Jump to content

why is Argrath considered an asshole?


Recommended Posts

12 hours ago, Mameluco said:

That's the reason I liked the multiple-Argrath theory. It makes a lot of more sense if he is a group of people collated into a single folk hero after the Hero Wars.

I do like the multiple-Argrath theory. I wonder if the upcoming Dragon Pass Campaign book will leave things open to interpretation there, or if it will have a "conventional" take on Argrath.

11 hours ago, Joerg said:

All of the Glorantha that we know and love grew out of this boardgame, its companion game Nomad Gods and the design notes for the third, even more magical one Masters of Luck and Death

I thought Greg had already written a lot of notes and freeform stories and poems in the years before that, no? And then he looked for a medium to "express" it, making it into a board game? (before immediately realizing that this new thing called "roleplaying games" might even be better). So maybe Argrath was written before there was a board game in Greg's mind? I don't know.

9 hours ago, Eff said:

What evokes sympathy are things which delve into psychology a bit, which is difficult for Argrath. 

It's especially difficult when there's so little about him as a person vs what he did. I think there's a quote in KoS that says "hey, this direct quote from Argrath is the only quote we have, ever". The difference between a tragic hero and a Mary Sue is how well the writers succeed at hiding the deus ex machina.

9 hours ago, jajagappa said:

Argrath "frees" or brings back Sheng Seleris, and therefore causes the genocide of the Pelorians.  Yet, we also know that Sheng Seleris is the Red Moon's shadow and may be destined to return whether Argrath is there to shoulder the blame or not

"This bottle was going to fall sooner or later. I shouldn't take the blame for facilitating the process."  -- my cat, an asshole, after pushing a bottle off the table :D 

6 hours ago, Scorus said:

Players: Argrath is a liberator from the time he was written, the Cold War. He is the leader that will do whatever it takes to eliminate the great satan, the Lunar Empire, and whoever he has to ally or whatever non-Sartarite collateral damage occurs in this pursuit is immaterial. This is no longer as popular an ideal for a leader as it was 30 years ago.

There's indeed a lot of old RPG material that, when looked at again with more modern eyes, kinda looks like it's pro-colonialism or pro-police-state or whatever.

I haven't been in the Gloranthan circles long enough to know much about Argrath except the highlights (it takes a loooooong time to read all that stuff you know!)... but I suspect that people wouldn't care so much about Argrath if there wasn't so much stuff attributed to him that directly impacts the player experience. In the end, it's very possible that RQ players don't like Argrath just because he embodies the meta-plot. If not, he would have been an NPC like Kallyr and Broyan and Harrek and there wouldn't be as much debate.

Edited by lordabdul
  • Like 5
  • Thanks 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 256
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Popular Posts

It's surprisingly complicated. Greg had already written at least a little about just about every place except for what we now call Central Genertela (Sartar, Prax, Shadows Dance, Holy Country and

1. The historical void Argrath emerges from, and the deliberately contradictory history of himself we receive, limits our ability to sympathize with him. People like Kallyr, Fazzur, the Red Emperor, a

There are places in Glorantha where the magical geography facilitates bringing the God Time into the mundane world. In all of Sartar, the Lunars determined that this was a place of raw power, and not

Posted Images

28 minutes ago, Eff said:

The most straightforward explanation is that Argrath had no more desire to annihilate the Lunar Empire than Oedipus had to have sex with his own mother

The problem is that we're not told anything like this. It's as if there was no prophecy, Oedipus kills his dad and and becomes king and marries his mom all by his own choice, and it's described as awesome. He then goes on to conquer the rest of Greece so that he can be even more awesome (he ruins most of it along the way, but that's alright). Then he defeats the gods as well, isn't he awesome? The end.

There's a reason this wouldn't be much of a story. Where's the drama or the personal arc? Where's the tension? I would love to see an Argrath who realizes he has been ensnared by fate by his own life choices, railing against it... but no getting out of it now, that's fate for you.

(By the way, I'm not ruling out that the Argrath campaign might be able make Argrath a lot more interesting and a lot less annoying - I would even think it likely. There's a lot of room for it if you don't see KoS as giving a particularly accurate account.)

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

There's indeed a lot of old RPG material that, when looked at again with more modern eyes, kinda looks like it's pro-colonialism or pro-police-state or whatever.

Glorantha certainly dodges the colonialism charge, at least - all empires are doomed and colonialists (even just cultural colonialists) will not come out okay in the end. If anything, it can go to extremes in the opposite, isolationist direction - Loskalm becomes a utopia once it's cut off from the rest of the world, and the Thaw seems to be bringing more harm than good on average.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

I thought Greg had already written a lot of notes and freeform stories and poems in the years before that, no?

