Bell Digest v931109p3

From: RuneQuest-Request@Glorantha.Holland.Sun.COM (RQ Digest Maintainer)
To: RuneQuest@Glorantha.Holland.Sun.COM (Daily automated RQ-Digest)
Reply-To: RuneQuest@Glorantha.Holland.Sun.COM (RuneQuest Daily)
Subject: RuneQuest Daily, Tue, 09 Nov 1993, part 3
Precedence: junk


From: 100270.337@CompuServe.COM (Nick Brooke)
Subject: Orlanth, Uncle of Wakboth
Message-ID: <931108220807_100270.337_BHB12-1@CompuServe.COM>
Date: 8 Nov 93 22:08:08 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 2240

Graeme Lindsell:

> I like the bit about a Yelmian (Yelmi?) equating Orlanth to Chaos.
> In fact, I would see a Dara Happan seeing the Storm gods as far more
> evil than some of the chaos gods, such as Seseine, Ompalam and
> (obviously) Nysalor.

I think this is almost certainly right. Quite apart from the fact that 
there is nothing overtly Chaotic about Nysalor (other than the Runes the 
God Learners gave him) -- he is by nature at least as natural / acceptable 
/ "lawful" (if you must) as he is Chaotic -- we should remember that the 
scope of Yelmic mythology is crippled (in comparison to some others) by the 
absence of the god Yelm from the world scene right from the very start of 
the Lesser Darkness. He simply *did not see* the various ravagers of the 
Surface World -- Orlanthi, Trolls, Chaotics -- and therefore has quite 
natural problems in distinguishing between them and deciding which is 
worse. The guy who gave him the chop comes at the top of the list... the 
others are probably his allies, or relatives (Orlanth, uncle of the Devil: 
something they don't talk about much in Sartar).

"Jokbazi" (in RQC) is apparently a late, HeroQuest-y myth, cobbled together 
when the Dara Happans borrowed chaos-fighting techniques from elsewhere. 
The real, original Dara Happans would say that everything either obeys the 
Laws, or else it doesn't -- and if it doesn't, why should we quibble about 
what it ought to be called? In Greg's recent Solar works, the Dara Happans 
don't really bother with concepts of "Good" and "Evil": they ask whether a 
thing was done properly or not. In this light, hitting the rightful ruler 
of the universe on the head with an undeclared secret weapon is unlikely to 
pass the test. And it's not surprising the world went to pieces after 
Orlanth the Usurper tried to take over rule from the proper Emperor: no 
wonder he had to come and fetch him back in the end...

Joerg, can you post that Aeolian "Yelm/Lucifer" myth some time soon?

> I'd guess that Western script would be one of the scripts that a
> Lhankhor Mhy would be expected to learn to be considered educated,
> along with New Pelorian and whatever local script they use.

I'd agree about Western Latin in the South -- say, the Holy Country and 
perhaps the southern parts of Sartar. I disagree completely about New 
Pelorian. This is a language of lies and insane blasphemies: *nothing* 
written in it is untainted by Lunar notions. It would seem suspect to me if 
a Lhankor Mhy Sage anywhere outside the Lunar Provinces (and their fringe 
regions) were reading anything written in this vile artificial script. What 
is he studying that nonsensical, dangerous rubbish for? Is he hoping for 
illumination, maybe? I say, burn all his scrolls...

BTW, Joerg is misleading you when he says I advocated a spoken truncated 
Latin as a possible "Tradetalk" for Heortland. I didn't. I pointed out that 
written "Tradetalk" is an abomination, and suggested non-vernacular Latin 
scriptures and literature (imported by Arkat the Conquerer in the fifth 
century; kept going with more recent arrivals) for the clergy and literati, 
but spoken "Heortlending" (which is more or less identical to Sartarite). 
Until the Seshnegi arrived in the last few decades, nobody would have 
spoken any form of Western in Heortland outside Church since the Closing. 

