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Minlister

Orlanthi mean streaks

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It seems to me that there is a tendency to make Orlanthi society a "perfect, gender-inclusive, land of the brave and home of the free where the paramount importance of individual freedom is tempered by a deep sense of responsibility and everybody is eating free-range cattle and organic wheat and using a sustainable rune magic economy (not to mention Issaries spell fair-trade)".

Before anyone has the temptation to jump to my throat I stress that I am all for these values in the real world.

But does it make sense in a fictional world? How can we play in an interesting way the encounter between Orlanthi and Lunar ways if we polish one to moral perfection?

So  my question would be: what are, from your point of view, the "dark and mean streaks of the Orlanthi society" that are worth staging for the sake of a good, balanced, game"? 

Edited by Minlister
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38 minutes ago, Minlister said:

So  my question would be: what are, from your point of view, the "dark and mean streaks of the Orlanthi society" that are worth staging for the sake of a good, balanced, game"? 

IMG whatever Prince Valiant tells us about where Greg wanted the people of Orlanth to go, Li'l Abner shows us who they really were. They're not stupid. But they are pigheaded, ornery, touchy and deliberately contrary. When we move beyond the comic strip world this means violence as tempers flare in enclosed emotional environments. The gini economy might save lives but it won't fix anyone's feelings . . . and grudges drive smart people to do destructive things. If you don't point the storm in a clear direction it will just attack itself or worse, die down to an ominous depression. 

The context around the question is extremely interesting. We know Orlanth's way is objectively more vibrant than everything the Empire can provide at this moment in history because we know who ultimately wins the Hero Wars, at least from an exoteric perspective. They're just a better team overall. But here in our hobby different aspects of Empire and Orlanth become attractive in different eras because they're aspirational or let us escape what we get too much of at home.

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And let’s not forget that they have a full-throttle honor culture, less vile than those in the real world only because it’s not misogynistic. Feuds, revenges and murder is the order of the day, and anyone trying to step outside it only marks himself as a weakling who can be victimised. 

Imagine what your own life would be like if violence was always an option, if any situation could turn physically violent at the drop of a hat, if anyone strong enough to victimise you will probably get away with it, and any redress will be bloody.

And this is before we even get to the keeping of thralls, the occasional human sacrifice, and all that jazz.

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Scapegoating of ducks after Starbrow's Rebellion may have been Fazzur's idea but many Orlanthi seem to have been happy enough to participate.

The tribes seemed happy enough to feud and politic between themselves during the Lunar Occupation.

I'm sure when the occupation ended there were plenty of old scores settled or scapegoats selected under cover of punishing collaborators.

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2 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

It is extremely unfortunate that many believe that they "know" this.  Ruins the game.  How interesting is a wargame where The Horde always wins, or the Central Powers always lose?  Besides, we don't know this - even Greg said that KoS was just one point of view.

 

We agree completely on the first part.

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2 hours ago, Minlister said:

It seems to me that there is a tendency to make Orlanthi society a "perfect, gender-inclusive, land of the brave and home of the free where the paramount importance of individual freedom is tempered by a deep sense of responsibility and everybody is eating free-range cattle and organic wheat and using a sustainable rune magic economy (not to mention Issaries spell fair-trade)".

 

Nice! 

 

1 hour ago, scott-martin said:

The context around the question is extremely interesting. We know Orlanth's way is objectively more vibrant than everything the Empire can provide at this moment in history because we know who ultimately wins the Hero Wars, at least from an exoteric perspective. They're just a better team overall. But here in our hobby different aspects of Empire and Orlanth become attractive in different eras because they're aspirational or let us escape what we get too much of at home.

Always on point but I am out of thanks today. L:ove the Al Capp reference... Bring on the Shmoos!

Hm, bad things about my fave people, the Orlanthi?

Well, being a democratic socialist. I despise the form of government. The tenets, and dogma seem good but, It is quite arbitrary in practise if not in doctrine, Being outlawed is a nice clean thing usually from a societal point of view, but to all but the strong it could very well be a death sentence. Anyway I could go on but the OP was to simply find flaws and this is my contribution to his excellent thread. 