It's surprisingly complicated.

Greg had already written at least a little about just about every place except for what we now call Central Genertela (Sartar, Prax, Shadows Dance, Holy Country and Empire) but that material wasn't grafted onto the board games until the RuneQuest era, when the composite world became "Glorantha" and you could walk from Seshnela to the Vulture Country and back.

If you want what we know and love about the West, East or South, it grows out of the freeform material, parts of which are vestigial and parts of which are intricately detailed. Otherwise, as far as I know, the board games are the earliest extant source for what becomes King of Sartar, Prince of Sartar and deep background for what we can call the Third Age Argrath Heroica. 

As for Argrath, I believe he's both a wave and a particle.

Greg's informants indicate that Sartar ultimately wins and someone -- call them "the historical argrath" -- is the catalyst of that. A terminal hero wars environment undoubtedly generates endless potential argraths, most of whom are transient and pose only an incidental challenge to empire before being neutralized or coopted. In that respect, every player character with a healthy grudge is participating in the argrath legend and their scattered acts of sabotage ultimately pull down the moon. Think of it as a version of Monster Man building up power until finally it erupts.

The scrawny kid from Pavis just happens to be the one whose chit of resentment happened to sway the roll and trigger the eruption. And so that's the story that's the most interesting, because it ends differently from all the others. To flip the lesson of the oracular film The Three Amigos, everyone is theoretically the imperial "El Guapo" (pain in the ass or "argrath") at any given moment. We all contribute in our small ways to history. Some of us get punished for it, others do okay. The scrawny kid manages to make it more than a metaphor and become the actual argrath, which is why we tell his story.

And as such, he might be an asshole and he might get in our light sometimes but he's on the right side of history and so he becomes our asshole, a force of nature. You don't fight that. You just ride with it until your journeys diverge. If you don't like where he's going, get off the bus. Glorantha is big. A lot of opportunistic crap gets pulled into the terminal vortex that is Dragon Pass but a lot of crap gets spun out as well to land in other regions and seed the hero wars energy. Maybe you're in the outgoing crap.

Me, I am eager to see the moon liberated from empire so she can get on with her work and we can see what Greg's informants missed. I'm eager for a lot of things. The kid has taken it farther than anybody else so far. Keep rolling the dice. A wounded world cries out for healing one way or another. It looks like disruption when it comes. 

SOURCES:
Max Weber, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Religionssoziologie 
Lorne Michaels, !Three Amigos!

  • Like 11
  • Thanks 5
Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Eff said:

The most straightforward explanation is that Argrath had no more desire to annihilate the Lunar Empire than Oedipus had to have sex with his own mother

Oedipus, while trying to avoid his fate, unknowingly killed his father and slept with his mother.  When he discovered his sins, he gouged his eyes out.

Argrath, as I read things, embraces his fate, does his stuff deliberately, and shows little regret.  It would be a much better story if I am wrong!

As for Jeff's position that this is just how Glorantha Ages end, yes, there's some  A Canticle for Leibowitz recurrent history in Glorantha.  I'm just hoping that third time is the charm and it ends better   🙂

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
13 hours ago, jajagappa said:

What is clear is that there is a storyline centered on one Argrath. Whether he performed or ever performs all (or even some) of the deeds from King of Sartar remains to be seen (and I suspect all of our campaigns will increasingly diverge from that).  I always thought the MRQ book Dara Happa Stirs handled that well giving player agency to events later ascribed to the DH Emperor.  Hopefully the Hero Wars campaign will support that.

I agree that it's good to give players and their characters more agency.

Sartar: Kindom of Heroes also allows the characters to take part in a heroquest that is later ascribed to Argrath. Having said that, it also allows one of the characters to become (an) Argrath.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

My sources for Argrath are King of Sartar and Prince of Sartar.  King of Sartar is presented as a collection of documents from different, sometimes conflicting sources, and some of which are noted within the book to have possible dubious basis. While Prince of Sartar (which I loved and spent money to support) petered out way too early [1] and skipped his youth in Prax :( 

In many ways we know too much about Argrath 'did', as compared with the other movers and shakers of the Hero Wars. However we understand less of the motivations and why of Argrath as compared with those others. The why of Harrek is that he is a berserk. The why of Ethelrist is self-glorification. The why of the Red Emperor is his empire. The why of Jar-Eel is becoming and being the goddess. Etc., etc.. So we end up arguing about Argrath endlessly.

