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  • #10169
    Profile photo of Down With People
    Down With People
    Spectator

    I wasn’t too sure whether this should go in the Glorantha or Heroquest forum. This is a cult write-up a la Heroquest, but it’s also got a lot of new lore, so I decided to post it here. Feel free to move it if there’s an issue.

    THE DECAPITATOR (Death, Darkness, Mastery)

    MYTHOS AND HISTORY

    There was a time long ago when the sun went out. Without the sun, the world became very dark and cold. The dirt became sick without the sun, and its sickness spread to the plants. The animals and bugs ate the plants and became sick as well. Man and Bat had nothing to eat but sick things, so they became sick or didn’t eat at all, and they both died. They died in the cities and the jungles, and their bodies piled up wherever they lay.

    There was one thing that was not sick or dying and he was the Decapitator. Before the sun went out he ran around with a tool called Death, which was very sharp and pointed and could cut a thing’s head off. Before, there were always more living things around, so he could never kill everything. But no more living things came out to take the place of the old ones. Everything he killed was the last of its kind. He even killed things that couldn’t be killed, like the gods. Soon Decapitator was alone in a dark, cold, dead world. He sat on a pile of heads higher than the trees, higher than the mountains. And he said, this place is good. There was nothing more to kill, so he left.

    Lots of other things happened. Pamalt the Living God drowned Filth-Which-Walks in sky fire. Life came back into the world. Man and Bat came back to life, though Bat came back different. The blue men forgot who they used to be, and became slaves to the city men from across the sea. We came up to these jungles from the south. And everyone forgot all about Decapitator.

    Then one day, Unshiki Inner-Eye went deep into Symbaoe, deeper than anyone else. She found all kinds of marvellous things there. She found the Gnomon, and saw that the world is going to end. She found the Hall of Futures, and found out that the Decapitator is going to be the one to end it. He is happy flying around in the sky right now, where he can see us killing. But he also sees that Chaos has made the Living God into the Dying God.

    One day, very soon, the Decapitator will come down from up where he is. He’ll cut off the head of the Dying God, and its body will rot away. In its place, there’ll be nothing; just a black hole from one side of the universe to the other. And he’ll see us there, and he’ll see the way we gave him so many heads. He’ll say, these people are good, and he will be our king in the Black Hole Universe.

    NATURE OF THE CULT
    The Decapitator cult is the driving force behind the Pujaleg Empire. Many kalku are devotees of Decapitator. Decapitator receives sacrifices before and after battles, and drinks his share of blood from every sacrifice. The cult demands more land, more slaves and more heads. They raid Artmali and God Learner ruins for more knowledge of the Black Hole Universe before turning them into new temples to their dark god. The majority of Decapitator initiates are Pujaleg, but some Hsa have joined the cult as well.

    DEPICTION
    In the Hall of Futures in Symbaoe, the Decapitator is depicted as a naked human. He holds the Dying God’s head in one hand and Death in the other. The red planet is above him, and a great hole in the earth is below him. He had a face, but now it is gone.

    RUNE AFFINITIES
    The Decapitator is connected with the Runes of Death, Darkness and Mastery.

    Death: The Decapitator wields the power of Death to recreate the universe. An incomplete list of abilities Decapitator initiates have been known to use the Death Rune for include fighting with clubs, killing with a single blow, entering berserk rages, slaying spirits of the Earth and breaking weapons and armour. Initiates strong in this rune are violent and volatile.

    Darkness: The Decapitator traverses the darkness of the Underworld, alone and unafraid. An incomplete list of abilities Decapitator initiates have been known to use the Darkness Rune for include seeing in total darkness, finding their way underground, commanding spirits of Darkness, summon magical shadows and disappear into darkness. Initiates strong in this rune are enigmatic and unpredictable.

    Mastery: The Decapitator is the king of the Black Hole Universe. An incomplete list of abilities Decapitator initiates have been known to use the Mastery Rune for include commanding slaves, leading warbands, creating shrunken heads, fighting without fear, terrifying enemies and inspiring awe in followers. Initiates strong in this rune are charismatic and regal.

    OPPOSED RUNES
    The Decapitator is in conflict with the runes of Power, Earth and Life.

    PARTICULAR LIKES AND DISLIKES
    The Decapitator is opposed to the Dying God, Pamalt. He is also an enemy to the slaver god Ompalam. Decapitator does not hate either of them, but they are the ones who must die to usher in the new kingdom.

    CULT ORGANISATION AND HOLY PLACES
    The spiritual centre of the cult is Symbaoe. Pujaleg heroquesters use the Hall of Futures to find their way into the dead and forgotten legends of its creators. They have scoured the ruins of Laskal in search of more statues of the Decapitator and more hints about the future darkness.

    HOLY DAYS
    Once a month, the Decapitator’s celestial body hangs over Fonrit. This is called God’s Watching, when Pujaleg raids are most common. The Decapitator will remember brave deeds and great sacrifices done in this time, and his cultists expect to be rewarded when he returns to the world.

    SACRIFICES
    All Hsunchen of the Pujaleg Empire sacrifice to the Decapitator. They sacrifice before and after raids. Blood and flesh from other sacrifices is set aside for Decapitator. Additionally, Decapitator cultists go on ritual head-hunts, seeking out worthy heads to attract the attention of their god. The heads of Pamalt worshippers are highly prized.

