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Joerg

Vadeli, the Brithos text in RM, the first Glorantha stories, and how to make the West One

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Taking this away from the Pocharngo thread which brought this up.

I argue that the Vadeli get demonized way more than they deserve by the Brithini. If the Lunar Way has redeeming qualities, then why do we have to paint the Vadeli as so much worse?

There are a few indications that the Vadeli weren't entirely regarded as Untermensch scum. The office of the Vadeli Judge, held by Hrestol, his son, and his grandson Aignor for a while, indicates some arrangement by which the Vadeli are somehow retaining a moderately functioning society regardless of individual and collective sociopathy.

 

Before anyone gets all righteous: Every person with Germanic ancestry has several genocides committed by their ancestors hidden in their closet, beginning with the Yamnaya people eating up the plague-depopulated agricultural lands of Europe in the early Bronze Age. Our colonial histories repeat "innocent" biological warfare and willful genocide over and over again. Germany and the USA have quite recent sins, but so do Belgium, France and very much the British Empire. Other western countries have their atrocities a few centuries more remote than the last 160 years, but atrocities are there.

And there are sufficient non-Western atrocities in that time-span, too... All of us inherit the luxury of our enlightenment from those ancestors who were the better rapists and murderers.

 

1 hour ago, davecake said:
4 hours ago, Joerg said:

That is the story where the Vadeli are part of the six tribes of Malkion, and where Vadel starts out as an agent of Zzabur.

Well, Viymorn at least. 

No, after Vadel's initial transgression entering Bamatela and loaning the Iron Energy Prison from the Mostali, Vadel himself cooperates with Zzabur to receive the Bronze Energy Prison.

I note that Vadel doesn't appear in the Brithela story. Instead, we have Vadela as the matriarch of the four Vadeli tribes who originally inhabited Brithela. (And who may be the ancestors of the ogres, as the RQG Bestiary repeats the Western Original Human theory.)

1 hour ago, davecake said:

I certainly think it would be good if the history of that region could be a bit more sorted. I do tend to think that very old Western sources that are not represented in the material that made it in to RM or MSE probably did not make it because Greg changed his mind - much as I would love to know more about them. 

Actually, the Brithela story is in RM, pp.25-26. These two pages are as true as is all that Zzaburite warbling preceding them. I used up a Divination, asking whether this stuff and the demigod ancestry of Malkion the Founder is no longer true. I was emphatically told that this story remains canonical.

I can't speak of most Malkioni sources, but I can speak about the concepts in Hrestol's Saga, which have quite a lot of "Greg changed his mind about this" while "Greg kept including all these very nice details from this stuff" equally applies.

Take for instance Yingar the Messenger, a grandson of Malkion who ascended to act as an angelic mediator between the Founder Ancestor (worshiped by his descendants in a way indistinguishable from say the Aeolian worship of Orlanth) and his people of Brithos.

There are a few interesting tidbits, like the four sons of Malkion and Phlia who are important in the struggle for the crown inheritance after Faralz slays Gresat Talarsheir, son of Hoalar and the second ruling Talar of Brithos. Hrestol made his landfall in Brithos at Horalwal, a semi-independent duchy of Brithos ruled by a grandson of Malkion, whose daughter becomes Hrestol's wife after the Brithini initially try to kill him on sight for breaking caste law. (Hrestol slew a few of his Holari (sic) assailants instead.)

This list has the expected three sons of Malkion and Phlia - Talar the (golden-skinned) ruler, husband of his full sister Eule, Zabur (sic) the (blue-skinned) sorcerer and Sceptre-Bearer, and Holar (sic) the (red-skinned) Soldier and Sword-wielder. But there is one more, Horal, husband of his full sister Menena, opponent of Zabur who had been banned and imprisoned by his sorcerer brother before freed and put into the position of ruling the duchy of Horalwal by his sister-wife. Horal had two sons, Antalos (his heir as duke of Horalwal) and Yingar. And possibly other siblings left unnamed and unmentioned.

Zabur is the only surviving child of Malkion after the  Dawn, but Malkion and his children may be contacted by their descendants in their temples, in powerful and elaborate rites. Hrestol witnesses one such rite from outside of Menena's temple. The result of that rite is that Zabur stops his fratricidal war against the Duke of Horalwal after this ancestral/divine intervention, and drops his claim to succeed Gresat as de-jure ruler of Brithos.

It is hard to say how many of these details Greg meant to salvage when he wrote the Daka Fal cult in Cults of Prax, the Hidden Mover paragraph in Cults of Terror, the Genertela Box texts telling a bit of Hrestol's story and mentioning Yingar, Revealed Mythologies or Middle Sea Empire (which has the short biography of Hrestol beyond his activities in Seshnela).

Both RM and MSE were written with the development of Third Age Malkionism in mind, and all that First World -> Danmalastan -> Brithos devolution appears to be more recent than the Brithos document that Greg chose to include anyway. Hrestol's wife (F)Lorina is mentioned in the except "Kings of Seshnela Part 1", published only on glorantha.com and without the plentiful comments that part 2 (and 3) receive in MSE.

What is problematic about all the Malkioni material in RM and MSE is the persistent reference to the Church of the Invisible God. Church has become a term non grata with the publication of the Guide, as have terms like "knight", "saint", "liturgist". Purging these Stafford Library books of these references and replacing them with a canonical new set of terms is a mammoth task, and one I don't envy whoever will have to shoulder this.

If you want to see what logically results from following these terms and structures, look at the amusing MRQ Jrustela Book with its timinit bishop or Ttrotsky's well-written Book of Glorious Joy for a churchy version of Fronela. Also take a look at Peter Metcalfe's Introduction to Glorantha, working from the same premise, and the three Malkioni homelands in Men of the Sea.

 

There are problems with this approach in Hrestol's saga.

The population of Horalwal is comprised of descendants of Horal (not the warrior, the rival of Zabur) and Menena. Yet we know only about two talar-caste sons of this couple, Antalos and his ascended brother Yingar. A son of Yingar is one of the barons of Horalwal, husbands of the daughters of Yingar are barons, too.

Malkionwal (the capital of King Gresat Talarsheir Hoalarsson) has a number of talar-rank barons, too, most prominently Baron Alos, a nephew of King Gresat, whose father (Gresat's brother) apparently perished in the same Vadeli attack that killed Talar and Hoalar or was abducted by Vadeli at some other occasion, and ultimately the successor for Gresat.

But then Horalwal alone consists of seven baronies, and only 12 "enfeoffed" barons participate in the council of Malkionwal to determine Gresat's successor. This means that there are 6 baronies not held directly by the Talar of Malkionwal (as Antalos still holds two of the seven baronies for his unmarried daughters). Malkionwal (and the allied baronies) are way more populous than the dissident population of Horalwal (Antalos had the priest of the Sky God - a Zzabur-caste official - lift all active spells of the assembled zzaburi at the council, stunning both the sorcerers Zabur and his son Kaldes and himself, allowing the well-organized dissidents to leave the council without being apprehended).

