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Heroic Lhankor Mhy Questions

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Hi everyone. I'm relatively new to Glorantha, and currently running the HQ Colymar Campaign in 1618. Please let me know if there is a better place or better format for threads like these, and if there are certain tags I should use.

I have an ambitious player who will undoubtedly seek a big role in the Hero Wars. His goals seem to be: spread literacy, use new technology, and take advantage of any secrets he can gets his hands on. Here are the questions I have:

  • Why does the cult of Lhankor Mhy keep the secrets of literacy and writing to themselves?
  • Would there be mythological consequences for sharing literacy outside of the cult, or is this more of a Completionist/Ivalist thing? Are possible mythological consequences limited to Spirits of Reprisal from Lhankor Mhy, and does sharing knowledge weaken the initiate's magic?
  • How hard would it be to index a Lhankor Mhy library? Would this be opposed by the sages?
  • What resources fuel or grow a library and what are some of the barriers to getting those resources? How does a library get its paper, scrolls, and materials? Are Lhankorings seeking tree pulp opposed by Aldryami, for example? Do they work heavily with Issaries traders, and what do they give in return?
  • Does a form of moveable type already exist somewhere in Glorantha? What would it take to use it or invent it?
  • Do Lhankorings such as the ones in Jonstown submit to chosen leaders when it comes to whether or not they expand or prosper?
  • How [in]accessible are some of the dangerous secrets in a library like Jonstown? Are certain secrets limited to devotees only, and can only some, or all, be bought at a price of money, or legendary treasure?
  • Do I, as a Lhankor Mhy cultist, need to be Illuminated in order to even consider messing around with God Learning, or other Gloranthan secrets?
  • What are my biggest obstacles in learning and using secrets as an initiate of Lhankor Mhy:
    • My limited knowledge?
    • My cult?
    • Orlanth and his tribe, who would put Lhankor Mhy in his place?
    • Dangerous heroquesting, including Arkati protectors and other enemy heroquesters?

tldr: How do you invent new things, expand, and learn secrets as a Sartarite Lhankor Mhy cultist in Glorantha? What obstacles do you face?

I think that my player will need many allies and face many obstacles in order to get what he wants in the Hero Wars. I would love to hear your perspectives, and how you handle your Lhankor Mhy cultists, your ambitious players, and your hero wars secrets in your Glorantha.

Edited by Sub
removing newbie tag
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One of the best posts of the season. Please keep us posted on what else your players get up to.

4 minutes ago, Sub said:

Do they work heavily with Issaries traders, and what do they give in return?

IMG the Lhankor intellectual economy runs on a mindset of artificially enforced scarcity. Many of the big beards consciously or unconsciously consider lore to be a kind of monopoly and literacy as a kind of cult secret. They will grudgingly copy a text for money (or better from their perspective, charge you a consulting fee) and then trade the money for more paper and the other things they need to live, but when they're feeling rich the tendency is to simply close the library early so they have more time to think their deep thoughts.

The problem for them, of course, is that information isn't like a cow or other tangible assets. If I have a secret I have monopoly power over pricing and dissemination. If I tell you that secret then two people have the information and the power. If we trade secrets, both of us now have twice the information. If we all share what we know, we are all equally well educated and there's no reason for anyone to buy a library card. The beards go hungry. Maybe a few need to put those big brains to work and get a job.

I am all for this because a smarter community is a stronger community with fewer expertise choke points and more resources overall. But many of the big beards are not thinking about the community (compare our lifebringer stories, where ours is all about everybody and theirs is all about them) so will try to squeeze every lore point as hard as they can. The good news for your player is that if he can keep it relatively quiet at first the beards will be too busy bickering to even notice until it's too late. 

Once the beards figure it out, they will complain about your player, spread rumors to tribal authorities that this person is messing with dark forces and in general try to make life miserable. They smell a competitor to their comfy routine. We would not object to a wider market for pigskin, etc., especially as the Hero Wars require unusual herd culls. As to God Learnering, Arkatism, etc., I suggest that as long as someone keeps an external goal in sight (people outside yourself) it gets easier to avoid truly awful outcomes.

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51 minutes ago, Sub said:

I'm relatively new to Glorantha, and currently running the HQ Colymar Campaign in 1618. Please let me know if there is a better place or better format for threads like these, and if there are certain tags I should use.

Welcome! And this forum is perfectly fine for these questions. If it's more on mechanics of HQ, then I'd suggest the HeroQuest forum, but this is where general Glorantha type questions go.

38 minutes ago, Sub said:

Why does the cult of Lhankor Mhy keep the secrets of literacy and writing to themselves?

@scott-martin had a lot of great thoughts here which I won't repeat.  What I'll add is two reasons:

1) Knowledge is dangerous! Whether considering the ancient evils of Gbaji and Arkat, the manipulative and greedy God-learners, or the chaos-loving Lunars, the dissemination of knowledge without the proper guidance of LM is liable to endanger the whole fabric of the world.

2) Evil folk seek knowledge to enslave or endanger the world. Whether through Thanatari headhunters, blighted undead like Delecti, the evil burrowing menace of Krarsht, or the disorder-bringing thefts of Lanbril, the inappropriate care and storage of knowledge leads to dangerous groups gaining and manipulating knowledge for power and evil (and also equally endangering the world order). 

Those points noted, they do provide and store knowledge for others. The LM temples are effectively "treasuries" of knowledge just as Issaries and Asrelia temples store goods.

46 minutes ago, Sub said:

Would there be mythological consequences for sharing literacy outside of the cult, or is this more of a Completionist/Ivalist thing? Are possible mythological consequences limited to Spirits of Reprisal from Lhankor Mhy, and does sharing knowledge weaken the initiate's magic?

Yes. Someone untrained, yet power hungry, will abuse the knowledge and use it to shift the balance of power amongst the gods. More directly, you might inadvertently give access to dangerous cults who will ensnare you in their elaborate schemes and plans.