Nick sez: "Tradetalk" should not be as versatile as a real language, and 
cannot adequately replace one. The thought of a book written in Tradetalk 
makes me feel deeply unwell. Though pictures of goods (presumably with 
prices appended) are just fine by me -- you could write a catalogue or a 
menu in Tradetalk; maybe a cook-book if you were pushing the limits of the 

> An observation on King of Sartar: one thing I find depressing
> about Greg's fourth age stuff is that it makes clear that
> nothing a third age PC does will amount to much: not because
> we're told that  Argrath did everything (that could be false)
> but because it's obvious that Third Age civilization in central
> Genertela is going to be destroyed, and that little remains.
> Everything the players create will be undone.

Hmmm. Not necessarily so. After all, you can meet the (presumed) ancestors 
of the Harshax dynasty today in Sartar. Hats off to Dan Barker for finding 
a reference even to the tribe they sprang from! There is bound to be some 
continuity: in this case we know there were prominent Harshaxes in 1620's 
Dragon Pass... Your PCs could fall in with and/or marry them, and end up as 
rulers of (part of) the World (Tarsh?) in the fourth age.

Would you feel similarly upset playing a Trojan War era game, where the 
same problem applies? Don't forget that it would still be possible to try 
helping the best parts of your society survive through the various troubles 
ahead: "post-Holocaust" games used to be quite popular, as I recall... And 
(other side of the coin), if you accept that everything gets destroyed, you 
can at least have fun breaking things: "Tear Down The Moon!"

Plus, this foreknowledge is dangerous. Cast it aside. The world will be 
perfect again, once we chuck out the Moonies / suppress the Barbarians / 
whatever else it is that we want to do. Think like a Late Third Ager, not a 
regretful historian!

> I think [agrarian slavery] must be fairly widespread in the Lunar
> Empire: look at how many slaves the Polas have.

Yes, I'd go along with this, and recommend a look at late Roman Republican 
latifundiae (huge slave-farmed estates) for a possible model. A vast social 
problem in the making...

Geoff Gunner:

> You could have infravision being as per the pit viper's; a pair of
> pits (proto-eyes) sensitive to thermal radiation, which also gives
> you the benefit of directional infra-vision.  Perhaps the dwarf's
> nostrils double as these pits?

This was the same example and mechanism that Sandy suggested in the article 
that he's now repudiated (and which I still like). He had the sensory 
'pits' hidden behind the dwarf's beard (thus no problem with wearing too 
many clothes, etc.), with the hair of the beard itself perhaps acting as an 
extension of the sense organ. I thought this was fun, and don't mind the 
technicalities of it as I can't understand science properly.

David Dunham:

> It was recently suggested that the Sun County folk are like Spartans
> in Prax. While this is a good first-level approximation, it fails
> closer examination (for example, Spartans weren't farmer-warriors, and
> are described by Plutarch as having a sense of humor, even when they're
> the butt of jokes. I also have a hard time picturing the Sun Domers as
> having institutionalized homosexuality.).

While I agree with David's description of my image as a "good first-level 
approximation" -- and accept of course that there are profound differences 
between Spartan and Sun Dome cultures, as no informed commentator could 
fail to be aware -- I'd like to clarify my reasons for stating that I saw 
some useful parallels: he seems to have missed the point a couple of times.

(1) The social framework of Sun County is that of the Sun Dome Templars -- 
making it ipso facto a primarily military state. Cf. Sun County p.7. The 
parallel with Sparta is thus highly attractive: every man is expected to 
fight as a hoplite (and not just the rich, as in other classical Greek 
city-states). Agreed, there is no helot underclass -- but this will not 
affect the military camaraderie of the "citizen-soldiers".

(2) Sun Domers, like Spartans, probably have a reputation for being a dour 
and taciturn lot. This seems the best "real-world" interpretation of all 
those "Never Speak To" geases they get lumbered with. My players had fun 
when they decided they should ask their officer for "permission to speak", 
a la Corporal Jones. After all, don't want to be known as a windbag, do 
you? IMHO, this extrapolation from a known Sun Domer feature was reasonable 
and plausible for their society as a whole. We see it that way, anyway. 

(3) Sun Domer institutionalised homosexuality is a problem for you? Cf. Sun 
County, p.88, Promidius, rumour two --

: That dirty little pillow-biter was only chosen because he's the
: Count's new joy-boy. (False.)

p.77, Count Solanthos Ironpike rumour --

: The old goat has come to watch his latest "pet" compete.

