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Was Argrath a hero or a villain?


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On 7/19/2020 at 3:12 AM, Akhôrahil said:

Aren’t those (possibly excluding Arkati) the same thing?

I meant that I’m not sure that Arkat was accepting of Chaos, which would indicate that he wasn’t Nysalorean/Rashoranically Illuminated.

Well, we do have records of Arkat leaving Dorastor covered in Chaos features, but he appears to have discovered how to purge them during the Dark Empire period.  There are hero quests that allow this after all. 

Edited by Darius West
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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.

1 hour ago, Darius West said:

I argue that this is due to laziness, not design.  No two forms of mysticism are much alike in real life, why should they be like that in Glorantha?

I would say you are wrong. As would Greg.

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2 hours ago, Darius West said:

I argue that this is due to laziness, not design.  No two forms of mysticism are much alike in real life, why should they be like that in Glorantha?

I guess that I should clarify my understanding. All paths of Illumination lead to the same set of powers and abilities. But a) most Illuminates do not get all of the powers, and b) the morality and discipline of their path does lead the Illuminant to behave very differently (most of the time, there are always exceptions, even to the exceptions).

An ascetic that spent 50 years of their life in poverty and self-abnegation to achieve unity with the All (or with the Void) will not suddenly become a glutton and rapist. While a noble that indulges their desires in Moonson's parties and almost passively becomes an Illuminant through Riddles might well voluntarily take on Chaos features to allow them to indulge even more.

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Now I'm getting a mystical vision of Stafford with slicked-back hair orating in a hall.

Quote

 

I am not a destroyer of worlds. I am a liberator of them!

The point is, ladies and gentleman, that chaos -- for lack of a better word -- is good.

Chaos is right.

Chaos works.

Chaos clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit.

Chaos, in all of its forms -- chaos in life, in money, in love, knowledge -- has marked the upward surge of mankind.

And chaos -- you mark my words -- will not only save Sartar, but that other malfunctioning entity called Glorantha.

 

 

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16 minutes ago, The God Learner said:

I'm surprised by some of the revelations in this thread. But surely Greg did not let his personal beliefs cross into the game world so that "mysticism wins!". Or did he? 

Mysticism doesn't "win". Nor does shamanism, sorcery, polytheism, etc. If anything wins, it is compromise, but even that always sews the seeds of the next conflict. The wheel keeps spinning.

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I ponder about the reactions of  those big players (King Broyan, Samastina, and others)  in  the Dragon Pass and Esrolia areas to Argrath (and Harrrek) when  the latter pair arrive back from the circumnavigation voyage.

Are they feared? (surely in  the case of Harrek) respected, are current leaders beguilded by Argrath? does he come as a liberator to aid King Broyan or to replace him?

Edited by Martin
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24 minutes ago, The God Learner said:

I'm surprised by some of the revelations in this thread. But surely Greg did not let his personal beliefs cross into the game world so that "mysticism wins!". Or did he? 

Well, I mean, Illumination is basically "getting it right" in a way that almost nothing else is in the highly subjective Glorantha. So you're not without a point.

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1 hour ago, Akhôrahil said:

Well, I mean, Illumination is basically "getting it right" in a way that almost nothing else is in the highly subjective Glorantha. So you're not without a point.

Arguably, God Learner Illumination as, for example, seen in My Game Varies (where I adopted the discarded secret "It's A Game!") is closest to getting it right so far. However, the GL adapters didn't quite understand what that implied and so were destroyed.

 

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9 minutes ago, The God Learner said:

Arguably, God Learner Illumination as, for example, seen in My Game Varies (where I adopted the discarded secret "It's A Game!") is closest to getting it right so far. However, the GL adapters didn't quite understand what that implied and so were destroyed.

I have problems with the God Learners being Illuminated (I mean, some would surely be, I'm talking about the general case). To me, God-Learners are akin to scientifically minded modernists, while Illuminates are post-modernists or existentialists. The God-Learners want to find out the objective truth of the matter, while Illuminates are more like (gross generalization, obviously) "nothing is true, everything is permitted".

The God-Learners surely got the largest areas of theory right out of everyone who's tried. Wise practice, not so much.

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1 hour ago, Akhôrahil said:

To me, God-Learners are akin to scientifically minded modernists, while Illuminates are post-modernists or existentialists.

I agree with this more or less, with the proviso that not all GLs are illuminated. But perhaps we all would inevitably -- as inevitably as positivism slid into post-modernism -- have slid into GL illumination. 

 

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24 minutes ago, The God Learner said:

I agree with this more or less, with the proviso that not all GLs are illuminated. But perhaps we all would inevitably -- as inevitably as positivism slid into post-modernism -- have slid into GL illumination. 

Yes, because it seems Gloranthan Illumination is something you can accidentally stumble into. Some people spend decades meditating, others experience a few different cultures and hear a couple of Riddles, and wham, suddenly Illumination! The cosmopolitanism of the God-Learners might be an opening for that.

