Thursday 2 May 2013


As the PCs in my Griffin Mountain game are wandering around Dragon Pass, and my new River of Cradles game includes a lot of Sartarite NPCs its about time I wrote up the cult of Orlanth for RQ6 and Legend. The Legend skills spells etc. will be in RED, the RQ6 in BLUE.

The first version of Orlanth appeared way back in the days of Chaosium RQ1, this version is more or less based on the writeup from HeroQuest found in 'Sartar, Kingdom of Heroes', with bits of 'Thunder Rebels' thrown in, and the odd spell from the MRQII Cults book.

Who is Orlanth?

He is the King of the Storm Gods, the mightiest warrior deity, the father of men and bringer of freedom. He conquered all that was worth conquering back in the Gods Age, hundreds of tales are told about his deeds, including how he killed the Emperor Sun and nearly destroyed the world. His greatest quest was to admit his mistake and bring the sun back from hell.

He has 49 names, each embodying an aspect of this mighty god. Some aspects are Orlanth under a different name, some are brothers or close kin of his and yet others are heroes who worshipped him. An individual may worship different aspects of Orlanth at different times of his life, he may worship several, or he may stick with one. And it is usually a he, Orlanth is the embodiment of men's virtues and roles in Heortling society. Women usually worship Ernalda, though as always with these freedom loving people there always plenty of exceptions.

Lay Member

Anyone may be lay member, all they need to do is turn up to a ceremony and make a small donation to the person in charge. The only possible difficulty may come with finding a ceremony and getting permission to attend. Orlanth worship is currently being suppressed in Sartar and worship often takes place in secret or on far off hilltops, and interlopers who worship Lunar and Solar deities (apart from Elmal) are quite definitely not welcome. Some ceremonies associated with a sub-cult or hero cult (see below) are still allowed by the authorities.


Initiates are expected to pay a regular tithe to their priest, the amount varying depending on the priest and their circumstances. In Sartar many people pay a tribute to their clan chief and he passes a potion of this onto the cult on the clan's behalf.

Requires 50% in five cult skills, these being:
Legend – Athletics, Sword and Shield or Spear and Shield, Craft (any), Theology (Orlanth), Evade, Resilience, Influence
RQ6 – Athletics, Fyrdman Combat or Thegn Combat, Craft (any), Devotion (Orlanth), Endurance, Evade, Influence

The cult favours the following Common/Folk Magics
Legend – Bladesharp, Endurance, Mobility, Push/Pull
RQ6 – Bladesharp, Vigour, Mobility, Shove

Skills and spells can be learned from higher level cult members for a donation.
Initiates may also devote up to ¼ of their POW to the god, devoting at least one, and can gain the following Divine spells
Legend – Amplify, Blessing, Channel Strength, Dismiss Elemental, Shield
RQ6 – Dismiss Sylph, Perseverance, Shield, Steadfast


Requires at least 50% in Pact (Orlanth) or Exhort (Orlanth), 50% in Influence, and 70% in three other cult skills.
Acolytes can devote up to 1/2 of their POW to the cult and must devote a minimum of three.
Acolytes are expected to lead the defence of their god and his people, and donate as much as a third of their income to their priests and temple funds. They aspire to be the embodiment of Orlanth, just, bold, boastful and in command of every situation. They usually learn Oratory to help give their arguments force.

They can learn the following Folk/Common magics
Legend – Thunderer's Voice
RQ 6 – Shock, Glamour, Voice

Divine Magic -
Legend – Call Winds, Summon Sylph, Telekinesis, Consecrate
RQ 6 – Summon Sylph, Call Winds, Consecrate, Telekinesis

Priest (Wind Voice)

Wind Voices are greatly respected and powerful members of Sartarite society, and though custom dictates that clan chiefs and tribal kings have precedence, they are sometimes over-awed by Wind Voices. Many Wind Voices are wanderers by nature, and many have to keep on the move given the Lunar suppression of their religion, travelling in carts full of religious paraphernalia and with an bodyguard of acolytes.

To become a priest one must have 90% Pact (Orlanth) or Exhort (Orlanth), 90% Theology (Orlanth) or Devotion (Orlanth), 90% in one other cult skill and 50% Oratory. He must know the divine magic Consecrate.

They spend all their time and money on promoting Orlanth and furthering his worship despite the oppression, and though there is still some money coming in, they can't expect the riches they used to get before Lunar taxes sapped the wealth of the land.

Divine Magic
Legend – Excommunicate, Extension, Soul Sight, Bless Woad
RQ6 – Excommunicate, Extension, Soul Sight, Bless Woad

Aspects and subcults

How subcults work under RQ/Legend rules

There are a basic set of cult skills that are common to all Orlanth cults as detailed above, and a couple of skills that are associated with each subcult. A Follower who just wants to be an initiate of Orlanth is his most general form follows the requirements above. A Follower who wishes to become an initiate of one of the aspects of Orlanth substitutes the two cult skills for ONE of the general cult skills above. For example, Oroling wants to be an initiate of Desemborth – he needs 50% in FOUR of the cult skills noted for initiates above, not five, and MUST have 50%+ in the Desemborth skills of Stealth and Deception as well.

