Saturday, 23 March 2013

The Seven Mothers



This cult goes back to some of the earliest material published by Greg Stafford about the world of Glorantha. It first appeared in Cults of Prax and has been elaborated on since in a number of publications for the Heroquest system, most recently Pavis: Gateway to Adventure. This is my take on an update on the cult for the RQ6 system.

The Lunar Provincial Church

The Lunar pantheon has many gods, some of which were old gods which were 'pre-incarnations' of the Red Goddess, some mysteriously enlightened and incorporated into the Lunar Way, and yet others were former mortals who achieved the status of 'Immortal' through their faith in the Red Moon.

Out in the Provinces most of the theological niceties go out of the window and barbarian converts are first inducted into the Lunar Provincial Church, aka the cult of the Seven Mothers, as the 'gateway drug' for the Lunar religion.

This combines the worship of the oldest Lunar Immortals, the coven of conspirators who first awakened the Red Goddess; Queen Deezola, Yanafal Tarnils, Irripi Ontor, Jakaleel the Witch, Danfive Xaron, Teelo Norri and the mysterious 'She Who Waits'. The Lunar authorities hope their similarity to the famous seven Lightbringers of Thelayan myth and legend will at least get the barbarians through the temple door.

Followers

Followers must have their names entered on the 'paper lists' (often actually birch bark), which are burnt each full moon. A lay member may ask to be entered on the 'wood lists', kept for five years, in return for a donation of 5L.

Followers may be trained at half price in Speak Lunar, Read/Write Lunar, Theology (Seven Mothers) and The Lunar Way up to 50%, and may be trained in Folk Magic for a fee. Followers also get Folk Magic healing and a service of First Aid and Healing skills if available.

Destitute followers also get access to the poor fund – daily onion soup and potato bread, and red berries when in season, and they can sleep under the outer portico of the temple if it has one. By no means all temples actually provide this, many on far off frontiers have limited access to the charity funds from the Heartlands that provide this, but they do this as often as possible.

Initiates

To become an initiate one must have been a Follower on the lists for 49 weeks in total, and have 50% or more in five of the following skills; Speak Lunar, Read/Write Lunar, Theology (Seven Mothers), The Lunar Way, any one combat style, any one craft, any one lore, Folk Magic, Insight, Influence, Evade, First Aid, Customs (Lunar Empire).

Initiates are expected to give one week in every four working for the temple or 25% of their income a month (paying Imperial taxes counts as part of this contribution), but they can become a Lunar Citizen if they pass an exam in Speak Lunar, The Lunar Way and Customs (Lunar Empire) – add the skills plus INT and roll under on a d100.

This is very much a 'pick and mix' religion, taking bits and pieces from the six cults (She Who Waits has no cult) as practised in their full form in the Empire proper.

They can learn Theology (Seven Mothers), Exhort (Seven Mothers), Trance, Binding (Five Spirit Moons), Invocation (The Book of Red Light), Shaping and The Lunar Way at normal cost.

Training in Speak Lunar is free, and in some cases Initiates will be trained as guards, learning the combat style Lunar Guardian (Formation, Scimitar, medium shield, Rhomphia, Bow).

The Lunar Way skill gives a bonus equal to the crit range to any Exhort, Binding or Invocation skill of any cult in the Lunar Pantheon.

The initiate may have a maximum of ¼ his POW, CHA or INT in lunar magic, whichever is the highest, with Miracles being limited by POW, Spirits by CHA and sorcery Spells by INT.

Example: Cassia the Convert has POW 15, CHA 8 and INT 13. She may learn POW/4 = 3.75= 4 total lunar magics, as her POW is highest, but only CHA/4 = 2 may be Moon Spirits and INT/4 = 3 may be sorcery spells. She could have any combination within these limits.

Folk Magic
Initiates may learn any folk magic their priest deigns to teach and they can pay him to learn, but no special discounts are made on any spell.

Spirits
Jakaleel provides only intensity one Five Moon spirits to Initiates, and an initiate may bind only one of each type. Binding skill is required, as is 30%+ skill in Speak Lunar to instruct them.