Even if the majority of the population of both Malkionwal and Horalwal is made up by Dromali descendants of Malkion and Kala, there must be a higher caste population of about 15% descended from Malkion and Phlia, and in case of the Horalwal dissidents, at least the talar caste appears to be made up from descendants of Horal (not the warrior) and Menena. What makes them talar caste? Where do all the Zzabur-caste sorcerers, priests and priestess (only one is named, Brithica, high priestess and direct descendant of Menena) come from?

 

The confusion between Duke Horal and Holar Swordwielder, represented by his son and heir, Jeneam Sword-wielder, as highest warrior (and commander) of the warriors of Brithos, may have led Greg to make Horal the official term for the warrior caste son of Malkion, and leave the question of Yingar's and Antalos' parentage unattended.

Hrestol's Saga contains a big chunk of Pendali royal lineages etc. which Greg openly commented on along the lines "I don't really believe that Basmoli hsunchen would have such dynasties and cities any more". Yet the cities and countries bearing the names of the sons of Pendal remain in the Second Age map of Old Seshnela, and so do the characters of Faralz and Yadmov (from Hrestol's Saga and the short prose outline of further developments in Seshnela after Hrestol's departure) appear in the text on Ylream performing an Earth rite in the name of his mother.

 

Quote

Bul ultimately, even if the Vadeli are oppressed peoples pushed out by Brithini cultural aggression - they are still a race of sociopaths.

The colonial Malkioni may be the first Westerners who aren't. Orthodox Zzaburite Brithini immortals serve every bad Übermensch/Untermensch categories you ever wanted to forget. They are as bad as Tolkien's Firstborn (humanity free of original sin, aka elves), as bad as any Victorian age anthropologist with his set of phrenological caliphers, as bad as any eugenics campaign that involved enforced sterilization. The non-drinker Agitorani aren't any better.

What we do know is that the Vadeli perform in our eyes abhorrent practices to maintain their immortality. But then, compare e.g. the Ynlinga king Aun the Old and his horrible methods to prolong his life with what the Brown Vadeli are accused of practicing. When it comes to perpetuating one's existence, ethics often fall prey to opportunity. (Also note Odin's willing complicity in this practice...)

Aignor the Trader apparently had embraced the Vadeli way, yet his son by Seshna was eligible to continue the Serpent King dynasty of Dawn Age Seshnela. And a later (Hrestolist Malkioni) king of Seshnela allied with the Vadeli against the Waertagi, and another employed Vadeli magics against Hrelar Amali.

Yes, the Vadeli have an abysmal record when it comes to fidelity to their allies. So do Zzabur's Brithini, just ask the Waertagi and what they think about having been subject to the Closing.

Quote

They don't get to say it was Zzaburs fault that they committed genocide against the Tadeniti, or set up a massive slave Empire, or got really into Chaos magic.  

No. They probably started out as a slave population, those who survived the genocide and didn't manage to flee from Malkion Aerlitsson's all too numerous offspring with all manner of lesser goddesses.

The genocide against the Tadeniti was cruel, over the top. It may still have been a grudge that an Orlanthi would have recognized as a valid cause for revenge. The Orlanthi stance towards the broos isn't any different, really.

We are prejudiced to regard the Tadeniti as a bookish group of Lhankor Mhy prototypes, pursuing the archiving of knowledge as a higher calling in the service of the divine One Mind. While all of that may have been true to some degree, I am fairly sure that in their pursuit to discover the perfect medium for indelible writing they took up flensing knives and skinned available non-Tadeniti - possibly captives bought from the Vyimorni successors.

 

I am convinced that one of the most egregious breaches of Malkioni (as in Zzaburite) Law is the Vadeli pursuit of matrilineal inheritance. That is probably as bad as caste crime.

 

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So, first, thank you for taking the time to write this, and include pertinent details of Hrestols saga. I appreciate it. 

I agree that the stories about Brithela from RM 25-26 are still canon - but very poorly reconciled with the stories of the Viymorni and Vadel earlier, and the stories of the Vadeli in the South, and some work on the contradictions there is still necessary. I do think you have the chronology wrong - for example, by that text, it seems fairly clear that Zzaburs creation of his great books, including his innovations in book binding, takes place long after the Vadeli are established enemies of his, probably in the Darkness era, and probably after the death of the Tadeniti, so your argument about flipping the causality of the Tadeniti genocide do not seem to stand up. 

And I still think you don't get the distinction between amorality, and even immorality, and sociopathy. Colonialism, or nationalist warfare, and slavery etc are practices that we now morally disapprove, absolutely, but normal, reasonable, people can be convinced en masse that such practices are normal and necessary (see also the Crimson Bat etc). Zzabur is certainly able to convince his allies that genocide of the Vadeli is a reasonable thing to attempt. But the Vadeli are explicitly, in the Guide, not just amoral, but a bunch of evil sociopaths. Zzabur and the Brithini pursue some brutal acts as a society because they (however dubious their justification) believed it necessary. The Vadeli likewise, but they also enjoy doing awful things at an individual level because they are awful, which is quite different. I do not, for example, think the Brithini have no empathy - they love their families and communities, and simply (like generations of racists and xenophobes before them) do not extend that empathy to the bulk of humanity. The Vadeli just lack empathy. I think their family relationships are cold and creepy, just like their relationships with everyone. The Brithini may not be honest - but I think the Vadeli lie when they can get away with it partly for the pleasure of lying, and because speech is a tool for manipulation by instinct. 

8 hours ago, Joerg said:

We are prejudiced to regard the Tadeniti as a bookish group of Lhankor Mhy prototypes, pursuing the archiving of knowledge as a higher calling in the service of the divine One Mind. While all of that may have been true to some degree, I am fairly sure that in their pursuit to discover the perfect medium for indelible writing they took up flensing knives and skinned available non-Tadeniti - possibly captives bought from the Vyimorni successors.

It is certainly possible, though the chronology seems wrong to me. But the skins of Zzabur's foes were *still living* - this is not simply about the best writing medium, it is creating magical books using the Energy of his foes to enhance it. We don't know exactly why Zzabur did this, but it seems more of a sorcerous act than a simple matter of writing, and using the sort of techniques that Zzabur himself only learnt initially via the Viymorni. 

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1 hour ago, davecake said:

I agree that the stories about Brithela from RM 25-26 are still canon - but very poorly reconciled with the stories of the Viymorni and Vadel earlier, and the stories of the Vadeli in the South, and some work on the contradictions there is still necessary.

There is quite a bit more than "some" work that needs to be done there.

The Six Malkioni Tribes of Danmalastan appears to be a newer concept. The Waertagi as a separate tribe are ancient, though.

 

1 hour ago, davecake said:

I do think you have the chronology wrong - for example, by that text, it seems fairly clear that Zzaburs creation of his great books, including his innovations in book binding, takes place long after the Vadeli are established enemies of his, probably in the Darkness era, and probably after the death of the Tadeniti, so your argument about flipping the causality of the Tadeniti genocide do not seem to stand up. 

If you assume that these are finished books, then there is this problem. If these books are an ongoing process, their creation may be dated as far back.

