The House Zemady Campaign

Cults within the Lunar Empire

By Steve Maurer, Spring 1991

Steve's introduction goes like this:
As always, this is from my version of Glorantha, generally derived from older Wyrms Footnotes. It is not the revised, altered, and unworkable "official" Glorantha now being published, except where new material does not contradict the old (or on the rare occasion that it is better).

This means that though most of this document is accurate, some of it is subject to Gregging and other parts of it are inaccurate for Carmania.

Steve has written special spells for this section.

Lunar Cults

These are cults which directly derive from worship of the Red Goddess, her incarnations, or children.

The Red Goddess
A monastic order which studies magic to the exclusion of all else. They have access to all Rune magic, Lunar Sorcery, and Regimental magic spells, and are extremely powerful politically. The order is totally non-adventuring, due both to time considerations in their constant magic practice, and their indispensibility to the nation state. About half of this cult is dedicated to maintaining the Glowline.

The Imperial Moon
Hero cult of the Red Emporer, often called the backbone of the Empire. Responsible for all governmental functions, this cult administers tariff collection, diplomacy, criminal justice, civil justice, mail service, intelligence, counterinsurgency, treasury, disaster relief, military recruitment, immigration, international road/canal infrastructure, news service, citizen registration, magic item registration, pest control, passports (both internal and external) and civilian control of the military (to name a few of its functions). Despite somewhat stifling bureaucracy, it manages most jobs well.

The Waiting Moon
Hero cult of the Moon Daughter (also known as the Great Sister). A very isolated, and secretive cult that does not actively recruit. Not much is known about it.

The Moon Dancers
Hero cult of Hon-Eel the Artess, Second Incarnation of the Red Goddess. This small cult is chiefly composed of lunar artists, poets, musicians, and dancers. Moon Dancers are typically allowed to voice more dissent than would be tolerated elsewhere due to respect for Hon-Eel, the political weakness of the cult, and allowances for "artistic freedom". Though Hon-Eel did occasionally perform martial miracles (such as the Night of Horrors), this cult does not revere warriors, so Moon Dancers are rarely adventurers.

I asked Her, and She told me that some sects of Lunar Dervishes dance in a wildly whirling spiral dance. This is the path on which the Goddess Herself trod when She "danced her last dream upon the face of the earth". When they finish spinning around and inwards, they're in a state of Balance or Lunar Consciousness (it only *looks* like frothing insanity), and you can get oracular answers from them. If you're ever in the marketplace and see the spiral-dancers starting inwards, make sure you're not caught in the middle: it can sometimes get pretty confusing and frightening. But it's worth hanging around to hear what they say when the frenzy is on them at the end.

You're still most likely to find dervishes in the East, out towards Torang where the old ways of Lunar Mysticism are still strongest. It's known that the Emperor's servants dislike giving oracular accesses to the people -- just think about the way the Moonbroth Whispers have been sealed away! But it's in their nature to travel, and I hear groups and individuals have been seen as far away as Prax and Carmania. In the Redlands, the dervishes are one of the main sacred traditions to be found: they easily survive without the state-cult support that most Lunar religion requires within the Empire.

Once, I saw a dervish at the centre of her spin sink down below the ground, then levitate ten feet into the air, before starting to prophesy in a quite serene manner. She was speaking about how the Lunar Way is the New Way of Rebellion: that the Storm Way was the Old Rebellion, whose time had passed. She talked about the Empire as an eggshell, protecting the people. It all made perfect sense when she spoke to us. That was the day I learned to stop worrying, and love the Bat. Of course, she died when the fit was over...

These were the words of The Scholar known as NB

The Reaching Moon
This cult worships Yara Aranis, Horse Eater. This child of the Red Goddess and a Demon is the only imperially "approved" chaos cult aside from the Crimson Bat; all other cults receive such gifts via the Red Goddess herself. This cult grants worshippers: Arm of the Goddess, Terrify Horse, and Chaos Gift.

