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EricW

Was Argrath a hero or a villain?

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1 hour ago, EricW said:

How do you protect yourself in a situation where your rivals could come at you with magic from every corner of the cosmos, every gift, every spell, stolen heroic powers from a hundred contradictory quests, no constraints, all rolled into a shimmering bundle of hate and malignant potentency? Lethal magic twisted into new forms, impossible combinations?

The answer is to be the first - to be the fastest, the strongest, the cleverest thief. The ultimate magical arms race, where there are no rules, where no perversion of ritual or myth is unthinkable, where the only rule is to survive and defeat your rivals, no matter what. And if you can break the myth after sucking it dry, stop your rivals following your path to match your new power, feat or skill, you win an advantage.

Great capsule description of how Argrath gained power by raiding the weird fragments and back-alleys of myth. That's insightful, @EricW. Chapeau.

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3 hours ago, Darius West said:

As chaos is essentially Glorantha's brush with cancer

Argrath, Arkat, should be seen as chemotherapy then

Their will don't matter, they are just a very powerful and destructive drug for the world. They are the instrument of fate.

Then the true question is more : is the doctor (Arachne solara) a hero or a villain ?

And maybe, the last version "Argrath" healed definitly the world when Arkat gave only a new remission.

Arachne Solara tried first with a net, finally (or not, we will never know) with an utuma

 

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Whether or not you believe that Lunar Illumination is Freedom or Slavery (to cite 1984), note that Argrath himself is, to all appearances, Illuminated.  The reason he can defeat the Lunars is he can fight just as 'dirty" as them.

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4 hours ago, Grievous said:

Except, well, that's prettty much the opposite of what Illumination is about. You could argue that a system of state-supported Examiners that approve one Illuminate over the other is an Orwellian apparatus of control, and I'd prolly agree that it definitely has that possibility as a potential problem, but Illumination itself is an increase of freedom. 

Agree. One of the cores of Illumination is the realization that it's up to you whether to follow rules, laws and traditions, and that they're artificial and arbitrary. 

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Argrath's group includes a lot of Tricksters.  Fine, no problem.

But out of all of them, the one he specially chose as his **favorite**, Elusu, likes to murder people cause it's "funny".  (At least, this is how she has been presented to me).

"Yet Argrath is an honorable man" sayeth @Jeff and Marc Anthony...

Edited by Rodney Dangerduck

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2 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

"Yet Argrath is an honorable man" sayeth @Jeff and Marc Anthony...

"The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that you've got it made."

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Argrath's an honorable man right up until it gets in the way of killing the Lunars, at which point, Illuminate he is, he casts it aside without a thought and doesn't face the normal consequences of doing so.

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15 minutes ago, Leingod said:

Argrath's an honorable man right up until it gets in the way of killing the Lunars, at which point, Illuminate he is, he casts it aside without a thought and doesn't face the normal consequences of doing so.

IE, not an honorable man.  

But being an illuminate basically means you're a sociopath.  You do whatever it takes to get what you want and nothing holds you back.

This is why illuminates in Glorantha who don't go live in a monastery and seek further enlightenment typically end up blood-soaked killers.

(Like Argath and Sor-Eel)  

Probably the best argument against the Lunar Empire is the large scale illumination it carried out, since that opened the doors to everything else bad.

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2 hours ago, Leingod said:

Argrath's an honorable man right up until it gets in the way of killing the Lunars, at which point, Illuminate he is, he casts it aside without a thought and doesn't face the normal consequences of doing so.

But "What deeds could be done in the name of honor?"

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14 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

Great capsule description of how Argrath gained power by raiding the weird fragments and back-alleys of myth. That's insightful, @EricW. Chapeau.

Argrath was different in one important respect, he wanted to stop the abuses, even if he had to abuse the system to get the power to do this.

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So we judge Argrath by his intentions, and not by the results of his actions? Cool. Just as a thought experiment, have you ever tried judging the Lunars in the same way?

This seems especially important to me, given that in King of Sartar's account, Argrath did break the world (deliberately or through carelessness). We hear a lot of paranoid fanatical noise about how OBVIOUSLY the Lunar plan would inevitably lead to the Death of the Gods, Return of the Devil, Annihilation of Glorantha, End of Everything, Pelorian Genocide, etc. etc., but that clearly wasn't their intention, and it wasn't them who screwed up and broke everything. That's all on Argrath.

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Some data points from the roots of all this:

  • In Dave Hargrave''s Arduin Grimoire role-playing stats for the heroes of White Bear & Red Moon (published by Greg Stafford in Wyrms Footnotes #2 (1977), p.27ff), Prince Argrath's alignment is "Neutral" while the Red Emperor's is "Cyclical." (Jar-eel and Aelwrin are "Law," Gunda is "Neutral," and Jaldon and Harrek are "Amoral"; I'm focusing on the faction leaders, here)
  • In an article introducing the Runes (Wyrms Footnotes #3 (1977), p.17), Greg Stafford writes that "An individual during the Hero Wars with the knowledge we have gleaned here would be one able to bring peace between the crazed Sartar prince and the obsessive Emperors." My emphasis added.

