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Sun County cremation


Russ Massey

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I was just wondering how the cremation cerrmony for male worshippers of Yelmalio is carried out in Sun County. Given the lack of wood and no access to fire magic, how is the process managed? Do they sacrifice one of the valuable date palms? I would inagine that animal dung and leaves are not going to cut it temperature-wise.

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The Templars themselves might not have much fire magic, but they probably keep one or two Oakfed worshipers on call to cast Cremate Dead when needed. There's also going to be people who know Ignite, which could be used in a pinch, though that doesn't solve the wood problem like CD does (or have the same magical impact).

Edited by Richard S.
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50 minutes ago, Russ Massey said:

I was just wondering how the cremation cerrmony for male worshippers of Yelmalio is carried out in Sun County. Given the lack of wood and no access to fire magic, how is the process managed? Do they sacrifice one of the valuable date palms? I would inagine that animal dung and leaves are not going to cut it temperature-wise.

I think they burn the corpse on top of a hollow pile of stones, which has been packed with dried skullbushes and other shrubbery. 

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18 minutes ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

not a full answer, but remember that even in sun county there are not only yelmalio cultists, you can find Yelm priests, and Yelm is (was ?) emperor of the deads, so its priests may have the role to burn the dead people with their god's powers

Burning the dead would not be undertaken by Yelm priests - that would pollute their purity.  The correct deity to burn the dead is Enverinus (you can find him noted in GRoY), but that is simply the DH name for Oakfed in his role as the Holy Fire.

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Why do you assume there is no wood?

We have been told the model for Prax is the American southwest.

It's not all Death Valley.  It's 99+% not Death Valley.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/68/View_of_the_Rio_Grande_Valley_from_the_old_University_of_Albuquerque_NM.jpg

https://nmpoliticalreport.com/tag/middle-rio-grande-conservancy-district/

https://www.spa.usace.army.mil/Media/Fact-Sheets/Fact-Sheet-Article-View/Article/479099/middle-rio-grande-ecosystem-restoration-project-new-mexico/

And Sun County is downstream from Pavis, in the valley of the Zola Fel river.  You can practice agriculture there - which you can't in most of Prax. 

The more arid (average) areas of Prax, outside the valley, are likely to look like this, which is still not devoid of vegatation:

https://www.123rf.com/photo_18819890_interstate-10-west-in-texas.html

(minus the asphalt superhighway of course.)

http://www.houstonfreeways.com/modern/2007-005-13_i10_west_texas.aspx

not to say that there aren't plenty of dry areas, like this one

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jornada_del_Muerto

that decimated a retreating Confederate  army in 1862.  But they were just unprepared logistically, were pursued, and took a bad route.  Think of them as the Lunars in Prax, making mistakes that the Praxians wouldn't.

 

 

 

Edited by Squaredeal Sten
Spelling and capitalization; then added phosto links and history.
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I would prefer to have a small group of Cremators, that worship almost like a cult spirit Enverinus, as indicated above, to get access to Cremate Dead. In Glorantha I prefer magic in religious matters. 

However when reading the question, I had a vision of a file of templars casting fireblade on their pikes, stabbing the corpse, and maintaining the spell till it is burnt to a crisp...

Military honors.

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2 hours ago, Squaredeal Sten said:

Why do you assume there is no wood?

Because Praxians fed the Forest of Prax to Oakfed in the Darkness.

There might be a few shrubs here and there, but, outside of Oases and rivers, no clumps of trees.

Can't you get oil from skullbushes? I seem to remember that in the back of my mind. That could get a lovely fire going.

Other than that, as others have mentioned, Cremate Dead is your friend.

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

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14 minutes ago, soltakss said:

Because Praxians fed the Forest of Prax to Oakfed in the Darkness.

There might be a few shrubs here and there, but, outside of Oases and rivers, no clumps of trees.

Can't you get oil from skullbushes? I seem to remember that in the back of my mind. That could get a lovely fire going.

