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14 hours ago, EricW said:

the problem is when liberated from cult obligations or social conscience a lot of people do embrace chaos.

Are you sure of that ?

 

Do illuminated lunars "embrace" chaos because they are Illuminated or because the way of the moon is that chaos is not to be automatically destroyed so it is helpfull to illuminate people (so free them from the fear of chaos) to teach them the way of the moon ?

 

who are illuminated people we know that are not illuminated by lunars ? How many of them did embrace chaos ?

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I would have abandoned the Tarot scheme.  The major framing device for the organization of the Arkati cults (Arkat the Destroyer etc) I would have attributed to Halwal (in order words, the cults of Ar

I apologize for the length of this reply in advance.    It's hard to take this post seriously at all. "Chaos is definitely objectively the death of the world, or else Gloranthans would rev

I really like this turn in the thread because it raises the question of the scenarios people naturally gravitate toward when confronted with the possibility of a liberation of consciousness from norma

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I'm still reading, but I have nothing worth saying to anything, sadly.

I also haven't had time to dig through some of the Stafford Library, but I want to.  I am especially curious about illumination in the Entekosiad, as I like Pelandan history & myth more han Dara Happan (I'm odd)

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On 8/3/2020 at 6:48 PM, Nick Underwood said:

And role-playing is, of course, the act of  peeking *inside* a cultural perspective for a bit - an act of Illumination that I don't think was lost on the authors.

I think that might be more God Learning than Illumination, potaytoe potaatoe

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 Pro Arkati Mode ON 😈

On 8/3/2020 at 8:42 PM, French Desperate WindChild said:

Do illuminated lunars "embrace" chaos because they are Illuminated or because the way of the moon is that chaos is not to be automatically destroyed so it is helpfull to illuminate people (so free them from the fear of chaos) to teach them the way of the moon ?

First rule when dealing with lunars : Do you know when a lunar lie to you ? Their lips move !
Zorak Zoran rule when dealing with Chaotic : Do you know when a chaotic lie to you ? They still exist !

Lunars use the power of Rune of Moon and state of Illumination to hide their chaotic face and show off their untainted one. Like the moon, the try to hide their nature but we all know they still are chaotic. Lunars and Chaotic tell you that Glorantha is a bubble of order in an Ocean of Chaos, can you really trust them ? Illuminate know why you don't have to fear chaos, because Chaos cannot win, nor is dominant against order.

On 8/3/2020 at 8:42 PM, French Desperate WindChild said:

who are illuminated people we know that are not illuminated by lunars ? How many of them did embrace chaos ?

A lot of people have been illuminated long before Nysalor and lunars ... Humakt and Uleria for the gods, probably Arkat the first hero and a lot of unknown people. How many embrace Chaos ? None ... Only chaotic try to become illuminated to hide their trueself, When you attain Illumination, Chaos is just a kind of pollution : A power for the weak and corrupted, True Illuminated don't need Chaos. But chaos need it to hide itself...

Think about Humackt and Uleria, does they need Chaos ? No. But Chaos need death and sex to terrify their enemies and attract some propects (allies).

Whenever you hear someone tell you "chaos is cool, illumination protect you from it" ...remember, their lips move and they still exist ! 🧐

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My RQ:G character illuminated towards the end of my group's last session.  He'd had several brushes with dragonewts, a dream dragon, Argrath, and it all culminated in achieving Draconic enlightenment in a Storm Age dragonewt meditation chamber, during the Sacred Time of 1627-28.  The same character underwent initiation to the direct cult of Arachne Solara during the same Sacred Time.

How does Illumination change this character on a moral and interpersonal level?  Before Illumination their personality was built around the interplay of the Darkness, Harmony and Movement runes, driven by devotion to Argan Argar, their family and their community in roughly that order.  None of that went away with illumination.  Realizing that all the world is a dream has so far simply meant that the character has a more profound respect for others, dissasociated elements of the one dreamer, sharing the one dream.  He was an inveterate foe of Chaos before Illumination, not out of hate so much as pity and revulsion for what Chaos does to those it corrupts.  Illumination would seem to have only intensified that pity, while lessening the revulsion, as the character comprehends how unnecessary the suffering of the Chaos-tainted is.

