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Jon Hunter

Elmal Yelmalio thing

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I have picked up there has been a bit of thing about elmal/yelmalio over the years

Out of interest where has this been left?

What i'm picking up is that Yelmalio seems to be the fore and Elmal if mentioned at all is being pushed to the background?

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9 minutes ago, Jon Hunter said:

I have picked up there has been a bit of thing about elmal/yelmalio over the years

Out of interest where has this been left?

What i'm picking up is that Yelmalio seems to be the fore and Elmal if mentioned at all is being pushed to the background?

By 1625 in Dragon Pass, Elmal can best be viewed as a local tribal variant of the Yelmalio cult (found in a few Sartarite tribes). 

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1 hour ago, kaydet said:

@Jeff I'm curious about this too. Why would the Orlanthi abandon "their" sun god for an import from Peloria?

Better magic (from more powerful myths).

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Color me somewhat confused as well. So, how has the shift progressed/happened in Dragon Pass? I'd really like a blow-by-blow of sorts.

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1 hour ago, kaydet said:

@Jeff I'm curious about this too. Why would the Orlanthi abandon "their" sun god for an import from Peloria?

They didn't abandon him. Yelmalio is the greater Elmal and his initiates gained greater insights into the Little Sun. The god we now know as Yelmalio wasn't a mere obedient lackey of Orlanth but an independent ruler in his own right. His gifts are wondrous blessings (and their oaths bring one closer to god); his high priests can call down the Sun Spear, whereas those who know Yelmalio only as Elmal cannot. 

As Dragon Pass came into direct contact with the rich Solar civilisations of the Pelorian lowlands, the Elmal cult was greatly affected and began to fall into the orbit of the Pelorian Yelm cult.  Brother fought brother and clans tore themselves apart. It seemed likely that this would tear apart the young Kingdom of Sartar, but instead Elmal was revealed to be Yelmalio, an independent ruler and lackey of neither Orlanth OR Yelm. And a god who had not submitted to the Red Goddess's viceroy (unlike Yelm). 

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43 minutes ago, Jeff said:

 but instead Elmal was revealed to be Yelmalio, an independent ruler and lackey of neither Orlanth OR Yelm. . 

This is the bit that confuses me. Why isn't Yelmalio a subordinate of Yelm? 

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1 hour ago, Mark Mohrfield said:

This is the bit that confuses me. Why isn't Yelmalio a subordinate of Yelm?

Maybe because of his experience on the Hill of Gold.

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The better magic claim is interesting - because it’s a very dubious claim! Especially dubious in RQ terms. Yelmalio traditionally has quite weak magic, apart from the gifts. They are cut off from the best fire related magic both battle (forbidden Firearrow and Fire Blade) and Rune (no large Salamanders), and most of the cult special magic is utility rather than martial (Sunbright of course has significant utility against some foes, but is minor against most). Only when quite senior do they see the advantage of Sunspear. Elmal on the other hand, with full access to the Fire Rune, seems to favour flaming blades and arrows, and generally have quite solid and effective combat magic from the start. 

And in RQ2 Yelmalio gifts and geases were quite a crapshoot! Some gifts were minor, few major, some of mild utility. And a random geas could have almost no effect on play (your Sun County Yelmalio may no longer eat horse meat, which he never encounters), or cripple your characters combat utility at a stroke (eg your Templar is suddenly no longer allowed to use the shield he has carefully mastered). And geases like ‘wear no armour’ or ‘wear nothing on your head’ may bring the oath swearer closer to god, but may also bring them much closer to the afterlife!

Where Yelmalio shines is that it’s organised, especially militarily - you can see it being more effective than Elmal at a societal level, producing well trained soldiers where Elmal produces individual warriors. But you can also see that being a problem for the spread of the cult, as well - a lone Elmal warrior in a clan is just another odd warrior, but Yelmalion skills and abilities seem mostly valuable in a group - whole clans may convert to Yelmalio, changing many things about their society and shifting it significantly from Heortling individualism to a more Northern communal model, but it would be a much harder sell to individuals or small groups. And the warrior vs Soldier dichotomy may favour the Yelmalions as a society, but it doesn’t favour them as PCs! 

