Elmal and Yelmalio

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7 March 2000: Issaries, Inc. have just published a Q&A explanation of the origins of Yelmalio which is wholly compatible with this version, rejects King of Sartar-inspired dogmatism out of hand, and doesn't mention the Elves at all (hurrah!). Additional material includes some secret alternative names for the god (whose ordinary worshippers have called him "Yelmalio" in public since the Second Age at least), and extra details on the sorry state of the Sun Dome Temple in Prax at the time of Monrogh's reforming visit. Plus bits of local flavour for the Yelmalio cult in Balazar

A Victory for Common Sense!


Orlanthi and Elmal

"Most" Orlanthi have always included their Loyal Thane, Elmal, in clan worship. The specific groups we know of that might not do so include:

  1. Orlanthi in the "Old" Kingdom of Sartar (i.e. south of the Far Point; the pre-Grizzley Peak kingdom), since the time of Tarkalor's refounding of the Sun Dome Temple;

  2. Orlanthi who live near to Troll lands and have tried to get along with trolls (by abandoning their Light cult), such as the Torkani, say, or the Kitori;

  3. Orlanthi who live near to Troll lands and have taken up the "real" Cult of Yelmalio (to help them beat up trolls);

  4. Orlanthi who live near to Dara Happans and have come to some accommodation with the Yelmic civilisation (i.e. adopting Yelmalio in place of Elmal), as could easily happen in the Lunar Provinces or Alda-Chur (or indeed in Tarkalor's Sartar, if he hadn't taken action).

  5. Orlanthi who never knew the Elmal myths, or who junked them millennia ago (perhaps during the "Cold Sun" campaigns when Dara Happan Yelmalions persecuted rebellious Orlanthi under Nysalor's Bright Empire).

Now, it seems to me that the above list could easily include any "established" part of your campaign where nobody knows who "Elmal" is. It also covers the Orlanth/Yelmalio "tribes" described in the Cult of Yelmalio write-up. (Sun County: "Some entire tribes are Yelmalio cultists, simply replacing Orlanth with Yelmalio in their social system" - an inspired use of the word 'simply', in my opinion).

And, most importantly, it definitely includes most of Sartar, the one Orlanthi land we can claim some familiarity with, which we know doesn't worship Elmal in any RQ2-era sources.

Sun County and Yelmalio

Then, flipping the coin, we have the Sun Dome Temples. These don't look like anything the Orlanthi would have built; they look like a legacy from First Age Dara Happan military colonisation, say around the time of Nysalor's Bright Empire in many cases (the "Cold Sun" temples occupying Orlanthi tribal lands). These temples aren't found inside Dara Happa, for the same reason Roman legionary camps aren't found in Italy. And we know these suffered the vagaries of history; in particular, the Sun Dome Temple in Dragon Pass spawned a brother Temple in Prax during the Second Age, and thereafter was scragged in the Dragonkill War and left ruined for most of the Third Age.

Third Age Developments

In the Third Age, the growing Lunar Empire brings Dara Happans back to the southern Orlanthi kingdoms. Some of these have always had "Yelmic" aristocracies - Vanch certainly looks to be leaning this way. The local, degenerate form of Yelm-worship is recognised as a Son of the Sun God, "Yelmalio", and his followers receive a boost from their Dara Happan connections. Wherever there are strong "Solar" rulers near the Empire, they are chosen as its preferred allies - "most favoured despots". (This kind of interaction eventually leads to Harvar Ironfist seizing power in Alda-Chur, and the Cold Wind Rebellion of the Far Point. Ironfist, as a semi-Yelmic type, gets help/sympathy/support from the Dara Happan elements of the Lunar administration, as "one of us").

Meanwhile, in Sartar, we know there are stirrings among the Elmali, restive as the rich golden Empire of the North reaches out to them in seeming welcome. Disgruntlement builds to near civil war between Elmali and Orlanthi, resolved when Tarkalor offers his loyal friend Monrogh the chance to re-establish the Sun Dome Temple of Dragon Pass, south-west of the Kingdom of Sartar, and peopled by Sartarite Elmali who leave their clans to live free of Orlanthi rule.

Monrogh in Sun County

Where did Monrogh get the idea? Well, leaving aside any HeroQuest Visions of Many Suns, on his famous overland trek to Teshnos it seems only reasonable to suppose that Tarkalor's party (including Monrogh) twice passed through the Sun Dome Temple of Prax, which had been worshipping Yelmalio since the Second Age. If the Elmali of the First Age were impressed by "the crushing splendour of the great golden towers of Dara Happa", it's easy to imagine Monrogh's awe on witnessing Holy Sun Dome, especially if he had previously only known the overgrown ruins of the Dragon Pass Sun Dome - it'd be like a vision of a holier, perfected past, under the ever-present eye of the watchful Sun God.

Following his (hazia-smoking?) religious ecstasies in Teshnos, he must have seen that this would be a possible solution to the rise in tensions between Elmali and Orlanthi, and after years of planning, Monrogh could loyally propose this to his liege-lord, the new king of Sartar: Tarkalor Trollkiller! The Sun Dome Temple, not a Dara Happan political pawn but a seemingly-indigenous tradition with its own native "Prophet", allowed Elmali to indulge their primary loyalty without "selling out" to the Dara Happan Empire. Its rituals were imported from the Praxian Sun Dome, albeit with certain local changes to suit the new location and worshippers.

So we establish the "Orlanthi" residents and worshippers of the Dragon Pass Sun Dome Temple, sharing a common history and links with the Praxian Temple (and, thereby, with any other Sun Dome Temple you care to name), but nonetheless recognisably Sartarite and Elmali in their origin and custom.

(There are other interesting interactions between Monrogh and the Yelmalions of Pavis, both on the outward and return Teshnan expeditions, and when Monrogh sent Varthanis' band to New Pavis. And, of course, the impact of this visitation - especially the return from Teshnos - on the natives of the Praxian Sun Dome; kaftan-wearing drug-taking dropouts. But I'll leave those to the experts: the authors of The Secret History of Sun County).

In Summary:

  • The history given in Sun County is true: there has been a Yelmalio temple in Prax since the Second Age, founded by a father temple in Dragon Pass. The two Temples today worship the same deity and follow similar rituals; there have been recent links and exchanges between them.

  • There are no Elmali in (most of) Old Sartar, as most of them (other than members of any clans you're an expert in) emigrated to the Dragon Pass Sun Dome Temple when it was refounded a few decades ago, and their place in clan myth, ritual and politics has since lapsed.

  • There are plenty of Orlanthi tribes that still worship Elmal: some in Old Sartar where the Elmali were "loyal" (and didn't follow Monrogh), others outside Old Sartar (where this was never an issue).

  • There are even Orlanthi tribes that still worship Yelmalio, probably having adopted his worship in the First Age as a legacy of Nysalor's Bright Empire; these are most likely to be found up North (towards Dara Happa, cf. Vanch), or near Troll country.

  • There are other Orlanthi tribes that rejected Elmal/Yelmalio in the First Age, and still others that never even heard of him (way back to the Great Darkness and before).

  • And, finally: what you say in your campaigns, goes. It may well be that you come from a heavily-Elmalised part of southern Sartar; or alternatively that all of the Elmali round where you live "went Yelmalion" en masse under Monrogh; or alternatively that the clans down your way never worshipped either Elmal or Yelmalio, so this is a bit of a non-issue for them. (Which I devoutly wish it had always remained!)

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