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EricW

How Do Chaos Fighting Cults Feel about Arkat the Destroyer?

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Arkat the Destroyer's illuminated followers infiltrate chaos cults like local Thanatar nests, learn their secrets, then use that information to help destroy the temple and kill the chaos worshippers.

How do Lightbringers and chaos fighting cults like Storm Bulls and Zorak Zoran react to this kind of skullduggery? Is there any possibility of at least limited tolerance for their activities? I mean, the Arkati are illuminates, they give power to chaos during the infiltration stage, but they help destroy chaos, providing information which might not be obtainable by other means, helping to gain access to hidden temples, improving the odds of success, helping to ensure none of the chaos scum survives the raid.

Without them, there would be more chaos. 

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The knowledge that Arkati are illuminates is not widespread.

Nor is the association, for that matter, between Arkati and Nysalorean illumination.

I think Arkati prefer it that way. There is, of course, not really an organized cult of Arkat. It is a mystic path. You learn it from a master and your own experiences, not from a temple.

Arkati in the wider world interact with society as a member of a better-known cult. "Weird Harlant is a strange one, but he's always been good at finding chaos. The calmest Storm Bull I've every met..."

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1 minute ago, EricW said:

Arkat the Destroyer's illuminated followers infiltrate chaos cults like local Thanatar nests, learn their secrets, then use that information to help destroy the temple and kill the chaos worshippers.

The Destroyer's cult looks too brutal for that IMO.  His iconography (Guide p376 and 377) portrays him a incarnation of destruction (black sphere, flanged mace) and closer to Zorak Zoran rather than a deceitful agent.  The concept might work for a local cult of Arkat the Deceiver but it would not be a common practice as everybody believes the Deceivers to be totally evil.

 More importantly I don't think the Arkati use Illumination for such political purposes.  For them Illumination is a spiritual goal rather than a tool to infiltrate evil cults and bring them to justice.  

 

1 minute ago, EricW said:

How do Lightbringers and chaos fighting cults like Storm Bulls and Zorak Zoran react to this kind of skullduggery? Is there any possibility of at least limited tolerance for their activities?

I really don't see much room in Ralios for the worshippers of Zorak Zoran to understand the value of skullduggery.  As for the Lightbringers, it would be as likely as Sartarite tolerating someone who joins Lunar cults to betray them from within.

 

1 minute ago, EricW said:

I mean, the Arkati are illuminates, they give power to chaos during the infiltration stage, but they help destroy chaos, providing information which might not be obtainable by other means, helping to gain access to hidden temples, improving the odds of success, helping to ensure none of the chaos scum survives the raid.

Without them, there would be more chaos. 

I could expect an Arkati to use this reasoning to justify his actions but I don't think people outside the cult would be so convinced.

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8 hours ago, EricW said:

Arkat the Destroyer's illuminated followers infiltrate chaos cults like local Thanatar nests, learn their secrets, then use that information to help destroy the temple and kill the chaos worshippers.

What's the reference for this.

8 hours ago, EricW said:

How do Lightbringers and chaos fighting cults like Storm Bulls and Zorak Zoran react to this kind of skullduggery?

Personally I believe that such small numbers are involved, that if it happens no one knows other than the person involved. Members of SB & ZZ are unlikely to even consider the practice as those doing this are by definition mad. It's not like they are going to meet up in a bar and discuss this. This is like one of those undercover police film plots where the infiltrator has to become one of the baddies to ultimately destroy them, but is morally tainted by doing it. So illumination helps? only in that the infiltrator doesn't suffer any consequences from their actions. They still know what they did, so they are not going to talk.

With Thantatar they are unlikely to make it past lay member due to the acts needed to become an initiate (I don't believe Thanatar is wide spread).

8 hours ago, EricW said:

Without them, there would be more chaos. 

Given Chaos is part of the Great compromise, I don't think so. Where chaos is reduced more appears, where chaos increases, more of its enemies appear. This swinging back and forth waxes and wanes with the cycles of Glorantha. I think the biggest is the return of the Devil every 600 years. The hero wars is the waxing of chaos.

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15 hours ago, David Scott said:

What's the reference for this.

My apologies, the reference came from an online writeup of Arkat the Destroy which I can no longer find. Probably not canon. Me bad.

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We use any tool in the fight against Chaos, even Chaos. 

Storm Bullers, Zorak Zorani and Orlanthi probably wouldn't care how you kill Chaos, as long as you kill Chaos. They might kill you afterwards if you openly use Chaos against Chaos, bit only if you weren't too powerful.