Other than that, as others have mentioned, Cremate Dead is your friend.

YGMV of course.  But you have a couple of important caveats in there when the subject is finding enough wood for a fire/ funeral pyre.

Sun county is in and along a river valley.  

And mesquite and tumbleweeds and associated brush burn just fine.   You won't have many logs (though mesquite will grow pretty big) but with some work you can have a lot of wood.

 

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Proper cremation on a pyre requires a lot of wood. 500-600 kilograms. You could, just barely, use dung to do a partial cremation that left charred bones by using a furnace and some method of forcing air to pass through. Or let the corpse desiccate for a while first. 

But magic seems like the best bet. Which implies shamanic undertakers...

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

Eight Arms and the Mask

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7 minutes ago, Eff said:

Which implies shamanic undertakers...

IMG there's at least one notable Man-and-a-Half Pamalt shaman-priest wandering the Wastes who can provide that kind of service.  He's also pretty generous with his specially treated hazia, in the right company.  I'd expect Pamalt-style cremation to be pretty prevalent among the Men-and-a-Half, depending on cult.

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14 hours ago, JRE said:

I would prefer to have a small group of Cremators, that worship almost like a cult spirit Enverinus, as indicated above, to get access to Cremate Dead. In Glorantha I prefer magic in religious matters. 

It’s always important to remember that purist religion can be tempered by history and circumstance. Once, there were maybe Enverinus priests in the Dara Happan tradition.

But that was probably before centuries of isolation, centuries in which Dara Happan style urban priesthoods were probably unsustainable, but nomads who were both increasingly worshippers of Yelmalio (at least in the Impala tribe) and had shamans who were acquainted with Oakfed were easy to be found. They would probably long ago have worked out they were much the same. Yelmalio worship in Prax has already compromised on many points, like the Impala tribe Yelmalions having geases about Impala rather than horses. If they use the Cremate Dead spell, it’s probably via spirit cults of Oakfed?
 

15 hours ago, JRE said:

However when reading the question, I had a vision of a file of templars casting fireblade on their pikes, stabbing the corpse, and maintaining the spell till it is burnt to a crisp...

Well, it’s very unlikely they do that - all Yelmalions are forbidden to use Fireblade (barring a few rare heroquesty methods). I do think rarely a senior priest will light the pyre with a Sunspear as a sign of great respect. 
Or fire elementals, I guess? 
 

17 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

even in sun county there are not only yelmalio cultists, you can find Yelm priests,

I’m not sure. There would not be, I think, anyone of the noble line of Yelm still remaining there, and it seems likely they’d have been noted if they were, so the only way to join Yelm, according to the rules, would probably be for an acceptable priest of an associated god to retire from their own cult and join Yelm The Elder, and it seems weird to do that if there is no other Yelm cult there. I think Yelm mostly just exists as an associated cult? 
There would have been Pure Horse People and other Yelm worshippers in Prax/Sun County in earlier eras - but they seem gone. 

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11 hours ago, dumuzid said:

IMG there's at least one notable Man-and-a-Half Pamalt shaman-priest wandering the Wastes who can provide that kind of service.  He's also pretty generous with his specially treated hazia, in the right company.  I'd expect Pamalt-style cremation to be pretty prevalent among the Men-and-a-Half, depending on cult.

While I think a Pamalt shaman would be so weird as to not want to use one in Prax (this is Generts territory! ), I’d also note that the Pamalt cult do not cremate people - they bury them, so that their lineage plants grow from their bodies. Which isn’t surprising for an Earth cult. 

Though the Pamaltelan Noruma tradition seems a better match - that’s the Pamaltelan equivalent of the Horned Man, so the most mighty Pamaltelan shamans are in the Noruma tradition anyway, and he does have fire powers. 


I tend to think the Men-And-A-Half culture sort of skipped ever becoming part of the Doraddi tradition, and thus Pamalt worship, anyway. Lodril is their guy. 