    INITIATES

    A cultist can become an initiate of the Decapitator if they have the Death, Darkness or Mastery Rune at a rating of at least 1W. Initiates are expected to be capable warriors who’ve already collected their share of heads. Decapitator initiates are expected to be good warleaders, but they will still be expected to prove their skill in battle before they can expect to lead their own warband.

    DEVOTEES
    An initiate with an affinity for the Death, Darkness and Mastery runes (with at least one of those runes at a rating of 11W) may seek to dedicate themselves completely to the Decapitator. They must have been to the Hall of Futures and overcome a significant plot obstacle in the form of a heroquest. They cut all ties to any cults or spirit societies they were previously part of. They are ready to become a kalku, and play a major role in leading the cult and Pujaleg society as a whole.

    Decapitator devotees emulate their god in all ways. They are fanatical head-hunters and confident leaders. More than any other Pujaleg, they believe in the Black Hole Universe and are willing to do anything to hasten that glorious day.

    FEATS

    RAKAPAS Feat
    Every word from the Decapitator’s mouth is infused with the power of Death. He shouts the word for enemies in a forgotten tongue, and his enemy is utterly disintegrated, leaving nothing but dust.

    Kill The Dying God Feat

    When the Decapitator returns, he will see the sickly and twisted Dying God, all that remains of Pamalt. He will bring down his Death weapon and cut off the god’s head in one stroke.

    This is my take on one of the new cults mentioned in the Guide, the Decapitator worshiped by the Laskali Pujaleg. I’m a huge fan of Fonrit, and I wanted to try and flesh out more of that part of the world. Any critique, questions or suggestions are welcomed!

    #10173
    Profile photo of Robin Mitra
    Robin Mitra
    Spectator

    In my understanding the Decapitator is the god Tolat. You find information on him on various pages in the Guide, most notably on p. 429 where his red sword is described. He is a god of war and love and is also the planet that Pelorians call Shargash.

    #10178
    Profile photo of Down With People
    Down With People
    Spectator

    He is, but I went with something a little different. Shargash and Tolat are in theory the same god, but they’re worshiped in very different ways. The former is a primal force of destruction, the latter is also a god of love and father/husband to the Amazons. In older game material (particularly Darra Happa Stirs) Alkoth is described as having three kings; Red, Green and Black. My idea for the Decapitator is that he isn’t just Tolat but a third aspect of Shargash, his mystic aspect.

    #10198
    Profile photo of Roko Joko
    Roko Joko
    Spectator

    Awesome writeup.

    The spell lists are good, but I bet you could make them more situated and specific. They probably have shades of darkness within the pantheon, so maybe play up the mysticism angle. Berserk rage sounds a little generic. I’m thinking [cheese alert?] Zero Wolf from Apocalypto; he’s angry for sure, but berserk I’m not sure. Commanding slaves threw me a little. On the face of it you don’t need magic for that, but it makes sense in the sense of managing them in general. I don’t know if there’s a better concise description for that than command (dominate, intimidate?)

    The history sounded a little wonky, since the Gargandites enslaved the Veldang first. It might be more interesting to give the Pujaleg their own ideas about history, though. I also wonder what they say people thought the planet was before the recognized it as the Decapitator, or if they say it wasn’t there before that.

    You might want to think about how shamanism fits in here, since the Guide describes kalkus as shamans in a few places (I count 3 “shaman”, 1 “magician” and one “bat sorceress”).

    #10199
    Profile photo of Roko Joko
    Roko Joko
    Spectator

    ^ fits in, both in fluff terms and rules terms.

    #10210
    Profile photo of Down With People
    Down With People
    Spectator

    Awesome writeup.

    The spell lists are good, but I bet you could make them more situated and specific. They probably have shades of darkness within the pantheon, so maybe play up the mysticism angle. Berserk rage sounds a little generic. I’m thinking [cheese alert?] Zero Wolf from Apocalypto; he’s angry for sure, but berserk I’m not sure. Commanding slaves threw me a little. On the face of it you don’t need magic for that, but it makes sense in the sense of managing them in general. I don’t know if there’s a better concise description for that than command (dominate, intimidate?)

    The history sounded a little wonky, since the Gargandites enslaved the Veldang first. It might be more interesting to give the Pujaleg their own ideas about history, though. I also wonder what they say people thought the planet was before the recognized it as the Decapitator, or if they say it wasn’t there before that.

    You might want to think about how shamanism fits in here, since the Guide describes kalkus as shamans in a few places (I count 3 “shaman”, 1 “magician” and one “bat sorceress”).

    Thanks for the advice!

    It’s pretty rough at the moment, so I will be trying to improve it. Giving the cult more unique powers is definitely part of that.

    The thing with the history was just a big goof.

    When writing this, I was working on the angle that maybe kalku is more of a social role than a mystical one, like maybe any experienced warrior with powerful magic was eligible to become a kalku and not necessarily just shamans. I figured that it would be odd if this extremely important cult in the Pujaleg Empire wasn’t able to enter (what I assumed was) a major leadership role in society. But I guess it’s possible to still have the Decapitator cult as a major part of society without being kalku. Something to think about if I get around to writing the Red Bat spirit society!

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