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why is Argrath considered an asshole?


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6 minutes ago, John Biles said:

Leading an army of Praxian nomads against Pavis is inevitably going to result in a huge number of dead people.  Most Praxians would wipe the whole place off the face of Glorantha if given the chance.

Given the trade value of Pavis (and the success of the sable monopoly under the lunars), I suspect most tribes are aiming to reinstate their place on the Pavis council as originally set up by Dorasor. It was only the mess of the failed 1572 coup that led them losing their rights and place on the council. There are still tribespeople alive that remember what it was like before. Argrath will ultimately restore the status quo. 

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1 hour ago, Jape_Vicho said:

Aren't the Grantlands kinda holding on in 1625? I tried looking in the Guide but I could only find mentions that they are there. Might have missed something.

Not sure about the details, but there is absolutely no way it could hold out against the Praxian tribes. Various “nicer” and more soft-hearted solutions have sometimes been suggested, like evacuation downriver or into Sun County. Perhaps best outcome for them in situ would be if they could get treated like an Oasis people, i.e. victimised freely by the Praxians but not exterminated. The “default” outcome is surely massacres and enslavement, though. Anything better than this will be the work of PCs.

Edited by Akhôrahil
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1 hour ago, Jape_Vicho said:

I remember being horrified when I read this. For one part, the massacre of "soldiers" (we all know that there were way more civilian converts than any pro-sartar chronicler would admit) is absolutely terrible but in line with Argrath's modus operandi and historical parallels, but even more shocking is letting the first and foremost enemies of Pavis to run rampant through it and do what they please.

At the heart of the premise of the OP is the sense of immediacy of Argrath's actions and the ripples that radiate outward from him.  In an historical or legendary context, we'd read about eye-for-an-eye or putting the defeated enemy to the sword, and we'd go "Yep, that's how it was done in those days."  But in the context of a roleplaying game, we're invited to participate in that history, and when viewed from a contemporary standpoint, we all go, "Shit, that's a war crime."

So it was okay to read about Argrath from a mythic standpoint in King of Sartar and various apocrypha, even when we were critical of his actions.  It was always something that was going to happen...someday.  But it's a different kettle of fish to be asked tp participate in that narrative.

!i!

P.S. To be clear...

5 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

Various “nicer” and more soft-hearted solutions have sometimes been suggested, like evacuation downriver or into Sun County.

...coercing a population to flee from from occupied territory is still considered "ethnic cleansing" and a war crime.  And no, I won't stop beating that drum.

 

Edited by Ian Absentia
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4 minutes ago, Ian Absentia said:

At the heart of the premise of the OP is the sense of immediacy of Argrath's actions and the ripples that radiate outward from him.  In an historical or legendary context, we'd read about eye-for-an-eye or putting the defeated enemy to the sword, and we'd go "Yep, that's how it was done in those days."  But in the context of a roleplaying game, we're invited to participate in that history, and when viewed from a contemporary standpoint, we all go, "Shit, that's a war crime."

So it was okay to read about Argrath from a mythic standpoint in King of Sartar and various apocrypha, even when we were critical of his actions.  It was always something that was going to happen...someday.  But it's a different kettle of fish to be asked tp participate in that narrative.

Yeah, this. Argrath’s brutality, genocides and wars of extermination make every kind of historical sense. But since much role-playing is aspirational and people like to not be the baddies, is this really the kind of thing they are fine with going along with and even supporting? Argrath only gets worse as things progress, too. When is enough enough for the PCs?

Edited by Akhôrahil
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7 minutes ago, Ian Absentia said:

...coercing a population to flee from from occupied territory is still considered "ethnic cleansing" and a war crime.  And no, I won't stop beating that drum.

Sure beats getting murdered or enslaved, though. This is the best outcome that can even be imagined for them. Everything else is far, far worse.

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1 minute ago, Akhôrahil said:

Sure beats getting murdered or enslaved, though. This is the best outcome that can even be imagined for them. Everything else is far, far worse.

Does it, though?  A very explosive topic for another day in another place.  Except how we're invited to view Argrath's allies through that very contemporary lens again.

