For me this is the convincing argument, not the backstory plans or lack thereof, but what the fighters on both sides believe they are laying down their lives for. Fighting for the future and the very survival of lifekind, freedom and warm ale / wanting to heal the universe is about as epic as you can get.
The Lunars want to heal the universe, and kill or enslave a violent troublemaker god. Beyond conquest or tying down troublesome rebels, this reason seems to become more prominent during the siege, especially after Tatius the Bright takes over, the dean of the Lunar Field School of Magic.
The Orlanthi are defending their god and their world from perpetual slavery, keeping freedom and hope alive - at least between the bat blat and Kallyr's departure. Then I suspect they begin to have inklings of 'Plan B'.
Whether the plans to enslave or kill Orlanth were long-term or spontaneous, part of a Wane-long master strategy or cooked up by a bored propagandist on an ox cart outside Karse after the bat blat, surely our focus is going to be on the Lunar command staff during the siege. And THEY will have different priorities, understandings and goals, different perspective on *WHAT* the siege is all about, same as we do.
Maybe we can make the differences part of the story instead of trying to decide a priori. Let them argue about it, not us. :)
I reread the relevant bits from the Composite History of Dragon Pass last night. (For those of you who don't have this ancient source, it is part of King of Sartar, a 1992 book by Greg Stafford that lays down, in broad strokes and from highly biased sources, the history of the Hero Wars. There are a few pages on Whitewall and scattered references to folk like Kallyr, Broyan, Fazzur and Tatius. Since KOS is no longer in print, I'll see if I can get the relevant extract on Whitewall up in the files area.)
The usual questions about reliability and bias aside, two things struck me. As described by the CHDP scribe, the initial invasion was pretty much Fazzur's idea, (Fazzur Wideread, a Lunarised Tarshite general with close connections to Pharandros, the king of Tarsh, the man who put down Kallyr Starbrow's rebellion in 1615.) The reason, in context, seems to be **purely economics** - Prax is a write-off, lets get us some southern ports. Pharandros agrees, and orders his (Tarshite, though no doubt with some Heartland troops as well) generals and priests to help Fazzur. Then the Red Emperor volunteers imperial troops as well. (ah ha!)
Now Fazzur is only a background figure to the actual siege of Whitewall - he has no part in the battle. Come the bat blat, and the siege commander Jokandros Blinder gets replaced by Tatius - Imperial involvement gets scaled up to 10. In 1621 Fazzur is focussed on invading Esrolia, and gets furious when the Emperor Himself pulls back Fazzur's troops to beef up the siege. Imperial involvement gets scaled up to 11.
CHDP then says:
"Whitewall was more important religiously than it was militarily, hence Tatius the Bright had been given command. This stronghold was believed to be the last city of Orlanth, the god who was rival to the Red Goddess of the Empire. To take it would end the worship of Orlanth in all cities: a great victory. Tatius spared no preparation for the assault and naturally got special magicians from the Emperor. [the God Squad? - Imperial involvement gets scaled up to 12]
I always have certain methodological reservations about wide-ranging textual justifications for 'ideological' readings of Gloranthan intention or purpose - much as I can admire the scholarship involved. This is because Glorantha is a moving target. Greg's vision has moved on since KOS, and Orlanth Is Dead (OID) reflects this. It's a feature, not a bug. Also, Glorantha has always primarily been a roleplaying world, and so *our* stories, *our* games, must always be foregrounded. Glorantha serves the game.
As a roleplaying design principle, I also always favour bottom-up over top-down. What individual *people* believe is always of more value than top-down god's eye views.
On The Lunar side - Was there a long term master plan to kill or enslave Orlanth? - Oh yes. Was it made up on the spur of the moment in response to panic after the bat blat? - Oh yes. Lunar master plans seem to routinely fall foul of ultra secrecy, bureaucratic ineptitude, mushroom-addled priestesses and ill-timed dart wars. Was Whitewall important - No. Yes. Maybe. Certainly. `At once, your Imperial Majesty'.
On the Heortling side - was Whitewall intended as the last defence of Orlanth? Initially, I very much doubt it. But with the bat blat, the arrival of Tatius, and no doubt the beginnings of high level Lunar heroquesting centred on the Air Temple and Orlanthi rituals, the real game began to become clear. By the blue arrow calling at the beginning of 1620, the Orlanthi believed they were fighting for the very freedom of their god. It was magnificent, stirring propaganda, and it was true. By the end of 1620, however, that had changed. Kallyr leaves, and the line of support from outside heroes either dries up or is exhausted. Was it as simple as realising resistance could not be sustained, and attempting to end the siege on a defiant note, slipping away from the frustrated Lunars once again? Or was 'Plan B' beginning to unfurl? I don't think anyone believes they would give up Whitewall if it *really* meant the death of their god.
The city falls, the Wind Dies. Or does it? Everyone is still breathing. Fimbulwinter descends upon Dragon Pass, and Sartar is dragged back to the Greater Darkness. Here, at least, is a myth the Orlanthi know how to win.
The challenge, as I see it, is to have all these perspectives on the significance or lack thereof of Whitewall represented among the major heroes and their factions. If there was a secret godkiller plan first conceived when Glamour was a chariot parking lot, its unlikely that an uncouth provincial general would be told about it. That the Empires desires it is all it should take for Fazzur and everyone under him to die smiling as they scale the ramps. And even at the highest levels there are factions, secrets, and rivalries.
Powered by hypermail