Jump to content

Disadvantages of Becoming a Shaman- Obligations to Tribe/Cult


That_Old-Hammer

Recommended Posts

Hi first time caller, long time listener.

I was reading through the section on Shamans in the Runequest- Roleplaying in Glorantha corebook and came across this passage.

Quote

Disadvantages of
Becoming a Shaman

Obligations to Tribe or Cult

A shaman’s first obligation is to their tribe or cult. This
takes precedence over all other obligations. A shaman only
adventures when it is necessary to the tribe or cult. If a
shaman fails in the obligation to support their tribe or cult,
the tribal deities may remove the shaman’s fetch and any
stored POW. In such cases, only superhuman efforts on
behalf of the tribe or cult can regain them.

Page 362 Runequest-Roleplaying in Glorantha

Now I understand the necessity of the Shaman in tribal life, guy who lives in that shack we keep pretty far from town who we go to if spirits start to get weird but I'm specifically talking about the latter half of the paragraph that states that the tribal deities can remove the shaman's fetch.

This goes pretty far against my understanding of what Shamanism is in Glorantha. I always assumed that it was a separate system from the Theistic model and that one could, if only rarely, awaken one's fetch and become a shaman without the aid of a god.

Horned Man appearing above the bed, not crying out, that stuff but if a god or nebulous tribal deity can take the fetch away wouldn't that indicate that indicate that the Shaman is bound by way of force to the tribe's local deity?

I always imagined that there were rogue shamans living in the wilderness communing with the Spirit World far from the trivial matters of Man like a hermit wizard. Or a shaman being cast out of their community and coming back for revenge against them with an army of spirits.

That the Fetch was an intrinsic thing, one that whilst capable of being destroyed or broken, was not granted by a god so, unlike Rune Points could not be taken away by a God. The awakened part of the soul.

But this passage seems to indicate that such a person would lose their fetch and connection to the Spirit World.

Does this track with what everyone else thinks about shamans? Is there any examples of this happening in established lore?

Edited by That_Old-Hammer
  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, That_Old-Hammer said:

That the Fetch was an intrinsic thing, one that whilst capable of being destroyed or broken, was not granted by a god so, unlike Rune Points could not be taken away by a God. The awakened part of the soul.

My thoughts, for what they are worth. The fetch is part of the shaman's soul yes, but it is awakened through contact with a greater entity, and all the shamanic abilities come through contact with the same. The greater entities (RQG pg 359) are traditional for any given culture: a Telmori shaman does not contact Kolat, or Jakaboom, for example, they contact Hykim / Mikyh.

When the shaman first awakens their fetch, they pray to their tribe's associated greater entity to do this (pg 354). They do so by sacrificing POW directly to that entity.

I think it's not unreasonable to assume that any greater entity which sees fit to awaken a prospective shaman's fetch will also have the power to take it away again.

  • Like 2

--

The Voralans presents Glorantha's magical mushroom humanoids, the black elves. "Absolutely phenomenal" - Austin C. "Seriously weird-ass shit" - John D. "A great piece of work" - Leon K. The Electrum best-selling The Children of Hykim documents Glorantha's shape-changing totemic animal people, the Hsunchen. "Magisterial ... highly recommended" - Nick Brooke. "Lovingly detailed and scholarly, and fun to read" - John H. "Absolutely wonderful!" - Morgan C.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 hours ago, That_Old-Hammer said:

I always imagined that there were rogue shamans living in the wilderness communing with the Spirit World far from the trivial matters of Man like a hermit wizard. Or a shaman being cast out of their community and coming back for revenge against them with an army of spirits.

Quote

A shaman only adventures when it is necessary to the tribe or cult.

I think for me, when it comes to weird hermit shamans and outcasts (which I love), I take note of the tribe OR cult. Perhaps the Shaman's first obligation is to his spirit cult; that's why he's out there. Maybe he was an outcast of his tribe but struck a bargain with the Spirit of the Cracked Rock, and started a cult to it, and now that spirit is what protects him from retaliation of his ancestor spirits. Maybe the Shaman was an outcast at a young age, and the only tribe he knew was the old Shaman master to trained him, and now that the master is dead, he's the only one carrying on the traditions. Maybe the shaman's clan was slaughtered by enemies, and she is the only one caring for the clan's ghosts and memories, alone and hiding from whatever terrors did that.

I think, like with many things, you need to think of a reason why something strange is happening rather than accept it as normal. Why does the farmer leave his fields and go fight in wars? Most farmers don't, but this one is special (a player character, a cool npc). Why is this shaman alone? Most Shamans are serving their tribe, so this one must be special.

