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    Profile photo of Peter Metcalfe
    Peter Metcalfe

    Reading HeroQuest: Glorantha, I was intrigued to see the following passage on p203:

    Most common in Peloria, Illumination is known throughout Glorantha, most notably in Kralorela, but also East Isles, Ralios, Jrustela, and Vralos. The Near Ones or Friends of Pamalt are also thought to be Illuminates by some.

    It’s an update of a similar passage in Dorastor: Land of Doom except that the Eastern Isles are added while the Friends of Pamalt was originally the friends of Pamaltela. Also note that Illumination is used in the HQ rules sense of an enlightened spiritual state rather than the teachings of Nysalor.

    The Illuminates of Kralorela, the Eastern Isles and Ralios are the Draconists, the Sages and the Arkati respectively that much is clear.

    The Illuminates of Vralos are most probably the Cult of Silence.

    But Jrustela? The only people who could possibly qualify are the Vadeli-inspired Orange Guilds! I think their Illumination is based on the study of recovered God Learner wisdom, corrupted by Vadeli interpretations. In support, a sidebar on p502 of the Guide talks about how Harrek and friends become more gods then men as a result of their investigations into the God Learners.

    The return of the Near Ones suggests they are something more than a throwaway line. I’ve a feeling they are a spiritual awareness of Pamalt that can be acquired by meditating on the continent.


    While I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of illuminates among the members of the Orange Guilds, I would search for illuminates among the aldryami of Jrustela – and in Pamaltela among those of the Errinoru Forest, too, with a possible side order for followers of Elamle-Ata.

    I doubt that the Vadeli or Fonritians bother with illumination when they can be chaotic without it.

    Profile photo of Tony

    There also could be followers of Arkat among the Trolls of Jrustela.
    Also the Eldar Races in Jrustela tend to get along with each other better then elsewhere in Glorantha. I wonder if illumination could have anything to do with that?

    Profile photo of Peter Metcalfe
    Peter Metcalfe

    I’ll really split this into two


    Joergs’s suggestion that the Aldryami might be pursuing Illumination in Jrustela has led me to the possibility that it isn’t just the Orange Guilds plundering God Learner ruins for their secrets, all the Elder Races (Malasps included) have researchers scouring the ruins, trying to make sense of their secrets. This will incur tension with their more orthodox brethren who are seeking to maintain the ideals of peaceful co-existence and also to conceal their researchers’ existence from each other.

    As for how God Learner Illumination (Ugh! Better term needed!!) would work, I don’t believe anybody has access to the Forbidden Secret (yet!). Instead they could analyse foreign magic through their own enlightened senses and replicate or neutralize it.

    The Vadeli aren’t chaotic but evil. If there’s a chance of studying forbidden secrets for kewl powers so they would become more Gods then Men, they would take it.


    Maslo is not one of those places mentioned as where Illumination is known (or widely practiced) so I doubt that Elmale-ata is a founder of a path of mysticism. She strikes me as being closer to Sartar or Ezkankekko in forming alliances rather than teacher of mystical awareness.

    As for illumination being known to the Pamaltelan Aldryami, well…

    An unpublished sidebar on the Pamaltela Book (in other words about as canonical as Arcane Lore) said that the Cult of Silence came from the Knowledge Assassins who adopted an oath of silence to avoid talking about the Forbidden Secret that this got misinterpreted by others. Other old sources speak of it being not just for humans. Gods of Glorantha (Cults Book p12) states “Members of many races joined to protest their existence and joined the Cult of Silence”. RuneQuest III Book 5 p11 “The cult appealed to creatures of many species, and sometimes ironically united former enemies in their silence”. Hence I believe the Cult of Silence included Aldryami and Trolls. Despite its concentration in Fonrit and Umathela, it seems to have spread elsewhere – p546 of the Guide has visitors to Feofaxia sometimes wondering if the local elves are part of the Cult of Silence, which wouldn’t be so odd if the cult had reached there.

    Lastly the Fonritans, as you observe, don’t need an excuse to use chaos so I doubt Illuminates exist among them in significant populations.

    Profile photo of Peter Metcalfe
    Peter Metcalfe

    Arkati in Jrustela is certainly possible among the Trolls – it depends on where they came from (Borklak’s Queendom is my guess).


    The term RuneQuest Sight fills my expectations of the God Learner understanding of Arkati illumination. IMO the Jrusteli used Arkat as their primary access to mystical and logical insight on the Otherworlds, and in my opinion they attempted to apply logic to the mystical paths – a bit like using thermodynamics to understand biology, you can have a good guess at certain changes a system will undergo without having a clue what exactly is going on, and you will be prone to surprises outside of your controlled parameters.

    Looking for nifty magics to wield in the upcoming conflicts amid god learner ruins doesn’t require any mystical insight. The Vadeli and Harrek probably do so without even approaching illumination, and the dwarf approach won’t be much different, either.
    You don’t have to be illuminated to break certain taboos about ancient sites of power, either – these aren’t the object of standard magical restrictions you get from your religion but political or cultural restrictions. Breaking those may be regarded as a crime, but crime doesn’t require mystical awareness, and being illuminated won’t help you much if caught red-handed at any taboo activity.

    Magical powers gained through mystical experiences might be stolen, but mystical understanding won’t necessarily result from that. I can easily see God Learners or Vadeli go for those powers in a “go to the hero plane and flense it off its previous owner” sense, but unless it is a flash of mystical insight due to massive exposure to the Ultimate, I don’t see these guys picking up any understanding.