Obviously some filthy-minded Praxian scum think it could happen... as seems 
likely in a militaristic, male-bonding, female-disparaging society which 
prizes chastity and monogamy, keeps women covered up and shut away from 
young men, and is seen by all as sexually repressive. Me, I'm sitting on 
the fence: probably best to leave this as a source of rumour and innuendo, 
rather than upset the poor buggers by probing further. Bunch of Elmoes, the 
lot of them! And that so-called "Lady" Vega is the worst: everyone round 
here knows "she's" really a man...

A last word. When I write, "Those Sun Domers look pretty Spartan to me,"
I am not saying, "Come on, guys, try to knock this down with details."
I'm sending out something which appeared entertaining and useful to our 
group for wider circulation, *not* trying to write an academic, technical 
analysis of the respective nature of their societies that could withstand 
"close examination". Same with an Egyptian Esrolia (see next installment, 
below): I'm trying to add some colour and chrome of my own to these 
Gloranthan societies, so that I can make caricatures or stereotypes of my 
NPCs, and pillage other sources for inspiration. This is why I recommend 
Asterix books etc. to GMs: they are a wonderful shorthand way for catching 
on to "what it's all about". In this light, I don't think the parallels 
between the Grazers and the Spartans are very useful for gamers. They don't 
seem to share any "schticks" -- cliche'd stereotypical ways of behaving. 
Whereas, if you were running the contests from "Melisande's Hand" with the 
performance styles from "Asterix at the Olympics" in mind...

Mark Sullivan:

> The Esrolians always seemed more Minoan to me.

Yeah, that's neat too. Although (cf. Martin Bernal, "Black Athena" vol.II) 
maybe that's because the Minoans now seem quite Egyptian to me... The 
institution of the Year Kings is seen neatly in Mary Renault's "The King 
Must Die", which also has some pleasantly effeminate Minoans to steal. The 
thalassocracy -- trireme-based -- is a more Ptolemaic/Hellenistic feature 
of the Holy Country, one I see as more Pharaonic than Esrolite. After all, 
the sailors come from the port cities and the islands, not the great inland 
farms of Esrolia.

One advantage Egyptian Esrolia still maintains over both Minoan and Celtic 
approaches is that it serves as a model for a *really* dense agricultural 
population. Celtic --> scattered clan villages, not cities. Minoan --> not 
really that fertile land.

Besides, I'm nicking the Minoans for parts of early West Peloria (that Bull 
imagery is very handy for my present purposes): can't use it twice...

As I noted at the time, the chief reason for an Egyptian model for Esrolia 
is that the guy in charge is called "Pharaoh". The spin-off benefits 
(enumerated in an earlier post) confirm to me that this is a neat model. If 
you can find another way over the "Pharaoh" hurdle, you can presumably 
solve the other problems on your own. While I like aspects of (and have 
previously considered) Minoan, Celtic, Mesopotamian or Canaanite models for 
Esrolia, you can hardly blame me for not devoting myself to re-analysis of 
them after hitting on my preferred solution.

James King wrote:

> Its about time AH looked at Chaosium and FASA, and saw that it 
> appears to be cheaper to produce a thicker book for about six
> pounds less!  The books are high quality, but currently, they 
> are a total rip-off.

Yes. I couldn't agree with you more. The contrast in prices between Avalon 
Hill's books and those from other companies is absolutely scandalous. Is 
there a "reasonable" reason, anyone, or are we just being milked?

Hmm... I must have got out of bed the wrong side this morning. Bits of this 
posting read like the work of Mr. Tetchy. Hope nobody's pissed off by it. 
I'm really happy right now, 'cos I found some *lovely* editions of Lady 
Gregory's translations from Irish mythology in Dublin, and a two-volume 
paperback assortment of selections picked from the classic "Ancient 
Near-Eastern Texts" in the British Museum bookshop! Hours of fun...