Illumination has fundamentally changed the character's relationship with the gods.  Now that he better understands the limitations their current mode of existence places on the gods, he is more willing to transgress strictures and taboos in order to succeed at higher-order goals.  Those goals all revolve around advancing the health and prosperity of their community though, the character was not psychologically defined by a revenge quest before illumination, so the stripping away of cultural relativism has not, so far, resulted in their descending into sociopathy.

Robert Caro once wrote that power itself doesn't corrupt, it simply reveals who a person was all along.  If simply being freed from cultural taboos and divine retribution made Argrath, Sheng Seleris and other similar illuminates into monsters, that is probably a reflection of something in their personal characters rather than a quality intrinsic to illumination.

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48 minutes ago, dumuzid said:

Robert Caro once wrote that power itself doesn't corrupt, it simply reveals who a person was all along.

Marxists and critical theorists would probably want a word with him, but that's another story.

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2 hours ago, dumuzid said:

 

Robert Caro once wrote that power itself doesn't corrupt, it simply reveals who a person was all along.  If simply being freed from cultural taboos and divine retribution made Argrath, Sheng Seleris and other similar illuminates into monsters, that is probably a reflection of something in their personal characters rather than a quality intrinsic to illumination.

To be fair, Sheng Seleris was *already a monster* before the Kraloreland stupidly decided illumination was the solution to his bad behavior.  It just sent him from 'warlord monster' to 'grandiose horrible visions monster'.

 

 

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6 hours ago, dumuzid said:

he is more willing to transgress strictures and taboos in order to succeed at higher-order goals.  Those goals all revolve around advancing the health and prosperity of their community though, the character was not psychologically defined by a revenge quest before illumination, so the stripping away of cultural relativism has not, so far, resulted in their descending into sociopathy.

It's easy to see the risks even in this case, though. What happens after ten years of being willing to break taboos and mores for The Greater Good? What does that do to a person? Will he listen to people who disagree about the greater good that is inflicted on them, or discount their un-Illuminated perspective? For their own good, naturally.

Edited by Akhôrahil
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On 8/5/2020 at 8:28 AM, Darius West said:
On 8/3/2020 at 10:48 AM, Nick Underwood said:

And role-playing is, of course, the act of  peeking *inside* a cultural perspective for a bit - an act of Illumination that I don't think was lost on the authors.

I think that might be more God Learning than Illumination, potaytoe potaatoe

Isn't God Learnerism kind of a joke on munchkins gaming the rules?

My intended point is that role-players inhabit the lives of their characters, adopt their motivations, and see the world from the character's perspective. This transcendence of one's own cultural determinism *IS* illumination! Role-playing is a sacred path to enlightment for the players!

(Well kind of... Let's not get carried away. I'm just talking about levels of metanarrative, but I suspect Greg thought something like that - and why not?) 

And if that is the case, then no. God Learnerism would be failed transcendence because, by holding on to its original motivation (power) it fails to wholly identify with the other culture. 

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14 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

It's easy to see the risks even in this case, though. What happens after ten years of being willing to break taboos and mores for The Greater Good? What does that do to a person? Will he listen to people who disagree about the greater good that is inflicted on them, or discount their un-Illuminated perspective? For their own good, naturally.

This is why the less murdery Illuminates tend to come up with some crazy plan that they think advances the Greater Good, like turning half of Genertla into a dragon.

That is totally going to be what everyone *really* needs.

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6 hours ago, dumuzid said:

How does Illumination change this character on a moral and interpersonal level? 

It sounds to me like you have it cracked. Your character is in a bit of existentialist funk: the world is meaningless, how do I behave in a meaningless world?

