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why is Argrath considered an asshole?


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From a fiction point of view, Argrath is great. He is a mover and shaker, he frees Pavis, mobilises Prax, liberates Sartar, conquers the Lunar Empire, suffers setbacks, goes on the LBQ, brings back Sheng Seleris who gets rid of the Red Emperor for him, and brings down the Red Moon. What's not to love?

From a RPG point of view, Argrath is a real pain for GMs. Sure, he does all these things, but what do the Adventurers do? Just follow him around and meekly do what he says? Watch him from afar? Take part in his stories but only as bit-parts? Not interfere with the Great Story, as interfering changes it?

As a GM, I have allowed the Players to interact with Argrath and to take part in his story. In one campaign, the Adventurers killed Argrath and bound him to a Lunar Hell as he was a rival to one Adventurer's ambitions. In another campaign, the Adventurers did many of the deeds that Agrath was famous for, so they took the Cradle down to Magasta's Pool, freed Pavis, found the White Bull, became King of Dragon Pass and killed the Red Emperor, leaving Garrath Sharpsword crying into his mead that "I could have been someone of it wasn't for those pesky River Voices".

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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

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

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

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18 minutes ago, Charles said:

Isn't there something in Trollpack about Arkat having many companions, each seeming to be a replica of Arkat?

I had to leave many of my books and games behind when I left London for Singapore, and I think Trollpack is the one I miss the most.

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1 hour ago, soltakss said:

From a fiction point of view, Argrath is great. He is a mover and shaker, he frees Pavis, mobilises Prax, liberates Sartar, conquers the Lunar Empire, suffers setbacks, goes on the LBQ, brings back Sheng Seleris who gets rid of the Red Emperor for him, and brings down the Red Moon. What's not to love?

It's an interesting point of view, because my issues with Argrath are from a fiction point of view. As I said before, he shares too many traits with the Mary Sue trope.

I'm starting to think one of the reasons "Argrath is bad" is so prevalent now is because people are more and more interested in the Lunar Empire. You know, the designated villains of the Argrath saga. Story-wise they are great: Seven conspirators tried to get rid of their oppressors manufacturing a new goddess, kickstarting a revolution that got completely out of control. She managed to conquer a patriarchy and feminised the lands and started to spread the new gospel everywhere. Finally failing due to the weight of her own hubris and contradictions.

In any case, I agree with you. Argrath-as-metaplot is problematic if it isn't handled well.

 

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2 hours ago, soltakss said:

From a RPG point of view, Argrath is a real pain for GMs. Sure, he does all these things, but what do the Adventurers do? Just follow him around and meekly do what he says? Watch him from afar? Take part in his stories but only as bit-parts? Not interfere with the Great Story, as interfering changes it?

I think that is the good point

My main concern is I know (at least a minimum) what is the future of the (Hi)story my players are creating, because there is a large official material describing the facts during and after the campaigns I can run

It is a ridiculous issue, I could say "ok i dont care what is proposed by chaosium after 1622, 1624 or ..." but this is a big effort for me (I m pretty sure I m not alone) When I learnt, few months ago, the genertela seequake (not sure the word) my first thought was "why continue to invest in dragon pass if dragon pass will be destroyed few years later ?".

I think a part of Argrath problem with terrian is he is the "focus" of the "you cannot do that because Argrath will do it" (for example rainbow mounts when you touch the truestone with the dragon)

of course some people don't care and play without issue, but some are blocked or must overcome the "pseudo" difficulty with the "mmm I m forcing glorantha, a world i love"

 

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2 hours ago, Charles said:

Isn't there something in Trollpack about Arkat having many companions, each seeming to be a replica of Arkat?

Unless I misremember badly, the actual text is in the Jonstown Compendium excerpt created by Minaryth Purple which has that "subtle" secret message (from underlining some of the letters). The text deals with the Ritual of Rebirth, how Arkat and his six companions underwent it, how Arkat performed flawlessly, and how each of the seven failed at some point or another. It was a yellowish leaflet added to the RQ3 Troll Gods box.

So which of the seven bodies reborn as trolls was Arkat? The one that performed flawlessly.

The numbers don't add up? Strange, that...

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1 hour ago, Mameluco said:

It's an interesting point of view, because my issues with Argrath are from a fiction point of view. As I said before, he shares too many traits with the Mary Sue trope.

Argrath does have his "pass-fail" cycle, pretty much as suggested for HQG.

