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From Guide to Glorantha Page 385:

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RALIOS: Arkat Returns

Five times! The ways of Heroquesting are abruptly opened, and it isn’t what everyone expected. One is a troll, one is a Chaos monster, and no one is quite sure which incarnation the other three are. The resulting Heroquesting provides awesome weapons of destruction to the leaders vying for power.

From this, I do not believe that this means that Arkat himself has actually returned (as so many people have seemed to assume in other threads), but maybe I am missing something from an ancilliary source.

This seems to mean that the HeroQuest paths for Arkat offer five distinct versions of him and at least some of them seem to not clearly correlate with people's vision of him.

Here are seven of the venerations of Arkat as listed in Guide to Glorantha Page 376:

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Arkat Cults

An ancient Hero named Arkat once benevolently ruled this region. His long and complex history provides a fascinating and confusing story whose truth has been lost among the propaganda and lies of many centuries of oppression. Several philosophers and historians believe that more than one person named Arkat lived and were compressed by faulty memory into one character. Now, several fragments of the old hero cult of Arkat exist, most of them exclusive of each other, all of them claiming to be the genuine heir to the ancient secrets. Among them are:
GREAT ARKAT – Arkat in his aspect of Founder of the ancient peaceful kingdom.
ARKAT LIBERATOR – Arkat as the Hrestoli Man-of- All who liberated the region from an army of monsters and an army of Chaos creatures.
ARKAT THE SAVIOR – Arkat as the bringer of truth to destroy the lies of Gbaji, the evil Deceiver who oppressed Ralios and Tanisor.
ARKAT CHAOSBANE – Arkat as the destroyer of Chaos in all its forms. Stories are told that Arkat was responsible for destroying Wakboth and Krjalk in the God Time.
ARKAT PEACEMAKER – Arkat as the bringer of peace between species, commemorating the friendships he forged between humans, elves, and trolls.
ARKAT DESTROYER – Arkat as the incarnation of Destruction, whose worshipers believe that he came, and is coming back, to destroy the world.
ARKAT THE DECEIVER – This cult believes that Arkat was, in fact, Gbaji and/or Nysalor either before or after his fight in Dorastor.

And here is the description of the Arkat art from Guide to Glorantha Page 376:

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Seven-Headed God

The seven-headed and fourteen-armed god Arkat, the Dark Emperor, is an important and contradictory hero-god-demon. Each of his different heads is associated with a right and left arm carrying or conveying the symbols of that aspect.
Peacemaker: This head represents Arkat as the bringer of peace between species, commemorating the friendships he forged between humans, elves, and trolls. His right hand is outstretched with an open palm in a gesture of fearless peace; his left hand is held out, palm uppermost, the fingers pointing downwards as a sign of balance.
Chaosbane: Arkat as the destroyer of Chaos in all its forms, bearing in his right hand a long leaf-shaped sword and in his left a thunderbolt.
Savior: Arkat as the bringer of Truth against the lies of Gbaji. In his right hand he carries a small bronze axe and on his left arm has a small round shield.
Great Arkat: Arkat as the founder of a great kingdom after the defeat of Gbaji, holding in his right hand a serpentheaded scepter, and in his left a rod and ring symbolizing his kingship.
Liberator: Arkat as the historical Western Man-of-All who liberated the land from Gbaji, carrying a spear in his right hand and holding a Law Rune wreathed in flames in his left
Destroyer: Arkat as a monstrous incarnation of Destruction, bearing in his right hand a flanged mace and in his left a black sphere.
Deceiver: Arkat as the Demon Gbaji, his evil nature betrayed by his taloned hands. He makes an esoteric occult sign with the fingers of his right hand and in his left clutches a flaming spear.

So we have two Arkats that we know of:

  • Chaosmonster / Deceiver - Worshipped by the Guild of Chaos Monks.
  • Troll / Destroyer - Worshipped in Naskorion and by Uz.

Notably these correspond quite specifically to two different times in Arkat's life.

