Bell Digest v940513p2

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Subject: RuneQuest Daily, Fri, 13 May 1994, part 2
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From: (Alex Ferguson)
Subject: No Such Thing As Lunar Society.
Message-ID: <>
Date: 12 May 94 17:44:53 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3992

> Alex Ferguson in X-RQ-ID: 3924
> > For one thing the Lunar religion doesn't _have_ any particular
> > clan structure to impose on people, and isn't philosophically inclined
> > to do so anyway.

> Lunar religion and civilisation is heavily influenced by Pelorian daily 
> life, which is dominated by clan-like familiy/in-law structures six or 
> seven generations extended (sounds familiar e.g. from Ireland).

Pelorian extended families sound quite unlike clans to me: for one
thing, they aren't "closed" structures: if A is "related" to B, and
B to C, it may well be the case that A and C are not.  (At least if
I understand it correctly.  This isn't true of Irish , though they do have the remarkable
property of not being _symmetric_ (i.e., A "related" to B may not mean
B "related" to A), which is funny enough to be going on with.  Though
"clan" isn't defined in this way among the Irish, either.

> The Lunar philosophy might not be inclined to think in clan structures. 
> Society does so, and religious practise probably as well.

I didn't say the Lunars don't _have_ clans, I said their religion doesn't
impose a particular clan structure.  This is manifestly obvious even
from your examples, which cites _different_ social organisations within
the Empire (and mostly not clan-based ones, but that's neither here or

So what are they going to do in Sartar, leave the indiginous structure
basically alone, and quietly subvert it, or try to mass-transplant an
arbitrary social structure from the Heartlands?

> > I don't think their claim to Tribal Kingship in any way depends on their
> > relationship to Sartar.

> I didn't say that. But I think that nearly any candidate for tribal 
> kingship could produce a tenuous family tie to the royal house if 
> pressured.

You seem to imply it, by statements such as this.  Why would they ever
be "pressured" into demonstrating such a tie?  If it does exist, it would
be more to do with inter-tribal, and tribe-to-crown marriages of political
convenience.  (Or, heaven forfend, of love.)

> > I think this is true for Yelmalio converts, but for "Old Time Elmali",
> > I'm not so sure.  At least for Elmal _clans_.

> The more rural you become, the less influential the tribe is.

I don't think this necessarily follows, unless you live someplace so
remote that your tribal king says "Who?" when the name of your clan is
mentioned.  Of course, in the more "primitive" areas, which may or may
not be more "rural" (more city-free, at least) tribal organisation may
be weak or non-existant, but that's a separate issue, I think.

> I think we agreed that most ceremonies are held at clan-scale, or smaller.

We did?  I think High Holy Day and Sacred Time ceremonies involve
participants from more than one clan, myself, and quite possibly from
the whole tribe.  Seasonal Holy Days I'm less sure about.  Weekly
worship (which is "optional", really), certainly held within the
clan.  (Or town/village etc., anyway.)

I think the whole "point" in having an Elmal clan, in an "ordinary"
tribe, is to provide ritual opponents and aides for the various rituals
with a solar presence.  Since ritual activity involving more than one
tribe is likely to be very uncommon, this will tend to make them much
more sun-centred in their worship, and "uppity" as a result.

> Which are stockades surrounded by stone walls, and ruled by a ring of 
> three or more tribes (except for Alone and Boldhome).

Well, the Sartarites call them cities, so what's the necessity of the
comparison?  Now granted, this does mean that they are less "citified"
than urban Esrolians, but I only wished to make a comparison within

> > Runegate I must plead ignorance of, but I can easily believe this to
> > be the case.  Are these various spirits associated with each district,
> > with different clans, or what?

> Good question. My info comes fro the CHDP chapter in KoS.

Oh, that: could simply mean city god/hero plus subcults.  Or in the same
vein as having "Temple spirits".  Or anything, really.  Not, mind you,
that I think all cities _need_ necessarily have a (single) "City god" in
anything terribly much like the GoG/Pavis model...



From: (Alex Ferguson)
Subject: Castes and classes and stuff.
Message-ID: <>
Date: 12 May 94 18:23:40 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3993

> Glad you liked the write-up, Alex!

