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  1. 23 points
    So let's talk about Yelm and whence he comes from. This conversation is about Greg's King of Sartar and Stafford Library material, so its deep in textual argument and probably pulls from sources that are no longer of ‘clear’ authority. So be it. It is a brain dump and probably riddled with errors, but let’s talk about it. It's not, for now, mostly, about Yelmalio. He can come later. First we need to talk about Yelm. I'll give you the proposition first, then talk about where it comes from: Yelm is not the god of the sun at the Dawn for Dara Happa, or anywhere else. The major cultures central Genertela all have their own god of the sun at the Dawn. Yelm is a synthesis whose consequence is Nysalorian illumination and the Sunstop. Although he predates the God Learners, you can think of Yelm as a monomyth creation (although it's really Nysalorian illumination at the root of all this, including God Learnerism). Anyway, at the dawn, in central Genertela, the sun is Elmal, and Antirius, and Kargzant, (and others, all cultures have a sun god, even Ehilim in the west). Orlanth kills the Emperor, not Yelm. Rebellus Terminus is the enemy of the Dara Happan gods, not Orlanth. Orlanth goes on the Lifebringer's Quest to bring back Ernalda, not the Lightbriner's Quest to bring back the sun. The Red Goddess was not the first divinity to be created inside Time in Peloria. That crown goes to Yelm. In many ways the birth of the Red Goddess is an echo of the birth of Yelm. So how do I get to this conclusion? First off, when Greg wrote King of Sartar (KoS), he looked in detail at Orlanthi culture. One aspect of that was to look at their religion. Up to this point we had tended to think about their being a single Gloranthan religion oriented around the monomyth. More than that, the cultures all worshipped an elemental pantheon. The Sartarites worshiped the Storm Gods, the Dara Happans the Sky Gods etc. This changed with King of Sartar. Greg started to think about the Orlanthi as worshiping a pantheon of deities instead. The cultures of the Dawn were isolated and complete. The Heortlings knew of the sun, they could see it in the sky, but they called it Elmal, not Yelm. To be a complete pantheon, there had to be a native god of the sun, among others, that had previously been only represented as foreign gods. But no foreign gods were known at the Dawn. Thus Greg's introduction of Elmal, a sun god for the Orlanthi. "This time I looked at things anew, as always. Importantly, while wandering throughout the Stormtime and Nowtime, I looked up and wondered, for the first time, “Who is the Orlanthi sun god?” I realized that the place of the Sun in Orlanthi myth, as revealed so far, was that of the enemy and foe, the Emperor. Nonetheless, there was the Sun of Life which anyone can see and feel when they go out on a sunny day. Without that then the Dark Tribe would rule again. The Orlanthi knew it and surely acknowledged the Friendly Sun. I knew that, but even as Storyteller I did not know where this might be." - The Birth of Elmal, Greg Stafford. KoS acknowledged that the religion of the Heortlings at the Dawn included sun gods, darkness gods, water gods etc. Any real reasoning about this had already needed to break the elemental correspondence anyway, the Heortlings had an earth goddess already in Ernalda, so they were never pure storm. Elmal was the name of the Orlanthi sun god. It was new to KoS, many of the names there were new to us. And it caused controversy because it changed how we thought about Glorantha, from one world pantheon, to multiple pantheons, originating in a different Dawn Age culture. Inspired by this revelation, Greg went on to write Glorious Reascent of Yelm (GRoY) to examine Dara Happan religion, the Entekosiad to look at Pelandan religion etc. Gone was the vision of 'one Gloranthan religion' with different regions favoring different elements that had graced the Gods and Goddesses of Glorantha articles in Wyrm's Footnotes. Now we had many religions that met, and tried to reconcile their different perspectives of the Godtime, sometimes peacefully, sometimes violently. "Third, my new status has freed me to explore other aspects of Glorantha which had previously been prohibited by the rules and laws of the RuneQuest tribe. As a result I have been delving deeply into the Solar Way (thanks to the entryway provided by the Many Lesser Suns) and, as a natural consequence, the Lunar Way." The Birth of Elmal, Greg Stafford For Greg the touch point of this conflict was the identity of the sun. He refers to this in both KoS, GRoY, and Fortunate Succession (FS) as the conflict of the Many and the One. Consider, that when two cultures meet, we can rationalize most differences between our pantheons by creating regional earth, river, city or storm deities. "Esrola is your land goddess down there, and Pela is our land goddess up here," folks say. "Orlanth is the great storm that blows down in Dragon Pass, but Entekos is the calm air of our region." The two cultures can share stories and agree that their gods are the gods of their region. Sometimes they share stories and tales, and people wonder: "Is your goddess also our goddess?" And when people meet in peace, as they did in the Unity council, this can create a synthesis that is greater than the sum of the parts. But there is only one sun. So how can we reconcile competing sun gods? Now, if you hear Greg speak at cons it is clear that Glorantha is a platonic universe. The 'All' of the 'Green Age' is unknowable except to the mystic and likely to drive anyone who experiences it mad without preparation. Most religions see the 'shadows on the wall of the cave' of that reality, a projection of their culture over the fundamental truths of the runes to create something approachable for worship. It is a 'soft' polytheism not a 'hard' one. "In the Beginning, before there were people, before there was a sky, an earth or an ocean, before there were gods, before there was a Before, was Vezkarvez. Vezkarvez is not something which can be thought about, remembered, felt, or even imagined. Do not bother to try, for to try to do so is only to fall into the trap of the Other. Vezkarvez, pure and undivided, can be touched only by the highest gods who know secrets which you can never know." GRoY, p.6 Now someone might object to soft polytheism: "But in Glorantha you can heroquest and check the details!" But it is clear that heroquesting is still a projection of the mortal mind onto the cosmic "all", you can heroquest to cement your version of the truth and if enough people agree to it, then that is a truth for them. Harmast learns this and does this. But so does the Red Goddess, and (spoilers) so does Yelmgatha. So, as we stated earlier, there is just one sun in the