From: (johnjmedway)
Subject: Scenarios & Dragon Pass
Message-ID: <>
Date: 9 Nov 93 01:47:04 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 2241

>>  From: (Sandy Petersen)
>>  X-RQ-ID: 2175
>>  Wow, Nick. I'm highly amused by the fact that you and I achieved  
>>  wholly different interpretations of the WBRM data re: who the good  
>>  guys are. There's clearly a fascinating culture variance between them  
>>  crazed American colonialists and obsessive British imperialists. 

A trio of tenuously-related questions about WBRM & Dragon Pass:

1. What ever happened to Androgeus? ( aka Game construct so the 3-player
   game can have a Superhero for everyone )

2. How the hell do the independants win the "Dousing the Flames" scenario?
   ( Historically the "weight of the Lunar Magic proved invincible", and 
   YOW! I'd have to agree with that one, seeing how my collective Beastman-
   Shaker-Pony butts got kicked )

3. What percentage of the total forces of the lunars do the units in Dragon 
   Pass represent? What range in sizes is there between counters?

>>  From: (David Dunham  , via RadioMail)
>>  X-RQ-ID: 2156
>>  Alas, the map in RQA2 is not the same as the map I copied from Greg several
>>  years ago. John tells me he made up his detail. I think John did a great
>>  job with no information, but those who want the "official" data should let
>>  Chaosium and/or Avalon Hill know you'd buy a copy of Greg's Dragon Pass
>>  map.

Show of hands of those who play in Glorantha who'd NOT snap up any detail map?

>>  From: (David Dunham  , via RadioMail)
>>  X-RQ-ID: 2181
>>  Recent scenarios are heavily geared towards a particular sort of character.
>>  GV is far better the way Nick ran it, for Sun County characters. Nick's
>>  also told me that _all_ his players run Sun County characters. What a

In my campaign all of the players are Dara Happans or other Pelorians. They
mix between the pantheons of the area ( Moon, Sun, Earth/Beast ), but all
are of the same culture. We've had several somewhat mixed parties before,
and several monolithic ones as well. The very mixed party usually seems too
much a contrivance, and is often inexplicable, other that in "we need a
thief  and a ranger and a ... " gaming terms.

>>  keep the scenario open to the widest range of PCs. Writing a scenario for
>>  Orlanthi may seem like a safe bet, but it's not (I've never run an
>>  Orlanthi, and the only one in my campaign is a Windchild).

As you'd suspect from my description, above, we have no Orlanthi either.
However if the players weren't alrady travelling elsewhere, the trade
mission through Dorastor could be some lite fun.

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From: (johnjmedway)
Subject: Anthropology
Message-ID: <>
Date: 9 Nov 93 01:47:31 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 2242

>>  From: (Eric Rowe)
>>  X-RQ-ID: 2182
>>  		Being the Report of Marsilia Redblade
>>  		on the Unit of the Balazaran, Poloathi

Cool idea. I'd like to see more news and background from folks' campaigns
tossed in here from time to time.

>>  From: (Sandy Petersen)
>>  X-RQ-ID: 2190
>>  I refuse to stand by anything I wrote in Different Worlds over 10  
>>  years ago. 

He's pulling a Greg. "Well, now-a-days we think it works like this. You see 
there's this Elmal guy..." 8)

>>  I think that the dwarfs' eyes are a product of the fact that they  
>>  were expected to operate on the surface world, when produced. I  
>>  wouldn't be surprised if true Mostali had no eyes at all. Or if they  
>>  did, if the eyes were later additions to their bodies. 

Cool. Mostali with mechanical eyes grafted onto their faces. Kinda Borg-ish.
You will be assimilated (into the World Machine ).

>>  From: (Thom Baguley)
>>  X-RQ-ID: 2203
>>  Newton Hughes writes:
>>  >Certainly d&d set a bad example by giving infravision to everybody and
>>  >his dog, but in the case of dwarves isn't it appropriate?
>>  Wouldn't a furnace effectively blind the dwarf though ...? I would have thought

Yep. I'd think so.

>>  an electromagnetic sense (or rather its Gloranthan analogue) would be more
>>  appropriate. The dwarf sense would adapted for underground rather than the
>>  completely different ambient signals above ground.

Much better idea. Maybe the eyes were added as a response to intrusions and
having to deal with outsiders?

