Re: Elemental Progression

From: Chris Lemens <chrislemens_at_GKUHUoNAdZWNhuk45Q5CA566twh8Vk5gqYyvYas4bMsLj3vixykXVRD0T0o3FJdx>
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2012 19:25:37 -0000

> It is a very old concept, perhaps one of the first of Glorantha.
> Mythology, or the History of the Gods, determines which Element
> dominate other(s). It is a circle.
> DARKNESS dominates EARTH, as it eats the fruits of growth.
> EARTH dominates AIR, as Ernalda married Orlanth.
> AIR dominates WATER, as Orlanth beat back the raging seas.
> WATER dominates FIRE/SKY, as Lorion invaded the skies and turned them blue.
> FIRE dominates DARKNESS, as Yelm crashed in the Underworld and burned away the dark gods.
> And the circle starts again.

I don't visualize it that way. I see it as a horseshoe with a pentagram in it. The horseshoe opens downwards. At the end of the left arm is darkness. It gave rise to water, which is directly above it on the left arm of the horseshoe. Water gave rise to earth, which is at the apex of the horseshoe. Earth gave rise to sky, which is on the middle of the right arm of the horseshoe. Sky gave rise to air, which is at the bottom of the right arm of the horseshoe.

Now draw an arrow from darkness to earth, which darkness dominates. Then from earth to air, which earth dominates. Then from air to wster, which air dominates. then from water to fire, which water dominates. Finally from fire back to darkness, which dire dominates. These arrows form a pentagram. It's all easy to remember that way.

Of course, these are the god-learner versions of the elements. So, for some more utterly god-learner-esque speculation:

An interesting question is what the relationships would have been before air arrived on the scene. I believe that, geometrically [mathematicians, please check my work], you can't have every element arising from exactly one element, giving rise to exactly one other, and dominating exactly one other (that is different from the first two) with fewer than five elements. With four or fewer, at least one element would have to dominate the element that it arose from or gave rise to OR at least one element would be dominated by more than one other element OR there would be no domination of at least some elements.

So, perhaps the reason that the introduction of air led to such violence is that Glorantha moved from one quantum state to another. It reminds me of the number of electron orbits that an atom can have.

I wonder whether there were prior cycles of domination that the world has now forgotten. For example, maybe it wasn't the introduction of air that caused the storm age. Maybe there was a deeper cause: Water started it all, by invading the sky. Water (not air) put out Yelm. who went to hell, displacing the darkness. The darkness invaded up through the earth, occupying its surface and eating its children, like Flamal. Earth and sky gave birth to air to reassert the balance, by creating something that could drive back the waves. Since pre-time is all jumbled up and out of order, who's to say it couldn't happen that way? Plus, you get to blame those weirdos from the water tribe.

If you introduce moon as a true element, then you can still have patterns of domination, but it would be two overlapping triangles, like the Star of David. If this happened, I guess it would mean that a lot of myths would lose their potency, and others would gain potency. For example, it would imply that air no longer dominates water, but dominates darkness instead. So "Orlanth beats back the sea" is displaced by "Orlanth seduces the Dark Lady" or whatever. It would lead to some odd results: Moon dominates water: check, because of the tides. Water dominates fire: check, because of how you put out a fire. Fire/sky dominates moon: huh? I guess maybe, if the end-of-age story was about the sky putting the moon into its regular path or something. Maybe there's a secret story we don't know yet. Or maybe "dominion" is replaced by something lesser, like "influence."

Or better yet, maybe there are players who believe this claptrap and make it True.


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