    I don’t see any draconic flavor in the East outside of Kralorela, btw. While most easterners live in Kralorela, most eastern traditions are known from the drowned lands beyond and the islands (or in case of Teshnos peninsula) retaining them. I wonder whether some of those guys view the draconic element as an entanglement.

    Profile photo of Charles

    Recent revelations in HeroQuest Glorantha and some of Jeff’s postings show that there are at least two different big-picture routes to Illumination: Pelorian/Nysalorean/Chaotic; and Draconic in Kralorela, Dragon Pass, and likely Ralios.

    But why should this rule out other possibilities?

    Illumination in Peloria does seem to predate Nysalor, so perhaps there were previously some Solar meditative practices, maybe similar to the Yelmalian Sun Towers that achieved the same end?

    The Austerities of the East Isles seem to be an alternative path that involves neither Chaos nor Dragons. And the opposite of Austerities, the full partaking in all the pleasures and debauchery of the world has led some into the same mystical state.

    I would not rule out other intellectual practices in the West as providing a path to a similar state; I certainly feel that Zzabur’s actions both in the God Place and after the Dawn have an occasional recklessness about them that could be characteristic of an Illuminate. Actions that seem to qualify as weirdly reckless include killing his father, attempting to crack the world apart (twice) and the Closing.

    Basically, I can see no reason why any Gloranthan of any culture should not be able to become Illuminated within the resources of their own culture.

    Profile photo of Peter Metcalfe
    Peter Metcalfe

    The official word on God Learner “Illumination”:

    In the Second Age, Nysalorean Illumination was banished, forbidden, and destroyed. However, other beliefs that shared many of the same characteristics (most specifically the extraordinary state of mindthat fundamentally transforms the individual): Umbarism, EWF draconic consciousness, Kralorelan draconic mystics, Vithelan mysticism, the Umathelan Cult of Silence, and even some God Learner schools all provided liberation similar to that of Nysalorean Illumination. HeroQuest Glorantha p202-203

    Also the God Learners ability to do the impossible such as to make the water burn is similar to Illumination Ability 7 (Ability to combine incompatible runes).
    As for looking for nifty magics, the “more gods than men” suggests to me Harrek & co. have achieved some heightened spiritual state as a result of their plunder of Jrustela. I do not believe that the state of God Learned Awareness is particularly benign compared to say Vithelan mysticism – I feel it’s closer to Lunar Occlusion or the Dark Side of Illumination. People with God Learner awareness are the “most learned and least wise”.
    I feel that studying Jrusteli artefacts or God Learner texts is akin to deciphering a Nysaloran Riddle, it exposes the researcher to God Learner consciousness. It infects even the Elder Races (the silver dwarf that must deconstruct an artefact, the troll shaman who interacts with the unusual shadows on a God Learner ruin or even a dryad whose roots reach into the graves of bygone God Learners) despite their best efforts. It would be analogous to the sanity/Cthulhu mythos rules in Call of Cthulhu.


    Charles: Even Argrath’s companions combine at least three forms of illumination – Nysalorean/Lunar, Draconic, and Arkati (anti-Nysalorean). The Carmanians with their exposure to Spol and Natha appear to have had their own brush with the Ultimate.

    The austerities are practiced by Kralori mystics as well – I don’t see Sheng Seleris having experienced draconic wisdom, but a more traditional Vithelan path.

    A state of liberation is possible in any culture, simply by the method of following the cultural rune to its source. Thunder Rebels stated that this state of experience would take a character out of the game, but I don’t see why these guys would have to be treated differently from Lunars or Draconic mystics.

    Peter: I agree about the risk of contamination and occlusion from plundering the God Learner secrets. However, it is a perfectly safe form of power if you know what you do – just like the Lunars dealing with Chaos.

    Profile photo of Simon Phipp
    Simon Phipp

    The God Learners weren’t that keen on Arkat and his cult, to the point where they deliberately broke all the Hero paths that led to his home. That either implies they had taken Arkat’s Secrets and didn’t want anyone else to have them, or that the Secrets were too dangerous for anyone to have.

    My own personal view is that the God Learners had the realisation that they could do anything they wanted to with magic. Once they realised that, then everything else became secondary. Why have geases if they could be ignored? Why restrict yourself to sorcery when you could be using any other kind of magic. Why not mine the deities for powers and abilities?


    Arkat and his followers remained a major opposition to the God Learner exploitation of the Hero Planes even after the Autarchy had fallen. Apparently Arkati underwent some kind of apotheosis to become guardian entities of certain hero paths. I don’t think that this ability/agency was necessarily tied to illumination, although illumination doubtlessly makes departing from known paths easier.

    The Arkati secrets most coveted by the God Learners were his maps of myths and hero paths, providing a subway connection map to the myths of Seshnela, Ralios, Maniria and to some part Peloria and Hell, with waystations that allow switching trains and destinations.

    Illumination isn’t something you can steal – you can steal methods to “teach” or transmit illumination, though. The Jrusteli probably analyzed those paths and utilized them to some extent.

    The paths towards Arkat’s home were dangerous to the God Learners because these would allow the arkati to regain their strength, thereby affecting all the various projects dear to the Jrusteli, from the Abiding Book to the wild experimental stuff like that of the Zistorites or the Outer Atomic Explorers.

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