The Conquering Daughter
Hero cult of Hwarin Dalthippa, child of the Red Emporer, conquerer of the south. She is the goddess of Lunar military strategy, and her cult keeps and coordinates most Lunar regimental magician units. The vast majority of her spells are regimental caliber - too difficult to be invoked by anything less than 100 coordinated magicians. [Harald Smith's Long-form version]

The Moon Sword
Hero cult of Jar-Eel the Razoress, fated to be (though not yet) the Third Incarnation of the Red Goddess. This is a fighting / adventuring cult, which places a high value on individual action and bravery. While Jar-Eel is a powerful hero, she is a very weak god, so there are nearly no magical benifits to be gained from this cult. Only when one approaches Hero status, is Moon Sword attractive, since Jar-Eel often helps her prospective heros along.

Healed Cults

These are gods which have been healed by, or "married to", the Red Goddess. Lunar Mythology explains that when the entire world accepts the Red Goddess, being changed by her into non-violent non-obstructionist forms, the Red Goddess will turn white, and bring peace to the world. This "healing" is vigorously opposed by most cults as, at best, unwelcome interference. At worst, the Red Goddess is considered to be using her chaotic powers to brainwash other gods into submission.

God of Antiprejudice who has been healed by the Red Goddess of his Amorality ( Gabaji ). His ideas are now fundimentally rooted in Lunar culture. Unlike outside the empire, riddling is an honored profession. Riddles are also (usually) not free.

Queen Dezola
One of the Seven Mothers, but more importantly, the incarnation of Chalana Arroy healed by the Red Goddess of her pacifism even in the face of absolute evil. Queen Dezola's greatest heroquest was finding, defeating, and torturing Vivamort, retrieving a portion of the power the God of Undeath stole from Arroin (Chalana Arroy's son). Unlike most "healed version" of gods, the Queen Dezola cult has very friendly relations with Chalana Arroy. The cult has reusuable Resurrection, but cannot Heal Chaos Wounds, or Calm Berserks.

Yanafal Tarnils
One of the Seven Mothers, but more importantly, the incarnation of Humakt healed by the Red Goddess of his insistence on accepting even unworthy death. This cult has all Humakti runespells except reusable Sever Spirit. Except attitudes about Resurrection, the prejudices of the two cults are nearly identical. Naturally, typical Humakti can't stand Yanafal worshippers.

Irripti Ontor
One of the Seven Mothers, but more importantly, the incarnation of Lhankor Mhy healed by the Red Goddess of his obsessive need to keep all truth, no matter how potentially dangerous. The cult serves the empire, disseminating news, censoring only the most dangerous knowledge from Lunar citizens. Priests of Irripti Ontor have all Lhankor Mhy spells, except Reconstruction; but in compensation they gain Mind Blast. Runemasters of Irripti Ontor are not immune to the Thanatari Consume Mind spell.

Danfive Xaron
One of the Seven Mothers, but more importantly, the incarnation of Ikzaz the Torturer healed by the Red Goddess of his punishment of even the innocent. This cult runs the penal institutions of the Empire, and forces criminals into worship. Members may also join voluntarily, in which case they are free to leave if the going gets too tough. For serious offenders, the "spirit of retribution" of this cult, is immediate execution. Lesser punishments include blinding and dismissal, etc.

Teleeo Norri
One of the Seven Mothers, and sometimes considered the healed version of Voria, although exactly what this means is unclear. Goddess of Lunar Innocence and Idealism, her cult supervises many of the Imperial Oversight programs: The Orphanage Fund, The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Slaves, and the Imperial Association for the Advancement of Chaotic People. The cult is a favorite of the young, particularly students and landless nobility.

Jakaleel the Witch
One of the Seven Mothers, but more importantly, the incarnation of Zorak Zoran healed by the Red Goddess of unreasoning hate (she is the incarnation of reasoned hate). This cult performs all the dirty, but necessary tasks of the empire. This includes nearly all spying, and functions of the imperial secret police. As with all lunar cults, this one reports, and is ultimately responsible to, The Imperial Moon.

