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Leingod

Jaraltyr the Dreamer

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For whatever reason, the one-sentence mention of Broddi Strong-Kin's neglected youngest son (pg. 33 of The Coming Storm) really caught my eye, and I find myself wanting to make some use of him. I was wondering if anyone else's campaign (or campaign ideas) involve Jaraltyr in some capacity?


Personally, I've got three major ideas for how to use (and interpret) Jaraltyr as an NPC (or perhaps even a PC!):


1. Jaraltyr the Shepherd – In a clan that's even more obsessed with cows than usual for Orlanthi, Jaraltyr is a chieftain's son who's still herding sheep. He's a young man without much ambition, loves to watch the clouds roll by and be alone with his thoughts (and sheep), is overall a fairly quiet but friendly guy, probably a bachelor. I'd probably make him a follower of Heler rather than Orlanth, and take the cue of Jaraltyr being a very staunch and loyal friend despite his reputation as a lazy dreamer who isn't that great in a fight. Might make for a good PC, as a sort of coming-of-age story of finding himself in the crucible of the Hero Wars and the Red Cow clan's struggles, perhaps especially so if the group picks Varnaval the Shepherd King as one of the Three New Stars. Even as an NPC, he'd at least be a decent option for a priest to recruit for the Eleven Lights (again, especially in the case that Varnaval is one of the Three New Stars). You could probably also emphasize a desire to earn his father's love and approval, with Broddi being the typical archetype of the father who expects his sons to fill a certain mold that Jaraltyr just isn't cut out for.


2. Jaraltyr the Shaman – I tend to associate “dreamers” with either shamans or prophets (or both!). In this interpretation Jaraltyr was probably always marked out as “strange” in some way; very quiet and reserved but with sometimes unsettling amounts of insight, probably on the small or scrawny side with relatively little interest in the typical manly pursuits of a Heortling tribe; nothing at all in the mold of the typical blustery Orlanthi man's man that his older brothers typify so well (and that Broddi himself also fit in his youth). Heortlings in general seem to not be very comfortable with spirit-talkers and shamans, recognizing them as useful but confining them to the margins of their society (which to be fair is where many of them tend to be). He might make for a good NPC to help give hints and insights to the PCs through his dreams and visions, or just a good option if a player wants to play a Kolating shaman (or more likely assistant/apprentice shaman) with strong ties to the Red Cow clan to explain why he's sticking around and going on adventures for them. Although... can a shaman become a priest of the Eleven Lights? I'm not sure how that would work, and that might be kind of a sticking point if one of them can't really join the namesake magical society.


3. Jaraltyr the Moon Wind – Probably an NPC-only option unless you're willing to have Moon Wind PCs in your run of Eleven Lights. This would essentially be taking Option #1 in a different direction, where Jaraltyr can become a more sympathetic face to the Moon Winds. The Sardalings, after all, are all in the Lunar pocket from the very start, so it's likely the players will be adversarial from the beginning to them, and IMO at least they're likely to lose all possible sympathy for Ustarna once she heals Wilandring the Giant to let him rampage around trying to kill them. Jaraltyr might make for a good NPC to establish early on (perhaps even as an early friend or ally of the PCs), perhaps playing up how desperate he is to earn his father's love and approval, which eventually leads to him turning to the Seven Mothers when they offer him the validation he isn't getting from his clan or family. It might be a good way to put a face and a coherent argument to the idea that the Red Cow has more problems than just the Lunar Occupation itself, and that their own attitudes might stand with some examination. It might also give some added nuance to the question of what to do with the Moon Winds afterward if there's a prominent (or even still friendly!) Moon Wind who didn't sell out the PCs or sic a giant on them.

Edited by Leingod

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13 minutes ago, Leingod said:

I was wondering if anyone else's campaign (or campaign ideas) involve Jaraltyr in some capacity?

Not that I've heard, but sounds like something to go with!

