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This article is probably only of interest only to Runequest players. It is a cult writeup of Babeester Gor. For keepers of really old Wyrm's Footnotes, this is BaRbeester Gor, with the 'R' deleted. (Malia also changed from Mallia, etc).
Anyway, as I have noted before, the Chaosium produces very good gameworld material, but isn't that adept at making rules systems that work. I use the word "work" to mean 'reflect the nature of the universe as presented.' I have little knowledge as to why there is such a disparity between the two areas (I have always found them to be interrelated). It probably just has to do with the respective strengths of the Chaosium staff, and perhaps what interests them too. For instance, Mr Stafford has always struck me as a very intelligent and imaginative man (gameworld), but who doesn't like to sweat all the details (rules).
In any case, it behooves the fans of Glorantha to clean up rules problems as much as possible, and expand the game. Now admittedly this means that the rules presented aren't official, and may either conflict with current rules, or be superceded by future releases. But from looking at old Wyrm's Footnotes, I have noticed that past "official" releases aren't immune from being rewritten either, so this probably isn't that bad.
In the case of Babeester Gor, I had to change what had to be the two grossest cult spells of all time: Axe Trance and Great Parry. Combined, they allow an initiate with a handful of spirits to take on the Crimson Bat and win. Instead, I gave them a minor number of intermediate spells, based on the WF stories of Babeester Gor's godly deeds (with a bit of embellishment), attempting all the while to change as little of the current writeup as possible.
One does wonder what Mr Stafford would think of it all.
In the great darkness, Ernalda, the green mother of all earth, was bereft of her husband-protectors. Yelm and Flamal were slain. Argan Argar did fight Lodril. Hykim, father of snakes, slithered away and was lost. And mighty Orlanth had left to assemble the Lightbringers. So no gods remained to protect Ernalda's overwhelming bounty.
It is said then, that a god came from the wilderness to protect her from darkness and Chaos. Yet unlike her other protectors, he had no lust for her divine fertility, and desired not to be a husband. His protection was only a matter of expediency. For if she died, all the mortal races would follow, having nothing to eat, and much would be lost in the great battle against Chaos.
Being spurned for the first time in her existence, Ernalda soon knew a great need to gather this protector to her, to ensnare him in her embrace and take him for her husband. She felt this even knowing he desired her not, and that to press the matter would drive him away forever (for even the gods desire what they cannot have). So a great plot was hatched, and by wiles and lies and the extreme innocence of her protector in these matters, she did finally know him carnally, though he understood not what she did. And a substantial portion of his true power entered within her to lay as god seed within her earthy womb.
Through the war the protector did fight Chaos, and kept it from Ernalda's soft body. Yet still she became weak, for a true goddess grew within her, and drew all her power of Fertility. Soon the presence of the baby became obvious on her body, and her protector became suspicious. "Whose Child is this?" he demanded, and before his presence she could not lie. He grew wroth, and swore he would leave her to her fate. Using his great power severed all connection with her, even our knowledge of him. "The child is now thine alone, lady. For mine is not the power of Life". And with that, he left.
Ernalda was soon abed, great with child, and the raveners came and ravished her green fields, tormenting her with destruction. And when she called for aid, none came, for there were none left to save her. Seeing her fate (for the fate of the unprotected in the Wars of Chaos were certain), she cried out in dispair and collapsed weeping, having briefly the look of a child, not that of the mother of gods. Yet this did not save her.
Soon one came great enough to kill even all Ernalda. Zorak Zoran, dark reaver, bloody destroyer. Slayer of Flamal, with his sap covered Axe. The head of his axe was Death itself, and with it he swung at defenseless Ernalda.
But then a miracle occurred. For when the axe entered Ernalda's womb, baby Babeester Gor grabbed it, and pulled the head from its haft. (Thereafter, Zorak Zoran's weapon must needs be blunt.) And she sprung from her mother's womb, her utterly beautiful face filled with hate. For this and all other assaults upon her mother, she swung at Zorak Zoran, and used Death as if born to it. Only by guile and quick retreat did the Black Lord manage to avoid utter destruction, though ever since he has been fearful of her.
From there, all husbands failing, Babeester Gor became her mother's protector, and fell upon all who would attempt to ravage the earth. And with Death she slew and slew again. Never stopping even to gather ramiment about her.
Yet vengeance finally grew empty, for though Babeester Gor was a goddess, she was still a young goddess. She needed love, not hate. She knew her mother's heritage was Life, not Death. So alone (for none had stood before her) in a field of dying fruit and barley, she tried to bring forth Life. Yet as she had become so seeped in Death, she failed. Bemoaning her fate, she wept alone.