But your pc doesn't seem to find the world totally meaningless - they seem to be profoundly moved by the ultimate connectedness of things on a cosmic scale (Arachne Solara) and a very local scale (pity, community, the modern word  would be "empathy") 

Freed from constraint, perhaps your pc evolves a philosophy where suffering is the only reality and they are drawn into conflict with authorities because reducing suffering becomes their principal motivation. Perhaps they are drawn to Xiola Umbar (however that's spelled) due to the darkness, harmony and compassion. 

One thing illumination would seem to do: by revealing the true nature of reality and desire to the illuminated, it seems hard to maintain the full plethora of a competing culturally determined motivations: be a good wife, warrior, clan member, worshipper... The Illuminated need to find their own meaning in the world and to follow it with a ruthless mono mania. 

The irony here is that by replacing culturally defined values with personally defined values they are exacerbating the fragmentation of the original cosmic unity, leading to deeper and deeper relativism. (But that, and its real world equivalents, is a whole other topic.) 

Important question - if you do follow Xiola Umbar and cast Group Defense with 50 stacked trollkin then run at a phalanx of lunars, (these are specially trained stacked trollkin, of course) can you augment with your Compassion? 

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55 minutes ago, John Biles said:

This is why the less murdery Illuminates tend to come up with some crazy plan that they think advances the Greater Good, like turning half of Genertla into a dragon.

Agreed. If fundamentalism is the absence of doubt, then it's the fundamentalist certainty of illumination that can be seen as it's greatest threat. The moral detachment can be seen as just one aspect of this. 

Is this actually failed illumination? An inability to situate one's own enlightened perspective as still only one part of the cosmic unity?

(Heavy handed irony: how can faith exist without doubt?) 

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We're basically seeing the battles of nihilism, existentialism, absurdism, and something like pan(en)theism-vs.-solipsism play out in different modes of illumination. Although I think most illuminated characters we have display a mix more commonly than leaning too heavily into any specific category. But these are challenges everyone has to face when coming to terms with the Ultimate.

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14 hours ago, MJ Sadique said:

 Pro Arkati Mode ON 😈

First rule when dealing with lunars : Do you know when a lunar lie to you ? Their lips move !
Zorak Zoran rule when dealing with Chaotic : Do you know when a chaotic lie to you ? They still exist !

Lunars use the power of Rune of Moon and state of Illumination to hide their chaotic face and show off their untainted one. Like the moon, the try to hide their nature but we all know they still are chaotic. Lunars and Chaotic tell you that Glorantha is a bubble of order in an Ocean of Chaos, can you really trust them ? Illuminate know why you don't have to fear chaos, because Chaos cannot win, nor is dominant against order.

A lot of people have been illuminated long before Nysalor and lunars ... Humakt and Uleria for the gods, probably Arkat the first hero and a lot of unknown people. How many embrace Chaos ? None ... Only chaotic try to become illuminated to hide their trueself, When you attain Illumination, Chaos is just a kind of pollution : A power for the weak and corrupted, True Illuminated don't need Chaos. But chaos need it to hide itself...

Think about Humackt and Uleria, does they need Chaos ? No. But Chaos need death and sex to terrify their enemies and attract some propects (allies).

Whenever you hear someone tell you "chaos is cool, illumination protect you from it" ...remember, their lips move and they still exist ! 🧐

that is more what I think , yes

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On 8/6/2020 at 6:40 PM, Nick Underwood said:

Isn't God Learnerism kind of a joke on munchkins gaming the rules?

Yes is definitely is a joke of that sort... But do you seriously think that Illumination isn't also Munchkins gaming the rules?

On 8/6/2020 at 6:40 PM, Nick Underwood said:

My intended point is that role-players inhabit the lives of their characters, adopt their motivations, and see the world from the character's perspective. This transcendence of one's own cultural determinism *IS* illumination! Role-playing is a sacred path to enlightment for the players!

