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Created On 23 February 2001
Last Updated On 23 February 2001
Copyright © 2001 Simon E. Phipp

Steam Baths of the Sun Folk Even though most Dara Happans will deny it there is a shared heritage amongst the Sun Folk of Dara Happa, the Redlands and Pent. One area where this shared heritage is apparent is the love of steam baths across the region.

This article will quickly describe some of the steam baths in the lands of the Sun Folk.


The Dara Happans tell of the invasion of the Empire by Oslira and the struggles between Lodril and Oslira. This resulted in the creation of huge clouds of steam that refreshed those nearby.

Another tale tells of a son of Lodril who plucked stones from the ground and hurled them red-hot into the water, causing more steam. The river threw itself upon him and the two wrestled in vain amongst the steam clouds.

The Lodrili tell of Lodril wrestling with Oslira and other river deities, being held in the rivers' embraces and producing daughters that bubbled to the surface at hot springs.

People in the Redlands also have myths where rivers and Sky Gods fought and produced hot springs as offspring. They also tell how the people can survive the cold by heating stones in lodges, as Kalikos prepared before his battles with Valind.

The Pentian Nomads have myths of Angels falling to the earth to battle against the forces of ice and water. Some sought allies in the streams and springs of Pent and gave them new powers, producing hot springs. Others taught the nomads how to build yurts made of felt and how to heat stones in the yurts to drive the cold away.

The Votanki have myths of how Votank came back from a Bad Hunt dirty and filthy with the stench of his failures and how Hearth Mother prepared a Lodge with sacred water and heated stones to make him sweat the filth from him.

People in the Redlands and Pent have a HeroQuest to destroy disease that entails searching for some magic stones that will heat up by themselves and some sacred water from certain springs and streams, then preparing a sweat lodge that uses the water and stones to sweat the disease away.

The Baths

These are short descriptions of some of the steam baths of the Sun Folk. They will contain descriptions of the baths, the bathers, the type of baths, the method of heating the waters and the benefits of bathing. Where magic is involved it will contain a short description of the magic.

The Baths of Yelm

The first of these was built by the Sons of Lodril around the captured body of Oslira. Yelm used it to purify himself of the dirt that had clung to him when he sullied himself with mundane matters. These baths are for initiates or higher of the Yelm cult and are found in the towns and cities of Dara Happa. They are generally made of marble and are quite grand in scale and appearance. The waters are often drawn from sacred springs and are heated by the sacred fires of Yelm that perpetually burn beneath the baths. The bathers are served by initiates of Yelm who are descendants of the first attendants and who guard their positions jealously. These baths take the form of a mixture of hot, warm and cold rooms with hot, warm and cold pools for bathing. Fragrant oils and spices are burnt filling the steam with relaxing and invigorating odours and the bathers can be massaged and cleaned by the attendants. The baths are used as social gathering places as well as treatment areas for aches and pains, for relaxation and for certain ritual acts of bathing.

The Baths of Dendara

The first of these was built for Dendara when Yelm purified himself in his first baths. They are very similar to the Baths of Yelm and are generally found next door to those baths. They are staffed by the female descendants of Dendara's bath maidens and men are not allowed to enter these baths. These baths are for high born women and slaves and peasants are not allowed to bathe. Officially only the wives, concubines and daughters of Yelm cultists may use these baths but this rule is often relaxed for important women. The waters for these baths come from sacred springs but are heated by hot stones taken from Yelm's Baths and brought to the waters by blind eunuchs who never leave the cellars of the bath houses. As with their husbands, bathing is both a social and cleansing function. It often involves massage, scraping and the removal of body hair as well as bathing and cleansing.

The Crimson Vapours

These are named after the colour of the vapours produced by these baths. They are relatively new having been created by the Lunars after their merging with Dara Happa. The waters are from still pools beneath the ground and are heated by magic cast by the Priestesses who guard the baths. The steam produced from these pools is funnelled through vents and emerge as crimson steam that induces visions among those who partake. Often these are vivid dreams but some are prophetic in nature, giving visions of the past, the present or even of mythology. Any initiate of a Lunar cult may partake of the baths and they will be attended by initiates of the Red Moon who prepare them for the mystical experience of the baths. Cleansing and bathing services also exist here but the vapours are the most important reason for attending.

Lodrili Public Baths

These are found in the Pelorian Basin but outside the Dara Happan Cities. They are normally built from brick or stone and can be quite large. Built around natural springs they heat the waters by heating stones and throwing them in the water. Attendants belong to a subcult of Lodril and have special magic to heat stones. The baths are open to both men and women and occasionally allow mixed bathing, something which scandalizes the Dara Happans. These baths normally have a hot and a cold pool and wet and dry rooms, the dry rooms being heated by hot stones. The attendants will scrape the dirt from the skin, remove hair and perform massages but attendants will only serve people of the same sex, unless at certain religious festivals where the opposite sex will perform these services.

