Bell Digest v940416p2

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Reply-To: RuneQuest@Glorantha.Holland.Sun.COM (RuneQuest Daily)
Subject: RuneQuest Daily, Sat, 16 Apr 1994, part 2
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From: (John P Hughes)
Subject: Pamaltela
Message-ID: <>
Date: 16 Apr 94 16:49:15 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3670


In which Sandy Petersen cries Havoc, while trying to have his
flatbread and eat it too, and John Hughes rushes forward to
confess (nay, proclaim!) himself guilty as charged.

        'So, they had sex. What's the big deal? It's not as though
         they kissed or anything.'
                      !Yim//bun the Strong. Left Hand Doraddi.

Hmmm. A stranger approaches. Let's make a fire and cook some flatbread 

Sandy opines:

>I can't speak for the weird Australian-oid material that has  been 
>coming out recently, all about "skins" and "Left-Hand path",
>etc. How closely is it based on Australian culture? 

VERY loosely Sandy. Analogue only. Lots of original and Chaosium 
background stuff as well. Note that 'skin' is merely an alternative term 
for 'clan' or 'family'. All human cultures have skins. They are mentioned 
quite a lot in the Chaosium materials on Pamaltela.

Sandy, I'm jest a little confused by your comments. First of all, what do 
you mean by 'weird'? In certain contexts, 'weird' can be the greatest 
compliment paid to Gloranthan material. Weird meaning strange yet also 
familiar; weird meaning disturbing but also making profound sense 
in context. Things that shake you out of your ethnocentrism and 
cognicentrism (i.e. our predominantly male, western Judeo-Christian 
materialistic culture), things that challenge your ideas of how the 
world might work. Things of wonder. Things of depth, as opposed to 
the 'silly monstersand big sticks' approach of other games. 

Trollpack was weird. King of Sartar was weird. My first encounter with an 
all-female Lunar elite unit was weird (and deadly) - I was a lot younger 
back then. It was weird for my players when they first met a priestess 
of Uleria. (Rather than being a stereotypical prostitute, she choose whom 
SHE wished to worship with, and was in fact a learned, culturally powerful 
and much respected figure whose primary role was to provide local social 
and business information to travellers. Her temple was a local 
information / consultancy bureau, and worshippers came to her for ALL 
the comfort and learning of charis/karuna (just as in ancient Near East)). 

When I encounter weird in a game, I stop, I argue, I think through the 
implications of Glorantha's real magic and gods, and the limitations of my 
own western world view. I also think about the limitations of commercial 
roleplaying, and the wargaming / strategy model that has dominated its 
history, obscuring so much of what the hobby has to offer. Weird is 
liberating, and very enjoyable, and for me it's a big part of what 
roleplaying is all about.

Now, while 'weird' was indeed one of the aims of the Pamaltelan material 
I submitted to Tales, I suspect that in using the word, Sandy was not 
intending a compliment. Of course I may be wrong. 

Sandy, exactly what do you mean by 'weird Australian-oid material'? 
DID you enjoy Tales #11? If not, what did you object to? Was it dull or 
stereotyped? Does the content clash in any way with Chaosium's published 
material? Does it close off any imaginative possibilities for gms, 
fellow creators and travellers? 

Now back to Sandy's original (rhetorical?) question. 

My material was designed, not only to fulfil the look and feel of a 
functioning Gloranthan culture, but also to comply fully with all of 
Chaosium's published Pamaltelan material, as well as all of the 
unpublished material provided me by Greg. The Aranjara material is 
Gloranthan, and, far from being a 'transplant' of Koori society has 
many elements either created by me or adapted from Chaosium background 
materials. The Aranjara spring from my imagination and storytelling and 
roleplaying and journeying, shared and mediated by the imagination and 
creativity of fellow travellers. The prime design aim was to present 
IN DETAIL a society as far removed from the stereotypical D&Dish western 
medieval village as possible, to demonstrate how it might work, and to 
explore its roleplaying possibilities.

'Just a moment stranger. I will sing the fire into life. Will you thank 
the totem for us all?'

