Bell Digest vol09p09-1.txt
Subject: RuneQuest Digest Volume 9, no 9: X-RQ-ID 2141
From: 100270.337@CompuServe.COM (Nick Brooke)
Subject: Catching Up!
Date: 29 Oct 93 10:30:14 GMT
I got the last six Dailies in a lump, so forgive me if some of this has
already been covered by other respondents. [I noted a few instances below,
but will have missed some]
Sam Phillips' "Varmandisaga":
> I got the feeling that priests would be hard to find. Orlanthi
> temples have been closed down in all cities apart from Whitewall.
> And if the Lunars can close them down I'm sure they would close down
> all of the smaller temples they could find. Where would the priests
> go? If I was the Lunars I wouldn't let them go free - they would just
> set up another temple.
Ah. Remember that there's really no such thing as an Orlanth Temple: any
bare and windy hilltop will do. And we have a lot of those in Sartar. The
Lunars are closing down those new-fangled city temples, but that don't
really matter to us up in the highlands.
The priests take off their sacred robes, strip down their spiral tents,
bundle the runesticks and runestones and other clobber together, and stick
it up in the rafters of the old tithe barn.
Brandon makes this point well (later on); also a good point about having
hostile weather to beat unwelcome visitors back from Orlanthi ceremonies.
There has always been an overlap between the cults of Orlanth and Barntar,
and it would be easy to step a little further into one role or the other at
a ceremony (IMHO): lightweight HeroQuesting.
> What are the Cinder Pits?
> What is in Tarndisi's Grove?
> Anyone know where around the Dragon's Eye Tink is?
Answers in the all-new RuneQuest Adventures magazine, first (Cinder Pits,
Tarndisi's Grove) and second (Tink, inc. a *long* description of the town)
issues. Available from Tom Zunder in the UK, last thing I heard (though I'm
not sure if #2 has yet been released by him). Worth buying, though the
price would nicer if lower. As the source is still in print, I shan't be
copying it out here...
> Ducks: Would all Sartar tribes have taken part in the slaughter?
> The Colymar are said to have been the least co-operating of all the
> Sartarian tribes. Please someone - say they didn't do it!..
Don't worry, Sam: it wasn't the Colymar who were the least cooperative. We
Lismelders (and in particular the Greydogs) can claim the credit for that.
We have a long and (at times) trying association with the durulz, and when
the Lunars started turning them into a tax dodge, we did our best to save
them. So hide your blushes -- the Colymar were as brutal towards the ducks
as any other tribe (especially those *bastard* Orlmarths).
-- No, honestly, if you'd turn up a year's tax break because you *like* the
RQ equivalent of hobbits, fair play to you and your players. And you should
certainly be subscribing to RQ Adventures in that case ("You want Ducks? --
We Gottem!"): ish.1 had a heavy presence, while ish.2 was DUCKPAK.
> A question: does the worship of a god give power to that god's
> enemies? Would (say) Pocharngo gain most of his strength from
> everyone's fear of mutating chaos, and their prayers to save
> people from it? Malia gains some worship out of fear, but this
> is a slightly different question.
I think it would be wholly perverse if the world worked that way -- though
given that, it's probably a valid Lunar philosophy ("Love your Enemy", and
"Balance", etc.). The bit about "Appeasers" in "Dorastor" and the Talastar
Papers (cf. esp. p.11) shows one of the flaws of that particular method of
propitiation: "All across Lykrene and Talastar the Appeasers did not fall
to old evils, which had been paid for over centuries, but to new ones." You
change the ecology by dealing differently with your foes.
> Nick: when you return from your exam heroquest, could you tell us
> more about your MoonDragon rules? I'd like to compare them with David
> Dunham's Pendragon Pass conversion.
MoonQuest will, eventually, make it out into the light of day. There are
still plenty of things needing tweaks or fixes. Besides, a lot of rules
lawyers read this list, and they would *hate* MoonQuest. ;-)
> The triangular law rune is very suggestive of a Trinity: are we ever
> told that the Malkionists have a trinity?
Not officially -- though the Invisible God has three aspects (Omnipresent,
Omnipotent, Omniscient; like the first three castes) and three temporal
roles (Was, Is, Will Be). It does seem to come naturally, and would be a
great way to bust up sects even further...