sky, so rationalizing that becomes a little trickier. Here is the problem of the Many and the One. We can't pull the region trick. How can the sun be your sun god, and my sun god? We have some options, which mostly boil down to: they are both names for the same god or you are wrong. Synthesis or conflict. The sun becomes the touch point for the conflict of the Many vs. the One. Either we accept that we don't have truth, just a "shadow on the walls of the cave" or we declare you a heretic. IMO Greg was pretty clear what the scenario was at the Dawn in KoS and GRoY. The Heortlings have a sun god called Elmal, the Dara Happans have one called Antirius and the Horse Nomads have one called Kargzant. "Elmal is the Orlanthi god of the Sun, a trusted thane of the Chief God who is charged with defending the homestead when Orlanth and his companions depart upon the Lightbringers’ Quest. His priests participate in the great festivals and important Sacred Time annual rituals, and have parts in many of the most widely known stories. ... The deity gave its initiates blessings upon the earth, good barley crops, healthy horses, and winter protection" King of Sartar, p.188 Now, as KoS instructs us, the horse nomads were driven off, and so the Heortlings and Pentans never exchanged their mythologies in a peaceful fashion. But the Dara Happans and the Heortlings did. And they wrestled with the problem? How can your sun god and our sun god both be the sun. Either we are hard or soft polytheists. "During the Dawn Age there was a clash of cultures as the Elmal magic impacted with the fierce Sun God who was worshipped by the nomads of Peloria. The beliefs of the two cultures in their own Sun Gods [Elmal and Kargzant] were challenged for the first time. Each held true, but the fierce nomads were weaker and unable to withstand the shock. The war ended with their defeat, and they retreated to places where no people had ever lived before. The withdrawal of the nomads revealed a greater threat: the native Dara Happan Solar religion which covered all the regions previously occupied by the nomads. The impact upon the Theyalans is recorded, but the crushing splendor of the great golden towers of the Dara Happan Sun God was especially strong upon the Elmali. The Theyalans recognized that Yelm, the Dara Happan Great God, was the manifestation of their own Emperor, an enemy of Orlanth. The Orlanthi also realized that Yelm was also the Sun God." King of Sartar, p.188 and then later in GRoY "Eventually these two cultures fused into a single entity called the Golden Empire of Nysalor, but that did not begin until the reign of Emperor Khorzanelm (c. 111,368 to 111,405), a century and a half after the era covered in this book. During the friendly century of this era occurred a fusion of the two mythologies of Dara Happan Yelm and Theyalan Orlanth. For instance, the part of Rebellus Terminus was taken by Orlanth, and he was associated with the Disruptor constellation by other peoples. Likewise, it was an easy step for the Orlanthi Emperor to become the god Yelm. The harmonious duality of Nature was thereby shown, especially in a myth of their competition for the hand of Ernalda, a Sairdite manifestation of the earth goddess. " From GRoY, 'Where is Orlanth' p.73 Fortunate Succession tells us more about this merging, which GRoY refers to as 'after this book' which occurs at the Sunstop: "Khorzanelm was the emperor who supported, blessed, sanctioned, and oversaw the incorporation of the World Council of Friends within Dara Happa. With imperial support, the project was prepared with the best of everything. It was located in the south, because everyone wished to heal that direction first because it harmed everyone the most and was itself the most damaged. In 111,375 Khorzanelm assembled all the best people of the Empire, and they spoke the Prayer to Yelm, and this time were answered by the appearance of the One God Himself. It was not just Antirius, the ever-reliable bright Disk, but instead this time was truly Yelm Overlord who rose. Yelm wished to honor and praise the mighty Emperor who had tamed the world and provided the security for him to rise. Thus Yelm stood motionless in the sky and the Heavenly Choir rained praise upon all the faithful whose lives were enriched until their deaths as wise elders. Such a unique opportunity was possible only because Nysalor had been born, the incarnation of the Many, born among mortals to bring the divine light to us." Fortunate Succession, p.32, emphasis mine FS later moves events so that Yelm appears prior to the Sunstop, the result of debates about who the sun is, but gives birth to Nysalorian illumination because recognition that both Elmal and Antirius are the sun requires such insight. "The time spent for Yelm to re-manifest the world was from 110,666 until 111,111 when he became manifest as the Real Sun. Yelm's insight into the secrets of the cosmos was originally the province of only himself and, perhaps, a few of the other immortals. But in 111,375 Illumination was delivered to mortals as well. This occurred when Nysalor was born. The burden of bearing the Impossible was beyond the power of even the One. Yelm paused in the sky, and he separated the Illumination from himself, and placed One among us mortals to keep our awareness of the First Being alive. Thereafter it was possible for the Many to be the One as well. A further benefit was that Yelm was purified. The Sun had purged itself completely from the Many when he gave this great gift to humankind. Thereafter, too, Yelm was less of a god and more of a Sun." Fortunate Succession, p. 74 Nysalor is the 'incarnation of the Many' and also 'seperated the Illumination from himself, and placed One among us." What does that mean? IMO it means that Nysalor is 'soft polytheism' the idea that many gods could be associated with a phenomena because they are all 'shadows on the wall of the cave' not the all. If the sun is not Elmal, or Antirius, but something essential which we project these ideas onto, a Fire Rune perhaps, then we can create a new projection, synthesized from existing ideas: Yelm. Greg reiterated this a number of times. From the WoG list: "The unification of the Orlanthi and the Solar religions, under the council that created Nysalor, was a fusion of two different religions under a mystically oriented demigod. A truly unique event for the times. And one that did not last under its own internal pressure." https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/WorldofGlorantha/conversations/messages/2130 and discussing the emergence of illumination in the First Age: “In Dorastor, the Amalgam Deities were imported and incorporated. It is probably the origin of the Monomyth, in which Yelm and Orlanth play such significant parts in each others' myths. After this period the Dara Happan