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I guess practicality for using shamans to assist cremation depend on just how many deaths per year we are talking about. With a Sun County population of 5000 IIRC, and an average life span of say 50, we can expect about 50 male deaths per year. That's far too many to be handled by even half a dozen shamans who are not tightly connected to the Sun County culture.

My own feeling is that Sun County should have adapted to circumstances and switched to air burial, with corpses raised on patforms (adobe pyramid perhaps?) allowed to dessicate and be consumed by raptors. I'm willing to go with the skullbush/oil answer for a quick fox though.

It's only the rank and file I was considering. I'm sure that any Templars or rune levels get impressive sendoffs with Sunspears/imported wood from the Big Rubble etc.

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18 minutes ago, Russ Massey said:

I guess practicality for using shamans to assist cremation depend on just how many deaths per year we are talking about. With a Sun County population of 5000 IIRC, and an average life span of say 50, we can expect about 50 male deaths per year. That's far too many to be handled by even half a dozen shamans who are not tightly connected to the Sun County culture.

My own feeling is that Sun County should have adapted to circumstances and switched to air burial, with corpses raised on patforms (adobe pyramid perhaps?) allowed to dessicate and be consumed by raptors. I'm willing to go with the skullbush/oil answer for a quick fox though.

It's only the rank and file I was considering. I'm sure that any Templars or rune levels get impressive sendoffs with Sunspears/imported wood from the Big Rubble etc.

Sun County has about 19000 people, though only around 4000 are Yelmalio initiates. It's only the Yelmalians who are going to be cremated.

Edited by Richard S.
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I agree with the spirit cult, but we have the typical problem between game mechanics (or monomyth) and subjective character perception. From a mechanics perception, it would be just a spirit cult that offers access to the spell Cremate dead, and that with maybe 10 cremators can handle the normal death rate, but will have trouble if there is a war. Adding assistants, apprentices, a few priestesses and diggers for the earth rites, and we have a community of a few dozen people that could handle the County's dead bodies, small enough not to appear in cult statistics.

From a subjective perspective, you may have Enverinus as the secret name of the spirit that gives the Cremate power, because that is a cool link with the wider mythology, but the rituals will be Praxian influenced from the dark times, and those that are initiated in it are ritually not allowed to be Yelmalio initiates. I agree that in time of conflict they may well trade with Pavis or the elves in the garden for dead wood, to speed up the cremations.

Back to mechanics, restricted from Yelmalio, due to the use of fire, the corpse handlers, male and female, may well be Ty Kora Tek cultists as the basic framework. That way they can attend to most corpses in the county. The cremation spirit may be associated, in this particular case, with TKT as a servant/helper. Surely they are also friendly with some Zola Fel cultists that handle the river people dead, probably by offering them to the river. So the subjective view will be secretive death cultists, with strange and frightening powers and friends.

The following question is how do the rest of the people treat the handlers of the dead. With the preeminence of tradition and separation of functions, I would propose they are respected but isolated from the majority of the population. They do not join most of the community ceremonies, holding their own, so they are outsiders, as is typical for those who handle dead bodies, but both the access, even if limited, to fire magic and the secrecy of the dead rites means they are apart from the typical Sun county citizens. The Yelm connection makes Ressurrection IMG more common and a joyful celebration, and there will be some ritual appeasement of TKT for releasing the dead back to the living. The discussion with the healers is also important because you cannot ressurrect a cremated body, so that must be decided, possibly with heavy political leaning from the Count and his court.

Finally, connecting with the shamans thread, probably some friendly Praxians (Impala?) shamans or even a local Daka Fal shaman may support them in case of spirit trouble or possession, although it is possible Ty Kora Tek may well have her own powers over spirits. We will see soon. Strong connection with the healers, specially with the possibility of Ressurrection for a few selected dead, but also with the transfer of bodies from one to the other. The connection may well be a rivalry between them. 

Lore fumble with the Fireblades. Just shows I need to reread more and write less. 

