The Cult of Donandar

Harmony  Truth

God of Minstrels and StoryTellers

I. Mythos and History

Donadar was the son of Harana Ilor, the Celestial Court Goddess of Harmony, and like her he was a musician and a story-teller. When young he was Lhankor Mhy's greatest rival for the love of the Mistress of the Light of Knowledge. Tales do not agree when asked who it was that she gave her love to, perhaps it was both. Even though the two gods were rivals they remained friends, happily they swapped tales upon the banks of the Spike.

When Orlanth killed Yelm it was obvious to both Donandar and Lhankor Mhy that knowledge was being lost to the world and that strange things were entering it that they knew nothing of. They agreed that they should try to preserve knowledge. 'How should we do this?' asked Donandar. 'We must learn all, and preserve it, secret and safe,' replied Lhankor Mhy. 'But what,' said Donandar, 'if we should be killed? We should learn all there is and tell it to whoever will listen. Then there will always be someone who will know the answers.' 'But who will know the questions?' It was their first and most important argument.

Donandar travelled greatly during the Darkness exchanging tales with all he met. Though he was not a fighter he was a witness to many of the great conflicts, often telling warriors ways they might defeat their foes. He met Kyger Litor and found a home in her court for a while while he learnt much of her lore. When he left the Castle of Lead he was able to tell many tales of the trolls' exploits against chaos which softened the hearts of other chaos haters who previously had thought trolls just another form of monster. Urox, the Storm Bull, heard of his future friend Zorak Zoran in this way.

Though Donandar sought to save the Mistress of the Light of Knowledge from Tien ( later Thanatar) he failed and she was lost. Lhankor Mhy blamed him in part for this, and their relationship suffered still more. The final straw was when Lhankor Mhy refused to tell any of his secrets for fear that Donandar would tell everyone. It was then that Donandar refused to tell a story except in exchange for a new story. The gods, once friends, split from each other, never to be friends again.

When the dawn came the cult of Donandar was widespread but small. His worshippers were travellers, minstrels, bards and quickly all forms of entertainers, but always at the heart story-tellers. Though sometimes persecuted they could never be destroyed for there was always some place where they would be welcome. Donandar promises little for the afterlife. His worshippers know that they will play the same roles s they did in life. Funerals are conducted in accordance with local customs, but afterwards will always include a wake where the dead man's best tales are told and so remembered by the next generation.

Donandar is associated with the runes of Harmony and Truth.

II. Cult Ecology

Donandar's' cult always exists on the fringes of society, but they are welcomed in most of the places they go. They fulfil too useful a function to be forgotten; telling stories of faraway lands and enhancing the reputation of local rulers. Though they are sometimes treated as spies it can be far too dangerous to incur the wrath of the cult to make it worthwhile. With the spell Truth Telling Donandar's priests can damage any local ruler's reputation beyond repair and for this they are generally respected.

Donandar's worshippers do not make up all the entertainers in Glorantha, but most of them pay him some respect. The cult's 'organisation' results in entertainers travelling to places where they will receive a good audience and be well paid for their efforts.

The cult's main dislike is for those who hold secrets; Lhankor Mhy falls into this category. Donandar's entertainers will always try to find out secrets if they can. They also have a natural dislike for anyone who will not offer a just price for a good story, and will generally hound such individuals in their tale telling.

Donandar's High Holy Day is Wild/Truth/Storm, upon which day all story tellers and entertainers are found giving open performances as close to the local knowledge temple as they can possibly manage (though they officially disapprove Lhankor Mhy apprentices will generally be in the crowd taking notes). The entire Truth and Harmony weeks of all seasons are minor holy days.

III. The Cult in the World

Donandar's cult is a small one. He is worshipped by story-tellers, minstrels and all other forms of entertainers, but not by all of them. His temples are rarely larger than shrines, except at certain major festivals when entertainers assemble for other purposes. Donandar is worshipped throughout central Genertela and sometimes beyond. No places are particularly holy to Donandar, though any place where a tale is being told is holy to him. It is said that sometime he will be there to watch and will offer the next tale if the first was good enough.

Some shrines are fixed, some travel with their priest. Shrines teach History.

There is no formal organisation to the Cult. Members will always exchange information concerning good and bad audiences, but no-one will ever force another to go someplace. Often a priest will form a band of entertainers around him, but the organisation of that troupe is entirely his affair.