ZZabur writing his book is mentioned on p.25 of RM.

Quote

Zzabur  wrote  his  book  in  order  to  preserve  his knowledge for his followers. Zzabur had aged his 50,000 or so  years  pretty  well,  but  in  the  last  few  centuries  hadstopped  the  Ice  Age  and  sunken  the  continent  of  the  evil Vadeli peoples. He planned to take a very long nap, he said,“where One Thought dwells.”

While this does sound like he is writing his book only after both Ice and Vadeli had been broken, I am not convinced that he had the skin of blue Vadeli at hand this late in the prehistory of Brithos.

IMO he started writing the early volumes of his book as soon as the Tadeniti had invented writing (on living skin).

There is no evidence that Vadel himself was part of the Tadeniti war. The paragraph "Vadel demigod" appears to be an introductory text to the entire Vadeli War text and not so much to the naval alliance with Helerites and Banthites against the Waertagi.

RM p.15:

Quote

The Vadeli were at first simply in opposition to the fixed ways of Zzabur. Their practices and intentions changed until by the later Darkness, Vadel is a worshipped demigod.

No different from Artmal, whose worship continued long after he had been killed.

Quote

He has a considerable tribe like himself. Their caste divisions are actually racial or tribal, being the red, blue, and brown. Maybe there were yellow and others in those days, too.

This paragraph is the only mention of Vadel for the entire Vadeli Wars text, all the other texts only have "the Vadeli" active.

The Vadeli Wars text skips the fate of the Kadeniti, although various maps (including the ones in Troll Pak) show how the Vadeli conquered all of southern and central Danmalastan.

 

1 hour ago, davecake said:

And I still think you don't get the distinction between amorality, and even immorality, and sociopathy.

Given that "sociopathy" is a very badly defined term (wikipedia gives an article on psychopathy instead), its usage in Gloranthan context probably needs a definition.

So let's take a look at yours:

1 hour ago, davecake said:

Colonialism, or nationalist warfare, and slavery etc are practices that we now morally disapprove, absolutely, but normal, reasonable, people can be convinced en masse that such practices are normal and necessary (see also the Crimson Bat etc). Zzabur is certainly able to convince his allies that genocide of the Vadeli is a reasonable thing to attempt. But the Vadeli are explicitly, in the Guide, not just amoral, but a bunch of evil sociopaths. Zzabur and the Brithini pursue some brutal acts as a society because they (however dubious their justification) believed it necessary.

Historical necessity is behind most evils in real world history. That's why I am inclined to compare the atrocities of Sheng Seleris to Vlad Dracul, and to judge both Zzabur and his Vadeli foes by the same criteria as the war criminals of WW2, convicted or left unaccused.

Historical fact: psychological evaluations of the Nuremberg trial convicts show them as mentally quite healthy people. They weren't checked for narcism, AFAIK.

1 hour ago, davecake said:

The Vadeli likewise, but they also enjoy doing awful things at an individual level because they are awful, which is quite different.

Is there a canonical source for this?

 

1 hour ago, davecake said:

I do not, for example, think the Brithini have no empathy - they love their families and communities, and simply (like generations of racists and xenophobes before them) do not extend that empathy to the bulk of humanity.

This reads like a Nuremberg trial profile.

1 hour ago, davecake said:

The Vadeli just lack empathy. I think their family relationships are cold and creepy, just like their relationships with everyone. The Brithini may not be honest - but I think the Vadeli lie when they can get away with it partly for the pleasure of lying, and because speech is a tool for manipulation by instinct. 

Again, is this based on your impression of the Vadeli, or do you have a Gloranthan source that is not Brithini propaganda?

 

1 hour ago, davecake said:

It is certainly possible, though the chronology seems wrong to me. But the skins of Zzabur's foes were *still living* - this is not simply about the best writing medium, it is creating magical books using the Energy of his foes to enhance it. We don't know exactly why Zzabur did this, but it seems more of a sorcerous act than a simple matter of writing, and using the sort of techniques that Zzabur himself only learnt initially via the Viymorni. 

While we don't know why Zzabur did it, we do know when he did it - before he exterminated the Blue and Red Vadeli populations with his Great Blast. Otherwise he wouldn't have had access to their skins.

The Guide tells us about parchment made from Red Vadeli skins (for Zzabur's Red Book only). This doesn't sound like living skin to me.

Basically, I think the "Vadel Demigod" paragraph is wrong in the chronology. There is not a single mention for deeds done by Vadel himself after his encounter with Bamat, which long precedes the Tadeniti massacre (on those who were left behind, while lots of refugees made it to the southern shores of Zerendel). While the Tadeniti war was a genocidal attempt and while the Tadeniti homelands were purged of them, Tadeniti tribesfolk survived that first assault, so the genocide wasn't a success until Zzabur eliminated all the conquered Tadeniti and Kadeniti of Talarwal.

 

As a side remark, another western people is famous for keeping the skins of their slain foes "alive" - the Waertagi with the Sea Dragons. This skinning magic was wide-spread among the offspring of Malkion. Its application in Chir may have been just a continuation of normal ur-Malkioni practice.

 

With only a slight change in perspective, the Vadeli wars can be read as the underdog fight against the overpoweringly strong evil of Zzabur, very similar to Deezola's magics to topple Bisodakar's reign (of not so much terror, really - certainly not enough to spring the Crimson Bat on the Carmanians). Sedenya has much closer ties to the Spolite atrocities than the Bull Shahs ever had.

All the textual evidence we have on the Vadeli is Zzaburite writing, except for a segment in the Abiding Book (of which we only known the title): Malkion condemns Vadel (RM p.18)

For all we know, Malkion might condemn Vadel for preferring his matrilineal descent over his patrilineal one (from Malkion).

 

We do know that particularly vile sorcery is called Vadeli sorcery, and that it was employed by Seshnegi kings against magically powerful foes at Hrelar Amali and against the Waertagi.

We know that the Vadeli used such sorcery mercilessly on all their foes (the Agimori, Artmali and Thinobutans, the Yellow Elves of Flamal's Forest and presumably what would emerge as Errinoru's Forest, the Kachasti, the Pelandans. Probably the Waertagi too. They also are quite willing to sell such magical knowledge for a sufficiently substantial bid.

We don't hear about them using sorcery against the Helerites or Banthites, only that they betray their allies.

Again, they are accused of betraying the Wolf Pirates, although the text in the Guide only mentions that the early Wolf Pirates active in the Neliomi Sea stopped paying tribute to the Vadeli after Oenriko Rocks.

 

The way the Vadeli introduce themselves in Umathela and Fonrit is anything but nice, but the human sacrifices, presenting themselves as gods or god learners, is hardly any different from how the Kachasti entered the Hykimiland Pelandan lands with their Janubian/Poralistor Waertagi allies.

 

Whether the Vadeli regard themselves as a Malkioni peope is another question. If the Vadeli trace their descent matrilineally, Vadel's grandfather doesn't have much meaning for them. Vimorn's marriage to Vadela isn't that different from Froalar's or Aignor's to Seshna.