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The way I've GMed it, the various cults of Arkat are secret societies. You don't find them; if you've become illuminated, they find you. They scout you out and either kill you or invite you in. This is an invitation you can't refuse, but then again, they wouldn't invite you unless they were 99% sure you were the right kind of Illuminate. You don't advertise if they bring you in instead of killing you. You stay in your previous cult as a sort of sleeper agent, using Arkat illumination secrets to stay more or less sane, and act on your own to pursue the goals of the secret society unless given a specific mission.

I think the average Orlanthi would have no idea that the Arkat cult still existed, especially outside Ralios. A sage might know that the trolls still worship him and he's the source of their sorcery tradition. Were any traditional Theyalan type to find out that one of their own was a member, I suspect they'd be horrified and either kill or exile the Arkati. Arkat is famously treacherous and has no place in good society. "You follow the Betrayer? Then go live with the trolls like he did."

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33 minutes ago, RHW said:

think the average Orlanthi would have no idea that the Arkat cult still existed, especially outside Ralios.

Except Arkat's Hold on the way to Esrolia is rather suspect (particularly since I think they refused refugees during the Great Winter). And there's a small temple to Black Arkat in Nochet - probably thought to be a place where strange foreigners from Ralios and trolls go. 

And of course the persistent rumors that Sir Ethilrist descends from Arkat (probably encouraged by Ethilrist himself).

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21 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

Except Arkat's Hold on the way to Esrolia is rather suspect (particularly since I think they refused refugees during the Great Winter). And there's a small temple to Black Arkat in Nochet - probably thought to be a place where strange foreigners from Ralios and trolls go. 

And of course the persistent rumors that Sir Ethilrist descends from Arkat (probably encouraged by Ethilrist himself).

Sure... but I'm not sure how much awareness Rathy Bullhead from Cowfart-Up-the-Creek* has of any of those things. I suspect not much aside from "Esrola? Nochet? Black Horse Country? Them all are for'n parts. Maybe people might worship the Betrayer way away in places like that, but they best not show their faces round here." SPIT.

 

*Not to be confused with Cowfart-Down-Stream where people are much more sophisticated. Meaning they spit less.

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1 hour ago, RHW said:

*Not to be confused with Cowfart-Down-Stream where people are much more sophisticated. Meaning they spit less.

I'd've thought they'd spit more, living downstream from "Other Cowfart"... ;)

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1 hour ago, womble said:

I'd've thought they'd spit more, living downstream from "Other Cowfart"... ;)

Common misunderstanding. Cowfart-Down-Stream is a Balmyr tula on the Stream and Cowfart-Up-the-Creek is a Cinsina tula on the Creek, so they don't actually share a watershed.

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On 2/21/2019 at 2:39 PM, jeffjerwin said:

The knowledge that Arkati are illuminates is not widespread.  Nor is the association, for that matter, between Arkati and Nysalorean illumination.

Yes,  I totally agree, this is privileged information. Shh.  

On 2/21/2019 at 2:39 PM, jeffjerwin said:

There is, of course, not really an organized cult of Arkat. It is a mystic path. You learn it from a master and your own experiences, not from a temple.

Hmm... This is a lot more equivocal as a statement.  The Trolls certainly retain unbroken worship of Black Arkat.  Similarly Mularik Ironeye claims linear descent from Arkat, and is the head of a secret society that continues Arkat's legacy.  This all operates out of Arkat's Hold in Esrolia.  There are no doubt more examples of the same in Ralios.  While there is certainly a mystical component to Arkat worship, and membership in the higher eschelons is certainly dependent on illumination, there is definitely a strong non-mystical component.  It should also be pointed out that one of the primary duties of the present Arkat Cult is to protect the Hero Quest plane from God Learner style meddling, by building heroes who can defend it.

On 2/21/2019 at 2:16 PM, EricW said:

Arkat the Destroyer's illuminated followers infiltrate chaos cults like local Thanatar nests, learn their secrets, then use that information to help destroy the temple and kill the chaos worshippers.  How do Lightbringers and chaos fighting cults like Storm Bulls and Zorak Zoran react to this kind of skullduggery? Is there any possibility of at least limited tolerance for their activities? I mean, the Arkati are illuminates, they give power to chaos during the infiltration stage, but they help destroy chaos, providing information which might not be obtainable by other means, helping to gain access to hidden temples, improving the odds of success, helping to ensure none of the chaos scum survives the raid.  Without them, there would be more chaos. 

