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Darius West

Dogs in Prax?

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My question is this...  Foundchild is the hunter god of the Praxian pantheon, and he is associated with Brother Dog.  Should we assume that the Brother Dog association applies in Prax too?  I can see immense benefits for having dogs to help with herding in Prax, as I'm sure most of you can, and they could have been introduced from Balazaar by the Foundchild cult in the distant past.  On the other hand, there is nothing to say that this is the case.  There is no reference to Praxians having any dogs to speak of, and so I am leaning heavily towards saying no to all dogs in Prax, save wild ones like jackals.  IRL the domestication of dogs happened well before any mounts were domesticated, and most nomads (e.g. all European steppe tribes, Pre-Islamic Arabians, and Native American Plains tribes) have used dogs to manage their herds.  On the other hand Praxians are weird, and it might only be Pentans who are innovative enough to use dogs in this role.  I am interested in what other people think about this, and any references that might apply.

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While I've not read any Gloranthan myth placing dogs in context in Prax, neither have I ready anything excluding them.  And Brother Dog must have more affiliations than just Foundchild.  Clearly there are some as-yet unrevealed myths that you're beginning to tug at -- it seems pretty clear that Brother Dog would be a helper to both Foundchild and Waha.  Have to explain the bridge between the whole two-legs/four-legs divide, though.

As for me, I now can't get the image out of my head of Agimori walking side-by-side with a brace of hounds and herders.

!i!

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Digging back through my 1st Ed copy of Griffin Mountain in which Brother Dog and Foundchild first appeared (and, yes, which I imagine is no longer canon), I find two interesting notes:

  1. Brother Dog is an acknowledged sub-cult of Hunter (a.k.a. Foundchild, in this case);
  2. Regarding Brother Dog, it is written, "It is said that Brother Dog approached Found-Child [sic] during the Darkness and said he'd prefer to be a friend than food. The two became brothers and have served each other ever since."

So there's your bridge between two-legs and four-legs.  The brief excerpt from the myth doesn't specify that this bonding took place in Balazar, and it would appear that four-legged "food" animals can negotiate a separate peace with two-legged "people".

And then there's this brief snippet on the various origin myths of dogs from Anaxial's Roster (and the Glorantha Bestiary, I just found, so it's canon): "In Prax, Waha's brother betrayed him and was turned into a dog. He has served loyally ever since to make amends."

I can see the two myths dovetailing, placing the dog firmly in the social order of Prax, role unspecified.

!i!

Edited by Ian Absentia
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47 minutes ago, Ian Absentia said:

Digging back through my 1st Ed copy of Griffin Mountain in which Brother Dog and Foundchild first appeared (and, yes, which I imagine is no longer canon), I find two interesting notes:

  1. Brother Dog is an acknowledged sub-cult of Hunter (a.k.a. Foundchild, in this case);
  2. Regarding Brother Dog, it is written, "It is said that Brother Dog approached Found-Child [sic] during the Darkness and said he'd prefer to be a friend than food. The two became brothers and have served each other ever since."

So there's your bridge between two-legs and four-legs.  The brief excerpt from the myth doesn't specify that this bonding took place in Balazar, and it would appear that four-legged "food" animals can negotiate a separate peace with two-legged "people".

And then there's this brief snippet on the various origin myths of dogs from Anaxial's Roster (and the Glorantha Bestiary, I just found, so it's canon): "In Prax, Waha's brother betrayed him and was turned into a dog. He has served loyally ever since to make amends."

I can see the two myths dovetailing, placing the dog firmly in the social order of Prax, role unspecified.

!i!

I think it makes a lot of sense for Brother Dog/dogs to be part of a "sui generis" compact that precedes Waha's Covenant, making it, very fittingly, an anomaly. The Four-Leg that Guards the Other Four-Legs. 

Anomalies are potent symbols in a lot of RW religions (whether as holy symbols or symbols of aberration), so this is something that can be spun on further, but I'll leave that to others.