Oddi the Keen is royally (literally) pissed off about his own unwanted Illumination in C/LoT. He can't enjoy himself any longer.

Edited by Akhôrahil
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1 hour ago, Akhôrahil said:

Well, I mean, Illumination is basically "getting it right" in a way that almost nothing else is in the highly subjective Glorantha. So you're not without a point.

Einstein's Theory of Relativity "gets it right" in many respects, but scientists are struggling to reconcile the world view of Relativity with Quantum Physics.  Quantum Physics "gets it right" enough to build transistors and integrated circuits and lasers and other modern marvels. Relativity "gets it right" enough to build GPS satellite networks which can pinpoint your location to the nearest metre. Yet both theories are fundamentally wrong in some hidden way which scientists are struggling to identify.

Given such real world examples, its not difficult to accept that illumination or god learners theories get it right enough to grant extraordinary powers, yet contain hidden flaws so fundamental and damaging they ultimately lead to the downfall of those who deceive themselves into thinking their philosophy is the answer to all mysteries.

Edited by EricW
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I've harped on about this elsewhere, but I think it's pertinent to note that Illumination/mysticism is not just an explanatory model of epistemology/cosmology ("okay, how does stuff work, *actually*), arguable much more significantly, it is a practice of *experience*. A state of being rather than knowing, as it were. This can be picked apart any which way of course, such is the nature of existence. Certainly some mystics attempt to make charts and diagrams, but these in themselves are not illumination, if this makes any sense to anyone. 😅

Edited by Sir_Godspeed
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11 minutes ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

I've harped on about this elsewhere, but I think it's pertinent to note that Illumination/mysticism is not just an explanatory model of epistemology/cosmology ("okay, how does stuff work, *actually*), arguable much more significantly, it is a practice of *experience*. A state of being rather than knowing, as it were. This can be picked apart any which way of course, such is the nature of existence. Certainly some mystics attempt to make charts and diagrams, but these in themselves are not illumination, if this makes any sense to anyone. 😅

This is true, but it's still a mental state that objectively provides you with a number of advantages, without any downside except that you might miss your earlier lack of freedom and clear thought.

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3 hours ago, The God Learner said:

God Learner Illumination

The God Learners didn't need to be illuminated. Illumination isn't a requirement for any of their activity. The core aspect of illumination that Chaos is, in itself, neither evil nor inimical.   I'm sure some became illuminated as part of their experiments. The bigger question is what benefits if any does illumination confer on godless sorcerers. If you've no divine links, illumination is just an understanding of chaos.

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25 minutes ago, David Scott said:

The God Learners didn't need to be illuminated. Illumination isn't a requirement for any of their activity. The core aspect of illumination that Chaos is, in itself, neither evil nor inimical.   I'm sure some became illuminated as part of their experiments. The bigger question is what benefits if any does illumination confer on godless sorcerers. If you've no divine links, illumination is just an understanding of chaos.

Although would Illumination have provided immunity to the Gift Carriers, as they are essentially a kind of Agents of Retribution? Supposedly not, as that would have had a lot of knock-on effects, but it seems like the kind of thing that should have worked,

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6 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

Although would Illumination have provided immunity to the Gift Carriers, as they are essentially a kind of Agents of Retribution? Supposedly not, as that would have had a lot of knock-on effects, but it seems like the kind of thing that should have worked,

God learners did have divine links, they heroquested and played divine roles to obtain power.

It’s just they were very naughty, they did not respect the gods and spirits they manipulated. and had no qualms about acting out of character to achieve selfish goals.

After they conquered Arkat’s empire they would have known about illumination and seen it as a massive advantage. All the Yelmalio, Humakt and Thanatar gifts all at once without worrying about the geases or divine retribution. Maybe a few steps towards becoming a vampire to slow down ageing, without going all the way. Maybe the odd chaos feature, with a healer standing ready if you didn’t like the outcome.

Free power, and you don’t even have to take the risk of heroquesting, beyond a few basic initiation rituals.

Edited by EricW
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18 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

Well, I mean, Illumination is basically "getting it right" in a way that almost nothing else is in the highly subjective Glor

The Nysalor/Gbaji story can be seen as entirely about how thinking that Illumination means you have 'got it right' is a terrible mistake that leads to terrible things. 

The God Learner story can be understood as about how thinking that rational, analytical, understanding means you have 'got it right' is a terrible mistake that leads to terrible things. 

I am certainly convinced that Greg thought there was enormous spiritual value in mysticism, and clearly intended to convey that, but I also think he thought that understanding the world through any single perspective was dangerous. And he put some of his own, personal, spiritual beliefs into Gloranthan metaphysics, and those ideas evolved throughout his life, both his own spiritual beliefs as happens with someone really dedicated to spiritual growth and exploration, and his ideas as a game designer and creator about how those might best be expressed in the game and world. 