It was then that the Trickster found Babeester Gor, of heavenly beauty and hellish violence, and fell in love. (Having spurned Uleria, it was impossible for Trickster to fall in Love, but Trickser is AllGod of Disorder and Impossibilities and did so anyway.) Daring not her bloody axe, he became a flask, and seduced her with his essence.
Filled with Disorder, filled with Trickster, Babeester Gor found the happiness she craved, and she called out in divine drunkenness, and brought a new form of life to her field.
Passage from "Stolen Origins" - Godlearner Takhir, 612 ST.
Babeester Gor's first face is Vengeance. It is unpopular, and rarely venerated. Small temples are only found in areas with many Earth worshipers, such as the Holy Country. There the cult trains women to be independent of men. They guard Earth temples where males are forbidden. And, often illegally, they seek vengeance on those who have abused women, but through accident, bribery, or corruption, have escaped lawful punishment.
Babeester Gor's second face is that of Mother of Liquor. In this she is very popular, and small statues of her adorn every bar, tavern, and hostelry which desires her blessing. These idols have little power. Even men possess them. Yet brew makers and customers alike swear that the likenesses of the Goddess increases the potency of all brew made with her blessing.
Babeester Gor promises her female worshipers she will call them to train with her in the bowels of the Earth, waiting for the time that once again their Axes shall be needed to protect mother Ernalda and defenseless women everywhere.
Babeester Gor's Runes are Earth, Death and Disorder. Her face of Vengeance is Earth and Death. Her face of Liquor is Earth and Disorder. But she is not a goddess of Disorderly Death.
Babeester Gor's cult will live as long as there are women who are abused, and have no one else to turn to. Her likeness will also live as long as there are those who enjoy strong drink.
The cult has little power during normal times. Babeester Gor's face of vengeance is rarely liked by men, especially worshipers of the 'husband' dieties of Ernalda. Cultists often skirt the edge of legality. However, the cult has many friends among Earth cults, who use their influence to keep the temples open. In wartime, the worship of Babeester Gor becomes much more prevalent, especially when wartime atrocities become common.
The cult officially hates Zorak Zoran, but most members have never met a Zorak Zoran cultist, much less been offended by one. Vengeance is usually sought more close to home, especially from wife beaters, child molesters and rapists.
The temples to Babeester Gor's face of vengeance keep as close contact with each other as is possible. But the cult is small, and it is not often that visiting cultists come from other temples.
Babeester Gor's temple has a standard hierarchy. The High Priestess runs the temple, with various Priestesses, Acolytes, Initiates, and Lay members taking up lesser duties. As the cult is small, there are always positions open in a temple for higher rank, except High Priestess. The goddess is not powerful enough to support a separate Runelord status, but any quest of vengeance is considered "temple business", and not counted against the 90% cult time restrictions.
Babeester Gor's center of power is the Holy Field in Esrolia, where the goddess was born and defeated Zorak Zoran. Her rotting field is another holy spot, but the location of it has been lost, forgotten in the first drunken stupor.
Babeester Gor has two holy days. The first is on Fate Day, Death week, Dark Season, when she was born. The second is on Luck day, Disorder Week, Earth season, when she first made liquor.
Those who wish to worship the mother of liquor may become lay members of Babeester Gor by buying a blessed idol from a Temple or wandering Axe Priestess. Prices vary, but are never less than 25 SP, and rarely more than 100 SP. Trickster Initiates get one idol free.
Lay Members of Babeester Gor's face of Vengeance must be unmarried women. They must not worship any male god, and must not be an initiate of any non-earth goddess. They must pay 10 SP if they have it, and swear to defend the temple with their life. Non-humans are not usually allowed to join, but they may if they can show they are in need of protection against males of their kind.
Worshipers of Liquor must sacrifice one magic point each Holy day, and pray to Babeester Gor. Getting drunk counts as prayer to this aspect of the Goddess. If they brew liquor, they must provide it to any Initiate of the cult who asks, without charge; there are so few such initiates, this is rarely a burden.
Lay Members of Babeester Gor's face of Vengeance, called Candidates, must enter a training program run by the temple. This teaches them self sufficiency in a male dominated world. Candidacy training costs 2000 SP, but the fee may be waved or reduced for the impoverished (valuable items, especially weapons, are also accepted). The training lasts 6 weeks, and the candidates must stay in the temple, away from all men for this time. Only after this training has been successfully completed are candidates considered true Lay Members, called Sisters. Only Sisters are allowed the full benefits of Lay Membership.
