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Illumination and redemption.


ChildOfEru

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Andrew Montgomery describes lunar Illumination (blog entry: "How to Stop Worrying and Love the Red Moon") as mastering Chaos as opposed to being corrupted by it.  In my musings about Illumination I was wondering what this meant for those who have already been corrupted by Chaos. Is there a path back for those corrupted by Chaos through Lunar illumination?  By path back I don’t mean removing the Chaos taint but understanding how to not be ruled by instincts which are driven the Chaos taint.

 

This set of musings started with how Orlanthi initiation rites can sometimes leave the initiate permanently scarred, sometimes to the extent that there is no path back to normal society for them.  Does Illumination provide a path back for them? From a Lunar POV Illumination does provide exactly that path.  It mirrors the path that Red Goddess took. The Red Goddess is defeated by Wakboth, is Illuminated, and then she defeats Wakboth.

 

For an initiate who has failed their initiation, who will not be allowed back into society:   the lunar way provides a way back.

 

The following paragraphs have spoilers from ‘Six Seasons in Sartar’ (by Andrew Montgomery) and ‘The Coming Storm’ (by Ian Cooper and Jeff Richard).

 

Spoiler

It is clear from a couple of different publications that initiation ceremonies sometimes go sideways.   Sometimes the initiate can be tainted by chaos or sometimes they can go insane.    

 

In ‘The Coming Storm’ initiates who are from the Red Crow clan can come back from their initiation ceremony as an ogre (tainted by chaos).   In ‘Six Seasons in Sartar’ Darestan comes back damaged and perhaps permanently insane.

 

A path back for those poor unfortunate souls is provided by illumination.   Their path matches that of the Red goddess.   Defeated (tainted) by Chaos, Illuminated, and then defeating (understanding) that chaos.  Having defeated the Chaos, they are no longer ruled by it.

 

Given the events between Dorestan and Esrala in ‘Six Seaons in Sartar’ I plan on having Erinina ( Rune Lady of Babeester Gor) demanding that Dorestan be turned over to her.  Those familiar with Babeester Gor know Dorestan’s fate there.   The ‘Red Lady’ will make an early appearance to offer a return to sanity for Dorestan ( the fact that this will be through illumination might be left unsaid depending on her reading of the people involved).    

 

Dorestan’s parents will want a path forward for their son.   The characters having grown up with Darestan will be the deciding vote.

 


 

Edited by ChildOfEru
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8 minutes ago, ChildOfEru said:

This set of musings started with how Orlanthi initiation rites can sometimes leave the initiate permanently scarred, sometimes to the extent that there is no path back to normal society for them.  Does Illumination provide a path back for them? From a Lunar POV Illumination does provide exactly that path.

I mean, the Lunars don’t even think the Chaos-tainted need redemption, although the liberation and potential self-control offered is an upside of Illumination.

Orlanthi are not likely to think it’s a good thing if someone moves from regular Chaos to Undetectable Chaos, and are super unlikely to go with the argument ”he used to be Chaotic but the Lunars fixed him, honest!” Although who can tell what desperate parents will be willing to try…

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Illumination allows the Illuminate to overcome their own nature. That includes natures traditionally considered to be disposed to corruption and evil, e.g. that of Broos. The Lunar Way offers this to many creatures ruled by such instincts. But redemption comes with a lot of extraneous moral baggage. Illumination cannot, at its base, provide for the absolute condemnation of moral evils. And in many ways Illumination, at least in the Rashorana-Osentalka tradition, encourages you to readily utilize what others call evil in order to accomplish your goals. Illumination is surprisingly negativist in that way; it doesn't provide you with good reasons to do anything, it just removes the constraints you were artificially imposing upon yourself. Your goals could be quite noble ones; maybe the ends justify the means. But are these necessary manipulations, sacrifices, abuses, and atrocities? Or just an unspeakably hubristic way of making the world unnecessarily shitty? Maybe a bit of both.