role of Rebellus Terminus is permanently grafted to Orlanth, while the Orlanthi role of Emperor is immutably assigned to Yelm.” Fortunate Succession, p.72 Wait, you may say, GRoY has Yelm in its mythic history. Of course, because it is a document that post-dates this syncretic deity. But Greg left a lot of hints as to the ‘puzzle’ he was creating for us. GRoY itself reveals the contemporary debates about Yelm. The most significant is the absence of Antirius on the God’s Wall. Why is Antirius absent? “The Plentonic Debates began within a century after the author first circulated copies of his document. Debate started with worshippers of Doburdun, the Darsenite Thunderer, who pointed out that figure I-18 was precisely their deity, icono-graphically. They did not know Antirius, who was not associated with Doburdun at all. Attributes, powers, and myths were all different. Apparently many learned people had also been quietly wondering what I-18 had to do with Antirius. The priests’ questions thus began debates about the nature of the Plentonic Truth which, in turn, led to debates about the nature of Truth.” The ‘problem’ of Antirius is only a problem if he is not the figure on the wall now identified as Yelm. Replace Yelm with Antirius on the wall, and recognise Yelm as a deity created in time, and he can take his rightful place on the wall again, as can Doburdun the Darsenite thunder god. The ‘Plentonic Debates’ on ‘Truth’ are ultimately a debate about the identity of the sun and the revelation of Yelm inside time — Antirius is only absent because we must have one sun that takes aspects of Antirius, Elmal, Kargzant, the Emperor etc. That is why the sun becomes ‘the one’ split of from the many for the Nysalorians. Because we feel the need for their to be ‘one sun’ we divorce the ‘sun’ from the many deities that can represent him It seems that the early Yelm cult, like the modern lunar cult, is a state religion whose purpose is worship of the Emperor and the organisation of the Empire. It seems little worshipped outside of this role: “Emperor Khordavu, as well as his household and certain office holders, were considered to be divinities. They were a part in the natural hierarchy of life, along with spirits, demigods, and other deities.” Fortunate Succession, p.65 Parallels with the lunar cult of the Red Emperor seem reasonable, at this stage the Yelm cult is essentially worship of the divine emperor over the sun. So that is how we can say: “ Thereafter it was possible for the Many to be the One as well. A further benefit was that Yelm was purified. The Sun had purged itself completely from the Many when he gave this great gift to humankind. Thereafter, too, Yelm was less of a god and more of a Sun” Yelm is the sun, separate from the cults of the sun, Antirius, Elmal, Kargzant et al. but also from the cult of the divine emperor that bears his name. But what happens after the break up of the Bright Empire? "When the Nysalorite Empire broke apart and the barbarians invaded, the unified belief continued, although unified religion was broken. Differences were encouraged by politics taking a turn for the worse, and the natural differences between deities being emphasized. Working harmony was gone again, leaving only the Ideal." From GRoY, 'Where is Orlanth' p.73 In other words though the belief in Yem vs Orlanth continued, the imperial cult was no longer the sun cult worshipped by both Heortlings and Dara Happans after that event. But of course this creates a difficult moment. Who is the sun for Heortlings now? Yelm or Elmal? I suspect that the answer is 'both' but that this is problematic, because it contains within it traces of Nysalorian thinking, the acceptance of the One and the Many. Yelm is the sun god, Elmal is the sun cult. Our only real evidence about what folks may believe in this age is compounded by the dominance in subsequent ages of the EWF in Orlanthi areas. However, it is clear that in Dara Happa, at least, the cult of Yelm runs into trouble post-Nysalor. "After Nysalor, the commoners' backlash resulted in extensive anti-Yelm feeling and activity. The anti-Yelmic passions were increased when the occupiers offered their own seasonal rituals to their storm gods, and many commoners joined. This, of course, is the way of the Many." Fortunate Succession, p.66 I believe by ’storm gods’ we should imply ‘Elmal’. Re-read this as: “After Nysalor, the commoners' backlash resulted in extensive anti-Yelm feeling and activity. The anti-Yelmic passions were increased when the occupiers offered their own seasonal rituals to [Elmal], and many commoners joined. This, of course, is the way of the Many." Of course this is likely the cult of the divine emperors, who intercede with the sun, over the sun himself. The implication is that identification does not collapse. It seems likely then that whilst the unified mythology was known to the Heortlings, worship of Elmal predominated among the Heortlings after the collapse of the Bright Empire, due to the association of the cult of Yelm with Nysalor and the divine emperors of Dara Happa. Yelm might be the sun, certainly, but Elmal was their sun cult. Indeed, it’s unclear if Yelm’s cult really spread to the Orlanthi much outside Dorastor and Saird: “Incorporation of Yelmic Rites into Dorastan Rites: avidly welcomed, and incorporated. Nysaloran Rites (especially in Saird) combine multiple cultures. These combined ceremonies are well-attended in Dorastor and Saird, but much less elsewhere, and poorly through most of Dara Happa. The popularity in Saird and Darani must be modified by remembering that both were thinly populated.” Fortunate Succession, p.71 So it is in Saird that the most-significant ‘mixing’ occurred. but it seems not to have spread. Saird lacked the population to spread its support for the Bright Empire's celestial beliefs. There is no implication of spread or persistence of these ideas in Ralios or the Shadowlands. So if Orlanthi were worshipping Yelm, it seems to have been in Saird. But what were they worshipping, if Yelm was a cult of the divine emperor? Under the Ordanestyan Reforms in Dara Happa there was an attempt to re-assert the Imperial cult and thus the divine emperors, but shorn of Nysalorian mystery. Worship instead seems to have focused on the twenty celestial deities. At this point, Anitirus is no longer one of the twenty (or wider eighty) but a part of the cult of Yelm Imperator, that is he is not distinguished from the sun. The ‘mystery’ of the Many and the One cannot withstand the lack of Nysalorian insight, it must be reconciled by eliminating Antirius. So it is possible the Sairdites were worshipping deities from amongst the twenty (or eighty), which makes more sense than the cult of the divine emperor. So it is the spread of solar cults, over the cult of the divine emperor I suspect. But