Lodrili Steam Houses

These are private houses, normally only one storey high and make of brick or sun dried mud. Water is brought to these houses in clay pots and is heated by the application of hot stones. Bathers are the family or guests of the person who owns the Steam House and are attended by family members or slaves. Normally bathers relax in the steam and clean themselves in the hot water, sometimes they use scrapers and sometimes they have massages. Quite often special herbs will be used in the water to produce fragrant or narcotic scents. These houses are often used for orgiastic ceremonies and celebrations of the Lodrili and are personal in nature.

Lodrili Dry Houses

These are normally made of brick or dried mud, although some are made from natural caves or vents. They are created around Lodrili Holy Spots where the volcanic heat rises to the surface. Sometimes the heat is used to heat stones in the walls, sometimes the floor and walls are naturally hot, sometimes volcanic fumes rise from the ground and are used without heating stones. Some Lodril temples have Dry Houses that are heated by the lave itself but these are thought to be extreme cases and are not used by many people. Dry Houses do not use water for bathing but rely on purification through heat and through scraping of the skin. Quite often bathers will scrape their entire body and will remove all body hair as part of the experience. Usually the Lodrili use these in their rituals as they embody the purification of heat without the use of water and typify Lodril's element.

Lodrili Steam Pools

Built around naturally occurring hot pools, these are built of brick or dried mud and are owned by certain families. They may be used by guests of the families and are staffed by the family members or their slaves. Bathers may partake of the steam and also bathe in the hot waters. Quite often the waters have magical powers, normally of healing or of reinvigoration. Some bathers may contact the spirits of the pools and gain special magic that aid them in life.

Redland Steam Lodges

These are made from wattle and daub, using the branches of willow trees and sacred red earth, a gift from the Earth Goddesses. They are sealed so there are no entrances save a small tunnel in one wall and no exits save a single smoke hole in the top. Water is brought in using baskets made from branches or clay pots and is heated using special spirit magic known by the shamans. Water from the clay pots is used for heating, water from the baskets is cold and used for cleansing. Bathers sit in the lodges and absorb the steam until they are hot, then they are scraped and the sweat removed and are washed with the cold water. Afterwards they are beaten with brushes made of living twigs to drive out bad spirits and disease.

Redland Hot Springs

These occur naturally throughout the Redlands and often have wooden fences around them or benches placed in the water. Many people come and bathe in the waters and take the steam. Often these have special powers of healing and can be worshipped to gain extra benefits. Some of the larger springs have priests guarding them but this is rare. There is a tradition that conflicts must stop at the springs, so these are often used as places for talking peace or as neutral ground.

Pentian Steam Yurts

These are made of horse felt hung on wooden or bone supports. They are erected on the plains and bathers bring water or snow to be heated by stones that are themselves heated by magical spells known by the Pentian Shamans. The steam produced by this water is very powerful and cleanses the body and mind, especially when creams and lotions are used. Bodies are cleaned by scrubbing with special stones that came from the Sky. When cleansing is complete the bathers run naked from the yurt and jump into nearby streams or roll in the snow to invigorate themselves. Mixed bathing is common amongst the Pentians and men and women often bathe together.

Pentian Dry Yurts

These are similar to the Steam Yurts but do not involve the use of water. Instead the bathers use stones heated by magic and also use magic to heat the very air itself. Cleansing is by sweat and also by scraping with bone scrapers made by the shamans. These are used when rituals are required that do not require the use of water. As with the Steam Yurts bathers often roll naked in the snow or grass afterwards for extra invigoration.

Pentian Hot Springs

There are many springs in Pent that are naturally hot. Some were produced by Angels and others were the product of matings between Lodril and the earth or the Pentian deities and the waters within the earth. Very few of these have structures built around them or benches placed within the springs but most are used by the nomads when they pass by. Many have healing properties and some have ritual significance beyond bathing or healing. When different groups of nomads are at the springs at the same time each group bathes on its own, but at certain times of the year the groups will all bathe together and this is one of the times where marriages will be arranged. Certain springs or pools only allow certain sexes to bathe at certain times or put other restrictions on the bathing allowed and to break those restrictions will incur the wrath of the spirit of the pool or spring.

Votanki Sweat Lodge

Made by women from interwoven branches and twigs, these are naturally aromatic. Only males can enter the Sweat Lodge and they must enter naked carrying the water and fires they will use. The water is heated over small fires made from twigs, leaves and mosses prepared by the women. The men chant and perform rituals here and these could take many hours. Cleansing is by the rubbing of sacred mud over the body followed by rubbing the mud off with bare hands. When the cleansing is complete the fires are allowed to die down and the men must sit in darkness for a while then the fires are raised and the sweat lodge is allowed to burn down while the men stand around it in silence.


Although this article serves no practical purpose whatsoever, it might prove interesting. The idea came to me when I was in a Banya, a Russian Sauna/Bath House in Bashkortostan, that the Pelorians, Redlanders and Pentians share a lot in common with the peoples of the Steppes, the Turks and the Romans and Greeks and one of the things that all those real world people share is a love of steam baths or saunas of some kind. The idea still needs fleshing out a bit, I need to check out the sweat lodges of the North Americans, those of the Lapps and Arctic peoples and those of the Steppes as well as the classical baths of the Romans, Greeks and Turks so that I can use those traditions in Glorantha. But this is a start and I will probably expand on it at a later date.