HIs first bid at liberating Sartar in 1624 is an abysmal failure, destroying almost the entirety of his Praxian allies. He needs three years to rebuild enough of a power base to interfere with Sartar proper again, among these the advances of the first of his "magical regiments", the Eaglebrowns (started under Kallyr, changing the warband of Gernu and Dernu into a spirit cult) and the Eleven Lights (again started without his involvement). These two organisations find material, magical and political support in Pavis, and get their field test at the battle of Sword Hill, after the Lunar occupation forces had seriously outstayed their welcome in the Far Place.

After that, he has a lucky run, marrying the FHQ and managing to repeat his sparring with Harrek (this time apparently without having to be resurrected) in the Holy Country, and thereby gathers a sufficient force to take Furthest, removing the Empire's presence from Tarsh for a while.

The Mularik interlude is a low point again.

The tide of war flows forward and backward for about 20 years, but he gradually gains enough allies in and around Saird to push the front northward. Mainly because the Empire is in disarray more often than not.

His LBQ is started out of desperation and impotence against the New Lunar Empire under Phargentes II, son of Jar-eel and Moirades and claiming to be Takenegi returned.

The result is the typical bummer - what you get from a LBQ is not what you desire, but a  necessary evil. Yelm, Arkat, Talor, Sheng... 

1 hour ago, Mameluco said:

I'm starting to think one of the reasons "Argrath is bad" is so prevalent now is because people are more and more interested in the Lunar Empire. You know, the designated villains of the Argrath saga.

Argrath Saga: Yes, the forces of the Empire are the villains.

The original sales point of the boardgame: playing the Lunars was just as right as playing the Sartarites. Both sides resort to bad-assery.

The Lunars as bad guys grew out of the rpg, which is a bit puzzling as there aren't that many published RQ2 scenarios that have the Lunars as villains. The Borderlands campaign has the players siding with a Lunar. Only the Cradle scenario is clearly against the power of the Lunar Empire.

Greg's Sartar campaign had the events of the Starbrow Rebellion and its fall-out, but for the most part it was about the antics of his weird Humakti party. The Temertain solution was part of that campaign, too, an effort to bring peace and compromise.

 

People becoming interested in playing the Lunar side is not a new development. Nick Brooke has been a missionary for the Lunar Way about as long as I know him (even though he also is one of those Greydog hillbillies).

Complaints about Argrath hogging the credit are as old as King of Sartar, and possibly older.

 

1 hour ago, Mameluco said:

Story-wise they are great: Seven conspirators tried to get rid of their oppressors manufacturing a new goddess, kickstarting a revolution that got completely out of control. She managed to conquer a patriarchy and feminised the lands and started to spread the new gospel everywhere. Finally failing due to the weight of her own hubris and contradictions.

The Lunar Way of Balance and Reflection is an attractive philosophy. Mystical liberation promises a lot.

Inheriting the Dara Happan Empire is part of the fallacy of the Lunar Empire. The Lunar Way is the state-supporting religion in the Empire, alongside the existing cults. It has not overcome the patriarchal, hierarchical Yelmic society, although it does offer a way to sidestep that to some extent.

Most citizens of the Lunar Empire are Dara Happans or Pelorians following the ancestral Dara Happan cults, firmly bound by Dara Happan tiered society. Most non-citizens in the Empire proper fare even worse. Slavery under the Lunar Empire has risen from levels under the Dara Happans or the Carmanians.

Peloria has ancient, institutionalized evils, like the City of Alkoth and its somewhat demonic denizens. The Lunar Way has added to this, like the Crimson Bat, the Temples of the Reaching Moon and the Corn Rites with their human sacrifices, often soul-destroying.

 

Part of the problem with playing Pelorians is the statement that much fewer people initiate to a single deity there than in Orlanthi society (including Esrolia). A Glorantha with predominantly lay worshipers who only have some general adulthood initiation (like Yelm the Youth) is not what RuneQuest has led us to expect.

The mysticism angle of the Lunar Empire is hard to bring into normal rpg activities, too. The RQ2 Illumination mechanics are a very gamist approximation.

 

 

1 hour ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

My main concern is I know (at least a minimum) what is the future of the (Hi)story my players are creating, because there is a large official material describing the facts during and after the campaigns I can run

It is a ridiculous issue, I could say "ok i dont care what is proposed by chaosium after 1622, 1624 or ..." but this is a big effort for me (I m pretty sure I m not alone) When I learnt, few months ago, the genertela seequake (not sure the word) my first thought was "why continue to invest in dragon pass if dragon pass will be destroyed few years later ?".