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Here's a rather more delicate question regarding Waha's Compact.  Assuming:

  1. Waha's brother who was turned into a dog was Brother Dog himself (NB: the "Brother" appellation is apparently in reference to his adoptive brotherhood with Foundchild, not necessarily a sibling relationship with Waha);
  2. Brother Dog, walking on four legs, had to petition Foundchild for a cooperative, non-prey status;

...is it cool to eat dogs in Prax?  I can easily see a proscription against it, based on mythical relationships, but technically they are still animals and not "people".  Plenty of RW cultures keep dogs for both service and food, so it isn't unheard of.  The more I think about it, the more I like this grey area status that dogs have achieved, not lucking out like morokanths and drawing one of the two long straws, but still finding a position of favor among "people".  I also can't imagine dogs and morokanths getting on well at all -- that should probably be part of the myth.

By the way, I hear from my Sartarite friends that alynx is delicious.

!i!

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8 minutes ago, Ian Absentia said:

Here's a rather more delicate question regarding Waha's Compact.  Assuming:

  1. Waha's brother who was turned into a dog was Brother Dog himself (NB: the "Brother" appellation is apparently in reference to his adoptive brotherhood with Foundchild, not necessarily a sibling relationship with Waha);
  2. Brother Dog, walking on four legs, had to petition Foundchild for a cooperative, non-prey status;

...is it cool to eat dogs in Prax?  I can easily see a proscription against it, based on mythical relationships, but technically they are still animals and not "people".  Plenty of RW cultures keep dogs for both service and food, so it isn't unheard of.  The more I think about it, the more I like this grey area status that dogs have achieved, not lucking out like morokanths and drawing one of the two long straws, but still finding a position of favor among "people".  I also can't imagine dogs and morokanths getting on well at all -- that should probably be part of the myth.

By the way, I hear from my Sartarite friends that alynx is delicious.

!i!

Maybe some myth about the Morokanth resenting the dogs for being well-liked, when they're not even winners, while the Morokanths are seen as cheaters, perhaps?

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2 minutes ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

Maybe some myth about the Morokanth resenting the dogs for being well-liked, when they're not even winners, while the Morokanths are seen as cheaters, perhaps?

And this is the beauty of the ever-unfolding myths of Glorantha.  Tell me this isn't contradicted by canon, 'cause I'm writin' it up.

!i!

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15 hours ago, Darius West said:

My question is this...  Foundchild is the hunter god of the Praxian pantheon, and he is associated with Brother Dog.  Should we assume that the Brother Dog association applies in Prax too?  I can see immense benefits for having dogs to help with herding in Prax, as I'm sure most of you can, and they could have been introduced from Balazaar by the Foundchild cult in the distant past.  On the other hand, there is nothing to say that this is the case.  There is no reference to Praxians having any dogs to speak of, and so I am leaning heavily towards saying no to all dogs in Prax, save wild ones like jackals.  IRL the domestication of dogs happened well before any mounts were domesticated, and most nomads (e.g. all European steppe tribes, Pre-Islamic Arabians, and Native American Plains tribes) have used dogs to manage their herds.  On the other hand Praxians are weird, and it might only be Pentans who are innovative enough to use dogs in this role.  I am interested in what other people think about this, and any references that might apply.

The simple answer from Greg when I discussed this with him was that dogs amongst the Praxians were camp dogs not hunters or herders (likewise in the same discussion was that the Morokanth don't use hyenas at all). Brother Dog's is a spirit cult is contactable by shaman and associated with Foundchild in the upcoming book and teaches Understand Dog  (communication skill) and the Conquer Beast special rune spell (This spell causes the caster‘s effective POW to be increased by 50%, for purposes of offensive and defensive spirit combat and spell resistance only. This bonus is only received against four-footed mammals and beast-spirits, including riding animals, wolves, etc.)