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5 hours ago, davecake said:

Specifically, the Yelmalio funeral rites are supposed to be carried out using smokeless fire. I assume this means they are a while after death, but I admit I also don’t know what are the standard (non-magical) methods of creating a smokeless fire. 

In our mundane world, excellent aeration, and use of dry fuel (including the corpse) to avoid steam formation as much as possible.

In magical Glorantha, purification magic attracting all soot.

 

Thunder Rebels mentions at least half a dozen lowfire husbands of Ernalda's handmaidens, including the funerary fire, Torabran.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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On 2/14/2022 at 11:51 PM, Russ Massey said:

I was just wondering how the cremation cerrmony for male worshippers of Yelmalio is carried out in Sun County. Given the lack of wood and no access to fire magic, how is the process managed? Do they sacrifice one of the valuable date palms? I would inagine that animal dung and leaves are not going to cut it temperature-wise.

The Northern Zola Fel Plains have scattered clumps of whitewood trees. Further to the south are dwarf pines and flood-tolerant hardwoods. Actually I am not sure there  Not really much in the form of date palms - the Zola Fel is more like the San Joaquin, Colorado, or Gila Rivers. That wood might not be all that useful for building, but it is plenty enough for fire. Certainly enough for cremation.

Lodril isn't really present in Sun County, but Oakfed is.

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1 hour ago, Jeff said:

.... the Zola Fel is more like the San Joaquin, Colorado, or Gila Rivers. That wood might not be all that useful for building, but it is plenty enough for fire. Certainly enough for cremation.

'''''''

Lower Coloradio river image:  a fair amount of trees there.  Not very big, but definitely there.

;ower colorado river authority image:

Gila river....

Gila river image

 

 

 

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5 minutes ago, Jeff said:

The Northern Zola Fel Plains have scattered clumps of whitewood trees. Further to the south are dwarf pines and flood-tolerant hardwoods. Actually I am not sure there  Not really much in the form of date palms - the Zola Fel is more like the San Joaquin, Colorado, or Gila Rivers. That wood might not be all that useful for building, but it is plenty enough for fire. Certainly enough for cremation.

I too see date palms as more an Oasis thing, rather than found growing along the Zola Fel.

(BTW, as discussed in another thread, I noted that because dates were a staple for the Bedu of Arabia and are very sweet, they didn't crave sweet things. They craved fat. Where we might give a child some candy as a treat, in those days on the Trucial Coast a treat would be giving a child a great big gobbet of fat to chew on. Just bear that in mind when a hospitable Praxian Oasis dweller offers you a "treat" that's not a marshmellow...)

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I'm running the Sandheart campaign at the moment, hence the mention of date palm trees, since all the settlements in that region have them listed as part of the tithing process. The area is as far as you can get from the Zola Fel and still be in Sun County, so no easy access to the waterside vegetation. Good to remeber that there is wood present however, even if unsuitable for building.

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Zola Fel driftwood arriving with the spring floodings may be specifically collected by the Sun County equivalent of stickpickers, to be delivered as their tithes (and entitling them to partake of the food sacrifices of the temples).

There might be a trading agreement with the caretakers of the Torch in Redwood, possibly with a permanent (regularly exchanged) contingent of Sun County templars guarding that site in exchange for rafts of deadwood broken off in the winter storms. I don't suppose that the Redwood elves allow logging rights to any other race but the Elder Giants, at least not of their signature redwoods. Other "undergrowth" or edge vegetation like regular pines might be granted as lumber to the river folk.

There is a possibility of charcoal expeditions from Sun County and Pavis to the Boathouse region in winter.

The bogs might have areas where peat could be harvested, as fuel for regular fires (say cooking). There may also be dead tree trunks in the bogs which might be dug up and dried before being used as fuel or even as building material - I would expect the bogs to have mitigated Oakfed's rage that turned the Praxian savannah into a steppe.

There might be coppicing near the bogs, both for spear shafts and fuel, and there might be migratory coppicing near the Boathouse region.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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