Not so much a tsunami, rather a blocked drain and the inexorable rise of the waters - without any rainfall or similar local cause - for a year or so, and then a gradual retreat. Depending on major player interaction with the event, of course - without player intercession, the rising of the water might not stop at all. A summoning of Tanian for instance might stop the flood earlier than expected, but at what price?

In case of events unfolding as prophesied, much of Dragon Pass will remain above the water, but yes, the Hero Wars are an apocalyptic event, and the survival of the world is something that is not guaranteed but that has to be rescued from the abyss.

People will die in droves, or else have to take refuge.

 

1 hour ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

I think a part of Argrath problem with terrian is he is the "focus" of the "you cannot do that because Argrath will do it" (for example rainbow mounts when you touch the truestone with the dragon)

The current thought appears to be "you can and should do it, but sooner or later Argrath will reap the credit for that." Not sure whether the players will appreciate that any more than they would appreciate observing the "historical character" actually doing the stuff.

1 hour ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

of course some people don't care and play without issue, but some are blocked or must overcome the "pseudo" difficulty with the "mmm I m forcing glorantha, a world i love"

With any such local detour, it is up to the GM and the party whether they are willing to let things drift back towards or into canonical Glorantha or whether they are going to nurture that new branch in the ocean of endless possibilities that is also known as the Void.

 

In the end, it is the old metaplot vs. player-dominated sandbox dilemma. If a GM wants to use published material for an ongoing campaign, she will have to accept that a sandbox is going to change over time. 

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On 12/9/2020 at 1:04 PM, French Desperate WindChild said:

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

So it would seem... That's why it can't be. I admit I have yet to learn lots about Glorantha, but if one thing of the lore has seemed fishy to me is Sartar. In a universe so open as Glorantha, where everything has several interpretations and nothing is as good or bad as it looks at first glance, this guy just arrives to Dragon Pass, starts to act like Jesus and creates a union that benefits all the population just by showing off how good that union would be? Something doesn't add up, there has to be some dark secret about him, and if I were to look, I would do in the direction of the dragons.

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19 minutes ago, coffeemancer said:

we could really use an official herowars tineline...

Honestly, this is something that I don't want. I see all this knowledge of the future to be fun for people interested in Glorantha but a problem for those playing Runequest. I would much rather they just laid out the situation in 1625 in great detail and then tell the players "GO!" Let the players decide the future, don't try and squeeze them into a pre-determined one. Each campaign will go where it wants to go, will have whatever Argrath(s) they want, and the players will become the heroes. That, to my mind, is MGF.

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1 hour ago, Jape_Vicho said:

Sartar. In a universe so open as Glorantha, where everything has several interpretations and nothing is as good or bad as it looks at first glance, this guy just arrives to Dragon Pass, starts to act like Jesus and creates a union that benefits all the population just by showing off how good that union would be? Something doesn't add up, there has to be some dark secret about him, and if I were to look, I would do in the direction of the dragons.

Or the dwarfs.  🙂 Just what deal did Sartar make with them.  Yes, nice that they built all these roads, built Boldhome in a day, etc.  But when does the debt come due?  And what has to be paid out???

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2 hours ago, Scorus said:

Honestly, this is something that I don't want. I see all this knowledge of the future to be fun for people interested in Glorantha but a problem for those playing Runequest. I would much rather they just laid out the situation in 1625 in great detail and then tell the players "GO!" Let the players decide the future, don't try and squeeze them into a pre-determined one. Each campaign will go where it wants to go, will have whatever Argrath(s) they want, and the players will become the heroes. That, to my mind, is MGF.

but there is so much lore in bits and pieces everywhere. Just an approximation would be nice

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2 hours ago, Jape_Vicho said:

So it would seem... That's why it can't be. I admit I have yet to learn lots about Glorantha, but if one thing of the lore has seemed fishy to me is Sartar. In a universe so open as Glorantha, where everything has several interpretations and nothing is as good or bad as it looks at first glance, this guy just arrives to Dragon Pass, starts to act like Jesus and creates a union that benefits all the population just by showing off how good that union would be? Something doesn't add up, there has to be some dark secret about him, and if I were to look, I would do in the direction of the dragons.

