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A Shaman in Orlanthi Society


JohannesH

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My group is starting their new campaign in Apple Lane. They all are Praxians and have helped the Hamlet to defend against the Tusk Raiders. As none of them are from Colymar tribe, they cannot be assigned there as a Thane, but they might be given an uninhabited hut for the shelter against coming winter, and hired to protect the hamlet until there is a Thane installed. One of the characters is a Shaman of Waha. What is his position in the society and how could he support it? And what kind of difficulties there could be. They are outsiders who can speak tolerable Heortling but have very little knowledge of the culture.

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Shamans are generally seen as weird, scary, but necessary outsiders among Orlanthi. They live apart from most of the community, but receive some support in return for warding off bad spirits and other dangers the priests can't deal with. Exorcisms, especially of disease spirits, are one of their most popular services. If your party is going to be staying among the Orlanthi for a while then the shaman may want to consider joining the spirit cult of Kolat, Orlanth's powerful wind spirit brother (it's a spirit cult so they'll still be a Waha shaman too).

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Yeah. Shamans usually live on the margins of society in Sartar, in the literal sense; they tend to spend much of their time away from the villages and cultivated fields when they don't have business there, and are seen as strange and sometimes suspicious but usually helpful and worth being nice to and treating fairly. They trade their services for whatever they need to support themselves, and (especially as an apprentice) might supplement that by hunting, stick-picking, etc. They're friendliest with, and most trusted by, other inhabitants of the boundaries between the "settled" and "wild" world, like hunters (I don't know about how this would be handled in RQG terms, but in HQG Odayla can even be worshiped as a spirit cult, under the name "Serkos").

You can see that's pretty different from the societal role shamans have among the Praxians; that difference in expectations can likely be milked for good culture clash and drama. Normally Praxians are considered dangerous foreigners, but in this case saving Apple Lane outweighs that, so that at least would be ameliorated a bit.

Also, I seem to recall Jeff has commented that Waha is actually given worship in Sartar as a patron of butchers due to his teaching the Peaceful Cut, though I don't really know where to find it. So hey, if your shaman is good at that and is looking for supplemental income, there are worse options than becoming the village butcher for a while.

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I have a somewhat different understanding of shamanism in Sartar. Shamans are present just about everywhere, less common than, say, priests of Orlanth and Ernalda, but certainly present enough that almost all people will have met a practicing shaman and know how to get the services of one. But most of these shamans are ancestor worship-focused (Daka Fal), along with Air and Earth (Kolat, Earth Witch), and then subsidiary Fire and Moon (based on the prevalence of Yelmalio and Seven Mothers), and infrequently, Water and Dark. So what does Waha offer? Apart from the initiate's skill as a butcher, what Waha offers is Praxian ancestor worship and familiarity with the spirits of Prax and the Wastes. It may be overly modernist to suggest this shaman in particular set himself up as a kind of spiritual consulting detective for these unfamiliar Praxian cases, or as a means for people with Praxian family to easily talk to that part of their ancestry. But the basic elements are there. All, of course, in my opinion.

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

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Shamans in Sartar occupy an odd 'us but not us' position in society. Certain spirit-talkers have a solid place... Kolatings or local beneficial spirits are accepted. Foreign spirits are a whole 'nuther kettle of newtling tails.

The folk of Apple Lane are somewhat accustomed to 'odd gods'... Piko [the deceased blacksmith] was a cultist of Third Eye Blue and Hippicus was a Grazelander, iirc... and the community has a 'Temple' of All Gods to accommodate those of different faiths. Thus, it shouldn't be a problem in the short term, say over the course of a year or two.

But if the party decides to take up permanent residence, they're going to have to put in some work to reach an understanding with the local Orlanthi. That work might include adopting some Orlanthi customs that might be somewhat at odds with their nomad upbringing. For just one example, unsanctioned cattle raids to increase your personal herd of captured cattle [useful for bride prices back home] will bring the ire of the lawspeakers down upon them and they don't have a clan to pay their fines for them!

Edited by svensson
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3 hours ago, svensson said:

they're going to have to put in some work to reach an understanding with the local Orlanthi.

For a shaman of Waha, this likely means a focus on Waha as the Butcher, keeper of the Peaceful Cut, son of Storm Bull and Eiritha (and not Waha the Founder/Khan).  The presence of his magic may bring a blessing to herds nearby, as well as a blessing to the meat taken from the herd.  This might shift the focus of Apple Lane somewhat, but could mean the Varmandi are always calling upon the Praxians as a force against the hated Orlevings; and maybe the Thane of Apple Lane encourages more raiding to increase the local herds (or adding to the Royal herd there).

