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Spirits of Reprisal: How Lethal?


Storm Khan

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So, I have an initiate NPC that renounces her cult membership in The Seven Mothers.

I was thinking of having a small demon come after her; if the party takes her under their wing, it would be a decent encounter.

On the other hand, something I have read LONG ago is scratching away, suggesting that a spirit of reprisal shouldn't have claw at 50% with 2d6 damage: Too much.

Opinions are appreciated.

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Quote (Cults of Prax)

Quote - Cults of Prax

A. SPIRIT OF REPRISAL
This cult has no set spirit of reprisal. However, any person who was a priest of the cult or a Rune Lord who has quit the Lunar ways will always have himself bound to the cyclical Rune magics but never will be able to use Lunar spells.

If Initiates quit, they must pay the penalty of being suspect by the other cults they may try to join. The effect of this is to reduce their chance of acceptance by 5% per each month they belonged to a Lunar cult.

I think you can send pretty much whatever you want after your NPC. Maybe a lune? Of course, there must be a reason why the NPC is so important to warrant special treatment 😉

Edited by EricW
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It depends on the offence, but a small demon should be OK.

More serious offences should have more serious reprisals.

The writeups of Yelm and Lodril in White Wolf, reprinted in Cult Compendium, had some pretty meaty Spirits of Reprisal, as I recall.

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5 hours ago, EricW said:

Quote (Cults of Prax)

I think you can send pretty much whatever you want after your NPC. Maybe a lune? Of course, there must be a reason why the NPC is so important to warrant special treatment 😉

I considered a Lune. It’s movement of 6, though, makes it in ineffective chaser. This could become a foot race instead of a confrontation, a race my antagonist will likely loose. 

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4 hours ago, soltakss said:

It depends on the offence, but a small demon should be OK.

More serious offences should have more serious reprisals.

The writeups of Yelm and Lodril in White Wolf, reprinted in Cult Compendium, had some pretty meaty Spirits of Reprisal, as I recall.

What I like about the current edition is that these spirits are dispatched against apostates, no matter what. So, I have my NPC reject her cult on grounds we would find very rational, but she still has to fight for her life. 
 

Side bar, the spirits are my favorite part of the Bestiary. 

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6 hours ago, EricW said:

Quote (Cults of Prax)

I think you can send pretty much whatever you want after your NPC. Maybe a lune? Of course, there must be a reason why the NPC is so important to warrant special treatment 😉

No spirits of reprisal for 7 Moms? Naw. Ignoring that, because the GM says so. 😀

Having a spiritually crippled NPC is not interesting, but I like the distrust part. Something to role-play. 5% per month is too steep  

 

Edited by Storm Khan
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you may make your npc more than just apostate. something explaining why she became apostate, and it may help you to explain the type of "demon"

She may have dirsupted a chaotic sacrifice -> send a chaotic monster as reprisal (not necessarily a very dangerous one)

She may have prevented a tax collector to do his job ->send a tax demon (very nice to "remove" some pc items)

 

etc...

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6 minutes ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

She may have prevented a tax collector to do his job ->send a tax demon (very nice to "remove" some pc items)

Yeah. Even if the cult itself has no institutional Reprisal, leaving the cult can still make enemies . . . who are now free to seek their nastiest (one-use) forms of revenge. Nice way to bond with the new party.

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IMNSHO, cult membership is a major spiritual commitment in a world where magic works and the presence of the Gods is manifest for [at absolute minimum] two weeks out of every year. Beyond that, cult membership deeply influences one's temporal role in society. All that being said, the whole idea that an initiate wouldn't suffer some sort of spiritual consequence for abandoning their cult vows is ridiculous.

I appreciate RQG's attempts to rationalize and simplify these consequences. In previous games I have had players who were somewhat picky about the cults they joined based on the spirits of reprisal.... one guy joined and then left Issaries and Humakt because he rationalized that he could live with the spirits of reprisal for that rules edition [he joked that he already was greedy and he could just as easily use axes or maces instead of swords].

With all this in mind, I suggest that at minimum a character abandoning a cult would have to suffer a the attacks of a spirit appropriate to the cult during a time of great stress. In @Storm Khan's example, a Lune [a 'moon elemental'] would engage in spirit combat while the initiate was in temporal combat. This is especially appropriate if the character is in conflict with members of said cult [said initiate was in conflict with Seven Mothers or Red Goddess cultists].