Remember that for a Foundchild initiate to access associated cult spells, you need a major temple, so most will need to access Brother dog through a shaman as a spirit cult.

In Prax the spirit cult is most often associated with Helpwoman shaman as a camp guards. Waha & Foundchild Hunters are not so common amongst the Praxians - roughly 1% amongst the tribes.

There's some more over here from Greg's notes: 

I don't see any reason why you couldn't include dogs with the mounted Praxian hunters in your games if you wanted. No doubt throughout Praxian history there's been the occasional hunter /herder with one or more trained dogs.

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Thanks for the post David, that at least clears up the issue of dogs being in Prax.  The fact that they aren't used for either hunting or herding seems pretty economically bizarre to me however, considering that dogs eat meat, and meat is expensive to produce.  The notion that dogs are only used for guarding camps is weird, considering that Foundchild knows about using dogs for hunting, and the notion that Brother Dog is Waha's brother, but he doesn't help with herding is also just odd.

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I suspect that the reasons for Brother Dog not being a herder is simply thematic.

Greg and co were very influenced by the American plains and the Cowboys and Native Americans being with herds of animals. Generally speaking Native Americans didn't use dogs to hunt larger game or to herd and dogs have never been much of a feature for Cowboys or Gaucho's because as you say they eat meat.

Quite a few Great Plains Tribes _did_ eat Dog.

Quite a few tribes used camp dogs as guard dogs. And that makes a lot of sense for Prax. 

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I'm not sure if the scarcity of meat is the greatest bottleneck for keeping dogs, as nomadic pastoralists have a much higher meat-intake than, say, subsistence rice farmers, who may be almost entirely vegetarian themselves (At least if I remember my subjects well enough). 

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1 hour ago, Darius West said:

The fact that they aren't used for either hunting or herding seems pretty economically bizarre to me however, considering that dogs eat meat, and meat is expensive to produce. 

Dogs are also opportunistic scavengers who produce meat, so semi-independent camp dogs, if they aren't draining valuable resources, make sense.  Also the role of guard/alarm dogs, while not especially glamorous, can be incredibly valuable to a nomadic people, even if they don't hunt or herd themselves.

1 hour ago, Darius West said:

The notion that dogs are only used for guarding camps is weird, considering that Foundchild knows about using dogs for hunting, and the notion that Brother Dog is Waha's brother, but he doesn't help with herding is also just odd.

Considering that, in Prax, the dog's origin is less than dignified (punishment for betraying Waha), a low status for dogs makes some sense.  Perhaps think of it this way:

  • Waha is the one who re-establishes the social order in Prax in the wake of the Great Darkness and the Devil, and Brother Dog has gotten on the eternal bad side of the god in charge.
  • At some point Waha enlists the aid of Foundchild to teach the people of Prax to hunt for self-sufficiency.
  • Always getting short shrift from Waha, Brother Dog appeals to this newcomer, Foundchild, to show him a wider repertoire of talents.  Foundchild is impressed and embraces him as a brother, not just a lowly cur.
  • Brother Dog remains loyal to Waha by paying obeisance to his new partner Foundchild, with whom he can perform a larger role in the world.  Waha still won't let him off a short lead in Prax, but there's this other people just to the north over the ridge where Waha doesn't hold sway.

Yeah, I'm not super-impressed by the apparent pro-cat/anti-dog bias expressed in the extant Gloranthan myth, but if Waha wants to hobble his people by continuing to bear a grudge and deny them the broader benefits of keeping and training dogs, who am I to gainsay him?  The fact that these same traits and talents have been attributed elsewhere to cats?  Again, who am I to say?

!i!

Edited by Ian Absentia
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2 hours ago, Ian Absentia said:

Yeah, I'm not super-impressed by the apparent pro-cat/anti-dog bias expressed in the extant Gloranthan myth, but if Waha wants to hobble his people by continuing to bear a grudge and deny them the broader benefits of keeping and training dogs, who am I to gainsay him?  The fact that these same traits and talents have been attributed elsewhere to cats?  Again, who am I to say?