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10 hours ago, ChildOfEru said:

Andrew Montgomery describes lunar Illumination (blog entry: "How to Stop Worrying and Love the Red Moon") as mastering Chaos as opposed to being corrupted by it.  In my musings about Illumination I was wondering what this meant for those who have already been corrupted by Chaos. Is there a path back for those corrupted by Chaos through Lunar illumination?  By path back I don’t mean removing the Chaos taint but understanding how to not be ruled by instincts which are driven the Chaos taint.

Illumination is not being corrupted by Chaos, it is being freed from the shackles of seeing Chaos as being bad.

Lunar Illumination is normal Illumination Plus the Sevening, or opening of the Seventh Soul.

So, being Illuminated, or achieving Lunar Illumination, does not mean that you have been corrupted by Chaos.

If, however, you were corrupted by Chaos, by gaining a Chaos Taint or Feature, then became Illuminated, then Illumination frees you from being corrupted or tainted, so that you are no longer Chaotic. You still retain the Chaotic Powers, but they are not Chaotic.

10 hours ago, ChildOfEru said:

This set of musings started with how Orlanthi initiation rites can sometimes leave the initiate permanently scarred, sometimes to the extent that there is no path back to normal society for them.  Does Illumination provide a path back for them?

It can do, yes.

Of course, it depends on the scarring the initiate received. 

Sometime, Illumination is a way to realise that what happened to you wasn't that bad and stops you from becoming a monster out of revenge.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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14 minutes ago, soltakss said:

If, however, you were corrupted by Chaos, by gaining a Chaos Taint or Feature, then became Illuminated, then Illumination frees you from being corrupted or tainted, so that you are no longer Chaotic. You still retain the Chaotic Powers, but they are not Chaotic.

Is there anything in the game to back that up? In Cults of Terror, the benefits of Illumination extend to having one's Chaotic nature be undetectable, but there's nothing to suggest that they are no longer tainted with Chaos - just that they have a choice about how to respond to it. I believe in Cults of Glorantha undetectability remains a possible benefit, but is no longer guaranteed.

This thread says more on the rules for Illumination:

And the new scenario A Short Detour on Jonstown Compendium has a (non-canonical) set of rules for being tainted by the Chaos Rune and resisting it, in a context which is directly relevant to the original question from @ChildOfEru.

--

The Silver best-selling The Children of Hykim offers over 150 pages on Glorantha's shape-changing totemic animal people, the Hsunchen. "Magisterial ... highly recommended" - Nick Brooke. "An amazing labor of love" - Evan Franke, Exploring Glorantha. "A deep dive" - Joerg Baumgartner. "Excellent sourcebook, well-written and well-researched" - Niall Sullivan.

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11 minutes ago, Brian Duguid said:

Is there anything in the game to back that up? In Cults of Terror, the benefits of Illumination extend to having one's Chaotic nature be undetectable, but there's nothing to suggest that they are no longer tainted with Chaos - just that they have a choice about how to respond to it.

They don't detect as being tainted with Chaos, so they are not tainted with Chaos.

If Storm Bull cannot Sense or Detect you as being Chaotic then you are not Chaotic.

Who are we to say that we know Chaos better than Storm Bull.

Trust your senses!

It all depends on how you view Illumination. I see it as a way of freeing yourself from the shackles of Chaos and non-Chaos. Others may see it differently.

12 minutes ago, Brian Duguid said:

I believe in Cults of Glorantha undetectability remains a possible benefit, but is no longer guaranteed.

I cannot comment on rules that have not been published.

 

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

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I think the Monster Empire and the final days of the Empire of Light are the answer to what is wrong with illumination.

Illumination is like being asked to mind a million dollars.

Days, weeks, years pass. Then, one day, the day before pay day, your run out of money. Family emergency. Your kids need to see the doctor. So, you will get paid tomorrow, surely there is no harm borrowing the money from the cash pile, you will replace it tomorrow. 