I was under the impression that Arkati don't infiltrate chaos cults, but have taken severe oaths never to serve chaos, likely invoking Humakt Oath spells or worse in the process.  There are very good reasons for this.  Firstly, to serve chaos is to fall into the trap of Nysalor/Gbaji, and secondly, to those in the know, Arkat likely did succumb to the tempatation of chaos while fighting Nysalor in order to better represent the fact that Nysalor's whole notion of Illumination was hideously flawed and merely a license to riot. Of course Arkat later expunged the chaos from himself when it had served its purpose, likey in much the same way the Cleansed One did.

The notion of a special and select group of Arkati devoted to chaos hunting in the name of Arkat the Destroyer is interesting.  They certainly wouldn't ever tell anyone in any of the chaos hunting cults that they even existed and would likely have to be relinquished of certain oaths an have to swear other ones involving the protection of their secret identity and the identities of others in their espionage cell, so that they literally couldn't release the information without dying "like a good ninja".  

That being said, I haven't read about Arkati chaos cult infiltrators anywhere. I think their current focus, as I have said above, is presently on protecting the Hero Quest Plane from people doing God Learning.

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18 hours ago, Darius West said:

I was under the impression that Arkati don't infiltrate chaos cults, but have taken severe oaths never to serve chaos, likely invoking Humakt Oath spells or worse in the process.  There are very good reasons for this.  Firstly, to serve chaos is to fall into the trap of Nysalor/Gbaji, and secondly, to those in the know, Arkat likely did succumb to the tempatation of chaos while fighting Nysalor in order to better represent the fact that Nysalor's whole notion of Illumination was hideously flawed and merely a license to riot. Of course Arkat later expunged the chaos from himself when it had served its purpose, likey in much the same way the Cleansed One did.

I made a mistake with that introduction sorry (see above), I don't think the source I quoted was canon. 

18 hours ago, Darius West said:

 The notion of a special and select group of Arkati devoted to chaos hunting in the name of Arkat the Destroyer is interesting.  They certainly wouldn't ever tell anyone in any of the chaos hunting cults that they even existed and would likely have to be relinquished of certain oaths an have to swear other ones involving the protection of their secret identity and the identities of others in their espionage cell, so that they literally couldn't release the information without dying "like a good ninja".  

That being said, I haven't read about Arkati chaos cult infiltrators anywhere. I think their current focus, as I have said above, is presently on protecting the Hero Quest Plane from people doing God Learning.

It seemed a very natural thing for an illuminate to do when I read it. Nobody but an illuminate could infiltrate a chaos cult without getting busted by divination or detect enemy, especially a paranoid knowledge cult like Thanatar or any of the Lunar cults.

I'm sure Lunars must be infiltrating LightBringer groups with illuminated spies, it doesn't make sense that there is no intelligence gathering occurring in the other direction, even if only on a small scale.

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3 hours ago, EricW said:

I'm sure Lunars must be infiltrating LightBringer groups with illuminated spies, it doesn't make sense that there is no intelligence gathering occurring in the other direction, even if only on a small scale.

Must be a very weird sect of Arkati. The major tenet of Arkat's multiple cult membership was always to respect the cult he joined.

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4 hours ago, EricW said:

It doesn't make sense that there is no intelligence gathering occurring in the other direction, even if only on a small scale.

LOL since when do religions have to make sense?  I agree with the general idea, don't get me wrong, but if it is going on, it is likely in Ralios not Dragon Pass, as there are all those other Arkats there, and some of these new outfits probably don't play by the same rules as the old Arkat secret society.  The older Arkat outfit is all about protecting the Hero Plane, and probably aren't that worried about other chaos.

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6 hours ago, Darius West said:

LOL since when do religions have to make sense?  I agree with the general idea, don't get me wrong, but if it is going on, it is likely in Ralios not Dragon Pass, as there are all those other Arkats there, and some of these new outfits probably don't play by the same rules as the old Arkat secret society.  The older Arkat outfit is all about protecting the Hero Plane, and probably aren't that worried about other chaos.

Ah but these are desperate times.

The Lunar Empire attacks the hero plane with chaos even while it conquers the mundane world using every tool at its disposal, fair or foul.

There is even a plot to kill Orlanth, a plot which is perilously close to success.

Arkat repeatedly betrayed his gods and broke his oaths to those gods in his single minded pursuit of Gbaji. 

Are you guys seriously saying the temptation to use the dark side to serve good never occurred to anyone?