White Bear & Red Moon wasn't written or intended to be read as "goodies vs. baddies," virtuous freedom-loving barbarians vs. an oppressive evil empire. That's just one reading. Seeing people tying themselves up in knots to pretend they think Jar-eel is a soulless abomination or that civilisation has no redeeming features is hilarious, yet vaguely disturbing. Honestly, guys: that's what the baddies do. Take a look at your rhetoric.

Edited by Nick Brooke
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27 minutes ago, Nick Brooke said:

So we judge Argrath by his intentions, and not by the results of his actions? Cool. Just as a thought experiment, have you ever tried judging the Lunars in the same way?

This seems especially important to me, given that in King of Sartar's account, Argrath did break the world (deliberately or through carelessness). We hear a lot of paranoid fanatical noise about how OBVIOUSLY the Lunar plan would inevitably lead to the Death of the Gods, Return of the Devil, Annihilation of Glorantha, End of Everything, Pelorian Genocide, etc. etc., but that clearly wasn't their intention, and it wasn't them who screwed up and broke everything. That's all on Argrath.

I hear you, the inner Lunar provinces were a lot less violent than the barbarian lands. If I was transported as is into Glorantha, out of shape, middle age, I'd probably opt for life in a Lunar province over continuous hardship and risk. I'd live longer as a Lunar than I would in the barbarian lands.

But on a realm wide scale the Lunars were a catastrophe.  For me the deciding factor is the Lunars recreating the greater darkness, then persisting with their dangerous experiment instead of backing up and investigating what went wrong.

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15 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

Agree. One of the cores of Illumination is the realization that it's up to you whether to follow rules, laws and traditions, and that they're artificial and arbitrary. 

Yeah, exactly. Illumination doesn't make you a hero or a villain (and how boring it would be, if it did). It's what you do after which decides that. It can be a great impulse for good, and I would argue that in a world where tradition and hidebound culture is at the root of much bad behaviour it indeed mostly is that, but certainly it can also lead to bad things. Frex. from the Illuminated viewpoint, it is the non-Illuminate who is the slave, but whether that realization leads one to a benevolent will to liberate all beings, or to a crazy realization that as slaves their lives matter not at all, is up to the individual... and one can slip from heroism to villainy (and back again) along their path, too, and not just live in either extreme like a caricature. Of course, it is precisely the un-Illuminated mindset which would tend to believe that you're all set, unchanging and unredeemable... 

Edited by Grievous
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5 minutes ago, Grievous said:

Yeah, exactly. Illumination doesn't make you a hero or a villain (and how boring it would be, if it did). It's what you do after which decides that. It can be a great impulse for good, and I would argue that in a world where tradition and hidebound culture is at the root of much bad behaviour it indeed mostly is that, but certainly it can also lead to bad things.

The big issue is that it replaces an established moral system, that is at the very least proven to be able to support a society no matter how unfair it might be, with whatever you yourself decide on. The risk to be self-serving is obvious, as with Argrath, who decides that nothing in the universe matters except his quest for vengeance..

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1 minute ago, Akhôrahil said:

The big issue is that it replaces an established moral system, that is at the very least proven to be able to support a society no matter how unfair it might be, with whatever you yourself decide on. The risk to be self-serving is obvious, as with Argrath, who decides that nothing in the universe matters except his quest for vengeance..

Yeah, there is that and that's why a recently Illuminated mind might benefit from a little guidance so it doesn't descend into nihilism/Occlusion. I think this might be a key difference between early Nysalorean Riddle-based Illumination and latter Sedenyan Sevened Illumination. You're not just gifted/cursed with the Illuminated mindset and left to your own devices, but you're actually schooled in it. Of course, the system of Examiners, ostensible set to ensure a non-Occluded development, can also certainly became (as alluded to earlier in this thread) an Orwellian tool of societal control, where only state-approved Illuminates are allowed to prosper. 

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12 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

The big issue is that it replaces an established moral system, that is at the very least proven to be able to support a society no matter how unfair it might be, with whatever you yourself decide on. The risk to be self-serving is obvious, as with Argrath, who decides that nothing in the universe matters except his quest for vengeance..

Illumination is the freedom psychopaths "enjoy", the freedom to do anything no matter how atrocious or damaging from a civilised point of view, without remorse or conscience. In Glorantha this goes even further, in that illuminated psychopaths receive magical benefits for their lack of conscience.

The fact that some illuminates choose to adhere to a code of morality doesn't really compensate for the risk illumination poses to the Gloranthan world. There is a reason Orlanthi and many other cultures in Glorantha equate illumination with chaos.

Edited by EricW

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8 minutes ago, EricW said:

Illumination is the freedom psychopaths "enjoy", the freedom to do anything no matter how atrocious or damaging from a civilised point of view, without remorse or conscience. In Glorantha this goes even further, in that illuminated psychopaths receive magical benefits for their lack of conscience.

Kind of, but not precisely? They do feel that they can do whatever they decide to, but they don't (automatically, at least) lose empathy.   