Did I say that?  Prove it in (libel) court. ;-)

> I agree about Yelmic nobility lording it over racially-distinct Lodrili 
> peasants: remember my Von Daniken pastiche ascribing their origins to two 
> types of spaceship?

No, did that make it to the Daily?  Actually, I'm not sure the groups
are so much _racially_ distinct, as culturally divergent.  At present
I'm somewhat ambivalent between a literal interpretation of GRAY, which
suggests Dara Happa as a Yelm-worshipping region since the year dot, and
other sources which imply they picked this nasty little habit up during
the nomad occupation.

> I'm not sure I did Nick you with Carmanian Kshatriya:

No, not really, I was just struck that our ideas fitted the same 12-word
summary, for different and adjacent places.  Also attempt at feeble pun.

> try using the three 
> cities of the Tripolis as 'caste-functions', Priests (Yuthuppa), Noblemen 
> (Raibanth) and Soldiers (Alkoth).

I wasn't really going to use a "Western" style utilitarian caste structure,
so much as a mythically arbitrary one.  Might come down to much the same
thing, though.

> Enjoyed Sandy's piece on old Yelmic nobility fallen into genteel decay. To 
> find a Third Age role for them, I borrow from the Romans

Or similarly, the Imperial Nobility in "samurai"-era Japan.

> [..] but the form of the old government is retained in many places, with 
> trivial jobs that only Yelmic Nobles can be appointed to (often in the 
> municipal government of Dara Happan cities!).

Anyone fancy an "Abolish the GLC" scenario set in Raibanth, starring
Yara Aranis as Mrs T.? ;-)  All volunteers not to play Not-Sufficiently-
Red Ken, take several leagues' terrified flight backwards.

I agree with Nick's picture, and had one or two such idea plotted for
yet another of my currently shelved projects...

Martin C:
>      Various people have quibbled with my comparison of the above
> three belief systems, and some have even (obliquely) attacked the
> whole idea of comparing Malkionism and Islam.

I'm not sure to what extent this broadside is directed at liitle me,
but at any rate, I see no reason not to compare Malkionism with Islam,
or with Judaism, or with whatever.  And it would indeed be a bit boring
if Malkionism ended up being purely a cipher for Christianity in
Glorantha, although culturally, the Mediaeval West and the Gloranthan
West is the obvious comparisonn to make.

> 1.  The development of the doctrine of the Trinity divided the
> early church from at least the time of Justin Martyr (d. 165)

When I commented on the "doctrine of the Trinity", I certainly didn't
have in mind "people arguing about the divinity of Christ".  I don't
think it qualifies as a "dogma" until after Nicea, and I'm not sure
it was very soon after, either.  (From the Nicean creed to "God is
three (distinct) persons" sounds like a bit of a step to me, at least.)

> 2.  The doctrine of the Trinity continues to divide Christians
> today.

Yup: I even have a tame(ish) non-Trinitarian Christian in this very
department.  (Not an Orthodox type, either.)

>      Sure, there are many question marks left to fill in. 
> Obviously, no Terran missionary religion tried to pigeonhole
> people into a four-caste system.

No?  What about the middle-ages, then?  (Though in practical terms,
the "wizards" fitted into the other three classes, while being supposedly
distinct.)  Obviously this wasn't "imposed" by the Church, but it certainly
co-existed merrily with it.

But when you're looking for an
> analogue to build your vision on, you can look beyond familiar
> Western Christianity.

> 	I don't think Dormal has a true Secret Power. Just having a  
> neato magic is not the same thing as a Secret Power.

Well, what _is_ it, then?  Can we have some examples?  (Of said power,
not just of the deities that have 'em.)

> >the Brithini who procreate also die horribly of old age.
> 	I don't recall seeing this anywhere.

I half-remember this, but it always sounded fishy to me.  My guess is
that they have all sorts of caste prohibitions against procreation, but
something short of a blanket ban.  Something on the lines of one child
per couple, under direct orders from your overlord, assorted other
stipulations.  No other sex, like say, ever.

