Re: How prevalent is magic?

From: bryan_thx <bethexton_at_...>
Date: Mon, 26 Nov 2012 17:09:51 -0000

Just a bunch of quick thoughts on this:
  1. I'd tweak what some others have said. Mythology is the physics of Glorantha. When a toddler asks "Why?" the eventual answer is a myth. ("Why does fire burn?" "Back in the Green Age, it didn't. But once upon a time....."). And this is not just explanations for small children, this is the truth of the world.
  2. "Magic" is really worship, or emulation of ancient myth. A worshipper of a god does magic by being like his or her god, and hence can use the god's powers in lesser ways. The more they identify with their god--and that means the more they give up of their own identity and free will--the more closely they can emulate their god and the more powerfully they can bring forth those powers--i.e. the flashier the magic they can do. People who deal with spirits instead of gods or who learn the static magic of sorcery have their own versions of this immersion --> power progression.
  3. Most people don't have time, inclination, wealth, or focus enough to dive too deeply into magic. In very rough terms you could consider it a bit like education--in our world we know that it pays off, but many people struggle to go very far with it, many others don't have the patience or desire or money to keep on with it. The higher the education, and the more immersed in their magic in Glorantha, the fewer people will go there. And most people focus on those gods (spirits, saints, etc) that they most relate to--a hunter almost always follows a hunting god, a farmer may follow the plow god or some more general god who can help with growing crops, but is unlikely to have the time/inclination to also follow the trader god, etc. So most peoples magic is very much what they can use/need in their daily life. Farmers won't be flying around, hunters won't be throwing lightning bolts, etc. But a farmer might be able to call up a rainstorm, depending on his god, and the hunter may be able to shoot an arrow with uncanny distance and accuracy, etc.

3)Nobody knows all of the myths of their own pantheon of gods and heroes, and certainly not of everyone else's pantheons. (A long destroyed group called the God Learners tried to do this, but the world revolted and destroyed them for their presumption. Take heed of this lesson!) The result is that people do a lot of things for reasons of superstition....maybe it is important that throw a stone into the ford before wading through it, maybe it isn't, but everyone has always done it that way and do you want to risk frisky water spirits? Such 'worship' (not a perfect word, but it will do) is part of daily life, done by everyone constantly. Some of that really will invoke magic (the beer spilled on the sharpening stone is part of making the stone bring about a sharper edge), some of it is just general 'maintaining the world' worship.

4) While most cows are just cows, most trees are just trees, etc, it does have a fairy tale world aspect to it too, where there are magical groves protected by nature spirits, where you can encounter talking foxes, where heroes have magical companions, etc. (and where, per the above, annoying the magical landscape can have unfortunate consequences, so unless you want to end up having water spirits playing 'keep-away' with your possessions, maybe you should toss a stone into that ford before crossing....)

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