Bell Digest v940301p1

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To: RuneQuest@Glorantha.Holland.Sun.COM (Daily automated RQ-Digest)
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Subject: RuneQuest Daily, Tue, 01 Mar 1994, part 1
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X-RQ-ID: Intro

This is the RuneQuest Daily Bulletin, a mailing list on
the subjects of Avalon Hill's RPG and Greg Stafford's 
world of Glorantha.  It is sent out once per day in digest

More details on the RuneQuest Daily and Digest can be found
after the last message in this digest.


Subject: Pantheon Initiation, Wizard caste, Time.
Message-ID: <>
Date: 27 Feb 94 21:06:09 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3195

> > The Hrestoli wizards are unlikely to be so  
> > stern, since all of them had to be farmers first, so still have wives 
> > and friends.

> Certainly not all, since caste membership is hereditary.

Not amonst the Hrestoli, it isn't, though if they're immune to nepotism
they'll be the only such society on either Glorantha or Earth.  It may the
case that in the less robustly Idealist communities children of non-Farmers
are whisked through the lower classes rather briskly, until they reach
their `proper' station, but that's just the cynic in me talking.

> > 	Among the Rokari, I have a different theory about monks and  
> > nuns. Seems to me that the Rokari culture can't support any more  
> > wizards than the Orlanthi can support priests. However, the Rokari  
> > wizards, hereditary all, can breed more wizards than society is  
> > willing to feed and tend for.

Is that really the case?  There's only a pressing need for this if the
Wizard class breeds faster than the others.  And didn't someone suggest
that Rokari Wizards (may) take vows of chastity and celibacy?

> > Aside: Was there any worship of any god at all before the Dawn ?

> Good question. I think there was, a worship of the leader, from which 
> the communal spirits (Orlanthi would say wyters) came into being, the 
> largest of all was Glorantha (and now is Arachne Solara). Lesser ones 
> manifested as deities of the land, or of nations, etc.

The problem isn't the gods, which were stoatin' around in droves, but the
`worship'.  If the distinction between the assorted `planes' only occurred
at the begining of Time, then worship must have been very different indeed.
Theistic temples are surely a post-Time invention: after all, why pray to
Yelm if you could just take a number at the Celestial Court to wait and see
him in person?  (In Godliness??)

> > I think I mostly agree, but I do think statements of the form "blah happened
> > before Time" are ultimately meaningl[ess], or at least unprovable.  Even
> > supposing anything really happened before Time in the `first' place, how
> > would we be able to tell if it had been changed subsequently by HeroQuest?

> Because, IMHO, any change by a heroquest results in multiple versions of a 
> myth, and by analyzing the various versions the prior truth can be 
> reassessed.

This may often be the case, but I think a sufficiently successful HQ
could change the myth completely, eliminating earlier versions.  Examples
are hard to come by, for obvious reasons, but anyone you think of an a
priori reason why this couldn't, or hasn't, happen(ed)?  And I don't think
multiple myths always indicate HQing: for example, is this the case for
the Creation of Humans?

At the least, It Has Been Gregged that Dawn Age and Third Ages myths
`differ'.  (Though that could be interpreted in a number of ways.)
In my more skeptical moments, I sometimes wonder if all putatively pre-Time
events aren't completely ficticious (/mythic/allegorical/whatever).  To
wit, either `creation' may have occurred at the Dawn, or pre-Dawn history
may have been entirely confuzled by subsequent myth-making.

> > Said Boris said:
> >>   A while back there was some discussion about what it meant to be to be an
> >>   Orlanthi initiate; not so much an initiate of the cult of Orlanth, but to
> >>   be a member of the Theyalan culture who has just gone through initiation.

> > I'd agree there are indeed these two separate aspects to Initiation,
> > cultural and religious.  And at a push, I'd agree one could go though
> > the former without the later.  But why is it necessary to tinker with the
> > (cult) initiation rules to do this?

> Because that is where the problem first arises.

