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A question about Spirit Cults


Agentorange

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I have been reading about these in the core rulebook and wanted to make sure I'd understood something correctly. spirit Cults are led by Shamen not priests. And the rules  ( if i remember correctly ) tell us that shamen can access  and teach any of the listed spirit magic spells.

So members of a spirit cult could then access whatever Rune Spells the spirit cult offered....and also have access to a much wider variety of spirit magic than the worshippers of one of the regular gods etc, especially if it's relatively minor deity. Ok spirit cults tend to be small localised things. But in a small localised sense a spirit cult could be more powerful than a regular cult - if you see what I mean.

have I got that right ?

Edited by Agentorange
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Yes. Spirits cults have more limited rune magic, but its worshipers will always have a shaman available to teach spirit magic. Of course, that doesn't mean the shaman will spend all their time doing that - it is an entire week of learning per spell, after all.

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Some spirit cults are established by shamans but end up being maintained by priests, or even by a senior initiate. Others are formed by a shaman and die with that shaman. 

There's a tremendous amount of flexibility with them. Examples of spirit cults include: Oakfed, Six Sisters, Black Fang, Elk Woman, Lightning Boy, Thunderbird, Gustbran, Green Bow, Stone Heart, and many many more.

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1 hour ago, Agentorange said:

spirit Cults are led by Shamen not priests.

Yes, although Shamans, not Shamen, because English is funny like that.

 

1 hour ago, Agentorange said:

And the rules  ( if i remember correctly ) tell us that shamen can access  and teach any of the listed spirit magic spells.

Yes, any spell that is granted by the Spirit.

1 hour ago, Agentorange said:

So members of a spirt cult could then access whatever Rune Spells the spirit cult offered

Yes.

1 hour ago, Agentorange said:

and also have access to a much wider variety of spirit magic than the worshippers of one of the regular gods etc, especially if it's relatively minor deity.

Yes.

1 hour ago, Agentorange said:

Ok spirit cults tend to be small localised things.

Yes.

1 hour ago, Agentorange said:

But in a small localised sense a spirit cult could be more powerful than a regular cult - if you see what I mean.

It is possible but usually unlikely.

Oakfed is an example of a localised Spirit Cult (Prax) that provides almost as many spells as a small deity (Create Wildfire, Summon/Dismiss any Sized Fire Elemental, and sometimes Cremate Dead).

 

 

Also, don't forget that Shamans can negotiate directly with Spirits (RQG p365), to worship the spirit costs MPs = Spirit's POW. Here are my house rules for this, which will appear in the forthcoming Holiday Dorastor: Foulvale supplement:

  • I allow the Shaman to spend 1 POW to gain a Runespell from the Spirit. I allow a Shaman to maintain a Personal Tradition Rune Pool so that the Spirit becomes one of the several worshipped by the Shaman, instead of having to maintain many tiny Rune Pools. So, Waddler Bluefeather is a Durulz Shaman and worships Zola Fel via personal negotiation. She has a Personal Tradition Rune Pool with 1 Rune Point and has Breathe Air/Water. She encounters the Blue Hag, a malevolent Water Spirit, on the Spirit Plane and tries to negotiate with her, spending 150 MPs to match the Blue Hag's POW, and spends 1 POW to increase her Personal Tradition Rune Pool to 2 and gaining the Blue Hag's Drown spell. Later, she meets the Cork, a minor spirit with 50 POW, so spends 50 Magic Points to worship him, spending 1 POW and gaining his Float spell. Waddler Bluefeather now has a Personal Tradition Rune Pool of 3 Rune Points and can use them to case Breathe Air/Water, Drown, and Float.
  • I also play that a Shaman can negotiate with an actual deity and gain one of the deity's Runespells. Of course, the POW of actual deities might be in the thousands, or tens of thousands, so a Shaman cannot spend that many Magic Points. Instead, I allow them to contact the deity and worship the deity by using a God Bundle, from Treasures of Glorantha, that allows the Shaman to interact with the deity as if founding a Spirit Cult rather than as a direct negotiation with a Spirit. The Shaman still spends 1 POW and gains a Runespell from their Personal Tradition Rune Pool, not a Rune Pool for the Spirit Cult. If the Shaman then founds a Spirit Cult that worships the deity, with other worshippers, the Shaman would spend another point of POW to gain a Rune Pool for the deity. In such a case, the Shaman would be able to cast the Rune Spell learned from the Personal Tradition using both the Personal tradition and Spirit Cult Rune Pools,. but would cast other spells using the Spirit Cult Rune Pool. So, Waddle Bluefeather decides to worship Zola Fel as a Spirit Cult, so that her family can worship her. She creates the Spirit Cult and spends 1 POW to create a Zola Fel Spirit Cult Rune Pool, and gains the Fireshield spell. She can cast Breathe Air/Water using both her Personal Tradition Rune Pool and her Zola Fel Spirit Cult Runepool, but can only cast Fireshield using her Zola Fel Spirit Cult Runepool.

