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Your Dumbest Theory


scott-martin

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1 hour ago, scott-martin said:

Derek Jarman once made the observation …

Now here is a chaos cult sales pitch for you:

Quote

I want to share this emptiness with you. Not fill the silence with false notes or put tracks through the void. I want to share this wilderness of failure. The others have built you a highway—fast lanes in both directions. I offer you a journey without direction, uncertainty and no sweet conclusion. When the light faded, I went in search of myself. There were many paths and many destinations. — DJ, The Garden

Although the Jarmanian apocalypse will reduce everything to a field of blue. Is that rain you can hear as the world ends? Well, it is the sound of Heler and Yves Klein laughing.

Spoiler

Is Heler staunch and loyal to Thunderpants? Say rather that they are patient and their identity appropriately slippery: Sshorga the Water Dragon (“mother”) ≈ Lorion ≈ Celestial River ≈ The Sky River Titan ≈ Engizi ≈ Heler (“son”) … or something?

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29 minutes ago, Eff said:

the Hellenistic thunderbolt is irregular in shape, a bunch of sticks tied together

Hmm … a fascicle, a fasces? I can see the Sartar “resistance” marketing department saying, “Shall we stick an axe through the middle of that to keep the Ernaldans happy?”

As for the BUF emblem, it does look suspiciously like an O for Orlanth with a lightning bolt through it. BUF Orlanthi. BUFO. Bufo bufo. Mr. Toad.

[I think you will agree we’re better off not actually illustrating these painfully obvious points.]

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2 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

Hmm … a fascicle, a fasces? I can see the Sartar “resistance” marketing department saying, “Shall we stick an axe through the middle of that to keep the Ernaldans happy?”

As for the BUF emblem, it does look suspiciously like an O for Orlanth with a lightning bolt through it. BUF Orlanthi. BUFO. Bufo bufo. Mr. Toad.

[I think you will agree we’re better off not actually illustrating these painfully obvious points.]

A fasces has all the sticks in order, these are more like tumbleweeds. The business end of a broom duplicated over itself. 

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Though a Lunar through and through, she is also a human being.

"I just read an article in The Economist by a guy who was riding around with the Sartar rebels, I mean Taliban," -Greg Stafford, January 7th, 2010

Eight Arms and the Mask

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The actually victorious power in the 'Argrath Saga' ending to the Hero Wars is Ompalam.  In the Fourth Age, without magic to increase crop yields and otherwise bolster economic productivity, the elites of new and surviving cultures across Glorantha will almost inevitably turn to more and harsher means of securing reliable labor inputs to make up the new shortfalls.  Societies that only practiced slavery on a limited basis will see it increase, and many societies that did not practice it in the Third Age will take it up as their previous methods of magically-assisted subsistence fail.  The rattling of chains will encompass the world to replace Arachne Solara's web, while Ompalam lounges atop the corpses of the gods and laughs, drinking the blood of successive generations of ground-down humanity, growing fatter and stronger with time like a malignant tumor in the flesh of the cosmos.

This is why your player characters must ensure that Argrath's Saga does not end according to the script.

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9 minutes ago, dumuzid said:

The actually victorious power in the 'Argrath Saga' ending to the Hero Wars is Ompalam.  In the Fourth Age, without magic to increase crop yields and otherwise bolster economic productivity, the elites of new and surviving cultures across Glorantha will almost inevitably turn to more and harsher means of securing reliable labor inputs to make up the new shortfalls.  Societies that only practiced slavery on a limited basis will see it increase, and many societies that did not practice it in the Third Age will take it up as their previous methods of magically-assisted subsistence fail.  The rattling of chains will encompass the world to replace Arachne Solara's web, while Ompalam lounges atop the corpses of the gods and laughs, drinking the blood of successive generations of ground-down humanity, growing fatter and stronger with time like a malignant tumor in the flesh of the cosmos.

This is why your player characters must ensure that Argrath's Saga does not end according to the script.