!i!

carbon copy logo smallest.jpg  ...developer of White Rabbit Green

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41 minutes ago, Ian Absentia said:

...coercing a population to flee from from occupied territory is still considered "ethnic cleansing" and a war crime.  And no, I won't stop beating that drum.

And I won't stop pointing out that they're colonists from different parts of a vast empire who in many cases speak different languages and worship different gods from each other, not an established native culture (that would be the Praxians, who have had some of their best grazing lands along the river given over to the Grantlands). They're being kill over (or possibly forced off of) lands they've inhabited for, at the absolute most, a little over 10 years in the case of the Grantlands and (in a very few cases, since most Lunars in the city probably didn't intend to make a life there, or did so as servants to a patron) as many as 20 years for Pavis itself. That's a tragedy, yes, but it's categorically not ethnic cleansing.

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2 minutes ago, Leingod said:

That's a tragedy, yes, but it's categorically not ethnic cleansing.

Again, from a contemporary standpoint, the UN might take exception to your definition.

https://www.un.org/en/genocideprevention/ethnic-cleansing.shtml

I genuinely worry, even in roleplaying games, when we mitigate real concepts by redefining them.

And again, a topic for another time and another place.  All the best, really.

!i!

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Before this discussion goes even more off the rails, please remember what @Nick Brooke wrote several pages back.  Which is spot on IMO:

"...that’s the disaster that will happen unless your player characters get involved..."

Depending on the mores and sensibilities of your group, your players, in your Glorantha, are supposed to mitigate the worst aspects of Argrath.

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13 minutes ago, Rodney Dangerduck said:

Depending on the mores and sensibilities of your group, your players, in your Glorantha, are supposed to mitigate the worst aspects of Argrath.

At some point though, shouldn’t you just stop him rather than trying to mitigate his constant excesses? Supporting him, even while trying to curb the slaughter, makes you an accomplice of sorts.

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1 hour ago, Akhôrahil said:

At some point though, shouldn’t you just stop him rather than trying to mitigate his constant excesses? Supporting him, even while trying to curb the slaughter, makes you an accomplice of sorts.

Stop him from what, though? Expanding his Free Sartar any further than what Kallyr achieved? Overthrowing him and replacing him with someone more tractable, more willing to make peace? Welcome to the Lunar Empire, here's your free kopis! 

Or perhaps the idea is to rein him in by providing alternate bases of power that can restrict his actions. Such as, say, directing his ambitions towards a sacred magical office which requires him to woo and please a figure closely tied to Ernalda and, as we all know, the aphorism of "There's always another way", and indeed to tie his magic to her in a substantial way? 🤔

Smartass commentary aside, there are several layers of Argrath-repulsion in terms of player character involvement with what's happening, and one of the basic surface levels (eg the slaughter during the liberation of Pavis, or the selling of Lunar survivors into slavery if they can't be ransomed) is just the ordinary brutality of antiquity, and having the PCs be motivated to try and work against the slaughter is something that in a real sense places them against the world rather than Argrath. 

Of course, in the setting there are two major stories about plucky bands of heroes facing down seemingly invincible empires in rigged contests and demonstrating that the magic of their new way is stronger than the old one. So it's frankly one of the most apropos ways to play in Glorantha to put a campaign together around this notion! 

The next layer down, then, consists of things which are not part of the ordinary brutality of antiquity and which we mostly know of from bragging of varying low degrees of historicity in the real world. Things like the prospective ethnic cleansing of the Grantlands or the Telmori. Here, the basic problem is that we don't actually know how true King of Sartar is on these matters.

We can't determine if what's happened to the Grantlands in 1625-26 is that 1) the Lunar settlers were all driven out or enslaved in a conscious plan by Argrath White Bull, 2) the Lunar settlers have left more or less spontaneously because they always needed the Lunar Army to protect them, 3) the Lunar settlers have been driven out by Praxian raiding, 4) the Lunar settlers are still gamely making a go of it, 5) the Lunar settlers have mysteriously all vanished and there's all these good Orlanthi with strange customs hanging around where they used to be, or 6) the Lunar settlers have ended up refugees, and that's something which has "already" happened and is happening "now". Until the Argrath Campaign is released, it's entirely likely these questions depend entirely on the group and how they want to address things and the side they want to take. It may even be the case after the Argrath Campaign is released, depending on how that campaign is written! 