Note: Candidacy has a 60% dropout rate. But it is assumed that Player Characters have the fortitude to complete the training.
Sisters must sacrifice all but one magic point each Holy Day. Yearly, they must donate 10% of their income to the temple, or 500 SP, whichever is less. They may never marry, or have a continuing male suitor for more than one season.
The wine, ale, and other spirits made by a Lay Member of the Mother of Liquor is 20% stronger than could be made otherwise. This allows brewers to charge higher prices. Prayer to Babeester Gor, and the sacrifice of one magic point to her idol relieves a Lay Member of most hangover headaches.
Sisters are given a ceremonial (but functional) hand axe to commemorate their completion of Candidacy. There is a ceremonial parade of all new Sisters once candidacy training is complete. They may be employed as outer guardians of Earth temples, a lower middle class job. The vast majority of Sisters eventually leave the cult to marry.
During candidacy, the following skills are learned to 30%: Hand Axe, Battle Axe, Shield, Throwing Axe, and Cult Lore. Each Candidate also has a: (21 - STR) x 3 percent chance for STR to increase by 1; this is a one-time benefit.
Sisters may train in any Axe, Shield, and throwing Axe attack or Parry for half price. Other skills available (at full price) are: Scan, Brewing, Taste Analysis, Tactics, Sneak, and Escape Bindings. Free training is often given as a prize for those who participate on cult missions.
After they complete candidacy training, Sisters gain a one Battlemagic (Spirit) spell from the following list: Bladesharp, Glamor, Protection, Strength, Shimmer, Fanaticism, Demoralize, Disruption, Vigor. These cult spells are available from the temple for full price. Participation in a cult mission usually qualifies the Sister to purchase any one of them for half price.
There is no Initiate or Rune status in the worship of the Mother of Liquor. Those who truly wish to devote their life to drunkenness are encouraged to worship Trickster.
In temples to Babeester Gor's face of Vengeance, initiates are called Axe Sisters. To become an Axe Sister, applicants must be a Sister in good standing, abiding by all Lay Member restrictions. They must have an Axe attack of 50%, and Axe or Shield Parry of 50%, and must also not be an Initiate of any other god or goddess. They must have been a Sister for one year, or participated on a cult mission; doing both adds +20% to their chance for acceptance.
Applicants must then convince the High Priestess they are worthy. This is abstracted as (STR + CON + Best Axe Skill/5) * 2 as a percentage. Those who fail must either wait 1 year, or participate on a cult mission before trying again. When accepted, they must sacrifice one point of POW to Babeester Gor.
Axe Sisters have all requirements that Sisters do. In addition, they must devote their lives to Babeester Gor, and take vengeance upon all those who offend her. They must pay 20% of their income to the cult, or 5000 SP, whichever is less. Unless questing for personal vengeance, they must obey the orders of their superiors in the cult.
Axe Sisters must also accept both a Gift and Geas.
Axe Sisters are respected for their battle prowess despite their sex, and are sought after as inner-sanctum guardians of Earth temples (an upper middle class job). They are entitled to free liquor on demand from all brewers who are Lay Members of Babeester Gor's liquor aspect. While Axe Sisters are not above the law, sentences for crimes of vengeance is sometimes reduced due to pressure from other politically powerful earth cults.
All skills offered to Sisters at half price may be learned by Axe Sisters for free (at twice normal time to learn). All skills offered to Sisters for full price, are offered Axe Sisters for half price.
By requesting a gift from the goddess, Axe Sisters may learn the special cult skill: Sense Rapist.
This skill allows the user to identify rapists and despoilers of the Earth. The user must be close enough to see the target's mannerisms and hear his voice for at least one minute. A fumble means an incorrect assessment is made; no further rolls are allowed. Sense Rapist is only half as effective at detecting female despoilers.
Babeester Gor's Divine Intervention cannot Resurrect or cause runic healing (Regrow Limb, Heal CON, etc). Spirit magic healing is possible, so if a cultist has lost a limb, before 2 minutes are up a D.I. may reattach it. Babeester Gor does not forbid cultists from getting healing elsewhere.
All Spirit spells offered Sisters, are offered to Axe Sisters for half price. Cultists can learn Healing from Ernalda temples for full price. Axe Sisters also may learn the spell Preserve Loins for 2000 SP.
Typically, only the most devout Axe Sisters sacrifice for Greater Gifts and Geases as Initiates.
