Bell Digest v940519p2

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Subject: RuneQuest Daily, Thu, 19 May 1994, part 2
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Subject: The nature of Gloranthan Mythology and the GLs
Message-ID: <9405181346.AA06457@Sun.COM>
Date: 18 May 94 12:58:00 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 4057

Hi All
	Here is a Horrible thought that came to me last night as I was 
	trying to get to sleep.  

	Following on froma question/statement in the digest a while ago.
	"Reality on Glorantha an Illusion?"

	Mythical Reality is a collective illusion formed by the culture 
which believes in the myths.  Thus ALL people who believe in the existance 
of the mythical Yelm (as opposed to the physical sun) serve to bolster the 
strength of his mythical existance.  This even includes the Orlanthi who 
regard Yelm the Emperor as a pompous pratt who would not share the world 
reasonably with the younger more energetic gods.  

	The Powers of gods is defined by peoples beliefs about them and 
is an automatic product of their Mythical Reality.  However, the strength 
of an individuals belief determines his or her input into the Mythical 
Reality of that God.  Thus devout worshippers contribute more to the 
Reality of a God than people who accept the god's existance but do not 
have strong opinions either way.  For example an Orlanthi's views about 
Eiritha as the daughter of Ernalda which they worship in Prax compared 
to the Praxian's love of her as the Herd Mother.  

	The strength of the powers of a god are a product of the strength 
of the Mythical Reality of the god and the strength of the god's worship. 
The number and fervour of local worshippers determines which and how many 
of the god's powers are available locally.  In RQ terms this equates to 
the number of MPs sacrificed to the god on holy days.  This effect would 
be described by theists as drawing the attention of the god to a particular 
location.  Also if many believers regard a particular location as a holy 
place to their god then the strength of the god's worship at that location 
is bolstered so that only a small number of worshippers might be able to 
maintain a respectable temple.  

	For Example: Nearly everyone believes in the existance of the 
Trickster and most people have quite strong (often negative) views about 
him.  He is regarded as a powerful force for change who often breaks the 
"known" rules.  His few direct worshippers are very fervent (they have to 
be in order to give up normal life) and are living embodiments of the 
principles (or lack thereof) of the trickster.  Naturally, they donate, 
or have taken from them, ALL (but one?) of their MPs on holy days (whenever 
the local priest decides).  This combination of large scale belief and 
small scale fervant worship provides trickster shrines with different 
and powerful spells, but no large temples.  The trickster is here to stay 
but has no large areas devoted to his worship (thank goodness).  

	Now getting back to the illusion aspect.  What if the strength of 
divine powers is just an illusion and rune magic is just a byproduct of the 
MPs and POW expended in worshipping a god.  Initiates sacrifice a point of 
POW to form a link to a magical storage *pool* with properties which are 
defined by people's beliefs.  Then when they sacrifice more POW to this 
construct the collective belief allows them to draw magcial energy back 
down the link in a form which is consistent with those beliefs.  

	Shamans do the same thing but just create their own personal 
storage pool or fetch.  The powers of the fetch are different but still 
consistent with the shamans (and his peoples') beliefs and limited by 
the amount of POW the shaman has invested in his fetch.  

	Sorcerors do a similar thing with their familiars, but do not 
necessarily donate POW, it could be other statistics.  However, wizards 
regard such activities with suspiscion and only undertake them for their 
practical benefits rather than any mistaken mystic experience.  

	The churches of Malkion are reintroducing mystery in the form of 
worship of saints.  The worship of these concepts in carried out in a 
similar manner to theist gods but is generally less efficient as they 
do not have the more or less universal belief that exists for theist gods.  

	Why have the Malkioni tried to reintroduce mystery into their 
existence?  The answer must lie with the God Learner movement.  If you 
accept that gods etc. are no more than pools of magical power which can 
be used subject to the beliefs of those connected to them.  Then there 
will always be some who are tempted to manipulate those beliefs in order 
to tap these vast reservoirs of magic for their own ends.  