But it leads to another form of munchkins gaming the rules.  Consider... You transcend cultural determinism, rejecting the implicit cultural limits you have been taught to accept, and are now spiritually immune to the repercussions of breaking them.  This leads to moral relativism, supported by casuistry, that forsakes all limits in the pursuit of power.  It is the very definition of munchkinism, dressed up in a New-Age frock sprouting a chaos feature that nobody can detect.  Call that enlightenment?  I call it Wakboth by proxy.  

I also don't think that studying Anthropology makes anyone enlightened.  If anything it just makes them overqualified to sit in a grass hut in remote PNG.

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Seeking spiritual enlightenment and understanding it requires a broader, more universal perspective is, I would suggest, not really equivalent to jokes about squads of God Learning wizards trying to storm Orlanth's Hall by weight of numbers in order to steal his magic weapons. 

It's also not really "gaming the rules" to realize that the rules are invalid, or that they are a relative stricture rather than an absolute one. Unless we're defining "reading the rulebook" as "munchkining", to continue the gaming analogy. 

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1 hour ago, Eff said:

Seeking spiritual enlightenment and understanding it requires a broader, more universal perspective is, I would suggest, not really equivalent to jokes about squads of God Learning wizards trying to storm Orlanth's Hall by weight of numbers in order to steal his magic weapons. 

Illumination obviously helps you immensely in behaving like a munchkin. (Sidebar: How many of the top leadership of the Lightbringer cults in 1625 are illuminated?) However, I don't consider illumination to equate with understanding, heightened spirituality,  enlightenment, etc. Perhaps true enlightenment instead means to renounce worldly things like cults, spells, wealth and power. 

A broader, more universal perspective is, of course, already provided by God Learnerism, so welcome brother and let us now study how to swap goddesses without error, in a completely respectful way, I hasten to say. Praise Zistor, may He rise again, and open the manual on page 1626. 

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I really like this turn in the thread because it raises the question of the scenarios people naturally gravitate toward when confronted with the possibility of a liberation of consciousness from normal constraints. The conceptual hurdle isn't so much "is this possible" or even "how is it done" but figuring out what to do with it. What kind of life you want to build. What kind of world. Where the natural supports and resistances emerge. How dynamic conflict happens or doesn't. What is no longer fun (maximum Glorantha fun) and what remains fun.

Miracleman-Book-3-pg-116-.jpg.96fc8c818927f61ec7680d8fc1b736a8.jpg

"Power" and the will to power are interesting terms here. Classical Stafford Mystics renounce agency on the way out of the normal constraints that bind consciousness to society. They abandon active desire (money, success, fame, glamour) and simply surrender to the status quo. After all, they're told, all this is "spiritual materialism" and chasing a transitional object. Of course saying "no" is its own power move, a form of cheating.  If the renunciate simply wants out of the world of power relations, the door is always cracked. But once you find that route, temptations are endless. Nobody's watching. You can get what you want now. God's away on business.

I don't think we meet a lot of the people who really escape the web of time. They're gone and very few come back . . . the ones we know are the ones who come back because they had unfinished projects they wanted (desire) to pursue. In god's absence the world could be managed better in some way, maybe with a different mix of systems or an empire more or less. Or they're just hungry for something: swap a goddess because you can. Work a wonder. Make a gesture. Communicate something. Go back to the cell of power relations because it's a comforting fit. After all, it's your shape and size. The world feels like home.

It's not really a dumb theory that Glorantha and all these world bubbles are a form of fly paper that attracts consciousness and all the characters are more or less stuck in their roles, recycling postures. But it passes the time. And when they find people playing on their level, the interactions might get ugly but it's better than drinking alone.

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55 minutes ago, Nevermet said:

I think it's safe to say that to be illuminated in Glorantha is to be beyond good and evil.

So is everyone. Good and evil aren't quantifiable factors in Glorantha, they are merely subjective terms used for (mostly willed) actions considered desireable or undesireable in different societies. The absence of overarching, cosmic objective "good" and "evil" are what sets Glorantha aside from D&D, and the classical Judaeo-Christian moral universe. 

