Re: The Unholy Trio: Rephrasing the Question

From: Greg Stafford <glorantha1_at_LZ7Nh1RIBriyGOzzOiFiaHp4cRl3L8ZH0EglWKWeFTkwA2hmKh1ZKaQ7frFbx2nFF>
Date: Tue, 23 Dec 2008 08:18:36 -0800

YGWV Wow, what a dissertation!

And some notes on "how to develop your cult."

On Mon, Dec 22, 2008 at 5:44 PM, pentallion <> wrote:

> Thanks for your insights Greg, however, it kinda puts me more at a
> loss. You see, that "work" they did to erase themselves, their kin
> and the world, it failed. The broos earned a place in Glorantha.
> So did Thed and Mallia. They failed to erase themselves and the
> world.

 And as a result, that is their place in the world: to fail.

Well, one of their places. Spreading their disease, etc. is another.

> So am I looking for old myths of how they failed to succeed by
> succeeding in survival?

If you are looking for heroic actions similar to human myths, I don't think they have any. The Heortlings survived because of what Heort did. The broos survived because they had conquered the world and all but destroyed it. Then the gods, spirits and everything else in the Underworld did something new and absolutely unprecedented (sometimes called the Compromise, other times Icebreaking, etc.) that cheated the broos (and other chaos) out of their termination.

> Not only do they fail in every myth but
> their mere existence is then a failure from their own point of
> view?

Yes, in fact. That failure is one of the sources for their eternal pain and suffering. Their misery is from simply existing.

> From Primal Chaos point of view, that makes sense, but it
> doesn't ring true for me to look at the story of Thed and say that
> makes sense. Thed and Mallia accepted the Compromise so they aren't
> Chaos Entities, they're simply associated with Chaos because they
> use it's power.

 I don't think that Thed and Mallia accepted the Compromise, any more than the Devil did. Their continued existence was forced upon them.

> Is disease borne from Chaos? Well, only in the way that so is
> everything, the whole world of Glorantha sprang from Chaos. But now
> it's part of the compromise and has its place.
> What makes more sense to me

At the risk of sounding too glib, there is a nonsensical part of this. It's mythic—metaphorical rather than logical.

> is that in the grand cosmology of
> things, the world is imperfect and is continually being remade and
> (hopefully) trending towards perfection.

That's an interesting theory, and one that is known in many cultures in Glorantha.

I'm not clear what it has to do with heroic chaos myths, though.

> The whole Ouroborous
> imagery of rebirth seems to me to be a major theme. The way the
> world evolves towards perfection is apparent in each age.

There is that "perfection" word again!

I submit that this is not a universal perspective.

It's equally valid to say the world is broken and struggles on, each 466 years barely finding the resources to scrape together another cycle of survival.

> In the end
> of this age all the gods die and the world changes.

That's an interesting theory.

Is there proof of this somewhere?

> Why should the
> old way go to the wayside and be replaced? Because it is found
> wanting. What was wanting in the old way? Well, from Theds
> perspective, the Storm Gods were injust, that's one thing.
> So she wants to destroy the world and in so doing, is the catalyst
> for its transformation. THAT'S her place in the world.
> But to HAVE that place requires a means, a dues ex machina if you
> will, of obtaining the power to do so.

I think that therein lies our disagreement on this.

> In all the myths of
> Glorantha, each culture has the requisites of attaining the results
> they want through their myths.

Correction: In the few selected myths that have been published, each culture has the requisites to survive, thanks to the powers they can still access through their spiritual practices.

> The world WILL end, it says so right in the timeline.


> The fact that it gets reborn, well, that's part
> of the grander scheme of things. And that grander scheme, so far,
> has a place for Thed and Mallia.

 Yes, it does have a place for them, absolutely, because their actions helped to make it what it is. They cannot be erased or completely wiped out of creation because they have already been created.

> (That it won't have a place for them OR for Orlanth, Yelm, etc. in
> the next age is also a part of the story, but that's sidetracking
> this issue.)

 An issue worth exploring, frankly. An assumption that is founded on… what?

But please start

> By the same token, the heroes have their deux ex machina(s) such as
> the Lightbringers Quest, etc. And all of these are based around
> heroquesting.

Well, technically they are not. Neither Heort nor the Lightbringers heroquested. They performed original activities that created the world. Afterwards, humans who wish to access the powers used in these original actions (Arkat, Harmast) discovered/developed Heroquesting to do so.

