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About Bohemond

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    Advanced Member


  • RPG Biography
    I've been playing RPGs since I was 8, in 1975. My older brother discovered Glorantha in 1981, and I've been playing it ever since
  • Current games
    The Orlmarth Campaign
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    My blog, An Historian Goes to the Movies, at aelarsen.wordpress.com, deals with film and movie from the perspective of an academic historian.

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  1. Bohemond

    Orlanth the Abuser

    That's great if we're all Bronze Age people just living our lives. But we're not. We're 21st century people playing a game. The kind of stories we choose to tell when we game have impacts on us and how we think about our lives and our world. Telling misogynistic stories encourages misogyny.
  2. Bohemond

    Orlanth the Abuser

    I don't see how this is an issue of Game Mechanics at all. I'm entirely concerned with the myth as it's written and how players are likely to respond to it. Yes, myths are questable and, as I say toward the end of that post, I'd like to see more myths that are questable from the feminine perspective, but I'm not really looking at how we translate the Wooing of Ernalda into the mechanics of a scenario. What I mean by 'framing' is that the story is not presented to the reader as an example of how Orlanth made a mistake and then later owned up to it (which is what I mean by 'screwing up'). There isn't an obvious moral here that 'Orlanth realized that he was abusing Ernalda and changed his ways'. Rather, the most obvious moral that I think one is likely to extract from this story is 'Yell at the woman you're interested in until she submits to you.' Even if we read it from the Ernaldan perspective, the moral seems to be 'Submit to a man's abuse until he marries you and then you'll have some control.'
  3. Bohemond

    About slavery

    One major component of slavery in most real world societies has to do with the degree to which slaves experience Social Death. Social Death means that the slave is no longer regarded as a human being in social terms--they do not receive the normal polite treatment people receive, they may be humiliated by not receiving proper clothing or food, they may lose their names, they may not be accorded the normal benefits of religion, and so on. In Graeco-Roman society, slaves were often referred to as if they were mere extensions of the owner's body. Republican Rome recognized two categories of slave, servi who experienced near complete social death and who, if freed, entered into a new social identity as a freedman/woman; and nexi (usually debt slaves) who did not experience full social death and who, when freed, returned to their previous social status. Nexum was abandoned after a scandal in which a nexus slave was forced to sexually service his owner---the idea that a man who was still in some sense a citizen could be used sexually was deemed unacceptable, so the entire practice of temporary debt slavery was legally abandoned. So I think to some extent the question this thread is looking at deals with the question of social death, but read through the magical lens of Glorantha. Does a slave suffer full social death in a particular Gloranthan culture? Sartarite thralls don't seem to--they seem to have at least some limited membership in the clan that owns them. They participate in at least some of the rituals of the clan and probably have some basic legal rights in terms of how they are treated--Babs Gor isn't going to allow female thralls to be raped, for example. But Lunar slaves probably do. The real world cultures that the Lunars are modeled on generally inflicted social death on most slaves, and plantation slavery generally seems to require a high degree of social death as a tool to keep the slaves in line. But in Glorantha, since ritual tends to pervade everything that happens, it's likely that the Lunars have ritual ways to reinforce Social Death. So perhaps there is a religious ritual that Lunar slaves are subjected to that essentially 'kills' them to their god. In other words, when Hengist is enslaved at a slave farm, he undergoes a ritual in which he is 'killed'. The effect of the ritual is that Orlanth is tricked into regarding Hengist as having died, meaning that Hengist can no longer contact Orlanth during the normal rituals, cannot access his runes for magical purposes, and so on. If asked through divination, Orlanth says that Hengist is dead. This is probably either Yanafali or Xaroni magic, a specialized form of Sever Spirit. Hengist can still be initiated into new cults, if he's permitted that option, so he's pushed into the cult of Danfive Xaron, a big part of whose function is to control problematic people like Sartarite slaves.
  4. Bohemond

    Orlanth the Abuser

    That's a good point. I agree. Making that sort of detail more explicit would help address the issue, especially if it were included in the myth. (As a side note, I said I'm laying the groundwork for a Gloranthan LARP. Having an actual marriage ceremony that PCs could enact at some point is the sort of detail that I would love to see developed.)
  5. Bohemond