 

One last observation. The Vadeli history and description is uncomfortably close to the antisemitic propaganda desription of the Jews in Diaspora. I don't want to make those hateful and baseless accusations the only essence of one of the Gloranthan cultures.

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1 hour ago, Joerg said:

One last observation. The Vadeli history and description is uncomfortably close to the antisemitic propaganda desription of the Jews in Diaspora. I don't want to make those hateful and baseless accusations the only essence of one of the Gloranthan cultures.

While there's no evidence to support this, I'd personally prefer to liken Vadeli to Aghori, a non-dualist Shaivite sect, who engage in transgressive acts to prove that opposites are illusionary.

Just as the Brithini of Arolanit (GtG 408) the Vadeli would acknowledge the Invisible God as the Creator, but unlike the Brithini they would mean the Creator of everything, both good and bad. Because they don't lay any moral weight on the Creator's actions. For example they make tools out of the corpses of the dead -- such as skullcups -- as death is ultimately meaningless. Cannibalism is allowed as food is food, no matter the source.

While likely only the Blue Vadeli ever took things to the ascetic extremes of the Aghori, it could still be their dominant philosophy that good and evil are ultimately illusionary, and that the Devil is just an aspect of the Creator.

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3 hours ago, Joerg said:

ZZabur writing his book is mentioned on p.25 of RM.

As I just said. In the section titled 'Brithos in History', implying it is pretty late in the chronology - though, admittedly it says it was a few centuries before that. Still, seems later than the Tadenitit genocide. It could be clearer. 

 

3 hours ago, Joerg said:

While this does sound like he is writing his book only after both Ice and Vadeli had been broken, I am not convinced that he had the skin of blue Vadeli at hand this late in the prehistory of Brithos.

IMO he started writing the early volumes of his book as soon as the Tadeniti had invented writing (on living skin).

Yes, there is a huge range of possible timing we could apply, but you went for the most extreme early timing possible to provoke a contrarian private theory. I'm not convinced. 

3 hours ago, Joerg said:

Is there a canonical source for this?

The description of the Vadeli in the Guide.

3 hours ago, Joerg said:

Again, is this based on your impression of the Vadeli, or do you have a Gloranthan source that is not Brithini propaganda?

I don't know if you consider the Guide Brithini propaganda - but yes, the Guide. 

Quote

All Vadeli are notable for their lack of empathy, cold- heartedness, egocentricity, superficial charm, manipulativeness, irresponsibility, impulsivity, criminality, lack of remorse, and a complete disregard for morality. 

Which, as I have said before in this conversation, literally reads like someone pulling all the diagnostic criteria for sociopathy out of a text book. And also, just to be clear, means they are Bad People. 

or pg 511

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The Vadeli are a race of immortal, amoral (actually evil sociopath) sorcerers

Is this whole argument because you didn't read the stuff about the Vadeli in the Guide and thought it was just my own private theories?

3 hours ago, Joerg said:

The Guide tells us about parchment made from Red Vadeli skins (for Zzabur's Red Book only). This doesn't sound like living skin to me.

Yes, the passage you were just quoting from in RM pg 25 is the source of "the flayed, yet still-living skins of his ancient foes" comment. It is not named as the Red Book, but the contents seem the same. 

3 hours ago, Joerg said:

With only a slight change in perspective, the Vadeli wars can be read as the underdog fight against the overpoweringly strong evil of Zzabur

If you think sociopathy, a slave empire, Chaos etc collectively constitute a 'slight' change. I don't. 

3 hours ago, Joerg said:

We don't hear about them using sorcery against the Helerites or Banthites, only that they betray their allies.

True. Possibly the race of master sorcerers famous for using sorcery in war instead chose to betray the Helerites using pudding or something. I don't know what you are trying to say here. 

3 hours ago, Joerg said:

One last observation. The Vadeli history and description is uncomfortably close to the antisemitic propaganda desription of the Jews in Diaspora. I don't want to make those hateful and baseless accusations the only essence of one of the Gloranthan cultures.

I acknowledge that some elements of their depiction (living in ghettoes, for example, and the depiction of the Brown Vadeli as always greedy merchants) are unfortunate, and I think it is important to minimise those aspects of their depiction. That doesn't mean we should try to represent them as good guys, it means we should try to represent them as uniquely Gloranthan villains. We don't need to resort to anti-semitic tropes or sources in any way for the Vadeli. I think we have more than enough. 

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1 hour ago, Tindalos said:

but unlike the Brithini they would mean the Creator of everything, both good and bad.

Monty Python time - 

All things dull and ugly,
All creatures short and squat,
All things rude and nasty,
The Creator made the lot.
Each little snake that poisons,
Each little wasp that stings,
He made their brutish venom.
He made their horrid wings.

All things sick and cancerous,
All evil great and small,
All things foul and dangerous,
The Creator made them all.

Each nasty little hornet,
Each beastly little squid--
Who made the spikey urchin?
Who made the sharks? He did!

All things scabbed and ulcerous,
All pox both great and small,
Putrid, foul and gangrenous,
The Creator made them all.

1 hour ago, Tindalos said:

For example they make tools out of the corpses of the dead -- such as skullcups -- as death is ultimately meaningless. Cannibalism is allowed as food is food, no matter the source.

I think that is fairly Vadeli. Except they are glib and charming, and very aware of the response they get from others, so such things happen mostly when no non-Vadeli are around.

1 hour ago, Tindalos said:

While likely only the Blue Vadeli ever took things to the ascetic extremes of the Aghori, it could still be their dominant philosophy that good and evil are ultimately illusionary, and that the Devil is just an aspect of the Creator.

They believe that neither Good nor Evil is Logical, but there are many acts that they know others consider Evil and they quite enjoy. 

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I spent a little time overnight rehearsing the evolution of the Vadel blood libel and was pleased to see you guys bending Sandy's ear a full quarter century ago. Good times.

They're unequivocally Big Bad now in the early Hero Wars era, "insidious and perverse." This is a rare thing in Glorantha but Greg didn't always resist the absolute moral judgement of history. Sometimes peoples make bad choices. Sometimes the choice gets made for them. That's how their wyrd works.

Rewind to the mid-to-late-'60s and the "Land of Brithela" fragment that makes it into RM (25) is probably one of the earliest extant references. At this point in Greg's development the Vadelites are no worse than any other pagans in a world where (ironically given real-world parallels) one tribe has divine dispensation on its side. They're jealous of Malkion and make his life unpleasant, all of which he bears with serene aplomb until leading a slave revolt and killing the only Vadelite "king" I can find. After this, the culture disintegrates into the three nations we know, each with their color and elemental origin. 

These nations are then progressively decimated as the example of Zabur is invoked again and again to first sink Vadeli terrritories and then preserve the Brithinite realm when Gata Herself turns hostile and orders Britha to roll. We now know, of course, that the people or at least an ethos named for them regenerates within Time. 

By the late '60s, Greg has made it to the reign of Bertalor and there's an extended eyewitness account of a visit to both Brithos and an island we might call Vadelos. The Brithinites of this era "treat all foreigners like slaves or enemies . . . straw-headed weaklings, a fearful people." On the other island, "foreigners were treated with friendship and kindness as long as they honored the customs." The story they tell is that the Brithinites "broke them and slew them like cattle," but we can all carry a grudge.