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3 hours ago, Minlister said:

It seems to me that there is a tendency to make Orlanthi society a "perfect, gender-inclusive, land of the brave and home of the free where the paramount importance of individual freedom is tempered by a deep sense of responsibility and everybody is eating free-range cattle and organic wheat and using a sustainable rune magic economy (not to mention Issaries spell fair-trade)".

When I discovered Orlanthi I had the same feelings but now (of course I play the challenger..)

  • Chiefs are mostly Chief heirs
  • Feud is just the rule for anything, ok there is always another way but that is for cowards or women...  (see next)
  • Yes women can join a "male" cult like Orlanth but... they need a spell (Fearless) to be like men
  • they mistrust strangers and afraid about strange things (afraid doesn't mean you fly, it could become you destroy)
  • People have not the same value (wergild) just because they are not in the same caste (what ? caste ?)
  • they proclaim they move like the wind,but at the end of the day, decision is based on what ancestors did, not what could be done

So I respect Orlanth, Sartar, but the common orlanthi have good and bad aspects, like others, like human beings.

 

Edited by French Desperate WindChild
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2 hours ago, scott-martin said:

The context around the question is extremely interesting. We know Orlanth's way is objectively more vibrant than everything the Empire can provide at this moment in history because we know who ultimately wins the Hero Wars, at least from an exoteric perspective. They're just a better team overall.

Honestly though, the only reason the Orlanthi win is because they have a Gary-Stu PC on their team...

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Thanks everybody! 

Yes, propensity for violence is one obvious answer, even if in a heroic context, it is not such an obvious one. Is head-hunting still a thing know that we have sailed away from Celtic models? Culbrea head-hunters are still mentioned in Armies and Enemies of  Dragon Pass.

I must say that when I discovered Glorantha, not so long ago I was particularly struck by the the Tarsh in Flames supplement, with its fascinating balance between the lunarized elite and new capital and at  the same the very violent, old, bloody Earth cults. That felt very real.  

And, yes, parochial mind can also be played very well in a "American Gothic" kind of theme... Tight community can indeed be very suffocating. And  yes, the outlaw system is paramount to death for most people.

Unequal wergild is more tricky, because  inequality in status only become a real problem when social mobility is  scarce, which should not be the case in such a violent society.

I had more issue with the gender inclusive thing as the Orlanthi society seemed to me strongly binary in its myth; I would have prefer to give the all-inclusive moral virtues to the Lunars as it fits them perfectly and would have given them a specific positive side to stage as GM [Once more it is an in-game line of thought, don't skin alive for it]. 

The point is there is not a lot of things Sartarite PC could rebel against in their own society, that's a pity. I think that may be the reason why I prefer the 1602-1625 period as a playground. Less epic and more human issues. Only my pesonal taste obviously.

Edited by Minlister
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1 hour ago, Minlister said:

It seems to me that there is a tendency to make Orlanthi society a "perfect, gender-inclusive, land of the brave and home of the free where the paramount importance of individual freedom is tempered by a deep sense of responsibility and everybody is eating free-range cattle and organic wheat and using a sustainable rune magic economy (not to mention Issaries spell fair-trade)".

Before anyone has the temptation to jump to my throat I stress that I am all for these values in the real world.

But does it make sense in a fictional world? How can we play in an interesting way the encounter between Orlanthi and Lunar ways if we polish one to moral perfection?

So  my question would be: what are, from your point of view, the "dark and mean streaks of the Orlanthi society" that are worth staging for the sake of a good, balanced, game"? 

I certainly don't see the Orlanthi as being much like what was described.

My Orlanthi are troublesome, ambitious, constantly breaking their own rules, torn between honor and loyalty, and often overly pragmatic when it comes to their own self-interest. They often recognise no authority except that which has the power to back it up (over and over again). They pick fights with Elder Races over resources they want, make plenty of short-term self-interested deals (and break long-standing traditions when they are no longer in their short-term interest). 