After succumbing to temptation, it becomes easier to do it next time. Until one day there is a big hole in that cash pile, and your intentions of paying it back have been indefinitely deferred. 

You can think of a whole pile of scenarios like that. A Lhankor Mhy sage, who desperately needs to decipher and learn a scroll, to save their people. For an illuminate there is an easier way. Beleaguered defenders, taking a chaos taint to strengthen them against their foes, to protect their loved ones. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.

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53 minutes ago, soltakss said:

They don't detect as being tainted with Chaos, so they are not tainted with Chaos.

If Storm Bull cannot Sense or Detect you as being Chaotic then you are not Chaotic.

Who are we to say that we know Chaos better than Storm Bull.

Trust your senses!

It all depends on how you view Illumination. I see it as a way of freeing yourself from the shackles of Chaos and non-Chaos. Others may see it differently.

I cannot comment on rules that have not been published.

 

You !!! You are chaotic and illuminate to say such :20-moon-phase-4-Full-Moon::20-power-illusion: !!!

 

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"Redemption" is moral language. Many of the ways you can acquire a detectable Chaos Rune percentage are via things like the Chaos Gift spell. Now, maybe the intent is that Chaos is concentrated evil or whatever and so by continuing to live with the aftereffects of Chaos Gift rather than committing suicide you're engaging in an immoral act, but that's never been articulated and so I remain free to say that "Chaotic taint" is generally something a bit at angles to morality.

So the ability of Illumination or of some Illuminates to no longer show up on Chaotic radar is also by definition at angles to morality. It isn't directly related to any immoral or moral things you may have done, and if you have committed immoral actions against someone, those are not wiped out. 

But because Illumination liberates people from strictures, it enables them to behave more morally. Even setting aside broo and scorpionpeople, if you're a Sartarite laboring under an interpretation of the setting whereby you are required to kill children who show signs of affinity with the Moon, then Illumination gives you the perspective necessary to realize that infanticide is wrong. 

Indeed, you can argue that Illumination is a necessary aspect of moral choice in the sense that "do this or you will be tortured by spirits of reprisal" is not really a choice at all, and as such it is not a matter of morality, but of not engaging in pointless self-harm for the sake of defiance. 

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

Eight Arms and the Mask

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3 hours ago, soltakss said:

I cannot comment on rules that have not been published.

It's as stated publicly in the other Illumination thread that I linked to, specifically this post.

--

The Silver best-selling The Children of Hykim offers over 150 pages on Glorantha's shape-changing totemic animal people, the Hsunchen. "Magisterial ... highly recommended" - Nick Brooke. "An amazing labor of love" - Evan Franke, Exploring Glorantha. "A deep dive" - Joerg Baumgartner. "Excellent sourcebook, well-written and well-researched" - Niall Sullivan.

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On 2/6/2022 at 7:23 PM, soltakss said:

Lunar Illumination is normal Illumination Plus the Sevening, or opening of the Seventh Soul.

Personally, I think the Seventh Soul is just Lunar/Pelorian terminology for a very common mystic concept - and not only does everyone really have a Seventh Soul (it’s becoming aware and in touch with it that is becoming Illuminated), but it’s actually all the same Seventh Soul - there is literally one, that all share. This can be considered just a metaphor for the unity of all experienced during Illumination, but it’s also as literally true as anything about mysticism is. We are all us. 
The Sevening Rites are different in method, not goal. They are both a very quick method of attaining Illumination, and a very dangerous one, because they invoke Lunar magic and Madness to force the mind out of its normal limits (and then other Lunar magic to draw it back to something normal). 