In several ways, I think of Argrath as being like Churchill. Churchill was a complex man: hero - leadership in an existential war, leadership in rebuilding (European) human rights after the war; and villain - racist, complicity in famine bordering on genocide; and incompetent - Galipoli. In many cases on these forums, I've seen people wanting a simple answer to what is Agrath, while much of Glorantha's beauty to me is in its complexity and depth - which means that simple answers are often off the table.

 

[1] and I understand why it was eventually necessary to stop - and hope that it will restart.

  • Like 7
Link to post
Share on other sites

I liked Drew’s take on multiple Argraths - that he’s both Bruce Wayne and Batman, and every insider is in on the joke: the carefree Orlanthi adventurer “Garrath Sharpsword” is a mask, just like the grimly destined “Prophet of the White Bull.” And he’ll wear more, in time, as he ch-ch-ch-changes. People see the Argrath he wants them to see at any given time. Most people only ever see that one.

As for the escalating trail of destruction, as I’ve said here before in another context, that’s the disaster that will happen unless your player characters get involved. Greg had a gift for setting up these nightmarish conflicts and catastrophes, and leaving it for us to find the tools to resolve them. Quest those Runes, man! Ride the tragedies, find ways out the protagonists couldn’t, and make your own Hero Wars story.

Edited by Nick Brooke
  • Like 8
  • Thanks 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

the main issue for us, terrians, is there is no source (well there is no source I know) of objective story of Argrath (except maybe Prince of Sartar comic, I don't know if the point of view is Truth, or Sartarite Elder telling a story, and in all case we don't know the end)

We have only knowledge based on texts written by sartarite winner side heirs. Fo example there is no story from pentians heirs perspective (maybe sheng seleris is a good guy in their perspective, and Argrath the bad guy betrayed him)

Then depending of our terrian feeling we consider Argrath as a x y or z person/people, but we terrian use only a biased sources to have concern about a character.

So I take no judgment about the guy(s) as I have no idea of what he was (virtually, remember glorantha doesn't really exist, well I think...) .

Yes I can see that the author of Argrath story presents him as a hero without (or with few) defaults, but how many great leaders in our world old ages (even early 20th century) are presented by their "national" history in a bad manner ?

The only thing we can say is Argrath was able to have a lot of people behind him, following him. He was able to unify very different people, even ennemy, to a bigger result than the impossible addition of each part.

Was the result good or bad, it depends on the reader and what he/she knows about the results.

Were the means he used good or bad, well we know that he did a lot of mistake, brought a lot of deaths.

But from my prespective Argrath is not the shinier, cleaner and smoother character known in glorantha.

what about Sartar (the guy) ? What bad thing he did ? How many people suffered because him ?

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
11 minutes ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

what about Sartar (the guy) ? What bad thing he did ? How many people suffered because him ?

Sartar seems to have been amazing at non-violent solutions. I’m not sure whether his body-count was zero, but it was shockingly low for a unifier of a kingdom.

When there was a conflict with the Telmori, Sartar settled the issue peaceful and brought them into his kingdom. Argrath exterminated them.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
30 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

Sartar seems to have been amazing at non-violent solutions. I’m not sure whether his body-count was zero, but it was shockingly low for a unifier of a kingdom.

When there was a conflict with the Telmori, Sartar settled the issue peaceful and brought them into his kingdom. Argrath exterminated them.

Sartar didn't kill anyone personally.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Akhôrahil said:

Sartar seems to have been amazing at non-violent solutions. I’m not sure whether his body-count was zero, but it was shockingly low for a unifier of a kingdom.

When there was a conflict with the Telmori, Sartar settled the issue peaceful and brought them into his kingdom. Argrath exterminated them.

so we have the perfect guy, haven't we ?

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
14 minutes ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

so we have the perfect guy, haven't we ?

Sartar does look pretty great, and especially in comparison with almost any other Hero. Perfection is a high mark, though.

(The whole Brangbane thing could have turned out better...)

Edited by Akhôrahil
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:
  1. When we rolled up Family History for our Colymar PCs, it was extremely rare for any parent or grandparent to still be alive.  Many were devoured by The Bat.  I was so shocked that my granny had survived all those disastrous battles that she is nicknamed "The Survivor".  Some of our PCs have a very high "Hate Lunar", but none, I hope, are monomaniacal psychopaths.
    (edit added) We have had many many past PCs with far far darker backstories than Argrath.
    (another edit added)  The Lunars do horrible things, but they have a philosophy, a vision, that could be used as motivation for True Believers.  I'm not seeing that for Argrath, but maybe I'm missing it?

