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About scott-martin

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  • RPG Biography
    Glorantha caught me right before puberty and I never really got away.
  • Current games
    Killing the god with the silver feet, one clack at a time.
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    For luck, for laughs, for the great unknown.
  1. From the Archives: Old Cults

    Love it! Given vowel shifts, do some people (maybe in a place like Vanch) pronounce it more like "Eurlantio?"
  2. Some observations and theories on Zolan Zubar

    This definitely sheds new light on the archaic mystery of the Wolf "Bear" secreted in the Cleft. In that case, the mystery would migrate toward tracking the "wolf" survivals of the cult. I wonder what the "uncursed" Telmorites of Talastar remember. ZZ as the prototypical Cave Bear also raises the prospect that slight adjustments to the uz model can produce fossil evidence for what we would call a neanderthal today. Probably in some sites (maybe the Cleft) the skulls are intermingled with cave bear relics in arrangements that perplex the paleontologists but really just reflected religious / kinship relationships that cross our easy species distinctions. In this model "ZZ" is one of the more successful attempts to adapt the original and ideal Wonderhome type to surface realities. Future researchers may postulate parallel evolutions "AA," "XU," "Moorgaki," "Cragspider," etc. Other than XU, these cults have unusual relationships with fire or at least heat. AA conquers southern Lodril, ZZ often wins the Hill of Gold narrative, Moorgaki's spear encounter negotiating "cold" affinity, Cragspider and her unrevealed "quest for fire." Now I officially wonder whether there's documentary evidence that AA was sometimes called "Aram" Argar and that was the line that seeded the pig-like "snout orc" type that promulgated across the southern earth belt in primeval times. Of course OOO defies species classification but it's interesting that true uz are absent from Maniria west of the Plateau. Instead we have the various pig peoples and "swine earth" cults.
  3. Telmori and Wolfrunners

    This is really a great line in a great thread. The community has spent a lot of time over the years pondering who the highland sun was before the Council, but maybe a little more clarity on "lowland storm" would be useful. Who got dragged into the Orlanth role and killed the emperor before the Pelorians recognized the Heortling culture radiating out of the south? Where are the children of "the historical Umath?" I guess that last one is partially a trick question -- some God Learner thought it made sense to call the Manirian storm tribes deported to Pamaltela the "Umathelans," but I don't know if they were really wrong. "Lodrilela" may have been extant before the Mislari emerged and then the separated parts evolved separately into Everyman in the north and whatever weird Lodril survivals (volcano twins, lowfires, etc.) carry on in the south. But in the north whenever the mob of common men assert their rights, someone like "Umath" is there to lead monsters in revolt, threaten emperors, participate in highland rites, marry an earth goddess. Maybe there's a transitional stage where the Death of [Yelm] is overtly fratricide, struggle between the brothers. Back on thread, I vaguely recall speculation elsewhere that the massacre of the werewolves might've also been motivated by the need to eliminate rival heirs on the Salinarg line, or even the possibility of pretenders on that side. Since Argrath's legal claim isn't exactly regular, that particular conspiracy theory always struck me as oddly viable . . . clear the wolves out of the "house" and consolidate power.
  4. Brithos divided

    As it happens, the surrender of Z-B-R is a direct response to this passage (we're quoting the closing section of Hrestolssaga) in which inhabitants of a um "divided" Brithos debate the moral limits of ancestor worship and the magic of mothers. The first speaker is Antalos, leader of the original horalites and a religious conservative until pushed. “Britha is most powerful in this land, just as Seshna is in yours,” replied the duke. “But she has withdrawn from the favors of men ever since Zabur forced her under the ocean to drown the Vadeli who nearly overran us in the Great War. “Next is Malkion, the Founder. But he would not war directly against us or Zabur’s men. What Power he does lend we men go directly through his son, Zabur, and it is that which gives him his great strength. [other options are discussed, cut here to skirt reprisal] A woman rose, and she wore the blue cloak of the Priestesses of Menena. Hrestol recognized her as the High Priestess, Britica, and she said, “There is one of our ancestors who has no love for Zabur, and that is our Mother, Menena. Let us summon her for the fight [...] It was through her skills that Horal was able to free himself from the magical chains of Zabur, and then move to this land. And it was through her powers and skills that we peacefully joined the race again. She is strong.” Antalos looked about the room, and there was no word of protest. He smiled, and said, “It is good, and obviously the right path. Let us begin the preparations immediately.” Note that Horal and Menena share a temple here so horalites of both sexes participate in the rite. Hrestol does not share the right bloodline and so is excluded.
  5. Brithos divided

