Peter Michaels' Hearts of Humakt Page

A description of the Hearts of Humakt
A geographical distribution of the various Hearts of Humakt

This was written in an attempt to try to think about how the worshipers of Humakt can all behave so differently, and how various regions interpret Humakt in different ways. In short, it is an attempt to help put the behavior of Humakti into a cultural context. As Martin Crim pointed out to me, these Hearts help reveal the dichotomies which the culture considers important. They help show the structure of the ethical beliefs held by the culture where the Humakti worship. To quote Martin, "...if you know that a Sartarite Humakti wonders whether he should sacrifice his heart of x, you know that x is an important question in Sartar."

This is still very much a work in progress. I'm not sure how much of the below is "the way things really are" in Glorantha, but to me this was an exercise in thinking about the cultural differences which might manifest in the worship of a cult found across many different regions. I think it's also an exercise in considering the role of the warrior in the various Gloranthan cultures. Those of you who have given thought to and/or played in the regions I identify are asked to please let me know if the values associated with the Hearts seem to fit the Humakti in that region for you.

It should be noted that I think the differences between the various temples of Humakt are only partially explained by the idea below. We know from the fanzine Tales of the Reaching Moon #5 that the gifts and geasa vary within the Humakt cult between temples and between regions. Perhaps the geasa are somehow linked to the Hearts, or perhaps they are connected to whatever causes the Hearts to vary from temple to temple, and region to region.

I originally chose the heart metaphor out of my own cultural context. I think the actual metaphorical organ used in Glorantha may well be different, depending upon how the Gloranthan culture thinks about the body. Perhaps the Humakti trolls speak of the Liver or Stomach of Innocence, etc...

Also, I have not yet come up with a game mechanic for this concept. One obvious game mechanic is to link it in some way to the use of personality traits, but this will only work in a campaign already using such traits (like David Dunham's Pendragon Pass), and will not work in a standard RQ game. Anybody with another idea for a different game mechanic is encouraged to please let me know.


I'm still working out for myself exactly what it means to "sacrifice" or "protect" a given heart. The one clear idea I've had so far continues to use the Pendragon Pass traits, and has to do with restricting the trait ranges in various ways.

Perhaps if a Humakti protects a specific Heart, his corresponding trait cannot drop below a certain level for some period of time. (Of course, his trait must be at least that level when he protects it, otherwise he can't perform the ceremony!) For example, say the Brolian Humakti Snurri, with a Just of 18, decides to protect his Heart of Justice. And maybe in Brolia this ceremony protects your Just trait from dropping below 16 for one season. So, Snurri can still lose two points of his Just trait sometime during the season, but it cannot drop any further. Or, another way that protecting a Heart might work is that the Humakti's trait is simply kept at where it was when he did the ritual, in which case Snurri would simply be maintained with his Just at 18 for the season. Whichever it is, I don't think this ritual is permanent, and believe that after some period of time you must repeat the ceremony to continue to protect yourself. Also, I think the amount of time the protection is effective for may vary between regions too. For example, protecting you Heart of Honor using the Brolian ritual may only work for one season, while protecting your Heart of Honor using the Sartar ritual may work for one year.

When it comes to sacrificing a Heart, I think this has more lasting effects. Perhaps if you sacrifice a specific Heart, your corresponding trait immediately drops to a certain level and cannot be raised beyond that level, with the exact level of trait restriction varying from culture to culture.

For example, sacrificing your Heart of Mercy using the Old Carmanian ritual may drop your Mercy trait max to 1, while using the East Ralian ritual may drop the max to 10. Or something like that...

Again, please feel free to share any comments about this idea with me.

The Heart of the Matter

For followers of Humakt and Yanafal Tarnils, the Heart has great ritual significance. These cults believe that people actually have several hearts, and that these hearts can be sacrificed to bring them closer to their respective god. Actually, it is not the sacrificing which is significant, but the absence of the specific type of Heart for the worshiper of Death. The true importance of not having these parts is often only apparent when a Humakti is on a HeroQuest.

It is interesting that different temples recognize different Hearts, and that some temples try to protect certain Hearts in their warriors. These differences appear primarily cultural, but may also have great mystical significance.

The Sacred Hearts of Humakt

The Heart of Life

All worshipers of Humakt and Yanafal Tarnils recognize the Heart of Life. It is both the physical heart within the worshiper's physical body and part of the spiritual heart in the worshiper's soul. It is what keeps him or her alive in their body. All worshipers pledge their Heart of Life to their god on initiation, swearing that they will not interfere with their own death and will seek a "good death". This pledge is part of what prevents Humakti and Yanafal Tarnils worshipers bodies from being turned into skeletons and zombies, and brings their extreme anger (and subsequent vengeance) if turned into mummies or vampires. For Humakti worshipers this pledge also results in their proscriptions against resurrection, and sometimes even against magical healing. Exactly what is considered a "good death" is culturally defined. For Sartar Humakti, the only good death is to die with a sword in your hand from wounds obtained in combat. In Jonatela, a good death might include dying from disease provided the Humakti was infected while fighting Chaos. Among the Yanafal Tarnils worshipers, any death is a good death so long as the person dying has properly prepared themselves via the Lunar Way (as described in "The Lunar Book of the Dead").