So the question becomes:
Do these incarnations correlate to times in Arkat's life, to aspects he displayed of himself or to a combination of these? Depending on the answer to these, what are the three other Arkats?

I believe that there is Arkat the Hero in the Gods of Glorantha book and I would be happily spoiled on this. In fact, if Chaosium wants to send me an advance copy...

Edited by Prince of Cinders
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Here are some quick possiblities:

  • Wounded / Weak - Arkat as a child or as a butchered man. Worshipped by the World of Losers Movement.
  • Conqueror - Arkat as conqueror and emperor. Worshipped by most nobles.
  • Hero / Saviour / Defender - Arkat as the defeater of foes to save the weak. Worshipped by everyone reasonable.
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We know that Arkat worship was maintained in Halikiv and Guhan by Uz in the cult of Arkat Kingtroll. I think this is probably not directly related to the seven listed incarnations, because what we know about Arkat Kingtroll (offers a pathway to understanding sorcery, Arkat as the greatest of Uz, who successfully hid in human skin for decades before bursting out, Arkat the founder of a realm where Darkness could walk freely on the earth) suggests most, if not all, of these variants. So perhaps instead Arkat Kingtroll is a unified vision of these seven which is only really available to trolls.

We also know, from comments by Jeff Richard, that there are actually seven different Arkats in place, but two of them aren't in Ralios. We also know from various sources (most directly Prince of Sartar) that Harrek, Argrath, or both, are incarnations of Arkat and "the Destroyer", but this doesn't mean that they are Arkat the Destroyer- both of the people commenting on this are somewhat, we might say, distinct in their perspectives on the matter.

I think my main thoughts here are that there are literal Arkats wandering the land, primarily via heroforming. This heroforming probably happens somewhat involuntarily at times.

Some other notes: some of these incarnations translate to Malkioni castes.

Peacemaker: Zzabur?
Liberator: Hrestol/Man-of-all
Savior: Dronar
Great: Talar
Deceiver: Possibly Zzabur as well
Destroyer: Probably not a translatable caste, but just possibly Menena
Chaosbane: Horal

I think that the fragmented Arkat worship is fundamentally a consequence of the destruction of the original Arkat cult, and the reason that these Arkats are only distinguishable visually is because there really is ultimately only one Arkat, and the Hero Wars in Ralios are primarily a quest to integrate the faces of Arkat into a single coherent, approachable being, at which point the Otherside falls open to the discoverer, all the maps Arkat drew within their reach, if not their grasp. So, too, will agents of Untruth fall away and tremble in fear, and all the ways that Malkioni have gone and spread and wandered and wondered will be sewn together again like Arkat has been. Praise the Destroyer of ignorance and lies! Hail Arkat!

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2 hours ago, Groovetronic said:

I'm interested in what powers these aspects of Arkat can provide to PCs, and whether or not they can be worshipped by non-Illuminants.

IMO Ralians would worship Arkat to become Illuminated (Arkati illumination not Nysaloran).  These cults would provide magics to non-illuminates but they would not ptocede from Arkat but from allied cults (ie Arkat the Troll might have magics from Zorak Zoran and Argan Argar).

From the cult description in the Smoking Rules and Other Stories, that Arkati of Arkat's Hold only teach sorcery to illuminates.  Many Arkati societies in Ralios may teach sorcery to non-illuminates but the big sorcery secrets will still be reserved for illuminates.

Jeff recently spoke of the Rightness (ie Caste-based) magics of the Malkioni.  For the Arkati, I feel these would be a combination of innate sorcery spells and the sorcerous equivalent of Shamanic Gifts.  

Arkat the Troll/Destroyer:  Command Shades.  Affinity with Darkness Magics.  Bonuses with blunt weapons.  Darksense.

Arkat the Savior/Loser:  Bonuses with Axe.  Command Gnomes.  Shield.

Arkat the Liberator:  Bonuses with Spear.  More adept with sorcery than other aspects.  Not so much exotic magics.

Arkat the Devil:  Command unintelligent chaotic monsters.  Chaotic blessings and curses (like Curse of Thed and Chaos Gifts).