even this cult waxes and wanes and seems unlikely to have impacted areas outside Saird. Why? Well, look at what happens next. The cult of Yelm disappears under the pressure of first to the Golden Dragon and later to the Carmanians. Fortunate Succession is clear on this, there really is no Yelm cult during these periods. The cult, because it is really the cult of the divine emperor of Dara Happa is underground when foreigners rule Dara Happa. An ‘underground' Imperial cult is an unlikely point of gravitation for second of third age Elmali. Why gravitate to an imperial cult in hiding? In fact, it seems likely that the Yelm known to the Orlanthi, is unrelated to the Dara Happen cult, existing mostly as ‘the Emperor’ the enemy god, over a genuine understanding of the Imperial cult of earlier ages. If the Yelm cult itself was constantly shifting, being driven underground, how could the Heortlings look to it for their solar identity? Indeed, the alternative for the Heortlings is draconic mysticism or Carmanian dualism. So at this point the Heortlings have two, almost irreconcilable notions of the sun: Yelm whom they have projected the characteristics of the Emperor on to, as befitting an imperial cult, and Elmal the loyal thane. But the implications of the Yelm cult's association with divine emperors leads me to suspect that Yelm remains the Emperor for most Heortlings at this point, his identity as the sun a 'mystery'. Now this mystery is difficult, for it implies the Many and the One. And it must be a source of questions for the priests of the cult, much as the textual legacies of the Caananite religion provide interesting questions in the Christian bible. But I suspect they continue to worship Elmal as the sun cult, with Yelm both celestial Emperor and sun. After all, the cult they have encountered up to now is an imperial cult, whose purpose is to empower the divine emperors. Not one they would gravitate to. In fact, the cult of Yelm does not really resurface in Dara Happa until Yelmgatha, who uses the return of Nysalorian thinking and heroquesting to bring back a ‘fogotten' Yelm cult, centred around Dara Happen sovereignty following centuries of EWF and Carmanian rule: “The suppression and destruction of the ancient Yelmic religion drove worship underground… Yelmgatha was a minor nobleman with a short temper who drove the Carmanians out of his land. When they sent armies to destroy him, the leader went to the Red Goddess nearby to ask for help. Thus Yelmgatha became one of the first Dara Happan Heroquesters. Heroquesting differed from previous forms of worship in being experimental and conscious. In fact, it was a return to Nysalorism in many ways, and openly acknowledged as such. Yelmgatha went several times into the Other Side, and emerged with the tools and powers1 he needed to complete the Ten Tests to make himself Emperor, which he did in 112,235. Then he cast out the Carmanians, and Yelmgatha became the new Emperor of Dara Happa. The event was called the Sunburst... During this whole time he was friends with the Red Goddess, who was performing similar quests. Their tasks were often intertwined, and strengthened each thereby. Sun and Moon became a pair of travelers in the Hero Plane.” In other words, the cult of Yelm returns with the spiritual liberation of the Red Goddess. And the parallels between the two ‘created’ gods, synthesised from older religions via ‘Nysalorian illumination’ is drawn clearly here. These gods are made! I believe Greg was trying to draw direct parallels between the First Age emergence of Yelm, synthesised from existing sun cults and the Sunstop, and the emergence of the Red Moon, synthesised from existing lunar deities and the Sunburst. We associate Yelm with older religion in Dara Happa, but it seems that it co-exists in modern form with the Empire. Remember, it is the cult of the divine emperor! Now that emperor is the Red Emperor. In many ways the cult of Yelm and the cult of the Red Emperor are one and the same. The association of Yelm with the Red Goddess of course makes it any influence of the cult on modern part of the missionary work of the Lunar Empire. The promotion of “Yelm” as the sun and the elimination of Elmal, as Antirius was once eliminated, is in essence a Lunar project, driven by heroquesters. So, when we learn that in Saronil’s reign "Once the Eyetooth Clan brought in the antesmia statue. They did it because they were rebelling against their king, and they wanted to be able to bring a Sunspear down from their god, and were willing to pay eternal worship and tribute to a foreign deity in order to succeed.”, King of Sartar, p. 169 it is the missionary work of the Lunar Empire, that is also a renewed Bright Empire that is at the heart of this struggle IMO. This is worship of the imperial cult, and by implication worship of the Red Emperor, not just ‘Yelm’ the sun as opposed to Elmal. But this sweeping change must be dated to the emergence of the Lunar Empire, not earlier, because the Yelm cult was underground before that. The implication of this is that Elmal is the sun during the reign of Tarkalor for the Sartarites, not Yelm, otherwise this act of rebellion means nothing. We have to see this in the context of Lunar celestial theology overwhelming the Heortlings in a way that could not have happened under the EWF or Carmania. There was no dominant solar cult to export post Nysalor and prior to Yelmgatha. But what is true for the Sartarites would seem to be true of everyone, for until the Lunar Empire, after the Bright Empire, there is no Yelm cult to gravitate to, and the sun cult remains Elmal (or Kargzant). Now, we risk getting into Yelmalio territory — remember his temples are in Saird and they seem to revitalise alongside the Empire, but let’s park where that leads us for now. But Monro’s vision is surely one of illumination. His talk of the Many Suns echoes talk of the Many and the One. What Monro sees is one sun, many sun cults. His vision is not an objection to Elmal, but a reinforcement of the Bright Empire doctrine that there is one sun, and many sun cults (and we may well call that sun Yelm, because the cult worships the Emperor). But no sun cult is more ‘true’ than the others. But of course the implication is that Yelmalio is the sun too. Another sun cult. One amidst the Many. But it is a dangerous vision, for it is a vision of the Nysalorians and their Bright Empire. All those priests in their retirement towers contemplating the sun. Sure sounds like a journey into illumination. But it is clear that there is no cult of Yelm at the Dawn. Yelm is the name given to sun in the Nysalorian insight that there is one sun and many sun cults. It is also the name of the source of power for the cult of divine emperors that ruled during the Bright Empire, and now rule again in the Lunar Empire.
