Bell Digest v941027p4

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Subject: RuneQuest Daily, Thu, 27 Oct 1994, part 4
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From: (Sven *Erik Sievrin)
Subject: Re: RuneQuest Daily, Tue, 25 Oct 1994, part 3
Date: 27 Oct 94 02:15:27 GMT
X-RQ-ID: 6752

I hadn't been near a computer for a couple of days, and when I fimally 
did I found I had got some comments on my bit on Esrolia. First I got 
kinda excited, preparing to de3bate, then I found that Sandy P. had 
interceded on my behalf, sort of, and already used most of the argument 
for my view I came up with, and some more. But there is still more to 
say, I think.
> Ian Gorlick:
> >I am not convinced that your [speaking to Sven Sievrin] system will  
> >be stable in the long run. Simple oppression as you describe it  
> >leads to resentment and rebellion. Remember, the armies of Esrolia  
> >are still predominately male staffed. 
> 	Firstly, I see no evidence that the Esrolian system must be  
> stable in the long run. I think that Gloranthan cultures are riddled  
> with unstable, short-term, short-sighted societies. 
> 	Second, "simple oppression" does NOT always lead to  
> rebellion. You list as examples of such rebellion the Mamelukes and  
> janissaries -- they rebelled, true enough, but then they themselves  
> set up systems of oppression that lasted for centuries.
And that is just what I think the Esrolian women did - they rebelled (but 
not necessarily against repression, see below) and after the rebellion 
became oppressive themselves. I think there is less freedom for men in 
Esrolia than there is for women in eg  pre-Lunar Sartar just for the 
reason that they wanted to be sure men did not get power in again.  

> 	You have a good point about the armies being largely composed  
> of men. So the question arises, how DO they keep their armies under  
> control. Well, I suspect that this is quite possibly another reason  
> that their armies are notoriously incompetent -- another way of  
> trying to keep them under control. 
I have some other ideas about that, but more later
> >Bryan Maloney
> >Anyway, Esrolia is not some feminazi cartoon, by any means.
I am sorry if my (and Ian Gorlicks?) musings about Esrolia were seen as 
"feminazi cartoons". I think that originally, the system was creted (as 
much as any social system is created and not grows by itself) to limit 
the power of men, just because women had seen wht happens in 
male-dominated societies. However, I am sorry if I implied I believed that 
the women of Esrolia "nowadays" actively conspire to make it hard for men 
to get into positions of power. I do not think they do. I do not think 
men actively conspire (today, in the real world) to keep women from power 
- it happens more spontaneously, because of the prejudices we are grown 
into during our lives.
This is quite true. All I will claim is that if a man from  
> Heortland or Tanisor came to visit, he would leave with the opinion  
> that men were heartily oppressed.
Yep. And the description I gave could be written by such a man, for instance.
And about men not being initiated into the cult of Ernalda: I still think 
that the women think that men are "mature enough" to be allowed to get 
the secrets of Ernalda. This does not mean that Mother do not love them, 
it just mean that they should not be allowed to play with Mother's 
scissors, or Her hot pots and pans, like their Big Sisters may do. 
Actually, I think that would be a good way of viewing things. Just like 
men "stereotype" women into clich'es/archtypes like "Maiden", "Whore", 
"Mother", "Crone" etc, Esrolian women may have rather stereotyped idea 
about men, one of them being that they are "boys", no matter how old they 
are, and boys do not really know what is best for them. (And there is of 
course some truth in this kind of stereotypes, as ther is in those of men 
mentioned above. Especially Orlanthi men may seem childish - remember 
that according to the "What My Father Told Me" an "archtypal" Orlanthi 
states that he always shows his feelings, and that he loves to shout and 
bang his shield together together with other men at the clan moot. Little 
boys playing at war.....
Actually, I think boys may be let into the cult of Voria, since she is a 
protector of children, and in my view they never leave it in the eyes of 
Esrolians (both men and women - Bryan Maloney is right in that most males 
probably think that things couldn't be better).

And so onto something concerning my gaming life. This may seem to be 
unconnected to the topic, but read on, things may soon become clearer.
Lately, one of my gaming friends got himself a girlfriend. They met 
through gaming, cause she also play roleplaying games, and she learnt it 
by her father - the whole family plays, and she learnt to read playing 
FRPG. When we met there was some gametalk, as is only natural, and I 
mentioned that RuneQuest was my favorite.
"We've never played that" she said "and would like to try. Could you GM?"
"Uh, yeah, sure, would love to." was my somewhat confused answer. And so 
I was invited to demonstrate RQ to the Gaming Family. I have a few weeks, 
and I like to be prepared, but currently half my RQ material is buried at 
my parents', so I decided to use Esrolia as a place for the campaign 
(instead of the common PRax/Sartar), 
which caused me to think more about it than I otherwise would have. This 
was after sending my last note about it, by the way. If everything goes 
as planned, there will be three women in the group - one of whom will be 
her mother, who has born and raised three children. It will be quite 
interesting to hear THEIR view of Esrolia a la Sieurin (With much 
material as suggested by you, dear fellow contributors. Thank you).