>>  From: (Joerg Baumgartner)
>>  X-RQ-ID: 2207
>>  One of my main fun activities with Glorantha is to try and explain 
>>  Gloranthan phenomenons with pseudo-scientific treatises.
>>  One of the problems that occur are the geological "facts" delivered in the 
>>  Snake Pipe Hollow scenario. The different pieces of strata delivered there 
>>  would take several hundred million years on Earth, and more importantly 
>>  the area would have to have been overlayed by sea several times, and the 
>>  sea would have to have evaporated.

Well, one of the layers, the Irridium Layer, could have come from the remains 
(dust) blown out when the Spike was destroyed.

>>  From: 100270.337@CompuServe.COM (Nick Brooke)
>>  X-RQ-ID: 2180
>>  Like Celtic/Saxon/Scandinavian sounds too easy for the Orlanthi? When you 
>>  have a densely populated agricultural region that runs things the Old Way 
>>  and is ruled by someone they call Pharoah, it seems a convenience (or, to 
>>  put it another way, why should we make trouble for ourselves explaining 
>>  Aztec Pharoahs?). Chuck in bits of the old Mesopotamian religion run by 
>>  women as pre-Pharoanic stuff (linked to the Esrola cult and the Year Sons), 
>>  and you're away.

OK. Sold.

>>  NB: in this theory, it could be that "Pharoah" is Belintar's Esrolite 
>>  title, and the trolls, Heortlings etc. have a different name for him. As 

And the Trolls call him Bad Ass?

>>  From: (Paul Reilly)
>>  X-RQ-ID: 2193
>>    The early myths of Glorantha have many exact parallels in Sumerian myth.
>>  The story of Umaths's birth in particular.  Thus I look at the Middle East
>>  (including perhaps everything from the Balkans to Northern India) as the
>>  key zone for Earthly cultures that are 'analogous' to central Genertelan
>>  cultures.  Someone should write a paper on this...

I pretty much agree with this, but I've had too ingrained into my brain the
"Celtic/Saxon/Scandinavian" concept for the Orlanthi. The Lunars are a quasi-
Roman govermnent, but at the same time are Greek, and Persian, and ...

>>    If we take the statement that Glorantha is a Bronze Age world seriously we
>>  should be looking at cultures like the Hittites and Mycaenean Greeks as our
>>  role models for Theyalans, Sumer for Dara Happa, etc.

We don't seem to do that. 

We take a mix of Viking/Celt trotting around with plenty o' iron, and pit
them, and their egalitarian, freedom-loving ideals against an empire of the
style of Rome mixed with the British Imperial period and a tad of the Soviets.

Nope. We don't do the bronze age thing very well.

But, and this is a big but. This ain't Earth, man. Magic substitutes for 
technology, and heroes, not just political leaders, *heroes* lead the world.
Besides, they didn't actually have to come down from the trees, bang rocks
together and groove the otherworldly tunes put out by a big black monolith.
They just popped into existence, and pretty much began living the way they 
live now, on Day 1.

Hard to be able to make good comparisons, other than in the coarsest sense.

Nevertheless, it does seem a bit too advanced. doesn't it?

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From: (Eric Rowe)
Subject: The end of an age.
Message-ID: <>
Date: 8 Nov 93 13:49:55 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 2243

Graeme Lindsell noted...

>An observation on King of Sartar: one thing I find depressing
>about Gregs fourth age stuff is that it makes clear that
>nothing a third age PC does will amount to much: not because
>we're told that  Argrath did everything (that could be false)
>but because it's obvious that Third Age civilization in central
>Genertela is going to be destroyed, and that little remains.
>Everything the players create will be undone.

I find nothing depressing about this.  In fact, I'm glad that little
remains after the end of the third age.  Look at earth history in
terms of longevity of empires and civilizations.  As far as I'm
concerned, if anything is amiss it is that Gloranthan civilizations
have a bit much staying power (not too much though).

The bottom line is that most things most people create (PC's or not)
don't often make it though more than one age.  I think this is
something to be rejoiced, not something to be despondent about.  It
makes those rare things which do last ever so much more precious.