    Oh, he did pretty well on the island while he was there. Zabur came too, and with him all the barons of the land. The aged wizard was pale, as if he had exerted great effort. The barons bore mixed expressions of grief, fear, anger, and determination. In the field between the camp and the city the men listened to the speech of Zabur, for after the greetings the seer began. “Most noble men of the First Caste,” he began, “it has come to me during the night, brought by a messenger from our Father, Malkion, who rules in Heaven, that this bloody and unholy war between kings should be ceased immediately, upon threat of eternal banishment and damnation for all who take part, for it is hated in His eyes. He has said that men should not fight against the holy laws which He made to preserve us, for they were made for our protection and to guide us towards His sacred ways. It is for this reason that I, his eldest remaining child, do foreswear this grievous battle, accepting the fault as my own, and taking as my penance the blames and sufferings of all the people. Upon this, my sacred scepter of knowledge, I do swear that for my punishment I shall leave this land, going into solitude within my crystal tower, never again to leave in bodily form, but to remain there as a link with the kingdom as a guardian of those laws which our Father, Malkion, has laid upon us, and to act forever for the interests of those laws which have been made, whether the offender be craftsman or servant, soldier or farmer, sorcerer or king, native or foreign, alive or dead. It is for thus that I do leave you now, and leave the spiritual guidance to my son, Kaldes, and retire.”
  6. Brithos divided

    This is an interesting juxtaposition as the Mallia thread prompts me once more to test the mythic obfuscations around the "two devils problem" and why it's even an issue in the texts. Entropy isn't personal or moral. It's a cosmological threat. And it looks a whole lot like some reductive zzaburist teachings about where we go when we die. ("What the Wizard Says" is evidently a Malkionist compromise, allowing the prospect of "earning identity and consciousness after death.") I would not be surprised to see kajabor triumphant on the island nowadays, which may be why nobody here has been able to find it.
  7. Brithos divided

    Love it! To me this is exactly the kind of thing the Renewed are really fighting against. What the "rebels" want is liberation for the dead, one descendant at a time.
  8. Brithos divided

    Do the vadeli have books? How do we distinguish between books that lie and the ones that contain all knowledge worth preserving? Or rather, who distinguishes for us?
  9. Brithos divided

    Is it possible within brithinist circles to lie in writing? If so, where does the prospect of error creep in? In terms of the ancestors, I can't help but note that many of the spirits available through conventional (praxian) Daka Fal have rune magic they can presumably cast on behalf of a compelling summoner, so it's possible to call up people who don't share your religious or magical framework. If the lineage bond is strong enough, they give you de facto access to rune magic even though you personally are not acquainted with the divine source of that spell. (Since Cults of Prax explicitly mentions the possibility of a baboon ancestor recalling 7 Mothers magic there may even be a case for transmigration or extratemporal connections . . . you never know what qualifies as the lineage bond if you're a powerful or lucky enough spirit medium, as the Samyutta Nikaya observes, "It's hard to meet someone who has not been, at some time in the distant past, your mother, father, son, daughter, sister, or brother" and so may be theoretically available.) This once-removed access to the broader universe of rune magic resembles Issaries spell trading in some ways, which conceals a Secret about the talking god as psychopomp, the origins of money, etc. Fetish and commodity. On hrestolist "transmigration," I suspect they had their pythagorites and orphites in various places and various times, feeding the common religious vocabulary they all have to draw on now. (Everything that has been written about the West may not be True Today but has been argued, sometimes passionately and compellingly, by somebody on the lozenge.) At a guess the New Idealists are less concerned about where you go when you die because the parousia has already happened and the kingdom is already here, everything is a deeper revelation of JOY. Others have to find JOY in the dust of memory and the early days obsessed over in god learner maps. When I was a child I thought SOLACE was the condition of being liberated from the cycle of energy in matter . . . good brithinists didn't come back, there was no communicable afterlife, dead is gone and that's either a horror or a relief. Of course this is a moot point if you're doing it right because we all know good brithinists live forever. (They would never, ever lie to us, in writing or otherwise.) The next best thing given those premises -- the consolation or "solace" -- is that if you do it wrong, the dance stops. I could talk for days about Xemela in this context but doubt it would be useful to anyone. My current question is whether "ancestors" can teach sorcery or simply retain their ability and, with the right cajoling and geometric prompting, work their dead magic on your behalf in the here and now. Obviously within zzaburist circles this is somewhere between fallacy and blasphemy but if you do have a dead blue somewhere in your line, is he accessible? Or do the sorcerers make sure that they won't be called up? Is this part of what they call "solace" (maldek) or what we're calling "book" here?
  10. Prax and the thousand questions about the place.

