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Was Argrath a hero or a villain?

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Greg had a modified version of this in one of his Harmast manuscripts, IIRC:

"No one can make you do anything, unless they are stronger than you."

Which changes things...

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40 minutes ago, Nick Brooke said:

Greg had a modified version of this in one of his Harmast manuscripts, IIRC:

"No one can make you do anything, unless they are stronger than you."

Which changes things...

Getting killed is always an option.

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4 hours 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. 

I think that to a certain extent this is backwards- other methods of Illumination generally involve an elaborate method of schooling to prepare you for the awakening. That's how EWF mysticism worked before the rise of the Short Cuts, that's how Kralori mysticism works minus the Path of Immanent Mastery, that's how Orlanth mysticism works too- you spend decades or hundreds of years practicing your breathing before you open your third eye- and that's probably how White Sun Illumination works. 

But you don't actually need any of that, it's all just safety nets to give you a grounding when you awaken to the nature of reality and realize just how much freedom you really have. Nysalorean riddles will stretch your mind enough to jog that third eye loose and open it wide. So the Lunar Way teaches that you can reach the low stage of enlightenment called Illumination in any way you please. You can become Illuminated by the Gerra rites, third eye bursting forth during the aftercare. You can become Illuminated by mixing drugs in exciting new ways. You can become Illuminated by getting tossed out of your body and looking at a Lune directly in the eyes. You can become Illuminated by indulging in pure excess, or by indulging in deep asceticism, or by both. 

And you can also do it the safe way, by studying Sedenyic writings and meditating and repeating mantras and making sure to do your mudras. If you're a nerd. 

So Examiners emerge because proceeding down the left-hand paths stands a high chance of turning you into a wreck of a human being, which they call "Occlusion", and if you proceed down the pathway to the higher enlightenment with that kind of development, you get Zho Lath Ey. (I think Examiners definitely became much more important post-Sheng.) The necessity of imposing some kind of order on enlightenment so that you don't get demon bodhisattvas running around creates the preconditions for a tight ideological grasp on Lunar higher ministries and recognition of officially Sevened individuals. 

Would it be better to perhaps restrict Illumination so that you don't have this problem in the first place? 

Perhaps, but 1) Sedenya's divine Lunacy necessarily animates everything we do and 2) restricting Illumination to monastic study takes it from out of the hands of the people unless you implement a significantly more controlling police state that can shuffle people around at random. 

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The truly righteous will behave righteously after Illumination much as they did before, though perhaps with a broader perspective. If they were only behaving righteously before because of social expectations, laws, or fear of punishment - their morality was only skin-deep all along. The righteous Illuminate may see that the distinction between suffering and bliss is an illusion, yet still chose to strive for a world where none suffer needlessly, to choose compassion over cruelty, out of kindness to the other who is also the self. If one must be a world at all, it is better to be a kind one until the world is ready to be done with being.

Edited by JonL
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On 6/29/2020 at 11:46 AM, Akhôrahil said:

Genocidal villain who helped ruin the world because of his life’s obsession. Kallyr was the real hero, fighting for freedom instead of vengeance.

I also feel a lot more sympathy for Kallyr than Argrath, but that's probably because, as the saying goes, she didn't live long enough to become a villain.

On 6/29/2020 at 12:32 PM, Akhôrahil said:

By the way, the White Bull Society, that hasn’t aged well. The local primitives can’t get their act together, so they require a white (well, kinda white) saviour to reach them how to do their own culture right? The trope is commonly called ”Mighty Whitey” or ”What These People Need Is A Honky”.

That's a valid interpretation, but I always interpreted it more as a colonial trope: he "pillages" the myths of neighbouring cultures because it serves his power fantasies and goals of conquest.

On 6/30/2020 at 11:18 PM, 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?

Spoken like a true Lunar propaganda officer :D   But yeah, Argrath might have had good intentions at the start, but he quickly went full on dangerous warlord.

