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Hello.  I am playing a dark troll Argan Argar warrior from the Shadow Plateau in a game of The Smoking Ruin.  Without getting into the details of that game, I have really enjoyed researching trolls in Glorantha to roleplay this character.  I've read the sections of the classic Trollpack relevant to my character, and for a while I've been digging into side-details related to all the mythos and history I can find relating to Argan Argar.  I really like the themes of Argan Argar as a god and cult: helping anyone who asks, the Shadow Tribute that was really an Equal Exchange, teaching Uz and surfacers how to live together in peace and unite against Chaos.  The Good Troll King fighting and winning the Apocalypse War is a fun idea, as is the whole concept of 'virtuous Darkness.'

At this point though, I'm running out of easily accessible sources on Argan Argar myth.  I've started getting new details edgewise by looking up other gods' version of Argan Argar events, like the binding of Lodril from Lodril's perspective--which established the interesting idea that Lodril considers Argan Argar to have 'stolen his wife'.  I think I'm starting to mine my way through the available material.  I've got ready access to the Stafford Library books of history and Mythology, the Guide, the Trollpack--are there any other obvious sources on Argan Argar myths?  Or activities of Argan Argar worshipers within Time?  I'm particularly interested in the connection between Arkat and Argan Argar, since I've read some things from Arkat cult materials that suggest a sort of successor/heir relationship between AA and Arkat Kingtroll.

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A MYTH – THE ARMING OF THE TROLLKIN Being the wealthy son of a powerful mother, Argan Argar has always had great herds of trollkin slaves. Unfortunately, as anyone with a lot of trollkin can tell

These are fair points.  However, per the Guide to Glorantha, Yelm and Argan Argar do share one rune: the Mastery rune.  This, to me, is key. Yelm and AA are both 'ruler'-gods, the Solar Emperor and th

Hello.  I am playing a dark troll Argan Argar warrior from the Shadow Plateau in a game of The Smoking Ruin.  Without getting into the details of that game, I have really enjoyed researching trolls in

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3 hours ago, dumuzid said:

Hello.  I am playing a dark troll Argan Argar warrior from the Shadow Plateau in a game of The Smoking Ruin.  Without getting into the details of that game, I have really enjoyed researching trolls in Glorantha to roleplay this character.  I've read the sections of the classic Trollpack relevant to my character, and for a while I've been digging into side-details related to all the mythos and history I can find relating to Argan Argar.  I really like the themes of Argan Argar as a god and cult: helping anyone who asks, the Shadow Tribute that was really an Equal Exchange, teaching Uz and surfacers how to live together in peace and unite against Chaos.  The Good Troll King fighting and winning the Apocalypse War is a fun idea, as is the whole concept of 'virtuous Darkness.'

At this point though, I'm running out of easily accessible sources on Argan Argar myth.  I've started getting new details edgewise by looking up other gods' version of Argan Argar events, like the binding of Lodril from Lodril's perspective--which established the interesting idea that Lodril considers Argan Argar to have 'stolen his wife'.  I think I'm starting to mine my way through the available material.  I've got ready access to the Stafford Library books of history and Mythology, the Guide, the Trollpack--are there any other obvious sources on Argan Argar myths?  Or activities of Argan Argar worshipers within Time?  I'm particularly interested in the connection between Arkat and Argan Argar, since I've read some things from Arkat cult materials that suggest a sort of successor/heir relationship between AA and Arkat Kingtroll.

The Glorantha Source Book has another take on the deities of Darkness, as the God Learners understood them. It is possible that you'll find some angles there that may add to the picture.

If you have the pdfs, do a text search for "Argan Argar", "Only Old One", "Ezkankekko"  and "Kitori" in the Stafford Library books (History of the Heortling Peoples, Esrolia, Heortling Mythology), the Sourcebook, the Guide, King of Sartar, and any other source in the region to maybe find a new angle, or to reconfirm or inter-connect known ones.

 

2 hours ago, soltakss said:

Maybe King of Sartar and the Book of Heortling Mythology?

From memory, not that much in KoS, although in connection with History of the Heortling Peoples, Esrolia and Heortling Mythology some connections turn up.

2 hours ago, soltakss said:

I think Trollpack is the best source, though.

That's RQ2 Troll Pak. RQ3 excised all troll cults except Kyger Litor from the Troll Pak box and placed them in the Troll Gods box, and placed some of the Argan Argar encounters in "Into the Troll Realms", another excerpt from RQ2 Troll Pak  reprinted as a separate RQ3 product. As far as I can make out, each of the RQ3 products contains some additional information vs the RQ2 original, but not enough not to label them as partial reprints. That said, with the description of the Shadow Plateau and the history of uzdom, RQ3 Troll Pak retains some crucial info on AA.

A short take on AA is also in Uz - the Trolls of Glorantha. HeroQuest 1 may have tidbits - if you have the pdf, do a word search for the terms above, and the inversion Argar Argan (p122 has his cult description). The different sequence of the name is intentional, to set the human cult a bit apart from the troll cult. A shorter version of this in in Sartar: KIngdom of Heroes p.105, which also has plenty mentions for his importance in the Torkani tribe.

Arcane Lore has four mentions which might have small amounts of additional info.

Dragon Pass: A Gazetteer to Kerofinela (aka Land of Thunder) has a few locations on Shadow Plateau tied to the cult, but I think those were already listed in the Troll Pak description of the plateau.

The RQ2 Companion has an older description of the Shadow Plateau, the first using the canonical date for the arrival of Belintar (1313) rather than the one in Troll Pak (1258). I don't recall any pertinent info on the cult in the Holy Country text (which I studied very closely).

In the Guide, there are a few Dawn survival sites mentioning AA as the major deity.

Did a search in the Cult Compendium (combination of Cults of Prax, Cults of Terror, and the other cults published in long format for RQ2). Yelorna has ancient enmity, and it has the RQ2 troll pak version of the AA write-up that is missing in the RQ3 version.

The Big Rubble has more on shared enmity between Yelorna and Argan Argar, and has him as important deity for some of the rubble trolls. (New) Pavis has a human and trollkin temple to the god, possibly worth a look, too.

 

These are all the more or less canonical sources I would look for information.

If you are fine with fan-created material, have a look at kethaela.free.fr (in case of doubt, at web.archive.org) or browse through your copy of Book of Drastic Resolutions: Volume Darkness.

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A MYTH  THE ARMING OF THE TROLLKIN

Being the wealthy son of a powerful mother, Argan Argar has always had great herds of trollkin slaves. Unfortunately, as anyone with a lot of trollkin can tell you, large numbers of enlo are not always the asset one might wish them to be. 

Like any good Uz, he ate as many as he could, but he had so many other delightful foods, that they easily outbred even his prodigious appetite. So he tried to put them to work, but they were lazy and incompetent, and needed more supervision than their meager benefit merited. They were also loud, and annoying, and they themselves ate much more than they ever provided their betters.

Since they were so noisy, he thought perhaps he could teach them to sing. He taught them several songs of power, but they could never remember the words, and even the simplest rhythms were too complex for them to maintain. Every chant rapidly broke down into an ugly screeching squabble which was as ugly to listen to as the miserable wretches were to look at. 

Since they had big round eyes, he thought that perhaps he could teach them to keep watch for him during the daytime, so that he could sleep undisturbed. But the miserable runts always wandered off, or hid, or fought amongst themselves, and never seemed able to catch a single thief or trespasser. Even worse, sometimes they would become bored with watching, and began to sing the few repetitive lines they remembered from the songs he had taught them. By the time he had re-gathered them all into their pens, Argan Argar had a splitting headache in addition to too many trollkin.