The Watcher
One of the Seven Mothers, and worshipped as much in the empire as Flesh Man (one of the Lightbringers), is worshipped in Orlanthi areas (i.e. almost not at all). She is sometimes called a healed version of the Blue Moon, though this does not mean much to most.

This goddess, child of Issaries, is the incarnation of Issaries healed by the Red Goddess of his unwillingness to trade with Chaos. The cult has access to all Issaries runespells, except that the Trade Runespell is somewhat more limited in the Etyres cult (traded spells cannot be regained until the traded spell is cast). On the other hand, Etyres merchants can (and do) trade many more kinds of spells than typical Issaries.

Crimson Bat
Known as The Steed of the Red Goddess, this cult is sometimes referred to by Red Moon Priests as the Healed Black Bat. The Bat is a Chaos demon, healed of its Freedom and Need to Exist. It lives only by the sufferage of the Red Goddess, and will cease to exist when all the world is healed by the Red Moon.

Great Spirits of the Moon
These are great spirits, thought to be demons, converted and healed by the Red Goddess. Little is known about them, except that one, "The Keeper", traps and holds the greatest enemies of the Red Moon. This includes Sheng Seleris, the greatest mortal enemy ever raised against the Lunar Empire.

Young Elementals
These elemental gods formed from the chaos void which replaced the Spike during the gods war. Fighting an entirely seperate battle against Chaos, they were locked out of the world by the Compromise. Through the Red Goddess, they have reentered the world.

Friendly Cults

These are cults that, while not officially associated with any Lunar religion, are worshipped by many empire citizens or allies.

Yelm worship is considered a mark of aristocracy and power. He is worshipped by both good friends and powerful enemies of the Lunar empire, so unlike most gods, carrying his runes in the empire does not carry any automatic friendly or prejudical reaction. Most of Yelm's runespells are available to Darra Happans, including those not listed in Gods of Glorantha: Courage, Shield of Fire, Curse Vampire, and Command Subjects.

The son of Yelm is not as worshipped in the Lunar empire, except in the Kingdom of Vanch, where he completed his greatest Godquest. Worshippers of Yelmalio are typically considered neutral and indifferent to the Red Moon, and rarely do they take posts in the empire.

Yelm's wife, but more generally she is the Goddess of Marriage, Fidelity, and Monagamy. The Gods of Glorantha reference is a mistake. Her true runes are Stasis, Harmony, and Light. In addition to the runespells given in Cults of Glorantha, she offers: Marriage Oath, Control Child, and Household Harmony. Her cult is the bitter enemy of Uleria, but has never managed to stamp it out.

The Lightbringers
The gods who resurrected Yelm, and helped forge the first Compromise; chiefly Chalana Arroy, but also Arachnae Solare, Eurmal, and a few lesser dieties. Temples to the Lightbringers offer all the "traded" spells: Telekinesis, Heal Constitution, {a random trickster spell}, Create Market, Analyze Magic, in addition to base rune spells.

The Maize Goddess, loved and respected by farmers in Peloria everywhere. This cult is the Pelorian equivalent to Ernalda. In addition to the runespells given in Cults of Glorantha, Pelora and Ernalda offer: Preserve Food, Ward Vermin, and Tilling Enchantment. See a HeroQuest Path.

The volcano god is also revered by farmers in Peloria, and his Earthwarm spell is necessary to prevent crop damage in the cold upper reaches of the Empire. None the less, the Darra Happan prejudices remain, and Lodril worship is considered to be the mark of being an ignorant peasant.

Restricted Cults

The following cults exist within the empire, and are to an extent tolerated. They are not recommended, and joining any of them insures a Lunar Citizen will be passed over for most trusted posts in the empire. The least savory are the unhealed Chaos cults, which are usually tolerated only when the Citizen or Resident has become illuminated, or turned away from his Chaotic past, but wishes to avoid a spirit of retribution.