As a person who thinks both cats and dogs are awesome in their own ways, I am always surprised at the cat bias too.  I mean' you'd think the howling of the wind was more wolf-like than cat-like for example (the Norse used that kenning quite a lot after all), but not among the Orlanthi, even the ones who live north of Dragon Pass in Dog God territory.  Not really on topic, but it does make you wonder.

Edited by Darius West
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3 hours ago, Thaz said:

I suspect that the reasons for Brother Dog not being a herder is simply thematic.

Or he wasn't a dog person...

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3 hours ago, Thaz said:

Quite a few Great Plains Tribes _did_ eat Dog.

Ranging off-topic (though maybe not too far), the Lewis & Clark expedition, while exploring territory with rivers teeming with trout and salmon, preferred to eat their dogs when provisions ran low rather than resorting to...(ugh)...fish.

The argument for keeping dogs incidentally rather than purposefully is somewhat compelling.  As I noted up-thread, they're opportunistic scavengers and they eat the garbage of human communities.  With little effort or upkeep on the part of humans, camp dogs take care of the trash, are very alert and scare off intruders, and when they get too numerous or times get tough they make for decent eating.  And occasionally you can hitch the better-behaved ones up to a travois to carry a burden.  Not utilising them for hunting or herding ranks among those cultural anomalies like not using the wheel or developing a written script -- sometimes there are just cultural blind spots.

!i!

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46 minutes ago, Ian Absentia said:

... The argument for keeping dogs incidentally rather than purposefully is somewhat compelling.  As I noted up-thread, they're opportunistic scavengers and they eat the garbage of human communities.  With little effort or upkeep on the part of humans, camp dogs take care of the trash...

Dunno...  IMG, Prax is harsher than that.  There mostly isn't enough nutrition in a camp waste-stream to sustain a breeding population of dogs... the humans need it.

"Used" bones get cracked for their marrow, and boiled-up in soup/etc; the clean bones get made into tools and weapons.

If the dogs can otherwise offer sufficient value -- alert guards, give alarms, etc -- then I can see the tribes intentionally leaving some of those scraps instead of stripping them bare.

But an intelligent human is also a pretty good guard, in open country like Prax.  The nomads are all raiders themselves, after all... they know how to set up their camps to minimize the opportunities raiders will have, and maximize their own scouts' & guards' chances to give adequate alarm.  I am "unclear" on how the dogs can offer that value, earn their keep in such scarcity.

 

Still, we have Greg's own vision that Praxians DO have & use "camp" dogs, and the myth about Waha's brother.  Unless we (or you, or I) wish to greg Greg, it's got to be made to work!  😉

 

Edited by g33k
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Dogs and cats are absolutely vital if you don’t want to be overrun by vermin - a constant risk here in the tropics. Forget hunting, I think the first job humans ever gave dogs was stopping rats and other scavengers from invading the campsite.

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30 minutes ago, EricW said:

Forget hunting, I think the first job humans ever gave dogs was stopping rats and other scavengers from invading the campsite.

This gets into pretty arguable territory, but theories persist that humans and dogs co-domesticated.  Both species are opportunistic scavengers (there I go using that term again) as well as hunters, and theory has it that they followed each other in turns to pick off each other's successful kills; the more cooperative canines and humans both became more successful survivors and propagated accordingly, perpetuating the relationship.  Over time, the more long-range-thinking of the partnership began to favor and reward those with more specialised behaviors, builds, and appearance, and different breeds began to appear.

How does this relate to Glorantha?  I dunno -- cats appear to have done all the heavy lifting instead.  I'm working on it, though...

!i!

Edited by Ian Absentia
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48 minutes ago, EricW said:

Dogs and cats are absolutely vital if you don’t want to be overrun by vermin - a constant risk here in the tropics. Forget hunting, I think the first job humans ever gave dogs was stopping rats and other scavengers from invading the campsite.