Let me give a few examples. (Please remember that 'Aboriginal society' is 
a generalisation for over 750 language and culture groups spanning an entire 
continent, from tropical island paradise to snow-blasted highlands to 
60C gibber desert). Non-Koori elements included by me in the Aranjara 
material include: the prominent role of women in public life: 
matrilineal descent and all that results from it, including the high 
degree of sexual and social freedom for women; Songs of Power and the 
resultant magic system; ritual abduction in marriage; personalised gods; 
the cultic structures of the Dreaming and the levels of initiation; 
the Women's Circle and its role; female shamans; the typical personality 
characteristics I ascribe to Aranjara culture; the click language; 
brideservice; the strong reincarnation/reawakening elements; The Great 
Dance; the physical limitations of being bonded to country; the kissing 
taboo; livers; flames; True Names; Power Totems... and vegemite.


The religious landscape was constructed around the Chaosium Pamalt cult 
write-up supplied by Greg. The kinship system (and the accompanying kinship 
article) was a mix&match from many systems,  constructed with an eye to 
enjoyment, role-playability and relative simplicity. The Mimi are part of 
Koori mythology, but their powers as described are purely my (and Philippa's) 
invention. The initiation ceremonies are our own. So is the idea of the 

I'm happy to proclaim that certain features of Koori (and African, and 
Arabian, and Siberian) culture inspired my writing, and that a Koori 
'analogue' can provide a good introductory 'look & feel' for beginners 
to certain parts of Pamaltela, and as a focus for 'meta-level' exploration 
as occurs on the Digest. (After all, such analogues have been used in in 
various magazine articles and in Chaosium submission guidelines). However 
the Aranjara are GLORANTHAN, were constructed using (to the best of my, 
Philippa's  and the editor's knowledge) Glorantha on its own terms, and 
(hopefully!) with a sensitivity to Glorantha's history and its magical and 
physical environment. I hope I don't have to explain the difference 
between imitation and inspiration.

Not even Sandy seems to jump when someone says, for example, that 
Sartarites are loosely based on an Anglo-Saxon/Celt/Viking mix. What's then 
the problem with admitting that Pamaltela has some elements based loosely 
on African/Aboriginal/Arabian/Siberian/Mongolian/???? cultures, especially 
since Chaosium has published only a few paragraphs on the culture of the 
continent, the fact that it's VERY BIG (as big and diverse as Genertela in 
the north), and that it's unlikely that ANY official Chaosium material will 
be published in the indefinite future.

If we don't use analogues for Pamaltela, (or worse, believe that it is a 
'unique creation' that can only be explored using unpublished and 
often fragmentary dribs and drabs from the original house campaign) we 
might as well leave the place alone. It's been eight years since the 
Pamaltela sketchbook was put together for World of Gloratha, and it may 
easily be another eight years before it, (or its successors) are published, 
if ever. While this may suit some people, for me it goes against the 
fundamentally democratic nature of the Gloranthan community. No one, not 
even Greg, controls my imagination or limits what I can or cannot do within 
the agreed common limit's of the Gloranthan vision. Pamaltela is there. We 
know about it, it calls, and many of us have already landed. The skins are 

All we had published before Tales #11 was Pamaltela's monsters, a
few paragraph descriptions of gods, and the broadest of geographical /
sociopolitical data. If Pamaltela is ever to rival the richness of
Genertela, we if fact need many MORE cultures and cultural
analogues, as well as mythomagical, cultic and political constructions to 
rival the depth and diversity of the Norths. 

'Care for some flatbread, stranger?'

I note that at the end of his posting, after asking how much is derived 
from Koori material, Sandy seems to have already made up his mind...

> But I feel, with Devin, that exactly adapting terrestrial  cultures
> to Glorantha (as seems to have been done with the Pamaltelan
> "skins" material) is an error.

I agree with the first part totally. Curiously, in preparing the Pamaltela 
issue, I argued this very point in putting forward my two bolgs worth over 
what material to include. Your second assertion is INCORRECT. You were wrong 
in believing the Aranjara material to be any sort of direct analogue. 

'What is this? In your country you keep the flatbread and eat it too?'

