Jump to content

Two Questions about Dragonewts


Recommended Posts

14 hours ago, Joerg said:

The mostali are sapient tools. Some of them may be sentient, too, especially the True Mostali.

I personally think dwarves are all quite sentient, just usually culturally conditioned to be ashamed, or at least very very private, about their individuality. But each has hobbies that they practice in the privacy of their sleeping niche. In modern human terms, dwarves would absolutely be considered sentient, but also very neuro-divergent, particularly with some traits that resemble traits of the Autism Spectrum. Of course to the Mostali this is their neurotypical - and I'm not at all trying to claim anything as simple as 'all Mostali are autistic', but rather that the normal state of Mostali being has some elements in common, and their society is normalised around that. Normal Clay Mostali are deeply obsessive, and their society channels this into their life long vocation. Repetitive and rigid social skills, a lack of instinct interest in communicating their inner mental state or learning about that of others, lifelong obsession with a few subjects, comfort with routine and repetition and discomfort with change, these are all normal for dwarves, and they expect it of each other and find races that aren't like this strange. They have a society that is based on this being normal (of course), such as spending all their working life working obsessively on their area of specialisation, finding their routine repetitive lives comforting, having very little desire or interest in social interaction not in a preferred (usually work related) context and subject and structure, etc. And for the orthodox Mostali, this is magically reinforced as well. 

So to a normal human intellect, the reasoning of Mostali are in theory logical, but their behaviour deeply different. The actions of a Mostali may be quite explicable in theory, but as they don't share their thinking and motivations, and they are very much lacking in all the social drives that motivate humans, it's hard for most humans to understand them in practice. Mostali are awkward obsessives that do not understand human socialisation, but as a society have impossibly complex plans that may appear unreasonable.

Dragonewts, on the other hand, are far weirder. The dragonewts begin as relatively intelligible, simple, beings - crested dragonewts are sentient and sapient, but lacking in typically mammalian instincts for emotions and social instincts. They are closer to beasts in that, while they are intelligent, simpler drives like food and safety are more important than social instincts etc. But they are more importantly different in that they are also deeply magical creatures, with their sense of selfhood much less connected to their bodies, without true fear of death, their true self eternal and magical. As they progress, they became more and more disconnected from their physical self, and more and more their eternal mystic self, and disconnected from mundane reality - and steadily unlike, not just humans, but other mortal beings. So dragonewts as they progress go from one kind of world view that is deeply different to humanity, to another that is even more disconnected from normal humanity. They start as reptiles, with an entirely different understanding of concepts like emotion or self-preservation, and progress towards mystic unreality, with a different understanding of such basic ideas as time, self, enemy, desire, etc. Dragonewts are uncaring reptiles led by mystic aliens whose motivations are often almost entirely uncaring about mere physical reality.

 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, lordabdul said:

I vaguely recall the Glorantha Sourcebook or King of Sartar mentioning that they only did mercenary work once, for the Lunar Empire, at "an inhuman cost", or something ominous along those lines. Did they ever sell their services more than once?

They were used by the Lunars in both the conquest of Boldhome in 1602 and the assault on Karse in 1619.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, davecake said:

I personally think dwarves are all quite sentient, just usually culturally conditioned to be ashamed, or at least very very private, about their individuality. But each has hobbies that they practice in the privacy of their sleeping niche.

The clay mostali are aware that these things do make them dysfunctional, they age and deteriorate otherwise. In this they are similarly cursed as the Brithini - existences designed for the conditions of Godtime and not suited to deal well with Linear Time.

 

1 hour ago, davecake said:

In modern human terms, dwarves would absolutely be considered sentient, but also very neuro-divergent, particularly with some traits that resemble traits of the Autism Spectrum.

Yes, I was about to make that observation, too, then paddled back. It's not just autism spectrum, there are other behavior types which may be OCD, or sociopathy, while at the same time there is a mandatory abdication of individuality and as mandatory a prioritization of "The Machine" over any individual goals.

 

1 hour ago, davecake said:

Of course to the Mostali this is their neurotypical - and I'm not at all trying to claim anything as simple as 'all Mostali are autistic', but rather that the normal state of Mostali being has some elements in common, and their society is normalised around that.

Yes, Mostali minds - especially Clay Mostali Minds - are supposed to be perfectly attuned to their purpose in existence. The Clay Mostali reproduction method doesn't have the fine tuning required to create this attunement.