    Rex survives among the Pol-Joni. Now that's exciting!!
  11. Brithos divided

    I like this take on them immensely because it also reflects the way sorcery cultivates artificial "bloodlines" via initiatory succession and, at the impersonal limit, transmission via grimoire. The revelation of the Book is obviously a critical moment here because once the doctrine is canonized the Secret Keepers become supernumerary to history. Suppressing that particular Book (via Return to Rightness or other reforms) then opens the door to religious crisis -- some might revert to oral master-to-prentice transmissions, others negotiate a continuum of book(s) plural or the familiar grimoires, generating confusion in what was once a unified "sorcery plane." I also really like the notion that "menena" status is portable in sects that (a) recognize menena as a fifth caste and (b) allow caste mobility. As always with Chaosium, someone (probably Greg) made sure that a few biological males can join the Earth Witch subcult of Malkionism if they like (Mortal Lords playtest reprinted in the RQ2 kickstarter), so it's not a stretch to imagine debates and experiments around whether a true "Man" of All must necessarily stretch to incorporate the "feminine" role in order to truly Know Everything. [sic] This may even be a factor in documented homoromantic practices in the highest degrees of New Idealism for all I know. I'm not the king of Loskalm. In other sects, authorities seem to devote significant effort to suppressing "menenism" outright -- in these communities there are only four authentic castes plus the transcendent and controversial man of all, and if anyone really knows what to do with women they tend to avoid talking about it. Women in these communities (much like dronars, whose economic roles often overlap as producers of raw resources, human or otherwise) are denied access to conventional magic and so are tempted to explore other spiritual practices for consolation. These practices are continually demonized for various reasons (competition, ideology, sexism) but nevertheless they persist simply because the same authorities who decry "earth witchcraft" from the pulpit are terrified of close contact with the women jeopardizing their own elevated status. One fragment I've seen specifically blames woman (as per Eve) for the Western analogue of original sin ("decay"). Now these heathen practices tend to resemble the woman-centric Earth Cult Complex of Central Genertela for obvious historical and structural reasons. I go back and forth on whether "the historical Menena" was adopted into the Family of Malkion from a neighboring tribe (forest or Pelandan bowl) or evolved in parallel from similar biological and social concerns. The former scenario means that Western "earth witches" are basically a local survival of our familiar land goddess cults grafted at a specific point in history onto the original four-class system. (This might have happened as early as Brithos.) After all, the runic affinities (Earth Fertility) line up nicely. Either way, odds are good that reciprocal initiation would apply and agrarian practices would be close enough to transfer. (The dronars, as closest to the land, would also be subject to this.) Obviously ancestor worship is in the mix there. This challenges the zzaburist monopoly on instrumental magic, of course. One reason menenism even survives is because it addresses problems that book magic fails to even acknowledge let alone solve. Dronar concerns are likewise poorly addressed except through what some rulesets lump together as "folk magic" or whatever. (I kind of slept through that part.) Doctrinally this is finessed in the hrestol histories where "the historical Z-B-R" conceded some quotidian magic -- the wellspring of what a few of us consider Gloranthan Reality -- to the community as a whole as reparations for transgressing caste limits back in the Dawn Age. Anybody is allowed and able to learn a little magic now. Naturally the boundaries of this concession are controversial and shift across history depending on who's arguing the show at the time, but The Law Is The Law. Yet another transgression also forced the zzaburists into ritual obedience to the talars. This is obviously subverted within history (otherwise it would be impossible for the blues to repeatedly outstep their role) but the very nature of the prohibition reveals the crime behind it. Like many trader "princes," I personally am on a long quest to recollect the magic of the original talars in particular. Maybe all the non-blue castes can resort to an abstract (communal) form of "ancestor worship" or "travel & journey" to repair their own hereditary birthright. Work in progress. One of the details that emerges from the background here is the fact that Arkat was effectively what we would call in the Pendragon groups "a fatherless boy" back on the island, raised by a woman and assigned for whatever reason to horalite training. The history of the horals on the island is extremely strange to me at least because they (maybe uniquely, maybe not) had a distinct society with their own de facto "king," nobility, etc., before the man of the blue tower decided to conquer them. Anyway, as the Guide tells us, he was pressed into service when, we're told, foreign missionaries identified with Nysalor came to the island. The Crusade against the mainland that followed appears to have had the goal (at least secondarily) of propagating what Revealed Mythologies fans might call "Brithinite Rightness" into the former colonies that had broken away into hrestolism, gbajism, henotheist froalism and God knows what else. The entire "Z-B-R Says" document is explicitly religious propaganda spread by missionaries who provide the island party line from a position of moral ("you malestini must listen") and metaphysical ("i am a product of the maseren") superiority. And yet the history of their doctrine is one of retreat and endless failure. Arkat, son of woman, apostatizes. The gods judge Seshneg. Witchcraft and the way-of-all persist. The missionaries protest too much. They might say that this is the world's fault for being so broken. After all, we, unlike "right" brithinists and brithinolators, die. (Man Rune, Grandfather Mortal, the Sacrifice.) I live in the world and am on the world's side. The world is all we have to undo the world, maybe all we need. If somebody told me Hrestol had a womb I wouldn't be extremely shocked. EDIT TO ADD And there are phases when even the blue way provides its opportunities for transcendence and liberation, don't get me wrong. One fragment I've seen lays out a "western lightbringer quest" where "zzabur" is the synthetic goal of the work, the child of multiple father/mothers. This may be a tool for the colonization of storm spirituality (glorifying the blue man in place of Ginna Jar) or an authentic effort to repair the world. I'd like to believe the latter scenario, even though the self-serving history of zzaburism provides plenty of evidence that it's a trap.
  12. Brithos divided