 

 

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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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1 hour ago, soltakss said:

Also, don't forget that Shamans can negotiate directly with Spirits (RQG p365), to worship the spirit costs MPs = Spirit's POW. Here are my house rules for this, which will appear in the forthcoming Holiday Dorastor: Foulvale supplement:

  • I allow the Shaman to spend 1 POW to gain a Runespell from the Spirit. I allow a Shaman to maintain a Personal Tradition Rune Pool so that the Spirit becomes one of the several worshipped by the Shaman, instead of having to maintain many tiny Rune Pools. So, Waddler Bluefeather is a Durulz Shaman and worships Zola Fel via personal negotiation. She has a Personal Tradition Rune Pool with 1 Rune Point and has Breathe Air/Water. She encounters the Blue Hag, a malevolent Water Spirit, on the Spirit Plane and tries to negotiate with her, spending 150 MPs to match the Blue Hag's POW, and spends 1 POW to increase her Personal Tradition Rune Pool to 2 and gaining the Blue Hag's Drown spell. Later, she meets the Cork, a minor spirit with 50 POW, so spends 50 Magic Points to worship him, spending 1 POW and gaining his Float spell. Waddler Bluefeather now has a Personal Tradition Rune Pool of 3 Rune Points and can use them to case Breathe Air/Water, Drown, and Float.
  • I also play that a Shaman can negotiate with an actual deity and gain one of the deity's Runespells. Of course, the POW of actual deities might be in the thousands, or tens of thousands, so a Shaman cannot spend that many Magic Points. Instead, I allow them to contact the deity and worship the deity by using a God Bundle, from Treasures of Glorantha, that allows the Shaman to interact with the deity as if founding a Spirit Cult rather than as a direct negotiation with a Spirit. The Shaman still spends 1 POW and gains a Runespell from their Personal Tradition Rune Pool, not a Rune Pool for the Spirit Cult. If the Shaman then founds a Spirit Cult that worships the deity, with other worshippers, the Shaman would spend another point of POW to gain a Rune Pool for the deity. In such a case, the Shaman would be able to cast the Rune Spell learned from the Personal Tradition using both the Personal tradition and Spirit Cult Rune Pools,. but would cast other spells using the Spirit Cult Rune Pool. So, Waddle Bluefeather decides to worship Zola Fel as a Spirit Cult, so that her family can worship her. She creates the Spirit Cult and spends 1 POW to create a Zola Fel Spirit Cult Rune Pool, and gains the Fireshield spell. She can cast Breathe Air/Water using both her Personal Tradition Rune Pool and her Zola Fel Spirit Cult Runepool, but can only cast Fireshield using her Zola Fel Spirit Cult Runepool.

 

 

|Now this I like a great deal.

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2 hours ago, Jeff said:

Some spirit cults are established by shamans but end up being maintained by priests, or even by a senior initiate. Others are formed by a shaman and die with that shaman. 

There's a tremendous amount of flexibility with them. Examples of spirit cults include: Oakfed, Six Sisters, Black Fang, Elk Woman, Lightning Boy, Thunderbird, Gustbran, Green Bow, Stone Heart, and many many more.

Now thats interesting. there do seem to be some deities/spirits that exist both as minor deities and spirit cults. From your list Gustbran sticks out. He's both a minor Orlanthi deity and a spirit cult ? Am I right in taking it that way ?

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In my Glorantha, you don’t necessarily have to be a full shaman (with a fetch etc.) to end up running a spirit cult. Sometimes you just need to be very lucky (or unlucky) following a chance spirit encounter. (But my Glorantha will vary, and I do like spirit cults and accidents)

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2 minutes ago, Agentorange said:

So next question..

Can spirit cults teach unique spirit magic spells as well as their unique Rune Spells ? or perhaps instead of Rune Spells. The rules don't say they can't....so I've assumed they can.

If you mean “can a shaman steal a unique cult spirit magic spell - like Chalana Arroy’s Sleep spell, say, or the Lunar College of Magic’s Meteor Swarm - and teach it to all and sundry via a spirit cult,” the answer is “not without serious consequences.”

Apart from that, knock yourself out. Spirit cults are an opportunity to be creative. If you do something silly, that’s your fault.

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26 minutes ago, Agentorange said:

So next question..

Can spirit cults teach unique spirit magic spells as well as their unique Rune Spells ? or perhaps instead of Rune Spells. The rules don't say they can't....so I've assumed they can.