I see scattered references through the Chaosium era into the Genertela Box but nothing substantial or particularly damning. In the roughly contemporaneous Missing Lands material, they're largely history's victims (although someone can still read whatever they want into the text). "The Vadeli Smile" is an account of weird magic, more eldritch than blasphemous. They actually hug in that.

Genertela Box is '88. By '94, Sandy is vacillating on the Digest on how bad they are or whether they're just misunderstood "Samaritans" in opposition to the main line of tribal transmission. It catches the fandom's attention. Before you know it, people are mapping the castes onto various perversions of bodily fluids. The resurgence of the Blue is Too Awful. 

As we ramp up to the compilation of Revealed Mythology (1999-2000), Greg is far more nuanced in his myth making and we get the Tribes of Danmalastan, Vadel as fallen founder and so forth. I think this is completely new information to all but the perfecti. I know it was to me at the time. People can trust the narrative voice all they like (YGWV) but I am convinced that most of it is a lie in the way the Fortunate Succession or any of the other early Unfinished Works is a lie: in its deliberate lapses and contradictions it tells us another kind of truth. It generates adventure ideas. But what does it tell us about the modern Vadelist ethos in their own words or even how they might have changed through history? Nada. It comes from outside. Someone benefits from presenting the material in this way. Someone else might lose.

One thing we know about various phases of Western magic is that they are world-class demonizers. They have a knack for making anyone they don't like into monsters. So maybe it worked, who knows. 

Then in the deep background material written for Mongoose (2005-6) and incorporated into MSE, I think we see "Vadel" in full Faust mode for the first time. This is an explicitly Gloranthan document compiled from sources like "Old Freedom: A History of Jrustela's Golden Age" in the early 10th century. We could dwell on the nuances but I would hate to complicate things. Before you know it, we're here again and it's the Hero Wars.

Can the West Be One? All of this is incredibly complicated and arcane. New readers have historically had a hard time even grasping the ideal types of caste practice (EVERYONE KNOWS THESE LIES) across various modern sects without getting slapped for their effort. They're just here for some adventures. Most will never realize that it's also a moving historical target under the weight of everyone's agendas, aspirations and magical catastrophe. That's okay. I personally do not want any synods or councils to haggle out a creed. I just want to ride a horse made of thought across a landscape of time.

And also to keep the blue man from sinking any more coast but that's another story. 

6 hours ago, Tindalos said:

While there's no evidence to support this, I'd personally prefer to liken Vadeli to Aghori, a non-dualist Shaivite sect, who engage in transgressive acts to prove that opposites are illusionary.

The story I always heard is that when you ask an aghora if he does all the skull stuff and so forth he always laughs and says "oh no, you want the guy who lives on the next ash pit, I'm normal!" So you go to that guy and he says the same thing. Whereby may hang some sort of parable.

Edited by scott-martin
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You claim that Vadeli don't feel any compassion or filial love, but at the same time you claim that the (orthodox, immortal) Brithini do.

How does that work out?

It is commonly believed (though nowhere in canonical print) that Brown Vadeli immortality involves sacrifice (and potentially ingestion) of their numerous children. Now that is not different from King Aun the Old of the Svear, only their success doesn't just ward off dying but actually prevents (or undoes) aging, avoiding the Struldbrug fate of Aun.

The Brown Vadeli number about 160K, distributed over Fonrit, Umathela, Jrustela and the Vadeli Isles, with coastal enclaves elsewhere rounding the number. A significant portion might be seagoing without a clear home port. They seem to have multiplied  by a factor of four from the barely sustainable conditions on their islands during the Closing. Whether through normal breeding or through magical duplication (in order to avoid risking their immortality by passing that on to offspring) isn't quite clear.

Brithini immortality appears to be made easier by avoiding procreation, too - if only to avoid involuntary caste breach during child care. A Brithini will have a clear idea of his progenitors and lineage back to the Founder (not that many generations, really), but will quite likely not have much of a personal relationship with both parents, and may only stick for an apprenticeship with the parent he does share living space with before going somewhere where his special caste job is required by command of a Talar.

The core family of Froalar and Xemela (and their children - two sons perished from the same disease that Xemela finally overcame through her self-sacrifice) appears to be an exception when it comes to Brithini (though not colonial Malkioni).

Do either Brithini or Vadeli feel or display affection? And how does that affect their immortality? Does this obey the pure logic that is so valued as the sacred state of mind of the Danmalastani?

Hrestol and Fenela were portrayed as quite affectionate siblings in Hrestol's Saga, and Hrestol is just a great-grandson of Malkion. At least two of his grandparents (Froalar's parents Talar and Eule) are children of Malkion and Phlia. Xemela's parentage isn't explored.

 

The caste of Waertag is unclear. Being a son of the Founder doesn't automatically provide high status caste, otherwise Dromal/Dronar and his (very numerous) offspring would be as high ranking as the offspring of Malkion and Phlia. But then both Zabur Sceptre-bearer and Holar Sword-Wielder are full siblings of Talar (and Eule, Menena, and Horal of Horalwal) but not part of the Talar caste.

The six founders of the six tribes should be somewhat elevated, even though their professions are something which would be expected only from certain castes. Still, the tribal founders could be argued to be Talar caste equivalent (leaders of their tribe) or Zzabur caste equivalent (source of the knowledge of their tribe).

The earliest generation(s) of descendants of Malkion appear to be overwhelmingly male. Two first generation female descendants are named, Menena and Eule. A few latter generation females are named or mentioned, Xemela and Brithica (high priestess of Menena in Horalwal),, and then numerous granddaughters of Menena (three daughters of Antalos, daughters of Yingar), a granddaughter of Eule (sister to Baron Alos), and a (nameless) daughter of Xoranor (Froalar's sorcerer) who was maried to his appointed successor. Shape- and faceless ladies occupy the court situations experienced by Hrestol, too, but all of them appear to be of Talar rank. (In fact, only Brithica and Xoranor's daughter are of Zzabur caste origin or occupation.)

No wives (or sister-wives) are named or mentioned for either Zabur Sceptre-bearer (who has one son, Kaldes) or Holar or Holan Sword-wielder (who has one grandson, Jeneam Swordbearer). Yet somehow there are hundreds of sorcerers and priests in Brithos at the Dawn, and probably thousands of soldiers. (There is a fight between the bridal procession of Duke Antalos middle daughter Nenora to the capital of Malkionwal and a horde of Vadeli barbarians emerging from Dontri's forest, quickly dealt with by the expert soldiers of Brithos. The fight has two mysterious non-Brithini observers - apparently aldryami.)

IMO this indicates a lot of marriages between the sons and grandsons of Malkion (other than those married to daughters of Phlia) with various Tilntae or earth and sea nymphs to arrive at these rather great numbers, all prior to the arrival of Death and aging. Dronar/Dromal must have been especially fecund. Or otherwise the vast majority of descendants of the tribal founders (provided any more than Waertag appear in the Brithos story) would have ended up as workers. There sure was great demand for them, at least among the Tadeniti and Kadeniti who had tribal production to pursue.

