Saturday, 11 May 2013

Humakt


Another updated cult, the ever popular Humakt, god of sword wielding hardcases. First appeared in Cults of Prax, Chaosium's first cult publication and updated for every edition since. I will be sort of basing this on Issaries publications' Storm Tribe, with some innovations for my own campaign. As previously, Legend stats/skills are in RED, RQ6 in BLUE.

Who is Humakt?

Way back in the god's age Humakt was one of Orlanth's brothers. He discovered a new power in a secret place, and showed it to another god, who then lay on the floor and didn't move. Humakt was used to fighting (in fact he was damned good at it and had beaten all his brothers) and being knocked down and put out of action for a while, but up until that point everyone had eventually got up and walked away. This was new, this was Death, it was permanent and it sent people to hell. Humakt resolved to take great care about how he used it. 

However Orlanth had a terrible rivalry with the Emperor Sun and Eurmal stole Death for him to use. Humakt was toweringly unamused, as was the rest of the universe when Orlanth killed the Sun and it was deprived of light and the Lesser Darkness began. According to the Humakti version of the old tales their god actually killed Orlanth to send him to hell to fetch the sun back, but conventional Orlanthi scoff at this.

Who worships him?

Humakt is a very widely worshipped deity, with followers among the barbarians of Ralios, Maniria and Fronela and even in Carmania in the western reaches of the Lunar Empire. Humakti make good gladiators, and a few can be found fighting in arenas all over the Lunar Heartlands.

These worshippers are professional warriors, frequently misfits who choose to cut all ties with their tribe and family, sometimes ordinary soldiers who have gone a bit loopy with battle fatigue, sometimes outright sociopaths, and more than a few who find a glamorous attraction in being the ultimate badass. They hire out as mercenaries and bodyguards, trying to stay above mere politics (though a few have become kings), and striving to act within the tenets of honour laid down by the cult. This honour code is not much like western chivalry, it has more in common with Japanese Bushido than anything else. If Clint Eastwood's 'Man With No Name' or Dirty Harry' characters lived in Glorantha, they would be members.

Though most of his worshippers are human, Humakt's temples are willing to take anyone who can keep the code. He is popular among Dragon Pass Ducks (as Hueymakt the Death-Drake) as he is an implacable foe of the undead and they live right by a zombie infested swamp, and a few exceptionally even tempered Trolls are members, though most Troll warriors go for one of their own bloody-minded and savage beserker gods instead and regard Humakt as being a bit of a wuss.

At the moment the cult of Humakt is undergoing a bit of an expansion in Sartar. Many warriors who would have otherwise followed Orlanth are joining up. Though the cult as a whole is supposed to be neutral many individual members are acquainting themselves with death before a final showdown with the Lunars.

Lay Member

Every tribal soldier is a lay member just before a battle, praying fervently to any number of gods to see him through alive and to Humakt that if he must die, he at least dies fighting and goes quickly, stoically and unequivocally without being a coward about it. Other than that he might get a prayer when undead are about – a blessed death rune drives away vampires so they say – and when an exceptionally dire oath is being sworn a Humakt acolyte or priest might be called in to witness it or even get the participants to swear on their swords, which will make dire curses fall on their heads if they break it.

Otherwise Humakt is avoided. His more dedicated followers are eccentric and aloof and liable to kill you over odd points of 'honour', and there is more than one tale of Humakti going bonkers and massacring civilians. Having a 'Death House', as they call their temples, in your town or village is a mixed blessing – lots of skilled swordsmen to fight off enemies to be sure, but they are creepy buggers to have walking the streets. People only go over the threshold of the temple if they really mean to join up.