1 hour ago, davecake said:

Normal Clay Mostali are deeply obsessive, and their society channels this into their life long vocation. Repetitive and rigid social skills, a lack of instinct interest in communicating their inner mental state or learning about that of others, lifelong obsession with a few subjects, comfort with routine and repetition and discomfort with change, these are all normal for dwarves, and they expect it of each other and find races that aren't like this strange. They have a society that is based on this being normal (of course), such as spending all their working life working obsessively on their area of specialisation, finding their routine repetitive lives comforting, having very little desire or interest in social interaction not in a preferred (usually work related) context and subject and structure, etc. And for the orthodox Mostali, this is magically reinforced as well. 

You are talking about a Mostali society. I wonder: how much of a society do the Mostali really have? Do they have social interactions? Are those hobbies that they maintain social hobbies? I doubt it. They are more like personal projects done in the solitude of their bunk or however and wherever they spend their downtime.

1 hour ago, davecake said:

So to a normal human intellect, the reasoning of Mostali are in theory logical, but their behaviour deeply different. The actions of a Mostali may be quite explicable in theory, but as they don't share their thinking and motivations, and they are very much lacking in all the social drives that motivate humans, it's hard for most humans to understand them in practice. Mostali are awkward obsessives that do not understand human socialisation, but as a society have impossibly complex plans that may appear unreasonable.

It is remotely possible that the original Mostali as a full council may have been aware of the plan that made the World Machine. When the ascension of Yelm stopped the sequence of Night and Day in favor of Brighteye occupying the top spot beneath the Sun Dome, was that the end point that the great mechanism of the world was to find, or was it to be the starting point for a dance of stellar bodies twirling around? Was already this Godtime Sunstop detrimental to the plan?

I doubt that any Elder Mostali has much insight on this. The workings of the mechanism stopped. Mostal stopped most of its revolutions. The plan that may have been manifest in the revolutions fell silent.

And Mostali "society" disintegrated into separate work crews doing whatever they had been doing up to that point. If the revolutions of Sun and Firmament had not been a problem before, then there was no repair crew assigned to deal with failures of that. There may have been maintenance crews still lubricating mechanisms which did not move or rotate any more.

Combine this with a tragic lack of understanding of the greater plan, and at best partial understanding of their part of the plan, while turning this plan into reality is absolutely mandatory.

Look at the Somelz recovery project. Pulling over the Jrustelan splinter of the surface of the cube to fit into the crack that runs through the Sea of Worms to the flank rather than the bottom of the cube is without doubt a first and not so small move into re-assembling the universe into a state it had before. From the perspective of the sea deities whose job it is to keep the Chaos Rift isolated inside their watery cortex, the loss of the dysfunctional southwestern doom current isn't a big deal - the doom currents running through the other three vertical rifts take the brunt of funneling Sramak's River into Magasta's Pool.

I foresee that the Mostali will be encouraged if they manage to rejoin the Jrustelan continental splinter with the conjoined landmasses of Pamaltela and Slon. Would they go on to "repair" the Doom Current rifts next, though?

 The local Mostali project management probably wouldn't hesitate to continue their "good work" for the perceived good of the machine when doing so would in fact ruin everything they managed to salvage so far.

Another problem with the Mostali view of the perfect world is that they refer to the beginning of the Golden Age as the period of perfection. The Mostali have no place for Storm or Moon, the fragments of blueprints for the world that they retain don't have any capacity to contain either.

 

 

1 hour ago, davecake said:

Dragonewts, on the other hand, are far weirder. The dragonewts begin as relatively intelligible, simple, beings - crested dragonewts are sentient and sapient, but lacking in typically mammalian instincts for emotions and social instincts. They are closer to beasts in that, while they are intelligent, simpler drives like food and safety are more important than social instincts etc. But they are more importantly different in that they are also deeply magical creatures, with their sense of selfhood much less connected to their bodies, without true fear of death, their true self eternal and magical. As they progress, they became more and more disconnected from their physical self, and more and more their eternal mystic self, and disconnected from mundane reality - and steadily unlike, not just humans, but other mortal beings. So dragonewts as they progress go from one kind of world view that is deeply different to humanity, to another that is even more disconnected from normal humanity. They start as reptiles, with an entirely different understanding of concepts like emotion or self-preservation, and progress towards mystic unreality, with a different understanding of such basic ideas as time, self, enemy, desire, etc. Dragonewts are uncaring reptiles led by mystic aliens whose motivations are often almost entirely uncaring about mere physical reality.