The Heart of Innocence

All Humakti and Yanafal Tarnils temples also recognize the Heart of Innocence. It is also called the Heart of the Child or the Heart of Youth. This Heart must also be sacrificed on initiation into the cult of Humakt or Yanafal Tarnils. The individual who has lost his innocence will be hardened, and will not find death distressing, no matter how grotesquely someone may have died. This loss of innocence does not impair someone's ability to grieve.

(In Pendragon Pass terms, the character gains the Passion of Loyalty [Death], which means that they can now be Inspired by Death.)

The Heart of Joy

All Humakti and Yanafal Tarnils temples recognize the Heart of Joy. This Heart is sacrificed on becoming a Sword of Humakt or Scimitar of Yanafal Tarnils. The individual who had lost this part of himself can still be happy, cheerful, and satisfied, but not joyful. (ex. The spell Erotocomatose Lucidity will still make a Sword feel good, but will lack the ecstatic quality often desired.) The experience of incarnating Death has an effect on the degree to which a person can feel alive. The moments of feeling transcendentally alive, of ecstasy, are lost to a person so closely bound to Death. After losing that capacity, some people gradually become either emotionally detatched or sullen and dour. This may take longer for some than others, and certainly does not happen to everyone. (Incarnating Death also has the effect of making some Swords sterile, but that is not directly related to the loss of the Heart of Joy.) The Yanafal Tarnils cult claim that their Scimitars also sacrifice the Heart of Joy, but "receive the Blessing of Thanks from the Red Goddess and people of the Lunar Empire, causing the Heart of Joy to return tenfold to the Scimitar." (Sartarite Ulerians are often surprised by the enjoyment Scimitars express when worshipping Uleria.)

The old Carmanian Humakti had a ritual to mutilate the Heart of Joy. This ritual, called Summoning the Heart of Talor, allowed warriors to feel ecstasy when in the presence of death. The amount of ecstatic bliss felt was in direct proportion to the amount of death near a warrior. This sometimes led to Carmanian Humakti killing large numbers of (usually non-Carmanian) people indiscriminately to attain and maintain their highest rapture. This ritual is considered heretical in all Third Age Humakti temples, with the possible exception of the Kingdom of War.

(In Pendragon Pass terms, the character immediately loses all Passions having to do with Love or Amor.)

The Heart of Charity

The Heart of Charity is also known as the Heart of Sympathy, Heart of Giving, or Heart of Generosity. It is recognized by Praxian, Sartar, Heortland, Esrolia, and Ralios Humakti. This Heart is always protected by the Praxian Humakti, where it is second only to the Heart of Bravery. All other Humakti cults take no official stand on whether to protect this Heart or not. Most temples teach their warriors to sacrifice it as worthless, but a few regularly protect it. The Yanafal Tarnils cult also recognizes this Heart, but almost all Scimitars sacrifice it saying that sympathy is the province of the Teelo Norri cult and not of a warrior. Individuals who have sacrificed this Heart generally become uncharitable and selfish. The old Carmanian Humakti temples regularly sacrificed this Heart.

(Affects the Pendragon Pass personality trait pair: Generous/Selfish)

The Heart of Graciousness

The Heart of Graciousness is recognized in Jonatela and Ralios. This Heart is highly protected by Jonating Humakti. In Ralios the cult takes no official stand on whether to protect this Heart or not. Most temples teach their warriors to protect it, but a few regularly sacrifice it as worthless. To be gracious is to have courteous manners and proper decorum. It is required for an individual to be considered chivalrous. To be chivalrous is to be civilized (and thus Malkioni). Those who sacrifice this Heart are considered churlish boors or barbarians. Jonating Humakti knights often believe that all non-Malkioni have lost this heart. In the early history of the Carmanian Empire, this Heart was always protected. Later the cult in Carmania took no official stand regarding this Heart. The Yanafal Tarnils cult in Lunar Carmania claims that that all the old Carmanian Humakti who possessed this Heart joined together to sacrificed it in a massive ceremony just prior to the Battle of Dolebury in 0/21 (S.T. 1268).

(Affects the Pendragon Pass personality trait pairs: Modest/Proud and Temperate/Indulgent)

The Heart of Honor

The Heart of Honor is recognized in Prax (Pol Joni only), Sartar, Heortland, and Esrolia. It is considered the most important Heart for Pol Joni and Sartar Humakti, and is highly protected. In Heortland and Esrolia the cult takes no official stand on whether to protect this Heart or not. Most temples teach their warriors to protect it, but a few sacrifice it as useless. It is required for an individual to be considered honorable. This means to be painstakingly honest, to keep both the letter and the intent of one's word (whether under an oath or not), and to follow the Code of Humakt. Those who sacrifice this Heart risk becoming untrustworthy and unreliable.