  2. 15 points
    Here is a map of the Troll Break that I drew. If there is an extant map, I have not seen it. This one, obviously, is not canon, but follows the published lore in Pavis and the Big Rubble. It is also linked to a bunch of other troll-stuff I have written of late, including trollish tradegoods and some possible inhabitants of the Market. Included in this post is a smaller copy of the map, but you can click through to get a larger one in pdf. https://d-infinity.net/game-content/runequest-thursday-205-troll-break-market-map-and-legend
  3. 12 points
    In my Glorantha? I honestly don't focus much on this stuff. I'll tell you why. This will largely amount to a drive-by shooting on much of Glorantha and its fans. But hey, the thread's got previous. (Now it's my turn to start a fight. 😃) I'm a military historian by background and training. M.A. and Ph.D. in military history, written a book, got a medal, the full monty. Hardly anyone focuses on this stuff at academic level. You sure as hell won't get funding for it. Why? A few reasons. But the determinism—particularly technological determinism—you see in popular military history (I like to call it mankind's—and it's most definitely *man*kind's—earliest form of geek culture) doesn't get as much play. Military history can be a bizarre mix of the reductive and the fetishistic; a cross between Top Trumps and Hermann Goering guest-editing Marie Claire. I mean, if you look at two armies who are about to inflict untold murder, mutilation and misery on each other, and then force their will on a defenceless populace, and your first instinct is to pedantically look at, say, what type of shield they've got... well, it's a bit weird, isn't it? War is presented in the abstract; the pristine ideal, with little thought for the consequences. Look at all those Osprey illustrations — the soldiers look like their mum's taken a picture of them before their first day at school. You just know they have their name sewn in the label of their armour. You never really see Osprey Veterans Administration Hospitals 1964–1975, do you? And war is a mess. It's nowhere near as coherent as people like to pretend. Honestly, it's more like Animal from the Muppets playing the drums. One of the first things I always did at a new archive was look at the courts-martial records; as to what happened when it all went completely and utterly wrong. The funny thing is that, though the original post wound us all up, it is actually right. Certain aspects are privileged in physical violence and confrontation. One thing any military historian will tell you is that war is not fair. Violence has its own perverse internal calculus; it doesn't care for social justice or equality, or how noble your cause is. Or women. Unsurprisingly, the urge of humanity to solve its problems by lining up in a field and physically kicking the crap out of each other hasn't helped women much. The degree to which women can reciprocate with any degree of proportionality when men escalate or threaten to escalate any conflict to the level of physical violence is a principal pillar of patriarchy. Escalation dominance. The only acceptable answer to this, of course, is the radical feminist answer to entirely disestablish the system of violence and ridicule its use at every opportunity (especially in geek culture, which is appalling for the witless way it infantilises, valorises and fetishises violence, not that we care). I'm being entirely serious when I write this. If you've not turned into a radical feminist after studying military history, you've either not been paying attention or... well. Anyone here have the courage to argue for the introduction of sex-based characteristic modifiers in RuneQuest? Thought not. It much easier to ignore it and pretend that we can make violence equal, rather than demolishing the system itself and completely changing the nature of how we find and promote efficacy and catharsis in kicking the shit out of each other. But if we're normalising men and women in the practice of violence, why not anything else? Why not pygmies or ostriches? Typical white middle-class feminism that, ignoring ostriches! I realise I'm in a distinct minority. Loads of people—blokes, for the most part—love this stuff. I get it, and I'll shut up from now on. I just see all these posts—here or on the Facebook page—and I feel the need to make the counterpoint. There is always another way. Anyway. That's it from me. I'm not even that drunk as I type this. Just don't worry about it too much. That's all I'd advise. You're not doing as much a disservice to history as you might think. Do what's fun. Glorantha is about myth – which is just a posh way of saying stories and the power they have over us. Don't forget myth. And by that I don't just mean magic characterised as a logically coherent system adapted to a real-world framework ("Magic as artillery!"), but story power; its resonance in our minds and at our tables. It's a game where we pretend to be duck wizards, after all. 😃
  4. 11 points
    Whilst perusing various old documents I stumbled across this awesome RQ2 skill: GREG: There have been occasions when I have been reffing an expedition and, in explaining events, appearances, etc. have dropped all the clues I thought necessary for the players to have gotten the message. Sometimes they don't, and I am occasionally aware that it is a situation which the characters would recognize, but the players don't. What to do short of telling them? I have them roll their SPOT OBVIOUS skill. SPOT OBVIOUS: (perception skill) If a successful role is made the characters which did so receive the information first and act on it. ("Hey you guys, that's not a statue!) To find your ability, use this formula: (20 minus INT)X5 as a percentile die roll. Yes, that's right. The dumber you are the more likely you will spot the obvious. Oh yea, this cannot be trained, but can only go up with experience. I will also agree that you should probably get your natural perception bonus, too.
  5. 10 points
    You’re doing a great job. As far as physical books has been released we only have the core book, but we have the quick starter scenario (1), the Applelane scenarios (3), the Borderland scenarios (ok, it’s for classic 2nd edition RuneQuest but still easily adapted to RQG) : at the end of the day, we are having 11 scenarios and still waiting for the GM screen. I am delighted: at last a roleplaying game company that understands that RPGs are about playing and releasing scenarios. I’m coming (from RuneQuest of course but also from) Vampire the Requiem and, I can tell you that it’s not a given (and Lord knows I love Vampire). So that’s just a little post to tell you that your efforts are not being under appreciated unto me (and probably unto us all). Long live RuneQuest
  6. 8 points
  7. 8 points
    Personally, I liked the revelation of Elmal way back. It was very liberating from a GM perspective to know that you could have similar gods which were similar, but not the same. It opened up new views on Glorantha, and ways to shape local culture that would be familiar and yet different. That can be carried to an extreme in one direction with the many fragmented gods of the HW era. It can be as well in the other direction with God Learner reductionism.