When a person joins a subcult as an initiate they gain a Theology (subcult) or Devotion (subcult) skill in the subcult equal to half their equivalent Orlanth skill, and this skill is used for any Divine magic they gain from the subcult, and to determine their subcult rank as they progress.

A person may join as many subcults as he likes, but can only be an acolyte or priest of one. Each subcult will expect its own donations/sacrifices though, and joining too many may impoverish the person. A priest can theoretically lead worship of any aspect of the god, even one he himself has never followed. Any skills used as part of this worship are reduced however, a Priest of Barntar the Plowman isn't going to get much of a hearing from Orlanth Thunderous.

The list below is by no means exhaustive. Some subcults are long defunct, some are now considered outright heretical by modern Wind Voices, like Orlanth the Dragon, popular in the Wyrm's Friends days, and some are only recognised by a single tribe or clan.

Desemborth the Thief

Orlanth stole many items from other deities back in the God-time, going under the pseudonym Desemborth and hanging around with that unpredictable reprobate Eurmal the Trickster. The Sartarites have the quaint belief that taking other people's stuff doesn't count as theft if the victim is not of your clan. Though their Kings and High Kings like to rule that everyone in their tribe or country is part of the 'family of the kingdom', there are still people who take liberties, and clan chiefs who let them get away with it. No-one advertises their membership of this cult too loudly though. It is most common in the cities and is especially popular in New Pavis, the City of Thieves.

Skills: Stealth, Deceit

Common/Folk Magic:
Legend – Bandit's Cloak, Luck
RQ6 – Coordination, Bypass, Incognito

Divine magic
Legend – Initiate: Dark Walk
RQ6 – Initiate: Dark Walk

Acolytes may heroquest for the Sandals of Darkness, the item Desemborth stole from Kyger Litor which enabled him to pull off even more daring heists.

Dar the Chieftain/Orlanth Rex

Only those who are elected chief by their tribe may become members of the cult of Dar the Chieftain, and only those whom the chiefs decide is to be king of the whole tribe can join Orlanth Rex. In Sartar there is yet another level, the cult of the hero Sartar himself, who instituted the rites of High Kingship which unified the kingdom.

Skills: Oratory, Insight. In addition chiefs must have Culture/Customs 75%+, Kings 90%+

Common/Folk Magic:
Legend: Thunder's Voice, Glamour
RQ6 – Glamour, Voice

Divine Magic:
Legend: Initiate: Outlaw, Summon Moot
RQ6: Initiate: Outlaw, Summon Moot

Destor the Adventurer

A son of Orlanth, or according to some legends another pseudonym of Orlanth, Destor was an explorer and gadabout, afflicted with wanderlust and a tendency to get himself into trouble wherever he went. He was especially adept at sword fighting, making daring escapes from the most difficult situations and bragging about it afterwards. Popular amongst young Orlanthi everywhere, especially in Pavis where reckless worshippers plunge into the ruins and sometimes even come out alive.

Legend: Perception, Evade
RQ6: Perception, Wild Wind Combat style (Swashbuckling, Dagger, Shortsword, Longsword, Broadsword, Buckler, Med. Shield)

Common /Folk Magic:
Legend: Coordination, Mobility, Luck
RQ6: Coordination, Fanaticism

Divine Magic
Legend – Initiate: Telekinesis, Acolyte: Wind Words
RQ6 – Initiate: Telekinesis, Acolyte: Wind Words

Mastakos the Charioteer

A companion of Orlanth, who drove the god's chariot in any number of battles and close escapes. Chariots are not much used in Sartarite warfare these days outside Ralios, cavalry are far superior for hit and run attacks and the ever popular cattle raid, but many Kings, Chiefs and Priests keep one for ceremonial parades and there are shrines with sacred chariots in many hill forts, and sometimes a Mastakos cultist to drive it.

Legend: Drive, Javelin
RQ6: Drive, Charioteer Combat Style (Charioteer, Axe, Sword, Javelin, Long Spear, Lance)

Common/Folk Magic:
Legend: Mobility, Speedart
RQ6: Mobility, Speedart

Divine Magic:
Legend: Acolyte: Teleportation, Priest: Guided Teleportation
RQ6: Acolyte: Teleportation, Priest: Guided Teleportation

Ormalaya the Hunter

Ormalaya is a son of Orlanth who helped him explore the world back in the early God's Age. The Orlanthi have two other hunting gods, Yinkin and Odayla, followed by those who make hunting a way of life, Ormalaya is followed by those who hunt for recreation and those who are forced to supplement their farm income with a bit of game to get by.