	By a combination of heroquesting (working within the myth) and 
*reeducation* of peoples' beliefs a myth or god can be manipulated.  
This must be carried out in a very carefully controlled manner if it is 
to achieve a specific result and even then can have unfortunate and 
unexpected side effects.  The history of the GLs shows what the likely 
outcome of such dabbling can be.  While the effects on a specific myth 
can be carefully monitored and controlled the side effects cannots be.  
Thus others may notice and be angered by their results, thus in the end 
the GLs dabbling bought their doom up on themselves.  

	What is the Great Compromise?  No more than the general lore that 
belief shapes mythology which shapes the gods' powers which affect the 
societies which worship them.  In turn the societies affect the belief 
of individuals within them, who colletively shape the mythology through 
their belief.  This forms a cycle which is hard to disrupt at any point 
as it is continuously being reinforced by the rest.  

	One way to disrupt the cycle is to kill ALL the individuals.  
Another is to alter the society, but this must be done in a manner 
consistent with the mythology or the individuals will rebel.  
Alternatively, the mythology may be altered but this is difficult as 
it is backed by the strength of belief of ALL the individuals.  

	The GL solution was to affect all levels simultaneously.  
Invade the society either militarily or as traders and missionaries.  
Kill specific key individuals as necessary and convert the populous.  
Heroquest to alter the mythology, but in simpathy with the modified 
beliefs of the populous.  

	While the above paragraph talks of vast invasions and scores 
of heroquesters and missionaries this manipulation need not be done on 
such a scale.  One of the GL projects was the unification of peoples' 
beliefs into the Jrusteli Monomyth.  Two similar gods could be combined 
by fairly simple procedure requiring only a few people.  
A small number of heroquesters to approach a god at a relatively safe 
poin in mythology and announce that they know one of his names and then 
procede to name him "Orlanth".  A few missonaries (disguised as 
traders or wandering scholars) to mention to local priests that they 
have heard that one of their god's names is "Orlanth".  And an ambassider 
or other dignatory to mention to the local ruler that he believes that 
his people worship the same god whoes name is "Orlanth" in our tongue.  
Thus when the ruler asks his priests whether "Orlanth" is the same god 
as Thor they reply that they have heard that it is one of his names.  
However, some will demand more proof and a divination will be made to 
see if "Orlanth" is one of Thor's names.  "I have been called that" is 
the reply which satisfies the priests.  After some more gentle manipulation 
Thor coalesces with "Orlanth" to become part of the universal Storm God.  
Any minor discrepancies are *ironed out* until even the name Thor is 
replaced.  Thus the monomyth is formed!  However, mythical tweaking is 
still required to stop the myths slowly diverging since the communities 
are physically remote and have little contact.  Since the GLs were wiped 
this tweaking has not been carried out so myths are slowly diverging which 
results in the same god beng worshipped in different manners in different 
parts of Glorantha.  

	So now we have our GL toolkit lets go out and "fix" the world!

	Sweet Dreams

P.S. Has anyone played (or even obtained) ARIA yet?


From: (boris)
Subject: God Learners, Changes, & Stuff
Message-ID: <>
Date: 18 May 94 15:46:24 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 4058

  In  X-RQ-ID: 4049, Devin Cutler ( writes:

> (some valid points about the literary/gaming dichotomy deleted)
> IMHO, Glorantha is daily becoming more and more hostile to Gamers. The
> constant switching and playing around with "game world history", et el, makes
> it extremely difficult to engage in any sort of campaign. For example, I try
> to follow Glorantha as much as I can, but I do not enjoy setting up an entire
> scenario around the fact that Kolat existed in Godtime, and then finding out
> that he was a God Learner construct. 

  What!  Is this just a hypothetical point, or is this "canon"?  Where did
  this bit of retconning (as they say in rec.comics) get revealed?
> Similarly, I am becoming less enamoured of how cults are being handled. Why
> this need for so many different cultic variations over Glorantha (i.e.
> "...what we really need is a cult of Yelmalio for Peloria, one for Prax, one
> of Pavis, one for Grazelanders, one for Sartar...")? Yes, cults varied wildly
> here on earth, but Glorantha is not earth.

