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Stew Stansfield

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Stew Stansfield last won the day on August 3 2019

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    Stew Stansfield, duck-fondler
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  1. Stew Stansfield


    Funnily enough... Something I started, but abandoned years ago (probably because I couldn't seem to get the legs right). Incidentally, speaking of what duck cities look like, I'm currently doing a watercolour pencil map of Duck Point. This is an image from a while back. (It's more advanced than shown here, though I have ballsed some bits up and need to do some serious Photoshop surgery, which I seem to be trying to put off.) This gives a fairly good idea of what I'm going for, though.
  2. Stew Stansfield


    I think this description has done the rounds a couple of times, but this is from Sartar Companion (2012), p. 65: Duck Boats Most duck boats are tightly woven reed vessels that the little duck folk traditionally swam alongside. Cargo and supplies are placed in waterproof leather and reed containers and lashed to the boat. Larger cargos and human passengers are piled high onto reed rafts, with no apparent distinction made between cargo and passenger. The boatman poles the raft in sluggish water, or swims alongside it to navigate it. Ducks join and leave the raft seemingly at random. Duck boats are gaudily painted with strange names, like Slug Express, Bag O’ Worms, Pride of Quackford, and Gorpchaser. Some boats might have spirits or paltry guardians, with crude carvings and foci. The ducks expect their passengers to respect all the ritual observances that go along with travel. Funnily enough, though (and as is usually the way), Greg's initial ideas even a whiler backer whener were quite different. (We hadn't realised when the above was written.) Here's a snippet (again thanks to Scott) from some of Greg's early notes: So... yeah. For what it's worth, and splitting the difference a little, I always quite liked the slightly organic form of this image below, from the Han Dynasty. I imagine if it were a little reedier and muddier it'd make a quite nice floating nest-caravan for ducks plying their trade on the Creek-Stream River.
  3. Stew Stansfield


    So... Greg named a city 'Duck Point' in (modified) honour of a friend (and in so doing, helped usher ducks into Glorantha). At times it was labelled as 'Duck Point', but also took the duckish endonym of 'Stone Nest'. While this city was at various times noted to be a 'river port' [e.g. King of Sartar (1992), p. 139], at others it was drawn inland. Greg corrected this on one map, but seemingly misremembered or mistook the nature his earlier decisions and corrections later. [I don't think I'm being unkind to Greg to quote his exact answer here: "carelessness, probably... or too much pot that day to remember what the fu I had done before." (pers. comm., April 2012) Worth remembering for those of us who sometimes take Glorantha too seriously! ] And what was originally a single city, with two (or three, if we add 'Duckton') names, occasionally drawn in different places... became two separate cities with two different names drawn in two different locations.
  4. Stew Stansfield


    Spoiler, but the next map basically explains everything. It's from Greg's campaign notes for his house RuneQuest Sartar campaign, from the late '70s. This material was scanned and published as a reward for the highest-tier backers in the RuneQuest Classic kickstarter. (I don't own the material myself, but Scott was very kind in letting me see it.) Straight away, you'll see the three elements behind the subsequent confusion: (i) The use of 'Duck Point' here to refer to the doab or 'tongue' of land framed by The Stream and the Upland Marsh, as well as a city on other maps. References to Duck Point, be they on maps or in a text, might not refer to what we immediately think. (ii) The use of 'Stone Nest' to describe the main walled settlement in the area, with no appearance of a city named 'Duck Point' at all. (iii) The initial siting of that sole city ('Stone Nest') inland, quite far to the east of the Marsh. This city has then been crossed out—the pencil correction is scanned—and redrawn further to the west, by the confluence of The Stream and the Upland Marsh. The road has been extended likewise. So what's going on? 'Duck Point' was named as a fun thank-you to a friend on the White Bear & Red Moon map. But as Glorantha began to be explored in stories and play, things changed. Unsurprisingly, there were quite a few ducks in those early RuneQuest games, often played by Charlie Krank (who played both Alexander Yellowbelly and Joseph Greenface at times). Did those ducks call the city 'Duck Point'? Or something else? 