I don't see any point in trying to apply some simplistic "these are the goodies, these are the baddies" world view to Glorantha: it was more or less built to avoid simplistic views in the first place (trolls as nuanced, playable people, anyone?). This actually was a feature that attracted many grognards back in the 80s, as I understand it, compared to the other games. Everything is gray, and the only (varied) binary worldviews come from putting ourselves in the shoes of this or that faction. So the answer is "it depends who you ask". That's one of the strengths of Glorantha... let's not undermine it. But we can still ask these worldview questions prepended by "according to <insert faction here>....". For instance, I never stopped to ask myself what non-Dragon-Pass Orlanthi thought of Argrath.

 

Edited by lordabdul
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On 6/30/2020 at 9:13 PM, 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. 

Illumination is all about reconciling rather than solving contradictions.  You say this is the opposite of Illumination, but does Illumination have an opposite?  When you accept three contradictions before breakfast you will see that freedom is slavery, truth is a lie, and illumination is ignorance.

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5 minutes ago, Darius West said:

When you accept three contradictions before breakfast you will see that freedom is slavery, truth is a lie, and illumination is ignorance.

And then you realize you can just get on with your life....

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14 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

And then you realize you can just get on with your life....

But the thing is, you no longer have a life outside the cult.  So what is there to get on with?  And how can you get on with life when life is death?  And how can you get on with life when getting on with it is not getting on with it?  Freedom is now slavery.  Ignorance is now power.  Madness is now Sanity. 

Edited by Darius West

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On 7/2/2020 at 1:10 AM, lordabdul said:

I also feel a lot more sympathy for Kallyr than Argrath, but that's probably because, as the saying goes, she didn't live long enough to become a villain.

A lot of Sartarites consider her a villain, starting with many of the members of the Sartarite High Council.

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18 minutes ago, Darius West said:

But the thing is, you no longer have a life outside the cult. 

Then you haven't reached Illumination and are still Occluded with the idea that life is within something else. 

18 minutes ago, Darius West said:

So what is there to get on with?

Being.

18 minutes ago, Darius West said:

And how can you get on with life when life is death?

By freeing yourself from the confines of words and thoughts, and just living.  Life IS.

 

Edited by jajagappa
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Coincidentally I was just looking at the ancient Cults of Terror story of Rashoran that distills that teaching as "you do not have to be afraid of what you do not know." That's all it is. No ethical gymnastics, pretzel logic or attraction to paradox for its own sake. Just an openness to the alien and the faith that it cannot really hurt you in any way that matters.

Since then the teaching has been routed into the service of the self and its passions: "hatred, selfishness, greed and jealousy." By the time it gets to Nysalor, the riddles and other compensating mechanisms are in place to prevent something like the Trio from happening ever again. Maybe it's worth looking at the Argrath in these terms. Still a lot we don't know about the nature of his spiritual liberation + I "coincidentally" always seem to have better things to do than psychoanalyze him. He is what he is, like the weather. Wear a hat if you don't want to get wet.

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5 hours ago, Darius West said:

But the thing is, you no longer have a life outside the cult.  So what is there to get on with?  And how can you get on with life when life is death?  And how can you get on with life when getting on with it is not getting on with it?  Freedom is now slavery.  Ignorance is now power.  Madness is now Sanity. 

IF you're illuminated, you no longer need the cult and can do whatever you want.  Define your life however you want.

 

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10 hours ago, John Biles said:

IF you're illuminated, you no longer need the cult and can do whatever you want. 

Cults can be a useful stepping stone, though.

You can do what Arkat did and join different cults to learn their secrets, then blend them into something new.

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21 hours ago, Jeff said:

A lot of Sartarites consider her a villain, starting with many of the members of the Sartarite High Council.

@Jeff Is there any chance that you can elaborate on this: who on the High Council and why? Perhaps as a separate post?

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40 minutes ago, Charles said:

@Jeff Is there any chance that you can elaborate on this: who on the High Council and why? Perhaps as a separate post?