Then on the next level down we have personal feelings about characters and whether we like them and want them to triumph. This is something that's only really resolvable by picking a different side or starting date, but there's decent support for that with Jonstown Compendium material and more such material could be written and compiled, even without any official Lunar/Pelorian material, or any official earlier character backgrounds being provided. 

Finally, the deepest level is strong lore opinions on what Argrath does, is doing, has done, will do, might possibly do, did thirty-five minutes ago, he's not some sort of Republic serial villain, etc. Speaking as someone who spends a fair amount of her Gloranthan time in these depths, the vast majority of this stuff is interpretation. Did Argrath return Sedenya to endless rebirths without any home in the cosmos for Her? Did Argrath live up to his family name and face the full-life consequences of liberating Sedenya with utuma? Did Argrath mix a draconic rite of liberation into Sedenya's metamorphosis to corrupt Her liberation and trap Her permanently within the Middle World of Glorantha? Did Argrath merely serve as the vessel to awaken the White Moon of Peace and allow Sedenya to don Her radiant Zayteneric gown and Mask? It would be a huge mistake to say that any of these are absolutely true, I think. The issue here is just the ability to communicate these alternate cosmological interpretations effectively, which is once again an area where the Jonstown Compendium alongside blogs, etc. seems ready to fill that want. 

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The whole question of trying to enforce our morality on a society that wouldn't even understand our terms of reference is very fraught.  When slavery is normative, human sacrifice reasonably frequent and forced settlement of peoples entirely acceptable, I think we need to look to the Hebrew Scriptures or the Iliad for a high standard of morality in the Bronze Age.

Slavery is normative, human sacrifice reasonably frequent, forced settlement of peoples entirely acceptable, slaughter of the defenceless (and their cattle?) hardly worthy of a footnote.  

Oh dear.  

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On 12/8/2020 at 9:37 PM, Mameluco said:

My problem with Argrath, as a character, isn't about his assholeness. As other people has already mentioned, there are a lot of candidates for that position in Glorantha. My main issue is he screams Mary Sue to me.

Yeah,  Conan and Lancelot are Mary Sues as well.  Heroic literature is full of nothing but Mary Sues.  The Hero Wars will be a series of Mary Sue pissing contests to see whose Mary Sue is bigger. 

On 12/8/2020 at 9:37 PM, Mameluco said:

He was forced to leave his clan and was taken as slave by the Praxians, but he managed to set himself free and discovered a spirit society that unified the Praxians around him.

Yeah, I know, that just sounds like Rob Roy guest starring in A Man Called Horse, right?

On 12/8/2020 at 9:37 PM, Mameluco said:

He is a Draconic Mystic, equivalent to an Illuminate in all important matters, but with no links to Chaos.

Actually no.  While Argrath has a Draconic Mystic in his retinue, the fact he was taken into the Arkati by Mularik Ironeye and accepted as Arkat reborn suggests he is the ordinary type of illuminate via his trickster.  Really it might be argued that the unwritten magical tradition of Mysticism is well due some rules clarifications.

On 12/8/2020 at 9:37 PM, Mameluco said:

He releases Sheng-Seleris in Peloria but it was a just thing because reasons.

He releases Sheng to break free not only Sheng and his ability to wage war on the Lunars but to free many other souls trapped in the Lunar Hells.  What a nice source of powerful motivated recruits?

On 12/8/2020 at 9:37 PM, Mameluco said:

Oh, and he's also the rightful heir of Sartar.

Is he?  Is he really?  Or is he the guy who can best do the job and the rest just gets fudged and propagandized by noisy minstrels and a dedicated legal team?

Edited by Darius West
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26 minutes ago, Darius West said:

Yeah,  Conan and Lancelot are Mary Sues as well.  Heroic literature is full of nothing but Mary Sues.  The Hero Wars will be a series of Mary Sue pissing contests to see whose Mary Sue is bigger. 