> In the Seven Mothers write up in Cults of Prax the Seven Mothers aren't
> even named!
Tosh! Rubbish! Stuff and nonsense! All but one of them are named.
> ... In short I feel that sorcery has been short changed in Glorantha.
I feel that Glorantha has been short-changed by sorcery.
> Anyway, I think that the Nysalor riddles were meant to have been
> interpreted as Zen koan all along, though I wonder if any RQ source
> material has explicitly indicated so.
That works for me.
I'd always preferred to see them as Socratic paradoxes myself, which was
explicit in CoT (and fits better with my Ancient/Classical Lunar paradigm).
Greg has said he's happy with Lunar "Riddlers" being seen as something like
Classical Philosophers, y'know, standing around the forum/agora whining on
about nothing of importance to the real world. I'd add, perhaps the
Deceivers are treated as Sophists.
The "Riddles" are trick questions that make you *think*. Koans and
paradoxes both do this, and are therefore both valid models. It is the
understanding that provides Illumination.
BTW, have I ever said how *HAPPY* I am with the Dorastor rewrite of Nysalor
Illumination? A wonderful thing!
[Sun Domers: "Spartans in the Wild West"]
> An important difference. The leisure the Spartans required for their
> intensive militiary training required the services of a huge slave
> class... Sun Domer economy is dependant on yeoman farming, and SD
> pikemen are an expert militia. I think then that a Spartan phalanx
> will beat a SD double file (barring rune magic!), as even more of
> their time is devoted to the craft of war.
Agreed re: the technicalities of Spartan society. It's their Laconic (look
at all those "silence/don't talk" geases), military ideology that makes
this one so attractive as a parallel for Yelmalions in Prax. If you have a
fairly well educated RQ player group, you can make rapid progress with
quick "snapshots" of cultures like this. "Gaumata's Vision" was our first
ever game with Sun Domer characters; everyone loved it, threw themselves
into the characters, and I've had people asking for more since. Most of the
credit goes to MOB for writing Sun County, however: without his work, we'd
not have tried.
If you look at what our half-file got up to, I think you'll agree the real
Spartans would have handled the situation better. These guys aren't the
Best Hoplites in the World -- they're the Best Hoplites in Prax, and not
even an "expert militia" (your phrase).
Agreed: without Rune spells, Spartans would beat Yelmalions, no probs. I
think Sandy has said that the Romans would have no trouble against Lunars,
barring magic. Both of these seem plausible. (But take away the *Roman*
"magic" -- the standards -- and who would be first to run?).
[Later: I see Sandy confirming my recollection]
> Is Yelm an abolitionist?
Definitely not. If Yelmalio feels differently, that's the generation gap
again. You know the one: Yelm doesn't know much about Chaos, and can't tell
the difference between it and Storm and Darkness as evils besetting the
world. His son does, but his father won't listen or understand...
> This makes me wonder: why aren't there more cities in Glorantha with
> the same meaningful status as, say, a Sparta or an Athens?
Use Ralios/Safelster. Remember that Renaissance Italians thought they were
living in the Golden Age of Greece Reborn: with that in mind, I've had no
trouble adjusting my mindset to see Ralios as a Classical land of feuding
city states. The existing city political stuff blends easily into Greek
clashes between Oligarchy, Monarchy, Democracy -- the "Great King" of
Seshnela encroaching from the West -- Orlanthi hill-barbarian mercenaries
fitting in comfortably as Celtiberian tribesmen -- "Archon" is a pretty
irresistable title for an officer of Arkat's Dark Empire, which has *so
many* overtones of the Platonic Republic it's untrue (Nocturnal Councils,
philosophical elites deciding how the state should be run, etc. etc.).
And you can still keep all the Italian Renaissance overtones, as those guys
would have just *loved* to have been around in Classical times. This view
gives a beautiful blend of two cultures, one of which emulated the other.
C'mon, where's Mark S. to shoot me down?
> My point, and my peeve, is that in Sartar, 1622 ST, people don't say
> "Sartari" or "Grazers." They say "Sartarite" and "Grazelanders."