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2 hours ago, jajagappa said:

For a shaman of Waha, this likely means a focus on Waha as the Butcher, keeper of the Peaceful Cut, son of Storm Bull and Eiritha (and not Waha the Founder/Khan).  The presence of his magic may bring a blessing to herds nearby, as well as a blessing to the meat taken from the herd.  This might shift the focus of Apple Lane somewhat, but could mean the Varmandi are always calling upon the Praxians as a force against the hated Orlevings; and maybe the Thane of Apple Lane encourages more raiding to increase the local herds (or adding to the Royal herd there).

I would think that the bountifulness of the herds would be more a function of Uralda /Eiritha. Remember that the Praxians see Waha as a arbiter of Death not a force for Life. The protection of the herds would be under his purview, but not births, longevity, or health.

Edited by svensson
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15 minutes ago, svensson said:

I would think that the bountifulness of the herds would be more a function of Uralda /Eiritha.

Note I just said "blessing to herds", not what type of blessing.  As you note Protection of the Herds would be a likely one - and quite useful against scheming Orleving raiders.

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I think of Shamen like someone who spends all their time on the phone, only half their attention on their surroundings- bumping into stuff, talking to people nobody else can hear, reacting to jokes nobody else shares, occasionally useful information like “a bunch of people just got murdered by Broos a bit further down the road”

If a Shaman wanders into town, and they seem friendly, the only problem might be the local Shaman. Though if they stay longer than a day or two people might get worried and ask why, wonder if there was a plague or other calamity on the way.

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41 minutes ago, EricW said:

Shamen

it's shamans. it's probably a loanword from Middle Indic shamana "renunciate" into Siberian languages, there's no "man" in that word.

42 minutes ago, EricW said:

I think of Shamen like someone who spends all their time on the phone, only half their attention on their surroundings- bumping into stuff, talking to people nobody else can hear, reacting to jokes nobody else shares, occasionally useful information like “a bunch of people just got murdered by Broos a bit further down the road”

I think this is more impractical than the shamans of Glorantha. That's a more "real-life shaman" kind of person. Shamans in Glorantha, if you look at what they do, aren't like that any more than priests are on the phone with their god.

Their "job" just requires interpersonal skills with the Other Side. It's got strange hours, sometimes very unpleasant demands like "never bathe", and requires someone takes care of you when you are "in the matrix". But it also provides a great deal of value to the community and is a position of great responsibility. You might even manage the clan wyter.

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I would point out that Shamans are likely to live on the outskirts of Orlanthi society because they don't want people stumbling into their spirit rituals and getting accidentally caught in spirit combat.  Yes, the orlanthi will regard shamans as being weird, but they have their own shamanic traditions too.  Importantly, as the Hero Wars heat up, the increasingly important role of the Sartar Magical Union will see shamans being more socially accepted among the Orlanthi as a matter of military and thus social necessity.

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5 hours ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

it's shamans. it's probably a loanword from Middle Indic shamana "renunciate" into Siberian languages, there's no "man" in that word.

I think this is more impractical than the shamans of Glorantha. That's a more "real-life shaman" kind of person. Shamans in Glorantha, if you look at what they do, aren't like that any more than priests are on the phone with their god.

Their "job" just requires interpersonal skills with the Other Side. It's got strange hours, sometimes very unpleasant demands like "never bathe", and requires someone takes care of you when you are "in the matrix". But it also provides a great deal of value to the community and is a position of great responsibility. You might even manage the clan wyter.

Hence the constant phone calls - and not just with a single god 😉

I was once in a breakfast cafe in a unionist area of Belfast, Northern Ireland, trying to deal with a massive hangover. Half the street was rubble, but the surviving cafe was awesome - the food is always good, in places where the customers don't do complaint forms. 

There was a weedy looking but well dressed guy continuously babbling away into his phone, taking phone calls in quick succession so rapidly that he had barely touched his breakfast. A couple of enormous steroid enhanced goons in suits were eating their way through a huge pile of fry up breakfast food at the next table, glared malevolently at anyone who got too close to phone guy.

I'm guessing the guy on the phone was doing a lot of relationship management, though I doubt he was arranging humanitarian missions for the United Nations. He certainly wasn't paying much attention to the world around him. That's what the goons were for.

Edited by EricW
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31 minutes ago, EricW said:

Hence the constant phone calls - and not just with a single god 😉

I was once in a breakfast cafe in a unionist area of Belfast, Northern Ireland, trying to deal with a massive hangover. Half the street was rubble, but the surviving cafe was awesome - the food is always good, in places where the customers don't do complaint forms. 

