by Martin Crim


This is a major Orlanth pilgrimage. In it, the party travels to the Old Wind temple. The official name of the pilgrimage is "The Life of Orlanth as the Road to Old Wind." Storm Voices usually lead this pilgrimage because Old Wind is an Orlanth Thunderous site. Pilgrim groups need not have a leader, but usually do. The pilgrimage has a reputation for danger, and successful pilgrims gain much prestige. Every temple in Sartar will contain someone who has performed the pilgrimage. If friendly to the PC pilgrims, that person will provide accurate information about the necessary steps.

Pilgrimages normally start from Swenstown, even if the participants come from elsewhere in Sartar. Swenstown lies a little bit further from the Old Wind Temple than Boldhome does. However, Swenstown lies east of the Old Wind Temple, allowing the pilgrims to make a proper Westfaring in imitation of the Lightbringers' Quest. The structure of the pilgrimage parallels the life of Orlanth. Because the order of Godtime events varies with the telling, many of the stages need not occur in the following order. All the stages must occur to complete the pilgrimage.

Only initiates of Orlanth may participate from the beginning. However, members of associate and friendly cults may join the pilgrims at the Gathering Allies stage. The allies participate in the rest of the pilgrimage from that stage. They receive smaller rewards than the initiates. Members of associate cults receive greater rewards than members of merely friendly cults, but all gain respect from the Orlanth cult.

Residents of the Old Wind temple may not undertake this pilgrimage. They have a parallel ceremony, however, performed during Sacred Time. It produces many of the same results.

Six stages of the pilgrimage test the six virtues of Orlanth. Many pilgrims do not know this fact, and the GM should keep this secret. Instead of requiring a roll, the GM should evaluate the characters' roleplaying from the perspective of the virtue involved. The descriptions of the stages mention which virtue they test.

Pilgrims must complete the pilgrimage by sundown on the sixth day after setting out. Orlanth does not accept excuses for non-completion. Non-completion, unless caused by death, results in visits from impests or other spirits of reprisal. These visits will continue until the cultist atones. Non-completion during Sacred Time results in inactive initiate status, plus loss of special cult rank or privileges, such as Lord or Priest position. Cultists may regain active status and cult rank by sacrifices appropriate to their station. A non-Orlanthi who begins but does not complete the pilgrimage can never join Orlanth, unless he later makes a complete six-day pilgrimage.


Each group of pilgrims-to-be must sacrifice a live bird, a live giant insect, and a live fish on an altar of Orlanth. A lead effigy may substitute for the giant insect, but merchants gladly sell the necessary animals. The pilgrims then place the sacrificed animals on a smoky fire inside a Sanctified area. The pilgrims tie orange ribbons into their hair and beards. Other preparations require as much time as the pilgrim will afterwards spend travelling.

At the end of the preparation time, each pilgrim must play a bullroarer for an hour before setting out. The pilgrimage can only begin if the wind has a strength of Moderate or greater. The pilgrims may use Increase Wind to achieve this strength. Setting out in a gale or hurricane merits an immediately-resolved Pious check and a bonus reward upon completion of the pilgrimage. It may also result in hypothermia, injury from flying objects, or other inconveniences.

If some error has occurred in preparation, Orlanth cult spirits will attack the offending person(s). For minor glitches, impests suffice. Greater errors bring down sylphs or wind spirits. Propitiation of the spirits usually drives them away.

Early Challenges

The normal route takes pilgrims due south from Swenstown to the hills. Thence they travel through the hills along a stream. In clear terrain again, they head southwest to the trail. They follow the trail through the valley and up into the hills to the temple. The distance is over 100 km., much of it hilly. To go the distance in three days would be a fairly fast pace. Four days is appropriate. Six days allows for more elaborate way-rituals, and should end on Godsday, representing Godtime. One six day route takes the wilder way along the edge of Prax, then due west to Old Wind. While the longer routes usually result in greater benefits than the shorter ones, they also increase the chances of not finishing the pilgrimage.

On the first day and night on the road, pilgrims engage in contests of dancing, music, and magic. These recreate the three contests Orlanth had with Yelm. To really get into the spirit of Orlanth's life, one should lose all three contests and fall in love with the beautiful wife of a fellow pilgrim. Nevertheless, most pilgrims consider it better to win the contests, as a way of setting the record straight on who really should have won between Orlanth and Yelm. This stage tests Honor, in that the pilgrim must strive to maintain his good name and build his reputation. Cheating merits an automatic loss of one point of Honor.