48 minutes ago, Sub said:

How hard would it be to index a Lhankor Mhy library? Would this be opposed by the sages?

Very difficult - though it has certainly been tried in the various temples of knowledge.  Some might oppose, some would support, and most would support their own preferred arrangement. Strong Chief Librarians have undoubtedly imposed their organizing schemes. However, trying to neatly and tidily resolve categorization challenges has left most temples with some hodge-podge of multiple half-baked efforts.

53 minutes ago, Sub said:

How does a library get its paper, scrolls, and materials?

Paper will be rare through most of Dragon Pass and the Holy Country (may be more common in the latter, but doubt it's in wide use). Vellum/parchment will be the primary writing material and one of the standard offerings clans will make to the temple will be that (and plenty of sheep, etc. to use to produce). In Esrolia, there will also be clay tablets as a cheap and widely available source. Various inks (oak galls probably a very common source), bird quills, wooden utensils, etc. will all be part of the materials used to write with.

57 minutes ago, Sub said:

Do they work heavily with Issaries traders, and what do they give in return?

Clans will make offerings to the temples of knowledge in return for LM's aid. This may include getting the LM temple to apprentice scribes or lawspeakers who will eventually return to the clan. Or it may be getting LM's advice and knowledge to support quests that the clan needs to undertake. Etc.

1 hour ago, Sub said:

Does a form of moveable type already exist somewhere in Glorantha? What would it take to use it or invent it?

Not among humans. Whether the Mostali have such is another question - I generally don't think so, but the Mostali are likely to think it is either: 1) something they only should have; or 2) something that no one else should have and therefore should be destroyed.

1 hour ago, Sub said:

How [in]accessible are some of the dangerous secrets in a library like Jonstown? Are certain secrets limited to devotees only, and can only some, or all, be bought at a price of money, or legendary treasure?

The dangerous secrets should be generally inaccessible except to sages (i.e. above initiates). These are dangerous secrets. Could an unscrupulous sage make such available for powers, coin, other knowledge, etc.? Yes, of course.

1 hour ago, Sub said:

Do I, as a Lhankor Mhy cultist, need to be Illuminated in order to even consider messing around with God Learning, or other Gloranthan secrets?

No, no need for Illumination. However, the God Learner secrets are dangerous and generally held in largely inaccessible areas. But there are temples that encourage and use sorcery and dangerous magics. For instance, in Nochet, which houses the greatest remaining LM temple, there are actually six rival schools of thought/practice all within the great temple. One of those schools, the Blue Philosophers, was founded in the Second Age by emigrants from Slontos. Their collections include sorcerous texts and records from far overseas (such as Kralorela, Pamaltela, the East Isles, the West) - and even lost Jrustela - and definitely include God Learner knowledge. They have a bitter rivalry with the Black Sages going back nearly a thousand years.  Jonstown is less affected by such rivalries as it is largely a bastion of the Grey Sages whose expertise is more on the Dawn Ages, as well as the Elder Races and Dragon Pass in general.

1 hour ago, Sub said:

What are my biggest obstacles in learning and using secrets as an initiate of Lhankor Mhy:

  • My limited knoweldge?
  • My cult?
  • Orlanth and his tribe, who would put Lhankor Mhy in his place?
  • Dangerous heroquesting, including Arkati protectors and other enemy heroquesters?

Yes, maybe, yes, and yes. Also: rival sages, rival schools of thought (including Irrippi Ontor), evil cults like Thanatar or Krarsht, and of course the Mostali.

1 hour ago, Sub said:

tldr: How do you invent new things, expand, and learn secrets as a Sartarite Lhankor Mhy cultist in Glorantha? What obstacles do you face?

New things are generally considered dangerous of course. The Clanking City monstrosity is a great example.  But things do get created and invented. LM is after all inspired by Elasa, the Light of Knowledge. Just work out what it is, who might want such knowledge, who might oppose such knowledge (and why), and go from there.  As the texts say: MGF and YGWV!

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21 minutes ago, Sub said:

Hi everyone. I'm relatively new to Glorantha, and currently running the HQ Colymar Campaign in 1618. Please let me know if there is a better place or better format for threads like these, and if there are certain tags I should use.

Welcome, and no, this is the right place and the right format to undergo the test of Ehilm's Flame.

 

21 minutes ago, Sub said:

I have an ambitious player who will undoubtedly seek a big role in the Hero Wars. His goals seem to be: spread literacy, use new technology, and take advantage of any secrets he can gets his hands on. Here are the questions I have:

  • Why does the cult of Lhankor Mhy keep the secrets of literacy and writing to themselves?

The very act of reading is a form of worship of Lhankor Mhy. The secrets of literacy and writing are taught to the lay members of the cult, or inversely, whoever acquires these abilities does become a lay member of the cult. (Not necessarily in good standing, though.)

 

21 minutes ago, Sub said:
  • Would there be mythological consequences for sharing literacy outside of the cult, or is this more of a Completionist/Ivalist thing? Are possible mythological consequences limited to Spirits of Reprisal from Lhankor Mhy, and does sharing knowledge weaken the initiate's magic?

This appears to aim at the history the Lhankor Mhy libraries have with the God Learners.

The act of teaching literacy and writing may be seen as admitting the pupil to lay membership. The question is, who is qualified to admit someone else to lay membership? In the worst case, a lay member might teach another person some basics of reading and writing. So does this lay membership transmit through contagion?

The Spirits of Reprisal are tasked to react to different crimes against knowledge, such as destruction of books (without proper replacement - creating a psalimpsest from a document a) reduced to illegibility and b) with all the pertinent information copied elsewhere is fine. Destroying a unique document meant for safe-keeping is a crime worthy of Reprisal.

 

21 minutes ago, Sub said:
  • How hard would it be to index a Lhankor Mhy library? Would this be opposed by the sages?

It would be a heck of a job.

First, you need to create a catalogue, at least of all the documents you have indexed. This catalogue better had some sort of systematic by which the document can be located, and some enforcement that the document will be returned to the assigned place after being taken out to be read.

