Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Storm Bull

Continuing my series of adaptations of classic Gloranthan cults to new rulesets, here is everyone’s favourite bamhead Storm Bull for Legend in RED and Runequest 6 in BLUE. Stormbull first appeared in Cults of Prax and his classicly barbarian ways have been a popular player option ever since. Here I am drawing heavily on the 'Sartar:Kingdom of Heroes' version, but with a few bits of the old classic Cults of Prax version added back in as well.

Who is Storm Bull?

Storm Bull was the mighty son of Umath the primal storm, a great spirit who settled in the plains of Prax among Eiritha's herds. He is unthinking raw strength and violence, he fought against the chaos gods, killing many before his last epic fight against Wakboth the Devil. He killed Wakboth by calling a great shard of the broken holy mountain called the spike, but died afterwards of his wounds. He met Wakboth again in the afterlife and started the fight all over again, returning to the world after Arachne Solara finally bound and consumed the devil to create Time.

Why is he worshiped?

Chaos is a continual presence in the world, Wakboth is always trying to come back, and the followers of Storm Bull are always there to stop him. Storm Bull's followers are regarded as savage and crazy even by the barbaric standards of the cultures that spawn them, but they are regarded as a neccessary evil, for without warriors crazy enough to wade into a broo nest or hunt down a walktapus chaos would eventually take over the world once more.

His warriors are 'called' - they show more than the usual arrogance and violence from an early age, they are rude to their elders, obnoxious to their kin and violent to their peers. Eventually it is suggested to the young miscreant that he may need to leave the tribe and seek his path in the wild, asking for guidance from the spirits and the wild Storm Bull shamen.

Lay Members

Lay members are those who support the cult through material or monetary contributions. In Sartar, where the god goes by the name of Urox, people donate food and weapons to their local Storm Bull warriors, at least in part to keep them out of their villages. In Prax the Storm Bulls can form quite sizeable warbands, and the tribute from the ordinary tribes stops them raiding.

People may also become lay members by temporarily joining a Storm Bull warband. When a major chaos threat is around no one can afford to leave the fighting entirely to someone else and they form an army with the Storm Bulls as their cutting edge.

Bull Warrior

Those young warriors who deliberately set out to join a Storm Kahn's warband will be trained up in the skills of the cult. Bull Warriors must have 50% in five of the following skills: -
Legend: Any two weapons, Ride, Brawn, Resilience, Spirit Walk, Spirit Binding (Storm Bull spirits), Stealth, Perception, Tracking, Athletics
RQ6: Any combat style, Ride, Athletics, Brawn, Endurance, Tracking, Stealth, Perception, Trance, Binding

And they must pass an ordeal, going into the spirit plane and fighting a series of battles, culminating in meeting their own personal Devil and beating it.

Bull Warriors also start a Sense Chaos skill at POW%, and they may bind up to ¼ or their CHA in bull spirits.

All Bull Warriors are taught the common magic Fanaticism, and often learn Detect Enemies and Protection as well.

Bull Shaman

A Bull Shaman must have 70% or better in four of the cult skills, one of which must be a weapon and another must be Spirit Binding/Binding.

Bull shamen may bind up to half their CHA in spirits.

They gain a fetch which has the ability to cast spells on the shaman, regenerate magic points by defeating enemy spirits, and the defensive ability of a Guardian spirit.

Storm Kahns/Bull Priests

A Storm Kahn (as the Praxians call them) or Bull Priest (as they are known elsewhere) muts have 90% or more in three skills, one of which must be a weapon or combat style. They can bind up to three quarters of their CHA in spirits.

Storm Bull spirits

These are bound into fetishes derived from the totem animal of the worshipper, if any, and various gruesome relics of downed foes. Not many people other than a Bullman would have the mad enough to carry a tanned broo's scrotum full of live hornets for example, but it's the ideal home for a 'Foe of the Devil spirit.

Foe of the Devil - these will aid the warrior against a specific type of chaos monster, adding 10% per intensity to attack rolls and to saves vs any magic cast by the creature or any unusual attack, like poison.

Rage of the Bull – these add 10% per intensity to Resilience/Endurance and if the warrior would ordinarily be incapacitated by an attack they allow an extra resilience roll to ignore the pain and fight on. The disadvantage is that the warrior is beserk, and may carry on fighting after all foes have been slain – roll Insight each round or carry on attacking friends, allies and innocent bystanders, making the roll one step easier each subsequent round.

Bull's Breath – minor air elementals, never better than intensity 2, but can bring to bear stinging dust and desert heat as well as the force of the storm.