Since the god’s war was going on all around, everyone was fighting all the time, and no one ever had enough menfolk to overcome all of their enemies. Argan Argar was clever, and mostly convinced his enemies to fight each other, and when he couldn’t he always had strong friends to help him survive. Even so, his many allies always complained that they could not find enough fighters.

Argan Argar looked again at his sniveling miserable trollkin slaves and thought how wonderful it would be if he could spend them fighting for his allies. With their dull minds, and weak limbs, and poor posture, and delicate constitution, it was little wonder that he might consider this only in desperation. It was obvious they couldn’t fight anything as they were… they needed equipment, and they needed training that their weak limbs and weak brains could withstand.

He thought first to outfit them as proper warriors, and gave them each a mace and shield, and a heavy shirt of bronze, like the violent storm tribe wear. But they were too weak to lift their shields, and they were too clumsy to swing their maces, and they complained bitterly about the weight of their armor. This would never do. The wretches fought no better in proper gear than they had bare-handed, and he could have traded the equipment each one wore for at least a dozen new slaves.

He turned next to Gorakiki, who had dressed her tender children in lightweight and durable chitin. So he traded a forest of trees for enough beetles to build armor for all his slaves, and set the more talented amongst them to work crafting it. But no sooner was a suit complete, then the wretch he gave it to gnawed it apart again. The insect skins were far too tempting as food, and his entire investment was wasted, once again.

Miserable and disillusioned, the Master of the Surface world gave up on his project, and threw all his slaves into a deep pit, meaning to let them starve to death so he could be done with them. It is clear how distraught he was, because he’d forgotten that he already had a slave condemned to that pit – some sky godling fallen to earth who had once dared challenge him, and now lay chained in deepest earth, occasionally rattling his bonds, but otherwise helpless.

For their part, the trollkin had no idea what to do with the burning thing they found beneath them. A few tried to taste it and were burnt alive. A few tried to run away and were crushed by falling rocks when it shook its chains. Some were also consumed by the giant serpents that burrow the dark depths. The rest had to learn to stand still, in an ordered row, neither too far nor too close to the deadly monster. That way, they remained alive, though they were still slowly starving to death.

Eventually, one of the trollkin found a long stick, and poked it at the firey thing. It didn't hurt it, but the heat burnt the stick to a sharp point and hardened it. He showed his new tool to his compatriots, who each made one of their own. With these lightweight spears, the trollkin were able to kill the monstrous serpents who tunneled the deep earth around them and feed themselves.

After many years, Argan Argar sent a servant to clean out his deepest pits, figuring to get some return on the gnawed bones and ragged hides of his former slaves. Great was his surprise when the servant returned to him, bleeding from several wounds, driven off by the formerly helpless enlo. Several additional servants returned bloody and chagrined, having failed to gather the slaves back in, but Argan Argar became more delighted with every failure. These were fighters worthy of hire, and he knew he could make good use of them.

So, Argan Argar himself went before his newly-useful slaves, and he was pleased that they did not immediately prostrate themselves before him, but stood, maintaining an acceptable approximation of a respectful, but confident posture. He spoke to them and offered them a wage of one Bolg each per week to serve him as fighters, and two bolgs per week to serve his chosen friends. He chose the cleverest of them as their captain and gave him a black badge to wear to show his importance.

This is how Argan Argar learnt to train his trollkin in the use of the spear, and why they are always paid in Bolgs. While trollkin militia are still weak and cowardly compared to proper soldiers of any race, those trained by Argan Argar at least have a clear use, and that is good.

Notes on the use of this myth in ritual:

Traditionalist Uz consider this myth to be heretical, pointing out that there could not possibly have been any trollkin in the Godtime. They insist that this story not only weakens all Uz by placing vile enlo where they do not belong - but may inadvertently strengthen whichever race or people the original version of the myth may have referred to. Given that spears are normally associated with sun-worshippers and other troll enemies, they claim that the use of this tale in rituals is at best short-sighted and at worst courting disaster.

Practical worshippers of Argan Argar dismiss such concerns as paranoid and unrealistic. Pointing out the obvious economic and military advantages of well-trained and ordered trollkin mercenaries over the ill-equipped and undisciplined mobs goaded into combat by more traditional clans.

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1 hour ago, Joerg said:

If you have the pdfs, do a text search for "Argan Argar", "Only Old One", "Ezkankekko"  and "Kitori" in the Stafford Library books (History of the Heortling Peoples, Esrolia, Heortling Mythology)

Also "Kimantor", an Esrolian name for the Only Old One/Ezkankekko.

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1 hour ago, boztakang said:

A MYTH  THE ARMING OF THE TROLLKIN

 

This is excellent, I'd been looking for some direct commentary on the paradox of Argan Agar teaching trollkin to use spears when they appeared centuries after the Dawn.  Where is it from, or is it from something forthcoming?

For the record I have no problem with fan stuff.

I was sufficiently inspired by the events of the game's second session last weekend to write one of my own, the Argan Argar nativity story in a cycle my character shared with the Lhankor Mhy priest at Clearwine.

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4 hours ago, dumuzid said:

...  Where is it from, or is it from something forthcoming?

For the record I have no problem with fan stuff...

That user is the author (or maybe "the primary author" ? ) of the still-in-process RQG edition of the Troll Pack.

No idea whether that's a piece that was already written, or what; but it's more-likely to be at least... let's call it "canon-compatible" ... than any ordinary "fan" writing would be.

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So, the game that prompted me to get into Argan Argar stuff met today, and without getting into the details my character may be in a position to perform a heroquest of The Arming of the Trollkin.  He got a blessing before setting out on the current quest from the local Argan Argar and Xiola Umbar cultists towards interacting with trollkin, and now he's got three other things too:

1) Fairly dire need

2) Easy physical access to the direct Godtime

3) a local population of wild trollkin

A Humakti and Ernaldan are the most likely fellow questers, with some other potential helpers, but he'll probably be the only actual Argan Argar cultist involved.

The goal of the quest would be to crash train the wild trollkin into disciplined fighters--you know, by trollkin standards--with the side goals of hopefully arming them with Lesser Darkness weapons from the God Time Shadowlands and empowering the individual questers for a looming martial/magical confrontation.

Does anyone have suggestions for me playing, or my referee running, an Argan Argar Arms the Trollkin heroquest in a campaign of RQ:G?  

Edited by dumuzid
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So in my reading today I came across a detail in History of the Heortling Peoples I'd not seen stated in quite this way before:

1594005579_ezkanOG.png.8367c278f95a101d7fa30627d3801cf8.png

I'd read before that Ezkankekko was a founding member of the Unity Council, that there was always a troll appointed by Ez on the Council until the trolls withdrew from it on account of the Nysalor/Gbaji project.  What I'd never encountered before was an account of the early First Age that puts Ezkankekko and the uz of the Shadowlands in such a prominent, active position in the organization.  The section above goes on to describe how, before resolving to declare the first war after the Dawn against the horselords of Dara Happa, the councilors took the idea to Ezkankekko, and only formed their war council when he consented.  It sets up the Only Old One as something like the president of the unity council, or the chieftain of the ring in Orlanthi terms, which is not a way I'd ever read sources talk about the uz role in the Unity Council before.

Playing an uzko in The Smoking Ruin material has involved running into a lot of debris and wreckage from past uz involvement in Dragon Pass, and one of the main things it's gotten me to pick up on as someone reading and researching this setting is the succession of blows that's been dealt to trolls' place in Dragon Pass and central Genertela by Nysalor/Gbaji, the Orlanthi Tax Revolt, and finally Belintar.

I get the feeling there's a really rich seam of stories to be had from the idea of a Unity- or Darkness-themed series of quests to undo the damage the Pharaoh did to the uz in Esrolia, and reassert the old Shadowlands in the vacuum that's bound to be created by the convulsions of the Hero Wars.