> Bryan Maloney:
> Thanks for the discussion on genetic homology. I am gratified. As a  
> "skin out" kind of biologist, it is useful to have quantitative  
> confirmation of what seems obvious from an taxonomical, behavioral,  
> and anatomical standpoint. 

Which is that taxonomy is a vague hack, right?

> Also, I know that trolls will happily eat zombies, which are  
> technically not "dead" even after dismemberment. 

I think zombies are technically dead _before_ dismemberment.  Maybe,
say, Gark zombies may be a marginally different case, but I doubt it.



From: (Loren J. Miller)
Subject: Initiation
Message-ID: <>
Date: 12 May 94 10:18:05 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3994

I'm trying to explain to Alex and those who agree with him why it is
that I and a number of other people cringe at the "one cult, one god"
concept. The reason is that this actually does not punish powergamers
and reward those who are true to their culture. It does the opposite.
The plowman who also acts as the keeper of the grainary must join
Barntar and Asrelia in addition to Orlanth in order to fulfil his cult
and social duties. The wandering killing machine only needs to join
Humakt, or Urox, or Orlanth Adventurous. Not only does the wandering
adventurer need to donate less POW, but he also donates less of his
time and tithes less. Additionally, the tendency that RQ GMs and
players have to design new, more interesting cults for adventurers as
frameworks for newer and more bloodthirsty characters has aggravated
this tendency, and made for a game where wandering killers have an
easier time staying pious than stable farmers.

Is that enough of a reason to change the "one cult, one god" paradigm?

Loren Miller            internet:
"Enough sound bites. Let's get to work."        -- Ross Perot sound bite


From: (Alex Ferguson)
Subject: Metals, secrets, and trees.
Message-ID: <>
Date: 12 May 94 19:20:45 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3995

Martin Crim:
> In RQ II, the storm gods had tin and the
> lunars had silver.  In Gods of Glorantha, the storm gods had
> silver and the lunars had no associated metal.

I think bronze is associated with "crude, elemental Aer", or even just mixed
earth and sky, while silver is linked with the Secret Power of the Middle
Heavens, or something equally impressive-sounding.  [Guy Hoyle posts a
similar suggestion, I note (after the fact).]

> It is dangerous to
> forget that Gloranthan metals' english names are just analogues,
> but for simplicity's sake, we could call the lunar metal
> selenium.

Dubious root, since "Selenic" things seem to be associated with the
Blue Moon in Glorantha.

>      Another problem with Elder Secrets is that it does not give
> Lodril Enchant Aluminum (called lo-metal, for Lodril's metal).

I think this is simply mistaken, and based only on the metal's colour.
After all, since Aluminium = Quicksilver, could they have different
elemental and divine associations?  In fact, "Enchant Quicksilver"
surely works on the solid form, i.e., Aluminium, since liquid weapons
and armour are of mainly comic use.

> It does give him Enchant Tin (Dayzatar's metal), which "is not
> often enchanted."

Redsmiths obviously _work_ with tin, hence the (thin) reasoning for
allowing them to enchant it.

>      Why does Lhankor Mhy get Enchant Iron?  Does this make sense
> to anybody?

Not I.  At a push, the Mostal/Stasis/Law connection?

> Annilla: Enchant Lead
> Xiola Umbar: Enchant Lead
> Saint Arkat: Enchant Iron, Enchant Lead
> Malia: Enchant Lead
> Vivamort: Enchant Iron, Enchant Lead (sorcerous)

I think I sense a pattern here. ;-)  I don't think I agree with the
(implied) idea that all elemental-associated cults get to enchant the
corresponding metal: I think this is only the case for those cults
which are "advanced" enough to have a need for it, and magically significant
enough to provide the capability.

> Dayzatar: Enchant Tin

I agree with this association, but I think that in keeping with the
rest of Dayzatar's rune magic, it should be expensive, and fairly useless.

> Godunya: Enchant Iron (Godunya magic)

This one seems a bit odd...  I'm sure the Kralori have other cults for
this purpose, and it's hard to imagine exarchs running around in enchanted
iron plate.

> MALKIONI SECTS AND SAINTS (all sorcerous, and wizard caste only):
> Stygians: by saint or cult

Not necessarily sorcerous, for this one.