Initiates would suffer one such attack. Rune levels are a little problematic. I'm personally inclined to say that they suffer such an attack for each Rune Point in the cult. Some people might find that severe, however.

Certain specific deities have some pretty uncomplicated permanent curses that are appropriate as well... Issaries' Raw Greed would cause apostates to NEVER succeed in a Bargain attempt again and and Humakt's 'sword-breaker' curse. These would take the place of a spiritual attack for initiates, but be in addition to spiritual attacks for Rune levels.

 

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3 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

you may make your npc more than just apostate. something explaining why she became apostate, and it may help you to explain the type of "demon"

She may have dirsupted a chaotic sacrifice -> send a chaotic monster as reprisal (not necessarily a very dangerous one)

She may have prevented a tax collector to do his job ->send a tax demon (very nice to "remove" some pc items)

 

etc...

She becomes an apostate during the siege of Notchet, behind the Lunar earthworks. A gang of Lunar soldiers attempt a gang-rape when the PC’s blunder into the unfolding violence, hopefully interrupting. 
 

They better interrupt, or I have the wrong players. 
 

A spirit of reprisal reflecting this event is the stuff of a horror movie. 

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By the by, the OP discussed a Lune having a Move of 6 and that it wasn't good 'hunter' material because of that. I've always had the understanding that Gloranthan elementals are primarily spirit creatures that temporarily inhabit a body of their element when summoned. However, I was recently corrected about my understanding of what constituted 'undead' in the game, so I decided to ask about elementals specifically [link to thread below].

If elementals are natives of the Spirit Plane, then they can appear and engage in spirit combat much faster than a human can run or ride anything.

https://basicroleplaying.org/topic/15493-elementals-spirits-or-corporeal-beings-in-glorantha/#comment-243446

 

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10 hours ago, Baron Wulfraed said:

Captain Hook's crocodile... (or was it an alligator?)

I'm seeing some apostate initiate crying 'I want my mummy!!' as Dustin Hoffman's Capt. Hook did in the wonderful version of Peter Pan with him, Julia Roberts, and Robin Williams ['Hook' 1991].

Edited by svensson
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1 hour ago, svensson said:

By the by, the OP discussed a Lune having a Move of 6 and that it wasn't good 'hunter' material because of that. I've always had the understanding that Gloranthan elementals are primarily spirit creatures that temporarily inhabit a body of their element when summoned. However, I was recently corrected about my understanding of what constituted 'undead' in the game, so I decided to ask about elementals specifically [link to thread below].

If elementals are natives of the Spirit Plane, then they can appear and engage in spirit combat much faster than a human can run or ride anything.

https://basicroleplaying.org/topic/15493-elementals-spirits-or-corporeal-beings-in-glorantha/#comment-243446

 

I understand that anything materializing from the Spirit World has to wait a melee round before attacking, so my NPC would have a free round, as long as she stays in the Middle World.

P. 366 "If a spirit wishes to attack a corporeal being, the spirit makes itself visible in the Middle World the melee round prior to its first attack. . . . If both combatants are already in the Spirit World, there is no delay."

As a spirit of reprisal, it would be sent by the deity, not summoned.

A Lune, furthermore, is a bright blob of red light. They don't blend in, like a water elemental in a pond might.

A Selene is much harder to perceive but not immediately lethal. A person could run away.

Interesting consideration, though, for someone getting ready to open a table.

An elemental ambush is possible if that elemental is more natural that a Lune and summoned by a priest or whomever.

What say you others?

 

 

 

Edited by Storm Khan
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@Storm Khan

Well, a Lune would be harder to detect in an area of intense Red Moon magic... say within the Glow Line in Sacred Time... but otherwise yes, it's a red glow.

But Spirits in the Spirit Plane don't abide by Middle World rules of speed, gravity and so on. In your game situation, the Lune appears whenever you want it to, usually at a time that's HIGHLY inconvenient for the apostate. Such times usually limit the apostate's movement and therefore the Lune can initiate spirit combat whenever you as the referee want it to.

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13 hours ago, Storm Khan said:

I considered a Lune. It’s movement of 6, though, makes it in ineffective chaser. This could become a foot race instead of a confrontation, a race my antagonist will likely loose. 

Quote

"Who are those guys" 

Butch and/or Sundance... several times!