Next, you need to create any form of systematic by which to categorize the document (or a subset of it).

That is a never-ending process. For real-world implementations of Glorantha knowledge, I offer two examples. Peter Metcalfe has initiated the Glorantha Wiki, covering similar ground. Creating an entry is easy, assigning good categories that serve a systematic is a sysiphos task Peter has spent thousands of edits with.

Jeff has dedicated a room in his flat in Berlin to house the Vault of Glorantha documents. Accessing that data requires a good memory, an insight in how the material was fit into the available space, and a lot of luck if it is one very specific piece of paper you are hunting for.

In any case, a well-indexed document will create a greater amount of meta-documents (index cards) than its actual page count. While you're at it, make a copy of every document you indexed. The only way to keep them accessible, provided noone else has access.

And that's the crux. Other library heroes will have pursued a similar strategy, and while this may have resulted in a certain redundance of such documents in your library, there will be documents which exist only in one of those partial indices, of which the original may be lost (or returned to the donor/owner who lent it to the library) or simply officially loaned to another sage.

Ingo Tschinke wrote up the Jonstown library as a RQ2 setting, and used the work done for that in writing the 1995 freeform Heroes of Wisdom, recruiting me as co-author and co-referee.

 

21 minutes ago, Sub said:
  • What resources fuel or grow a library and what are some of the barriers to getting those resources? How does a library get its paper, scrolls, and materials? Are Lhankorings seeking tree pulp opposed by Aldryami, for example? Do they work heavily with Issaries traders, and what do they give in return?

Lhankor Mhy temples are a sort of parent organisation to many advanced crafts that may pertain to the writing material.

Typical writing materials include parchment, often from temple-owned livestock also used in sacrifices;

papyrus (or similar woven/glued flat reed fibre prepared for writing)

clay tablets (raw for quick notices, burnt in specialized kilns to preserve for posterity)

murals, reliefs, rock carvings (writing in architecture)

metal (sheets, coins, artifacts)

wood and bone (carved/engraved)

textiles (embroidered, crotcheted) and possibly knotwork

possibly paper from linen or similar fibre. Wood pulp sounds like a fairly advanced technology.

 

There will be lore-dependent industries surrounding major Lhankor Mhy temples, probably owned (at least partially) by the temple. But yes, trading for writing material produced elsewhere happens a lot.

 

21 minutes ago, Sub said:
  • Does a form of moveable type already exist somewhere in Glorantha? What would it take to use it or invent it?

The concept of seals exists. In a way, these are movable type, only not fit for a printing press. But it is possible to use specific seals to print ownership details, curses or blessings into suitable material, all the way to coins.

There are oil presses in Glorantha, though I doubt many (if any) use screw mechanics.

Using wood cuts (or similar lithography) to produce form sheets appears to be an applied technology in Lunar bureaucracy.

21 minutes ago, Sub said:
  • Do Lhankorings such as the ones in Jonstown submit to chosen leaders when it comes to whether or not they expand or prosper?

If they have to... Submission is always a reluctant process. Sages tend to be a proud bunch.

21 minutes ago, Sub said:
  • How [in]accessible are some of the dangerous secrets in a library like Jonstown? Are certain secrets limited to devotees only, and can only some, or all, be bought at a price of money, or legendary treasure?

Rather than deathtraps or magical seals, cyphers and kennings are a way to limit accessibility of a dangerous secret to those in possession of the correct keys and context. The most poetic writing style of the three LM scripts lends itself to the use of kennings and indirect references, allowing a writer to obfuscate his message to just about anybody without detailed instructions and context how to access this document.

Locked vaults and curses as part of the document are used.

If you manage to convince a person with full access to the location and the cypher of a document (you need to learn about in the first place), there will be ways to buy or bully your way to it. Learning about the existence and relevance of a document is 80% of the trick.

 

21 minutes ago, Sub said:
  • Do I, as a Lhankor Mhy cultist, need to be Illuminated in order to even consider messing around with God Learning, or other Gloranthan secrets?

Can you avoid getting illuminated when studying such stuff? And if it happens, is that such a bad thing?

21 minutes ago, Sub said:
  • What are my biggest obstacles in learning and using secrets as an initiate of Lhankor Mhy:
    • My limited knoweldge?
    • My cult?
    • Orlanth and his tribe, who would put Lhankor Mhy in his place?
    • Dangerous heroquesting, including Arkati protectors and other enemy heroquesters?

Limits to your knowledge probably are the worst obstacle, but can be overcome by learning. Learning weird and unnecessary stuff, too, like e.g. the theory of weaving, if you want to be able to contextualize a certain cypher using this specialized knowledge for kennings.

Foreign languages, weird dialects... Written communication can work beyond first impressions, but basic knowledge may have to be extended to specialist knowledge to understand hidden meanings. Provided there is anything meaningful hidden in that piece of writing.

Superstitions and arbitrary limits imposed by illiterati? Yes, these things happen. You need to awe them enough to take you serious, but not too much that they take you as indispensible for their goals.

The dangers of applied anthropology just increase when you carry that pursuit to the gods and demons of the Other Side, but a ruin crawl has its own challenges, too.

21 minutes ago, Sub said:

tldr: How do you invent new things, expand, and learn secrets as a Sartarite Lhankor Mhy cultist in Glorantha? What obstacles do you face?

I think that my player will need many allies and face many obstacles in order to get what he wants in the Hero Wars. I would love to hear your perspectives, and how you handle your Lhankor Mhy cultists, your ambitious players, and your hero wars secrets in your Glorantha.

New technology: this will gain the attention of Mostali, regardless whether they were the source of the technology or just claim it for the World Machine. The Clanking City is full of such stuff, and even fuller of Mostali traps, old God Learner protection mechanisms and charred or otherwise brutalized remains of explorers trying to find them and figure them out.

Pavis is a good place to plant a lead for a treasure/magic hunt that may send you all across the known world and on many a heroquest. If you are lucky (or unlucky), you might get Argrath as your sponsor. Someone suggested a campaign along these lines recently, "innocent" research leading to you in a project to create a new division in the Sartar Magical Union.