Are you familiar with the Sartar High Council scenario, reprinted in Wyrms Footprints? Beneva Chan and Kallai Rockbuster both passionately dislike Kallyr. And remember, Beneva is the most influential Earth Priestess in Sartar. Others such as Hofstaring, Gringle, Garaystar, and Vamastal were at least suspicious of her (but had other rivalries that were greater than that suspicion). 

Kallyr herself was described as "haughty and volatile, and easily goes into fits of shouting and accusation. She will state that her loyalty to the nation of Sartar is unquestionable, but she will not allow it to be ruined by a band of fools and cowards."

If Starbrow's Rebellion succeeded, all of that would likely be forgotten. But it failed, and Beneva Chan and Kallai Rockbuster were exiled. The Colymar tribal leaders never forgave Starbrow. Many important Earth Priestesses never forgave her. And many others, such as the Culbrea, lost much because of Starbrow. In short, she inspires great loyalty among her followers, but has few allies and many who dislike her for very personal reasons.

 

Edited by Jeff
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11 minutes ago, Jeff said:

Are you familiar with the Sartar High Council scenario, reprinted in Wyrms Footprints?

Thanks @Jeff, I had forgotten that scenario.

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Thanks @Jeff for the link.  The opening ceremonies are most interesting.

My reading is that nobody has legitimate reasons, at the time of that Council, for hating Kallyr, it's all petty jealousy.

Also, maybe its just me feeling overly American just after July 4th, but the whole "our leader must be in the bloodline of Sartar" is increasingly grating.  Do others feel the same?  If Argrath kills Jar-Eel, pulls down the Moon and destroys the Empire, and he isn't of the bloodline, does anybody care?  Is a tribal chief really going to say "Whoa there, wait a sec, I'm not sure he's qualified..."?

Edited by Rodney Dangerduck

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18 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Thanks @Jeff for the link.  The opening ceremonies are most interesting.

My reading is that nobody has legitimate reasons, at the time of that Council, for hating Kallyr, it's all petty jealousy.

Also, maybe its just me feeling overly American just after July 4th, but the whole "our leader must be in the bloodline of Sartar" is increasingly grating.  Do others feel the same?  If Argrath kills Jar-Eel, pulls down the Moon and destroys the Empire, and he isn't of the bloodline, does anybody care?  Is a tribal chief really going to say "Whoa there, wait a sec, I'm not sure he's qualified..."?

Argrath must be able to claim that lineage (as did Kallyr) if he wants to be able to be Prince of Sartar. And being Prince of Sartar means he gets to be the head of the Orlanth Rex cult, but to have that position he must be a descendant of Sartar, or the magic won't work. Maybe a new political structure could be created, but that's easier said than done.

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1 minute ago, Jeff said:

Argrath must be able to claim that lineage (as did Kallyr) if he wants to be able to be Prince of Sartar. And being Prince of Sartar means he gets to be the head of the Orlanth Rex cult, but to have that position he must be a descendant of Sartar, or the magic won't work. Maybe a new political structure could be created, but that's easier said than done.

If Orlanth Rex wont make an exception, he deserves to lose to the Red Goddess who is much more accepting. 🙂

So, how does one become head of the Orlanth Rex cult in, say, Ralios?  Aren't there lots of Orlanthi in places other than Sartar?

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1 minute ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

If Orlanth Rex wont make an exception, he deserves to lose to the Red Goddess who is much more accepting. 🙂

So, how does one become head of the Orlanth Rex cult in, say, Ralios?  Aren't there lots of Orlanthi in places other than Sartar?

If you aren't the Red Goddess's son, you aren't the Red Emperor. And only the Red Emperor can rule the Lunar Empire.

You can become the Orlanth Rex of a tribe if all the priests agree, but the Orlanth Rex of Sartar is above all the tribes. Which is a tremendous source of authority and power.

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1 hour ago, Jeff said:

If you aren't the Red Goddess's son, you aren't the Red Emperor.