Does not have to be fast when it does not need to eat or sleep. Dogged determination spread over a season or two could be interesting!

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... remember, with a TARDIS, one is never late for breakfast!

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12 hours ago, Baron Wulfraed said:

Captain Hook's crocodile... (or was it an alligator?)

Well, at the risk of having someone accuse me of cheap humour, It was a crock... err croc!

1 hour ago, svensson said:

I'm seeing some apostate initiate crying 'I want my mummy!!' as Dustin Hoffman's Capt. Hook did in the wonderful version of Peter Pan with him, Julia Roberts, and Robin Williams ['Hook' 1991].

Great movie... the cell phone duel was rather funny!

... remember, with a TARDIS, one is never late for breakfast!

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1 hour ago, svensson said:

@Storm Khan

Well, a Lune would be harder to detect in an area of intense Red Moon magic... say within the Glow Line in Sacred Time... but otherwise yes, it's a red glow.

But Spirits in the Spirit Plane don't abide by Middle World rules of speed, gravity and so on. In your game situation, the Lune appears whenever you want it to, usually at a time that's HIGHLY inconvenient for the apostate. Such times usually limit the apostate's movement and therefore the Lune can initiate spirit combat whenever you as the referee want it to.

True. Ultimately, it comes down to my sense of aesthetics as the GM.

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On 1/28/2022 at 7:56 AM, Storm Khan said:

I considered a Lune. It’s movement of 6, though, makes it in ineffective chaser. This could become a foot race instead of a confrontation, a race my antagonist will likely loose. 

I wouldn't have the Lune chase after the character. I'd have the Lune appear adjacent to the apostate by sliding down a beam of red moonlight, vertically growing up out of a patch of moonlight on the ground, stepping through the moonlight shining on a wall or mirror as if through a door, or have a patch of moonlight break off from or step away from its location and unfold itself into the shape of a Lune. Make the spirit of reprisal's appearance weird, eerie, something that violates the usual rules or expected behavior of moon light.

Edited by Bren
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On 1/29/2022 at 6:03 PM, Bren said:

I wouldn't have the Lune chase after the character. I'd have the Lune appear adjacent to the apostate by sliding down a beam of red moonlight, vertically growing up out of a patch of moonlight on the ground, stepping through the moonlight shining on a wall or mirror as if through a door, or have a patch of moonlight break off from or step away from its location and unfold itself into the shape of a Lune. Make the spirit of reprisal's appearance weird, eerie, something that violates the usual rules or expected behavior of moon light.

Cool imagery. 

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On 1/29/2022 at 4:03 PM, Bren said:

I wouldn't have the Lune chase after the character. I'd have the Lune appear adjacent to the apostate by sliding down a beam of red moonlight, vertically growing up out of a patch of moonlight on the ground, stepping through the moonlight shining on a wall or mirror as if through a door, or have a patch of moonlight break off from or step away from its location and unfold itself into the shape of a Lune. Make the spirit of reprisal's appearance weird, eerie, something that violates the usual rules or expected behavior of moon light.

This is kinda what I was implying.

An elemental doesn't have to physically chase you. They follow you on the Spirit Plane and then manifest in the Middle World when it is advantageous for them.

So a Lune cascading down on a beam of red moolight, a Gnome erupting out of the earth in a pillar of stone, a Sylph manifesting as a mini-whirlwind, etc. etc.

And that is JUST the kind of imagery you're looking for! The Gods are vexed with your apostate and that should be made clear to him in the most direct terms.

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The Seven Mothers has no spirit of reprisal - but that just means that you do not normally get punished simply for leaving the cult, especially for an initiate.
But it’s always the case that the priests of the cult can decide to target and punish someone they feel has done something that deserves reprisal. So I don’t think the described situation is a spirit of reprisal exactly, but more likely a priest targeting an apostate that they think is going to turn on the cult, so they wish to make an example of them (so sets a cult spirit on them using Command Cult Spirit), so it is sent by a priest not the deity - this might be an entirely unimportant difference, or a significant one, for your game.

