Peter & Mark:
> 1) Hrestol combining the castes was not an intentional act of but a
> > desperation move. Previously the Malkioni had known that Caste Crime
> > could cause immense spiritual damage. So Hrestol joined all the castes
> > and went off to fight the Pendali in the hope that an angry god would
> > nuke Hrestol and take out the Pendali as collateral damage.
> Wow! That sounds like something a player-character would come up
> with! I wonder if there is any chance Hrestol was a PC in some early
> Chaosium house campaign? Probably not, but it's fun to think about.
That's a MGF theory for sure! It's not going to become my go-to interpretation, but nice creativity :)
> My opinion is that Joy is a supercritical state of grace that is
> received fleetingly during Church services (except the Rokari of course)
> and permanently by the Knights.
This is a good lead in to an important topic, the powers granted by knighthood. As I wrote before, I'm interested in things as they were at the Dawn (for some reason my interest in the West wanes after the Serpent Kings pass from the scene). My theory is that these early knights were quite powerful, more so than we've seen in sources detailing the knights of later Ages. I'm not sure what the cause of this decline is, but any number of reasons can be advanced: the Western notion of Devolution in practice, machinations of Brithini sorcerers over the centuries to bring the hated knight caste to heel, the end of the Pendali threat allowing Malkion to rein in the magical support supplied to knights, the Sinking of Seshnela, the Sunstop, etc. etc. For my purposes it's not neccessary to answer this, just to recognize that things have indeed changed over time. Backing this up is something Greg wrote in the early days: "Over the years the strength and aims of the knighthood has changed, but the institution still remains."
Why were the early knights so powerful? Because they were the successful response to the Pendali military emergency said to threaten the Seshnegi with annihilation. That the lion hsunchen kingdoms were a powerful foe is clear. For example, they wipe out a Brithini expeditionary force sent to assist Neleoswal (and the Brithini are known to be skilled in combat). On the surface, it's hard (for me at least) to see what the knight caste provides that is so groundbreaking. They are mounted warriors, able to take command like talars, with some rustic knowledge from the dronars and some sorcery. No doubt the mobility of horses is an advantage, but what here is so important that it justifies a second Malkioni Prophet and changes to an ancient, immortality-giving ordering of society?
This being Glorantha, the answer must be magic and this is backed up by information in Revealed Mythologies and Arcane Lore. The revelation of Joy resulted in changes to the Western otherworld and along those lines I read with interest an older post by Peter:
"As for Joy, Greg's put out numerous confusing signals in the glorantha: intro and elsewhere. As far as I can make out, Hrestol called down Joy from God that transformed portions of the Ideal Plane into being able to project magic onto the Mundane plane without the need to contact it. So instead of the Ideal Plane magics being only accessible through following the Ideals, Saints can project blessing and curses down to the ordinary Malkioni and their enemies."
Assuming this is still as true as it ever was, I like the idea that Joy permitted blessings and curses (and no doubt the occasional Malkion miracle) to flow more easily to the inner world. This is possibly backed up by Hrestol's rune (for example, see HQ1 rulebook pg. 157). I've never read any interpretation of it so I may be way off base here, but the outer lines perhaps represent the Invisible God encompassing all of creation (the horizontal line, with the lines opening at the top because God is beyond/larger than creation). The V in the middle represents the magical energy of a blessing or miracle flowing down into the world, centered on the community or individual as applicable.
And who better to benefit from these blessings than the knights, defenders and saviors of the Seshnegi, a new caste brought about by the sanctity and heroism of the Prophet Hrestol, last of the Secret Keepers and beloved by Malkion. In fact, I have an undeveloped theory that the knights, by merging the four castes and representing the Malkioni community in microcosm, are (in case of need) able to receive magical assistance more powerful than what could be given to an individual before, on a level approaching a community-wide blessing or miracle.
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