Technically, the requirement is "pass the 10 tests".  Not "prove your genealogy".  As I understand it.

However, one can disagree on whether that is a significant difference or not.   If, for example, Yolanela's son passed the 10 tests and became Emperor, might some doubt the genealogy?  🙂 

(Added) Yes, we are drifting way off topic, sorry, <slaps self>.

Edited by Rodney Dangerduck
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1 hour ago, Jeff said:

he must be a descendant of Sartar, or the magic won't work.

Thanks for all the info.  I'm curious about this thing though... I've seen in the past several references to this kind extra restrictions on magic -- lineage, cosmic resonance, Runic affinity, whatever... my understanding is that half the time it's narrative trope, but the other half of the time it could be a rule that could be printed in a book somewhere. For example, are restrictions about high-level Orlanth Rex magic mentioned in the upcoming Cults book? Could other narrative trope advice be included in the upcoming GM guide? Etc...

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54 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Technically, the requirement is "pass the 10 tests".  Not "prove your genealogy".  As I understand it.

However, one can disagree on whether that is a significant difference or not.   If, for example, Yolanela's son passed the 10 tests and became Emperor, might some doubt the genealogy?  🙂 

Being the Emperor of Dara Happa requires you to pass the Ten Tests; this isn't the same as being Red Emperor, though it's one of the things the Red Emperor does to prove himself.

A Dragon once passed the Ten Tests.  

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1 hour ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Technically, the requirement is "pass the 10 tests".  Not "prove your genealogy".  As I understand it.

However, one can disagree on whether that is a significant difference or not.   If, for example, Yolanela's son passed the 10 tests and became Emperor, might some doubt the genealogy?  🙂 

(Added) Yes, we are drifting way off topic, sorry, <slaps self>.

My old notes on Imperial Succession Crises and what happens during an interregnum might be interesting, though they are similarly way off topic.

https://www.facebook.com/notes/nick-brooke/succession-crises-in-the-lunar-empire/10156975451495049/

https://www.facebook.com/notes/nick-brooke/interregnum/10156975569540049/

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22 hours ago, John Biles said:

IF you're illuminated, you no longer need the cult and can do whatever you want.  Define your life however you want.

Actually no.  Society will always be the final arbiter of your life.  You can try to do what you want, but society may well have other ideas.  Hell is other people.  A priest can still tell you to "Leave and never attempt to pervert this temple again illuminate", then inform the whole cult about you. Suddenly you are a blackballed anathema.  So what is the tell?  Well, you see, illuminates are never affected by spirits of retribution, even when they should be.  Just catch them in the act.

2 hours ago, Jeff said:

Argrath must be able to claim that lineage (as did Kallyr) if he wants to be able to be Prince of Sartar. And being Prince of Sartar means he gets to be the head of the Orlanth Rex cult, but to have that position he must be a descendant of Sartar, or the magic won't work. Maybe a new political structure could be created, but that's easier said than done.

Yeah, when Argrath lit the Flame of Sartar, he sort of settled his claim.  Kallyr barely got a flicker while Argrath made it burst into flames.  Kallyr died in the first year of her reign.  Argrath got dragons to pull down the moon.  Do the maths.  Argrath is an Orlanthi, and an heir of Sartar.  His lineage as shown in KoDP is better than Jesus' connection to the House of David.

On 7/6/2020 at 2:38 AM, jajagappa said:

Then you haven't reached Illumination and are still Occluded with the idea that life is within something else. 

It is.  Death.

On 7/6/2020 at 2:38 AM, jajagappa said:

Being.

A creature with zero INT can manage "being" just fine.  Is this a back door to worshiping Gark the Calm or something?

On 7/6/2020 at 2:38 AM, jajagappa said:

By freeing yourself from the confines of words and thoughts, and just living.  Life IS.

From what you have offered, I would put it to you that Life IS NOT would be as valid, if not more valid.  A shambling zombie can "just live", has no peer pressure, and is full of  life and love's hunger for everything it sinks its teeth into.  

 

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