Not in my opinion.  To claim that what`s needed is "cultural initiation",
and then to rewrite the _cult_ initiation rules is surely to confuse
the issue.  To reiterate: if we grant that one can undergo initiation
into adulthood and the tribe without becoming an initiate in the religious
sense, what's wrong with the existing rules?

> > Icky: the whole point of the POW sacrifice, according to my understanding
> > at any rate, is to bind the Initiate to his God (singular).

> I agree. Only, as the Seven Mothers example shows, this is also possible to 
> a group of deities. But if the new deity is one of the group, it can claim 
> the former link exclusively.

Ick-ick-ick.  This would make sense if one were losing "Low Initiate"
status in the remaining cults (though I think I'd still dislike it), but
Boris stated that (generally) one wouldn't.  If Low Initiation is intended
to be a non-magical status (Boris suggested Rune magic wouldn't necessarily
be available), why should POW sacrifice be necessary?

And as for the 7M cult: well, I think this raises more questions than it
answers.  But at any rate, 7M initiation isn't into a _pantheon_, it's
into a group of deities, all associated in any case (one supposes, at least),
in their role relating to a very particular mythic event.  This would
be better compared, I believe, to joining a temple of Orlanth Lightbringer,
say, than to "Initiation into the Orlanth Pantheon".

How are you suggesting that this should work in relation to the existing
7M/individual Mother cults?  Free Mother cult membership on payment of your
7M POW point?  Or that the point be `transferable' to the separate cult,
ending one's membership of 7M in the process?

> We discussed this a while ago WRT what happens to sacrificed POW.

I'll refer back to the earlier discussion, then, if pointed to the relevant

> >> In some clans, most of the people may never go past the Low Initiate level;
> >> they may view those who dedicate themselves to a single cult as "dangerous
> >> fanatics"

> > Why?  Under your own rules, an Initiate of , is at least as much use to
> > any given man or god as a Low Initiate.  Why isn't becoming a (full)
> > initiate of Orlanth or Ernalda the `expected' thing?

> Because neither Orlanth nor Ernalda are the plowman's primary choice.

> RQ Companion tells us that in Theyalan societies this is Barntar.

Well, whichever: my point is that regarding "Full Initiates" to the locally
important deities as flakes is a curious attitude, to say the least.  If
Barntar is the locally most prevalent, why isn't becoming a (full) initiate
of Barntar the Ideal State?  Under no scheme currently existing or proposed
does this do anything to lessen one's ability, if not duty, to participate
in the worship of other gods.  (Though admittedly Barntar may not have as
many associates, but this may reflect local needs, or lack of them, too.)

As to the question of which god is the most common, I suspect it'll vary
significantly from group to group.  For example in Esrolia Barntar is
doubtless extremely popular, in Theyalan cities, Orlanth (Rex?) will be more
so.  Probably Orlanth will also be the most worshipped in the more warlike,
and/or agriculturarily backward areas.  Isn't Ernalda as the "women's god"
fairly generally well-established, though?

Alex (Ferguson.  I hate this mail-header generator).


Subject: Elves post
Message-ID: <>
Date: 1 Mar 94 02:05:31 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3196

I notice some interest in elves on the Daily. Here's a piece I've been
working on, an only half-serious gonzo retake on the Aldryami by a lapsed biologist.
It's really more of a reaction against Tolkien than anything else. I haven't
seen the Elf Psychology piece, so I don't know how it fits. 

The Happy Little Elves

One of the most interesting features of Glorantha is the depth and
originality of its nonhuman races. All seem to be a reaction against the
stereotypes of fantasy fiction. Trollpak transformed trolls from slavering orcs
into a brutal but in its own way sophisticated alien race, and one that was
great fun to role-play. Dwarves were given a makeover in Elder Secrets, and
turned from little hairy men with axes into uptight machine-brains who would
be more at home in Paranoia! than Moria. Dragonewts have always been
totally, and intentionally, strange, a wild card that referees can use to 
baffle players. But elves are still elves.