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On 1/19/2020 at 8:48 PM, dumuzid said:

... my character may be in a position to perform a heroquest of The Arming of the Trollkin. ...

Does anyone have suggestions for me playing, or my referee running, an Argan Argar Arms the Trollkin heroquest in a campaign of RQ:G?  

Mission accomplished! that is wonderful! Always excited to see anything make it into an actual game.

I've not actually run the story as a quest yet, myself, so def feel free to make it your own. The actual Godtime almost always looks quite different when you get there than you imagined it would from the stories 🙂  I'd definitely encourage your referee to incorporate complications and/or themes from the rest of the campaign. Working out the timing might be challenging for your char - how do you work around the "after many years..." part if you want the troops quickly? (Time works weird in Myths, so certainly not an insurmountable issue, but a good place for your ref to make you be creative and/or introduce complications)

Do let us know how it goes once you've played it out!

The story is proposed Trollpack material - so it might possibly become "official" at some point, to the extent that that matters. Each of the major troll gods has at least one full new myth like this, though I don't think Jeff has had a chance to give them much attention yet, so they could certainly change drastically or be abandoned/completely re-written, etc. depending on editorial feedback.

 

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On 1/19/2020 at 8:48 PM, dumuzid said:

So, the game that prompted me to get into Argan Argar stuff met today, and without getting into the details my character may be in a position to perform a heroquest of The Arming of the Trollkin.  He got a blessing before setting out on the current quest from the local Argan Argar and Xiola Umbar cultists towards interacting with trollkin, and now he's got three other things too:

1) Fairly dire need

2) Easy physical access to the direct Godtime

3) a local population of wild trollkin

A Humakti and Ernaldan are the most likely fellow questers, with some other potential helpers, but he'll probably be the only actual Argan Argar cultist involved.

The goal of the quest would be to crash train the wild trollkin into disciplined fighters--you know, by trollkin standards--with the side goals of hopefully arming them with Lesser Darkness weapons from the God Time Shadowlands and empowering the individual questers for a looming martial/magical confrontation.

Does anyone have suggestions for me playing, or my referee running, an Argan Argar Arms the Trollkin heroquest in a campaign of RQ:G?  

My thought here is that, given the other 'Questers, it could turn out that you get a bunch of (rather shocking) Sword Trollkin!

Lay Members of both ArganArgar and Humakt...

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5 minutes ago, dumuzid said:

I get the feeling there's a really rich seam of stories to be had from the idea of a Unity- or Darkness-themed series of quests to undo the damage the Pharaoh did to the uz in Esrolia, and reassert the old Shadowlands in the vacuum that's bound to be created by the convulsions of the Hero Wars.

I think that is definitely the case.

Though, personally I find the area a bit daunting. The loss of life in the destruction of the Palace of Black Glass will have been astronomical. I'm sure there are lots of very angry spirits, disrupted lines of descent, and other strange things going on underground. There are absolutely some very cool stories to be told. 

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1 hour ago, dumuzid said:

So in my reading today I came across a detail in History of the Heortling Peoples I'd not seen stated in quite this way before:

1594005579_ezkanOG.png.8367c278f95a101d7fa30627d3801cf8.png

I'd read before that Ezkankekko was a founding member of the Unity Council, that there was always a troll appointed by Ez on the Council until the trolls withdrew from it on account of the Nysalor/Gbaji project.  What I'd never encountered before was an account of the early First Age that puts Ezkankekko and the uz of the Shadowlands in such a prominent, active position in the organization.  The section above goes on to describe how, before resolving to declare the first war after the Dawn against the horselords of Dara Happa, the councilors took the idea to Ezkankekko, and only formed their war council when he consented.  It sets up the Only Old One as something like the president of the unity council, or the chieftain of the ring in Orlanthi terms, which is not a way I'd ever read sources talk about the uz role in the Unity Council before.

Playing an uzko in The Smoking Ruin material has involved running into a lot of debris and wreckage from past uz involvement in Dragon Pass, and one of the main things it's gotten me to pick up on as someone reading and researching this setting is the succession of blows that's been dealt to trolls' place in Dragon Pass and central Genertela by Nysalor/Gbaji, the Orlanthi Tax Revolt, and finally Belintar.

I get the feeling there's a really rich seam of stories to be had from the idea of a Unity- or Darkness-themed series of quests to undo the damage the Pharaoh did to the uz in Esrolia, and reassert the old Shadowlands in the vacuum that's bound to be created by the convulsions of the Hero Wars.

Ezkankekko's role in the Greater Darkness and Gray/Dawn Age almost cannot be overstated. He's in command of pretty much the only stable polity left, and his agents, through the shadow tribute (aka the equal exchange) facilitate the survival of many other groups. He also commands the most effective anti-Chaos fighting forces there, and is of course an incredibly powerful magician with a legitimate genealogical claim to overlordship of the land (being a son of Esrola the Earth). He is bar none, afaik, the main leadership figure in the region.

There's a reason why the region of Kethaela in this time, and even in the second and early third age is called the Shadowlands. 

But you're absolutely right - Heortling-biased sources (which is what we usually see in game supplements) tends to deemphasize his role for that of Heort or other heroes. Esrolians are more open about OOO's preeminence though. 

EDIT: This is my impression at least.

Edited by Sir_Godspeed
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Well, one RQG session later and my group has successfully performed a heroquest of Argan Argar Arms the Trollkin.  There are spoilers for The Smoking Ruin below, read with caution.  @g33k, your prediction more or less came to fruition.

-

-

-

We used the version of the myth @boztakang posted upthread.  The participants were my Argan Argari from the Shadow Plateau; a Humakti sword-thane; and an Ernaldan noble who took on the role of Esrola; and ten trollkin with some combat experience, one of them a value, no other helpers.  Our entryway to the Gods Realm was

 

the magical gate in the Tower of Black Arkat in Lost Valley.

  At first we were confused; we didn't start in the Palace of Black Glass when we entered the God Time, and the Humakti was gone.  Argan Argar had to put a whole mess of trollkin in some semblance of order, mostly by banging his spear on his shield and shout-clicking at them in Darktongue, before he and Esrola encountered Hiiya, daughter of Humakt.  We were more confused, since this seemed to be off-script; she pleaded with us to help her, and since Argan Argar helps anyone who sincerely asks, he agreed--but she wanted help desperately, her people were besieged by the armies of Fire, and though we had lots of trollkin they were completely unprepared.  Argan Argar and Esrola had to roll Worship to keep the quest from getting pulled off-track, but they managed to pull it on to the next station.

This was the bartering for equipment for the trollkin.  Ernalda tried to Fast-talk Issaries; we got good wargear for the trollkin, but he got the better end of the deal.  Of course that stuff was too heavy for the trollkin to even train in, so Argan Argar looked to his cousin, Gorakkiki the mother of insects.  She offered to clothe the trollkin in the shed chitin of her own children, if Argan Argar could help her secure a forest to feed them.  He taught Gorakiki one of his songs of power, to shape and spread shadows in advance of Gorakiki's insects, to let them feast without fear of the elves, and she obliged him with chitin armor--that the trollkin proceeded to eat offscreen, of course.

And then we found out what became of the Humakti: when we entered the God Time they fell through Earth and Darkness, till they found themselves chained in a dark pit, though they still had their sword.  The trollkin having been thrown down into the dark at some point, they approached the chained god and started to poke it with sticks.  Instead of their sticks burning, though, the trollkin were attacked back by Humakt, who rolled a Special Success and so declared that each expertly aimed stab was meant to cut without killing.  Through that sort of demonstration, and then through actual teaching, Humakt began to teach the trollkin swordplay--to spread Death wherever they went, as Humakt put it.