That seems like a safe assumption to me

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40 minutes ago, Nick Brooke said:

If you mean “can a shaman steal a unique cult spirit magic spell - like Chalana Arroy’s Sleep spell, say, or the Lunar College of Magic’s Meteor Swarm - and teach it to all and sundry via a spirit cult,” the answer is “not without serious consequences.”

Apart from that, knock yourself out. Spirit cults are an opportunity to be creative. If you do something silly, that’s your fault.

Sorry, thats me being vague. What I meant was can a Spirit  Cult have it's own unique spirit magic spells. So for example  could the ancient pavic spirit cult of Old Bill the lawgiver be able to teach the spirit spell Chase lawbreaker to it's worshippers without the spell being available to all and sundry ?
Chase Lawbreaker
variable, ranged,temporal,passive
Each point of chase lawbreaker adds 1 to the MOV rate and 5% to the Climb and Jump skills of the target

But leading on from what you've said. Could a shaman  theoretically meet Chalana Arroy on the spirit plane and worship her outside of the normal cultic structure and gain spells that way ?

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35 minutes ago, Agentorange said:

Can spirit cults teach unique spirit magic spells as well as their unique Rune Spells ? or perhaps instead of Rune Spells.

Yes, they can teach whatever Spirit Magic they grant. There may well be taboos about teaching the spells to those outside the Spirit Cults.

31 minutes ago, Nick Brooke said:

If you mean “can a shaman steal a unique cult spirit magic spell - like Chalana Arroy’s Sleep spell, say, or the Lunar College of Magic’s Meteor Swarm - and teach it to all and sundry via a spirit cult,” the answer is “not without serious consequences.”

Except that someone stole the ability to speak Old Wyrmish from a closed school and taught it to others, at least that's how I remember it. So, cult secret skills and spells can be taught to outsiders. However, as you say, there would be consequences.

If, however, a minor spirit had the Sleep spell and taught it to worshippers, with a restriction that it could not be taught to anyone else, it might be harder to restrict. I wuld say that offenders would immediately fall asleep and would not awaken.

3 minutes ago, Agentorange said:

But leading on from what you've said. Could a shaman  theoretically meet Chalana Arroy on the spirit plane and worship her outside of the normal cultic structure and gain spells that way ?

In my opinion, yes, but they could not teach Sleep to anyone else, except to members of a Spirit Cult of Chalana Arroy.

I think that a Spirit Cult would not teach all Spells. Instead it would only teach one Runespell, or maybe two if the Shaman makes a Special Worship roll. It would also teach one Spirit Magic spell. So a Spirit Cult of Chalana Arroy would probably teach befuddle, not Sleep, and one, or maybe two, of her Runespells. The worshippers would not get access to Associate Cult spells, or spells or skills from Sub Cults.

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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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11 hours ago, soltakss said:

I think that a Spirit Cult would not teach all Spells. Instead it would only teach one Runespell, or maybe two if the Shaman makes a Special Worship roll. It would also teach one Spirit Magic spell. So a Spirit Cult of Chalana Arroy would probably teach befuddle, not Sleep, and one, or maybe two, of her Runespells. The worshippers would not get access to Associate Cult spells, or spells or skills from Sub Cults.

IMG... I mostly sort of agree, except...

The spirit cult could gain access to more Rune spells, but it would require effort on the part of the shamans (assuming more than one). Perhaps even a geas (ie, taboo) would be laid for each (extra?) spell?

I would also make it fairly clear that those not initiated into the cult of the god (ie, normal theistic worship) wouldn't even know about what Rune spells (or others) are actually available (although, some may guess). This is because they wouldn't have the Cult Lore to know the myths, and thus not the specifics of what the deity is actually capable of. One could certainly presume some wind spells for Orlanth, but are unlikely to know Shield, and certainly not know of the existence of Darkwalk.

As a corollary, Associated spells would of course be out - again, no understanding of the myths involved.

Other spells? well, since we don't have a mechanic for how spirit magic is actually taught in theistic cults, that's easy to get around. Not that it would matter much, because the new spirit cult's shamans can just get those spells anyway from the spirits....

Skills? Depends - who's going to teach them? If you have someone who can - great! If you don't, then too bad.

 

I think the bigger question is - how would these entities take to having opposed allegiances within the spirit cult? (if they could even sense them)

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Spirit cults are more varied, but also much less reliable and consistent, than formalised temple cults.

If you were somehow to worship Chalana Arroy via a spirit cult, you would certainly have to take taboos matching the usual cult restrictions, and you wouldn't get access to the full range of Chalana Arroy's Rune spells. (And no, you wouldn't "just" get the most powerful Rune spell, either). I think it's more likely a shaman would worship a CA cult spirit or entity via spirit cult worship ("an aspect of Chalana Arroy," if you like), to get the one Rune spell their congregation was after at that particular point in time.