10 minutes ago, Grievous said:

Yeah, there is that and that's why a recently Illuminated mind might benefit from a little guidance so it doesn't descend into nihilism/Occlusion. I think this might be a key difference between early Nysalorean Riddle-based Illumination and latter Sedenyan Sevened Illumination. You're not just gifted/cursed with the Illuminated mindset and left to your own devices, but you're actually schooled in it. Of course, the system of Examiners, ostensible set to ensure a non-Occluded development, can also certainly became (as alluded to earlier in this thread) an Orwellian tool of societal control, where only state-approved Illuminates are allowed to prosper. 

My position is that Occlusion isn't a "thing" - "occluded" is the tag you put on other Illuminates that you disapprove of.

Edited by Akhôrahil

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24 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

Kind of, but not precisely? They do feel that they can do whatever they decide to, but they don't (automatically, at least) lose empathy.   

Most psychopaths are not deranged killers, a lot of psychopaths function well in society because they choose to try not to hurt people. But I'm not sure I would describe their decision to try to function within their understanding of how to avoid offending others as "empathy", except maybe in an abstract sense.

24 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

My position is that Occlusion isn't a "thing" - "occluded" is the tag you put on other Illuminates that you disapprove of.

I'm so glad you have such an enlightened moral relativist view of illumination. Now if you will just lean forward a little, while I test the fit of this beautiful tarnished silver wire necklace around your neck... 😉 

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14 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

My position is that Occlusion isn't a "thing" - "occluded" is the tag you put on other Illuminates that you disapprove of.

In the sense that Occlusion is just a word and that it can sometimes be used arbitrarily to describe a very complex and hard-to-define phenomenon, you can argue it doesn't exist or is too simplistic a term. Put another way, I don't think there is an "Occluded" modifier you can put on your "Illuminated" classification on your character sheet, for example.

But in the sense that for some Illumination does lead to the kind of "freedom that psychopaths" enjoy that @EricW described earlier, I think we can speak of an Occlusion that does mean something practical and unwanted. Essentially, I think this is exactly what you mention earlier as well: that the temptation to become self-serving is there. I would argue that a truly self-serving Illuminate is likely Occluded. Illumination sees the One and Many become intertwined. The logical development here is empathy and benevolence, not avarice and expedience, nor psychopathy. Yet, we know that sometimes occurs, and that failure of schooling/development can warrant a term of its own.

Whether the system of Examiners then genuinely seeks out the misguided to appropriately label them, or uses it to further its own political purposes is a separate issue. Certainly the Examiners can move the goal posts around according to their own whims or political needs, but when that is happening it implies a certain level of corruption already in the system and a thus a failure of the Examiners at their own task. I think the question and concerns implied by "who watches the watchers?" is apt here. 

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14 minutes ago, EricW said:

I'm so glad you have such an enlightened moral relativist view of illumination. Now if you will just lean forward a little, while I test the fit of this beautiful tarnished silver wire necklace around your neck... 😉 

It's one of those irregular verbs, isn't it? I'm enlightened, you're an Illuminate, he/she is Occluded.

11 minutes ago, Grievous said:

In the sense that Occlusion is just a word and that it can sometimes be used arbitrarily to describe a very complex and hard-to-define phenomenon, you can argue it doesn't exist or is too simplistic a term.

Put it like this: was Arkat Occluded? You will get different answers depending on which Illuminate you ask. So at the very least, it has a strong subjective element.

 

Edited by Akhôrahil
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2 hours ago, EricW said:

But on a realm wide scale the Lunars were a catastrophe.  For me the deciding factor is the Lunars recreating the greater darkness, then persisting with their dangerous experiment instead of backing up and investigating what went wrong.

If you place your trust in enemy propaganda, the Lunars sound like they're the baddies. Gotcha.

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24 minutes ago, Nick Brooke said:

If you place your trust in enemy propaganda, the Lunars sound like they're the baddies. Gotcha.

The Windstop/Great Winter was over the line, I believe we can all agree, but no worse (much less bad in fact, if we look at casualties) than Argrath's climate change campaign. Stopping the Lunars by being Argrath is cutting off your head to cure a headache.

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2 hours ago, EricW said:

Most psychopaths are not deranged killers, a lot of psychopaths function well in society because they choose to try not to hurt people. But I'm not sure I would describe their decision to try to function within their understanding of how to avoid offending others as "empathy", except maybe in an abstract sense.

I'm so glad you have such an enlightened moral relativist view of illumination. Now if you will just lean forward a little, while I test the fit of this beautiful tarnished silver wire necklace around your neck... 😉 

"Nobody can make you do anything." "Violence is always an option."

Illumination isn't required or sufficient to be a psychopath in Glorantha, IMO.

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31 minutes ago, GAZZA said:

"Nobody can make you do anything."

I have this theory that aside from focusing on how your breath is also the breath of the cosmos, part of Orlanthi mysticism is repeating "No-one can make you do anything" like a mantra, with different intonations.

"No-one can make you do anything"

"No-one can make you do anything"

"No-one can make you do anything"

"No-one can make you do anything"

"No-one can make you do anything"

"No-one can make you do anything"

"No-one can make you do anything"

(and so on)

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