Arkat the Peacemaker:  Inhuman senses such as Darkness, Motion, Elfsense) and perhaps Speak Auld Wyrmish (although I think this has probably been lost).  Makes Peace.  Alchemy, Botany etc.

Arkat Chaosbane:  Bonuses with Swords.  Command Sylphs.  Thunderbolts. Diminsh Chaos.

As for Great Arkat, I doubt a separate aspect exists and that this aspect is more like Orlanth Rex.  The leading Arkati in any city is recognized by the other Arkati of that city as their Archon and probably has Command Arkati (which works on Arkati that acknowledge his authority) and Repel Deceiver (which works on Arkati that do now acknowledge his authority).  

Lastly there is Heroquesting which the Arkati would use to inflict curses on enemy cities and blessings on their own.  Cities within the same country are rivals and cursing them is bad form.  

Edited by metcalph
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On 7/17/2021 at 9:45 AM, Prince of Cinders said:

I believe that there is Arkat the Hero in the Gods of Glorantha book and I would be happily spoiled on this. In fact, if Chaosium wants to send me an advance copy...

Sadly I don't think the cult writeup made it in there under that name but his footprints are visible in various places. This should present enthusiasts with an opportunity to put the pieces together. (Advanced heroquesters will avoid looking at the picture on the box and be "rewarded" with a surprise!)

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On 7/17/2021 at 9:04 AM, Eff said:

We know that Arkat worship was maintained in Halikiv and Guhan by Uz in the cult of Arkat Kingtroll. I think this is probably not directly related to the seven listed incarnations, because what we know about Arkat Kingtroll (offers a pathway to understanding sorcery, Arkat as the greatest of Uz, who successfully hid in human skin for decades before bursting out, Arkat the founder of a realm where Darkness could walk freely on the earth) suggests most, if not all, of these variants. So perhaps instead Arkat Kingtroll is a unified vision of these seven which is only really available to trolls.

I love this idea so much

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On 7/17/2021 at 2:45 PM, Prince of Cinders said:

So the question becomes:
Do these incarnations correlate to times in Arkat's life, to aspects he displayed of himself or to a combination of these? Depending on the answer to these, what are the three other Arkats?

One of the underlying truths of Glorantha is that worship can't be refused. This is how heroes become gods. Akat himself can't be contacted as the paths to Statham Well have been deliberately lost. These other Arkats are portions of him that have been worshipped in different ways by different groups.

For example, the trolls vernerate Arkat as the one who taught them the secrets of the humans (including sorcery). This aspect eventually returns magic useful to worshippers and finally it taps into the core being of Arkat as a HeroQuestor and he returns as a troll. So this is either Arkat the Destroyer or Chaosbane, or could be both. Arkat the Chaos monster is clearly a corruption, that was either worshipped as that aspect (as Gbaji) or just well meaning people worshipping a mask of arkat as Nysalor, that was being corrupted (for example) by the cult leader.So this is likely the Deceiver. As for the other three, ene could be liberator, Saviour and Chaosbane (all together), but as they all happen in Ralios, they are likely to be local variations. Finally, they all actually return. I don't think they are heroforms, but actually Arkats. One of the traditional marks of being a deity is bilocation, and if anyone is the personification of that, it's Arkat.

On another track, don't confuse the iconography of Arkat with the returning Arkats. They don't have to be the same thing.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 7/17/2021 at 11:45 PM, Prince of Cinders said:

From this, I do not believe that this means that Arkat himself has actually returned (as so many people have seemed to assume in other threads), but maybe I am missing something from an ancilliary source.

This seems to mean that the HeroQuest paths for Arkat offer five distinct versions of him and at least some of them seem to not clearly correlate with people's vision of him.

Here are seven of the venerations of Arkat as listed in Guide to Glorantha Page 376:

And here is the description of the Arkat art from Guide to Glorantha Page 376:

So we have two Arkats that we know of:

  • Chaosmonster / Deceiver - Worshipped by the Guild of Chaos Monks.
  • Troll / Destroyer - Worshipped in Naskorion and by Uz.