So why didn't Ompalam die with the other gods?

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9 minutes ago, John Biles said:

So why didn't Ompalam die with the other gods?

Why do the Praxian tribes, just about the most Chaos-hating human society we have detailed information on, practice widespread slavery without their own Storm Bulls turning on them in snorting rage?  Why do the Sartarites, worshipers of some of the most Freedom-minded gods in the cosmos, accept atrocities like the Sun Domer genocide and mass enslavement of the Kitori?  Why do even the uz, the most Chaos-hating sentient beings in Glorantha, enslave almost every enlo born to them?

Because Ompalam is the most insidious of the surviving Terror Lords.  He's taken the tactic shared by Krarsht, Cacodemon, Thanatar etc. of secretive parasitism a step further, and made his 'gift' a poison so sweet and tempting for those who wield it that even the most inveterate foes of Chaos find themselves taking a sip.   He doesn't send 'demons of slavery' out into the world, he simply supplies a concept, and leaves it to the greed of mortals to execute and proliferate it.  In large swathes of Fonrit, where he's stronger than anywhere else in Glorantha, he's considered to be the same being as the Invisible God of the Malkioni.  I think there's some truth there.  He's invisible, formless and diffuse, given shape only in the form of the tools for implementing his concept--right down to his old personal rune, a pair of manacles.  When Argrath and his Trickster garrote the gods with Arachne Solara's own web, he simply is not there.  He's waiting patiently for the opposition to finish twitching their last, safe in the chains of High King Argrath's own household slaves.

 

There's a corollary to all this.  If Glorantha's nightmare future is to be averted (eventually becoming our own sad ball of dirt), at least one major element of the Prophecies of the Hero Wars has to be turned on its head: the Veldang Revolution in Fonrit has to succeed.

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With all the gods dead in the Fourth Age, Humakt will be dead, too, and there is no more active persecution of the Walking Dead. Accordingly, your monster empire can enslave its dead, much like the Kralori navy already does before the Hero Wars. The Black Sun looks likely to embrace that approach and to spread it westward.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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58 minutes ago, dumuzid said:

He doesn't send 'demons of slavery' out into the world, he simply supplies a concept, and leaves it to the greed of mortals to execute and proliferate it.

I think mortals are quite capable of dreaming up “every person is a slave, just try to be as near the top of the pyramid as possible” (and variations and addenda) all on their own, so in that respect, it doesn’t really matter whether there ever was an Ompalam — eaten by Wakboth or not. And if the gods due to be fed to Wakboth were to be spared, what would they do to end tyranny, slavery, and the rest? Approximately nothing, one imagines. Those evils are only “chaotic” when the other person or group is indulging in them.

Being anti-Ompalam seems too easy: “Slavery? Yes, we’re definitely against that.” But on the other hand, the Godlearner classification — god of degenerative administration, of evil centralization — makes Ompalam seem like the kind of thing the extreme right would rail against when they think that the centre is telling them, the self-defined out group, that they are not allowed to indulge in some unsavoury practice. So we all get to feel queasy, right?

I wonder if there is a way to redeem not slavery, but Ompalam. Ompalam as the god who teaches that free will is an illusion (or language gone on holiday)? Ompalam religious communities whose members all declare themselves to be slaves, but it turns out that ownership of each member of the community is equally distributed among the other members? For example, in a community {a, b, c}, a and b each own 50% of c, b and c each own 50% of a, and a and c each own 50% of b. Other patterns are possible. For example, rings: a owns b owns c owns a.

No one owns themself. No one owns more slaves than anyone else. No cultist owns a non-cultist in whole or in part. No non-cultist owns a cultist in whole or in part: I mean, what cult would sell its members?

