History of Yelmalio

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Created On 6 June 1999
Last Updated On 6 June 1999
Copyright (c) Simon E. Phipp 1999

See Also
The Evolution of Yelmalio
The Forest Sun
The Mountain Sun
The Ostrich Rider
Yelmalio Jokes

Yelmalian Types


Once again, I am returning to a study of the Yelmalio Cult in Glorantha, as if that has not already been studied to death. However, I have been thinking for a while about the history of the Yelmalio cult and, in particular, how it evolved to become what it is now. The most important thing about the cult of Yelmalio in Glorantha is that it is very different wherever you go. Hopefully, I will be able to explain how I see the evolution of Yelmalio progressed, why the different flavours of Yelmalio are different and how they are different.


During the GodTime, Yelmalio existed amongst the Elven Forest. He was not part of the Dara Happan mythology as Yelmalio was never on Anaxial's Ark. He was known amongst the nomads of Prax and Peloria since Yelmalio was in Prax and also in the lands now known as Vanch/Imther where the Hyalorings originated.

When Dara Happa forced the Horse nomads from Peloria into Pent, the last traces of Yelmalio worship in Peloria were lost.

The Revival of Yelmalio came about through Elven influence.

The First Council and Theyalans helped awaken the Elven Forests after Time had begun. They met the surviving guardians, followers of High King Elf, Arroin and Yelmalio. The Orlanthi amongst the Theyalans recognised Yelmalio as being Orlanth's rival at the Hill of Gold and his rival as Ernalda's Husband/Protector. Their troll allies knew of Yelmalio as an enemy of their gods and confirmed who he was. The HeroQuestors of the First Council brought Yelmalio into their fold and confirmed his place in the World's Mythology. As the First Council spread northwards, it found the hunters of the Elder Wilds who also knew Yelmalio and those of Saird where the Hill of Gold is located. These people helped cement the position of Yelmalio and knew that he was the Son of the Emperor.

When the Elves expanded their forests early in the First Age they encroached on Peloria from both the East, from the Elder Wilds, and from the West. The Yelmalian Elves met with the Pelorian Dara Happans and exchanged views. The Dara Happans managed to accept Yelmalio as a foreign cult but not as a Dara Happan deity. When they encountered the First Council , the Dara Happans saw many of their myths clarified, including the place of Orlanth, Yelm, Ernalda and Yelmalio. Some Dara Happans joined the cult of Yelmalio to help overthrow the Horse Nomads. At this time, some Yelmalio temples were built in Peloria.

When the Perfect One was born, many minor spirits were elevated in power and prestige. The Elves were enthusiastic supporters of Nysalor and Yelmalio became fairly widespread outside the forests, although still not accepted as a true Dara Happan deity. Amongst the Forests Yelmalio stayed strong, in Vanch and Imther his worship was retained. With the destruction of Nysalor and the establishment of Arkat's Dark Empire with its dominance by trolls, the Yelmalio cult was suppressed. In Dragon Pass, a temple to Yelmalio had been established near the Aristoli Forest and was under the protection of the Only Old One. They Yelmalians of the Elder Wilds remained in their Forests, those in Vanch and Imther survived when those lands were conquered by the Dara Happan Empire and its allies.

When the Empire of the Wyrms Friends was established in Dragon Pass it was friendly with the Dragon Pass Yelmalio Cult. As it moved northwards it conquered the Elder Wilds, Imther, Vanch and Peloria. The Sun Dragon built up the cult of Yelmalio, exporting it to Prax and Ralios and helping to establish the cult in Peloria. When the Sun Dragon was overthrown, the cult fell out of favour in Peloria, being seen by many as collaborators with he Sun Dragon. Many left and settled in Vanch, Imther and Dragon pass, and an adventurer called Balazar entered Votankiland and established a Yelmalian Kingdom there, driving out the last of the Dragonewts and purging the land of the Empire of the Wyrm Friends influence. When the True Golden Horde was formed, Yelmalian humans marched from all over to join, thus proving they were not collaborators with the EWF. The very few that survived fled northwards to the cult strongholds.