(Affects the Pendragon Pass personality trait pair: Honest/Deceitful)

The Heart of Bravery

The Heart of Bravery is recognized only in Prax, where it is the most highly protected Heart. It is required for an individual to be considered a Brave (i.e. a Warrior). All Praxian Humakti believe other Praxian warriors also have this heart. Those who sacrifice this Heart are considered cowards or "not-a-man".

(Affects the Pendragon Pass personality trait pair: Valorous/Cowardly)

The Heart of Compassion

The Heart of Compassion (also known as the Heart of Forgiveness) is recognized by the cult of Yanafal Tarnils and the Humakti cults in Esrolia, Heortland, Sartar, Prax, Pent, and Jonatela. Loss of this Heart often results in an indifference to the suffering of the living and an inability to grieve or mourn. Sometimes a person will become unforgiving and vengeful. The various cults of Humakt, and Yanafal Tarnils, take no official stand on whether to protect this Heart or not. Some temples teach their warriors to sacrifice it as worthless, while others regularly protect it. Those Lunars who sacrifice this Heart often say that forgiveness is the province of Danfive Xaron.

In First Century Manaria a Humakti Heroquest which required the sacrifice of this Heart was discovered. This ritual, called the Lead Cross Quest, allowed for the creation or summoning of a powerful magical item which promoted the sanctity of death over life. This sometimes led to Humakti Lead Cross worshipers killing Chalana Arroy healers to prove their devotion to death. This ritual is believed lost to the Third Age Humakti temples, who consider this quest heretical. The old Carmanian Humakti temples regularly sacrificed this Heart, and they may have known the Lead Cross Quest ritual.

(Affects the Pendragon Pass personality trait pair: Forgiving/Vengeful)

The Heart of Mercy

The sacrifice of the Heart of Mercy (also known as the Heart of Kindness in Sartar, the Heart of Clemency in Jonatela, and the Heart of Tolerance in the Lunar Empire) generally leads to an individual becoming cruel and intolerant. The Jonating, Praxian, Pentan, Sartar, Heortland, Esrolian, and Ralios cults of Humakt, and the cult of Yanafal Tarnils, take no official stand on whether to protect this Heart or not. Some temples teach their warriors to protect it, while others regularly sacrifice it as unworthy of a warrior. Those Lunars who sacrifice this Heart often say that mercy is the province of Deezola. The old Carmanian Humakti temples regularly sacrificed this Heart.

(Affects the Pendragon Pass personality trait pair: Merciful/Cruel)

The Heart of Justice

The Heart of Justice is recognized in Jonatela, the Lunar Empire, Sartar, Heortland, Esrolia, and Ralios. This Heart is protected by Sartar Humakti, where it is considered second only to the Heart of Honor. It is also valued by the cult of Yanafal Tarnils. The Jonating, Heortland, Esrolia, and Ralios cults of Humakt takes no official stand on whether to protect this Heart or not. Some temples teach their warriors to protect it, while others regularly sacrifice it as useless. Most Ralios and Jonating Humakti knights sacrifice this Heart, saying that the decision of what is just and what is not belongs to their Lord. Those who have lost their sense of justice risk making arbitrary decisions concerning reward and punishment. Note that issues of justice are different from issues of legality and morality. The old Carmanian Humakti temples regularly sacrificed this Heart.

(Affects the Pendragon Pass personality trait pair: Just/Arbitrary)

On Elves: The Heart of Growth

Since the Godswar, a very few Aldryami have worshipped a cult of Death which seems to have similarities to both the human cults of Humakt and Yelmalio. This worship does not seem to have been influenced by the human cults, and the mythic connection is unclear. It appears that these Aldryami worshipers pledge their Hearts of Life and sacrifice their Hearts of Innocence and Joy, just as do the other temples of Humakt. They recognize the Heart of Justice, which they always protect. They also recognize something they call the Heart of Growth, which seems to have some similarity to both the human Hearts of Charity and Compassion, but also has some major differences. No other Hearts are recognized, as elves do not comprehend such human concepts as mercy, chivalry, or honor.

On Trolls

Uz Humakti worshipers, such as those in Ralios, Sartar, and Heortland, pledge their Heart of Life and sacrifice their Hearts of Innocence and Joy, just as do all other temples of Humakt. All troll Humakti temples were founded with some initial learning and interaction from human Humakti. Most trolls happily sacrifice their Hearts of Charity, Compassion, and Mercy, as they do not understand these human concepts anyway. (Most humans say Uz never have these traits to begin with.) All Uz Humakti temples recognize the Heart of Justice and protect it. Some, such as the Sazdorf Humakti, also recognize and protect the Heart of Honor, binding themselves to the Orlanthi Code of Humakt thereby.

On Heartlessness

Humakti in the Kingdom of War recognize all these Hearts, plus several others, and they are said to sacrifice them all. They consider describing a warrior as having no heart to be an accolade, and "Heartless" is one of the titles of Lord Death on a Horse. Most Jonating Humakti believe that the Kingdom of War Humakti have some connection to the old Carmanian Humakti.

"I left my heart in..... ": Where the Hearts are found, by region

Peter "668: Neighbor to the Beast" Michaels

Please send email to me at [email protected].

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Last Updated: 16 November 1996


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