I can't say anything about Conan as I haven't read the original books. But, In the case of Lancelot, he isn't a Mary Sue because he ultimately fails as a knight because he can't keep his pants on control his passions. He isn't perfect, he doesn't outdo every single other character and not everyone is ok with his antics. That character is Gawain. :D

What I'm trying to say is: Powerful character =/= Mary Sue

@Akhôrahilexplained it way better than me in the first page. ;)

29 minutes ago, Darius West said:

Yeah, I know, that just sounds like Rob Roy guest starring in A Man Called Horse, right?

Exactly, and it narrowly avoids the White Saviour trope because Sartarite people are based on ancient Eastern Mediterranean peoples.

32 minutes ago, Darius West said:

Actually no.  While Argrath has a Draconic Mystic in his retinue, the fact he was taken into the Arkati by Mularik Ironeye and accepted as Arkat reborn suggests he is the ordinary type of illuminate via his trickster.  Really it might be argued that the unwritten magical tradition of Mysticism is well due some rules clarifications.

All the Draconic powers Argrath displays makes me think of Draconic Mysticism. And the official sources states all Illumination paths are, basically, equivalent.

34 minutes ago, Darius West said:

He releases Sheng to break free not only Sheng and his ability to wage war on the Lunars but to free many other souls trapped in the Lunar Hells.  What a nice source of powerful motivated recruits?

I was talking about the genocide in Peloria and how the Argrath Saga presents it as a good thing.

35 minutes ago, Darius West said:

Is he?  Is he really?  Or is he the guy who can best do the job and the rest just gets fudged and propagandized by noisy minstrels and a dedicated legal team?

Apart of lighting the Flame of Sartar as, again, stated in Argrath Saga, there is the small detail of the Sartar rune Argrath sports in Prince of Sartar.

 

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1 hour ago, Mameluco said:

I was talking about the genocide in Peloria and how the Argrath Saga presents it as a good thing.

Peloria has it coming.  If you keep exporting genocide, eventually you will become the new net importer.  Some people call it Karma, but it's really just reciprocity.

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On 12/12/2020 at 2:33 PM, soltakss said:

Lunars have always been the bad guys.

We played Dragon pass in the early 80s and our RQ2 game had a big theme of pushing the Lunar Occupiers from Sartar and Prax. In both cases the Lunars were bad guys, although not inherently evil, that was reserved for Chaos and for people we didn't like.

I think that a better term would be antagonists.

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On 12/12/2020 at 4:30 PM, Orlanthatemyhamster said:

 they seem to have decided to return to the Sartar=good, Lunars=bad thing with a vengeance. It's a pity because it would have made it stand out from almost every other (major) RPG.

I don't think they're pushing Sartar as being obviously good, but they are pushing the Lunar Empire as being bad, which they should. New RQG writings are largely focused between 1610 and 1630. The Lunars are the imperial force occupying Sartar and engaging in a slow and deliberate cultural genocide of the native Orlanthi. Of course it's written with the intent of you sympathizing with the Sartarites, at least within the scope of their efforts to regain and secure their independence. Every empire in Gloranthan history is eventually evil and always doomed, and there's no reason to expect the Lunar Empire to be an exception.

Later, Argrath commits egregious war crimes when he sends Sheng Seleris to Goomba Stomp all over Peloria. Power makes a bastard out of whoever exercises it.

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17 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

I think the Windstop pushes them into outright villainy though, at least the ones involved with and supporting that.

I largely agree.  I spent a long time away from official Glorantha until last year, and before then the Lunars were merely antagonists, not evil villiains.  The Windstop was new to me.  When, in Earth time, did the Windstop and it's "nearly break the Compromise" become a big thing?

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The Windstop hit (almost) all of us as a big surprise when "Orlanth is Dead!" came out, part two of the Hero Wars/ HeroQuest 1st edition scenario series "Sartar Rising". First printing of that was in May 2002.

While I agree about its Compromise-breaking dimensions, I still wonder why the great winter. The invasion of Wakboth andthe Unholy Trio, helped by magic of Zzabur, shattered the maximal extent of Valind's Glacier and was a major setback for the forces of Cold. One of the two Kalikos myths also tells about a defeat for the forces of winter.