Pillaging the Sea. Pilgrims visit a small lake or wide spot in a minor river half a day's travel (15 km.) south of Swenstown. During the first day, the pilgrims march into the lake with spears, killing anything that moves in the water. Actually spearing a fish is a sign of good luck. Getting speared by a fellow pilgrim is a bad sign. This stage represents the violence of Storm, but does not test an Orlanth virtue.

Slaying the Emperor. At dusk on the second day, the pilgrim reenacts the defeat of Yelm. Fighting an actual Yelmist would be very good, but hard to arrange. Sometimes, one has to settle for killing a bird. Raptors are best. Near Prax, a party of Yelmalio-worshiping nomads may attack. Sometimes, Lunar soldiers try to interfere with the pilgrimage. Slaying one of them substitutes well for slaying a Yelmist, particularly if the soldier belongs to a Solar cult. Greater benefit comes from slaying an actual Yelmist from Dara Happa or the Char-Un. Such men usually hold high-ranking positions in the Lunar army. This stage is one of several that can test the pilgrims' Courage.

Gore and Gash. At some point, the pilgrims must defeat Darkness. Ideally, two trolls attack the pilgrim, who fights his way clear of them, breaking one's legs. This represents Orlanth's fight with Gore and Gash, the twin troll heroes. Few pilgrims find trolls in this part of Sartar. However, trolls have attacked lone pilgrims. More commonly, darkness spirits attack the pilgrims. In the past, these have included shades, hags, vampires, chon-chons, ghosts, and wraiths. Those journeying along the edge of Prax may meet Morokanth, who make an adequate substitute for trolls. Large parties of pilgrims rarely have trouble with real foes. They content themselves with hacking apart lead statues of trolls, specially brought for the purpose.

The fight with Darkness can happen on days two, three, or four. Encounters on other days do not count. This stage can also test the pilgrims' Courage.

Friend or Foe? As Orlanth found, kin may help or hinder. The pilgrims need only one encounter in this stage to complete the pilgrimage. Most often, they meet some tight-lipped and sinister tribesmen. The path passes through at least two tribes' areas, so the GM may place this encounter anywhere. The tribesmen may dislike the pilgrims' tribe, or resent their attempt to gain power from the sacred Old Wind. The tribesmen may waver, and the roleplayers may influence their decision one way or the other. Other encounters may occur that represent kinstrife. Near Prax, Gagarthi bandits may attack. Especially pious, lucky, and heroic pilgrims may meet a giant. The giant represents Valind's son Thryk, whom Orlanth defeated in the Storm Age.

Pilgrims sometimes recreate Orlanth's fight with Daga, but this is difficult even in the six-day journey. It requires staging Orlanth's initial defeat followed by his fight with a blue dragon and release of Heler.

This meeting may occur on any day from the second to the fifth. This stage tests the pilgrims' Justice: examine the characters' willingness to follow the tribesmen's law and to honor their rights. This stage--if violent--can also test the pilgrims' Courage.

The Well of Wisdom. Often part of the six-day pilgrimage, this requires a journey out of one's way to a secret well in a cave. This will extend the three-, four-, or five-day pilgrimages by a day. The six day itinerary normally includes this stop. Only pilgrims who have performed this pilgrimage before can locate the well. There, pilgrims must convince mysterious guardians to allow a sip of the waters. Dealing with the guardians tests the pilgrims' Wisdom.

The Hill of Gold. On any of a number of hills (none is the real Hill of Gold), the pilgrims reenact Orlanth's defeat of Yelmalio. Like the fight with Yelm, this usually takes a purely symbolic form. Pilgrims attack images of Yelmalio, being careful not to actually destroy them. If the Orlanthi meet a real Yelmalion here, they should defeat him and take his spear, but not slay him.

This can occur on any day after the second. This stage can also test the pilgrims' Courage.

Gathering Allies. This represents the Lightbringers' Quest. The pilgrim gathers friends to accompany him. Pilgrims often do this by prearrangement, but serendipity sometimes provides better results. The number of allies does not matter. The pilgrims and allies then reproduce the five major parts of the Lightbringers' Quest in miniature. First comes the Westfaring across the shattered world. Next comes the Long Descent from the surface to Hell, where Orlanth defeated the guardians. In the Underworld, Orlanth had to find Yelm and face the scorching hatred of the Sun and his followers. Together with Ginna Jar, Orlanth participated in the awesome mystical Ritual of the Net. Orlanth, riding the chariot of Mastakos, led the resurrected gods in their triumphant Return.