Paul Reilly:
>   Alex Ferguson writes:
> > I happen to know a bit detail info on Jonstown, from the united 
> > efforts of a group of friends in contact with Greg and AH.

Gah!  No, not me, I was quoting Joerg.

>   There has been much discussion of late on Initiation.  I have come to believe
> that this is a development of the process by which a shaman develops a
> presence on the Other Side.

> 	Today, no human has Primary or Secondary information on the  
> GL secret.

Eh, no _Gloranthan_ human. ;-)

> While Primary knowledge is impossible to obtain, I think  
> that a band of dedicated PCs who worked hard could probably get  
> Secondary knowledge.

Only if they have one of seven (?) people as their ref.

> >Enkloso: why are there two large areas in the north-east marked as  
> >being free of both elves and trees?  Are these areas human-occupied,  
> >or deforested by some natural phenomenon?
> 	Those are technically in Vralos, not Enkloso. I believe these  
> are the remnants of the so-called "Season Wars" which, as I recall,  
> are now mostly ended in Vralos, but still being fought in the area  
> south of Tortrica.

So what's in the "cleared" areas, then?  Wasteland?  Grassland, light
vegetation, bush, light woodland?  And do any humans live there?

> >Glorantha is absolutely, positively and with no doubt a Creationist
> >world with _no_ evolutionary history as we 20th century "humans"  
> >know it.  There is no point in classifying families in this manner.

> 	Except that, as I've said before, the classification system  
> which we use today was developed and perfected by people who "lived"  
> in what they firmly believed to be a Creationist world.

But if Linnaeus had lived in Glorantha, would he have invented a strictly
hierarchical system in the face of man-shaped plants?  Evolutionary
zealots would say that he was "forced" to use a tree-shaped taxonomy,
because of the Fundemental and Undeniable Truth of (divergent) evolution.

> 	And besides, who says Glorantha has no evolutionary history?

Having your cake whilst consuming same? ;-)  I agree that Glorantha must
have _some_ kind of "evolution", but if the mythic origin/development
of most species is correct, a phylogenetic taxonomy for Glorantha _cannot_
be the tree-shaped thingy it is (and should be, despite my carping about
the details) on earth.



From: (Alex Ferguson)
Subject: Sheepish initiates.
Message-ID: <>
Date: 12 May 94 22:13:35 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3996

Joerg the Generic, in round # of the Initiation thread:

> Alex Ferguson in X-RQ-ID: 3868

> >> So the youths not having chosen a specific patron 
> >> are low initiates, or associate initiates.

> > But if you're including non-Adults in this category, aren't you demurring
> > from the proposition that being "Initiated" in this sense is a sign of
> > adulthood, which appeared to be the original purpose of this idea?

> "Everyone involved would see the difference, it's obvious."

I'm having difficulty doing so, I have to confess.  It still appears that
you're saying you _need_ this particular mechanism (pantheon initiation)
for one thing (adulthood init.), and that the two _must_, for various
reasons, be intertwined, and are then blithely seeking to extend it
to sonething quite different, and on the face of it somewhat contradictory
(whether, and how, children worship).

> The mass of Vori "initiates" symbolize the new life, and are as 
> such extremely important. Should they fumble the ritual, the whole 
> community might suffer severely.

They might be important in some notional sense, but I don't see that
they'd be required to actually _do_ anything.  As "non-initiates" they
don't have the knowledge, or the necessary magical viewpoint.

But fertility rituals (your argument as to why it's a Good Thing for boys
to worship Voriof) are of less importance in towns, and most boys are likely
to be coralled more into their Apprenticeship roles, or whatever they
Plan On Being When They Grow Up, than something nicely generic, and of no
possible use to them.

> In larger cities like Boldhome, Jansholm, Durengard, Karse etc. sheep may 
> be less important, but we know at least from Boldhome that representatives 
> of non-resident cults (Urox) are imported for their festivals.

Indeed, but why would this be done specially, if the implied link between
sheparding and boys isn't of any local significance?

> >> We come together, if slowly. I would differentiate 
> >> between various forms of associate initiates, though.