Sartar stands out as someone who was able to overcome these limitations - through trade, money, and the power. His dynasty tempered the natural inclinations of the Orlanthi - first through money, second through getting the tribes to share certain valuable resources they couldn't have by themselves, and then finally through raw military might.

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17 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

Honestly though, the only reason the Orlanthi win is because they have a Gary-Stu PC on their team...

Yeah, not a huge fan of that guy myself but until we get the esoteric "Lunars Win" side all I know is that his magic is stronger in the texts we have . . . the teachable moment is to figure out why in that particular Glorantha he wins and what that tells us about the universal constants of the world. Hi Bill, where you been? Oh cripes, big guy has replied.

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@Jeff I understand perfectly and I do the same with mine but what I meant was from a "structural" point of view. Of course, in the way Orlanthi society applies its value there is plenty of space for conflict, pettiness, vice and abuse of the weak by the strong. But I find them too "clean shaven" as a civilization, too much an ideal-type of the "good natured savage" or "noble savage". I find the Praxian or the Esrolian Matriarchy more balanced, without even speaking of the Lunars. Nonetheless it remains that S:KoH is by far the best RPG book I have ever read.  

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41 minutes ago, scott-martin said:

Yeah, not a huge fan of that guy myself but until we get the esoteric "Lunars Win" side all I know is that his magic is stronger in the texts we have . . . the teachable moment is to figure out why in that particular Glorantha he wins and what that tells us about the universal constants of the world. 

My big problem with Argrath is that it doesn't seem earned. He just gets to do whatever he likes because plot reasons. So he really hates the Lunars and he got to go on a long boat trip? That still doesn't explain why he's single-handedly far beyond the Lunars, the EWF and the God-Learners combined. Thousands of people working across hundreds of years, and he eclipses them easily?

Edited by Akhôrahil
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1 hour ago, Jeff said:

My Orlanthi are troublesome, ambitious, constantly breaking their own rules, torn between honor and loyalty, and often overly pragmatic when it comes to their own self-interest. They often recognise no authority except that which has the power to back it up (over and over again). They pick fights with Elder Races over resources they want, make plenty of short-term self-interested deals (and break long-standing traditions when they are no longer in their short-term interest). 

 

I think Jeff touches on something very important here. When we read background material about Orlanthi culture, it's easy to get the impression that everyone always acts according to the cultural schemae (ie. internally consistent set of norms) set out there. In reality, almost everyone cheats the system every now and then, gives up if it's too hard, is tempted, is biased, etc. 

People are flawed, and no cultural schema exists that can totally encompass that. 

Also, the cultural schemae is, of course, not static. If enough people cheat, then the cheat becomes the new schema. Then they collectively forget the old norms and pretend they always did it the new way. They might even get ancestors who agree - magic is weird like that. 

On the other hand, gods and magics exist that might spark reactionary movements. 

And lastly - might is right. It's very difficult to get around that. The Orlanthi may have a system of rights and obligations, but they are definitely easier to claim if you've got a lot of cousins and in-laws with spears and corslets backing you up and being willing to murder someone to satisfy your claim, to be blunt.

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4 hours ago, scott-martin said:

Hi Bill, where you been? Oh cripes, big guy has replied.

Do you mean me? If so I am glad someone noticed I have been away! Editing modules, planning one of my own (it'll never see the light of day...) working the day and night job and...

Plottng some horrible thing for all of you.... Bwahahahahaha! And I a happy to say it looks like this might see the light of day. Well, okay it’s closer than my module anyway. Crossing fingers.

Edited by Bill the barbarian
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6 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

That still doesn't explain why he's single-handedly far beyond the Lunars, the EWF and the God-Learners combined. Thousands of people working across hundreds of years, and he eclipses them easily?

Ah, the joys and perils of Illumination! You can take the dark and secret paths that all sane people know to avoid. 