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54 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

 

 

The problem for them, of course, is that information isn't like a cow or other tangible assets. If I have a secret I have monopoly power over pricing and dissemination. If I tell you that secret then two people have the information and the power. If we trade secrets, both of us now have twice the information. If we all share what we know, we are all equally well educated and there's no reason for anyone to buy a library card. The beards go hungry. Maybe a few need to put those big brains to work and get a job.

 

The way that you can try to control the rate of information dissemination is to pass on a carefully edited part of said information. 

Train a copyist, but never, ever teach them to read or write.  Train a metalsmith to inscribe an enchantment, but never, ever tell them what the symbols mean or why you need it. 

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2 hours ago, Sub said:

Why does the cult of Lhankor Mhy keep the secrets of literacy and writing to themselves?

They don't, as far as I know. Lhankor Mhy will teach people to read and write if they pay enough. Unless, of course, it says somewhere that they don't, in which case I am wrong, again.

 

2 hours ago, Sub said:

Would there be mythological consequences for sharing literacy outside of the cult, or is this more of a Completionist/Ivalist thing? Are possible mythological consequences limited to Spirits of Reprisal from Lhankor Mhy, and does sharing knowledge weaken the initiate's magic?

If the Lhankor Mhy member is forbidden to share some secret information and does so, then the Spirits of Retribution will come a-calling. I can't remember what the Spirit of Retribution is, but it probably affects knowledge in some way.

2 hours ago, Sub said:

How hard would it be to index a Lhankor Mhy library? Would this be opposed by the sages?

Nope, it is very easy to index a Lankhor Mhy library and this has been done many times in the past. The trouble is, every Lhankhor Mhy cultist has his/her own way of indexing.

Brankist Farlow, a Sword Sage in our RQ2 campaign, sorted the library by putting all the scrolls together, in order of thickness of the scroll case, all the books together in order of height, all the metal plates together in order of weight and so on. Then he simply numbered each category, from lowest to highest and wrote down what the item was. So, Scroll 28 might be a History of the Sword Sages of Boldhome but Plate 5 might be the Love Letter of Sartar to the Feathered Horse Queen. "What happens when you add items?" you ask, "Surely they would go in the middle of the lists", not at all, because they would be put in the Library Appendices, with a new Appendix for each item that did not fit. Sometimes, he would put one book inside another, just so it fitted correctly at the end.

Difficulties occur when two Lhankor Mhy cultists try to index a library at the same time, because they will eventually have to index those parts indexed by the other. This can result in perpetual re-indexing, confusing indexes, appeals to the High Sage, duels or even poisons being deployed on a soon-to-be-indexed book.

Sometimes, one section of the library will be indexed in one way and another section in another way. This often happens when Sages die and leave their personal libraries to the Temple.

2 hours ago, Sub said:

What resources fuel or grow a library and what are some of the barriers to getting those resources? How does a library get its paper, scrolls, and materials? Are Lhankorings seeking tree pulp opposed by Aldryami, for example? Do they work heavily with Issaries traders, and what do they give in return?

Many libraries have flocks of sheep and cattle that can be used to make parchment and vellum. Some poor initiates are given the task of herding these and often become expert in the behaviour and mythology of the animals. Where they don't they buy them in, or are provided them in payment for services rendered.

Most Lhankor Mhy libraries don't use a lot of paper, I think, although papyrus might be available along the Zola Fel or other rivers. Of course, nothing to stop paper being made from pulped wood, with a deal with the local Aldryami.

Lhankor Mhy cultists include Alchemists and they generally make inks and so on themselves. They are quite self-sufficient.

As for how they grow libraries, I think they do it in many different ways. Sages leave collections to the library. Adventurers come to the library and offer various books for sale and are grateful for the meagre amounts offered. Adventurers often ask for a book to be translated and Lhankor Mhy cultists will also copy the book while it is being translated, keeping a copy themselves. Lhankor Mhy cultists accept books, scrolls and so on as payment for services rendered. Sword Sages go out and investigate crypts and so on, bringing back any books they find.

2 hours ago, Sub said:

Does a form of moveable type already exist somewhere in Glorantha? What would it take to use it or invent it?

I don't think it does. Inventing it would be problematic, for the reasons given in Discworld. If you have a magical book and print it with movable type, then the letters become magical, if you then reuse the letters, you jumble up the magic and that would cause really bad problems. 

Also, what is the point of having mass-produced books? Everyone would be able to read them and Lhankor Mhy would lose its stranglehold on knowledge. No, better off having hordes of Sages carefully copying books.

2 hours ago, Sub said:

Do Lhankorings such as the ones in Jonstown submit to chosen leaders when it comes to whether or not they expand or prosper?

Of course, as Lhankor Mhy cultists have to obey the law.

However, only Lhankor Mhy cult law applies within their temples. They don't like giving non-members access to their temples, for example, so fugitives seeking sanctuary cannot be arrested by locals.

Leaders outside the temples don't generally have any say over what goes on inside the temple, although Marran the Burner of Books might be listened to carefully. 

Where a group of Lhankor Mhy cultists want to expand a temple or set up a new one, they need to speak to the local leaders and generally broker a good deal that allows them to provide services to the leaders or the locals.

2 hours ago, Sub said:

How [in]accessible are some of the dangerous secrets in a library like Jonstown? Are certain secrets limited to devotees only, and can only some, or all, be bought at a price of money, or legendary treasure?

You have to be a member of Lhankhor Mhy to access certain areas, only initiates can access further areas, Priests can only access secret areas, High Priests can only access things stored in highly restricted areas and so on. In theory, the Spirits of Retribution could be used against anyone accessing knowledge that they are not privy to, but I think that is unlikely. 

The best defence a Lhankor Mhy library has against the unauthorised access of information if the seemingly random way the books are stored. If you don't have an index of the Inner Sanctum then you don;t know what is hidden there. If you get into the inner sanctum and find piles of old books, it might take a while to find the one you are looking for, especially if they are mislabelled.

