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Was Argrath a hero or a villain?


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20 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

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). 

I vaguely remember a video of one of the Kraken panels where Jeff said that mapping everything back to a mostly-correct monomyth was the only way he could stay sane while writing and thinking about Glorantha (hopefully I'm remembering this right). But hey, he might have reached some kind of illumination since then...

Oh and by the way, thank you for teach me my new words of the day.

20 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

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

I frankly don't grok heroquesting enough to be comfortable GMing it, so I just haven't had any in my games yet (which were all one-shots anyway). I understand the general idea, but every time I look in more detail, or pull on some threads, I find that it all falls down in terms of continuity and in-world consistency in a way that things that work in a written story tend to fall down in an interactive game (see also: time travel... which many people here seem to be using heroquesting for, by the way). Saying that I'm looking forward to the heroquesting chapter in the upcoming GM guide would be an understatement. I hope it will be a bit clearer than "it's complicated" :)

 

Edited by lordabdul
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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.

On 7/7/2020 at 5:28 PM, scott-martin said:

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

It's such a neat coincidence that the guy with the victorious army just so happens to be the rightful Emperor and passes all the tests, isn't it? 

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Not sure if this has been mentioned already, but I think Argrath is a "hero" in the same sense that Paul Atreides or or Leto II are heroes. They are a necessity for ensuring the survival of humanity (or life in general for Argrath), but are terrible, flawed people who cause unimaginable  suffering in the pursuit of their goals. In the grand scheme of things, it turns out to be far better than the alternative (though that's impossible for pretty much anyone in-world to actually see, including the "heroes"), but they were not good people. The ends justify the means, taken to an extreme.

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40 minutes ago, Richard S. said:

Not sure if this has been mentioned already, but I think Argrath is a "hero" in the same sense that Paul Atreides or or Leto II are heroes. They are a necessity for ensuring the survival of humanity (or life in general for Argrath), but are terrible, flawed people who cause unimaginable  suffering in the pursuit of their goals. In the grand scheme of things, it turns out to be far better than the alternative (though that's impossible for pretty much anyone in-world to actually see, including the "heroes"), but they were not good people. The ends justify the means, taken to an extreme.

That's how "heroes" often seen in ancient and medieval pagan (perhaps less so in Abrahamic) sources. Hercules and others end up going nuts and doing lots of horrible stuff. Eigill Skallagrimsson is not a nice person. I mean, hell, the Old Testament hebrew heroes do some morally pretty sketchy stuff as well.

I guess people accept this premise with Harrek, since he's already presented as a kind of "chaotic neutral" (in DnD terms) kind of figure, whereas perhaps people expected more of a classically "virtuous" heroism from Argrath, which is why there's more of a tendency to want to judge Argrath my modern moral sensibilities, but not Harrek.

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16 minutes ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

 

I guess people accept this premise with Harrek, since he's already presented as a kind of "chaotic neutral" (in DnD terms) kind of figure, whereas perhaps people expected more of a classically "virtuous" heroism from Argrath, which is why there's more of a tendency to want to judge Argrath my modern moral sensibilities, but not Harrek.

Harrek is an aimless murderhobo, but he never claims to be anything more or better than a murderhobo.  No one but the Wolf Pirates regard him as a role model and they're also murderhobos.

Harrek is a godawful monster, a blight upon Glorantha.  But Harrek makes no pretention to anything more.

Whereas, King of Sartar is one big 'ARGATH IS THE GREATEST MOST WONDERFUL PERSON EVER' propaganda piece, even though Argath commits crimes on a level that Harrek could never accomplish or even aspire to.  Harrek is basically a mugger with superpowers.  Argath unleashes Magical Genghis Khan (Sheng Seleris) as a diversion.  Not even to accomplish his main goal but just to weaken his foes.  Argath's bodycount dwarfs Harrek and in-universe sources are disgustingly smug about it.

That's why Argath gets dumped on more than Harrek.  He's more offensive and the scale of his crimes dwarf those of Harrek.