  This I have less problems with.  I feel it adds a great deal of color to
  my game to have regional variations.  The main framework for all is the
  same (mainly as a gamemaster's convenience), but individual subcults, minor
  customs, etc. vary, and by I and my players seem to like it that way.

> As long as the scholars continue to "run the show", I feel that Glorantha
> will likely become a wonderful literary creation (and fiction should be
> published) but will die as a game. Certainly, new players will be extremely
> intimidated by a game system where the world can change at a whim, where the
> gods they read about in one supplement (GoG or CoP) are determined to be
> later constructs in another. Such multiplicity and changeability make for
> great scholarly debates but they really bite when you try and GM in that
> environment.

  I do think that Devin's point here is valid, however.  Those of us who use
  Glorantha primarily as a gaming vehicle have gone along, without too much
  complaint, as the "literary" types tweak the world to a more mythologically
  pleasing shape.  For the most part, I think this has improved both the game
  and the literary worlds.  There is a line, however, that has been crossed
  more than once, and I think that the literary types should remember it's a
  game, also, and some things maybe shouldn't be changed just for literary
  convenience.  Surely we can find a happy compromise.  And if a reason needs
  to be found to leave something that doesn't make so much sense, well, some
  things in the real world don't make much sense either.

  Remember, we are all, in our limited ways, creating our own Glorantha by
  heroquesting, be it through game or writing.  Let's remember Arkat's rule,
  "No heroquesting without respect."  And that goes for the others we might
  run across as well.

  On the other hand ;-)

  Sometimes, when I read (and write) things like this, I think I have the
  Godlearners Secret (TM).  And I too can say it in three words.  Close your
  eyes, now, lest ye be cursed:

  "It's A Game!"

  (I expect I will be chased by cthuloid leeches and angry mobs now.  Oh
  well, it's been a slow day.


From: (Sandy Petersen)
Subject: oh yeah
Message-ID: <>
Date: 18 May 94 05:14:30 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 4059

Joerg admits:
>I chose to use a trinity concept for Malkionism because it fits  
>nicely with medieval numerical symbolism _and_ Gloranthan Runes -  
>the three-sided Law Rune and the four-sided Earth Rune nicely  
>parallel the medieval symbol of three for spiritual (trivial)  
>matters and the four for mundane, earthly (quadrivial) matters. 

	Now see here, my rejection of the Trinity as an important  
Malkioni concept doesn't mean that the number Three can't be  
important. I was just rejecting the thought that the Invisible God is  
mystically divided into three personalities. Clearly, Three is part  
of his worship in a very integral manner -- 1) The Invisible God Was,  
2) The Invisible God Is, and 3) the Invisible God Will Be. Not to  
mention the Three Revelations of the Invisible God (or whatever  
they're called -- by which I mean the Creation, Malkion, and  

>I side with Nick: if we cannot argue about the teachings of a Saint,  
>Malkionism is too dull.
	Despite my belief that all the various sects of Malkionism  
generally accept all Saints, I concur that there is avid and  
acrimonious debate about their teachings. 

S. Phillips sez:
>I thought the idea behind eating hot and spicy food was to cover up  
>the taste of rancid meat. 

	You are mistaken, according to my sources. I've heard the  
"rancid food" theory before, too, and have also heard that that  
theory's been exploded -- most cultures that have lots of rancid food  
learn A) to like the flavor and B) to learn preservation techniques  
such as pickling and jerking. The cases of rancid food being enjoyed  
by cultures are so numerous as not to need recounting here. 