The idea of using a Koori analogue for certain parts of Pamaltela was first 
voiced by Greg Stafford when he was visiting us Down Under in 1992. 
(Hey, we gotta chain that boy down, he's getting too many ideas :-) ).
Greg later suggested to David Hall (Tales editor) that Philippa and I 
might do some material for the Pamaltela issue, and he sent me the 
unpublished Chaosium materials as a guideline. It grew from there. 
The Koori analogue did not begin with me.

Facing the problem of integrating this suggested new analogue with existing 
(though unpublished and often fragmentary) material (which Sandy has 
carefully reminded us is not African at all :-) ), I deliberately choose an 
isolated area far from the mainstream of Doraddi life, kept the population 
low, and provided a full origin myth to explain the differences. I 
interpreted the Chaosium description of the two types of Kalali folk, 
"the men who sing 'da da' and the men who sing 'beanie beanie'", as 
providing an existing hook to explain the cultural divide. ( I mean, what 
else could you do with it?!!?)

           'Among the Left Hand folk, most material goods are
           seen as potentially malign unless eternally in motion
           through trade and exchange. The only exceptions
           are spears, digging sticks, personal adornment and
           ceremonial ochres.  The Left Hand trade what we
           would regard as useless things - feathers, sacred stones,
           belts of hair, congealed spirits, human umbilical cords. 
           For them, "Things" are merely tokens of intent - to
           meet again, trade songs, negotiate, marry, dance, sing. 
           Songs are the principle medium of exchange.

           The Aranjara say, "Things are not good. Things have a
           way of getting into your liver, telling your liver what
           to do. They are distractions from the important things
           in life. Like singing. Like dancing. Like ceremony. 
           Like Vegemite."
                                      Surinda of the Twisted Lance

Having said all that, I should state that I DID want my material to take 
a slightly unusual perspective, a theme that MOB took up in the Tales 
editorial. I wanted to get as far away as possible from spells and fighting 
and Illuminated chaotic Ulerian were-mountains. I wanted to explore the 
mechanics of a matrilineal society. I wanted to emphasise women and 
emotion and cultural difference. I wanted to show some of the roleplaying 
possibilities of using an extended kinship system, something Greg had begun 
in 'Report On The Orlanthi' in King Of Sartar. I wanted to emphasise the 
finer details of daily life, as Greg had also done in that work. I wanted to 
portray sex, romance, marriage and family life in a sensible roleplaying 
context. And I wanted to challenge the imagination of fellow questers as to 
the type of scenario and culture they could run, and some of the various 
approaches they might use in their mutual storytelling. 

Now I'm not claiming that I succeeded in any of this. But I tried, and with 
the many other people who contributed significantly to the project, 
hopefully gave questers a glimpse into what Pamaltela might become.

'Ummm, nice bread. So stranger, what is your skin?'

I believe that the richness of the Great Southern Land, at this very early 
stage of its development, should be a testing ground for as many ideas and 
cultures and perspectives as possible. At least until something official is 
published, lets experiment and share what we discover. With tools like the 
Digest, and the Gloranthan expertise of its contributors, we can share 
ideas and debate them in a forum unthinkable when Greg was constructing 
Genertela. Our common vision of Glorantha can only benefit.

Pamaltela is VAST. I believe it's big enough to hold the imagination of 
Greg and Sandy Petersen and Paul Reilly and Finulla McCaul and Dan Barker 
and MOB and Eric Rowe and John Lawson and Philippa and I and a thousand 
others besides. (Showing proper respect for the nature of Glorantha and it's 
creator's vision, of course - in this particular case mediated and 
directed through the editorial support of David Hall, MOB and the 
Tales staff). 

I certainly intend to continue my exploration of Pamaltela in play and 
story and scenario and article (even if I do 'duck' home to my Ironspike clan 
in Northern Sartar every once in a while) and I will continue to base it on
Chaosium guidelines and whenever possible run it past Greg before publication.
But I'll use that material as a springboard for my imagination, not a
barrier. Who knows, perhaps someday Pamaltela will be officially published, 
so we'll all have a common baseline to build upon. Even that will be a bare 
beginning, as long-time Sartar and Prax experts (or any issue of the Digest) 
will testify. 