Yeah, I know it doesn't have to be a faithful representation of average people of DP but the family events table is absolutely devastating especially for sartarites and tarshites, in the games I've run no one yet has had all their family survive to the start date, and that means A LOT of characters with hate towards the Lunar Empire. And well, they might not grow to become Argrath, but that isn't because they wouldn't try; Argrath is a man born under a certain star, and like Achilles, his glories, struggles and eventual failure are inevitable and necessary, that is I think the real difference between run-of-the-mill lunar-hating sartarites and Argrath.

 

 

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Charles said:

My sources for Argrath are King of Sartar and Prince of Sartar.  King of Sartar is presented as a collection of documents from different, sometimes conflicting sources, and some of which are noted within the book to have possible dubious basis.

There's also a whole underlying thread in King of Sartar which is rarely noted:  Argrath is not ultimately the "survivor" - he becomes a god (i.e. he goes beyond the world/passes on to the Other Side); the survivor is Inkarne.  And while King of Sartar suggests Inkarne is the child queen of Saird (or the 2nd spouse of Argrath), Glorantha Sourcebook p.17 notes that Inkarne (aka Reaches All) is the name of the FHQ who succeeds after the Dragonrise.  

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, jajagappa said:

There's also a whole underlying thread in King of Sartar which is rarely noted:  Argrath is not ultimately the "survivor" - he becomes a god (i.e. he goes beyond the world/passes on to the Other Side); the survivor is Inkarne.  And while King of Sartar suggests Inkarne is the child queen of Saird (or the 2nd spouse of Argrath), Glorantha Sourcebook p.17 notes that Inkarne (aka Reaches All) is the name of the FHQ who succeeds after the Dragonrise.  

And also the Sacred Queen of Tarsh, if I recall correctly, suggesting a unification between the land and the people. 

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

And also the Sacred Queen of Tarsh, if I recall correctly, suggesting a unification between the land and the people.

Really the Sacred Queen of Dragon Pass, incarnation of Kero Fin, which includes Sartar, Tarsh, and the Grazelands.  What must she do to unify the land?  Perhaps she must even banish/exile Argrath eventually to ensure that peace comes to the land?  There is much yet to explore here...

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
7 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

Really the Sacred Queen of Dragon Pass, incarnation of Kero Fin, which includes Sartar, Tarsh, and the Grazelands.  What must she do to unify the land?  Perhaps she must even banish/exile Argrath eventually to ensure that peace comes to the land?  There is much yet to explore here...

Perhaps no banish so much as pacify? She is Ernalda to his Orlanth.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

  

8 hours ago, Ali the Helering said:

If, and I think it a really big IF, we accept that Sartar was an individual rather than the personification of a slow nation-building tendency that became mythologised. 

I have written a scenario about an eye-witness of Sarotar's wooing of Arkilia dying in 1620. Admittedly that Asrelia priestess was ancient at that time, and had adult great-granddaughters, but living memory in Sartar may reach back before Palashee threw out the Lunars out of Tarsh even without heroic longevity (like Hofstaring Tree-Leaper's).

The Sartar dynasty is in its fifth generation, or so (Argrath claims to be sixth or seventh, through Onelisin, the Storm Voice in the Rubble is a grandson of Dorasor, who in turn was a grandson of Sartar himself), Kostajor is a great-grandson (also through Onelisin). Hofstaring was alive when Sartar came to the land.

You might as well claim that Alexander von Humboldt or Benjamin Franklin were mythological figures, symbols of their respective investigative drives, rather than actual people.

 

There is a tendency, though - the Lunar heroes are distinguished by planned breeding off the Red Emperor's lineage, and various other deified heroes and heroines, while the Orlanthi heroes are unexpected outliers from established lineages. Harmast as the heir of the Berennethtelli royal lineage, Sartar as a Larnsti (likely also running in lineages, even though Larnsti status may have been dormant for centuries).

The Sartar dynasty produced a number of outstanding individuals, although it also produced someone unworldly like Temertain.

 

1 hour ago, Scorus said:

Perhaps no banish so much as pacify? She is Ernalda to his Orlanth.

I speculated in an earlier thread that Inkarne had to send her husband into exile for him to become more like Orlanth. The Schtick about the king declaring himself lacking in justice to achieve justice... Not that that avoided the emergence of the Unholy Trio - it may have abetted that, actually - and getting Ralzakark at the helm of one incarnation of the future may be the result of this, but hey, the fact that the empire has a chaotic core isn't exactly a secret.

Sheng's eastern Antigod terror vs. Lunar and Nysalorean Chaos - which side will you cheer for?