 

 

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Just now, John Biles said:

Harrek is an aimless murderhobo, but he never claims to be anything more or better than a murderhobo.  No one but the Wolf Pirates regard him as a role model and they're also murderhobos.

Harrek is a godawful monster, a blight upon Glorantha.  But Harrek makes no pretention to anything more.

Whereas, King of Sartar is one big 'ARGATH IS THE GREATEST MOST WONDERFUL PERSON EVER' propaganda piece, even though Argath commits crimes on a level that Harrek could never accomplish or even aspire to.  Harrek is basically a mugger with superpowers.  Argath unleashes Magical Genghis Khan (Sheng Seleris) as a diversion.  Not even to accomplish his main goal but just to weaken his foes.  Argath's bodycount dwarfs Harrek and in-universe sources are disgustingly smug about it.

That's why Argath gets dumped on more than Harrek.  He's more offensive and the scale of his crimes dwarf those of Harrek.

 

 

Yeah, but in-universe sources are, as pointed out, from a moral viewpoint that is completely different from modern universalistic ethics, so why would those sources be so provocative? They're *explicitly* biased. I always assumed that was part of the premise of Glorantha, which I sort of alluded to in my first post in this thread.

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32 minutes ago, John Biles said:

Harrek is an aimless murderhobo, but he never claims to be anything more or better than a murderhobo.  No one but the Wolf Pirates regard him as a role model and they're also murderhobos.

Harrek is a godawful monster, a blight upon Glorantha.  But Harrek makes no pretention to anything more.

Whereas, King of Sartar is one big 'ARGATH IS THE GREATEST MOST WONDERFUL PERSON EVER' propaganda piece, even though Argath commits crimes on a level that Harrek could never accomplish or even aspire to.  Harrek is basically a mugger with superpowers.  Argath unleashes Magical Genghis Khan (Sheng Seleris) as a diversion.  Not even to accomplish his main goal but just to weaken his foes.  Argath's bodycount dwarfs Harrek and in-universe sources are disgustingly smug about it.

That's why Argath gets dumped on more than Harrek.  He's more offensive and the scale of his crimes dwarf those of Harrek.

KoS is a propaganda piece? Maybe it is, and I just didn't get the right message out of it, but what I read was a scholarly attempt to figure out who Argrath actually was and what he actually did. Of course, it was colored by the fact the Argrath is a major if not the cultural hero of the Harshax's people, but I saw it as primarily a scholarly work with opinions on whether Argrath were good or bad being secondary. Now, of course it called him out as a hero, but in Glorantha, hero ≠ good guy, hero = powerful guy.

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2 hours ago, Richard S. said:

hero = powerful guy.

Hell, Androgeus is explicitly stated as being one of the most powerful and most widely known heroes aren't they? And are also blamed for all kinds of problems and generally seen as a walking disaster (whether a cause of them or just being around when they happen).

I could be wrong, my main impression comes from assorted texts.

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2 hours ago, Richard S. said:

but in Glorantha, hero ≠ good guy, hero = powerful guy.

One reason I like Jar-Eel is that, unlike every other major Glorantha Hero, she actually has positive human qualities: she likes music, and deeply loves somebody.

Most of the others have little to no positive redeeming qualities, only negative - they are "good guys" based on what they destroy.  Arkat destroyed Gbaji, Argrath will unleash Sheng and Harrek to destroy the Lunars...  Any resemblance to a human being is, well, coincidental.

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46 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Most of the others have little to no positive redeeming qualities, only negative - they are "good guys" based on what they destroy.  Arkat destroyed Gbaji ...

Well, somebody destroyed somebody. Let's not forget the cult of Arkat Gbaji after all. :)

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5 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

One reason I like Jar-Eel is that, unlike every other major Glorantha Hero, she actually has positive human qualities: she likes music, and deeply loves somebody.

Most of the others have little to no positive redeeming qualities, only negative - they are "good guys" based on what they destroy.  Arkat destroyed Gbaji, Argrath will unleash Sheng and Harrek to destroy the Lunars...  Any resemblance to a human being is, well, coincidental.