Initiate

If you want in the first thing you have to do is have a sponsor who is already a member, then you have to have a sword fight to test your mettle. The temple priest may have all the potential prospects fight it out among themselves, or he may sic a bunch of initiates on you, or he may batter you senseless himself. If you don't have at least 50% in at least one combat style involving one or two handed swords you don't stand any chance, and he will be looking for competence in five skills out of the following list:

Skills:
Legend: One handed sword and shield, two handed sword, Resilience, Brawn, Athletics, Evade, Insight, Lore (Tactics)
RQ6: Any combat style involving swords, a second combat style, Endurance, Brawn, Athletics, Evade, Insight, Lore (Tactics)

If you don't know Bladesharp already they will definitely teach it to you, and half price training is available in:

Legend: Sword, 2H Sword and possibly Shortsword, Rapier, LH Main Gauche or Dagger depending on temple, Theology (Humakt), Pact Humakt, First Aid
RQ6: Hu Swordsman style (Intimidating Glare, 1h Sword, Med Shield, Sm. Shield, 2h Sword, Dagger) and possibly Rhigos Duelist (Swashbuckling, Rapier, Main Gauche, Thrown Dagger) and/or Shock Infantry (Formation, Siege Warfare, 1h Sword, Med Shield, 2h Sword, Dagger), Devotion (Humakt), Exhort (Humakt), First Aid

Depending on the temple initiates may also be able to learn Craft (Bronzesmithing) and Ride as well.

Initiates must forswear any other god, losing any divine magic, but they are protected from divine retribution by the Severing ritual that takes away any earthly ties on their allegiance as well.

Initiates are required to answer any call to arms by superiors in the Temple mercenary company, but are entitled to a share in any pay and loot. Humakti regiments in Sartar at least specialise in breaking up the ever popular shield wall, charging in with double handed swords and 'hand-a-half' long swords to hack chunks out of the shields and open holes in the formation to be followed up by tribal cavalry.

The first point of power devoted to Pact or Devotional Pool is spent on choosing one of Humakt's gifts, which always comes with one or more geases, and no more than ¼ POW may be dedicated.

Gift:

Increase any sword related combat style by 10%
Never use a non-sword weapon

Increase Combat Actions by 1
Never refuse a challenge to one on one combat

Increase Strike Rank by 1d3
Never trust (d6 roll) 1- Dwarves, 2-Elves, 3- Trolls, 4 – Dragonewts, 5 – Solar Worshippers, 6 – any non-Humakti

Increase a cult skill by 10%
Remain silent one day per week

Increase STR, CON or DEX by 1 point
One random geas

Increase SIZ or INT by 1 point
Never sleep in a building that is not sacred to Humakt +2 random

Gain a Sense Assassin ability at POW+CHA or increase it by 10%
Never participate in an ambush or attack from hiding +1 random

Increase Resilience or Endurance vs Disease and poison by 25%
Never use poison +1 random

Gain a Sense Undead ability at POW+CHA or increase it by 10%
Always bless a fallen friend or foe

One specific sword is blessed to have +2 armour points and +5 hit points
Never accept magical healing from a non-Humakti

One specific item of armour or shield gains +2 armour points in one location, or +1 AP in two locations (for a set of greaves, a hauberk etc.)
Two random geases

When in battle can modify battle table results by +/-1-2 at will
Never retreat from a pitched battle and never surrender

Gain +25% to Insight when trying to detect a lie
Never lie

Random Geases: Roll on Mongoose Cults of Glorantha table p 223. If the random geas duplicates a mandatory one then no further geas is taken.

Initiates may never be resurrected. Their souls go to guard the Paths of the Dead, keeping the dead in hell or whatever afterlife their god has chosen for them and guiding those souls in danger of getting lost from harm by Shamen and Demons. They may never be reanimated as undead.

Senior initiates may become a Ten-Thane (or Decurion or Sergeant, titles vary from region to region) with up to nine others under his command. In practice it is rare for a Temple battalion to get anywhere near the thousand men prescribed by the hero Efrodar Blackhands, the warleader who created the first all-Humakti regiments in the Gbaji Wars.

He must devote at least 10% of his income to the cult in offerings (black chickens, rams and cattle for sacrifice is fine, but a bit of silver doesn't go amiss either).