  8. 8 points
    Yes, they do. I'm in the anti-God Learner camp. While gods can be equated, and even be views of the same thing, their roles (even based on the evolution/devolution) indicate they are and can be distinct entities. I like the messiness of myths and mythology. I don't like reductionist mythology. And Elmal will live and retain his unique spark in my games.
  9. 8 points
    I can find no reference to Elmal being called "the Cold Sun" prior to this comment. All references to "the Cold Sun" in the Guide are explicitly to Yelmalio or Sun Domers, while the Storm Pantheon entry lists "Elmal: Sun God". The term "Cold Sun" appears in SKoH only in the Sun Domer entry, starting with, "We are the warriors of the Cold Sun." followed by "What the Sartarites think: The Sun Domers are a strange cult who betrayed Elmal for the Cold Sun." The phrase is completely absent from TGRoY, Sartar Companion, The Book of Heortling Mythology, Arcane Lore, and King of Sartar. Having the keys to the kingdom, you're certainly within your rights to change things as you judge best, even things you wrote, even after saying that The Guide would be the foundation for official published works going forward. I gotta ask though, what's the upshot to this? What value do you see in this change that you find to be worth going back on all the above, having published Gloranthas contradict among current game lines, degrading the usefulness of existing reference materials, and so on? How do you see this revision leading to Maximum Game Fun to an extent that justifies the downsides?
  10. 8 points
    While there is clearly a Little Sun archetype that these beings all embody, to say that they are thus the same entity creates a great many more contradictions than it resolves. It's a very God Learner perspective, in that while it does reflect a deeper truth, it is also incomplete in application. If embodying the same archetype means that deities are in fact the same being, the Goddess Swap would have worked. This new assertion that all Little Suns must also have Light rather than Fire is also at odds with tons of existing sources, not just Elmal's HQ writeup. The Little Suns are all missing something compared to the Great Ruling Sun, but they have not all lost the same thing. Truth replaces Stasis among the Little Suns. In the broken world in which they arise, the perfection of the Great Ruling Sun is lost. They can only strive for it by inspiring Truth/Justice/Righteousness. Antirius is referenced in The Glorious Re-Ascent of Yelm again and again as being not only bright and just, but also fiery. His warmth sustains the people beneath the Roof beneath the glacier, he melts the frozen rivers to bring fresh water. Even upon his deathbed, having been mortally wounded in his second expedition to the Hill of Gold, his body self-ignites as his spirit departs. When the prophet Avivath incarnates Antirius, his enemies are repeatedly burned. What Antirius does seem to lose as he is wounded by various miscarriages of his Justice is his brightness. TGRoY describes him as becoming dimmer and lower in the sky with each injustice. By the time of the Roof, the Orb of the Eye was no longer above his head (held instead by the Cruel God upon the Hill of Gold). He lacks Yelm the Rider's closeness with horses, but is connected to birds. What he embodies that Elmal, Yelmalio, and Kargzant do not is his father's Mastery. Antirius embodies and blesses the correct emperors with righteous sovereignty. He prevailed against the rival Little Suns in the Suns Swirl, and overcame Sedenya's challenge. When the people of Nivorah chose to embrace their horse-loving Little Suns rather than join Manarlavus and Antirius beneath the Roof, they were driven from the Rich Land, and while Kargzant's followers would later rule, most emperors enthroned by the Jenarong/Kargzant rites were not righteous and could not maintain order. Kargzant references also have no indication of being Fire-less. Kargzant in particular gathers together the remaining bits of fire & starlight scattered around the broken world, and Jenarong's funeral pyre inflamed the Wandering Sun so as to be seen throughout the Empire. His connection to horses is obvious, but he despises birds. What Kargzant lacks are Stasis/Truth and Mastery. He wanders wildly through the sky and his followers are nomads. The seize power through force, and even after completion of the Ten Tests, their rule is seldom a blessed one. Elmal shares Fire and horse-affinity with Kargzant (though the latter to a lesser degree) but maintains Truth. What Elmal lost is Mastery. Despite being chief of the Hyaloring Gods during the Gods War, he eventually becomes the Loyal Thane. Thus do his people find lands and homes of their own rather than being forever nomads like Kargzant's.
  11. 7 points
    Posted without further comment from me.
  12. 7 points
    These are good questions. I’ve never been very convinced that many people were would choose #3, but we’re told in the various sources that most (or all in the earliest versions) followers of Elmal joined Monrogh (sometime around 1550) and that the Elmal cult is in decline. I think we’re missing a compelling mythic story that explains how folks were convinced that Elmal and Yelmalio could possibly the same god. The myths and attitudes are very divergent. The most compelling versions of the story are already contained in the Orlanthi’s Elmal myths, where Elmal was lesser when he served the Fire Tribe and became greater when he changed his ways and joined the Storm Tribe. The Orlanthi myths could easily lead to the belief that the two are different gods (brothers) or that Elmal is the evolution of Yelmalio. Elmal is Yelmalio after he became a much better person (from an Orlanthi perspective). I don’t know what the compelling myth is that convinces the Elmali that Yelmalio was the better version. We are told that many Elmali were being influenced by the lowland solar cults and were basically in rebellion against their Orlanthi leaders. They sought out more power from foreign solar gods so that they could use the magical power against their foes. Really, this is Elmal’s temptation in the myth Elmal Guards the Stead. The Teller of Lies tries to convince Elmal that he is the rightful ruler of the people and that he, not Orlanth, should rule the Storm Tribe. Elmal resists the temptation and rejects Teller of Lies. So really, the whole Monrogh-Yelmalio cult looks very much like the temptation from Teller of Lies. Orlanth is unworthy of your loyalty and you should rule yourselves. It looks very much like Monrogh and most of the Elmali failed this test and succumbed to the Teller of Lies. This is pretty much what we’re told the Elmal cult believes about Yelmalio’s cult. Those that stayed faithful to Elmal and rejected the Yelmalio cult are staying true to the Orlanthi myths and the story of Elmal Guards the Stead.
