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In November '97, I posted a notice on the Glorantha digests asking if anyone had a cult write-up for Voriof. I was primarily interested in whether or not Voriof was worshipped as a generic herder's god. The posting generated quite a bit of discussion about herders in Orlanthi culture, and below I have posed my summaries and comments about those discussions.


Voriof is known as the shepherd's god and the boy's god. In Orlanthi culture, he is the patron deity of young boys (with his sister Voria being the patron deity of young girls). Voriof is associated with sheep, and sheep are associated with clouds (thus the connection with Orlanth). This generates the question of whether Voriof is worshipped as just a sheep god or as a generic herder god?

In my opinion, Voriof is worshipped as a generic herder god. Why? It doesn't appear that there is any other logical herder god. Also, I believe that the only animals herded in an Orlanthi society are sheep. Cattle seem to be more associated with farming, and are not herded in mass. I also believe that Orlanthi adult herders worship Voriof as a sub-cult of Orlanth, while young boys worship Voriof directly. When an Orlanthi male becomes an adult, he joins the larger cults of the clan (such as Orlanth), leaving his boyhood associations with Voriof. However, according to the King of Sartar, the Voriof priest is part of a traditional Orlanthi clan council, therefore in a traditional Orlanthi clan, there will likely be at least one Voriof priest.


On the digest, it has been suggested that the connection between Voriof/Sheep/Boys indicates that boys are the herders of sheep in an Orlanthi clan. This same argument states that the adults herd or protect the more prized possessions of cattle and horses. According to the King of Sartar, Orlanthi people are divided into three titles - Thanes (horse), Carls (cattle), and Cottars (sheep). Therefore, it is my opinion that adult occupations/classifications are divided along these lines and that there are adult sheep herders/owners as well as adult cattle and horse herders/owners.

As a side note, I believe (and it has been suggested on the digest) that social status and wealth is dictated by what a person owns/herds. Thanes are socially above Carls who are socially above Cottars. I am also of the opinion that Thanes are more of a noble class (who use horses for warfare), while Carls are farmers (who use cattle for plowing and food), and Cottars are the traditional herders of the clan (i.e. those who bring their flock from grazing area to grazing area). I believe that the number of horses and cattle an individual would own would be small in number, while the number of sheep will be proportionally larger. This would lend itself to a clan structure of a small number of Thanes with a few horses (at most) each, a large number of Carls with a few cattle (at most) each, and a few number of Cottars with a larger number of sheep each. Therefore, the Cottars would essentially need to herd their flock, while the Thanes and Carls could maintain their beasts on their own private lands or on pastures designated for such a purpose.


It was suggested on the digest that Voriof is normally depicted with his faithful companion - the dog. According to the digest discussions, this presents a problem in the Dragon Pass area, as Greg Stafford has indicated that dogs are not domesticated in this region. It has been suggestion that this either because of the dogs kinship to Telmori or the rivalry between dogs and cats (or for both reasons).

Since Greg has indicated that dogs are not domesticated in the DP area, it has been suggested that alynx cats fulfill the roll of dogs in RW herder cultures. This view is not widely accepted on the digest. Some people indicated that alynx are too wild and/or are too religiously important to be used in such a manner, while others indicate that perhaps there are domesticated alynx bred for this purpose.

I like the idea of alynx being used to herd sheep and believe that there are special alynx bred for this purpose, at least in the DP area. In other Orlanthi areas, dogs are used, as there are no prejudices about such animals (which would tend to indicate a Telmori/dog bias vs. an alynx/dog one). I would assume that this type of alynx is much more docile and smaller than the wild version. I would also assume that rune lords would look towards the wild alynx as an allied spirit as opposed to the domesticated version. Why? A better allied spirit for one, and who would want to be known as the rune lord who wasn't powerful enough to seek out a wild alynx and had to settle for a house cat?


One question that came to my mind in regards to children worshipping Voriof is how is this worship conducted? Do children become initiates of the cult or are they considered lay members? Do they receive magic from Voriof? How do they receive magic from Voriof?

The Runequest rules indicate that a person becomes an initiate of a cult upon ascent into adulthood (age 15) and that before then are only lay members. The rules also seem to indicate that a person cannot receive spirit magic before the age of 15 (at least according to the occupation tables in the player's books). It would therefore follow that cult magic is not available to children. In general, this is fine except that Voriof is a young boy's patron deity. What I would suggest is that a young member of an Orlanthi clan could pray to Voriof for Divine Intervention in times of need. If Voriof hears his call (normal Divine Intervention rules), he will aid the youngster. This should also apply to Voria as well.

Last Updated on January 5, 1998
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