Despite some attempts to break the Tolkien and D&D mould of skinny
environmentalists with pointy ears, elves still lack personality and the
feeling of being an alien race. Which is strange, as trolls, dwarves, humans
and dragonewts are like first cousins compared with the aldryami, which
are not just a different species, but a different biological kingdom. Elves
are plants, and the implications of this are startling. I want to cover some
of these implications in this article, and look at ways elves might be made
anti-Tolkien and more fun to play.

An elf is a walking plant crammed into a human suit. To aldryami, it's them
vs the animals. We might talk of a mindless person as a vegetable; elves
call an overly independent and mobile aldryami an animal. The ecological
terms producer and consumer are useful here. Plants are producers, the only
things able to convert sunlight and raw materials into organic life.
Everything else is a consumer, either directly or indirectly an eater of
plants, a parasite on the Green Kingdom. No matter how devout a priestess of
Ernalda may be, an elf can never forget that she is meat and he is not.
Aldryami and other plants are the true creators; humans, trolls, dwarves and
other animals are both destructive and dependent on the largesse of a plant
kingdom that could do pretty well without them. 

Elves are producers, just like the other plants, with chlorophyll in their
veins and skin, and leaves instead of hair. They breathe carbon dioxide and
produce oxygen (1). They can produce some nutrients in sunlight, but must
supplement this with organic matter, both to provide critical elements such
as nitrogen and phosphorus, and to ferment internally to raise their body
temperature, using digestive bacteria and fungi similar to those that
generate the internal heat of a compost heap. To kick-start their system,
elves will usually begin the day by basking in the sun for a couple of
hours, and will be grumpy and lethargic on cloudy days or in winter.

Because it must produce heat through bacterial activity, aldryami food
is best already partially decomposed. Fresh meat generally makes them
sick, but a few renegades like Saw-Tooth Korvan will eat it for strictly
political reasons. Fresh plant matter will give them indigestion if they 
overindulge, but certain leaves and flowers are epicurean delights. Humus,
or rotted leaf litter, is the staple dish. Soil will do, if it is a rich dark loam, 
but sand contains insufficient nutrients and they will starve. Manure, though
not the dung of carnivorous animals, is a delicacy. Horse and cattle manure
is good, rabbit manure is a rare treat, while chicken manure is the rich,
unhealthy chocolate of the plant world. Elves rarely reveal these dietary
preferences to others, as they hate being mocked by mere animals, but when
travelling in human lands they will always volunteer to sleep in the
stables, and generally have terrible halitosis.

For more details of aldryami cuisine, see the section on compost preparation
in any good gardening guide. Elves will mince or pulverize their food before
eating, but will not cook it, as they cannot use fire. All the children of
Aldrya are terrified of fire, and with good reason. Because their bodies are
made of wood and leaves, they are treated as flammable objects, and don't
require MP vs MP rolls to be set alight with an Ignite spell. This is not a
useful combat tactic though, as every second elf knows Extinguish. 

All aldryami are vegetarian cannibals, and see no qualitative distinction
between themselves and other plants. Dead elves are usually chopped up and
buried at the base of their favourite tree. Favoured individuals, such as
those slain or even badly wounded in battle, will be devoured (or "returned
to Aldrya"). Elves see nothing repugnant about this, pointing out that all
the other plants do exactly the same when a great tree falls, and that they
are hastening the journey of the fallen elf to Aldrya's bosom. The fallen
elf soon reappears through the eater's single nether orifice as a rich green
liquid manure, deposited around the base of nearby plants rather in the
manner of a dog lifting its leg.

Because they produce liquid feces, elves drink prodigiously, preferring
thick muddy broths of suspended humus and muck. They are able to absorb
moisture through their fingers and toes, and on a hot day enjoy paddling in
a shallow pond. Instead of sweating, they transpire mosture through their
leafy hair. This is not terribly efficient, wasting water and scarcely
cooling the elf down, so aldryami will tend to seek shelter from blazing sun
before they begin to wilt. Those few aldryami found in hot dry country have
spines instead of leaves for hair, to prevent excessive moisture loss.

One side-effect of leafy hair is that elves can take cuttings of themselves
which will grow into distinctive leafy shrubs. Every elf's leaves are
slightly different, and can be identified by another of the same area with
an Aldryami Lore roll, so a hairbush can act as a signature to a
copse-treaty (2), mark out a private grove, or for a wandering elf act as
graffiti (Kilroy was hair).

