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What happens to initiates who DON'T go mad in the Sex Pit?


Rob Darvall

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And is there one in every initiation (ala Summons of Evil as a ritual requirement)?
If so, does that mean the Orlanthi are prepared for a guaranteed minimum number of broken initiates?

But mostly:

There's no obvious path for successful survivors.
To whom do they initiate? They've resisted Ragnaglar but not bonded with another God.
Might it give them an edge at IFWW?
It'll certainly mark them in some way.

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I can’t imagine that one in six goes into the sex pit - this would have gargantuan social effects. I’m also not sure anyone can really handle it - the participants are still kids at this point, and don’t have the tools for it. It’s just a question of amount of damage.

It might be Interesting to see what happens if you HQ it as an adult, though.

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54 minutes ago, Rob Darvall said:

And is there one in every initiation (ala Summons of Evil as a ritual requirement)?
If so, does that mean the Orlanthi are prepared for a guaranteed minimum number of broken initiates?

But mostly:

There's no obvious path for successful survivors.
To whom do they initiate? They've resisted Ragnaglar but not bonded with another God.
Might it give them an edge at IFWW?
It'll certainly mark them in some way.

Yes, I expect there is one in every initiation.

No, I don't expect it always breaks the initiate.  In fact, I think that's simply one Path from there and is highly dependent on initial reaction.

In my opinion, it's not just the Path of Ragnaglar, but also the Path of Kolat, Heler, maybe Yinkin, and others who don't quite fit the Orlanth/Storm Bull/Humakt/Vadrus ways (though individuals might reach those paths via the Strange Gods too).  

 

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50 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

Yes, I expect there is one in every initiation.

No, I don't expect it always breaks the initiate.  In fact, I think that's simply one Path from there and is highly dependent on initial reaction.

In my opinion, it's not just the Path of Ragnaglar, but also the Path of Kolat, Heler, maybe Yinkin, and others who don't quite fit the Orlanth/Storm Bull/Humakt/Vadrus ways (though individuals might reach those paths via the Strange Gods too).  

 

Not a bad idea. It's the "weird gods pit" until the big R shows up.

So there would need to be:

A cleansing/atonement ritual for when the worst happens. Perhaps divination to figure out how it happened. {Is it chance, Ragnaglar seizing a random opportunity,  or sabotage of the rites?}

Different effects for different gods (I just don't see Kolat manifesting in the same way as Yinkin frex) How does this play into the 'evil uncles' myth? Ie who chucks them down the hole when Heler chooses them?

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I think if we are going to discuss this topic, we need to stop dancing around the matter of what the Sex Pit actually was, because I'm starting to get the feeling here that it's not obvious to many!

If you think you get out of the Sex Pit by having sex, I must assume you are perhaps closer to Ragnaglar than you may be aware.

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Why should the sex pit be a place different from the prison of the strangers in the Orlanth experience? All the candidates are there.

 

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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3 hours ago, Ormi Phengaria said:

If you think you get out of the Sex Pit by having sex, I must assume you are perhaps closer to Ragnaglar than you may be aware.

It's not that - you (presumably) get out of your pit whether you succeed or fail. I just posit that no-one succeeds there - there are just degrees of failure. 

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2 hours ago, Joerg said:

Why should the sex pit be a place different from the prison of the strangers in the Orlanth experience? All the candidates are there.

 

you just opened my eyes.. if you are right, if not, you just corrupted my brain... argh !

 

maybe the "pits" are not different places but more the path to leave the only one air pantheon start place : a prison to break (after all Umath was the first to break what he considered his chains, breaking the chains was the first step to " air " way

 

in that way, Orlanthi will see the inhabitants of this place as strange gods, Humakti as fighting opponents, etc...

 

then there failure to escape means death or anything you cannot come back (you didn't succeed to escape the prison)

And one way to escape is "sex pit" (maybe you offer your body to your jailers because you want to flee, maybe you happily join them in their perverse activities) and then now you are more or less perveted by chaos : you didn't succeed to resist, you didn't rebel as the thunder gods, you just accepted to collaborate with the ennemy, because you are weak or because you are evil.

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9 hours ago, Rob Darvall said:

What happens to initiates who DON'T go mad in the Sex Pit?