Until such a time: look at Jolar in Tales #11, and whatever material Tales or 
the other RQ magazines might publish in the future. Explore, challenge your 
preconceptions, liberate your imagination's creative resources and most 
importantly, HAVE FUN. Who knows,if you REALLY want to, you might even come 
across a chaotic Illuminated Ulerian were-mountain. Or even some ducks 
(Sigh. Not enough ducks in my neck of the desert). Or something truly 
wonderful. Or Weird.

So what do you think Sandy?

John (insert clicks as appropriate) Hughes

BTW Sandy, the matrilineal kinship system detailed in Chaosium's Pamaltela 
material is so general as to be found in most parts of the world. It is 
unlikely to be Cheyenne: when that people abandoned farming and took to the 
buffalo plains in the C18 (as related in the tale of the culture hero
/heroquester Sweet Medicine) their kinship system mutated and became very 
patrilineal. If Amerindian in inspiration, the original system would more 
likely be Hopi or Iroquois.

And I certainly agree that the oasis, lineage, marriage taboos etc. are 
entirely original, and have no 'odour' of Africa at all. How could anyone be 
so deceived? :-).


From: (Joerg Baumgartner)
Subject: Tournament of Luck and Death
Date: 15 Apr 94 08:03:31 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3651


for my upcoming Heortland-scenario (next Saturday) I need information 
about the Tournaments of Luck and Death, other than that published in 
RQ-Companion, Genertela Book and Glorantha Book.

The Scenario will have Jar-eel's preparations to dismember the Pharaoh 
and assure that the Tournament of Luck and Death won't produce a new 
body as a central theme. I am assuming that Jar-eel's agents will have 
mapped and prepared the magical sites in the Holy Country of importance 
to the Pharaoh, and subtly induced disturbances so that the next 
Tournament (in 1616, the one that fails) won't result in any return of 
_a_ Pharaoh.

I'm not yet certain about Nick Brooke's theory that Jar-eel intercepts 
the Pharaoh at the Year King sacrifice in Esrolia, but if so, when in 
the Gloranthan year would this rite be performed?

Freezeday or Clayday, Fertility Week, Earth Season would be the high 
holy day/night of Esrola (either as Asrelia, Ernalda, or Grain 
Goddess), but I see this date more as a thanksgiving than as a day for 
a bloody rite. However, the sacrifice could be on Freezeday, and the 
wedding of the new Year king on Clayday. Ty Kora Tek's High Holy Day 
(IMHO the most probable deity to perform such a sacrifice) is held in 
the night from Clayday to Windsday in Illusion Week, Dark Season. 

(There are two major campaigns before the disappearance of the Pharaoh 
- Greymane's raid on Esrolia, and the Wolf Pirates' raid on the Islands 
followed by their crushing victory over the Kethaelan navy. Both events 
are likely to have taken place in Fire Season, when the crop is yet on 
the field, and the seas are friendly.)

But whatever happens to the Pharaoh (and his household, according to 
Genertela Book p.34) at this rite, there is a Tournament of Luck and 
Death after this event. Part of Jar-eel's success is to assure this 
Tournament's failure.
(I blame her or other Lunar agents for the death of King Hend, current 
(1609-1617) King of Heortland, as well, but that is my personal opinion 
only. However, there are precedents: Carmania (Three Arrows of Light), 
Elkoi, Tarsh (Hon-eel), Sartar 1602, the Pharaoh...)

--  Joerg Baumgartner


Subject: Vadeli
Message-ID: <>
Date: 15 Apr 94 16:03:14 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3652

Who are these Vadeli that are often mentioned in these dailies?
So far I have learned this:

They are blue
They are nasty
They have something to do with some "missing caste"
They are immortal
They (or some of them?) are sorcerors

Could someone tell some more about them? Where are they found?
What are they doing? What is their culture like?

Klaus O K


From: mmlab! (Chris Cooke)
Subject: >100%
Message-ID: <9404151356.AAwlsx01854@relay1.UU.NET>
Date: 15 Apr 94 13:57:23 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3653

I recently came across an intersting point in an Email discussion.