Eventually, Argan Argar sent a menial down into the basements of the Palace of Black Glass, hoping to recover the bones and ragged clothes oft he trollkin he threw down there, who must've died long before--but the servant returned stabbed and slashed, claiming to have been set upon by trollkin with swords.  This caught Argan Argar's attention.  He made an offer to a student of his uncle Zong, the great troll hunter, to capture the trollkin and bring them up for inspection, but the hunter fared no better than the menial, and Argan Argar's glee only grew.  So Argan Argar made an offer to Yinkin, the shadowcat-god who'd been lazing around the front stoop of the Palace of Black Glass lately, promising them a pickled sun-bird from the palace larder for each trollkin they dragged alive from the basements.  The shadowcat could evade the trollkin; he approached his former kin Humakt there in the darkness, and they had a tense conversation before Yinkin grabbed a trollkin by the scruff of their scrawny neck and brought it up to face Argan Argar.  He questioned the trollkin, and used them to summon the rest of the sword-trollkin up from the basement.  Argan Argar made them the classic offer: a bolg a week to serve him, two bolgs a week to serve his special friends, and gave the toughest, meanest, smartest trollkin a black badge to show they were in charge.  The quest resolved, and the questers found themselves on the real-world side of the

 

Arkati gate

again.

The trollkin emerged with an instinctual loyalty to the Humakti, who they were now willing to follow as a warleader, and 50% Broadsword.  Which was great, because we only did all this because we were

 

in the middle of trying to liberate Lost Valley from the Company of the Manticore

.  Now, in addition to our scant other forces, we had about sixty trollkin who were suddenly competent, relatively disciplined swordstrolls.  And then, when the fighting came, the Humakti critted her Death rune augment and a battle rapidly turned into an overwhelming victory.  My Argan Argari led the trollkin in a post-battle feast of man- and beast-flesh.  When the fighting was done, my Argan Argari worked out a new understanding between the newly dangerous trollkin and local Orlanthi humans, effectively adding the trollkin to their militia at the standard rate: two bolgs per week per trollkin.  He marked a place for exchange between the humans and trollkin on the border between their settlements, and did some legwork after the adventure to ensure human Argan Argar and Xiola Umbar missionaries would arrive before long to help keep the new arrangement going long-term.  All in all, a fine Argan Argari adventure.

Edited by dumuzid
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One element of AA myth that I haven't found any direct references to is his paternity.  It's not particularly surprising that this isn't stated clearly in treatments of Argan Argar's cult, since trolls don't tend to place much importance in the identities of their fathers, but it's a connection I'd like to track down for the purposes of myth-writing (and subsequent in-game heroquesting).  The sources I've found are silent on the matter though.  This lovely genealogy of darkness deities

Image result for genealogy of darkness gods glorantha"

 

doesn't include Xentha at all, though I'd guess she's a devolution of Nakala, the Primal Dark, or Dame Darkness, the slightly more personified Darkness goddess of the Celestial Court.  This question was brought into sharper relief for me by @Sir_Godspeed's mention in the Blood Sun thread of the bit in the Glorious ReAscent of Yelm when he's choosing a wife, where the Griffin goddess claims to already have given him a child.  Has anyone ever read a myth or reference to Argan Argar's paternity?  As with plenty of Darkness gods, it's certainly possible that there is no father, but I've got to admit, I like the idea of Yelm fathering a secret child with Xentha on a lot of levels.

Edited by dumuzid
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On 1/30/2020 at 3:41 PM, dumuzid said:

 but I've got to admit, I like the idea of Yelm fathering a secret child with Xentha on a lot of levels.

I would dislike it for heritage reasons. What could "give" Yelm to Argan Argar ?

fire power ? light power ? There is no rune or power to describe any connection between both

And .. I am not sure but isn't there a myth about yelm birth and ZZ, AA and Xiola as witnesses ?

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8 minutes ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

I would dislike it for heritage reasons. What could "give" Yelm to Argan Argar ?

fire power ? light power ? There is no rune or power to describe any connection between both

And .. I am not sure but isn't there a myth about yelm birth and ZZ, AA and Xiola as witnesses ?

These are fair points.  However, per the Guide to Glorantha, Yelm and Argan Argar do share one rune: the Mastery rune.  This, to me, is key. Yelm and AA are both 'ruler'-gods, the Solar Emperor and the Night King--and though it probably wouldn't matter much to trolls, being able to prove to peoples of the surface that he had an inherited right to rule in addition to having power, followers and a good argument, could be important for the later stages of AA's story, when he's pulling together the peoples of the Greater Darkness to resist Chaos.  I also like that it strengthens the parallels between Argan Argar and Yelmalio: they're already both spear fighters born with the fall of Yelm, whose goal is to give mortals the means to survive in the Darkness--but where Yelmalio taught exclusivity, purity and tradition, Argan Argar taught people to survive by mingling, changing and working out new arrangements.  AA is the god of figuring out how to deal with a new world by adapting to it, Yelmalio teaches his followers to cling to the old world no matter how much the present changes--and we can see how those approaches served them and their followers as the Darkness wore on.  Making them bastard half-brothers heightens the contrast between them in a way I find poetic--which is the best meat for further tales, like a reconciliation in what becomes the Great Compromise.  It also has an Arthurian flavor that appeals to me on a personal level.

I think what Argan Argar gains from this paternity is legitimacy, as ruler of the surface world under the his mother Night.  The other Solar gods would be horrified or disgusted, proclaim him a bastard, resist--but as we know, they failed.  Yelmalio lost his fire at the Hill of Gold, Lodril was forced to raise the Shadow Plateau and build the Palace of Black Glass.  As far as I know there's no detailed treatment of the chaining of Lodril, certainly not from the troll perspective, but I think it could be framed as a sort of "sword in the stone," moment.  What treatments I've seen of the binding of Lodril describe him as raging unleashed after Yelm dies, carving his kingdom on and beneath the earth, siring his sons on every goddess he gets a chance to and generally being a big burly volcano king.  Yet Argan Argar overthrows him, disarms him, takes his place as Esrola's husband--how does a relative stripling like AA take on a mighty old power like Lodril and win so completely, without taking the awful scars many gods suffer in similar confrontations during the Gods War?  I think it makes most sense if Argan Argar didn't need to fight Lodril--he simply proved in the course of their conflict, by the laws of inheritance Lodril was bound to observe, and by the real merits Lodril was inclined to respect, that Argan Argar was by rights his ruler under Darkness.  As always, YGMV, and these are just my fan speculations, but I really like the idea of the struggle between Lordril and AA ending not because Lodril is overpowered, but because Argan Argar convinces Lodril that he is in the wrong.  I know this changes the usually understood cause and effect--the general line is that AA gained his Suppress Lodril powers after defeating him and taking his spear.  My idea supposes that AA had authority over Lodril to begin with, wielded it, and took Lodril's weapon as a sign of his surrender.  Then AA has him raise the Plateau and the Palace, and marches him down into the basement to become the place's furnace, converting the wild volcano into the civilized hearth, to provide warmth for Esrola despite the dead sun.

(As an aside, I like the phrase "under Darkness," as a ritual cant phrase for the AA cult, like 'amen' or 'selah' IRL.)

Finally, re: ZZ, AA and Xiolah Umbar all witnessing Yelm as a baby--yeah, I recall that one, the story of how Zorak Zoran was the first troll to play with fire.  For those unfamiliar, the story is that those three gods came upon the the baby Yelm wrapped in his swaddling clothes in the womb of primal darkness.  Though the other two drew back, Zorak Zoran tugged Yelm's wrappings aside enough to look at what was beneath--and so knew the pain and fear of Light and Fire first among trolls, though he coveted it ever afterwards, and stole the power of flame from Yelmalio etc.  That's one of those situations where the Gods Realm shows its disregard for time as such, because all sources and myths I've found agree that Argan Argar was not himself born from Xentha until after the trolls swarmed the surface, after Yelm's death.  The same book that describes this ZZ myth also describes AA as Xentha's 'first child on the surface'.  It's anachronistic, because time is something imposed on the Gods Realm retroactively and imperfectly.  A God Learner or zzaburi would say all my talk of paternities and legitimacy is just a personification of the sorcerous formula to conquer Fire with Darkness, and hell, they could probably prove themselves correct--though a theist could do the same, in the reverse.