And is there one in every initiation

In the original each brother is put in a separate challenge by the uncles. While each challenge is present, the initiates only get to experience every one. And note that it's the one that which was weakest against them, rather than the strongest. See 

https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com/home/catalogue/websites/pos/prince-of-sartar/chapter-1-initiation/003-the-underworld/

Argrath only experiences the Strange gods.

The irony with the Sex Pit is that for Ragnaglar it was weakest against him and he failed. (Why is a separate thread).

9 hours ago, Rob Darvall said:

(ala Summons of Evil as a ritual requirement)?

I suspect not. The summons of evil seems out of place here considering what's going on.

9 hours ago, Rob Darvall said:

If so, does that mean the Orlanthi are prepared for a guaranteed minimum number of broken initiates?

No, they are likely rare and can happen at any station.

9 hours ago, Rob Darvall said:

To whom do they initiate?

I think the most obvious (to me) would be male Ulerians or those following another fertility path. (In one of Greg's unpublished manuscripts, Uleria is one of the ten "demons")

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I really strongly doubt that people pass through the Sex Pit in initiations under normal circumstances, and those who do are probably nearly unique or highly singular. 

(For that matter, I somewhat strongly doubt that following Humakt or Storm Bull or Vadrus through their part in this myth is at all common- the myth explains how Orlanth was initiated into adulthood, and his brothers exist as foils, not as equal counterparts. Vadrus can only see the pit as an undifferentiated mass of water he's strong enough to force to work for him, Humakt sees multiple beings but they're all hostile and he has to fight them all, Storm Bull can distinguish between friendly and hostile beings but can only understand them as inferiors to be herded or trampled, and Orlanth is able to befriend the Strange Gods and make plans with them. Orlanth is thus the natural ruler among his brothers. But someone in Charg or another place where Storm Bull is important enough to be relevant to the passage into adulthood almost certainly doesn't view the initiation in that way.) 

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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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To put this another way, and to put it into a real-world context, an equivalent myth for Zeus might well be the story of Cronus devouring his children one by one until the infant Zeus is switched out for a rock. In a Gloranthafied/Mythic Mediterranean Antiquity context, nobody passing through this myth is going to take the positions of Posiedon, Hades, Hera, Hestia, or Demeter and spend all of it swallowed by Cronus, and the people who might deliberately attempt to do so would be doing so specifically because there's a hole in the narrative which might lead somewhere. 

So too with the Sex Pit. 

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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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9 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

It's not that - you (presumably) get out of your pit whether you succeed or fail. I just posit that no-one succeeds there - there are just degrees of failure. 

Orlanth and the other three brothers intervened and tried to heal him of his affliction, but the Other Brother probably never left the Pit, in spirit.

The pits were meant to trap and destroy the sons of Umath. We see each of the pits as playing into the strength of each brother, but actually, that was the trap. Humakt could have spent eternity in combat; Urox could have gored and trampled the other beasts; Vadrus could have spun about violently forever. But Humakt turned swords into steps, Urox gave freedom to the predators, and Vadrus adapted himself and then ran away rather than fight. Orlanth befriended rather than conflicted with the Strange Gods as a broader expression of this change.

So, the Sex Pit is presumably similar. Sex would have been Ragnaglar's strength, but by pursuing it, he trapped himself. Additionally, the pits all have an expectation of violence (the fundamental attribute of Storm) which is subverted, meaning that Ragnaglar was also expected to rape. He did so, perhaps out of jealousy, more likely deeper torments. By engaging in that violation, he also violated himself, and so did the Storm wound itself more generally.

One might get out of this situation by allowing yourself to be vulnerable among those willing to offer empathy and compassion or who have gone through something similar, and consoling and comforting one another. But Umath's Camp was not that place.

Edited by Ormi Phengaria
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16 hours ago, Rob Darvall said:

If so, does that mean the Orlanthi are prepared for a guaranteed minimum number of broken initiates?

To piggyback the great things everyone else is saying, only from a ritual ecology POV:

Most village level initiators do not worry too much about special cases. Their job is to transition as many local kids as possible into adult members of the community without messing them up. After all, you're going to have to deal with them and their families afterward and a lot of the time their family is your family so the stakes are about as high as it gets. If you break one, you've got a tough conversation ahead of you.