Aldryami are perhaps most interesting in the area of sexual reproduction.
Most elves have separate sexes, and like two-sexed plants are concerned with
transferring pollen from male to female. In flowering plants, pollen is
carried at the tips of the clump of tendril-like stamens. The female part of
a flower is a stalk-like sigma with a sticky tip for receiving pollen. Elves
have exactly these sexual organs (3). In aldryami intercourse, writhing male
stamens will attempt to brush their gametes onto the stout female stigma.
Elves are fecund and promiscuous, as befits their association with the
Grower. Female elves produce a small seed instead of a baby, and so are not
hampered with the burden of animal pregnancy. Some human scholars have heard
reports of large "pleasure bees" participating in aldryami sex, but this may
simply be the result of too much leafing through botany texts.


1) Bryanthemos of God Forgot experimented with elves and humans confined in
a metal box. She noted that the elf lost consciousness last, and that a
mixed pair lasted 30% longer than two humans in the same box. She attributed
this to the elf and human recycling each other's breathing, although in the
darkness the elf seemed to soon switch to breathing air like a human.
Bryanthemos' research was sponsored by Leonardo the Scientist, who was
designing an underwater boat. Sadly during the preparation of this
manuscript Bryanthemos passed away in a freak accident in which she was
struck 27 times by a falling tree.

2) The closest Aldryami equivalent to a written language is a form of
landscape gardening.

3) Clothed, male and female elves appear identical. Naked, they are always
mis-sexed by humans, for obvious reasons. Rumours of human-aldyami
intercourse are examples of this mistake taken to the extreme. See the play
M. Butterfly for details.

Mike Dickison


From: (Andrew Raphael)
Subject: Heifers & dragonewts
Message-ID: <>
Date: 1 Mar 94 10:30:21 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3197

Newton writes:

>I enjoyed Yangshak's acount, in Elder Secrets, of his war-party and
>its encounter with the Dragonewt power of Maya.  I can't help wondering
>about the motivations of the Dragonewts in the story, why they wanted
>the heifer in the first place, why the nomads found it tailless.

This would be for the same reason that the tail of a butchered herd-beast
or hand of a butchered herd-man is buried, so the beast's spirit returns
to the Mother of Beasts, Eiritha.  A Ball of Tails (see Plunder) binds
the spirits of herd-beasts in what must be a binding enchantment.

Removing the beast's tail may have made it useless as a sacred heifer, or
brought it under the eventual control of the Inhuman King, or something.
Perhaps they just wanted ox-tail soup for dinner.
Andrew Raphael 
    "She's probably not what she seems, though she tries"


From: (Durupt Jean)
Subject: Unicorns
Message-ID: <9402281256.AA19073@Sun.COM>
Date: 28 Feb 94 11:57:50 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3198

Hi all

I have a question concerning the unicorn riders of Prax.

Are they the cult of Yelorna and their unicorns are intelligent

Or,are they a standard tribe,since prehistoric Prax was 
a great forest,the then intelligent unicorns would have lost
to the humans during the survival covenant.

Or there is a weirder explanation.

Thanks in advance.


From: (Andrew Raphael)
Subject: Re: Elves, Wild Sages
Message-ID: <>
Date: 1 Mar 94 11:03:55 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3199

Paul Anderson writes:

>Janet concurs that the type of plant-totem should matter as much as or
>more than the season. Beware Holly-elves!

Yes, evergreen trees & ever-vigilant elves go together, but if it's
elves of the season you want, don't stand under the mistletoe runners.
Wanderers have come to a sticky end that way.
Andrew Raphael 
    "She's probably not what she seems, though she tries"


From: (Durupt Jean)
Subject: Orlanth&Yelm
Message-ID: <9402281322.AA21185@Sun.COM>
Date: 28 Feb 94 12:24:11 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3200

About the discussion of solar societies and storm societies.

Orlanthi mythology tells us some interesting things of the past:

-All the storm gods were outlawed by Yelm and exiled to the corner
of the world.