There was a weedy looking but well dressed guy continuously babbling away into his phone, taking phone calls in quick succession so rapidly that he had barely touched his breakfast. A couple of enormous steroid enhanced goons in suits were eating their way through a huge pile of fry up breakfast food at the next table, glared malevolently at anyone who got too close to phone guy.

I'm guessing the guy on the phone was doing a lot of relationship management, though I doubt he was arranging humanitarian missions for the United Nations. He certainly wasn't paying much attention to the world around him. That's what the goons were for.

So much for 'peace' in Northern Ireland.

Still, there's something to be said for 'not so much of a shooting war as it used to be' I guess. Here's hoping that it improves.

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15 hours ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

it's shamans. it's probably a loanword from Middle Indic shamana "renunciate" into Siberian languages, there's no "man" in that word.

I think this is more impractical than the shamans of Glorantha. That's a more "real-life shaman" kind of person. Shamans in Glorantha, if you look at what they do, aren't like that any more than priests are on the phone with their god.

Their "job" just requires interpersonal skills with the Other Side. It's got strange hours, sometimes very unpleasant demands like "never bathe", and requires someone takes care of you when you are "in the matrix". But it also provides a great deal of value to the community and is a position of great responsibility. You might even manage the clan wyter.

Qiz, I agree with you about the high levels of spirit activity in Glorantha, but I think shamans are a good deal more than the customer service desk for the gods.

I also agree with you that they easily have the most active and probably the most dangerous spiritual life in Glorantha though.

 

Edited by svensson
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22 hours ago, JohannesH said:

My group is starting their new campaign in Apple Lane. They all are Praxians and have helped the Hamlet to defend against the Tusk Raiders. As none of them are from Colymar tribe, they cannot be assigned there as a Thane, but they might be given an uninhabited hut for the shelter against coming winter, and hired to protect the hamlet until there is a Thane installed.

It's your game, but why can't a non-Colymari be assigned as a Thane?

If they have proven themselves, then one of them could be assigned as a temporary Thane, so that the Colymari can see whether they make a good Thane and see whether they can be brought into the Colymari.

 

22 hours ago, JohannesH said:

One of the characters is a Shaman of Waha. What is his position in the society and how could he support it?

He is a master of spirits and, in particular, foreign spirits. He has access to spirits of Law, which can be very useful indeed.

Generally, shamans are useful members of society, as they summon spirits that can teach spells.

22 hours ago, JohannesH said:

And what kind of difficulties there could be. They are outsiders who can speak tolerable Heortling but have very little knowledge of the culture.

They are foreigners, which may or may not be a problem.

Language skills can be learned, over time, as can culture skills.

There might be competition from other Adventurers, from locals who are jealous of their new-found position, or from Colymari who don't want you to join the Colymari.

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22 hours ago, JohannesH said:

One of the characters is a Shaman of Waha. What is his position in the society and how could he support it? And what kind of difficulties there could be. They are outsiders who can speak tolerable Heortling but have very little knowledge of the culture.

IMHO the answer is really "whatever you want":

  • You may want to play a story arc in which the PCs are trying to find a new home (why did they leave Prax?) and have to fight the prejudice of the locals and get accepted by them...
  • Or you may want to play a story arc in which the PCs are "stuck in Sartar" and miss all the good things about Prax, but the local are in desperate need of warriors and shamans to protect them and solve their problems, and so they are going to do whatever they can to make the PCs feel welcome, especially after the new thane shows up and proves to be a giant incompetent asshole.
  • Or one or two of your PCs could show a genuine desire to get adopted into the Colymar tribe, and after proving their loyalty to Leika and the locals, they could actually be appointed thane of Apple Lane.

At this point, I don't think it matters much whether one of the characters is a Shaman of Waha or not -- he's an outsider who falls into those 3 categories I outlined above, or some other category you make up. Everybody needs a shaman. They're weird, but they're useful, and that's why a community always supports their shaman.

Edited by lordabdul
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12 hours ago, svensson said:

Qiz, I agree with you about the high levels of spirit activity in Glorantha, but I think shamans are a good deal more than the customer service desk for the gods.

I also agree with you that they easily have the most active and probably the most dangerous spiritual life in Glorantha though.

I'm not sure exactly what you mean by "more than the customer service desk", I certainly agree they aren't that. In fact, the relationship mostly runs the other way in terms of contact. I think it also varies culturally - a Golden Bow lord and the Serdrodosing woman among the Orlanthi helots he rules are going to have really different social relationships and expectations. He's going to do what he wants, because he's royal and blessed by his calling, and Yelm is a lord of Better Than, while she's going to be expected to help everyone with the expectation that everyone will help her back, because the community needs to hang together or be individually hung.