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I think what AA would gain from a Yelmic paternity is this general idea of atmospheric visibility, as it were. Yelm is atmospheric light, AA is arguably atmospheric darkness. Not quite celestial, I suppose, but imho "klos enuf". 

EDIT: And arguably, on a less elemental note, the general feel of masculine majesty and rulership in an otherwise matriarchal society. AA is a good mix and does not overly veer to either side though, it seems.

Edited by Sir_Godspeed
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I fully agree your hypothesis is a nice poetic and dramatic story.

From an emotional perspective I would follow you, without any hesitation :)

but from a more logical perspective (well if logic has any sense ^^) I am not sure :

Let sees the reasons :

Mastery : Orlanth has Mastery Rune too

Spear : Orlanth gained Spear

Quote

AA is the god of figuring out how to deal with a new world by adapting to it

there is no issue if I replace AA by another candidate

Quote

Orlanth is the god of figuring out how to deal with a new world by adapting to it

Atmospheric : AA don't manage the sky, juste the "middle" like... Orlanth

And ... where AA is very very strong before Arkat ? In barbarian lands, among Orlanthi  / Ernaldan (edit : after Arkat too I think)

So i am not saying Orlanth is the father. Again I buy "the Yelm option" for poetry (It could be a good tragedy made by some lunar author :p)

 

My last point is : Uz have one great "negotiator/merchant" god, AA. Orlanthi have Issaries, Yelmites have Lokarnos

Uz have already lost their world, their power (and never obtain beauty, by the way). Don't tell me they are unable to manage trade without the "help" of external deity

 

 

Edited by French Desperate WindChild
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On 1/30/2020 at 2:41 PM, dumuzid said:

This lovely genealogy of darkness deities doesn't include Xentha at all, though I'd guess she's a devolution of Nakala, the Primal Dark, or Dame Darkness, the slightly more personified Darkness goddess of the Celestial Court. 

Wyrms Footnotes 7 has Xentha as "XENTHA is the name most often used for the "phenomena" known as Night. She is a daughter of Subere."

It's great having these available as searchable PDFs.

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On 2/1/2020 at 1:27 PM, French Desperate WindChild said:

I fully agree your hypothesis is a nice poetic and dramatic story.

From an emotional perspective I would follow you, without any hesitation :)

but from a more logical perspective (well if logic has any sense ^^) I am not sure :

Let sees the reasons :

Mastery : Orlanth has Mastery Rune too

Spear : Orlanth gained Spear

there is no issue if I replace AA by another candidate

Atmospheric : AA don't manage the sky, juste the "middle" like... Orlanth

And ... where AA is very very strong before Arkat ? In barbarian lands, among Orlanthi  / Ernaldan (edit : after Arkat too I think)

So i am not saying Orlanth is the father. Again I buy "the Yelm option" for poetry (It could be a good tragedy made by some lunar author :p)

 

My last point is : Uz have one great "negotiator/merchant" god, AA. Orlanthi have Issaries, Yelmites have Lokarnos

Uz have already lost their world, their power (and never obtain beauty, by the way). Don't tell me they are unable to manage trade without the "help" of external deity

 

 

Thank you for making these points.  I'll address them in order.

If we're to use (filthy Malkionist) logic to figure this stuff out, we should adhere to Occam's (or Zzabur's) Razor, no?  Reject less likely theories in favor of more likely ones?

Well.  Re: the Mastery rune, we already have a source for that for Orlanth that has nothing to do with Yelm. Orlanth is the offpsring of Umath and Kero Fin; I have not seen a source for Umath's specific runes, but per HeroQuest: Glorantha, Kero Fin's are Earth and Mastery.  Most ruler-type gods have the Mastery rune, and the genealogy that would give it to Orlanth is well established.  Argan Argar and Orlanth are certainly peers, and were allies in the Darkness, but their sharing the rune does not necessarily mean they share a lineage.

Re: the spear, it's true that Orlanth is depicted in art and story as wielding a spear, but usually in conjunction with his other weapons: the sword, the shield, the lightning bolt.  Orlanth Is a war god in a general sense, but the weapons his myths tie him to most closely are the sword (wielded to slay Yelm), and the lightning itself.  By contrast, Argan Argar is deeply and specifically tied to the spear, the weapon he gained mastery of in his conquest of Lodril/Veskarthan.  There are many places where the bronze spearhead (again, specifically bronze, rather than the more commonly troll-associated lead) is the chief symbol of Argan Argar.  Argan Argar is associated with the spear in the same way that Orlanth is associated with the lightning, it's his core martial expression.  Just like Yelmalio, whose preferred weapon is even more specifically the two-handed sarissa pike.

Re: atmospheric authority, I don't concede that this analogy is quite squared up.  Argan Argar doesn't manage the sky at all.  His mother, Xentha, is the night, and no male Uz would presume to think he knows his mother's interests in her home better than she.  He is the god of surface darkness, not the darkness up in the sky dome.  Darkness upon the earth.  The AA cult believes that part of their afterlife is to dance across the surface each evening, unfurling darkness over the land--they don't dance across the sky, or through the middle air.  When Xentha spreads across the sky it makes Argan Argar's kingdom broader and deeper than at any other time, but even at the height of noon there'll be places in shadow.  In a way, that cycle tells the story of the Uz on the surface: retreating to fastnesses when they must, flooding across the surface world when conditions are right.  

Re: where Argan Argar's cult is strongest, well, it's waxed and waned with the ages of Time, but the heart of the cult is in the old Holy Country, what used to be called the Kingdom of Night, which the God Learners called the Shadowlands.  Those lands include those of the Hendriki, Orlanthi who trace their histories back to Heort and the Greater Darkness, but they include several others as well: Esrolia, volcanic Caladraland, and the Westerners of God Forgot among them.  The presence of agents of Argan Argar among these peoples has a straightforward explanation, a logical explanation, based on both myth and history: all the areas that began the Dawn with a strong AA presence were ones brought together for the Unity Battle, and then bound together into the First Unity Council, by Ezkankekko, the Only Old One, Argan Argar's son by Esrola.  For those unfamiliar:

 

All Orlanthi learn the story of how the hero Heort gathered the remnants of the Vingkotling peoples to fight the I Fought, We Won battle.  The more cosmopolitan humans of Esrolia tell an expanded story: how each of the surviving peoples in the depths of the Greater Darkness, including Heort and the Vingkotlings, were visited by a stranger that who appeared in their form, whatever that happened to be, but huge and dark.  He brought secrets to help them survive the darkness, and word of other people who fought on even though the power of Chaos seemed unstoppable.  The stranger helped these different peoples coordinate their efforts in I Fought, We Won, the Unity Battle, and they called him the Unity Hero for the role he played.  That was Ezkankekko; the Unity Battle was fought upon the Shadow Plateau, at the foot of Esrola's empty throne.  After the Unity Battle Ezkankekko taught all who wished to know the secrets of Darkness, and the member societies of the Unity Council looked to him as their elder and president right up until the fateful decision to begin the Nysalor project.