The initiate's sword becomes, in the eyes of the cult, an embodiment of his soul. Humakti always keep their swords immaculately polished and lavish their wealth on ornamental hilts, fancy baldrics and scabbards and are willing to pay serious cash for a well made blade. Having such a fancy sword will add +1-3 CHA when dealing with fellow Humakti, and may impress a few other folk as well.

Divine Magic:
Legend: Bless Corpse, Truesword, Fear, Shield, Gleam, Detect Truth
RQ6: Lay to Rest, Truesword, Fear, Shield, Steadfast, Detect Truth

Acolyte

Humakti who have been Initiates for at least three years may be promoted to acolyte. They get first dibs on Hundred Thane (or Centurion, Captain, whatever) positions, with up to a hundred men at their command in battle. These places tend to go to those with decent Lore (Tactics) or Oratory skill who have been in a pitched battle or two.

They must devote at least 3 POW to the god, and no more than ½ their total POW and may gain another of Humakt's gifts if they so choose. They must give 50% of their wealth to the temple, but do get a cut and to negotiate terms when hiring out men of their hundred as mercenaries.

They must have 70% in a sword related combat skill and three of the following skills:

Legend: A second sword combat skill, Theology (Humakt), Pact (Humakt), First Aid, Craft (Bronzesmith), Sense Assassin, Sense Undead, Lore (Tactics), Resilience, Brawn, Insight
RQ6: A second sword related combat style, Devotion (Humakt), Exhort (Humakt), First Aid, Craft (Bronzesmith), Sense Assassin, Sense Undead, Lore (Tactics), Endurance, Brawn, Insight

Divine Magic:
Legend: Amplify, Heal Wound, Turn Undead, Oath
RQ6: Heal Wound, Turn Undead, Oath

Acolytes may also learn Craft (Ironsmith), a rare skill in bronze age Glorantha.

Priest

Humakti priests are not usually particularly priestly, they are hard bitten warleaders and fanatical warriors who can allegedly strike a man dead with a glance, and even if they can't always pull that one off they still put the heebie jeebies into anyone daft enough to cross them. They scare the hell out of their own men as much as inspire them, and news that a tribal king has engaged a Sword Priest to help in his wars is enough to cause weaker willed enemies to throw in the towel there and then.

They must devote themselves full time to the cult, though the odd priest does decide to take himself off on a quest, or is told to go by the head of a temple. There is only one Warlord (or Comes, General, Swordmaster etc) per Temple, and every other priest must be happy as a Hundred-Thane or ship out. No Humakti would never stoop so low as to off their Warlord to take his place – in any case the boss would spot it coming a mile off and have the ambitious underling's head off his shoulders in under a second, if he doesn't do a Darth Vader and kill him with a nasty glare – but they may freely leave and found their own warband.

Priests need only have 50% Theology (Humakt) or Devotion (Humakt); piety takes second place to being a warrior, but must also have at least 50% Lore (Tactics) and 90% in a sword related combat skill.

They must have 90% in two other skills from the list:

Legend: A second sword combat skill, Theology (Humakt), Pact (Humakt), First Aid, Craft (Bronzesmith), Sense Assassin, Sense Undead, Lore (Tactics), Ride, Oratory, Insight
RQ6: A second sword related combat style, Devotion (Humakt), Exhort (Humakt), First Aid, Craft (Bronzesmith), Sense Assassin, Sense Undead, Lore (Tactics), Ride, Oratory, Insight

Priests may, if they wish, take a third gift from Humakt and the attendant geases, and devote up to 3/4 or their POW to the god.

Divine Magic:
Legend: Break Weapon, Excommunicate, Consecrate, Enchant Iron Sword
RQ6: Break Weapon, Excommunicate, Consecrate, Enchant Iron Sword

A priest who gets to 120% Pact (Humakt) or Exhort (Humakt) may learn Sever Spirit, the awesome ability to kill with a glance.

High Priest

There is no high priest of Humakt, no one man who can command the loyalty of all the worshippers of the god. In the past there have been warleaders who have commanded thousands - Efrodar Blackhands is the most famous – and once the Hero Wars get going there will almost certainly be leaders who will try and unite the various Humakti warbands into a formidable Army of Death.