This means you're going to prepare as well as you can in advance to bias the ordeal in their favor. It's serious business. You coach them, put them on a special fortifying diet, clean the site to eliminate strange influences. Recent writing suggests that people have figured out how to test the kids in advance to identify obvious outliers . . . someone who is better suited to one of the specialty lightbringers or other associated cult. I suspect that's a little fancy for most clans historically, but in that scenario these kids aren't Orlanth's problem.

You're running an Orlanth initiation and that means everyone follows Orlanth's role in the story. You talk about the brothers and everybody learns from that, but you only really run Strange Gods. Arguably learning where the brothers are coming from and what they're all about is one of the secret keys to Strange Gods, for that matter. You sit with them until they make it through Strange Gods together. Arguably this is another secret that makes Orlanth special.

Somebody is always paying close attention and usually has the tools to catch kids who look like they're going too far off script. Enforcement here is a personal call. All them ultra-traditionalist clans you read about are probably really strict about when they eject a kid from the ordeal but in modern times I think a typical ritual expert will give the kids more space to splash around in the myth. Maybe that's what the runic identification testing thing is all about, who knows. This might mean a kid picks up a few fleeting experiences with somebody else's pit and the points on the character sheet adjust accordingly.

If you get a truly bad kid at this stage, you really haven't been keeping your eyes open while the kid was growing up. You already had a lot of chances to intervene in their trajectory. It takes a village to raise a bad kid. A lot of bad kids are just masks of Strange Gods you don't even know about, so you should be working with that kid to identify the god and find people who can help you out. I think a lot of these kids are the ones people in this thread are talking about. Maybe down in Esrolia for example they know how to negotiate the Sex Pit successfully. You and your people have no idea. Maybe it scares you because that's where the devil comes from. Send the kid to the specialists for guidance and keep running Strange Gods. In a year or two the kid comes back with specialized knowledge or doesn't come back at all.

You run Strange Gods not for the Strange Gods but for Orlanth. Most (85%) of your kids are not all that Strange in themselves. You're teaching them how to cooperate with other people and turn each other's individual differences into a collective asset. Your brothers and your other others have their own pits to climb out of. This one is yours.
 

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2 hours ago, Ormi Phengaria said:

The pits were meant to trap and destroy the sons of Umath. We see each of the pits as playing into the strength of each brother, but actually, that was the trap.

This is what I see as a key.  And while the pits are described as specific to each brother, for new initiates it's my feeling that the pits effectively "shape themselves" to the initiate.  One must be able to Find Another Way to succeed - i.e. move beyond Childhood and beyond the trap of the new Adult feelings.

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2 hours ago, scott-martin said:

This means you're going to prepare as well as you can in advance to bias the ordeal in their favor. It's serious business. You coach them, put them on a special fortifying diet, clean the site to eliminate strange influences. Recent writing suggests that people have figured out how to test the kids in advance to identify obvious outliers . . . someone who is better suited to one of the specialty lightbringers or other associated cult.

I'm not sure this work - as normally described, this is the adulthood initiation, and you only have the male and female version. Cult initiations come later. And I'm not at all sure you can decide to set up just one version - the kids will drift mythically into the pit that fits them. Which will sometimes (but hopefully rarely) be the Sex Pit.

That said, deciding that someone looks like trouble and needs remedial adult schooling first only makes sense.

Edited by Akhôrahil
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The villagers donning the sacred masks of the Evil Uncles may be all benevolent and wishing to cater to the strengths of their iinitiands, but there is always a chance that a deity takes over the mask and delegates the wearer to an observer role...

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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2 hours ago, Joerg said:

The villagers donning the sacred masks of the Evil Uncles may be all benevolent and wishing to cater to the strengths of their iinitiands, but there is always a chance that a deity takes over the mask and delegates the wearer to an observer role...

And you can't prep the kids too much, I think - that will presumably reduce the value of the ritual. The discovery and understanding is part of the value.

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If I were playing it, the Sex pit would only appear deliberately, never as a matter of rolls. And only if the myth takes control of the ceremony, as I am sure the clan has not prepared the sex pit as nobody would be expecting a potential Ragnaglar among the candidates. A potential Humakt or Urox yes, and in that case they may well have a different pit set up for him or her. It may be even held on separately to mark that it is not Orlanth, and to avoid having a purely mythical pit, which may be much more dangerous than when the roles are held by friends and family. 