Is it true that in order for your skills % to exceed 100% you must be a Rune
Lord or similar?  I know there are skill limitations for certain people (like
dex x 3 for combat skills).  Is there a consensus on how this actually works?

How would you fix an Elf with say 120% bow due to age and previous experience
but who does not have all the minimums for Wood Lord.  Would he still be
able to exceed 100% in bow (or sword) ? 

                />        Chris Cooke 


Subject: Pamaltela - Inspiration or Imitation?
Message-ID: <>
Date: 16 Apr 94 10:00:27 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3654


Devin Cutler opines:
>I am extremely worried that Glorantha is becoming anthropologized.  
>By this I mean that given regions in Glorantha become essentially  
>transplanted Terran equivalents, to the detriment of the fantasy
>feel of the game.
>Pamaltela is quite obviously an amalgem of African and Australian

Sandy replies:

>      I agree with Devin a lot. 

>      I can't speak for the weird Australian-oid material that has  
>been coming out recently, all about "skins" and "Left-Hand path",  
>etc. How closely is it based on Australian culture?

The Aranjara stuff in Tales #11 is very loosely based on some elements of
Australian aborigine culture - just like most of the other published
cultures in Glorantha (eg. Sartarites are based on an anglo-saxon/celt/viking 
mix, Vormain on the samurai, the Ygg islands on the Vikings, Sandy's Fonrit 
on the Barbary coast, the Rokari on Medieval France etc.)  Chaosium submission
guidelines in the past have made such analogies.

>        But I feel, with Devin, that exactly adapting terrestrial  
>cultures to Glorantha (as seems to have been done with the Pamaltelan  
>"skins" material) is an error.

I agree with Sandy and Devin that exact adaptions are not cool.
Sandy, first you asked how closely the Aranjara are based on Australian
aborigines, but later in your post you seem to assume that it is just an exact
copy.  Let me assure you that it isn't a direct rip-off at all.  

No doubt John Hughes (if he's keeping up the RQ Daily at the moment) can
elucidate further on his sources of inspiration if you like.

Sandy does call John's stuff weird.  I agree, it is WEIRD, and that's what 
helps to make it so Gloranthan.  My personal fave is his story 
"Aranjara Dreaming" which I think transcends the mere "fan" writing 
we've previously published, and gone into the realms of real 
literature.  (By the way, the two women on the front cover are 
the characters in the story; John's concept of who's who is the 
exact opposite of who they're meant to be.  But if you know John, 
that's the way he thinks...)

I was knocked out by John's material, as was Greg who gave John the original
inspiration.  This is why I was moved to give so much of TALES #11 over to
John's stuff, at the
expense of material by other writers (for which I apologised in the 
editorial).  However, Pamaltela is a big place, with room enough for everyone.
Another Great Southern Land issue of TALES is planned for the future, in 
which we might focus on the coastal regions, or the Right Hand folk, or 
the elf forests, or maybe even Rahmuktara, WAY DOWN south...

TALES has received quite a bit of comment about issue #11, almost all of it 
positive.  So, what did you think of it Sandy?


From: mmlab! (Chris Cooke)
Subject: Trickster
Message-ID: <9404151405.AAwlsy04502@relay1.UU.NET>
Date: 15 Apr 94 14:06:46 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3655

In GoG it states Trickster initiates are also Acolytes and as such recieve
reusable divine magic BUT it doesn't list which.  Is it just common divine?
only Trickster divine spells?  do they have to get other divine spells by
initiating into other Cults(possibly associated only)?  but have those
reusable?  (wouldn't that surpise other cult members?)  Any clarification of
the Trickster would be a big help.  Also, what would his skills limitations
be?  dex x 3 (x5?)  ?

Also, it says Tricksters are not subject to (or protected by) the law.  How
would the general populace of Prax and Sartar view a "discovered" Trickster?
Hunted? Ignored? Bounty Hunt? Jaxxo makes a wonderful jester  but what if
you Trickster is large(size18+) and has formidable combat skills?


                />        Chris Cooke