This is a bit rich, coming from a guy I heard say -- and I kid you not --
"God Forgoti" (!!!) in 1992 AD. I agree. All Gloranthan sources are in
translation. And there is no One True Way.
> ... nor do I like spelling Jar-eel without the hyphen.
Nor do I. And I'm still a closet fan of Yanafal Ta'arn'ils.
> So-called Heroquesters come back claiming to have seen the afterlife,
> but everyone knows that the Hero Plane is completely subjective anyway
> and besides the atheist Heroquesters see other stuff.
Seconded. And nice to know you think so too.
> Now, Sartar's soil may not be quite as fertile as Northern Europe (the
> God's Age took its toll), but the worship of Heler, Uleria, Ernalda, and
> Flamal's daughters makes up for that, so the result is bumper crops most
> of the time.
Well, slightly-above-normal-average crops most of the time. Bumper crops in
a good year. Average crops in an average or poor year. Assuming the Bless
Crops ritual went OK, and no external force (Daga? Inora?) intervened.
The Old Tarshites know a good way to boost soil productivity... someone
asked back in WF#1 or so whether the WB&RM CRT was too bloody, and Greg
: Usually such constant warfare will, eventually, devastate the best
: country. The continued existence of Dragon Pass was a result of its
: strategic location, but its continued fertility (despite the war) was
: due to the almost annual flood of blood to pass into the soil. It has
: been recorded, more recently, that Dragon Pass turned into the barren
: land it now is only after the wars stopped. There is a possibility
: that this note was forged, so I leave final judgement to you.
> Also it helps mock the North Sartar tribes, who are traditionally
> less loyal to the Sartar royal house and among whom Yelmalio is
> fairly common.
Well, they *are* Tarshites. Presumably "Yelmalio" is less common because
they still have Loyal Thane Elmal integrated into the Orlanthi religion: no
separatist movement as happened down south in Tarkalor's reign. The Far
Point tribes only joined the Kingdom in the reign of his son Terarsin, and
would therefore have missed out on the religious upheaval.
> The early RQ material was all set near Dragon Pass, where the Lunars
> are definitely an external occupying force. Naturally players
> gravitated towards being the underdogs (this is a common American
> tendency in RPGs, I've found) and of course most of the cults there
> regard the Lunars as loathsome villains. WBRM didn't help either,
> since it's clear that the Lunars are the Bad Guys in that game.
Well, call me a British Imperialist Pig, but I always had a sneaking
suspicion that the Lunar Occupation of Dragon Pass was a Good Thing -- for
the natives and Empire both. ;-)
Plus, I disagree about WB&RM: in the "Runes" article in WF#3, Greg
contrasts "the crazed Sartar prince and the obsessive Emperors." OK, these
are all matters of opinion -- but do the Lunars have werewolves and
headhunters in their battalia?
Me, I *love* the Lunars -- except when I'm being a Sartarite, Praxian,
Troll, or (in fact) anyone other than a Lunar.
> Boldhome is hard to capture because of its location on the mountain-
> top, so its wall may not be as complete.
Our map (from Home of the Bold) shows a 20' stone wall on the eastern
cliff-top, overlooking Prax; the other sides are well enough defended by
mountains. Cf. KoS p.220.
> The Lunars reassure everyone by saying that Chaos can be controlled
> and kept safe. Leave it to the experts.
The analogy with nuclear power, nuclear weapons, radiation, mutation, and
CND "White Moon" pacifists is too wonderful to miss. So I allude to it now.
> I now fully expect there to be at least one Malkioni heresy which
> proclaims that there should only be 3 societal classes, because of
> the tripart nature of the Rune.
Right On, Brother!
Do away with Lords. The Invisible God has three aspects:
Omnipresent - Peasants
Omnipotent - Knights
Omniscient - Wizards
Who needs more? (For more of the same, cf. Georges Duby's "The Three
Orders: Feudal Society Imagined"). BTW, early writings by Greg make Dromal
the half- brother of Talar, Zzabur and Horal: a son of Malkion by a
different mother. So you could take it the other way (and expel farmers
from society: compare with the Aryan invaders in India?).