    Orlanth the Abuser

    The longer I think about this particular myth, I think the issue is that it's not framed very clearly. Most Gloranthan myths establish a cultural norm or value for the people who tell it. Orlanth doing X mythically is a statement that what Orlanth did is proper. He is the lawgiver for the Heortling people, after all. But there's this unusual element to some of Orlanth's myths that involve him screwing up and fixing what he broke--the slaying of Yelm is the obvious example. That serves to establish a cultural norm that men who screw up correct their mistake. For players, the myths help set the cultural values that they're expected to model in the game (although Lord knows players are famous for doing the 'weird' thing that no one else in the game culture would actually do). But nothing in this myth as it's written frames Orlanth's actions as a mistake. At no point does he apologize to Ernalda for mistreating her. The last verse of the poem that he speaks continues to accuse her of "tricks" and "deceit". In fact, Ernalda's last words in the myth "I am weak. I need help. I am yours." continue the frame for their interactions that Orlanth establishes at the start. The myth is introduced as simply "an entertaining tale", not as a myth in which Orlanth screws up, learns a lesson, and makes right what he has broken. The only hint that the reader is actually supposed to read the myth from Ernalda's perspective is the line in the last paragraph that Orlanth "accepted his fate", (a frame that has a long history in the real world as signaling a misogynist notion that marriage is a bad thing--think of all those 50s jokes about wives as 'the ball and chain'). There's a statement that he learns his wife's "sweet secrets", but I don't think that that makes clear that he's seen the error of his ways. He doesn't, for example, beg Ernalda's forgiveness the way he apologizes to Yelm in the Underworld. The idea that Orlanth moves from a stormy, violent, misogynist view of love and marriage to an earthy, calm, feminist view of seeing his wife as his equal is great. And If Greg is trying to offer an alternative model for masculinity here, that's a wonderful thing. But the myth as it's framed for us doesn't give readers many sign-posts that you're supposed to see it as falling into the 'Orlanth screws up and fixes what he broke' category. If you don't already know that that's a key element of Orlanth's mythic arc, I don't think you're going to spot it here (and even if you do know that, I think you may miss it). If you're a teenage/early 20s guy (and let's be honest, a sizable chunk of all gamers fall into that category), I think this myth is going to do the exact opposite--it's going to affirm Orlanth's toxic masculinity as normative for PCs and players. The reason I think it's important to discuss this is that gaming (among many other facets of nerd culture) has always had a serious problem with toxic masculinity and undervaluing women's perspectives--think about the harsh pushback during the whole Gamergate incident and the death threats that Anita Sarkesian received for just pointing out the misogyny in video games. One of the things I love about Glorantha is that as it's evolved, it's done a much better job of trying to incorporate women's perspectives than most other gaming systems I know. But I think it still struggles to really present the feminine perspective as a truly viable alternative.To the best of my knowledge, there's never been a published scenario specifically written for an Ernaldan PC and built around the 'other way' of resolving the problem. (Even These Women Need Help is written from the male perspective.) The Ernalda and Uralda quests (and the CA quest, although it's not specifically for women) in KoDP are pretty much the only written-up heroquests that present the feminine perspective as a tool for problem-solving. The Peace-Weaving sequence in Eleven Lights does present the other way, but it's just one piece of a larger scenario. If Sartarites really see women as equal to men, there should be more scenarios to reflect that. (But here I'm getting into a whole different facet of the issue than the topic of this thread--I just wanted to show that I think the problem is wider than just one poorly-written myth.) So instead of offering a myth that only hints that the Ernaldan perspective is better, why not simply have the myth come right out and say that Orlanth's initial approach was wrong and Ernalda taught him a better way to think about love and sex? Why should the women's perspective be hidden away as a sly wink?
  6. Bohemond

    Orlanth the Abuser

    I've had NUMEROUS conversations with gamer women about sexism and rape culture in gaming. It's not that women can't handle it. It's that they shouldn't have to handle it unless they explicitly say they want to. Given that rape is an ever-present real-world issue that most women live with (in the form of having to actually plan out how to stay safe at parties and bars and heading home from work, etc), most women I know don't want it to be an issue that comes up in their gaming.
  7. Bohemond

    Orlanth the Abuser

    That is a really good suggestion. Ragnaglar is basically the god of uncontrollable sexual urges, so it would make sense that he was the one urging Orlanth to be aggressive. And it would offer an indication that Orlanth's behavior is problematic, not normative.
  8. Bohemond