  13. 7 points
    I really appreciate that this excerpt has evolved significantly from earlier drafts. It still has a fair bit of the retconned 'Elmal non est hoc' flavour, but much less. I think it demonstrates, though, that the issues of publishing format and retconning the nature, history and powers of Elmal are quite separate. Elmal in that excerpt is still quite different from the God presented in S:KoH, Coming Storm and 11 Lights, such as removing the deep horse/Redalda connection, and it is hard to reconcile the history presented in Six Ages with Elmal being a regional Kethaelan variation. A few sentences could fix most of the game information to be compatible with those sources, and effectively remove 90% of the retcon issues. For example: Elmal is able to use the spirit magic spells of Fire Arrow and Fire Blade. Elmal has the spells Shield from Orlanth, and Command Horse from Redalda. He is also associated with Pole Star, under the Orlanthi name Rigsdal, and receives the spell Star Sight. Elmal is not associated with Yelm. Their worshippers generally do not receive gifts and geases. The warriors of the cult generally fight with spears and bows, but as Orlanthi warriors, they do not generally fight in a phalanx, and they tend to be light cavalry and strongly associated with the raising of horses. There is a tradition in a small number of clans that allows Elmal warriors to become chiefs or thanes — this is similar to becoming a Thane of the Orlanth Rex cult, and uses similar Orlanthi tribal rites, but Elmal initiates do not get access to the Command Priests spell.
  14. 7 points
    To be fair, I think the real problem with that flyer was that it relied on the Storm Bullies being able to read.
  15. 7 points
  16. 6 points
    Jeff, no one is questioning your authority, even if we seem confused about your decisions and motivations. I think I was being very clear - if you wanted to make RQG more compatible with other material, including your own companies HeroQuest products, Six Ages, etc. I was suggesting how it would be easy to do so. I have absolutely no idea whatsoever why you do not want to do that, but I respect your authority to not do so. However, as someone who regularly plays more than one of your companies games, and enjoys other current Glorantha material, I prefer it when they all refer to the same Glorantha, and will generally house rule accordingly.
  17. 6 points
    As a newcomer to this setting, I never fail to be baffled by the strength of feeling the Elmal/Yelmalio issue causes. That's absolutely not a criticism, by the way, it is a genuine sense of confusion (and maybe a little alienation) at the level of emotion the subject stirs amongst the learned. Also, as a neophyte, the fact that this hasn't been explored to exhaustion within officially published materials is surprising. An entire campaign focusing on a struggling Elmali clan during the Yemalio takeover seems entirely plausible as a microcosm of the Solar/Storm conflict that underpins Sartar (and, for better or worse, the most visible part of the setting). If I had the talent, I'd construct a scenario focused on a young Elmali heroquesting to prove Elmal is Yelmalio post-Hill of Gold, satisfied more in his domesticity and household duties than he ever was as an ascetic in his youth. To spice things up further, said Elmali could be disturbed by clues he encounters in the Heroplane that suggest Orlanth's return to the stead post-LBQ may have ultimately unsettled Elmal and caused him to reconsider eternity as "merely" a thane; maybe the true Yelmalio is older than the protagonist of either the Hill of Gold or Elmal Guards the Stead, having shed his personality (and thereby his insecurities) to exist solely as the post-Dawn personification of the Light Rune. Or maybe the simultaneity of Godtime makes it equally possible the depersonalised Yelmalio is the "youngest" incarnation of the Little Son, immediately after emanating from Yelm (Antirius?). I dunno, maybe that goes too far and shows up my ignorance of Dara Happan mythology. I do think that making the Y/Elmal/io controversy a more visible issue within the published materials might make the issue less fraughtwithin the fandom - if it's treated as a fundamentally contentious part of Orlanthi culture, it might, paradoxically, make differing opinions within the fandom more acceptable?
  18. 6 points
    What an awesome setting. Been roleplaying over 35 years and only just got into Glorantha. I bought the RQG pdf and I'm loving it. Here's hoping for many years adventuring on Glorantha.
  19. 6 points
    The full text of his comments seemed fairly clear that he was making a recommendation as to how you could fix the passage you shared to make it feel more compatible with previous material published about Elmal. The final second paragraph is not intended to be an authoritative declaration of what the RQG materials say, but advocating for what they might say to create less disruption with the version of Elmal most recently presented in HeroQuest.
  20. 6 points
    Interesting - and given that our sources are God Learner Monomyth (and the God Learners never penetrated Pelorian myth to any degree) or in-world documents - it's a mythological tangle we will never resolve. If we accept that there was a Golden Age, and Yelm was its emperor, then we may have his rise to earlier prominence recorded as the upstart male god Brightface. When Yelm was emperor and what are now the planets were unmoving about the celestial sun, given that these planets were stationary, and bright, they were in effect a multitude of lesser suns surrounding the sun at the centre of the 'perfect' sky. Umath's rise disrupted that sky and ultimately let to Yelm's descent to the Underworld at the hands of Umath's vengeful son. By this time, several of the planets were gone, or were now in motion, and with Yelm's demise the age of Darkness on the surface world began, with only the moving planets offering any light. I do wonder if 'planet' is used intentionally, because the Greek simply means wanderer, and in the Perfect Sky there was no wandering, until Umath rose. Now, if Elmal, Yelmalio, Kargzart, Khemal etc. were the big sun, then there would have been no reduction in the brightness of the surface world, no Lesser or Greater Darkness, but they certainly were sun-gods, just perhaps not ones providing the bright illumination and warmth of earlier eras of the God Time. With the beginning of Time something bright and hot arose, and this might or might not have been Yelm. The sources potentially contain in-world bias, as at the Dawn the urban Dara Happan culture was subservient to the chariot-riding Sons of the Sun, and so they might have good reason to declare that the sun at the Dawn was Antirius, not Yelm, who only took his place after the horse-lords had been expelled. However, the Sons of the Sun (probably) distinguished between Yu-Kargzant, the ruling sun, and Kargzant, the moving 'sun', so there was a Yelm cult at the Dawn in Peloria, but for the Dara Happans, it was the cult of nomad upstarts, so couldn't possibly be their sun, not until there was a legitimate Dara Happan dynasty ruling the land. So we have a multitude of sun-gods, one sun, and the possibility that of the planets one the Sun Path is the celestial expression of the sun-god Elmal/Yelmalio/Antirius. We also have the Dara Happan belief that Lightfore chased and chained (eclipsed) Kargzant, which may simply be propaganda to get the nomad son of the sun-god out of their sky. The one thing that isn't debatable is that Lightfore seems to be a lesser sun. The Guide says (and this seems to be objective, not the subjective Monomyth or in-world myths) that it 'travels nightly from east to west exactly on Yelm's path. It rises when Yelm sets and sets when Yelm rises, and is often called the Little Sun. Because of the different night lengths throughout the year, it moves fastest in summer (when it is also brightest) and slower during the long winter nights. Its path always crosses over the Pole Star, and so it travels north and south of the center of the sky throughout the course of the year. On the first day of the year it rises in the star called Youth, and the Dara Happans mark many events of the year (and God Time) by this god's path through the heavens. 'The planet Lightfore has always been something of an enigma. Lightfore is the object of a hero cult worshiped by people who fear the night. He is also known as Antirius by the Dara Happans, Yelmalio by the Orlanthi, Kargzant by the Pentans, Sun Daughter to the Praxians, and the home of the Emperor Daruda to the Kralori.' Is Lightfore an expression of Elmal/Yelmalio/Antirius? Perhaps. So we have one sun in the day, another dimmer one in the night, with the latter probably associated with the dim sun of the Darkness, variously given as Elmal and Yelmalio. [And this is a Gordion knot not intended to be unknotted or cut, because it lends a good dose of 'well defined doubt and uncertainty' to Glorantha, and such schisms drive cultural and mythological plots.]