To the final points: yes, AA is the chief god of exchanges between trolls and others on the surface, but calling him a 'merchant' god misses a key point of what those exchanges mean to the trolls.  A merchant in the Issaries sense is out to make a deal in their favor, to make a profit; this is not the goal of Argan Argar negotiation.  What Argan Argar seeks instead is a term that occurs again and again in writings about the cult: the Equal Exchange.  These agreements go back to the Lesser Darkness, when Argan Argar (and later Ezkankekko) made their first deals with non-Uz.  The idea behind the Equal Exchange was that the humans, elves, etc. would leave offerings for the trolls, who in turn taught them secrets to survive the Darkness and defended them against its inimical forces, at a value equal to what they asked of the non-Uz. 

The Equal Exchange gained new names as Time went on, like the Shadow Tribute, and humans forgot, or ceased to value, what the Uz gave back to them.  In the early second age the Orlanthi who went on to found the EWF revolted against Ezkankekko in a war they called the Tax Slaughter.  The Orlanthi hero Hardros Hardslaughter led a raid into the Palace of Black Glass and slew Ezkankekko; when the Only Old One returned from the Underworld, Hardros made him release the Hendriki from the old mutual pacts.  The rest of the Shadowlands survived the Imperial Age, right up until Belintar, the man who became the Pharaoh of the Holy Country, washed up and started a new war against the Only Old One.  This one did not end until the Palace of Black Glass was annihilated, and the Only Old One killed by Belintar in a way that prevented him from returning from the Underworld.  Belintar gave the Uz a place in his Holy Country, but he took their primacy in the former Shadowlands.  The Argan Argar cult, which once had a physical heart and high temple in the Palace of Black Glass, remained strong in the Holy Country but lost its temporal seat and much of its temporal backing.  After the fall of the Only Old One, Argan Argar's cult became a distributed, migratory organization; the version portrayed in Gloranthan materials about the 1600s is an Argan Argar cult that has languished in this reduced state for around five hundred years.  With the death of Belintar and the disintegration of his Holy Country, there is an opportunity for the Uz and those who remember the Kingdom of Night fondly (as many parts of the Holy Country still do) to reassert themselves under that banner in the midst of the Hero Wars.  Under those conditions older, more straightforwardly martial or regal expressions of the Argan Argar cult, currently latent or only half-manifest in the cult's reduced circumstances, could return to the fore, just as Yelmalio's Sun Dome Templars re-emerged as recently as the 1500s.

Finally: the Uz lost a world, once--and regained it in the end, through the Great Compromise.  In losing their first world they gained the Surface: they spread their queendoms and empires over it, defended it against Chaos, and surrendered their claim on it only with the Compromise, in which they agreed to share custody of the surface with the other races in exchange for their gods' and ancestors' return to Wonderhome.  As for never finding beauty, I'm not sure what you mean.  They found many beautiful things on the surface, despite the trials and pains of the Hurtplace.  They found the stars and the night sky, they found a world of fine things to eat, they found other people and learned they could be other than food; through his marriage to Esrola, Argan Argar proved that they could even find love.  For modern Uz, within Time, the surface is as much their world as it is humans'.  It is more their world than humans' for the twelve hours Xentha rules the sky dome.  As for power, go tell the Seshnelans about the end of Uz power, and they'll tell you about the battle Uz Eats Wizards.  Belintar destroyed the organization called the Shadowlands, but now he's gone too, and his City of Wonders with him--but the Shadow Plateau remains.  Though many humans have forgotten the debts they owe the Uz, the coming Hero Wars promise plenty of darkness.  Wherever the darkness stretches you'll find Uz; whenever humans peer into that darkness, seek to master their fear and understand it, they'll find Argan Argar waiting to share his secrets--for an Equal Exchange, of course.

Edited by dumuzid
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13 hours ago, dumuzid said:

Thank you for making these points.  I'll address them in order.

If we're to use (filthy Malkionist) logic to figure this stuff out, we should adhere to Occam's (or Zzabur's) Razor, no?  Reject less likely theories in favor of more likely ones?

Well.  Re: the Mastery rune, we already have a source for that for Orlanth that has nothing to do with Yelm. Orlanth is the offpsring of Umath and Kero Fin; I have not seen a source for Umath's specific runes, but per HeroQuest: Glorantha, Kero Fin's are Earth and Mastery.  Most ruler-type gods have the Mastery rune, and the genealogy that would give it to Orlanth is well established.  Argan Argar and Orlanth are certainly peers, and were allies in the Darkness, but their sharing the rune does not necessarily mean they share a lineage.

Re: the spear, it's true that Orlanth is depicted in art and story as wielding a spear, but usually in conjunction with his other weapons: the sword, the shield, the lightning bolt.  Orlanth Is a war god in a general sense, but the weapons his myths tie him to most closely are the sword (wielded to slay Yelm), and the lightning itself.  By contrast, Argan Argar is deeply and specifically tied to the spear, the weapon he gained mastery of in his conquest of Lodril/Veskarthan.  There are many places where the bronze spearhead (again, specifically bronze, rather than the more commonly troll-associated lead) is the chief symbol of Argan Argar.  Argan Argar is associated with the spear in the same way that Orlanth is associated with the lightning, it's his core martial expression.  Just like Yelmalio, whose preferred weapon is even more specifically the two-handed sarissa pike.

Re: atmospheric authority, I don't concede that this analogy is quite squared up.  Argan Argar doesn't manage the sky at all.  His mother, Xentha, is the night, and no male Uz would presume to think he knows his mother's interests in her home better than she.  He is the god of surface darkness, not the darkness up in the sky dome.  Darkness upon the earth.  The AA cult believes that part of their afterlife is to dance across the surface each evening, unfurling darkness over the land--they don't dance across the sky, or through the middle air.  When Xentha spreads across the sky it makes Argan Argar's kingdom broader and deeper than at any other time, but even at the height of noon there'll be places in shadow.  In a way, that cycle tells the story of the Uz on the surface: retreating to fastnesses when they must, flooding across the surface world when conditions are right.  

Re: where Argan Argar's cult is strongest, well, it's waxed and waned with the ages of Time, but the heart of the cult is in the old Holy Country, what used to be called the Kingdom of Night, which the God Learners called the Shadowlands.  Those lands include those of the Hendriki, Orlanthi who trace their histories back to Heort and the Greater Darkness, but they include several others as well: Esrolia, volcanic Caladraland, and the Westerners of God Forgot among them.  The presence of agents of Argan Argar among these peoples has a straightforward explanation, a logical explanation, based on both myth and history: all the areas that began the Dawn with a strong AA presence were ones brought together for the Unity Battle, and then bound together into the First Unity Council, by Ezkankekko, the Only Old One, Argan Argar's son by Esrola.  For those unfamiliar:

  Reveal hidden contents

All Orlanthi learn the story of how the hero Heort gathered the remnants of the Vingkotling peoples to fight the I Fought, We Won battle.  The more cosmopolitan humans of Esrolia tell an expanded story: how each of the surviving peoples in the depths of the Greater Darkness, including Heort and the Vingkotlings, were visited by a stranger that who appeared in their form, whatever that happened to be, but huge and dark.  He brought secrets to help them survive the darkness, and word of other people who fought on even though the power of Chaos seemed unstoppable.  The stranger helped these different peoples coordinate their efforts in I Fought, We Won, the Unity Battle, and they called him the Unity Hero for the role he played.  That was Ezkankekko; the Unity Battle was fought upon the Shadow Plateau, at the foot of Esrola's empty throne.  After the Unity Battle Ezkankekko taught all who wished to know the secrets of Darkness, and the member societies of the Unity Council looked to him as their elder and president right up until the fateful decision to begin the Nysalor project.

To the final points: yes, AA is the chief god of exchanges between trolls and others on the surface, but calling him a 'merchant' god misses a key point of what those exchanges mean to the trolls.  A merchant in the Issaries sense is out to make a deal in their favor, to make a profit; this is not the goal of Argan Argar negotiation.  What Argan Argar seeks instead is a term that occurs again and again in writings about the cult: the Equal Exchange.  These agreements go back to the Lesser Darkness, when Argan Argar (and later Ezkankekko) made their first deals with non-Uz.  The idea behind the Equal Exchange was that the humans, elves, etc. would leave offerings for the trolls, who in turn taught them secrets to survive the Darkness and defended them against its inimical forces, at a value equal to what they asked of the non-Uz. 