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Thanks all for you answers! I have got some good ideas from them and will definitely use those. The characters are old ones, from an earlier Prax campaign. I thought it is easy to introduce many Sartarite and Orlanthi cultural things for them as new, since they are outsiders.

Not going to allow them the whole Tusk Rider treasure hoard, though. I calculated that with it they'd live like princes for rest of their life.

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On 8/19/2021 at 1:19 PM, Richard S. said:

Shamans are generally seen as weird, scary, but necessary outsiders among Orlanthi.

Damn, that sounds like the praxian adventurers!

 

On 8/19/2021 at 8:47 PM, EricW said:

I think of Shamen like someone who spends all their time on the phone, only half their attention on their surroundings- bumping into stuff, talking to people nobody else can hear, reacting to jokes nobody else shares, occasionally useful information like “a bunch of people just got murdered by Broos a bit further down the road”

 

Not the first time I have seen this trope to be... I still like it. 

 

13 hours ago, soltakss said:

It's your game, but why can't a non-Colymari be assigned as a Thane?

 

YAY!!!!!

 

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On 8/21/2021 at 12:33 AM, JohannesH said:

Not going to allow them the whole Tusk Rider treasure hoard, though. I calculated that with it they'd live like princes for rest of their life.

That loot is indeed surprisingly huge, to the point where I wonder what the designers had in mind here.

But remember that the Adventurers' loyalties to their community(ies) and the fact that these communities support them in return mean that this isn't some D&D "grab the loot and go" kind of thing. This loot isn't theirs to take, it's for the tribe. I may ask for some Loyalty rolls before they can keep any of it without showing it to their tribal king (Leika in this instance, probably).  This tribal king might give them dibs on one item each that they would have good use for, but otherwise she will put all of this to better use than them (well, unless the king is an evil NPC in your campaign, which is always fun). As an alternative, the king might offer them a good horse, some cool iron armour, spell matrix, or other reward that will definitely be more immediately interesting to players than some fancy kitchenware.

Also, remember that all these items from the Tusk Riders' loot are not cashable immediately for Lunars, except for the, well, the Lunars... of which there's a giant pile already, I'll grant you that. But all the other items are virtually adventures in waiting. You have to find someone to appraise it, find someone to trade it, and they might trade, say, some golden pendant for some other jewellery, two slaves, and a dozen cows. Whooopdidoo, now it's even worse, at least the golden pendant was easily transportable! It might be better to track down the original owners of these things, and get obligations from them, including being able to say "no, I don't want cows, I want that pretty spear behind you". Also, who knows which items are cursed or magical, which ones will lead you to resolve feuds ("We thought the people from over the hill stole that stuff but it was the Tusk Riders! Thank you for returning it! You can call upon our clan any time and we'll repay our debt!"), and so on.

And if the players are still in D&D-murder-tourist-mode, make sure that all those people missing their stuff are hearing about the Tusk Riders having been defeated, and are now coming to Clearwine to ask Leika for their stuff back. This is bound to get interesting...

Ludovic aka Lordabdul -- read and listen to  The God Learners , the Gloranthan podcast, newsletter, & blog !

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2 hours ago, lordabdul said:

But remember that the Adventurers' loyalties to their community(ies) and the fact that these communities support them in return mean that this isn't some D&D "grab the loot and go" kind of thing. This loot isn't theirs to take, it's for the tribe. I may ask for some Loyalty rolls before they can keep any of it without showing it to their tribal king (Leika in this instance, probably). 

A very good point! But the thing here is they have no loyalties at this stage yet. They are outsiders, and would likely keep all goodies themselves (of course giving their cults their share).

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Yeah, I mean they showed up out of nowhere, defended the town against an attack, and then got a whole pile of expensive loot.... then they were given a hut nearby, and who knows what they've been doing since then. Sounds fishy. Were they in league with the Tusk Riders but then double-crossed them? Are they preparing something? The local community might come and visit to see what they're made of, what their intentions are, and so on... and while all this is happening, the PCs are just sitting on expensive silverware and necklaces, but not getting any money from it yet, so it's just worthless shiny junk in practice. If they don't hide it from the visitors, people are going to ask questions. Or maybe they're seen coming and going to the nearest town, selling that stuff. Oh my. More questions.

This is all gaming gold by the way as far as I'm concerned 😄

Edited by lordabdul
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Ludovic aka Lordabdul -- read and listen to  The God Learners , the Gloranthan podcast, newsletter, & blog !

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