You might never fully trust your illuminated spy, but if they provide desperately needed high quality intelligence and faithful service, would you really be in that much of a rush to kill them?

This is the slippery slope of illumination - the end justifies the means, if that end is worthy enough.

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1 hour ago, EricW said:

Are you guys seriously saying the temptation to use the dark side to serve good never occurred to anyone?

The problem is, that in Glorantha if you do that, you really do turn to the 'dark side', much as using Chaotic magic leaves you with a Chaotic taint. Illumination is inherently dangerous, because it can lead to temptations without apparent consequences, but there always are consequences...

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The problem I have with double agents joining cults is that it's too modern a mindset.  If you have a society whose idea of a liberal attitude to crime and punishment is to liberally apply the death penalty, then there isn't much interest in long-term infiltration of an evil cult to find out their nefarious plans - just kill them all as well as people in the wrong place to be certain (c.f. the likely fate of the villagers in Gaumata's Vision).  Want to know where the chaotic cult is meeting?  For that you have informers (I saw X meeting Y to pray to Z) and witchfindes (including our Storm Bullies).

 

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54 minutes ago, metcalph said:

The problem I have with double agents joining cults is that it's too modern a mindset.  If you have a society whose idea of a liberal attitude to crime and punishment is to liberally apply the death penalty, then there isn't much interest in long-term infiltration of an evil cult to find out their nefarious plans - just kill them all as well as people in the wrong place to be certain (c.f. the likely fate of the villagers in Gaumata's Vision).  Want to know where the chaotic cult is meeting?  For that you have informers (I saw X meeting Y to pray to Z) and witchfindes (including our Storm Bullies).

 

I wouldn't expect some hill tribe to mount a sophisticated infiltration effort. 

But cities and town under Lunar occupation would surely be absolutely seething with intrigue. Only the very clever and cautious would survive even the first few days of imperial infiltration efforts.

There's a hilarious scene in the book "Bill, The Galactic Hero" in which thousands of rebels storm key buildings in the Imperial City - but as the rebels charge, their numbers rapidly dwindle, until the only person left is the leader of the movement. All the rebels except the leader were imperial spies, but there were so many imperial intelligence agencies running covert operations against the rebels, the agencies never realised the rebellion was a figment of their paranoia - all except its hapless leader. 

Edited by EricW
Fixed a typo

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2 hours ago, metcalph said:

The problem I have with double agents joining cults is that it's too modern a mindset.  If you have a society whose idea of a liberal attitude to crime and punishment is to liberally apply the death penalty, then there isn't much interest in long-term infiltration of an evil cult to find out their nefarious plans - just kill them all as well as people in the wrong place to be certain (c.f. the likely fate of the villagers in Gaumata's Vision).  Want to know where the chaotic cult is meeting?  For that you have informers (I saw X meeting Y to pray to Z) and witchfindes (including our Storm Bullies).

 

Argrath does have Lunar followers fighting against the Empire. They probably didn't join specifically to fight the Lunars, but hey.

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1 hour ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Argrath does have Lunar followers fighting against the Empire. They probably didn't join specifically to fight the Lunars, but hey.

The topic under question is someone joinihg a cult to act as a double agent or fifth columnist.  This is completely different from being a Lunar in the service of Argrath.  

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2 hours ago, EricW said:

But cities and town under Lunar occupation would surely be absolutely seething with intrigue. Only the very clever and cautious would survive even the first few days of imperial infiltration efforts.

Why are we discussing Lunar occupation when your original question was about the Arkati and Ralios?  As for the "surely be absolutely seething with intruige", it doesn't look it from Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes, the Sartar Companion or the Coming Storm.  

 

 

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4 hours ago, metcalph said:

Why are we discussing Lunar occupation when your original question was about the Arkati and Ralios?  As for the "surely be absolutely seething with intruige", it doesn't look it from Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes, the Sartar Companion or the Coming Storm.  

 

 

From "Orlanth is Dead":

Quote

 

In the cities and towns, Lunar courts enforce a new kind of law, with no concern for justice. They deny the sacred right to wergild, and no one has a free voice or the consolation of kin!

Intermarriage between troops, colonizers, and Sartarites, especially in the clans of the city rings, has brought new concepts of kinship, ownership, and loyalty, diluting the Custom of Vingkot and the Laws of Heort. New Pelorian has become the language of city and confederacy court. Lunar shrines and altars have been erected in every city’s market square, while the temples and holy places of Orlanth are defiled and laid waste.