The Glacier was part of the lesser Darkness, as far as I would classify these events. The breaking of the Glacier and the defeat of Winter (apart from a minor setback as Borklak's trolls aided Valind and Himile and turned aside the invading horde, but the Glacier never recovered from the entry of Chaos in the north.

But then, maybe some heroquesters did manage to mitigate that Greater Darkness disaster into a Lesser Darkness event, so that the world was spared rampant Chaos, and just had to suffer cold.

Edited by Joerg
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Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

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As I've said before, the Windstop is one of those things that pretty much ends any debate for me on whether the Lunars can be considered "the good guys" that you should root for. If the Windstop was intentional, then it was a deliberate attempt at outright genocide that killed tens of thousands, and the Lunars are indeed every bit the vicious, bloody-handed tyrants the Sartarites have made them out to be. If the Windstop wasn't intentional, then it was proof that the Lunars aren't nearly as smart as they're convinced they are, and they got tens of thousands killed through sheer hubris. Either way, it's pretty obvious they need to be stopped one way or another.

Not that I personally really needed convincing. The idea that the violent, expansionist empire who brutally conquered Sartar can convincingly be portrayed as somehow more in the right than the Sartarites they conquered is a pretty hard sell, personally (and no, "But the Sartarites can be real jerks too" is not a convincing rebuttal, even though it's true). At best, the Lunars can be quite convincingly portrayed as misguided, deluded imperialists who honestly think they're making the lives of the people they've violently conquered (and in many cases dispossessed and enslaved) better, because they've built roads and fund charities and proselytize the Lunar Way and all that. Which goes right back to the stuff about hubris and not being as smart (or helpful) as they think they are.

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47 minutes ago, Leingod said:

As I've said before, the Windstop is one of those things that pretty much ends any debate for me on whether the Lunars can be considered "the good guys" that you should root for.

I think Argrath’s genocidal climatological warfare in Peloria does the same for him, if you didn’t jump off the bus already with the Telmori genocide.

Somewhere along the way, a lot of players and even PCs would start to wonder if maybe there isn’t another way. 

(One of my favorite things about the HeroWars game was the "the HeroWars are here, and all things are possible" line. You can decide on your own agenda. You probably should, given the options presented to you by Argrath and the Lunars respectively.)

Edited by Akhôrahil
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37 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

I think Argrath’s genocidal climatological warfare in Peloria does the same for him, if you didn’t jump off the bus already with the Telmori genocide.

The Telmori are basically chaotic hsunchen.  They had it coming after the annihilation of the Maboder tribe.  If you sow the wind you reap the whirlwind.

39 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

Somewhere along the way, a lot of players and even PCs would start to wonder if maybe there isn’t another way. 

These are modern sentiments that have no place in a bronze age environment if we want to get serious about roleplaying cultural sensibilities.  While we are at it, we should perhaps ask ourselves whether slavery is better or worse than death?

44 minutes ago, Akhôrahil said:

One of my favorite things about the HeroWars game was the "the HeroWars are here, and all things are possible" line. You can decide on your own agenda. You probably should, given the options presented to you by Argrath and the Lunars respectively.

I absolutely agree with this.

In KoDP there was that part where Agrath lost everything, even Sartar, and had to start again from nothing.   Similarly, the Lunar Empire also rises and falls according to wanes, and there is the distinct possibility that even the draconic dismemberment is just another wane prefigured in the story of the Lunar Goddess' myth from the start, and she is already beginning her walk back as Gerra.  In the board-game, the Tarsh Exiles form their own coalition of forces that are almost equal to Sartar and the Lunars too.  Most importantly, once you start a game, the GM and the players are already changing Glorantha's history and telling a new story, and really the amount it follows the canon is entirely discretionary.  Both the Lunars and Sartarites have an appalling capacity for bouncing back from an apparent ultimate defeat built in to their mythologies. 

I sometimes wonder if perhaps the end of the war was actually a negotiated peace.  The moon agrees to be dismembered and return as the White Moon.  Argrath kills the gods that are creating the template for the ongoing seemingly eternal conflict.  A collusion of both sides to create an end to the madness?

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