Re: Hero quests: take the scenic route?

From: Alex Ferguson <abf_at_...>
Date: Wed, 20 Jun 2001 20:07:59 +0100 (BST)

Bryan Thexton:
> Could a quest actually offer a parrelel path? Sort of: at station 5,
> if you succeed you pass directly on to station 8. If you fail, or
> don't try, you must pass through stations 6 and 7 first.

Absolutely; this would correspond simply to two "versions" of the same myth. For example, Greg often mentions the numerous methods possible for crossing the Ocean in the Westfaring. The more versions you know, the better your chances. "Damn. There has to be a turtle around here someplace." (Whether these differences are as a result of earlier extrapolative HQing, combining different myths into one, or some sort of (d)evolution from some earlier state of the HP in which the two were one, would be Beyond The Scope Of The Present Group, I'd suggest -- not that this is really very rulesy to start with, mind you, the Glor. Dig might be a better place, overall.)

> For the most part taking the longer route would be considered
> unfavorable, as it adds extra risks and may burn off extra hero
> points. On the other hand it offers an alternative to "all or
> nothing" stations that can end a quest, it allows for some
> flexibility ("we'll never be able to pay the bridge-keepers price,
> but we are mighty warriors and can survive the long route"), and in
> rare circumstances hero's may wish to take on a particular otherworld
> challenge on the scenic route for personal reasons ("We have had
> ongoing trouble with the troll raiders of our traders. If I take the
> long route and bargain passage with the trolls, perhaps it will give
> us a starting point to negotiating peace").

I agree with all of the above. Sometimes the "alternative route" may be the equivalent of KoDP's lost of the god-plane -- you really are off the path, but by skillful ad libbing on the basis of other myth fragments known to you, you can find a way back. In other cases, they may be "legitimate variants", whether equivalent in eventual effect, or somewhat different.

> A sub-option of the parrelel path would be a loop. "The bridge-
> keeper told [the hero] that he must either give up a treasure, or
> bring back a tuft of wool from [somebody]'s silver sheep, that graze
> nearby. [The hero] gave up his grandfather's shield rather than risk
> the rath of the [sheeps owner]." So if you don't want to give up a
> treasure you can go do station 5a and steal or bargain for the wool,
> then come back to station 5 and complete it.

You'll see something similar to that in a number of myths -- for example, Humakt fights Orlanth at the same "place" in the Champion myth, what, four times? But those would still represent different "stations" of the quest, I think. One would only have a genuine "loop" where the station was essentially "stateless" -- that is, it didn't matter at all whether one had fought the "same" battle before or not.

> Of course, carry-over on the scenic route or loop stations may be
> much smaller than if you take the "official" route, since that wasn't
> exactly how it was accomplished in the myth.

The benefits may be somewhat different from case to case. But who's to say which is necessarily the "more correct"? Not always will it be the best-known version of the story, especially if that's simply a "public" myth.

Powered by hypermail