 

We learn about Kachisti talars and zzaburi. Both professions make sense - diplomacy is part of a talar's portfolio, and any form of magic including magical communication with others is a zzaburi job. There is less evidence for their horali or dronari, or for any females on their Speaking Tour.

Likewise the Vi(y)morni appear like dilettante explorers, again talar and zzabur caste stuff. Vadel doesn't seem to have companions on his first trip outside of Danmalastan, so no evidence for either warriors or workers on his team from the Vi(y)morni side. (Plenty of workers and soldiers from his maternal kin, though.) Vadel's coloration remains unmentioned, and it has only been surmised that he may have been blue-skinned like Zzabur.

 

3 hours ago, davecake said:

As I just said. In the section titled 'Brithos in History', implying it is pretty late in the chronology - though, admittedly it says it was a few centuries before that. Still, seems later than the Tadenitit genocide. It could be clearer. 

It is a possibility. Which might be true but hidden by Zzaburist propaganda, or might be a lie distributed by Vadeli propaganda. Either way it should be useful.

I was working from RM, and the way the Vadeli evil is ascertained there is pretty much in-world (p.14):

Quote

All those, however, agreed on one other thing: the Vadeli were not right, were not at all aware of Malkion’s truth or power, and among the most evil folk in the world.

3 hours ago, davecake said:

The description of the Vadeli in the Guide.

I don't know if you consider the Guide Brithini propaganda - but yes, the Guide. 

Quote

All Vadeli are notable for their lack of empathy, cold- heartedness, egocentricity, superficial charm, manipulativeness, irresponsibility, impulsivity, criminality, lack of remorse, and a complete disregard for morality. 

Which, as I have said before in this conversation, literally reads like someone pulling all the diagnostic criteria for sociopathy out of a text book.

I will have to claim the "not a native speaker" confusion here. From my short search for a clear definition of sociopathy, I drew mainly a blank in English language.

There is a definition of the German term, translating as "a form of psychopathy which expresses as noticable (or conspicuous) behavior and deeds." A sociopath is fundamentally able to have empathy, but won't necessarily use that ability. (Without wanting to condemn anyone, this sounds similar to Asperger and similar forms of autistic tendencies. At the far end of this is deep introversion with the need to remind oneself to activate empathy in everyday situations - which is a condition I am familiar with.)

It is possible to be a socially functional sociopath without being evil or forbidding, and there is nothing bad or evil about that. And from the description of that female Vadeli trader of the Orange League, she has the ability to be affable, congenial, entertaining, and empathic. If and when she chooses to be that way. She doesn't come across as monstrous or malign even with that leading background definition.

I posit that an astute Logician would be able to ignore empathy and passions the same way that the sociopath can switch them on when desired/required. (Indeed, look at the spell description of Logician.)

Nobody has ever accused the Brithini of superficial (or otherwise) charm or a complete disregard for morality. Other than that, all those adjectives describe the Brithini track record, and especially Zzabur's, extremely well. Ah well, something is only criminal until you adapt the law (e.g. marihuana production, trade and consumption, or possession of assault rifles), so maybe strike that from the list, too.

 

Which brings me to RM p.14, the sentence leading to the statement of Vadeli being generally regarded as among the most evil existences in Glorantha.

Quote

Many schisms among the Malkioni developed while the gods fought. The great and infinite knowledge of Malkion was never truly reduced, but it was of such magnitude that it could not be grasped even by many of the beings that sincerely devoted themselves to the Creator. Thus existed many peoples across the world and upon the shores who claimed to be right, just, moral, valid, trustworthy, authentic, or otherwise really true. Most were only partially so, and only the Enrovalini were truly and utterly so.

In other words, the average Enrovalini would not hesitate to describe themselves as "stable geniuses".

Which kind of narcistic behavior has been diagnosed as psychopathic.

 

3 hours ago, davecake said:

And also, just to be clear, means they are Bad People. 

Yes, Vadeli are Bad People, as their actions in the Gods War suggest. They are from a genocidal, slave taking imperialist society which they wholeheartedly support as good patriots and descendants. They know they are better (more worthy, more just) than any mortals, and better than those  matrilinearity-denying Zzaburists with their "logical" excuses to suppress the maternal heritage.

(And no, I don't want to make the Vadeli evil because of some feminist agenda. I doubt they have one, other than a pride in and magical strength from that heritage of Vadela.)

 

BTW, I created a document grabbing all texts mentioning the letters "vadel" and their context, and searched that text for "evil". I got four hits from the Guide:

P.48 Box: Tapping: "Most Malkioni, except the Brithini, Vadeli, and Waertagi, consider Tapping to be immoral and evil."

P.210 Old Vadel ruins are evil

P.511 (the sidebar to the Orange League picture) "The Vadeli are a race of immortal, amoral (actually evil sociopath) sorcerers"

p.696 (Zzabur's Great Blast): "The evil people of Endernef were infected by the Devil and attacked Zerendel with their Double Belligerent Assault."

So yes, an enemy empire invading your own (purely defenive, of course) empire is necessarily evil. Other than that and the haunting of the Old Vadel ruins, we have the confirmation that neither Brithini nor Vadeli regard Tapping as evil. One of many things they have in common.

Other adjectives for the Vadeli:

p.151 "coldblooded ruthlessness"

 

Other introductions of the Vadeli:

p.468 "The  immortal  Brown  Vadeli  are  sailors and expert sorcerers. Their sturdy round ships ply  the  seas  everywhere  in  Glorantha.  The Red Vadeli are the marines and soldiers of the Brown Vadeli." (note the "t" in "immortal" - this is completely free of any moral judgement)

p.527 "The Vadeli are a savage and cruel people, each of them unnaturally expert at sorcery."

Savage, and cruel. Adjectives that apply to the Tusk Riders as well.

"Despite  being  descended  from  Malkion, the Vadeli reject Malkion’s laws utterly and their culture deliberately and knowingly transgresses against  the  laws  of  the  universe.  "

Their opportunistic alliance with the Mostali is quite strange in light of this. But then, rebellion against arbitrary rules of the universe imposed by some fatherly authority describes another, major culture of Glorantha, too, and a certain celestial empire has a similar disregard for cosmic compromises.

"The Vadeli betrayed their fellow Malkioni and attacked them without warning." Two questions.

1. Do the matrilineal offspring of Vadela regard themselves as fellow Malkioni just because their leader Vadel happens to be Malkion's grandson?

2. Is this an objective history, or is this a reflection of "the victor writes the history books"? There are a few other cases where history written by the victors may demonize the antagonists unduly. Our Sheng debate is one such case. Bisodakar, last Carmanian Shah to be emperor of Dara Happa, is another such case. The Golden Dragon Emperor of Dara Happa is a third such case. Finally, we have mainly Plentonius diatribe against the horse warlords and sycophantic praise for Avivath and his offspring as source for the evils of the horse warlords of Dara Happa. The "kill on sight" contact with the Theyalan missionaries/emissaries may have been the fault of the Shadzorings of Alkoth as much as of the (admittedly not too altruistic) chariot emperors of the time.

