ages, too.

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Rules wise, the only difference between Elmal and Yelmalio in RQG is that Elmal doesn't have gifts or geases and gets Shield from Orlanth rather than Yelm. In all other respects he's the same as Yelmalio, including the lack of fire magic. This is the first time we've gotten a Chaosium Runequest writeup for Elmal (or it will be once the cult book drops), so unless you're talking about the old Hero Wars/Quest version whatever you saw was either Mongoose material or fan-made.

In-world, he's only worshiped as Elmal in Runegate, due to their Hyaloring ancestry, but pretty much everyone agrees that they're the same god, the Little Sun, along with other names such as Antirius and Kargzant (not Yu-Kargzant though - that's Yelm). The biggest difference between the little sun as Elmal and the little sun as Yelmalio is that Elmal is subservient to Orlanth while Yelmalio is technically subservient to Yelm but in practice is pretty independent.

Edited by Richard S.
Mixed up the names
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That "Guards the Stead" myth skips the preliminaries of the Hill of Gold quest and jumps to the defense against Chaos. Elmal also figures in "Chalana heals the Scars", which may be another decisive branching moment.

What I find missing is "Elmal guides the Vingkotlings" against numerous invaders. Possibly while Orlanth is in his self-imposed exile, or when he is fighting foes elsewhere, taking the majority of the Vingkotling forces and the Storm Brothers with him.

Ironically, the sun god is absent from Orlanth's defense of the sky against Tyram, the Sky Terror.

 

Plentonius refers to the god/king of the Ram Tribes facing Urvairinus as Elemalus. That's the prequel to the dome-building, including the acquisition of the Iron Ram for the northern bow of the dome.

 

2 minutes ago, Richard S. said:

Rules wise, the only difference between Elmal and Yelmalio in RQG is that Elmal doesn't have gifts or geases and gets Shield from Orlanth rather than Yelm. In all other respects he's the same as Yelmalio, including the lack of fire magic. This is the first time we've gotten a Chaosium Runequest writeup for Yelmalio (or it will be once the cult book drops), so unless you're talking about the old Hero Wars/Quest version whatever you saw was either Mongoose material or fan-made.

A post-King of Sartar Chaosium write-up of Yelmalio. The first Chaosium RQ cult write-up of Yelmalio is in Cults of Prax, and it doesn't get much earlier.

 

 

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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3 minutes ago, Joerg said:

Plentonius refers to the god/king of the Ram Tribes facing Urvairinus as Elemalus. That's the prequel to the dome-building, including the acquisition of the Iron Ram for the northern bow of the dome.

How does Varnaval fit with that? (I have an unreasonable fondness for Varnaval and the whole implied ”Ram Gods” complex of the northern Orlanthi.)

Edited by Akhôrahil
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5 minutes ago, Joerg said:

A post-King of Sartar Chaosium write-up of Yelmalio. The first Chaosium RQ cult write-up of Yelmalio is in Cults of Prax, and it doesn't get much earlier.

Whoops I meant to say Elmal

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An Elmal variant of Hill of Gold (which is almost certainly long-dead as a living myth) would be set well after Elmal is the loyal thane, and open with Orlanth demanding Elmal's weapons for some purpose (probably the Lightbringers Quest if you're approaching it with the mindset wherein Hill of Gold recapitulates the decline of the Little Sun) and then proceed onward to the confrontations with Zorak Zoran and Inora, and you could even present these as similarly "voluntary"- Elmal must then give up all his remaining heat to restore life to this terrible old man, and then must trade with Inora, and then finally confronts chaos and learns the secret of death and life. Of course, this take on it is not especially martial. If one wanted to make an enormous, diffuse joke, perhaps all such Elmal quests are as similarly counter to making war as Elmal Guards the Stead and Elmal and the Hill of Gold, and this is why the cult was eagerly abandoned for Yelmalio.

Note that the Six Ages Elmal has not yet fully lost his heat yet, which is why there's fire magic associated with him. (If you really want to invoke Six Ages, have the Elmal Hill of Gold quest involve the minor hot gods from that game being lost to Zorak Zoran somehow, as symbolic of the lost heat.)

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The Thelxinoë of the Graclodont set.

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I don't think there is an Elmal-specific Hill of Gold, I think it's the same for all the little suns. Yelmalio making peace with Orlanth would come later, after Orlanth had taken his weapons already. In fact, Orlanth returning his weapons was probably a part of them becoming allies.

Edited by Richard S.
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8 hours ago, Eagle Talon said:

Those two seem to be the same god

Same god, different yet similar cults.