And yes, while a shaman can teach any spirit magics they can teach to their followers, there's only one shaman heading up each spirit cult congregation, and they aren't exactly dependable people. If you want to learn a spell they aren't already set up to teach you, they'll have to go hunting for it in the Spirit World, and you will owe them big time for that favour -- if they decide to put in the effort, that is. And if the shaman dies, or cuts you off, or loses interest in maintaining the spirit cult and does something else instead, then you've got nothing. The depth and resilience of an established cult could start to look more attractive under those circumstances.

Simon @soltakss points out that knowledge of Auld Wyrmish was originally a stolen cult secret. I'll just mention the "eradication of all human life in Dragon Pass"-level consequences that resulted from it.

And the OP @Agentorange asks "Can I make up new spirit magic spells?" (Yes). "Can any new spirit magic spells I make up be taught by shamans, whether it's done via a spirit cult or otherwise?" (Yes). "What if I make up a silly new spell and it breaks my game?" (Then it sucks to be you). Your Glorantha Will Vary, remember? Embrace it!

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Oh, I thought your example spell was meant to be a bad example. (“Like a crap version of Mobility plus a highly-limited Coordination spell, only it’s variable, so you can break your game with a large enough version.”)

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14 minutes ago, Nick Brooke said:

Oh, I thought your example spell was meant to be a bad example. (“Like a crap version of Mobility plus a highly-limited Coordination spell, only it’s variable, so you can break your game with a large enough version.”)

It wasn't meant to be a bad example or a good example - just an example. I made it up on the spot so Old Bill the Lawgiver would have a spirit magic spell to illustrate the point.

That said...would it break the game ? it would maybe allow for a cinematic chase scene, perhaps allowing rugged city guards to scramble over walls and leap over inconvenient handcarts of fruit in pursuit of desperadoes....but it only lasts 2 minutes after all and you could limit it by saying it only works in the boundaries of New Pavis or the Big Rubble

Anyway, back to our shaman wandering the spirit plane. if a shaman did  bump into Chalana Arroy would they actually recognise  that spirit as Chalana Arroy ? or would they just be thinking " this is an enormous spirit with some kind of healing vibe" If the shaman was from a tradition where the orlanthi pantheon wasn't prevalent in the way it is in Dragon pass would they know who or what they'd met ?

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27 minutes ago, Agentorange said:

If the shaman was from a tradition where the orlanthi pantheon wasn't prevalent in the way it is in Dragon pass would they know who or what they'd met ?

Chalana Arroy is pretty much universal in Glorantha (being the daughter of Glorantha). A shaman would recognise the spirit by what ever cultural name she has - Chalana Arroy, Errisa, the White lady, etc. 

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12 minutes ago, David Scott said:

Chalana Arroy is pretty much universal in Glorantha (being the daughter of Glorantha). A shaman would recognise the spirit by what ever cultural name she has - Chalana Arroy, Errisa, the White lady, etc. 

Yeah, thats a pretty good point. Do you think that would hold true for all deities. Or would a shaman not recognise a less universal or a regionally significant God ?

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1 hour ago, Agentorange said:

Yeah, thats a pretty good point. Do you think that would hold true for all deities. Or would a shaman not recognise a less universal or a regionally significant God ?

I'd do it on a case by case basis depending on the culture. For example a Dorradi shaman would recognise Aleshmara, but not know that a sartarite shaman would call her Asrelia. Another shaman might just call her Gem Woman as they learned Detect Gem from her and that was it. While another may have her as a Greater Entity and never speak her name, calling her Deep Earth, etc.

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4 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

Simon @soltakss points out that knowledge of Auld Wyrmish was originally a stolen cult secret. I'll just mention the "eradication of all human life in Dragon Pass"-level consequences that resulted from it.

Let's think about one problem at a time ...

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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50 minutes ago, David Scott said:

I'd do it on a case by case basis depending on the culture. For example a Dorradi shaman would recognise Aleshmara, but not know that a sartarite shaman would call her Asrelia. Another shaman might just call her Gem Woman as they learned Detect Gem from her and that was it. While another may have her as a Greater Entity and never speak her name, calling her Deep Earth, etc.

That all makes sense...so a shaman might recognise the what: powerful deity , has gem magic. But not the who: Asrelia ?

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2 hours ago, Agentorange said:

Yeah, thats a pretty good point. Do you think that would hold true for all deities. Or would a shaman not recognise a less universal or a regionally significant God ?

It depends where you are.

A Shaman in a Western Forest might be able to contact a Praxian spirit (don't ask me how) so might not know the name of the spirit, except what the spirit tells them.

However, a Praxian Shaman contacting the same Spirit is likely to know all about it.

 

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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