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The Alien Combination Machine in Runequest?


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One of the concepts, that I really like in Heroquest:Glorantha, is the Alien Combination Machine, which made it possible to give the Orlanthi access to Sorcery, which normally is seen as corrupted and dangerous, and therefore has to be avoided.

I think it would be a great explanation, why Lhankor Mhy sages in Runequest:Roleplaying in Glorantha are now able to use Sorcery, but so far this Alien Combination Machine has not been mentioned in any of the new Runequest books.

It's clear, that I could use it in my Runequest games exactly for this, but I would like to know, what the official (i.e. canononical ūüėČ ) point of view would be regarding the Alien Combination Machine. Will it be introduced in later books? Has it been dropped completely? Anything in-between?

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1 hour ago, Oracle said:

One of the concepts, that I really like in Heroquest:Glorantha, is the Alien Combination Machine, which made it possible to give the Orlanthi access to Sorcery, which normally is seen as corrupted and dangerous, and therefore has to be avoided.

Does this machine have any relationship or pedigree to the machine found in the Jonstown Library? I know they perform different tasks but, computers perform many different tasks despite the fact that 97% of the users of computers only use the communications potential. So, if the two machines can be used/programmed for other tasks...

 

Eonistaran’s Catalog Wheel

The great Catalog Wheel of Eonistaran is a wooden device like a broad water wheel. Each of the Wheel’s seven boards holds multiple scrolls containing a partial listing of the scrolls and codices within the Library’scollection. At least five different organizational systems coexist within these great scrolls; some are numbered, some are based on the first line, another based on a cryptic code, and so on. If a scholar cannot findwhat he is looking for in one scroll, he simply turns the wheel and looks in another scroll. Most scholars agree that the 120 volumes comprising Garangian Bronze-Gut’s Compendium of Persons Eminent in Every Branch of Learning with a List of their Writings is more comprehensive (but far less practical) than Desosinderus the Librarian’s more concise Scheme of the Great Bookshelves.

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1 hour ago, Bill the barbarian said:

Does this machine have any relationship or pedigree to the machine found in the Jonstown Library?

Not particularly.  SKoH p.163: Lhankor Mhy initiates with the Law Rune can use the Machine to read sorcerous grimoires and those who are not corrupted by them can learn magic just like that used by sorcerers. The Alien Combination Machine consists of several discs inscribed with runes and symbols. The discs can be rotated in order to decipher a sorcerous grimoire and purge it of its corruption, thereby restoring it as a fragment of the Eternal Book.

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4 hours ago, Oracle said:

One of the concepts, that I really like in Heroquest:Glorantha, is the Alien Combination Machine, which made it possible to give the Orlanthi access to Sorcery, which normally is seen as corrupted and dangerous, and therefore has to be avoided.

Strictly, it's Lhankoring's access to foreign (ie Malkioni and God Learner) sorcery.  Lhankhor Mhy has his own Sorcery which is fine by comparison.

4 hours ago, Oracle said:

It's clear, that I could use it in my Runequest games exactly for this, but I would like to know, what the official (i.e. canononical ūüėČ ) point of view would be regarding the Alien Combination Machine. Will it be introduced in later books? Has it been dropped completely? Anything in-between?

I think the Alien Combination Machine to be still around but mainly confined to the Holy Country (where there are Lhankorings and Malkioni).  It could be used against Lunar Sorcery but there's the stigma of chaos there.  I think from the nature of its construction, it was actually invented by the Machine City and looted after Steelfall.  I've made a suggestion before that the Kralori have a similar device which Godunya supposedly invented when he was in Dragon Pass.

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28 minutes ago, metcalph said:

I think the Alien Combination Machine to be still around but mainly confined to the Holy Country (where there are Lhankorings and Malkioni).  It could be used against Lunar Sorcery but there's the stigma of chaos there.  I think from the nature of its construction, it was actually invented by the Machine City and looted after Steelfall.

Seems reasonable.  If it had been in the City of Wonders, it would be lost now.  If at Derensev, the Lunars would likely have confiscated it.  Which suggests Jelenkev or possibly in Vizel given its acceptance of Free Thought (though either could be at risk of Wolf Pirate attacks).  Another possibility is the Governor's Palace at Durengard.  Or, of course, somewhere in the Temple of Knowledge at Nochet.

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That triggers another question: for some reason I was under the impression, that the Alien Combination Machine is *not a unique* tool - very rare, yes, but not unique. Not sure, if I have read that somewhere, or if this is just my own imagination.

According to the Sartar Companion, there is on in the Jonstown Library. According to Pavis:Gateway to Adventure there is another one in the Lhankor Mhy temple in Pavis. So if there has been another one in the Holy Country, that would be three already. But I may be wrong here ...

Anyway once again I would like to know, what the official, canonical answer to this question is.

Edited by Oracle
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9 minutes ago, Oracle said:

According to the Sartar Companion, there is on in the Jonstown Library, so if there has been another one in the Holy Country, that would be two already. But I may be wrong here ...

 

As jajagappa says they are two different machines. I was asking if they shared a pedigree. The one in the library is the Eonistaran’s Catalog Wheel. The details are in the Sartar Companion while the one you refer to in the initial post is the Alien Combination Machine with more info to be found in S: KoH. Sorry for muddying the water with my speculation. 

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13 minutes ago, Bill the barbarian said:

As jajagappa says they are two different machines. I was asking if they shared a pedigree. The one in the library is the Eonistaran’s Catalog Wheel. The details are in the Sartar Companion while the one you refer to in the initial post is the Alien Combination Machine with more info to be found in S: KoH. Sorry for muddying the water with my speculation. 

There is an ACM in the Jonstown Library (distinct from the Catalog Wheel).