> But the heroes don't cause the end of the world.
> Being as it's heroquest based, however, the people who DO bring
> about its end must have HQ's of their own. It's how things work in
> this age. They aren't simply written up with the stats to acheive
> these things and there they are presto! It's inferred that they
> built themselves to that level of power and did so by being faithful
> to their cults. So the means must be there.

 There are a couple of significant errors in that paragraph:

The end of the world is not heroquest based.

The entities (not really people, which I usually use to designate mortal beings) who DO bring about its end never even had the chance to HeroQuest, an activity unknown to them because the conditions didn't exist (i.e. there was nothing to imitate/perform).

> Anyways, some of the things I've found are stuff like the "Era of
> Healing" when epidemics were rampant in the Lunar Empire and
> weakened it prior to the incursion of Sheng Seleris. Bit much of a
> coincidence that, so that's an example of Mallian(s) working towards
> a concerted goal.

Mallians didn't bring the plagues. They were sent. Same as with Gbaji's time.

> No doubt they could have reenacted a "Mallia paves
> the way for Wakboth" heroquest complete with Mallian germ warfare
> myths of how they spread disease amongst [name your cult] before
> Chaos struck.

Agreed that such could be possible, although Mallia didn't really pave the way for Wakboth. Mallia was just interested in weakening everyone, damaging them the way she felt damaged, spreading her form of existence.

> Now, if I can tie that in with other myths that
> discuss being set upon by plague I can start to construct a map of
> Mallia's place in the God Plane.

Underworld. Or perhaps you mean Gods War—the setting for most HeroQuests?

> Then I can begin creating a set of
> HQ for the players to take to gain the powers necessary to acheive
> their ultimate goal of bringing about the end of the world.

 OK, what you describe here is what HUMANS might do (evil humans, since they are planning to hurt, harm, spread suffering, and know what they are doing).

In other worlds, what you are describing here is what a hero cult could do, after Time began, by studying what has occurred.

But in the Gods War, the forces of Mallia were not organized this way. For one really, really important thing, they weren't human.

> Mallia was born a spirit of healing, right?

Can you cite me a source for this? I don't think it's in my material. CoT says she "grew from the Darkness."

> So that is remembered
> somewhere and if so, probably how she changed would have an
> associated myth around it. A storyline here could be built into how
> a character became a Mallian. Anyone know the story behind that?

 Rather than trying to insert this as a cosmic myth, I'd suggest you treat this as the story of a hero who did this. Or a chain of them, one discovering that if he shat in his brother's food his brother always got sick, or whatever; the next one polluting an entire lake, etc.

> The whole healing thing could be played upon from the angle that if
> a Mallian accepts a disease, they become immune to it (except the
> Plague IIRC) and thus if EVERYONE became Mallians, there'd be almost
> no disease! CURED! Like smallpox vaccinations for everyone.
> Though I don't know how I'd use that in a campaign. Seems like the
> Nysalorians already tried that idea LOL.

 Very amusing. It could be the philosophy of the hero cult. That's the kind of rationale that a human would make.

> Another thing I stumbled upon suggests Mallia was Subhere's guardian
> at the gate and that is how Ragnaglar got access. Is that
> considered bunk or not? Doesn't seem likely that the guardian of
> such an important thing could be a spirit of healing. But maybe
> there's some symbology there I'm missing, or maybe both things I've
> read are bunk and she was neither.

 OK, now if you are making it a Hero Cult, all you need to say is that, "Pooman lay in the throes of his [initiatory] illness and hurtled through the jumbled realms towards death. He stood upon the gate of deepest darkness and he witnessed the nauseas copulation of Ragnaglar and Mallia, and diverted his hurtling path to join in that sickness. He became one with filth, a progenitor of disease. His immortal part became a spreader of disease."

Such would tend to have local importance or power, but not much more. To everyone else he's just another disease demon.

> Anyways, if anyone has any other stories about either Thed or Mallia,
> I'd be interested in hearing them. Thanks.

Myself, I find no pleasure or entertainment in developing evil cults, etc. Yes, they are possible, and likely exist, but they are villains for me. I'm not saying don't explore this if you wish! But if I ever exercised my approval rights over published material, it would be over the promulgation of evil, disgusting or sick stuff. (Please start a new thread if you want to take me to task for this attitude.)

Greg Stafford
Game Designer

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