>Medieval European food was by all accounts incredibly hot and spicy.  
>Cloves, nutmeg, mace etc being especially popular 

	If you think of Cloves and Nutmeg as "hot", you  must have a  
very mild-tempered palate. The medieval recipes I've seen, including  
descriptions of feasts, are NOT hot by Mexican, Indian, Szechuan, or  
even Texan standards. They're stuff like "meat tiles" (mixtures of  
meat and sometimes bread pounded together), frumenty, stuffed fish,  

>Even Scotland - noted (nay celebrated) for it's generally poor,  
>bland food has many an ancient and tasty hot'n'spicy dish. The most  
>famous being haggis.
	Haggis is hot-flavored? I thought it was just oats and  
tidbits boiled in a sheep tummy. Perhaps the whole problem here is my  
definition of "spicy". I'll make it explicit. 

	In discussions of food ere now, I've used the term "spicy" to  
mean "hot". By this I do NOT mean the food's actual temperature, but  
the fierce burning you get from chomping down on a hot chili or  
spoonful of white pepper. Anyone who's had Korean kim chee can  
testify that a chilled food can be "hot". 

I mentioned re: my campaign
>>The sphere's power is to transform magic points and/or POW  

>>into physical objects. 

CW must ask:
>This is fascinating. Numerous questions spring to mind: How much  
>magic does it take for, say, a SIZ 1 object? Does it depend upon the  
>material? Is it permanent? Can the effect be dispelled?
	The players didn't do THAT much experimentation with it. But,  
to answer your questions from first to last: It depends, Yes, Yes,  
No. The party's shaman and noticed that the sphere did not exist at  
all on the spirit plane. It was purely existent on the physical  
plane, unlike anything else he'd ever perceived. It was almost as if  
it were the opposite of magic -- turning magic into mundanity. 

Joerg asks:
>What treatment would Gloranthan "bronze" require to be crafted?  
>Would you need a vented furnace to get the material into a ductile  
>state that it could be hammered, or would cold hammering suffice,  
>like for Earth's bronze? Can it be melted and cast directly into  
>tools and armour pieces, or does it require quenching and tempering  
>to work out? How does a Gloranthan smithy look like?
	The going assumption in the Chaosium house campaigns has  
always been that working Gloranthan bronze is like unto working the  
Earthly substance, though we generally believe that Gloranthan bronze  
is probably higher quality than the bronze you get in the 20th  
century. However, we do know that some Glorantha bronze does NOT  
require the step of smelting tin and copper, because it's found as  
pure bronze veins in the ground. 

re: Saints & their universality
>> I don't agree. Here's why. Unlike Earthly saints, Malkioni  

>> saints give actual magic powers to their devotees.

Joerg replies:
>Dangerous territory, I know, but most Earthly Saints are credited 

>with miracles, which are nothing else but magic.
	Miracles however are deniable and unreliable, unlike  
Gloranthan magic. 

>The devout worshippers which make pilgrimages to for instance  
>Lourdes do so to benefit from the divine magical powers there.
	No doubt about it, but the Lourdes powers are unusually  
reliable for magic powers. If Lourdes existed in Glorantha, it would  
probably be a pilgrimage-site for folks of many religions, not just  

>Why can't there be demonic miracles, aka witchcraft? What is the 

>Malkioni attitude to magic not from the Invisible God? Or does 

>even a theist priest's or a shaman's power ultimately derive from 

>the Invisible God, according to Malkioni doctrine?
	There can be. But any saint whose life is comparatively  
well-known is also supposed to have been a "good" person by Malkioni  
standards. The Malkioni attitude to non-Invisible God magic is  
hostile, of course, though probably people who live on the fringes  
and must deal with theists all the time don't get too worked up over  
it. Yes, a theist's priestly power derives from the IG, just as  
Satan's power ultimate derives from God, according to Catholic  

>Even if you belong to a sect committed to the primal sin of Tapping?
	Okay, I'll back down a little bit. I now believe that there  
ARE certain "Saints" accepted by fringe heresies that are rejected by  
the mainstream sects. These obscure saints may have tapped, or some  
other crime. 

>> Folk of all faiths recognize the "saintliness" of individuals like  
>> St. Francis, Gandhi, and Mother Theresa.