Full Moon – manifestations of the Divine Intellect of the Red Moon - +10% to Insight or Oratory. Those who carry them must always have a silver full moon charm.
Half Moon – spirits of vengeance and balance - +10% to a combat style or +1 step damage bonus or +1 AP. Those who carry them must always dress in black.
Hollow Moon – spirits of madness – can possess a target and cause a passion of their POW as a %age in paranoia, mania or depression. Those with these charms must always wear red.
Waning Moon – spirits of innocence and fertility - +10% to Willpower, +10% to Healing skill only at night. Anyone carrying these spirits must sleep upon the earth.
Waxing Moon – wild hunting spirits - +10% Track, +2 steps damage bonus vs one prey type, +10% Perception. Any hunter using these charms cannot ever give up a chase until they prey is caught.

Miracles
Various of the Seven Mothers provide the following miracles. Exhort skill is required, and 30%+ in Customs (Lunar Empire) is required to understand the prayers and references.
Aegis, Dismiss Magic, Dismiss Sylph, Dismiss Undine, Dismiss Gnome, Dismiss Shade, Dismiss Salamander, Heal Wound, Madness, Soul Sight

Spells
Initiates get a 'cut and paste' grimoire called the 'The Book of Red Light' with basic spells used by all the various Mothers. Must have at least 30% Read/Write Lunar to study any of these, as well as the Invocation skill.
Banish, Intuition, Spell Resistance, Damage Resistance

All initiates are subject to the Lunar cycle – the spell casting roll under the full or waxing moon is one grade easier, and any under the dark or dying moon is one grade harder, and the spell effects are enhanced by 20% or reduced by 20% respectively.

Acolyte

Acolytes must know Theology (Seven Mothers) 70%+ and have at least one of Binding, Exhort or Invocation at 50%+, plus three other cult skills 70%+, including the Lunar Guardian combat style. Acolytes must have performed some service to the temple, such as converting unbelievers or defeating the foes of the Red Moon, and must have passed the test for Lunar citizenship.

Acolytes are expected to work full time for the temple, usually as missionaries, and are paid a salary. They may learn Speak Lunar and Read and Write Lunar for free in their spare time (not that they get more than a week per month) and may learn Oratory for free as well. They are often also taught the local language and customs to their temple base where these are different to their own. Acolytes are sometimes given responsibility for outlying shrines or attached to the households of Lunarised notables in their area as 'special advisers'.

They may learn spells as an initiate, with a maximum number equal to half their POW, INT or CHA stat as appropriate.

Spirits
As before but the Acolyte may have intensity two spirits, and may summon an embodied Lune.

Miracles
Acolytes gain access to the following:
Exorcism, Heal Mind, Consecrate (only usable on nights of the full moon), Summon Lune

Spells
Store Mana, Regeneration, Evoke Lune

Priest

Priests must have served the temple for five years and have Theology (Seven Mothers) 90%+, two other cult skills at 90%+, Oratory 50%+ and The Lunar Way 50%+. They work full time, but have access to all the funds and resources of their home temple and have considerable political clout with the local Lunar authorities.

They may learn up to three quarters of their POW, INT or CHA stat in Lunar magic, but gain access to only a few extra miracles. Learning the more advanced spirit summonings and sorceries requires joining one of the other many Lunar cults, an easy task for one so steeped in Lunar lore.

Miracles
Excommunicate, Truesword, Chaos Gift

Chaos Gift is used only very sparingly, the Lunars have enough of an image problem over their acceptance of chaos as an inevitable part of the fabric of the world as it is, without their followers sporting hideous mutations. But when the shit hits the fan and the peasants are descending on you with pitchforks then you do what needs to be done.

Chaos Gift
Duration (variable), Rank Priest, Resist (none)
The Priest temporarily gains use of a Chaos feature, rolled randomly on the table in the Legend creatures book. Once this spell has been used the Priest will for ever after detect as chaotic to any spell and ability that can detect such, and the user automatically gets an improvement roll in The Lunar Way as he appreciates what it truly means to be chaotic, yet part of the world.

On a critical roll the priest may choose which feature he gets, on a fumble the GM decides, and he can choose a very negative one.