2 hours ago, Sub said:

Do I, as a Lhankor Mhy cultist, need to be Illuminated in order to even consider messing around with God Learning, or other Gloranthan secrets?

Absolutely not.

Lhankor Mhy does not necessarily encourage Illumination of its members, as that makes them immune to the Spirits of Retribution. However, it doesn't ban illuminates either.

God Learner Secrets are not the downfall of the God Learners. Their downfall was their pride, their hubris and the fact that they took things way too far and opened the world up to chaos. Knowledge is just knowledge and anything dangerous can just be stored away in secret sections of the library where those experienced enough to study them can be found.

2 hours ago, Sub said:

What are my biggest obstacles in learning and using secrets as an initiate of Lhankor Mhy:

  • My limited knowledge?
  • My cult?
  • Orlanth and his tribe, who would put Lhankor Mhy in his place?
  • Dangerous heroquesting, including Arkati protectors and other enemy heroquesters?

None of the above.

Your biggest obstacles are:

  • Not enough time to read books
  • Too many books to study
  • Books written in too many languages to learn and study
  • Books hidden away in badly organised sections of libraries
  • Other Sages keeping books away from you, especially if they are your rivals
  • Being kept at a desk and having to copy books rather than being allowed to become a Sword Sage, heroically rediscovering lost knowledge
  • The hidebound and old-fashioned traditions of older priests
  • Having to eat, sleep and go to the toilet, instead of spending all your time reading books
  • Distractions from studying, some sages have been known to get married, which takes them away from studying for hours at a time, for example
  • Some books or scrolls are so old that simply opening them will destroy them, you know they contain secret knowledge but can't get to them

 

Edited by soltakss
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1 hour ago, jajagappa said:

Very difficult - though it has certainly been tried in the various temples of knowledge.  Some might oppose, some would support, and most would support their own preferred arrangement. Strong Chief Librarians have undoubtedly imposed their organizing schemes. However, trying to neatly and tidily resolve categorization challenges has left most temples with some hodge-podge of multiple half-baked efforts

There's an amazing description about the indexing system of the magical library in The Kingkiller Chronicles - basically, no-one ever agrees with anyone else what the system should look like, and this means that there are different systems for different periods, overlapping systems, systems that have been deliberately sabotaged by other factions of librarians, books hidden away in secret places and subjected to their own cataloging systems, and so on, and so on. 

I could easily imagine something similar in a Lhankor Mhy great library.

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An ambitious Lhankor Mhy sage may suffer temptations from the knowledge thief.

Consider Treack Markhor, the renegade priest of Lhankor Mhy who founded the cult of Atyar. He retained his treacherous access to Lhankor Mhy's magic, but he also has access to mind stealing magics. 

Lhankor Mhy is very aware of knowledge stealing, so they will all be on the lookout for someone who advances too fast.

And who knows? If your PC deliberately seeks illumination to pursue forbidden knowledge, well just maybe they could be presented with an "opportunity" to learn wrench some vital skill from the mind of someone reprehensible, all they have to do is cross the line and use chaos to advance their quest to save their friends, or rescue innocents, or bring down an evildoer. 

Of course, if Lhankor Mhy casts out your player because of their suspicions, or because maybe Irripi Ontor the Lunar knowledge god will be more understanding of their choices - the Lunars are more accepting of chaos, providing such skills are used in the service of the empire.

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Re: indexing... Why bother when you (somebody - chief librarian?) have the Geomancy spell?

RE: all that other knowledge... Logician.

Cryptic messages... Knowledge, Reconstruction or Translate.

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I don't think it is so hard to create an index for the LM great library. It seems clear that Joerg's parents managed to do it...:P

Edited by Minlister
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On 8/11/2019 at 12:22 AM, Sub said:

Why does the cult of Lhankor Mhy keep the secrets of literacy and writing to themselves?

They don’t. They will teach literacy to lay members (eg practically anyone not a cult enemy). They are not the only literate people in Orlanthi society. They do keep the secret of the Elasa script, but that is magical, not used for normal writing. 

On 8/11/2019 at 12:22 AM, Sub said:

Would there be mythological consequences for sharing literacy outside of the cult, or is this more of a Completionist/Ivalist thing? Are possible mythological consequences limited to Spirits of Reprisal from Lhankor Mhy, and does sharing knowledge weaken the initiate's magic?

Sharing normal literacy, no. Sharing secrets of the cult, like Elasa script, cult sorcery, etc might attract the spirit of reprisal, the Brain Flayer - but if they repent, they can usually reverse the Brain Flayers effects of the complete a quest to gain new knowledge for the cult. 

On 8/11/2019 at 12:22 AM, Sub said:

How hard would it be to index a Lhankor Mhy library? Would this be opposed by the sages?

They spend years on it, and usually fail. If the temple is highly factionalised, like Nochet, they may find other factions are trying to index the temple differently, simultanously, effectively working against it. Everyone thinks indexing is great in theory, they just all think they should be the ones to do it. 

On 8/11/2019 at 12:22 AM, Sub said:

What resources fuel or grow a library and what are some of the barriers to getting those resources? How does a library get its paper, scrolls, and materials? Are Lhankorings seeking tree pulp opposed by Aldryami, for example? Do they work heavily with Issaries traders, and what do they give in return?

Many sages, especially tribal ones, are more likely to use vellum/parchment rather than paper. I think reeds for papyrus would be available many places. They also mark clay or mark wood. Ink is probably the commodity needed most, especially colored inks can come from many sources but good ink is often rare and valuable - some sources may be vegetable (oak gall ink was the standard through most of the medieval era. 

Writing on long rolls might be more common than traditional book binding too. 

Items such as fine quills, or fine styluses, might be in demand. In China at least, ornamental ink stones were a thing. 

 

 

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3 hours ago, davecake said:

Everyone thinks indexing is great in theory, they just all think they should be the ones to do it. 