This goddess of radical feminism and peasant rebellion is officially associated with the Red Goddess religion, but the mundane empire often has trouble with the teachings of the cult. While promoting the cause of feminism, her "Barren" runespell has caused a drop in the birth rate which troubles lunar authorities. Offically, Gorgorma worship is not necessary, because injustice can be easily and quickly resolved by an appeal to an appropriate representitive of the Red Goddess (i.e. a government official). Even so, at times this excuse has not prevented peasant revolts.

The Blue Moon
Sometimes called the Invisible Moon. Worshippers are usually confined to the occasional Troll, and people near the Blue Moon Plateau. Not much is known about this cult, except that they are dangerous, wierd, possibly even chaotic. Only a few Lunar government officials have any regular contact with them.

This god of rainstorms and barbarians, is reveared for the former, and distrusted for the latter. He is occasionally worshipped in the south of the Empire, with the restriction that the intolerant Rune Lord status is not allowed. The Empire strongly advises Initiates of this cult to become illuminated and will even reimburse all fees for Riddles from the Nysallor Illuminates. For this reason, in the empire, Orlanth worship is sometimes called: "the miser's path to illumination". In outlying areas, unilluminated worshippers of this cult are very troublesome.

The goddess of love, fertility, and prostitution always has been, and probably always will be, bitterly opposed by worshippers of wife-goddesses ( Pelora, and Dendara ). The political power of the these goddesses is usually enough to outlaw overt Uleria worship, but not enough to prevent hidden enclaves. Every city in the empire has at least one Uleria temple; most have several. Uleria's runes are Fertility, Fertility, and Disorder; she does not have the harmony spell of "Community", but does have Enchant Beauty.

Xiola Umbar
Strangely enough, the only shrines to this darkness goddess in the Lunar empire can be found in Yelm temples (she is reveared for her comfort of Yelm in Hell). Full fledged priests are unknown, and would at least acquire a curious escort.

Relations with the Dwarves are formal, as always. Under most circumstances, dealings of worshippers of this god are restricted by the Empire, to those who know Mostali culture. This prevents misunderstandings.

The Aldrymi have never forgiven the Lunar empire for the Moon Burn, and except for a few scattered pockets of undisturbed woods, they do not exist here. In the urbanized and throughly civilized Lunar empire, there is a general nostalgia for wild woods. While not officially restricted, most elves will stand out like a white man in the center of 18th century Tokyo.

Worshippers of the god of disorder are occasionally troublesome. While considered harmless by most, their tricks have sometimes caused great inconvenience to the empire. Everyone is encouraged to not believe anything a trickster says, no matter how convincing. Thieves of this cult are jailed and sold into slavery, as would happen with any worshipper of Lanbril.

Chaos Ooze
This entity is accepted by the Red Moon as a now-integral part of Glorantha. Direct worship of this cult is strongly discouraged. But those who feel compelled to gamble their lives on a "dip in the Ooze", will still be accepted by the empire after they emerge.

A troublesome religion worshipped by the denizens of the Grey Mountains, on the border of Carmania. In this frozen landscape are the reminants of a western Vampire kingdom, who worship a strange variant of Vivamort they term "The Wounded God". The border is disputed, and the Vampires are so powerful that the empire has decided to live with them, rather than try to root them out. For their part, these Vampires have made assurances that no one who voluntarily submits to giving them sustenence will ever be killed. There are persistent rumors of a secret Legion of Vampires in the service of the Empire, though evidence of this has never shown up.

Occasionally, Scorpion Men have relations with the empire. So long as none of their runespells are used (including the rebirth ritual), the empire allows some worship of Bagog. This is very carefully watched by officials of the Lunar empire.

Arachne Solara
The Spider, goddess of nature and fate, is reveared throughout the Empire. However, a few "seers", "fortune tellers", and "tarot readers" claim special visions from her. The official empire view is that these are frauds preying on the gullability of the citizens. Never the less, the practice is widespread, and rarely suppressed by busy authorities.