8 hours ago, Eagle Talon said:

but I'm really interested about Elmal in Orlanthi society.

You are not alone, waves after waves of newcomers to Glorantha fall for the radiance of the Sun God of the Orlanthi, myself included (until I saw the Light of the Vision of Many Suns). I don't really know why he's so appealing but it's a fact he is. The writters had some problems fitting together all the Yelmalio-Elmal stuff, but apparently they have come up with the final solution; parts of it have been told here by Jeff and others but the final description of all this seems that will be in the upcoming Cults of Glorantha book.

8 hours ago, Eagle Talon said:

Do Elmal cultists behave differently than Yelmalions? As strict as Yelmalions or more Orlanthi-style? Perhaps there are no gifts and geases. 

They behave somewhat differently yes, at least from the Yelmalions of the Sun Counties, which are the majority. They don't need to be as strict as the Yelmalions of the SC but their :20-element-fire::20-power-truth: affinity definitely makes them somewhat disciplined. And no gifts and geases.

8 hours ago, Eagle Talon said:

Does Elmal offer fire-based magic to his followers? 

He does not, his fire was stolen, just as Yelmalio's. Yet unlike the horse god of the Orlanthi, Yelmalio still has his light, come and bask in it, brother.

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19 hours ago, Eagle Talon said:

Do Elmal cultists behave differently than Yelmalions?

If you're using RQG, Elmal will be covered in the upcoming Cults of Glorantha book. In the Yelmalio chapter, there's a section called The Many Suns. It starts:

Quote

There are several solar cults who are often identified with Yelmalio. These are sometimes treated as independent deities, sometimes as different names for Yelmalio, and sometimes as subcults of Yelm or some other solar deity. These cults resemble Yelmalio’s cult in most respects (including spells) but does not teach fighting with Pike and Shield and rarely offer gifts and geases.

19 hours ago, Eagle Talon said:

As strict as Yelmalions or more Orlanthi-style?

So as one of these cults, they will behave differently as they aren't exactly Yemalio. 

19 hours ago, Eagle Talon said:

Perhaps there are no gifts and geases. 

 

Quote

The Elmal cult is identical to the mainstream Yelmalio cult in most respects, (including spells, gifts, and geases),

...

replaces the Pike skill with Ride Horse and the geas “Never speak to or help Orlanth worshipers in any way” (a result of 86–88 on the geas table) is replaced with “reroll.”

So the horse over pike and shield will be a major behavioural difference. You can read about some of this in the GM Screen Pack Adventures book, where two of the Colymar clans (Enhyli, Narri) are Elmal horse clans based around Runegate. 

19 hours ago, Eagle Talon said:

What happened at the Hill of Gold? Orlanth battled and stole Yelmalio as an enemy. How is the myth different so that Elmal becomes the faithful thane?

As it's a myth, it can be reenacted in culturally different ways. I will leave others to argue the difference 🙂

19 hours ago, Eagle Talon said:

Does Elmal offer fire-based magic to his followers? 

No.

19 hours ago, Eagle Talon said:

I saw an old Elmal cult write-up and he seems a lot different than Yelmalio and his cult is more appealing. 

We've learned a lot about the Many Suns in the last 10 years. Although the previous cult write ups can be used in your games. I'd suggest using the info above as the basis for play, it will be much simpler for players.

On a similar note, Praxian Yelmalions are in a similar situation, to the Orlanthi Elmal worshippers. They worship Yelmalio, but from the back of their herd beasts without pike and shield too. Their god is called Yelmalio.

If you want to read about how this out of game schism began, start here The Birth of Elmal (1993) or, “Why I screwed up your Glorantha”

 

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Search the Glorantha Resource Site: https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com. Search the Glorantha mailing list archives: https://glorantha.steff.in/digests/

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11 hours ago, Jape_Vicho said:

Yelmalions of the Sun Counties, which are the majority.

There are ten times the number of Praxian Yelmalio worshippers than in Sun County (IIRC). Oddly Elmal worshippers have more in common with them due to their lack of Pike and Shield, and focus on riding.

11 hours ago, Jape_Vicho said:

Yet unlike the horse god of the Orlanthi, Yelmalio still has his light, come and bask in it, brother.

The horse goddess of the Orlanthi is Redalda (see Heortling Mythology, page 158), Elmal is a rider cult.

Edited by David Scott

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Search the Glorantha Resource Site: https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com. Search the Glorantha mailing list archives: https://glorantha.steff.in/digests/

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7 hours ago, HreshtIronBorne said:

Does the modern Yelmalio cult still use cavalry/mounter archers?