'Stone Nest' is first mentioned in the 'Sartar High Council' freeform write-up in Wyrms Footnotes #7 (1979), which is reprinted in Wyrms Footprints (1995), pp. 96–103. Specifically, it is mentioned in the private knowledge (i.e. the duck perspective) known only to Joseph Greenface, the duck shaman and spokesbeak. Joseph knows that the ducks keep "... a third of their warriors on alert and mustered at Stone Nest... unknown [he thinks] to the Empire, who do not occupy that little city." There is no mention of Duck Point in Joseph's information. There is no mention of Stone Nest—only Duck Point—elsewhere in the write-up. Stone Nest does not appear on any published maps of that period and receives no further mention until the 1990s. Greg told me that Duck Point and Stone Nest were supposed to be the same place; one name the exonym, the other the endonym: "One [Duck Point] is the human name, the other [Stone Nest] is the duck name." (pers. comm., April 2012) 'Stone Nest' is a fitting duck name for a settlement curiously ringed, as Sartar's walls did, in stone. So why do subsequent maps show two different settlements? This next fragment is from one of Greg's larger handrawn maps of the main features of Dragon Pass (and many thanks to Jeff for letting me see this): Here we see a single major settlement that is named both 'Duck Point' and 'Stone Nest'. (And while it is at the terminus of the way to Wilmskirk, the final stretch is shown in a different fashion.) But we also see what is apparently a little settlement—marked with a dot as other settlements are—named solely 'Duck Point'. The latter is in the place of the redrawn city in Greg's campaign map; the former in its original, uncorrected state. In another handrawn map, with thanks again to Jeff, we see a further resolution: what was 'Duck Point'/'Stone Nest' above is now just 'Stone Nest Ruins': This map provided the basis of most future maps, such as Phil Anderson's map on pp. 34–35 of Tales of the Reaching Moon #19 (2000), which is reprinted in Wyrms Footnotes #15 (2012), pp. 16–17, and Wesley Quadros' insert from Dragon Pass: Land of Thunder (2003): These maps tend to be notable for one thing: the Wilmskirk–Duck Point road, shown on the earliest maps for WB&RM, Dragon Pass and RuneQuest, and mentioned in King of Sartar (1992) and other sources [notably Barbarian Adventures (2001; p. 5), Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes (2009; p. 248) and The Guide to Glorantha, vol. I (2014; p. 188)]... ... doesn't actually go to Duck Point. (I'll tidy this up with some conclusions in one final post.)
  5. Stew Stansfield


    Once upon a time... Many people will by now be familiar with the story of how Duck Point came to exist in Glorantha. Rick explains it very nicely here: Sadly, I don't own a copy of White Bear & Red Moon in any of its variations, so this is the best map I could find. For comparison, below is a fragment of the updated map for the 1983 Avalon Hill printing of Dragon Pass: And going back to the earlier, timeline, here are fragments of maps taken from the first and second editions of RuneQuest, respectively: Each of these maps shows the same thing: a settlement named 'Duck Point'/'Duckpoint' sited close to the Upland Marsh and The Stream, and which lies at the terminus of the road running from Wilm's Church/Wilmskirk. One thing you may also notice is how the position of Duck Point can vary slightly. The Dragon Pass map shows it slightly further to the west than the White Bear & Red Moon, RuneQuest 1 and RuneQuest 2 maps. There is also some potential confusion as to whether Duck Point is actually situated on The Stream (or even Upland Marsh) or not. Part of this is due to the constraints of hex maps and derivations from them. As a watercourse runs through the centre of a hex, and Greg "did not know how to make [Duck Point] a river port on the board game map" (pers. comm., April 2012), the city can potentially appear inland and be depicted as such on subsequent maps. You can see this, for example, on Yuri Chodek's map from the article 'Dragons Past' 1 from Different Worlds 28 (April, 1983), which is also reprinted in Wyrms Footprints 15 (Summer, 2012): Looking at this map, Duck Point is clearly inland. And is also basically in the place where Stone Nest is situated on many later maps. So what's going on? I'll try to show the answer to that in the next post, to split the images up a bit. (I appreciate this is all very boring so far, but the interesting stuff is to come. Promise!)