 

 

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I am also still very keen on the idea that Yelmalio, besides it’s more Pelorian emphasis on the group rather than the individual, also still has significant cultural vestiges of its First Age connections to mysticism. Gifts and geases are very unusual magic for a divine cult, that looks very suspiciously similar to the mystic practice of austerities. And of course they have an ascetic meditation tradition for senior priests. Not that I’m suggesting that all asceticism or use of austerities is mystic, or that Yelmalio is an active mystic cult now, just that it makes a lot of sense that these practices are rooted in their mystic history. 

I’m not quite sure how it would work mechanically, but it’s pretty obvious that if Illumination let’s you break geases without losing the gifts in some way, then it becomes a potent magical combination, you can see how this might make the First Age Daysenerus cult a powerful path for Nysalor followers. 

(This also makes me think that the Humakt practice of gifts and geases could have originated with Arkat similarly adopting mystic practices into the cult).

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4 minutes ago, davecake said:

I am also still very keen on the idea that Yelmalio, besides it’s more Pelorian emphasis on the group rather than the individual, also still has significant cultural vestiges of its First Age connections to mysticism. Gifts and geases are very unusual magic for a divine cult, that looks very suspiciously similar to the mystic practice of austerities. And of course they have an ascetic meditation tradition for senior priests. Not that I’m suggesting that all asceticism or use of austerities is mystic, or that Yelmalio is an active mystic cult now, just that it makes a lot of sense that these practices are rooted in their mystic history. 

I’m not quite sure how it would work mechanically, but it’s pretty obvious that if Illumination let’s you break geases without losing the gifts in some way, then it becomes a potent magical combination, you can see how this might make the First Age Daysenerus cult a powerful path for Nysalor followers. 

(This also makes me think that the Humakt practice of gifts and geases could have originated with Arkat similarly adopting mystic practices into the cult).

I played a Yelmalian mystic in an extremely short lived HQ game on the Chaosium discord. The cult does work very well for a mystic, what with the focus on light and truth and all that.

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14 hours ago, Mark Mohrfield said:

This is the bit that confuses me. Why isn't Yelmalio a subordinate of Yelm? 

In part, that's the mythology of Yelmalio - his stories don't kick into action until AFTER Yelm is killed. It is also historical - the Yelmalio cult didn't develop as part of the Dara Happen empire. As a result, there is neither a magical or a political basis for the cult to take a subservient position. The gods are associated - Yelm is an associated cult with Yelmalio and gives the high priests (both Rune Priests and Rune Lords) access to Sun Spear. But the cults are separate and removed.

And Yelmalio does give better magic than Elmal. His gifts are nothing to sneeze at, and having the ranking priests have access to Sun Spear is a big deal. The Elmal cult has neither. 

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35 minutes ago, Jeff said:

And Yelmalio does give better magic than Elmal

Even if you don’t buy my argument that actually gifts are not that amazing (a lot of them are cool rather than powerful, and come with a risk of a crippling geas), your argument relies heavily on Sunspear for ranking priests. I will accept that Yelmalio has good magic if you are a ranking Priest - but the problem is Elmal has better spell access for literally everyone who isn’t a ranking Priest. So, you know, over 95% of the cult. 

The better magic argument looks just straight out wrong to me for most individuals (anyone not a ranking Priest, including most priests). As I said, I think Yelmalio is a powerful cult for a large group - well organised soldiers, some good magic for the people at the top, gives the cult multiple strong military specialties, solid community support spells, etc. 

But I think it should be acknowledged that it’s a relatively weak choice for individuals, especially compared to Elmal. Or even any group small enough not to include ranking priests. And as such, represents an interesting cultural shift for very individualist Heortlings. 

One really interesting thing that struck me as an interesting example of this - to most Heortlings, geases like wear no armour effectively renders you a non-combatant. You simply should give up fighting, it’s too dangerous without armour (woad bring a special case not applicable to Yelmalions). 

But to a Yelmalion Templar, it can mean ‘not in the first rank’. You can wield a pike from the second rank and trust in the person in front of you. It isn’t Yelmalio telling you not to be a combatant, it’s Yelmalio telling to be Soldier and learn to trust and rely on your fellow soldiers. Which is very not Heortling. 