White Moon
Also called "The Moon To Come". This religion is extremely troublesome to Imperial Authorities, because it simultaneously backs and refutes the greatest Lunar Mythology. Worshippers of this cult believe that the White Moon, goddess of Peace, is fated to replace the Red Moon, and that there is nothing anyone can do to aid or prevent this from happening. So the justifications for conquering neighboring lands are empty and worthless arguments. Instead, the hand of peace should be extended to all other countries, and to show our neighbors (who rightfully do not trust us) that we mean what we say, the Empire should immediately and unilaterally destroy that chaotic horror called The Crimson Bat. While offering no magic, this cult has attained a huge following in recent years, especially in light of some war stories coming from the south. The runes ascribed to the White Moon are: Moon, Harmony, and Infinity.

Outlaw Cults

Some cults are both outlawed and constantly persecuted in the Empire. Many of these have Chaotic connections.

Worshippers of this Thief god exist in most major cities. They are naturally outlawed, but of all outlaw cults, these are considered one of the least harmful. Suspected Lanbril members are typically jailed or sold as slaves, rather than being killed.

Church of Immortality
This cult believes that all gods conspire to keep humans mortal and poor, but one god violated the conspiracy, and whispered to them the Secret of Immortality. For this, the other gods branded him with Chaos and banished him from the universe. The "secret" is nothing other than a pyramid scheme. Cult lay members transfer their money and youth to higher ups, in exchange for greater standing in the cult. Emphasis is always on recruitment. The cult is rigourously persecuted by the Empire (which feeds the myth the cult is based on), and despite constant education programs, and declarations of finally stamping it out, the cult continues to exist. The Church's stated runes are Infinity/Fate/Chaos, its true runes are Illusion/Fate/Chaos. The cult offers the runespell: Transfer Youth, and training in Fast Talk.

The gods of Cold and Winter are hated in the Lunar heartlands. Without constant battle against these gods, many crops would freeze. As proof of their valor, many lunar priests fight the ice demons which descend from the glacier during Dark Season and Storm Season. In the heartlands anyone who worships this cult is not tortured; just unceremoniously killed.

In Carmania, however, Valind is respected as an ancient patron of their land.

Storm Bull
The barbarian god of anti-Chaos berzerks is both troublesome, and potentially useful to the Empire. Simply said, the Lunar empire encourages Storm Bulls to fight "unhealed" chaotic cults, rather than them. Any major worshipper of the Bull found in the Empire is usually turned over to the the King of Bilini, who has constant problems with the chaos welling out of Dorastor. Those Storm Bulls who turn away from fighting broos, scorpion men, vampires, and other more hideous chaotics, to stalk the streets of the Empire killing peaceful citizens, are legally tried and then killed.

Zorak Zoran
Worshippers of Zorak Zoran are supposed to be treated much like Storm Bull worshippers. In reality, many outlying commanders simply torture ZZ cultists to death. This is typically in retribution for what Zorak Zoranni do to captured Lunars.

Krarsht is a terrible god in the empire. In an empire deprived of any practical method of Sensing Chaos, this cult has been able to reach into the highest levels of government. The chief enemy of Krarsht is Yanafal Tarnils, who with his Detect Truth spell, can sometimes find knowing cultists. (The use of loyalty oaths is a widespread practice in the empire). Even so, Krarsht worshippers can be found running extortion schemes, gambling rackets, assasinations, black markets, etc. The cult grows fat on Dart Wars.

In the crowded Lunar Empire, disease can spread like wildfire. Mallia worship is outlawed, and cultists are tracked with divination and killed on sight. In times of plague, disease cures are provided by the government to the populace for free.

Thanatar worship is not unknown in the empire, though this is one of the few cults where the use of "eternal spirit torture" by one of the secret Lunar demon cults is approved.

This cult is outlawed, but is so rare in the empire, that not much attention is paid to it. Thed worshippers are considered one of the least dangerous of the Chaos cults.