You are assuming that the dragonewt is the mobile unit that performs all these various activities.

In my opinion, the dragonewt really is the dreaming embryo inside its leathery egg, slowly ripening while sending a manifest dream out into the world. A dragonewt "hatching" doesn't really tear the membrane of its egg, it merely projects a new body on its outside. They simulate that existence, making proxy experiences with the scout body. The longer they maintain such a body, the less will their embryo continue to grow into dragonhood. Utuma is a way to restart the growth of the embryo. Whether this is a physical or a mystical growth doesn't really matter.


The dragonewt existance is similarly flawed as that of the Clay Mostali. Unless there were new dragonewt eggs produced over Godtime and Time, every dragonewt alive today has been alive since the first nests laid by the juvenile Mother of Many hatched into neotenic individuals rather than fledgeling True Dragons. If that is the case, then Sandy Petersen's observation that all dragonewts that still are in scout or warrior stage are the dregs of their classes - every halfway decent dragonewt will have finished its ascension into True Dragonhood by now, and those who remain are in all likelihood as clueless and lost as I described the Mostali above.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Joerg said:

If that is the case, then Sandy Petersen's observation that all dragonewts that still are in scout or warrior stage are the dregs of their classes - every halfway decent dragonewt will have finished its ascension into True Dragonhood by now, and those who remain are in all likelihood as clueless and lost as I described the Mostali above.

As someone with a lot of respect for and interest in Buddhism (which shares this general idea that you want to divest yourself of entanglements and attachments to the world and attain liberation from the cycle of rebirth), that's always struck me as a vaguely troubling way to put it, or at least a very uncharitable one. But I guess that's just a personal hang-up.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Scorus said:

Are brand new Crested Dragonewts still being created/laid/whatever?

If you want them to be.

I think somewhere Sandy Petersen may have commented that all the dragonewts that ever existed have been born already.  

However, I would fully anticipate that a True Dragon (perhaps even the Inhuman King) could contemplate the idea of a new dragon, and that idea becomes 100 eggs in the Dragon's Eye.  Each of these eggs will birth a new crested dragonewt, from which over time one will evolve faster than the others and draw upon the others as it transform over centuries into the envisioned dragon.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Long ago Sandy was telling us about a player who insisted on playing a Tolkien dwarf in a Glorantha RuneQuest game, and I suggested he had missed the “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” solution. Say yes, and let them play their dwarf their way, blithely ignorant of their true heritage as a Jolanti deep agent in the surface world. 
😉

  • Haha 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Scorus said:

Are brand new Crested Dragonewts still being created/laid/whatever?

That's a question which hasn't been answered conclusively.

Theoretically you need an immature female true dragon (whatever sex may mean to dragonkind) engaging in procreation nonetheless and lay a nest full of fertilized but prematurely laid eggs to get a nest of new dragonewts.

Now it isn't clear when exactly a (female) true dragon would be immature yet able to participate in procreative activities with some other true dragon. Would a dragonewt ruler emerging from its meditation cocoon be considered an immature True Dragon?

First off, two true dragons engaging in procreation would be noticed far and wide, even if they don't take on entire mountain ranges as their bodies and go about it in mere Dream Dragon size - the magical reverberations should be felt strongly. A single true dragon being active is a notable event.

There has been speculation (by none other than Sandy Petersen) that dragonewts of all stages (including an inhuman king/dragonet) might be able to fertilize a set of eggs (presumably laid by either the inhuman king or a ruler in dragon shape). But then, maybe getting impregnated and leaving behind a new nest of dragonewts is part of the rite of passage for a ruler to become a True Dragon. We don't know (yet). Loz didn't mention anything like this in his MRQ splatbook on 'newts.

There are two known dragonets - the ones of Dragon's Eye in Dragon Pass, and of Ryzel. The 'newts of Kralorela have the dragon emperor instead. That would make Sandy's requirement for all stages participating rather rigid. But then, maybe a True Dragon can replace the dragonet in that role.

 

A different  question is: how can any dragonewt nest without a dragonet or true dragon ever have rebirths of slain bodies?