I am pretty sure that for the White Moon devotees and the Pentans, Jar-eel is a monster. 

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9 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

I guess people accept this premise with Harrek, since he's already presented as a kind of "chaotic neutral" (in DnD terms) kind of figure, whereas perhaps people expected more of a classically "virtuous" heroism from Argrath, which is why there's more of a tendency to want to judge Argrath my modern moral sensibilities, but not Harrek.

I think Harrek's more chaotic evil than chaotic neutral, really.

Edited by Grievous
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As an aside, a Gloranthan "hero" is not a moral status. A hero is someone who is partially in the divine world while also being in the mundane world. Such beings are almost always difficult to morally classify, as terrifying deeds commingle with the wondrous. Hon-eel brought forth corn, but sacrificed her son. Heort fought I Fought We Won but he killed one of his rivals. Romulus and Remus founded Rome but Romulus killed Remus. They are dangerous, like the Gods World itself.

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2 minutes ago, Grievous said:

I think Harrek's more chaotic evil than chaotic neutral, really.

I dislike the D&D alignment system intensely - like a lamer, dumber version of Myers-Briggs. Harrek's runes are Air, Beast, Man, and Death. As a hero he is associated with Mastery. As one of the great heroes that are widely thought to be part of the cosmic duality itself, he is associated with the Infinity Rune.

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10 hours ago, Richard S. said:

Not sure if this has been mentioned already, but I think Argrath is a "hero" in the same sense that Paul Atreides or or Leto II are heroes.

Andrea: Unhappy is the land that breeds no hero.

Galileo: No, Andrea: Unhappy is the land that needs a hero.

—Bertolt Brecht

Edited by Akhôrahil
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Jar-eel's runes are not surprisingly Moon, Man, and Harmony. As a hero she is associated with Mastery. As one of the great heroes that are widely thought to be part of the cosmic duality itself, she is associated with the Infinity Rune.

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1 hour ago, Ali the Helering said:

Is that possible? 

At least Myers-Briggs doesn't make blanket statements (as far as I know) like "all Drow Uz are  ISTJ" or "everyone living in the Lunar Empire is INFP"

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8 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

One reason I like Jar-Eel is that, unlike every other major Glorantha Hero, she actually has positive human qualities: she likes music, and deeply loves somebody.

Most of the others have little to no positive redeeming qualities, only negative - they are "good guys" based on what they destroy.  Arkat destroyed Gbaji, Argrath will unleash Sheng and Harrek to destroy the Lunars...  Any resemblance to a human being is, well, coincidental.

"Any resemblance to a human being is, well, coincidental." That's Jar-Eel's story arc. She passionately loves what she can do, but she fervently wants to keep her humanity. But it's hard, when you have one foot firmly placed in the divine world. 

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8 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Any resemblance to a human being is, well, coincidental.

One of the defining features of a hero is that they have some notion of what the world should be like and that they're going to inflict on others. Very likely against their will and well-being.

("Drag them kicking and screaming into the Century of the Fruitbat")
 

Edited by Akhôrahil
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7 hours ago, MOB said:

At least Myers-Briggs doesn't make blanket statements (as far as I know) like "all Drow Uz are  ISTJ" or "everyone living in the Lunar Empire is INFP"

Not my experience 🙄

He was a Jungian therapist who was also a devotee of 'Iron John', so maybe M-B weren't to blame. 😜

Edited by Ali the Helering
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11 hours ago, Jeff said:

As a hero he is associated with Mastery.

 

11 hours ago, Jeff said:

As a hero she is associated with Mastery.

 

What do you mean by these statements? Does it mean that, if they were to continue "ascending" from Heroes to Gods, one of them would end up being the one to embody the Mastery Rune? (the same way, say, Humakt embodies the Death Rune)

Edited by lordabdul
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7 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

Does it mean that, if they were to continue "ascending" from Heroes to Gods, one of them would end up being the one to embody the Mastery Rune?

I believe it means that those who reach Hero status have gained the Mastery Rune.  Those who reach God status have gained the Infinity Rune.

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