To echo and rephrase what's been said several times again in this thread: Most Gloranthans are more or less stuck in the "worldview-box" of their culture (or "cultural horizon" if you want to use a less absolute term), society, and cult, where the ideas within are seen as objectively true om some level (or more importantly, objectively right). Illuminates have had the opportunity to experience and understand how that worldview-box is a cobbled-together artifact, and how it is highly limited and simplified. Illuminates get to relativize the true-ness and right-ness of their former cultures, which allows them, on a more profound level, re-evaluate said values on their own terms. 

So, they both are and aren't beyond good and evil. They are beyond it in the sense that such concepts do not objectively exist in Glorantha in the way they'd exist in Christianity or Islam or Lord of the Rings, and moral values must by necessity originate from the ideas and judgments of sentient beings (whether said sentient beings are gods or mortals is irrelevant - the point is that they can't agree with each other and have no way of determining who is "right" or "wrong" between them). On the other hand, Illuminates aren't beyond good and evil, precisely because they are socially constructed concepts, and therefore any Illuminate, regardless of their personal opinion, can be held accountable by any society they find themselves in, based on its ideas of good and evil. 

In short: Glorantha, for all its deities and cosmic consciousnesses, faces the same frustrating lack of a cheat sheet of morality that the real world does.

Edited by Sir_Godspeed
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22 hours ago, Eff said:

Seeking spiritual enlightenment and understanding it requires a broader, more universal perspective is, I would suggest, not really equivalent to jokes about squads of God Learning wizards trying to storm Orlanth's Hall by weight of numbers in order to steal his magic weapons. 

Isn't it ?  I would have said that every munchkin and his little brother dog would have been lining up around the block to get the perk that lets you join any cult.  There simply isn't anything intrinsically spiritual about dodging your responsibilities, culturally determined or otherwise.  Nysalor illumination is a false illumination that amounts to spiritual materialism.  It isn't even about actually seeking refuge from suffering, it's all just about unlocking power.  Any actual spiritual dimension is largely irrelevant.  And what is the spiritual message of Nysalor?  It amounts to "Chaos isn't so bad, see, you can have a chaos feature if you want." Yeah, the death of your world isn't so bad, you can help bring it about.  Drink the Kool-Aid.

23 hours ago, Eff said:

It's also not really "gaming the rules" to realize that the rules are invalid, or that they are a relative stricture rather than an absolute one. Unless we're defining "reading the rulebook" as "munchkining", to continue the gaming analogy. 

Well, in absolute terms, characters in RPGs have not read the rules, but their players often have.  Munchkining is about finding loopholes in those rules that you can exploit to an absurd amount.  If illumination doesn't fall into that category then literally nothing does.  Illumination is, if anything, purpose designed to facilitate that style of rules exploitation.

21 hours ago, The God Learner said:

Perhaps true enlightenment instead means to renounce worldly things like cults, spells, wealth and power. 

To draw for a moment on how HQ (huck, spit) handles the mysticism rules, it is all about refutation of physical and spiritual principles. For example, if you want to fly, you refute gravity, and if you want to heal, you refute injury, and if you want to be immortal, you refute age. Mysticism is either transcendental (above the worldly) or immanent (actively of the world).  In the case of the Dragonewts, arguably their mysticism sits balanced on a knife-edge between the two which I would dub synthetic, as it synthesizes the two views.  I would argue that Dragonewts have access to another "dragon dimension", and they are developing their pure spiritual body in that realm, and every time they bring that body into this reality, they lose the part they manifest for that lifetime, unless they regrow it in a timely fashion.  Eventually the mystic supposedly refutes the world and leaves it for the "realm of their final destination".  There is none of this in the Nysalor tradition,partly the deity is dead, and partly because it was primarily an immanent tradition that was based on the acquisition of power.  Better yet, the Nysalor riddles cause the uninitiated to fall for a Big Brother "Slavery is Freedom" narrative that supports the worst sort of imperialism; the sort that colonizes your ability to reason.