When pilgrims follow the six-day version during Sacred Time, and know the entrance to a particular cave, magical geography provides the field for the reenactment. This level of reenactment holds extreme dangers. Like any other heroquest, it also holds potentially great rewards.

Gathering allies can occur at any time after setting off. The Lightbringers' Quest should occur just before the pilgrims reach Old Wind, and takes at least twelve hours to perform. This stage tests the pilgrims' Generosity--examine the characters' actions towards the allies.

At the Old Wind Temple. The keepers of the Temple greet the pilgrims at the base of the sacred hill. There the pilgrims must prove that they are pious Orlanthi. No Orlanthi has failed this test in living memory. Allies must prove themselves also. Pilgrims must then climb to the temple on the top of the windswept hill. They may visit various holy stations along the way. One by one, they perform the spiral march from the interior edge of the temple area to its center. There, they try to make a Ceremony roll after casting Mobility (minor ritual) or Increase Wind (major ritual). Up to seven may stand at the center. Allies do not perform the march or the ceremony. At the end of the ceremony, the pilgrims and allies receive their sacred bullroarers.

This stage tests the pilgrims' Piety. The GM can either require a Pious roll or decide whether the player's acts during the following state of attainment indicate piety or a lack of it.

If the pilgrimage ended during Sacred Time, the pilgrims enter the mythic planes and see the Dawn and Orlanth's triumphant return. This experience may last a long period of subjective time, yet only one week will have passed upon the pilgrims' return.

Pilgrims spend as much time as they dare in the blessed state of attainment. Some pilgrims spend just the minimum: one hour. All the pilgrims in a party must spend the same amount of time. If a pilgrim dies in this state, his spirit joins Orlanth's host in Heaven. However, every action has significance during this time. Words spoken lightly can have serious consequences for years to come. Even silent inaction can have grave repercussions.

During the state of attainment, pilgrims must engage in acts symbolic of Orlanth's roles in the universe. They perform these acts on the side of the hill, outside the wall of wind. They plow a little bit, they conduct a mock hunt, they engage in weapons practice, and they may sit regally on thrones. Normally, only nobles do the latter. Actual ruling nobles sometimes hear petitions. The pious believe that the noble then speaks with the words of Orlanth.

The pilgrims and allies prepare to reenter mundane life by stripping naked and plunging into a hot spring near the temple. If snow lies on the ground, pilgrims and allies must roll in it before bathing. The temple workers burn the pilgrims' old clothes and provide new. The pilgrims take the title of Bortau. Allies take the title of Bortaun. These titles have two uses: as an honorific (for example, Bortau Ulf) and as a nickname ("The Bortau"). The word is of uncertain significance, but may be related to Burtae, the bastard gods. Pilgrims and allies receive a facial tattoo showing the Theyalan letter "B" in a spiral Storm rune.


Initiates automatically advance within the initiate hierarchy. Allies may join Orlanth without taking the test.

On the pilgrim's first successful completion, he receives one point of petition POW. A point goes to each pilgrim for every Orlanth virtue he showed during the pilgrimage, but only if he did not show the virtue in all previous Old Wind pilgrimages. If the pilgrims set out in a natural gale or hurricane, they get one more point. Pilgrims taking the longer routes may receive more points, depending on the hardships they endured. The six-day route usually results in at least one additional point. Allied spirits gain the same number of points as other members of the cult. Non-initiates cannot gain more than the least amount gained by an initiate of their group.

Successful completion of the minor ritual allows the pilgrim to cast any level of Mobility for one MP on Windsdays. The pilgrim will never lose extra FP from the spell. The pilgrim may learn any level of the spell for free while at the Old Wind Temple. He must have the spell memory available, of course, and supply or buy a focus.

Successful completion of the major ritual grants the pilgrim an increased effectiveness when casting Increase Wind, Decrease Wind, or Wind Warp. These spells will always function for him at their maximum effectiveness. That is, Increase Wind and Decrease Wind will result in a 6 STR change per point of the spell. Wind Warp will result in a 10 degree shift in the wind per point of the spell.

To get any of the following benefits, the pilgrim must have shown at least one of the six virtues during the pilgrimage. If the pilgrim has performed the pilgrimage before, he must show an additional virtue for each time he has done it. If the pilgrim showed all of the virtues, and overcame danger and difficulty, he should receive all of the benefits.

The pilgrim will receive mystic insight into Orlanth's life and his role as King of the Universe. This will enable him to understand better his own role in life. It gives a 25% bonus to the Test of Holiness and allied spirit roll, plus 5% for every additional time the pilgrimage is performed. The pilgrim may take the Test of Holiness immediately after the pilgrimage, even if a year has not elapsed since his last Test.