-A known outlaw (ie Orlanth) could go to the emperor's palace and
challenge him to a personnal contest.

-This outlaw lost all the contest,yes even the combat contest since
he did NOT demonstrate a better skill in wordmanship than Yelm in archery.
It is nonetheless true that he won the dispute.

-When Thed was raped, she obtained compensation but Ragnaglar was
not punished.

My theory is that in fact some storm gods were not outlawed but that Yelm
gave them a mission in the frontier of the empire.
This mission did not please them so they revolted,and they did so not because
their lord was unfair but because they wanted all the power without
first proving themselves fit to rule.

About the birthright problem.
I think that in the prosopedia of CoG, it is said that Lokarnos was
born a peasant in the golden empire and that he acheived godhood thanks
to his merits.

For a people as fond as precedent as the Solars (ref Sandy), it is
my opinion that your achievement count in a typical solar society,
wether you are born a peasant or a noble.

For the Sartar succession.
Only a descendent of Sartar can be prince.
The only difference with the solar way is that this person is not
always the eldest son.

Any comment are welcome


From: (charles gregory fried)
Subject: merry melodies
Date: 28 Feb 94 16:31:19 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3201

Could the author of the Walktapus dirge please send me a copy of his
beautiful song?  I managed to erase today's Daily.

As for etymologies, I suppose it's been noticed that 'Thanatar' is derived
from the Greek 'thanatos', meaning 'death'.  Sorry if I repeat the obvious. 
No need at all to explain 'Vivamort'!  

-- Greg Fried (

PS: If the chicago-area RQer whom I met at the Con, and whose name I forget,
reads this list, please be in touch!  I think I might finally find some time
for gaming!  (Sorry muss up the Daily with bulletin-board stuff, Henk.)


From: (Ian D. Young)
Subject: Un-Subcribing
Date: 28 Feb 94 01:07:16 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3202

unsub list


From: (Sandy Petersen)
Subject: re: RQ Daily
Message-ID: <>
Date: 28 Feb 94 05:52:07 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3203

Joerg Baumgartner challenges:
>Tell me of one religious war which did not end up as a landgrabbing 

The most famous of all religious wars, the Crusades, neither started  
nor ended up as a landgrabbing venture. They did manage to conquer a  
tiny portion of the Holy Land, but it was intended as a liberation,  
not as a conquest -- the vast majority of the Crusaders, after  
fighting, returned home to the much more fertile territory of Europe.  
Also, the later crusades and wars were attempts to save the Holy Land  
from conquest by the saracens, not attempts to grab land for second  
sons and greedy European warlords. 

>No conquering overlord could ever afford to wipe out the natives. 

Alas, but also 'taint so. If the conquerors are moving in, rather  
than "conquering", the natives are commonly shoved aside or  
exterminated. The British in Australia, the American in America, the  
Japanese in Hokkaido, and the Bantu in Africa all follow this  
appalling pattern. 

>Every Yelmite city is in constant internal intrigue, as well as  
>against other cities. Stealing by law is benevolent, is it? 

What are you talking about? They don't kill and murder one another,  
except under the tainted auspices of the Lunar Dart Competitions.  
"Stealing by Law" is taxation, which the Orlanthi engage in just as  
fully as the Yelm followers -- increased taxation is a feature of  
increased civilization, not a function of religion. Remember that one  
of the main grievances of the population against the Theyalan-based  
EWF was the heavy taxes it inflicted.  


From: staats@MIT.EDU (Richard C. Staats)
Subject: Chaos, Entropy and Balance
Message-ID: <9402281825.AA11631@MIT.EDU>
Date: 28 Feb 94 18:26:09 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3204


        I have finally gotten my story from the story telling contest at 
RQ-CON typed up.  (David, sorry for the long delay.)  It relates pretty 
heavily to the ongoing discussion of the relationship between Time and 

        The story is a little long to post in the Daily, but if anyone 
is interested, I would be glad to forward a copy on the net.

        Hope this finds all in good health and spirits.

        In service,

        Rich Staats