    This is all great stuff on all sides! I have something to do for the office this morning and my books are all over the place but since this so fertile (yeah, it is) and my lunacy is up in it, just a brief bit that will probably get me in trouble with someone. It could go on either thread but I'm increasingly convinced that they're the same thread, only uh "divided" as it were. Man has to be something more than Mind (or Free INT) because as people have pointed out there are encounters with entities (incarnate and discarnate) who think but lack the other attributes of Man . . . immortal, wrong hit location table, what have you. Furthermore I have an intuition that many of the "crueler" philosophers have worked hard to convince people that women, dronars, etc. do not actually think. Are they still Man Rune creatures? I think the philosophers would grudgingly say "yes, but. . . ." This is a big deal because I suspect that the West is the single civilization across all Gloranthan history who spent the most effort investigating Man Rune, followed distantly by Kralorela and Prax, which didn't seem to propagate their findings quite so far and wide. Distinguishing "humans" from human-adjacent species and more distant outliers is very much a Western project. I think it's a lot older than the imperial phase. You probably see it in their first contact situations, when we met the dwarves, aldryami, hykimites and other "krjalk-" class humanoids. The magical politics governing how far Man Rune status stretches probably swing to fit the circumstances: with effort and a properly repentant attitude, you can probably teach conquered animal people how to be human. At other times, it's useful to demonize people who look and act superficially like you but your agenda would benefit if they're denied full human status. So there's that. Part of the mechanism of the West (and also the East) revolves around weaponizing Man. When that process breaks down in fringe cases like Herd Men or dwerulans or whatever, you see the manifest destiny of the West hitting its geographical and historical limits. Now this is further complicated because as people have noted, the modern rokarist zzabur tend to deny even their cross-caste cousins complete thinking power. Sure, a talar may be technically conscious, but do they really have the brains to read or do magic? Best to encourage those people into the liberal arts. The jocks in the horal caste are even worse. The dronars are barely worth mentioning, and then you have people who make outrageous claims that wo-men can be educated! You don't have to buy into any of my drastic resolutions (spoilers: "zzabur" is blue vadel wearing a useful new skin to complete his work of destroying Danmalastan) to see the ways this maximizes Gloranthan fun. Drama is good. Complexity feeds drama. Human cruelty, human aspiration and human redemption make great stories for that corner of the map. You don't have to use my raw ingredients, tainted as they are. After all, I truly believe that the figure we now call "Malkion" is the form of the primeval and universal "flesh man" whose cult evolved in the West along unique lines. He's many things: giver of (caste) law, ancestor of ancestors, sacrificial Man of sorrows. He is betrayed and murdered, which breaks the world. This seeds of this story are preserved in the shadowy "ultimate rite" of kingship in modern Loskalm and maybe in other non-rokarist talar survivals as well. At some point within recorded myth, Talar had sufficient moral authority to keep the zzaburists -- despite all their magic, learning and control of the textual record -- from revolting. If we attribute that authority a rune, it only looks like Mastery on the surface, when the caste system is humming along and everyone is happy. Here within time (i.e., post hrestol reform), it looks more like Man, the rune that embodies cosmic anguish and redemption for those brave and desperate enough in this Hero Wars era who remember how it works. "To control, thou must sympathize and then give, for thus is the Sigil Against Z-B-R most excellently formed." Students of the earthly upanishads may observe that this entails sacrifice to entities who may read Man Rune as "food" or "slave." We aren't gods. We aren't spirits. We're just people. Repairing a broken world starts with the gift. They say that back on the island the blue man is imprisoned in that tower shaped like his star and also like a Man. It isn't his palace. It's a tomb. Modern rokarist talars, of course, pooh-pooh this mystery and the watchers almost smile to know the status quo will continue. But this is all just a little gibbering on the quest. I hope it's fruitful or at least diverting! Probably off track as always but I have to see a man about a blockchain.
  13. [HeroQuest 1E] Flesh Man Common Religion?

