Monday, September 22, 2003

The Orlanthi sun-god [update]

In the spirit of blogging, I'm adding a new entry rather than overwriting the earlier draft.

Greg Stafford asked an interesting and correct question over a decade ago, when asking about "who is the Orlanthi sun god?" - but the answer he got is one that caused a lot of confusion, until it was hammered into a compromise , such as this summary by Nick Brooke

Unfortunately, I still think Greg's answer was wrong in its essentials. One god is the night watchman who stayed behind when Orlanth went on the LBQ - his aspects are twilight and the watch-fire. The reconciliation with Yelmalio is an identification of the twilight aspects, which presumably rejected an origin amongst the Lowfires that the watch-fire implies. This is the god most obviously deserving of the name of Elmal. His devotees are able to use some minor fire magic appropriate to a night watchman's role (no Hill of Gold in his story), while Yelmalions are not. That aside, any deity around during the Great Darkness really, by definition, cannot be a sun god – the mythic precedent is too strong.

At about the same time that Greg dropped his bombshell, Neil's RQ game almost stumbled across the what I feel is the right answer, when the PCs stumbled across a remote Orlanthi tribe who partook of very austere ways like the Solar monks of the far northern Empire of long ago. Their Orlanth is, I think, much more likely to be the real Orlanthi sun-god.

The obvious Orlanthi Sun-God is, of course, Orlanth in his aspect as the successful completer of the LBQ, restorer of the Sun after the Great Darkness and the Gods' War, Orlanth Lightbearer, or Orlanth Lucifer if you rather. We can see the influence of Orlanth in the fact that what he restored was not the static Sun of the old sterile Fire Tribe Emperor, but a Sun that follows the Storm Spiral, around and around the world, sometimes to the north, sometimes to the south. Orlanth Lucifer would be the god of the Sun, but clearly not the Sun himself. The Orlanthi New Sun, the thing he came back with would be a separate entity - and Ehilm sounds the most plausible name for the sacred fire itself, which may or may not now be borne by Elmal.

Variant keywords:

Orlanth Lucifer: Affinities: Light, Underworld, Reconciliation; Secret: Return from Underworld. [This very mystical cult would have almost no devotees.]

To be initiated in this aspect, the candidate must have completed the Lightbringer HeroQuest, either as principal or by significantly supporting one of the principals. As a consequence, there are few initiates; and almost all of them are devotees.

Elmal: Combat as in Storm Tribe, but replace Light with Fire: Illuminate Surroundings, Tend Watch-fire, Kindle Brand, Unquenchable Light, Withstand Cold.

Ehilm, the sacred torch: Light as Storm Tribe's Elmal , Sunpath: Find Sunpath, Reveal Sunpath, Follow Sunpath, Sunpath Defence, Rising Leap, Warmth - Banish Frost, Resist Chill, Ripen Fruit, Cruel Heat; Secret - Radiant Gaze.

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