I mean, he allies with Chaotic Telmori by producing an impossible figure to be their ruler and offering secrets on how to weaken Talor's curse. He turns people into insects. He binds the victims of Brangbane to remain in Dragon Pass for, presumably, as long as Brangbane does. There's plenty suspicious about Sartar in an objective sense. 

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”Big A” has never interested me the slightest and neither has the cataclysmic Hero Wars, to me the small peoples interaction with myths and gods is much more interesting (with adventures to keep the interest up for everyone else.

That said my interpretation of the conflicting and multiple images of the Big A collective is that it is actually an effect of to many creative heroquests performed, the history is rewritten and tampered with so many times from the future that it is like a walking multiple exposed photography. So people have done the various things that needed to be done and then it all got braided into this ... entity. The bad things is effects of HQs gone horribly wrong and not successfully fixed in Arkati re-heroquests.

So what is the idea with that personal interpretation, well, the players can do the adventures and stuff that are retroactively folded into The “Big A” myth. They can accept it and become a member of the collective or start fighting it If they want that (perhaps even saving the Lunar way by accident).

Not that I believe I will ever have the opportunity to GM a campaign of that length and heft again.

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2 hours ago, AndrewTBP said:

I remember someone mentioning years ago on the Glorantha mailing list that Sartar was doing Issaries heroquests. 

Makes sense. Sartar was a Larnsting, and Orlanth is certainly not the only god to have inherited the powers and nature of Larnste. Issaries is said to be the son of Larnste by Harana Ilor. Which may well just be a God-Learnerism, since I don't recall the Heortlings ever recognizing Issaries as Orlanth's uncle, but the point it makes still stands, namely that Orlanth is not the only god of transformative change, even within his own pantheon.

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21 hours ago, French Desperate WindChild said:

I think a part of Argrath problem with terrian is he is the "focus" of the "you cannot do that because Argrath will do it" (for example rainbow mounts when you touch the truestone with the dragon)

What's that about the Rainbow Mounds? I can't find anything about a truestone or Argrarth in the couple versions of that scenario.

Also, if your players don't know what Argrath is supposed to do, that's not a problem :)  (and if they are, then changing what he does is almost mandatory at that point)

17 hours ago, Joerg said:

The Lunars as bad guys grew out of the rpg, which is a bit puzzling as there aren't that many published RQ2 scenarios that have the Lunars as villains.

That's an interesting point, yeah. I guess they were the "environmental villains" as opposed to the actual antagonists. The Lunars-as-bad-guys probably grew out of the push for clan-based campaigns where the PCs are supposed to care for their community as opposed to being murder-tourists on a tour of Dragon Pass. Once you focus your campaign on a clan under the oppressive rule of Lunar invaders, the Lunars immediately become bad guys in a majority of games.

17 hours ago, Joerg said:

Part of the problem with playing Pelorians is the statement that much fewer people initiate to a single deity there than in Orlanthi society (including Esrolia). A Glorantha with predominantly lay worshipers who only have some general adulthood initiation (like Yelm the Youth) is not what RuneQuest has led us to expect.

It's not any more of a problem than playing in a modern setting, where 95% of the population have boring occupations and uninteresting (gaming-wise) skill sets. But just as you play FBI agents or vampire hunters or whatever in a modern setting, you'd also play the small minority of "interesting" people in Peloria, like Lunar assassins and such.

11 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

Presumably, this is what the Argrath campaign will provide.

It will only provide a couple years of material I think?

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36 minutes ago, lordabdul said:

It will only provide a couple years of material I think?

Nooo, or at least the way I've understood it from what communications we've got is that it's going to more like the Great Pendragon Campaign. At some point someone was musing that it might be split too, but not sure about the source of that. Whatever form it's going to come out as, I do believe it's going to be the whole thing.

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4 hours ago, lordabdul said:

The Lunars-as-bad-guys probably grew out of the push for clan-based campaigns where the PCs are supposed to care for their community as opposed to being murder-tourists on a tour of Dragon Pass.

No, it was a theme well before that.  One of the premises in my Imther campaign (which I started way back in 1987) was that not all Lunars are bad/evil!  I particularly focused on Lunars being very human (mix of good and bad) and the majority of the PC's were part of Lunar cults.

I suspect it may have been a combination of Cults of Terror (Crimson Bat among others) which showed the Lunar King of Bilini near Dorastor accommodating Chaos, along with the Lunar occupation of Pavis where bureaucratic documents for everything (including hunting in the Big Rubble) were a feature.

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