Not quite. Everone thinks they should be the ones to tell all the others to do it, and how to do it.

The catalogue artifact in the Jonstown library is extraordinary. The other libraries have sequential inventaries at best, with the same item possibly listed under different titles (and probably different shelf/chamber positions, too)

Inkmaking is a fairly involved process, whether for gall ink or for india ink. I have no idea where Gloranthans would get ferric vitriol from for gall ink, though. Craft shops probably line the library sites, or have soot kilns in charcoal producing areas (for india inc).

How to make paper from wood pulp might be a dwarf gift designed to anger the aldryami.  Especially if the pulp is directed to be made from elf bones.

(For people speaking German it is somewhat ironic that Gloranthan elf bones are wooden, as the German term for ivory translates as elves' bone.)

There ought to be some variant of "taoist" spell card magicians using exotic writing material from specific elf paper, monster hide etc. and likewise special inks somewhere in Glorantha (and copied in Fonrit and probably Maslo, as part of their avoidance of too powerful personal magics). Why not the Vadeli?

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2 hours ago, Kloster said:
2 hours ago, Joerg said:

I have no idea where Gloranthans would get ferric vitriol from for gall ink, though.

Alchemy?

Alchemy requires base substances (although the RQ2/RQG rules only deal with the equivalent of baking mixtures that you buy from your temple or guild).

If I had to do it in the real world, I would probably get iron sulfide (pyrite, or ochre subject to fouling mud) and roast it while cooling the exhaust, creating a reflux that would collect the liquid vitriol (aka sulphuric acid) and allow it to leach the roasted ferric ions, or by adding vitriol to freshly sedimented (then dried) ochre, then evaporate any excess liquid and recrystallize once or twice for purity (depending on how the ink turns out with less refined material).

Ochre and bog iron are minerals that don't contain any metallic iron (though significantly more ionic ion than blood), and hence are harmless as food for uz or aldryami. I don't think that the Mostali produce their Death-Metal from this stuff - IMO they would use something like magnetite, heat it to red glow and then apply some arcane energies.

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4 hours ago, Joerg said:

Not quite. Everone thinks they should be the ones to tell all the others to do it, and how to do it.

You are technically correct, the best kind of correct. 

 

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4 hours ago, Joerg said:

There ought to be some variant of "taoist" spell card magicians using exotic writing material from specific elf paper, monster hide etc. and likewise special inks somewhere in Glorantha (and copied in Fonrit and probably Maslo, as part of their avoidance of too powerful personal magics). Why not the Vadeli?

The Vadeli stand ever ready to sell you important magical things at a slightly questionable price. 

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On 8/11/2019 at 12:22 AM, Sub said:

How [in]accessible are some of the dangerous secrets in a library like Jonstown? Are certain secrets limited to devotees only, and can only some, or all, be bought at a price of money, or legendary treasure?

Somewhat, yes and yes. 

Generally many secrets will be right there on the shelf, and so can be found easily as long as you can find it using the index, have access to the library, can read the language it is written in, and so on. Some others will not be where they should be, due to being moved to somewhere not obvious, such as a sages private office, a hidden location, the archives controlled by a particular faction, etc. Some secrets are devotees only, and some are cult secrets (usually only a specific cult secret like the Elasa script, Torvalds Fragments, etc. Definitely some can be bought at a price, sometimes in cash sometimes in kind. 

Basically, most of the time as a GM you can decide without fear it will be contradicted. 

On 8/11/2019 at 12:22 AM, Sub said:

Do I, as a Lhankor Mhy cultist, need to be Illuminated in order to even consider messing around with God Learning, or other Gloranthan secrets?

Only a few secrets require Illumination to understand, and only some God Learner secrets (if you really care, grab the Middle Sea Empire book from the Stafford Library, and compare Makanism and Malkioneranism, and learn about the real dangers of magical enchanted books). Other secrets only require Illumination if you want it too. Arkati and Lunar Grimoires are both likely to require Illumination to comprehend.

On 8/11/2019 at 12:22 AM, Sub said:

What are my biggest obstacles in learning and using secrets as an initiate of Lhankor Mhy:

  • My limited knowledge?
  • My cult?
  • Orlanth and his tribe, who would put Lhankor Mhy in his place?
  • Dangerous heroquesting, including Arkati protectors and other enemy heroquesters?

 

Literally all the above are obstacles if you are messing with truly forbidden secrets. But there are plenty of secrets that are more of a grey areas, such as dragon magic. And Argrath is interested in all sorts of forbidden magic, such as EWF secrets. 

Of course, it is worth remembering that in Lunar occupied areas such as Tarsh, there will be Irripi Ontor sages in the library as well, who are much more likely to be Illuminated. 

 

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So many awesome ideas to respond to, and so much to unpack. 😍 Thank you everyone for your long, detailed replies!

On 8/10/2019 at 9:52 AM, scott-martin said:

If we all share what we know, we are all equally well educated and there's no reason for anyone to buy a library card. The beards go hungry. Maybe a few need to put those big brains to work and get a job.

Your whole response is so gameable. I could introduce scenes or scenarios that show how sharing knowledge for free can impact my player's wealth, resources and free time to "think deep thoughts", as you put it. This could also emphasize antagonism from within his own cult. My player has already shared his knowledge by giving out copies of "Bovine Psychology Vol. 5", assumedly a translated or localized title.

"Whoops, the lawspeaker was paid handsomely, selling your information, while you were off helping your hunter friend with impossible tasks." How will my player respond to adversity in his own clan, or his own cult, when he truly believes that being generous with knowledge is the right thing to do? That is a very exciting prospect. I think that making allies here can help him stay afloat, people who appreciate generosity and the unified community, like you said.

On 8/10/2019 at 10:37 AM, jajagappa said:

Also: rival sages, rival schools of thought (including Irrippi Ontor), evil cults like Thanatar or Krarsht, and of course the Mostali.

