Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Green Lands - The Shaman and The Vola

The shaman of the Skathak are some of the most powerful users of magic in the Green Lands, but I won't have that much to say about them here.  That's because they're pretty much identical to the Shaman as depicted in The Magic Book, with a few of Sandy Petersen's special abilities tossed in (Sandy's Shaman rules for RQ are widely available on the net, so look around).  Since plagiarism isn't my thing, I won't reproduce them here.

Suffice it to say it's all there: spirit allies, spirit travel, etc etc etc.  Plain and simple, Chaosium's standard shaman fits the bill to a T, and I didn't see any reason to change it.  The most important part is context, and anyone familiar with Glorantha who's been following this blog should have a fair picture of it by now (Skathak = Balazarings in most practical, game-related ways).

So, moving on to the next-to-last of our magical practitioners, The Vola.


Vola are the wise-women and shaman of the Wald peoples. Their primary role is as prophetesses, healers, and specialists in the spirit world. They often live on the fringes of their community, but are always very much a part of it, treated with respect and honor (and sometimes, a certain amount of fear). If a Vola comes to visit, she will be treated as an honored guest.

All Volas are female, and all of them are priestesses of the goddess Fjorgynn. Fjorgynn is a goddess of sexual desire, fertility, bountiful crops, and of magic. Cats are her favored animal. She wears a feathered cloak that allows her to change her shape, and wears a rich gold necklace. They are not passive, for Fjorgynn is also a goddess of warlike power, screaming anguish, blood and death. While Vola do
not put in a lot of time in weapons practice, their magic can make others quite formidable. Vola usually keep two or more cats as familiars.

There is no organization to the Volas. Each is an independent operator bound only by tradition. Each Vola will train a number of apprentices in her lifetime. After her passing, these Volas will generally lead independent lives, though one or more Volas may choose to live and work together.

Becoming A Vola

To become a Vola, you must: —


  • Be a woman — 
  • Hang around an existing Vola who has an opening for a trainee, for a long enough period of time to convince her you’re worth the effort (typically 1d8+6 24 months)
  • — Have the aptitude – in game terms, this means having a POW of 15 or higher, and making a successful POWx5 roll – or in other words a Luck roll – but since you’re trying to become a Vola, we’ll call it a “Test for Vola Potential” roll. — 
  • Generally  some form of payment is also appreciated. Add 1% to that Luck roll for every 100 silverspaid to the Vola.


Once accepted, you become an apprentice to the Vola. A Vola may have a number of apprentices at any one time equal to 1/3 her POW. The apprentices will be trained in the skills shown below, and taught
magic as she rises through the ranks. By becoming an apprentice Vola, the apprentice is freed of all social/cultural ties to family and community – her master becomes her family and community. This
does not mean she has to sever ties to them – only that she is no longer beholden to parents or family.

By virtue of being an apprentice, you get  training in skills and magic, a home with the Vola, and a measure of respect in the community. 20 Allegiance points to Fjorgynn are automatically granted. In order to maintain an apprenticeship you  must follow the Vola’s orders, take part in the ceremonies, and be a diligent student
who shows ongoing progress.

Moving Up Through the Ranks

Once an apprentice has:

Been an apprentice for a minimum of 1 year
Achieved 35% in at least five appropriate skills
Achieved 35% in at least three appropriate spells

… the apprentice will now be a “junior Vola” (so to speak). She will have access to Divine Magic from Fjorgynn, and continued training. She will be taught to enter the Spirit World, will make herself a staff, and will gain an allied spirit. Another 20 points of Allegiance to Fjorgynn come her way. She must spend 90% of
her time with her teacher. In return, she may add 3% per year in Perform- Ceremony. She also receives free 1 point of basic magic per year and an automatic 1 point increase in POW at the end of each three years.

When a student has reached 55% in at least five skills and three spells, she has effectively “graduated.” At this time she will be free to either continue with her Vola master, or strike out on her own. She will wear a cloak of white and a necklace of gold in honor of Fjorgynn. She has reached adulthood.

Skills Taught By Vola

Craft – Potion (POW-restoring, Healing,
Disease-Curing, Characteristic-
Enhancing, etc
Craft – Weaving
Craft – Staff
Craft - Wand
First Aid
Insight
Knowledge – Nature Lore
Knowledge – Plant Lore
Knowledge - Spirit Lore
Medicine
Perform – Ceremony
Perform – Sing
Perform – Dance
Perform - Seduction
Sense
Spirit Combat
Spirit Travel
Spot
Status
Teach

The Vola took me a bit to get a handle on.  They are (obviously) based on the "volva," shamanic/druid-like wise women of Norse legend.  I changed the name because, even though I pride myself on my maturity, I know damn well the linking of the name "volva" with a bunch of female wizard-priests was going to lead to snickering around the table every time it came up ... and that I would be as guilty as anyone.  Thus the sanitized alteration.

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