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Was Argrath a hero or a villain?


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58 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

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...

Aside from blood purity arguments (like Xeotam's arguments about Hsunchen magics requiring undiluted Hsunchen ancestry which I personally find dubious), I think one of the main factors here are inheritance rights, to be honest. 

It was Sartar who made the arrangements with the mortals and the gods to create and sustain the fabric of the Kingdom of Sartar. Thus the magics that come from these arrangements are (at least nominally) the claim of his heirs. 

The Orlanth Rex cult as it manifests *specifically* in the context of the Sartarite kingdom is tied to Sartar's heroic exploits. It's not just some ambient magic anyone can tap into. 

Now, whether the Orlanth Rex cult require literal blood descent is another matter, and personally I'm skeptical to this as well: in a significant part because many cultures practice adoption quite freely, and Orlanthi in particular have marriage forms where children born to a mother will become the legal heirs of a specific man regardless of who impregnated her, so locking adopted children, or legal children, or children born during sacred rites etc. out of the magical inheritance chain seems like a modern genetically-minded worldview screwing with the importance of emic understandings of descent. 

Of course, an in-universe Sartarite would really only know if they made the brazier flame up or not, and whether they pulled off the rituals or not. If it works, it works.

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It is interesting how quickly people on these forums quickly descend into the worst excesses and mistakes of the God Learners in their assumptions about how mythology works.

He was both. I thought that was pretty intentional on Greg's part?

Glorantha has lots of examples of good Illumination. Daruda was a great teacher who achieved union with Nothing and then re-entered the world in order to share his bliss with those who needed it.

31 minutes ago, Darius West said:

Do the maths.  Argrath is an Orlanthi, and an heir of Sartar

Guess I missed the part in Family History where your character gets to be a heir of Sartar and do all that cool stuff.  What did Argrath roll?

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28 minutes ago, Darius West said:

From what you have offered, I would put it to you that Life IS NOT would be as valid, if not more valid.

Of course it is equally valid.  That's part of Illumination.

29 minutes ago, Darius West said:

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.

Absolutely.  Why would you believe it otherwise.  

30 minutes ago, Darius West said:

Is this a back door to worshiping Gark the Calm or something?

It's Illumination.  You are freed from the shackles of worshiping ANYthing.  And free to do so should you choose.  But you understand that it is you that makes the choice, or rejects it.

32 minutes ago, Darius West said:

It is.  Death.

It's not WITHIN Death.  It is bounded by non-existence.  Death is simply an end to it or a release from it.  No more, no less.  

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34 minutes ago, Darius West said:

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.

 

That pretty much never worked to stop any notable illuminate from doing what they want.  Once you're illuminated, the cult really can't do much to you.

You're free to do what you want, which is the whole point of illumination.  

Also, Arkat would just eat the priest.

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On 7/5/2020 at 6:08 PM, Darius West said:

 You say this is the opposite of Illumination, but does Illumination have an opposite?  

I have said it before: the opposite of Illumination is also Illumination.

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20 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.

The Argrath appears to have enough power and smarts to create a whole new power structure to replace that of Sartar. But why bother when he can take up an existing power structure without the lifetime's effort of creating a new one, while tearing down the old one _and_ fighting the Lunar Empire?

He may well also have the power and smarts to 'create' a relationship with Sartar... And if that means he has to assume the identity of a dead heir of Sartar, or even manufacture a dead heir of Sartar so he can assume that identity, well I'm certainly not going to make that accusation. No sir, I'd like a long life and a longer afterlife.

More realistically, Sartar and his descendants seemed very happy to litter heirs around, acknowledged and unacknowledged, in all sorts of odd and little known places, so a substantial fraction of Sartarites may well be able to find a connection. And that heritage will come out in some of them. If they are in the right place at the right time. And they are desperate enough. And lucky enough.

Finally, I do think that the Argrath actually was a descendant of Sartar.