The Dara Happans remained suspicious of the Yelmalio cult but allowed it to remain on the outskirts of the Empire. It maintained its presence in the rest of the Pelorian Bowl, forging links between the cultists in Balazar, Vanch and Imther and with the Elves of the Elder Wilds. The cult was also present in Tarsh and Saird where it grew slowly. The cult in Prax was isolated and tried to remain pure, even going so far as to move backwards to a more conservative culture, becoming more Solar than the Yelmalio cult in the rest of the world.

When humans entered Dragon Pass they largely ignored the old Sun Dome Temple and their lands. Tarshite tribes settled in the North with their small Yelmalian contingent and a heavy contingent of Elmali. When the kingdom of Sartar was established, the northern tribes were dissatisfied and a large number of Elmali wanted a change. Their leader was a man called Monrogh, named after Yelmalio's Son, the founder of the Yelmalio cult outside the forests. Monrogh was well travelled and knew of the Yelmalio cult. He also ravelled to Ralios and Teshnos, gaining insight into the nature of the Solar cults. He HeroQuested to show that many of the minor Sun Cults were merely manifestations of the same deity, in particular that Elmal was a manifestation of Yelmalio. He united many of the Elmali and gained a grant from the King of Sartar to occupy the deserted Sun Dome temple in Dragon Pass. Many left, solving the problems in the Northern Tribes and establishing a new Sun Dome presence in Dragon Pass. Some Yelmalians came fro the North and some came from Prax in order to try and establish a pure set of doctrines.

Yelmalian Types

The Temple in Dragon Pass was thus heavily influenced by the horse-loving Elmali and also by the Grazelanders as the Temple lay very near to their territory. They raised horses as well as training their Sun Dome Templars, thus maintaining a cavalry and infantry army. Their farming culture was heavily influenced by the surrounding Orlanthi, both being based on the worship of Ernalda.

The Praxian Yelmalians of Sun County originally raised horses but stopped this because of constant interference from the Nomads. After the destruction of their allies, the Pure Horse Tribe, and the disaster of the Dragonkill War their numbers were reduced and they tried to isolate themselves from the influence of others. However, because their numbers were so small, they tried to court those Yelmalians from the Nomad tribes. They also took steps to purge any of the Draconic influences by building a new Temple and sealing up the old one. They kept their traditions intact, although they were influenced by the surrounding Yelmalian tribesmen. After a series of purges they managed to become more traditional, even priding themselves on being more traditional than their ancestors. They specialised in infantry and phalanx combat, using the Pike and Shield as their preferred weapons of war.

The Yelmalians of Balazar were originally welcomed by the Hunters of the area as they remembered their Bright Lord who had defended them in the Darkness. Their Citadels were established and became useful fortresses against the land's enemies. Very quickly, the Yelmalians gave up raising horses due to the cultural problems of the area, even though a few still kept and rode horses. The Hunter influences meant that many Yelmalians raised dogs so that they were known as "Dog Domers" by some of the Pelorian Yelmalians. The cult had many ties with that of Balazar and also with the Elves in the Forests of Balazar and the Elder Wilds. The fragmented nature of the land of Balazar prevented the Yelmalians from establishing a Divine Order as had been in Prax and Dragon Pass before, so the cult was not as strong as elsewhere. This was aggravated by the poor fertility of the land of Balazar, meaning that the Yelmalians had to abandon their Farmer./Soldier structure in favour of a Soldier/Noble structure. When Skifil Hearthpiercer came to power, he HeroQuested to Vrimak and brought back the secret of riding Giant Hawks which naturally influenced the Yelmalio cult even more, bringing in more geases and gifts.

The Yelmalians of the Pelorian Basin remained as they were, Famer/Soldiers of a fairly traditional type, but not living in isolation as the Praxian Yelmalians did. They raised horses and fielded armies of spearmen and cavalry, although the nearness of the Pentians meant that horses were not well favoured.