Depends on what you mean modern cult.  Sun County in the wastelands does not.  The Dragon Pass Sun Dome temple is not known for having either.  Other temples may.

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7 hours ago, HreshtIronBorne said:

Yelmalio was both a Rider and a stalwart defender with Pike and Shield?

Does the modern Yelmalio cult still use cavalry/mounter archers?

Both the cult and its mythology have changed a lot over the centuries, according to what people needed from the little sun, and even nowadays it's hard to pin down a "modern Yelmalio cult" since each temple is largely independent from each other. Sure, pike and shield may be the current hotness among the central genertelan domes, but the dragon pass one is famed for its archers as well, which won them the battle against the Kitori. Praxians Yelmalians who are tribesmen instead of living at the Sun Dome almost certainly specialize in mounted archery: see the Impala tribe. Other variations, such as the Elmali and Kargzanti, probably use more typical light spear cavalry. Yelmalio is a wide and varied cult, and both him and his worshippers can be pretty much whatever you need them to be.

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8 hours ago, HreshtIronBorne said:

Yelmalio was both a Rider and a stalwart defender with Pike and Shield?

Does the modern Yelmalio cult still use cavalry/mounter archers?

According to the Dragon Pass rules booklet, even the Sun Dome County forces (which are three hoplite units) include some mounted archers.

It is highly likely that all the mounted archers in the Cavalry Corps and in the Sartar Free Army are predominantly Yelmalio types.

The Pavis Royal Guard (as in the board game, not as under Sor-eel and Hargran the Dirty) may be a blend of Golden Bow and Yelmalio.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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I imagine that Sun Dome tactics and unit makeup will differ between temples - deep in the forests of Aggar, both pike formations and mounted archers seem less than ideal for local combat, for instance (but might still be the mercenaries outsiders want).

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On 7/15/2021 at 7:30 AM, David Scott said:

We've learned a lot about the Many Suns in the last 10 years. Although the previous cult write ups can be used in your games. I'd suggest using the info above as the basis for play, it will be much simpler for players.

On a similar note, Praxian Yelmalions are in a similar situation, to the Orlanthi Elmal worshippers. They worship Yelmalio, but from the back of their herd beasts without pike and shield too. Their god is called Yelmalio.

If you want to read about how this out of game schism began, start here The Birth of Elmal (1993) or, “Why I screwed up your Glorantha”

 

The topic of the Many Suns is often mentioned. I’m not sure exactly what it means. Could you explain? 

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2 hours ago, Eagle Talon said:

The topic of the Many Suns is often mentioned. I’m not sure exactly what it means. Could you explain? 

In short, in a world where gods exist and you can make identifications of certain gods as being identical with other gods, how can you have multiple sun gods while only having one sun? (Or two, if you count Lightfore as a sun.) Its an in-universe and out of universe problem.

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2 hours ago, Eagle Talon said:

The topic of the Many Suns is often mentioned. I’m not sure exactly what it means. Could you explain?

At one level:  Every culture knows that their gods (their Sun) is real, and that the gods (and Suns) of the other cultures are false.  They war to prove which Sun is real.  This is a struggle within Time between men/cultures (possibly projected back into the God Time).

At another: When Yelm was slain, his body broke into many pieces.  Each piece (a Son of the Sun) claims that they are the True Sun/Son.  They war to prove which will claim/gain Yelm's Mantle and Regalia.  This is a God Time event between gods.

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43 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

At one level:  Every culture knows that their gods (their Sun) is real, and that the gods (and Suns) of the other cultures are false.  They war to prove which Sun is real.  This is a struggle within Time between men/cultures (possibly projected back into the God Time).

I'm not sure if this is the case anymore. In the current Chaosium canon, it seems everyone's settled on Yelm and Yelmalio being the big and little sun, respectively, though cultural names may vary.

Edited by Richard S.
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Basically, "Yelmalio" is a title for the Cold Sun, the Light that's left to give hope and protect the people when the original Sun dies. This is and/or isn't the planet Lightfore, depending on who you ask. There are many gods who represent the Cold Sun, each through a different cultural/religious lens: In Pent he's Kargzant, to the Heortlings he was Elmal, in Dara Happa it's Antirius, etc. These gods all share certain essential traits, but their cults and the traits ascribed to them also differ. All are nonetheless "correct," and the proof is that their magic works and you can Heroquest to them. Canonically none of them has Fire power, though in the past some have been portrayed otherwise.