That being said, I don't understand the part of removing the fetch, either. Reading the description, it seems that awakening the fetch changed the Shaman for good, and its death kills them both. However, if I think of it as binding or suppressing the fetch, it makes more sense.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Malin said:

That being said, I don't understand the part of removing the fetch, either. Reading the description, it seems that awakening the fetch changed the Shaman for good, and its death kills them both

Agree - and also, the suggestion that say Orlanth could take away a fetch strikes me as... not my Glorantha. I mean, maybe if you managed to piss off your tradition's main great spirit/god, but any other god? I just don't see it. And even then, I imagine Telmor would just send some huge wolf spirit to eat you on the spirit plane or something instead. And I'm doubtful to what extent for instance The Horned Man polices his followers when it comes to this kind of thing.

I'm sure bad things happen if you disregard your cult (or worse, sin against its precepts), but that's true for all cults. I would rule that you can be ejected from your cult and lose all Rune Point benefits, as well as be subjected to unpleasant things from Spirits of Reprisal, but not losing your fetch - it's you, just your magical self.

Edited by Akhôrahil
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'd say.... the Fetch is indeed that part of the shaman that has been awakened on the spirit plane. But, like any other part of a person, it can be put out of action. Since it's intrinsic to existence (unlike your arm, leg, eyes), it can't be removed per se.

But, maybe, like your eyes, it can be 'disabled'... or paralysed, like a limb.

Can a god do this? Certainly! (however, there's the Compromise thing, but that's basically a different argument).

 

If you're a believer of such things, in RL spiritual matters, yes, you can have your psi senses shut off (and people also burn out - including shamans!!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you have your fetch Awakened by the Horned Man (or whichever entity does so), surely

the same being can choose to put it back to sleep ... all Shamanic Abilities locked away?

Edited by g33k

C'es ne pas un .sig

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i dislike this part of the design. This need of 90% time, etc.. Of coure rune level have obligation. But I feel the restrictions too binary. And it is hard to imagine that a waha shaman, a humakti sword and a issaries priest can work during 5 years togeter, living adventures every season anywhere in glorantha.... of course there is no character who does it, isn't it ?

In my opinion, there is a difference between mundane and spiritual (gods included)

So I introduce a split for any rune lord, priest, and shaman.

 

in the mundane world,

you are a sacred warrior of your cult ? You are a runelord, you need to spend 90%* of your time for your cult (aka obey hierarchy and do what they want), you don't earn money (90%* for the cult) but the cult will give you everything you need (of course social interaction). and.... that's all you don't have bonus to get more POW, etc...

you are dedictad to your cult and work in a temple ? you are a priest, you need to spend 90% of your time for your cult, you are respected by your community and you take your role in the cult's hierarchy.  You don't earn money (90%* for the cult) but as the cult is you, you can reasonably hope a better life than a majority

you have a fetch and are a spiritual leader of your community ? you are a shaman priest. Except there is less hierarchy, that is the same of a priest (my version).

 

Now...

you are so powerful and devoted to your god that your god choose you as a champion. Why ? ask your gm-god 🙂 You don't need to wait for your temple mission to move (aka no 90%* time restriction). You are free to decide HOW you will act like your god (aka no 90% income restriction). If you decide, you are an adventurer. If you decide, you are a runelord (if the cult welcome you, but why not)

you are so devoted and fit with your god's expectation that your god choose you as a holy person. Name you prophet, missionary, ermit, what you want. And act as your god (aka no 90%* restrictions). If you decide you are an adventurer. If you decide you are a priest (if the cult welcome you of course), if not... you are not supported by the community (or at least, it is a roleplay and specific situation, not a "standard" advantage of your position)

you are a shaman (you have a fetch) but you don't save your community. You may decide to travel everywhere, you may decide to hunt something/one. You may decide to offer to the world your witness or your powers... or your curses. You are what you are. Wolves live in packs but there are lone wolves

 

Of course, a large part (**) of rune lords are champions of their gods. Of course, a large part (**) of priests are holy people of their gods.

So a large part of runelords and priests are exactly following the rules of rqg. But heroes don't have to be so restricted by /bound to their community. A lot of heroes don't follow the rules for the best and the worse.

 

* some cults restrictions are less than 90%

**  imagine a community large enough to have a temple (so room for priesthood). Imagine this community is isolated (the ban, for example). But noone fit the requirements skills,etc..) Does that mean that noone will lead the cult and the worship ? Imo of course someone will take the job (ambition or sacrifice) So will have in my split the advantages and restrictions of a priest, but not the power given by the god. Good guy but not yet holy. Not yet the +20% for POW roll, etc...

 

 

  • Like 2
  • Helpful 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

i dislike this part of the design. This need of 90% time, etc.