Divination will provide clear answers, to the limits of Orlanth's knowledge. The pilgrim gets one clear answer Divination for every three full days spent in pilgrimage. The pilgrim must use this benefit within a year, or he will lose it.

All pilgrims and allies receive blessed bullroarers. These provide one use of Fly 4 to those who performed the pilgrimage properly. Note that the pilgrim will not know whether the bullroarer will work for him until he tries it. The Fly lasts as long as the recipient uses the bullroarer, to a maximum of fifteen minutes. Each recipient must provide the temple 1000 p. or the equivalent in goods to keep the bullroarer. The temple does not take I.O.U.s. The temple functionaries try not to be crass about the money, but will be blunt if subtlety does not convey their message. If asked why they want the money, they will reply that it is none of the pilgrim's business. This is, in fact, a significant source of revenue for the temple, and they cannot afford to pass it by.

If the pilgrimage ended during Sacred Time, the pilgrims get special benefits. Each pilgrim and ally gets a POW check and possible Heroquest benefits beyond the scope of this treatment. If he got an ordinary POW check, he gets two POW checks at the same chance of success. In addition, if a pilgrim succeeded in a Divine Intervention attempt during the pilgrimage, he regains one-half of his lost POW, rounding down.

If the pilgrim showed at least four of the six virtues, he may receive further benefits. Many pilgrims get one or more automatic increases in Orlanth cult skills they used on the pilgrimage. Some initiates and acolytes have returned with shadowcat allied spirits.

Some Storm Voices have returned from Old Wind with knowledge of a spirit magic Increase Wind. This variable spell works like the divine spell, except that each point only provides 1D3 wind STR. He may learn as many points as he wishes, using only his personal INT. If his INT is full, he will have to forget spells. The priest may not learn any more points of the spell without performing the pilgrimage again. The priest may stack divine Increase Wind with the spirit spell.

Orlanth Adventurous Wind Lords have returned with permanent woad in their skin. This acts as a one point Bless Woad, except that wearing clothes or armor does not affect its power. Ordinary blessed woad adds to the permanent woad. The blue dye's conspicuousness poses some problems.

One further benefit can apply if the pilgrim showed Piety and at least four other virtues. If the pilgrim summons a sylph immediately after completing the major ritual, he automatically succeeds in Commanding it, unless its POW is more than twenty points larger than his. He may cast either Command Sylph or Command Cult Spirit. The pilgrim specifies what size sylph he will try to summon. Thus, pilgrims often put huge amounts of MP into the summoning. On a special success, the sylph has an INT of 2D6+6, and the pilgrim must enchant another point of POW into his sylph binding object. (The spirit will wait while he does this.) On a critical, the sylph knows its INT worth of Orlanth spirit magic. It acts as a magic spirit in addition to being a potent elemental. Intelligent sylphs will obey only the pilgrim. While manifest, they can speak and understand Stormspeech.

If a pilgrim ever brings upon himself one of Orlanth's spirits of reprisal, he loses all benefits from the pilgrimage until he atones. If a pilgrim becomes an inactive initiate or apostate, he immediately loses all benefits from the pilgrimage. He can never regain the lost benefits, even if he rejoins the cult and performs the pilgrimage again.

Allies may buy a magical bullroarer, detailed above. In addition, each ally of an associate cult can demand one casting of any Orlanth or associate cult spell. This does not include spells requiring loss of POW. The ally receives a flint token. To obtain the spell, the ally simply presents his token to an acolyte, storm voice, or wind lord, naming the spell he wishes. If the Orlanthi has the spell reusably, he must cast it for the ally. If the Orlanthi lacks the spell, he must return the token. The ally can sell or give away the token.

If any ally offends Orlanth, he or she will lose all benefits of the pilgrimage. Orlanth will take offence for theft or fraud against an Orlanthi, speaking ill of Orlanth, or any offence to a holy place of his cult or one of his associate cults.


Lunars may try to interfere with any part of this pilgrimage. They do so either to prevent specific individuals from achieving power and prestige, or to provoke a general revolt they can swiftly crush. Sometimes, they accomplish both ends. Even if the pilgrims manage to overpower the Lunars, they will have to flee into exile. As mentioned above, not completing the pilgrimage invites spirits of retribution or even inactive status. Thus, Lunar interference has had a chilling effect on this pilgrimage. Some pilgrims have stooped to getting Lunar permission before going on the pilgrimage. Orthodox Orlanthi frown upon this.




Last updated 30 Jul 96 drd

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