    Orlanth the Abuser

    "nobody is claiming that the storm gods are "good guys". " Given that most PCs (the males at least) gravitate toward Storm Gods--Orlanth in all his incarnations, Urox, Humakt, maybe Odayla and Yinkin, I'm pretty sure a large segment of the player base sees Orlanth and his kin as the good guys. And the game has generally taken an Anti-Lunar stance, which positions the Red Goddess' main opponent, Orlanth, as the hero in the meta-story.
  9. Bohemond

    Orlanth the Abuser

    Yes. But we're 21st century people operating in a 21st century milieu. 21st century players, especially female players, may very well find this myth to be a real problem. Just because rape was a common occurrence in the ancient world doesn't mean it should get a pass in our fictional story-setting. There's nothing in this myth itself that identifies what Orlanth does to Ernalda to be a mistake that he grows past, which means that it's easy to read this myth as essentially championing Orlanth's behavior rather than undermining it. I'm very familiar with Glorantha (being playing in it since 1980 or so), including the whole 'Orlanth fixes his mistakes' thing and the idea that Ernalda has more control that it seems, and neither of those ideas emerged for me as I read through the myth a good dozen times. If I missed it, I'm pretty sure a whole lot of other people will miss it too. As I'm sure we're all aware, table-top gaming has a long history of not being very friendly to female players. Glorantha is, I think, a friendlier game world for women than a lot of the alternatives, but I know a couple of women who find the highly-gendered nature of Glorantha pretty uncomfortable, and a myth like this strikes me as likely to trigger female players who have experienced domestic violence or rape. I'm in the early stages of planning a large-scale Sartar LARP that will probably involve a fair number of female players, so I need to be thinking about how a myth like this is going to read to female players.
  10. Bohemond

    Orlanth the Abuser

    Am I the only one who finds the Wooing of Ernalda story (Glorantha Sourcebook, p. 115, but also in Heortling Mythology) incredibly creepy? Let's break this down. According to the myth, Orlanth goes to Ernalda and demands her earth from her. She agrees to a trade (earth for bullroarer), but when he goes back home, his brothers make fun of him. So he goes back to Ernalda and vehemently insults her for humiliating her (which she hasn't actually done). He threatens to attack her, so she calms him down by returning the bullroarer and having sex with him. He goes back to his brothers, who again mock him, so he goes back to Ernalda again "In a blind rage" and forces Ernalda to beg for mercy from him. Then he marries her. This looks an awful lot like domestic violence. The boyfriend gets mocked by his male friends for being gentle, so he demonstrates his physical power by attacking his girlfriend, who appeases him with sex and ultimately agrees to marry him because she's afraid to say no. His friends are taunting him into abusing his girlfriend, and he blames her for the fact that his friends are being dicks to him. This is literally exactly how toxic masculinity operates in the real world. I get that this is supposed to be a demonstration of how Earth calms Air. But it reads as a mythic justification for men engaging in violence against women.
  11. Bohemond


    So is battle rage an inherent part of the Horn quest?
  12. Bohemond


    Thanks to Soltakss, I found this paragraph in Wyrm's Footnotes 12, p. 9 "As he crossed the earth with great swaggering strides one day he encountered a most beautiful woman and became enamored of her. During those days of love and life she bore the Storm Bull a son who begat a race of half-man/half-beasts. Their father was called Minotaurs and their mother is a daughter of Uleria the Goddess of Love. This race, called Minotaur, inherited their grandfather's rage as a natural ability and are greatly feared for their battle fury." That doesn't give me a whole lot more to go on, but it's something. Thanks.
  13. Bohemond


    Thanks for that tip! I actually have most issues of Wyrm’s Footprints, but I rarely look at them these days. I’ll dig through them.
  14. Bohemond


    I’ve got a Uroxi PC who wants to do the Minotauros HQ. It’s mentioned in passingbin Storm Tribe, but there’s no detail whatsoever about it (other then that the quest prize is getting a pair of horns). Are there any other mentions of the quest anywhere or details about the myth?
  15. Bohemond

    Chalanan Heroquest

    Another good suggestion, and one that offers some good role-playing. Thanks!