I agree.  It's just punitive.  Everybody has ignored or hand waved ("of course, going to XXX is a cult duty, just like your last 24 random adventures were, by strange coincidence, also cult duty") this rule for 40 years.  Nor do the NPCs seem to follow it. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 11/28/2023 at 11:02 AM, That_Old-Hammer said:

That the Fetch was an intrinsic thing, one that whilst capable of being destroyed or broken, was not granted by a god so, unlike Rune Points could not be taken away by a God. The awakened part of the soul.

The lose your fetch and stored POW for misbehaviour thing goes back at least to RQ2 (see RQ Classic p. 46), but back then the fetch was not intrinsic — an awakened part of the shaman — but a spirit summoned and allied (ibid. p. 44).

The split-the-difference position would be that if no tribe or cult provided the shaman with their fetch (summoned it for them) or a sinecure, then they wouldn’t get to take it away in the case of dereliction (as there would be no tribal/cult duties to neglect but no tribal/cult benefits, either).

Presumably, it would be a brave wannabe shaman who’d teach themself and summon their own potential fetch, so there is still the question of loyalty to one’s teacher, but I don’t think players would bridle at that. Of course teacher and pupil might fall out and the teacher try to remove the pupil’s fetch and stored POW, but it might be fun to play that through, rather than making it an automatic loss for the pupil — “I was but a learner, now I am the master.

Edited by mfbrandi
amplification

NOTORIOUS VØID CULTIST

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Shamans are very much tied to physical locations in RQ:G, as well as to their tribes- they must lead weekly worship ceremonies at any spirit shrines they establish. In the RAW, they couldn't be on the road for more than a few days without their spirit cult dissolving, unless they can find someone else to lead those weekly worship ceremonies. This is not dissimilar from Priests now that more cults are getting weekly minor holy days- they'd need to spend a whole day leading those ceremonies every week. 

RQ:G tries to square this through the seasonal play model- if you're only spending a week "on-screen" in each season, you can easily fulfil your tribal/cult duties during the days you are "off screen". Of course, many of us do not follow the seasonal play model, so need either GM permission or house rules that vary that 90% commitment. Either that, or everyone's just a God Talker 😉

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Jens said:

Shamans are very much tied to physical locations in RQ:G, as well as to their tribes- they must lead weekly worship ceremonies at any spirit shrines they establish. In the RAW, they couldn't be on the road for more than a few days

True by RAW.

Now consider the most famous (?) shaman, Blueface of Balazar / Griffin Mountain.  (link to Well of Daliath)  Emphasis added.

"Blueface is above tribal bickering. He goes wherever special healing or curative powers are needed in Balazar, appearing only when he wishes; otherwise he cannot be found"

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

True, but Blueface is also a centuries old heroquester from a previous edition, so RQ:G rules don’t apply for many reasons. 

For me it comes down to MGF- unless you commit to the seasonal model, or retire Rune level characters (including Shamans)/use some kind of character rotation/troupe play system, it’s just less fun if they’re occupied most of the time- especially if you also follow the RAW around one experience and POW check per season. 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

To go more to our world: A preacher tending his church and holding sermons, confessions, marriages, and funerals is a 90% commitment (because people will talk, phone, and treat you like you are on duty all the time.) A missionary going door to door or traveling to other lands to spread the word (regardless of what we think of that practice) would also be a full-time commitment. A mystic spending their time in meditation at a holy site, same thing. But at the same time, this might be true of someone running a homeless shelter or outreach, or running a free clinic, or spending most of their time trying to get donations to help keep things funded. There are many ways to serve their faith and cause.

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 hours ago, g33k said:

If you have your fetch Awakened by the Horned Man (or whichever entity does so), surely

the same being can choose to put it back to sleep ... all Shamanic Abilities locked away?

People can easily wake me. They can't put me to sleep without a lot of technical equipment.

Similarly, if the Horned Man is more like a teacher, he can't just un-teach you.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

13 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

I agree.  It's just punitive.  Everybody has ignored or hand waved ("of course, going to XXX is a cult duty, just like your last 24 random adventures were, by strange coincidence, also cult duty") this rule for 40 years.  Nor do the NPCs seem to follow it. 

I thought the model Jeff presented on Facebook, where you track the demands on your mind/spirit/soul from your various commitments (in percent), looks a lot more promising than the traditional RQ model that mostly just annoys people and may if applied make adventuring difficult. 

Edited by Akhôrahil
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

People can easily wake me. They can't put me to sleep without a lot of technical equipment.

Similarly, if the Horned Man is more like a teacher, he can't just un-teach you.

that is a key point : the entity who is with you (like the Horned Man) does not give you the fetch. That's you, alone, who succeeds or fails. You fight alone.

The entity's gift is not the power, the gift is the key to open the door, and once you are in the room, able to stay in the room, that's your own ability.