 

3 hours ago, davecake said:

or pg 511

I did read that section as somewhat in-world, but you are right, it isn't presented that way.

I wouldn't call the Brithini evil as a race, but otherwise "Immortal Sorcerers (actually Sociopaths)" describes them fairly well.

3 hours ago, davecake said:

Is this whole argument because you didn't read the stuff about the Vadeli in the Guide and thought it was just my own private theories?

No, it is because the Sorcerer Supreme behaves just like your average Vadeli.

God-complex? Check. With a certain justification for both Zzabur and for immortal Vadeli sorcerers.

Disregard for mortals? Check.

No love for family? Brithini respect powerful ancestors, and probably direct progenitors. But love them?
 

(I notice that the Brown Vadeli already are puissant sorcerers several orders more powerful than any sorcerers the Umathelan Malkioni could field. I shudder to think what Blue Vadeli could achieve...)

3 hours ago, davecake said:

Yes, the passage you were just quoting from in RM pg 25 is the source of "the flayed, yet still-living skins of his ancient foes" comment. It is not named as the Red Book, but the contents seem the same. 

If you think sociopathy, a slave empire, Chaos etc collectively constitute a 'slight' change. I don't. 

Looking at the Pelandan experience with blue sorcerers (whether of Waertagi, Kachasti or Vadeli origin) I only see a slight change to the Logician sorcerers.

 

3 hours ago, davecake said:

True. Possibly the race of master sorcerers famous for using sorcery in war instead chose to betray the Helerites using pudding or something. I don't know what you are trying to say here. 

The normal way of betraying an ally is to use your enemy to destroy the ally when left without any support in a critical battle. The ideal betrayal doesn't require any dirtying of your hands, your enemies will bleed your betrayed allies, and vice versa.

There are other events coined "betrayals", for instance Arkat's progression from Brithini through Seshnegi and Orlanthi to Troll and possibly Chaos magic in his fight against (or as) Gbaji. In none of these cases did Arkat cause any harm to his previous co-religionists, yet all of them are described as vile acts of betrayal. But then, history is written by the victors...

 

3 hours ago, davecake said:

I acknowledge that some elements of their depiction (living in ghettoes, for example, and the depiction of the Brown Vadeli as always greedy merchants) are unfortunate, and I think it is important to minimise those aspects of their depiction.

Like with Kralorela or Sheng, I would prefer to give them a relatable back-story free of the slanderous history writings of their victorious enemies. (The God Learners did write much of the book about the Kralori, and then more recent activity by Godunya and Sheng was added.) Always as an NPC population in a villain or shady ally role. Same as the Brithini of Brithos (those of Akem, Arolanit or God Forgot may be playable, with some cautioning), and apparently the Waertagi (although I can see them as player character material).

The Vadeli greater purpose and the means they employ to reach it might be explored. It doesn't have to be any nicer than the pyramid scheme inflicted on the EWF populace by Isgangdrang's Third Council.

3 hours ago, davecake said:

That doesn't mean we should try to represent them as good guys, it means we should try to represent them as uniquely Gloranthan villains. We don't need to resort to anti-semitic tropes or sources in any way for the Vadeli. I think we have more than enough. 

I guess we are firmly on the same side here. But the elephant is in the room, and ignoring it doesn't really help.

Going to the extremes that were published in Tradetalk isn't exactly necessary. Those accusations certainly distract from normal anti-semitic propaganda, but only by out-grossing them.

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57 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

 

I spent a little time overnight rehearsing the evolution of the Vadel blood libel and was pleased to see you guys bending Sandy's ear a full quarter century ago. Good times.

The Vadeli discussions haven't left that much of an impression with me. There were other, more challenging debates.

The Guide replicates most of the text written for Missing Lands. That text is free of "evil". Cruel and savage, yes. (In other words, an asshole culture. There are numerous such cultures - the Char-un, the Wolf Pirates, Alkoth, the Vadrudi, Jaldon's hordes, Sheng Seleris, Ethilrist, the Tusk Riders, and any number of cultures consorting with Chaos. Underworld races like the Uz, Ethilrist's demon horses, the Alkothi Shadzorings or the Adpara peoples of the East (Andinni, Gorgers etc.) have an almost innocent cruelty.

Vadeli cruelty is deliberate - also in the form of Garangordite cruelty, which is blamed on them. But the Artmali association with Chaos was not commanded by the Vadeli, probably neither recommended. The cesspool of Fonrit is a joint venture of Vadeli slave imperialists, Artmali chaos allies and anti-Pamalt Garangordites.

 

57 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

They're unequivocally Big Bad now in the early Hero Wars era, "insidious and perverse." This is a rare thing in Glorantha but Greg didn't always resist the absolute moral judgement of history. Sometimes peoples make bad choices. Sometimes the choice gets made for them. That's how their wyrd works.

I just checked the HW Introduction to Glorantha text and stumbled over this little gem of history written by the victors:

"The greatest struggle was the Vadeli-Brithini War. At its climax the entire western continent was shattered by the Vadeli evil magics." (p.45)

"Vadel and his people explored the Unlawful Realms and brought Death upon us." p.47

Eurmal and Hum(ak/c)t released Gether and made Vivamort/Nontraya a wanderer of dark and ever more evil paths in the cosmologies I have seen. Zzabur blames Malkion for releasing Chaos and Entropy into the world with his Fifth Action.

Peter pulled no breaks in demonizing the Vadeli.

"Periodically,  they  sail  forth  in  a bloody orgy of looting and rapine." (Red Vadeli, p.213. Although little different from "We Hate Darjiin Usurpers", really)

But p.215 really lets go:

"The VADELI ISLANDS are the last fragments of the terrible Vadeli Empire that once dominated the world. The Vadeli are universally condemned for their odious habits; they procreate through incest and eat their own children to achieve immortality.  They  are  evil  descendants  who  deliberately  defy  the  laws  of Malkion. "

And even when they do a great job of recovering from a cataclysm, this is how their achievements are presented: "A few dozen Browns survived and found refuge on the Old Vadeli Isles. Their rickety boats are now found nearly everywhere in the world."

160K Vadeli (after losing a man-power intensive naval war) from a few dozen. They also breed like vermin.

Quite a departure from the rather neutral description in Missing Lands (and thus the Guide).

57 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

Rewind to the mid-to-late-'60s and the "Land of Brithela" fragment that makes it into RM (25) is probably one of the earliest extant references. At this point in Greg's development the Vadelites are no worse than any other pagans in a world where (ironically given real-world parallels) one tribe has divine dispensation on its side. They're jealous of Malkion and make his life unpleasant, all of which he bears with serene aplomb until leading a slave revolt and killing the only Vadelite "king" I can find. After this, the culture disintegrates into the three nations we know, each with their color and elemental origin. 