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There's never been a published RQ writeup for Elmal. I'm looking at what will be published and yes, Yelmalio has better magic.

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3 minutes ago, Jeff said:

There's never been a published RQ writeup for Elmal. I'm looking at what will be published and yes, Yelmalio has better magic.

The one advantage Elmal has over Yelmalio is he gets Shield from Orlanth. But Yelmalio gets Catseye, Command Hawk, gifts and his ranking priests get Sun Spear from Yelm. I consider that to be considerably better magic than just Catseye and Sunbright. Heck, the gifts alone are worth the switch (raise Spear or Bow to 90%? Talk to your horse? Speak languages? Supersize or supersmart me? Heck yeah!).

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7 hours ago, davecake said:

And a random geas could have almost no effect on play (your Sun County Yelmalio may no longer eat horse meat, which he never encounters), or cripple your characters combat utility at a stroke (eg your Templar is suddenly no longer allowed to use the shield he has carefully mastered).

So he dual wields or goes 2H instead.  Just beware archery...although once he reaches Rune Lord level likely his armor/protections will be enough to reduce that to plinks.

Edited by Yelm's Light

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First, I think mythically Yelmalio should have worse magic than Elmal *in the base case*, because otherwise the loss of his Fire powers basically becomes meaningless. So just simply that should mean that Elmal has better access to not just combat magic (and he clearly does, because Yelmalio combat magic is unusually rubbish), but all that fire brings. Elmal keeps you warm at night. 

And it really clearly shouldn’t just be Shield is the one advantage Elmal has, because retaining access to his Fire powers should be a bigger one. And yes, there hasn’t been an official RQ write up, but there was an official HQ2 one, and it came as close as a non-RQ write up could to saying ‘Elmal uses Fire Arrow and Fire Blade spells regularly’. Well, it actually says “Initiates can use their affinity with the Fire Rune when fighting with spears, throwing javelins, or using the bow. They often use this affinity to make their spear points or arrows burst into flame, or dazzle foes with a magical glow from their shields or armor.” Quite a big advantage, given that Yelmalio has almost no useful combat magic available below ranking Priest level. 

And it’s not just that at that introductory initiate level Elmal has better fighting magic - it’s also that for Elmal initiates, joining Yelmalio specifically requires you to give up your regularly used combat magic. It’s a net negative. 

And Elmal should get Catseye, based on S:KoH (they can use their Fire Rune to ‘see in darkness’). And of course both may have access to Salamanders - but Elmal should have the advantage there too. 

The gifts might be worth the switch - if they didn’t come with random geases that might cripple you. But they do. The magic is cool - but not overwhelmingly cool. A 1 point Siz advantage is handy, yes. But if you have to give up wearing armour (or even just head armour) you’ve really lost out on the deal. Instant mastery sounds great - but only if you aren’t pretty good anyway. Instant mastery is, for example, of quite limited use to the Rune Lords who already have to be weapon masters. It’s really only a great deal as an unskilled initiate. In fact, you can definitely lose on the deal if gaining mastery in a cult weapon requires you to give up shields and you are already skilled in shield. 

Command Hawk is cool - but a heap of magic for your horse, that you actually ride into battle, and use everyday, that is even cooler. 

Elmal also has - some anti-Chaos magic, that Yelmalio mostly lacks (his most famous myth has him losing to chaos). He can burn trolls, Yelmalio magic mostly just makes them squint. 

And yes, Sunspear - but only for ranking priests. It’s good, but Elmal access to Fire should balance it out, and for everybody, not just a small elite. It’s handy for some specific uses (such as wanting to toast a specific king you don’t like, as per KoS p169), but weakening the magic of almost everybody to benefit a small minority most often is a net weakening. 

Plus Elmal requires you to give up ambitions of being chief, may require you to divorce your wife, etc, 

Mostly I just don’t even understand the argument. It’s clear that there are advantages to moving to Yelmalio as a whole clan, or even a large group, but it’s a big social shift. It’s clear that there are cultural reasons behind the cults success, and history that explains it, but it’s mostly a whole group that changed to a more northern lifestyle as whole clans. All this explains the Glorantha we have now - why also make the demonstrably weak argument that their magic is clearly better, when it’s unneeded, and in some ways problematic? 