14 minutes ago, Leingod said:

He's a young man without much ambition, loves to watch the clouds roll by and be alone with his thoughts (and sheep), is overall a fairly quiet but friendly guy, probably a bachelor. I'd probably make him a follower of Heler rather than Orlanth, and take the cue of Jaraltyr being a very staunch and loyal friend despite his reputation as a lazy dreamer who isn't that great in a fight. Might make for a good PC,

Good background idea. Definitely could see as a PC coming-of-age. 

15 minutes ago, Leingod said:

Although... can a shaman become a priest of the Eleven Lights? I'm not sure how that would work, and that might be kind of a sticking point if one of them can't really join the namesake magical society.

Just look at Argrath's Warlocks in HQG for how this could be approached. Such a shaman would approach like starting a new Spirit Cult. 

17 minutes ago, Leingod said:

Jaraltyr the Moon Wind – Probably an NPC-only option unless you're willing to have Moon Wind PCs in your run of Eleven Lights. This would essentially be taking Option #1 in a different direction, where Jaraltyr can become a more sympathetic face to the Moon Winds.

That also works. 

All potentially branch from the same point: the "lazy" dreaming shepherd boy. But what happens during his initiation? That's probably the key question. Which test does he face? If he faces the Strange Gods, then he likely is seduced by the Moon as those gods are present among them. If he's dropped into the Deep Well like Vadrus was, he encounters Heler and the Waters. Not sure which test would lead to the shaman's path - might also be the Strange Gods but resists the lure of the Moon, etc.

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53 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

All potentially branch from the same point: the "lazy" dreaming shepherd boy. But what happens during his initiation? That's probably the key question. Which test does he face? If he faces the Strange Gods, then he likely is seduced by the Moon as those gods are present among them. If he's dropped into the Deep Well like Vadrus was, he encounters Heler and the Waters. Not sure which test would lead to the shaman's path - might also be the Strange Gods but resists the lure of the Moon, etc.

I've never really started out with an initiation before and don't really know how those typically play out except that it's a kind of spirit quest thing, so I'm afraid I don't really have any ideas to contribute to that. Especially since Kolat's a spirit and not a god, and I know even less about the typical procedure of an Orlanthi realizing he's meant to be a spirit-talker.

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So I looked through Greg Stafford's post on initiation for Orlanthi youths and... still don't really know how to handle it. Like, how does a child know which god in particular he wants to initiate into? Obviously most of them are just going to end up initiating to Orlanth in some form, but what about the rest? Does the young man just happen to manifest the right runes for a particular god over the course of it, or does there need to be some particular event during the rite that marks them out for that particular god? That is, do you just find out you've got a Water rune and then initiate to Heler because of that, or do you need some kind of encounter with Heler for that to happen in the first place?

Then there's the fact that Kolat isn't even a god, but a spirit, and I haven't found anything that really describes in detail how and why Orlanthi men decide to take up the path to becoming a spirit-talker. Do they just manifest the Spirit rune and make the choice to pursue that path on their own afterwards, or does it actually come up during their initiation in some way, like they find some other way to handle the challenges that involves dealing with spirits in some way?

So yeah, that just raised way more questions that I have no idea how to answer.

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1 hour ago, Leingod said:

I've never really started out with an initiation before and don't really know how those typically play out except that it's a kind of spirit quest thing, so I'm afraid I don't really have any ideas to contribute to that. Especially since Kolat's a spirit and not a god, and I know even less about the typical procedure of an Orlanthi realizing he's meant to be a spirit-talker.

