Re: Sorcery (long, possibly violating Rule #3)

From: Alex Ferguson <>
Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 02:05:14 +0100 (BST)

Trent Smith quotes:
> "Sorcery is the most flexible approach to RuneQuest magic, and its spells
> potentially are the most powerful. Sorcerors can alter the basic
> characteristics of their spells" (RQ3, 122)
> "Each grimoire contains the written descriptions and instructions for
> casting spells, which are usually more specific in their application than
> other magic" (HW, 164) "Spells are very specific in their usage and must be
> written carefully, since they generally cannot be used improvisationally"
> (HW, 193) "a spell may not be improvised, nor may it be used for a purpose
> other than that for which it is intended" (HW, 194).
> I may be missing some nuance, but it sure looks to me quotes #2-4 directly
> contradict quote #1.

Quote #1 was essentially describing the RQ3 situation of 'parameterisable' spells (by range, intensity, etc). What's changed is that you _can_ now do this with other magical methods, too. (One might wonder if most other traditions are a good deal more ad hoc about this, but it's true to say that HW doesn't capture this, if true in Glorantha.)

> In fact, I've always thought of Malkioni as abberant, "lazy" sorcerors,
> sacrificing POW for Arts that "real" sorcerors gain through study and/or the
> exercise of their Will (i.e. Vows).

Not a useful description, since after all, they are the majority. This is a good statement of how other sorcerors would view Malkioni, yes.

> This, I've always
> felt, was an important distinction. HW largely collapses the difference
> between Malkioni and "real" sorcerors, and does so by moving "real" sorcery
> closer to Malkionism.

There's some truth to this, in that HW presents Malkioni as the norm, whereas RQ3 was constructed, somewhat accidentally, on the basis of 'unaligned' sorcery being the basic process, and the Malkioni being a 'varient' thereupon. I don't think the distinction has been collapsed, though, just flipped around.

> And, yet: "To get a connection to a spell the assembled sorcerors perform
> the rites to create the portal of power, and the candidate steps into the
> ensorcelled area. The area usually becomes filled with magical fire or is
> obscured by shadow or light or smoke. From there he can look out and see
> the Adept Plane and he node of the spell he wants. Portals of power can
> also connect sorcerors to the node of their saint or founder... Most orders
> connect to their founder's node on a regular basis to venerate the founder,
> initiate new members, and gain magic" (NB, 30).

Note the 'most' in the last sentence. All sorcerors must interact with the Other Side; not all need do so via a 'personalised entity' of any sort. All that's fundamentally required is a 'procedure' for performing these chores, not a particular gloss to put on it.

> In fact, HW sorcery (inflexible spells to achieve a specific single effect

i.e., exactly like RQ3 inflexible spells to achieve a specific single effect...

> acquired through ritual interaction with the Otherworld via a
> saint/teacher's tradition

Ritual interaction with the Otherworld via any method you like. One description I (faintly) recall of 'sorcerous heroquesting' characterises the method as 'reduce'. To wit, dotting about the Other Side, announcing various entities to be particular Principles, stripping off any illusion of personification they may be have had attached to them, etc.

> "non-religious sorcery-users," which includes Mostali, Brithini, Vadeli,
> Waertagi

Definitely not the Waertagi, who are some or other species of henotheist, or thereabouts.

> (with the caster as a
> conduit between worlds and forces beyond his control).

A sufficiently hard-assed sorceror needn't recognise any such thing, except with the proviso '... yet'. ("Just one or two more tweaks and my Tap Creator spell will be complete!")

> The Malkioni view,
> which I've always considered to be a somewhat of a mixed-metaphor, is
> suddenly a much better approximation of The Truth, and once-atheists are
> forced to become either Platonic ultra-rationalists

I don't see how HW says which of these is The Truth, as opposed to which one it says "I'm describing now". Unlike RQ3, neither is being portrayed as a 'mixed metaphor' which seems to me to be more reasonable.

> (which is a form of Belief, and thus NO LONGER Atheism!)

As a Lapsed Atheist, I hotly dispute the curious notion that atheism isn't a belief.

> P.S. I'm not just being difficult, or trying to pick a fight (which I'm
> sure I'd lose, especially once the rest of the Orthodox Gloranthophiles
> sober up from Convulsion).

Hey! Being accused (again!) of being drunk is one thing, but I have to draw the line at 'Orthodox'...

> I really think that this change-of-viewpoint 1) exists, and 2)
> merits exploration.

Yes to both. Or perhaps, more like an 'addition of (another) viewpoint'.

> Is it possible in the HW-Sorcery Plane
> paradigm to have the sort of gross, amoral, Halcyon var Enkorth ("Griffin
> Island" edition)-like sorcerors whom I've always thought made such great bad
> guys


> and if so, how?

I don't see how any of the descibed sorcerous procedures contradict grossness or amorality. None of their magical procedures (need) involve any sort of 'morality check'. The whole point of their endeavours as they interact with the Other Side is to prove, demonstrate and utilise that it _isn't_ a place of morality or personification, but a deep well of energy for them to draw upon. The details of how this interacts with whatever teaching or founding tradition they have is likely to vary considerably, IMO.


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