Yeah, THAT one was cats.

Humans and cats were probably pretty irrelevant to one another, until agriculture (& especially grain!).

Once humanity became hosts to innumerable rodents living off the artificially-enriched environment, cats decided humans had a reason to exist, after all...

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24 minutes ago, Ian Absentia said:

This gets into pretty arguable territory, but theories persist that humans and dogs co-domesticated.  Both species are opportunistic scavengers (there I go using that term again) as well as hunters, and theory has it that they followed each other in turns to pick off each other's successful kills; the more cooperative canines and humans both became more successful survivors and propagated accordingly, perpetuating the relationship.  Over time, the more long-range-thinking of the partnership began to favor and reward those with more specialised behaviors, builds, and appearance, and different breeds began to appear.

This seems likely enough.  Coyote's and badgers have been known to hunt cooperatively for some time (and they aren't the only such cross-species partnership).

I'm not sure I'd to so far as to say they "co-domesticated" -- humans were, I think, already pretty "domesticated" by the requirements of tool-making and by rearing such long-time-helpless young.

 

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24 minutes ago, g33k said:

I'm not sure I'd to so far as to say they "co-domesticated" -- humans were, I think, already pretty "domesticated" by the requirements of tool-making and by rearing such long-time-helpless young.

And this is where some controversy begins to arise.  "Domestication" refers to changes in the behavior or morphology of one species to benefit another by creating a more predictable food supply*.  However sophisticated humans may have already been, the behavior and influence of canines may have altered humans further to the dogs' benefit.  It's plain that eventually humans pulled ahead in the relationship and commanded the greatest influence in an essentially one-way direction.

!i!

[*Edit:  Supply of resources, actually.  It doesn't have to be food.]

Edited by Ian Absentia
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3 minutes ago, Ian Absentia said:

And this is where some controversy begins to arise.  "Domestication" refers to changes in the behavior or morphology of one species to benefit another by creating a more predictable food supply.  However sophisticated humans may have already been, the behavior and influence of canines may have altered humans further to the dogs' benefit...

Hmmm ...

I'm not sure I see how the proposition could ever be proven or dis-proven.

I think it's doomed to remain an interesting speculation.

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Guarding both the humans and the herd seems like a valuable role for dogs, but I can attest that even in very harsh environments (I've seen it in Central Australia, which can be right up there for harshness, I assure you) camp dogs, that are neither trained for specific tasks or dependent on humans, but with both species generally finding the relationship beneficial, are very much a thing. And there is evidence that this has been going on for a very long time*

Dogs in Balazar seems quite likely similar to Australian Indigenous relationships with the dingo, which includes humans and dogs living together and hunting together, but a fair degree of independence as well (dogs existing wild without humans), called commensalism rather than true domestication. In Prax humans are probably less happy about wild dogs, but the relationship may be similar. The training required is fairly minimal, even - for hunting together, you more or less just need to convince them to accept humans as pack members, and then pursue similar cooperation as would normally be done in wild packs, such as having pack leaders drive animals back towards the rest of the pack. Same for using dogs to guard the camp against predators. The Understand Dog skill of Foundchild would be more than enough. 

*(though not that long by Australian Indigenous standards - dingoes arrived in Australia a mere 3.500 years ago, so are far less 'uniquely' Australian than many Australian fauna, being definitely a species of dog, and Indigenous myth and tradition preserves stories about the dingo displacing the thylacine, a marsupial that held a similar apex predator role, from the mainland). 

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The Soviets did an experiment with foxes, to see how many generations it would take to produce a domestic fox from wild stock. Happened very quickly.

In Africa hunters frequently bring home young animals as toys, after the mothers are slaughtered for food. The young animals are usually killed or driven off if they live long enough to become vicious. But given how quickly the Soviet experiment produced results, a tribe would not have to do this for very long before they acquired a group of semi-tame animals which could tolerate humans enough not to have to be driven away or killed.

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