These nations are then progressively decimated as the example of Zabur is invoked again and again to first sink Vadeli terrritories and then preserve the Brithinite realm when Gata Herself turns hostile and orders Britha to roll. We now know, of course, that the people or at least an ethos named for them regenerates within Time. 

By the late '60s, Greg has made it to the reign of Bertalor and there's an extended eyewitness account of a visit to both Brithos and an island we might call Vadelos. The Brithinites of this era "treat all foreigners like slaves or enemies . . . straw-headed weaklings, a fearful people." On the other island, "foreigners were treated with friendship and kindness as long as they honored the customs." The story they tell is that the Brithinites "broke them and slew them like cattle," but we can all carry a grudge.

I see scattered references through the Chaosium era into the Genertela Box but nothing substantial or particularly damning. In the roughly contemporaneous Missing Lands material, they're largely history's victims (although someone can still read whatever they want into the text). "The Vadeli Smile" is an account of weird magic, more eldritch than blasphemous. They actually hug in that.

The waters reek of death and other vileness after the Vadeli eliminate all sea opposition with extreme prejudice. The means employed may have been Crimson Bat grade chaotic, or just otherwise over-the-top corrosive to life and magical energies.

Zzabur uses a similar magic to stop the invasion of Solkathi (RM p.13), leaving countless boiled Beakies in the then calmed wave. Thre is no comment on any olfactory component there. Oh, but pools of clear water. Ok, a difference in style.

 

57 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

Genertela Box is '88. By '94, Sandy is vacillating on the Digest on how bad they are or whether they're just misunderstood "Samaritans" in opposition to the main line of tribal transmission. It catches the fandom's attention. Before you know it, people are mapping the castes onto various perversions of bodily fluids. The resurgence of the Blue is Too Awful. 

Guilty as charged when it comes to the necrophilia accusation. The brown stuff was already in How The West Was One, also with the suggestion that the vast population explosion of the Vadeli could be the result of cloning(homunculi of one and the same person (ok, a small population of individuals) in many places.

 

57 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

As we ramp up to the compilation of Revealed Mythology (1999-2000), Greg is far more nuanced in his myth making and we get the Tribes of Danmalastan, Vadel as fallen founder and so forth. I think this is completely new information to all but the perfecti. I know it was to me at the time.

My impression, too. So there were no Tadeniti, Kadeniti, Vi(y)morni, Enro(l)valini and Kacha(/i)sti prior to the compilation of RM? The indices (name lists, explanations) were around already a few years earlier, when I worked them into the encyclopedia database of mine, but less complete.

Much of the Vadeli lore came from the God Learner map snippets in Troll Pak. How old are these empires of Zerendel and Endernef? The Awesome Bridge/Awesome Mystery, the Mostali land raising... no Tadeniti yet? The Guide version has the six tribes and their history worked into those maps.

57 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

People can trust the narrative voice all they like (YGWV) but I am convinced that most of it is a lie in the way the Fortunate Succession or any of the other early Unfinished Works is a lie: in its deliberate lapses and contradictions it tells us another kind of truth. It generates adventure ideas. But what does it tell us about the modern Vadelist ethos in their own words or even how they might have changed through history? Nada. It comes from outside. Someone benefits from presenting the material in this way. Someone else might lose.

One thing we know about various phases of Western magic is that they are world-class demonizers. They have a knack for making anyone they don't like into monsters. So maybe it worked, who knows. 

Zzabur worked really hard towards that goal. At some point, the Vadeli swung with that momentum and built on it. That was their decision, and that is their major sin, but I think this occurs far into the Vadeli wars, possibly around the time of the Double Belligerent Assault.

One aspect of the Vadeli that is misrepresented is their descent from Vi(y)morn. IMO Vimorn and his son by the goddess is a late addition to a pre-existing numerous Vadeli population, similar to the addition of Pendal to the Basmoli of Seshnela. "Vadel's children" is way over-rated compared to the way more numerous earlier children of Vadela.

There may however have been a survival bias for or against the descendants of Vimorn and Vadel in the sinking of Endernef (and conquered Zerendel, with all its stout and good Malkioni descendants). I cannot say which, though.

 

57 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

Then in the deep background material written for Mongoose (2005-6) and incorporated into MSE, I think we see "Vadel" in full Faust mode for the first time. This is an explicitly Gloranthan document compiled from sources like "Old Freedom: A History of Jrustela's Golden Age" in the early 10th century. We could dwell on the nuances but I would hate to complicate things. Before you know it, we're here again and it's the Hero Wars.

The parts of that stuff that aren't a repeat of RM are fairly obscure, and not that helpful.

57 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

Can the West Be One? All of this is incredibly complicated and arcane. New readers have historically had a hard time even grasping the ideal types of caste practice (EVERYONE KNOWS THESE LIES) across various modern sects without getting slapped for their effort. They're just here for some adventures. Most will never realize that it's also a moving historical target under the weight of everyone's agendas, aspirations and magical catastrophe. That's okay. I personally do not want any synods or councils to haggle out a creed. I just want to ride a horse made of thought across a landscape of time.

And also to keep the blue man from sinking any more coast but that's another story.

The Guide took the old Brithos material and presented it in a fairly neutral way. It did insert Vimorn as father of the Vadeli, creating an unnecessary contradiction to the Brithos text, but thankfully reserved the term Brithos for the later island refuge of the Enrovalini and some other Malkioni fugitives, who were successively sent out into the Genertelan and later also Jrustelan colonies to reduce the people around Zzabur to the purest logicians he could re-create in imitation of a society that never existed in mundane Glorantha.

 

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1 hour ago, scott-martin said:

scattered references through the Chaosium era

While I'm deliberately resisting my Unified Conspiracy Field Theory of western historiography here (for one thing, no time to set it out in an invulnerable or even comprehensible argument) or commenting in depth, three early details here about the blue man.

First, a cryptic but insistent statement that every time the Vadelites were defeated, their bodies were transported back to him in the tower for "storage." Make of that what you will, book-binding enthusiasts. This is probably from late 1966 or early 1967.

Second, a note that in around 1981 he is equated with the theistic Ginna Jar for what that's worth. His role in their ideology evolves in the texts, sometimes blurring Malkion and other figures. This may not be an accident.

Finally, when hunting the damn Adventurism quote, this turned up in the old Jonstown Compendium back in the Companion (1983):

I met a man named Xeotam and he appeared to be quite insane. He babbled stories of great imagination. He claimed to have been held captive for 424 days in a crystal tower while all about him flashed the secrets of the world within great slabs of diamond. A voice within his head rambled at great length about al subjects, from the why and wherefore of dragons to the reason of the sky bowl. The voice called itself Azabur [. . .] a Wyrms Friends document that also mentioned an Azabur. Supposedly he was a wizard from the west of great power who . . . 

Compare to the White Wizard missionary who recites "Zzabur Says" in RM as though he was actually the sorcerer supreme himself. Maybe he is, from a certain point of view, and azabur is a sort of telepathic virus or initiatic entity, a kind of ginna jar.

 

 

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Welp, this is definitely going to be one of those "try to hang on" threads for me. Not that I don't love this critical theory-laden metatextual analysis stuff. :P

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