So here is some of the things I have thought about: In Esrolia the Earth 
is said to have conquered the other elements - not in war, because that 
is not the normal way of the Earth, but in love. This in manifested quite 
physically in this way:
Darkness: With all that grain, and figs, and so on, you are sure to have 
trouble storing it safely from rats, insects, mould etc. Since it is 
Argan Argar's realtives who are responsible for this threat, he is 
resonsible for minimizing it, through the brotherhood The Men Who Guard 
Our Gold And Grain (I quite like Mike Dickisons idea of the brotherhoods, 
but think there are also brotherhoods who do something more useful like 
this and the ones mentioned below - I also expect a husband god to have more 
than one brotherhood, covering different aspects). The Grainguards have 
storehouses in every town, which are kept cold, dark and free from vermin 
and mould partly by clever techniques in building and maintenance, partly 
by some what trollish magic learnt by the Grainguard, who are often 
husbands to the Asrelians who are responsible for the collection of taxes 
- these are also kept in the warehouses, of course. The warehouses also 
act as banks and stronghouses for the wares of local merchants, and often 
for money as well. The Grainguards, by the way, get the Safe spell, and 
can also perform an enchantment ritual when building a storehouse (stats 
for these kind of things are unnecessary, IMO) that smply causes it to be 
much more isolating than a common storehouse. Special Warding spells keep 
pests out, but the members bribe the supposely offended insects, rats and 
moulds by leaving food for them in their gardens, or around the 
storehouse. Many of them are quite found of rats, the chosen familiar for 
"true" Argan Argar priests, and sometimes tries to keep them as pets, 
which can cause interesting results when you think about the common house 
snakes, the dogs of their Asrelian wives and the cats of the 
possibole Windsinger neighbour or co-husband......
(Short fact-note: a heck of a lot of food is lost because of bad storage 
possibilities in the real world, and in some countries in the third world 
it is said that good storage would be more important to get than anything 
else when it comes to agriculture)
Water: The water-husband of Ernalda ougt to be Magasta, but I prefer to 
deal with either the Rivergods or Heler here - I do not know where I saw 
Heler being a lover, if not a husband of Ernalda, but it was somewhere, 
and I like it. If you think Heler would be too staunch for it the 
Rivergods may work better... Anyway, I see Esrolia as heavily irrigated. 
The maintenance and creation of these irrigation systems are the duty of 
The Men Who Gathers The Dew In The Ditches, a brotherhood of quite and 
serious scholars who can argue for hours about the correct way to dig a 
channel. They are also responsible for the aqueducts and wells. (Note 
that they never create any new structures without the explicit permission 
of an Earth priestess -they know the needs of the local population- and 
that they also try to check that the 
irrigation doesn't go to far - it is quite possible to destroy a country's 
ecosystem totally with to much irrigation and cause drought)
If the Heler-option is taken, they may get magic rain if nothing else 
helps and much water is needed.
Air: The irrigation system has pumps, and they need energy. The mills 
need energy to grind the grain to flour. The presses for the olives need 
energy. This energy may be supplied by farmahands or oxen, but often it 
is supplied by windmills - and please look to the Middle East, not the 
Zuiderzee, for inspiration. The windmills are handled by millers, of 
cause, and these millers are also the elders (priests/acolytes) within 
The Men Who Sing The Windmills Spinning, whose patron is Orlanth Storm 
and the founder of the cult, the man who is said to had invented the 
Windmill, Urlar the Miller. His cult provide the spirit spell Grease, who 
makes any mechanism run easier - a wagonwheel, a mill, a whetstone etc. 
The members quite like cats (normal housecats, not alynxes), and a sleeping 
cat on the front steps of a 
mill is a common sight - their wives usually wont have them in the house. 
Oh, and the cats are wise enough not bother snakes, and ratsnakes do not 
attack cats. Additionally, cats are good killers of those nasty birds 
mentioned earlier who eat grain - and peas, and grapes.....
Sky/Fire: Here is my trouble - I cannot find out any particular task that 
fire do. Yes, I know it is very useful for things like smithing and 
pottery and so on, but I would like a more specific thing. I have two 
ideas; one is a system of heliographs (at night signal fires) which are 
used to communicate between temples and cities, and is manned by 
(Y)elmali(on)s, The Men Who Flashes The Words Of The Women (called 
"Sparkies" by the disrespectful? :-)). The second one is a society which 
is committed to guard against fire - the houses are not that prone to 
burn, but the crops might be, during the dry season. Suspect Lodril would 
be their patron.

The military leadership of Esrolia is held by the Maran Gor cult, which 
here is known less as Earthshaker and more as the Black Earth. When the 
earth gets black, ie when peaceful Esrolians get killed and the country 
devastated by enemies, the power of Maran Gor grows to help her sister. 
Some would sya there would be very few Maran Gors in Esrolia, and they 
are perfectly right. There is nothing wrong with their leadership or 
judgement, but they are low on resources - the Earth Queens of "Ernalda 
Regina" will not give them any, since they A, do not like the violent 
option and B, expect to be protected by the rest of the Ketahela alliance 
in any large-scale war. Pharaos disappearance changes the last thing, of 
course. In response, Esrolia will try to do the one thing she is bad at 
(actually it IS a good place to live - no famine, seldom war, and not too 
many plagues...) as quickly as possible - arm herself. And she will fail.
And by the way, they expect to feed the rest of Holy Country in case of 
war. I am not sure of what Pharao actually DID to help Sartar during the 
war, but one thing may have been food from Esrolia.

And now, where do I find material on
A, The Building Wall Battle
B, The City of Wonders - it has not been sacked jet in any of my campaigns.
Thankyou for any help, comments or criticism.