Edited by Charles
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1 hour ago, Charles said:

The Argrath appears to have enough power and smarts to create a whole new power structure to replace that of Sartar. But why bother when he can take up an existing power structure without the lifetime's effort of creating a new one, while tearing down the old one _and_ fighting the Lunar Empire?

He may well also have the power and smarts to 'create' a relationship with Sartar... And if that means he has to assume the identity of a dead heir of Sartar, or even manufacture a dead heir of Sartar so he can assume that identity, well I'm certainly not going to make that accusation. No sir, I'd like a long life and a longer afterlife.

More realistically, Sartar and his descendants seemed very happy to litter heirs around, acknowledged and unacknowledged, in all sorts of odd and little known places, so a substantial fraction of Sartarites may well be able to find a connection. And that heritage will come out in some of them. If they are in the right place at the right time. And they are desperate enough. And lucky enough.

Finally, I do think that the Argrath actually was a descendant of Sartar.

He was. A pretty tenuous connection that goes through Saronil's daughter. Kallyr's is closer to the House, going through a bastard of Jarolar.

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1 hour ago, Charles said:

He may well also have the power and smarts to 'create' a relationship with Sartar... And if that means he has to assume the identity of a dead heir of Sartar, or even manufacture a dead heir of Sartar so he can assume that identity, well I'm certainly not going to make that accusation. No sir, I'd like a long life and a longer afterlife.

Any sufficiently charismatic claim to authority is indistinguishable from birthright when the examiners read the wind right. Some people lean into this mechanism and scatter the seeds around just in case. I love what you've done here:

1 hour ago, Charles said:

More realistically, Sartar and his descendants seemed very happy to litter heirs around, acknowledged and unacknowledged, in all sorts of odd and little known places, so a substantial fraction of Sartarites may well be able to find a connection. And that heritage will come out in some of them. If they are in the right place at the right time. And they are desperate enough. And lucky enough.

"Enough" is always enough. You get what fate needs.

Separately I was just dreaming about how dangerous an unreconstructed Yelmgatha teaching would be in an empire already spinning too fast. Every man a Yelm. Maybe a non-trivial number of women too. 

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19 hours ago, John Biles said:

That pretty much never worked to stop any notable illuminate from doing what they want.  Once you're illuminated, the cult really can't do much to you.

You're free to do what you want, which is the whole point of illumination.  

Also, Arkat would just eat the priest.

Illumination helps You only with gods , not with people mundane sense 

if you do things the people dislike, for any reason, the people will react. Yes you are free... until people catch you

 

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21 hours ago, John Biles said:

That pretty much never worked to stop any notable illuminate from doing what they want.  Once you're illuminated, the cult really can't do much to you.

You're free to do what you want, which is the whole point of illumination.  

Also, Arkat would just eat the priest.

Nonsense.  Whoever is priest has ever right to deny entry to anyone they think may be an illuminate.  Also Arkat hates illuminates too, and while they are illuminated, the Arkati watch hard to detect feral illuminates and kill them.  Look it up.

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5 hours ago, Charles said:

Finally, I do think that the Argrath actually was a descendant of Sartar.

I like the idea that he had to heroquest to become a descendant and obtain his Sartar rune, but this is completely not-canonical.

(Inspired by a humor boardgame where the goal was to become king, and one of the things you needed was to get yourself a royal birthmark.)

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2 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

I like the idea that he had to heroquest to become a descendant and obtain his Sartar rune, but this is completely not-canonical.

Would it even be possible, since Sartar and everything about/after him happened within Time?

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3 hours ago, Darius West said:

Nonsense.  Whoever is priest has ever right to deny entry to anyone they think may be an illuminate.  Also Arkat hates illuminates too, and while they are illuminated, the Arkati watch hard to detect feral illuminates and kill them.  Look it up.

The whole essence of what Arkat did revolved around him getting initiated, then running off and doing whatever he wanted, namely murder.

The Arkati aren't all-present and if they were, they would kill people like Argath, which they don't.  Rather, they're a broken shell, divided into quarreling groups that hate each other too.   And cults don't have telephones and the internet.  Even if you're well known in one town, you won't be in another.  

