From: Jonathan Quaife <jonathan.quaife_at_...>
Date: Sun, 14 Mar 2004 11:58:16 -0000

Hello Gang

From my side I'd like to finish up on my contribution to this discussion with a few comments---aside from anything else following all this discussion takes a lot of time! I've no idea how the tribe will proceed with this, but I personally find it helpful to make judgements based on tangible written materials preferably written as Gloranthan 'sources', rather than on the basis of ongoing suggestions. I find I lose track of where the suggestions end and the concrete deliverables begin, if you catch my drift. My feeling are not especially strong, but I think we're all agreed that three-dimensional characterisation is important for something to stand up and feel believable. If others have strong opinions then one or more versions of a source text could always be voted on in a poll. But in any case I have very much enjoyed reading everybody's ideas over the weekend!

So, to cherry pick from the various comments...

From Jeff: "Hendreik is a subcult of Orlanth and a hero cult. He is also the guardian of the Larnsti. His myth is something like this: When the Kingdom of the Vingkotlings self-destructed at the Shield and Helm Battle, the surviving members of the Kodigvari invoked Larnste to learn how to shapeshift... Following the Battle of Vaantar, Hendreik Freeman refused to submit to the Bright Empire. Hendreik heroquested to the aftermath of the Shield and Helm Battle and gain Larnste's powers."

I think making connections like this is 100% Gregging material (assuming there are asumptions here?) If you're bothered by the thought of getting Gregged, then on the one hand I reckon there are plans for Silver Age heroes so I'd be very careful about pinning them down as, for example, wyters. On the other, I must say Peter's comments on this sounded very erudite, and I'm inclined to agree with him---Sartar was a Larnsti (I think?) and he for example changes the forms of other things, but doesn't manifest shapechanging powers himself.

Jeff also mentioned the Larnsti in terms of "freedom" more than "change". As a Brit I am 250% suspicious of words like "freedom" and "liberty" in terms of a character's or religious movement's motivations. Here we all cringed when Mel Gibson shouted these phrases from the parapets in Braveheart. Ambition and political expediency, in my book, are generally far more important political and historical motivators than concepts of this sort, even if the words are mouthed. Consequently I don't feel comfortable with representing the Larnsti as idealists. Given the obscure nature of this almost primal deity, I would be inclined to posit the Larnsti as some sort of pseudo-secret brotherhood based on ritual and magical control: change is bad if it's not the type of change you want. Sartar's curious positioning of cities is certainly something to do with a magical scheme of some sort, for example (something draconic, I reckon). It's possible that the Larnsti themselves are as mystified regarding the nature of the deity Larnste as we are: understanding something of change but on the whole afraid of it. There could also be some nice iconography here. Larnste as the Lord of Change, Master of the Mysteries, Hidden Mover, or Deep Mover, a deity with three faces (a man, a woman and the Devil perhaps?--or five faces?!--) The deity is possibly a bit of a threat to Orlanth, which is possibly why he was integrated into the pre-Andrini system of governance, so there may be a dimension of political (masonic?) control here too, and this may be a nice way to introduce something of a 'western' feel to Heortling culture. All that said, they're probably failing.

Following on the theme of 'liberty versus expediency', judging from Greg's description of Broyan in his correspondence with Peter, I would intuit that Broyan is nothing if he is not an ambitious and poltically expedient leader. Greg implies his goal is to replace the Pharoah, after all!

Next up: my very knock-downable first shot included this statement: "I am Broyan called the Willing Blade because I fought for King Adralar of the Marzeelings, and for every chief among the Volsaxings, after my father Brath was killed by his own clan." This prompted Jeff to ask, "You think Broyan is the spawn of kinslaughter?"

Well, yes or no, as suits. The story is the most important bit. So, if "yes", then the story might be: Broyan's father was influential and powerful, and a threat to somebody else. He is murdered by a thrall. The evidence points to somebody outside the clan so Broyan spends years seeking his father's killer. He identifies somebody who is connected to the Pharoah. He kills him and does in the Pharoah (facilitating Jar Eel's later strike...), only to discover that whoever he was, he was in cahoots with a contender for the Volsaxi/ar throne and somebody in Broyan's clan and bloodline. This leads to the Full Moon assassin story and Broyan's fight to become King, including his no doubt gratuitous revenge. If "no", then we could (a) introduce a nefarious legal technicality: the killer who sponsored the thrall was from Broyan's clan but not his bloodline, or the powerful bloodlines in the clan were stacked against Broyan's family and the lawspeakers all said that the thrall (not kin, obviously) was the murderer even if there was suspicion to be cast upon one those very same bloodlines... or (b) posit that the thrall in fact had no connection to a bloodline in the clan ... et cetera... I porefer the first two versions, personally, because with these the bottom line is, in the end, after a long exile Broyan purges his clan of the badduns' and pulls everybody else behind him, then makes his play against Gotalax (or whatever his name was), who is also in some way implicit in the plot, for the Volsxi/ar Kingship.