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

 

On 10/20/2020 at 7:36 PM, soltakss said:

The area around Dragon's Eye is also called Huntland, I think, for this very reason. 

Why do they hunt? maybe to keep humans away from Dragon's Eye.

What are their goals? Who knows? Maybe not the most helpful answer, but I find that assigning goals to Dragonewts is difficult.

 

From time-to-time humans opportunistically come to settle on the fringes of this rich, fertile and seemingly uninhabited region of Dragon Pass, dismissing the cautions of their neighbors. They might even live and prosper there for years, undisturbed or ignored by the dragonewts. And then, without warning, the dragonewts come and exterminate them. And people forget and the cycle continues...

Quote

I personally think dwarves are all quite sentient, just usually culturally conditioned to be ashamed, or at least very very private, about their individuality. But each has hobbies that they practice in the privacy of their sleeping niche.

Yep, Mostali society resembles Alpha Complex, with the clones all professing to be loyal citizens yet each harboring guilty secrets, heresies, and mutations. The World Machine is your friend...

Edited by MOB
  • Like 5
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, MOB said:

From time-to-time humans opportunistically come to settle on the fringes of this rich, fertile and seemingly uninhabited region of Dragon Pass, dismissing the cautions of their neighbors. They might even live and prosper there for years, undisturbed or ignored by the dragonewts. And then, without warning, the dragonewts come and exterminate them. And people forget and the cycle continues...

Tink seems to maintain just about the safe distance, then?

But yes, dragonewt sudden maneuvers may confuse their short-lived neighbors when they have just been biding their times with such a reaction.

Plust, the humans tend to bring juicy herds with them when they settle.

 

1 hour ago, MOB said:

Yep, Mostali society resembles Alpha Complex, with the clones all professing to be loyal citizens yet each harboring guilty secrets, heresies, and mutations. The World Machine is your friend...

And you can have fun one-off scenarios de-constructing dwarf "society" like that. However, parallels aren't.

It is pretty hard to even think about a Mostali campaign with Mostali as the protagonists. @Jeff discussed this, on occasion, and brought up the Somelz project as their inscrutable and rather senseless undertaking in Umathela and Tarien, destroying the Marthino Sea, the breeding grounds of the Malasp, and possibly even Drospoly's abyss in the Jrusteli Isles. Their advance does resemble that of the Kingdom of War.

The Greatway dwarves and their satellite cities are the most relatable dwarves in Glorantha. Maybe their underground struggle to emancipate once more from Nida could be a game where you can invest in the characters you play, but then dwarf castes are so limited in scope that you might have to play an entire work group to collect enough personality and ambition for a single character.

 

Gaming in Glorantha doesn't have to be serious, and shouldn't really be serious all the way. At the same time, it doesn't have to be all inconsequential and silly, either. It sure is fun to play a stage-diving Brithini sorcerer playing a triangle of unenchanted iron in a very mixed band and made for a quite memorable game, but while that character probably is doing this for eternity, it's not really what you build a campaign off. (The puppeteers wouldn't have him because all the illusions were impossible to cast in his presence...)

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Joerg said:

Tink seems to maintain just about the safe distance, then?

Yeah, Tink is a certified shithole, squalid, barren and dusty, yet passers-by are continually amazed that the next valley beyond is so green and luscious, and the forests there are rich with produce and game. If the folk of Tink just up and moved a few miles further into the valley they'd literally be in clover and wouldn't have live in such poverty-stricken squalor. Settlers who are tempted to do so no doubt snicker at the stupidity of the denizens of Tink as they pass through the town, and don't get why the Tinkites scoff back at them and shake their heads...

Edited by MOB
  • Like 1
  • Haha 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh my god, I just realized that the Dragonewts are playing a Roguelike. 

A roguelike where each different run has completely different, procedurally generated mechanics that you have to figure out as you play, until you die and you have to try over again, each time understanding the meta-mechanics a little more.

It's not a perfect analogy by any stretch, but it's about as banal/profane I can make their mystical, esoteric goals.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
  • Haha 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, MOB said:

Yep, Mostali society resembles Alpha Complex, with the clones all professing to be loyal citizens yet each harboring guilty secrets, heresies, and mutations. The World Machine is your friend...

I played a game at a Con back in the 80s or early 90s that used this as its model. It was either an RQCon or a DragonCon. Did you run that, by chance?