New things are generally considered dangerous of course. The Clanking City monstrosity is a great example.  But things do get created and invented. LM is after all inspired by Elasa, the Light of Knowledge. Just work out what it is, who might want such knowledge, who might oppose such knowledge (and why), and go from there.  As the texts say: MGF and YGWV!

Is there a text where I can find out more about Irrippi Ontor? So far it seems the best sources I own are HQG and the Glorantha Sourcebook, but I don't know if he's more fleshed out elsewhere. The different schools of thought in Nochet also sound interesting. I'm looking forward to that Nochet book, one of my original campaign pitches being an intrigue in Esrolia.

I'm really excited about the wide range of antagonistic parties to my player's designs, practical and mythical, like the ones you've presented. Something about a book-heist by Lanbril cultists elates me. On the more realistic side, it seems my player will have to face entire cultures, malcontents and armies in his goal to forge new trade routes and supply chains. On the mythical side, I love the potential for my player to endanger Glorantha, upset the cosmic balance, and clash with mythic opponents in the Hero Wars.

On 8/10/2019 at 10:44 AM, Joerg said:

Pavis is a good place to plant a lead for a treasure/magic hunt that may send you all across the known world and on many a heroquest. If you are lucky (or unlucky), you might get Argrath as your sponsor. Someone suggested a campaign along these lines recently, "innocent" research leading to you in a project to create a new division in the Sartar Magical Union.

Thank you for your incredibly inspiring insight into seals, scrolls and scratchings! I will definitely be using that list of materials, if I am lucky enough to get a chance. Your writing on cyphers and kennings sounds like an excellent opportunity for an investigation-based scenario. So many different domains of doctrine my player has to contend with, as well. He's gonna have to branch out from cows! My players love his obsession with cows, though.

Regarding Illumination being a bad thing, my player will likely answer from his core with a resounding "no". Although he may have the makings of a hero, and could very likely venture towards altruism, he is also not above an antagonistic path, which we've discussed as being on the table after the Impossible Tasks of the Colymar Campaign are complete. This is the guy who asked me if a god's blood crystal called Uralda's udder (his invention), which produces milk, could be used for waterboarding.

100% of my players would be down for a trip to the Big Rubble or the Clanking City, too, so this is useful to my group as a whole. I read that list of Casino Town rumors that MOB posted a while back and love the concept. Oh, and I also recently learned about Belintar's role in making some sort of "Final" library for the City of Wonders? Kalast Cow-Knower would be tantalized.

If you know the source for the campaign suggestion you're referring to, I would love to follow it and see its context.

On 8/10/2019 at 11:19 AM, soltakss said:

Difficulties occur when two Lhankor Mhy cultists try to index a library at the same time, because they will eventually have to index those parts indexed by the other. This can result in perpetual re-indexing, confusing indexes, appeals to the High Sage, duels or even poisons being deployed on a soon-to-be-indexed book.

I really wonder how a formal duel between two Lhankor Mhy sages would play out. I imagine it has to do with reciting knowledge. What about a writing competition?

Your list of obstacles emphasize time and commitment as a resource, and really hits it on the nose for me. Especially as I find I'm not having enough time to give all of these posts the thorough responses they deserve. :) I love the insight you've given here on the life cycle of the library, the indexing system Brankist used, your point about copying magic books, new temples, secret indexes for inner temple sanctuaries... Kalast will be after the title of Sword Sage, for sure.

On 8/10/2019 at 3:35 PM, EricW said:

Consider Treack Markhor, the renegade priest of Lhankor Mhy who founded the cult of Atyar. He retained his treacherous access to Lhankor Mhy's magic, but he also has access to mind stealing magics.

We had a great time last session figuring out whether or not Kalast could plant thoughts in a magical bull's mind, to persuade him that his rider wasn't so great, and that he should follow the group instead. Some of the other players were dismayed and exasperated, but all in good fun, with many exciting interjections. Seeing as this whole ordeal, was technically stealing from someone who had given him hospitality, getting up to the line, or crossing it, is not a problem for my player!

He didn't steal the bull, a rival scholar talked him down through telepathy. I swear my player been doing his reading though, because he gave someone else "seeds" from a "new plant" that he summoned from aforementioned rival scholar's desk in Jonstown.

On 8/11/2019 at 6:50 AM, Shiningbrow said:

Re: indexing... Why bother when you (somebody - chief librarian?) have the Geomancy spell?

RE: all that other knowledge... Logician.

Cryptic messages... Knowledge, Reconstruction or Translate.

You've cut the gordian knot! Because I'm using HQG, it's arguably highly likely for my player to succeed at great feats over the course of our campaign. Shortcuts are on the table, without a doubt.

On 8/13/2019 at 7:22 AM, davecake said:

Only a few secrets require Illumination to understand, and only some God Learner secrets (if you really care, grab the Middle Sea Empire book from the Stafford Library, and compare Makanism and Malkioneranism, and learn about the real dangers of magical enchanted books). Other secrets only require Illumination if you want it too. Arkati and Lunar Grimoires are both likely to require Illumination to comprehend.

Thank you for the recommendation! We're all after those dangerous books. It seems like I have a lot of learning and reading to do in regards to these foreign rivals and the ways of the god learners, Arkati, and the Lunars. I only hope I can balance the all rich detail of Glorantha with Maximum Game Fun. :)

Edited by Sub
deleted three "definitely"s written in my excitement
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1 hour ago, Sub said:

Oh, and I also recently learned about Belintar's role in making some sort of "Final" library for the City of Wonders? Kalast Cow-Knower would be tantalized.

In the standard campaign time frame, the Library of the City of Wonders has already been looted and destroyed by Harrek and his Wolf Pirates. 

Recapturing a vital resource that was known to have been in the Library and is now known to be in the possession of a Wolf Pirate would be an excellent adventure for a Sage and his companions to be involved in. 

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11 hours ago, davecake said:

In the standard campaign time frame, the Library of the City of Wonders has already been looted and destroyed by Harrek and his Wolf Pirates. 