  6. Stew Stansfield


    Duck Point, Stone Nest and Duckton were all intended to be the same place. It's fairly clear (as you note) that there is often a discrepancy between the published descriptions of roads and settlements in the Durulz Valley and their appearance on Greg's maps. How this developed is something I investigated a few years back and chatted with Greg about. The best way to show what happened—and why the discrepancies exist—is to go right back to the very beginning of published Glorantha and look at how the maps developed and why. I've been meaning to do this for a while, and this thread seems as good a place as any. It'll take me a little while to put this together, but it should hopefully clear up why things are described and depicted like they are. I'll try to get it up by this evening.
  7. I think this is a great idea! Wyters tend to be presented as being sympatico with their communities—a magical reflection and summation of them, if you will—and any breakdown in that relationship typically symbolised as the community losing its way, as opposed to the wyter. But wyters also are dramatic story elements and characters in their own right, and can fall and be redeemed as any participant. That includes being suborned, tricked or perverted. Though that fall may likely mirror or follow some conflict or ill in the community itself, as you have in your examples. Sounds fun! As to the specifics, a lot will depend on whether the wyter has INT or not. A wyter might resist acting contrary to its fundamental role, relationship and nature, but that resistance and any subsequent 'cooperation' can take very different forms depending on the wyter's form, and this will change how the story is framed. It's perhaps not exactly the same as what you mention, but I'm currently playing around with wyters for the durulz (no, really). Three wyters for three counters. One is a fallen Lunar standard that they've scavenged and taken as their own god. They bully the wyter, squawking at it to give them magic, and threatening to bury it in mud or drown it in The Stream if it doesn't. The wyter is biding its time, gathering its strength from their paltry sacrifices for the time when it can break free.
  8. Every role-playing game and world likes its exceptionalism, and promoting it doesn't always come across well. But, that danger aside, Glorantha is quite possibly unique in that it was developed not only as a sandbox to tell stories, but to understand how and why stories work. As a world of myth, it focuses on stories, the power we invest in them and the power they have over us; how they resonate in our lives; how they provide meaning and structure. And that power will vary from listener to listener, irrespective of what the storyteller intends. So on the one hand, we have a world of mythos. And on the other hand, particularly in the form of a game like RuneQuest, we have the prism of logos. Role-playing games, and geek fandoms in general, tend to be very logos-heavy. We categorise, reduce and determine. There is a fundamental tension there; sometimes fun, sometimes clunky. As the Gloranthan community started to draw together, particularly in online form, we engaged in communal debate and storytelling, and discussing Greg (and others') creation. The logos was strong, as it always is. 'Your Glorantha May Vary' started as a very mild reminder that Glorantha, as a world of mythos, is not about rationalising a world down into single greater and common truths, or worshiping at Greg's unimpeachable altar, but more about exploring the meaning and power we get from it ourselves. And to enjoy that. As we as a fandom still didn't quite get that at times, the saying hardened into 'Your Glorantha Will Vary'. That's all I ever saw it as, I guess. It's certainly how I use it. And, looking at our fandom at times, I'm not convinced the need has disappeared. (I do agree that it should be used with purpose, however; and not littered around like confetti as a weak shibboleth.)