 

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53 minutes ago, davecake said:

Personally, I think the Seventh Soul is just Lunar/Pelorian terminology for a very common mystic concept - and not only does everyone really have a Seventh Soul (it’s becoming aware and in touch with it that is becoming Illuminated), but it’s actually all the same Seventh Soul - there is literally one, that all share. This can be considered just a metaphor for the unity of all experienced during Illumination, but it’s also as literally true as anything about mysticism is. We are all us. 
The Sevening Rites are different in method, not goal. They are both a very quick method of attaining Illumination, and a very dangerous one, because they invoke Lunar magic and Madness to force the mind out of its normal limits (and then other Lunar magic to draw it back to something normal). 

 

I think I'd argue that Sevening is a term for "in tune with Lunar mystical understanding" more than anything else and that you can get to the point of passing Illumination examination through traditional mystical traditions, relatively sedate Lunar methods, and the contemplative equivalent of doing speedballs all alike, so long as Great Sister approves of them or you can convincingly walk the walk and talk the talk. After all, hallowing neurodivergence requires never actually establishing a single point of normality... 

And of course, this helps keep the halls of power from growing too stagnant, because then you can have a variety of people (possibly even PCs if you're bold enough) with a variety of opinions who disagree, rather than a kind of drugged-out hivemind collectively rolling another joint while Furthest burns. 

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

Eight Arms and the Mask

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I have always played that all the different ways to illumination, whether Draconic, Arkati, Lunar, Hermit or any other, take you to the same place. So the effect in the Chaos tainted is not the point, just a side effect of discovering there are no absolutes, it all depends on your point of view, and that you can actually change that point of view.  

In my view you are not redeemed, you just realize you are not defined by Chaos, and it can be ignored if you want. And because this is Glorantha, if you ignore your inner Chaos, the others will not notice  it either.

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On 2/6/2022 at 12:47 PM, Brian Duguid said:

Is there anything in the game to back that up? In Cults of Terror, the benefits of Illumination extend to having one's Chaotic nature be undetectable, but there's nothing to suggest that they are no longer tainted with Chaos - just that they have a choice about how to respond to it.

I agree with this. The Red Goddess 100% has the Chaos rune, for instance. Ralzakark really is Chaotic.

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8 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

I agree with this. The Red Goddess 100% has the Chaos rune, for instance. Ralzakark really is Chaotic.

Maybe illuminates can detect as chaotic if they want? Or is the Red Goddess’ chaos nature inferred from the company she keeps?

in which case where does that leave Humakt? Humakt accepts chaos, like Ralzakark’s sword Broos

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Humakt might not be actively opposed to Chaos just because it's Chaos - but considering the behavoir and mythical association of the Chaos divinities, he ends up quite violently opposed to most of them (with those involved with undeath espcially singled out)

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An important aspect of Gods, IMG, is that they do not have will any more. Humakt cannot choose to accept or reject an initiate. If the initiate fulfills the requirements and the officiating priest, who represents the God and does have free will, agrees, they are in. Changing the requirements, or changing the apparent will of the God can be done by heroes, who exchange some of their free will with power from the God, allowing the unchanging to change. 

Illumination frees your will, and make the will exchanges evident to the illuminated, but they still happen. I play that an illuminate is still bound by their geas, but not so tightly, so they can ignore them, but while they ignore them, they lose also the benefits. Their advantage is that they can reassume the geas and then renew the benefits when they need them. They can choose to be a devout Humakti, and reap the benefits, and then stop being one, and be friendly with Delecti. Because the God has not say on this, is a force without will. 

I also play that illumination affects the soul, not the body. So you do not detect as chaotic, but if your arm transformed into a tentacle, it continues to be a tentacle, and the Uroxi will at least chop it, and usually your head afterwards, no matter what Sense Chaos is telling her.

Taken to the extreme, Sedenya used up all her will to become the Red Moon in the sky. But she is illuminated, so in theory she could stop being the Moon and recover her will, but that would mean the constituent matter of the moon would fall down, and all who draw power from her would lose it. Not something you can unmake more than once. But she could change, and maybe she does in the future, when the Red Moon is no longer needed. Or if someone convinces her it is the right choice.