The Vision of the Many Suns is the revelation that these are all, in fact, aspects or "masks" upon the true Cold Sun, and Yelmalio is the name he's been given in the Third Age; previously it was Tharkantus, and before that he might have been Daysenerus. This revelation has been lost and then rediscovered in various times and places, and the recent re-awakening in Sartar led to the tribal cult of Elmal being converted into that of Yelmalio en masse, with some stubborn holdouts here and there, mostly at Runegate.

(My own totally-not-canonical conspiracy theory is that Yelmalio is actually just as much a construct, or "mask" if you will. After all, just because you've realized that all the Cold Sun gods are essentially the same and put together your own composite deity out of them that doesn't mean you've actually revealed his "true" face, and in fact I'd bet that Yelmalio's creation/revelation all the way back in the age of Nysalor was a very conscious process of picking and choosing the parts most suitable for what was needed by Nysalor and Palangio, which is obviously not how finding the real god behind all the masks would work if they were legit about it. I'd also argue no god can be truly known and understood behind the masks different cultures have put on them, at least not by ordinary humans)

On 7/14/2021 at 5:05 PM, Jape_Vicho said:

You are not alone, waves after waves of newcomers to Glorantha fall for the radiance of the Sun God of the Orlanthi, myself included (until I saw the Light of the Vision of Many Suns). I don't really know why he's so appealing but it's a fact he is. The writters had some problems fitting together all the Yelmalio-Elmal stuff, but apparently they have come up with the final solution; parts of it have been told here by Jeff and others but the final description of all this seems that will be in the upcoming Cults of Glorantha book.

Part of it is definitely the fact that as he's often been portrayed in Sun County (the traditional epicenter of writing about him and his cult), Yelmalio is distinctly uncool and unsexy: He (or rather his worshipers, in fairness) is depicted in a lot of the old material set there as a fussy, hidebound, xenophobic misogynist, scandalized and outraged by everything from the sight of a bare ankle to the concept of a coin that isn't made of gold. And despite being held up as a martial god his most important myth (and honestly the only one that gets a lot of attention) is about that time he got beat up and had his lunch money taken, repeatedly, by other gods. Meanwhile just upriver you can find the Sartarite settlers, who worship a god who loves and respects his wife and is the exact opposite of fussed by nudity or premarital sex.

However, an honorable warrior and solar god who manages to survive and keep the flickering Light of hope alive even in the deepest darkness, staunchly soldiering on even as the world falls apart around them and nobody would blame them for giving up, is still inherently cool and something people would want to play a character devoted to emulating. The way he's portrayed in stuff like King of Dragon Pass, Elmal essentially has all the cool bits without having to roleplay as a square, sexist prude.

In other words, IMO the biggest reason for Elmal's enduring appeal is that most of the literature a newcomer to Glorantha will tend to find on Yelmalio is squarely centered on the cult in Sun County, where he comes off as a hidebound sexist jerk who gets his butt kicked up and down the Gods War and Elmal is basically everything he is but less of a ponce and with a wife that turns into a horse. As more RQG material releases that can shine a light on how the cult is outside of that one specific region of zealously hidebound xenophobes and we can maybe learn more about his Godtime exploits that aren't just a series of events best summed up as "And so once again Yelmalio got the stuffing beaten out of him. But he remained steadfast and so won the most important victory of all, the moral victory," that will probably start to change.

Edited by Leingod
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I agree that it’s hard to see the attraction of Yelmalio in-world. At least in RQG, Ernalda has better combat magic (this changes when he at least gets Shield). Are Yelmalio’s myths cooler? don’t think so - Elmal Guards the Stead is victory through tenacity and sacrifice, while Hill of Gold is losing but surviving and maintaining that ”purity” by not having sex. Humakti geases tend to enforce honorable behavior; Yelmalio’s stop you from bathing and stuff like that (but then you can talk to birds!). And then there are the constant ”moral victories” (i.e. defeats), and it doesn’t help that the cult is so commonly used as someone’s else’s tool (and resurrected for just that purpose).

It’s hard for me at least to see the attraction. If I’m an Elmalite, they can keep their Yelmalio. My god is Orlanth’s loyal thane, and you want me to abandon Orlanth for a foreign god in the service of Yelm? Who are you, the Teller of Lies? 

Edited by Akhôrahil
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Yelmalio tasting the curb repeatedly until he learns something is what makes him a martial god rather than a warrior god. He's a soldier, and Drill Sergeant Orlanth and Lance-Corporal Zorak Zoran are gonna make sure he's a good one. 

Edited by Eff
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The Thelxinoë of the Graclodont set.

Eight Arms and the Mask

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