  9. A somewhat mischievously contrary point, but since we're talking about a phenomenon that is in part about challenging the very basis and ownership of knowledge and understanding... Duck Tricksters worship Humakt. It's fairly obvious when you think about it. We're used to Tricksters being modelled as provocative, contrary and absurd figures that challenge cultural insight and convention. But what happens when the cultural norm is itself provocative, contrary and absurd? But that is perhaps not the main reason. Greg was, for the most part, content to leave ducks as a lightly sketched and ambiguous element in the margins of Glorantha. But, very occasionally, he had a rummage and dug a little deeper. One of the most interesting insights was his belief that ducks are, like Delecti, liminal. Inbetweeners. Defined as either one thing nor another, but with potential to each. Between satire and seriousness, tragedy and comedy, acceptance and derision, Man and Beast, etc. Liminality is one of the most interesting and poweful concepts in myth, but also—by its very nature—one of the most difficult to describe. Greg said that he believed the ducks' relationship to the Death rune was a "misinterpretation" of their inbetweenness. That relationship itself highlights the tension often inherent in liminality; the lack of resolution. Because Death is Separation; the clear push over the threshold into another state; resolution and the crossing of the boundary. But the entire condition of ducks is rooted in irresolvable ambiguity. So your little warbling Death-cultists provoke and challenge the very basis of reality for the Durulz as much as your, say, Eurmali does elsewhere. And consider that several stories have the duck-people and Delecti living a curiously symbiotic and almost neutral co-existence: Mutually Assured Liminality. Duck Humakti gnaw at the security of this existence by provoking the necromancer and his minions at every opportunity, and questioning truths. Tricksters. A lot of people use ducks as a light-hearted, silly, mundane antidote to the mythic basis of Glorantha. But they're got a few provocative stories to teach us, too. Unsurprising, really, as they're Tricksters to us as their Humakti are to them...
  10. Now some specifics. Caladralanders gets thrown around a lot, to our occasional ire. Caladrians was mooted as the proper exonym a while back, but there's been some backsliding. The endonym they use is Karkudja (History of the Heortling Peoples, p. 6). 'Kar' seems to reference kin or progeny and its relationship — Greg told me that the name Veskarthan means 'Great Father'. Their founder and ancestor God is thus Kudja (ibid.). Another critically important hero is the Silver Age heroine Tessele the True, who has been described in somewhat different ways (as noted in my post above) by Greg and Chuck. She is named as the "demigoddess leader of the tribe" at the Dawn, but is occasionally ascribed greater qualities. (I'll edit this when I find the reference.) Gender is one of the most consistently misunderstood aspects of the Twins. While this is in part because gender-inflected elemental essentialism is so strong in Glorantha, the fact that no-one bothers to read the cult write-up doesn't exactly help, either. (Grrr.) Here is what Chuck wrote: Role of Men and Women in the Cult: By the evident nature of the cult, men and women are equally able to take up any role offered by the cult. Women identify with Caladra and men with Aurelion, but either sex can identify with the Hot (purifying, warrior) or Earthy (fertile, nurturing) aspects of the Twins. The ultimate goal of the worshipper of either sex is to master both in Harmony. - Tales of the Reaching Moon #7, pp. 28–29. And this is the crux of the cult. It isn't the disparate union of a fire entity and an earth entity, with radically different and separate powers - but the union of two entities that shared their powers equally with each other ("So great was their joy that the Twins resolved to share ever after their elemental natures -- Fire Within Earth.") and encourage and expect their followers to do likewise. I'm not sure why I keep bothering to type this, as no bugger pays any notice. Chuck doesn't mention the gender of the Fire cult the God Learners found in Caladraland ("They discovered two obsucre cults, Aurelion, a minor Earth god of Jrustela, and Caladra, a subcult of Lodril located in Kethaela."), but Greg refers to the Dawn Age Caladrians worshipping "Caladra, Volcanic Goddess" in History of the Heortling Peoples. (Like I said, I'm not sure they were on the same page, but...)