Link to post
Share on other sites

One way to explain Dragonewt mercenary nature or adventuring in somewhat simplistic terms, is that it might be a test towards disentanglement in itself, specifically the disentanglement from your own bodily safety. 

A Dragonewt might have a priest tell them that they're showing too much focus on staying safe and hale, and that as such, they need to face danger in order to discover that their physical body in fact is just another entanglement. 

This means that it doesn't really matter whether a Dragonewt fights a Lunar or an Orlanti, or a Giant, or even other Dragonewts or a Dragon - the point is in facing danger. Live or die, it does not make a huge difference, spiritually. But cowering and avoiding the danger does. 

Just an idea for people to use if they want to explain seemingly random Dragonewt forces or adventurers somewhere. Hell, if you want to, you might let the Dragonewt give them some of the story (as best they can convey) to create some semblance or cameraderie with potential human partners. "I must face danger to prove myself." "Eyh, I'm dedicated to Orlanth, I get it." (He doesn't, but it's close enough.)

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/21/2020 at 2:22 PM, Joerg said:

and those who remain are in all likelihood as clueless and lost

Always assuming it's the destination that matters, not the journey.  It could be that the first to become dragons were rush jobs, and it's not been done properly.  Perhaps the Inhuman King is an atonement stage for being hasty, and he's at the "bottom" of the Dragonnewt heap.  Or do concepts of hierarchy even help applied to Dragonnewts?

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Sir_Godspeed said:

One way to explain Dragonewt mercenary nature or adventuring in somewhat simplistic terms, is that it might be a test towards disentanglement in itself, specifically the disentanglement from your own bodily safety. 

A Dragonewt might have a priest tell them that they're showing too much focus on staying safe and hale, and that as such, they need to face danger in order to discover that their physical body in fact is just another entanglement. 

This means that it doesn't really matter whether a Dragonewt fights a Lunar or an Orlanti, or a Giant, or even other Dragonewts or a Dragon - the point is in facing danger. Live or die, it does not make a huge difference, spiritually. But cowering and avoiding the danger does. 

Just an idea for people to use if they want to explain seemingly random Dragonewt forces or adventurers somewhere. Hell, if you want to, you might let the Dragonewt give them some of the story (as best they can convey) to create some semblance or cameraderie with potential human partners. "I must face danger to prove myself." "Eyh, I'm dedicated to Orlanth, I get it." (He doesn't, but it's close enough.)

I don't know if I would ever allow a dragonewt adventurer, but this makes a lot of sense and could be really fun to play - esp. if it occasionally meant getting the other PCs into trouble! Imagine the dragonewt PC seeking out progressively more dangerous encounters, without regard for the rest of the party; meanwhile the other PCs, because of their attachment/engagement with/to their comrade, do their damnedest to help it out, even in the face of overwhelming odds. The "seek danger to disengage from overattachment to bodily existence" idea definitely makes sense for explaining the random dragonewt mercenary or adventurer. What about a dragonewt who's wandering/adventuring among humans and others, in order to better understand the concept of engagement? (and who has lots of alien questions whenever characters demonstrate any of their passions) 

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 10/21/2020 at 10:12 AM, Leingod said:

As someone with a lot of respect for and interest in Buddhism (which shares this general idea that you want to divest yourself of entanglements and attachments to the world and attain liberation from the cycle of rebirth), that's always struck me as a vaguely troubling way to put it, or at least a very uncharitable one. But I guess that's just a personal hang-up.

Buddhism was a revolt against the kind of 'reincarnate 1000 times until you get it right' approach of the Dragonnewts.  The religious leaders of India when Buddhism existed believed in something closer to the Dragonnewt approach; the Buddhists taught that you could escape the cycle *right now* if you followed the correct procedures (the Eightfold Path). 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, John Biles said:

Buddhism was a revolt against the kind of 'reincarnate 1000 times until you get it right' approach of the Dragonnewts.  The religious leaders of India when Buddhism existed believed in something closer to the Dragonnewt approach; the Buddhists taught that you could escape the cycle *right now* if you followed the correct procedures (the Eightfold Path). 

 

I meant more in the sense that, as I've always understood it, it's accepted that some people have a longer road to walk than others, but that doesn't necessarily make them iniquitous or lazy.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...