The Equal Exchange gained new names as Time went on, like the Shadow Tribute, and humans forgot, or ceased to value, what the Uz gave back to them.  In the early second age the Orlanthi who went on to found the EWF revolted against Ezkankekko in a war they called the Tax Slaughter.  The Orlanthi hero Hardros Hardslaughter led a raid into the Palace of Black Glass and slew Ezkankekko; when the Only Old One returned from the Underworld, Hardros made him release the Hendriki from the old mutual pacts.  The rest of the Shadowlands survived the Imperial Age, right up until Belintar, the man who became the Pharaoh of the Holy Country, washed up and started a new war against the Only Old One.  This one did not end until the Palace of Black Glass was annihilated, and the Only Old One killed by Belintar in a way that prevented him from returning from the Underworld.  Belintar gave the Uz a place in his Holy Country, but he took their primacy in the former Shadowlands.  The Argan Argar cult, which once had a physical heart and high temple in the Palace of Black Glass, remained strong in the Holy Country but lost its temporal seat and much of its temporal backing.  After the fall of the Only Old One, Argan Argar's cult became a distributed, migratory organization; the version portrayed in Gloranthan materials about the 1600s is an Argan Argar cult that has languished in this reduced state for around five hundred years.  With the death of Belintar and the disintegration of his Holy Country, there is an opportunity for the Uz and those who remember the Kingdom of Night fondly (as many parts of the Holy Country still do) to reassert themselves under that banner in the midst of the Hero Wars.  Under those conditions older, more straightforwardly martial or regal expressions of the Argan Argar cult, currently latent or only half-manifest in the cult's reduced circumstances, could return to the fore, just as Yelmalio's Sun Dome Templars re-emerged as recently as the 1500s.

Finally: the Uz lost a world, once--and regained it in the end, through the Great Compromise.  In losing their first world they gained the Surface: they spread their queendoms and empires over it, defended it against Chaos, and surrendered their claim on it only with the Compromise, in which they agreed to share custody of the surface with the other races in exchange for their gods' and ancestors' return to Wonderhome.  As for never finding beauty, I'm not sure what you mean.  They found many beautiful things on the surface, despite the trials and pains of the Hurtplace.  They found the stars and the night sky, they found a world of fine things to eat, they found other people and learned they could be other than food; through his marriage to Esrola, Argan Argar proved that they could even find love.  For modern Uz, within Time, the surface is as much their world as it is humans'.  It is more their world than humans' for the twelve hours Xentha rules the sky dome.  As for power, go tell the Seshnelans about the end of Uz power, and they'll tell you about the battle Uz Eats Wizards.  Belintar destroyed the organization called the Shadowlands, but now he's gone too, and his City of Wonders with him--but the Shadow Plateau remains.  Though many humans have forgotten the debts they owe the Uz, the coming Hero Wars promise plenty of darkness.  Wherever the darkness stretches you'll find Uz; whenever humans peer into that darkness, seek to master their fear and understand it, they'll find Argan Argar waiting to share his secrets--for an Equal Exchange, of course.

In RQG, we use the Mastery Rune differently. It is less about rulership, and more what Greg initially used it for - the rune of the Hero. Orlanth is one of the few deities to possess it (as Orlanth is the patron god of Heroes).

Argan Argan is god of Darkness coexisting with the other elements. He is runes of Darkness and Harmony. He became the lover and protector of Esrola and TOGETHER they made the Only Old One. The Only Old Old befriended the humans of Kethaela that survived the Great Darkness and offered them protection in exchange for tribute (and not obedience). Trolls were fed, humans were protected (especially from the trolls) - life was easy for everyone.

The Only Old One was active throughout the First Age, but when with the Broken Council, he holed up in his Obsidian Palace. When Arkat restored the Kingdom of Night, it was somehow different. The humans of Dragon Pass no longer felt the offer of protection for tribute was an equal exchange. Both the EWF and the Middle Sea Empire proved mightier than the Shadowlands, and after the Closing, even many Kethaelans questioned why tribute should be paid to the Only Old One. Kethaela was poor, surrounded by barbarians, and cut off from the civilised world. And the decline was notable.  When Belintar came, he displayed to all the degeneracy and senility of the Only Old One, and overthrew the Shadowlands - and amazingly even gained the assent of the Only Old One's former associates and companions. Belintar restored good contacts with all the gods of the Holy Country - even Argan Argar consented to the rule of the God-King.

 

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6 hours ago, Jeff said:

In RQG, we use the Mastery Rune differently. It is less about rulership, and more what Greg initially used it for - the rune of the Hero. Orlanth is one of the few deities to possess it (as Orlanth is the patron god of Heroes).

Huh, interesting. I'd always thought it was more associated with his Rex aspect than his Adventurous aspect. Although I guess what one might call his more "Rex" like runespells of Command Priest and Command Worshipper are associated with the Air Rune in turn.

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8 hours ago, Jeff said:

In RQG, we use the Mastery Rune differently. It is less about rulership, and more what Greg initially used it for - the rune of the Hero. Orlanth is one of the few deities to possess it (as Orlanth is the patron god of Heroes).

Thank you, Jeff.  Since you're here, and you're already addressing an element of the question, maybe you can illuminate something up for me?  The Guide to Glorantha gives Argan Argar's runes as Darkness, Communication, Mastery; RQ:G gives them as Darkness and Harmony.  I assumed this difference was a matter of making RQ:G a more playable game, by making the set of player-usable runes more uniform and dualistic--Isarries loses his Communication rune in the translation to RQ:G as well, after all.  I haven't made a detailed cross-reference, but it looks like Orlanth's cult is the only one in the RQ:G core that kept its Mastery rune.  I'd love to hear more about the design process of how the theistic rune affinities were translated into the current game edition, and what the shift from Darkness+Communication+Mastery to Darkness+Harmony means for your interpretation of Argan Argar.

I hadn't heard Greg's original take on the Mastery rune before.  I like it, and I think it reinforces the themes of Argan Argar myth I've been writing about in this thread.  Having played an Orlanth Adventurous initiate in RQ:G I agree in the most strenuous terms that Orlanth is the god of Storm heroes--but I think there's an equal argument to be made that Argan Argar is the god of Darkness heroes.  Per the short list of Darkness gods in the write-ups of major pantheons from the Guide, he's the only named Darkness god with the Mastery rune at all.  There's vastly more written myth for Orlanth than there is for Argan Argar, but what exists sketches a myth cycle that strongly resemble's Orlanth's.  Both are the sons of single mothers: Umath is slain while Orlanth was just a boy; Argan Argar's father is unknown (or slain as well, if he was Yelm).  For Orlanth, his initiation and his father's death begin a period of adventuring and wandering, as he learns about the world and tests himself against it: a whole sub-cult's worth of myth cycles about Orlanth learning through action and reflection, exploring outwards from Kero Fin in the increasingly tumultuous Later Golden Age, all culminating in his contest with the Emperor.  We have almost no myths of Argan Argar from the comparable mythic space, but a little imagination sketches a similar set of stories: Argan Argar undergoes the Uz initiation of exposure to sunlight, explores the increasingly tumultuous world of the Storm Age under the cover of his mother Xentha, learns as he goes--but learns different lessons than Orlanth.  Argan Argar's wandering phase ends much like Orlanth's, in a confrontation with Fire and a wedding with Earth, but their different lessons as wanderers lead to different outcomes: that Argan Argar defeats his Solar foe without destroying them is probably the starkest difference.  The Storm Tribe that Orlanth forms with Ernalda's guidance takes in the honorable cast-offs of other tribes but it's a fundamentally less cosmopolitan society than the Kingdom of Night, which was based from the start on the union of two different species--Esrola's humans and Argan Argar's Uz. Different paths to adulthood, different paths within adulthood, similar essential story: of how a human, or a troll, can achieve the necessary self-mastery to be worthy of leading others.