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

the main issue for us, terrians, is there is no source (well there is no source I know) of objective story of Argrath (except maybe Prince of Sartar comic, I don't know if the point of view is Truth, or Sartarite Elder telling a story, and in all case we don't know the end)

We have only knowledge based on texts written by sartarite winner side heirs. Fo example there is no story from pentians heirs perspective (maybe sheng seleris is a good guy in their perspective, and Argrath the bad guy betrayed him)

 

Sheng is a horrible monster by any standard higher than the Pentans, but from the Pentan perspective, yes, he is the good guy 

-- he unites the tribes of Pent against outsiders

-- he burns, rapes, and murders the weak (non-Pentans), which is a good thing from their perspective

-- he brings wealth and plunder to the Pentan clans

-- he stacks Kralorelans to the ceiling, who are all dragon-freaks

-- he kills the Moonson, who has repeatedly slaughtered Pentans

Since the Pentan definition of good is 'good to us, genocidal monster to everyone else', he easily fills that definition.

 

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

Perhaps no banish so much as pacify? She is Ernalda to his Orlanth.

Well, not exactly. By becoming Sacred Queen of Tarsh, she's filled both the "Orlanth" and "Ernalda" roles- year-king and earth-queen. Perhaps Argrath lost the post-wedding marital contest very badly indeed and Inkarne took away his Orlanth bits, leaving him in quite a pickle indeed. But perhaps there's something else going on, related to the Temples of the Reaching Storm and the general trend of occult knowledge being deployed in grandiose ways in the Hero Wars. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

We have only knowledge based on texts written by sartarite winner side heirs. Fo example there is no story from pentians heirs perspective (maybe sheng seleris is a good guy in their perspective, and Argrath the bad guy betrayed him)

The interesting perspective with Sheng isn't so much the Pentan one, it's the Boshan one. It's fairly easy to dismiss veneration of Sheng as veneration of the tyrant who's ostensibly on your side, and modern Pentans certainly aren't worshiping Jolaty/Zolathi/Zho Lath Ey, unless the Red Hair Tribe does so in secret. But Boshan sees Sheng as a heroic figure, and that's an interesting perspective to have. 

(Sheng himself is a deeply sympathetic figure, and a surface reading of King of Sartar makes him a tragic one, too.)

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Sheng haters may be surprised by the Sourcebook statement (p.175) that the raids by the Kingdom of Tarsh caused more suffering to the southern parts of the Empire than did the nomad regime in what became the Doblian and Oronin satrapies. But then, those parts had horse warlord overlords, too.

The Pentans have a history of oppressive overlordship in Peloria, and of genocidal expulsion after the loss of leaders from that position of power. The Pelorians managed to eliminate 70% of the Pentan population several times in their history, whereas the Pentans were hardly worse than the Bull Shahs in their dealings with local uprisings. In absolute numbers, the losses suffered by the Pentans may have been slightly less than those of the Pelorian farmers.

Horse warlord rule was what brought Peloria into the Dawn, and the first three horse emperors of Dara Happa are remembered as beneficial to Dara Happa. Further west, the Lendarshi were another of the more successful nations entering Time, also profiting from their horse warlord leaders.

In contrast, the Praxian nomad overlords which replaced the horse warlords after Argentium Thri'ile were assimilated into the Dara Happan culture and nobility without much of a hitch. Duke Raus for instance is likely to share ancestors with the Bison tribe of Prax, something his ancestor worship may have found out while building up Weis Domain. There are other descendants of Bison riders in Sylila which became Lunarized only in reaction to the Conquering Daughter, previously being part of the Orlanthi spectrum. Even in Kralorela, the Beast Rider followers of Sheng remain in Boshan to this day while his horse-rider followers have been expelled.

It is hard to tell why the horse warlords would have been worse than the Alkothi, too. Anthropophagy has been slandered against either, and with good cause.

The ecological wars for western Peloria have three major participants - Aldryami who want to re-forest the entire region, Lodrili defending their (victorious) status quo of dry farming and rice farming, and horse nomads - often allied to Sheng - who desire the area to become vast pasture.  We don't know the extent of the upcomng release of the Bull Riders of Charg - they too might spread into the Heartland parts of Pelanda.

The Lodrili have grown to a population density untenable with either Aldryami or Pentan overlordship. Their population recovered from the Third and Fourth Wane oppression within a single Wane (two generations). The Pentans suffered another crushing defeat at the Night of Horrors, and only in the late seventh Wane they begin to seriously endanger the eastern part of the Empire.

Sheng is a liberator to the Pentans, returning them to their ancient lands of plenty once again.

  • Like 3
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...