15 hours ago, Nevermet said:

I think it's safe to say that to be illuminated in Glorantha is to be beyond good and evil.

Have you ever noticed that everyone who says "I am beyond good and evil" is generally really just excusing the fact that they have become evil and don't want to answer for it?  Nobody is ever "beyond good and evil", because those terms are not about how you view yourself, but about how other people view you.  Jeffrey Epstein when interviewed famously said "I'm very comfortable in my own skin", so does that mean he's beyond good and evil?  Not in my book.  A truly spiritual person holds themself to a very considered and high level of moral conduct.  They may not hold with certain values, and may actively reject quite a few as being  socially destructive or hackneyed and an obstacle to spiritual growth.  For example, Buddha saw that extreme austerities fell into this definition; that injuring your body was not a productive spiritual approach. It isn't, however, the place of the mystic to say that they, themselves, are beyond good and evil.  All that means is that they hold other people's opinions of themselves in contempt, and while "the sage may treat the common people as a straw dog; revering them and then casting them aside", that is because they understand that the decency of ordinary people while very worthwhile is no longer a standard they can hold themselves accountable to; they must do better, not less.  Nysalor teaches that you can do less if you want, and in fact you can work towards the Chaotic death of the world and that is okay too.  That is not beyond good, it is far beneath good, and very evil indeed.  Chaos ceased to be a force for growth in Glorantha when the Unholy Trio defiled the Primal Plasma.

14 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

So is everyone. Good and evil aren't quantifiable factors in Glorantha, they are merely subjective terms used for (mostly willed) actions considered desireable or undesireable in different societies. The absence of overarching, cosmic objective "good" and "evil" are what sets Glorantha aside from D&D, and the classical Judaeo-Christian moral universe. 

Agreed, and agreed.

14 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

To echo and rephrase what's been said several times again in this thread: Most Gloranthans are more or less stuck in the "worldview-box" of their culture (or "cultural horizon" if you want to use a less absolute term), society, and cult, where the ideas within are seen as objectively true om some level (or more importantly, objectively right). Illuminates have had the opportunity to experience and understand how that worldview-box is a cobbled-together artifact, and how it is highly limited and simplified. Illuminates get to relativize the true-ness and right-ness of their former cultures, which allows them, on a more profound level, re-evaluate said values on their own terms. 

While this isn't wrong, it also might be called a "party line" approach.  The fact is that the cultures of Glorantha are not "cobbled together", they have evolved and are part of a living spiritual ecosystem.  I think most illuminates behave like chaos creatures in this regard.  They act as though they are "in the ecosystem but not of the ecosystem", which makes them enemies of the ecosystem.  The benefit of the illuminate is that they might be able to shake the purely moribund and prejudicial parts of their culture so it can grow, (e.g. Argrath creating the Sartar Magical Union so that the Orlanthi ecosystem can break its former "programmed for defeat" mentality against the Lunars), but then you also get the God Learners who stole illumination and hero questing from the Dark Empire, and rebuilt the mythic landscape in their own image and to their own purpose.  As any good Shaman knows, you don't need to be illuminated to create new symbols for your society to rally around, you just need to have a better answer than anyone else.

14 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

On the other hand, Illuminates aren't beyond good and evil, precisely because they are socially constructed concepts, and therefore any Illuminate, regardless of their personal opinion, can be held accountable by any society they find themselves in, based on its ideas of good and evil. 

Okay, I agree with that.

14 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

In short: Glorantha, for all its deities and cosmic consciousnesses, faces the same frustrating lack of a cheat sheet of morality that the real world does.

Is it really so hard to resist the expedient unless it is also the worthy?  Wisdom is just knowing the right thing to do and then actually doing it.