 

Five projections of seven misapprehensions of Arkat, and each one is a Gbaji, sent to deceive and to test.  Nysalor knew there was only one Arkat, but in the third age people project the Arkat that they want or fear as their Arkat, but there is still only one Arkat.  He changes his methods, but he is still only one.  These are but the echoes of people's needs and fears of what is to come in the Hero Wars.

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6 hours ago, Darius West said:

Five projections of seven misapprehensions of Arkat, and each one is a Gbaji, sent to deceive and to test.  Nysalor knew there was only one Arkat, but in the third age people project the Arkat that they want or fear as their Arkat, but there is still only one Arkat.  He changes his methods, but he is still only one.  These are but the echoes of people's needs and fears of what is to come in the Hero Wars.

One unique entity can have pluripresence - it's a feature of powerful entities, and events. Sometimes they are shadows or projections, limited expressions of the whole.

In fighting Gbaji, Arkat had to take on many aspects - starting out as a Child of the Forest (btw a typical origin for a pagan demigod  from a union with a Malkioni woman entering Malkioni society, compare Damol), he took on the Horali caste, became Man-of-All, then champion of Orlanth and Humakt, then of Kyger Litor and Zorak Zoran, and for his final confrontation a Chaos monster as terrible as the one he was fighting.

There is one aspect about Arkat that hit me only today - after shedding all his terrible aspects necessary to face off with Gbaji, Arkat settled down, not in a Talar's palace, a wizard's tower, a warrior's fortress, a mystic's mountaintop, but on a farm.

The location of this farm has never been disclosed, and is probably a hotly contested item in Ralios.

Settling down on a farm is a pretty Orlanthi thing to do. But there may be more significance to this - after fifty years of destructive warfare, Arkat spent fifty years of growing back the world.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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On 7/29/2021 at 7:57 AM, Darius West said:

Five projections of seven misapprehensions of Arkat, and each one is a Gbaji, sent to deceive and to test.  Nysalor knew there was only one Arkat, but in the third age people project the Arkat that they want or fear as their Arkat, but there is still only one Arkat.  He changes his methods, but he is still only one.  These are but the echoes of people's needs and fears of what is to come in the Hero Wars.

I find it intriguing that Ralzakark also returned in multiple guises. Maybe this is just something which tends to happen when illuminates who performed many contradictory heroquests are resurrected - sometimes the aspects which in life were bound into one entity each take on their own physical form. 

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To re-iterate my last post here - I speculate that the five Arkats that we are going to see in Ralios are not the Arkat who retired, but five aspects that he shed in order to become the Arkat that retired. Parts of himself that he left behind.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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8 minutes ago, Joerg said:

To re-iterate my last post here - I speculate that the five Arkats that we are going to see in Ralios are not the Arkat who retired, but five aspects that he shed in order to become the Arkat that retired. Parts of himself that he left behind.

That's interesting, and seems likely. Or at least parts of him throughout his history. Essentially aspects of him, where Arkat the Retiree is one of the less interesting.

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On 7/28/2021 at 11:57 PM, Darius West said:

Five projections of seven misapprehensions of Arkat, and each one is a Gbaji, sent to deceive and to test.  Nysalor knew there was only one Arkat, but in the third age people project the Arkat that they want or fear as their Arkat, but there is still only one Arkat.  He changes his methods, but he is still only one.  These are but the echoes of people's needs and fears of what is to come in the Hero Wars.

we are all us? the many ad one, or somesuch?

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On 8/2/2021 at 10:56 AM, Joerg said:

To re-iterate my last post here - I speculate that the five Arkats that we are going to see in Ralios are not the Arkat who retired, but five aspects that he shed in order to become the Arkat that retired. Parts of himself that he left behind.

I think you might be on to something here...

It makes me think of how Arkati guard certain spots in heroquests. I seem to recall having read something about putting pieces of yourself in the godrealm for ease of access later or somesuch.

But I only got half remembered maybes...

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