Illuminates are no longer bound by society and cults.  That's the whole point of illumination.  They can still be literally hunted down and killed but pretty much all the illuminates we see as major figures in Glorantha go where they want and do what they want and kick the gods down the stairs.  

Then they typically get some stupid idea in their heads that gets them killed after they make a huge mess.

 

 

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46 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

Would it even be possible, since Sartar and everything about/after him happened within Time?

I don’t believe this is really a restriction - the important thing is that you HeroQuest a myth. It can even be factually incorrect. Take a myth like the Grazers’ creation story (separated centaurs) - we know for a fact that it’s not what happened, but I’m certain it can be HeroQuested regardless.

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2 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

I don’t believe this is really a restriction - the important thing is that you HeroQuest a myth. It can even be factually incorrect. Take a myth like the Grazers’ creation story (separated centaurs) - we know for a fact that it’s not what happened, but I’m certain it can be HeroQuested regardless.

So, when posters argue that you can "prove X via a heroquest", e.g., recently, "you can prove that Boldhome was built in a day" by doing a heroquest to find out, they are mistaken?

Don't get me wrong - I love your idea.  I like things being "unprovable".

 

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1 hour ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

So, when posters argue that you can "prove X via a heroquest", e.g., recently, "you can prove that Boldhome was built in a day" by doing a heroquest to find out, they are mistaken?

Don't get me wrong - I love your idea.  I like things being "unprovable".

 

I think this is one of those things that can only be decided on a table-by-table basis, YGWV and all that. 

My impression is that Chaosium is attempting to present a Glorantha that is a bit more straightforward than, say, the Stafford Library makes it seem at times. Ie. stuff either happened or it didn't. There is, when you dig enough, a singular truth to things, even if no one in-universe knows what it is. Most emic gods can be mapped onto a limited number of etic Runic archetypes. The Monomyth is *mostly* correct, etc. etc. I could be misrepresenting Chaosium here, but that's my impression based on the messages left on this board, and it does make a lot of sense in terms of newcomer-friendliness (even if I am a relative newcomer who loves esotericism for the sake of esotericism, but then I suspect I am a massive outlier). 

But yeah, in my Glorantha at least, the mythic reality is highly contingent and mutable, and perhaps more importantly - not something you can just put down an explanation or mechanism for. It's not just a Pratchettian "belief equals real", it's more complex than that.

Edited by Sir_Godspeed
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1 hour ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

So, when posters argue that you can "prove X via a heroquest", e.g., recently, "you can prove that Boldhome was built in a day" by doing a heroquest to find out, they are mistaken?

Don't get me wrong - I love your idea.  I like things being "unprovable".

 

A Heroquest can 'prove' anything, and thus proves nothing.

More precisely, once you do a Heroquest, the truths it expresses are part of the mythic reality of the community which performed it.  But some other community can prove a contradictory truth by heroquesting and for them the contradiction is true.  One community proves Elmal is really Yelmalio, while another one proves Yelmalio is one of Eurmal's pranks.  

Whether or not there's an underlying truth of 'what really happened', Heroquesting never reaches that truth, because you are *performing* a story with the freedom to change it.  It's easier to make some kinds of changes than others, but a sufficiently strong community / set of questers can introduce radical changes, like proving Ernalda is actually Kygor Litor's mom.

 

 

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11 hours ago, Darius West said:

Whoever is priest has ever right to deny entry to anyone they think may be an illuminate. 

They can be overruled by a senior priest, which for Orlanthi usually includes the Clan Chief, or tribal King - and no, suspecting the chief or king of being an Illuminate is NOT enough to over rule them.. And of course there is the practical difficulty of enforcing it. Arkat, for example, would almost certainly kill anyone who tried. 

11 hours ago, Darius West said:

Also Arkat hates illuminates too, and while they are illuminated, the Arkati watch hard to detect feral illuminates and kill them. 