  21. 6 points
    When looking into the parentage of characters in shared fictional universes, I'm always a bit wary of what I like to call Skywalker-syndrome. That is, the tendency of wanting to link a lot of prominent characters together by family bonds because family bonds seem real, close and inherently dramatic to us. Star Wars had a good deal of this, hence my personal monicker - but you also see it in a lot of actual, real life mythology (the Romans linking Romulus and Remus to the Trojan royal house, for example, or choose from any of a number of bizarre nationalist myths, like the British being one of the Thirteen tribes of Israel, or the Greeks claiming the Persian descended from Perseus seemingly because of an incidental name similarity). Anyway, in my personal opinion - and I fully realize others don't feel this way - linking lots of prominent characters together that were hitherto not known to be so can make the world feel smaller, and in way, less inclusive. Frankly, I actually really like the idea that some nobody nomad on the Pentan steppe decided to straight up lay siege to a celestial body... and then did it (I realize that he probably was never a "nobody" - seems likely he was a tribal noble or somesuch, but you catch my point. At least avoiding the trope of having every single goddamn notable person being descended from a god or demigod). On the other hand, I understand that some people like the intricate family dramas this create - or they enjoy the theme of divine parentage shaping mortal history.
  22. 6 points
    I'm reeeeealy picky about dead tree purchases at this point in my life. My shelf space is mostly spoken for. Adding things probably means getting rid of something else. I bought both Red Cow volumes in hardback.
  23. 6 points
    It happens and usually sparks some interesting debate, not about the Necromancy, but about the original subject and new ideas. To my mind, it sparks a conversation about a topic that is useful and saves someone else posting a link to the original thread. The only thing that I would say, and I am not a Moderator, is don't just post "I agree" or something similar, if you have a comment that you think would add to the conversation, then by all means post it.
  24. 5 points
    I'm pretty new to this whole thing, too, relatively speaking, and yet I've managed to find myself with a very strong opinion on which is better. Funny how that works. When I try to consider Elmal and Yelmalio as the same god, I tend to think that, once you strip out obviously cultural stuff like the phalanxes and such, the major difference in how the deities are viewed is that Yelmalio places emphasis on "what" Yelmalio does, while Elmal is more about "why" Elmal does it. That is, the cult of Yelmalio lionizes the strength that comes from enduring, while the cult of Elmal lionizes those who help others by enduring. Yelmalio's myths always seem a lot more impersonal and abstract than Elmal's; there's no real identity attached to the people Yelmalio helps through his actions, which makes them feel more like an afterthought IMO. Like, in "The Hill of Gold," Yelmalio just kind of decides that he wants to go face off against Inora, with no real focus or value attached to his motivations for doing so. Yelmalio endures and Yelmalio sacrifices, but you get the idea that the value comes from the act itself more than anything. Elmal's myths, on the other hand, tend to give a lot more focus on Elmal's reasons for doing things and how that relates to those around him. He doesn't defend against Chaos in "Elmal Guards the Stead" just because, he does it because the people of the Storm Tribe are counting on him. He doesn't keep faith in Orlanth despite all the temptations of the Teller of Lies simply so he could say he was true and pure the way Yelmalio does when he spurns Inora, he does it because he believes in the man he's accepted as his king. Yelmalio and Elmal are both big on duty, on truth, on endurance and sacrifice for something nobler than yourself. Where they seem to differ is how much they focus on the intrinsic value of the act itself. Of course, maybe that's just my pro-Elmal bias talking.
  25. 5 points
    The identification of the stars does seem to be the object of some debate in the sources we have. Interestingly, the stars, like the sun, suffer from the problem of the Many and the One. A given star may have many gods associated with it. it's interesting to note that Orlanth only becomes associated with the constellation in the sky, the Disruptor, during the Bright Empire, according to GRoY. I think that Glorantha's cosmology is a lot more 'mutable' than we think. The insights of illumination, coupled with heroquesting seem capable of re-interpreting the world. I believe that this is important to understand the Hero Wars and its consequences. Heroes can literally change the world IMO, as they have done before. My gut is that if you look at where Greg was heading, it was to draw strong parallels between the Lunar and Solar cults, both 'created' in time from illuminated heroquesters fashioning new beliefs out of the fragments they could find on the hero plane.
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