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The Orlanthi only win in the story

This is the canonical ending, not the world you live in. We know that Greg wanted to write the counter story where the Hero was Lunar and they won, he just never got to it.

Mad props to the rebooted Star Wars RPG for saying straight up: "start by throwing away Leia, Luke, the Emperor, Vader, Rey, Finn, Poe, the Jedi Council, and everything else, none of that matters". It was pretty ballsy of an official product to say 'fuck canon, officially, just take the trappings'. They suggest you probably want to think about the story you want to run with the guts you know: evil genocidal-of-nonhumans Empire, Force users killed off, Stormtroopers, blasters, smugglers, good v. evil.

I suggest you think about the events of the 1600s the same way

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8 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

I think Jeff touches on something very important here. When we read background material about Orlanthi culture, it's easy to get the impression that everyone always acts according to the cultural schemae (ie. internally consistent set of norms) set out there. In reality, almost everyone cheats the system every now and then, gives up if it's too hard, is tempted, is biased, etc. 

People are flawed, and no cultural schema exists that can totally encompass that. 

Also, the cultural schemae is, of course, not static. If enough people cheat, then the cheat becomes the new schema. Then they collectively forget the old norms and pretend they always did it the new way. They might even get ancestors who agree - magic is weird like that. 

On the other hand, gods and magics exist that might spark reactionary movements. 

And lastly - might is right. It's very difficult to get around that. The Orlanthi may have a system of rights and obligations, but they are definitely easier to claim if you've got a lot of cousins and in-laws with spears and corslets backing you up and being willing to murder someone to satisfy your claim, to be blunt.

I was sort of thinking something similar.

But more, honour is supposed to be this big important thing to hold on to - and yet people will break it easily if they think they can either get away with it, or don't like the consequences. They look for a reason - any reason - to not have to abide by a rule or ruling. 

In another thread, it was asked if 1-1 formal duels would negate any weregild. In theory, not only the compensation, but also the right for revenge. However,  I'd say that's regularly broken, and some excuse ("he spat on my brother's corpse as he walked away") would be used to keep the first going, in order to come out on top.

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11 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

Yes women can join a "male" cult like Orlanth but... they need a spell (Fearless) to be like men

I didn't put those two together til you mentioned it, but I'd rather take it that Vinga has a spell that allows them to stand when others (men) run away... Rather than they need that spell to be just as courageous.

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All good stuff, people!  Even if Orlanthi respected their laws and traditions, that's still a shitty society to live in. As people before me mentioned, there's a whole bunch of stuff that's very "backwards" to modern sensibilities, but one thing that wasn't mentioned was the amount of social pressure: there are factions and families that may or may not be at odds, the importance of kin probably weight on you a lot, etc... in many ways, it feels like being in a US prison TV drama, where you really need to be careful who you're with and who you're against.

10 hours ago, Minlister said:

I had more issue with the gender inclusive thing as the Orlanthi society seemed to me strongly binary in its myth; I would have prefer to give the all-inclusive moral virtues to the Lunars as it fits them perfectly and would have given them a specific positive side to stage as GM [Once more it is an in-game line of thought, don't skin alive for it].

I wanted to pick at this a bit specifically: the Orlanthi society may be inclusive in terms of gender and couple arrangements, but it's far from being liberal about it. Gender roles seem to be enforced to the point that even non-cis-genders are expected to take specific roles. Sure there are cults to accomodate everybody, but you still need to go in the little box that the Orlanthi has planned for you. The only inclusivity here is that they have more than 2 boxes, but they have boxes nonetheless. In comparison, I see the Lunars as being more "true" liberals, where they don't have really any boxes to begin with.

Edited by lordabdul
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9 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

I think Jeff touches on something very important here. When we read background material about Orlanthi culture, it's easy to get the impression that everyone always acts according to the cultural schemae (ie. internally consistent set of norms) set out there. In reality, almost everyone cheats the system every now and then, gives up if it's too hard, is tempted, is biased, etc. 