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2 minutes ago, Darius West said:

Isn't it ?  I would have said that every munchkin and his little brother dog would have been lining up around the block to get the perk that lets you join any cult.  There simply isn't anything intrinsically spiritual about dodging your responsibilities, culturally determined or otherwise.  Nysalor illumination is a false illumination that amounts to spiritual materialism.  It isn't even about actually seeking refuge from suffering, it's all just about unlocking power.  Any actual spiritual dimension is largely irrelevant.  And what is the spiritual message of Nysalor?  It amounts to "Chaos isn't so bad, see, you can have a chaos feature if you want." Yeah, the death of your world isn't so bad, you can help bring it about.  Drink the Kool-Aid.

Well, in absolute terms, characters in RPGs have not read the rules, but their players often have.  Munchkining is about finding loopholes in those rules that you can exploit to an absurd amount.  If illumination doesn't fall into that category then literally nothing does.  Illumination is, if anything, purpose designed to facilitate that style of rules exploitation.

But Chaos isn't the death of the world. Absence of Chaos in Glorantha would mean its death. So at a basic, fundamental level, that spiritual message carries an important truth about the universe. Is that truth dangerous? The theory of special relativity is dangerous, too. Comparative mythology is extremely dangerous. That doesn't make them any less true or meaningful, it just assigns a moral responsibility to not be Occluded. 

That being said, though, speaking as someone who would probably be Illuminated in Gloranthan terms, in that I have "dodged cult strictures", as it were, in at least three times over, without suffering from "spirits of reprisal"/ the supposed inherent consequences for dodging said strictures, not all cultural responsibilities are created equal. Some of them are genuinely oppressive! Now, Glorantha is nicer than the real world, in that two of those specific strictures canonically do not exist anywhere in it, and the third one is probably somewhat local. But that doesn't mean that there aren't strictures which bind people unjustly amid the ones that are morally important. So, you know, "dodging your responsibilities" can be a moral decision, and more importantly, the construction of an awareness of what is Truth and what is Illusion, that is to say, what applies universally/objectively and what applies particularly/subjectively is itself intrinsically spiritual. 

Being able to join any cult doesn't really mean much. You still need to make sacrifices and attend worship to regain your magic. You still need to engage with the cult in order to do that, too. Someone who's initiated to Orlanth and Sedenya and Jolaty and Rathor and Waha and Pamalt and Wachaza and Octamo is not going to be able to maintain a normal life, and they'll need to be fantastically wealthy and have a constant source of incoming wealth that they don't have to work to gain, or else be a fantabulously temporally powerful figure, in order to actually use all that delicious, delicious Rune magic, (and let's not even contemplate how much time it takes them to build their personal mojo up to get all those spells and have them actually be usable) and then have it be replenishable, rather than a single-use trick they can pull out for a single moment and then have to spend potentially a year or more working to regain. 

Or, to put it another way, an Illuminate that tries to do cult-shopping for power is extremely likely to have such little MP, in RQ terms, that they can fire off one or two exotic spells and then they fall over asleep. And if we assume that RQ kind of generally represents aspects of Gloranthan reality, then that reflects something about whether Illumination is actually the expressway to direct power. 

Now, joining cults to gain their secret knowledge of the world and expand your worldview without then maintaining those associations indefinitely, that's something that's much more practical, and is essentially exactly what Arkat did... but it's also not something in the rules for any Gloranthan game. You can't really call it "munchkining" because it exists in a space where it's not definable in rules terms and its relation to fantastic sources of power is left inarticulate, allowing the people playing in Glorantha to decide what it means for themselves. Which is only right and proper. 

Or, to put it another way, the amount of effort I put into playing an Illuminated character and having them quest for power by uncovering occult knowledge and chaining it together, if it was put into someone behaving according to socially conventional ways, would almost certainly produce someone far more directly powerful in every dimension. Weird, mystical behavior allows you to be a weird mystic... but Alakoring slew the Diamond Storm Dragon anyways. 

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