Bull's Heart – these spirits have great strength, adding 3 points per point of intensity.

Bull's Horn(s) – when the warrior makes a headlong charge he adds the Intensity of the spirit to his or his steed's movement and to damage.

Bull's Hide – the hide of the Storm Bull is impervious to any assault - +1 armour per intensity of spirit, +1.5 vs Chaos foes.

Bull's Legs – the Storm Bull can run on the wind and travel great distances. Generally low intensity spirits add to Resilience/Endurance when undergoing forced marches, extra bonuses being gained from travelling before an East desert wind, but higher intensity spirits can enable bonuses to leaping of barriers and chasms instead, or even short duration flight. Nothing comparable to the free flight of Vanganth, but still disconcerting to have the berserk on weighty bison you though you had left on the wrong side of a canyon suddenly leaping across like a gazelle.

Bull's Hooves – any number of violent combat effects, including adding to hit chances for a steed's natural attacks, unarmed combat bonuses, increased bash chances, blunt weapon attack and damage. Usually more about power than speed, associated with the Bullman's specific animal totem, if any, and some have extra power against Chaos foes.

The Cult in Prax

Prax is the homeland of the cult, with most of the great holy sites associated with Storm Bull including the Eternal Battle itself. Praxian Storm Bulls are also considered to be worshippers of Waha or Eritha as matter of course, and an initiate can drawn on any ordinary intensity 1 tribal totem spirit, and can speak with their ancestors when within the confines of Prax. When a Praxian becomes a Storm Khan he can quest for an 'awakened' steed, a riding beast of human intelligence and guile that can become a shaman in its own right.

In Prax Storm Bull warbands can reach considerable size, temporarily at least, uniting (after the usual brutal internecine brawling) under a single Khan with a single powerful chaos foes in mind. The numerous Chaos nests in the Wastes spawn some terrible mutant hordes, but the Storm Bulls can muster up an equally terrible counter horde with little trouble.

The Cult in Sartar

Sartarite Uroxi are fewer and farther between, wild warriors who live in the wilds between the villages and towns alone or in small bands. Some take up the worship of Kolat's Seven Winds or Oakfed, and work with other outcast shamen. Others follow Odayla, as an aid to survival when mainstream society regards you as an irredeemable barbarian and a nutter and won't let you come into town. The totem animal for Sartarite Uroxi is the ordinary Uraldan cow, which makes Praxians look down on them as being just too docile to be proper warriors. The Uroxi claim the mighty Skybull is their animal, but there have been very, very few who have ever tamed one or bound a Skybull spirit. Sartar cultists live more or less like subsided bandits between assaults on Chaos. Occasionally local chiefs will just round them up and execute them like common thieves rather than tolerate their antics and pay them Bull-gild to stay away. then regret it the next time a vile walktapus needs hunting.

The Cult Elsewhere

Storm Bulls go everywhere there is Chaos to be fought, and isolated warriors can be found anywhere there is a job for them to be done. In southern Heortland lies the Order of St Urox guarding the Footprint, where the great god Larnste stomped Krasht back into the ground and got bitten for his trouble. They follow the Aeolian Church and they have liturgists versed in actual sorcery instead of shamanic anarchy. They still have some painful initiation ordeals and go proper mental when they face chaos foes though, and can blast chaos foes into stone, maintaining the petrified forest that keeps the Footprint bottled up.

Talastar is another major centre, bordering as it does on the great grand-daddy of all chaos nests, Dorastor. There Storm Bulls sometimes become doomed mystics following the quiet inner storm of Tarumath as well as taking the wild and berserk spirits of the Bull. They are less unthinkingly hostile to the Red Moon as well. Yes the Lunar Way includes Chaos as it includes everything, but also fights chaos, and includes the rage of the Bull as part of its worship as well. A Nathic balanced tension between chaos and anti-chaos is the 'proper' mode of thought, they reason, achievable through Tarumathic mediation... Few of these weird 'Red Bull' beserkers have been seen in Sartar or Prax, and it is highly likely that theological niceties will go out of the window and the Moon issue settled with axes if they ever did. Even in Talastar there aren't many of them, but they do have a monastery financed by the Red Emperor himself where berserks are given refuge and training in the hopes the cult will take off.

Burial Rites

The cult is famous everywhere for its burial rites, or lack of them. In Prax a warrior is set up on his dead steed, his weapons in his hand and his armour on and left to sit and decay under the desert sun, watching the surrounding area for horrible chaos monsters. In Sartar they make a throne from the skulls of his defeated enemies for him, and in Troll lands they consider it an honour to turn him into a war-zombie to fight on after his death.

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