It’s actually pretty standard, and I think an important setting detail, that most Lunar Cults, including the Seven Mothers and all the individual Mothers, have no spirits of retribution. The goddess does want people in her cult(s) who do not want to be there. She offers a path to spiritual liberation, but she won’t force you to stay on the path if you don’t want to. And she also doesn’t punish minor infractions - or even try to enforce one single ideal about what a ‘good Lunar’ is. 
A few do - Etyries, Hon-Eel, Yara Aranis all have spirits of retribution. The latter two are more or less special cults for magical conquest. And Etyries has only fairly subtle ones. Sometimes for some more committed Lunars there may be some permanent magical consequences - like being stuck with cyclical magic permanently.
But mostly, the consequences of leaving a Lunar cult are minimal as far as the goddess is concerned - and can be as light or heavy as the situation merits as far as the Empire is concerned, but usually there is no official punishment per se for leaving the cult except losing the benefits of belonging. A soldier might find it hard to leave the cult without being guilty of desertion. A Danfive Xaron cultist who leaves the cult before they are considered reformed is no longer a criminal attempting to reform themselves through the mercy of the goddess, so legally they go back to just being a criminal, and are subject to normal punishments. But there punishments are mortal, not divine. Of course, someone who has left the cult and who knows important secrets, or has left the cult in a way that is considered a betrayal, or even if a particularly nasty Lunar priest wants to punish people who leave the cult to discourage them at a particular point, that is there problem. And I think the Lunar hierarchy are quite happy to punish people who break the rules of the cult but want to stay in it, and will often use cult spirits to do so, though physical punishments, or other magic, such as Lunar sorcery, may also be used. A bit of Madness is sometimes considered spiritually improving by the more hard core followers of the Lunar Way! 
I think this idea, that the Goddess herself does not force people to stay in the cult, or enforce the rules of the cult (but only her worshippers do) is important because it makes the difference between goddess and Empire clear, it’s one of the reasons the senior Lunars are not unified, and you get things like Dart Competitions in which Lunar nobles murder each other, or Fazzur Wideread and his supporters rebelling against the Empire and allying with Argrath.

And it is an interesting contrast to Orlanth - who has a whole range of spirits of reprisal for different offences, including the Impests and Brush Fellows who offer many small punishments for tiny infractions, so Orlanth very much has strong opinions about how to be a good Orlanth and makes them known - or Yelm - who has a whole range of terrifying Furies, who enforce Yelms Will very firmly, including the Woeful Maiden who punishes minor infractions and even apostate lay members, The Blind Fury who attempts to blind all other apostates by rendering them irreversibly blind, and the Hell Fury who drags the worst offenders off to hell. 

So some cults have many spirits of reprisal, and priests, especially senior priests, can probably use Command Cult Spirit to summon them up for special purposes - though it’s probably in itself breaking the cult rules to do so for inappropriate purposes, there is probably a bit of flexibility, especially if it’s make reprisal more effective. If a chief priest believes a worshipper has broken Orlanths laws particularly heinously, for example, he might be able to convince a bunch of initiates to hand out justice in person, and summon the spirits of reprisal (Flint Slingers or Thunder Fists as appropriate) to attack at the same time, and I think it’s perfectly fine to summon more powerful cult spirits for that purpose. 

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18 hours ago, davecake said:

It’s actually pretty standard, and I think an important setting detail, that most Lunar Cults, including the Seven Mothers and all the individual Mothers, have no spirits of retribution. The goddess does want people in her cult(s) who do not want to be there.

Lunars are hard to interpret. I think The Red Emperor likes it that way.

On one hand, there is the "We are all us" doctrine, the insistence that we are all connected at some fundamental level. Fighting, in turn, is self-brutalizing futility.

I suspect, however, that what "We are all us" really means is, Submit absolutely.

That explains sending the Crimson Bat to force-convert 4/5's of a population and destroying utterly, spiritually and physically, the remaining 1/5, or declaring an empire-wide  holiday after inflicting the Great Winter - famine - on ALL of Dragon Pass.

The idea of no sprits of reprisal slams up hard against these atrocities; I plan to have spirits of reprisal for my Lunar Cults to make them as brutal as everyone else and then pile a thick layer of hypocrisy over that. Yum-yum! That should drive my PC's into fits and spasms. I can hardly wait. 😃

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20 hours ago, svensson said:

The Gods are vexed with your apostate and that should be made clear to him in the most direct terms.

I will write-up what I am planning. It is pretty direct. Why, btw, this enthusiasm for Lunes? Should I just lie? OK, OK, HERE's YOUR %^$&#$g LUNE! HAPPY NOW? 😏

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