Ompalam mathematician–theologians argue over the optimum way to assign ownership — they call this discovering the divine order — but no one ever snarks or comes to blows. No one ever asserts their ownership rights over another, anyway, and often cultists have to consult the latest pamphlet to see just what arcane distribution has been agreed at synod. Whatever they last agreed on, that is the way it has always been and always will be — “We were just a little confused, that’s all. Now, do I own you this week, or is it the other way around? Cup of tea?” One thing is for sure, non-cult “slave owners” are definitely not doing it right, and one never sees them in the sweatier nightclubs.

Will something like this do to stay true to :20-form-man:, :20-power-stasis:, and :20-form-chaos: without my Glorantha having to have an icky god of slavery in it? It still leaves plenty of room to satirise slavery and even to organise against it in-game. Kinkiness is sure to ensue, and I can easily imagine an Ompalam cell being the Gloranthan equivalent of Chip Delany’s Gorgik the Liberator.

Statutory declaration: MGHV.

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One of the genuinely fascinating things about Ompalam as a concept is that the "official" position is that Ompalam is not Chaotic, which carries a wide range of potential implications. But I have rarely seen anyone give this more than a passing nod before diving right into the older conception of Ompalam and slavery as Chaotic, like the Roman rote definition of slavery as "the state that is recognized by the ius gentium in which someone is subject to the dominion of another person, contrary to nature." 

With that said, I don't generally spend much time exploring slavery in Glorantha in play because of how bleak the subject is and the way in which the existing backdrop material is facially rigged such that slavery is presented as inevitable, necessitating a great deal of preparatory work, even before touching on the racialized aspects. So, like Ikadz, Ompalam's Chaotic-or-not status is irrelevant, as both of them are banished to my Glorantha-4 anew whenever I'm reminded of their existence. 

So here's my dumb theory: Ompalam is equated with the Invisible God because Ompalam represents a collapse of the dichotomy of Chaotic/not-Chaotic. If Ompalam is Chaotic, then what is thrall-taking? What is debt-peonage? What does that say about those dancing girls in the royal palace? Do they have a 401(k)? What are the terms of their employment contract? 

But if Ompalam is not Chaotic, then does that not imply that slavery is natural, inevitable, and eternal within Glorantha? That the gods looked upon the sight of human beings stripped of humanity, then waved away Alter Creature and focused on those who were reduced to property, and smiled? How might we abolish slavery within Glorantha if this sleazy motherfucker has his place there? 

So Ompalam remains too terrible to approach, much like the Invisible God, while retaining selfhood and individuality. To get within the Ompalam palace, you need to, well, you need to discard those things, don't you? Whew. 

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Though a Lunar through and through, she is also a human being.

"I just read an article in The Economist by a guy who was riding around with the Sartar rebels, I mean Taliban," -Greg Stafford, January 7th, 2010

Eight Arms and the Mask

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54 minutes ago, Eff said:

One of the genuinely fascinating things about Ompalam as a concept is that the "official" position is that Ompalam is not Chaotic, which carries a wide range of potential implications. But I have rarely seen anyone give this more than a passing nod before diving right into the older conception of Ompalam and slavery as Chaotic

I didn’t say slavery was chaotic. I never would. Blaming human evils on something supposedly definitively not us is ridiculous — and possibly some things worse than that.

I had never given Ompalam a thought till dumuzid brought the little charmer up. I know you know more Gloranthan lore than I ever will (or would ever care to) and that sometimes some odd runes pop up for a while on the Well of Daliath, but if the official position is now that Ompalam — never mind slavery, let us put that aside — is not chaotic, why is he being trailed as being such in the upcoming prosopædia? Who populates those tables? I could have saved myself the trouble of trying to “rescue” one of my people! 😉
 

Ompalam_2023-01-23.thumb.png.8975bac5638507d2761ad110420a3106.png

 

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Yeah, Ompalam is a Lord of Terror, slavery is a Chaotic act.  Just like rape and murder are in Glorantha.  That's not a Dumbest Theory, it's just what's in the Guide.  If you want to run him otherwise, well, YGMV and MGF and all that.  But you're working from a pretty radically different set of assumptions than the source material we're all riffing from.