Quote

The only entry to this room is by a dwarf-built door with a magical array of locks and seals; only the Librarian and his assistant know
the secret of opening the locks. A trove of dangerous treasures is in this chamber: the Alien Combination Machine; the library’s collection of sorcerous grimoires; the Book of Drastic Resolutions, and other texts written in blasphemous languages.

Sartar Companion p23

Likewise for Pavis

Quote

Although most of the scrolls are written in the three scripts of the Lhankor Mhy cult, the New Pavis temple has one of the largest collections of Second Age texts in the dead languages of Old Wyrmish and Jrusteli in Glorantha. As a result, the sages of the temple usually know these scripts as well as the Three Sacred Scripts and the temple is often visited by scholars from far-off lands. The temple sages are considered radical Completionists (see Sartar: Kingdom of Heroes page 162) and has an  Alien Combination Machine, a complete copy of the Torvald Fragments, and several other fragments of the Eternal Book.

Pavis: Gateway to Adventure p181

 

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1 hour ago, Oracle said:

that the Alien Combination Machine is *not a unique* tool - very rare, yes, but not unique. Not sure, if I have read that somewhere, or if this is just my own imagination.

No, I think that is correct.  And @metcalph has pointed out the references clearly showing that at least a number of temples have a copy in their possession. 

 

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17 minutes ago, Richard S. said:

I have a suspicion that the ACM is just a fancy way to translate Western to the Elasa Script.

It could be as simple as that.  Or might "translate" the "logical" western view of devolving Runes into a "theistic" framework.  So where something says to "Separate the Air out of the Man", in the Elasa Script it says "Have Orlanth draw out the Breath".

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9 hours ago, metcalph said:

There is an ACM in the Jonstown Library (distinct from the Catalog Wheel).

Likewise for Pavis

 

Yes, these are the text passages, that I was referencing to. So the only remaining open question is still, if this concept is used officially in Runequest:Roleplaying in Glorantha. But if we do not get an official answer (hi, @JeffūüėČ) here in this thread, it could well be possible, that the answer could be found in the upcoming Starter Set (which, as far as I know, will include a guide to Jonstown and therefore a description of the Jonstown library, I guess).

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The description of the Alien Combination Machine puts me in mind of the Phaistos disc (along with Enigma and similar rotary cipher machines, of course.)

So perhaps these discs are pictographic representations, attempting to avoid any cognitohazards from reading Malkioni script unprepared by forcing the writing through a pre-writing method of representation and thus decontaminating it. 

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3 hours ago, Eff said:

The description of the Alien Combination Machine puts me in mind of the Phaistos disc (along with Enigma and similar rotary cipher machines, of course.)

You’re on the right track. Think Borges & gematria. It’s an engine for brute force attacks on the sorcerous code that underpins the Matrix.

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I would speculate that the machines that can be found in the libraries are only interfaces to the real machine which is somewhere in the Godworld and/or the spell plane.

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On 2/14/2021 at 10:25 AM, Richard S. said:

I have a suspicion that the ACM is just a fancy way to translate Western to the Elasa Script.

I agree. But a way to do so that means the magic remains valid. 

On 2/14/2021 at 10:45 AM, jajagappa said:

Or might "translate" the "logical" western view of devolving Runes into a "theistic" framework.

That is the same thing, really. 

12 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

You’re on the right track. Think Borges & gematria.

And I suspect a bit Alethiometer - it's not a fully mechanical process, but one guided by the magic of Lhankor Mhy. 

Also the I Ching. Also, like actual geomatria, probably requires a lot of looking stuff up and comparing results from multiple sources to clarify. Elasa script is known to be pretty weird in this respect, with its own complex code system. 

12 hours ago, Nick Brooke said:

It’s an engine for brute force attacks on the sorcerous code that underpins the Matrix.

I think not so brute forcy, and it is not quite an attack on the sorcerous code that underpins the Matrix  observed reality, as an attack on the encoding algorithms of Western sorcery - the Alien Combination Machine appears to be for copying Western sorcery, not creating it from scratch.

Now, those endlessly spinning sorcerous 'prayer wheels' the Zistorites are so fond of? Literally a brute force attack, hoping to unlock new sorcerous commands (among other things). And Gematria is absolutely on the right track for sorcery generally (and the ACM specifically), but (dropping into 'ceremonial magic nerd' mode for a minute) for inspiration for this Zistorite, heavily combinatoric kind of stuff, I find John Dee's magical system, Enochian, works really well, as it already has this combinatoric element in it - there is the idea that every single combination of certain sets of letters represents the name of a very specific angel, which can be enumerated into the thousands, for example. It's quite intricate. 

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On 2/14/2021 at 3:25 AM, Richard S. said:

I have a suspicion that the ACM is just a fancy way to translate Western to the Elasa Script.

Reminds me of the beginning of the movie Once Upon a Time in China 2, when the hero gives a talk about acupuncture in a medicine congress : a guy is translating both the language, from chinese to english, and the medical concepts, from shakras to organs and such.

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On 2/15/2021 at 1:20 AM, davecake said:

Now, those endlessly spinning sorcerous 'prayer wheels' the Zistorites are so fond of? Literally a brute force attack, hoping to unlock new sorcerous commands (among other things).

the Bitcoin model: having machines endlessly and randomly fill out crosswords in a language you don't understand in the hope of solving one accidentally in order to create opium so you can refine it into heroin. repeat ad nauseum.

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On 2/18/2021 at 4:00 AM, Qizilbashwoman said:

Bitcoin model

has anyone read the famous Arthur C. Clarke story The Nine Billion Names of God? I was thinking a bit like that. 
 

Edited by davecake
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