Lunar missionaries have recruited many clansmen, assisted by Tarshites who claim to follow the Old Ways, but who have turned their backs on Orlanth. Spies, informers, and collaborators are everywhere, and the clans who seek to maintain the ways of the Storm are wracked by the horror of kinstrife. Sartarites act as intermediaries or guides in the collection of taxes, in hunting and punishing rebels, and in destroying the holy places of Orlanth, Urox, and Babeester Gor. They call themselves the Moon Winds, but we call them ruptureds. These traitors use their newfound power to prosecute tribal rivalries and inter-clan feuds with murderous efficiency. So deep is the treachery that Sartar is now the battleground of tribe against tribe, clan against clan, and even sister against brother.

Even those who take the outlaw path bring hardship and danger to all. They neither plow nor herd, but instead must demand food and shelter from kin or from the steads of strangers. In a time of poor harvests and high taxes, they must live off the labor of others. How strange to see women and men from different clans and even different tribes living and fighting together! Some are truly heroes, but others are little better than bandits.

The armed uprisingsagainst the Lunars include Starbrow’s Rebellion, the Righteous Wind, The Season of Five Storms, the Firebull Moot, and the Black Arrow Callings. All have been quickly contained with a mixture of bribery, treachery, threats, and military action. With the exception of Prince Temertain, those of King Sartar’s blood are no more, and the heroes who openly opposed the Lunar army are all dead or exiled.

 

So definitely an environment with a lot of spies and intrigue, at least during some of the most desperate periods of the occupation.

I accept saying Lunars are using illuminates to spy on Lightbringers is a stretch, it doesn't actually say the collaborators are using foul magics to conceal their treachery from Orlanth. And Lightbringers accepting help from people they suspect of being illuminates is a greater stretch. 

All I am saying is in such desperate times, it seems plausible that if a reliable long term source of vital intelligence about Lunar activities was available to rebel leadership, they might be tempted not to act on their personal suspicions that their source of information was an illuminate.

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49 minutes ago, EricW said:

From "Orlanth is Dead":

So definitely an environment with a lot of spies and intrigue, at least during some of the most desperate periods of the occupation.

Brother against sister doesn't mean cult infiltration in any way. The sister is very likely married off to a different clan anyway, so it isn't even kinstrife.

 

49 minutes ago, EricW said:

I accept saying Lunars are using illuminates to spy on Lightbringers is a stretch, it doesn't actually say the collaborators are using foul magics to conceal their treachery from Orlanth. And Lightbringers accepting help from people they suspect of being illuminates is a greater stretch. 

You are extremely hung up on illumination. There is no need to bring mystic experiences and detection blank into this. There is standard Orlanthi mythical precedence: the Sword and Helm Saga, where the Ernaldan wife betrays the Orlanthi husband for the welfare of her beset kin.

 

49 minutes ago, EricW said:

All I am saying is in such desperate times, it seems plausible that if a reliable long term source of vital intelligence about Lunar activities was available to rebel leadership, they might be tempted not to act on their personal suspicions that their source of information was an illuminate.

There are plenty of semi-enlightened folk around. For a lot of them not devoted to the Lunar Way, it simply means that they are above the struggle between the Lunar Way and the Old Ways of Orlanth. They would be hard to find, harder to recruit, and yet harder to rely on.

Those devoted to the Lunar Way don't work as undercover agents.

Former or pro forma lay worshippers is about the deepest insertion into the cult that you can hide from divination.

Of the Lightbringers, only Orlanth has a personal problem with the Lunar Goddess - she invaded his realm. For the rest of them, it is a problem their leader is annoyed with which they may help or hinder according to their own goals and agendas. It's a bit like the Atlantic alliance right now. Orlanth wants to build a wall and everyone to increase their "defense" budget to that of an offensive army, and the other Lightbringers have their own priorities to tackle. Eurmal just has announced he'll leave the clan, Issaries is worried about tariffs on trade, Lhankor Mhy has problems with yellow-robed apprentices, and Chalana's call for charity for strangers has angered the warbands who just managed to evict the red menace.

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7 hours ago, metcalph said:

The topic under question is someone joinihg a cult to act as a double agent or fifth columnist.  This is completely different from being a Lunar in the service of Argrath.  

I understand, but I'm saying that if someone can turn against their greater order/cult due to personal conviction or allegiances, it's hypothetically possible for them to have had a hostile intention all along.

Don't like it for flavor reasons and lack of precedence? Sure, no worries. But it's not impossible, is it? Religion in Glorantha is about observing cultic practices, after all, not the Lutheran notion of deep personal faith.

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