I also would contend that when Arkat faced Nysalor, both abandoned their own power personas, so they really were the same, knowledgeable illuminates doing what they thought was best. They saw things could not continue that way, so they changed. Who left the meeting alive is impossible to say, though we know that they assumed Arkat's power and image. Possibly because it still had some will left to change and adapt into the New Age, while Nysalor had used up all of his, so he could not change his role into the Second Age. 

I expect that most illuminates face a choice, one or several times in their lives. Power against freedom. Non-illuminates do not have the choice, as the path of more power, less freedom, is one way for them. 

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On 2/9/2022 at 2:52 AM, Eff said:

I think I'd argue that Sevening is a term for "in tune with Lunar mystical understanding" more than anything else

Mystic understanding is mystic understanding - it’s pretty much canon that Illumination is mysticism is all fundamentally the same. The Lunars are pretty clear about that too - they treat Illuminates from non-Lunar traditions (obviously Nysalor, also eg the Order of Day) as valid Illuminates. And the Lunar sources tend to refer to the Sevening Rites, but not whether an individual is Sevened - its method, not outcome.

On 2/9/2022 at 2:52 AM, Eff said:

and that you can get to the point of passing Illumination examination through traditional mystical traditions, relatively sedate Lunar methods, and the contemplative equivalent of doing speedballs all alike, so long as Great Sister approves of them or you can convincingly walk the walk and talk the talk.

But it’s really just a point of terminology if you agree there are different methods of getting to the same place. Though I don’t think the Lunar traditions are ‘sedate’.

I do think the Lunar Illuminates, the Examiners at least, do have the Illuminated ability to detect other Illuminates, and so you can’t just parrot Lunar propoganda, you have to actually be Illuminated - besides, you actually need to be Illuminated to do lots of the cool deep Lunar inner circle magic, like becoming a master of the Life and Death rune at once, and of course that notorious Red Goddess magic. 

I do agree, though, that the Lunars are diverse in their approaches, and not too all the same - she promises liberation, and how could everyone be liberated, but not allowed to disagree? It’s interesting that most Lunar gods have no spirits of reprisal, too - the goddess doesn’t not try to control who her worshippers are (though the Empire might). 
 

 

 

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37 minutes ago, davecake said:

Mystic understanding is mystic understanding - it’s pretty much canon that Illumination is mysticism is all fundamentally the same. The Lunars are pretty clear about that too - they treat Illuminates from non-Lunar traditions (obviously Nysalor, also eg the Order of Day) as valid Illuminates. And the Lunar sources tend to refer to the Sevening Rites, but not whether an individual is Sevened - its method, not outcome.

But it’s really just a point of terminology if you agree there are different methods of getting to the same place. Though I don’t think the Lunar traditions are ‘sedate’.

I do think the Lunar Illuminates, the Examiners at least, do have the Illuminated ability to detect other Illuminates, and so you can’t just parrot Lunar propoganda, you have to actually be Illuminated - besides, you actually need to be Illuminated to do lots of the cool deep Lunar inner circle magic, like becoming a master of the Life and Death rune at once, and of course that notorious Red Goddess magic. 

I do agree, though, that the Lunars are diverse in their approaches, and not too all the same - she promises liberation, and how could everyone be liberated, but not allowed to disagree? It’s interesting that most Lunar gods have no spirits of reprisal, too - the goddess doesn’t not try to control who her worshippers are (though the Empire might). 
 

 

 

Well, to clarify, what I meant is that, based on the material about Great Sister overseeing and approving particular schools of Illumination, and the hints that Lunar doctrine had to be reformulated post-Sheng Seleris, and the existence of Lunar Examiners, that there are distinctions made between proper and improper methods. And we know that Occlusion is an element of Lunar doctrine, so there are certainly proper and improper mystical outcomes. These may or may not be universally true- Occlusion/failed mysticism may be "objective" in the sense that all proper mystics would recognize the exact same person as a failed mystic- but they certainly exist. 