Legend: Resilience, Survival
RQ6: Endurance, Survival

Common/Folk Magic
Legend: Speedart, Clear Path
RQ6: Speedart, Pathway

Divine Magic
Legend: Initiate: Sureshot
RQ6: Initiate: Sureshot

Hedkoranth the Thunderbolt

Hedkoranth is a brother of Orlanth and embodies the thunderbolt, striking down enemies with a mighty crash of electricity and noise. Hedkoranth slingers are the bane of the Lunar patrols, lurking in the high mountains and blasting their troops in hit and run attacks. Possession of a thunderstone is a capital offence in occupied territories. Their best warriors, those who can wield lightning, do not carry metal weapons and armour, often just fighting with a bit of woad, a sling and a flint knife. They are also on good terms with the Kolating shamen so expect them to have a few air spirits on hand as well.

Legend: Sling, Resilience
RQ6: Hedkoranth Slinger (Skirmishing, Sling, Thrown Rock, Spear, Dagger), Endurance

Common/Folk Magic:
Legend: Speedart, Chill, Detect Enemies
RQ6: Speedart, Chill, Find Enemies

Divine Magic:
Legend: Initiate: Enchant Thunderstone, Acolyte: Crash of Thunder, Lightning Strike
RQ6: Enchant Thunderstone, Acolyte: Thunderclap, Lightning

Vanganth the Flyer

Vanganth is another of Orlanth's many brothers, who rejoiced in the art of flying on the winds. Again the Lunars have learned to fear this followers, nothing is quite as disconcerting as having a squadron of barbarian fanatics swooping over your column chucking javelins and even swords. The Flight spell precludes wearing heavy armour so they often just wear woad by way of protection. Possession of the bent Vanganth throwing sword is also a capital crime in Lunar occupied Sartar.

Legend: Thrown Sword, Acrobatics
RQ6: Vanganth Flyer (Swashbuckler, Sword, Javelin, Thrown Sword), Acrobatics

Common/Folk Magic:
Legend: Speedart, Mobility
RQ6: Speedart, Mobility

Divine Magic:
Legend: Initiate: Flying
RQ6: Initiate: Flying

Vinga the Avenger

Vinga is the daughter of Orlanth and Ernalda, a red haired warrior who seeks to avenge wrongs done to her tribe and family. It is open only to women who are already initiates of the earth goddess Ernalda, and membership may be temporary, the woman only dying her hair red and taking up arms as long as it takes to get revenge on someone who has wronged her or her kin.

Legend: Athletics, Survival
RQ6: Athletics, Survival

Folk/Common Magic:
Legend: Speedart, Mobility, Detect Enemy, Pierce
RQ6: Speedart, Mobility, Find Enemy, Pierce

Divine Magic
Legend: Initiate: True Javelin, Aegis, Heal Wound
RQ6: Initiate: True Javelin, Aegis, Heal Wound

Vingans may go on a Rite of Vengeance heroquest to gain a special bonus against a particular foe, and further heroquests re-enacting Vinga's noted victories may gain bonuses against whole classes of enemy – rapists and slayers of children are particular favourite targets.

Other subcults

There are a whole slew of peaceable and mundane subcults devoted to the ordinary tasks of Orlanthi tribesmen; Barntar the Plowman, Durev the Householder, Orolman the Herder, Orstan the Carpenter etc. Another set cover the more mundane warrior roles: Finovan the Raider, Strakval the Frydsman, Tatouth the Scout. Yet more are devoted to combating a particular foe: Orvanshagor Dragonslayer, Vingkot Champion (hates trolls), Vingkot Victorious (hates sun worshippers). Another set embody Orlanth's roles as ruler and keeper of tradition: Drogasi the Skald, Andrin the Lawspeaker, Jarani the Lawstaff, Vingkot the High King, and yet other aspects are associated with cold, wet and stormy weather.

Who worships Orlanth?

Orlanth is one of the most widely worshipped deities in Glorantha, with followers in Fronela, across Ralios, through Maniria and at one time much of western and southern Peloria.

Across much of his old range in Peloria his worship has faded. In the Lunar Provinces some aspects of Orlanth are now regarded as separate deities and worshippers of such have limited access to his more warlike and stormy magics, and have forgotten the old association of their gods with mighty Orlanth. 

Barntar, Starkval and the one time Orlanthi hero Alakoring Dragonbreaker are popular in Tarsh, a version of Vinga is the major deity of Holay, in Imther and Vanch the old trade and farming aspects are still worshipped, and in Talastar and Aggar a reasonable range of Orlanthi cults linger on, though Orlanth himself is worshipped only by rebels and bandits.

In Sartar the suppression of Orlanth is only just beginning. Orlanth's temples are being demolished, his holy hills and mountains are being desecrated and occupied and his priests are fugitives. As in Tarsh worship of a few of his more peaceable aspects is allowed, as long as Orlanth is not praised or mentioned in the course of the rites, though Vinga, which has vague similarities with some Lunar cults, has been left alone as long as her followers don't cause trouble. The worship of foreign storm gods is being encouraged such as Doburdun, Molanni and Brastalos, though these meek and submissive deities bear no resemblance to the aggressive, forthright and heroic king of the gods Orlanth. They have few worshippers in Sartar, and few of the foreign priests drafted in to proselytise the populace have fared well.

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