Another from Jeff: "I see Broyan as inspiring, stubborn, proud, intemperate (he swears, he whores, he drinks)... with an indomitable will and force of character ... He's violent - and willing to kill or destroy to illustrate a principle. But he inspires his followers with a sense of freedom and pride that leads cottars to fight hoplites ... I think that it is very important, however, that we keep Broyan to be someone who can inspire ordinary Orlanthi to do impossible deeds. Even his flaws should be virtues in a way - he's violent and killed a man in an assembly for slighting his dedication and honor. Many ordinary Orlanthi respect that - especially when Broyan says that 'by slighting me, he was slandering you'. His anger is a powerful storm - and he has killed men out of anger - but it is proof of his heroic nature. He's stubborn and anachronistic - but his followers know that he won't abandon them. And so on. It must drive the Lunars nuts - this violent, half-crazed warlord somehow inspires his men to feats of courage that rival the Household of Death. Except they are by and large ordinary Orlanthi and failed rebels!"

All fine and well, but a bit predictable in my view. Violent, anger-prone Orlanthi? I'm sure I've heard it somewhere before... I have to admit this didn't do a lot for me. For me the real question is not, "What is Broyan like?", but, "Why is Broyan the character he is?" I would say that motivation is everything in characterisation. Understanding motivation also builds stories and deepens the background for a game. Why is he prone to anger? Peter, myself and Chris I think are thinking along similar lines, but that of course does not mean that better ideas won't be (or haven't been) suggested. Chris summed it up very well to my mind when he wrote, "Why do bad things happen to good Orlanthi? This can lead to hate, envy, confusion, temper tantrums..." If you think about it, there isn't very much *good stuff* that had happened to Broyan. He's always on the losing side or winning too little too late. And the Heortlings are *losing*: there is nothing left of their culture, not even their god.

A contribution from Jane was: "Could it be that he thinks Orlanth has
*already* let his people down? Before being "dead"? And if so, does he
resent Orlanth for that, or think it's time for Orlanth's people to support their god, since he obviously needs it?"

My take: Broyan dabbles in Larnste and Vingkot-worship, so my impression is he's lost his confidence in Orlanth, or has no choice... Orlanth is dying so he must find another way (as Jeff put it, "late during the siege, I think that Broyan knows that Orlanth must die - and men must trust to their own power to survive"). I think Orlanthi could be inspired by a leader who does not follow Orlanth, by the way: nor are all the defenders of Whitewall Orlanthi. People respect oratory, decisiveness, remorse, even brutality; there's no reason that Broyan in any interpretation wouldn't own all these qualities.

Following on this theme, Jeff wrote: "He fights the same struggle that his followers feel they must fight. He has their foes to defeat, their goals to obtain. His personality is extreme, but reflects their values. And most importantly, the Orlanthi know that this man will never sell them or their god out to the Lunars."

My take here would be that in fact they *don't* know that. After all, this
*is* the man who gives the City of Wonders to the Wolf Pirates! I would
suggest that one of Broyan's important qualities is ruthlessness. The Heortlings are *losing*: their situation is pretty much hopeless. God is dying, they are beset by enemies from north and south, there is the Fimbulwinter. This is the guy who will do what it takes to win a battle even when the decisions aren't all that pleasant. You can trust Broyan to win. If he takes you under his wing you will fight, you may even win, and you're less likely to starve than anybody else. In return you accept the unpalatable. My understanding of war is that this is generally the character of it, whatever the historians like to tell us afterwards.

In this vein I very much liked Jeff's comment: "Broyan has a massive sense that he is the man designated by the gods to fight this battle. The showdown must happen now - and not in another ten or twenty years ... To his followers and supporters this extreme confidence that he is the man of destiny is inspiring and reassuring", although I would expunge the last clause and rewrite it as, "this extreme confidence that he is a man of destiny provokes loyalty and resolve from his close followers". But what is his vision of what happens after the battle? Calling back all the Silver Agte Heroes and re-establishing a Vingkotling Kingdom perhaps? Here also I would suggest lies the spark for his rift with Kallyr(?) and I think this kind of mentality would give a cutting edge to the character's conviction and, where required, ruthlessness.

Righto... there you have my thirty pence's worth....!


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