Re: Malia & MIsapplied Worship

From: KYER, JEFFREY <jeff.kyer_at_...>
Date: Thu, 16 Nov 2000 15:11:52 -0500

Here's some more tidbits and commentary on Malia and Misapplied Worship. Forwarded to the list as per instructions. =) Warts and all.


Hello Everyone,

My name is Stephen Martin, and in addition to being a long-time fan of Glorantha, I am also the current content- and copy-editor for Hero Wars. Jeff forwarded a couple of messages to me, to which I thought I would reply briefly. On my own behalf, I must stress that this is NOT an official response from Issaries, Inc.

> > Keith N:
> > >I don't accept this. Only Disease Masters
> > >have a religious duty to spread disease.
> >
> > And in Hero Wars, the role, or even the existance, of some of the old
> > "rune levels" is generally played down.
> Yes, however, I'd point out that the point of this list was to try to
> figure out how to play HeroWars rather than RQ...?

Well, in all fairness to Jeff's intentions, I think that is a bit unfair.
I understand that many people are concerned about what they see as the ret-conning of Glorantha in the last few years, especially with Hero Wars.

First, to clarify -- a devotee is NOT the same as the old "rune lord." Thus, a devotee of Humakt is NOT the same thing as a Sword of Humakt. Not
by a long shot!

I wanted to point out that, yes, the old rune levels are being downplayed, but they are not being removed completely. The old "rune lords" and the like are much less common than Runequest made it seem. They get great magical benefits, but they also have a lot of restrictions. For example, a Wind Lord of Orlanth, even though he worships the main Great God of his people, has no access to the other gods of the pantheon. He cannot use Divine Aid, and has no Worship Storm Pantheon ability. This is very limitiing, but such is the dedication to a
single god.

Also, keep in mind just how much time 90% of your time is. This means you
have to have a completely independent source of support -- if you are a Wind Lord, you don't have any time whatsoever to farm, fish, hunt, herd, or the like. You cannot contribute to feeding your society, so they have to be convinced of the worthiness of supporting you with their own efforts. If you are not actively working for your clan all of the time, why should they help you? Thus, it is difficult to be a Sword of Humakt unless you have your own mercenary band and live in a land with enough conflict that you can earn a living fighting. There just isn't room in most places for many such people. Similarly, a land cannot support very many High Healers and their entire healing temples. It just isn't economically feasible.

The old "rune lords" were not included in Hero Wars for two reasons, as I
see it. First, there just wasn't space for such a minority. Most heroes in Glorantha are not "rune lords" and never were. They are normal worshippers of the gods.

Second, we didn't at the time fully understand how the "rune lords" worked in Hero Wars. We are in the process of getting that nailed down completely, and we currently plan to give rules for "rune lords" and other DISCIPLES in Storm Tribe: The Cults of Sartar. Many of the deities described in that book to have a few "rune lords," and the requirements, benefits, and disadvantages will be fully explained there.

> > I agree. If the normal healing doesn't seem to be working, or is
> > unavailable, then you might seek out shamans to help clear out the
> disease
> > spirits... and you might just come across some Malia worshippers, who
> > necessarily admit the fact.
> Yep. Or other channels of ordinary society don't seem to work --
> there is always another way. In this case, the cultural adge can be
> used against the very society it created.

Note that, because of misapplied worship, it is always going to be cheaper to worship Chalana Arroy to help fend off disease than it is to sacrifice cattle to Mallia to keep her away. And on that note ...   

> > <rant>
> > I think the whole "misapplied worship" thing is over-rated. Aeol
proves that
> > Orlanth is just a man with storm powers. Was he wrong, and therefore
> > practicing misapplied worship? Or are all other Orlanthi wrong? If
Aeol is
> > "objectively wrong", then what's the point of an identity challenge?

When dealing with Misapplied Worship, you need to keep in mind that Aeol _thinks_ he is right, and believes that he can prove it. He can go into the Sorcery World, and he can SEE the node of Saint Aeolus. He has no way
to distinguish it from other nodes, and certainly its presence alone proves that it is not "false." He can learn spells, and this proves that he is right. It may cost him more time, energy, and magical ingredients to cast the spells, but that simply shows how polluting the false worship
of those ignorant barbarians is. If every Orlanth worshipper in Glorantha
was wiped out, surely the magical pollution would be blown away, and Aeolus' magic would not be so difficult.

> My take, as pointed out was that Orlanth is a thing of the God World.
> Sorcerous worship is a thing of the Sorcery World and you're just
> using the wrong methodolgy to worship Orlanth.

Jeff is 100% correct here.

> Its just not going to be the same. And if some person 'proves' that
> Orlanth is just Worlanth and Yelm is just Ehlim, does that make it
> true? They get power from it but, in Glorantha, it is not observably
> as powerful as the raw magics that the Yelm and Orlanthi enjoy when
> they worship theistically. The game reflects that fact.

And, as I try to show above, people will make endless efforts to justify why their way is right and everyone else's is wrong.  

> > the penalty for being wrong, in the narrator's pre-determined
decision? Is
> > "proving" something through HQ just self-delusion? I hope Greg comes
to his
> > senses, and that we hear the words "Gee, Misapplied Worship, what was
> > thinking about?" <raises back of hand to forehead> pass his lips.
> > entities, I say to you - defy! =>:-O
> > </rant>
> I do not think Misapplied worship will go away because you don't like
> it. I'm suspsecting that its more common than you might like.
> Anytime an Orlanthi clan worships a local spirit (such as the Black
> Oak spirit who controls the valley that clan live in), you're going to
> see tihs. You dwell on the sorcerous misapplied worship. There are
> others out there who are doing this as well -- The Cold Man and Little
> Brother cultists of Prax are probably even worse off.

And indeed, the Issaries web site has a couple of narratives that discuss
how the greater culture deals with this.

Also, please note that there is no _society_ that uses Misapplied Worship
exclusively or even heavily. The Aeolians are an extreme fringe group that gained power because of the _political_ situation, not because their
magic was superior. Despite their great numbers, they are merely a small subset of the Orlanthi, in a relatively small area compared to the total.
Their false worship is insignificant in the big scheme of things, and they are a minority in their own society. Even most of their peasants don't worship Saint Aeolus in a way that strengthens him, sicne they are not learning magic from him, and likely still worship Barntar and Ernalda.

No society as a whole practices Misapplied Worship, that I am aware of. Note that most fo the Praxian "Spirit Cults" are not the type of misappleid worship described in Hero Wars -- most Praxian spirit cults are spirits, and are worshipped in the manner of spirits, and provide spirits to their worshippers. An unfortunate use of terminology in Hero Wars, IMO.

Now, Heortlings who have to deal with a local spirit will probably sacrifice to it, whether to appease it or to learn its magic, since kolating shamans are few and far between. This is really what Hero Wars is describing, not animists.

> > Then again, I may be misinterpreting it, and reacting against a
> > misinterpretation. I'm open to reason.
> I suspect this is the case.
> I think the problem lies in the nature of worship -- and the *method*
> of worship, not the object of veneration or sacrifice. I'd just sya
> that Orlanth doesn't like getting folks standing around singing hyms
> and much preferes getting cows, beer and the scarificed weapons of his
> foes. THAT is what makes it misaplied. You're using a sorcerous
> methodology to worship something from an entirely different world...

An excellent description of the situation.


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