IV. Initiate Membership

You can be an entertainer without ever following Donandar but to be initiated in his cult is a sign of commitment to that way of life. A candidate must make his or her living through entertaining in some manner, must find a priest willing to initiate him, check Orate and three other skills used in entertaining and sacrifice a point of POW. What the skills are, and wether or not the are really 'Entertainer's' skills is up to the priest to decide.

Donandar requires no time commitment (beyond doing the job) and only asks a tithe of 10% of all takings in Truth week and Harmony week of each season. One magic point must be sacrificed each day of those weeks.

Benefits are slim. An initiate may go to a priest and demand shelter and enough food to live on if times are hard, but the food will be poor and finding a priest in such a place may not be easy. Initiates are a little more likely to teach each other skills (often on a quid pro quo basis) and must always exchange stories. Initiates must always tell each other a new story, and will often tell more. There is no requirement to tell the other the story that he really wants to hear; any story that he hasn't heard before will do.

Initiates may ask for divine intervention and rune magic as normal. No spirit magic is taught, but none is forbidden.

V. Priesthood.

Priests of Donandar are the best, the ultimate masters of their arts. They are the sort of entertainers that get princes into dockside dives just because of the floor show. To become a priest the candidate must have been an initiate for at least 5 years, must know two entertainment skills at 90% or above and Ceremony at 50%+, must have an APP under 8 or greater than 13 and he must convince the examiners.

The examiners are always three priests, including if possible the one who made the candidate an initiate. The candidate must first demonstrate his art, succeeding at all four speciality skills and Ceremony (showmanship). Then the candidate must convince the judges of his holiness (POW x3 or less on 1D100, add one to the multiplier for each skill that produced a special roll). The candidate must bring the judges together (which might not be easy of itself).

Priests of Donandar have very little control over the cult's initiates, save when they are their employers. Initiates are more likely to follow a priests instructions, but they are under no spiritual requirement to do so. Priests need only donate 10% of their time and money to the cult. They hold the tithes of initiates as a poor fund, and while they can support themselves on cult money it would be shameful to do so as a priest should always be able to make his way in the world. Priests must sacrifice a magic point for each day of Harmony and Truth weeks as must initiates.

Priests of Donandar may check for a work related divine intervention on 1D10 instead of 1D100. Special Divine Spells: Harmonise, History, Illusory Sound, Protraction, Truthtelling, Clever Tongue, Worship Donandar

VI. Donandar Special Cult Rune Magic

2 points Ranged, special, stackable, reusable
This spell causes the victim to do exactly what the caster does, if his magic points are overcome my the caster's. It works only on beings with the same basic shape as the caster, for reasons that are obvious if you envision a man trying to Harmonise a horse. He could though Harmonise a Wind Child, though he could not get the wings to work. The recipient of the spell attempts to do whatever action the caster does. Some things are impossible; if , for instance, the victim is walked into a pit he will continue to walk, but will not make much progress.
If a Harmonised target is injured, the caster feels pain (and must make a concentration roll if in the process of casting a spell), and if a Harmonised person is killed, the user takes 1D6 general hit point damage. Multiple Harmonises allow the caster to affect multiple targets. One common use of this spell is to perfectly co-ordinate a group of dancers. The spell lasts as long as the music does, as though Protraction was in effect, though the music need not be played by the caster (though if you wanted massed trumpets, this is your spell).
1 point Touch, temporal, non-stackable reusable
This spell allows the user to tell aloud the history of an item. If there is too much to tell within the 15 minutes of the spell, parts may be lost. If the item has a long history the spell starts at the beginning unless the user dictates a particular time at which to start.
This spell is functionally identical to the Lhankor Mhy spell Knowledge, save that the information comes out as a story that all may hear while the sage spell informs the sage only. The story must be told aloud and the caster has no control over the story that he is telling.
1 point Self, special, non-stackable, reusable
This spell must be stacked with a temporal spirit or sorcery spell. At the point of casting the spell the caster must begin to play some musical instrument (or sing) and make the appropriate skill roll. The spell will continue to work for as long as the music continues, but it will cease as soon as the caster is interrupted for even a second. The caster will loose 1 fatigue point for each minute he plays and should he get down to 0 FP he must start making CONx5 rolls each minute; obviously a friend who knows Endurance is a great help.
Truth Telling
2 points Self, instant, stackable, reusable
This spell can only be cast on oneself, but has a secondary target; who must be within earshot of the caster. The spell causes the caster to speak aloud one secret truth about the target.
The caster has no control about what truth is spoken, but generally it will be the thing that the caster least wants spoken abroad. This need not be anything relevant to the victim's current situation. 'King Ragnar Blackbeard wet his bedding last at the age of sixteen,' might be more embarrassing than 'King Ragnar has seduced Ranaulf Windvoice's daughter', no matter which might get him into more immediate trouble. Multiple points of the spell will reveal multiple truths.
When a truth is told there is an air of authority in the caster's voice. Those who know of the caster's connections with Donandar will be inclined to believe what was said.
Clever Tongue
1 point ranged, temporal, non-stackable, reusable
Doubles the target's skill percentiles in Orate and Singing for the duration of the spell.