The Curse of the Swordbreaker

Anyone who breaks the Humakti Code is cursed by Humakt himself so that any sword they pick up is hit with 1d6 damage per 10% of their original Pact (Humakt) or Exhort (Humakt) skill, all their gifts are removed and all their divine magic taken away, while their geases remain. A lapsed Humakti who breaks a geas gets hit with a Disruption spell to remind him to make amends.

Cult special spells

Bless Corpse
Duration Instant, Rank Initiate
A body blessed with this spell will hopefully not return as an undead (opposed roll of Raise Zombie vs Pact/Exhort of caster should an attempt be made), and his soul will be sent to the appropriate afterlife without any evil shaman abducting it (again opposed rolls for any shaman trying to contact/bind otherwise mess with the spirit of the dead). Several cults have some version of this spell, but Humakti can also use it on active zombies and skeletons, doing 1d4 damage to 1 hit location per 10% Exhort/Pact skill. The caster must have a blessed Death rune or a a sword in his hand.

Detect Truth
Duration Minutes, Range (Meters), Rank Initiate
Adds Exhort/Pact skill to Insight when detecting verbal untruths within range. Cannot be resisted but countermagic will reduce the effectiveness of the spell by 10% per point.

Turn Undead
Duration Minutes, Range Meters, Rank Acolyte
Ghosts, Zombies and the like cannot approach within a range of one meter per point of magnitude of the spell, though ranged and magical attacks can still be made. Any undead that succeeds in a Persistence vs Pact/Exhort roll may penetrate the barrier, but takes 1 hp per location per round while within it, and/or loses 1 POW per round (no big deal for skeletons and zombies, but bad for ghosts, wraiths and vampires). The caster may back an undead into a corner and force it to come within range of the effect. The caster must again have a blessed Death rune or sword.

Oath
Duration Special, Range Touch, Rank Acolyte
Creates a binding oath between two willing participants. The severity of the oath is decided at the swearing, with a maximum magnitude of the casters Pact/Exhort skill, as are the terms of the curse which will fall on an oathbreaker. Breaking this oath requires a roll of Persistence vs the magnitude to resist the curse. The usual penalty is 1HP damage per 10% magnitude to all hit locations, or loss of 1 stat point per 5% magnitude, though curses may affect skills or have other effects as well.

Break Weapon
Duration Instant, Range Touch, Rank Priest
The caster can use this spell to make one special Damage Weapon combat manouver especially effective, doing normal damage with his sword plus 1d3 per magnitude of the spell. If the sword breaks the target must save vs Persistence or Willpower or be demoralised into the bargain.

Enchant Iron Sword
Duration Permanent, Range Touch, Rank Priest
A lengthy ritual which permanently reduces the casters magic points by whatever cost it takes to cast both this spell and the divine or common magic spell to be imbued into the blade. The results can be quite powerful - a permanently Bladesharped sword is not to be sniffed at, nor is a permanent Truesword, or a sword with a permanent Shield or Protection spell round its user. However the spell does have one drawback – a random geas is rolled associated with the enchantment and if the owner does not follow it then the sword ceases to function.

Heroquests to learn further enchantments are known. One famous one is the Soul Severing enchantment – the wielder of the sword may slay one enemy irrevocably and permanently beyond all hope of resurrection, at the cost of suffering the same fate himself.

Consecrate
As per the standard spell, but Humakti may enchant swords to become mobile shrines to their god. The weapon must be iron and preferably enchanted, the magic point used to create it is permanently lost, and the Theology bonus is 1d3% per point of magnitude.

Subcults

There are several hero cults openly honoured, Efrodar Blackhands who mastered tactics, Indrodar Greydog and Li Phanquann who fought undead, Inginew Redson who crafted magic swords, Makla Mann the loyal bodyguard and so on. And there is one special sub-cult, Arkat Humaktsson, about whom more will be revealed later...