Of course you may have passions (loyalty, devotion) fo those who helped you (teacher, entity).. Of course you may have debt, oath, etc...

Maybe you promise your shaman-teacher to stay in the tribe once she retires/die but we know that a shaman has several apprentices in her life. So what do they become ? There are not enough room in a tribe to all of them (except if they die before their teacher)

On 11/28/2023 at 11:42 PM, Akhôrahil said:

I'm sure bad things happen if you disregard your cult (or worse, sin against its precepts), but that's true for all cults. I would rule that you can be ejected from your cult and lose all Rune Point benefits, as well as be subjected to unpleasant things from Spirits of Reprisal, but not losing your fetch - it's you, just your magical self.

so good

 

in fact reading again and again the RAW : "A shaman’s first obligation is to their tribe or cult." I think that use "A shaman’s first obligation is to their land or greater entities they worship" will change anything. Tribe is somewhere part of land, but if their is no tribe, there is still a land. Cult is part of greater the entity global environment , but if you refuse (or are ejected by) any hierarchy, any organization, any "master/leader", you can still meet your obligations.

Of course my words are not the best 🙂 but let's open the window.

11 hours ago, jajagappa said:

Sounds like a 90-100% time commitment to me.

yes but Balazar is not a tribe, not a cult. It's a land 😛

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, Malin said:

To go more to our world: A preacher tending his church and holding sermons, confessions, marriages, and funerals is a 90% commitment (because people will talk, phone, and treat you like you are on duty all the time.) A missionary going door to door or traveling to other lands to spread the word (regardless of what we think of that practice) would also be a full-time commitment. A mystic spending their time in meditation at a holy site, same thing. But at the same time, this might be true of someone running a homeless shelter or outreach, or running a free clinic, or spending most of their time trying to get donations to help keep things funded. There are many ways to serve their faith and cause.

This is not much different to a real world shaman. All of the ones I have met / worked with, work in their community which in some cases can be large. Everyone comes to the shaman unless it's not physically possible. It's a full time job, but you get down time of course. My friend who worked as a state sanctioned shaman in Tuva, worked 9-5, Monday to Friday, with occasional weekends for the usual deaths, births, marriages. 

In RQG a shaman-priest works 90% for their cult (per the rules). They are fully supported in this. Often they will be at the top of the hierarchy and get to decide what they do.

 

  • Like 1

-----

Search the Glorantha Resource Site: https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com. Search the Glorantha mailing list archives: https://glorantha.steff.in/digests/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

yes but Balazar is not a tribe, not a cult. It's a land

And a shaman is not explicitly the servant of a tribe/clan or even a cult. They are the focus of interaction with the Spirit World, and the spirits demand that the shaman bring them worshipers. Likely that leads to the shaman leading one or multiple spirit cults in a given area (e.g. Balazar). In Blueface's case, he has probably turned over the leadership of spirit cults he once led to former assistants which allows him to address broader issues across the whole region. But he will need support in his efforts, so his work takes him across multiple clans as he reads the disturbances in the Spirit World. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

I agree.  It's just punitive.  Everybody has ignored or hand waved ("of course, going to XXX is a cult duty, just like your last 24 random adventures were, by strange coincidence, also cult duty") this rule for 40 years.  Nor do the NPCs seem to follow it. 

 

i think the right way to approach this is similar to the discussion in the taxation thread. In game, what you actually owe the obligation to is a clan, tribe, nation, land, warband, ships's crew, regiment, secret society, gang, guild or hero. A 'cult' is just a generic rules term that means 'any of the above'. Think of how 'weapon' means any of sword or bow or spear, not a distinct thing that you can learn how to wield.

If, at rune level, you are not dealing with, or indeed running, one of the above things, then perhaps the game is being run contrary to the intended design. Or perhaps the character is being played as falling short of the normal moral expectation of the position they hold. The latter is a perfectly valid story hook, which might lead to them being challenged for that position by someone who promises to do better.

But the former is usually a mistake, one which can come from projecting modern ideas of monotheism and separation of church and state onto Glorantha. Adventures at this level are about politics, war, myth, glory and/or economics. All of which are inherently 'cult' business, for there is no other type of business for them to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by radmonger
  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the removing the fetch thing is probably a holdover from when things hadn't been developed as much, since it's pretty much copypasted from RQ2. Alternatively, maybe you can read it that troublesome shamans will end up on the wrong side of a spirit of reprisal and get killed. That'd certainly require superhuman effort to reverse!

9 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

I thought the model Jeff presented on Facebook, where you track the demands on your mind/spirit/soul from your various commitments (in percent), looks a lot more promising than the traditional RQ model that mostly just annoys people and may if applied make adventuring difficult.

Is that post on the well of daliath? That sounds interesting.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...