> For Orlanthi:
> Youth associates

I think this is a confusing concept.  Voria "initiates" don't get
_any_ magical benefits from their "associates", so if you insist on
a precisely analogous Voriof cult, then its members aren't "Initiates"
and don't have "associates", in the God Learner sense.

> in-culture associates (members of Orlanth's stead, 
> or cultural heroes apotheosized), or extra-culture associates, like 
> Argan Argar or Storm Bull (not Urox) in the Garhound contest.

Why do you make this distinction?  You mean because the first lot are
what you want Low Initiation to cover, and the remainder are "normal"

I also think that to say "Storm Bull (not Urox)" is to conflate the
notions of different _cults_ with that of different gods.

> > When you speak of Initiates who don't sacrifice POW, don't gain magical
> > benefits, but who do worship, how does this differ from the usual (God
> > Learnerised, doubtless, RQ2 via assorted RQ3 long forms) idea of Lay
> > Membership?

> Initiates who enchant the divine link spiritual organ once, by expending 
> one POW, are different in that they are receiving passive magical 
> benefits (such as to become locatable by means of Divination) and an 
> assurance of afterlife the lay member who didn't enchant this link 
> does not.

You aren't using the term consistently to mean this, though.  Not that
anyone else uses it consistently to mean anything, either, of course.
Specifically, you also use the term of people who _don't_ sacrifice POW,
for which the above (I presume) doesn't apply.  True, you have the
"precedent" of Voria for this, but in this context it's getting very

I must say that your use of the term "Initiation" is sorta confusing in
general.  Put your God Learner hat on for a moment (I'm sure it's handy
): there is clearly a very particular "normal" structure to the
Initiate status, the details of which I needn't belabour.  The Seven
Mothers cult bends them, Voria and the Red Goddess break them (though
use of the term in these cases does make a sort of stream of consciousness

Taking our hats back off again, I'm also dubious that the people at the
sharp end would be so keen to use the term to describe anything and

> Would yu call Yelm the Youth or Aldrya Wood Children lay members?

God Learner trick question? ;-)  Presumably rhetorical, since they don't
fall into the category I described.  I wouldn't, for the record.

> They sacrificed their POW, but don't gain active magical benefits.

And so everyone else must do it this way too, even if it kills them?
It doesn't unduly bother me that some cults work this way; it's at least
clear what god/cult is being worshipped.

Note that these "pre-initiate" statuses are in fact filled by non-adults
in these cults, if you're seeking to draw a close analogy.  (Not so very
coincidentally, they are also cults which the eligible candidate "must"
be (fully, as it were) initiated into, for social reasons.)

> Adulthood initiation wouldn't, the basic religious initiation would 
> involve POW sacrifice (once).

But isn't the whole point of your argument that they're the same thing?

> The religious ceremony where the young adult enchants hir spiritual 
> organ by sacrificing one pointa POW to establish the divine link, to 
> whomever, which takes place in the year of hir adulthood rites, possibly 
> during these.

If they aren't simultaneous, or effectively so, there seems no reason to
suppose they must happen within a year, or whatever.  Either they are
"inextricably linked", or they're not.

[I think I feel a "truce" coming on, on this subject, at once once I get
a few parting shots out of my pipeline/system...  Sorry if this message
is even more patchily-written than usual, trying to tidy up several loose



Subject: Realities of Myth
Message-ID: <>
Date: 12 May 94 22:26:57 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 3997

Re: Epistemology Corner
Alex Ferguson asks, "But are _mythic_ events necessarily
(objectively, factually) real, or could the heroplane itself
contain, not just different interpretations of "the same events",
but quite different, independant, even contradictory mythic

I find this quite humorous.  You are asking, "But which is the
REAL myth?" (itself a fairly amusing question) and then assuming
that if there are contradictory myths, they cannot be true. 
Survey says--.  In my Glorantha, at least, the
contradictory myths in, frex, GoG are all perfectly true.  I
think this accords best with the way Glorantha has been
presented.  After all, the GodLearner attempt to construct a
monomyth to explain everything and rationalize all differences
was a mistake.

Re: peace between Air and Fire
     Uh, I think you ignored the point Peter made.  It's not
whether they are motivated to do something now or in the future,
but whether a change in mythic belief would change core reality(ies).