Incidentally, anyone else noticed that a Bishop's crozier is a Magic Rune
on a Stick? Couple this with Talar's Crown = Mastery, Horal's Sword =
Death, and I'm left wondering what the farmers' Rune and Implement
(Plough?) might be. Not to mention poor Menena...
> If I had my damn stuff out of storage I could download some cult
> information on these dudes on the net if there were interest. *sigh*
Take it from me, there is interest!
I look forward to it, when it happens...
> In RQ II there was a delightful ambiguity concerning who was 'right' -
> everyone was right by their own lights and Lunars were viable as
> characters. RQ3 material (and King of Sartar) seems to be taking a
> step backward toward D&D by casting the Lunars as evil villains for
> the sake of it. We do not subscribe to this change...
Well, "King of Sartar" is hardly going to present a pro-Lunar case, is it?
Do you *believe* that nonsense about Wakboth?? And remember, there's a
Lunar Book coming.
I always felt the weakness in RQ2's portrayal was that scenarios and the
like assumed barbarian player characters: a weakness RQ3 avoided by not
printing any (not a happy solution IMHO). The material from "Gods of
Glorantha", Sandy once told me, made some new players think Orlanthi were
the Bad Guys: the Lunar Way looks quite reasonable by comparison. If only
there'd been a Lunar "What My Mother(s) Told Me" in PB:G instead of that
> If you have read Poul Anderson's 'Flandry' books you have some idea
> of what sort of character might be interested in defending a decadent
> and corrupt Empire.
That's a neat parallel. I enjoyed those books... must dig them out again
with that in mind.
> ... the timeline of the Harrek-Box which conflicts with the timeline
> in the general description. Any offers for this problem yet?
Harrek can't count, or lies about his age.
Buy, buy, buy!
First, buy Greg Stafford's book, "King of Sartar". It's not for RuneQuest,
but there's oodles of lovely stuff in there.
I'd recommend "Gods of Glorantha" and the "Glorantha: Genertela" boxed set
if you want an overview of the world; "Sun County" and "River of Cradles"
if you liked Prax last time around. You may find you don't need (or can't
get) the RQ3 rules to play with these; I'd say get the supplements before
the rules. All of the recent Gloranthan releases are good and worth
getting: "Shadows on the Borderlands" has some great scenarios, and
"Dorastor: Land of Doom" is good for world background and philosophy, and
has a neat and odd campaign setting, too.
Oh, and subscribe to Tales of the Reaching Moon, while you're about it.
BTW, be warned that I *am* an RQ fanatic, and this may not be impartial or
sensible information. There has been a load of good new Gloranthan material
published in the last fifteen years or so, and without knowing what you're
looking for there's a natural tendency to recommend all of it.
> I'm dubious about how easy it would be to track down a specific spirit
> on the spirit plane. Summoning might be easier if you knew the spirit
> well enough.
Is any shaman going to waste his time and effort resurrecting someone who
isn't tied to him by kin or clan links?
> And I think its obvious that an alternate earth (one with RQ-like magic)
> would have turned out very different from historical earth.
Nick's Plug: "The Dragon Waiting", by John Ford. A very nice Alternative.
> Yes, the Vikings strike me as being particularly pragmatic. :-)
"Will your Saint Michael defend me the way Thor does?", I remember someone
asking. And in the *excellent* Hrafnakel's Saga (sp?), a "full-time" holy
man gives up on his gods and goes Christian because he has a bad time: like
Job in reverse, I suppose.
Somewhere, there's an official source which gives the Jrusteli God Learners
this kind of attitude to the "gods": they are all powerful demons, who must
be brought into line with the will of the Invisible God: converting them or
imprisoning/crippling/killing them as necessary. I see this as working
something like Solomon and the Jinn.
BTW, "daemons", Ken? Is this meant as a Defend Against Fundamentalists
invocation, or is it just your personal predilection?
I liked the Vivamortists' view of Myth: very convincing. If only you could
believe a word they tell you. After all, they are still overwhelmed by the
Power of the Runes, however much they deny their potency. And the cry of
"Humaaaaaaakkkt!" has turned more than one Vampire headlong in flight.
Typical: soon as I make a Good Resolution not to spend time on the Daily,
it backlogs and hots up. Wish me luck next week, friends.