Arkat hates Dark side Illuminates, but likes some others, and unfortunately there is no reliable way to tell which is which. And the Arkat cult may be protecting certain heroquest paths, but they are a tiny minority of a tiny minority - by the time some Illuminate outside their own ranks is notable enough for the Arkat cult to notice, they are likely also too powerful for them to do much about it.

After the First age, what do we see of the Arkat cult? They get their butts kicked by the God Learners, badly. They entirely fail to notice, or are able to do nothing about, a resurgence of troubling Illumination use by the later God Learners. They get repressed, along with several other forms of Illumination, by the Dara Happans, probably all but wiped out across Peloria, before Arkat-hostile forms of Illumination make a resurgence with the Lunars. They survive in little more than a few scattered and secretive schools almost everywhere outside Ralios - and inside Ralios they are a fragmented squabbling bunch. 

The Arkati are not a major threat to rogue Illuminates unless you want them to be in your game. But as a real threat to Illuminates Glorantha-wide, or anywhere outside Ralios even? No. 

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It is interesting how quickly people on these forums quickly descend into the worst excesses and mistakes of the God Learners in their assumptions about how mythology works.

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5 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

So, when posters argue that you can "prove X via a heroquest", e.g., recently, "you can prove that Boldhome was built in a day" by doing a heroquest to find out, they are mistaken?

Don't get me wrong - I love your idea.  I like things being "unprovable".

IIRC, Greg weighed in on this, and said that things could be mythically true without being historically true. You can certainly prove (for a value of “prove”) that it’s mythically true (in the context of your myth structure) that Boldhome was built in a day.

Or Neil Gaiman: “Things need not have happened to be true.”

Edited by Akhôrahil
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9 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

It's not just a Pratchettian "belief equals real", it's more complex than that.

I definitely agree it’s not about mere belief. Belief is just a personal state of mind. There has to be a social aspect to it as well. The myth has to be socially constructed, practiced, and reinforced (this is also a difference between mere belief and a religion - a religion is inherently social and performative). While I do believe you can HeroQuest any myth, a lot of stuff people believe aren’t myths. For instance, does Bad King Urgrain rise to the quality of myth, or is it just stories and sayings and fables? I’m not sure, but I think I would lean towards the latter.

Edited by Akhôrahil
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9 hours ago, John Biles said:

but pretty much all the illuminates we see as major figures in Glorantha go where they want and do what they want and kick the gods down the stairs

that is not because they are illuminates , but because they are major figures .

Of course a great hero with a greath army and great magical powesr does what he/she wants.

But, if you see the illuminate in smoking ruins scenario, a "common" illuminate, he cannot do what he wants. One day PC will meet him. Illumination gives you opportunities (and issues) but not let you do everything without mundane repercussion

 

 

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Jeff said:

It is interesting how quickly people on these forums quickly descend into the worst excesses and mistakes of the God Learners in their assumptions about how mythology works.

If PCs think this way, imagine a world where magic was real. Imagine the consequences if an entire empire was ruled by people who think like PCs, where any magical excess, even a magical mythological recreation of the end of the world, was an acceptable risk if it helped advance the ambitions of the powerful ;-).

Edited by EricW
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19 hours ago, scott-martin said:

Any sufficiently charismatic claim to authority is indistinguishable from birthright when the examiners read the wind right.

This is spot on. Some of you may have heard of an author called Tom Cowen, as well as bloodline ancestor, he also talks of our relationship to  "milkline" and "storyline" ancestors. For him, milkline ancestors are all those who have nurtured us. Such ancestors would include adoptive and foster families. "Storyline" ancestors are those who have nurtured or inspired us even though we have never met them. For Cowan, this group includes writers and leaders whose lives and works have supported his growth.

I think it's important to move beyond just bloodline in gloranthan mythology, especially in a world where children are not just brought up by biological parents, and in our own world adoption. In Japan for example, it's possible to be adopted as an adult.

(Cowen's Bloodline, Milkline and Storyline ancestors, first appeared in a letter to Shaman's Drum and we know who once sat on the board of that.)

 

 

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