    I suspect this is near the crux of it. Motherhood -- the Menena complex that resembles surviving earth witch systems in the barbarian belt -- is extremely devalued in modern orthodox rokari society only because, as with St. Paul in our world, the continuance of the human condition (man rune) makes it impossible to effectively eliminate. If "ancestor worship is even more about motherhood" than it's uh logical to see those matrilineal aspects of ancestor worship suppressed from LePlain. Rokari men have consolations of caste that theoretically make the kinds of ancestor worship hinted at in Cults of Prax irrelevant. Rokari women don't, and so we'd expect to find those particular "Man" rune cults persisting where women can gather relatively free from interference. This may or may not be a reflection of conditions back on the island under the blue man's regime. Orthodox Brithini value reproduction much less highly because the pragmatic need to keep the population ahead of Death is much less intense. Unless their code allows them some kind of non-reproductive tantra I'd be curious to see what role (if any) marriage and sex occupy in their society Since Time. After all, the blue man himself is often depicted as celibate and self-sufficient, with his devotees all adopted or stolen from more productive castes -- in which scenario "ancestor worship" becomes a fraught practice for them personally, they don't see much point. Meanwhile "ancestor worship" in the sense of wringing great magical power from analyzing the genealogy of the runes becomes integral to zzaburite systems. This might be part of what's going on in the somewhat muddled Cults of Prax description: in the West they try to trace everyone and everything to First Causes via the (de)volution of time and the cycle of actions. These aren't so much their personal ancestors as the ancestors of the present situation, which can then be manipulated for personal profit all the same. I wouldn't be surprised to see broadsides against Hrestol that portray his "unnatural attachment" to his mother Xemela, The Queen Who Died, as the root of his error. Use whatever you can to keep the magic under control. Take the children who test well away from their parents and replenish your ranks that way. Let the talars think they've got you on a tight leash and you'll never rebel again. Scourge the witches and the caste breakers. Call it "philosophy."
  14. Gloranthan Battles & Warfare

    Not arguing with any of this but 'tweren't always thus . . . and maybe the community can draw on a wider range of life experiences in future. While Steve Perrin ultimately had to sit out the war classified 1-Y, it was due to the cumulative bones broken in 2-3 years of hard SCA combat. These weren't quite the massive camping-and-mayhem engagements of today, but there was still plenty of mythos if not gnosis there -- he'd effectively already seen so much action that the draft board moved on to fresher prospects. I also understand that Clint Bigglestone and other figures around the early Runequest scene spent enough time in the mundane military that they wouldn't exactly count as armchair-only fetishists. It might be good to open talk of Gloranthan warfare to modern SCA generals (with their decades of experience in both the realities and the dramaturgy of archaic combat) and find ways to get the new Runequest into the hands of active duty personnel as well as recent veterans.
  15. Tribal Edit Thread for Glorantha Sourcebook

    p. 44 Gold(-)gotti would squawk if I didn't flag that there are multiple Merchant Princes. (Thumbs way up on this synopsis of Annstad though!) p. 93 my lore is coming up blank on "Eronela" in that great little God Learner map. I love these, by the way! Can anyone remind me the story of this land? Would not mention it if it weren't so easy for a scribal error to generate two "Fronelas" here. p. 188 Seventh Wane ends appropriately enough mid-"sacrifice" as though the chronicler were called away to deal with an emergency that never ended.