And of course, there is a substantial ideological conflict going on in the Lunar Empire over the White Moon, which presumably includes Illuminated followers of the White Moon, at the very least the "Keepers of the White Moon" that Jar-eel debates. So my assumption is that these distinctions have a fundamentally political character.  There is the "proper" Illumination cluster, and the "improper" Illumination cluster, which would include Zolathi and methods that might get Seleric, Chaotic methods that are not formally part of Third Hand Illumination, various Solar efforts that reject the Moon, and of course methods from outside the immediate cultural sphere and Naturals probably exist outside of the fold and require a bit more scrutiny. Perhaps on a case-by-case basis, turning it into an opportunity for adventuring and the like. 

But by the same token, it is not possible to automatically distinguish between the two- it is possible to note that someone is muttering about all life being slavery, or is trying to import sharks for an aquarium, or rejects the idea of paying taxes. There might even be psychonautical methods of poking into someone's mind, narcotically or hypnotically or via applied sorcerous extrapolation of "We are all Us" or whatever. But these can be fooled, and so the Lunar Empire, even within the enlightened realm, is constantly faced with oppositions that must be reconciled despite their seeming impossibility. Which I think is more thematically resonant for playing in and with Lunars, and of course a lot more fun if you're going to go poking around in the realms of Illumination.

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

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10 hours ago, Eff said:

Well, to clarify, what I meant is that, based on the material about Great Sister overseeing and approving particular schools of Illumination,

Oh, yes there are, for sure. But the distinction is about likelihood of Occlusion, rather than likelihood of Illumination. And an Examiner can approve someone who used an unapproved method (fairly unusually) or disapprove an Illuminate who used an approved method (not uncommonly for the politically dissenting).

I do not think there is an objective distinction between ‘failed’ mystics and the correct ones. Yes, they all recognise they exist, and then disagree about who they are. 

10 hours ago, Eff said:

And of course, there is a substantial ideological conflict going on in the Lunar Empire over the White Moon, which presumably includes Illuminated followers of the White Moon, at the very least the "Keepers of the White Moon" that Jar-eel debates. So my assumption is that these distinctions have a fundamentally political character.

Yes, absolutely! And the actions of Great Sister and Jar-Eel later are very likely tied into the same basic fault lines in the Empire. 

 

10 hours ago, Eff said:

There is the "proper" Illumination cluster, and the "improper" Illumination cluster, which would include Zolathi and methods that might get Seleric, Chaotic methods that are not formally part of Third Hand Illumination, various Solar efforts that reject the Moon, and of course methods from outside the immediate cultural sphere and Naturals probably exist outside of the fold and require a bit more scrutiny. Perhaps on a case-by-case basis, turning it into an opportunity for adventuring and the like. 

Yes, though it depends quite how much you think the Examiners are corrupted by Imperial politics, how much they are motivated by esoteric mystic arguments, and how much it is personal. I assume the machinations of the Examiners are complex enough to be as inscrutable and baffling for all to be true in whatever combination is needed. I do think one of the reasons things like the Order of Day exists is so that methods of Illumination outside the Lunar systems, and the immediate cultural sphere, have a place to be studied and fitted into the system, even if they are not steeped in Lunar theory. 


I do think that the Examiners are far from infallible, and senior mystics are found to be secret heretics, with or without a genuine basis, from time to time - certainly in any fun high powered Lunar game. I just think they are seldom wrong (as an institution, at least) about whether someone Is an Illuminate at all. 

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16 hours ago, JRE said:

I play that an illuminate is still bound by their geas, but not so tightly, so they can ignore them, but while they ignore them, they lose also the benefits. Their advantage is that they can reassume the geas and then renew the benefits when they need them.

That is how I play it too. 

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