  11. First, a general note. Caladraland is a conflation of two separate ideas and approaches. On the one hand you have Greg's stories about Lodril/Veskarthan; on the other you have Chuck Huber's stories about the Volcano Twins. Caladra and Aurelion were adapted on their inclusion by Greg into his world, but many aspects are idiosyncratically Chuck's. While these two worlds co-existed fairly well in the earliest days of Gloranthan publishing, that was in part due to the simplicity of their framework. Once each aspect began to be developed in its own right, things started to become incongruent. This is why there's tended to be a lot of confusion on some aspects. (As will no doubt be seen in this thread.) Chuck's revamped RQ3 write-up of the Twins in Tales of the Reaching Moon #7 kickstarted this process. In it he revamped the Twins into a God Learner experiment... that survived. It was written at a time when knowledge of heroquesting and the God Learners was fairly inchoate, which has rendered some aspects a little fragile. At the same time, Greg was working through his own ideas on Veskarthan (as first seen in King of Sartar). While the central myths of Manirian Lodril had been long been known, they'd always had something of a grand and hazy 'in the background' quality, and not directly impinged upon Caladraland in the same way Chuck's more detailed approach had. This began to change with publications like History of the Heortling Peoples and The Middle Sea Empire. The issue? The two approaches didn't really inform each other. I had spoken to Greg several times about Caladraland, and when I mentioned the God-Learner methodologies in relation to the Twins, he was honestly confused. Moray and Telerio are perhaps the most detailed and prominent example of God Learner heroquestors we have in published Glorantha (fan or official), and they don't appear in—or inform—those Unfinished Works at all. Similarly, Chuck didn't know how Greg was going to expand upon and develop his own stories in the region. A lot of confusion about the place comes from the assumption that these two stories are perfectly informed by each other and should be compatible. Sometimes they just aren't. That tension can also be quite interesting. Caladraland is often referred to as a land of Fire and Earth; but at a deeper level I think it is a land in tension between Harmony (Chuck and the Twins cult) and Disorder (Greg and Veskarthan).
  12. Ha! We've had great fun with Classic! I still very much enjoy Retail, but find I go through patches – particularly after playing for a dozen years plus. The time and memories invested in my main characters tend to draw me back, though (and not just in terms of sunk cost). (The bumblebee mount might help, too...) Even the kindest critic will say BfA has 'issues', but I've still quite enjoyed it, overall (if not to the level of Legion, Mists, Wrath and TBC). Still not made the journey to Wailing Caverns yet, sadly, and I fear we're a bit overlevelled now. Had good Goonies fun in the Deadmines, though! I am looking forward to doing massive Blackrock Depths runs when the time comes. That for me is the ultimate dungeoneering experience...
  13. Hi, Phil, Sadly we only have gnomes (and accompanying lesser beings...) on Hydraxian Waterlords at the moment (<Gnome Sweet Gnome>). We do want to do some Hordies, but with the time commitments of Classic it might have to wait until we've levelled a bit, I fear. Hope to see you on our travels, anyway – or will shout when we get around to levelling our Horde characters! – Stew (also on Argent Dawn).
  14. Hi, all! Well, this thread's been up for three years and it's been a good run! There've been some really fun posts and I'm grateful for the interactions. But I'll probably draw my contributions to a close in the form of this thread. Please continue if you'd like (don't mind me)! One thing I would say, though: Glorantha's ducks are, for the most part, little more than a superficial shibboleth; a fairly shallow badge of tribal belonging; the sign that doesn't really signify anything. But occasionally, if we let them, they become more interesting. Try and focus on telling those rarer stories if you can. They pay off in the end. 😀
  15. Trif, it's quite clear that you aren't twigging how this is escalating - or why it escalated. You played a significant part in this when you dropped a bollock and referred to 'SJWs' and 'red-pillers' in your initial moderation, which just helped set things off. Now it's your site, sure. But it's not just your site site since it became Chaosium's promoted forum. If it's to remain that, I don't see how this trend is sustainable. If the only overt moderation after this nonsense is for you to give a week ban to someone who is complaining about potential issues of prejudice—however misplaced you feel that complaint might be—this is only going to get worse. Even on a cynical level the optics are fucking awful, to put it mildly - irrespective of how any of us might feel on the ethical issues actually being discussed.
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