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10 hours ago, John Biles said:

The official position of the last 10 years seems to be that Ompalam *is* chaotic.

Well, that is what I thought, too, but it would be refreshing if there were a big reveal and (the god of) something all the players thought was evil turned out not to be chaotic.

If every mortal is a slave and ultimately all the chains lead back to Ompalam, one can imagine that forming a perfect triangle of law — giving us @Eff’s collapse of chaos and non-chaos, or :20-rune-law::20-form-man::20-form-chaos:. And maybe that’s what we would have gotten if it weren’t for the deprecation of the law rune.

But to me that seems to lean into chaos is whatever gives me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach — and if something functionally identical doesn’t give me that feeling (because I am the one benefiting from it), then it is not chaotic, and it is fine. That probably has sound Gloranthan provenance, but I’d toss it in the bin marked “for satirical use only” or “sarcasm: handle with care.”

“Cosmos is inside — is everything good. Chaos is outside — is everything bad.”
“But look at this. It is pretty bad, and it definitely comes from the inside.”
“Well, OK, I will grant you that: it is rotten. But at least it doesn’t come from the outside.”

(Any suggestions that I have been tapping Suella Braverman’s phone …)

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The headgear worn by the nobility on the Gods Wall, and similar examples (see examples in this thread) are actually diadems. The large domed section is actually the nobles' heads, as the sky people ancestors of the Dara Happans had large pointed heads (see also some Alkothi in Six Ages). Head binding was also practiced in some dynasties

Modern Sky people typically only appear on the surface world for war, and so their high-domed helmets are assumed to be merely decorative. 

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The upper echelon of the solar cults in Dara Happa are actually bird-like folk in disguise. They hate the durulz for the temerity to go unmasked.

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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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18 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

I wonder if there is a way to redeem not slavery, but Ompalam. Ompalam as the god who teaches that free will is an illusion (or language gone on holiday)?

This is essentially the position taken by the Wool Wearers (nota bene: in Arabic, that's "Sufis", skeeeetch)

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1 hour ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

This is essentially the position taken by the Wool Wearers

I always had a soft spot for the sufis, so I would say it was all that qawwali rubbing off on me, save for the fact that we all think that radical notions of free will are nonsense, right? (Or maybe the analytical philosophy rubbed off on me, too.)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

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5 minutes ago, mfbrandi said:

I always had a soft spot for the sufis, so I would say it was all that qawwali rubbing off on me, save for the fact that we all think that radical notions of free will are nonsense, right? (Or maybe the analytical philosophy rubbed off on me, too.)

Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan

A uniquely Muslim position is that while predestination (al-Qadr) is true, so is free will! The Day of Judgment requires individual choice to matter. So yes, it's not a notion of radical free will. (I am a Muslim woman.)

But naming the slaves of God "Sufis" is skeeeetch. The Muslim self-designation is muwahhid(a), "monotheist", and not in the sense of "among other gods" but in the sense of "there's no god but God"

Edited by Qizilbashwoman
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1 hour ago, Qizilbashwoman said:

A uniquely Muslim position is that while predestination (al-Qadr) is true, so is free will! The Day of Judgment requires individual choice to matter. So yes, it's not a notion of radical free will. (I am a Muslim woman.)

But naming the slaves of God "Sufis" is skeeeetch. The Muslim self-designation is muwahhid(a), "monotheist", and not in the sense of "among other gods" but in the sense of "there's no god but God"

To my (limited, so very limited) understanding, there's a distinction made between the early zāhid ascetics and later Sufis by Sufi practitioners on the basis that the former practiced asceticism from fear of God or expectation of paradise, while the latter practice their asceticism from love of God. Which gets right at the beautiful ambiguity of "submission", doesn't it? 

Though a Lunar through and through, she is also a human being.