Duration
Dark/Dying Moon – will not work at all
Crescent Moon – 1 combat round per point of intensity
Half Moon – 1 minute per point of intensity
Full Moon – 1 hour per point of intensity

High Priest

This is currently Yvar Ascorius of Vanch, who reports to the head of the Seven Mothers Council. He is currently in Tarsh, distantly overseeing the spread of the church among the unspeakably stubborn Sartarites, while fending off 'helpful' suggestions from the Lunar Army (kill 'em all and let the Moon sort 'em out!'). The casualties amongst his missionaries are appalling, his only consolation that rival missionary orders are doing just as badly.

Joining other Lunar cults

Once a member has become a Lunar Citizen a whole pantheon of possibilities opens up. The Binding skill taught by the cult is identical to that used by the Jakaleel the Witch cult, Theology (Seven Mothers) and Exhort (Seven Mothers) can translate into half the rating in the Theology and Exhort skills of other cults worshipping the same Immortals or a quarter of those taught by the moon cults of Gerra, Natha, Rufelza and Verithurusa, and the Invocation skill into one quarter the Invocation skills used by Deezola, Irripi Ontor, Jakaleel the Spindle Hag and Yanafal Tarnils cults.

Relations to other sects

The Seven Mothers cult is seen as plebian and rustic by most well to do heartland Lunars, a crude bowdlerisation of the magnificence of the Red Moon, and relations with the 'pure' Moon cults are a bit sniffy as they can't fathom why they can't be allowed to just wade in and have the barbarians all wailing to Rufelza straight away. 

Announcing you are a Provincial Church member anywhere north of Holay is pretty much to admit you are a bagpipe tooting, cattle stealing, tattooed yokel who has learned just enough manners to not urinate on the floor in public. The cult is still strong all over the more out of the way parts of the provinces though, and temples are found in Talastar, Holay, Aggar, Tarsh and the uplands of Vanch and Imther. Any barbarian with half a brain soon joins another Lunar cult if he wants to get on.

Lunes

Lunes are the elementals of the Red Moon, fragments of glowing red light. Their attacks leave the skin blistered, raw and bleeding. Lunes summoned under the dark or dying moon have half size, under a crescent moon two thirds size and under a gibbous moon three quarter size, only under a full moon are they at full size and power. Stats are as per p 351-2 of the RQ6 rulebook.

Victims who are engulfed must match their Willpower against the Willpower of the Lune. On the table below the score 0 for a fumble, 1 for a failure, 2 for a success and 3 for a critical, the target subtracts from the Lunes score with their own roll at the same scale.

-3 The target fights off the lune's mind warping effects easily, it flees and refuses to attack that person again.

-2 The target takes physical damage and is also affected by strange insights and visions of the surface of the Red Moon. They must roll vs Willpower again or inadvertently gain 1d4+1% in the Lunar Way skill

-1 The target is affected physically and must roll vs Willpower or lose 1d3 INT regaining one per hour.

0 The target is physically attacked and must roll vs Willpower or be demoralised for INT rounds and lose 1d3 INT, regaining one per hour.

1 The target is physically attacked and demoralised, all skill rolls are one step harder for INT rounds, and 1d3 INT is lost, to be regained at 1 point per week. Must roll vs Willpower or run like blazes away from the Lune.

2 The target is rendered catatonic for INT rounds and goes mad for INT weeks. When they recover they have gained 1d4+1% in the Lunar Way skill, as well as losing 1d3 INT, regained at one per month.

3 The target goes permanently insane and must roll vs Willpower again or gain a chaos feature. If they are ever cured they are demoralised by the light of the Red Moon and the sight of her servants, a passion that starts at 1d10+10%, and is added to every time the character is defeated by the Red Moon or her followers. If affected all skill rolls under the moon at night are one step harder. This fear can be lifted by joining a Lunar cult, though there is nothing they can do about any chaos feature gained.

A person reduced to 0 INT is incapable of speech and reason, cannot use any tool or implement and merely babbles incoherently while wandering around in a dazed state. They recognise their friends and foes and are liable to stare gormlessly at the Red Moon for hours, weeping, howling or muttering.