Tattoos 'n stuff

From: Cheiron <>
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 1996 10:54:05 -0800

My temporary insanity seems to be catching:

Peter Metcalf:

>Whilst Robert argues for a Dragonewt origin later spread by the World
>Council, I think such a practice was much much earlier and virtually
>universal. The GRAY speaks of Painted People and the Third Eye Blue
>who had such pratices before the Great Darkness at least.

I'll take your word for it. I have to admit, I've yet to commit GRAY to memory. Not enuf piktures. But I think it's still entirely possible that the Dragonnewts invented tattooing. They've been around for a while and could've spread the practice before the Great Darkness. Besides, the Painted People could've easily been just that... painted. And the Blue's Third Eyes could've been paint too until someone learned how the 'newts make paint permanent by poking themselves with dragonbone needles. (Hell, I always thought the Third Eye Blues really had _three eyes_ until sternly corrected of that error by Sandy Peterson at RQCon III. How embarrassing. But we Dwarves got him back. He-he-he-he.)

>I think that Tattoos are too unsubtle for the Kralori mind and thus
>it's looked with Disdain.

Except of course for nasty Kralori Secret Societies (Path of Imminent Mastery etc) and Organized Crime Groups (The Benevolent Society of the Flowering Black Lotus) where the practice is de rigueur.


>As for the elvish practices of pruning and grafting, my players can
>provide eye-witness testimony to elves having inflicted painful ritual
>grafting practices on captives.

Cool. Can't wait to use that one myself. He-he-he.

HRH ARGRATH, PRINCE OF DRAGON PASS: (I am not worthy, I am not worthy)

>[On Trollish piercing practices]: "Never ask to see a troll's wedding

All the more because the Trolls I've played would proudly show them to you. "Excuse me while I whip this out."

>I also disagree that dragonewts eschew body-piercing because "you
>can't take it with you." That logic applies equally well to tattoos.

Hmm. Personally, I think 'newt tattoos are regrown along with the rest of their skin. Holes from piercings would be too, of course, but why bother? It'd just mean having to find new jewelry and, man, body piercing jewelry is expensive! Though as HRH later points out, poking holes in themselves is something I wouldn't put past the 'newts. Hell, there's not much of anything I wouldn't put past the 'newts.

>I want to hear more about elf splicing and pruning!

Far be it for me to refuse a request from a god. Coming soon.


>I didn't like the idea that trolls had lead to the human adoption of
>scarification, I am a strong beleiver that such rituals can be evolved
>(or bestowed) in two or more places at the same time.

I absolutely agree. I was merely medidating on the most common path of cultural development. In fact, on reflection, I was probably falling into the God Learner trap of oversimplification by trying to trace all tattooing to dragonnewts and all piercing to trolls. And as I said, the development of scarification needed further research. I agree with the general feeling that the Pamaltelans probably developed the practice themselves.

On other types of Gloranthan body mutilation:

>Amongst the Morokanth they proudly bear the deep bite scars of their
>ritual combats, prevented from healing correctly by applying special

And let's not forget that the Trolls bite chunks out of the ears of their trollkin to mark ownership. At least two Player Character humans in my campaign have suffered similar mutilation. I'm sure Morokanths brand their herdmen as well and wouldn't be adverse to whipping out a hot iron to mark their sentient human slaves.

>Mostali use a bar-code sytem, which is scarified(engraved) onto the
>fore arm,

I like it. But Mostali would consider this to be part of the "Original Factory Finish" and wouldn't really be think of it as body modification.

>Praxian use a wide variety of mutilations and markings [SNIP] The
>fingers and toes are often mutilated accidentally, however some groups
>practice amputation as acts of bravery.

And let's not forget that chopping off a pinky is a common penatential sacrifice in Kralori secret societies and among Vormain pirates.

>I think that the Agimori of Pithdaros may well use tatooes, for
>example prayers or sections of scripture over the heart, forehead and
>on the forearms.

Or as mentioned above, they may practice ritual scarification instead.  

>Baboons break the tails of outcasts and criminals (so men are advised
>not to break baboon law).

Baboons probably also decorate their bodies by dyeing their body hair, which would also be popular among morocanths.



>Given the newts' tendency towards body modification (cutting a tongue
>in half, removing the rightside of the brain, the multilation of the
>heifer in Elder Secrets),

All things they did to other people remember. I think 'newts divide the world pretty clearly into two classes: Us (Dragons and dragonnewts) and Everything Else (including renegade 'newts, dinosaurs, newtlings, and all those strange man-rune things). What they do to non-'newts is no more relavant to what they do to themselves than saying that because a woodsman chops down trees he might be prone to taking an axe to himself.

>I think they eschew the ink (they can't write IIRC)

Hmmm. I seem to recall a previous debate on whether the dragonnewts could paint. Personally I come down on the pro-painting side. And for some reason I remember that newtling slave previous experience from Elder Secrets included the skill of "Craft Tattoo," which is one of the things that got me thinking of this in the first place. Even if 'newts couldn't tattoo themselves (and I think they can), they could certainly force a newtling to do it for them (but don't ask me where the newtling learned it from).

>[PETER FURTHER SUPPOSES 'NEWTS WOULD] go for radical plastic surgery
>(ie implanted spikes, multilated body parts).

On others, yes, absolutely. "Meat-things want to be like us. Cut them. Change them. Put spiky things on them. Oh. They die. What is the sound of one claw clacking." On themselves, I don't know. They have a better way to radically alter their body structure, perfect themselves spiritually and evolve.

I've enjoyed everyone's post on this topic so far. Glad it sparked some thought.


(By the by, it's not Robert Cheiron. Robert's me name. Cheiron's my wife and my composite internet handle. As in Cheiron the centaur. Because she's a human teacher of arts and healing medicine, and I'm a horse's... well, you get the picture.)

End of Glorantha Digest V2 #463

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