People are flawed, and no cultural schema exists that can totally encompass that. 

Also, the cultural schemae is, of course, not static. If enough people cheat, then the cheat becomes the new schema. Then they collectively forget the old norms and pretend they always did it the new way. They might even get ancestors who agree - magic is weird like that. 

On the other hand, gods and magics exist that might spark reactionary movements. 

And lastly - might is right. It's very difficult to get around that. The Orlanthi may have a system of rights and obligations, but they are definitely easier to claim if you've got a lot of cousins and in-laws with spears and corslets backing you up and being willing to murder someone to satisfy your claim, to be blunt.

Also the Orlanthi are defined by their god - "both the murderer of Yelm who plunged the world into darkness and the leader of the Lightbringers who revived the world, Orlanth is the God of Heroes, an untamed destroyer who nonetheless protects life and aids civilization. He destroys not to end the world but to make way for the new. Orlanth made the world what it is through his deeds and his cult is destined to play a central role in the Hero Wars."

The Orlanth cult provides perfectly good encouragement for much of the problematic elements in Orlanthi society. Local farmer, "Hey, these are strange new powers or ideas - what would Orlanth do?" Orlanthi hero, "he'd take them and use them against his foes!"  Local farmer, "But what if they are bad?" Orlanthi hero, "Pffft. We'll deal with that later. We have the Red Goddess to overthrow first!"

Your clans leaders might say that the EWF was horrible, but at the same time they know that once upon a time the Storm Voices could command dragons and the Wind Lords conquered kingdoms. Maybe before the Dragonrise all that got ignored, but now it is back out in the open. Maybe the old sages say God Learnism was a bad foreign thing, but their texts and lore prove otherwise. And the path that Minaryth Purple walked is now open to other clever and curious sages. And so on.

Throw Humakt, Storm Bull, and Maran Gor into that mix, and you can imagine things getting dangerous fast. And if you keep in mind that the Orlanthi have suffered from a generation of occupation and close to a decade of war leading up to the start of RQG, there's going to be a lot more imperfection than the high amount the Orlanthi normally have.

 

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14 minutes ago, Shiningbrow said:

I didn't put those two together til you mentioned it, but I'd rather take it that Vinga has a spell that allows them to stand when others (men) run away... Rather than they need that spell to be just as courageous.

It is as you say. The Vinga cultists are renowned for their fearlessness. More so than the men.

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@lordabdul

Quote

one thing that wasn't mentioned was the amount of social pressure

yes, that is  what I  wanted to  refer to with the allusion to the American Gothic picture and parochial mentality. But the more liberal a society, and Orlanthi society is extremely liberal, the less social pressure is likely to bear upon individuals. Nonetheless, yes, it is a good card to play as a GM. 

As for the many boxes which are still boxes, I 100% agree, even if still, the more option offered by a society the less drama opportunities to stage in game.

And the thoughts about weregild and chieftains sons of chieftains raised an interesting issue: how fluid is really Orlanthi society? 

Maybe also, in the post-dragonrise setting, a good background theme could be the rise of more authoritarian leaders and mores, as every ounce of energy is enlisted against the Lunars. In a way the evolution from a collection of clan fyrds to a proper Sartarite army, indispensable to wage the Hero Wars, could be pitted against the traditional "No one can make you do anything". We know all too well "more security at the [so little] price of less freedom", but Sartarite could experience a "more efficiency at the price of less freedom" kind of crisis, with the PCs on the fence in front of Argrath's demands. 

By the way, if anybody is reading French, I strongly advice the reading of Jaworski's Roi du Monde, a series of novels about a Gaul warrior. By far the best rendition of an "Orlanthi-like" society I have read (even if we discard Celtic elements).

 

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2 hours ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

The Orlanthi only win in the story 

Also, “win” is a strong word here. It’s like declaring yourself the winner after a thermonuclear exchange, because 1% of your population survived but only .5% of the opponent’s.

Argrath gets his vengeance. Everyone else loses.

Edited by Akhôrahil
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