"I just read an article in The Economist by a guy who was riding around with the Sartar rebels, I mean Taliban," -Greg Stafford, January 7th, 2010

Eight Arms and the Mask

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On 1/27/2023 at 4:26 PM, Qizilbashwoman said:

skeeeetch

Apologies for my ignorance, but I don’t know this word. Four Es in a row makes me think it is a slang term. From context, it doesn’t seem quite to mean “not kosher” or “haram.”

The sound of fingernails on a blackboard — so, “jarring”?

Edited by mfbrandi
spelling!
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7 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

Apologies for my ignorance, but I don’t know this word. Four Es in a row makes me think it is a slang term. From context, it doesn’t seems quite to mean “not kosher” or “haram.”

The sound of fingernails on a blackboard — so, “jarring”?

sketch, meaning sketchy

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We scholars of the present enlightened age — Hail Harshax! — are familiar with the idea that at the end of the so-called “Hero Wars” (preposterous notion!), there was a “Pelorian Apocalypse” and civilizational collapse marking the end of the Genertelan Late Bronze Age. Robert Drews was a noted popularizer of this “theory” …

Quote

Yet, what if this wasn’t the case, and Drews’s map was inaccurate, and that over half of all destruction events he claimed … at the end of the LBA never happened at all, or at least not [then]? As it turns out, this is in fact the case, and Drews’s “Map of the Catastrophe” is a perfect example of how many destructions from this supposed “destruction horizon” were misdated, assumed, or simply invented out of nothing and are what we can call false destructions …

So, how bad is the problem? How many false destructions are there at the end of the LBA? If one goes through archaeological literature from the past 150 years, there are 148 sites with 153 destruction events ascribed to the end of the Late Bronze Age … However, of these, 94, or 61%, have either been misdated, assumed based on little evidence, or simply never happened at all …

Now, this should not give the impression that there was no destruction at the end of the LBA, as certainly sites … did suffer destruction. However, even here, of the 59 destruction events that did occur [then], not all were equal as some were major events while others barely affected the site, but this is a discussion for another time. — Millek the Sage

You are, of course, familiar with the hypothesis that the tale Argrath & the Devil records not a so-called “heroquest” (an “otherworld” shenanigan — all haziahead talk!) but the mass execution of cult leaders by a petulant tyrant — Hail Harshax, most reasonable of rulers! — supposedly allied to most of them.

Still, something happened in Peloria. Was there ever a red moon? If so, just how big was it? If it fell to earth, our presence to ponder the problem suggests it was of insignificant mass. A notion I have toyed with is that the boundaries of the postulated “Lunar Empire” were marked with large hydrogen-filled barrage balloons or observation dirigibles. (My colleagues say that I am fanciful to attribute such sophistication to little more than savages.)

Anyway, Harshax U. is mounting an expedition, so interested post-docs and ambitious graduate students should sign up below. Mules, tents, and archaeological tools will be provided. Bring own walking boots. No Lunies.

[Yes, this is 4th Age Glorantha as Call of Cthulhu Wakboth.]

Edited by mfbrandi
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7 hours ago, mfbrandi said:

Still, something happened in Peloria. Was there ever a red moon? If so, just how big was it? If it fell to earth, our presence to ponder the problem suggests it was of insignificant mass. A notion I have toyed with is that the boundaries of the postulated “Lunar Empire” were marked with large hydrogen-filled barrage balloons or observation dirigibles. (My colleagues say that I am fanciful to attribute such sophistication to little more than savages.)

If they have balloons, the Red Moon was obviously a huge red hot air balloon / zeppelin.

But this gives me another thought - we now think Earth's Moon is the result of Proto-Earth being hit by a Mars-sized planet called Theya which then fused and then spat out chunks which coalesced into the White Moon.

So obviously the birth of the White Moon in Glorantha is the fruit of the Red Moon hitting Peloria, and then parts of it bouncing up and fusing into the White Moon of the Fourth Age.

Sure, this kills everyone in Peloria, but no one likes them anyway.  

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