The tables of Gifts and Geases may be found here.
Axe Priestesses are the embodiment of Babeester Gor on both the mundane and the magical plane. She is priestess, arms mistress, protector, avenger, organizer, and teacher. She is responsible only to the high priestess of her temple and her goddess. Due to the cult's small size, there is no rune status other than this one.
This test is abstracted to a test of: (STR + POW + Best Axe/5) as a percentile; each act of bravery (GM's opinion), major gift, or recommendation from a high priestesses adds +5% to the roll. Applicants who fail must either wait one year, or lead a cult mission before trying again. Those who succeed sacrifice one point of permanent POW to the Goddess.
In addition to maintaining all initiate restrictions, Axe Priestesses must aid any free woman who requests refuge from a man, unless they know the woman to be chaotic, a despoiler of the Earth, or an ex-cultist who spurned the goddess. They must defend all non-chaos Earth temples, and do what is in their power to avenge any wrongs done against the Earth. They must spend 90% of their time in temple business, typically running the candidate training program, providing protection, and fighting on missions of vengeance. Axe Priestesses must also accept one Greater Gift and its attendant Geases.
Axe Priestesses are looked to as the protectoress of women in society when all other protectors have failed. They are respected by earth cults, and are often given gifts for the services they do. They may make and sell likenesses of Babeester Gor to those who worship the goddess's Liquor brewing aspect.
Due to their martial lifestyle, Axe Priestesses are not restricted to DEX x 5 in any skill, and also may go above 100% in all cult weapons and skills. They rune magic is reusable, and call upon Divine Intervention as a Rune Lord, subject to initiate restrictions on healing.
Babeester Gor priestesses know all standard spells from Runequest. (In RQ 3, they know Shield, D.I., Divination, Absorption, Spirit Screen, and Spell Teaching). They may summon Small and Medium Gnomes.
The following special rune magic spells are available:
Cost -- 1 MP
Range - 180 metres
Duration - 1 melee round
From the instant True Parry is cast until the same segment the following round, the recipient will parry all attacks (including missiles) directed against her with whatever she holds in her hands. She will even parry attacks she cannot normally sense. The recipient cannot block area attacks (e.g. acid spray or boiling oil) with weapons or small shields, or prevent excess damage from getting past the parrying weapon/shield/arm. The recipient must be willing.
Cost -- 2 MP
Range - 160 metres
Duration - 15 minutes
Babeester Gor's version of this spell reserves its double weapon skill boost against "despoilers" not Chaos. These include known rapists, Zorak Zoran cultists, invaders of Earth Temples, Vampires, and Krarshtkids, but does not include passive and/or non-threatening Chaos (Lunar cultists, or Nysalor worshipers). In addition to being dispel resistant, as all Berserk spells are, this Berserk cannot be calmed by Chalana Arroy cultists.
Cost -- 2 MP
Range - 180 metres
Duration - 15 minutes
This spell causes all unparried normal attacks to miss the recipient. Opponents must Special (roll 1/5 their attack) to cause any damage. Normal attacks which are parried and have excess damage get past the weapon or shield armour can damage normally. This spell does not affect damage done by specials or criticals, unless the recipient is entirely nude, in which case a special becomes a normal hit, and a critical becomes a special.
Cost -- 2 MP
Range - Personal
Duration - Special
Whenever a death spell (Sever Spirit or Disruption) is thrown at the priestess, she may invoke this spell regardless of any other actions she takes that round. On casting, the entire death spell, including Magic Points used to back the spell up, is diverted into the melee weapon held by the Priestess. It expends against the next target the Priestess successfully strikes with that weapon; if no one is struck in the next 15 minutes, the death spell dissipates. Multiple death spells may be seized with multiple Seize Deaths, in which case the stored spells all expend on the next successful strike until the target is dead.
Cost -- 3 MP
Range - 180 metres
Duration - 15 minutes
Great Parry makes an axe or shield unbreakable for the duration of the spell. This negates all damage from weapon boosting spells used against the weapon or shield (such as Bladesharp, Truesword, Damage Boosting, Crush, etc). Base weapon damage and damage bonus remains however, so it doesn't make the shield's wielder immune to very large creatures or weapons.
High Priestesses are called Axe Mistresses. They must have 15 points of sacrificed rune magic, and killed or castrated at least 15 men alone in combat. They must have permission from their current Axe Mistress (almost always given), and must have at least 20,000 SP saved, or on Temple credit (part of the 90% donated to the cult). If this is done, then the new Axe Mistress may go to found a new temple school elsewhere, or take the place of the current Axe Mistress if she is retiring. The 20,000 SP is used to purchase temple grounds.