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I'm a bit put off by a lot of the belittling Elmal as being a lacky or whatever. A dedicated warrior path that requires neither the seperation from family and fertility that Humakt does nor the wild recklessness to which Orlanthi are prone is a Good Thing for a community to have, doubly so with a specific emphasis on protecting the community. I expect Elmali to be disproportionately promenant among Heortling cavalry as well. There's no need for them to be diminished any more than any other path that isn't Orlanth or Ernalda.

I also agree that Elmali's base level magic ought to be better than Yelmalions'. Elmal is whole. Yelmalions' greater powers come from overcoming loss and suffering. They must become better fighters to survive without the Fire magic. Enduring geasa brings special gifts. Giving up individualism brings discipline and teamwork. And eventually, for the greatest among them who have been tempered and tested by enduring all those other losses, comes transcending death itself upon the Hill of Gold.   

There's an element of all that in the Elmal tradition as well, as seen in Elmal Guards the Stead, but not to anywhere near the same degree as in the Yelmalion approach.

 

Edited by JonL
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I agree with @JonL. I just can't picture a Yelmalio cult of foreign origin and emphasis on conformity and chastity being successful among Orlanthi.

And who cares if Elmal is subservient to Orlanth? So are all the other gods. Elmal has a worthy place; he is trusted and admired as a loyal and skilled thane. He is a warrior and a leader in times of trouble. He is the constant light and the watcher in the darkness.

What is Yelmalio? He is a martyr whose main mystical teaching is that endurance of suffering improves a man, and that the union of man and woman is a weakness to be minimized. That does not sound like an Orlanthi perspective.

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7 hours ago, Jeff said:

In part, that's the mythology of Yelmalio - his stories don't kick into action until AFTER Yelm is killed. It is also historical - the Yelmalio cult didn't develop as part of the Dara Happen empire. As a result, there is neither a magical or a political basis for the cult to take a subservient position. The gods are associated - Yelm is an associated cult with Yelmalio and gives the high priests (both Rune Priests and Rune Lords) access to Sun Spear. But the cults are separate and removed.

But that still leaves Yelmalio dependent on Yelm for the flashiest of his effective powers.

The political and geographic separation makes more sense to me; Yelmalio might be subservient to Yelm theoretically, but with no Yelm worshipers actually around it doesn't amount to much in actual practice whereas Elmali worshipers are always near Orlanthi worshipers.

(I hope this thread isn't beginning to look like a  "Let's gang up on Jeff!" session. That certainly isn't my intention.)

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47 minutes ago, kaydet said:

@JonL

What is Yelmalio? He is a martyr whose main mystical teaching is that endurance of suffering improves a man, and that the union of man and woman is a weakness to be minimized. That does not sound like an Orlanthi perspective.

Well, for the first part, Christianity did eventually catch on in Europe.

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On a more humorous note, I can imagine gangs of Elmali and Yelmalions hurling insults at each other about why the other's god is such a wimp.

"Your god is just Orlanth's lackey!"

"Well, your god is Yelm's stooge! And we get fire magic!"

"Yeah, well we get Sunspears!"

"Only from his old man, not from him!"

Etc, etc.

 

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39 minutes ago, Mark Mohrfield said:

But that still leaves Yelmalio dependent on Yelm for the flashiest of his effective powers.

It's the flashiest power, but on a day-to-day level, those gifts add a lot.  When the fires of Elmal die down and the hearth fire goes out and cold, the light of Yelmalio still shines.  (Which may also mean that Yelmalio's powers are more constant and reliable throughout the year.)

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9 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

It's the flashiest power, but on a day-to-day level, those gifts add a lot.  When the fires of Elmal die down and the hearth fire goes out and cold, the light of Yelmalio still shines.  (Which may also mean that Yelmalio's powers are more constant and reliable throughout the year.)

Didn't Elmal's fire remain burning on Kerofin throughout the Great Darkness?; he was there when the Lightbringers returned and the Sun rose. I don't think the Elmali sacred fire is supposed to go out.

Edited by jeffjerwin
elmali not email
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