Recapturing a vital resource that was known to have been in the Library and is now known to be in the possession of a Wolf Pirate would be an excellent adventure for a Sage and his companions to be involved in. 

Or alternatively for an Issaries herald who otherwise specializes in the buy-back of Wolf Pirate hostages/slaves. This ought to be a quite thriving business model in Kethaela, and might be one of the shadier sources of wealth for Goldgotti.

"Yes, the Wolf Pirates have taken hundreds of slaves, good man, but what about the books???"

Note that there is a bunch of Wolf Pirates with fairly literate crews, including Mularik Ironeye. If Orstando or Harrek brought pet sorcerers to the Isles to outfit new vessels with "wolf" heads, the literate portion of the population might be as high as among coastal Theyalans.

Given Harrek's background as Dart Competitor, there is a fair chance that our berserk superhero actually can pull a Clark Kent stunt putting on glasses (or a fake goatee) and retreating to read a scroll or similar. Having a few personal lectors reading them out for him is at least as likely, though.

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Carried over from the GaGoG thread:

9 hours ago, Shiningbrow said:

Perhaps 'Bludgeon' is just the shorthand version of "Zorak Zoran's greater bludgeon to bloody pulp" spell?

Sounds like ZZ is halfway towards the invention of elf paper. Next you need disciplined uz who only suck out the liquids and spit out the pulp into some cloth. The addition of troll saliva might make the product even more supple than the dwarven industrial process.

But then, Gorakiki-worshiping uz can simply harvest paper from wasps' nests. With that and wax (tablets), Argan Argar merchants provide two major writing materials.

The Wasp Riders of Wasp Nest probably trade some of their steeds' paper for metal objects, too.

Edited by Joerg
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19 hours ago, Sub said:

Is there a text where I can find out more about Irrippi Ontor? So far it seems the best sources I own are HQG and the Glorantha Sourcebook, but I don't know if he's more fleshed out elsewhere.

There's slightly more on each of the Seven Mothers subcults in the Pavis: Gateway to Adventure book (HQG).  But there will be a whole cult writeup in the RQG Gods of Glorantha book.  

19 hours ago, Sub said:

I'm really excited about the wide range of antagonistic parties to my player's designs, practical and mythical, like the ones you've presented. Something about a book-heist by Lanbril cultists elates me. On the more realistic side, it seems my player will have to face entire cultures, malcontents and armies in his goal to forge new trade routes and supply chains. On the mythical side, I love the potential for my player to endanger Glorantha, upset the cosmic balance, and clash with mythic opponents in the Hero Wars.

Good luck with all that! There's a lot of rich material to work with.

18 hours ago, davecake said:

the Library of the City of Wonders has already been looted and destroyed by Harrek and his Wolf Pirates.

Though much of that information was copied from other libraries to be delivered there in the first place, so the originals may still exist elsewhere.  

Also the Purple Sages were busy hauling a lot of books out of the Final Information Library and back to Nochet after Belintar's disappearance and before it was all lost forever.

 

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7 hours ago, Joerg said:

Note that there is a bunch of Wolf Pirates with fairly literate crews, including Mularik Ironeye.

I am pretty sure Gunda is an accomplished sorcerer as well. 

7 hours ago, Joerg said:

Given Harrek's background as Dart Competitor, there is a fair chance that our berserk superhero actually can pull a Clark Kent stunt putting on glasses (or a fake goatee) and retreating to read a scroll or similar. Having a few personal lectors reading them out for him is at least as likely, though.

I don't think Harrek is a sorcerer or notably literate, but he sure is an accomplished and sophisticated magician and heroquester. I'm pretty sure he is Illuminated and knows a lot more about advanced mysticism than he lets on. So he may not be reading those books himself, but I'm sure he is paying attention to their contents. 

Of course, in an adventuring context, it is never good to be interested in the same things as Harrek. 

 

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49 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

There's slightly more on each of the Seven Mothers subcults in the Pavis: Gateway to Adventure book (HQG).  But there will be a whole cult writeup in the RQG Gods of Glorantha book.  

I got my copy of the Gencon preview yesterday. Haven't had time to look in detail, but I did glance at the IO writeup. Rules wise, very much what you'd expect - a mixture of LM and some 7M magic, and replacing Torvalds Fragments with Lunar sorcery (that mostly covers similar ground, though with a fair bit of Buserian celestiology). If you go for LM with Mindlast and Madness you aren't far off. Culturally, the interesting thing to note is how much IO in usual heartland practice is essentially the Lunarisation of the existing Buserian bureaucracy. 

 

1 hour ago, jajagappa said:

Though much of that information was copied from other libraries to be delivered there in the first place, so the originals may still exist elsewhere.  

I think it is increasing clear that at least sorcerous grimoires are often hard to copy magical objects in their own right (right back to Zzabur binding books in the skin of his enemies, as noted recently in another thread in some cases recorded as the still living skins of his enemies, but including Arkati tomes bound in iron, the Abiding Book, Impossible Landscapes, etc), and it may not be so easy to simply copy some of them. And same goes for mystic texts I think. Such magic tomes may somehow unlock particular secrets of the text. And even the non magical ones may be very hard to copy - requiring sophisticated and exact colours, for example, or extremely complex diagrams that are hard to understand for non-experts and so incredibly hard to copy if you are not already a master of the content. 

Also, with reference to the Kralorela thread in which we mentioned Journey to the West, it is worth mentioning that even the historical story it was based on was still a 17 year quest to retrieve important texts, add the high fantasy elements and you have one of the classics of Chinese civilisation being a huge fantasy epic about question for a book. Book quests are a big deal. 

1 hour ago, jajagappa said:

Also the Purple Sages were busy hauling a lot of books out of the Final Information Library and back to Nochet after Belintar's disappearance and before it was all lost forever.

Oh yes. But did it make it back amid the chaos of Wolf Pirate attack, even if it did, did it end up back in general circulation or do you need to intrigue the right Purple Sage (or Black Sage who intercepted it), etc. Plenty of potential game fun. 

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