At this time the Axe Mistress must take another Greater Gift and 2 random Geases. They gain access to the following special Temple defense spell:v
Cost -- 1 MP
Range - 180 metres
Duration - 15 minutes
This spell may only be cast upon a copper axe. It adds +10% for each Magic Point put into it when first cast. For instance, casting 100 MP into the Axe, makes the axe +1000% to hit. Axe Trance may only be cast in a Temple to Babeester Gor, or an Earth cult, and will stop if the Temple guardian spirit is destroyed, or the temple altar is desecrated.
In the chaos wars, Babeester Gor saved her half sister Boa from destruction. Boa is a child of Hykim and Ernalda, and is mother of giant snakes. For saving her life, Boa promised to serve Babeester Gor; statues often show her wrapped about the Blood Goddess. Boa's powers complement Babeester Gor's perfectly, for while Boa is slow and cold blooded, she is also wise, subtle, and magically adept.
Boa provides the cult's allied spirits, and also acts as the Spirit of Retribution.
STR 2d6+6 CON 3d6+6 SIZ 2d4+4 INT 1d6+12 POW 3d6+6 DEX 1d6 (APP 3d6)
INT worth of Battle (Spirit) Magic
Armour: 3 pts Average Hits: 13
Oratory: 50%, Fast Talk: 60%, Tactics: 70%, Earth Tongue: 80%
The Boa constrictor may wrap around the cultist, protecting 1/2 its SIZ worth of hit location die pips (round down) on the chest, abdomen, and/or legs. For instance a SIZ 9 Boa, protects 4 locations; it chooses: 9, 10, 11, and 12 (abdomen and chest). When the hit location die is rolled, any strike on those locations hits the snake instead; the Boa does gets the benefit of any Protection/Shield spells cast on the cultist. An allied Boa wrapped about the cultist does not count as clothing as per geas or spells.
Boa sends curses against those who offend Babeester Gor. She sends nightmares against those who mildly break restrictions or geases. Against those who spurn the goddess, Boa sends the Curse of Timidity.
The Curse has a POW of 2d6+12, which declines one POW per year. To perform any act of courage, such as entering battle or even attempting simple self defense, the former cultist gets one roll of POW (MP) vs Curse POW, to act. If she fails, she will be too terrified to take any action, and will allow the attack, beating, robbery, rape, enslavement, or even murder to happen without struggle.
Babeester Gor gains no spell from Ernalda, she is too different from her mother now. However, she allows cultists who wish to marry to leave her cult in peace if they join the Earth mother cult. Ernalda, for her part, allows the bride to join at equivalent status. Initiate becomes initiate. Priestess becomes priestess. All Gifts and Geases disappear upon changeover, except increases in APP, which remain. Runemagic remains, but becomes one-use.
Babeester Gor made friends with Gorgorma, who hates all so-called 'nobility'. Babeester Gor gains command of this spell from her friend:
Cost: 1 MP
Range: 180 metres
Duration: 15 minutes
This spell prevents rape by allowing the recipient to sever anything which attempts to enter within her. The attacker becomes functionally incapacitated by this act.
Babeester Gor gains command of this spell from her aunt and occasional battle companion.
Cost: 1 MP
Range: 180 metres
This spell acts like a single Earth elemental attack vs. one target, doing 4d6 damage to each of the target's legs (armour protects). The target may avoid the damage by rolling under the average of DEX and SIZ multiplied by 5 on percentile dice. The caster may stack Crevice to either add +1d6 damage, or lower the dodge multiple (x4, x3, x2, to a minimum of x1). A Crevice cannot be created on stone, bog, sand, or anything but normal earth.
Babeester Gor gains command of this spell from her lover, slave, and master.
Cost: 3 MP
Duration: Length of Inebriety
This spell only works when the caster is totally drunk beyond any ability to act, think, or remember. It calls upon the raw power of Disorder to protect the caster from any harm or capture while in that state. A Safe Drunk may wander through an apocalyptic battle, stumbling under scythes, weaving through impenetrable arrow fire, falling under screaming death magics, avoiding and/or accidentally killing foes. It cannot be dispelled. There is one drawback. Safe Drunk does not keep the caster from waking up in an unknown lover's bed.
Babeester Gor wielded a copper axe, and since that time copper axes have been holy to the cult. These axes may be enchanted for +1 armour/+1 damage per one point of POW; the extra damage only works in the hands of cult initiates.