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7 hours ago, JRE said:

If I were playing it, the Sex pit would only appear deliberately, never as a matter of rolls. And only if the myth takes control of the ceremony

yep I would not let any roll. Who (irl) would use dice to determine if a pc (or npc) will be initiate of X when Y is expected by the player or the scenario ?

 

in my opinion, the pit you visit, or anything you experiment during any initiation or any heroquest (when not mundane quest) is what yourself (consciously or unconsciouly, your faith, your knowledge, your beliefs) , the other questers, the people who support you project on the other world. And sometimes, your experience is challenged by some opponent, or even some god

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1 hour ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

in my opinion, the pit you visit, or anything you experiment during any initiation or any heroquest (when not mundane quest) is what yourself (consciously or unconsciouly, your faith, your knowledge, your beliefs) , the other questers, the people who support you project on the other world. And sometimes, your experience is challenged by some opponent, or even some god

If you want to play out the initiations, I think there are a couple questions that a GM can ask that can move them towards the "correct" Pit challenge.

1) Which is your greatest Flaw?  Anger/Gluttony (Animal Corral), Hatred (Combat Pit), Lust (Sex Pit), Vanity(?) (Water Bowl), Pride/Greed (Strange Gods) 

2) What do you most Fear?  (they may already have a specific high Fear to use for this): Darkness/trolls (Combat Pit), Water/... (Water Bowl), Earth/serpents (Sex Pit), Air/... (Animal Corral), Fire/Moon/dragons (Strange Gods)  

Part of initiation is overcoming the Flaw and the Fear, as well as engaging in the Contest.  They might gain helpers or permanent foes, but ultimately find a way to come back from the Otherworld successfully.  While the Sex Pit is given as the example of how Ragnaglar failed, ALL the pits are dangerous and can leave the survivor scarred, assuming they do survive and return.

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In the first blog version of Andrew Montgomery's The Riddle (later rewritten and incorporated in Six Seasons in Sartar), the "other brother" tossed in the Sex Pit is experienced by the adventurers as one of them, but nobody seems to remember who. So it's not actually one of the clan children, but rather someone imaginary you need to try to save during your initiation.

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6 hours ago, Puckohue said:

In the first blog version of Andrew Montgomery's The Riddle (later rewritten and incorporated in Six Seasons in Sartar), the "other brother" tossed in the Sex Pit is experienced by the adventurers as one of them, but nobody seems to remember who. So it's not actually one of the clan children, but rather someone imaginary you need to try to save during your initiation.

You could also play it that they start with a higher number, and come out of the initiation with a numb feeling of total loss of one of theirs, but even the parents and siblings have lost all memory of that child. There may be some irritating left-overs...

There is always a possibility that that is a Eurmali trick. Or there may be an entire household taken out of existence, maybe as result of the initiation, maybe causing that individual's initiation to go wrong. Or maybe introducing a new rather isolated stead in a branch valley that nobody noticed before? The entire Haraborn clan might be going to suffer such a disappearance. And are there other places experiencing this? What about the valley with Urvantan's tower?

This kind of paranoia is nothing you'd spring on a group of newcomers.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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On 7/27/2022 at 1:42 PM, Joerg said:

You could also play it that they start with a higher number, and come out of the initiation with a numb feeling of total loss of one of theirs, but even the parents and siblings have lost all memory of that child. There may be some irritating left-overs...

There is always a possibility that that is a Eurmali trick. Or there may be an entire household taken out of existence, maybe as result of the initiation, maybe causing that individual's initiation to go wrong. Or maybe introducing a new rather isolated stead in a branch valley that nobody noticed before? The entire Haraborn clan might be going to suffer such a disappearance. And are there other places experiencing this? What about the valley with Urvantan's tower?

This kind of paranoia is nothing you'd spring on a group of newcomers.

But what if the kid does well? Resists, deals with the threat. To whom do they initiate? The other pits indicate a preference through success, the sex pit is only mentioned through failure.
Conversely what happens to those who fail the other tests?

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