Check out Argrath's initiation in the Prince of Sartar comic. He is initiated with the Strange Gods.

http://www.princeofsartar.com/comic/1-the-flame-of-sartar/

If you have King of Sartar, it's also described mythically there (p.52) including the other paths. The short version is this: the men of the clan come to the boys at night dressed as the "Uncles" and they lead the boys to the place where they cross over into the Otherworld. This is the common Orlanthi ritual of manhood - doesn't matter whether they may eventually follow gods, spirits, or Orlanth-forbid, the Trickster! They are confronted with tests or challenges there and must survive. If they do, they join the "Uncles" (now really gods and spirits since they are in the Otherworld) at their feast where they are welcomed. Gradually the gods disappear until each boy is alone, travelling through the Broken World. At the edge of the world they meet the Second Son who reveals the secret of the Star Heart. Beyond the Second Son, they confront the Face of the Devil. Most retreat, but that is enough to allow them to return to the world of the Living, now as men.

The general idea though is that in their testing, their Runes are revealed. As they tell the Elders after their return, the Elders tattoo/mark the new men with some of their Runes, as well as the marks and symbols of the clan.

It's not necessary to play out any of this (though you could). But it might provide some ideas in what direction you may want to take this figure.

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41 minutes ago, Leingod said:

how does a child know which god in particular he wants to initiate into?

I think it's really about what he's drawn to. Keep in mind that initiation into a cult does not happen at the same time as initiation as an adult. During the rites of adulthood, the tests and challenges will likely incline him towards a particular path (which may just be their innate Runes and Passions manifesting or becoming clearer). The lazy boy is thrown into the Deep Well. He's loyal, though, not angry. He doesn't rage and whirl and fight like Vadrus (or Orlanth). Nor is he afraid of the water. He finds the water soothing, calming and lets himself float up to the top. There he finds a gentle rain falling upon him and looks into the face of Heler as the god passes with his flock of sheep. Heler extends a rainy arm to the boy, and the boy takes it, and is lifted into the clouds from which he can look down upon the land. He eventually sees the stead of the Uncles below, and steps down with the rain to the feast.  This is his first sense that the god of Rain calls to him.  Later, during the seasonal rites of the clan, he finds himself taking the role of Heler regularly, so much so that he realizes that the god is calling him and that he will initiate to Heler.

49 minutes ago, Leingod said:

Does the young man just happen to manifest the right runes for a particular god over the course of it, or does there need to be some particular event during the rite that marks them out for that particular god?

Either, both, and possibly it's something else altogether. The boy who finds spirits regularly appearing to him in the fields and meadows, even the spirits of wind and rain, and listens to their whispers, might find himself inexorably pulled towards the world of the Horned God, Kolat, Oakfed, and the many other spirits.

52 minutes ago, Leingod said:

do you just find out you've got a Water rune and then initiate to Heler because of that, or do you need some kind of encounter with Heler for that to happen in the first place?

I don't think you are consciously aware of your Runes per se. But your personality and inclinations may well give the clan Elders some sense of your future relationship with gods or spirits. I see it as very intertwined.

54 minutes ago, Leingod said:

Do they just manifest the Spirit rune and make the choice to pursue that path on their own afterwards, or does it actually come up during their initiation in some way, like they find some other way to handle the challenges that involves dealing with spirits in some way?

As above, I don't think they expressly and explicitly get/manifest a Spirit Rune. They might have always been different - always had some perception of spirits that marks them as different, strange, or unusual. They might see them, talk to them, hear them, or simply have some awareness of them. Maybe it's an encounter with Wandle and she marks them in some unusual way. Or they encounter a ghost and are briefly possessed - though the priests or a shaman drives out the evil spirit, the child has had a glimpse of the world of spirits.  Or maybe a spirit of disease has attacked them, and in their fever dream they've travelled some distance into the Spirit World - an event etched into their mind. Maybe they have no such experience, but it's during initiation, rather surprisingly, that they depart from the Strange Gods or the Animal Corral and wander into an even stranger landscape, the landscape of Spirits and encounter the Horned God or Kolat or some other great spirit who sets them on a new footpath. When they return to the mortal world as a man, they find a lingering desire or an awakened view of the world that puts them on the path of the shaman.

Hopefully those thoughts help give you some idea how it might play out.

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20 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

Hopefully those thoughts help give you some idea how it might play out.

It really does. Thanks a ton!

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