The Yelmalians of the Pentian tribes had suffered during the Nights of Horror battle as had all Pentians, although they had not suffered as badly as the Yelm worshippers had. They still remained classical Yelmalio the Rider worshippers, being experts in Horse Archery and cavalry tactics, although they retained some of the geases and gifts from their heritage. They tended to trade more with the Yelmalians of Balazar and established open relations with them. They sometimes traded with the Yelmalians of the Praxian tribes but such cases were rare as the cultural animosity outweighed any common worship.

The Yelmalians of the Praxian Tribes also stayed fairly conservative, although their worship was influenced by the Sun Domers of Sun County. Many Praxian Tribesmen left their tribes and settled in Sun County, so the proportion of Yelmalians in the tribes slowly fell. Those that remained worshipped Yelmalio the Rider as they had always done but also worshipped Waha and various Solar Spirits.

Yelmalians in Pavis had had a chequered history. They were first established in Pavis by the demigod himself who brought Sun Domers from Dragon Pass to go along with those of Sun County. When Pavis fell, the Yelmalians retreated within the walls and stayed true to themselves. With the onset of the troll domination of Pavis, the Yelmalians became weaker and weaker, only surviving by hiding on Yelmalio's Hill and amongst the Garden Elves and the ruins of the Big Grazing and other areas. The Zebra Riders maintained a substantial number of Yelmalians, although these tended to follow Yelmali the Rider rather than the normal Farmer/Soldier type. With the coming of Dorasor and the founding of New Pavis came an influx of Yelmalians from the Dragon Pass Sun Dome Temple. As they came from a different cultural heritage, they were substantially different from the Yelmalians in the Rubble. This naturally caused some problems. Yelmalians from Sun County also became established in Pavis at this time, so there were now four kinds of Yelmalians in the area. The Lunars brought people from Dara Happa and the Pelorian Basin, some of these were Yelm worshippers others were followers of Yelmalio. This meant that Pavis had a mix of Yelmalians from many different cultures which caused many problems form the cult. The area of Sun Town is dominated by the new Yelmalians who came with Dorasor, although there is a substantial minority of the original Sun Domers present. Within the Rubble, most of the human Yelmalians are descended from the original Sun Domers of Pavis. These are Yelmalian Farmers in Manside and the Big Grazing inside the Rubble, these are almost all descended from the original Sun Domers, although they have intermarried with Sun County Yelmalians over the years. The Zebra Riders have a number of Yelmalians within their number, both in the Zebra Pens of New Pavis and in Zebra Fort in Manside, although with the Lunar Occupation, many of the Zebra Riders follow Lunar cults, especially the newer recruits.

The Yelmalians of the Elves are basically unchanged and follow the worship of the Forest Sun. They rarely leave their forests and are normally met as members of the Marching Aldryami or as emissaries to Solar peoples. Where necessary, they will claim kinship with other Yelmalian groups. Also where necessary they will claim that they are different and not like other Yelmalians. Both of these attitudes are true and keep Elven Yelmalians apart from all other followers of the God.


This article should hopefully have given some idea of the rich history of the Yelmalio cult in Glorantha as I see it. It should show how the different groups differ and should allow GMs to see where possible tensions and conflicts may arise. I would tend to play Yelmalians in strange lands as strangers even to members of their own cult. Anyone travelling to Sun County would be surprised at how sever and traditional they are - I see Sun County Yelmalians as being like the Amish or Puritans of Olde England, removed from normal life and very difficult to interact with. A Yelmalian from Balazar with his hunting dogs would find the Sun County Yelmalians a very strange bunch indeed. He would also find Yelmalians from the Dragon pass Temple strange and similarly the Zebra Riders or Ostrich Riders would be considered very odd Yelmalians with their feathers and weird customs. The important thing to remember is that Yelmalians are not alike those written up in Sun County and the potential for role-playing is enormous.