VII. Subcults

There is no spirit of reprisal. Donandar is not a powerful enough God to waste energy on such things. One who offends against the cult (which would take quite a bit of work, though murdering your priest would work) will no longer have access to reusable magic and, more importantly, will no longer have the companionship and support of other cultists, who will generally interupt a story to throw an offender out and tell everyone why they are doing it.

There are a few Donandar Hero cults out there, but they are very rare. Generally they offer a new Rune spell appropriate to the Hero.

VIII. Associated Cults

Issaries has much in common with his brother, both in particular have a wanderlust. In order to help keep his brother safe he provides him with the spell Path Watch
Path Watch
2 points self only, duration variable, non-stackable, reuseable
This spell is used when travelling through dangerous or questionable terretory. It must be laid upon a known path or visible road which will be traveled by the cater. The spell alerts the user to the direction and number, though not type, of all enemies and traps within a 100m radius. The spell lasts as long as the road lasts and as long as the caster stays awake.

IX. Miscellaneous Notes

Donandar and Lhankor Mhy

The gods fell out during the Gods War which rather naturally sours the relationship between the two cults. Initiates of Donandar make a point of never paying for information of any sort, not even skill training. Initiates of Lhankor Mhy naturally make a point of never telling anybody the time of day without getting something in return. The functional relationship between Donandar and Lhankor Mhy cultists in an area really depends entirely on the attitudes of the local Lhankor Mhy High Priest.

Lhankor Mhy's great problem is that the cult knows that Donandar's travelling story-tellers do know an awful lot and if only they could be made to tell then the Library would be greatly enriched. In some areas the High Priest is relatively enlightened and will arrange for initiates to exchange information, but such places are rare; Lhankor Mhy factionalism tends to prevent such informal arrangements from lasting. In other areas the Sages will studiously avoid learning anything from story-tellers claiming that all their stories are unreliable and that there is a plot to contaminate the libraries with fiction. In still other places junior initiates are given some beer money and told to go down to the local inn to lurk and listen. Jumping a story teller and forcing him to tell everything he knows is not practiced as the story-teller will always try to contaminate the library that way.

Donandar and the Trickster

Donandar and Trickster are an unlikely pairing. They have similar habits and frequently worshippers of one will pose as worshippers of the other. Their natures however are fundamentally opposed (Harmony Truth Harmony vs Disorder Illusion Disorder) and consequently they are often at each other's throats.

Tricksters will often try to make minstrels the butt of their jokes - it helps that no-one much cares of a minstrel is made to look a fool while your local Orlanthi is likely to have friends with swords. Can it be coincidence that minstrels are so often telling stories in which Trickster is made to look a fool?

Neither god is a warrior so tricksters and minstrels will not go about murdering each other without a little more cause.

Cultural differences

Donandar's worship differs greatly depending on just who is worshipping him. The portrayal of Donandar shown here is appropriate to the Theylan cultures of Central Genertala. The Donandar of the Lunar Empire and Dara Happa is far more like the Gods of Glorantha/White Wolf version.

Author's Notes

This cult write up is about as unofficial as you could possibly get. Greg Stafford has not just laid down guide-lines for the cult but has even published a full write up. While I admire Greg's least works, his Donandar write up always seemed one of the very least; I could never quite imagine that cult fitting into the Orlanthi society that I understood, neither could I construct an interesting set of stories based on the character. I prefer to think of his write up being that of Donandar in a literate society and this being the Donandar of a society that relies on the oral tradition for almost everything.

This cult was first devised in 1985, writen up in this form and published in Read Pheasant Throughout #1 in 1993. If you've enjoyed it, feel free to buy the zine - or hassle me to get #3 written faster.

Glorantha is the trademark of Issaries, Inc. and is used with their permission. Issaries, Inc. is the Trademark of Issaries, Inc.

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Author: Nick Eden