Trace both gods' stories further and more similarities, and differences, make themselves apparent. The two gods rule their different realms, in relative peace according to the Book of Heortling Mythology--both had more to fear from Chaos and Fire than each other.  Eventually, the winter comes to both kings: in the deeps of the Greater Darkness, Esrola and Ernalda both withdraw to the Underworld as the Earth dies.  We know what Orlanth did after that: he gathered his companions for the Life/Lightbringers' Quest.  We don't have a comparable myth for Argan Argar that I've seen, but I'd argue that once again Orlanth and Argan Argar enter parallel, but different, phases.  Orlanth Lightbringer is essentially a psychopomp, a bridge and guide between the living and dead worlds, who restores the world by returning making peace with Yelm and returning with Ernalda.  Well, Argan Argar was not a Light/Lifebringer, though presumably he took part in the Compromise.  The Palace of Black Glass does appear in the Lightbringers cycle, but we'll get to that later.  One thing that is very well known about the Palace, one of the few definite details that has come down through Belintar's reign that I've read, is the basement staircase that leads all the way to Hell.  This still exists in Glorantha as the Tarpit, though since Ezkankekko's defeat by the Pharaoh it's filled with boiling tar.  I think there's a further expression of the Argan Argar cult that's lain dormant since Belintar's conquest: Argan Argar the psychopomp, the hoary ancient who stands on the shadowed side of the threshold.  One of the great lessons Argan Argar teaches is to understand darkness rather than fear it, and I can think of no better way for Argan Argar to end his mythic cycle than as the familiar face who helps the dead let go of their fear of the unknown and pass on to Wonderhome.  I think there is probably a myth about the Funeral Procession of Esrola: that when her moment came Argan Argar took her hand, and walked with her from her throne atop the Shadow Plateau down the staircase into the Underworld.  I see this expression of Argan Argar as waiting just past the gate to the Underworld, conversant with both sides but apart from the world of the living, easing transition and communication between.  Taken as a whole, Argan Argar can inform the full progression of a harmonious troll hero's life: 1) wanderer-negotiator through 2)warleader, arbitrator, ruler, ending in 3) abdication for the next generation, elder advisor, death-guide.

8 hours ago, Jeff said:

Argan Argan is god of Darkness coexisting with the other elements. He is runes of Darkness and Harmony. He became the lover and protector of Esrola and TOGETHER they made the Only Old One. The Only Old Old befriended the humans of Kethaela that survived the Great Darkness and offered them protection in exchange for tribute (and not obedience). Trolls were fed, humans were protected (especially from the trolls) - life was easy for everyone.

I'm afraid I can't entirely agree.  In most cases the Only Old One does not seem to have extracted oaths of obedience, but per Esrolia: Land of a Thousand Goddesses (2008), p. 25,

image.png.49821f72e89e24884255312dbc341a77.png

The obedience of the Esrolian Grandmothers extended to accepting Ezkankekko's command of their professional army, the Kimantorings, who began as Ezkankekko's household guard in the Darkness. 

Accepting that the Esrolians are a special case as the people of his mother, the Only Old One generally offered protection and friendship in exchange for tribute and acknowledgment.  This is key.  In the evil times that followed Gbaji, when the Orlanthi of Kethaela renounced the Equal Exchange, it was acknowledgment that ceased first.  The men and women who became the Ruling Ring of Orlanthland ceased to acknowledge that the exchange went two ways.  They called the old mutual pacts taxes, and they called the betrayal and murder of ancient friends a war to make men free. Their Great Living Hero, Hardros Hardslaughter, freed the Hendriki indeed: freed them from the friendship of the Uz, and from the counsel that might have guided his people away from the hubris, ruin and exploitative folly of the EWF.  As has usually proven the case, the Esrolian grandmothers were wiser.  They never renounced the friendship of Argan Argar.  Even when the Hendriki revolt cut off contact between Nochet and the Plateau they continued to support the Kimantorings and worship at the shrines of Esrola's son.  They remained within the Shadowlands, which themselves survived the Imperial Age through negotiation with the EWF and the God Learners, and under that protection they outlasted the empires.

8 hours ago, Jeff said:

The Only Old One was active throughout the First Age, but when with the Broken Council, he holed up in his Obsidian Palace. When Arkat restored the Kingdom of Night, it was somehow different. The humans of Dragon Pass no longer felt the offer of protection for tribute was an equal exchange. Both the EWF and the Middle Sea Empire proved mightier than the Shadowlands, and after the Closing, even many Kethaelans questioned why tribute should be paid to the Only Old One. Kethaela was poor, surrounded by barbarians, and cut off from the civilised world. And the decline was notable.  When Belintar came, he displayed to all the degeneracy and senility of the Only Old One, and overthrew the Shadowlands - and amazingly even gained the assent of the Only Old One's former associates and companions. Belintar restored good contacts with all the gods of the Holy Country - even Argan Argar consented to the rule of the God-King.

Yes, this describes the Twisting, the time after Arkat's departure when the Orlanthi, among others, grew discontented with the Equal Exchange and broke their side of the old agreements.  This is a curious, troubling phenomenon, because it was not the first time the pacts were broken--but in earlier ages, there were different consequences.  From the Book of Heortling Mythology (2010), p. 128:

image.png.a574a2079bdbe31de154c21bac6c0b91.png

In the Silver Age, and before the Bright Empire occupied Kethaela after the Dawn, when one side or another reneged on the Equal Exchange it was oathbreaking in every sense of the term, with the normal social and supernatural consequences.  When the Hendriki rose against the Shadowlands their own guardians should've punished them, but didn't.  This is a mystery.  A Hendriki would probably say that the oaths no longer obtained because the trolls asked more than they were due--but if that were the case, the Uz would've been set upon by their own oath guardians.  Which is not what happened.  Instead, and in contrast to the multi-year, multi-dimensional conflict waged between Ezkankekko and Belintar centuries later, Hardros was able to penetrate a fortress that even Belintar could not enter short of destroying it, and slew a demigod who even Heort looked up to as 'the most powerful' among the peoples gathered to fight the Unity Battle.  When Ezkankekko returned he simply released the Hendriki from their obligations, freeing them to find their ruin in theocracy and draconic mysticism.  Centuries later Belintar came, and as Jeff says he fought Ezkankekko and proved his worth to the powers who had formerly been part of the Equal Exchange.  The Only Old One was not what he was; he fought, he failed, he was sent to Wonderhome for keeps and the Palace blasted into a desert's worth of black sand.  I've got a theory as to why all that happened.  Folks,

Image result for eurmal cult image

Eurmal did it.

It's part of the most devious twist of Argan Argar (and now Ezkankekko) myth I've yet found, and could be a common thread between the Lightbringer's Quest, the Breaking of the Unity Council, the Tax Revolt, and the final overthrow of the Shadowlands by Belintar.  But as this post is already running quite long i'll cap it here.

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24 minutes ago, dumuzid said:

The Guide to Glorantha gives Argan Argar's runes as Darkness, Communication, Mastery; RQ:G gives them as Darkness and Harmony. 

Funny story, they called me into Mother Market a few weeks ago and over a staggering number of drinks one of the old guys mumbled in my ear, "you know Issaries is a black god too." I did my usual but would not be surprised if that rogue factoid plays a role here. Eager to see where you go with all this. 

Edited by scott-martin
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