Some people seem to approach Illumination with the idea that it must be good or evil in itself, and that Nysalor must be wrong or right. I personally find this a bit baffling, as the revelation that Arkat is Illuminated (and teaches Illumination to his inner circle) would seem to be make it obviously more nuanced than that. Nysalor is wrong in important ways - but not wrong about Illumination itself, and the Secret knowledge about Chaos being pretty much universal to Illuminates means he isn't wrong about that either. The things he got wrong are different. And just because Nysalor got things wrong doesn't means Arkat got them right. 

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14 hours ago, David Scott said:

The God Learners didn't need to be illuminated. Illumination isn't a requirement for any of their activity. The core aspect of illumination that Chaos is, in itself, neither evil nor inimical.   I'm sure some became illuminated as part of their experiments. 

I tend to disagree a bit - I think Illumination was a requirement for some of their activity, but only some. Some of their activity involved reshaping divine cults from the inside as members, and I think that required Illumination. But it's a small part of what the God Learners did overall, and certainly not the main, or only, problem with God Learnerism. I don't think Illumination was necessary for anything to do with the Zistorites and their outrages, for example. 

As I think I've said a bunch of times in the last few months - if you read Middle Sea Empire, it makes it very clear how intellectually, and magically, diverse the God Learners became. And the mainstream God Learner set of beliefs, Makanism, did not require Illumination or anything that could not be fully rationally explained at all. And often, their magical methods did not require anything apart from sorcery and sorcerous heroquesting. But its also clear that many God Learners used divine magic in various ways. And the Malkioneranist sect of the God Learners seem to have deliberately used Illumination (in some form) as an essential part of their practices, and I think it was probably a necessary method for some of what they did - this is implied not outright stated in MSE, but I think its pretty obvious. 

(I also agree that there were probably some God Learners who become Illuminated somewhat by accident as a result of their heroquests etc - I think that's a slightly different situation, and less significant. I think pretty much any group of active heroquesters will tend to have a few Illuminates) 

15 hours ago, David Scott said:

The bigger question is what benefits if any does illumination confer on godless sorcerers. If you've no divine links, illumination is just an understanding of chaos.

It enabled them to have divine links without giving up all the advantages of being godless sorcerers. 

There were God Learners who became convinced that they had to use Chaos magic, the Transgressors, but this was officially a heresy, and the use of Chaotic magic was never someone that was mainstream or orthodox among the God Learners. Though I don't think the God Learners were particularly effective at detecting and preventing Chaotic corruption either. 

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16 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

I've harped on about this elsewhere, but I think it's pertinent to note that Illumination/mysticism is not just an explanatory model of epistemology/cosmology ("okay, how does stuff work, *actually*), arguable much more significantly, it is a practice of *experience*. A state of being rather than knowing, as it were.

Yeah. It must be experienced, and without that transformative experience, it makes little sense. I don't think it even IS an explanatory model of cosmology, it tells you that some things are untrue, but gives you only difficult to intellectually comprehend insights into what IS true. 

 

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1 hour ago, davecake said:

Some people seem to approach Illumination with the idea that it must be good or evil in itself, and that Nysalor must be wrong or right. 

I don’t. However, it’s pretty clear that it’s epistemically correct. This is what I meant with ”getting it right”. Nothing stops you from being awful just because you understand the world better - if anything, Illumination enables it by removing the checks and balances and traditions that can otherwise make people behave. 

Edited by Akhôrahil
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4 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

I don’t. However, it’s pretty clear that it’s epistemically correct. This is what I meant with ”getting it right”. Nothing stops you from being awful just because you understand the world better - if anything, Illumination enables it by removing the checks and balances and traditions that can otherwise make people behave. 

I think that's a fair warning about one potential issue with Illumination (which indeed is fairly well represented in the core story of Arkat-vs-Nysalor), but still, in most cases the checks and balances you remove are actually more likely to be such that they mandate awful behavior and thus you can actually be a far better person than someone who can't see beyond the blinders that cause grief and suffering to one and all. To put it in practical and less mystical terms, it's stuff like: "No, we don't actually need to enter a cycle of vengeance that our gods demand, but we can forgive instead"; "No, we don't have to make them our thralls as our custom demands, but we can grant them full rights as citizens"; "I see how my emotions create the circumstances of my downfall, and instead I choose to recognize them, face them and then let them go, proceeding from a state of equilibrium rather than imbalance"; etc.

Edited by Grievous
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5 hours ago, davecake said:

Some of their activity involved reshaping divine cults from the inside as members, and I think that required Illumination. But it's a small part of what the God Learners did overall, and certainly not the main, or only, problem with God Learnerism. I don't think Illumination was necessary for anything to do with the Zistorites and their outrages, for example.

I'm not convinced Illumination was needed any more than illumination or a mystical view is needed for science in our own world.  God Learnerism seems far more of a reasoned, deductive approach - and their approach to gods/cults seems to be like tinkering with Lego parts or chemistry experiments where you can swap out parts and place other similar parts in.

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