>In Gloranthan words, Chalana Arroy is a recognized saintly  
>individual in Malkioni society?
	Chalana Arroy is a goddess, not a person. She doesn't really  
count. Elamle-ata, the Healer (super)Hero of Pamaltela, would be  
recognized as a saintly individual by the Malkioni, or indeed by  
anyone in Glorantha.

Devin Cutler sez:
>I do not find it unreasonable in the least to find that, say, Humakt  
>is worshipped in exactly the same manner in  Esrolia, Prax, and  
>Ralios. Why? Because Humakt lives in the world of Glorantha. Unlike  
>Terran deities, which are notoriously absent from direct  
>intervention during modern times, the Gloranthan deities manifest  
>themselves actively and continually.
>I do not find it unreasonable to believe that Humakt himself,  
>through Divinations and the like, has prescribed a single mode of  
>worship throughout Glorantha.
	I concur. This does not rule out evolution and variations in  
cult organization, but I believe that you'll find the same spells,  
the same cult spirits, similar mythology, and generally similar cult  
ranks everywhere that a cult appears. 

Gary states:
>I'd like to think somewhere in Glorantha there are forests of
>temperate non deciduous angiosperms.
	Sure there are -- the rain forests of Pamaltela are such.  
Non-deciduous broadleaf elves are the yellow elves. They are close  
relatives of the brown elves, but did not fall asleep during the  
Great Darkness. 

>Sandy explained that Jrustela was once "a great big, rather pear
>shaped" continent before being destroyed/submerged by the Waertagi  
>and the Gift Bringers.  Tell us more.  Did it have a land god?  

	You mean like Genert? I don't think so. Just Jrusta(?), a  
land goddess. Though I've called it a "continent", it wasn't as large  
as Pamaltela or Genertela. It was around 2000 km north-south, and at  
the widest part maybe 1000-1500 km east-west. 

>Were the East Isles once a continent?
	My current thinking on this subject is that the East Isles  
were once part of Vithela.
	Warning: Sandy's Personal Mythological Meanderings (and Greg  
Fried) about to  begin: 

	In the Great Darkness, the Evil Bad Guy came and Vithela  
mustered her forces of unity against him and his monsters. But the  
baddies easily shattered Vithela into fragments. The fragment that  
Theya inhabited was, of course, the biggest. Each tiny chunk of  
Vithela was incapable of defending itself, so the monster began  
swallowing down the land piecemeal. The various islets each sought  
their own hero or god or "principle of identity". Those that failed,  
sank and died. 

	At this point, a god of communication came from the sea, and  
Theya wove him into a net, in semblance of Arachne Solara's web and  
Magasta's tool. She then threw this net wide, over all the tiny  
fragments that constituted lost Vithela. This enabled the pieces to  
work together As One, even though they were all different now. 

	The Evil Bad Guy first tried to shatter this new combination  
against him, in the same way that he had shattered Vithela. But he  
could not, because the many East Isles (as they are now known) were  
already fragmentary. Then he tried to swallow down the East Isles,  
but he could not, because they were unitary, too large to eat. So was  
he defeated and chained. 

	Thus was the diversity of the East Isles also the source of  
their unity and strength. 

	At the Dawn, Yelm adjudged the Bad Guy to be wanting, and  
sent him to the bottom of the sea, to be imprisoned forever by  
Drospoly and Varchulanga. 

>Could Jrustela be >destroyed/submerged because it didn't have a land  
>god or because its god was dead, like Genert?
	Could be. I suppose if the Waertagi tried to sink Pamaltela,  
Pamalt would personally have something to say about that. 

>I always thought of Jrustela as a big fragment of the Spike which  
>somehow survived destruction in Godtime.
	The Spike was off to the east of Jrustela. Jrustela was not  
even on the slopes of the Spike. 

Nick nobly requests:
>Where does all this "foolish/peevish" stuff come from? Did I  
>inadvertently do something to piss you off?
	Sorry. Just pulling your chain. Hadn't realized I'd picked on  
you more than others. Must mean I like you more.